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: