Sunday, March 28, 2010

gardening as community

today i received one of the best gifts: golden raspberry starts. a friend had been thinking ahead and brought them to church for me in a bucket.

the anticipation of putting in a garden seriously thrills me. and doing it together is even better.

all of the generative moist earth of spring gives way to what will become autumn's harvest. i simply can't wait to get my hands dirty.

another woman that i walk with has already talked about sharing extra seeds with me. and i've been asking my neighbor what her favorite vegetables are.

counting down to rototilling at the end of may... and how will your garden grow?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

who are the debolts and where did they get all these kids?

this movie is my new top pick of the year. filmed in the 70's, "who are the debolts (and where did they get 19 kids)?" is a must-see.
not only did their story redefine my meaning of family, courage and love but it completely undid me. my heart for adopting kids grew exponentially.

with tears rolling down my face, i watched--just one of many examples--as their son JR (blind and paralyzed from the waist down) climbed the stairs for the first time on his own.

the humor, insight, playfulness and teamwork of this family is nothing short of miraculous.

Friday, March 26, 2010

the circles we run in

when i'm doing a lot of art projects and take a break to go for a walk, it's fun to practice noticing patterns and light.

circles are what i noticed today. old-fashioned windmills, water rings in ponds, stacks of truck tires.

i'm sure it's the country mouse in me, but i was just thinking that there's nothing quite as beautiful as a neatly stacked woodpile.


melt and stir
my metal down
until none remains

no alloy here
changed or weak

attributes not mixed
but purely you becoming
all in me, love's property

alchemist divine

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

baby chicks for sale

my car wanted to turn into the wilco parking lot today and i wanted to buy a chicken. i am not making this up. every spring they bring the baby chicks in and keep them in a stainless steel tub on an aisle between horse tack and garden mesh. they are only $2.50, the chicks that is. less than the price of a good espresso. i came close to missing my turn because i was imagining how cute the chick would be in the bathtub until it wasn't so cute anymore and reality called me back to my senses.

i knew this couldn't just come from nowhere, but i had was delighted by a rediscovery of the father-daughter connection.

tonight we were celebrating my mom's birthday which falls on st. patrick's day and yes, her name is pat. we were eating and drinking our customary green colors when my dad said, "spring really begins when you go and visit the baby chicks at wilco, you know. i just did that the other day. that and collecting pussy willows; i'll bring you some next time."

i looked at him and we both immediately recited from memory what he used to tell me while we fed the birds down at the lake when i was four. back when i pronounced grey "gway".

"there was a pussy willow/her name was silver grey
she lived down in the valley/not very far away
she'll always be a willow/she'll never be a cat
meow, meow, meow/now what do you think of that--scat!"

seriously, dad, you too?! just today i wanted to buy a chicken at wilco! and i still love pussy willows.

we of course had to make several metaphorical statements about this. because we have a love of metaphor and a silly sense of humor in common too. i didn't fully realize that my love of marking seasons in special ways is a gift passed down as well; one of those things you subconsciously absorb just by happening to grow up in your family of origin.

proud to have irish blood (mcmichael) and proud to be their daughter. as for the chickens, i'll just window shop--for now.

Friday, March 12, 2010


such tenuous
cupped and
reaching for the
small rain
falling on my
also open palm

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

the posse

canby high '92 "posse" left-right (sydette, erin, tracie, myself, shelley, matt, jenny & chris, pam & wes) regathered march 2010.

we played with words too. we edited the canby high school literary magazine "the patina" together. tracie and i did prank calls if that counts towards eloquence. nearly everyone competed on speech team and learned to twirl those pens or spoke up in mr. dage's existential english class while he wore those birkenstocks and only occasionally took breaks from sartre to read us his own stories.

and we were funny, at least we thought we were. saturday night live. monty python. "deep thoughts by jack handy". some of it is even still funny--to us. and we are the ones who matter because there we are, laughing.

now, here we are eighteen years later in the very nice home of jenny and chris, surrounded by children that bear their dna. some posse members married each other and between everyone, there are actually 22 offspring now who will carry on the tradition and start a mini posse. so, amid the shared drinks and HOA discussions (beware the unsightly clover, they are watching you!) you realize that there's just something about shared history, inside jokes. these are people who knew you when you were a cheerleader.

we grew up to be moms, dads, teachers, professionals. but all it would take would be for matt to begin reciting the first thirty numbers of pi like he did in mr. gingerich's 7th grade math class to make us come unglued.

the few. the proud. the posse.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

no line on the horizon

on my commute home, i generally like quiet after being called "miss smith" 159 times, give or take 20, in succession. i love to drive my zippy little car "dubonet" and really, dundee isn't that far. it gives me time to think, write in my mind, sing and look at the scenery (within reason). my car is a sanctuary on wheels and music, many different kinds, is an important part of that.

this time each year, i go through a distinctly U2 phase. their "no line on the horizon" cd has certain songs which, as the essence of worship goes, far outdo some contemporary praise songs i know. it's still on my bucket list to see them live again, although i did go to a concert of theirs back when we actually waved lighters in the air instead of cell phones. (i know, and a blackberry was just a fruit and an icon was part of early church history.)

at any rate, consider the lyrics "from the womb, my first cry, it was a joyful noise. i give you back my and i will magnify the magnificent." or "is it true that perfect love drives out all fear?" or "only the Lamb as white as snow."

i have watched my portion of willamette valley "pink" into cherry blossom season to these words.

what is car time for you and what music is particularly meaningful to you these days?

Monday, March 8, 2010

confession of a bibliophile

in a letter to marks & co. 84 charing cross road in london, helene hanff writes, "gentlemen, the books arrived safely. one is so fine that is embarrasses my orange-crate bookshelves. i'm almost afraid to handle such soft vellum and heavy cream-colored pages. being used to the dead-white paper and stiff cardboardy covers of american books, i never knew a book could be such a joy to the touch."

i, like helene, have a shelf for every kind of book. and, i must say, i love touching them as much as her missive describes.

on a recent trip to powell's with a friend, we swapped authors and browsed at leisure. just as i was telling her about a particular book, we happened to see it on the shelf. now, i own this one, but i've never read it. mainly because the author was in my writer's group several years ago and we were all a bit envious of her success. after all, we drank the same coffee and sat in the same chairs and she has gone on to greatness while we continue to drink the same coffee, edit and rewrite ad nauseum.

when i got home, i took it off the shelf. what a great time of year to give up pettiness and be happy for her; for all the work that she poured into this, for how much of herself, her time and her family she gave up to birth these stories. what a solitary and arduous profession is writing!

and you know what? i love her book. it reads like poppies blooming; makes you pay attention but without the slightest hint of narcissism. i simply celebrate her a little more with each page turn. i guess the best writings can't really be collected as much as they can be shared. books are still a joy to touch but more importantly, something to allow ourselves to be touched by.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

trees in a story about a forest

this sign is posted at one of my favorite hiking spots. it reads:

"valley ponderosa pine trees and other species are being thinned, limbed and released to improve forest health and prevent catastrophic loss of natural resources in the event of a wildfire and/or disease."

our family has forty acres in southern oregon that requires much of this preventative medicine.

pruning as metaphor again reminds me that the thinning in our lives is not only for fruit, but also for saving us and others from greater loss.

we are, after all, as donald miller says, "trees in a story about a forest."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

alloys and alchemy

i could not sleep tonight until i looked up two words: alloy and alchemy. i've been thinking alot about the phrases "unalloyed love" and "love's alchemy" (from respective devotionals, poetry) and wanted to know more of the etymology.

alloy: a partial or complete solid solution of one or more elements in a metallic matrix. theory being that alloying one metal with others metals often enhances its properties. but since they are not pure metals, tensile strength and melting points may differ from the constituent materials.

alchemy: the art of transmuting metals in attempts to change base metals into gold; practical aspects of which generated the basis of modern inorganic chemistry.

the challenge: can i/you write an Easter poem using both of these words? i'm going to try...

and, thankfully, now i can sleep, having learned something new it is a good day!