Tuesday, October 31, 2006


So, my girls are at it again. Yesterday, it was this, between Barbie and prince charming…

“If you don’t keep your promise, I’ll chop off your head!”

Well, now, that ought to make prince charming think twice before making a promise he doesn’t plan to keep!

Still, I’m thinking we should probably get to this, to save my girls’ future prince charmings…

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Friday, October 27, 2006


I remember
when I existed
in more than just a
scrap of your mind...
you knew my name,
the contour of my face,
my smooth petals
and my thorns,
in wild, blushing color.

That was before
the outlines of
began encroaching,
to steal away
the me I was
in you.

Rose garden collage, from the Notebook Series (chronicle of care-giving experience with Gail’s mother). Gail Nadeau. Used with permission.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Speaking of Beautiful

I’m not much of a bandwagon person, though I probably should be sometimes. Still, I had to get on the wagon and extend my blogohand for this…

real beauty

I’ve got two little girls. What can I say? I want them to know they are beautiful.

Also, speaking of beautiful, I am actually listening to my own words about beauty from yesterday (yeah, that surprised me too!). Anyway, I realize that though writing is one way I can be beautiful/powerful, so is parenting, and I need to dedicate more time to that. So I’m going to be a Tuesday, Thursday, Friday blog poster— to see if this helps me make the most of the time I’ve been given with my beautiful kids.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Yesterday, we talked about calling, about giftedness.

Regarding giftedness, I like this, from Akeela and the Bee...

The problem is not that you think you are inadequate, but that you know you are powerful beyond measure... you say, 'Who am I to be gorgeous, talented, smart?' ... Who are you NOT to be, when through this you show the image of God? (my paraphrase)

Sometimes, I think we spin our wheels pursuing areas we're not particularly gifted in, because we are frightened to be powerful in another area we know we are made to inhabit. Or maybe we pursue other things because we're frightened that no one will care about our true callings, or notice we are beautiful.

"Conduct yourselves wisely...making the most of the time." Colossians 4:5

Painting by Stefani M. Rossi Used with permission.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


When should a writer try to get published in the mainstream? Writing is, after all, extremely competitive. And the path is choked with rejection.

Chatting with Andy Crouch, I actually found his advice on the matter quite freeing... a writer should only pursue being published if that writer is being called to do so, by some entity or by God.

Judging a call from God may not be straightforward, but Crouch says writers can take note of whether they're being encouraged by some audience (besides Grandma). If they're not, then they might want to pursue other paths.

Crouch is in good company with this straight-forward, if sobering, opinion. Flannery O'Connor once said, "There is no excuse for anyone to write fiction for public consumption unless he has been called to do so by the presence of a gift." (Mystery and Manners, p.81)

I find such hard statements oddly freeing... for even if the truth is that I have no gift and no one wants to publish me, the converse is likely to be true... if I have a gift, then, as Editor Shannon Hill notes, someone will call me into print sooner or later.

For advice on getting into print, see this interview with Edward Gilbreath of Today's Christian.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Wrinkle in Time

I still remember reading A Wrinkle in Time— how chilling it was to watch the characters encounter that detached brain, pulsing under a giant glass globe.

Still, at the end of the day, I could rest easy. It was just sci-fi.

Not so today. In an Atlanta lab, someone just grew rat brains in petri dishes... these neurons, pulsing over electrode plates, can actually process information and respond to it. The rat brains, hooked up to robots, can commandeer a chase, or a drawing session, or an obstacle-avoidance mission. Oh, oh, oh...

Now it's rats; when will it be chimps? Or some other higher intelligence? And what wrinkles will this press into our time?

"Brain in a Dish", by Jennifer Barone, Discover, November 2006, p.14.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Autumn Milkweed

A thousand seeds
burst from this
rough belly,
fling themselves
to the wind...
like a tumble
of silken forgetfulness
a clutch of regret.

Milkweed photo, by Gail Nadeau. Used with permission.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006


There’s a lot of fancy advice about writing.

But I like my Sonia’s point of view, regarding her latest chapter book…

“Why do they keep telling me what’s going to happen before it does? The kids say stuff and then you just KNOW what’s going to happen. I want to figure it out!”

Ah, the child likes subtlety. And I don’t even subject her to daily readings of Kooser.

The Poetry Home Repair Manual, by Ted Kooser

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Okay, so I’ve been lax with the yard work lately. My grass is, oh, I don’t know, about eight inches long, lush and flowing, like reeds in a lazy creek.

Still, I am very proud of my industrious spirit… I fixed the old rake, grabbed the new one, and handed both rakes to my kids.

Now, someone is going to question my parenting style. But, hey, the kids asked me for the rakes… how could I say no? Besides, now we have a pine needle nest, suitable for raptors in search of cheap real estate. And there is a school of what appears to be one hundred bronze-colored fish, swimming off the left side of the yard. Just a little reward for my parental industry.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


I was over at Amazing Grace-land and found this list regarding book sales. I am not much for lists, but this was precious…

According to a Chris Anderson article in Publishers Weekly, July 17, 2004:

• 950,000 titles out of 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies
• another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies
• only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies
• the average book in America sells about 500 copies
• only 10 books sold more than a million copies
• fewer than 500 sold more than 100,000

Now, the truth is out. I am writing my book because I love you. (Or, maybe I am just good at denial and bad at math.)

Photo from the “Love” series, by Gail Nadeau. Used with permission.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Refrigerator Dreams

In the night, I dreamed of this…

refrigerator in a dark place… crack of light… oh, it’s been left it open… spoilage? … but no…still cold inside… verge of spoilage…

culprit for the threat… juice cartons on their sides, many many… shove here and there… push the door… crack of light… can’t fit … crush, push, try again… crack of light…

freezer… two empty spaces… transfer cartons… shut… seal… shut fridge… gone, crack of light… relief and not relief

Sometimes we need to put things aside for a time, or a lifetime… tasks, loves, dreams. It is just a function of our finiteness, and the need to preserve certain sweetnesses in life.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Come close, my child, hush now...and I will sing you a quiet song…

Why do the willows weep?
Siri la, siri lai…

Why do the foxes leap?
Siri la, siri lai…

Why do the clouds float by?
Siri la, siri lai…

And why do we all ask “why?”
Siri la, siri lai...siri la, siri lai...siri lai

Willow photo by Gail Nadeau. Used with permission.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Town of the Hills

My eldest daughter, Sara, is dreaming. I found her plans … Town of the Hills … a place she has made on paper and wants to make somewhere in the tangle that is my back yard.

In the article With or Against Culture?, Jean Elshtain speaks of Augustine’s “‘immoderate love of the world’ [that] includes friendship and the canny ways human beings craft and build with care.”

Elshtain is talking about my Sara, and my Sonia, who built and photographed what you see above… and she is talking about me… I love to craft and build with care, especially with words. Yes, I have an immoderate love of the world, that I carry with me through towns and hills and forests.

God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. Genesis 1:31

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


I was reorganizing things this week and came across some sweaters that my grandmother knitted. She doesn’t knit anymore. When she made these sweaters for my girls, she declared that they were her last projects. I carefully zipped and hung the sweaters, taking notice of the uneven hand sewing at the zippers’ edges.

Later the same day, I was working on the computer and my daughter noticed something wrong. The ring on my hand, the pearl and diamond ring that my grandmother passed on to me… well, the pearl had disappeared. A little platinum pin was just sitting there, headless in the ring’s center.

Oh, the strange little happenings of a single day… how uneven and empty they make me feel.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

King of the Birds

Since we were talking about Flannery O'Connor's peacocks last week, I thought it would be fun to do some show and tell (not of Flannery's particular peacocks, of course!)

The photos are compliments of a blogging buddy from Combe Martin over in the United Kingdom. I asked him to reveal where the peacocks reside, and this is what he said...

The brightly coloured peacock lives in the gardens of an old Inn which is in a valley that runs down to a place called Heddons Mouth by the sea. This is a very popular spot with walkers and there is an old Roman fort nearby (or the remains of one). The peacock with the lovely rear view comes from a local zoo (I do not think that this pose will impress the girls!)

I am mostly impressed that anything in creation can be so stunning, regardless of the point of view. I guess that's why they call the peacock "King of the Birds."

Peacocks dressed up and down, by Martin Stickland. Used with permission.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Eavesdropping: Pickup

So, I admit it. Sometimes I stand outside my kids’ door, and I listen to them play with dolls. The other day, this is what I heard…

Come on, you two-headed, one-brained, pregnant-lady, richest girl in town… let’s go!

Yikes! I’m hoping that wasn’t some kind of clever pickup line among the dolls.

And, let me just say, I can take no credit for my kids’ obvious abilities with polite conversation. They make this stuff up on their own.

Also, speaking of kids... here's how to find the child in last week's painting: his head begins at the intersection of the man's shoulder and the woman's knee and his body continues down over the dress area. Look for just a very light outline. Clicking on the pic will make it a little bigger. Still, the child is hard to discern!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Waiting for Invitation

Can you discern the child… almost invisible… waiting, waiting…

if you cannot find the child, I'll post his whereabouts next week
“Holy Family” by Gail Nadeau. Used with permission.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Verby Pick-Up Duck: Desist

Flannery O’Connor’s works are a good place to play verby pick-up duck (see the August post “Hunting for Verbs” for pick-up duck clarification, if need be).

Anyway, I like this from “The King of the Birds”…

The peacock does most of his serious strutting in the spring and summer when he has a full tail to do it with. Usually he begins shortly after breakfast, struts for several hours, desists in the heat of the day, and begins again in the late afternoon.

Desists. Stops, quits, throws in the towel for a while… with great resolve. This is no simple pause; it is a determined about-face from the task at hand.

I wonder if anyone would be too upset if I desisted from the housework and meal-making routine…you know, took up the life of a peacock’s afternoon… with nothing to do but nap in the shade…well, until I got bored and decided to desist from a life of leisure.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Peacock Underwear

The writer Flannery O'Connor liked peacocks. She had so many that she finally stopped counting. I like this charming story about them, from Mystery and Manners.

"Since I have been keeping peafowl, I have been visited at least once a year by first-grade school-children, who learn by living. I am used to hearing this group chorus as the peacock swings around, 'Oh, look at his underwear!' This 'underwear' is a stiff gray tail, raised to support the larger one, and beneath it a puff of black feathers that would be suitable for some really regal woman...to use to powder her nose." (p.9)

Besides being a wonderfully light story, this has something to say to me. I observe that children have a mindplay that, as an adult, I often lack...from years of hardening my boundaries, my categories. It seems I could use to soften the lines again, especially if I'd like to be a good writer, with the kind of perspectives I can fan out and strut... to the delight of unsuspecting visitors.

Any ideas on suitable perspective tenderizers?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Shake it Out

Last week, we talked "measure twice." And of course I went off to argue with myself over it. Because the flip side of being cautious and slow in decision-making is this...sometimes people toil over decisions for so long, they never even get out of the shaker...all that flavor the world needs... stays bottled up...

Proverbs 16:9 says, "The human mind plans the way, but the LORD directs the steps." Sometimes we've got to quit measuring and start cutting... you know, shake out of our crazy desires for perfection and avoidance-of-failure-at-all-costs and pour with confidence and trust...that Somebody Else is in on this life of ours too... and that things will work out eventually.

Though I'm mostly a measure-once person (which has its regrets too), I know that sometimes I've been measuring Just-A-Little-Too-Long. Oh, God, at these times, help me just shake it out.

Drawing by Stefani M. Rossi Used with permission.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Child Theology: Snake

When my eldest daughter was three years old, she posed this question...

"Why do you think Adam and Eve listened to the snake?"

Trying to be an affirming parent, I said, "That's a good question. Why do you think they listened to him?"

"I think it's because he was amazing," she said. "Snakes don't talk, so that probably amazed them... so they listened."

I had never thought about it quite like that. So we went on to have a rousing theological discussion about evil... how it sometimes lures with big displays, circus tricks, if you will, like the kind Satan asked Jesus to perform during the Wilderness Temptation. At times, evil tries to amaze the socks off you, so you'll step into waves that'll carry you away.

And, to think, my three year old opened up this discussion... "Jesus rejoiced...and said, 'I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes...'" (Luke 10:21)