Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Man Who Did Something

Seth was on the sun deck when he heard the clanking and decided to go around to the front of the house to investigate.

It was a small brown-skinned girl who looked about the age of three, running through the front field, shirtless with unkempt hair. The clanking came from the bell that was attached to the dog collar around her neck.

Seth suspected she came from Inland Forest where people had built large huts and set up tents and made traps to catch the animals. Why a forest person would wear a collar, he could only speculate.

He rushed toward the girl and when he got close enough, she bit him in the thigh. He could've gotten angry. Instead he took a deep breath of the clearest air in the country and, as he did so, his heart swelled huge.

The girl began to sob, for both her legs were bleeding. Unbeknownst to Seth, she had tried to glean aid and comfort from her oldest brother in the forest, but he had only yelled at her to shut up and kicked her in the stomach. Seth crouched down to speak with her in soft tones and whispers, and when he knew enough trust had been established, he gently removed the collar that had been chafing her. He took her inside to draw a bath, and when the blood was washed off, he wrapped her in a towel still warm from the dryer.

She wouldn't speak much, so he gave her paper and markers. Soon his fridge was full of her handiwork and it gave him all the more joy. "Carry on, my little angel, as fast or as slow as you'd like."

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Week at Watch Lake, BC

The children and I arrived at supper time. The thunder rolled when we got out of my car and there was the faint smell of campfire—smoke that probably drifted from across the lake somewhere.

I offered to set the table and we had hamburgers, but not the kind you're thinking about. We used mashed potatoes instead of buns. I accidentally laid an extra place setting and didn't notice until we all sat down, so I said it was for Mr. Nobody.

The next day we drove along a bumpy road, got waylaid by a herd of cattle, and ended up at a beautiful ranch for Canada Day celebrations. There were lots of people. Trevor got the runs, though, and we had to leave early. "This is the worst day of my life!" he said. It's like that for kids, you know, if they've never experienced diarrhea before.

On Thursday, my Dad drove me to the emergency room at the hospital because I had an eye infection that wasn't improving. During the ride, he spewed out negativity. You'd think I'd be prepared for it by now, but I wasn't. When I'm not prepared, I listen quietly and assume the person needs to vent. And when I am prepared, I like to either change the subject or use some of the empathy techniques I learned at Trinity Western University, depending on what the negativity is about.

You may have guessed by now that my parents live on the waterfront. A mama Goldeneye and her six babies came by a few times. I liked watching the babies dive into the water and pop up again. My children would stand on the dock with their nets to catch minnows and when seven ducks paddled over they got bread from the kitchen and tossed in little chunks, chanting, "Eat! Eat! Eat!"

That's something about Watch Lake: all the birds. At one point, an osprey flew above, later a gull, and on the water there was a greeb as well as a loon.

On Friday we went to another ranch. A lady named Ann, who looks like she's in her early sixties, works it all by herself. She's got chickens, sheep, goats, two friendly dogs, and two highland ponies. The marsh is full of black tadpoles right now. They're fat and most of them have only two legs.

Ann let us feed the baby goats and lamb with bottles and I think that was my favorite part. Later we sat inside her house and drank tea. "For the longest time, I had only three hummingbirds coming around, but now there are five." She talked about Africa with my Dad, who can be quite charming, and she connected with my Mom on the topic of Tao Chi. I didn't say anything at all. I'm not sure why. As for the children, they were antsy.

I can't remember which day we took the boat out, but it was a good time.

On our final night, I was tucking Trevor into bed and he said, "I'm lucky I get to sleep with you." Then he looked at the quilt with the pattern of zigzag snakes, and commented on one of the diamonds (a space between the zigzags). "If you turn it, it looks like a square, but squares are actually diamonds."

And, finally, to end a lovely stay, I met a soft-eyed doe during my walk. She let me get real close; I could almost reach out and touch her.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Expectations and Challenges

When I rely on other people to give me a sense of worth, sooner or later I'm going to get sorely disappointed.

I need reminding.

Usually it's best to have low expectations of people. After all, they are humans which means they're beautiful but they're going to do stupid things. They're going to break their promises, show off, focus on themselves too much, speak insults, etc. I think it's easier for me to remain unruffled if I have it in my mind ahead of time that they're not going to behave the way I would like. This helps me, at least occasionally, to focus on what I can do for them rather than what they can do for me. I like living that way.

A side note: I found this was much easier to do before I had babies. Now that they're older and I've got my shit together, I think I'm returning to it. And now I have a better idea of how to take care of myself, so I feel relieved about that.

I'm still learning how to challenge people to be the best version of themselves while having low expectations of them at the same time. On the surface it seems like those two maxims can't go together, but I think there's a Way.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


pieces of neptune
slip through our fingers
and land in these insatiable places
where words do not meet
and voices lose their sound

i've been somewhere like this before
and our story is not over

Sunday, June 21, 2015

composition 32

It's been a while, I know
'cause I lost my place
I wanna see your face
I wanna see your face

I like my solitude
but I want to come unglued
Is there something up your sleeve?
What doubts arrive in the morning?

Is that you standing behind me?

I don't know why you're in my mind
I don't know why

You've been building there
You gonna let me see?
Walk me to your door
Amuse me a little more

Is that you standing behind me?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Kiss Me

I straddle this homeward horse,
one leg dangling into a memory
the other into this present day

I come for your magic kisses
but they're not real, I say,
your lips are of legends
and I am a lump of clay

Kiss me anyway

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Sapphire felt a round, spongy object in the grass. It was last week's hamburger. "You guys, I don't think this is the secret but maybe we can use it for something."

"That depends," said Sara. "How many pickles are on it?"

Sapphire was afraid to check.

Leigh noticed her hesitancy. "I'll do it. You'd think there'd only be one." The bun fell off as Sapphire handed it over.

"If there's more than two pickles on it, maybe I'll put it into Mom's soup," said Sara.

Leigh glanced at Sapphire. "Maybe means yes."

Sapphire said, "It does? Is this all in my head? Please help me. When is this soup thing going to happen?"

"Whenever the time arrives," said Leigh.

Sara leaned over to get a view of the hamburger. "Three! Perfect."

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Search

The blue diamonds sparkled despite the sun not reaching them beneath the back patio steps.

"I—I think we can't go in there and get them," said Leigh.

"No?" said Sara.

"They look ready to go, but it would stir things up. It's too stressful for her and so many complications."

Meanwhile Sapphire was standing behind them. All she could do was let out some choking noises.

The two girls turned around and that's when it dawned on Leigh. "Urgh. You lied to me."

Sapphire gathered her words. "I'm sorry. It's true and also not true. I don't know how to explain."

"That's okay," said Sara. "It's like I often tried to tell you before. You don't need to apologize. We expect this sort of thing."

Sapphire dropped onto her hands and knees and began feeling around in the grass as if she were blind. "Leigh," she said, crying. "I can't find it."

"What are you looking for?"

"The secret."

Leigh knelt down beside her. "Don't give up."

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Salmon Square

with no written record
it's hard to remember oneself
or make sense of a man's process
except to know red,

natural tones having faded
into the distance

all that subjection and requirement
made a world glass-like
with blurry backgrounds
and on the rare occasion
a close-up arrest
almost like it's happening now


Friday, May 22, 2015

Inside My Teenage Mind

You have your driver's license this year. It means I see less of you when I'd rather be with you as often as possible. I don't want you to know this. Loving you in the depths that I do, the risk doesn't seem worth it right now. Teenage romantic relationships don't usually endure and if I get into something with you then I want it to last. Besides, I don't know if the feeling is mutual. Probably not.

The ache.

Eventually you get your first apartment. I admit it to myself I want to come over every day, but I know it's unlikely to happen. You're busy living. Socializing, partying. Things to do, places to see, plenty of other girls to hang out with.

How can I try to see you more without you discovering I have this terrible wonderful crush on you? I know! I have a crush on your roommate. Sure, that's it. A good excuse.

This is ridiculous.

You're interested in my creativity and, for me, this means you're also interested in my heart and how I see the world. The more you compliment me on my sweetness, the more generous and kind I want to become, and it is this lovely upward cycle.

But I am a closed flower, unsure of how and when to open without getting burnt by the sun. I sense you're trying to help me with this, but neither of us has gotten the secret. Or should I say the secret has not yet gotten us? Sometimes it feels like we're getting closer.

This will all become memories for me. The kind that get tucked in deep where they stay protected, no matter how fierce the storm of madness.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Boy, Trampoline, Book

I've been trampolining often because our little guy, Trevor, really likes it. He is five. A week or so ago when the weather was cooler he asked if he could watch me do some flips and I was wearing my hooded sweater so whenever I landed (usually on my butt) my hood would go up over my head, covering my eyes. He laughed.

Yesterday he had several soccer balls on there and he said, "You can't touch the balls, Mom." But, of course, they rolled and bounced into us and there were so many we couldn't avoid them. There was a pink ball in the mix as well, one of those that you sometimes see inside large cage-like containers in department stores, but it wasn't ours which means it must've come over the hedge from the neighbor's yard. I think Kevin threw it back over later.

Trevor likes to dare me to double-bounce him as high as I can, and he shows me his tricks which sometimes include his pants falling off. One of his favorites to play with me is 'Ring Around the Rosie' and sometimes his sister, Tamara, jumps with us and we play trampoline tag.

I'm fascinated by the wisdom that can be gleaned from a five-year-old. Last night I read a tongue-twister, Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss. At the very beginning the fox holds a sign that reads "Take it SLOWLY. This Book is Dangerous!" Trevor giggled and said, "It's not dangerous. It's only a book!"

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

River Occurrence

there are times for salmon
when deep water refuges become prisons
i don't know how or why
but i like it when i see them free
glinting silver while they jump

as bears know
there's an art to catching a leaping salmon
putting paws in certain places
waiting for a pinnacle moment
to sink teeth into scales
puncture pinkish red flesh
savor the scent of fish blood
that squeezes, pours into rapids

if i were to watch it from a riverbank
i'd be enthralled
but i still hope, foolishly
for a day when there's no such thing
as killing

Opening the Package

Sapphire returned with three boxes of batteries—one purple, one gray, one pink.

"Those will last you a long time. Nicely done," said Leigh. "You going to stay?"

Sapphire sat down next to her and played around with the loose piece of brown paper. "Here," she said.

Leigh took hold of it. "Sapphire?"


"Forget the gutter and the top of the roof," she said. "I want you to go higher." She unwrapped the package slowly as if it were the finest pleasure, a delicate work of art she was afraid to break, and when she got around to lifting the box flaps, hundreds of dark octagon-shaped objects the size of quarters burst through the opening. They ricocheted from the ceiling and walls, bouncing off the girls and coming back again.

"What's happening?" asked Leigh.

"This is familiar," said Sapphire. "I call them the blockers, but I don't know if they even have a name."

"Why would we get a package full of blockers?" asked Leigh.

"The actual contents of the package are still in the box, I think," said Sapphire. "At the very bottom, probably. Too many blockers in the way."

Leigh shielded her face with her arm and knocked a small load of blockers aside with her elbow, reached in and said, "Found it."

"That's it!" Sapphire said. "How did you do that? Oh my God!"


Thursday, May 7, 2015

On Top of the Roof

Leigh took off her pink scarf and draped it over the back of the couch. The house was quiet save for the hum of the refrigerator around the corner. "You can tell me what you want."

Sapphire thought for a moment. "I need to know what you can do and then I can tell you what's working and what's not." Her speech was guarded and she didn't want it to be, but she put the package onto the coffee table anyway, then brooded.

Finally she said, "I can't help but wonder why you're waiting."

Leigh drew the package closer to herself and began to run her fingers along the top.

Sapphire smiled drowsily. "Okay, that's good. What about the edges?"

She pulled down her scarf and dragged it over the left edge of the package.

"No, that's not it."

Leigh considered mentioning a knife or some scissors but thought better of it. She knew Sapphire liked doing things the long way so she turned the package over and read the first part of the return address: 889 Estuary Place. "I think," she said, "There's something about your frame of mind. It's good, but I don't know how to put this. It's in the gutter."

"Oh. Yes. Except it's a much better place than a gutter. More like the top of a roof."

Leigh noticed a loose piece of brown paper and started to pull it gently open. "I want to peek," they both said at once.

But Sapphire's phone began beeping with text notifications. "There's a bunch of people trying to get us to hang out with them."

"They want both of us to go?!"

"I think so."

"Do you want to?"

"No," she said. "I'd rather meet up with Sara. Maybe she'll give us cookies." She got up and headed for the front door. "I've got to leave. I just remembered I need to buy some batteries."

"So we'll get back to this package later??"

"I don't know," she said.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Yesterday at Lonsdale Quay

The people on the skytrain looked bored and tired. I sat beside my cousin who seemed more mellow than usual, dressed all in black, yawning occasionally. She had mentioned a couple of nights prior that she would corrupt me by taking me to Vancouver (I had told her I wanted to get out more). I think she thinks I am still much less wild than her. We're both wild, if you ask me. It's just that we are two different kinds of wild.

It was alright to get out of my art cave and go somewhere different. I was more fascinated by her than by the market or the sea bus. She became my adventure. Why the sudden change in her personality? What was it about the framed picture of a mermaid that mesmerized her? Why did she think that taking me into a sex shoppe would corrupt me? Was that a subtle change in her perception that I noticed? I realized there's so much more I could learn about her and we're both hoping to do more outings like this together.

I almost forgot to tell you. I bought a hat.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sock Writing

The thing about sock writing is that you're not supposed to think too much about it, you just let the words come out in one big long stream and if it's a stream of nonsense it's just as well. So I started trying to do sock writing but was getting too hung up on trying to make it sound good and I realized that was missing the whole point, so I just deleted a whole paragraph and have ended up with this and so far I've not stopped typing to check if it looks good. There. That's what I was hoping for and now to give you a whole lot of nothing in particular because this is a nothing kind of task to dump whatever out and hope to find some sparkling idea in the midst of it. Except my brain just paused for a few seconds and the idea is I'm not supposed to pause, but whatever. I would like to tell you that I have managed to kill my chicken. It was twitching for a while after I killed it and then three or four more chickens appeared and I was trying to scare them away with my broom. I was successful at that, actually, but then they came back again a few times. This is what happens when I'm left hanging. The chickens multiply. It's fine, though. Right now I have zero chickens. Okay, maybe one. Not the one I started with, but a new one. It's hard to kill because it looks friendly. Oh, what the hey, I'll just keep it. I don't like killing animals anyway. That's cruel. It took me fifteen minutes to put my socks on this morning because I was doing it in front of the fireplace and it was warm and it felt good and also I was daydreaming. My imagination has been nuts lately, coming up with snatches of conversation and fantasies and dreams of going to faraway places. It's good when I can reign it in a bit and, you know, live in reality where the red rabbits go. I'm pausing again. I'm not supposed to pause when I do sock writing. I'm putting myself in a time-out right now for messing up my sock writing. That's ridiculous. I think I have problems. I'm going to do something in reality tomorrow. I'm going adventuring.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Soft-Served Sweet with a Dash of Bitter

Dayna wasn't well the last time I saw her. I had no idea. It was all that cheese she had chopped into cubes, stuffed into that small round tupperware container. I mean, if you are healthy then you can chop some cheese. Obviously.

The thing about Dayna? She always wore that huge puffy jacket. You could throw a bunch of pointy rocks at it and they would just bounce off like she didn't even notice. It was so incredibly soft. And next thing you knew she'd be giving you a piece of gum from her pocket or else a five dollar bill. Sometimes she'd even offer to buy you some automobile magazines or do your homework for you.

I felt somewhat guilty about this after a while, when I grew up a little, so I figured it was only fair I start to offer her something. Maybe I could make it up to her, you know? I took her out for ice-cream during lunch hour. She sat there in my passenger seat, all smiles and sort of bashful, but cute as heck like a child getting to stay up past her usual bedtime.

She was smart, but sometimes she'd say things that didn't seem to match up. Or she would hang out with people who didn't fit her style. And she was insecure, you could see that, but she had a braver side. I once saw her catch a garter snake with her bare hands.

I only saw her angry one time, and she was super mad. At me. Or herself. She was trying to impress me, I found out later, with her acting skills but she accidentally knocked off my watch and it landed in the creek. I yelled at her to turn around and get it back for me before it floated away or sunk. She wouldn't do it, so I yelled at her again and she fell in the blackberry bushes. When I helped her up she muttered something about her neck getting sliced open, even though it was fine, so I grabbed the watch myself and tried to console her. She wouldn't respond.

And now? I wonder if there's something I could've done to change her mental pathways because if I could only tell you one thing about Dayna it's that she's one of the sweetest people I've ever known. I suppose I could've given her ice-cream more often.

It's okay.

Monday, April 13, 2015

To Kill a Chicken

Sometimes it feels like my brains are tangled up and wrapped around some dark unknown thing that needs to come out. Last night was like that, and today it has faded but continues to linger somewhere in the back of my head. I don't need to be afraid of the thing, but I don't know what to do with it either. Maybe it can be teased out through creative work in the next few days (or weeks). Or maybe it will go away on its own.

In the meantime, I sit down to type, hoping to keep my creative momentum going. My attention has begun to shift toward old friendships, people I haven't seen in a long time, but who I would like to see. Fear arrives, of course, but I don't want to listen to it. The what if questions surface almost imperceptibly, but I have become better at snagging those rascally impostors and chucking them out, even if I can only be rid of them for a few moments.

The worst I can do is let my fear control me. Sometimes it helps to say out loud to my fear, "Thou art not real," or I can imagine myself stomping on it until it's gone. Or I can just... you know... breathe and let love motivate me. The kind of fear that seems to trip me up the most is the fear of what other people think. For instance, if I want to see an old friend who happens to be a man, I might be scared that other people will think I'm up to something adulterous when I'm actually not. But I consider the bumper sticker quote: "What other people think of me is none of my business."

And now, or at least very soon, I shall attempt to kill my inner chicken. Wish me luck.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Keep Me Wild

if you want to keep me,
keep me wild and sweet and free
so we can drink the moonlight
and walk into the sea
listen to the shoreline
and hearken to the breeze

crash into the city
where the lights are bright and loud
follow where our feet go
and mingle with the crowd
if you want to keep me,
keep me wild and sweet and free

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Glowing Encounter

Anastasia had just finished bathing in the calmest part of the river she could find, and had just ever so slowly put on her summer dress after drying off, when Harris popped through the thicket carrying the black scarf she had left at his place during the youngest of all winters.

Tiny fairy-like creatures, almost too small to be seen by the human eye, were flying all around her in zig zag patterns, glowing through the haze of pollution. Harris thought she appeared to understand what their patterns meant, for she was smiling and listening intently. So intently, in fact, that she almost didn't notice him.

"Hi," he said.

She broke out of her reverie and looked upon him with delight.

"Your scarf," he said. When he stepped toward her, holding it out, five of the tiny creatures flew straight at him, fast and furious.

"Aah!" he shouted and stumbled backwards.

She felt like apologizing, but she didn't because she was trying to break her self-defeating habit of being sorry for things that weren't her fault.

"These little glowing guys like to think they are my bodyguards," she said. "Mostly they're only protecting me from myself. They know my weaknesses." Then she crouched down and began to draw something in the sand with her finger while singing a made-up tune. The singing summoned the flying creatures back to her. All except one, who flew into Harris' ear and was trying to find a way into his mind. Anastasia wasn't worried.

"I came too late," Harris said, while scrunching his face and holding his hand to his ear.

Still crouching down, she said, "No. You're here at exactly the right time. You can come closer now, if you want. Do you want to see my drawing?"

He did so, still holding his ear. "I hope you keep up your drawings. You're worth it. Be unstoppable!"

Anastasia believed he was being genuine. She gathered some sand, packed it into the shape of a heart, and began to stand up and give it to him but the creatures flew into her cheek. And she knew.

She felt a tear rolling. "Thank-you so much. I hope you keep the scarf. Come again and look at my drawings as often as you like."

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Name of This Garden

I have chosen to call this garden The Island of Trees. I can feel you sloping backward already. Am I going to be poked and scraped by branches and bark until all that's left of me is red pulp and puddles of bitter tears?

But it is not so. There are more flowers than trees here, and the name of a garden is only what it is—a harmless name. All day I've been hemmed in by rose bushes, searching for a way to forget that place, the island, and all I keep turning up are old shoelaces and pebbles.

They say time is the revelator. There's an art to waiting. You can do it in such a way that it doesn't feel like waiting. You can see opportunity in the now to create something or nurture someone or maybe even nurture yourself, especially if you're stressed or weary.

Still. In and amongst all that, I don't feel I'm on the up and up. I'm the butt of the joke, but I don't want to be. I try to laugh along with the rest of them but my laugh is nervous, tight, somehow limited. By what? This is what my search entails—finding just enough forgetfulness to loosen my laugh, to murder the ghosts that bind me.

I giggle often when I'm around people. It's because my body is like an elastic band stretched as far as it can go. A chortle or high pitched giggle releases tension, though not nearly enough.

How and where do I find the way to forget, ever so slightly? What am I missing? The Christians keep telling me it is the Christ, but it doesn't make sense. I don't think it's supposed to. Christ, apparently, is what gets me to let go and it's only a matter of when.

So I search and do stuff while I wait. Maybe I'll call out to the silver-haired dish woman if her cohorts quit judging me. Don't try to convince me they're not.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

composition 30

Go with the flow of the foot traffic on the street
Watch out for oncoming children and elderly
Or turn around and face it all again

Because I know that you will do just as you'll do
Also not what you want to, what you want to do

Mercy, compassion, and comfort—these things we seek
Water to quench us and honey sweet on our lips
Spirit of Life to fill our weary souls

Because I know that we will do just as we'll do
Also not what we want to, what we want to do

I want to tell you, my friend,
This prayer I pray for you
That your heart will sing freely
As it's meant to do
People might call me naive
But I believe all will be restored
La la la

Pick up the papers and read the sad, baddest news
All of the fights and the bombs and the broken glass
Then fix your gaze on the everlasting Christ

Because the world needs loving-kindness
Yes, it does. We can do it. We believe, we believe

I don't understand this Mystery I proclaim
Temptation is to explain, explain, explain, explain
Forgive me, oh, the nuisance that I am

Because I know that I will do just as I'll do
Also not what I want to, what I want to do

Monday, March 2, 2015

Rusty's Workbench

Rusty Cowichan hid his wife's tulips, vase and all, under the workbench in his garage. Then, wearing his freshly ironed golf shirt, he made his way through the house and onto the veranda where, large and in charge, he ordered the squirrels to bring him their offerings of nuts and berries.

Evelyn, his pregnant wife, didn't notice her tulips were missing until two weeks later when Freda Cadmium came to visit. Freda's nose twitched something awful as soon as her foot touched the Cowichans' driveway. She tried to ignore it for the sake of grace and politeness but Evelyn's dog, Levitt, who seemed more wolf than dog, lunged at her bearing his teeth and growling. She put up her knee, finally found her voice, and let out some shrieking.

Evelyn, meanwhile, peered out her front window with a smug smile on her face like she had just won the lottery.

All Freda could see was fur and menacing teeth. Snuffles, growls, and ear-splitting barks pierced the cool autumn air.

A stick and some rocks distracted the pooch. It was the neighbor behind the hedge who heard the commotion and decided to take action. Freda stumbled the driveway's width to fetch the stick and began waving it about and motioning to Evelyn who did nothing but offer a vacant expression through panes of glass while the neighbor continued to throw rocks and bits of moss over the hedge, whatever he could find.

Freda rushed up the front steps as soon as she got the chance, and knocked on the window. "Evelyn, I'm having problems with your dog! I need your help!" she yelled. "Say something!"

There came a curt reply. "You shouldn't have gotten out of your car, then."

"Is this how you treat all of your guests?!"

"You are welcome here, but at our household it is wrong to get out of your car."

Freda's nose twitched. It was a putrid odor and she tried to figure out where it was coming from, but she couldn't think due to all the barking. And what was worse, Levitt was coming for her again. She side-shuffled to the door and banged on it. 

Then a gun shot sounded. And a whiny yelp, quick as a staccato.


Evelyn opened the door and gingerly stepped onto the veranda with her mouth dropped open and a hand placed gently over her swollen belly.

Freda's nose twitched. "That rotten smell!"

"What smell?"

"My nose is sensitive. It's both a blessing and a curse," she said. "The smell's coming from your garage."

Monday, February 23, 2015

Nurses and Names

This afternoon a nurse named Pauline came to our house because we're in the process of updating our life insurance. She asked us some questions, weighed and measured us, checked our blood pressure, and poked us to collect some of our blood.

I like to do what I can to remember nurses' names because I have a lot of respect for them. Working with people can be difficult, and when people are in pain, whether emotional or physical, they have the tendency to behave in ways they normally wouldn't. For example, someone who's hurting might get snappy and irritable when they would otherwise be pleasant or easy-going. So I believe nurses need to have loads of patience and endurance.

I especially liked calling the nurses by their names after our oldest child, Tamara, was born. I stayed in the hospital longer than most because I was still in a great deal of pain (forceps birth). I didn't have to remember their names, of course, but I thought it would be more personable. It's been years now and I've long since forgotten them. That's okay, though, because of Grace.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Cotton Ball Parenting

I like to chat with elderly people to see if I might glean some gems of wisdom from them. I had one such occasion two days ago when a few of us were gathered for music and singing. I mentioned some parental tension I was experiencing—my desire to show our children forgiveness but wanting to discipline and teach them respect at the same time. Sometimes it appears those two things don't meld together. Oftentimes I don't feel like I'm being gracious toward my children when I'm getting after them for misbehaving. And I don't like that.

My elderly friend, with great tenderness, blinked her eyes, offered a tiny smile and told me, "Well, yes, you love them." And she said she found something similar going on between herself and her husband. He's been cynical lately and she's been struggling with it. She admitted she hasn't been treating him with all that much graciousness, but she's noticed she is being corrected as she goes. The main thing, she said, was to trust God and let her actions spring from there.

Parenting, then, is about awareness of Love. It's not about getting it right, but learning as we go. I think I'm at my parental best when I'm aware, when I love and forgive myself, when I believe we are all being cared for by One who loves us more than we understand.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Friday, February 6, 2015

Slam Dunk

Sebastian lied flat on his back, in the grass, beside and below a hammock that hung between two maple trees. He pushed a basketball up into the air from his chest and caught it again several times before extending his right arm and slamming it into the hammock.

That was the last he saw of it.

When in the kitchen he told his older brother what happened he refused to believe it. "What? You mean, like, it disappeared inside the hammock?"

"Yeah, come see! There's nothing there. It's gone." Sebastian led him to the hammock and said, "See?"

"You're tricking me. You hid it somewhere."

"No, I dunked it and it completely vanished!"

But the older brother still refused to believe it so he ran all over the yard, searching. When he returned empty-handed, Sebastian was leaning over a large pile of triangle shaped petalite crystals, some gray and some yellow.

"Where did you get those?" demanded the older brother. He was furious.

Sebastian said nothing and pointed to the hammock.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

dear diary - page two

I'm thinking about going to Sub City. There's the hustle and bustle, yes, and there's also the matter of getting my watches repaired. I have more than one, you see, and they're problematic. It's all their ticking and beeping. I don't know how to get them to stop. If watches could pause all on their own with no button pushing or winding, I could sit quietly and maybe even breathe a little. Or not. I don't know.

I tried to go to Sub City two weeks ago but I ended up in Graynel near the gas station. I didn't know how I got there. I only knew I was in the wrong place. I mean I felt I was in the wrong place, if you know what I mean. I told my brain to shape up but the thing about my brain is that it doesn't listen to me.

The idiots at the gas station were something to behold. They hadn't a clue! For instance, when I asked for directions to Sub City they pointed to the thoroughfare. I still haven't taken my watches for repair but at least I made it back from Graynel that day.

I've cut down on my intake. I allow myself half a chocolate bar each day. If I have a whole one I get a stomach ache. I drop a bread crumb onto my Hello Kitty watch when it's ticking and beeping too much. Believe it or not, it's a neat trick. Stops it cold. It's only temporary, and I like the pause.

I'm not sure about my magazines. Part of me feels they're totally useless. I flip through them, but they're full of show-offs. I get tired of the shiny faces and the articles that don't seem to do much for me except heighten my anxiety. Sometimes there's a rare page that comforts me or makes me feel like I can find myself, so that's one reason why I keep them.

I've got to go now. My watches are beeping again and I can't take it. I just want silence.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Memory

I was sixteen at a Chinese restaurant with my mentor at a round table. He ate sweet n' sour pork. I don't remember what I had.

"Teenage boys. You know what they think about most of the time?" he asked.


"Boobs and butts."

"I know," I said. Why can't they care about my feelings? This is depressing.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Which Word Would You Like to Be?


The hitting and fussing
The tit-for-tat, I'll get you back for that
"It wasn't me!"
The gimme gimme
Hating to wait


Trusting the Caregiver
Eyes open with wonder
The eagerness to learn
"I'm ready. What's next?"
A peaceful rest in Someone's arms

Thursday, January 15, 2015

My Halo is Bent

I would like to make your life all better. Immediately. I would really like to do that.

Except I can't.

I can't because I'm a human being and, as you've possibly noticed, humans are limited and mostly selfish. Another word to describe that?  Fallen.

I would also like to stop being the apparent cause for one of your sore spots right now. That would be nice because I don't take pleasure in other people's pain. But I think I'd have to stop existing in order for that to happen, and something tells me there's a tiny part of you that wants me to stick around.

Maybe there's also a part of you that wants me to choke on sparkles until I'm blue in the face, seeing as though I'm a little waif who couldn't possibly know real suffering. At least not compared to you.

Um... well... here's what I can do. I can keep on writing to you. I can listen to your stories or woes and rages as well as I know how. I can try to understand. I can keep on doing my art.

I can try to be kind and supportive, but sooner or later I will either disappoint you or offend you. And I've probably offended you plenty of times already. Not because I want to harm you.

Here's what I know about getting offended. There's always choice and perception involved. You choose what you get offended about.

I believe these kinds of exchanges are sacred even if I do annoy you. The climb is steep and daunting, but you've already endured so much and I think your journey is more beautiful than you can presently see. And that's just... okay. It doesn't mean you're any worse than the next person.

It's going to be slow. Learning and healing go hand-in-hand.

I can journey with you the best I know how, if you'll let me.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Step Through Fear

One of the blessings I've been given during my artistic journey is a freedom from worrying about what other people think. That kind of worry started to take its toll on me in high school, continued to be a problem as I got older and began to paralyze me during my depressive season. I felt trapped and didn't have a strong sense of identity.

At that point, the best way I could take care of myself was to step through my fear with creativity in this public space. If I had written and made stuff only in private, transformation by the renewing and healing of my mind wouldn't have happened. I needed other artists and writers. I needed to read their blogs, receive their rebukes and challenges as well as their many encouraging words. The Holy Spirit works in all of that, teaching us to discern, reminding us of the spiritual freedom, forgiveness and love that's always here.

Now it's my turn to offer encouragement and to challenge you. Take a step. Share a small something... and then another and maybe even another. Don't be a quitter.

Be courageous instead.


A Brief Clip

Thursday, January 8, 2015

R and S

I was using my cell phone to record this but it cut off because it's out of space. I need to do something about the storage situation. Here's my video, nonetheless.

Sometimes what happens is a sensitive person will become scared because they don't want to get hurt. I can only speak from my own experience or through my own lens, but it seems to me that sensitivity can get amplified because of old wounds that haven't yet healed. Because of this amplification, the world feels terribly mean and nasty. Constantly accusatory.

I have more to say about this. I can link it to the topic of forgiveness, for example, but I'd like to keep my various posts brief because I know reading gets time-consuming. And, besides, I'm sleepy. Small bits at a time is the best when it comes to being tired.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Again in My Kitchen

I've been trying to get Pompadour. It's a line of expensive kitchen products and it's all the rage right now, apparently. I used to have something like it back before the disasters. I wish I could have it again now but I can't get my hands on it no matter how hard I try.

I have an option. I can settle for Case-to-Case along with Hael. They're quality brands already here in my bottom drawers and in the lower cupboard next to my fridge, the one that won't close properly. Sometimes I get debilitating leg cramps bending down for them but I won't let that stop me because I can sit my butt on the flowered linoleum and reach for them that way. The Hael simply waits for me in the cupboard that won't rightly close, easily accessible. It's not going to save my life or anything but it's a brand I can lean on until I get on my feet, so to speak. And even then it's not going to grow legs of its own and run away.

I get mysterious bruises on my arms and it's tempting to blame the Case-to-Case but I must be missing something. Have I been blacking out? I really really don't want to admit it, but I'm fairly sure that's a problem.

My cheeks feel like they're on fire and my counters are all crummy. I don't know what to do now except wipe them off and continue this difficult navigation through my kitchen. Case-to-Case with Hael can go with me.

art project 51

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 in Review

Musical Compositions

3. Tunnel Vision



"Grace falls like rain.  It pours.  Drenches me, soaks my heart—this heart that beats without any help from me.

I was knit in my mother's womb and I don't remember when this heart first began its pumping.  The Rain had been falling long before."

2. There's Love in Truthfulness
"Pocketing the money involves lying to himself and not taking responsibility.  'I don't need to give this back because she's the one who made the mistake.  She should just learn how to do her job properly.  I'm not really stealing."  This is to blame the other person instead of looking at himself to see what he can do for the sake of another human being.

If reflecting love and grace and forgiveness is important to him, he will be truthful and give the money back.

I see honesty, then, as a way of loving oneself as well as loving others.  It involves keeping a clear conscience but also shows great care and respect for other people."

"Sometimes, at an intellectual level, we can know about this highest love of Christ yet still not feel peace.  Maybe all that means is there are some damaging thought patterns going on within ourselves that need to be dismantled, or a wound that needs healing, or it could be we have some insecurities that are hindering us from receiving all Christ offers.

You have a voice and it matters, so don't be afraid to let it out.  Christ can bring it into harmony with his own.  Don't ask me how that works.  I just believe it.

Love is always here."