Beside Her

I read the following poem at a reading recently. It was written as I sat with my mother in the last year of her life. We sit in silence holding hands, one ancient, one old. She asks about me. I talk about work. "I love pickled liver." "What made you think of pickled liver?" "I thought that's what you said." I stop talking. Linear conversation is hard. I am old. She is my mother, residing between reality and a world within her, hearing things that are not said, believing things that are not meant. She is dying, slowly, struggling to breathe. She is afraid. Afraid of the unknown of the suffering to come of dying of dying alone. "I will be ok," she says. "Will you be ok?" She worries about me. "Yes." "Are you ready?" I ask. "Yes. Are you?" "Yes." Back and forth between fear and acceptance. Fear ultimately wins. We sit in silence holding hands, one ancient, one old, remembering. … [Read more...]



Looking for word combinations and inspiration from past writing, I ran across the following poem. I felt it is appropriate for the journey on which I am embarking. Words flow from deep inside like an ebbing tide leaving its writing in the sand They share the story of the life floundering within crying out someone hear me know that I am here … [Read more...]


What do You Collect?

I collect words. Declutter and simplify. Those words are thrown around everywhere right now. There are people who make a living showing us how to declutter, simplify and organize. I'm not one to jump on a fad wagon, but the urge to get rid of things has been pretty strong lately, especially things that I have been storing for a long time and haven't even looked at, let alone used. You know, those beautiful nick-nacks that I plan to display when I have company, but rarely come out of the box. How about the duplicate items that "I might use some day"? I just have too much stuff. As I looked around at what I wanted to sell or get rid of, I realized that there are few things that mean enough to me to matter. I would rather sell them than hang on to them. If there was a fire in my house, the things I would mourn the loss of most would be the family heirlooms and the photos. I really don't have "collections" of things, except plants. I have plants all over my house. If offered the right price, the few collector's items I have would go in a heartbeat. Another interesting thing I realized about myself is while most people collect things - plates, spoons, various … [Read more...]

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Creating a Self-Watering Planter

  I am so pleased this self-watering planter worked!   There are so many different ideas when it comes to building a self-watering planter, but they all head in the same direction: Having a well at the bottom of the planter with a wick to draw the water up to the plants' roots. I pooled different ideas from my research and created two self-watering planters that have produced lots of lovely flowers.   The first design problem I faced was finding a planter with enough depth to plant gladiolas that was reasonable to purchase. Most large planters were way out of my price range, so I started thinking creatively. What about garbage cans, or large buckets, or stock tanks?   I landed on 40-gallon stock tanks, standing about 13 inches tall. Using about one-third of the height for the well left me about nine inches of soil.   The first step was collecting the supplies. I purchased three-inch perforated drain tile, pvc pipe, a bag of pebble rocks and some organic potting soil to mix with composted grass and leaves from my back yard. I already had landscape fabric and the cutting tools I needed.     Drain holes … [Read more...]


Creativity a part of survival

Creativity. Life has a way of crowding out creativity. But what is life if not creative?   Survival. Survival at the mercy of our society's structure.   But there are those who don't survive very well without following the creative impulses, whether they lead to inventing, or organizing, or creating beauty through words, color or structure. I am one of those people... When life crowds out the ability to create, I withdraw inside myself and move toward being a hermit, which causes other issues inside of me. Spending time with people has always put deposits into my emotional bank, and moving away from people depletes the balance to the point where "why bother" enters into my thought process. The fallacy that I can be self sustaining and not need others permeates my mind.   Drastic changes happen.   My husband sees those changes, and gets concerned. He acts, and I flourish.   Over the last couple of years, life has crowded out much of my creative time. I have let every day duties and responsibilities drain me to the point of not having enough energy to create. My husband changed all that. He bought me a pottery class, which is … [Read more...]


Finding permission to be called a writer

I am a writer.   It is that simple. I AM a writer.   How can I call myself a writer when there is little current evidence of my craft? That question often plagues me and holds me down like a wrecking ball resting on a pile of broken walls. I also transfer that question into others, though I have no idea if they really feel that way.   How can you call yourself a writer? You don't write every day, you don't get paid for what you do write and your book isn't selling itself? Those critical questions open the door to shame.   My personal favorite admonition: "Nobody wants me as a writer..."   But, I AM a writer.   Daniel José Older, in his blog Writing Begins with Forgiveness: Why One of the Most Common Pieces of Writing Advice is Wrong, states that shame, more than anything else, stops people from writing. He debunks the advice that to be a writer, you have to write every day. That idea is one of the biggest causes of shame.   I found his blog at the right time. I needed to release the shame and give myself permission to be the writer I am. For me, the should-have-could-have-would-haves are paralytic. The … [Read more...]


Strengthening the crackling veneer

Have you ever felt broken? Like someone else is living in your body?   I have, and I think the other person's name is Meno Pause. Meno has more depressed days than I ever had, is less tolerant of others and is so fragile that little things crackle the veneer that holds her together, sending her into a room alone to get the shaking under control. She also has trouble thinking, would rather be alone and often avoids gatherings. She is the opposite of who I am in so many ways...   Meno Pause has been living in me for several years, but I think she is gradually moving out. A year ago, I was afraid she was becoming a permanent resident, but today I know different. I don't know if she will ever move out completely, but I am OK with that.   Over the last year I have become stronger, both physically and emotionally, strengthening the veneer that holds us both together. I am more like myself again, and have decided to embrace whatever comes each day. I mourn the loss of parts of me that Meno took away, but I have hope for the future, and I look forward to whatever it has to offer.   … [Read more...]


Creating a layered herb pot

I am truly a reduce, reuse, recycle person. When something is heading for the garbage, I often see ways to repurpose it. Like the 5-inch-tall cardboard tubes that hold labels we use at work. I was watching the 6-inch diameter tubes adding up in the recycle box and wham, I was struck with the idea of using them to create a layered herb pot.   For my idea, I needed four of the tubes, a pot ?with a minimum of 14 inches in diameter, potting mix and herbs. I filled the pot with the potting mix up to about 2 inches from the top and then set three tubes in place. I filled them with potting mix and added some more around the edges. Then I set the fourth tube on the top in the center where the other three met. I filled the last one with potting mix and then planted the herbs.     I planted parsley around the bottom of the tubes, and then put kale, swiss chard and thyme in the first layer of tubes. I topped off the pot by planting rosemary in the top tube. I also added a couple of nasturtium seeds between the parsley.   The concept is an easy one that can be adapted to different tube sizes. Using this idea to plant pansies or other flowers would … [Read more...]


Enchantment in the hills

As I enter my columns into the computer I realize how much my writing has changed over the years. I really need to edit the columns I wrote in the early days.   Anyway, while writing during a lull at one of my recent book signings, I was struck with the idea of blogging about being still. We have a tendency to keep moving along with our busy lives, and rarely slowing down to breathe, to listen and to rejuvenate. No wonder we have so many physical and emotional health issues!   I ran across the following column, which I wrote in 1996. It is about summer camping, which I hope the weather will soon allow us to do, and the last paragraph was appropriate to my current thoughts. Slowing down long enough to nurture my soul with nature is something I really need to do.     Ah, summertime! A time for gathering up the family, the tents, the lantern, the coolers, and heading off to the great campgrounds up north. Oh, don't forget the dog!   Well, we found a campground down south that isn't booked up constantly and I couldn't figure out why. When I called the reservation number for the state campgrounds, I was actually trying to reserve a … [Read more...]

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Life is fragile

Life is truly amazing! We never know, from one minute to the next, what life holds. Every day is a blessing.   I am about half way through a book titled "Life with Grace" about a child's early years after a premature birth at only 24 weeks. The book, written by Jennifer Schwertfeger, Grace's mother, describes what the family went through, mostly from the eyes of Jennifer. She lays out the fears, the medical issues and the emotional trauma of nearly losing Grace many times. She talks about how those things affected her, the weight loss, the sleepless nights, etc., and how her family endured.   Jennifer wrote the book to help others who give birth prematurely. She outlines things her family learned throughout the process in hopes that her family's experience will help others.   Grace is now 9 years old, which is a miracle.   I found the book quite by accident while doing research about publishers and self publishers. There was an interview of Jennifer at Beaver's Pond website that struck a cord with me. Grace's birth story and the reason for writing the book are very much like my book about my mother, "No Time to Quit: Life in a Broken … [Read more...]