Sewing Ghosts and Dinner

My sewing machine has been seeing a lot of use in recent days. A lot of little projects begun and hastily finished seat-of-the-pants style.

Last night I was drifting off to meet Alexander Skarsgard for dinner when I snapped awake because I remembered I’d shut off the machine but I hadn’t unplugged it.  You think that’s not a big deal.  But I really hate being woken in the middle of an important meeting by a sewing machine that begins to run by itself.  That’s never happened but I’m afraid it might.

Ghosts sew, right?  And they’re confused by electrical plugs I think – something to do with an opposable thumb problem in the afterlife.

I was late for my meeting and missed Alex altogether.  Had to make do with Mother Teresa.  That would have been fine but she kept scolding me for unplugging the sewing machine.




I am not a farmer and

the corn has nothing to do with me

but I like to watch it come up

as if by watching I could slow it down, still the moment, and make it mine.

I like to see the liquid black manure coating the fields and then

the couple of little leaves just an inch or two above the ground.

Then faster than possible a foot tall,

then two feet,

then over my head and rustling in the wind,

then tassels.

All summer long I watch its progress.

But it has nothing to do with me.

I dreamed I missed it this year.  That it had sprung up and been harvested before I’d had a chance to watch it.



see you when i see you

Last night the dogs went crazy

every time the plow went by

I was glad to hear you made it home alive

I left some supper on the stove for you

eat it or put it away, ok?

Remember to call your sister

and the oil man

Leave some supper on the stove for me

I’ll eat it or put it away.

Pizza is Worth It

Sorry for beating a dead horse – I know I’ve said before that I miss my hometown pizza.  I’ve spent a few years trying to perfect homemade.  It’s not the same, but it is pretty darn good.  Better than what I can get in the local pizza shops anyway.

Someone – an online stranger someone – just asked me why I bother to make pizza crust when there are buy-able options in the grocery store:  flatbreads, pre-made crusts, tortillas, etc.  Now, you and I know that it’s because I’m a pizza snob, but the question made me a little bit crazy because

why do ANYTHING?

Why knit socks when you can buy them?  Why sweep your floor instead of hiring someone?  Why do your own laundry or wipe your own ass?  Why do anything that requires any effort?

Because there is something either about the process or about the end product that makes it worth it to you, right?  You’ve likely done an internal and informal cost/benefit analysis.

Here is my casual single serving recipe for real pizza that comes in around 250 calories:

1/4 cup flour, 1/4 tsp. yeast, 1/8 tsp. salt, 1/2 cup homemade tomato sauce, 1 ounce mozzarella.

Mix flour, yeast, salt with enough warm water to make a dough, knead briefly with fingertips, let rise.

Pre heat oven and cast iron pan (or pizza stone) to about 500 degrees (higher if you can).

Stretch dough, let rest if stiff, then stretch again.  I got mine to about 6 or 8 inches across.

Spray pan with oil, lay in dough, bake for 6-ish minutes.

Remove from oven, apply sauce and cheese, put back in oven till cheese is how you like it.

Live in the Light

The mist was rising from the fields of stubble and the sun was beginning to peak over the hills beyond and it made me think of “catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam” and that always brings a tear to my eye, patriot that I am.

So, I stopped the car, put on my hazards, and got out.  I looked long at that sunrise and decided to share it.

But the photo never catches the light quite right.

So much of what we call art is an attempt to catch the light, or to shine light into dark places.  And why not?  We are creators created in the the image of the Creator and He said, “Let there be light.”

But we can only do so much.

Vacationers take pictures of miracle sunsets and if they’re skilled or lucky, the photos look like advertisements for spiced rum or suntan lotion.  They never reflect even a fraction of the beauty that was in the moment.

The painters I love the best are the ones who try to catch the light and catch the moment.  The Dutch masters, Hudson River School, and oh my Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro.

Even writers try to catch the light.  C.S. Lewis describes that dark moment before the dawn in his resurrection scene in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  That moment when dawn begins to break but you’re not quite sure if it’s your imagination that things are lighter and you can’t quite pinpoint when it started to happen.  That scene will break your heart.

Light is fleeting.  Light changes with the angle, the second, the object which reflects.  And THIS sunset, THIS candle flame, THIS particle of light, this moment will never exist again.

Live in the moment.  Live in the light.



Common Ground

I should be cleaning in preparation for Mom’s visit or pre-reading Jurassic Park for Jack or planning school for next week or sorting laundry.  And I will do all those things today.  And I’ll cook and do dishes and exercise.  I love ticking things off a list and I love an organized house.

But for the past hour I’ve just been looking out the window at the clumps of snow blowing off the trees and listening to the sounds.  The jays, the furnace, wind chimes, the boys…

They are squabbling good-naturedly over legos and making exploding sound effects as they “blow up” each other’s creations.  Gosh, the years have gone fast.

We’ve been in our new area for over five years now.  The kids have really grown up here.  They are less like transplants and more like natives.  Their accents have changed.  Ah well, it’s been good.  They have a freedom here they never could have had back home.

Me too.  I have become strong and confident here.  The space has given me room to grow in ways I was afraid to.  But


I still feel like a stranger here.  There’s a feeling of always having to explain myself.  It’s not exactly homesickness.  I don’t miss the noise, the lights, the crowds, the litter, the smells, the sadness.  But sometimes I miss the energy, the common ground, and yes, the pizza.

Crazy.  I didn’t move to Thailand, just a different part of my own home state.  But it really does feel very different.


A Reason to Write

This is a kind of boring, navel-gazing post.  Take my advice and skip it.

What do you read my Lord?  Words, words, words.

Of all the reasons I have not to write – and they are legion –  stinginess often rises to the top of the list.  As if words were precious or rare.  As if ideas and thoughts are finite.

Words are not fragile, delicate things that must be cased in packing peanuts and bubblewrap, bestowed only begrudgingly on the most worthy.

Words are not like cake, though I have had occasionally to eat them.  The more I say, the more I have to say.  Even better, the more I express, the better I am at refining the thought behind the expression, making clearer to myself what I really believe –

because I don’t have anything figured out.  I think out loud.  And if I write something down it sounds as if I know it for a fact, but it’s just a thought.  and thoughts can change.

Readers like writers who have it figured out.  But that kind of certainty is an illusion.  What you think you know today changes tomorrow anyway.  There are very few immutables.  Yes, I did just nounify an adjective.

I am writing to write.  It is an end in itself.  I don’t need an audience, I don’t need to monetize; I only need to scream into the ether and let the words fall where they may

and if they fall on ears that can hear I am blessed.


Hungarian Pirate

I woke up today feeling blah.  A little blue, unattractive, not smart, lacking self-confidence.  I didn’t want to go to work that way.  So, in the spirit of fake it till you make it, I decided to be someone else:  someone strong and confident, capable, intelligent and beautiful.

Excitement began to grow in me as I drank my coffee and began to dress.  I asked my little group of friends on Facebook who I should be today.  And the the two ladies who happened to be awake at that unreasonable hour delivered handsomely.

One suggested that I should be someone with an accent and the second added that I should be a transgender Hungarian pirate.  It took me all day to realize that Hungary is landlocked, but never mind.

So, the game I usually play internally, with only subtle outer manifestations, became something much more silly and fun.  I became a Hungarian pirate “with a secret.”  It was awesome.  Dropping in and out of character shopping in Walmart and at work on a college campus.  My French, German, and Hungarian accents all sound the same, but who cares.  Surprisingly, I only had one semi-negative reaction from a girl who seemed a little weirded out.  (Her problem, not mine.)

Anyhoo, that was me making things happen, being weird, shaking things up, preparing for my future as an eccentric old lady.  Don’t you wish you could be me?  Oh wait, maybe you can.

It Isn’t Brain

But it comes to me sometimes.

Sometimes these words and images – snatches – just come to me.  I write them down, but I don’t know how to make them grow or if they’re interesting to anyone but me.  If anyone knows how to make the story keep going, how to make more words come out of my brain, please give me a clue.

Here are some words that came to me today, mostly as I was driving.

In the sharp blue midnight of a silent winter, a rising rumbling through the earth broke into the air wailing, shaking the barn and sliding the doghouse down the white hill.  Poop hill they call it, naming it for its primary use.  Malik searched the sky, spinning in place looking for the cause of the sound as it sped away into the stars.  And then it was gone.  On the tramped down snow a speckled trail of jagged black.  Shiny rocks.  Obsidian gravel.