Wednesday, May 28, 2014


A couple shots from this rainy day in late May. The first from the early morning, where I sat drinking my tea and conversing with my daughter (and only stealing the occasional look at The Sun, laid open in front of me, I swear).

The second of my mother's blueberry bushes, which are loaded, just now, with blossoms. Let's hope for a sunny day soon (i.e. tomorrow) for the bees to do their all-important dance of pollination.  

I also went to the bookstore today. Yes, the bookstore! On my own! Without my children! And came home with five books. (Five books!) Most of them were on sale, but still, five beautiful new books. This is what happens when you 1. start working (i.e. making money) and 2. work freelance and thus have days off in-between projects.

A couple are bird guides, as I'm determined to hone (alongside my children) my recognition skills this summer. 

Another is Thomas Berry's The Great Work, a book that's been called, "The modern equivalent of the biblical book of revelation." In Berry's own words (he has been called "the bard of the new cosmology,") "The Great Work, as we move into a new millennium, is to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation of the Earth to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficial manner." Berry is a cultural historian, an Appalachian-born Buddhist scholar, a Catholic priest and an ecotheologian. I hope to share more quotes with you here as I journey in. Feel free to read along. 

Happy late May, friends. It is an amazing (lilacs dripping) time of year.

Monday, May 26, 2014

in the early morning

5:20: Owen Cricket wakes to nurse
5:30: He drifts back again
5:31: I'm tiptoeing down stairs, putting water on to boil
5:36: Tea. Hot. Honey. Milk.
5:40: Shit! Facebook. I should never go there first thing in the morning
5:45: But, oh. These funny emails about Eudora Welty and Grace Paley. My book group just read them. We can't seem to let them go. Oh to be as nutty as Eudora or Grace.
5:50: The friend I can't stop thinking about, who just had her second-born, is wondering how one finds time to write with two. Time to write with two....time to write with two...I remember being desperate for camaraderie, solidarity. Thus: Erdrich's The Blue Jay's Dance and a slew of mother-poets I went in search of (Sharon Olds, Beth Ann Fennelly). Today I'd recommend Grace Paley, so that one remembers their humor and their sexuality. Those were somewhat desperate days.
6:00: Oh sweet tea. Caffeine's coursing. That newborn whose birth brought about that desperate search for solidarity/camaraderie will turn two in six days. Two! Two years ago today I was writing this, and this, and this. That was a time and a place.
6:01: Oh how I wash my soul, every day, in the eggshell, almond, beach-salt skin of their wily limbs.
6:02: They're still sleeping. Everyone is still sleeping. What on earth will I do now? What oh what, in these sweet quiet moments, will I work on now?
6:04: Oh, daughter. Hello. Good morning. Thank goodness. Your friendship and your beauty. What adventures will we embark on today??

PS: Michelle, I want you to know that two days ago I printed out the manuscript of stories that I began six years ago. Six years ago! They're not finished, but they're very close to finished. Time accomplishes amazing things.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

the macarthur house

I don't believe I've officially introduced you to The MacArthur House. It's my family homestead, a stone's throw up the road from where Ty and I started building our cabin fifteen years ago (past the farm stand, the blueberry fields and the cider orchard). 

It's the house my grandparents bought for a few thousand dollars in the late 1940s and fixed up, lovingly and by hand, for the next sixty years. (When they came it was abandoned: shot-out windows, floors eaten by porcupines.)

My grandparents were and are (my grandfather still lives next door) radicals and dreamers: my grandfather is and was a professor of astronomy and physics and a hard-core environmentalist, ecologist and lover of birds; my grandmother was a folksinger, gardener, baker of extraordinary bread, self-trained ethnomusicologist and lover of all things local and all things old. 

For the past six years (since my grandmother died and my grandfather moved next door) our family has been trying to figure out what to do with the house and its land. How to honor my grandparents' dedication to cultural and environmental sustainability, how to honor the beauty of the house itself, how to share it with others in order to foster that bridge my grandparents made between art, the environment,  sustainability and place. 

And so The MacArthur House. We're still not sure just exactly what it will become, but we have opened the doors and windows in order to see what flies in and nests here. 

We are so very excited. 

(For more info/photos, go here.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Good morning, friends. The rooster (Whitey) is up. The sun is up. I'm up. Spring/summer, or the love child of the two has officially arrived to our woods. We spend the evenings outside in the yard with cups of chilled wine. Our children are back to being bare-limbed and dirt-caked vagabonds. Our shoulders and cheeks are pink from bike riding and weeding and watering and swinging and digging in dirt with backhoes. A learned to ride a two-wheeler this spring and now she takes off down my uncle's long and winding driveway on her own, hair a blaze behind her. What freedom! What unparalleled freedom. I have not let the chickens out of their coop to troll the yard this spring, which means this little garden of ours, now planted with carrots and peas and beets and spinach and kale and other good things just might have a chance of growing us some food. Regardless, my children are taking great pleasure. My children are taking great pleasure, raking and watering and planting and weeding. Seeds, seeds, seeds, seeds: every mother is a farmer of the utmost important kind. These heirloom seedlings of ours! What astounding variety. What delightful surprises. What utterly delicious limbs.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014


My spunky, beautiful, vivacious, bull-headed, creative, eccentric and fiercely loving grandmother, Margaret, would have turned 86 today. 

I spent the morning writing in the study of her old house, the room where she died eight years ago. It was a spring day like this one; the windows open and the sun shining after weeks of cold and rain. 

This morning two other women were inhabiting rooms in that house as well: artists, working on creative projects and scheming about future ones.  I can think of no better way to celebrate my grandmother's birthday than to witness those rooms of hers--those dearly beloved, pine-shod, two-hundred-year-old rooms--startle with the energy of young, creative, vivacious women, going after their own illusive artistic dreams.  

 What a thing to be: an artist. What a time to be born: spring. 

Happy birthday, G'ma, Toodles, Margaret.
Your house lives on. Imagine that! 

I am so deeply glad.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Morning, friends. I'm up a little early. The tea is strong and black and sweetened with Northwoods Apiaries raw honey, lightened with a little half and half. You would think I'd be writing about spring  about now, but here are some snapshots of what early May looks like in our woods this year: the seedlings still coming indoors for the night, the peach tree not yet in bloom, the front yard--well, maybe that's our problem, not spring's. (We are not lawn manicurists around here, as you all probably know well.)

Thank goodness for my children: their bright clothes and bright faces, adding some bounce to the air. They sing me songs at night until I fall asleep between and, no doubt, before them. They seem to have both adopted their mother's penchant for all things boots. They're frisky and sassy and fully alive. And their cheeks--have I talked enough about their cheeks? Holy do we have that going on around here.

On the reading front: Eudora Welty and Grace Paley. Cool, smart women, who we'd all do well to be a little more like. 

More on that soon. 

Wishing you bright blooms and much green in your own necks of the woods. 

It's got to be coming soon, soon, soon. (Right?!)


Friday, May 2, 2014


Morning...5:29, a hot cup of raw-honey-sweetend Russian Caravan by my side, the rooster making a racket, the kiddos upstairs sleeping, the world blushing into light from behind my friends the trees (hemlock, spruce, birch, pine).

It's been a literary week. Two nights ago my book group met at The MacArthur House (have I mentioned this here, yet? No I think I have not. More on that soon) and discussed, passionately, Why We Love Alice Munro (and, fortunately for all of  us, why some do not).

There was wine, food, good company, and two hours of talk about her women, her landscapes, her craft. I came home blushing.

Last night I drove with my dad to Green Writers Press's book launch for two new releases: Leland Kinsey's book of poems, Winter Ready and Patti Smith's book, The Beavers of Popple Pond. 

It's been a long time since I've been to a reading, a long time since I've been out on the town in the evening without my kids.

The reading was wonderful, but as wonderful was sitting in the darkness of the pew, sans children, almost alone, feeling words wash over me.

I slipped my feet out of my shoes and thought: I could become some eccentric, crazy old lady in not too long.

I thought: there will be a time, soon, when I am not defined by my children.

I thought: what will I do with my life then?

I'm still figuring that one out, as I hope you are each still figuring that one out. Just exactly who you want to be. What you will do with this "one wild and precious life."

One of the things I love most about Alice Munro's stories is the way her narratives take sharp and surprising turns, just as the lives of her characters do. The way her protagonists relentlessly chase after their own happiness (without predictable outcomes for those turns).

I've always related to those women: their restlessness and their constant desire to know themselves better.

And I blabbing? I am blabbing.

The sun is up. The tea is near-empty. Good morning, dear friends. Your comments here keep me going--without them I'd be a fool.