Sunday, June 27, 2010

natural healing

Even while constantly changing, nature is one of the few constants in life. This beautifully written book says volumes about the gifts of the wild. The author is a distinguished science professor and environmental activist who has always found great joy and fulfillment in the natural world. After a season of particular sorrow, she finds solace there, too. There aren't any definitive answers to the questions in her heart, but new insights make their way to the page:

So when you live? When you live, make it all. Don't wait for the rain to stop. Climb out of your tent with your mind engaged and your senses ablaze and let rain pour into you. Remember: you are not who you think you are. You are what you do. Be the kindness of soft rain. Be the beauty of light behind a tall fir. Be gratitude. Be gladness. - Kathleen Dean Moore

Friday, June 25, 2010

under a (Carolina) blue sky

It's as beautiful as ever. And definitely as hot in the summertime as it was when I was a student there. Yesterday I took Italia for an official college tour of UNC Chapel Hill. While she was busy learning about the application process and campus life, my mind wandered. To the way the sun filtered through the canopy of trees in the arboretum in late spring. To James Taylor singing 'Gone to Carolina in my Mind' at a concert in the gym. To celebrating the NCAA basketball championship during senior year and seeing a fellow Economics major swinging naked, except for a coat of pale blue paint, from a tree on Franklin Street. To apple pie at the Carolina Coffee Shop, hallowed Wilson Library, the Campus Y, the Pit, the bookstore and even to the football stadium where Mike was playing (#56) and I never even knew it. But of all the experiences and images and memories I hold of that great place, what I cherish most is the time spent in the classroom of writer Doris Betts. For that, there just aren't words.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

hummingbird letter


Suppose I say summer,
write the word "hummingbird,"
put it in an envelope,
take it down the hill
to the box. When you open
my letter you will recall
those days and how much,
just how much, I love you.

- Raymond Carver

Monday, June 21, 2010

the daily special from StewartMarr

Summer and Monday and work don't mix all that well. Unless you're working on projects like this one in the North Carolina mountains.
(click on image to enlarge)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

summer time

Have you noticed how looooong the days have become and how frequent the afternoon thunderstorms? The school clock has wound down and now we're officially on sundial time. Breakfast involves berries, coffee is better iced and, if can't be found at the Farmer's Market, do you really need it anyway? Words like sightsee and explore and day trip are tossed about until one day you find yourself riding a bicycle on the Virginia Creeper trail, mesmerized in a museum or enjoying a daquiri on a rooftop overlooking the Charleston Harbor. The quest is on for the juiciest book, the ripest peach, a perfect popsicle. And sandals that look like they were handcrafted in Capri. It's summer alright. Sunny side up.
(click to enlarge image)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Remember that the greatest pleasures of writing are to be found in the process itself. Enjoy paying attention to the world, relish the quiet hours at your desk, delight in the headiness of writing well and the pleasure of having done something as well as you can.
- Ted Kooser, United States Poet Laureate 2004-2006

Friday, June 11, 2010


While college graduates are weighed down with worries about finding work and the wrenching goodbyes to friends scattering far and wide, it is the high school graduate who most symbolizes the bouyant and jubilant march into this intangible thing we call the future. The world is their oyster and, inside it, a pearl of possibilities.

We're in between high school graduations in our family, and a few years out from the college pomp and circumstance, so I'm enjoying things from a different emotional perspective this spring. Last night we heaped our plates with lasagne and salad at a dinner celebrating a dear family friend who is off to the University of Maryland in the fall. He's already a perfectly grown-up person who has accomplished wonderful things and is a loving son and friend. Like the beautiful sheet cake with Congratulations, Webster spelled out in frosting letters, the rest is icing.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

wonder full

(click to enlarge image)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

writers write

Painters paint, knitters knit and singers sing. Writers write. And, slowly, over time, like a carpenter or a quilter, we get better at our craft simply by doing it. That's just one of the jewels I scribbled down at Saturday's workshop taught by Tommy Tomlinson. His twice weekly column in The Charlotte Observer is always an arrow to the heart, sometimes to the funny bone. When he does win the Pulitzer Prize, instead of just a nomination, not a person here will be at all surprised. Except for why it took so long.
The Window by Pierre Bonnard (1925)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

weekend wrap-up

There was a great book I've wanted to read for a long time. There was a surprise visit and unexpected dinner on Friday, al fresco and breezy, at a favorite Italian restaurant. There was a fantabulous writer's workshop all-day Saturday, details forthcoming. There was lots and lots of lacrosse: seven games. Six games and one loss, elation and disappointment, sunburn and later a rain storm. There was an end-of-school dance. There was a huge Greek Salad made for neighborhood supper club that I wish I'd taken a picture of. There was sangria. And a slight headache in the morning. There was more anguish and prayers over the oil spill. There was a sweet movie rental, 27 Dresses, and a Mary Oliver poem. The one thing there was not, was enough days in this particular weekend.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

June breezes in

June floats in on a gardenia-scented breeze, on violin strings, a fluttering veil, a handful of bird seed tossed for good luck. It's a diploma earned, a tassel turned, a sea of graduates turning to give a standing ovation to their teachers. It's goodbye and hello, hello and goodbye, a deep breath, a long sigh. Time to sign up for the summer reading club at the library, get the camp trunk down from the attic, pitch a tent in the backyard and get scared silly telling ghost stories. How far would you drive for a drive-in movie? This is the month of huge pink hydrangeas, watching a thunderstorm from the screen porch and a flat of strawberries made into jam for a sweet taste of June all year long.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

the funny pages

Wasn't Erma the best? Her hilarious, poignant columns resonated with me even when I was a teenager and she was a nationally-syndicated newspaper columnist turning phrases like 'Seize the moment. Think of all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.' It wasn't until I had kids, though, that I truly understood all that she brought to the kitchen table. It was her battle cry to fully engage in each extraordinary ordinary day and to find the humor. Life can sometimes squeeze the laughter right out of a person, but don't you let it and neither will I. For a refresher course, the library is sure to have a copy of Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession and a dozen other books by wonderful, irreplaceable Erma Bombeck.