Photography · Poetry · Uncategorized

Look Again

So yellow the yellowness

So black the polka dots

So green the  mowed lawn

One beetle per blossom

Each six bright spots.

I was struck by the sunny dandelions in the lawn and stooped to admire their  delicate unfurling petals. Nestled in the first one was a pretty ladybug. I looked at another, and another, and each one had a pretty beetle in it. I looked up the unusual form for the ladybug and learned that it’s actually a cucumber beetle, and unlike a ladybug, it’s a pest. It’s still marvelous…

Uncategorized · Family · Humor

The Unravelling

My mother raised five girls, God love her.

Towards the end of her life, all five of us snollygosters were regularly cracking up at her fashion sense. An ounce of wisdom shared among us would have warned that things were falling apart and that our lives were about to unravel with the ending of hers. But no, there wasn’t an ounce of wisdom to be found among us, we were too busy trying to catch our collective breath and recover from a new round of side-splitting laughter. Sometimes we laughed till we cried.

I could count on the others to burst at the seams, convulsing on the floor when I wore her clothes, in mockery, in the most clashing combinations possible and imitated her walk and mannerisms.  It was all I could do to remain upright. Ours was uncontrolled buffoonery beyond compare. Did she dress in the dark or was she just feeding this foolishness frenzy?

She’d chuckle quietly and call us idiots. She’d shake her head and watch us carry on, incredulous that she had allowed any of us to live to adulthood instead of eating us as babies, like many other species do. She’d look down at her attire and smile. We knew what was coming next: she’d pat and straighten the outfit  with her pretty hands. This was a gesture of approval and a sure statement that she had no inclination to go back upstairs to change. This led to a fresh wave of howling and hawing among the idiots, slapping at the table in disbelief.

It was only made worse by the fact that she was extremely fashion-forward in her hey-day. She was famous for stunning outfits worn with grace and elegance. So really, she brought this upon herself. Sure we felt sorry, but for crying out loud, where on earth does one go to buy a skirt like that? Har, har, har! Oh, that was good.

I am filled with guilt and a desire to make atonement as I write this. To mock one’s own mother, God rest her soul, is truly unforgivable. My eyes start to tear and I feel a surging deep within me. I bite my trembling lip, and shake my head pensively as I try to compose myself. But this heaving is not remorse! It’s a memory of the time she wore the black and yellow striped sweater with the…

Here we go.


Santiam Plash



Let’s cut the scut,

Say goodbye hoi polloi

And head for a favorite spot out south

Where I gambol on weekends

With some folks I love.


It is quite a schlep but it’s worth every mile.

And the sight of the Santiam makes my soul smile.

There we doss, and we nosh,

And we prate funny tosh.

Building cairns between naps

taken floating downstream.


It’s a crack of a time

On this river sublime,

Stoking wet wood and ash

Tending poison oak rash

At my favorite, irenic

Santiam plash!



I took these photos of amazing cairns that my husband stacked on the Santiam River. I was certain the second one could NOT be done and was transfixed and in awe of His Royal Highness when he did it!






“When I had Jury Duty…”

Last week I had jury duty for the first time. We were there from 7.20 am to 5.07 pm. I was enthralled with the process though I ended up sitting in on a rather petty case. What a thorough, involved, and fascinating process. And to think this happens every day across the country.

An army of citizens, some licking their chops, others outraged reorganized their lives: childcare, work, carpools, co-workers, school. For me, all this because Her Majesty walked out of a J.C. Penny with $64.00 worth of make-up.

It was the second time I had  been summoned. It’s my privilege. The first time, I called the night before and was dismissed. I had mixed emotions and felt somewhat rejected. I consoled myself, “Better to be dumped now than to show up for nothing tomorrow.” Four phone calls later, my life was back on track. This time after tiresome instructions on the voice-recording, numbers 160-299 were ordered to show up. I was number 299. Again, mixed feelings.

I’d received a sweet text from a  friend I hadn’t connected with for a while and I carried some writing paper with me to court. She got a twelve page hand-written letter.  Why don’t we hand write letters any more? It must be amazing to get one!

After a tedious check-in and registration process, a judge came in to speak to us for ten minutes. He thanked us for putting our lives on hold. “Even the brain surgeon who tried to tell me he had a surgery scheduled couldn’t get off the hook,” he said. “No one is more important than anyone else.” I got a mental picture of myself on a literal meat hook, flailing hopelessly. Is that what this was?

The throng was whittled down to  about seventy people for 3 cases. As expected, some were relieved, others miffed. I couldn’t look any in the eye, unsure if I was fortunate or condemned to hang. Twenty four of us headed to one courtroom, up three flights of stairs, down long cold hallways, around corners. All marching in tense silence.

We had to stand in order and not swap positions. We had to sit in order. We had to scoot along the bench in order. The case was quickly introduced: the state of Oregon vs. Her Majesty. Why the state of Oregon I will never know. J.C. Penny must have been busier than the brain surgeon. My tax dollars at work.

6 potential jurors were called up to the jury box (I really should have learned what the technical terms here are, now that I am an expert in the field.) The defense attorney stood and immediately tried to put us at ease. It wasn’t working. Her Majesty sat beside her twirling her hair and trying not to look nervous. It wasn’t working either. The attorney spent 30 minutes getting us to relate to the client.

“Have you ever taken something that’s not yours? Of course you all have. And what really, is stealing?” She wore an ill-fitting suit. She looked like she’d be more comfortable surfing or bungee-jumping in a jungle wearing an old t-shirt, cut off jeans, and worn Tevas. She looked like the fun big sister who’d vouch for you and save your hide. Mr. Prosecutor, on the other hand, was serious, well coiffed, eagle-eyed with a hooked nose to match. He meant business and had plans for the royal snollygoster who was smacking her royal chewing gum.

They both engaged us and made sure we all responded to various questions and scenarios they set up. The judge thanked and assured those that would not be selected that we had not wasted our time as this was an important part of the process. Presently, they began to choose jurors.

The lawyers write something on a small piece of paper and the clerk shows each of their papers to the other. Each nods and the clerk walks it to the judge who excuses one of those in the jury box. Yup, he’d wasted his time. The next potential juror is called up to the box so there are always 6. I pick  my back-pack and jacket up off the floor and scoot to the right.  The lawyers write on another piece of paper which is then showed to the other. They nod and it’s walked to the judge. Another is excused. Pick up, scoot. And again. And again. I’m called up to the box. Pick up, walk. Juror number 5. All the rest that haven’t been called up are thanked and excused.

The non-committal mugwump beside me is elated to go home.

Specifics of the case are presented. We are sworn to secrecy and to not touch our cell phones till after the case. More instructions and it’s noon. Lunch time. We will reassemble in an hour. Really? I have never felt less productive in my entire life. It had taken 5 hours to get to this point. In my mind, this could easily have been about thirty minutes worth of work.

Lunch feels like it’s four hours long and we’re all sitting on our hands in anticipation with thirty minutes to go. We’re prohibited to say too much to each other about the case.

The afternoon goes like I thought a jury duty shivoo should. Rapid-fire questioning. Witnesses, cross-examination. “For the record, please pronounce and spell your first and last name.” Objection, hear-say. Sustained. Her Majesty whispers repeatedly to Jane. Being a documentation Nazi, I am appalled by the store security and the shoddy work they did and reported. They omitted important details. We watch surveillance footage. Eagle-eye is on his case and the case is clear. Theft III. Correct person, correct date, intent established.

Back in our chambers, we deliberate for close to an hour. There are strong feelings and opinions. I am not convinced about intent as some are. We turn it over this way and that. The physician in the group is also unsure. The ex-marine is bumfuzzled. The nurse and manager are certain she meant to steal the merchandise. The retiree would really like to go home. It’s 4.54 pm. We can come back tomorrow. This isn’t majority rule. That would be easier. But we must all agree. Did she intend to? The store could easily have done a much better job convincing me of her guilt. They did not. They punched holes in their credibility. We wish that along with making our decision we could wag our jury finger with some strong words for Her Majesty.

We buzz the clerk at 4.58pm. At 5.03pm the judge pronounces her not guilty. I feel sorry for the prosecutor. Of all the people, he actually did the best job, but he could have done better.

I can’t wait to share this day with the world. I quickly learn that everyone I tell I just had jury duty immediately says, “When I had jury duty…” and launches into a twenty minute tale of woe. I guess they didn’t get to tell anyone their story when it was fresh.

I suppose I’ll have to wait till someone tells me they just had jury duty and then I’ll jump in and say, “When I had jury duty…”







I am notorious for making up words. I understand that there are more than enough words around but there are times when existing ones just don’t cut it. Take “terribility” for instance. That’s a spectacular word and it needs to be in circulation among smart people. It is a terribility that that word is not used more frequently.

Then there is trunking. (I hate how red underlines pop up when I use my favorite words. No thank you, Microsoft.) If you observe elephants for any period of time, you notice they are constantly touching each other with their trunks or bodies. Isn’t that wonderful? I think I’m part elephant. I call it trunking.

(photo courtesy of


I hung out with some American friends in Africa this January. It wasn’t long before I noticed them being trunked by some locals. It couldn’t have been comfortable at first but I hope they miss it now that they are back home among non-trunkers.

When I went to my chicken coop to fetch eggs today, lo and behold, my chickens are part elephant too! There were 3 empty laying boxes and these three broody girls were trunking in one small box.


This was a Sex Intense Week


Ten year old James and I have had ‘the talk’ in one capacity or another over the years. This week we’ve had it a lot. I aim to be candid and matter of fact with my boys when they ask sex-related questions. (Husband!! Don’t tell them the animals are wrestling.)

I’ve also learned to answer what they are asking. “Mom,” James once said, “where did I come from?” I told him he came from my body. I took a deep breath while I paused chopping vegetables and started to explain. He stopped me and said, “I mean which city?” Well, that’s an answer I didn’t have to stop chopping vegetables for!

This week he wanted to know how twins come about. What a great subject. We talked about ovaries and the uterus,  sperm and zygotes and placenta. Such fascinating things to geek out on. Then we went online and looked at pictures of multiple births. This amazes me to no end.

Did you know:

  • fraternal twins are the most common type of twins
  • females are informally called sororal twins
  • the Yoruba have the highest twinning rates in the world with about 50 twins for every 1,000 births (0.05%) compared to about 15 (0.015%) in the western world
  • about 10% of all pregnancies start off as twins. One dies early and is partially or completely absorbed by the other fetus (resorption). This is known as the Vanishing Twin Syndrome. Sometimes the dead fetus will be compressed by the growing one into flat remains called fetus papyraceus (like a papyrus parchment)
  • a chimera is a person who has some parts that came from a twin. There is a fascinating case of a woman who, mysteriously, was not the genetic mother of her children. Turns out they were concieved from eggs derived from cells of the mother’s twin!

Later we had a great laugh at the news as “giraffe mom” Erin Deitrich of South Carolina did a gorgeous-prego-belly dance in honor of April, a real giraffe at the New York Zoo’s greatly anticipated birth. Did you know that Swahili for giraffe is Twiga? Such a great name.

Incidentally, on the same day, my beloved forwarded me a news clip that claimed that orgasms make us happier and more productive the next day. Doesn’t that just make you want to wrestle? 😉

What is it, Spring or something?

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you becasue I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139: 13, 14.


When you Pass Through the Waters

A lot of people in my life right now are fighting through some pretty grueling life-stuff. I took these photos off my porch last night and was entranced by God’s bigness. I dedicate them and the song below to you all, and in particular, my friend Aimee whose sweet little girl is battling fiber dysplasia. You are a mighty warrior, you little woman, and a large Mightier Warrior stands behind you.moonrise         When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.moonsplash


“Hide me now

Under your wings

Cover me

Within your mighty hand

When the oceans rise and thunders roar,

I will soar with you above the storm.

Father you are King over the flood,

I will be still, know you are God.

Find rest my soul in Christ alone,

know His power in quietness and strength.”

This is one of my favorite songs. It’s by Hillsong and I could listen to it all day, especially in tough times. I’m honored to do battle in the trenches with some pretty phenomenal people, and under a most able Commander. Press on mighty warriors. When you are weak, then He is strong.

“When you pass through the waters, I WILL BE with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they WILL NOT sweep over you. Isaiah 43:2a.


Do the Write Thing

“All write already,” She said expectantly

“Not write now.” I moaned pleadingly, my mind a scribble.

I had hung a write, then, as instructed by the bailiff,  Daily Prompt, I had walked write in.  I was standing before Judge Judy. “Good morning!” She screeched, taking the words write out of my mouth.

“Yeah, write,” I thought.

I just couldn’t find the words that morning, so I blathered something like, “Write back atchya.” She wasn’t impressed.

“Step write up,” Daily beckoned with a wave. I was sworn in.

She was tapping her pen impatiently now, peering her hawk-eyes over the rims of her glasses.  She listened to the plaintiff then turned to me. She noticed I was write-handed and scowled. “Why have you not submitted any writing? I’d give my write hand for that.”

“Your honor, I was not in my write mind. I have to be at the write place at the write time.” She cracked her rare, winsome smile, winked at Daily, then turned to me. “Sometimes there’s just nothing to say. It’s all write with me. Case dismissed ”

“Phew!” I thought, so grateful to defend my God given write, though I had no counterclaim. I was free.

Write on!


Over The Edge

“Answer me!”

I was going over the edge. This was the thousandth time I was yelling at my kids, and it wasn’t lunchtime yet. I was tired of this parenting. I was losing my mind and ready to have some peace and quiet, if not actually enjoy my children.

Someone I respect taught me a new way.  He said to notice how a cop behaves when he or she pulls you over. He quietly walk up to you and says “Good morning.” (Hopefully he hasn’t shot you by this point.) Meanwhile you are ready to pee your pants. He doesn’t freak out. He briefly explains what you did and what’s going to to happen as a consequence. He rarely repeats himself; rarely screams “Answer me!” or other such absurdities, like I do. He asks if you have any questions, wishes you a good day, and calmly walks away.

I loved that!

Now, when I ‘approach the scene’  I actually adjust my imaginary belt, straighten my imaginary hat, and casually but very intentionally walk up to the subject with a very sober look on my face. I calmly, firmly, point out the problem and express what needs to happen. I explain the consequences, ask if there are any questions, and walk away.


The biggest challenge is staying sharp enough to keep meaningful consequences in my imaginary front shirt-pocket. Those can include privileges like electronics, outings, or play-dates. I must remember I can use the above as positive or negative reinforcement. It’s hard to make changes. I’m a long way from mastering this, but I am far from the ineffective raving lunatic I would turn into. They have also learned I mean business in enforcement.

We can do this, parents. 10-40!


Stinky Stuff

Remember that fabulous scene in Grumpy Old Men where Grump I throws raw fish in Grump II’s honeymoon getaway car? I love that scene. It has me roaring with laughter every time.

My best friend Lee is a very unconventional thinker. When most people hear someone say, “I’m getting married,” they get excited and express congratulations. Lee, on the other hand, pointedly asks, “Why?” in a very concerned manner. She embarrassed me and stopped me in my tracks the first time I heard her say it. And the second, and the third. Why on earth would she say that? Does she not realize that getting married is what people do? That we must continue the species?

I recently read a blog that reminded of her answer. The blog read like an advice column for people who go from relationship to relationship. It recommended finding healing before moving on to the next gig. At heart I completely agree with that. After all, we want relationships to work, don’t we? We don’t want to make the same mistakes if we can avoid it.

That said, I read it through Lee’s eyes and asked myself, “Why?”

Why move from relationship to relationship? Have we been sold a bill of cultural goods that we must be married or in a relationship to be fulfilled? Must we have someone in order to be complete? Single-hood is deemed anathema. So we settle or swiftly move from one person to another, we believe or hope the next one will work out, not realizing we have raw fish in the honeymoon getaway car that will soon have us tearing up with disdain.

I’m not against marriage or intimate relationships. I am positing that there is another way.

What’s wrong with being single? Admittedly, few  are contentedly single. I’m blessed to have many people in my life, young or up in years, who are single and living lives that are not consumed with “hooking up.” Some have never been married. Others are separated, divorced, or widowed. They are a wonderful breath of fresh air. They relish their independence and lifestyles to the full. Many of them are the envy of married people.

After being in multiple failed relationships, a friend honestly said to me, “My picker is broken.” Not only did she realize she had difficulty picking compatible, healthy mates; she also recognized she was a difficult person in general, and probably made a lousy mate herself. She was in relationships to get her own needs met but not very interested in meeting other peoples’ needs.

So next time you or someone else are titipated (not a real word) about nuptial intentions, take a deep breath (smell the fish?), think like Lee and ask, “Why?”