~black and white wednesday~ they come in waves

















other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~ finding the color


colorless: right around this time of year, things start to feel about like this for me: washed out gray birds in a gray sky flying south without me. my rainbow practice becomes increasingly important for me to strive to do, so i can remember there is actually still a lot of color in the world!


even if it’s artificial coloring. spoiler alert: all the kids in our lives are getting playdough for christmas! quinn helped me make the first four colors yesterday.


rainbow: mindful tea arranging. this way the tea becomes a self care exercise multiple times.


red: one of our frequent visitors.


red: cranberries getting ready to be sauce, for what turned out to be a very mellow and laid back thanksgiving with more of our kids than we thought we’d get to have around.


orange: glad there are still some of these hanging on.


orange: false chantarelle in our forest. still hoping for some true chantarelles but no luck yet.


orange: quinn’s week off of school for thanksgiving was a week of much game playing. after enough rounds of loot and risk, i decided i wanted a word game, so we invented thanksgiving scattergories.


yellow: apple tree leaves.


green: extra water in the bayou over the past week or so.



green: the first of my rainbow terrace plants has sprouted! i planted 3 bleeding heart roots at the base of the apple trees, and they are already up! i hope they did not jump the gun, and that they do well next season.


blue: this kid makes me happy.


blue: i re-purposed my baby baptism blue jar and baby’s breath as a thanksgiving centerpiece. never mind that it looks more like christmas than thanksgiving! that’s what i could find in the yard for a fresh cut arrangement.


purple: mashed potatoes at thanksgiving ended up lavender, since i had a few purple potato stowaways in the mix.


purple: deep in thought in mama’s purple chair using mama’s purple computer. for christmas, i’m thinking: new socks!

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

other posts you may enjoy:

~thankful thursday~ sailor hair don’t care

11-25-16 day 25

i am thankful for an unexpected extra 24 hours with my boy today, which was made all the more wonderful by his getting to spend time with rich’s daughter. we are missing some family members this thanksgiving, but having a couple of “our kids” together made it very special. i was reminded of when these two of our kids met for the first time almost 5 years ago, and the way they automatically struck up a friendship, regardless of their age difference. these two pictures, one from the day they met, and one from today, represent how it’s been between them all along. quinn has always taken it for granted that rich’s daughter of course wants to play with him, whether it was coloring dinosaurs, or comparing pokemon go stats, and she is a great sport and always makes an effort to give him attention when she visits. one of my favorite things about rich is what sweet, wonderful, genuine, kind people he raised, and i’m happy to count them as a part of my family!

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11-26-16 day 26

i am thankful that i have at least 3 buyers of the book i haven’t started writing yet. that is going to buy me several batches of nacho ingredients, if this whole science career thing doesn’t work out, and certainly the current political climate doesn’t bode well for a long term biology career. it’s good to have a backup plan! i’m super qualified to write books, because i beat my little brother in words with friends at least as often as he beats me.

i’m also thankful for words starting with the letter q, namely quinn, and quilt love from grammy. and qi, because it’s worth lots of points sometimes. plus, you know, life force/energy flow and all.


11-27-16 day 27

today i am grateful for role models. i have spent the weeks since the presidential election not knowing what to say about it, and i am still mostly finding myself adrift in that unknown. it has been a struggle to write on many of the days of this gratitude challenge, not because i don’t have a million things to be thankful for, but because i know that at least a few people will read what i write, and therefore have been feeling convicted to write about Important Things.

in little ways, i have snuck in references to Important Things in my thankful posts, but tonight my “about” description on my fb profile page caught my eye, and it still says what i originally wrote, back when i first opened the account:

ecofeminist pacifist radical mama
“the world is absurd, and beautiful, and small” – ani difranco

i’m not sure i’m living up to my self-given label, if i’m only hinting at the Important Things.

luckily i have some role models i look to in times like these, ani being one of them, who recently was photographed holding a sign reading, “i am no longer accepting the things i cannot change. i am changing the things i cannot accept.”

jane goodall and barbara kingsolver are also women i count among my heroes. jane recently posted a remembrance of elie wiesel, another person i’ve admired all my life, and mentioning him at a time like this, amidst a turbulent sense of anti-semitism (and anti-islamism, racism, etc.) on the rise, feels appropriate.

finally, barbara kingsolver so graciously offered to “go first,” and so i will quote her here and her reluctantly radical mention of many of the Important Things.

“With due respect for the colored ribbons we’ve worn for various solidarities, our next step is to wear something on our sleeve that takes actual courage: our hearts.

I’ll go first. If we’re artists, writers, critics, publishers, directors or producers of film or television, we reckon honestly with our role in shaping the American psyche. We ask ourselves why so many people just couldn’t see a 69-year-old woman in our nation’s leading role, and why they might choose instead a hero who dispatches opponents with glib cruelty. We consider the alternatives. We join the time-honored tradition of artists resisting government oppression through our work.

If we’re journalists, we push back against every door that closes on freedom of information. We educate our public about objectivity, why it matters, and what it’s like to work under a president who aggressively threatens news outlets and reporters.

If we’re consumers of art, literature, film, TV and news, we think about what’s true, and what we need. We reward those who are taking risks to provide it.

If we’re teachers we explicitly help children of all kinds feel safe in our classrooms under a bullying season that’s already opened in my town and probably yours. Language used by a president may enter this conversation. We say wrong is wrong.

If we’re scientists we escalate our conversation about the dangers of suppressing science education and denying climate change. We shed our cautious traditions and explain what people should know. Why southern counties are burning now and Florida’s coastal cities are flooding, unspared by any vote-count for denial.

If we’re women suffering from sexual assault or body image disorders, or if we’re their friends, partners or therapists, we acknowledge that the predatory persona of men like Trump is genuinely traumatizing. That revulsion and rage are necessary responses.”

i highly encourage you to read her full post linked here.

if you, like me, are feeling overwhelmed with figuring out exactly which actions to take, here is a handy document that i plan to utilize as a jumping off point for this week, to help stave off the paralysis.

i have no intention of compromising my integrity, and therefore it is only after careful consideration that i share other people’s content on this here public forum, erring instead on the side of saying my own clumsy piece, where i can do my best to ensure that i am not, as charles eisenstein put it, “smuggling in hatred” in the form of name-calling, othering, blaming, belittling or shaming.

but remaining silent right now would also compromise my integrity. this was something i had to learn as a domestic abuse victim, because staying silent was often a survival mechanism, but when my survival was not in question, my silence only gave permission to the abuser to continue his rants, and by remaining silent i was complicit in the problem. i do not wish to suggest by my silence that i agree with anything that man is doing in the name of my beloved country and my beloved people of every race, religion, ability, sexuality, and gender. i’m one of the women who experiences his every word as a trigger, having listened to someone close to me speak in exactly the same abusive manner, and as such, i believe every threat he made during his campaign, because, as maya angelou (another hero) said, “when someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

also, i am thankful for you sweet, generous people for continuing to read these incredibly long-winded gratitude posts. you’re all great. thank you.

11-28-16 day 28

i’m thankful for dolphins! it’s day 28 and i think it’s time for a dolphin break. they make me happy. i’ll save the long-winded dolphin stories for the book.



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11-29-16 day 29

the penultimate gratitude!

i didn’t really mean to extend these last two days of the gratitude challenge, but yesterday i admit that i was not feeling thankful. i could still sense out in the periphery that i have piles and piles of things to be thankful for, and in a distant way, i was still thankful for those things, but in the more immediate sense, i was under a dark cloud, and my thankfulness gland wasn’t functioning properly. i had a vague a feeling of “at least i don’t live in aleppo,” but that just made me feel guilty that i wasn’t getting an A in the gratitude challenge when i should, since i don’t live in aleppo. imagine being ungrateful for all the nachos i am blessed to be eating lately.

i’m thankful that one can become increasingly aware of the shoulds and have to’s, and begin to reject them as needed in order to preserve one’s sanity.

i’m thankful for lau reminding me that it’s possible to feel like crap when things are happening that are less than ideal but minor, and also possible to feel well-adjusted and resilient when really shitty things are going on, and for reminding me that she’s seen me do the latter. which helped me not be so fearful of feeling crappy outside of aleppo, and stop playing the what-if-shit-moves-fanward games with myself.

i am also thankful for long hugs from the person who puts up with my insecurities even though he’s never given me one miniscule particle of reason to doubt his love.

and finally, i’m thankful for e. e. cummings.


you shall above all things be glad and young

For if you’re young,whatever life you wear


it will become you;and if you are glad

whatever’s living will yourself become.

Girlboys may nothing more than boygirls need:

i can entirely her only love


whose any mystery makes every man’s

flesh put space on;and his mind take off time


that you should ever think,may god forbid

and (in his mercy) your true lover spare:

for that way knowledge lies,the foetal grave

called progress,and negation’s dead undoom.


I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing

than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance

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11-30-16 day 30

day 30! no pressure or anything. i guess i can’t do a one sentence post tonight? for some reason it seems like i should go out with more of a bang.

today i’m thankful for providence.

it’s a bit of an abstract concept, maybe not as tangible as nachos or fires in the wood stove. but i think it’s the best way to summarize the list of things that have come to mind today for which i feel grateful, many of which i forget by this time of day, given my penchant for short-term memory loss.

i’ve never been out to become wealthy or famous or get far ahead in life, i’m not a big competitor, i’ve always really valued a quiet, contented life, and i’ve always wanted to have the basics covered, to have just enough of everything i needed. i am not foolish enough to think i brought this all upon myself, instead i like to think there is energy/life force (qi? higher power of your choice?) that i can direct this thankfulness towards, for providing a $150 check when i had a $149 bill i needed to pay. when i say providence, i do not mean there is excess, but i do mean there is exactly what i need. and that pretty much describes my life, and i’m so grateful to be able to say that i have what i want, and want what i have.

i am going to borrow from past things i’ve written again, because i’m tired now, and because they capture what i want to say. while i’ve been feeling down, i’ve had the best possible support. this is something i wrote last year that explains why the person i’ve been given to go through this life with, and his mechanical analogies about flipping switches, is absolutely the right person for me:

now i have a man who validates and supports my whole being and loves all of me, containing my feelings by refusing to allow my self-loathing neural pathways to open back up. this is truer to the core of how i see myself (a person of integrity) than any desire to have my self-loathing “validated” in the ways someone else would “validate” it, by encouraging that self-loathing and feeding that monster.

“darling, you will not find

in the well into which you fall

what i keep for you on the heights:

a bouquet of dewy jasmines,

a kiss deeper than your abyss.”

-pablo neruda, except from his poem the well, from the captain’s verses

thank you all for following along on my impulsive, long-winded, rambling, gratitude practice extravaganza; see you all again next november 1st! and finally, i’ll close with this little ditty i wrote almost 5 years ago, about the things we envision for our lives, and the way the energy of the universe works its magic and manifests them; tonight’s gratitude was brought to you by the number 11 and the color red violet:


quinn’s favorite crayon at the moment is red violet. he has been choosing to color in bed before going to sleep most  nights lately, and over the weekend i went in to turn off his light and he had red violet laying directly in the center of his chest, safely tucked there for sleep. it was always my favorite, too. i think i know why, now that i see it lying next to the heart of a sleeping child i love enough to burst my own heart wide open. red violet, the color of love.

i look up and see my man pull the almost-empty jar of pears out of the fridge and open it up with his big man hands and take a swig of the juice that’s left… getting to watch that sure beats my default method of tossing the dregs into the next smoothie. i don’t know how to say this, and it feels vulnerable to admit that all this time i’ve been writing about me and what i’m doing and what i want out of life… this was right up there on that list. it may have been unspoken… i may never have admitted to wanting someone who appreciates, as he calls it, my goofy hippie food. i know i did admit to feelings of loneliness a time or two, in rare instances when i paused long enough in my manic food-gathering endeavors to experience them, but underlying all the gardening and canning and fruit picking and cheese making and skill learning has been a secret longing for someone to share all of it with. i would never undervalue how important this process has been for myself, and in no way has man-getting been my primary motivation (there are many other motivations including my own health and sanity and quinn’s health and education being biggies, not to mention simply feeding ourselves sustainably, literally obtaining the calories needed to maintain homeostasis) but i find now that i am settling into this new phase of life with an enormous appreciation for the extra harvesting i did last summer and a permanent smile when i get to feed it to someone who has been on a vacation from cooking for some time. (surely he won’t be embarrassed if i publish on the internet that i removed a box of falafel mix from his cupboard with a sell-by date sometime in 1997, a bagel from 2008- can i say wow to the ingredient mold inhibitor?, and other items scattered throughout the decade in between).

i know i’m not the only one feeling this way… in a rare january occurrence of nice weather on a non-work day, i spent saturday afternoon pruning blueberry bushes, grapevines, and trees, and hacking away at blackberry canes in one of the garden patches that has been waiting for me to come along… next to a guy who has been waiting for me to come along and do this with. there were years and years of preparation leading up to us being in the same yoga class on the same night… years of fixing his own cars, to get him ready for when he would get to fix mine (and give me rides to work when the mechanic had to fix it more- hard to describe the weight lifted off my shoulders on just the one subject of mechanical stuff). years of me waking up to the farming instinct i’ve harbored since birth, to get me ready for when i would have space to let it loose on. years of us both getting ourselves sorted out and secure and in all other ways ready for this big love. i find myself gently detaching from the need to be entirely self-sufficient. i find myself able to lean on someone who is also gently leaning on me, because we can both stand up straight on our own two feet and have been for quite some time… the give and take is easy to open up to, and i couldn’t have seen that coming, for all my self-sufficient feminist single mama superwoman-ness.

a little over ten years ago, i got to do a retreat where we visualized our future self, ten years hence. my future self was alone, and the leader of the exercise remarked on the rarity of  aloneness in that particular exercise. she said most people visualize their future family or friends around them, and i was just me, in a small room/house/yurt, feeling self sufficient and “just enough” and “whole” (words that resonated at the time and ever since that are still written in a prominent place above my desk) and yet with a sense of loved ones nearby (though they were not in the picture). when i left future me, i gave her a kiss on the lips and have wondered ever since, why i was to be alone all my life… why was it that i somehow had to do this whole life thing by myself when everyone else gets to find a mate and settle down happily ever after? you know, it never occurred to me one single time, in all the many times i’ve thought of that visualization (which has clung to me like water ever since), that year eleven would come along. but now i suddenly see the red violet writing on the wall…

other posts you may enjoy:

~two and a half months in the life of a lifelong learner~ dragonflies to dragons

clearly, this is long overdue!


i’m writing this during the cold november rain, so it warms my heart a little to look back over summer sunshine and fun! and of course, learning.

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i’m mostly relying on photographic evidence to remind me of what we did all those long months ago… i know we took a wednesday morning off and went to the aquarium together for $5 local day, and enjoyed some time with the puffins, the sea otters, the seals and sea lions, and of course, caught a few pokemon. we hiked around the community college enjoying nature (and pokemon) as well.

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rich motivated quinn to help pick up the apples in the orchard by referring to them as pokeballs needing harvesting.

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checking out marine mammal artifacts and parts at an aquarium exhibit.

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karate in street clothes; karate with mama; karate on the beach

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soccer and kids camping with friends!

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pear upside down cake, baked with pokeballs pears from the yard.

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designing, building, painting, and playing with his new minecraft lego habitat. there was also extra paint that got used for an art project on a board.

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happily lugging around a chunk of conglomerate.

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a found duck, found bird prints, little green crab, and whales lurking in the surf zone.

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someone was waiting for mama, so he found a comfortable perch underneath a waterfall to ponder life.


borrowed baby to read to. love that he got to spend part of his summer with camp boss, and baby koala bear.

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art projects, mapping for pokemon go irl game, photography practice, and a certified cherry pitting specialist.


first day of fourth grade!

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second week of fourth grade… in new york! studying many things…

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…like barn repair, pomology, minecraft, tree climbing…


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…basketball, grandson stuff, cousin stuff, more tree climbing…

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…more pomology, more tree climbing, mushrooms…

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…the oregon trail, certified soap assistant technician, kickball…


i loved walking in from a walk to find the two self-motivated learners camped on the porch making games and identifying apples.

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fun with food… bulbasaur apple pie, biscuits and jam, certified carrot crinkle cutting technician.


he is listening to percy jackson while reading mokie and bik. certified literary multitasking technician.

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karate and more karate. a fun-filled day camp day of karate in corvallis, complete with broken boards and traditional trip to laughing planet. quinn also earned another tip on his blue belt.

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bayou and beach walks…

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and a harrowing dungeons and dragon mission completed! his character finally excavated the dragon skeleton i hid for him months and months ago, and hatched his found dragon egg. he also obtained some dragon-hide pants and boots, and other miscellaneous dragon-related items, as well as slaying all orcs in hickory glen. as soon as he had unearthed the skeleton, i realized i had not foreseen and built into the dungeon all the eventual needs: “now i need to look for wood and metal ore to build a museum for the dragon skeleton!” see, i’m learning all the time, too.

other posts you may enjoy:

~thankful thursday~ the essentials: love, water, light, nachos

11-18-16 day 18

i know we’re all feeling thankful for joe biden right about now, so i am not saying anything original here. i, however, am reminded of why i am actually thankful for his public service, even more than i am for imagining him leaving his gameboy in the oval office, removing the t’s from the keyboards, ordering 500 pizzas delivered to the white house on january 21st, and changing the wifi password. the guy is a master of going off script, and was consistently among the least wealthy members of congress. his life story is heartbreaking and it makes you appreciate his big smile all the more. there’s so much to love. but i personally want to thank him for the violence against women act of 1994 that made it so the restraining order i filed 14 years later could actually be upheld and enforced; that made it so stalking is a crime; that made it so rape victims didn’t have to pay for their own exams; that provided resources to underserved (native americans, immigrants, and lgbtq) victims of domestic violence; that established a domestic violence hotline… you get the idea.

these stats are available on the white house fact sheet about the vawa:

“between 1993 to 2010, the rate of intimate partner violence declined 67%;

between 1993 to 2007, the rate of intimate partner homicides of females decreased 35% and the rate of intimate partner homicides of males decreased 46%.”

i also want to thank him for his letter to the stanford rape survivor, which is not new news, but is still powerful and shows his empathy for victims of violence is still alive and well.

11-19-16 day 19

today i am thankful for some outside time on a saturday afternoon without rain, to work on my terrace garden; kittens; playing board games with friends; soup and pie; my grandma, whose pie crust recipe is the best in the world; the way children whisper towards each other’s faces instead of towards their ears; the rain coming down now that it’s dark and i’m snug in my fuzzy owl blanket from my mother-outlaw listening to the lulling sound; the farmer’s market; my thanksgiving grocery shopping checked off the list; and a warm bed to fall into momentarily.


11-20-16 day 20

it was such a relief when my first therapist told me, “you don’t need to get an A in therapy.” today i am thankful that i don’t need to get an A in the 30-day gratitude challenge.

some days, words fail, and it makes me thankful for my other hobby of photography. when i can’t come up with 1000 words of my own, i can let the photos write the story.








(ha. i just realized, it’s a story about light.)

11-21-16 day 21

today i am thankful for love notes of every kind. i love seeing love notes posted around my friend’s kitchen from her husband. i love seeing friends’ photos of love notes their kids have written them. i love the sidewalk chalk love notes left by the neighbors of a mosque in virginia, telling their islamic brothers and sisters they are with them, they love them, they are here for them.


and of course, i love the love letters i receive from my love. lately they come in the form of facebook stickers on the posts i have been writing and he has been faithfully reading; songs he thinks i will like that he now knows how to send me via messenger, like “emmylou” by first aid kit, to which he added, “i’ll be your gram and your johnny too”; articles he knows i’ll appreciate, such as one about a scultpture depicting two adults with backs turned, whose inner children can be seen inside them, reaching towards each other for connection. he made sure i realized he wasn’t suggesting we were fighting or had our backs turned, he just thought i’d like it given all my connectome words lately. i said, “honey, i know my memory is bad, but even i can remember that we don’t fight”; on the note i asked him to write of an album he’d like me to buy (he doesn’t buy anything online… yet! he’s still breaking in stickers) he dotted all the i’s with hearts; he left an article about a couple in yachats celebrating their 75th anniversary (happy anniversary, clare and earl!) on the bed for me to read. he has done this many times with the “northwest love stories” printed periodically in the oregonian – swoon; and also with the sports page, when it’s about some athlete proposing to his girlfriend in some romantic way. even i can be a football fan when it’s filtered like that for me. huck it, chuck it, football!


11-22-16 day 22

today i am thankful for nachos.

i’m also thankful for dorkaversaries (happy almost our five year-a-versary in one month, honey!) and a certain foster nephew having a birthday, and a 2 hour and 46 minute phone chat with my mom this morning, and a nice long in person chat with one friend yesterday, complete with little fingers holding scissors and glue sticks, and a nice long in person chat with another friend today, complete with gangly people playing games. and watching my kid march out of the library with all the books he couldn’t help but check out, and read while eating dinner (at a table full of clutter! keepin it real!).


yes, nachos. thankful for nachos.


11-23-16 day 23

refer to days 1-22! still thankful for wood stove fires, music, friends, family, things that are bigger than my little circumstances and help me have perspective, kitties, playing games with my kid, nachos, books, and my fiance.


11-24-16 day 24

happy thanksgiving! it’s gratitude day!

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i’m thankful today for water. i am listening to a lot of water pelting the metal roof of our house, and overflowing the gutters. the driveway pond is now a thing. i am thankful for the bayou that is filling up with all this fresh rain. (part of our 1.2 acres is swamp land, and we refer to our little section of bog affectionately as the bayou. we take walks there, where rich has cleared and maintained some nice trails through our forest. we’ve seen tons of birds and other wildlife there and all three of us find it to be a source of rejuvenation and peace.)

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i’m thankful that nobody is trying to install a pipeline through the middle of my water table. i’m thankful that i can sit here comfortably in my house, knowing that my well is being recharged with all of this wonderful pacific northwest rain forest water, this november sunshine. it’s pretty essential stuff. coming out of our faucets, it is clear and cold, and leaves no trace of residue on our sinks. no colors or odors. no chlorine, no fluoride. it’s probably my number one favorite thing about this particular piece of property, although i do love the house and yard and forest and bayou very much. partly i am able to appreciate it because at our previous house, the spring would dry up for a few months each summer, and just in time for all my garden plants to shrivel and die, i couldn’t afford to spare any of our household water to quench their thirst. the water here is plentiful, clean, and i can fill up a bathtub whenever the spirit moves me, and soak my troubles away in the hot water, which has always been highest on my list of self care tasks. i look forward to lavishing water upon my terraced flower beds next summer, that i am currently trying to build, in between rain storms.

metaphors about water cling to me. the river of life which barbara kingsolver would say, as writers we try to pin to its banks using our words, realizing all the while of course the futility of trying to stop it in its tracks. utah phillips said, “time is an enormous, long river, and i’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. my elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through and everything they gave their lives to, and every song they created, and every poem that they laid down flows down to me – and if i take the time to ask, and if i take the time to see, and if i take the time to reach out, i can build that bridge between my world and theirs. i can reach down into that river and take out what i need to get through this world.”

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for a writing assignment one time, i sprinkled water imagery throughout a character sketch of my son, who at the time was 5. you can read it here:

character sketch

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i hope you are all enjoying some lovely time with family and friends, and that you can also count among your blessings an abundance of clean running water.

other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~ winter banana and stained glass


red: holly berries


orange: amanita mushroom observed during quinn’s school field trip.


yellow: i was so excited when i found these winter banana apples at the fill-your-pantry market that i had to buy some. it is one of the varieties my mom has identified growing on the farm. they grew these on the west coast, too, mom! the farmer said the tree is from the 1940s, like ours.


yellow: sky glow


yellow: ocean kid glow


green: connectome


green: rich saw this and knew exactly which 3-foot section of which two trees in our backyard he was looking at.


blue: appropriately for a wet november weekend, we played games: loot (pictured, though this was round two with custom role play rules), skip-bo, snakes and ladders, chess, and we finally got to learn settlers of catan from good friends!


blue: camp/wedding boss was the party boss for a friend’s baby’s recent baptism, and i had the honor of taking photos. she’s such a great boss, i am so happy to have her on my team.



purple (and friends): sunlight pouring in through stained glass on the day of the baptism. light is so precious and rare this time of year, and i’m making my best effort to collect as much of it as i can when i get the opportunity. sustaining friendships help with the lack of light by warming up the heart. i am lucky to have good friends to help get me through the darker days!

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

other posts you may enjoy:

~thankful thursday~ oh, brother

{note to peeps who receive my posts via email: i am trying out a different email service, so please let me know if you don’t receive this message… oh, wait….how about if someone sends me a successfully received shout-out, would you please? and let me know if you notice anything problematic with the service at all. thanks y’all!}

11-11-16 day 11

today i’m feeling gratitude for the community in which i live. rich and i went to café mundo, the site of our very first date almost five years ago, and this time around we knew even more of the people there. (there is something to be said for a small town when trying to date again after a long time, saddled with doubts about one’s ability to judge a man’s character. i had lots and lots of background checkers, and they all gave him two thumbs up. also, people who weren’t even there knew what i ordered for dinner while i was eating it on said date, because, what else is there to text each other about?)

the only graffiti on the walls in the bathroom at mundo were the words, “LOVE” and “don’t compromise yourself to make someone whole.” also, the graffiti was in chalk because that is an invited form of expression there.

the music – still grateful for music – was live and beautiful and so many good songs were played. there were lots of friends from the cast of the play rich just finished performing in attendance, and it was a foregone conclusion that everyone present was on the same page concerning current events. to be clear, everyone doesn’t need to agree all the time for me to be in my happy place, but i know a lot of us are finding it pretty hard to stomach the amount of hatred and name calling and intolerance we are witnessing and experiencing.

i was wearing a safety pin out on the town, starting in a safe space where it wouldn’t be needed anyway, but also knowing it would be appreciated. those who hadn’t heard about safety pin symbolism were happy to know of one more way to show in a concrete way that we don’t plan on letting our community be a haven for bullying or exclusion or bigotry.

it is also on my mind that i feel tremendously grateful for the veterans who have served in our country’s military, and this is something i’ve always had a hard time reconciling because, by saying i value soldiers’ sacrifices, i don’t want to be misunderstood that i am in favor of war or that i think putting young men and women in the line of fire is the only or best way to serve our country or resolve conflicts with other countries. i think on days like this of my poppy, who served in both world war 2 and korea, and my dad who spent time in the air force during the vietnam war. my dad, thankfully, was not in combat, but poppy saw awful things, and i remember hearing him having terrible nightmares, when he lived with us when i was a kid and he was in his eighties. i have a hard time thinking that these men would have supported a presidential candidate who has openly insulted other veterans, and who behaves in abhorrent ways towards women, and who has contempt for immigrants, and those who practice “certain” religions. politics are a conversation i stopped having with my dad ten years ago, and i don’t want to start it back up, because i’m afraid it would break my heart that he might not get the connection between his vote and the message it sends to his daughter, to his grandson, about how men and women should behave, how they should expect to be treated, based on their race, gender, sexual orientation. i’m afraid of knowing my mom might have voted for someone who entertained the notion of repealing the 19th amendment.

my kid, who is growing up here in this vibrant community, gives me hope. the message i am making sure he receives is that if he sees bullying or hate based on another kid’s differences, that he must choose to stand up for the different kid and speak up about it. he said he’d do that anyway, even without a safety pin to remind him.

i couldn’t pass up this reading of flander’s fields by the late l. cohen. another one of life’s little synchronicities. enjoy with tissues on hand.

11-12-16 day 12

today i am thankful for the kitty kneading my lap, the fire in the wood stove, my faulty rew memory that makes it so i don’t necessarily remember using that woodstove gratitude already, or that i’ve already gotten a kiss or a hug (so then i get another one), and little things in life like safety pins.


11-13-16 day 13


i came across this letter from my dad the other night and like all the other recent synchronicities, it made me cry. so i sent it to my bff so at least i wasn’t the only one crying. safety in numbers.

today i am thankful for my dad.


the letter came after an extremely trying time in my coparenting career. dad said, “i know that the trial you just went through was very hard to endure. i want you to know that before, during that time, and always, i will love you with all of my heart. we may not always have been in agreement on everything, but, no matter what, i would do anything for you that i possibly could do. i pray that your life will continue to get better and better from here on out.”


one time, my dad grew a mustache for me with the motivation of alleviating my fear of men with facial hair. see? he would do anything. aside from being an amusing story told all my life, i have come to see, over time, that his message was not that men with facial hair are all safe, but instead, don’t let fear be what drives you. indeed, we know retrospectively that one of the men with facial hair at our church was definitely not safe, and i didn’t learn until i was an adult that he had molested one of the teen girls in church. but i think my dad really took on the challenge of helping me overcome fears and live a more confident life. maybe it was so he and mom could get to sleep at night (i also had a fear of the moths that flew around my night light, which i believed were wasps. i think he must have been really glad when i got over that.)


dad expected me to work on the farm, and i am grateful to him for instilling a strong work ethic in me. i started shoveling manure with a kid-size plastic orange snow shovel as soon as i was toddling enough to not fall on my face in said manure (at least not very often). once we graduated from eating random items in our environment, we were deemed old enough to run a grease gun around all the fittings on a tractor. dad appreciated and nurtured my interest in the midwifery aspect of raising cows. i was much less squeamish than my brothers, and he’d call me when there were twins or breach calves needing attending. i know my way around a cow uterus, and know just what to do with ivory dish soap and a hay hook to help get a stuck calf out.

i also know how to change a tire and change the oil in my car, thanks to my dad. he didn’t think this type of skill was reserved for males. he showed me how to split wood. he bought me my first chainsaw. sometimes i let rich use it.


i stole several of his flannel shirts when i was 19 and hopped on a schooner. when he and my mom met the ship in greenport, after my first voyage, he and i compared our muscles and farmer tans. his farmer tan will always dominate. people on the crew figured that my farm childhood explained why i took so readily to the rigors of shipboard life.


dad is going to retire from bus driving in a year or so, and when he does, i imagine he’ll have some beef cattle, because his “part time” job (40+ hours per week) already doesn’t prevent him from driving around on his tractor for all the rest of the daylight hours. he will need to farm something in order to keep busy, and i’m not sure apples will be enough. i will schedule my visits during calving season. i hope i have his energy level when i am his age.


dad was such a busy guy throughout my childhood, but he made room for us in his life in such a big way. i can still smell the diesel and dry grass from all the naps i took slung over the tractor toolbox with one of his button down shirts to snuggle up to, and taste the warm well water from the soda bottle with which i would wash down the dust. whenever we ended up curled up on his lap in the evening, he’d stick his finger in our ears to clean them out and clip our fingernails. he always read us the bedtime story. i would fall asleep listening to his voice reading how to eat fried worms, sideways stories from wayside school, or treasure island, and even now when we talk on the phone, i find it a comforting sound. i’m not the only one. my friends, cousins, and many of my brothers’ friends all love to hear my dad sing and play guitar, and have learned his repertoire enough to have favorites they request for him to sing. he always came to a track meet each season of my high school hurdling career, despite the timing of track meets always coinciding with milking hours. some of my favorite memories were silly conversations at the dinner table, or being woken up at 4:30 to be stuffed in the family car and driven up to saranac lake each summer.


i also have memories of storming away from the dinner table when dad and i couldn’t agree. he stated the truth in that letter, and it wasn’t always an easy father-daughter relationship. my mom maintains that i am very much like my dad, and that is why she thinks we clashed so much. we’re much more peaceful now; because you don’t have to agree on much of anything to have unconditional positive regard for each other.

one other thing. i am grateful to my dad for showing me how a man should respect, love and cherish his wife. my parents are a great example of how to truly live your wedding vows of “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health” and i realize how fortunate i am to have had an example like this to help me see the same qualities in rich when i met him. the above letter came just a couple of months after rich and i had begun our relationship. we had a lot of worse/poorer/sickness thrown our way in our first year, and rich was a rock and stood by me just as my dad stands by my mom. dad seemed to sense that about rich’s character already. in the same letter he wrote, “i am so pleased to hear you so happy with your relationship with rich. he sounds like someone who you will be able to trust.” we may not always have been in agreement on everything, but we definitely agree on that!

i love you, dad!


11-14-16 day 14

let’s do thankful for the farm part 2. last night was about dad, who is inextricable from the farm, having been there since he was 4 years old, so it couldn’t help but be a farm post. but i also want to express thankfulness for the farm itself. i’m going to borrow someone else’s words tonight, and take a break from thinking of what to say. this time, i’m quoting my favorite enviro-farming curmudgeon, wendell berry. he’s the best i’ve found at articulating the importance of a sense of place, and how farm life provides such a thing for a soul.


“if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.”

bw-barn-light-img_0588 bw-barn-light-img_0591 barn-img_0956

Picture 1323 barn

“Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming? And always the answer is: “Love. They must do it for love.” Farmers farm for the love of farming. They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. They love to live in the presence of animals. They love to work outdoors. They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable. They love to live where they work and to work where they live. If the scale of their farming is small enough, they like to work in the company of their children and with the help of their children. They love the measure of independence that farm life can still provide. I have an idea that a lot of farmers have gone to a lot of trouble merely to be self-employed to live at least a part of their lives without a boss.”

Picture 1439 old tools sunset

speaking of love…

“I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love.”


“What I stand for
is what I stand on.”

Picture 1383 barn wood

“Never forget: We are alive within mysteries.”


and finally…

Picture 1444 shed window sunset

“be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.” google the poem this quote is from, “manifesto: the mad farmer liberation front,” and read the whole wonderful thing. it’s from 1973, yet fitting for the present moment. and then grab your nearest farmer and hug them.

11-15-16 day 15

already halfway through the 30 days of gratitude! i guess i could look at it as the month is half over, or… i could say there is still half of it yet to come!

green IMG_7111 green IMG_5353

did i say that i’m thankful for the fires rich builds in the woodstove yet? i can’t remember. so toasty. or how about the kitty snugglers? i don’t know if i threw in the fruit salsa and chicken we ate last night for dinner or the yummy pasta we had tonight for dinner. or the nice hot bath i took last night. or the whiskey i am enjoying with my love right now. coffee. soft blankets. we sat down to biscuits and gravy this morning, and rich turned up the volume knob on the radio to paul mccartney and wings singing “maybe i’m amazed at the way you love me all the time.” and we smiled at each other. (music! did i use music yet?) i got to see a beautiful sky layered with fluffy clouds and muted pastel colors as i drove homeward across the bridge after work. then there is the beautiful moon situation. the sound of rain on our metal roof, and being snug inside our cozy home. at the root of some of my fall funk (i referred to it on day 1, it’s part of why i impulsively jumped in and committed to doing this for a whole month… free therapy!) is that i feel unsettled, not moved in yet, still in the midst of a long two year transition of not being home yet. if i look at the glass as half full though, i’m lucky to have the home, all the homes, i’ve been fortunate enough to inhabit. this one may still be filled with piles of boxes, and we may not have the living room layout solved just yet, but…

sunset-img_1229 img_7137 img_7136 img_7067

“our house is a very very very fine house… with two cats in the yard… life used to be so hard… now everything is easy ‘cause of you.”



11/16/16 day 16

i declare it sibling thankfulness day.


brother b. he was my first friend, my first enemy, and now i’m glad to say we’ve been back to friend status for quite some time. he’s a punk rocker, a true friend who will drop everything to help a friend in need, has the most colossal sneeze and the most infectious laugh, and has been reading howard zinn since before he was cool.

sister c. i’m so happy she became my sister in law last year, after decades of belonging to our family already. i’ve got bowls made by her hands in my cupboard, and i will strive to emulate her interior decorating style, she is a true artist. she is also a super mom and i’m glad my bro has a great partner in the parenting adventure!


brother t. whenever i needed someone to geek out with, and, say, write all the roman numerals, in order, from 1 to 1000, on yellow legal pads, he was always my go-to guy. i say this as though it’s in the past tense, like we didn’t just create a role-play game version of the oregon trail together, oh, a couple of months ago. all-time best writer of funny emails ever, but you have to wait for it. this is also true of the words that come out of his mouth… sporadically.

sister n. i just shared a heartfelt email exchange with my sister in law, whom i’ve known since childhood. we went to kids’ church camp together, isn’t that wild(wood)? we also both lived on the west coast for a period of time. she’s been a kindred since long before she married t. and i sure love the nephews she brought into this world for me.


i’ve seen lots of families of siblings lose touch with each other, or worse, and this almost seems more common, to splinter apart as time and life present obstacles. it’s one of my deepest wishes to never let that happen between my brothers and me.

because, there are a lot of wonderful people who come and go in life, but there are only two people who i lined up stuffed animals with to do the “milking.” there are only two people with whom i plucked kernels of cow corn to fill up our toy gravity wagon to plant corn in the sandbox. there are only two people who had to eat bread and milk with me because dad said we had to try it. there are only two people who know the martyr song as well as i do. and if each one of them needed a kidney simultaneously, i’d give them each one of my own in a heartbeat.

11-17-16 day 17

today i am thankful for books. i just checked “fantastic beasts and where to find them” out of the library (so thankful for librarians!!!) so quinn and i can read it before we go watch the movie. i’m slowly chipping away at “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.” but today, “bat 6” by virginia euwer wolff and “snow falling on cedars” by david guterson, are coming to mind, though i haven’t read either one recently. i need to get to bed, so i’m borrowing quotes again, this time from “snow falling on cedars”:

“The snowfall obliterated the borders between the fields and made Kabuo Miyamoto’s long-cherished seven acres indistinguishable from the land that surrounded them. All human claims to the landscape were superseded, made null and void by the snow. The world was one world, and the notion that a man might kill another over some small patch of it did not make sense.”


“None of those other things makes a difference. Love is the strongest thing in the world, you know. Nothing can touch it. Nothing comes close. If we love each other we’re safe from it all. Love is the biggest thing there is.”


“snow falling on cherry blossoms” march 2012

other posts you may enjoy:

~thankful thursday~ don’t overthink it, bro

11-4-16 day 4

i’m thankful that i am having such a hard time deciding what to write about for my gratitude post. i guess what i’m thankful for today is abundance. i just can’t decide between the yummy food we ate for dinner, the sleeping kitties purring near the crackling fire, the lanky boy soaking in the bathtub who is home at last after the long week away at his dad’s, the friday field trip with his class out in the beautiful sunny autumn weather that i got to join in on, or the million other things i take for granted on a daily basis. the basic needs are covered, we are surrounded in abundance, a solid shelter, organic food, clean warm clothing, companionship, all of our needs met. and that doesn’t even begin to mention all of the individual precious people in my life for whom i am so thankful. i am more concerned about running out of days (hahaha unless i re-write the rules!) than i am about running out of things i’m grateful for! i really am truly blessed.


11-5-16 day 5

so there’s this kid i’m pretty thankful for. i saved posting about him for the weekend since i knew i’d probably set a new verbosity record when i write about him. maybe take a potty break and grab a refill on your beverage and come back, if you want.


ok, ready?

my son cracks me up. he dropped the phrase “what the crap” in casual conversation with me the other day. sigh, public school. also, he keeps calling me “bro.” i was like, “dude, i’m not your bro, i’m your mama.” he does, however, persist in maintaining a solid vocabulary. he got over dropping f-bombs quickly at age two, after a quick trial period, when he realized how many other wonderful words there were for adding emphasis. given the choice between the right word and the almost right word, he chooses the right word every time. he told me recently he learned a way to get pain out of his body. you just firmly hold and kind of shake the body part (like say, your wrist), and, “then it sears, but then it goes away.” because, you know, searing pain is a turn of phrase all the nine year olds use a lot.

i see evidence that he has been reading things. he will say words, and i can tell what words they are, even though he has made up his own unique pronunciation. he was telling me about wanting to hit a certain poke-stop “at the epi-SCOPE-al church.” reading calvin and hobbes, he came across some mar-TEE-ans (you know, people from mars).

he’s also familiar with sleet, though he has never experienced it. we were talking about how zeus controls the weather, with a little help from poseiden, when rain is involved.

“or any precipitation,” i said.

“yeah, like snow, or hail, or… whatever sleet is…”


i like listening to him quote passages from the heroes of olympus, and make inferences about greek mythology, while he munches on blue chocolate chip cookies. we like to make funny literary references with each other, such as when i yell like buford the wonder table, “put some clothes on!” when it’s time for him to get dressed in the morning.

as parents we like to think we are so aware of what is going on… now, i am pretty attentive, but he schools me on that on a regular basis. it took me until this year to discover his synesthesia. he sees each letter in its own specific color! it’s been happening for him all along, and i never knew that, for him, m is purple, q is green, and the number 9 is red. layer upon layer of realization unfold that “this is a whole separate person” with a kid. it’s hard, because this person was floating in your belly at one point. you held them in your arms, and now they’re so big they overflow elbows and ribs and kneecaps and giant feet all out the sides of the chair when they sit on your lap, cutting off circulation to your thighs. they are becoming activists on issues you didn’t even know they were aware of, and they are developing friendships and embracing and accepting others’ differences while you’re not even in earshot anymore. they are calibrating their inner compass and you just get to watch as they start doing things like helping their grammy walk down some stairs, without being asked. you get to watch them decide that “being a friend” is something they feel they are good at, on the survey at school.


you know how some birthdays are no biggie, and others can feel deeply meaningful? i had one of those when he turned nine this year, as it hit me on a gut level that my baby is halfway to 18. i really felt that one, and while i don’t want to grasp and cling, i do want to be sure i’m savoring this fleeting time i have left with him tucked under my wing.

so while i can, i’m trying to say yes to as many games of dungeons and dragons and pokemon as i possibly can, while still attending to my household duties. i know he won’t ask me as often in a few short years. i hide dragon eggs and dragon skeleton dig sites on pieces of graph paper and we roll 20-sided dice and slay orcs and goblins together with our long swords. i keep putting food and stacks of books in front of this drumming, karate chopping, fly tying, game creating, lego building, theater camping paleontologist, and shaking my head in awe of the wonderful human being blooming before my eyes on a daily basis.


11-6-16 day 6

my gratitude post for today wrote itself at bedtime last night, when i found rich sobbing:

“not even a mention! i was a one-hit wonder!”

today i am thankful for laughter! long belly laughs that warm me up on chilly nights. running jokes about skinny legs that catch each other off guard. running narration of the kitties’ inner thoughts, keeping the daily routine light and fun. all the irreverence that is possible because of a strong, secure foundation.


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a few minutes after he popped the question, and i said yes, (i never said no, even though he had been telling a story for months about how he had asked me numerous times but i had kept saying no…) we were feeding each other peanut butter brownies and having coffee, and when he claimed he had been too jittery and nervous to get coffee earlier, i didn’t skip a beat. “and were you also full of shit?” in the division of labor of our relationship, one of us does the overthinking. i’ll give you a hint: it’s not him!


last year when we lived at the vacation house, we’d repark each other’s vehicles as needed, based on who would need to leave first in the morning. whereas he could get our bumpers so close i couldn’t walk in between, i would back his truck up so close i just knew one more inch would mean a collision, only to get out and see i was still ten feet away. he’d thank me the next day for saving him some of his drive by parking him part of the way to work.


it’s been almost five years since i asked him out in a laundromat. we still like to pick each other up, though, whenever we get the chance.

“i must be from alderaan, because you blew up my world.”

i love you, you mischievous, hilariously funny man. and your skinny legs, too.


11-7-16 day 7

today i’m thankful for my best woman.


she’s the silly reason in a goldfish laugh. which is to say, there’s no logical reason why she ever became my friend in the first place, and yet, 20 years later (more than half of our lives!) she still is.

it’s not because of the existence of a blackmail video tape of us singing aerosmith’s pink into our hairbrushes. neither of us would threaten the other with releasing such an atrocity, because we’re in it together.

it’s not because we are anything alike. we’ve influenced each other’s music preferences (rich appreciated that i was excited to go see tool with him) and clothing colors (actually she still mostly wears black… i wore some black when i used to be able to borrow it out of her closet…) and our height difference is holding steady at a lot of inches. she has brooklyn roots, and we still joke about how my grandma answered the milk house phone when she called me for the first time, after receiving my “howdy, roommate” introduction letter. hello milk house? this is brooklyn. yes, we were assigned to one another freshman year, and still, against all odds, remained friends. you don’t know what a milk house is, you say? neither did she, but we fixed that.

it’s not because we actually get to spend any time together. we’ve spent much of our friendship 2972.11 miles (give or take a few hundred) apart. the last time we hung out, i was having a baby shower. that’ll be ten years ago. yup, half our long friendship ago. and for this second half, i’ve been a mama, so i neglect her like crazy and completely take for granted that she still wants to hear from me when i do pick up the phone on her 17th attempt to call me.


it’s something else. i’m still trying to put my finger on it. so i keep emailing her long babbles and she keeps wanting to read them, and she writes them to me and i marvel at her perspective on everything. my mom gave me some wisdom a while back, not to try to meet all my emotional needs in one individual, and i should value my friends. i believe rich is grateful that i dump the entire dissertation of details on lau each time i’ve got something to process/overthink, and wait to deliver the synopsis to him after i’ve gotten it pared down by 90% and mostly resolved. you guys think i’m being verbose on this blog, but she and i are looking into a private email server to hold all of our correspondence (jk! little election humor on election eve!) she’s a life saver, she keeps me honest with myself, she keeps my journal pages safe and gets all my inside jokes. she’ll hide under a rock because i am drawing attention to her, but i’m doing it anyway, because i’m a lucky duck. she’s laufashau galore!

love you as big as the sky, lauren marie!


11-8-16 day 8

today i was noticing so many little things that i feel thankful for, everything from convenient little coffee filters, to drive up ballot drop boxes, to papa murphy helping me out with dinner. the gratitude exercise is working for me in spades, when it comes to helping my mood improve, because it is seriously habit forming to focus on thankfulness! when that is the energy i am putting out, more to be thankful for keeps coming at me. but this evening as i sit down to write this, i am feeling that instead of a list of the wonderful tiny things, i want to focus on the big things in life, the ones that are bigger, even, than election drama.

quinn has a free state parks pass because he’s a fourth grader, (yep i’m thankful for that, too), and so we parked for free at the lighthouse, a beautiful spot we rarely visit, due to the parking fee. we had two hours in between school and karate, with a sunny day on our hands. we spent a full hour of it just marveling at the size of the waves crashing into the rocks right below us, trying to stay upright in the strong, steady wind.



this place… from sea to shining sea, it feels messed up to me, and i am feeling and hearing that from so many. but at the same time, this land is your land, and this land is my land, and feeling like it’s our responsibility to do something about this mess, feels so daunting, too.



but then i remember the whole country is just a small place within in a much bigger place, and if we zoom out and out and out, it quickly disappears and loses all of its significance.

today i am thankful that i am so insignificant. all of this will pass away, but the waves will still continue to crash, one after another, onto these rocks. the impermanence of it all, the smallness of myself, can be comforting on a day like this.


11-9-16 day 9

i am thankful for the gift of words.

i streamed a free conference this past weekend called education: next generation. i got to listen to some progressive thinkers on topics like self-directed learning and parenting with empathy and the neuroscience of connection. dan siegel, scott noelle, peter gray, many others. i’m familiar with some of these thinkers, so it was a refresher course in some ways, but in so many ways, my mind was blown.

we become who we are in the storytelling we do. several of the speakers i listened to this week reminded me of truths i’ve learned before; my thoughts are not who i am; my thoughts are not even necessarily to be believed; integrating my storyline into an unbroken line is the best way to ensure my own well-being; focusing my energy on gratitude for this abundance begets more abundance in my life; i have the power to choose a different brain patterning; our storytelling is powerful, and can change the course of our life, depending on the words we choose.

in the context of parenting, marji zintz reminded me of one of my favorite parenting quotes, to “attribute to children the best possible motive consistent with the facts.” i also remember back to when i was articulating for myself that i wanted to step outside of a paradigm that focused on getting “it” to “work” and let go of controlling the short term issues, and instead set a goal of connection/attachment, with my sights set on longer term goals. i think this was a timely refresher for me, because these concepts aren’t restricted to kids. i can think of adults i could extend the benefit of the doubt to; and in the actual communication with people i disagree with, i can see how focusing on connecting and finding common ground is going to get us much farther than other more prevalent conversation formats.

at the end of the day, i can assign a meaning to the votes my acquaintances cast, and i can certainly assume that they meant their position as a personal affront to me. just like the old slogan about resentment, it would be like taking poison and hoping they die from it. most likely, my fellow americans were not really thinking all that much about me personally when they voted, though, and even if they were, my assumptions about what they think or how they feel are going to get us nowhere. reaching out and asking where they were coming from? not taking other people’s stuff personally? these have potential.

some of my favorite words from the conference:

consent; scott noelle connected some dots for me in a way that my mind has been hovering just outside of for a while now. one huge reason why i value self-directed learning, in its truest sense, when a student/child can actually opt out of a lesson they don’t wish to participate in, is that we are so messed up around the concept of consent, and it has so much to do with our kids lacking choice. and here’s what i mean by choice; it’s not just having three learning options, if that still rules out “no” as a valid choice. we are forgetting that allowing for “no” makes “yes” so much more profound.

connectome; dan siegel said this word, at least i think this is the word i heard him say, and if not, i like it anyway. he says that integration is the “best predictor of every facet of well-being” and calls the linkages in the brain that, having made sense of your life, are connected in an integrated way, your “connectome.” this is a pleasingly geeky word for someone who works on things like genomes and transcriptomes.

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some more words i liked, from charles eisenstein: “how can i be of service to that which wants to happen.” a small snippet of his talk concerning what he sees as our transition, on a cultural scale, from the story of separation (a mythology that divides self from other) to the new story, the story of interbeing. i checked his book out of the library so i can absorb some more of his wonderful words, which i obviously have done a horrible job of paraphrasing.

this evening, the words of garrison keillor made me nod and chuckle. the way words connect us, something that you say can resonate with me, and  grow that…. linkage, maybe we can call it the human family connectome, the web to which anything we do affects us all.

my favorite words from today were read during yoga class, and as i tried to unfurrow my brow, i contemplated a passage from the book of awakening about what salmon have to teach us about facing things. as they swim up a waterfall (seems impossible, but they do it), salmon know to turn towards the impact; by aiming their soft underbelly into the oncoming force, they borrow the energy of the river to propel them upward.

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being able to show up for this period in time, be vulnerable, show our underbelly even though the impact is going to be direct and hard; this seems to me to be the way we can ascend from here.


11-10-16 day 10

10, 10, 10, 10 is for everything, everything, everything, everything!

i’m thankful for everything. especially music, today.

15 months 6 standing by guitar

dang it, i got that far with writing my post, plus a few other notes jotted in an outline, and then found out about l. cohen’s passing. and the way i found out was my bff texting me that she had chosen music as her gratitude for the day, only to find out about his death. you remember that whole connectome thing i was talking about? there are a higher number of linkages going between that woman and me among the tangled threads of consciousness than expected by chance. too many synchronicities to count.

i had the above mentioned violent femmes song in my head the day rich and i got engaged because it was the 10th of july. lately he has been waking us up with a wonderful selection of songs, but of course i feel that way, i picked them out and burned them onto those cds for him. the mix tape is still one of my favorite ways of expressing love, even though i no longer do it in tape format. i will have to check whether we have any l. cohen songs on our stack of cds from the various anniversaries and trips to country fair for which i made him mixes, because if not, we’ll need to add a few. “dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on.”


one of my favorite wedding traditions that i’ve done for several different friends and family members, is to collect songs from the family and friends of the people getting married. love songs, “our” songs, if you will. my poppy used to sing “you do something to me” to my nana. my mom and dad had charlie rich’s “a very special love song” played at their wedding by their live band. i got serenaded just this morning when a certain someone turned up the volume for robert plant singing “sea of love.” it’s super fun to be nosy with people i don’t even necessarily know that well (asking after the other side of the family’s grandparents’ songs?) and it turns into a time capsule full of wonderful musical tidbits that the newlyweds now know about their support network.


lauren and i used to have a wake-up song system, when we were roommates. she’d program her stereo to whatever time i needed to wake up (my classes always started earlier) and then when the cranberries or the smashing pumpkins would come on in the morning, she would wake up to the clicking on of the stereo, i would sleep through the song, and she would say my name loudly so i’d actually get out of bed.

“there’s no need to argue anymore….”

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and of course, music was on my mind already this morning because of the little folksinger i posted yesterday, belting out woody guthrie. sometimes you need a little folksinger to get you through your day.



part of me wants to go lay down and sob into my pillow. “dance me through the panic til i’m gathered safely in.”


but how about this instead… today if you leave a comment, pick a love song and share it! we desperately need to have more love in this world.


other posts you may enjoy:

~thankful thursday~ warmth, choke slams, baseball and apple pie

i’ve been posting a daily gratitude post on facebook this november, inspired by a couple of friends who have done so in the past. this year i saw their november 1st posts and impulsively decided to join in, and i am transcribing these posts here because it turns out that it’s already becoming a self-assigned writing exercise (read: verbosity ensued), which i’ve already established is much needed self care right now. add to that the self care of the gratitude itself, and we’re using self care in layers, as self-prescribed for the cold darkness of november. plus, top readers mom and wedding boss have had the better judgement not to join facebook, and i don’t want them to miss out! here is the first installment of grateful posts:

~30 days of gratitude~

11/1/16 day 1

gratitude has become a cliché hashtag to many people, but it’s also an important practice, and one that helps me think outside of myself. i’m going to join in with friends who practice 30 days of gratitude in november this year, for selfish reasons, however, because i have quite frankly felt better, and i am hoping that attempting to count my blessings on a daily basis for a whole month will improve my mood and help ease me into this cold and dark season of the year, my most challenging time of year by far.

there are many ways i could begin this month of gratitude, but i’m going to start with what’s happening right in front of me right in this moment… my sweet fiance, keeping me warm by building and tending a wonderful fire in our wood stove. I am so very thankful for his hard work of cutting, hauling, splitting, hauling, stacking, hauling, lighting… dealing with all things power tool, knowing how to make a blazing fire nice and toasty warm for me, since i can’t seem to generate any heat myself, and all with a smile on his face. i am being so specific about his fire-making abilities because i know i will have numerous other thankful things to say about this wonderful man throughout the month! and maybe this whole gratitude thing is also secretly a way to shout my love for him from the rooftops of facebook, because i am one lucky woman to have him in my life!


11/2/16 day 2

i am thankful for the balance in my life right now between yoga and karate. yoga: what can I say, it saved my life 10 years ago when i started practicing it, and has been a constant friend ever since. from prenatal yoga when quinn was gestating, to meeting a tall dark and handsome man in an evening yoga class 5 years ago, it is a source of great memories, comfort, wholeness and sanity. (oops, i told rich this morning i would give him the day off of being talked about when he asked in horror, “you’re going to write about me every day this month?!” oh well, sorry, honey. maybe you can have tomorrow off.)

now karate, i started practicing on a whim because my son was doing it and because i got a free month for being his mom. that was back in may. last week i completed my first belt test and graduated from white belt to yellow, and i see myself in it more than i originally anticipated. i’m more of a yogi than a fighter, but there’s more to it. learning one of the self defense techniques on my white belt curriculum, designed to defend against a left hook punch, i was brought back to a distant, jarring memory of a left slap to my face, and not only that, but the drunken lecture that followed, about how lucky i was that he had the self control to use his left hand to hit me instead of his right, given that he could probably kill me with a blow from his right (dominant) hand.
back at that time, i did not perform any self defense whatsoever, in fact, i cowered in fear. i made myself as small as possible and prayed he would pass out without hurting me further, so i could get myself and my baby to safety. and i did just that, and it’s been onward and upward ever since.

i know i began to carry myself differently after i started doing yoga, because my body had been so slouched and collapsed into itself from exhaustion, fear, self-loathing, criticism, and emotional abuse. it hurt, at first, to sit up straight in a seated yoga posture. with long, slow, movements and mindful breathing, my muscles have lengthened and strengthened and i’ve stood up a little bit taller ever since.


karate is all quick and powerful, not the long and slow and graceful, but the feisty kicks and punches and blocks that feel foreign to me. and yet… there might be something about it that makes me stand up even taller still, with the inner knowledge that i would not cower in front of a left-hand, or right-hand punch.

today in yoga class my teacher had us meditate on the space around our hearts, and specifically visualize the space in the front of our heart as the place of giving of love from ourselves to others, and the space in the back of our heart being the place where we receive love. i can tell you one of those spots contains a substantially greater amount of tension for me than the other, and it was a bit startling to me that while i feel i have come a long way towards loving myself whole, there is still a decent amount of work to do. so along with the gratitude practice, i’m going to be breathing into that back heart space a little more mindfully this month, with the goal of more graciously receiving the love of others. love is all over the place, after all.

and wherever i’m getting no love… i’ll just kick some butt.

11-3-16 day 3

today i’m thankful for my mom, with whom i had a nice long phone conversation yesterday.

i was thinking of being thankful for baseball today, but then i’d probably end up mentioning my <3 date <3 last night to watch the cubs win a very exciting game 7 of the world series, which hasn’t happened since my grandparents were infants, and then i’d really be in trouble. it’s his day, off, people, so i’m not going to talk about him. the pear cinnamon cider was lovely, while we’re being thankful, though.

my mom is an even bigger baseball fan than my significant other, probably the biggest baseball fan i know, and she would choke slam anyone in new york mets trivia. she is the subject of today’s gratitude post, not because of her baseball passion, however, but because she is the most supportive and loving and nurturing woman in my life. i’m really just the luckiest.

when i was 6 or 7, she had a hard time with me, but she left no stone unturned, and eliminated the hydrolyzed fat peanut butter from my mostly peanut butter diet, and i’ve been a model daughter ever since (hahahaha. she’s not on facebook to submit a rebuttal to that claim, so i’m safe!) of all the things i learned from her, how to be a mama stands out as the most important one, and if i am doing anything right with my kid, it’s because i learned it from her.

mom has a lot to do with why my brothers and i have such an independent streak, and also why we are insatiable readers, and also why we never stop learning. she’s the definition of a lifelong learner, leading always by example. her latest passion is the stand of antique apple trees (planted pre-1948) on the farm where she and my dad raised me, and she has become an autodidact expert in vintage apple variety identification. she also makes the best apple pie (which she taught my brothers and i to do as well and has given us all a wonderful gift by unearthing information about the chenango strawberry, winter banana, red astrachan, hubbardston none-such, and blue pearmain apple varieties that she and my dad are rehabilitating. see, didn’t you just feel like you got a gift, reading those amazing names? i bet blue pearmain cider would be lovely.

mom always knew she’d be a teacher, so when we each decided what we wanted to go off and pursue, she wholeheartedly supported. this included sending her daughter off to sail on tall ships, with her blessing, which i can tell you is not how all the parents react to their kids taking a few years off from life to travel the high seas.

her support is also what shines through to me when i think of her strong faith, because even though she has always been clear about her christianity, she also never expected us to fall into line just because it’s what she chose. as a “lapsed catholic” who has been a free methodist all my life, she emphasized that to her, what’s most important is that we are all on a spiritual journey, she always encouraged us to ask questions and think critically and make conscious choices, not to follow blindly but to think and feel and intuit for ourselves. i get the feeling this is also rare among parents of my cohort.

finally, if you know the side of me that doesn’t believe in t.m.i., that likes to sit in the red tent and discuss uteri or any other aspect of being human that other people can be squeamish about, a good deal of that is because of my mom, again, for setting the example that it’s important to be comfortable talking about this stuff so we can all learn. so, if you and i have chatted fertility charting or how to broach the subject of where babies come from with your kids, then you, too, can count my mom as someone you’re thankful for.

i love you, mom!

other posts you may enjoy:

~rainbow mondays~ bulbasaur, bayou, beets, blue squash


do you ever just think your food is so pretty that you take it outside, arrange a (rainbow) still life, and take a picture?


red: i found this stack of dried leaves curling up in my car from the day quinn and i went to our karate day camp and broke boards. we took a walk at lunch time, and he talk-played a ninja game with me and we picked up leaves.


red: sweetgum tree at camp boss’s house. i went to take pictures of her cubs in a brief sunlit window between extended dance remix rain showers.


orange: pretty star shaped leaves.



yellow: golden beets, among friends. also this week in yellow (not pictured): mama earned her yellow belt in karate!


green: romanesco, cousin of broccoli and cauliflower, but with much cooler florets – 3-d spirals with texture.


green: cabbage leaf or topographical map of a river?


green: reminder.


green: i am proud to have finished this year’s costume well before the deadline. it wasn’t even 2 am, and it was finished on thursday night, allowing for this cute frog photo shoot before he went to his dad’s on friday. this year’s pokemon is bulbasaur, in case you were wondering.


blue: mini blue winter squash make me happy. they also fill a crucial role in the vegetable rainbow, for blue veggies are rare!


blue: hawk in the blue sky over camp boss’s house.


purple: napa cabbage in red violet. what a beautiful batch of produce this week!


brown: my fiance and i happened upon this bayou wildlife on a walk we took recently. bayou walks have been less frequent, due to play rehearsals and rain, but we were rewarded for sticking with the tradition on this particular day.


black: one last produce photo, a black radish that i altered with my zester. much quicker than a jack-o-lantern, so i will chalk it up to self care, just like this post. self care for the win!

~rainbow mondays~

a splash of color on monday

a photo study documenting the colors of the spectrum: the balance points between light reflected and light absorbed

other posts you may enjoy: