Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"bird by bird"

I've been reading Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Life and Writing by Anne Lamott.  It's helping me have some desire to write again.  I feel so out of practice in the writing realm, and I could give a million excuses, but that would be so dull.  Well, perhaps I'll be a tad bit dull.  One excuse: I get discouraged with my lack of "free time."  And when I do have some spare moments, I usually feel too tired to pull together any coherent thoughts.  But writing on here makes me feel like I'm actually working on something and I can type much faster than I can long-handedly string sentences together.

So we'll try out a little session tonight and hope to spark some consecutive nights of writing, though I do prefer ink and paper.  I won't always type everything up on here.

Today Hattie saw a bird for the first time.  Sure, it wasn't her very first encounter with a bird, but she looked up, unblinking as the bird hopped from fence to tree.  She pointed and squawked to get me to look as well.  Her eyes shone happier than her mouth.  Those blues with an inner ring of golden yellow.  Oh, how I love those eyes.

And the boy, that Eamon boy.  These kids of mine fill up my days, and sometimes my nights, to the brim.  Laughter, impatience, smiles, frustration, hugs, wrestlings, peace.  I watch him as he falls asleep.  He turns onto his right side and puts his hands together in a prayer-like position.  I fake yawn sometimes just to hear him echo his own in response.  He picks his nose slowly and then slower and slower, and his eyes remain lightly closed.

There's some from the present.  How 'bout a little from the past.

Summertime.  We'd go to the library with mom.  We each had our own library card and we'd go down into the basement of the Provo library to get our fill.  I would check out at least 15 books and try to impress the librarian checking out my books.  I don't know how impressive Sweet Valley High or Babysitter's Club really are or were or ever have been, but I was reading.  I was a reader.  Upon arriving home, we would drag out a few of mom's huge quilts into the shade of the willow trees.  And read.  Mom always made it fun by fixing a special treat.  Popcorn, maybe?  I honestly have no recollection.  I do remember, though, the feel of the grass through the blanket on my legs and elbows.  I remember the thrill of reading for hours.  The joy and the peace that came from escaping into a place different and away.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

old photos

oh my goodness. i don't have words to express how nostalgic i become while looking at these pictures. i could go on and on and on.  what a lucky and blessed girl i am to have gone on such a marvelous trip with my family five years ago.  it's crazy how much our lives have changed and how our families have grown since then.  add four grandchildren to the mix now.  

these are just a few of the pictures i've spent the last several minutes looking through on my parents' computer.  what great memories. oh how i love my family.  riding bikes to mont st. michel.  josh so TINY.  maybe he's just gigantic now.  but he really is baby josh here. so so so many good times.








Monday, March 24, 2014

leaden echo, golden echo

I've been wanting to write about this for two weeks now, and after a few false-starts think I might actually finish.  I'm waiting to do a skype interview for a teaching job and I'm nervous.  I hope writing can help relax me a bit.

We attended Sarah's memorial service a few weeks ago; it was such a beautiful tribute to an amazing woman.  Many emotions rolled through me that morning as I listened, felt, and watched.  I could only sob as  her two youngest kids walk out of the chapel with their arms around each other, the last ones of the family to exit.  I try to banish the feeling of helplessness that begins to well up within me with sights like that.  I hope my hugs to them, given later, portrayed at least a portion of the love and hope I have for them.

During the service many beautiful lines of literature were shared, from C. S. Lewis to Marilynne Robinson.  Sarah's father, Sterling Van Wagenen, read a stunning poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins.  I had never heard it before and he breathed the words so movingly that I was in awe.  I wanted to stand up and applaud; it was that beautiful.  I got home and looked it up and found a reading of it by Richard Burton.  If you have three minutes and four seconds, read the poem while you listen.

I'm grateful for these words and how they were shared with such deep feeling.  I'm eternally grateful to have known Sarah for the year I did.  She inspires me to become better in many ways.

I'm so grateful for heavenly goodness.  Despair takes over my heart easily, but as long as I turn to my Savior I can be uplifted and find comfort, peace, and rest.

Take courage.  Our God will never us forsake.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

here i go, reading old emails again

From February 2008:
Little moments like the one I just had make me thankful and bring a smile to my face.  I'm in the process of grading my last stack (of the day) of writer's notebooks.   We read The Chosen long ago during first term; it wasn't the best experience for me.  I love that book, but I felt like we trudged and grumbled our way through it.  I felt hardly anyone enjoyed it.  But hark, what's here?  A surprise.  A clever student still remembers Mr. Savo and one of his favorite words--cockeyed.  I quote from her writer's notebook:

"In my opinion, texting is stupid.  It is of the devil.  Adolescents in this day and age are so consumed in their technological gadgets that they never stop to look at the wonders that surround them.  Example: There is a teenager at the bus stop, waiting for his ride.  He is extremely bored.  Heaven forbid he stoops down to examine a butterfly's intricate wings or ponder the meaning of life.  :)  Nooo, he would just whip out his cell phone and start texting!!!!  As Mr. Savo would say: 'Cockeyed world.'"


Anyhow, it just made me happy to read that and realize that at least one thing has stuck in at least one student's mind.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

be not dismayed

Why do I laugh?
Really I should be crying all day long and on throughout the night.

I'd like a wailing wall like May's.

Write up my troubles.
Write up all the troubles of the world.

All day long and on throughout the night.

Days and nights and nights and days.
On throughout all time.

Write everything.
Scraps of paper covered with my scribbles.
Cram them in.
Let the rocks crush out the terribleness of it all.

What else is there to do?
A pool of cleansing water?
A soulful song of lamentation?
A flower rolled flat between my thumb and finger?

Why do I laugh?
How do I smile?

When my heart aches as sharp as weary bones,
I picture myself falling asleep
Beneath the orchard's blossoming branches.

The pink petals soothe my eyelids to close.
I hear them whisper as the breeze rustles through.
I pillow my head with the grass.

My midday repose ends as I yawn myself awake.
The smile from dreaming remains as I breathe deeply;
Gaze focused skyward, I stand.

The stones hold the heat of the day.
I curl my toes round them,
Jumping off when I can't stand the warmth any longer.
The dandelion fluff dances high with my landing.

I cannot.
I cannot cry throughout all time.
Unsustainable.

So I
Rest,
Take pause,
Land again,
Smile.

Build those smiles together to fashion true laughter.

Monday, March 3, 2014

almost two years

Yesterday was one of those days when my soul simultaneously soared and sank.  

How to explain?  How to enumerate?  How to attach words to feelings experienced so powerfully?  

In mulling it over, my husband gave me a word to begin to describe how the death of a friend affects us: cumulative.  It's a cumulative loss; that's how he put it more or less.  

So when I think of Sarah gone from our ward family.  When I cry because I won't see her smile again in this life.  When I fret and cry and lament her children's and parents' aching hearts.  When I mourn her too-soon departure, my mind and heart tick back to the three most recent funerals I've attended: Zoe's, Grandpa's, and Tawna's.  The most fresh, the most recent adding to the absences of the others gone before.

And yet for all the dark clouds pressing in, the sun shines above.  

Sinking and soaring.  I miss Grandpa saying, "See ya in the funny papers."  I ache for Zoe's parents who lost her on Christmas.  I wish Tawna could be here, holding my babies, her grandbabies.  I miss Sarah's sincere gaze.  And yet.  

Their goodness inspires.

From the Latin, inspire means to breathe upon or into.  

Their goodness inspires.  They invite me to live more fully, to use all the breath I have to meet them again at Jesus' feet. 

They are spires.  I lift my eyes and heart because of their lives, because of their deaths.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

felt

Instead of writing or reading (or cleaning) of late, I've been using a lot of my spare time to cut, glue, and attempt to manipulate felt.  It's been fun and hopefully will continue to be fun.  I made some finger puppets for the boy and some hair clips for our ward's youth camp fundraiser.  We'll see if they sell.  My mom made felt finger puppets once upon a time and I doubt mine are as good as hers (not fishing for compliments here because Marmee is a domestic goddess; it's true).