Thursday, March 31, 2005

National Poetry Month

In honor of National Poetry Month, Borders has priced their poetry at 10% off.

:::sound of heavy breathing:::

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Ongoing Blog Phenom at ETC.

The blogosphere is a bizarre place. Sometimes you don't know whether to laugh or cry. Everyday Thoughts Collected blogger, Randy Thomas has an ongoing situation that is one of the more amusing (or pitiful, depending on your perspective, I suppose) happenings I've witnessed.

Randy made a post about ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition over a year ago. The comments continue to come in, much to his interest, amusement and chagrin. Thought you might enjoy a peek. Just be aware it may take awhile.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Spring Break

Our daughters are home on spring break this week, it's tax season, I think I'm doing Easter dinner for my family this weekend, and the car once again is refusing to start. For these and other reasons, I'm taking a blogging break until (most likely) next week. I shall return, though, with fascinating news and reviews, including a response to author Steven W. Wise's new book, The Jordan Tracks, which I am currently pondering in stolen moments between plucking magnetic Barbie clothes out of the carpet and trying to convince two room-cleaning-resistant children that we can really have our very own ABC Extreme Edition Home Makeover right here in our house--all they have to do is pick up their room, and they won't even recognize it!!!

I doubt it will work. Probably would have to call in Ty to convince them.

Check out the latest interview questions below and enjoy!


Questions for David

Volunteer victim number two: David!!

1. On your blog you've mentioned living in rural Vermont, St. Louis, and New York, and you're now in Portland, Oregon. If you're up for it, list the places you've lived, what you liked best about each one, and what each has (positively) contributed to the person you are now.

2. About what are you truly passionate, deep down in the quiet places?

3. You've mentioned several former career pursuits (writing, education and photography, for example). What have you learned from each one that has been an asset to your life? What is acting teaching you?

4. What is your favorite place in the world?

5. What literary writers did you most enjoy/appreciate and why?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Interview Questions for Bruce

Bruce has most intrepidly volunteered to be my first, interviewee. Ok, Bruce, here are your questions:

1. You've mentioned St. Brendan as an inspiration. What is it about his life that speaks directly to your own?

2. What do you most like about science fiction as a genre?

3. What are some of your favorite sci-fi books (and/or authors) and what about them makes them so?

4. What things do you do in your everyday life that you've found helpful in reducing bipolar symptoms if they're implemented consistently?

5. You've written about humans as being creatures who were created in their Creator's image in order to create. In what ways (traditional and not-usually-thought-of-as-creative) do you find your own creativity most satisfactorily expressed?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Rae at A Likely Story is just full of questions, and not all of them easy to answer. I've done my best below, though, and am now ready to find my own victims. If you'd be willing to let me ask you five random questions to answer on your own blog, let me know. I'll love you forever.

1. Do you ever have sudden and almost uncontrollable urges to frame a situation with words? How do you keep those thoughts until you are able to get them recorded?

My life IS an uncontrollable urge to embody everything in words. If I’m lucky, there’s a scrap of paper and a writing instrument somewhere around. Clipped coupons, church bulletins, my children’s school papers, abandoned gum wrappers, catalogs, the edges of checkbook registers, torn corners of napkins, backs of bill envelopes—they’re all immediate fair game to jot a note or two that I hope will jog my memory later. Honestly, though, often I’m frustrated by the intrusion of the put-it-in-words urge. It can detract from the experience, the impact of a situation. For example, if I pass a wreck on the highway, part of me begins praying immediately, but another part of me begins considering how to most effectively capture in words the glittering of glass sprayed across the midday asphalt. I hate that. Unless it turns into a good poem. Then I like it. Then I hate that I like it.

2. You paint such lovely pictures with words, I am curious, do you have other creative outlets for your "vision?"

I assume you’re asking about “artsy” things? Long, long ago in the misty past of high school, I was involved in absolutely everything the choir did: musicals, concerts, recitals, and contests. In college, I role-played, which, although I didn’t consider it so at the time, was actually a very creative outlet. I can play piano a little bit, embroider, sew, make Bedoin tents with a kitchen table and some sheets, get recalcitrant houseplants to bloom, and convince my children without a shadow of a doubt that I am a real, live dragon. Of all of these, the ones concerning the girls and the houseplants are the ones most closely related to the "vision” I'm currently squinting to make out more clearly. I’m also dipping my toes into the scrapbooking waters (I love unusual papers!) very hesitantly, and in the past two months have begun working with beads, which is good when I allow myself to just play instead of trying to Create. Writing, though, has remained a constant since I was old enough to carve my name into the keyboard cover of my grandmother’s piano. Prayer, also, has become for me a major creative outlet, oddly enough. It sounds strange to me to say that, but it’s true, especially since I’ve begun allowing myself to pray in images rather than words.

3. Which writers have moved you, inspired you, the most in your life?

Formative childhood years—Fairy tales, fairy tales, fairy tales,
Jr. high through high school—J.R.R. Tolkien, Patricia McKillip, Ray Bradbury
College—Sharon Olds, Annie Dillard, Marianne Moore, Emily Dickinson
Onward—George MacDonald, Jane Kenyon, Kathleen Norris, Mary Oliver, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Madeleine L'Engle, Richard Foster, Therese of Lisieux

These are cumulative, not sequential influences and inspirations. All of them still speak to me in a language deeper than words. Each of them puts a finger on a specific area of who I am, who I have been created to be, and challenges me to move further into that being.

4. You say on your profile that you are interested in incarnation. Tell me more.

Incarnation is the embodiment of a spirit or deity. I believe in the Judeo-Christian God. I believe he meant it when he said his Spirit would live in us. I believe incarnation is our intended state of being. Kind of a big deal, that, walking around embodying a deity every day, each of us in our specific, totally individual and often unexpected way. It’s in the unexpected that I most appreciate incarnation: it gives me new glimpses into what he’s like and stretches my comprehension, takes me beyond pews and altar calls, Vacation Bible Schools and the jargon of Christianity that has long since lost its potency for me. I don’t think I can limit my understanding of incarnation to being expressed only in Christian believers, either, since I see him so clearly throughout the whole of his creation. (As a matter of fact, often I struggle more to see God in Christian people than I do elsewhere.) Am I saying that everything is God? No. Am I saying I see the joy of his Spirit embodied wild in dancing tree branches before an approaching storm, as well as in the people around me? You bet.

5. If you could change one thing about Anne Lamott, what would it be?

Anne Lamott wouldn’t be Anne Lamott if I changed one thing about her. She IS one of those quirky, unexpected “incarnations” that I love so much!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Walden U.

Note:  The following was written in my late undergraduate years.  Any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.  Yes.  Really...

Walden U.

(With apologies to my good friend H.D. Thoreau. . .)

I came to college because I wished to live independently, to face only those issues which interested me, and not, when I come to die, discover the reality of an outside world in which people have actually to labor. I wanted to live deep and suck all the beer from the can, to experience life through such a haze of drug-induced hallucinations that it should seem effortless and appear to be kind. And should life prove after all to be mean, I would surely know it, for it would back me whimpering into a corner until at last I should be forced to don a Wal-Mart smock and join those who live lives of quiet desperation, stocking shelves 38 hours a week without promotion or benefits.

Perhaps these pages should most properly be addressed to poor students like myself, who will no doubt glean what useful thoughts as they can from these writings. All others may like it or lump it, each according to his own tendencies, as his character dictates. I wish to assure my readers that I would not burden them with an account of my means of living had not many of them expressed an interest in university survival, often voicing curiosity as to how I spend my time, procure nutritional substance, and as to whether or not I fear that my chosen way of subsistence may at any time prove impractical. Nor would I so much concern myself with an account of my own existence were it not that I am the most interesting person I know.

It has come to my attention that for the most part you who read these pages are in fact slaves to the obligations society would have you believe are yours. I have seen students without number studying late into the evenings, the dim glow of a lamp in a dorm window standing witness to a laboring individual within whom strives the spirit of a free man oppressed by the expectation, nay, the demands upon him, that he should devote his life to furthering the aims of his society for good.

Obviously, I am not suggesting that one should expend his energies in order to contribute time and effort toward good, as good is defined by the majority of society, who would have us all giving away our own clothing to those who could never appreciate them. [If, however, by some sudden attack of beneficence, a man should donate his money or material possessions to charity, he would do well to be sure he acquires a receipt for it, and see that it is not merely abandoned without adequate proof of its contribution, in the unhappy event that his parents should betray his cause and refuse to claim him as a dependent upon their own taxes, leaving him thus exposed to the evils of the Internal Revenue Service and need such proof in order to shorten the length of his most conscientiously provoked incarceration.] If you were to inform me that a man was on his way to my abode with the express intention of doing good unto me, I would surely load my gun and meet him at the threshold. A man is not good in my opinion simply because he professes to have my best interests in mind, invites me to the religious institution of his choice, and warns me of the eternal damnation I tempt every moment of my pagan life. I can find you nearly any fundamental evangelical who would do the same. As for doing-good, I have tried it, have thought often and seriously of joining Greenpeace or PETA or of driving my ailing grandmother to a doctor’s visit, and can honestly say that I am satisfied it does not agree with my constitution.

Perhaps the most generous action a man can take without the risk of doing good and compromising himself in such manner, is to permit his fellow-men to have an interest in whatever enterprise he sets forth to undertake. This I accomplished by promptly borrowing at least the half of my mother’s dishes as I set out upon my new life at the prestigious educational institution of my choice, assuring her as I departed that I would return for the remainder on a later date. Because I had decided to live as simply as possible, I immediately discounted the purchase of an automobile and instead located a structure within walking distance of a friend whose sole ownership of such vehicle would otherwise have surely been a heavy burden upon his conscience. As I told my father, the swiftest traveler is he who borrows rides, for surely he reaches his destination swifter even than the vehicle’s owner, since whatever time the burdened owner spends in feeding his meager coins into the parking meter, the traveler has gained in happy distance toward his goal.

The structure in which I had determined to live was a simple two-story dwelling, myself to be the sole occupant of the second story, the ground floor being leased to a hamster and four other persons of doubtful reputation. I was to take possession of my apartment at eight o’clock the morning of the fifteenth, and indeed, at eight met the downstairs inhabitants, who were moving their belongings into a car, having been evicted only the previous evening for disturbances of the peace. One car was sufficient to hold the whole of their belongings—beanbag, blender, two weeks’ worth of soiled laundry and three cases of leftover beer—all except the hamster. He took to the wall spaces behind the paneling and became a scavenging hamster until, as I later found, he trod in a trap for mice and so became a dead hamster at last. I watched the former residents of what was now entirely my abode begin their journey down the street and considered the number of articles they were obliged to carry with them. I was sorry, not because they had so little to relocate, but because they had an abundance in excess of the necessary. I would have been glad to relieve them of their beer.

My housekeeping experiences soon proved my theory of simplistic living to be one of great value. Those who own quanities of furniture soon find themselves slaves to their possessions, it being necessary to dust and clean such property daily. My own scant inventory consisted of a kindergarten nap mat, a folding chair for the use of my company, a desk, and an aged, rusty, milk can, should I ever endeavor to put the desk to use. I had three textbooks on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they tempted me to read them when I had not yet finished my nap, and I threw them out the window in disgust.

Because I have found that few can give an accurate account of the victuals with which they have sustained life, and I wanted to prove the worthiness of this undertaking, I attended to the matter with the watchful eye of the ever-vigilant vulture. Here is a record of the sources from which I made purchases to maintain robust health during the first week of my liberation from our society’s extravagances:

McDonald’s …………................$20.85
Taco Bell……………..................$11.09
Domino’s Pizza………..............$43.57
China Garden Buffett.............$38.29

Yes, I did eat $140.19 all told, but I should not so admit it did I not know that the majority of my readers are at least as guilty as myself on this account. The final day of the week, my resources being depleted and another check from my parents not yet having arrived, I went so far as to remove a package of frozen hamburger from the refrigerator and devour it, partly out of hunger and partly for experiment’s sake, but though it afforded me momentary enjoyment, notwithstanding the fact that I’d neglected to first cook it, I would not advise the general populace to make common practice of its use, at least not while it should remain frozen.

All told, I consider my college experience to be a great success in the practice of self-reliance. For an entire week I adequately provided myself with food, clothing—for I made the sacrifice of using that worn in previous years—and water, which I procured at public fountains whilst campus security guards were otherwise occupied in issuing tickets for expired parking meters. My laundry is the only matter not yet finished, and as soon as my mother should complete her three hour drive to deliver it unto me, that too shall be accounted for. Indeed, such has been my success in this endeavor that I do heartily recommend it to anyone seeking a respite from this sorry world’s most self-absorbed and unreasonable demands.

Friday, March 11, 2005


1. The budding amaryllis on my kitchen windowsill, the way it bends toward the light each day, the swiftness of its rising stalks.

2. My grandmother's return from the hospital, safe, stronger.

3. An eight-year old whose violent cough has lessened this week, who can now breathe herself throughout the night without fighting respiratory convulsions.

4. The white and purple speckled orchid my mother gave me for my birthday, its seven blossoms filling the curved stem beneath them like migrating butterflies resting before resuming flight.

5. A friend whose comment in a discussion forum ("... breathing is so wonderful. I, myself am an oxygen addict! Can't get enough of the stuff!") made me laugh today. (Thanks, Kat.)

6. This quote from William James: "I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success. I am for those tiny, invisible loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capilary oozing of water, yet which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of human pride."

7. Entering my name in this name generator and being given the honorable moniker, "The Bitter Swami". (Black humor is the best humor, and laughing at oneself is ten times as restorative as laughing at someone else.)

8. The gold of our cat's eyes, the slide of his fur against my fingertips.

9. The silence--blessed silence--of our home right now, both girls asleep upstairs as I sit up and wait for Scott to come home from his work at school, the push and bluster of the wind against the house, the quiet hum of the computer.

10. The glitter of the beaded dragonflies I've been learning to make, hanging in the kitchen window like a promise of the summer to come, a promise of lighter air and singing creekwater and quickened hope.

I'm thinking. . .

Breathing is a highly overrated activity.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


On my way out the door to spend the day at the schoolhouse working the bookfair. Yesterday younger daughter sick and home in daytime, guidance and counseling advisory committee in the evening at school. Monday was at hospital visiting my grandmother (flu caused heart complications).

Snowing outside. I love the quality of the light when it snows. Everything is softer inside the house. I can hardly bear to turn on the lights, it's so peaceful looking in the morning. Sometimes I think I could live my whole life in snowlight.



Friday, March 04, 2005

Excerpt from "Laundry Law of the Mama"

Thou shalt not send thy child to school attired in ivory lace upon Picture Day, shouldst Picture Day fall also upon the Day of the Burrito. Nay, nor shalt thou send thy child to school in ivory lace upon the Day of Nachos. Shouldst the Day of the Burrito and the Day of the Nachos fall both upon the day the administration hath chosen for Picture Day, woe unto thee, yea, and unto thy child also, shouldst thou dress her thus in ivory lace, yea, even ivory lace unto her ankles and send her forth. For it shall come about that as she is gathered with the assembly at noon, the burrito and the nachos shall spill forth their contents upon the lace, and thy child wilt come home stained and full of grief.

But if thou shouldst, in thine ignorance and vanity, send forth thy child in ivory lace upon the Day of the Burrito and Nachos, verily there hath been a way provided for thee and thy child out of thy misery. Behold, when thy child arrives home, remove her dress from her body, and unto the lace, even the places thereon of staining, shalt thou apply the Stain Stick. Makest thou then an offering unto the washer, pouring forth the laundry detergent mingled with thy tears, and turn the dress such that its inner parts are outermost, and place it in the washer until its alloted time is complete. Then it may be that the Lord your God shall have mercy upon you and your child and shall forgive thy ignorance and vanity and shall cleanse the garment of all stain and restore unto it its former glory.

Then shalt thou raise thy voice and apply thy fingers unto the keyboard and spread forth the praises of Him who has delivered thee from thy woeful state, yea, even thee and thy child. And it may be that others will hear of it and be forewarned and tremble, and shall in reverence turn from the ivory lace on the days it is forbidden and so shalt be saved, yea, they and all their household.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


I have recently discovered that if one sits in a bathtub half full of water, stretches out one's legs until one's feet are flat against the front of the tub and then arches one's feet, keeping the toes against the tub's side, the water level even with the base of one's toes--if one keeps one's legs and feet in this position and stares at them for some length of time--one begins to morph into a two-legged giraffe-type alien creature.

Furthermore, if one allows the pondering of this transformation to continue after one has exited the bathtub, perhaps even going so far as to stand on the rug on tiptoe, one will lose one's balance and fall into the sink.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Amid Fluctuation

The funeral was held last Friday. The name of the church where it was to be held sounded familiar, but I couldn't quite place it until that morning. I'd been there once before-- last spring, when I was matron of honor for a friend's wedding. During the entire funeral service, I sat struck by the juxtaposition of memory and present reality: wedding boquets and funeral sprays, flower decked altar and flag draped casket, formal wedding attire and the uniforms of the military funeral honors team from Fort Leonard Wood. The same walls, same windows, same pews and aisles, doors and carpeting. Joy and sorrow are not so different as we think.

Even without Justin's death and funeral, I'd been slipping steadily, finding myself edging into the place every spring takes me, a place of heightened emotional sensitivity, where even the smallest sorrows press heavily on my heart, and joys are so intensified as to be overwhelming in their lovliness. I spend every spring in a perpetual mixture of simultaneous grief and rapture, a sort of incolsolable elation. You'd think it would be old hat by now, that I'd expect it, have become used to it, would be adept in the handling of it, able to casually brush it aside at whim. I've found, however, that if I try to avoid it or ignore it, the result is usually rising irritation building into agitation and anger.

All fun isn't swallowed up in moods here at Possum Box Lane, though. Last Saturday Scott and I went through his students' entries for an upcoming language arts fair. We sat in the living room floor, sorting and reading aloud to each other, and I laughed until tears ran down my face. When it comes to being made grateful for the distance you've traveled in your life, there is nothing quite so effective as love-sick adolescent poetry. "Oh, the poor thing!" I would find myself gasping out between paroxysms of helpless laughter--and meaning it completely.

Abba God, I am a wreck. But I'm not the wreck I used to be. Oh no! You and I together have reached whole new levels of wreck-ed-ness! Just think what we might accomplish in the future, Lord! Seriously, I've no clue what You're doing with the whole mood disorder business in any of our lives, but I'm trusting there's a purpose, that it's Your purpose, and that it's going to be good. Ultimitely, I have to; the alternative isn't really an option. Not and keep breathing, anyway. If You do get the impulse to let some of us in on it all, though, I doubt we'd be terribly adverse to listening. Or maybe we would. Yes, actually, I think we would, knowing the way You work. So strike that. Just slide a nice, soft, black velvet hood over my head and walk me to my fate in blessed ignorance. I like ignorance. Today I am most sincerely and contentedly grateful for it. Amen.

In chosen bliss,