Monday, August 23, 2010

If you want to write

I'm finishing up Brenda Ueland's If You Want to Write, which has been one of the kindest, most generous, and encouraging books a writer could read.

I just wanted to post a couple of my favorite quotes:

"For when you come to think of it, the only way to love a person listening to them & seeing & believing in the god, in the poet, in them. For by doing this, you keep the god & the poet alive & make it flourish."

And from the chaper entitled "Why Women who do too much housework should neglect if for their writing" :

"If you are always doing something for others, like a servant or a nurse, & never anything for yourself, you cannot do others any good. You make them physically more comfortable. But you cannot affect them spiritually in any way at all. For to teach, encourage, cheer up, console, amuse, stimulate or advise a husband or children or friends, you have to be something yoursef. And how to be something yourself? Only by working hard & with gumption at something you love & care for & think is important."

"Menial work at the expense of all true, ardent, creative work is a sin agains the Holy Ghost."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Speaking of Faith Favorite

My weekly newsletter from Speaking of Faith requested that I send them my favorite SOF moment, as they are working on creating a show of memorable moments of the past seven years. I thought I'd post it here too, for those who are interested. This is from an interview Krista Tippett had with Jean Vanier, founder of l'Arche - a community dedicated to caring for adults with special needs. You can find the interview entitled The Wisdom of Tenderness here.

Jean Vanier: "Death is a passage, which will be an extraordinary discovery, something that'll be so amazing that we can't even imagine it.

It's like my little niece who died of AIDS, and she wasn't a believer. She said, 'What it's going to be like?' And I said, 'Well, you're going to fall asleep. And when you wake up, you'll be in such joy, such peace. Something that you've never, never lived before.' And she said, 'But I'm not a believer.' I said, 'But you remember when you're in that apartment in Paris and there were some Turkish immigrants that you make cakes for them. I've always seen you as somebody kind. And so your kindness you'll find, it'll be OK. And then the rest we will discover. It's going to be exciting. It's going to be wonderful.'"

Ms. Tippett: "This is another something you know, clearly. You know this. And all of your philosophy, all of your studies can't explain that to you, something you know."

Mr. Vanier: "Yes. Something that we have experienced — you see, if you just experience somewhere the peace of Jesus, the peace of being with other people, the peace of loving people. Well — and that experience transcends everything, the ideas we might have, because it's that experience where we live trust. And in Greek, the word "faith" and "trust" are the same word. Trust in other people, trust in God, trust in the peace that is in our hearts, trust also in those who are struggling to find peace and who got their angers and their pain. That's OK too. We're in it together."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Intutive Writer

"An oryoki is a set of three nestled bowls, chopsticks, spoon, and cleaning utensil, all cozily wrapped in a cloth that serves as a placemat for Zen monks during silent zendo meals. The little stack is housed to the right of each monk's seat. When the meal bell sounds, within cushion-reach is everything one needs to pray, eat, and clean up afterward.

The meal rituaal is flawless thanks, in part, to the impeccably designed oryoki, but the design comes not so much from food as from listening.

Its beauty, elegance, and explicitness teach us how to live."

-Gail Sher, The Intuitive Writer

(I wish my own life could be so simple & elegant & within cushion-reach)

Friday, June 25, 2010

a more lovely way of thinking about Father God

"To become a father is to experience an infinite dependency on an infinitely small, frail being, dependent on us & therefore omnipotent over our heart."

-Louis Evely, french theologian

(found on the Speaking of Faith blog)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Personal Writing Philosophy From Spring Novel Class

“Writing is not about writing what we know, but trusting our vocations as a way of knowing, and writing in order to see what we do not know.”
-Scott Cairns, Faith & Writing Festival, 2010

“In the creative life, readiness is all, readiness is everything.”

-Robert Siegel, Faith & Writing Festival, 2010

Once, in a cabin in the mountains of southern Oregon, I gave myself over to words and the mystery of the space between them. I spent a week living and breathing a lyric essay I had taken to calling my labor of love. Each morning I awoke, firing up the tea kettle and opening up a book that I hoped would give me the inspiration and courage I needed to spend another day fully engrossed in my writing. In moments of emptiness, I returned to it, and in desperate moments of doubt, I chose walks instead. I learned that the movement of my feet coaxed my mind to do the same, each step encouraging a word to add on to another until the traffic jam of words began to sort itself out. During those walks I became a vessel, emptied out so that the stream of words might flow through once more.

That week I felt as though I didn't need anything. I forgot to eat. I lost track of time. I neglected socializing. I fell into moments of complete attention in which nothing else mattered but the world of words I had created. All I wanted to do was be with them, to hold them, to search within them for the light of life that I trusted would reveal itself to me, as if a gift for my patient waiting. These glimmers I kept, while the rest I trimmed away, knowing that this was what I must do if I ever wanted to come close to speaking the truth. My dear and kind professor Jessie sat alongside me as I worked that week. She read my words aloud to me and guided me through my doubts. The week progressed and I watched as my initially fragmented and fragile collection of words became stronger and more connected. I felt they were ready to enter the real world and so I made them physical. I craved the tangible, so I took the words out of my computer and I laid them out in front of me. I cut them up and rearranged them as if they were a puzzle, only with this puzzle there were endless solutions and no knowing when I had actually completed it. I had no other option but to choose trust.

Trust was everything that week. I trusted the spirit in my gut to write that essay for me. I listened to her when she bid me come write, whatever the topic she chose for me. Occasionally my logical impulses tried to intervene. They wanted to know why, what for, what does this mean? But I tried not to listen to them. I tried to simply open up and write. And in that final evening of my week, with twelve hours to complete my final draft, I trusted that the ending I had been waiting for all week to tie the loose ends together would come. It did come unexpectedly, standing in the shower while I let the day's work run off me. I wish I could tell you it was something about the way the mist fogged up the air, or the less romantic hair that had accumulated around the drain that sparked my inspiration, but I can't. It fell straight from the sky, or maybe it rose up from the earth. Either way, somehow it ended up in my hands, for no apparent reason other than the fact that I was ready to receive it.

“Readiness is all, readiness is everything,” Hamlet spoke, and Robert Siegel echoed. It was readiness that led me to rush out of the bathroom that evening, towel wrapped around me, remnants of shampoo still camped out behind my ears, and sit down in my humble living room, fire dying down in the wood stove, to type the last words that would gather my week together and send it out to be shared.

I tell you the story of this week in my life because it represents my writing life in all its fervency and earnestness. It carries all the elements I hold most dear – physicality, openness, playfulness, sharing, readiness, and trust. Unfortunately, I don't have the luxury of spending all of my writing life tucked away in a little cabin in the woods in a community of kindness. Walks on sidewalks in the suburbs don't fill me up quite so much as getting lost in the woods. Taking four classes at a time hinders my attentiveness and my readiness. But this is the real world, and I must return to it. My job is to look upon it in wonder, even amongst the pavement and the busyness and the cafeteria food. It's harder to settle down here. Trust doesn't come as easily. Fear and doubt paralyze me some days as I sit down before the blank screen of my computer, and on these days I must clumsily choose prayer.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

o thing that consoles

how clumsily i thank and fail to thank you
for plans to make dinners together
for the times between darkness and light
for the warmth of unremembered dreams
for the babies that sleep inside our bones
for proud fathers and their growing gardens
for bold bodies of water that tremble at my touch
for kind words, fascination, wonder
for the poetry of list-making
for gratitude

Friday, June 11, 2010

here is the latest:

i got some new fabric from the fabric store, so, as it is summer once again, i guess it is time to take out the sewing machine. what i love about the fabric store is that all the Slightly Odd Fabric always ends up in the sale section. and guess what? i LOVE the Slightly Odd Fabric. so it works out perfectly. i never spend more than $3 per yard. the fabric i got is polyester and it has what i believe to be a very lovely vintage floral print. i intend to make a dress of it. everyone always talks about polyester as though it is the Very Worst Thing, but this was soft and silky. so, i'll take it. (i will keep you posted on my process and my final product)

here is another pretty idea for my summer and yours. nightgowns --> dresses!

you can find more information about that here:

vanilla & lace

furthermore, i'm reading some great books right now:

1) A Place of My Own by Michael Pollan

he's the food guy, but now he's talking about architecture, and he's doing it quite intriguingly. the book is about his quest to design and build a writing hut in his backyard. the research he puts into his work is very fascinating. he talks about how his work as an editor and writer made him very weary of abstraction, and it was that itch that led him to consider building. he wanted to create something physical, and real, and learn a new way of knowing that was less about heads and more about hands. i can sympathize. i think that's why i bake bread.

2) God of Small Things by Arunhati Roy

this is a delightful novel that takes place in India. it is not very plot driven but the language Roy uses is so playful and refreshing. it is very reminiscent of other magical realism stories that i have read, and more particularly one hundred years of solitude - for it's odd family relations, meandering plot line, strange yet endearing little girls, and general magic and mystery. i love it very much, and one of my favorite things about it is how Roy capitalizes whenever she feels like it. like, when she feels something seems to be an Important Thing. this is very great and here is why: a.a. milne does that too in winnie the pooh and it is one of my Favorite Things. which brings me to my final point:

3) Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne

is still so so good. even better, i might say, than it once was. i want you all to read it if you haven't read it in a while. and i want you to read it aloud to someone, should the opportunity present itself to you around the hour of Bed Time.



Wednesday, June 2, 2010

nom nom nom

a restful memorial day weekend full of good eats is what we had.
i can't get enough of fantastic food blogs these days.

here are two of my favorite recipes that i tried out over the past couple days:

from 101 cookbooks, a recipe for baked eggs in delightful little pita bread pockets. jeremy and i made them monday morning along with some baked oatmeal and raspberries which may be the very loveliest fruit of them all.

and from smitten kitchen, my mother and i made some shaved asparagus pizza for which we used a vegetable peeler to make thin strips of asparagus. it was beautiful. the texture was so nice. we thought once asparagus season is over (i can feel it coming and it makes me anxious just to think of it) it might be nice to use a similar method on other veggies because the thin strips are so nice. i have it in mind to try it out on sweet potatoes because sweet potato anything is a brilliant idea in my book.

on another note, i feel so thankful for anything that evokes in me a sense of wonder at creation. when i lived in the mountains this was a daily occurrence but it's harder to come by here. so when jeremy and i saw babies the movie this weekend, i felt very grateful for the gentle reminder that the world is humming with liveliness and reverence and mystery. we giggled and giggled because the babies were so funny but also because they were cute and we can't help but giggle at the cute things too.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I'm going to make an acorn necklace
because I think it is a nice thing to do.

Jeremy and I bumbled around in the woods looking for perfect acorns yesterday, and would you believe it? They are harder to find than you would think.

That's why we decided it is a nice thing to wear a necklace about it when you find one. Because they are rare, like four leaf clovers.

When I was little I could never find those and my brother could which upset me. So I picked multiple leaves and held them together at the stem and pretended. "Look Mom! I found a SIX leaf clover!"

"Oh, let's put it in a bag to keep!" she'd say to me at which point the game was over because you can't keep a six leaf clover in tact in a bag. Only in your hand.
(you can do it too! )

Furthermore, I'd also like to try to make these shoes.
This could be even trickier than finding a whole acorn or a four leaf clover because I'd have to come up with my own pattern. But I feel up for the challenge because - look how cute!

Finding shoe soles is a[whole]nother matter though.

I'm on a hunt.
Who knew crafting could be so adventurous and thrilling?

(You may purchase these shoes here.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

oh thing that consoles

how clumsily i thank you
for kind homes in which to rest
for waking with friends
for breakfasts in bed
for clear minds and attentive reading
for the peacefulness of rain
for food that satisfies and treats my body well
for the invisible man humming behind the wall of mailboxes
for feeling like a misfit among the scientists
for peace, peace, peace
and a profound sense of being at home

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

the Kogi Indians of tropical South America believe
that when an infant begins life
it knows three things:
mother, night, and water.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

dogs are for teaching kindness and gentleness

and that in spite of your doubts, perhaps you are capable of loving some good, warm being outside of your own

but sometimes they stop. the breath and the heart first, and then the warmth follows.

and so we and our mothers pick out places in our backyards- nice, thoughtful, shaded ones near the lillies we've taken from house to house. our fathers patiently lean against their shovels and wait.

my own father digs until his back is sore, walks back into the house in dirtied jeans, crouches under the table placing his measuring tape against the length of the cold body's back, and digs some more. four feet long. bigger than he remembered.

we wrap him in a yellow blanket. everyone takes a corner. the tongue lolls out of his mouth, eyes roll back. but he's still sweet, i think. his limbs have stiffened, however and he seems heavier. somehow. as if the life that ran away, left a heavy weight in its place.

we lower him gently. first a eulogy brought to us by mary oliver : "love, love love/then, go to sleep/give up your body heat, your beating heart/then, trust"

a few more words and a closing prayer given by my father about creation and goodness and if there is a doggie heaven please save a space.

dirt is sprinkled. ashes to ashes. dust to dusted. and we stand and watch as my father carries on filling up the empty hole. he avoids covering the face, until at last, he has no choice, and then - gently. very gently.

after the service we return to our home. we sit at our table and eat our ham on bun.
and no one comes running when a pickle drops to the ground.

Monday, May 10, 2010

summer `10

is here.
and reminding me to be in love with the world for all its many possibilities.
especially the green grassy farmlands that i drove through last night
and the unfolding of pink sky that some poet once cleverly named as "steeping"

because few listen to what happens here, this will mostly be a practice place for the summer
where i write shitty first drafts and bumblings without much thought to my audience. (sorry - but it's for the better for now)

so, if you're here, welcome. i'm glad.
i'll try my best to show up regularly as well.

here is the news i want to share with you:
my dear professor, Doug Frank, from my fall semester out at the Oregon Extension just published a new book called A Gentler God: Breaking free of the Almighty in the company of the human Jesus If you click the link it will give you more information about the book and you should also look at the reviews., brought to you by people like : brian mclaren, debbie blue, rob bell, and david james duncan.

I suspect that it will be great.

yours, LLW

Thursday, March 4, 2010

in the library

a darling and round little boy who waddled
and a grandmother who came in looking for him

"come on we have to go"
"grandma they have arabic books here!" and then to the librarian, "do you have arabic books here?"
"yes, we do have some."
"thats our language!!"

so good.