Friday, December 31, 2010

Start here, now

I like beginnings--the new year, a new month, each solstice and equinox, even Mondays, the beginning of a new week, a fresh start. I like fresh starts.

And resolutions? Sure, for any of those beginnings. For me, to do better, live better, be better is a constant evolution. Do I break my resolutions or let them lapse? Yes, I do. But then Monday comes around.

As eager as I feel to greet the New Year, I'm also sad to see 2010 go. For me it was a milestone year (turning 50) and a year that brought both opportunities and hard loss. Leaving this year feels, in a way, like I'm leaving the people who left.

But the new year is coming, a chance to resolve and risk and write.

The Writer's Almanac today quoted Junot Diaz as saying, "What we do might be done in solitude and with great desperation, but it tends to produce exactly the opposite. It tends to produce community and in many people hope and joy."

I raise my glass and my pen to new hope and great joy.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Saturnalia crash and the cold truth

I haven't been writing much--partly because I've been cooking and then because I've been tired, and also I've been noodling around with some poems--tinkering with the forms and the images. But I feel like I haven't been making any progress with them.

Do you every feel like you're barking up the wrong tree? Folding the wrong laundry? Writing around all the edges--and not in a good way?

Then, this morning, I realized that I don't like them. In fact, I vehemently don't like them, which is why I feel like they're going nowhere (and bringing me right along). Yet I've also felt compelled to write them. Or something that's hidden inside there--or at least in proximity--but I'm not even close yet.

And it feels cagily self-confessional and passively self-indulgent. Yuck.

Realizing that I didn't even like these poems was a relief. Now I feel ready to tear them apart all over again, to explore and excavate, try to find that it that's driving me. But there is that feeling of feeling lost.

What do I do when I start to feel lost? Apply any one of a number of various vices and/or read Lynda Hull. Tonight, I'm going for the Hull--and first, I'm going to the Picasso show.

If that doesn't cure what ails me...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry and grateful

This week, I am especially and extraordinarily grateful for my families--all of them.

Thursday we gathered at my mom's house for dinner with her and my sister and sister-in-law and my dad. Always fun to get that whole family together.

Friday, we cooked all day long. I'm grateful we were able to do that. I'm grateful for Saturday morning and our little family of five, all the laughter and excitement opening gifts. Then on Saturday afternoon, Tom's family came over. I'm grateful for that family, too--and for all the fun we had. Boisterous, laughing-until-crying fun. And all through, a feeling of gratitude (it felt more like Thanksgiving, but without turkey).

Finally, I'm thankful that I had yesterday to rest and even do a little writing.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Under consideration, or at the bottom of the slush pile?

When you haven't heard back for months and months...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Still here, still grateful

and oh--so behind.

(Warning: Possible TMI post.)

I completely missed the gratitude journal this week, although I am grateful for many things, including a good shopping trip on Saturday and little bits of writing time and a really inspiring poetry reading on Saturday night and even some fun with the holiday season.

I'm not good at holidays, because I like my routines, and holidays jounce me right out of them. I know this is good for me, but I resist it anyway. And I don't want to resist it, because it's about being loving and generous, not resentful.

But really, I'd love to have some writing time. I've been wrestling with some 300-pound poems, and they are getting the better of me, but I think that with enough time, I might tame them enough to guide them and now this metaphor isn't quite working...

Over on Zen Habits, Leo Babuta talks about life without goals. Just do what you love. And I can tell you that if I just do what I love, a lot of things are not going to happen. Like dinner. And mowing the lawn. Like getting up and going to the gym and then riding the bus, which means I can read on the bus, and I like to read, so this becomes a good thing, but it starts by getting out of bed.

That's only one example of things that I don't want to start but might end up enjoying won't get started. Like dinner. Like Christmas cards. Hard to start them, but then I get going and I enjoy feeling that connection with friends and family members, even when (or especially when) it might be a once-a-year connection. If I don't (somewhat sternly) make myself start, I won't have that pleasure. Maybe what I don't love is starting... And I often fall short at finishing... Which leaves me where? Wanting to get back to those 300-pound poems, and who knows when they'll be finished.

To continue this thread of too much information, I like what Penelope Trunk says on her blog today about self-discipline, confidence and dialectic behavioral therapy. I admit that I don't really understand what's dialectic about it--and I also admit that I originally read it as "diabolical behavior therapy," which really interested me. When I clicked to the site and realized my mistake, I laughed out loud, which was therapeutic.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Poet cookies

In anticipation of the neighborhood cookie exchange, I briefly fantasized about poet cookies. What would those be? returned no search results. automatically changed my query to "pot cookies." Okaaay, no.

But I ended up making these cookies--filled with all the flavors I hankered for. And I'm declaring them the official poet cookie for Holiday Festivus Saturnalia 2010.

Warning: They're tempting

Poet Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
2/3 cup honey (we were out of brown sugar, and this worked better)
2 eggs
grated rind of one orange
2 tsp. vanilla
3 1/4 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. coriander
1/8 tsp. cardamom
1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls and bake at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes (in my oven, 12-13 minutes).

And here's a picture:


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday with cookies and a leaning tree

I confess that I am not good at serial blogging. I started The Sun Hunters with the idea that I would write every day, keep inching that story along. So far, my track record is not brilliant.

But this isn't to confess. This is gratitude. This is a time for giving thanks.

I'm thankful for our neighborhood cookie exchange, and the chance to get together and talk for longer than it takes to say Hi on the way from the car to the house. I'm also thankful that my cookies turned out okay.

I'm thankful that the rain has stopped for an hour or two--and that the basement didn't flood (HUGE THANKS!).

And I'm hoping for a good night's sleep.

Open the door. Open my heart.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Another one bites the dust

They're starting to come back.

I've been writing these long--and, for me, experimental--poems since June. I've loved doing it. I've had so much fun. I've sent them out. And, for the most part, they've stayed out.

But they're coming back. This is very good for my standings in the Facebook Paper our walls with rejection slips contest. But it's also, I admit, disappointing. I'll send them out again, at least once more--probably lots more. And I'll keep reminding myself that if they don't get published, they don't get published, but writing them has been its own reward.

I might need to tell myself that about 20 times a day.

And then I need to write. I used to ride horses. I've had plenty of experience hitting the dust. Get up. Brush off. Get back on. Breathe.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I had plenty of gratitude yesterday, but not enough Internet connectivity.

I'm grateful that my daughter is on the mend after having oral surgery. It's been slow, and so hard for her, but she seems to be getting a little better.

I'm grateful for the chance to participate in Write-O-Rama last Saturday. I'm grateful for getting some writing in.

I'm grateful that the lights are up in the yard now. They help take the edge off the darkness.

And I'm grateful that my very persistent neighbors got the city to fix the streetlights. More light!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sucking at studying

I read a lot. But… I'm 50 years old and I still can't study—not effectively, not with efficient retention.

It's been an odd week.

I've been reading some energizing and inspiring anthologies, including Ecstatic Occasions, Expedient Forms, Lyric Postmodernisms, and now The Verse Book of Interviews.

But when I remember something I've read and try to find it, I'm lost.

I saw a really helpful quote, and now I can't find it anywhere. While I was searching for it online, I thought I saw it, but now I can't even find that. Could my brain have created this memory to fill a gap? (I've read that brains do this, and I might even be able to tell you where.)

And I thought I read an interview of a Very Famous Poet. I remember thinking, "Do I want to read this? Sure, might as well." I remember details of the biography (which, it turns out, is the biography used for this poet ubiquitously), and I remember details of the interview, but I can't find that either. And I don't think my brain could have fabricated all of that!

Which leaves me...where?

Monday, November 29, 2010


It's coming this Saturday, December 4!

From the Hugo House website:

Write-O-Rama is a full day of more than 30 one-hour workshops offered by Hugo House's writing teachers. Sample Hugo classes, dabble in different forms and genres and share your fresh, new writing before the ink even dries at two open mics.

I'll be doing a fragment-inspired Break It Up: Short-Burst Writing workshop at 10:00 and at 2:00—and you can read about loads of other workshops on the Hugo House website.

Come, and come ready to write!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gratitude Journal, and it's dark already

I'm grateful that the roads are now clear.

I'm grateful that most of the family was able to get together for Thanksgiving on Thursday, and that we have such a wild, wacky, wonderful family.

I'm grateful for my children, and the chance to watch them grow.

I'm grateful for the cat who is sleeping on my legs.

I'm grateful for a bunch of writing time this weekend.

Tomorrow, it's back to work, but I have gratitude to take with me.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What kind of poetry do you write?

How do you answer this question?

It came up again last week at a dinner party. I hem and haw, never sure what to say.

And it depends who's asking. If it's another poet, do I say lyrical or narrative? I'm still trying to wrap my head around those two, because at one end we have the Iliad and the Odyssey, and at the other hand we have postmodern lyrics (and probably post-postmodern lyrics), and I fall somewhere in the vast middle.

If it isn't a poet, I want to say "accessible," because that's true. Even my new, more fragmented poems are still pretty accessible. And I don't want to get into explaining how I'm exploring with more nonlinear poems, trying to break up the narrative in longer poems that are divided into sections. How dry. (Although I'm having a blast writing them.)

Often, I try to answer the question by saying what I write about. The stock answer: gardening and death. Except that my forthcoming manuscript is about illness and healing. And the poems I'm working on right now are mostly about middle age, set in the Pacific Northwest landscape. Except for a few more poems about death and grief. And then I'm toying around from time to time with the messy confessional poem.

Clearly, I need a succinct answer that is generous and--yes--accessible.

How do you answer this question?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snowed-in--it takes just a dusting

Yesterday began with that dusting. Then, snow mist and freezing fog.

The ride home from work was surreal, with the wind swirling clouds of that snow mist in the headlights. It looked like the smokey wraithes that rise off of dry ice. The roads were solid ice. The bus commute was two and a half hours--probably one of the shortest rides in the region--and I missed the Billy Collins reading.

The winds continued to drift the snow, so a few inches was sculpted into peaks and swoops, like a meringue.

This morning, I'll be staying put, working from home, with a cat on my legs.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Gratitude

It's a slow Sunday. My one adventure outside was to Half-Price books--where I found a bunch of postcards but none of the books I was looking for--and the grocery store. Oh, and another quick dash to the alley to stand in the falling snow. Around here, you have to enjoy it while it lasts, because most of the time it doesn't. Now I am throwing the catnip mouse for Gilbert to chase.

Today I am thankful for those few flakes of snow, and I'm thankful that it didn't stick (especially because my daughter was out with the car).

I'm thankful that I finished a poem, and I'm thankful I had the time to finish a poem.

I'm thankful that my husband is making a big pot of red sauce.

I'm thankful for my here family and my wider family--aunt and uncle and cousins.

I'm thankful for "Homage to Paul Cezanne," by Charles Wright.

I'm thankful for the chance to ask questions.

I'm thankful for this day.

Open the door. Open my heart.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A question about prose poems

From what I know, in a prose poem, the unit is the sentence, as opposed to the line.

But I read in an interview a poet saying following about the publication of a manuscript:

" was nothing but a series of disappointments and frustrations...a prose poem is lineated where the manuscript margins ended;"


I thought that's how prose poems go. At the margins. Justified, even. Otherwise, isn't it a poem with page-long lines?

What do you think?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Gratitude

Today, all five us joined for Sunday dinner. I'm thankful for that. It was so good to see Jamie, and it was Daniel's last night in town before moving into his new place in Olympia. And Tom cooked (always a good thing).

I'm also thankful for my sister and lunch together at Cafe Presse.

I'm grateful for the class on Saturday (writing poems in a series) and for writing, or working on writing, new poems today.

It's been a good day.

Thank you!

Open the door. Open my heart.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ever eat a pound of butter?

Tonight, we had pie night. And for this rare occasion, I made a leek pie (it was supposed to be leek tart, but I've misplaced my tart pan) and then a tarte tatin for the dessert.

And I forgot to take pictures.

All this after attending a wonderful poetry reading by Susan Rich, Kelli Russell Agodon, Oliver de la Paz, and Allen Braden. The reading was at the Frye Museum, and the focus waas on ekphrastic poems. I wanted to come home and write ekphrastic poems. Instead, I made pie.

But I was able to work on some map poems today, and so it's time for gratitude.

I'm thankful for writing.

I'm thankful for all the inspiring poetry that's out there to hear or to read.

I'm thankful for community.

I'm thankful for a night hanging out with two of my kids (the oldest already had plans) and feeding them and hearing their stories.

I'm thankful I can still make my daughter laugh (even if she's laughing at me, it's still laughter).

All in all, a good Sunday.

Open the door. Open my heart.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Writing poems in a series

It's coming soon…

...and spaces are still available.

I'm teaching a class on Writing Poems in a Series at Richard Hugo House, November 13, 1:00-5:00 PM.

(It's my favorite way to write—a good way to avoid the blank page for as long as possible.)

Here is the official description:

Writing Poems in a Series

How do you follow that great idea—that fabulous first poem—for an entire book? Do you ever get an intriguing idea and then wonder how you'll keep it going? In this class, we'll discuss different ways to explore a theme and its variations through images, narrative and voice. We’ll read examples of how other poets—including Louise Gluck, Carolyn Forche and Oliver de la Paz—extend themes and weave multiple themes, and we'll write through some exercises to help unearth those extensions, to explore and expand our basic idea while maintaining a connecting thread through each of the poems.

Truth: I'm lazy, so I love already having a direction when I sit down to write. And that's why I love creating poems in a series.

I hope to see you then and there.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Was it a dream? A question of form...

I could swear that I recently read about a poetic form that sailors used to compose poems to Saint Christopher. Or Saint Elmo. I don't remember which Saint.

I also don't remember which form, or where I read it.

Was it in Lyric Postmodernisms? Was it in Ecstatic Occasions, Expedient Forms? I looked (using Google books) in those and also in Handbook of Poetic Forms.

And now the cat is barfing.

Got to go...any ideas about a form used by sailors to write poems to a saint?

All help is appreciated.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


I haven't checked in often, partly because of traveling and cat recovery, and partly because I've been blogging (almost) daily at The Sun Hunters.

On to the gratitude...

I'm thankful for this gorgeous Sunday, and the way some unexpected sun lights up the trees that are still holding onto their leaves.

I'm grateful the cat is back in the family and that I've made progress on cat-proofing the house (in the case of Gilbert, harder than you'd think).

I'm thankful I had all three kids here for dinner tonight. Schedules aligned. It was wonderful, punctuated by running to the door to hand out candy.

I love the colors this time of year. And I can remember a time (in the '80s) when I looked at the trees turning and thought, "I wish I could just enjoy them, but I have so much to do and I have to finish it first."

I'm thankful that I now take the time to enjoy things--at least, some things, like little dots and leaves changing into their new colors. If I think of all the other chores, I remind myself that they are not more important than this now. They belong to a new now. I'll get there, after I'm here.

Best wishes for the week.

Open the door. Open my heart.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A problem with prose poems

They look short.

Not in a book or a publication, but when I print one of my prose poems out on my 8 1/2 x 11-inch sheet of paper with 1-inch margins, it just looks short. So much of the page is left.

(I'm typing this with one hand while I sit on the basement bathroom floor and hold my cat. This makes him happy and provides plenty of time to ponder things.)

It's not that I want to write longer prose poems. I just feel a little sheepish about all that left-over space.

Do you write in more compressed forms? (Haiku and haibun come to mind.)

Do you ever feel that, visually, the page should look fuller?

Monday, October 18, 2010

After the basement bathroom flloor...

That's where I've been hanging out since this afternoon.

Gilbert the cat found some more watch parts. He ate them. That's his bad habit: Eat everything.

I was in Pasadena when he began to show signs of being seriously ill.

Thus begins the gratitude journal:

I am extremely grateful to my Mom and to my daughter, who acted as point person with the emergency vets while I was down in Pasadena. (The cell phone got a workout.)

I'm also grateful to the emergency vet people. They don't like my cat, because when he's there, he's very unlikeable. Scary, even. But as soon as he gets home, he returns to the "I love you, cuddle with me now" side of his personality.

And that's where I've been--cuddling with Gilbert the cat, who will spend the next two weeks mostly living inside a renovated (especially for him) shower stall, so that he doesn't jump around.

Then, I might have to take the stitches out myself, because he's such a freak at the vet's.

But he's okay, and my daughter and mom are okay.

Yes, I'm grateful.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gratitude on a blue gray Sunday

It's one of those days, a little stressed and a little blue and feeling out of sorts. It's hard to feel grateful on these days, but it's also important.

Today, I feel grateful for a dry refuge from the fall showers.

I feel grateful for my cat, who just now decided that cuddling purring is in order.

I feel grateful that my daughter has become a good driver (and a good parallel parker).

I'm grateful for the Internet, so that I can do research while I'm cuddling with my cat.

I'm grateful for time.

I'm still a little stressed out (last-minute car-repair stuff, work stuff), but it helps to take a few moments for all the good things.

Open the door. Open my heart.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dipping my toes into prose

I've started a serial blogging project (I think that's what it is). Maybe I'm trying to nurture my inner novelist, but really because I want to follow this idea of sun hunters.

My own antidote to the gray months ahead.

The story starts here.

Poetry + technology, in video

Recently, my colleagues at my Microsoft job asked me whether I'd be interested in talking, on camera, about how I use OneNote to write poetry.

Would I ever!

This was a real grown-up video, with a professional make-up artist (thank you so much) and a big heavy camera and a lot of planning and an interview (a little scary).

But what a great opportunity to bring poetry and writing center stage.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Pleiades

When the wine is fermenting, Tom leaves the house before the crack of early. I try to tag along when I can get up that early (we're talking out the door by 5:45 AM).

On the short way to the car, I've seen some amazing stars. I think I've even seen the Pleiades. I'm not sure. It's early. And it's lovely.

Then I hang out at the shop while Tom measures things and punches down the cap on the Merlot.

This morning, I managed to remember my camera.

Barrels of the Sauvingon Blanc we crushed and pressed the first weekend.

Barrels of Chardonnay that we crushed and pressed on Sunday.

Merlot from the first crush fermenting. The skins rise to the top and form a hard cap. That's what gets punched down.

The Merlot cap up close.

The smell is wonderful, too. But it's a long day. And Tom just called to say that he's pressing Merlot and won't be home for a while.

Now we await the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Gratitude Journal: Pressed

What? No pictures?

This morning, I was up and making homemade banh mi for today's crush. I remembered the bread, and the grilled chicken, and the tofu cooked in coconut milk, and the pickled vegetables, and the red pepper (I just wanted some), and the spicy mayonnaise, and the cilantro, and the sesame noodle salad, and the beer, and the potato chips--but I forgot my purse! And that's where my camera was.

Today, we crushed and pressed one and a half tons of Chardonnay grapes. And it went pretty quickly, but it was still a long day.

I am very grateful to the people who came to help. And for all their hard work. I am especially grateful to my daughter, who spent her Sunday loading grapes and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning. She also made the noodle salad.

I am grateful that it didn't rain.

I am grateful for inspiration.

I am grateful for the Internet, which makes research possible from the sofa.

I'm grateful for my friend Angela, who did bring her camera on Friday and took some author photos for me.

I'm grateful for poems and for the desire to write, the chance at unlocking something.

I'm grateful for the cat curling up on my legs.

I am grateful, and I am kind of tired. Open the door. Open my heart.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Crush and gratitude

Yesterday, we crushed a ton of Sauvignon Blanc grapes and a ton and a half of Merlot grapes. This volume was made possible by a raft of friends helping out and by the Big Dog, which is what I'm calling our new destemmer-crusher.

Doesn't it look sleek? Wait until we turn it on!

The garden statue yard next door...

Many hands sorting Sauvignon Blanc grapes...

Pressing the Sauvignon Blanc...

See how it runs...

Merlot coming through...

Most of wine-making is cleaning. A lot of cleaning. And I'm really grateful for the help with that!
I'm grateful for all the help with crush. I'm grateful we have the opportunity to do this. I'm grateful that it didn't rain much. I'm really grateful for the Big Dog, which made the day run much more smoothly (and we got home before dark).
I'm grateful for the sunny day we had on Saturday, and a poem acceptance.
Back a bit, I'm grateful for the Day of Caring on Friday, and the people at Hope for Horses who rescue abused and neglected horses. I'm grateful for Josie, the one-eyed horse who, after everything she's been through, likes to have her belly scratched.
I'm grateful for a moment of quiet so I can share all this with you. Open the door. Open my heart.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Don't burn out--come to LitFuse

This came to my inbox, and I want to share it, with high recommendations. I may be crushing; otherwise, I'll be at the heart of harvest and poetry in Tieton.

LiTFUSE Poets' Workshop

Dear Poet:

There are many reasons why we don't take the leap to embrace our authentic selves. Worries about money, the kids, job obligations; unwillingness to go over the mountains or to try something unknown.

All I can say is that every single person who has set those concerns aside and gone to LiTFUSE Poets' Workshop has been grateful they did so. They often come to me and say it was the best thing they did all year.

LiTFUSE is just over two weeks away, 10.8-10. Although there are plenty of fun Friday events, all the main workshops are on Saturday & Sunday. The cost is only $135, including the Poets' Banquet on Saturday night. Life's cares will still be there when you get back, but you'll have a refreshed spirit and new inspiration.

LiTFUSE only happens once a year. Please, won't you join us?

10.8-10.10, Mighty Tieton, near Yakima. A few free stays still available for those in need. Please CLICK HERE for the schedule or CLICK HERE to go directly to the registration page.

Northwest Writers UNiTE!

Michael Schein
LiTFUSE Director

Monday, September 20, 2010

Gratitude Journal: Late but no less thankful!

As I was sitting on the bus this morning, trying to make my way home as fast as possible to look for Gilbert the cat who ran outside when the wind blew the door open, I realized how important is to be thankful even when things are looking not optimal.

It reminds me of the movie My Life as a Dog, and the observation that "It all depends on how you look at it."

Right away, I am thankful that my cat came back. (Yes, I walked around the neighborhood for an hour shaking his carton of treats and calling him, and yes I sent out email to the neighborhood blockwatch, and yes, I was about to print out flyers when Gilbert appeared in the backyard, full of attitude, and slunk into the house, and I'm thankful for that.)

I'm thankful I work with people who understand the sudden nature of such events, and I'm thankful I still had time to do some work from home.

As I've said before, I'm thankful for my family and my friends and my family's friends. Friday and Saturday, we reveled and wandered with friends from Santa Fe. Last night was my brother-in-law's sixtieth birthday party. What a wonderful time!

I'm thankful for my four beans (yes, I'm up to four) and my one zucchini.

I'm thankful to see a little sun today.

And I'm thankful for a poem that needs some work and play. I'll get to that now.

Open the door. Open my heart.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


In a good way—

—the Fall 2010 issue of The Smoking Poet is online now, including the poems about Schrodinger's cat and stealing an ambulance, plus much more.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday Gratitude Journal: Anti-anxiety

I began the Sunday Gratitude Journal because I often hit a patch of melancholy on Sundays--as though I'm not doing enough, not good enough, not thin enough—that I don't have enough time, and I'm not using the time I have well enough. Insecurities heap up like old receipts in my purse.

Today is one of those days, and I'm grateful for the Gratitude Journal, which reminds me of all the good things.

My sleepy cat, for example.

My children.


I might be thankful for the same things every week. Every day. It's good for me to remember them.

I'm grateful for my friends who continually inspire me.

I'm grateful that I can take time out for this—that I am able to take for granted shelter and food and clothing and a job. But I don't take them for granted. I am grateful for them. Every day.

And I'm grateful for opportunities and whatever poems come my way—the ones I write and the ones written by others that I read and feel myself knocked off my feet. I'm very grateful for that.

Open the door. Open my heart.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A new book is in the works

When I logged onto email Saturday morning, I found really good news: Ravenna Press would like to publish my book!

It was a euphoric weekend. It's still so exciting…

And the book will be coming out sometime in 2011.

I'm especially excited because I wrote these poems for a friend who, when I started, was undergoing breast cancer treatment and the long healing after. I've shared the manuscript with her (several versions over the past three years), but I've really wanted to be able to give her a book.

I went the query route and then the contest route. I was not always cheerful about this. A lot of rejection.

I returned to the query route, following some advice by Karen Finneyfrock , and I attended the Hugo House conference Finding Your Publisher in the 21st Century, which is where I first connected with Ravenna Press.

Now, I'm thinking about blurbs and cover art and an author photo.

But I want to take a moment to thank all my friends who have read through the manuscript and helped with the poems and cheered me up. I want to thank my friend who inspired these poems, for her persistent energy (she's also a fantastic wit). And I want to thank my daughter, who has believed in this project, and prodded me on it, from the beginning.

That's my news, my good news.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Gratitude Journal, Labor Day

How quickly things can change! I posted my last post on Friday morning, and the next morning I opened my email and found good news!

On to the gratitude journal—a day late, and brimming with gratitude.

I am very grateful that my manuscript has been accepted.

I am very grateful for all the support I've received over the years from family and friends.

I am especially grateful for my daughter's support and her persistent belief in this project. That has meant so much to me.

I'm grateful for medical advances, increasing survival rates, the survival of my friends.

I'm grateful for having a family that enjoys each other and has fun together. And I'm grateful that my sons can kick my ass in Boggle.

I'm grateful for this day off, when I shall labor as little as possible, and I'm grateful for having a job that gives me this day off—for having a job.

And, really, I'm grateful for this life.

Friday, September 3, 2010


I just received a rejection in less than 12 hours.


Very efficient.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Gratitude Journal: Tieton!

This past weekend was our family reunion in Tieton, Washington. Not only was it a chance to hang out with family from my mother's side, it was also Tieton Community days—including the Dancing Horses,

to Mariachi music.

This was my favorite.

We thought about how much time it must take to train these horses and to work with them every day. It made sense to get your son up there, just so you'd have some time to spend with him!

On the green in Tieton, my cousin's daughter makes a new friend.

Vistas... space...

Vineyards planted up in the hills. Very young. A look forward.

Son Daniel and sister Nancy walking the rows.

The farmer and the winemaker.

Cousin Jan in the vineyard.

Strand apple bins, ready for harvest.

Smudge post, a frost past memory—and ready.

A pile o' props.

This week I am grateful for family and for getting together.

I'm grateful for dry weather on the far side of the mountains.

I'm thankful for the wide spaces and the hills framing them, for the dramatic cloud shadows on the fields and the scrub brush.

I'm thankful for the way a valley changes over time, with new people and new crops and even new ideas.

I'm also grateful for the traditions that continue or are revitalized. I remember Tieton Community Days from the 1970s. It fell into hiatus, but now it's back and bigger than I ever remember. Did I mention the Dancing Horses?

That said, I'm grateful for the way communities can come together—the long-time families, the artists, and the horsemen—for the way Spanish and English can both fly through the heat.

Thank you.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Gratitude Journal

A day late, but no less grateful.

I haven't been blogging, but I've been writing a lot. I'm very thankful for that.

I'm thankful for my bean. Other people grow beans, I grow a bean. My garden comes one victory at a time.

I'm thankful for the rain that watered that garden and then stopped. I'm thankful we had a little sun yesterday.

I'm thankful my daughter comes home on Wednesday!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Gratitude Journal: Family and sand

We took a long weekend and went to Manzanita to spend time with Tom's family. I love the ocean. I love the pounding and the tides and the sky and the stretches of sand. I love spending time talking with these marvelous people and walking for long stretches and drinking in everything.

I'm grateful for solitary walks on the sand, when the mist is still rising. Or perhaps it doesn't rise all day.

I'm grateful for the sculpting of water and sand, water on sand.

...a jellyfish...

I'm grateful for family. Here, the three sisters-in-law. What you can't see: the herd of small dogs following the man who snapped our picture.

I'm grateful for a walk through old-growth forest

and starfish in the tidepools,

barnacles, creatures who survive in drastic circumstances,

the flowering sea anemones

and colonies of mussels,

those vast multitudes of nature that scale from an giant cedar to a small mussel on the wall of a cave,

the way the stones show time and water,

and a snake

but mostly, this time with family. I am thankful.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Things that come in the mail

It's been a good week.

First, on Saturday, my contributor copy of 2011 Poet's Market.

On Tuesday, the Fall class catalog for Richard Hugo House, including my class on writing poems in a series.

Member registration starts August 17.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday Gratitude Journal: Time

Today, I am thankful for the several hours of quiet to work on poems.

I am thankful for friends at the Seattle Poets Gathering, and their good stories and forward momentum.

I am thankful for the two tomato plants that are still alive—diminutive and no tomatoes yet, but alive. I call this hope.

I am thankful for my sister—for many reasons, but especially for keeping track of things.

Friday, August 6, 2010

I've been working on a poem that I've wanted to write for a couple of years. I got a little bit of it out and wrote that down. Later, pulling weeds in the garden, I thought of a bit more, a couple of images—and then I realized that I didn't need to rush in and save them. I could get them later.

Yeah, right, you're thinking. I've tried that before.

So have I—and it never works.

But this time, I had a feeling that the poem had become a place I could visit, like going to my friend Laurie's house in Queens. I could look in the poem's different rooms, hang out in the kitchen, listen and write. When I left, the poem would still be there.

Maybe I'm not explaining this well—but that thought reminded me of Mark Doty saying that a poem is like a house—you don't need to take the reader into all the rooms, but you need to know what's in them.

(I like to imagine Indonesian parasols or Victorian wash basins—and I guess it's different for each poem. This one has red dirt and scents of cumin in the hallway and worn bus seats and it's almost always dark outside.)

This was new for me, and I hope the feeling returns for other poems. Meanwhile, I have this one to explore.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Hurricane Season," by Alexandra Teague

I am in awe of this poem by Alexandra Teague, which appeared on Verse Daily the other day. I read it and was hooked immediately. I felt it unfold. I felt, I wish I'd written that. I wish I could write like that.

Now, any poem that talks about a hurricane invokes the memory of Katrina. But it also resonated with me because my first date with my first husband was the evening after Hurricane Gloria brushed by Manhattan, where I was living then.

I asked myself what I could learn from this poem.

It's a poignant story, but we all have poignant stories in our lives—or we're poets and we can make them up.

Ms. Teague begins by setting up tension—the tension in the foreshadowing and also the tension between the storm's violence, the hurricane's lashing on the ground, and its circular beauty when seen from far above.

Then, each image and each verb supports the storm image.

Powerful. Something to aspire to.

What poems do you learn from?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Better than a red dress

The beans are blooming!

I didn't realize they would be so flashy--in a good way.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Reupholstering the sofa

Finally, I've spruced up my website,

New colors, a new look.

Next up, the two sofas in the family room.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday Gratitude Journal: Lummi Island

We took a long weekend and went up to Lummi Island to celebrate our thirteenth wedding anniversary.

I'm grateful for the time with Tom, grateful for the wide light and the water stretching to the other islands and beyond, grateful for the people we met over the years, and for plenty of rest and even a little bit of writing.

Here are some pictures: