Friday, December 31, 2010

364 Days Around the Sun . . .

. . . and 364 rotations from evening to morning and back again. I don't wonder at the shadows of turning, but that anything remains the same!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Small Wonder

We planted a row of heirloom English peas right after Thanksgiving, at the end of November, as Rodger the expert had directed. About ten days later, the peas sprouted, barely cracking the cold ground.

In mid-December it turned bitter cold: 11 degrees when I woke up one morning. The peas lay under a blanket of snow from late Christmas Eve, through Christmas Day, and the day after that.

A segment of our row of English peas today:

Like Little Children

One autumn Saturday when I was about 10, my father lit the signal fire, a huge pile of leaves he had raked off our still-green St. Augustine lawn. I can see him leaning on the rake, smiling, while black smoke spiraled skyward. Within minutes the neighborhood children had received the invitation in the smoke and had all gathered--some on bicycle and some on foot--around the signal fire in the corner of the alley.

Among them was a little boy about four years old we'd never seen before. His name was Gregory, but his speech was clumsy and Dad and I thought he said "Wagby." So Wagby he became. He was inquisitive. To any explanation Dad gave, he always had another question. It was: "WHY?"

"Mr. D., WHY did you light this fire?"

"To burn the leaves."


"Because I didn't want them on the grass."


"Well, because the yard looks neater without leaves everywhere."

"WHY?" . . .

And eventually the only answer Dad or anyone could give little Wagby was a frustrated BECAUSE!

I think of Wagby whenever I read Christ's words, "like little children." And I identify. I'm by no means a little child, but my middle-aged world is still so full of "WHY?"s.

WHY does an optical image go through a pinhole inverted?

Because light travels in a straight line.

But WHY?

Because it does. Just because.

There's so much room for wonder. So many questions. All of which science proposes to answer, and all which leave one remaining question:


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chemistry & Physics

My favorite professor in college was a chemistry teacher who wore a big, fat cigar in the corner of his mouth like women wear jewelry. When he lectured, he drove me crazy putting that slobbered-over cigar in his mouth and taking it out again.

But he was so popular and my class so large that I never did make it up to the front of the auditorium after class to have a friendly chat with him about isomers of hydrocarbons before a long line of others with similar intentions had formed. I gave up trying about mid-semester.

But a story he told has stayed with me. Before he became a professor, he was a chemist in research and development for some large corporation. He concocted a product he thought would be a major breakthrough because it totally eliminated household dust.

It had only one problem, he said.

He took the cigar out of his mouth, and with his signature smirk and his eyes dancing over the auditorium, he said, "It was radioactive." Then he clamped his jaw back down over the cigar.

Bet you didn't know there was a physics lesson in chemistry. It's this: for every action to solve a problem, there is an equal and opposite reaction creating a problem that is twice as difficult to solve as the original.

You would think the U.S. government would have caught on to this one by now and left well enough alone!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"He discovereth deep things out of darkness." Job 12

we gulp the grace
that pours like rain into cisterns
that rises like sap, from root to tip.
Not doleful, desert creatures, we
dwell between wells,
high and deep.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Already Her Own Girl

Meet my 6-week old granddaughter Sophie. She is calm and deliberative, but she startles and smiles all googly-eyed when silly people (me) make funny noises in her face.

If I hadn't already believed in love at first sight, I would now.

"April is the cruellest month, breeding...

...Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain."

--T. S. Eliot, "The Waste Land"

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Flavor of Hope

Two years ago in our somewhat barren back yard, we planted a slip of a peach tree. When it budded the very next day, we took that as a favorable omen. Sure enough, this March it bloomed glorious pink and set its first fruit--funny, pea-sized fuzzballs!

I grew up in the Black Belt, not far from Chilton County, the peach capitol of Alabama. The peach orchards there perch atop the last gasp of the Appalachian Plateau, a thin spur, cloud high, on a whisper breeze that overlooks the stifling plain of my childhood.

Eating peaches was like eating sweet April sunshine. The only thing I liked better in July was a rope swing over a creek.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How Do You Like Your Hard Drive?

Last week I fried my hard drive and lost all my writing files. Probably no great loss. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself. Yes, I know that all those zeroes and ones are supposedly recoverable at some level of skill, trouble, and expense. But probably not at my level.

I'm accepting the loss without howling and throwing things. So far, anyway.

Plus, I happen to like this blank-slate feeling. I'll just make a new and better start.

But here's some friendly advice: if a blank slate won't do for you, go ahead and back up your hard drive. Like...right now!

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Little Child Shall Lead Them

From his car seat, my grandson sees me and yells, “Hi, Mimi!”

He's a month shy of three years old. When he was born--slightly early, slightly underweight--I was there with his mother and dad. Now he's big for his age. Big feet, big understanding, big heart. He hides the eggs in the back yard. Then he insists on finding them too. We indulge him and help him remember where he put the last two.

Later, as his mother and granddad talk, I stoop and whisper, “Will you give me a hug?” He backs up to me. I'd be satisfied with this, but then he changes his mind, turns around and wraps me up in a serious embrace. I nuzzle him and kiss his neck, his cheek, before he pulls away. And again he changes his mind and comes back, puckered, to kiss me on the lips.

I drown in gratitude for his innocent affection. Unexpected. Undeserved. A foretaste of the love divine.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Driving to My Country Church on Palm Sunday

Spring prompts lists as I drive:

the daffodil yellow sun

swaths of forsythia

wind in the greening willow

Lists to make sense:

of quince, of tulip tree,

of creekwater the color neither of stone nor sky.

Lists that won’t convey the soul

of matter:

the pith of peach

the stark of forests dark

without the dogwood tree

the daffodils broken riotous free from

a dooryard—the farmwife long dead

the farmhouse fallen away—

to bloom on the hillside

in the shape of a cross.

Maddening prideful lists,


to be rewritten

with verbs, drama, kindred

to be shredded, cast as confetti

to the funnel cloud

In lists, I limp

after the image of my Creator,

now and ever, the best that I can do.

The thunder subsides,

and I pass through a shower

of petals.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring Sunset

"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding." Proverbs: 4:7

Giving thanks this day to the God of all creation for the safe arrival of our first granddaughter, Sophia, whose name means wisdom.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I've just signed up to read books and write reviews for BookSneeze. More later.
I review for BookSneeze

Friday, January 15, 2010


My friend Steve, who was the subject of a previous post, Praise & Thanksgiving, has since had his follow-up tests. His PET scan showed no active cancer cells and he continues to do well!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Goals for 2010

A writer friend recently loaned me Writer's First Aid: Getting Organized, Getting Inspired, and Sticking to It by Kristi Holl. (Kristi has an excellent blog by the same name here.) While most of Writer's First Aid is helpful and down-to-earth, my favorite chapter is "Success: Horse Before the Cart." Thank goodness this chapter has helped me define success my own way before I've even come close to what most people call success.

Yes, I'd like to be published before 2010 ends, and yes, I'd love for people to pay me for books and stories. But even more than that, I'd like to enjoy every step of the way on the path to publication--in 2010 or 2012, or some other year before I die. I want the gratification that comes from hard work done well. I want to be a happy writer even as I dare to fail badly.

Because learning to write well takes time, the writer who postpones happiness until that time sets herself up for a miserable life. I made that mistake when I was younger, thinking I'd be happy once I'd landed a certain job, or made enough money, or did something-or-other-always-out-in-the-future. That's a sure-fire recipe for misery, if not for failure and misery.

My motto, then, for 2010 is "Despite..." I pledge to enjoy learning how to write, despite circumstances that might arise. That way, I can judge myself a success whether I sell my work or not.