I haven’t been doing much creative writing lately,
is coming out in the fall and contrary to what I’d somehow fooled myself into thinking,
my work is only just begun.
More to come lovelies, I promise. all sorts of things are moving and shaking.. a website, a video, events, travel. opportunities for folks to support getting the stories in my book out into the world. For now… disjointed waitress poetry will make an attempt to return, because learning how to market a book gives me a headache, and I need to write creatively again.
Filed under Americana, As it Turns Out There Were People In All Those Little Communities, Atomic Bomb, basic goodness, blue collar, cancer, Change, Civil Disobedience, coexistence, Colonialism, community, culture.society.anthropology., death, Deep Ecology, Desert, Family, fathoming, feminism, Food, Garden, gathering, gratitude, History, Homeland, Hope, howard zinn, journalism, Labor, love, meditation, memory, migration, motherhood, Nevada Test Site, Nuclear weapons, on writing, Peace, Peacewalk, poetry, stories, violence, watching it all go by, wendell berry
Before you know it June is half unspooled, your husband writing report cards and packing up his second grade classroom for the summer, the bean plants stretching up their poles and the toddler nearly three, baby no more, unfurled into an articulate, opinionated boy who will leap from heights twice his own and lobby you to buy carrots. Your new tattoo is peeling and settling in to the skin of your arm, and you’ll be 32 in a few days. Yesterday you and Lainie burned some scraps of paper in the firepit outside, toasting each other with small sips of bourbon in the midday sun. You both received word this week that you’d succeeded at something large, but it’s a twisting road from this success to a life where your aprons are relics, and the bills still need to get paid, and this makes you both feel very tired. so you had a ceremony, and the smoke swirled up into the sunlight, and it cleared both your heads. Run a fingertip now over a small scar on your palm from the day you hoed the garden without gloves, a blister that did not survive the subsequent 9 hour shift at the pub lugging kegs and trays up and down the weathered wooden floorboards. It’s healed now, but the outlines are still tangible. take stock of these things, laying in bed with a book of Richard Hugo poems and a mug of lukewarm espresso, savoring the fact that you’re up a good hour before the boy who will want cuddling, toast, and blues clues, in that order. And just now he pads in, rubbing his eyes in his too short fire truck pajamas, hair grown into his eyes again, having worn all night the new garden gloves his grandma sent him yesterday. He settles in next to you to read his own book, demanding a pillow that is not cold and a share of the blanket. List Today’s tasks: grocery store, bank to deposit the weekend tips, oven dehydrating the kale crop, Reseeding the 12 hills of squash ripped out due to powdery mildew, Decoding the draft book contract. Housekeeping emails for the meditation class I am coordinating, and through it all, Motherhood.
“I walk this past with you, ghost in any field/ of good crops, certain I remember everything wrong./ if not, why is this road lined thick with fern/ and why do I feel no shame kicking the loose gravel home?” – Richard Hugo, “White Center”
My friend Heather’s husband Ross is headed to sea today,
or maybe yesterday or tomorrow.
They never know the exact date when he’ll ship out,
and they don’t sit around waiting for the phone to ring.
They chop firewood
rebuild portions of their house
hang nets for the summer salmon season
teach their sons to climb ladders,
They go on dates in canoes,
birth babies at home,
and snowshoe a few miles into the wilderness
to have family time
in a primitive cabin.
They volunteer in their community,
preserve hundreds of pounds of food from their garden,
and eat well.
I’m fairly certain that between the two of them,
there is nothing they could not do.
While Ross pits himself against the elements
to make their living
in the wintry Pacific a few thousand miles to the north,
Heather will keep everything going
while training to be a doula,
caring for ailing elders,
traveling cross country to see the grandparents,
and growing more gorgeous all the time.
Sometimes she takes the kids camping as a solo mama,
and laughs that its easier than being at home sometimes.
Depending on which fishing season it is,
she can talk to her husband daily,
or only once a week, for ten minutes,
or not even then,
but after a while,
the call inevitably comes
that he’s headed home.
they labor through the seasons,
to the warp of a marriage
seasoned by saltwater
my fishing family. Ross, Haven, Heather, and Liam.
(To read more about their family and their work, check out some of the words and pictures here).
Filed under basic goodness, blue collar, Family, Food, Garden, habitat, Labor, love, marriage, motherhood, Ordinary
sure signs of spring in the yard
tiny boy in fleece footie pajamas
three way hug before Poppa leaves for work
morning diaper change (a wrestling match on the kitchen floor)
breakfast debate settled
pot of oatmeal and toast prepared and served to a toddler who deigns to eat them
comfort boy after a fall
take the mail out
notice birds singing as I walk back down the driveway from the mailbox
freshly turned garden earth glistening dark in the morning dampness,
waiting for my tweaked back to mend
so i can get out there and rake out the weeds
mop the latest iteration of muddy dogprints off the kitchen floor
move laundry into the dryer
3 emails answered
pack bag for boy’s weekend with Grandma
turn the house upside down in search of his Other Rainboot, (again), fruitlessly
edit press release for client
continue the great family paperwork Filing project
remember to feed myself around 10:30,
cold oatmeal with maplesyrup and soymilk in a wooden bowl with a kid spoon
boil water for the chickpeas I soaked overnight
change the sheets
check the chickpeas
make the boy more toast
help him fix a car
flip through Gary Snyder’s Collected Works while picking up the bedroom
stare for a little while at notes I scrawled in the margins when I was 21
and then put it on the shelf
and drop to my knees to look for the Other Boot
under our bed
add oil to the car that burns oil
grocery shop for the boy’s weekend away
deal with several separate tantrums, in various locations
pass two different people crying on the sidewalk,
5 miles apart from each other
and practice tonglen
realize I’ve added too much oil to the car
research the implications of this
and schedule an appointment to have it drained and changed before work
file more paperwork
(kale chickpea quesadillas with vegan cheese and appleslices)
visit with Ma
bundle the boy off to Grandma’s
“I be back,” he assures me from his carseat
and I am glad that I feel like laughing instead of crying
If our son is independent
if our son is compassionate
if our son knows something about fearlessness
then we have done well.
get the oil changed
recycle the mail, because it is all irrelevant
dress for work
and practice gratitude
for all of this
even when its hard
tilled and ready
Filed under basic goodness, blue collar, doldrums, facing east, Family, Garden, Gary Snyder, gathering, gratitude, Labor, motherhood, Ordinary, photographs, poetry, spring, stories, unrepentantly unedited, waitressing, watching it all go by
Cooking for a family isn’t quite the thrilling experiment that cooking for a partner or a group of friends used to be. You have less money, less time, and a more critical audience than you ever did before. I find its hard to try new recipes when they invariably necessitate a trip to the store, and I’m bound and determined to cook with whole foods and the ingredients I already have laying around. A few months ago a friend asked me for a soup recipe, and I had to admit I didn’t have a recipe…
just a method.
here it is.
1. Begin, always, with onions.
2. Be fearless with your spices, and buy them in bulk so they are fresh and cheap.
3. Grow at least one of your ingredients yourself. it feels good to harvest into your cookpot.
If you can’t, make it a point to buy direct from a farmer every now and then. Look for a local farmer @ your farmers market who doesn’t advertise as organic, & ask them if they use pesticides. Many, like Whistling Train Farm who sell @ almost every Seattle Farmers Market, grow without chemicals but cannot afford the organic certification— their veggies are more affordable than the ones labelled “organic.”
4. Cook with your nose and your sense of color. Both should delight you. If they don’t, add more of something that does.
Use things from your fridge that are wilting or nearing expiration. Waste not want not.
5. you will almost never go wrong by adding more garlic or more greens.
6. Chickpeas or red lentils will give a protein boost, add heartiness, and scarcely impact the flavor.
7. At least 2 of these items go into almost everything I make. (apple cider vinegar, braggs liquid aminos, tahini, miso paste, lemon juice, toasted sesame oil, nutritional yeast)
8. Make your kitchen (or at least a corner of it) into a place you find lovely.
9. A library of inspiring cookbooks just in case.
10. take notes on your successes
11. Figure out what your cooking music is (mine is Gillian Welch) and keep in mind that a good apron never hurts.
Redgold sunflowers line the west border of the garden bed,
dozens of crimson crowns hanging heavy with seeds
every one a volunteer from last year
glowing in the slanting light
of early autumn afternoon
the firemen across the street are singing crude songs
while they wash their trucks for the umpteenth time this week
and the white sheet of the teepee in the garden
is flapping idly in the breeze
harvest a giant pan of tomatoes while the kid naps
tugging gently at their rounded bodies
to see if they are ready to give leave of the vine
cherokee purples, brandywines, sungolds and mortgage lifters
shape them into a heart for Brandy
and spend thirty minutes dicing them.
every time i lean on the knife
and make myself smile
and each time the blade cleaves the flesh
it is a prayer
augmented by ten cloves of garlic
and a pile of basil.
freeze the bruschetta in bags
for some dark night in winter
when the sharpness of the garlic
and the ripeness of the tomatoes
and the spice of the basil
will, swirled together over bread,
remind us of what vitality is possible
in the meantime,
harvest moon tonight,
2nd night of luminescent fullness
make potato leek soup,
close times with the ones we love
i wake up ready to write
after a rare Friday night off work
dinner out with my loving husband
and a reading by Cheryl Strayed,
a writer I respect and admire
the words are at my fingertips
and i know if i sit down, i will create
but everything seems to conspire to keep me from my writing desk
kiddo needing breakfast
the broken seal on the toilet
the mouse that refuses to leave or be killed
the overripe plums that are attracting fruit flies
the kale and chard that need planting
the laundry that needs doing after the boy peed on the bathroom floor
the chickpeas that are done soaking, and need cooking
the garden tools that are overdue @ the tool library
the diaper explosion that presents itself at the hardware store
the little old Korean man who did not show up to work today
and thus, could not fill my empty print cartridge
and these are only some of the things
I lose my patience
and lose it again
Callum is sitting in one of his emptied out toybins,
eating peanut butter pretzels
i kneel down to apologize for yelling
and kiss his forehead
when i walk away
i taste salt
it may have come from the pretzels,
onto his sweet, two year old hands,
which he then brushed across his forehead
or it may have come from the tears of rage
i shed earlier
reading a friend’s news about breast cancer.
but then i think about the way she told us,
fearless and funny as hell, like she always is
promising plenty of profanity and the kind of fierceness
that only a mother can bring to a fight
and i gather
and put my hands to work again.
harvest acorn squash
write about the 1992 World Uranium Hearings
move the laundry to the dryer
Amy said the other night
and its true.
i take comfort, always
in the solidarity of mothers
acorn squash harvest and a lone Blue Hubbard