Monthly Archives: June 2018

Molding the clay

Beautiful rain, dripping from the evergreens, dribbling down the pink slopes of the foxgloves planted by the front path, and still the hummingbirds are at it, whizzing from flower to flower eating bugs and drinking nectar from the kale flowers, borage, whatever’s open. The rain is such a relief after weeks of dryness, and much as I loved the clear, warm air and the way my tomatoes put out flowers and shoots in the warm nights. But I had to irrigate, which seems so unnatural. Some day I’d like to try to get through a whole summer without watering from the city system, instead using only stored rain and gray water. A bucket in the sink poured out over one bed of vegetables or herbs at a time is a start, but I’d love to collect the rainwater all spring and mete it out all summer, like the glaciers have done for the forests and meadows until recently. Keeping the soil covered with low growing clover, grass clippings, or just weeds pulled and left to decompose, keeps a lot of moisture in, and watering infrequently but deeply encourages roots to go deep. My clay holds on to its moisture, too much in other seasons, but a welcome property in the warm months. I read on every plant label that what is wanted is well drained soil, but that kind, when I work with it, purchased from the dealers in topsoil removal or manufacture, makes me tired, demanding continual watering and burning through the compost so fast I can’t keep up. Clay is good enough for the cedar, the Douglas firs, the Oregon grape, the huckleberries, and the foxgloves, so it’s good enough for me. I’ll work with my clay, slow, cool, fine, just fine.


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Posted by on June 30, 2018 in Beautiful Earth


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This Dream

I do not claim to have developed an airtight business plan

for this dream.

It was a dream, and it came from my root

although up in the air, before you, it has proved to be so fragile.

It wanted nourishment, encouragement,

A chance to live and grow.


I see now I should be thankful for those strong blasts of hot air,

If they have strengthened stems,

the lack of light, at first, that made it reach higher,

and your crap, that turned out to be

nourishing, after all.

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Posted by on June 29, 2018 in Arts, Poetry and Music, My poems


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Old friend, new friend

Early Runner introduced herself to me when I was a newlywed just moved in to the neighborhood, as she was a friend of the family too. My husband and I were starting our married life sharing the home of my newly widowed mother-in-law, who had known Early Runner way back, such a nice girl, and so devoted as she had cared for her mom while she suffered her last years with a terminal brain tumor.

I liked her right away, and was pleased to have a new friend, and as she was outgoing, approachable, and genuinely interested in a friendship, she made me feel very welcome in my new country, new life, new church (which she also attended).

We visited from time to time, I admired but was not able to follow her example of 6 a.m. runs, let her two daughters play with my first baby boy, and had coffee from time to time. My husband and I moved about a year after the birth of our boy to a town a half hour north and connected with a whole new community, and Early Runner and I would only hear each other’s news through the grape vine and occasionally visit. Her marriage was not well. I was absorbed in rearing several more children, and life went on without our connecting much.

Ten years ago we met again at the family cottage of a different mutual friend, this time another friend of the family, and a home town connection with Early Runner, with whom I’d connected over being neighbors in our new town, homeschoolers, and moms of four kids each about the same age. She had a new love, and a new son the same age as my youngest, but we didn’t have much time to visit. Then off we went overseas and lost touch.

A few weeks ago she heard from my family about my husband’s diagnosis (she’s known him since grade school), and reached out to see if she could drop by and give me a hug. We arranged to meet for a walk and visit, and I have just come back feeling that I have remade a new friend. Turns out we have more in common than we had realized, and not just the experience of caring for a terminally ill loved one. She is in town for a local writer’s conference, which I was planning to attend until our lives shifted this winter. She writes poetry and wants to blog to develop a more public expression, has no desire to go to Disneyland ever again and thinks it’s strange and fake, and finds evangelical Christians too simplistic and judgmental, yet retains some faith and desire to hear from God in a real way. She has written and shared about plans for her own funeral as I have, and has struggled with retaining a sense of independent identity in a committed marriage and with the Christian stereotypes about a woman’s place in marriage, as I have.

We drank wine, forgot about ordering and then eating our food while we caught up, shared dreams, and asked questions. She wants to go with me to the annual poetry retreat I’ve been hoping to attend for the third time, and we have a plan for main conversation topic next time we get together. I was hoping for just such a friend, so it’s been a good day.



Sailing, takes me away from dentist’s waiting room

The dental assistant has agreed to work me in, though I arrived, apparently, on the wrong day at the wrong time. As she sets up, I wonder if she’ll be frustrated to see me again over the same night guard, and I’m rehearsing my very amiable and kind, with a touch of convincing, cheerful assertiveness, night guard story. At the counter a man is wrapping up his payment and scheduling his next appointment. He answers the assistant’s query about the earlier conversation they’d had, “Yes, he’d flown over the ocean many times, but wanted to cross it in a boat.” Not boasting, just mentioning it, as it had apparently come up during the chat while the numbing took effect. Maybe in answer to, “Doing anything special this summer?” To which I could have said, if asked, “Yes, as a matter of fact, I’m helping my husband as he dies.”

I sat still in the waiting area, no desire to read or be busy on my phone, or peruse People magazine or Architectural Digest, I thought how I felt like sailing off with him. Sounded like he was on his own–newly retired or widowed? He was in his late seventies, I would say, so not an age-mate, but I liked his mind. And I watched mine, as, again, it went on these forays away from my current life. Not the first unfaithful thought I have had, but equally far-fetched.


Posted by on June 1, 2018 in Places & Experiences


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