Thursday, May 27, 2010


I had a glucose screen last week because my OB wants to stay ahead of the game if I develop gestational diabetes again. My test results came back borderline, so I had to do the more involved 3-hour screen on Monday, with a total of four blood draws.

Because I eat so little sugar any more (usually as a minor ingredient in things like bread or condiments), these tests really took it out of me. The rush of sugar made me so sick that I was tired and nauseated for 12 hours after. It was worth it, though; the results of the 3-hour test came back negative. So at least for a little while, I'll enjoy not having to poke myself four times a day. I do fully expect to wind up with gestational diabetes later on, though.

This week I realized I've been isolating myself a bit. Not on purpose, really; more out of self-preservation. I've been wrapped up in this tight little kid-centric cocoon: potty-training Audrey, powering through the final month of the school year with Jimmy (our last day of school is June 14), and bonding with baby #3, who I can finally feel flutter-kicking inside me.

It dawned on me yesterday that I need to start reaching out even if the urge to isolate continues, because at the beginning of June, I'm staring down the barrel of two weeks of flying solo while Jim does job-related training in Atlanta. No matter how much I feel like withdrawing now, I'm going to be starved for conversation and interaction with adults by the time Jim rolls back into town on June 19.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Abundant eternity

Reincarnation promises a certain
pleasing cosmic economy
in its efficient recycling
of the same few souls
working their way
across eternity’s furrowed field
one life at a time
in a world where none
are truly strangers
but are only meeting
for the first time
hoeing their rows
beside each other
and again.

I’m not sure why
but I can’t help chafing
at such a frugal
and spare universe.
I long to believe in an eternity
that is abundant
even extravagant
where I am
the only version of myself
a lavishly created single body
housing a single soul
that together
and always will be

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Today we drove down to Yakima so Jimmy could have a lingual frenectomy. He's been tongue-tied since birth (a congenital anomaly that runs in Jim's family), which wreaked havoc with trying to breastfeed him until we had his pediatrician snip his frenulum to open it up a bit. At the time Jim was convinced that she didn't snip it enough, but I noticed such a dramatic improvement with nursing I didn't really pay much attention to his concerns.

Recently, though, it's started to impact Jimmy's speech. While the lisp is barely noticeable, we decided it should be addressed before he gets any older. Jimmy's dentist here in town couldn't do the procedure, so he referred us to a pediatric dentist down in Yakima. They had to put Jimmy under so he'd be completely still to prevent them from accidentally severing any nerves around the base of his tongue.

Jimmy, in spite of his usual reticence about dentists, and some real anxiety about this particular visit, performed like a champ. He didn't complain at all about not having anything to eat this morning (12 hours of no food or drink because of the general anesthesia), and when he got to the dentist, he didn't put up any resistance about taking the meds they gave him. Jim took the day off and stayed with him at the dentist's office.

Meanwhile, Audrey and I took a trip just down the road to Walmart in search of that holy grail of toilet training: big girl underpants. Did I mention we started toilet training this week? The prospect of having two in diapers is a big motivator to get it done earlier with Audrey than we did with Jimmy.

Not just any underpants would do, though—it had to be Tinkerbell underpants. The $7.75 pricetag for a seven-pack of panties (the exact same pack Macy's sells for $11.95) was enough to get me over any lingering qualms I have about the general PC-ness of shopping at Walmart. That, and for a buck apiece I will be able to dole out a pair of new panties every day she goes potty and make the magic last at least two whole weeks.

Of course, we also had to get the floppy-brimmed Tinkerbell sun-screen hat. And after picking up the boys, we stopped at Target to find sandals for Jimmy, and wound up with a pair of Tinkerbell flip-flops for Audrey while we were at it. So now she's kitted out in sparkly purple Tink, head-to-toe, inside and out.

Getting used to having a girly-girl is still an adjustment, after four solid years of snakes, snails and puppy-dog tails. I do find myself painting my toenails more often than I used to.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Secret life, revisited

I got an email last night from a guy who was at the Kim Stafford workshop. He runs Cave Moon Press, and is currently taking submissions for an anthology, the proceeds of which will benefit local food banks. He remembered my "Secret Life" poem from the workshop and asked if I'd want to include it in the anthology.

Uh, yes.

My only problem is the title, which, as he pointed out, is a bit redundant considering the text of the poem. So I asked my friends (via Facebook) to suggest some alternate titles, and brainstormed last night while I was working on another square of the anniversary quilt. I thought of "Undercover", "In the Interest of Full Disclosure" and "Domestic Disclosures". My friend Holly suggested "Preservation" and "Poem". But I really latched on to my friend Naomi's suggestion, "True Stories", which I spun off to come up with the title that I think I will stick with.

Four True Stories and Three Lies

My secret life is sealed
in a Mason jar with peaches and cinnamon
after a ten-minute bath in a boiling kettle.

My secret life is disintegrated
in my husband's front pocket
with a paycheck stub that went through the wash.

My secret life is congealed
in a pint carton of buttermilk
left in the spare fridge last summer.

My secret life is blooming
in the lilacs my daughter stops to smell
after I rush on by.

My secret life is folded
in the Mother's Day card
I was too busy to mail.

My secret life is eaten
in the strawberries my son steals off the vine
when he thinks I don't see.

My secret life is sewn
in the seams I stitch with black thread
because I ran out of navy blue.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

A break from poetry

After poetry O.D. in April, it's a blessed relief to turn to something else that satisfies me creatively. So I picked up a project that's been languishing in my sewing room: the anniversary quilt. I've been working at it off and on since last summer (mostly off during the school year), but after a nice session last night, I completed the first two rows of squares in the middle section. It's coming along beautifully, don't you think?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A day in poet's paradise

Saturday was really wonderful. I originally had two reallys before wonderful, but thought the better of it because there simply aren't enough reallys to convey how great it was; one in italics will have to suffice.

I went to an all-day poetry workshop down in Yakima with Kim Stafford, a second-generation poet and genuinely nice human being. I loved that he took the time to ask each of us attending the class what moves us to write and what we were looking for from the class and then listened and responded to each of us individually. It wasn't just touchy-feely, though; he's an incredibly gifted poet with tremendous technical skill and he shared freely from his experiences.

For this year's class I was in a relaxed, confident place, both emotionally and with my art. I feel like I've matured, particularly in my writing process and my patience with my work. Sometimes it takes a while for a poem to tell me where it's going, and I'm finally okay with that; I no longer feel the need to turn out perfect poetry right out of the gate. In fact, I recognize that it won't ever be perfect, but it will feel right when it's done.

Coming into the class with that sense was so different from last year, when I felt like the kid invited to sit at the grown-up's table for the first time, using all the wrong forks and not knowing how to make conversation but wanting somehow to prove myself. It was nice to be at ease, to relax, to mingle, and above all, to feel a sense of abundance about my writing: an abundance of things to write about, of time in which to write, and of wisdom to hone what I write into the best possible version of itself.

I also have to add, I got some of the best ever pregnancy advice from Kim. At the very end of the afternoon, he told me that his mother's doctor had prescribed for her "an hour every day spent in beauty". He said every pregnant woman needs that time surrounded by beauty so that she can pass it on to her children.

I promised Dr. Stafford I would follow his prescription.

Monday, May 03, 2010

"Forestalled" up at EDP

Having a poem up at Every Day Poets isn't for the faint of heart; it's sometimes a little too enlightening to see what people really think of your work.

So bring the humility—my poem "Forestalled" is up on their site today.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

NaPoWriMo #30: big finish

Last, and maybe (or not) least, here's the final poem I wrote at today's workshop. It's based on a prompt about making a resumé of failures—though I didn't get very far down my (rather substantial) list.

Curriculum Vitae

I liked Mr. Fore
when he was my middle school PE teacher
he didn't look down the girls' shirts
when they did push-ups
like Mr. Watson did
my senior year Mr. Fore got a job
as our high school health teacher
he was tall, blond, fit
had a great smile and lazy drawl
punctuated by bursts of enthusiasm
and a hearty laugh
but none of those were enough
to keep me from failing senior health.

The wonder of it was
I didn't know I failed
I walked at commencement
but never bothered to claim my diploma
then matriculated that fall
to my university of choice
where it took me one term
to be placed on academic probation
and another two to get suspended
did I mention a health class I failed
was the final mark against me?

I took a year off to work
spent eighteen months as a missionary
in the suburban wilds of San Jose, CA
then worked another year
before going back to school
one of the first courses
I took by correspondence
was the health class I failed
my freshman year in college
I got an A
because at last I learned
not just how to fail
but to fail again
and again and

NaPoWriMo #29: secret life

The next workshop prompt came from a long list of possible stories we could write about, and I chose this one: "write a story about your public/private/secret life". I'm not thrilled with the title, but I'll probably play with this one a bit because I think it's got potential. And I'm open to suggestions, if you have any.

The Care and Handling of My Secret Life

My secret life is sealed
in a Mason jar with peaches and cinnamon
after a ten-minute bath in a boiling kettle.

My secret life is curled
in a tight ball with the wood lice under a blanket
of unraked sycamore leaves behind the tool shed.

My secret life is congealed
in a pint carton of buttermilk
that got left in the spare fridge last summer.

My secret life is disintegrated
in my husband's front pocket with his paycheck stub
that went through the wash.

My secret life is folded
in the Mother's Day card
I was too busy to mail to my mom.

My secret life is blooming
in the lilac smell that takes me back
to Donovan Street where we lived when I was nine.

My secret life is eaten
in the strawberries my son steals off the vine
when he thinks I don't see.

My secret life is sewn
in the seams I stitch with black thread
because I ran out of navy blue.

NaPoWriMo #28: creation

Next, we read a paragraph from the beginning of the Cahuilla creation epic, and were asked to write our own "in the beginning" story, whether it was the beginning of our awareness, our lives, whatever.

The Naming of Need

In the beginning, there was hunger, thirst, and the need to be filled. Food was brought, eaten, and the hunger was not sated. Drink was brought, swallowed, but the thirst was not slaked. And the hunger, the thirst, grew. Tears and sweat, more food and drink were brought, and the need was still not satisfied. The cycle was repeated: more sweat, tears, food, drink. More and more, and still the need was not satisfied. Then, in the darkness, the woman woke. She made fire, lit a candle, looked into the face of need for the first time. In the flickering light she saw her own face looking back at her, and named her need. The food, drink, sweat, and tears were enough, and the need was satisfied.

NaPoWriMo #27: self-portrait

Our next workshop prompt was based on "Self-Portrait I" by Tove Ditlevsen, which we were to use as a framework for our own self-portrait.

I Am, I Can

I can not:
keep my bathroom clean for longer
than a week at a time
play an instrument
run any more
remember to water my garden

I can not stop:
dreaming in color
judging and resenting
writing out the demons
arranging my towels by color and size

I can:
mend a torn shirt
coax out a well-turned phrase
bake a pie from scratch
carry a tune
and learn to let go.

NaPoWriMo #26: things i learned last week

The next prompt from the workshop was based on the poem by William Stafford, "Things I Learned Last Week." We were to come up with our own list, then choose one item that spoke to us and "take it for a walk" as a page-long sentence. My list included:
  • It's time to change my toothbrush.
  • Pulling weeds goes faster while talking to a friend.
  • Dirty laundry breeds if left unattended.
  • Planting seeds is even more exciting than seeing them grow.
  • In the winter, a two year-old girl can go three days without a bath before she starts to get ripe. In spring, that goes down to two days.
I decided expand on that last one and came up with what is essentially a page-long (at least in longhand) sentence that for the sake of argument I will call a prose poem.


In the winter, a two year-old girl can go three days without a bath before the dirt begins to collect in the tender folds behind her ears, on the nape of her neck, in the hollow of her collarbone, spreading across the pale scalp beneath her hair—three days before that hair starts to lay in five different directions of greasy cowlicks that have to be subdued with a wet comb and rubber bands, then disguised with barrettes and bows, all while the small girl in question protests the combing out of those snarls and knots with "Ow! You're hurting me!" which makes you realize it's time to cut her baby curls short for the first time into a much more manageable bob, the disadvantage of which is that her hair actually starts to look greasier sooner, especially when she runs her sticky fingers through it after eating raisins—and of course, by spring the number of days allowable between baths goes down to only two because she will eat raisins, dig up ants around the stump in the back yard and then run her fingers through her hair.

NaPoWriMo #25: outside/inside

I'm going to cheat a little bit by doing what I did last year—that is, finishing up NaPoWriMo a little bit into May.

This poem came from a prompt at the poetry workshop I went to today (more about that later). We were given a poem called "The Edge of Tomorrow," by a poet named Winton Weyopuk, Jr. and asked to use its framework as a jumping off point for our own poem. Essentially, Weyopuk takes external details from the landscape around him and then compares them to what's going on inside him. So I took some details from the landscape that struck me on the drive down to Yakima this morning and tried to do the same. It's rough, I know.

The View from the Mountain

From the crest of Manastash Ridge
I can see clouds and sun
dappling the rolling lowlands of Badger Pocket
with patches of light and dark
and from the mountain vantage of time
I can see the light and dark in life's valley
in a pattern of meaning and growth.

On the other side of the ridge
the Umptanum mountains swell with something
alive, sinuous, sleeping just below the surface
of the brown-green brush blanketing their shoulders
and below the surface of my brown-green days
each one so like the last
there is something sleeping
I want to wake.

How high is too high for my mountain?
How deep is too deep down to go
for sleeping and waking and being
and knowing what I want to know?