Tuesday, October 31, 2006

a life that is shifting {self-portrait challenge}

gone again (dancing)

An imperfect person living in her life.

I grew up listening to Paul Simon. I have distant memories of Saturdays and my mom stacking several records on the turn table and hearing her sing along. I will suddenly know the words to a song and it is because of those Saturdays and that stack of records. I sometimes wonder how many songs I really know (and how I would not have failed chemistry in college if it had been taught in song).

Back in June, Paul Simon’s newest album, Surprise, was the first album I downloaded onto my iPod nano. And I listened to it over and over again. On an afternoon in June, I pretended for a moment that he was sitting on a stool singing to me. And somehow in that moment, with my eyes closed and my ears and heart absorbing every word, I believed he really was there. And he has been singing to me ever since.

I am still absorbing the fact that I saw him in concert last month because, well, you see, I really do think he is singing to me. His words have hit me in a way that forces me to stop and listen and reflect and navigate a bit differently. And now he is appearing to me in dreams. He is literally singing to me in my dreams now. I wake up and think, “Paul is trying to tell me something else. Better listen to him today.”

Last week, I was listening to the album Still Crazy After All These Years while I was working. The second time it was playing through, I has paused my work and in the deep breath of a moment, I was struck by the song “Gone at Last.” So I played it on repeat a few times and danced and sang and danced some more.

Gone, gone, gone at last
Gone at last, gone at last
I had a long streak of that bad luck
But I’m prayin’
it’s gone at last

With this song it is partly the beat that got me off my feet and got me to pay attention. But then it was these words that had me tearing up in that “oh shit, you so are validating all I have experienced, the crap and the good and the big crap and the fantastic” way. Those tears that prick at the back of my eyeballs because I know I am not alone in how I feel, how I “get it.”

Once in a while from out of nowhere
When you don’t expect it, and you’re unprepared
Somebody will come and lift you higher
And your burdens will be shared
Yes I do believe, if I hadn’t met you
I might still be sinking fast
I’ve had a long streak of bad luck
But I’m praying it’s gone at last

I cannot believe how much my life has changed in the past 18 months. I. cannot. believe. it. And although I believe I was on this path to begin with, I still know that things have shifted. And, it is only because of a broken heart, the deepest of grief, that my path shifted. I know I have written about this idea before, but I just need to say it again and again and again because it simply rocks me. That such sadness could bring such life and meaning to my world. To be given a gift of myself even when the grief claws at me. It is astounding.

In the song “Graceland,” Simon sings,

And she said losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you’re blown apart
Everybody sees the wind blow

I don’t think you understand what this means until, one day you do. Someone asked me recently if losing my grandmother was the first time my heart was broken. And I said yes. But the truth is that is not the case. There have been other moments where my heart hurt. However, this was the first time I understood. That is the difference. When my parents divorced, the pain was deep and confusing, and I didn’t understand. Other moments in my life have been like this, painful but I didn’t understand the pain.

When I stood in that funeral home, in one swift moment I understood. I understood all of it. I understood everything.

I walked into that room as one person and walked out as another version of myself. Though only one piece of my reality had changed, it was clear that this new understanding shifted everything.

Back in June when I closed my eyes and Paul Simon sat on a stool in my bedroom singing to me, the words to “Once Upon a Time There Was Ocean” sang in my heart because I knew the singer of this song understood this idea. Understood me. And so began my love affair with the poetry of Paul Simon’s lyrics.

I figure that once upon a time I was an ocean
But now I’m a mountain range
Something unstoppable set into motion
Nothing is different, but everything’s changed

Monday, October 30, 2006

good morning monday {october 29}


Paul Simon. he is appearing to me in dreams now. (more on this tomorrow.)


Finding Nemo. haven’t watched this one in a while. i get chills at the part where all the sea creatures and then birds are spreading the story of a fish looking for his son.

House – still watching Season One. Still creepy, but still so good.

in no particular order:
Battlestar Galactica
Ugly Betty (loved it. survivor lost me this week by playing the retrospective)
Gilmore Girls
Studio 60
Heroes (okay THAT show is super good)
(i could keep going but i am a bit embarrassed that i really am watching this much tv)

Whoopi: Back to Broadway (for the second time. so good. so much heart in the midst of her words.)


this blog. i can’t wait to see heather’s fabrics when her line comes out with free spirit.

the poetry of Billy Collins from the collection in Questions about Angels. the poem "candle hat" resonated with me deeply last night as i had a poetry reading in the bathtub. (you can read it here.) when i finished it i exclaimed aloud, "fantastic." i couldn't help myself.

Ina Garten’s new cookbook. (she had me at the dedication.)


something that is, hate to say it, a secret. but i will share pictures after i give them as gifts. (because i am super excited about them.)


the way i can now post larger pictures because Deb taught me how to change the size of my blog columns (or whatever the technical term is). Thanks Deb!


stir fry…with some of our yummy veggies. this is how i will eat those “grassy” leafy greens.

the best peppermint ice cream. slow-churned low-fat dreyers. it tastes like the “real” thing. love it!


green tea. green tea. and some more…green tea.


my brother’s experience at the CMJ Music Marathon in NYC this week. his band, Daytime Volume, was on the front page of the intermission section of our hometown paper (read it here). i can’t wait to tell you how to buy your own copy of the CD that will be released in January – stay tuned. (if you click on their name above you can hear a few of their songs. good stuff.)

a visit from some dear friends…in just a few short days (hours really).


about how sweet jonny is to help me clean the house. thank you my dear.

about how i work for such an incredible woman. having a boss you admire and respect (and she doesn't care that you work in your pjs because you work from home) is more than a good thing. it is a great, fantastic thing.


flannel pajamas, hot cocoa, saturday college football, sunflowers, the colors of fall, fudge, stripey socks, and pumpkins.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

senses. delicate fall.


see (maple)


hear (maple)


touch (maple)


smell (maple)


taste (maple)

{and know}

and know (maple)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

flowers and some hair of red...

Thursday morning I woke up grumpy. crabby. a little bit annoyed with the world. I hate when my alarm has to wake me up. Usually I get up long before the alarm (I set it as a last resort in a kind of "guess i need the sleep if i don't get up before it" way). The alarm scared me. I woke up from a dream with my heart pounding. And then read some work emails that made me even more grumpy.

But two things got me out of my grumpiness.

The first: A gift to me from Alicia's Posie shop:

oh happy day

little blue hair fun

vintage button hair pin

(I love how she packages everything. Perfect. It really is like opening up a gift for yourself. And it would be so easy to send someone a gift from her site. Love it.

flower fun

(okay so it may not look like i am a redhead. but i am a brunette with red highlights, really i am. yep. i am.) (oh and the reason i didn't show my whole face is because i think i looked "middle aged" in that photo - not that there is anything wrong with that, if you are indeed middle aged but at 30 i don't think i am so much there yet. but a clerk at the mall said to me, after i commented that i hadn't noticed this new hipper section of clothes that isn't just for juniors before, "yes, it is kind of a hip middle age section." ah. okay. glad i just bought one thing. oh and she was, by the way, my mom's age. so a bit older than moi.)

The second thing that got me out of my crabbiness was a phone call from my friend (thanks V. so good to catch up).

I highly recommend buying yourself a little gift or two from one of the independent artists out there in blog world. Go on. You know you want to.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

poetry in every moment {poetry thursday}

In this week’s Poetry Thursday prompt I mentioned that since I started reading and writing poetry I have noticed that poetry seems to be in every moment. I realize this may be naïve or give a nice obvious indication of how new poetry is to my life. But I think of it as something else.

When I told people I was going to give a presentation about journaling as a practice earlier this year, so many people were quick to say to me, “I don’t journal” or “I hate journaling” and so on (not you bloggers, those other people). When I asked them why, many said, “because I have nothing of any importance to say” or something similar.

Poetry can invite some related insecurities, “I don’t understand it” and “I don’t know what I would write.” In noticing the moments of poetry in my life, I begin to feel confidence to find the words, to write a poem.

A few moments of poetry in my week:

Standing in the bathroom, I lean against the counter eye-to-eye with me. The continued awareness that I greet an old friend. I am not afraid.

Millie watches every move my husband makes. He turns the page of the newspaper, he scratches his head, brings his mug of tea to his lips, she is there with every movement. I wonder what she thinks, hopes, “will this movement bring dinner?”

Closing my eyes and losing myself, just for a moment, in the music of Loreena McKennitt. While listening I imagine myself in a long flowing skirt of layers and layers of fabric, flowers in my hair, spinning in circles and dancing beneath a huge, full moon while women play the drums and other instruments in celebration.

Observing the interactions between a mother and son. Though he is an adult, there is still the expectation between them that she does and he lets her.

An argument with my husband about the way he cooked dinner for us after I get home from yoga class. I wonder if I am the same person who gently leads my class through pose after pose to remind them who they are, who can then come home and expect perfection for dinner.

Resting my head back in the basin at the beauty salon while the color seeps into my hair, I close my eyes and just listen to all the voices around me.

I walk through the house and light candle after candle.

For the second time in two weeks a woman reminds me of my life’s path. And this time I listen.

I am crabby and still in my pajamas at 1:00 in the afternoon because the work has piled up and it feels like it has taken over my life. I am becoming my parents.

A friend gives me a glimpse into her experiences, her journey. I listen and nod. The gift of the opportunity to understand.

My foot leans into the pedal as I move the fabric through the foot of the machine. Feeling the rhythm, what was once only in my mind is now a reality.

I look in the mirror and giggle. Wearing my hanky pankies, my silk camisole, my cardigan, and a flower in my hair. I am a redhead!
Writing this I realize that when work consumes me, I end up spending too much time alone in my house. I want to come back to this exercise with the intention of taking time each day to get out of my house. Even if that means just sitting in the backyard and watching the birds, taking Millie on a quick walk, driving to Starbucks for…you guessed it, a pumpkin latte. The need to get outside myself.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

taking things personally {self-portrait challenge}


When I was in high school I had a journal that had quotes from women throughout the pages. I often think about this one:

Women are repeatedly accused of taking things personally. I cannot see any other honest way of taking them.
Marya Mannes

It struck me then, and it strikes me now. That quote felt like a literal self reflection. There is a scene in You’ve Got Mail where Tom Hanks’ character says, “It’s not personal; it’s business.” And Meg Ryan’s character talks about how people say that, but if it is anything, it is personal. Life is personal.

I think people consider me someone who is emotional. I take things personally. I think this is one of my best qualities. Yep. I admit it. I love that I am emotional. I don’t mean dramatic (though I am quite sure I have my moments). No, I mean someone who isn’t afraid of feeling. Someone who admits to having emotions and feeling them.

I spend a lot of time sifting through my own “stuff,” the guts of life. The insecurities and past stuff. I sift and peel back and move through. As I do this I uncover, you guessed it, a lot of emotion.

When you are someone who sifts through things a lot, you become aware of your triggers. Why do I feel this way when someone does ____? Why am I angry about _____? Why do I feel like crying in certain moments? What is all of this really about? These are questions I am always asking myself.

The introspective me wants to know the answers. But the emotional me sometimes invites a feeling of searching for the answers through a bit of fog.

Last week was a week where several things collided at once. Just when I thought, “okay, I can figure this out,” I was hit from another side with something else. Over and over again. And even though I received support from some dear friends through this, the emotional me got a bit caught up in it all. And the “stuff” I uncovered began to cloud…well…everything.

I felt like I was on one of those rides at the fair. The one where it starts out slow, moving in a circle over a few little hills, but then it gets faster and faster and the music playing gets louder and louder. And you can’t stop it. When I was in, maybe, second grade, my father took a friend and me on one of those rides. I screamed the entire time. I kept begging my dad to wave to the guy to let him know I wanted to get off. The terror actually bubbles up a bit just thinking about that experience. A total loss of control.

It is a delicate balance. The emotional and the self-reflective. You have to check in with yourself, take your temperature, to figure out what is really going on. Because, the reality is, you are the only one who knows. You are the only one who understands why you choose to react the way you do. And figuring that out is hard enough.

Imagine if you start attempting to figure out why everyone else is doing what they are doing? Well, that can start to get really messy, especially because they are the only ones who can know. And they might not be in a place to really understand this.

Sometimes I wonder how we have any relationships at all. Truly. How do we ever successfully communicate with another person when we have a hard enough time communicating with ourselves? But, I believe relationships are part of the beauty of our time here. Connecting. Feeling. Finding our way through the emotional connections we have with others, this is a big piece of the journey.

Perhaps nestling into a life full of emotion can cause one to feel a bit blurry at times. But I think this is what we do: We make a commitment to feel, really feel deeply, so that we can live in our lives.

(to see other reflections on imperfection visit self-portrait challenge.)

Monday, October 23, 2006

good morning monday {october 23}


I am one of those people who hums along with instrumental music. I have been known to make up sounds that are words to this music…I have been spending time with the soundtracks from The Hours and Chocolat lately. Just love how those soundtracks put your right back into the movies.


Don Juan DeMarco. One of my all-time favorite movies. I have probably seen it at least twenty times. In college, I used to watch it almost weekly (okay so maybe more than twenty times). I hadn’t seen it in a few years, and as I was sewing this weekend, I recited the lines along with Mr. Depp and Mr. Brando. It has one of my favorite last lines of all time.

The first season of House (I am through the first four episodes. This is one creepy, good show.)

Sense and Sensibility. Another movie I have seen over and over again. My two favorite moments: When Marianne call to Col Brandon in the doorway; she is in bed ill and has just started to get better. How his face changes, ever so slightly, (don’t blink you will miss it) when she says thank you. That look = hope. I lost a piece of my heart to Alan Rickman the first time I saw that movie (yes, I do mean Snape…he is so good). My other favorite moment is when Eleanor spontaneously combusts into tears when she realizes Edward is not married. I love her reaction. Pure emotion. Beautiful.


I must be honest that I have mostly just been reading my work (I am an editor). And I have spent a few minutes with a two-week-old Entertainment Weekly.


Purses! I will have show and tell soon…

Pictures with my camera. Walking around Point Defiance Park Friday afternoon has reminded me of all the gorgeous colors in the world. So many gorgeous colors and textures. (Point Defiance Park was where I snapped those photos of the roses I posted this weekend. It is an incredible park right on Puget Sound. Our delightful zoo is there so I could actually hear elephants as I took pictures.)


Last year at this time I took my camera with me everywhere, always thinking about what pictures to post here on this blog. The photos I took last Friday are reminding me of that feeling.


Listening to my golden retriever snore. Really, I love that sound.

A couple of delightful phone conversations with Alexandra this weekend. She called to let me know she did try the pumpkin doughnut at Starbucks. You, yes you, you should go try one too! (Oh and Alexandra – I did try the maple coffee drink…oh my goodness.)


All these gorgeous veggies and fruits. I love Tiny’s! Any thoughts on what to make with bok choy?


And I have been inspired to actually start cooking again. Started with Ina’s turkey meatloaf. (yummy)


A maple macchiato from Starbucks. (No they don’t pay me to advertise…but it is hard to escape that place out here. So good.)


A visit from some dear friends…in just a few short days.


About the lovely afternoon I spent with Letha on Saturday. We wandered through Ballard (a delightful Seattle neighborhood full of fun stores and cafes. They have so many coffee shops! (Oh I bought some shoes I will have to model for you!)

About how to redo the template of this blog so that I can post larger pictures without the sidebar being knocked down to the bottom of the screen. Any suggestions? On the same note: Has anyone switched from blogger to another blog host and been able to move their archives? If yes, please let me know how you did it. (thanks!)


A house full of candlelight. Last year at about this time, I read a blog post about how someone in this neck of the woods starts lighting candles before dusk so that the house is full of candlelight when it starts getting dark so early. Then as she walks around the house blowing them out before going to bed, she says blessings for people in her life. I have started doing this as well. It makes the house so yummy and cozy and warm. And blessings are always a good thing.

What have you been up to?

Friday, October 20, 2006

senses. fall rose garden.


{see} soft as cashmere yellow


{taste} ripe peach


{touch} full of life red


{hear} baby girl pink


{smell} the rose of many colors

{and know}

{and know} pink...and hope

Thursday, October 19, 2006

a bus full of poetry {poetry thursday}

My husband gets up before me almost every day (except for the nights I suffer from insomnia). So sometimes when I make my way to my laptop in the morning, I will find a clipping from the newspaper waiting for me. Something he thought I might want to know. (love this)

Earlier this week, I came upon a little clipping about a magic bus full of poetry. It seems that Wave Books has a bus that has been traveling around the country during September and October celebrating poetry with poetry readings and other events. 50 cities in 50 days.

My reason for telling you this is because the bus will be in Portland on October 24 and will be back in Seattle on October 27. If you are in this neck of the woods, you might want to check it out.

To read more visit this article at The Washington Post and this article at The Believer (which, by the way, is a very interesting online publication I have just stumbled upon).

And also check out the Poetry Bus Tour blog (I am calling it that...because...well, I think it is a blog).

A bus full of poets and poetry...sounds like a nice way to spend a few weeks doesn't it?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

what to do...

update: just got off the phone with my grandpa. he is still in the hospital and even though he said he is doing horrible, his voice sounded strong and i got him to laugh. i am feeling hopeful.


some thoughts running around my head today about little things you can do when you feel overwhelmed/sad/confused/afraid:

do call a friend when you need to talk; don't just think about it and wonder if she will have time for you or if he will be around, just dial the phone. (thank you and thank you. support from someone who loves you is a wonderful gift.)

ask your blogger friends for help. (thanks for kind words and sending such positive thoughts to my grandpa and to me.)

seek laughter. (if you are having a crappy day, seek out comedy specials on HBO. last night, i watched ellen's special here and now for the fourth time and laughed until i cried. i followed that with wanda sykes hbo special...oh she is some kind of funny. i think i might turn ellen on again later today.)

notice the little things your partner does to help you feel better. (jonny, thanks for making tacos and getting me ice cream.)

cuddle with your pet. (scoot over here millie.)

cuddle with your ugly dolls. (thanks for the support jeero and moxie.)

dive into the archives of a blogger you enjoy and really get to know that person. (this is my new way of reading blogs: read the entire archives. yes, i am doing this right now. i feel a bit like i am stalking alicia at posie gets cozy when i open her blog again and keep it open all day, but i am reading her entire blog in between chapters i am editing this week.)

wear flannel pj's and warm snuggly slippers. (especially if it is chilly out.)

notice nature. (there are so many birds in our backyard lately. cooler weather is here and they are eating so much.)

think about all the things you have to look forward to. (if you don't have something, create something. i have something that i am very excited about, but i am also thinking about little things, like grey's anatomy tomorrow.)

create something with your two hands. (cook some soup, paint a canvas, paint your toenails, write a poem. tomorrow i am going to finish those purses and start some gifts.)

curl up in child's pose. (i settle into this pose and breathe and invite my body to let go of all that it holds.)

take a long hot shower. (off to do this now.)

give in to the tears if they are there. don't be afraid of them. (going to probably do this right now, in the shower, too.)

what do you do?

The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keep out the joy.
Jim Rohn

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Somewhere in the last few days (on a blog I read, I am sure), I came across this quote:

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It goes on...
Robert Frost

I have been thinking about these words ever since I read them. I recall hearing this quote at some point in my past, but it was when I read it recently that it resonated with me in a way that stuck.

My grandfather is back in the hospital. He is bleeding internally. This is all I know. They thought he was okay. It doesn't seem that he is. I don't know anything else. I am sitting in the quiet of my home trying to work and mostly I am scared. My eyes are puffy from crying and my head feels full of snot. He is so far away and there isn't anything I can do right now but wait. And try not to jump to conclusions or let fear take over. So I wait.

Wait for that phone to ring.

I have been listening to a song over and over again lately...Kelly put it on a CD she made me after we connected at ArtFest last year. The song is called "We Walk the Same Line" (by Everything but the Girl). There is a line about how loud the phone rings when you're waiting for news. Yes.

And no matter what that news is. Good news. Things are just the same news. I don't know anything news. The worst news. Life just keeps going. That is the one certainty.

So I sit with this idea: When we realize that this is it, that life goes on, we then have the choice to decide how we will live in this life. Every day, you have this choice. Because every day the world just keeps going on around you.

Right now my choice is to realize that today is a day when I don't have the energy to go it alone. So I am asking you to take a second or two and send positive thoughts/energy/prayers to my grandfather in South Carolina. {thanks}

And if these troubles
should vanish like rain on midday,
well I've no doubt there'll be more.

And we can't run and we can't cheat,
cause babe when we meet
what we're afraid of,
we find out what we're made of.

So if you loose your faith babe,
you can have mine,
and if you're lost,
I'm right behind,
cause we walk the same line.

When it's dark baby,
there's a light I'll shine,
and if you're lost,
I'm right behind,
cause we walk the same line.

(lyrics from "We Walk the Same Line" by Everything but the Girl)

Monday, October 16, 2006

good morning monday {october 16}


back to Paul Simon. the graceland album.


project runway. i can’t wait for the season finale on wednesday!

a very odd, yet interesting movie called time after time. malcolm mcdowell as HG Wells if he had indeed built his time machine. (jack the ripper in involved. it is odd. let’s just say jonny wanted it in the netflix queue.) sidenote: we totally saw malcolm mcdowell in port townsend last month which is what prompted "netflixing" the movie. he was there for their film festival and ate at the same restaurant we did.

harvey. do you know this movie? oh how i love, love, love it. jimmy stewart. i adore him.

johnny depp on inside the actor’s studio (i couldn’t help but think of you michelle).


the newest copy of home companion (i subscribe now. i am owning my inner-craftiness.)

the poetry of li-young lee from Rose. i am so struck by his images. i just want to spend an entire day wrapped up in his words.


flower tea towel

so i don’t know what i am doing, but i tried appliquéing a tea towel for the swap i am participating in. (it is now on its way to australia!) [i have to admit i think it is cute but i worry it won’t survive the wash. like i said, i don’t really know what i am doing. {this is the part where you direct me to a tutorial.}]

and some new purses...here they are in progress...

purses in progress


those PC v. Mac commercials. i love them. i admit it. especially the new one where they are in therapy together. it cracks me up (i mean i actually laugh out loud).

pam garrison’s blog (i read her entire archives in the wee hours of the morning saturday). what a wonderful view of the world this artist has. hope to take a class from her at some point in the future!

alicia’s deliciously beautiful blog (i am currently reading her archives and enjoying every bit of wisdom, color, and craftiness that comes from her heart).

crafty synergy (a blog with interviews with women who have made their “craftiness” their life’s work).


thanks for the tips about the chards and the beets! we ate the chards saturday night (cooking them on the stove). jon liked them…i thought they tasted like grass…which is why I avoid those green leafy veggies so often. but I added some raisins and that was good. I am trying to love leafy veggies, really I am. we added the beats to salad – they were scrumptious. I have a few left so I might try to make a soup for fun…or just eat more salad.

this morning, i ate breakfast sitting at the table. tried to make it a little event of “me” time. no laptop. no tv. just me (and an old issue of MSL).

breakfast on October 16yes, that is a pumpkin scone (from my favorite grocery store: metropolitan market. and when you come visit, I will take you there and you will stand in the produce section and want to weep as well).


genmaicha (green tea with brown rice).

cranberry juice.


my (red) converse sneakers and my little dream to make a difference. this phrase “we are the people we’ve been waiting for” is resonating deeply within me today. it is one of the phrases used by people supporting the (red) campaign. if you missed bono on oprah friday, visit these sites to learn more:
(blog) red
become (red)/join (red)
the global fund
(red) oprah.com
i am going to write a longer post about this so it doesn’t get lost in the middle of my list here…but i hope you will think about joining me in supporting (red).


about the conversation i had with my mom friday. it was a good conversation, and we talked about lots of “stuff.” i learned more about my grandmother’s death in the midst of this conversation as i shared what i have been thinking about lately. (i learned that she was, in fact, alone when she died. i did not know this. somehow between the information from my mom, grandpa, and aunt, i thought the doctor/nurses tried to save her. but no, she was already dead. of course, this doesn’t affect the reality of her death. still, it changes my understanding. and fills me up with a mixture of new sadness and relief.)

about an incredible conversation i had with my dear friend letha on friday. this woman and her family are going to go to africa next year and change the world. i cannot wait to see what happens.

i have been reflecting on this idea i have talked about before that through my grief i found myself. and that 18 months ago i never would have dreamed that i would be waking myself up at 4 a.m. on a Saturday because my brain was filled with stories and ideas for things i want to create with my own hands. incredible. so i got up out of bed and sketched and researched some things. and then went back to bed for a while, then got back up and started creating!


my grandpa. he has been in the hospital all weekend and should be going home today. nothing too serious and for that i am so very thankful. (my fear of losing him just rests inside the grief of losing my grandmother. it is all so connected. and this weekend i just tried to keep it all on a little shelf inside my heart.)

this face. she is such a blessing to me. i am less lonely because she is here beside me every single day.


Friday, October 13, 2006

ohhhh the goodness...and how it connects to bringing in the sexy

such goodness

This is the loot from our first delivery from Tiny's Organics. Oh my...such delicious goodness.

two types of plouts, apples, arctic snow nectarines, salad mix, red chieftain potatoes, corn red chard, celery, carrots, and beets

oh my

I found myself eating a healthy lunch of celery with peanut butter (and some raisins because you need those) and a flavor rich (or was it the flavor king) pluot. Not some random thing that I found in the kitchen that is so not very good for me but I am starving and it is 3pm and I haven't eaten a thing yet. That is my usual way of getting through the day.

We will receive a big box of stuff just like this every Thursday. And each Thursday, I will probably scratch my head a bit about what to do with a few things...just like I did yesterday. So this is where you come in...

Thoughts on what to do with:
(or any of the rest of the stuff)

I don't think I had ever even seen chard (or noticed it at least) until yesterday.

And one more angle just so I can show off our new appliances. There is a pizza button on the microwave (and it works). Wish I had a before picture. Then you would really understand why we are so happy about it...

organic goodness and new appliances

{oh and yes...the part about bringing the sexy in...last week i mentioned at the end of my monday post that hanky pankies are the first step to bringing in the sexy. well, eating a bit healthier, feeling a bit lighter, feeling good about what i am putting in my body...that is another step.}

Thursday, October 12, 2006

a witness {poetry thursday}

This week, I have been spending time with Sharon Olds and the poems in her book The Father. If you have been stopping by here on Thursdays over the last few months, you have probably noticed that I tend to share poetry I have written about my grandmother and sometimes about her death. I haven't really found a "voice" to talk to her as I am living my life and she is no longer alive. When I reach for the phone to call her and then remember she is dead, I don't start talking to her anyway. At least not yet. (Though when I was cleaning my home office/studio a few weeks ago and kept running across letters from her/pictures of her in the oddest places I did start talking to her. "Janet, I have had about enough of this.") It is through my poems that I am finding my voice and addressing her. She is the "you" in my poetry.

Some people have mentioned that it must be healing to write about her. I am not sure I see it as healing. Though do we realize we are healing when we are or do we just notice it later? I don't know. One idea that has to come to me lately is this: By writing about her, I am a witness that she existed. She was a woman who didn't have many friends, she spent most of her days in her home, she wasn't close with many people, and she had a tendency to alienate others. But she changed my life. She taught me about laughter and acceptance and finding little joys in living a quiet life. It saddens me that it seems she didn't really teach anyone else these things. I am the one who experienced this side of her. And I can be her witness to share these pieces of her.

I also feel that writing/talking/sharing grief has to happen. We do not do this enough in our culture. I am almost bizarrely fascinated with it. I want to talk and talk and talk about my experience. I want to listen and learn from the experiences of others. And poetry has become a vehicle for both of these things.

The book of Olds’ poetry that I have been reading this week is all about her father, his illness, and his death. How to explain the feelings that come up as I read her words?

Before my grandmother died, I did not understand stories of people falling on the casket sobbing or someone pretending a loved one was still alive and talking to that person as though she is sitting across the dinner table with them, even when others are in the room. During my uncle’s funeral, his casket remained open. A song was played over the speakers while we all sat their quietly. My aunt stood up and went to the casket. I remember thinking, “does she know we all can see her?” I realize now that I was simply embarrassed by the intimacy of the moment. Goodness. Now I realize the last thing you are thinking about is what others are thinking about. Being “the good girl” doesn’t matter much when you have lost a part of your heart.

After my grandmother died, I suddenly understood why people do all that they do that we cannot understand when “dealing with” the loss of someone they love. Sharon Olds writes about this in a way that has me nodding through my tears. I am fascinated by her words, her images, her truth. And, I suppose, I am also healed by reading.

To hear Sharon Olds read a poem from this book, visit poets.org via this link.

To read more poetry posts, head over to Poetry Thursday.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

the good girl {self-portrait challenge}

the good girl jr year

After I read Michelle’s post last week, I began listen to the whisper inside my head that said, “let’s not spend time with all those imperfections.” I have spent the last two months encouraging myself and others to spend time looking in the mirror to embrace the “imperfections.” And it feels not-so-healthy to spend time dwelling on “Look, the tissues with lotion I have been using for my cold have invited two nice little pimples to live on the end of my nose. All ready for Halloween kids.” and other such fun thoughts.
So I am tweaking this challenge a bit and continuing what I started earlier this year when SPC gave us the challenge of “all of me.” I am embracing the imperfections that make me who I am. Last week I started with envy: Admitting I feel envy and owning that I think envy is part of being human.

This week, I admit to you that I am…simply…the good girl.

This is a picture of me from high school*. As some of you know, I went to boarding school. We had uniforms and nametags and a leadership system where the girls were prefects (yes, like Harry Potter). I was a good girl in high school. I never got in trouble. Nope. Not once. This isn’t to say I was perfect, but the few times I “broke the rules,” I did not get caught. When I went back to work at this boarding school I didn’t tell my students that their counselor had been “one of those” girls who never received an infraction. (If only my dorm mother had noticed my “I spent the night with Kenny Rogers” kilt pin or the non-reg green henley I used to wear under my blue oxford. Scandalous I know.) Most of my friends were “good girls” too so it was pretty easy to avoid breaking the rules.

I remember a friend saying to me, “when you are 25 I imagine you pulling up in my driveway on the back of a Harley with some older man your parents would not so much approve of.” Well, at 25 I did pull up…but in Honda Civic…with an older man…who is a teacher, a science teacher. Still the good girl.

I don’t want to list all the things that make me the good girl because, well, you might think I haven’t lived much. I appreciated Neil’s post yesterday (that included a longer version of this meme). And I admit that I wouldn’t be checking many of those boxes. Nope.

In college, I remember sitting on the floor of my apartment reading SARK’s piece about how “the good girlfriend must die” in Succulent Wild Woman. It resonated deeply with me. She says, “The ‘good girlfriend’ always knows what to bring to a potluck…doesn’t say fuck…looks sexy, but doesn’t live in her body…makes sure things are pleasant…always has effortless and pleasing orgasms.” Society’s image of the perfect woman who does it all and does it with a smile on her face letting you step right on her because you don’t see her at all.

Is this being the good girl?

I have wrestled with this idea throughout my adult life. I can be very in touch with the anxiety that surfaces about bringing the right/buying the right/wearing the right/having the right “thing.” I can be quite the stress-queen if I spend too much time looking at catalogs or watching HGTV. Do I HAVE to have THAT to be accepted?

I push back against the idea that dinner should be waiting for my husband when he gets home and I should be in charge of making all plans and so on. This became especially true when I started working from home but wasn’t yet working full time. I was here. Why wasn’t I keeping the house clean/making dinner/going to the grocery store/paying the bills on time? My husband never said he had this expectation, but my fear was big enough to start making assumptions about my “new” role. I had to realize that sometimes I push back to an extent that I forget we simply do these things for one another because we love one another.

I am bringing up two different ideas, but I think they are intimately connected. When we are younger our parents want us to be good girls. “Please be a good girl,” they tell us as we walk into a nice store, sit down in a nice restaurant, get ready to visit the relatives. Be a good girl. And that was easy for me. I will be good, quiet, behave, sit where told, smile, listen quietly while the adults talk, not swear, keep my skirt down, and on and on. And as we get older, we start to realize society also has expectations for how we can be the good girlfriend/woman/wife/mother/professional and on and on.

Somewhere along the way, you realize that there are many shades to being the good girl. And one day you realize, you are really always the good girl. Even when you say “fuck,” or forget to keep your skirt down, or get really drunk, or inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings, or bring attention to yourself, or make a lot of mistakes, and so on.

I want to propose a new way of looking at this. A new understanding of what being “a good girl” means. I recognize that the term “good girl” may not resonate with everyone. However, I think it is a phrase we all know; especially when we hear the voice of a parent say, “Be a good girl.” Imagine if our parents had said, “Be your best self.” What would this mean?

To be your best self is to do the best you can each day and honor that sometimes the best you can do isn’t what you hoped to do but the best you can do all the same.
To be your best self is to listen to the voice inside you.
To be your best self is to push yourself to be more than you ever thought you could be.
To be your best self is to speak your mind and shares your feelings while being aware of others.
To be your best self is to invite yourself to let go of the expectations of others to realize that you alone must own your journey.
To be your best self is to make a lot of mistakes, and even wallow in the bad choices for a bit, but eventually try to identify the lessons and then go about learning from them.
To be your best self is to admit you are not perfect and then to set out on an adventure of acceptance.

To be your best self…

I ask you: What would you add to this list? What does this mean to you?

(*yes, i am leaning against a statue of an indian. in high school, when i wasn't focused on wanting be a doctor and work with aids patients or be a constitutional law attorney, i knew i wanted to be an indian when i grew up. i will tell this story at some point in the future.)

See more interpretations of "imperfections" here.

Monday, October 09, 2006

good evening monday {october 9}

(have tried to post this several times. sorry to those of you who have bloglines etc. blogger and i are, shall we say, fighting.)
updated morning of 10/10 - second link in reading below now directs you to the great crafty blog two straight lines


tina turner (all the best – the hits). how can you not feel better when you hear her sing? how can you not sing? how can you not get up and shake your groove thing?


a very interesting movie called In My Country. so sad, but so good.

(and now this is the part where i admit to how much tv I have been watching lately)

Boston Legal (oh how I love the music)

john stamos on ER. i haven’t really been into this show for years (they lost me when dr. romano's (sp?) arm was sliced off by the helicopter. remember? it was so disturbing i jumped up from the couch and yelled scarying jon and traveler like I had been bit by something), but here i am watching it again. i kind of heart john stamos.

the opening scene of last thursday’s grey’s anatomy had me doing this kind of moan, giggle, oh my god sound. jon was watching from the kitchen like, “what is your problem. oh that damn patrick dempsey must be on the screen.” (when i was watching chris o’donnell in those batman movies, i would have never thought he would have me blushing in prime time.)

the “hot topics” on the view. yes. at 10 am a few times a week i tune in to see what rosie and the girls are talking about. i then turn it off. i loved watching rosie's show when i was in college and i am glad she joined this show. today though i had to mute elizabeth talking about her support of the war and george bush. it does take it’s own form of bravery to speak up when no one agrees with you, but man, i sure don’t agree with her. (well, maybe it really isn't courage when you are getting paid well and get to wear amazing clothes and are married to an NFL football player and and and all that stuff. maybe it is just...okay...this is not a political blog.)

battlestar galatica. such a good season premiere. but i said to jon that if there isn’t some glimmer of hope by the third episode, even if it is super tiny, i might not make it through this season. this show is so timely. as entertainment weekly mentioned, it is very post-9/11 and YOU should be watching it.

all the episodes of weeds so far this season. in one sitting.*


this blog. jerri has me laughing and being introspective, at the same time.

this blog. love all the crafty ideas and the way she writes.

and this blog. very inspired by the letter to the self on 10/6.

(had to expand this category a bit)

a three-bean chili with some chicken and buffalo (if you come visit i will be happy to make it sans meat).

sketching some new ideas for things i want to make. (yes, me…sketching. how much fun can one girl have?)

finishing up my package for the tea towel swap.


watching those boys play notre dame football on saturdays.

my new sweater from j.jill.


homemade hummus. i love my own the best (i must admit).

trader joes veggie corn dogs (yep, alexandra said they were good and she wasn’t kidding).


do you need to ask? of course…pumpkin spice soy lattes.

cranberry juice and ginger ale (i always drink this when i am sick).

mug after mug of tea.


diving into the poems of sharon olds.

our first delivery from yesterday morning’s scary experience.


about how important it is to be gentle with other’s feelings. yet i sometimes wonder why people seem to forget this when they talk to me but expect me to remember it all the time. (i know this isn’t really true, but i am just thinking about it.)

about the sirens and commotion millie and i heard at 1 a.m. when i was just getting ready to close my laptop and head to bed. it was happening down the street and kind of scary. I woke jon up when the motion detector light went off in the back. we didn’t investigate outside, but made sure everything was locked up. hopefully tonight’s night of sleep will be stress-free.


this autumn weather. candles burning, warm sweaters, knee socks, still warm enough to have the windows open a bit, pumpkins. just love it!

warm, fuzzy socks.

finding the gratitude in my life every day.

*a phone call interrupted me from a nap on Friday. now usually i hate phone calls that wake me up. not usually, always. i feel confused and vulnerable and thick-tongue-tied. but the caller id said our power/cable company, so i answered thinking, “did i forget to pay the bill?” it was a recording saying, “this weekend you have a free preview of showtime…includes on demand…” i woke right up and turned on the tv and started watching this season of weeds. oh how I love that show. this just made my weekend! (and yes, i did watch all eight in a row. that is what you get to do when you are sick and your husband has to work late and you don’t really know anyone in your town so you wouldn't have had any plans on a friday night anyway.)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

October 8, 2006 (or sorry my posts are so long lately...)

12 a.m. I turn off the light after sketching a few designs for a new craft project.

5 a.m. I suddenly wake up because of a tightness in my lungs. My nose can be a super sleuth sometimes and my first brief thought was that I was simply smelling the smell you might notice when you use the fireplace for the first time in the fall (which we had done a last night). Because I am still a little under the weather, I dismiss the thought and started to fall back to sleep. I think a bit about how the heater had just kicked on and maybe that was part of it. I close my eyes.

5:07 a.m. The tightness in my lungs is significant. So I get up. And walk down our little hallway to the kitchen/family room. To a room full of pretty thick smoke. I check for fire and notice the smoke billowing in from the two inch opening in the glass doors in front of the fireplace. I yell for Jon (and probably scared him more than he wants to admit) and start opening the sliding glass door and windows. He goes to the fireplace and starts breaking up the “fake” Duroflame log we had used the night before. He first checked the damper; it was still open. He started feeling the wall and it wasn’t hot. The smoke was still thick. We still have two fans out from the summer in the house (because we never put things where they go…like out in the garage when it is cold enough for a fire in the fireplace), so we got them going to get rid of the smoke.

5:15 a.m. I call my dad because I figure he is the only person I know awake on a Sunday morning. With the time change I could be sure of it. He agrees with us but is worried about a chimney fire. Jon goes outside and checks the chimney. Of course, it is dark here but he feels it and it isn’t hot. No flames coming from it. So we open up every single window in the house.

5:25 a.m. Millie looks at us like “are you kidding me? all this excitement and you aren’t even gonna let me out to do my business?” Jon takes Millie outside.

5:30 a.m. We get back in bed. I, of course, bring my laptop because I am wide awake!

{Note: The log didn’t really “work” right last night. Not sure how to explain but it never really began the nice usual, although brief, nice roaring fire. At this point we realize 1) we could have broken up the log before going to bed, 2) it smoldered all night and the fire wasn’t hot enough to push the smoke up the chimney and the cold air starting coming in and pushing the smoke down; when the heater kicked on and affected this all somehow [or something – this is the fuzzy part], 3) the smoke alarm did not go off, 4) we are lucky to be alive, 5) we are going to get the chimney professionally cleaned, and 6) we need to change the filter in the furnace.}

5:35 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. I start blogging in bed. During this time, Jon wakes up several times to complain that it is as though the sun is in the bedroom (aka my laptop screen). I find a great meme at DebR's and figure I might as well post in my blog since I am up. I change clothes and put on several layers and look for a hat to wear because I am freezing. I don't find a hat in the bedroom so I get back in bed and pull my turtleneck over my nose. Jon wakes up and thinks I have the turtleneck over my nose because he is breathing in my face. Nope. I email Lynn to ask if I can come over later to escape this freezing cold smoke-filled place we call home. I find lots of inspiration at the craft blogs I have started reading. I get two more blankets for our bed and snuggle closer to Jon (and Jeero, Moxy, and Babo – our uglydolls) with my laptop. My dad calls to check on us.

8:35 a.m. I close my laptop because my eyes are drooping. I put my laptop at the foot of the bed and wake Jon up to tell him not to kick it off the bed. (Has to be one of the oddest moments of the day. Totally something I would do but totally rude to wake him up. But I was so cold that nothing was getting me out of that bed.)

At some point after I fall asleep my mom calls the first of two times. She has no idea about what happened and just wants to chat about things she is finding as she is cleaning the basement. Ahhh…hello people…it is early here. This happens to us a lot on the weekends. People back "east" call us early when we are sleeping in. I want to gently say, "It was 3 a.m. your time when we went to bed." (It is okay. I know, I know, I don't have to answer the phone but I always do.)Even though it isn’t as early as it was when I was first awake it is still early. After I hang up with my mom, I blog a bit more. Then go back to sleep. She calls again. Jon gets up. I go back to sleep after agreeing that no, I dont' want the (very cheap) train set that I bought for my brother one Chrismas and stayed up late putting it together so that when he woke up in the morning there would be a train set running around the tree.

11:00 a.m. I finally get up. I blog some more.

11:11 a.m. Lynn emails me back and says, “come over.” We email a few times to confirm.

11:28 a.m. My friend Missy calls and we briefly talk. (Hi Missy.)

11:45 a.m. I finally get out of bed and get ready and to go to Lynn’s.

12:30 p.m. I gather my stuff to leave. My husband stays behind because he is worried that there could be a fire. I leave him grading at the dining room table where he is wearing flannel pajama pants and a hooded sweatshirt. He is wearing the hood. I get into my car and turn up the heat! I talk to my friend Rebecca on the drive to Lynn’s; it is her birthday. (Hi Rebecca. Come visit out here to see if you guys might want to move here. We have the mountains AND the ocean.) I also chat with my friend Heather who helps me through a mini-crisis.

1:30 p.m. I get to Lynn’s and LoveShack’s home (they live about an hour from us) and they both tell me they are glad Jon and I are okay. (me too.)

The rest of the afternoon I have a really good time with Lynn but have no idea of the time. In no particular order, over the next few hours: We chat and laugh and I eat some Cheese Nips. Lynn introduces me to the nitty-gritty of how bloglines work (yes, I have been blogging for a year and don’t subscribe to something like this). I like it. I contemplate using bloglines and maybe even getting rid of my blog roll (because the only reason I have one is to have a lot of the blogs I like to read in one place so I can access them from any computer). I explain my concerns about how blog rolls accidentally seem to hurt people’s feelings. (In my mind I think about how it is kind of like that moment when the drama teacher posts who made the play and you watch the person next to you look for her name and run her finger down the entire page. and she doesn’t find it.) Lynn and I talk about Poetry Thursday. We brainstorm prompt ideas and she tells me about the one we decide to use for today. I love it. We spend some time talking to Tater (Lynn’s hamster) and I call coo and try not to squeal too loudly about how cute tater is. We talk about sex and orgasms and bad experiences at the doctor and how teachers talked about sex when we were in grade school. I teach Lynn about imdb.com. Lynn makes me laugh. I decide I need to eat lunch. Even though Lynn is in the middle of today’s PT post and wants to finish it, she feels bad that I am starving and, even though it is out of character for her, pauses finishing her post (I don’t think that girl likes to leave things unfinished). We go to the kitchen and get stuff together to eat lunch. We realize it is 4:30 p.m. LoveShack come and eats something to and we have an interesting conversation about moms. I call Jon and he tells me he thinks the odor is getting better in the house. Lynn and I go to Ross Dress for Less and she buys three t-shirts and I buy a very soft green blanket for Jon to thank him for staying behind and keeping the house safe. We go back to Lynn’s house.

7:20ish p.m. I leave to head back to my house.

7:23ish p.m. I take a wrong turn and end up going up, up, and up this huge hill. Bet it is pretty in the day time. I turn around and head back in the right direction after about two minutes. I don’t panic.

7:30 p.m. I eat a piece of string cheese.

7:40 p.m. I call Jon to tell him I am on my way home and he talks to me for a while because I am kind of sleepy. The string cheese kicks in and I am awake and hang up and then sing all the way home.

8:20 I get home. The smell is better. So much better. Thank goodness. We close all the windows but one and turn up the heat (don’t worry, Jon did run the heat during the day at different points so he didn’t freeze to death).

8:30 p.m. I change back into the layers of clothes I had on earlier and put on my favorite wrist warmers (given to me by acumamakiki). Jon makes me some soup for dinner. I start to worry about North Korea. Mille stares at me until I let her up on the couch. I start up my laptop and check my email.

8:45 p.m. I eat soup and finish up some editing.

10:00 p.m. I watch Without a Trace while reading a few blogs and answering some emails.

11:10 p.m. I start writing this post.

11:50 p.m. I write down five things for which I am grateful today. You can probably guess at least one if not all of them.

a meme (because i'm up at 5:00 a.m. and not happy about it*)

i am wandering blogs in the wee small hours of the morning on a sunday when the whole wide world should be fast asleep. because. well, because it is sunday. and even if you have a sunday morning commitment, there is no reason you should be up yet...
and while wandering around, spotted this meme at DebR's and thought, "why not!?!"

the catch is you can only answer the questions with "yes" or "no." and that, my friends, was not easy for me. i like giving commentary about my life. yep.

but here we go...

Have you ever:
1. Taken a picture completely naked? no
2. Danced in front of a mirror naked? yes
3. Told a lie? yes
4. Had feelings for someone who didn't have them back? yes
5. Been arrested? no
6. Seen someone die? yes
7. Kissed a picture? yes
8. Slept in until 5pm? no
9. Had sex at work (on the clock)? no
10. Fallen asleep at work/school? yes
11. Held a snake? no
12. Ran a red light? yes
13. Been suspended from school? no
14. Pole danced? no
15. Been fired from a job? no
16. Sang karaoke? yes
17. Done something you told yourself you wouldn't? yes
18. Laughed until something you were drinking came out your nose? yes
19. Laughed until you peed? no
20. Caught a snowflake on your tongue? yes
21. Kissed in the rain? yes
22. Had sex in the rain? no
23. Sang in the shower? yes
24. Gave your private parts a nickname? no
25. Ever gone to school/work without underwear? no
26. Sat on a roof top? no
27. Played chicken? no
28. Been pushed into a pool with all your clothes on? no
29. Broken a bone? no
30. Flashed someone? yes
31. Mooned someone? no
32. Shaved your head? no
33. Slept naked? yes
34. Blacked out from drinking? yes
35. Played a prank on someone? yes
36. Had a gym membership? no
37. Felt like killing someone? yes
38. Cried over someone you were in love with? yes
39. Had Mexican jumping beans for pets? yes
40. Been in a band? no
41. Shot a gun? no
42. Shot a bow and arrow? yes
43. Played strip poker? no
44. Donated Blood? yes
45. Ever jump out of an airplane? no
46. Been to more than 10 countries? no

there you have it. like DebR, i am a bit perplexed by the 46 things. hmmm.
if you feel like playing along, join in!

happy wee-hours-of-the-morning sunday to you.

*i will explain why i am up later. we are safe and sound but it has already been an interesting day and i have only been awake for 65 minutes.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

a pumkin spice latte served with...well...a lot of happiness

living out here in the pacific northwest, next door to the hometown of the flagship store, my husband and i sometimes comment on the fact we feel surrounded by starbucks. when we first moved here in 2004, we would count them when we spent a day up in seattle. there are several places where there are two a block away from one another. it is, simply, unbelievable. jon and i crack ourselves up sometimes, “there’s one!” “wait, there’s one!”

recently, someone told me that people call starbucks, “six bucks.” (who told me that?) it is true. it is hard to leave starbucks without spending more money than one should ever need to for a cup of coffee. this morning, i ordered a grande pumpkin latte with soy and an apple fritter (they were out of pumpkin doughnuts…sad, sad). it was over $6. not kidding.

i believe in the idea that it is important to support the locally owned places. and we do. when you come to visit, we will spend a few hours in the cozy mandolin café, drinking coffe or tea (or wine) and eating scrumptious pieces of cake or huge cookies or even a delicious salad. we will solve the problems of the world because that is simply what one does there. the ambiance is incredible. there is free wi-fi. i spend an afternoon working there every few weeks and i know i should go there to write. it is a good place to get lost in your own words…or the words of someone else. they support local artists and musicians play almost nightly. it really is an incredible neighborhood café. but it is expensive too. the prices are about the same as starbucks. and if you eat a panini or one of their salads or a piece of quiche…the total quickly increases. that is okay by me because i appreciate paying a little extra for ambiance and the “free” wi-fi. but you aren’t saving any money by going there. still, supporting the local places like this one is an easy choice.

so here is my question. since moving here, one thing jon and i notice every time we go to starbucks is that the employees there are just about the happiest people we have ever met. have you noticed this too? they look you right in the eye and say welcome or how are you or great to see you today – every. single. time. they are lauging and making jokes with one another. they know the names of their customers. i have not doubt that if i went to the same starbucks weekly they would learn my name. they are always smiling. it is kind of weird. i can’t believe how happy they seem. every single time at every single starbucks. from the one in the mall to the one in the stadium at the university of washington to the one in the airport to the ones with the super nice couches and fireplace near alki beach. it is bizarre. i can be kind of grumpy, under the weather, haven’t showered, starving, and on and on (like this morning) and within seconds i am smiling. and i am not treated any differently whether i have my dirty hair in a Notre Dame baseball cap and am not wearing any make-up or if jon and i stop in after eating out and are dressed up.

i saw the ceo/owner/whoever that guy was of starbucks on 60 minutes earlier this year. he talked about the employee benefits and how good they are etc. hmmm…could something as simple as employee benefits make these people this happy?

i am currently editing a project about ethics in law enforcement and there is this section about using the image of being videotaped to help you decide how you should react to a situation. meaning, even though you feel alone in the moment you are faced with a decision, would your decision be any different if you knew you were going to be caught on film and others would see your actions? this makes me wonder: are the employees of starbucks being videotaped by the happy police?

i don’t know what it is, but i have to admit that i like it. i enjoy being greeted by the smiling faces of people who act like they genuinely want to make my day. it makes me feel, dare i admit it, special. i like that the young man who took my order this morning took the time to look at my name on my debit card so that he could tell me to have a nice day while using my first name. i like that, even though there was a short line of people, he still took the five extra seconds to do this.

i will still go to my favorite local spots and support the “little guy.” but when i am out and about, i admit that going to starbucks can be a good thing. for me. they serve up slight shifts in attitude and smiles with their lattes.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

a poem for poetry thursday

Today I am sick, working from bed all day. Millie keeps coming in somtimes cuddling with me on the bed, sometimes looking at me with an "are you really staying in there all day?" expression. My post for Poetry Thursday is late. But I didn't really start writing this poem until this afternoon, when a sudden connection danced across my brain. It is still a draft, but I decided to share it here. It needs to be set free into the world and not trapped in my heart. I also decided to do an audio post of the poem (which you will find at the bottom of this post), even though my head cold causes me to sound a bit different than my usual self. I wanted to release these words in both forms.


She opens the door and motions us down the hall.
As we walk, she says,
we had to put him on oxygen.
He pulls his face out of the mask,
looks into my eyes, reassured by my presence.
Or so I believe because he cannot tell me.
How much time?
I say, stroking his forehead.
He is suffering, be quick.
I whisper in his ear,
then nod.
Seconds pass as he looks into my eyes.
I stroke his forehead,
his eyes slowly droop.
She nods.
He is gone.
Sobbing, I lay over his body.

Today I think about you.
Wondering about those last seconds
when you were dying,
when they couldn’t fix you.
And I rage inside
at you
at God
at them.
I wanted to be there.
I wanted to stroke your forehead
and whisper in your ear.
Though the moment would have been greater
than a nod from one person
and an IV full of finality,
I wanted to be there.

She leads us back to the room.
A few minutes later they bring him to us.
I run my hands down his back and legs
wanting to feel every inch,
Touching his face, nose, neck,
removing his collar,
folding up the blanket
that cradled his body in the last moments.
I catch myself mesmerized by the stillness
of a body that would usually react to any touch.
Today, I wish I would have spent more time,
stroking, praying, wishing,
but then I was thinking,
they need the room.

A few hours after they wheeled you
out of the chapel, I was softly crying
(knowing my role was to be composed),
aching for the honor
of looking into your face
when the doctor nodded.
My aunt said to me,
we would have never gotten you out of that room.
I admit she might be right.
I might still be standing beside you,
stroking your forehead,
mesmerized by the stillness of your body.
And if someone said, m’am we need the room,
I would not move,
I would just stroke your forehead
wishing you to breathe
just once more.

this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

thoughts on blogging

While blogging over the last year, I have noticed a few themes that seem to come up for bloggers. When a person first starts blogging, she might wonder who is going to read her words. Then someone leaves a comment, then another, then three people are commenting almost every day! The frenzy to check for comments begins! With this comes lots of feelings. For some there might be connections that they aren’t experiencing in their day-to-day lives. For others there is recognition that what they have to say, what they have experienced, is valid. There is also a feeling of “they like me…they really, really like me.” I know I experienced this (and still do). I admit to a high-pitched squeal when I realized one of my favorite bloggers had linked to me on her website links page. It was as though I had won an award.

I believe we have the potential to make some incredible bonds with people through blogging. During the past few months, I have met some amazing, real, delightfully fantastic people in person and through conversations on the phone. And here is the wacky thing: I have felt a deep connection to each of them. Not kidding here. And through this, I have come to know more of who they are. Pieces that may not come across in blog world because they might choose not to talk about certain things happening in their life or we simply start talking about other things and realize how deeply we understand one another’s stories. Connecting with someone in person, face to face or voice to voice, is different from connecting with someone through email and comments.

Please know that this does not mean I do not think people cannot make deep connections through comments and email. Obviously, as a blogger, I do think connections are made this way. And those of you, and you know who you are, with whom I have connected in this way are treasured people in my life. Through emails you can share many parts of who you are and form a deep friendship with someone else.

When you read a book and feel a deep connection to the author, you might want to write them a note, but never do. In blog world, we can simply leave a comment. This is one of my favorite things about blogging. At the same time, we can project a deeper connection with someone because we have access to people in a different way through blogs. Through my own experiences and understanding that as bloggers, we do get our feelings hurt here in blog world, I have been thinking about something I do want to share that I think we, as bloggers, forget sometimes.

A few months ago, I had an “aha” moment while watching the movie The Hours. The idea was that every person has a story. From the clerk at a department store who is rude to you to the barista who is kind to you at your favorite coffee shop to the man who opens the door for you at the supermarket to the man who cut you off in traffic on your drive into the city to your best friend to your neighbor to your parents. We all experience joy, grief, love, anger, wonder, and pain. We all do. Yet we can easily judge others as though they could never understand our experiences.

I have begun to think and talk about this quite a bit over the past few months. This idea goes hand in hand with my belief that the only thing we are in charge of is ourselves. We can only decide how we react in our lives. We can’t stop others from doing what they do; we can only stop ourselves. And even though this seems simple, and in some ways it is I suppose, it feels like anything but easy.

When my father was here, we were driving in the car and for some reason our conversation turned to the topic of the choices you make when someone close to you is dying. How you might suddenly find yourself doing things you never thought you would. I had brought up that during the last two days of my dog Traveler’s life, I found myself taking care of him in ways I never thought I would another being. The day we knew we were going to take him to the vet for the last time when Jon came home from work, I sat with Traveler outside, that entire early February day, because he would not come inside. I could not get him to drink water. He would not move, even when he had to go to the bathroom. I kept him clean and sang and read to him all day long. I did not once think this was disgusting or worry about how cold I was and so on. I felt a deep connection with my dear golden friend that day and was honored to take care of him and be there when he died.

My dad began to tell a story about one of his attorney friends. When he mentioned the man’s name, I cringed because I only think of him in a negative way because of my parents’ divorce. I flat out do not think highly of this man. However, I didn’t say a word and let my dad tell his story. The man’s mother had died, I believe he said, a few years prior to this man’s father being diagnosed with colon cancer. My dad explained that this man took care of his father during his illness. This included bathing him. He put on swim trunks and maneuvered his father into the shower. As he was washing him, his father looked at him and said, “Your mother would be proud of you son.”

This man, whose name I hate hearing, has a story. He has a mother and a father who love him. He has a story. He. has. a. story.

My father also mentioned taking care of his own father when he was dying. I hadn’t really thought about that. My father taking care of his dying father. My grandfather has, in my mind, always been, “my grandpa who died before I was born.” After losing my grandmother, I have begun to see that my father lost his father when he was younger than I am now.

Everybody has a story.

Here in blog world, it is easy to let your feelings get hurt when you feel a connection with someone through comments and an email or two and then suddenly they aren’t commenting on your blog. “Where did they go?” “Why don’t they like me?” “What did I do?” These are the questions that come up. It is easy to feel hurt when you notice a deep connection forming between two bloggers you want to be close to. “Why doesn’t she say ‘love ya’ when she leaves me comments?”

Even though we know so much of one another’s stories here in blog world, we do not know everything. How could I possibly explain everything here? How can you? How can each of us have relationships where we talk on the phone or email daily? Goodness. We would never have time for all of that.

It is easy to forget that all bloggers have a life away from their computer screen. We each have things happening every day that no one in blog world knows. Even though I feel like I bare my soul here, there is so much I do not say. I am sure the same is true with you and you and you.

My work hours increased earlier this summer and I couldn’t read blogs daily like I used to, which meant I wasn’t leaving comments, and I wasn’t posting daily on my blog. As a result, I experienced an interesting exercise for my ego as I saw my traffic decrease and my blog comments go down. But wait! I thought I was one of the cool kids. I thought people liked me. I thought my traffic was increasing! I had to admit that I was letting blogging become that for me: A measure of how much people liked me. Wow. When had that happened? I started this for me. Then my blog and the blogs of others became places for me to feel connections with people in ways I had seldom experienced before. But I am not perfect. I cannot visit every blog I enjoy every day, and I cannot even visit many of them weekly. In fact, there are several blogs in my sidebar I have not been to in a long time. But that doesn’t say anything about the person who writes that blog. And I want to say this too, even though I might be whispering, that doesn’t really say anything about me either.

We all have our stories. I do. You do. We cannot know each element in another’s story. When these feelings come up for you, whatever feelings they are, think about them. What are they really about? When do they come up? Why? Are you reaching out to the very blogger(s) you are having feelings about? Why are you really blogging? What does it mean to you?

Last Saturday I was in the car with my dad’s girlfriend and she told me a bit of her uncle’s story and how it affected her. When she finished I was just struck by this idea that people all have something they have experienced, but they don’t necessarily tell you the first time you meet them or the second or three years into knowing them. It comes up when it comes up. And even though it might be something that deeply shaped them and you already feel like you know so much about them, you have no way of knowing until they share it. Even then, you still don’t know everything. We cannot know. We only know us.

We have all been on a journey that brings us to this place. Right now. We should be gentle with our own feelings and careful to think about why we are moved to judge another.

And I hope that through blogging we share pieces of our stories each day to continue to seek validation, connection, and truth.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

the good, the bad, and the envy {self-portrait challenge}

feeling envy tap me on the shoulder b&w

I have been singing Paul Simon’s song “Wartime Prayers” for several days now, and I am continually struck by the line, “I want to rid my heart of envy, and cleanse my soul of rage before I’m through.”

The honesty of this idea. Admitting we hold envy and rage inside of us is a difficult thing. Many of us might say, “oh no, not me. I don’t feel envy or rage.” It might be easy to let a similar phrase just roll off of your tongue. Hmmm…might not happen very often, but I suspect we all go to a place of envy or rage in our minds every now and then.

Envy comes up for me when I flip through the pages of magazines and catalogs. That feeling of “I want” followed by envy of those who “have” what it is that “I want.” I want to look like that actress and have her clothes and live in a big house on the coast and on and on and on and on. Take a breath. Take a breath.

Envy comes up for me when I hear that someone can eat whatever they want and are thin as can be. When I hear someone say they love to exercise. When I hear someone would rather have salad than dessert. (Okay, maybe not the last one…I wouldn’t trade those doughnuts and jam I had last week for any other food out there…maybe it is when someone has the willpower to eat more salad and less dessert.)

Envy comes up for me when I read an incredible book like Eat, Pray, Love. I want to be published. I want…I want…I want…

Envy comes up for me when I hear people talk about their ability to set boundaries with others in their lives. That they have found a way to say “no” and that they are okay with whatever the other person responds.

Envy comes up for me when I hear about couples who have sex all the time. Yep. I am so jealous of those couples.

Envy comes up for me when I read about people being able to travel all over the country, all over the world. The places they have been.

Envy comes up for me when I hear a leader of another country make sense and speak coherently.

Envy comes up for me when people can ease into shoulder stand without fear.

Envy comes up…envy comes up…

When does it come up for you?

Monday, October 02, 2006

good morning monday {october 2}


as you might have guessed, i am still singing paul simon.


disc five of oprah's twentieth anniversary DVD collection.

studio 60 on the sunset strip. (it is on tonight. oh yeah. it is on tonight.)

doctor who. (okay, it is really jon’s show. i don’t love it like he does. but i watched it with him all the same.)


pure style living by jane cumberbatch.

the poetry of anna swir.

this beautiful post by pixie.


still creating purses! (not that much farther than i was last week, but i am getting there.)


spending half the day in my pajamas watching tv and reading blogs. love sundays.


doughnuts and jam for dessert at The Dahlia Lounge in Seattle. i am still talking about them. it was quite an amazing experience. (i kept quoting Joey from Friends - doughnuts? jam? "I say put your hands together.")

amazing cheese from this italian deli maureen introduced me to when she was here. take a sweet cracker and top with a blue cheese-esque, roquefort, gargonzola blended cheese, a walnut, and a dollop of mango chutney.

scallops and prawns on the grill.


pumpkin spice soy lattes.


the arrival of our new appliances today and the installation tomorrow. (not just the dishwasher but a new stove and microwave. could this BE any more exciting??)

the first episode of battlestar galactica on Friday night. (yes, we like sci-fi in this house.)


about the time i spent with my dad and his girlfriend when they were here. a nice time had by all.

about the way my husband takes care of me. (thank you sweetie.)


this blog and this blog.

hanky panky underwear. (here’s the scoop. they are one size fits all. they actually have a larger size but i found it to be a bit too big for me. however, how can you not love a company that has sexy underwear for all sizes??!! i have seven pairs now. one for each day of the week you ask? ahh…yes! I have been searching for sexy underwear that fits! and is also comfortable! and can be worn with lower rise pants but still cover my belly! [though I would avoid the super, duper low rise that they have unless you don’t want to cover much. which is okay, but not for me. i am wearing the regular thongs.] yes. it is a thong. but, no, it does not become “floss” and you don’t even notice it is a thong. because it isn’t a typical thong. I can even wear them doing yoga and I don’t notice them at all. they also have boy shorts that I will try soon. if you are thinking “nope, not for me” send me an email [not kidding] because i think you need a pair. just one. just try them. they might change your life a bit. i am trying to bring the sexy into my life [since it seems to have moved states] and this is the first step.)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

skin, paul simon, and blogging {sunday scribblings}

For the last two months, several bloggers have joined me in an exercise of looking in the mirror each day. Spending time looking at the skin in which we live.* I have written about how my face seems to have become the face of someone else, the person who is truly me. Similar to how people start to look a little different as you begin to know them, really know them, and love them. This feeling continues today. I look in the mirror and I see someone I have always known, but someone I know and love just a little more.

I realize that the next step to my journey is looking beyond my face to the rest of my body. Loving all of me. That is not so easy. To love all of the skin in which I live. Step by step, letting go of the judgment, breathing, opening up a little, being honest, looking myself in the eye, cracking open a little more…I will get there.

This journey, these “aha” moments, the little realizations, and being present here and writing about it, all of this is changing my life. Day by day. I am more awake. Sometimes I just want to start dancing through the streets shouting, “Do you see me? I am alive? Yes! I am finally me.” I called this blog “be present, be here” because being present and alive in my life was something I was seeking for myself. This will be something I always seek, but I have found that by writing every day and opening up my heart to others, I am actually present in my life more often than not. And this means I am healing. It is as though each day another stitch pulls through my broken heart.

Earlier in the summer, I wrote a post about a song called “Once Upon A Time There Was An Ocean” by Paul Simon. (You can read this post here.) The day I wrote it, I was sitting in my bed with my laptop, listening to his new CD. I didn’t know all the songs yet but was enjoying them as though he was sitting in my room singing to me. And when that song came on, something shifted inside me. I felt like he wrote those words just for me. As though we share an understanding of something bigger than both of us. Over the last few months I have listened to this song on repeat often and have downloaded other songs to my iPod and melted into the words of this songwriter. Driving home from Seattle two weeks ago, I was singing in the car and was taken aback by a line from “I Am a Rock,” a song I have known since I was a small child, “I have my books and my poetry to protect me. I am shielded in my armor, hiding in my room, safe within my womb.” For so long this was my truth. To hide behind the words of others so that I did not have to share my own.

On Friday night, my dad, his girlfriend, and I were standing in front of the merchandise counter before the show (Jon was standing back but he was there). I don’t usually get t-shirts (because I hate how I look in them and the “girly” Ts are never big enough for this chest of mine) but my dad was insisting I get one. There was a great brown one with the name of the new CD (Surprise) on it and a man in a canoe. But then suddenly I realized that the blue shirt on the top row said this: I figure that once upon a time I was an ocean. But now I’m a mountain range. Something unstoppable put into motion. Nothing is different, but everything’s changed.** And had an outline of Paul Simon singing with his guitar.

I began to tear up and pointed. The young man behind the counter just kind of looked at me, “which one do you want?” That one please. And I hugged that t-shirt through the entire concert. He didn’t sing this song (I didn’t think he would, I had seen a set list from another concert on this tour), but I felt like this song means as much to him as it does to me. I wore it to bed that night and dreamt of Paul Simon singing all night long.

During the concert, my eyes filled with tears several times, but it was during the second encore when Paul stood on the stage alone with his guitar that the tears made the journey from my eyes to the skin of my face. I have heard “Wartime Prayers” maybe a hundred times over the last few months, but it was having my entire focus on this man singing his words that made them sink into my heart. And for the last two days I just keep singing these words at the top of my lungs:
Because you cannot walk with the holy if you’re just a half-way decent man.
I don’t pretend that I’m a mastermind with a genius marketing plan. I’m trying
to tap into some wisdom. Even a little drop will do. I want to rid my heart of
envy, and cleanse my soul of rage before I’m through.

I sit with my legs crossed on the couch, laptop on my lap, headphones on, Millie curled up beside me. My arms above my head as I sing these words as the words dance around me, inside me; these words are everywhere.

But as I listen to this song, just as I did Friday night, it is these words that remind me of what I need most of all. What we need:

Well, you cry and try to muscle through, Try to rearrange your stuff. But
when the wounds are deep enough, and it’s all that we can bear, we wrap
ourselves. In prayer.

We walk through this journey together. We are not alone. We hold one another up. With our words, our truth, our past, our future. We grasp the hand of the person next to us, we touch them, skin to skin. We say, together, we say, “you are not alone.”

*This is the part where I say I thought I would have time to truly “lead” this exercise but life was just too hectic. Thank you for sharing your stories on your blogs and joining me on the journey.

**Lyrics from "Once Upon A Time There Was An Ocean" by Paul Simon. To read all the lyrics of this song and the others from his newest CD visit
Simon's website.
To read more words that all started with the writing prompt "skin," visit Sunday Scribblings.