Tag Archives: ordinary life

monday items

Home from dropping the kid off at preschool
(where he triumphantly announced he had learned to ride a pedal bike
and everyone cheered)

I start the laundry
request vaccination records from the doctor for kindergarten registration
let the dogs in, out, and in again
wiping muddy footprints from the battered kitchen linoleum every time but the last
at which point I decide to stop caring
for a while

I am out of coffee filters so I rip a paper towel from the roll
and fold it into the warped yellow plastic cone
that my parents used to use on camping trips
grind beans
tap the fragments into the cone
and listen to the quiet hiss of the boiling water
soaking through

Email three professor friends to ask for news
on book tour dates

Email three contacts I made last Saturday,
after speaking at a Forum on Unintended Consequences of Energy Production
Follow up, Follow up.

Email two old friends.

Hang laundry
pet the dog
clear the breakfast dishes
dry out the laundry room floor,
flooded by the rain
which has been compensating lately,
for weeks of climate change induced sunshine

"I don't like the rain, but the plants do." Callum, aged 4.

“I don’t like the rain, but the plants do.” Callum, aged 4.


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Filed under basic goodness, Ordinary

november cold snap moon

driving home from work in the cold 2 am dark,
the goldwhite crescent moon, sharp edged in the freeze,
lays low and wide atop the hill
so close it seems I could pluck it off the road

The garden is frozen and bowed over,
and the book is making its way out into the world,
for better and for worse and for better…

Callum can write his name, and Moss’s,
at preschool they are studying yoga
and how to fix things
with tools.

tom yum soup with whistling train romanesco cauliflower
for dinner
and blankets in the doorways
to keep the living room warm


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#poemsomedays … Train songs

23 January

Finish a brilliant Woody Guthrie autobiography
and start a mix of train songs
for my son
Lefty Frizzelle and Leadbelly,
Arlo Guthrie and Karen Dalton,
Gladys Knight and Elliott Smith
Hank Williams and the Stanley Brothers
Hem and Bob Marley
so we can indulge our mutual interests.

pick him up from school
he reports that he was a bird with Sadie and Gabriel
at the grocery store he picks out apples, cereal, and coconut milk for himself,
and politely buys the Real Change paper
from the woman in red
who always sells it out front.

At home he does art
and I do dishes
and soon it is time for another pubshift
and another night away from my boys.

Feel weary of it,
but proud of what we are accomplishing
buoyed up by our long day trip to the Coast and the rainforest on MLK day
another cup of coffee
and back into the car.

in the middle of the night he wakes up
I not want to go to bed
and I bring him out to the couch
and hold him till he settles
never really waking up
muscles in his face going sleep slack again
small mouth pursed
hands soft
and unclenched
and I cannot remember the last time he fell to sleep in my arms
and I smile here like a fool
watching him breathe


Filed under basic goodness, motherhood, Ordinary

ordinary friday (list)

sure signs of spring in the yard

sure signs of spring in the yard

morning snuggle
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
trash out
coffee made
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
make lunch
(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

its beautiful

"Beep beep."

“Beep beep.”

tilled and ready

tilled and ready

loves kale.

loves kale.


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

turn of phrase

we lay close,
while the toddler slept
and the year moved inexorably forward
in the thawing dark outside

these conversations are rare
we are reminded to be grateful
for each other

like old times, eh?

we ask our dog, who has been with us nearly six years
she rouses herself
shakes her thick black brown white coat,
and pads to the other room
and you laugh quietly
and say

too many atoms in the room
for the dog

and i am delighted by the turn of phrase

in the morning i set out ice cube trays of water
uncorked the food coloring,
and set our son loose to play with hues

i am sending out a prayer to Robert Sund
and the Fishtown poets
and Vi Hilbert
and Sherman Alexie
and Richard Hugo
and Chogyam Trungpa
and Terry Tempest Williams
and my vast and resilient lineage
let me be inspired
by all of this
here and now

#montessoriinspired art project #januarymorning

#montessoriinspired art project #januarymorning

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Filed under basic goodness, Family, marriage, memory, motherhood, Ordinary, Peace, stories, watching it all go by

a dead gull and a map of the world

(orderpad note 1/19)

Driving home from Violet’s 2nd birthday party,
which was sweet in every way imaginable,
Callum and I discussed the colors of the things we passed,
orange backhoes and green trees, yellow cars and blue signs.

I passed a seagull in the righthand lane,
its wings were outstretched,
and it had been run over several times.
And I thought about the colors of the scene,
and about flying
and how sometimes life is wrought
with unpredictable happenings.

Callum chattered in the backseat, showing me his party favors in the rearview
Ahead, I saw a crumpled piece of trash dancing along the shoulder of the highway
I reached one hand into the backseat to receive
the item my son needed help with
and in that moment
the trash lifted up into the wintersky
and was unfurled
by the wind

revealing before me a perfectly unfolded
map of the world

i exited the highway
and drove up the hill to our house
how to blow into a paper whistle party favor
which was yellow
and unfurled with a tweet
at the end of the curl of paper,
much to my two-year old son’s delight.

and that was the end of the poem.


Filed under basic goodness, doldrums, gathering, gratitude, January, love, meditation, motherhood, on writing, Ordinary, outside, Peace, poetry

Ordinary details.

For days there hasn’t been a cloud in the sky. We’ve been going about our lives bundled up under an expanse of cold, crystalline blue. The thermometers are stuck in the teens at night, the twenties during the day. Its unusual for Seattle, even in the midst of December. Starting out on my walk to work yesterday afternoon, bundled in wool and fleece, I deterred myself from wimping out and taking the bus by cranking up the Prince song “Chelsea Rodgers” and setting it to repeat on the ipod. Nothing like a little funk to get the blood flowing. They call it a cold snap, but a snap seems like something that ought to end as soon as its begun, like a snap of the fingers. There are so many moments in these cold days. Most of them are Ordinary, and for that, I love them.

The dog is sleeping next to me on the couch, using three pillows and hiccuping softly. I’m sipping tea, watching the leafless branches in the front yard, still and elegant in the cold. Having a quiet morning. Read a few articles in the Shambhala Sun with my oatmeal and toast at the kitchen table, and then some short stories, curled up beneath the window by the furnace vent. Decadent.

On Mondays and Tuesdays, my closing shift days, Ryan and I never see each other awake. I leave for work thirty minutes before he gets home, and slip into the house after work three to four hours after he’s gone to bed. We leave a notepad on the kitchen counter, and collect the bits of our days we want to pass on to each other in scribbled lines. Sometimes the cultural historian in me flips thru the pages and geeks out a little over our tiny archive of 21st century love and domesticity. We look forward to Wednesday evenings. He’ll have had a full day, and I’ll have been running errands with my Saturday, likely as not, but we make the most of those few hours, and the rare chance to share a meal and fall asleep together.

Outside, the winter garden is curled over on itself. Leaves of brussel sprout plants and kale and chard and spinach and cabbage and broccoli are bowing to the earth under the weight of the frozen water in their vessels. They’ll spring back up once as the freeze lifts—last year they spent three weeks under 2 feet of snow and emerged healthier than ever. But still, I worry over them. They seem vulnerable, trapped in suspended animation like hibernating animals or fish in frozen water.

Walked to the bus today to go to an appointment in Columbia City, and the winterlight was spilling over every corner of the neighborhood, setting every frozen contour aglow. Found a friend on the bus, and caught up for 3 minutes before her stop. Noticed how her almond vanilla smell mingled with all the other scents on the bus after her stop, and realized that a good many of the strands of odor on a city bus represent someone who’s no longer there. Found this fascinating… metro bus as temporary olfactory museum of humanity.

Downtown, I walked a few blocks to catch the number 7. A man was playing a cello to the empty space of pioneer square, and the notes carried perfectly in the cold air, the vibrations floating like clear water through alleys and grates, invading all the same corners the cold did. I couldn’t tell if he had a case out for donations, but given how few people were out walking, his playing seemed more altruistic than anything else. I listened as I strode past, and decided the city ought to find a few hundred bucks to subsidize talented street musicians, for the good of humanity. Sure, everyone’s tastes are different, but I bet crime would drop.

Picked up my second bus at 3rd and main, and waded through the crowd to a seat midway back. Dozens of conversations were taking place in a bevy of languages, and a whole city of smells mingled together in the heated aisleways. Elderly riders boarded in Chinatown, clutching plastic bags of groceries. A woman asked me for five dollars for gas money, offering me her costume jewelry in exchange. She spoke too quickly and though she clearly needed the money, I didn’t feel comfortable giving it. She moved to a different seat. A middle-aged man carrying two bags of fast food takeout asked me if I’d ever ridden public transit in Portland. I said yes. “I like it down there,” he said, looking out over the crowded seats. “They don’t let homeless folks with real strong bad smells get on. Not that its those people’s fault they smell that way, but it gets on you, and you can’t get it off sometimes.” I say I know what he means, and agree Portland is a nice city. “You have a nice day,” he says, and I wonder who he is carrying the second bag of food to. I imagine it is his son, home sick from school, or his elderly mother. Maybe its just for him.

Back at home later in the afternoon, I let the dog out to romp in the cold air, and sit down to edit a paper for a friend. The house creaks loudly and often in the cold, as if there is someone living in the attic. Slice an acorn squash in half, scoop the seeds out with a spoon, and slide it into the oven on a cookie sheet to roast. It pops and crackles in the heat, and I find myself craving time in a sauna.

Ryan leaves a message that he is racing the sunset home to me, and I sit here watching it fade on the near horizon, brilliant orange and salmon-colored pink hues trailing across the saltwater to the peninsula.


Filed under Ordinary