Tag Archives: Ordinary

11 June


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”



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Filed under aprons, basic goodness, blue collar, Family, Garden, gratitude, love, motherhood, oceans and mountains, stories


Today did not exist last year. It will not exist next year. When I click “new post,” I notice that wordpress doesn’t acknowledge today exists today: it dates my post March 1.  I feel like putting “today” and “exist” and “last year” in quotes.  This seems like the beginning of a quagmire,

so i spin my chair away from the computer and watch Callum eating a banana and gently touching the houseplants.  Earlier he draped mardi gras beads on a wee dinosaur with the concentration of someone doing calculus. He brings me his shoes repeatedly and insists on something to me in a language I do not understand, all the while refusing to let me help him put on his shoes. It is exhausting and repetitive and sweet and baffling.   It is snowing in flurries, and I am making my second cup of coffee, with a filter cone, as my percolator broke a few months back.

They say today is a correction, to prevent our calendar from drifting.

A day of correction. A hiccup in our notion of time. We are obsessed with time, with age, with hours and minutes. We have so many things to do, we parcel moments into grids, we monitor the grids and set alarms and reminders on our smart phones. We grasp hold of these pieces of time and we Use them For All They Are Worth, and we think we are stopping time by owning it.

I think the correction is an illusion.  I think it might be good to realize we are drifting every now and then, that nothing is solid. That what we call day and what we call night are nothing more than distance from the sun, that we are little creatures on a spinning orb in a vast openness. This makes me think of all my friends and neighbors and family and the people i send emails to and the people i wait on and the people who piss me off in traffic, all sitting in a rowboat that no one remembered to tie up.  We haven’t drifted very far.  Its weird to be drifting, so we’re all kind of staring at each other, quiet for once, realizing that we are all in this tiny boat together. The shore is within wading distance, and no crises appear to be imminent.

Still, we feel the need to hold onto each other.


Filed under basic goodness, motherhood, winter

Annie jumped the fence this morning

Annie. Photo credit Andrea Fuentes-Diaz. http://www.afdphotography.com

Annie jumped the fence this morning
I drove loops around our neighborhood
Staring in vain down alleys
Hoping for a flash of white
But the only sightings were plastic
grocery bags on the wind

Stopped at the park down the street
Breastfed the baby in the drivers seat
And watched a dozen ducks startle
all at once scattering from the reeds
all at once settling together,
In a unified splashdown

At the church on 14th, the readerboard says only
Jesus forgive me.
The skies are slate grey and a cold rain begins to fall sideways
Pelting the clouds of pink and white blossoms
which burst from their buds a week ago,
and are now looking sort of sheepish,
like the girl in the flashy dress who showed up early for the party.
La Nina spring, they say.

I circle around the elementary school many times,
watch parents ushering their tiny backpack-clad progeny

go home to change the baby’s diaper, and
the neighbor from the strange yellow house across the street
comes down the driveway
to breathlessly inform me Annie’s been in her chicken coop
100 yards away this whole time.
there are few survivors, she says.
she has Annie locked in her house,
and i walk across the street to reclaim her
there is no sign of chicken carnage,
i catch a glimpse of the inside of the home
it’s the sort of scene you see on tv shows about hoarders,
dim and impossibly cluttered, with only a narrow aisle to navigate.
She rushes off somewhere,
and I’m left wondering what the bill will be

a friend calls to tell me of tragic losses.
i navigate rush hour traffic to pick up the car at the mechanic in lake city
as i drive onto the Alaska Way Viaduct
the radio plays a commentary on the likelihood of a tragic viaduct collapse
the rain is unrelenting
the card won’t go through at the mechanic
and i sit on the phone with the bank
until its sorted out
transfer the carseat out of the loaner car
as sheets of rain soak through my sweater
and crawl back into rush hour traffic in the other direction to pick up Ryan

on Northgate Way, i pass a protest at Planned Parenthood
women holding aborted fetus posters in the downpour
across the street a bedraggled man holds a damp sign
that says only
I need help.
I want to support his campaign but he’s on the wrong
side of the street

my husband and I drive back across town
to attend our weekly class on karma and the 12 Links of Inderdependent Origination
the baby crawls among the class participants,
making new sounds and playing everyone’s water bottles
and I stare through the big windows
at cherry blossoms hovering in the dark
thinking about effect
and cause


Filed under Assata and Annie, basic goodness, Dharma, stories, watching it all go by

This morning, it was rumored to be the Zombie Apocalypse.

Early this morning, my friend awoke from a strange dream to discover there was no power in his apartment. Several hours later, the power was still out, and stranger still, he had no cell service. When he walked outside, he saw no people, and no cars on the street. The rain was coming down in sheets, and the grey skies and powerless, peopleless neighborhood gave off a sense of impending doom. He theorized that his ground-floor apartment with its large windows would provide him little protection from possible Zombie Attack. Luckily his car was still working, so he picked me and the baby up and we proceeded to the Wayward Cafe for a lovely brunch with friends.

After he dropped me off at home, I settled in for a crafty afternoon, keeping an eye out for zombies. Delayed my start on projects when I broke a lightbulb in the bathroom, prompting a thorough and overdue cleaning. Afterwards, marched out to the garage with the baby and dug through boxes for colored lights and fabric scraps, bent on finding materials with which to begin our family’s particular tradition of holiday celebratory decorating, the themes of which we are still hammering out, as a Buddhist/Agnostic family with a distaste for rabid consumption descended from a blend of secular Judeo-Christian-Pagan-esque traditions. C. is fussy and fights sleep for a long time, reducing my grand plans to a tiny embroidery project. Eventually he falls asleep, clutching the feet of his too-long pajama pants to his chest, which gives him the appearance of having bizzarely crippled legs.

I leap into action, busting out the sewing machine and busily stitching doll pieces together. Its a simple pattern (I just scribbled an outline on a piece of paper. Easy peasy, requiring less than 3 minutes of planning, like all my sewing projects). Dutifully, I sew the pieces together inside out, so the seam won’t show. Do some stitch-ripping and resewing. Begin to turn doll right-side out.
Discover my prototype was so small, its nearly impossible to convince the fabric right-side out-again. Become frustrated. Attempt to create better workspace lighting. Blow a fuse. Visit the breakerbox in the rain. Return to my finger-cramping task. While using a pencil to attempt to unfurl the doll’s legs and arms, I break off first the pencil eraser inside the doll, then the pencil. Realize I’ve got to make a bigger doll, or this is never going to work. The baby wakes up, and I abandon the project.


I peer out the front window, where a gang of large neighborhood squirrels and several local ravens are busily dissecting the assorted garden squash that have been decorating our front porch since I harvested them last month. I’d planned to make soups and pies and breakfast sautees with them, but they froze and then thawed into mush after the snowstorm last month, and the animals have discovered the seeds to be an easy-access meal. I’ve been meaning to shovel the mush into the compost, but don’t have the heart to deprive the animals of a winter-snack they seem to enjoy. (Actually, I’m mostly just lazy, and have other things to do with my limited time during C-naps. Like give myself finger cramps while swearing at poorly planned sewing projects). I suppose the result will be random delicatas, sugar pumpkins and acorn squash sprouting up all over the yard and neighborhood. Which is great, frankly.

Get the babe back to sleep, and regard my abandoned too-small new-holiday-tradition doll project, still half-way outside in. I’m not giving up yet. After checking in with the news, which is promising political, educational, and flooding-related apocalypse, I opt to remain mostly irreverent about this mostly-ordinary rainy Sunday. At least the Zombies haven’t showed up yet.

photograph of our as-of-yet-un-zombie family by Andrea Fuentes-Diaz.


Filed under crafty, irreverent, Ordinary, winter

October now, up north and Here.

october eveningtime

cooler this evening
than its been
guess its October now
i eat handfuls of popcorn
dusted with nutritional yeast
and crunch on apples Ma brought back from visiting her sister in the Methow
read Robert Sund poems
and make faces at the baby
who is three months old now
and more himself every day

up north,
they are harvesting potatoes
digging them from the dark alluvial Skagit dirt
with rotating metal tines
from which they fall by the dozens
into the backs of trucks
red purple yukon gold russet brown
other farmers are baling hay
while herons look on from culverts
i know because i saw them yesterday
driving Best Road with my mother
i know because I’ve seen them a thousand times

My husband’s coming home late,
after a teacher’s union meeting
i sip tea from a small pot
and tuck my toes under our soft white dog
the baby makes sounds to himself
and kicks the blanket off
i tuck it back over his legs
and listen to a fire truck leave the station across the street
the dogs bark at the sound
the baby stares at his fingers
and quietly laces them together
surprising me with his dexterity
When my husband gets home,
he lets the dogs out
and cooler air floods in
like a sudden river.

moon rising over Cultus Mt, Skagit Valley. photo by my Momma, Theresa.


Filed under autumn weather, basic goodness, Homeland, memory, poetry, Poets, watching it all go by

Like Instructions for Dancing

This morning, I took the dogs outside
the neighbor’s chickens cackled
and a foghorn sounded a few blocks to the west
softskinned baby on my shoulder drinking the world in without concept
the squash plants are dying off in the garden
inside again, i realize:
when confronted with eight wet dog feet while holding a baby,
bending over to dry them is impractical.
it is easiest to simply follow them around the house,
pushing a towel across the floor with one’s toes
in so doing, i notice how much their footprints
are like instructions for dancing
and so we do

(listening to “i was made to love her,” Stevie Wonder)

Annie and Assata, photo by Andrea Fuentes-Diaz


Filed under Assata and Annie, autumn weather, basic goodness, Garden, gratitude, love, meditation, motherhood, Ordinary, outside, poetry, stories, watching it all go by

afloat in the half-quiet half-dark

Monday morning, the return of Ordinary. Ryan’s first day back at school. I may not get my own winter break, but I did get him, for two weeks worth of moments we don’t usually share. We woke up together on weekdays, and he waited up for me after my closing shifts. I know he is ready to get back to his kids, and I need to get back to my writing, my puzzling over how to make it my Work, as daunting as that is. But this morning, I am right there with all the schoolkids, bitter over the end of the break. I want another morning of blankets on the couch, movies and conversation and shared food.

I put on some mellow gal-with-guitar folk music from Andrea, and load the dishwasher. It clunks and hums its way through the cycles. Water beads on the bare branches in the yard, and the dog stands outside in the rain and whines for reasons I cannot discern. Put water in a saucepan and measure out a cup of grits, set them to boiling. Crawl under the blanket we last occupied together and read Sherman Alexie while the grits thicken in the pot. Projects are waiting for me after breakfast and before my dinner shift, but in the meantime all I want to do is lose myself in story.

I eat grits with soybutter and succanat and soymilk and think about reading out loud, but the baby’s inner ears are still forming and I don’t think it can make out words. It makes sense that it can feel my emotions though, maybe even taste and smell them. This morning, Tonto and the Lone Ranger Fistfight in Heaven seems like the perfect thing to read to a person who is four inches long and floating in a sea of amniotic fluid, with only the light that manages to filter through my skin and organ walls. I suspect emotion has all sorts of dimensions for this person that I’ve forgotten how to experience. Is sadness a vibration in there? Does storytelling feel like passage over solid ground, or does it come in waves? I think survival and joy might taste like salt. Or does everything taste the same when you’re getting your oxygen and nutrients through the cord? Can you even discern the difference between tasting and being when your entire existence has played out in the same context? What did we think about in those months afloat in the half-quiet half-dark? I try to remember, but if I can, I don’t know how.

I’ve been half-watching for the rain to let up so I can walk to the bank with the dog but Its steady coming down every time I think to look and so I don’t, yet. I look at folklore journals online and try to screw up my courage to submit a piece. Stare at my “freelance editing” website and try to screw up my courage to do something with it. I’m too good at thinking of reasons not too. I wonder what this feels like to the four-inch-long-person. Adrenaline, then quiet, then the bitter taste of doubt? I’d rather these qualities of mine didn’t invade that world, but they most certainly could once it is born. Its good to remember that they might even now.


Filed under Mothers, Ordinary, Pregnancy, stories