Except for that time when she told on me for saying “Mr. Fart”, and a few times with certain Junior High friends who wanted NOTHING to do with me and she went along with it, and, justifiably, during confusing times setting boundaries as adults, my sister loved me. She championed me.  She did insist that I only play clarinet in band when I wanted to play the flute. Hindsight was quick to prove her right. 

She was proud of my tennis. She let me into the traveling singing group she and her friends begat. We worked together to make unforgettable meals when mom went back to work. We would hover in front of the stereo with Shelley and John Denver or Evie or the Ralph Carmichael Singers with their Cozy Christmas and sing our hearts out. Family road trips, as we each grew taller, had legs spilling out of the windows of the yellow Datsun 510, making room for the 5, or sometimes 6, occupants. I don’t remember cranky or mean or even frustrated, save for the few times anger would erupt in the shared bathroom over hairdryer or curling iron or “punk rocker pants”. I don’t know if I paid enough attention. Little humans are egocentric, myself included. 

We played store on the front porch, school in the basement, built forts outside and danced among the grass-reaching willow branches, singing the John Thompson classic “Stately as princes the swans part the lilies and glide, under the willows…” We more matching holiday dresses or jammies and have photos to prove. Older me floated through days, doing the next thing and the next, schoolwork, homework, yard work, the hard work of emancipation into adulthood. Three years my senior, this sister of mine had gone to floral school and worked for a florist when I was still in high school. She had her Associates degree and was coding before I could decide on a major. She was skeptical of my future spouse, especially when a silly episode with fabric shears resulted in her injury. She fell in love and was married before I graduated university.

She and he brought the most beautiful humans into the world. They lived in our grandpa’s former house, next door to our childhood home. I lived in Timbuktu, next to Carnation’s Tolt River and then in no man’s land between Duvall and Monroe, “the little house among the stumps”, as Grandpa used to say.  Tami and Steve let us park their camper among the stumps while the tiny home was constructed.  They drove the 45 minutes for birthdays and dinners and workdays; she’d bring the girls for coffee break, to see the chickens. She never complained when using my alternative plumbing. I had space to devote to a large garden, perennials, roses mostly. I thought she should use some of the large backyard for the same at her house. Overwhelmed, she shut me down. 

After my profession brought home schooling into the family conversation, she was brave and led her three girls from kindergarten to college, planning lessons, finding curriculum, exploring networks and niches, fielding uncomfortable conversations from those not understanding. She championed her daughters. When it was time for me to become a parent, she held me high and loved my little boy from the day she met him until the day she said good-bye. She held him, fed him, read to him, played with him, listened to him, watched movies with him, was real with him. She loved his endeavors. Her love of him was love of me. I want to always hear the way she called him “Buddy.” She enjoyed that I now had acute understanding of things that I didn’t when babies lived at her house. She reminded me of tactless things I’d said with a smile on her face and a lilt in her voice. She wasn’t looking for apology, though I couldn’t give enough. 

At some point, while I wasn’t looking, she began to grow that garden space in the backyard. Just beyond the raspberry rows, it took shape. Roses, perennials, shrubs for butterflies came to thrive. An arbor supporting Cecil Brunner welcomed guests to walk the paths or sit and enjoy. It wasn’t but a moment until her work eclipsed my own attempt at flora. When I came to what is now my home, she was right there with me, pulling weeds, moving sod, constructing a fire pit with broken sidewalk unearthed where the raspberries would go. This was the same fire pit we sat around for my birthday the year they discovered the cancer had found her bone marrow. I had never seen her weak or frail, it scared me. The medicine became more directed. 

Each time my profession changed, she took the turn with me. From teacher to tutor to bookkeeper to cook to culinary instructor, she was interested, she visited, she met my people. Introducing my sister was a privilege. When the cancer came, there was little I made that she could enjoy. She began her own research into allergen-free, anti-inflammatory cooking and baking. She was relentless. What I know now of these foods, I learned from her. My current endeavor began during the week she was dying. I was able to share my good news. In hindsight, wanting her to know seems silly. What was, what could she do with the information? She was in a hospital bed where the dining room table usually sat, but bringing her in, as much as I could, meant that she’d be with me all through this new turn. I tell her story whenever appropriate, even sharing tears with new friends who’ve recently lived similar loss, all because they stopped to buy some bread. 

When someone loves you, when someone is for you, when someone is behind and beside you, there is a palatable feeling of invincibility. When someone believes in you, it is easier to believe in yourself. My sister did that for me. When a loved one dies, it is natural to think of all that slipped past during life, all those things you didn’t say or do or think. Death brings an undeniable hindsight but I can’t go back. Rather than thoughts detailing my failings as a friend, as a companion, a sister, I think about her and what she gave freely, constantly, never a single string in sight. I know I’m not alone. My sister gave, she lifted up, she loved. I love you, Tami.



As the noun not the verb, emphasis on the first syllable, this word always feels a bit pretentious; as though the verb counterpart woke up one morning with Notions. You know, the kind of notions one might wake up with in Sense and Sensibility. While walking Dog this morning, the morning dawning upon a new year, a new big number, a new calendar month, I couldn’t help but find myself musing on Social Constructs, constructs like The Calendar. I love, and hate, my calendar.

Calendars, like other time pieces, help humans regulate where & when they should be doing things. They are essential in keeping employment, keeping appointments and knowing when to pick up Junior from Driver’s Ed. They are also there to remind of how Time Flies, why I’m exhausted from Over Doing, what the Moon is up to, and which weekday My Birthday will fall on. Covering days & weeks, as compared to minutes & hours, The Calendar is far more tyrannical than its wrist-sized friend.

My calendar, fractured into work as employee, contractor and entrepreneur; into home life with all manner of appointments, Junior’s classes, lessons & events, Spouse’s travel; with reminders to send that payment, email that mom. Empty days on the chart are anything but; instead, filled with class prep, family or business bookkeeping, meals, laundry, yard work and on.

The best and most luxurious of days are those that flow from activity to activity, no agenda, no constraints, no demands, no Time Line. Coffee then probably Dog walk; starting a laundry load then to computer to write, enter receipts; hungry? something simple for breakfast; while in the kitchen replace the dishwasher clean with now dirty; start a levain for bread making later (something that does require time keeping!); wander outside to deadhead the hydrangea and finally stow the garden umbrellas; lunch-really? All activities occurring from a flow of consciousness.

Realistically, this type of luxury day won’t happen often. My work as culinary instructor and mom fill most of my time. I am teaching at 4 different venues plus here at home. Teaching in my home space is a super short commute, but there’s far more preparation turning home into cooking school, an extra step that takes extra time. I’m able to reuse recipes in many classes, but timelines still have to be customized for each event. Junior has classes away from home 3 days per week. Sometimes I get home while he’s occupied, having space to tidy up that garden, but usually we’re both gone, home in time to start dinner.

I’m not complaining but merely stating what is, what has been this past year. Writing this out let’s me feel it all in a different way, let’s me see that it could be shifted. This year I will add into my calendar a Day of Nothing, at least once or twice per month. I will place them purposely and plan for them, doing less Last Minute regarding time lines, recipe tweaking, with a housecleaning schedule that all can take part in. I’m so grateful for chances to change. I want a year with more room to breathe, with better connection to my Spouse & Son, and opportunities to make others happy. Short order? Happy New Year!






I don’t remember my first trip to the San Juan Islands. As kids we loved riding the Washington State Ferries, so I’m sure my family took the ferry to Friday Harbor as a day trip. The islands became a destination for me after I met Spouse.  Spouse’s friend Ed had access to his 26-foot family boat and they would do fishing trips around Puget Sound, off of Port Townsend, and through the San Juan Islands. The islands hooked spouse and he easily reeled me in as well.

The San Juan Islands, clustered between northwest Washington and British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, experienced some notoriety as disputed territory between the U.S. and Britain. In the 1850’s, a skirmish involving the shooting of a rogue pig resulted in a significant military build-up on both sides, even threatening  war, but the smooth talking of General Winfield Scott quieted the need for shooting. The military presence remained strong for almost 30 more years, until the issue of ownership, settled by Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany, kept the islands as part of what would become Washington State. The seclusion and myriad bays, coves, and difficult-to-navigate channels of the islands made passage through them a favorite route for smugglers, bootleggers, and many other ill-sorted folk. These days the islands are rife with vacationers, second-home owners, retirees, city escapees, and my favorite: small farms & small bakeries, fishers, potters, builders & craftspeople, all usually living simply so they can live & work among these magical islands.

Throughout our many years together, Spouse and I have boated to and around the islands, we’ve camped on several of them, we stayed at B&B’s, and we’ve taken day trips. We’ve fished, hiked, explored, skipped rocks, cooked, ate, birded, rode scooters, read and relaxed. The hour + ferry ride from Anacortes to Friday Harbor alters time. The further the dock recedes into the wake, the more of everyday sloughs off. Experts at the micro-vacation, when Jr was still backpackable size we’d ferry to Orcas for the day so we could hike around Mountain Lake, returning home late. People thought we were nuts, but little trips like this would refresh us, feeling, upon our arrival home, that we’d been gone for weeks.

As time flies, my last visit was early September.  This trip was my choice; no theme parks or huge hotels, just hilly land & the watery straits. I booked the trip in early April when suffocating under the weight of  busy. Too many classes, too many recipes, too much paperwork & schoolwork & research to do. I couldn’t find time for my soul: writing, reading Buechner or Fisher or , walking somewhere other than my neighborhood, being outside, just being, enough. A dear friend had suggested that I do those “me” things first, before I start the busy of the day. I did try but my tangential self couldn’t maintain this pattern to develop into a new habit. (I am still working on this transition!) So I planned a few-day escape.

Turtleback Mountain

We’d stay in an Airbnb-small, charming, private, boasting a L2 EV charger on Orcas Island. There’d be no swimming pool or the usual attractions, so Spouse & JR planned an afternoon of charter fishing. I’d get that time COMPLETELY to myself. I was giddy. As our trip approached, the Washington weather had taken an ugly turn: we were living with constant stagnant air, polluted by forest fires in southern Canada and eastern Washington. The reports included the San Juans but because of all that affects flow, it was on the cusp. We wouldn’t have great views but wouldn’t have visible ash dotting our car either.

The trip was everything I needed it to be. We hiked and explored, though no fish caught, I spent time reading & writing. I found beautiful bread, we gobbled up host-caught Dungeness Crab, enjoyed the soaking tub and/or outdoor shower. We experienced what I think to be the biggest gamut of restaurants: rock & roll blaring super chatty sole proprietor Mexicanish lunch to a farm-to-table outdoor pizza dinner, which while delicious had a high level of  (hipster?) pretension: on deciding what would be a good fit for Jr, we asked for clarification regarding the pizza described as having “tomato, fresh cheese and herbs”. Though they were very specific noting items that came with a “hen’s egg”,  taken aback, the server explained our choice meant red sauce, mozzarella & basil. Geesh. Whatever. I laughed about it and do wish them success. Restaurants have a tough go with such seasonal fluxes of customers.

There was a time when Spouse & I thought we’d move to the islands. Specifically Stuart. I was still elementary teaching and the lure of the then operational one-room school was strong. But as often happens, the path we were walking took a bend away from those plans. While they may return in the future, for now it is enough to visit and how lucky for us that we can. As a benediction, I wish you all a place, close enough to reach when needed, where you can let the regular everyday fall away, let the busy stop, let the chatter silence, for a bit. We’ll all be better, more whole, for it.


When Jr was little, I would lament that I’d just get used to his sleeping or eating schedule and he’d change, have new desires or requirements. Just as I’d adjust to this new, have my life working around his, he’d change. As children grow and develop they change. They need more or less food, more or less sleep, more or less touch. They may be very independent for a time, then flip to being needy, needy of closeness, nearness, knowing we were always right there. I’m a planner, and not always very, um, flexible with change. Perhaps if I had been more aware, more awake I would have anticipated his changes more readily, subtle though the transitions were. Regardless, we’re here now. Here with our teen.

My boy is now taller than me, taller than Spouse, taller than his grandparents, not quite as tall as his uncle or 2 cousins, but steadily growing. He is aware of his own needs: when he’s hungry he eats, when his teeth feel gross he brushes, when he runs out of clothes he drags the dirties to the laundry, he showers, he eventually sleeps, he gets fresh air. Quite often his schedule of need doesn’t coincide with what I think his schedule SHOULD be and this is where I get to learn, again, to relax, let go of expectation,  and trust him. There are times when I step in to remind him that tomorrow has an early start, that people will be over so he might want to get the clothes off his floor, that we are going to do math today and sooner is better than later. There are still too many times, though, when I give in to my view of things; I rant, rave, then apologize, again. I wish that wasn’t true. It shames me, but when I, as we say at the Dojo “fall down 7 times” I “get up 8”. I’ve written about positive apology before and I most likely will again cause I get lots of practice doing it. “I’m sorry Buddy. That’s not the kind of mama I want to be.” He sees me trying, he sees me fail, he sees me get up and keep going.

More than ever, this is when I want to have open eyes with my son. In a blink he’ll be man-aged. I want to imprint on my heart, more than it already is, his sweetness, his quirky humor, the conversations we have about life & love, about movies & videos & games & books, often the same conversations on repeat.  I want to see him as his person is, not just how I perceive him from a mother’s vantage. He’s neat. I really like him.

I’m still trying to forge some kind of so-called “work-life balance.” Is that really a thing that can be had? I get sucked into my work, all-consumed with planning, testing, writing, researching, hours in the kitchen or at the computer, often yielding results that don’t at all suit his particular tastes. I need an interjection, a mild sort of shoulder shake to remind me to stop, check-in, what’s he doing? is he having fun? does he need me but isn’t asking cause he knows I’m busy? am I too busy for him? I don’t want to be too busy for him. No job is worth that so let my words here guide my actions this evening, tomorrow morning, throughout the week. I will check in because I still get to, before change arrives again.


I wasn’t planning to write. I don’t know what I would write but I read something. I read something about being alive, being here, right now, in this moment. Part of being alive, for me, is writing: it’s where I remember, where I feel, where I unfold. Unfolding is slow, sometimes painstakingly slow. Something I  haven’t allowed myself. Ancient Peoples set up physical remembrances: a pile of stones here, a carved tree there, each commemorating a significance, something they and the others shouldn’t forget. Today, I pile these words, on this page, my remembrance. When I pass by I’ll remember: Unfold.


I have a thing with fear. Its been with me from the earliest memory. I wasn’t overly shy, afraid of people. Most days I wasn’t scared of going to school, of riding the bus. I wasn’t afraid when we were occasionally left with a sitter. My early fear was of the dark. Though I shared a room with my sister, her unconscious presence wasn’t enough to bring comfort from a bad dream. The darkness of room and imagination held me, keeping me from running across the hall to my parents, to safety. Fear trapped sound in my throat, so I’d whisper “Mom”. Then again, a little louder “Mom”. Then spoken “MOM”, then loud enough to wake: “MOM!” She always came running. She always brought peace and a prayer, assurance that all was okay, that I was safe and cared for.

As I grew, fear changed. Given the worldview of my upbringing, the darkness of evil joined with the darkness of night, a fear combination that proved potent. I learned to say my own prayers to keep this alliance at bay, to keep it hovering away of arms reach. Morning always brought relief; the first bits of dawn meant I had survived, again. These fears didn’t usually follow me through the day. Only once, after watching a show with cousins, a show prohibited at our house due to violence I suppose, was I tormented. I had become the protagonist stalked by the villain, in this case a werewolf, catching glimpses of a tail, knowing it was just over there,waiting to pounce. I couldn’t share this fear because I had been “wrong” to watch the show in the first place. Fear of parental disapproval proved stronger than any relief I might gain, so this one lasted a while. Fear of parental disapproval. My next major fear phase.

Wanting to please parents is an evolutionary given. Small children can’t survive on their own. They need the food, shelter, love and comfort that caregivers (hopefully) bring. Displeasing the caregiver might mean rejection, ejection from the group, the tribe, the sanctuary. Rejection would mean death. My parents were very loving and would be horrified if any thought their care to be conditional of good behavior. As a rational adult I know this was not the case, but children don’t rationally know, they feel. They don’t hear the words, they feel the words, they feel the tone, they literally absorb the facial expressions. Wanting to keep everything happy or return things to happy as quickly as possible, are the furrows of secret, of little lies, of omissions. Ground that therapists plow through later in life.

By college, I learned there were things I just wasn’t to share with my parents. As I worked toward my emancipation to adulthood, trying out my own views, my own thoughts, I learned hard that it was easier to not share than to sit through a discussion I didn’t want to have. A one-sided discussion of why this view or that thought was flawed. Years later I would know these discussions, and the many that would follow, grew from the insecurities of my folks, insecurities that followed me, not giving me tools for discussions of my own, discussions with other thoughts and views. I still hate the feeling of disagreement, the feeling deep in my core, of frustration from unmet minds, minds that will never meet. I don’t really know how to live with that, to be ok with that. I have typically lived in avoidance, not necessarily avoiding the people, but always avoiding the subject or the difference, finding only common ground or pretending when there is none. This alone is the lack I regret most.

By ultimate Grace I have a partner who can live in disagreement, who can share time with people, who can discuss anything without having to “be on the same page”. Spouse is easy-going, affable. He can put others at ease, drawing them out, finding out who they are, what do they think, how do they feel. He can ever so nicely include his own held thoughts or not, it doesn’t matter to him. He knows who he is, he likes who he is, and he is ok with others not being him. I continue to learn from his life, from him. I can talk about anything without rejection and no, we don’t always agree. This characteristic of him has to be one of the reasons we are happily together.

Some years ago, a longtime friend died in a car crash. This person was noble, upright, a hard worker, a provider, a loving husband and father. The driver of the car who hit him collapsed at the wheel, not from alcohol but from some freak health condition. In broad daylight the oncoming vehicle swerved into the wrong lane, at highway speed, on a corner, and my friend had nowhere to go. He tried to avoid and saved his passenger but was himself hit full-on.  This event crashed me. All of my fears collided. Standing in my room, alone, leaning on the windowsill, I cried, no, I wept. Deep, wracking sobs convulsed my torso, lungs heaving, throat gasping because if this could happen to my dear friends, it could happen to me-I could lose Spouse. I would be alone. Good behavior didn’t matter. Daylight or night, it didn’t matter.

Regardless of what you believe about metaphysics, about God, whether just electrical impulses of the brain or a being outside of ourselves, a being who interacts, a being who might care for, even love humans, I believe the latter. During this highly charged emotional moment, I experienced a deep peace that I would be ok. I wouldn’t be alone. I would survive. I was strong. It wasn’t at all from a place that this being would do things for me, would magically make everything ok; it was that he or she would be there, in it, with me. This isn’t a post on The Existence of God. Nor is it a post on all that could be written, could be said about the atrocities, the despair, the seeming abandonment of those who believe, at the hand of others who also say they believe. If there is a God why does this happen? Where is God in all of this shit? For me she’s just here. He’s next to me. I listen for whispers, feel for nudges. Rogue brain impulses? Could be. Does it matter? No. I am still often afraid but I remember this and it lifts.

Fear isn’t all bad. Fear is for survival. If I’m walking alone and feel fear hit my gut, I pay attention and go another way. This fear is like intuition. As a planner, someone who wants to know what to expect, I feel fear when I’m trying a new thing, going to a new place. This fear causes me to be more alive: Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway. However, unchecked or manipulated, these mild forms of fear become tools of hate and control.

The events of this week have sickened me. This entire presidential election cycle has been atrocious. Flagrant manipulation by those in power, abandoning those they claim to support;  by those wanting power, feeding off masses, people tired, frustrated, afraid. Fear lashes out. Fear corrupts clear thought. Fear causes withdrawal from conversation, from interaction, from relationship. Fear brings hate & pain & death. For many I know it feels as though fear has won. It hasn’t and we get to prove it.

We can be brave.

  • Respond to the whisper or nudge to talk to that person, to give to that group, to write that letter, to make that phone call.
  • If you feel in danger, watch faces, listen for who you can turn to, we will be there.


We can think clearly.

  • Find the sources that help, that will give good direction, good ideas, that empower you for good.
  • Hide people or unlike pages on Facebook that cause unhelpful turmoil in your soul.
  • Find the good, support the good, speak the good.


We can connect.

  • Find people or a person to be with. Just be. Don’t debate, don’t complain, just be.
  • Share gratitude
  • Offer a listening ear or a shoulder for crying, but know your own limits.
  • Work to make acquaintances or friends outside of your usual set of norms. Be open to different.


When you start to feel afraid, go outside, breathe deep, and ask for clear thinking, ask for bravery, and above all, ask for love. Love wins.


The ship had already begun shifting course. For such large, cumbersome vehicles, phrases like “turn on a dime”, “tight turning radius”, or even “quick turn” are the stuff of dreams and fantasy. Change occurs in a matter of degrees, movement barely noticeable to an untrained eye, but with time, north becomes south, east, or west. Eighteen months in the making, the event marked by today merely confirmed and sealed the direction our lives had already started taking.

Finished with the first round of remodeling, the garden established, chickens cooped, occupations well in hand, we felt ready. Hoop after hoop were presented and cleared: paperwork, classwork, bloodwork, casework(ers). Pictures, bios, heartstrings, doubt. How do you know? How do you decide? At the point of giving up, in October of that year, an email with image attached came through. It was him. I sat stunned and breathless, nerves on end, knowing, however you do, doubtless: it was him. I also knew that this photo was only the beginning. Our yes would bring more hoops, each one more critical, culminating in the decision of a State committee, a committee charged with choosing one from three.

As winners, more paperwork & caseworkers, 3-ring binders of why, had to be trawled before we could consider meeting. I watched as we drove to the tidy home in the south sound neighborhood, watched as we walked sidewalk to door, watched as my hand stretched to shake the other. Empathetic, shy, feeling every inch of the awkward, we met our child-to-be at home with the only family he had ever known during his as yet short, sweet, little life. We were expected to play and interact  with this child, someone else’s child, someone else who selflessly loved, cared for, and attached to this child, knowing he wasn’t to stay. This selflessness a gift greater than the child himself.  The first day of a 2-week whirlwind courtship that led to moving in together, housemates for 9 months. I thought I was ready. I had read the books. I was still reading the books. Baby gates, plug covers, hooded bath towels, and crib; menus, work from home, nap time, bath time, and play. Set.

In time, however, I began to unravel. All that was me, that had been me, things I believed about parenting, people, cooking & food, about faith & family, about happiness & joy, began to shift. This new life connected to mine: the bright set of eyes, the strong little body, the complexity of mind, the heart, joy, laughter, will,  took me apart.  Over time I had lived less and existed more. Life, disappointment, deferred dreams can do that. It’s easy to become usual and dull. Face to face with this vibrant life, a life I was to love and guide, woke me up. Who was I? What did I want to do and be? What did I want this child to see in me? Beautifully, there are always 2nd chances, always chances for change. Over and over it’s this relationship that illuminates what to change, what to hone, what to discard, in me.

So it’s on this day, the day when the last of the paperwork was completed, when the judge gave her consent, I know I am blessed & lucky. I know I’ve been given a treasure to help and to hold,  on loan for only a short time. I take time to remember, to feel it all: the joy, the awkward, the grief, the hugs, laughter, self-stretching, love. Grateful always, it’s now time for pie.


I chose to be busy this summer. All that sounded SO exciting in April is now all around me, making me tired.

I chose 2 to 3 days each week to guide groups of 8 to 15 year olds, making foods from Syria or Brazil or foods from the Southwest or East Coast of this country. On another 1 to 2 days each week, groups of 7 to 9 year olds and I imagine we’re making foods at a campsite, using much foil, wielding tongs, eating with fingers. Further still, I added groups to my own Tiny Kitchen, making Empanadas, Enchiladas, and Ice Cream Treats. Five menus, five timelines, five class flows rotating the days of the week, wild card additions, plus planning & testing for Fall & Winter & Random Classes that will be in between.

Though my brain pegs full, I am still Mother, Laundress, Accountant, Chauffeur, Gardener, Wife, and Cook. I am the Finder, the Organizer, the Cleaner, the Buyer, all of which must go on, positions I didn’t think would need temporary assistance, but I broke. Sort of. Saturday night.

If you’ve read Beatrice Potter, you might be familiar with The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse. The protagonist is a busy creature, obsessed with footprint-free floors, bee-free rooms, and guests who are careful not to leave a soggy signature. Saturday I chose not to be that Mouse. In very indelicate fashion, I made proclamations to my family, the details of which aren’t Need To Know. Saturday ended and Sunday began, a better day, mostly.

Then there was this morning. Sunny, quiet, alone at the patio table, listening to the sprinkler’s spitting rhythms, watching the chickens forage, shelling the just-discovered-in-the-produce-drawer garden peas, waiting to remove the oven’s bread.

Peace. Center. Calm. Beauty.

This morning I saw what, for me, cannot be disregarded or abandoned. This is what puts me back together, what makes me happy, what gives me something to give. This space outside, the repetition of movement & sound, the green & blue & gold, it lifted everything, even giving space for words to circle and gather. How fortunate am I to be and breathe, to have this luxury, this peace.

I will continue my summer. Continue with the busy-I love what I do! But I will make time on the patio, give myself early morning moments, moments before the day gets warm, before the chickens get chatty, just me and the light, the trees, the sky and my garden.



I’ve lived in one since Christmas. I’m still living in one, but this morning, for any number of unknown reasons, the noisy crowds of Busy Brain were quiet.  Maybe because I tend to the tangential, it’s difficult to push pressing thoughts aside, to heel them into submission; instead, they pull madly at the leash, yipping & barking until my attention is unmercifully theirs. But this morning I’m here.

These last 3 months have been full. We’ve gutted and begun to refit the kitchen. Not finished but very usable, I proceeded to start daytime cooking classes in it, each week sharing, Carol Merrill-style, each new addition. The classes have been kids & cake, soup & breadsticks, many moving parts, non-stop chatter, lots & lots of dishes. This week our class will have a dishwasher, the First World mechanical sort, a supplement, or augmentation perhaps, to my mom, my mom who wanted to be my assistant.

For Christmas, I gave my folks a cooking class, a hands-on Winter Soups & Salads class. They went on a Tuesday evening, worked with an instructor and other students they didn’t know, producing some tasty, tasty food. My dad thrilled to finally know the proper way to hold a chefs knife. They were able to experience what I do for work: the black coated-instructor, the purple-aproned assistants, the trays of mise en place, the cutting boards, the cooking, and all those dishes. On the heels of this, my mom became my assistant here.

The first week, as there was none in the kitchen, she ferried each and every dish downstairs to the laundry sink, washing, racking, stacking when dry. She took home the dinner- & silverware to run through her dishwasher, along with the bar towels & aprons to her laundry. On rising next day, she felt the burn of those stairs. Thankfully, we’ve had a convenient sink since, something to never take lightly.

Each week, she arrives early, helps me set up what needs to be. She greets the students, gets them name-tagged & aproned, and ensures each knows the hand washing routine. She whisks away the dirty bowls & spatulas, packs up the ingredients we’re done with, helps this one or that get the cake batter into the muffin cup. She doesn’t stop until my dad arrives with the insulated carafe of coffee and we sit down to sample the day’s offering. Where this seemingly wasn’t enough, she decided to take home any ironing that needed doing, each week pressing Spouse’s shirts better than I ever can (or care to), returning them, the closet magically filling as if the work of Storybook Elves.

My mom is a flurry. I’ve learned how to work from her. I first learned to cook & bake from her. I channel her when I need to “grub out” the aluminum tracking of the windows, or the grout of the bathroom floor. We even use the term  Harness the Power for how effective she is: when something needs doing, she was always the team top pick. I think she has always held a list of what needed to get done on any given day, and has been able to check off each item when completed. I’ve only glimpsed occasional wandering: like the time she was readying her living/kitchen/dining rooms for a baby shower and ended up repainting her bedroom closet doors. She saw the irony but was still happy to have a fresh lift in her room.

With all the busy, my mom likes to sit down for coffee. She gives great hugs. And I know without doubt that she loves me. My earliest memories of mom being still are when she read to us (my favorite: The Secret Garden) and when I knew she had been praying: the right side of her face pressed onto her bed leaving a telltale imprint. Think what you may, believe what you do, but my parent’s have always tried, doing the best they could for who they were/are at any given time, to live a true faith. I’ve never doubted that. And though our theologies haven’t always aligned, I have always been buoyed, remembering that chenille-print cheek from waybackwhen, to the Right Now, wherein both my parents pray for the All Of Us every day.

This morning, before I leash Pup for a brisk walk, before we head out into the lion-like weather of this mid-March, I will enjoy these warm waters of memory, these few moments of word-flowing-through-fingertip. I won’t lament the I Don’t Do This Enough, this has been respite. Maybe there will be a sooner rather than later return to this pool. I don’t know. What I do know? I am blessed. I am lucky. I am loved. I wish the same for you.


I suppose most people live with some level of some expectation. On Tuesday, people with weekday jobs most likely expect to be at work on Wednesday. Those who left their car in the garage one day, expect it to be there the next. People who live near me expect to have electricity, clean drinking water, streets to drive on, basic accoutrements of a mid-size town, in an economically thriving part of the U.S.

I suppose there are those so enlightened that upon waking each morning they truly give thanks for another day. People who expect nothing past the Right Now, who when falling asleep don’t know if they’ll wake up and are okay with that. Maybe I’d find people like this among the Contemplatives, but for now I don’t know any. I had a political science professor in college who lived a grateful life, but his gratitude stemmed from negative expectation. An immigrant who escaped China’s Cultural Revolution, Jesse Chang was grateful for two particular things: 1) “Thomas Jefferson, I am so indebted to that man”, and 2)”That the B-1 Bombers have not come”. I imagine he was grateful for many other things, but these he repeated in every class, usually at the start of each class. Each day, he expected the nuclear war of the early 1980s to begin, and each day so very grateful that it did not.

Expectation is tricky. I expect the overpass not to collapse, therefore I can drive over it. I expect the air quality to be breathable, so I go outside without a mask. I expect the elevator cable not to snap so I use it instead of climbing 10 flights of stairs. However, when I expect Junior to always do what I think he should, when I expect Spouse to telepathically know what my emotional needs are, when I expect to be noticed or included or whatever, things go bad, quickly. Gratitude softens expectation, and can make life better, quickly. If I begin to express thanks on the other side of the overpass, not for avoiding certain death, but because the overpass made my commute easier, my day lightens. If I express thanks for fresh, breathable air, for living where I get to enjoy what some never do, my heart lightens. If I give thanks for Junior’s clothes and Lego’s and action figures and papers strewn over the floor because they’re HIS and he’s in my life-my world changes.

There is much more that could be said of expectation: positive or negative, high or low, unrealistic & unexpressed. I don’t need to delve any deeper. For today, I’m accepting that I will continue to expect things. I’ll expect the car to be charged, that Junior will wear his Gi to karate, that the stock on the stove will finish cooking. I choose, today, to temper these, and all the other expectations, with gratitude. Additionally, I will work to accept Junior’s style of room keeping, and keep communicating with Spouse. I hope to choose this all again tomorrow.