29 December 2010

just before

Remember that can't-sleep anticipation of something really good coming? A childhood Christmas morning? Or the night before the first day of seventh grade? Or the entire day before the State track meet - such a big event that it was held at Ricks College?

I've not been disappointed.

Christmas morning, 1973, Fairchild AFB, Spokane, WA. Santa must have enjoyed the cookies because he left the Barbie Airplane made by Mattel United Airlines for yours truly. What more could an 8-year old girl want?!

Seventh grade began at Bountiful Junior H.S. with the only class I really wanted to take: Art. In a real art-classroom completely dedicated to making and learning art. I was in heaven. It almost made up for the completely lame excuse of a home-economics class later that same day in which I was instructed how to make a grilled cheese sandwich and a "milk-shake" made without a single scoop of ice-cream - a clear abomination in the household where I grew up. My father signed my class-withdrawal slip himself, and I believe I got to take shop instead. Total win-win.

And that track meet in Rexburg, ID. Spring 1981. I ran my best time in the qualifying heat of the 440-yard (no such thing as the 400m in the U.S. schools back in those days). My cousin Christine came over to the race and we got something to eat afterward, but I can't quite recall anything more - except for the feeling of pure elation that stuck with me for a long time. What put wings on my feet that day? Could have been the sunshine that broke through the rain clouds on that cold spring afternoon, or the way the air moved over the track. Or maybe just plain luck. I would never run a better race again.

 Now smack in the middle of the holidays, it's one week from the start of my first residency in the MFA program at Pacific University, and I am all kinds of excited. Christmas-Barbie-airplane-7th-grade-state-track-meet excited.

Of course, it takes a leap of sorts. The push-off the block at the starting shot. The release of a held breath. A step through an arch to a new freedom.

It could be big.

Feels like a good thing.


"As he swung through the air, trembling, he saw the blackness give way below, like a parting of clouds, to a deep patch of stars on the ground. It was the pond, he hoped, the hole in the woods reflecting the sky. He judged the instant and let go; he flung himself loose into the stars." - The Living, Annie Dillard

14 December 2010


It's foggy in Longview most mornings this time of year. I turn north with the wind to my back, and a bunch of geese are hanging in the air over the local soccer fields. They are landing, feet down, necks arched forward, wings bent and still. Kites loosed of their strings, gliding into the wind.


Geese mate for life and will stay together during all seasons. Swans, too. I knew that when I was a kid from reading about Louis and Serena, the eventual mated couple in E.B. White's "Trumpet of the Swan." In the end, content and drifting in a state of almost-sleep, Louis thinks "how lucky he was to inhabit such a beautiful earth, how lucky he had been to solve his problems with music." Humans would be so lucky to know their life-long mate from the clear trill of a trumpet.

Geese on the soccer fields, Longview, WA
My own mate is away tonight, working. But he left me cozy at home with a full winter supply of stove pellets and new windshield wipers for an uneventful drive to and from Longview.

Let the rains come. Let it be cold. And I shall be happy for my best friend to return.

I am content. Lucky.


They don't know how long it takes
Waiting for a love like this
Every time we say goodbye
I wish we had one more kiss
I'll wait for you I promise you, I will

I'm lucky I'm in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again
I'm lucky we're in love in every way
Lucky to have stayed where we have stayed
Lucky to be coming home someday

Jason Mraz, "Lucky"

27 November 2010

a grateful heart

Photo by Zachary Kaufman / The Columbian
Late this morning, I drove around the corner from the store, and suddenly it was all lights and sirens. A procession of motorcycles stretched all the way up the old highway, escorted by more than a dozen police cars. It was the bikers' annual Toy Run. Harleys, Hondas, all kinds of bullet bikes, old-school BMWs, a few homemade varieties, what could have been an Indian, one with a restored sidecar. The riders wore all types and sizes of leathers, rain slickers, scarves, military uniforms, hats, helmets, bandanas, fringe, Carhartts, boots. They rode in rows of two, headlights on.

These last few days have been a time of intentional awareness for the gifts of my life. An opportunity to be shored up with gratitude - enough to summon up some courage and reach toward what would seem impossible. Better than New Year's resolutions, these wishes are borne on the strength of a grateful heart.

  1. Unpack. That "easy" move to the new house from just across the street was not exactly all that. At the very least, there are boxes of books and enough stacks of random "stuff" that I cannot park in the garage. Yet.
  2. Write more, second-guess less. I am defeated most often by my own self-doubt. With some practice, perhaps I'll be able to turn down the volume on those gremlins.
  3. The little black dress. Surely this is the year. C'mon. Otherwise my initial thoughts about the gym are correct - that it is just punishment for getting older.
  4. Embrace the moment. Every one is a gift. It is often in the smallest of moments when the universe reveals itself to our limited human eye. Trying not to miss it.

  5. And with an extra shot of courage for those more audacious, bigger-than-me wishes:

  6. Colts to the Superbowl. Because I'm a big, nerdy fan. 
  7. Two beautiful twin girls would knock at my door. Yes, our worlds are 25 years and a universe apart, but in so much beauty and wonder, there could be room enough for our own moment.
  8. Health to my clan. Health enough for us to love our families, serve with compassion, and witness the daily miracles as they manifest.
  9. Peace. That we might be a country not at war.

  10. Finally, the most audacious of all:

  11. A sustainable, living houseplant. Released from the curse of the black thumb.


"Life is like a cigarette, smoke it to the butt." ~ Harvie Krumpet