Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Enchanted april

A year ago at Christmas, a friend gave me a copy of The Enchanted April, one of her favorite books. Immediately I was drawn in by the Maxfield Parrish painting on the cover, and found it to be a refreshing read, especially in the cold desolation of mid-winter here in central Washington. Then a few months ago, I caught the 1992 film adaptation on television. It was faithful to the book, and stood on its own as a well-crafted period piece.

Last Saturday I picked the book up off the shelf and read it over the weekend. I get a lot of flack from Jim for reading the same books over and over again, but for me there's something reassuring about it, like visiting with old friends; I always know what to expect and yet occasionally I'm surprised by a new and thought-provoking insight I couldn't have anticipated.

I remember enjoying my first reading: the lush Italian scenery described in loving detail, gorgeous flowers, moonlight across the water, humorous characterizations, a comedy of errors, and unexpected friendship and reconciliation. It was all there this time, and more.

Maybe it's all the changes I've been making in my own life over the last year, because this time I had a much greater appreciation for the themes of forgiveness, letting go, love, beauty, serenity, and making time to just be. And I found unexpected inspiration for my upcoming poetic endeavor in the idea of making time for beauty and the transforming power doing so can have in my life. Dare I say it, I'm actually looking forward to NaPoWriMo, the opportunity to take a few moments each day to create, to express the beauty I see around me, the love I feel, and joy at just being alive, being me.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Jimmy's sixth birthday was Saturday. We had a party for friends that afternoon, and then a family party on Sunday after church. Check out the über-cool Spiderman cupcakes (created by Jim, resident evil genius baker and cake decorateur).

I'm still reeling, wondering where the last six years and my baby boy went. That probably sounds silly, considering I spend more time with him than anyone else does, but the changes seem so gradual when you're up close to them. This morning Jimmy went in for his yearly well-child exam and he was actually excited (a welcome change from last year's fiasco) to have his height and weight checked so he could see how much he had grown in the last year. At 3' 10", he is three inches taller than at his last birthday.

No more baby boy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Walking home

On Monday afternoon the kids and I walked the four blocks to our local library to pick out books about eels for Jimmy's science lesson this week. I also checked out a few volumes of poetry: Sherman Alexie's The Business of Fancy Dancing and One Stick Song, along with Vertabrae by Sam Green and the collected works of Robert Frost—because I'm gearing up for National Poetry Month, including the psychotic, self-inflicted frenzy that is NaPoWriMo, and I'm gonna need all the inspiration I can get.

Then we were off to the local party store (two blocks from the library)—because I'm also gearing up for Jimmy's birthday party a week from Saturday. Six. Years. Old. Where did those years go?

I timed our excursion carefully so we would finish shopping shortly before 5:00, and after purchasing Spiderman plates and invitations and then making a brief unscheduled stop at the Dollar Store ("No, Jimmy, I don't have any quarters"), we headed over to city hall (four and a half blocks) to surprise Jim when he got off work. As soon as she saw her dad, Audrey wanted out of the stroller, and he carried her most of his four-block commute, until we reached the final block before home.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


You: the soft pillow
beneath my knees as well as
the reason I kneel.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Open mic

About two weeks ago I was at the library with the kids and saw a poster announcing a juried poetry reading. Unfortunately, the deadline had passed and when I called and asked if it was possible to sneak in an entry just a week late I was told politely but firmly, no. But then the lady on the other end of the line said, "You know, we do have an open mic poetry night coming up on the twelfth, and I can put you on the list if you want."

I signed up, and then spent the next week ignoring it and trying not to obsess. See, I have a side of me that loves to perform, to be in the spotlight, and it's a side I'm afraid of because it feels so self-seeking and indulgent. So I purposefully put off choosing which poems to read until earlier in the day of the reading, and didn't even practice them once I had decided. I determined to fly by the seat of my pants, not strive for perfection, but just do the poems justice and let them speak for themselves. I was nervous about it, especially in front of a room of strangers, and reading my own untried poems.

Jim dropped me at the coffeehouse house in Yakima that was hosting the event and then took the kids shopping at Costco. Starting out the evening was a guest poet, whose name escapes me, but whose work was wonderful: real, vibrant, transcending and lyrical. I listened attentively, forced myself to relax and not get distracted while he read a love poem about cheese and crackers, about his dog, and why he wanted to die on the moon.

Luckily, I was third on the list after him. I got my own reading over with and then relaxed and enjoyed every one else's work. The other poets ran the gamut from heavily pierced high-schoolers to silvery-haired matrons, theatrical posturing to painfully shy, and included all levels of skill, walks of life, and ranges of subject matter. It was a creative oasis for me, just listening to other artists' truths and sharing my own. Best of all, at the end of the night, the hostess announced that Allied Arts of Yakima Valley will be offering a poetry workshop in May with Washington's poet laureate, Sam Green.

I had originally told Jim that I wanted to get my treadmill fixed for my anniversary present (he got his early: an Xbox), but today I told him I had reconsidered and was willing to work out at the pool instead, just so I could go to the workshop.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Back in the swim again

A year ago, I wrote this post, and it struck me funny that this morning I started out with the exact same title I did then, until something jogged my memory and I went back and checked and realized, "Oops."

I gave up swimming for a while (okay, quite a while) because last summer Jim applied for a job in Seattle and I thought we might move so I didn't want to renew my three-month pool pass until I was sure we were staying. By then I had gotten out of the habit and forgotten how much I love the smell of chlorine at 5:30 a.m. and even more, how much I love the brief hour when all the rest of the house is still asleep and I can hear myself think.

Or not think, but just be.