30 January 2012

Avoiding the Clear Path

After a few months of hemming and hawing, of allowing myself to be intimidated by technical insecurity, and of the plain variety of procrastination, I have spent January jumping into the publishing world with both feet. In a short time, you’ll be able to find both a paperback version and an ebook version of my novella Marcasite Stars on Amazon and in a few other places too. This is pretty exciting, to put it mildly. With each step accomplished, I’ve wanted to shout from the proverbial rooftop of my laptop: Here I come!

You can download it here to read on your kindle, ipad, or other electronic device. And on February 5th, it’ll be free.

Lots of people have helped me along the way, with support and compliments, with technical and artistic expertise, and with lots and lots of love, and without them (and all of you!) I wouldn’t be telling you any of this. I am inspired to, by a quote I found as 2011 drew to a close:

We are kept from our goal not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal. – Robert Brault

Having posted these words in a conspicuous place, I remind myself daily of them. Some days my clear path to a lesser goal involves multiple encounters with the snooze button. And I’m learning to make my peace with that as well – that sometimes it’s okay to be distracted or less focused or just plain tired. Meanwhile, I’ll attempt to strive beyond the obstacles I happen upon, on my way forward.

27 January 2012

[ this moment ]

[ this moment ] - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. (Homage to Soule Mama)

22 January 2012

The Things He Packed

I hike behind my eldest daughter, watching the two little Uglydolls, Wage and Babo, clipped to her pack. With each step she takes, they swing to and fro, sometimes flipping around to face me.

Madeleine calls back to me, continuing to hike, “Are Wage and Babo asleep?”

“Wage is awake, but Babo is asleep.” If the dolls are facing her pack, they are asleep, if they face out, they’re not. Madeleine pulls herself up a steep step on the trail, and Wage flips again. “No, wait,” I call, “they’re both asleep now.”

As she turns to follow a curve in the trail, a smile spreads across her profile.

There’s a part of me that thinks it’s silly that she wants to bring not one, but two, dolls with her on this two-night backpacking trip. Even though they’re small dolls, the weight adds up. As it is, she’s got about twenty pounds on her back, which is a lot for her small frame.

But as I continue further down the trail, and I think of who packed all the items in her backpack, I recognize the imprint of love left by Dan, who insists that each of our daughters bring a small comfort critter on each of our backpacking trips. He wants them to be happy. He wants all of us to be happy. And so, as he organized the things we’d need for this short trip into the desert, he did it all with love.

In Madeleine’s pack, she carries her own water and snacks, a super-light down bag, pad, and small pillow, as well as a bit of cozy clothing for the cool nights and mornings. Arden’s got the same. And of course, they both carry their own lovies, which aren’t necessary, but are essential. Essential, because in spite of their useless weight, they actually can make the trip a lighter experience.

And as I hike, I realize this is how men show love: by doing things that help make everyone else’s load lighter. This was an epiphany, but now I see it in all he does for us as the lone male in our household. Don’t get me wrong, feminist friends. As the mother of two daughters, you can bet that I am raising them to believe themselves capable of playing any role they desire. I want them to grow up knowing that they are the arbiters of their own happiness, that they are able to make the choices that will determine their best futures.

But there are most definitely differences between the sexes regarding motive and manner, purpose and process. And that’s ok. Women typically nurture; men not so much – in the typical way, that is. And men, I’ve noticed – it’s only taken me forty-plus years to figure this out – prefer to solve problems and complete tasks, and in doing those things, they are expressing love.

The problem at hand was how to get a somewhat reluctant hiker to a point where she could carry much of her own necessities and to do so happily. My solution usually included trying to lead her down the trail with motivating, nurturing words. It didn’t work very well.

But Dan figured out that something silly might keep her moving, and he was right. And everything he chose to place in her backpack was carefully selected, with her comfort and happiness in mind. If confronted with that, though, I can hear him give his variation of if the girls of the house ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

As we walk further, past saguaros and palo verde trees, Madeleine never loses pace, never loses hope. Wage and Babo bounce and flip, bounce and flip, with her easy gait. I smile and ponder the man I’ve loved for two decades, reflecting on love and its feather-light essence, keeping us all afloat, even in this desert land of little water.

20 January 2012

[ this moment ]

[ this moment ] - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. (Homage to Soule Mama)

13 January 2012

[ this moment ]

[ this moment ] - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. (Homage to Soule Mama)

08 January 2012


The Milky Way oozes
mutely across the sky while
the constant roaring of Soap
Creek Rapids lulls us towards
sleep. Gritty sand dusts my face,
lodged in eyebrows and eyelashes
like snowflakes on pine trees.
At this distance from the river
in our tiny tent, we can
whisper to one another
over pillows made from clothing
wrapped in fleece jackets.

Tomorrow, though, as you fish
from atop a huge boulder
at the river’s edge, I’ll yell
to you from below and barely
be heard. If we stay long enough,
we’ll get used to the river’s
thunder, like someone might no
longer notice the noise of
the traffic so much after
a week in the city.

In the mornings, sitting cross-
legged on cold sand, too chilled
and stiff yet to move beyond
necessity, I sip hot
tea brewed from the ancient
Colorado and we watch
the light change the canyon walls
as the sun emerges from the rim.

My mind wanders slowly here
from the flock of snowy-white
egrets, to the red, then golden,
then sand-colored cliffs, to the
lone black raven laughing
overhead, and always, always
back to the river, here, now,
roiling celadon and white-
tipped, and yet later, upstream,
glassy brown, the water level
changing, too, its power
channeled for those far
beyond the dam who think
nothing of the river’s gift.

On the hike out, we chatter
as we march, navigating
boulders the size of houses
lodged in the side canyon,
longing for the comforts of
civilization like fluffy
pillows and ice-cold Cokes,
until we realize the roar
of the river is gone.

It is quiet then.

We do not mention this absence,
yet each mark it within: contrast
this moment with the journey
downcanyon where the initial
sound of the river is announced :
sssshhh – listen followed by
elated whoops. Yet now we
hike on, the silence louder
than the scraping of
boots over stone.

06 January 2012

[ this moment ]

[ this moment ] - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. (Homage to Soule Mama)

01 January 2012

Morning Coffee

Lila was surprised to see a calendar reminder pop up on her phone, especially on that most depressing day of the year, December 26. All it said: “I will leave.” She couldn’t fathom what that meant, or even if she’d entered those words into her calendar.

She was feeling a pang of remorse for the piece of fudge she’d popped in her mouth a few moments earlier, as if her pants hadn’t fit that snug prior to this piece of gooey chocolate sliding down her throat. She’d been in the midst of making yet another to-do list, reminders of things that had needed doing for months now: clean the downstairs tub, put water seal on the deck, vacuum. And never mind that it was December and far too cold to apply water seal. It still needed to be done, and just because the timing was no longer right – one of the themes of her life, she noticed – that didn’t give her free reign to remove it from the list. Lila sometimes wondered how much more she might have accomplished in life if she spent the time actually doing things on her to-do list instead of re-copying it.

Just then Boyce appeared, wearing only boxer shorts, scratching his hairy chest. His eyes were half-shut as he moved toward the coffee maker. Lila heard him lift the empty carafe.

“No coffee?”

“We’re out.”

Boyce exhaled and then started coughing, his hacking morning cough that always sounded a bit like retching.

The calendar reminder chimed again, barely audible above Boyce’s fit.

Lila stopped writing her list in the middle of a word and put down her pen. She stood up, grabbing her purse and keys. She glanced at her phone, and then left it on the table.

“I’m getting coffee,” she said. And she walked out the door, noticing the satisfying click it made as it closed behind her.