Friday, August 27, 2010

Got Kleenex?

Seriously. Get a hankie. Or three.

Danny & Annie from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hamster on a Wheel

Between working and taking care of Teagan, I feel like a hamster on a wheel these days. Some interesting stuff has happened. More is about to. I'll write soonest.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Sometimes you know a dress is right for you the moment it settles on your frame. That's how I felt about the dress Katie bought me last week. That buying decision took about 39 seconds, which is all we had with Teagan screaming.

Katie was concerned that the simple black dress was not fancy enough for the wedding, but I had a plan: layers of pearl necklaces. Just before time to go on Saturday, I pulled six or seven pearl and pearl/crystal necklaces from a hanger and settled them around my neck. On a whim, I pulled one strand around to hang down my back rather than over my chest.

Katie looked at me and said, "You look weird."

"That's ok," I said. "I am weird."

All night long, friends and family and total strangers told me how fun and appealing my outfit was. Personally, I think the appeal was in not being afraid to be weird.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Times They Are a Changin'

Katie arrived Wednesday night. In a few hours, we'll be off to the Missouri wine country (who knew?) for my nephew's wedding. We're driving Mom and Dad and ferrying the flowers. Should be fun.

Thursday night we had dinner with Mom and Dad at a local restaurant. Dad was sitting directly across from me, and several times I noticed a slight glint from one of his teeth. I leaned across the table and looked carefully.

"Dad, I think something is wrong with one of your lower teeth," I said.

"Yes," he sighed. "The tooth has worn away and the metal post from the root canal is showing through."

"Does it hurt?"

"Not really."

"Can they fix it?"

"Why? I'm wearing out all over. It will last as long as I do."


Katie and I went dress shopping the first afternoon she was here. We had Teagan with us, so we traded off trying on/tending Teagan. By the time we finished, Teagan was hungry and shrieking. I handed the dress I was buying to Katie and started digging through the stuff in the stroller for my purse.

"I'll get it, Mom," Katie said.

"Thanks. I'll get cash and pay you back when we get Teagan settled," I answered.

"That's ok. You've bought me hundreds of dresses. I can buy you one."

Is that Bob Dylan I hear singing?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Marine Corps Him

My dad is a Marine. It's a central fact of his life, as much a part of describing him as saying he has black hair and hazel eyes. He taught me the Marine Corps hymn so early I have no memory of not knowing the lyrics and the tune. He taught me to count cadence before I could actually count and showed me how to do the Queen Anne salute with a stick as soon as I could hold one.

Marines are tough. I know this as surely as I know the sun rises on the halls of Montezuma and sets on the shores of Tripoli, as surely as I know the biscuits in the Army can kill you.

Yesterday Dad drove up just as I was leaving after coffee with Mom. I stopped and asked where he'd been.

"To the doctor," he said in a low, slow voice.

"You okay?" I asked.

"Yeah. Just needed her signature."

"On what?"

"An application for a handicapped parking permit."

The earth trembled on its axis. I did not know what to say that wouldn't bow his shoulders even more, would not drop his head a quarter-inch further. I concentrated on breathing. In and out. In and out.

"Cool. Can I ride with you?"

He laughed a little and rolled up the car window. I drove away quickly, before he could see the tears glistening in my eyes.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Survival and Celebration

Made it through the shower for my niece. Three days of cooking and baking followed by a day of fixing, fussing, and arranging. But everything turned out pretty and delicious. Plus, I tried two new recipes to add to my 100 new recipes for my List.

"Bought" my tickets for the trip to Vermont for the Fearless Writing workshop with Crescent Dragonwagon. The air quotes on "bought" are because I used the last of my frequent flier miles from the old days. Can't think of a better way to use them and can't wait.

More later. Must get ready for Teagan now.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

No Worries

My cousin took the "Angry Sky" photo last week. The formation was so unusual the weather service had to name it. A new name for a cloud formation had not been required for over 50 years.

People in the area were turning their lives over to Jesus as those clouds rolled in, according to my cousin. She said even the emergency responders were out in the streets, staring and wondering what to do. In the end, no one and nothing got hurt.

I posted it simply because I think it's beautiful and wondrous. Plus, I didn't have time to write. I've had Teagan a lot this week and two people are on vacation at work, so I've been taking up some slack there. The shower I'm giving for my niece is tomorrow, so I'm baking and getting things ready for that.

The faster I go, the behinder I get.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Simple--And Not So Simple--Abundance

A dear friend pointed out that I've focused on lack a lot recently. Following principles in which we both believe, she suggested I focus on abundance instead.

Yesterday was the first Monday of the month, the day I help cook meatloaf and mashed potatoes for the homeless. It was a cookie month, and I started the day baking cookies at 5:00 a.m. When I pulled the staples from my pantry--flour and sugar and brown sugar and chocolate chips and M&Ms--the jars lined up on the counter created in me such strong feelings of abundance that I had to stop and take a picture.

I thought of my grandmothers, raising their children during the Depression. They could not count on having enough staples to bake whenever they felt like it. Sugar was rationed. Flour was expensive and butter hard to come by. Today, my pantry holds everything I need to bake cookies--or nearly anything else. Simple abundance.

Paula--my little VW convertible--has been having indigestion. (Her "check engine" light came on last week.) I avoided driving until yesterday, when the mechanic could check her out. Meantime, I fretted mightily, imagining enormous and costly repairs. The problem turned out to be with the light itself, and the bill came to $65. Simple. I have $65 to spare. Abundance.

Sunday evening, Crescent Dragonwagon emailed, offering me a partial scholarship and payment terms for her Fearless Writing workshop--the one I hoped to pay for with the grant I did not get. Turns out I have just enough frequent flier miles for a ticket to Hartford, CT. Meals are included in the workshop fee. All this makes it possible for me to go. After a brief struggle with ridiculous, stiff-necked pride, I decided to accept Crescent's incredibly generous offer. I will be spending Labor Day in Vermont in the home of a woman whose history has been distantly entwined with mine for 39 years. Not so simple, but definitely abundant.

Monday, August 02, 2010


Karen Walrond is an incredibly talented photographer and writer whose upcoming book, The Beauty of Different, was introduced to me by Michelle O'Neil.

Over the weekend, Karen saw a CNN report about a church in Florida planning to hold a Quran burning in September. She's asking people to send her prints of peaceful images. Her plan is to pack up the photos and send them to the church. Her only rule is that the photos and messages written on them must focus on peace. She refers to this as a "photobomb."

Peace is a broad concept. I checked my photo files and found dozens that would work. I'm sending five or six later today and hope you'll join me in supporting the project.

Karen plans to beat their swords with peaceful images. Plowshares anyone?

Sunday, August 01, 2010

No Grant

The grant I applied for was awarded to another writer, one whose work knocked me on my butt. Brilliant. Funny. Imaginative and wise. Today, not even a sliver of any of those things feels available to me. While I honestly celebrate for her and with her, I am bereft. Not about not getting the grant--I always recognized the realistic odds of that. It's the comparison between the best I can offer and the piece she wrote that pains me.

Today, the gulf between where I am and where I want to be feels so broad, I am mired in fear and doubt. But these things I know: comparisons are not helpful in any way. The sun will rise tomorrow and if I'm still spinning on and with the earth, I'll still have opportunities to learn and grown and try. I'll keep breathing in and out, and my breath will mingle with all that lives and breathes.

I can focus on the pain of not being what I want to be or having what I want to have, or I can focus on those opportunities to learn. The Universe did not grant me that grant, but it always offers serenity. Accepting it is up to me.

What I need is a good wisdom teacher.