Tag Archives: rain

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

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

I am picking my battles and looking out for basic goodness.

spend the morning watching rain beading on freshsprung march buds
daffodils are blossoming yellow and damp alongside covert crocuses
they seem more nuanced, as flowers,
when the sky is dim, and grey
more capable of the lesser human emotions

i am picking my battles and looking out for basic goodness

there are asbestos-containing-materials in our new house
and its not shocking, i guess
but i am furious anyway.
Not that a house built in 1930 would have
asbestos ceilings
and asbestos glue under ugly flooring
but furious that anyone was ever fooled into thinking this was a good idea
that the newest laboratory innovation was really going to make life better
and now we’re left to clean it up

midway through the morning it occurs to me:
there’s nothing shocking here.
maybe in getting pissed about the mistakes of previous generations i am missing the point
Everybody wants it cheap, and easy.
Everyone wants to have their cake
and eat it too
my generation is just as willing to overlook the risks
Goodbye Asbestos, hello vinyl siding and polychlorinated biphenyls.
goodbye styrofoam,
hello nalgene bottles with bisphenol-A
goodbye oil hello nuclear power
goodbye coca-cola with cocaine
hello diet coke with aspartame

i am picking my battles and looking out for basic goodness.

there is a wind gust and a raven swoops upward suddenly over the ravine
then turns its head into the invisible force
and strikes out northwest
i am looking forward to years of wandering my own yard
clipping branches from familiar trees
for ikebana
at all seasons

somedays i chide myself for writing much about Ordinary Life
when there are So Many Big Issues playing out in the World
big issues that i care about,
big issues where my voice is relevant to the discussion
and i have something to say
But then I have moments
in which i remember:

This is All there is.

This ordinary moment each of us is living:
right Now,
is all there is.
All those Big Issues are Here, Now.
in our breakfast cereal,
in the set of choices we have before us
Ecology, “Politics,” Gender Issues, Violence, Pollution, Economics, “History”
coffee, dogshit, bills paid, weather, food in the fridge, the water coming out of the tap, the inventory of the kitchen trash, the history my body carries as it walks around the house, the dust in the vents, the microchips in my cell phone, the corporate giants who own my organic feel good toothpaste.

i wander around the yard in a hoodie snapping pictures of spring flowers against the grey sky
the dog refuses to join me,
because of the rain
and stays inside on the couch
with pillows

i make soy hot chocolate on the stove top
put on an ani album from ten years ago
and start packing photo albums and journals
into discarded archival boxes

midway through the afternoon, i hitch my shirt up over my belly
and stare at it, waiting for him to move
I haven’t really been certain yet
if the flutterings are actually him
and not my blood pumping, or my stomach working,
or my ligaments stretching
the skin pops up alongside my bellybutton
and returns to level so quickly i’m not sure i really saw it
so i wait
and there he is again
and again
i watch, entranced, for forty-five minutes
as his limbs surface under my skin like the fins of whales

i am picking my battles
and looking out for basic goodness


Filed under Americana, Assata, basic goodness, Change, fathoming, habitat, Ordinary, outside, Peace, photographs, poetry, Pregnancy, violence, watching it all go by

saturday night

saturday to everyone else is tuesday on my calendar. I worked a long lunch shift, and took tiny comfort from the fact that at least a couple of the waitresses wanted to be somewhere else as badly as I did. We are experts on each other’s fake smiles.

After my shift I buy toothpaste, because we are out. Walk home in a light rain, tired of being on my feet but grateful I’m walking for myself now, and not for someone’s side of ranch or glass of ice or fresh silverware. The Sound is blue-grey, the sky is blue-grey, and I’ve had the same headache for two days. Another random unexpected side effect of pregnancy. My body is producing whole pints of new blood, and all of it is taking a slow detour around my womb, made slower by my already low blood pressure. Which means, if I manage to trigger a headache, it’s aggravated every time I stand, sit, lean, or bend over. I record this as sort of an anthropological observation, but its true, I’m whining. The not-so-unpleasant side effect of the headache: I’ve begun to walk very deliberately. Gently, slowly, with intention, so as not to jar my skull or rush blood away from my head and to another part of my body. I notice more this way. More raindrops, more faces, more birdsongs.

Somewhere in Seattle, as I walk home, a family of elderly siblings is considering an offer Ryan and I made to buy their deceased mother’s house. Her name was Annie. She raised 6 children in the house and lived out her days there. It sits on a third of an acre in south Seattle, and is ringed with evergreens she planted in the 1930s. I promised her son Roger if we got the house I’d keep her birdfeeders full, something he’s been doing in her memory since the day she died. There’s a damn good chance we’ll get the house, and it won’t break us to pay the mortgage. All of this is surreal.

Walking down the alley to our house, I hold my breath to pass through the smell of the bag of cat litter one of our neighbors poured into the potholes. Our winter garden is still in the evening light, beaded with droplets of clear rainwater. The dog is giddy and overwrought when I unlock the door, and she runs in circles for a while, which seems to help.

When she’s calmed down, I profer her harness, and she walks willingly into it. We set out walking in the fading light. I leave her off leash for a while, and she bounds back and forth between smells, waiting at driveways and sidestreets on command. When we reach the busier street, she instinctively narrows the distance between us, walking in unleashed heel the rest of the way to the petstore. Inside, she greets the employees, all of whom she knows well. They lavish treats upon her in exchange for shakes and sloppy kisses. I buy her cheese hearts and peanut butter bones, and stock up on treats for a care package for my brother’s new dog, a German Shepherd rescue named Kodi.

Walking past the pizza joint on the corner, I find myself wanting pizza. We cross the street to the grocery store, where I pick out baby spinach leaves, two hothouse tomatoes, and a brick of vegan mozzarella. Also a peach and a plum, which arrived at my local grocery store courtesy of a long, fossil-fuel powered journey from Chile. I agonize over buying them for a while, then decide to get them anyway. I’m pregnant, for God’s sake. I’m allowed to do some things I wouldn’t ordinarily. This is what I tell myself in the produce aisle.

We walk home in the dark and the quickening rain. Assata takes her peanut butter bone into the livingroom, and I pour a packet of yeast into a silver mixing bowl. Feed it a cup of warm water and a tablespoon of good sugar, and sit down to wait while it “eats.” Five minutes later, add flour, then salt, then olive oil, then more flour. Easy peasy pizza crust. Knead it for a while, and let it “rest,” then roll it out on a cookie sheet. Listen to an Au Revoir Simone album, which Ryan procured for us last night. Its lovely, whimsical and sad and rambling and poignant all at once… perfect for making dough on a rainy January Saturday night.

Whisk olive oil together with dried thyme and good salt, and paint the crust with a pastry brush. scatter the fresh spinach leaves across, an inch and a half thick, then slice the tomatoes over the top. Grate on the entire brick of “follow your heart” brand mozarella, then slide the entire thing into the oven, listening for the muted clang of the cookie sheet on the hot baking rack, one of my favorite sounds.

Finish the plum, which is disappointing. A shallow imitation of what I’d really been craving, which is, to say, a plum-in-season that wasn’t picked three weeks and 8 thousand miles ago. The kitchen begins to fill with the smell of melting cheese and pizza crust and roasting tomatoes, and I start to think about baking cupcakes.

I’ve baked a lot this past week. Vegan dark chocolate oatmeal shortbread. A vegan poppyseed apple coffeecake. Then a batch of vegan peanut butter cookies. Dark chocolate vegan cupcakes seem like a logical progression. When Ryan gets home, I’m sifting cocoa powder and flour with a fork. We eat pizza and sit on the couch, looking out into the dark neighborhood and discussing the counteroffer the family made on the house. Its not bad, and we’re not sure if its good either, since we’ve never done this before. I am mostly caught up in being mad they want to take the washer and dryer, even though the cost of a new energy and water efficient set would be the tiniest fraction of what we’re talking about spending overall.

Chocolate cake smells fill the house. We rent a movie from the video store on the corner, and curl into each other to eat cupcakes and go gently braindead. Crawl into bed to fall asleep spooning each other spooning the dog, who is using a pillow. The smell of lavender suffuses the sheets. Years ago, when Ryan lived in Bellingham and I lived in Utah, I sewed him a lavender pillow to put over his eyes to help him sleep at night… now he uses a few drops of essential oil before he turns out the light, and his breathing settles out before I’ve even finished tossing and turning. His hand is tucked gently, but firmly, over my pregnant belly, and the newest Au Revoir Simone album is playing softly on the speakers. The dog falls asleep too, and I lay in the middle, hands tangled in both of their limbs, watching shadows from outside flicker on the closet doors. Thinking:

I will remember this moment when I am old.

RECIPES for those who want them:

lovely easy vegan pizza crust (from the Vegan Family Cookbook)

1 packet active dry yeast (one 1/4 oz package)
1 cup warm water
1 Tbs. sugar
whisk together and let sit for five minutes.

Add 1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup light olive oil
and another 1 1/2 cups flour.
knead for five minutes
let rest five minutes.

roll out on oiled baking surface, let rise for as long as you like (i usually get impatient after 5 minutes, but 30 is good).
sauce and top, bake at 450 for 12-15 minutes.

Dark chocolate vegan cupcakes

sift together dry ingredients:
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cup sugar

blend in:
3 Tbs. butter
2 egg substitutes (i use 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed whisked together with 6 tablespoons water)
dash vanilla
1 cup soymilk (or other milk substitute)

chop up a few squares of good dark chocolate and sprinkle the pieces over the cupcakes before putting them in the oven.

bake 15-17 minutes at 350.


Filed under Assata, Food, Ordinary, Pregnancy, Vegan Recipes

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