Wednesday, December 4, 2013


I’m a minimalist with maximalist tendencies. It’s a constant tension. This week, I went through my paperwork from, um forever. I cleaned and culled. After stacking the remaining papers in vintage suitcases with labels for the year spans, I found three strays.

The cross-section of years made me smile, so I gave them their own folder and labeled it: “Miscellaneous History.”

The contents:

1: A recipe book I’d “written” in Montana with my Grandmother Elkins in 1985 (first recipe: strawberry rhubarb pie. Still an all-time favorite.)

2: A playbill from the first musical I ever saw, Phantom of the Opera at the Ahmason Theater in LA, 1992.

3: A 2003 letter from the girls’ orphanage where I’d volunteered in India. The letter detailed the price for a second-story extension in rupees.

All of those relics came pre-social-media explosion. Had Facebook been around, I’d probably have detailed all of them. But the one I regret not getting out there was Number 3. I guess I can thank my minimal-maximal tendencies for rediscovering that letter, and the blogosphere for being able to share it.

If you’re looking to support an incredible orphanage that rescues, supports, and educates abandoned girls, this is the man to talk to:

Rev. Frank Godberg John
PO Box 15, Robertsonpet
Kolar Gold Fields 563122

They accept US checks. Frank is one of the most honorable people I know, and all money designated to the orphanage goes exactly there. Write me if you have any questions.

Holiday Blessings,


Friday, November 1, 2013

A Painter-Poet Double Date

‘Tis the month of gratitude. This year, I’m especially grateful for the convergence of some lifelong loves: painting and poetry.

I’m happy to announce a double-date of the two: on November 9th, I’m having a reception for my art show, Wordbody: Drawings in Paint, and releasing my book of poetry, TheSpace Between. Since that’s also the day before my birthday, I decided to make it one big celebration of art, words, and life.

But because not everyone can be here in Jacksonville, OR, I’m also making my book, The Space Between, available now on The poems span over a dozen years and explore the tension of distance: the space between a man and woman, between a promise and its fulfillment, between heaven and earth.

If you are in the area, join me in Jacksonville at South Stage Cellars on November 9th from 5-8 pm. At the reception, enjoy award-winning wine, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and cake, and live music by the talented Jeff Kloetel. The paintings and poetry book will be available for sale. The Wordbody show runs 5 to 29 November.

Here’s a bit more about both the poetry and the painting:

ISBN-13: 978-0615891415
w o r d b o d y
What is the space between two people? Between a promise and its fulfillment? Between heaven and earth? This collection of poetry asks us these questions by weaving what is with what is dreamed. The resulting fabric is fine enough to see heaven through and thick enough keep us warm in earthly winters. 

For just $7 (print) and $2.99 (Kindle), this book of poetry makes a great little gift for yourself, for a Thanksgiving host, or for Christmas. 

PAINTING: Wordbody: Drawings in Paint

"I am Written"
Acrylic on Canvas
16" x 20"
I have been enthralled by the link between word and image since I learned to hold a pencil. As a poet and painter, I finally found a way to combine my two loves in this Wordbody series. Each painting visually expresses the progressive word/s of a single poem. I painted as I wrote and wrote as I painted, sometimes adding a single word to the poem every few days. On the canvases, some of those words form images, and some images extend into words. All of the paintings reveal the process of creation: charcoal smudges, layers of glosses, and gestural lines.

It was the very process of creating this series that fascinated me most. Revision (re-visioning or “seeing again”) is something I had been quite familiar with in writing and painting, separately. But what surprised me was the way revision occurs when simultaneously working with word and image. When the poem got stuck on a word, an image would move it forward. When an image grew stilted, a new word brought it grace. The process became an interplay between left and right brain—language and the visual happily collaborating with each other.

Acrylic on Canvas
16" x 20"
Here is the poem that became these drawings in paint:


I am written within
the yes of presence.
I hold this cup
of heaven close—taste
promise, prize.
Lift this river 
to your lips
& drink sweet life.

May your upcoming holiday season be filled with goodness. Here’s to continued blessings to be grateful for!

Acrylic on Canvas
16" x 20"

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Long Sleeve of God

For Ishi & Nicci via Lois & Geri

I can only do this
in a poem—take the invisible,
wrap it thick with words,
and see the shape it takes.

It turns into a sleeve
up which history reaches—
wrist to pit.
Whether or not God

wears sleeves,
He’s got tricks up there.
I get to believe
they are good ones.

I do.
I’ve seen Him pull friends
and destinies from that
fabric of heaven.

I’ve seen Him pull out
from cups of coffee
to continents.

Now I trust for the tricks
I don’t even know
to wait for.
I do know to wait.

Up His long sleeve,
all the promises are “yes.”

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What I didn’t say last night

Last night, I gave the first reading from my new novel, The Honeylicker Angel. The room was filled with dear friends and new faces. I told of the three things that formed the genesis of the book:

  • Seeing a photo of a man covered in bees, smiling with his mouth open—bees along his lips.
  • Filling water bottles with Spanish wine from barrels while hearing a story of the last barge beekeepers on a French canal.
  • Spending a Swiss winter in a theological commune studying fear and love.

Photo, barge, transformed fear.

That part I said. What I didn’t say was this: for the reading, I was wearing the dress the novel had been “conceived” in. It was a dress I bought ten years ago in Switzerland, during that winter study—the timeless kind of dress that doesn’t find its way into the Goodwill bag.

It was also the dress I wore when I met my own Mr. Once—slight inspiration for the novel’s version of him. It was the dress I dyed the color of chocolate six years ago and took to Micronesia for my first teaching job—a job I took to conquer my fear of public speaking (nothing like a room full of senior high students to kill that fear fast!). It was the dress I dyed again last week, navy blue this time, to wear for the reading. That dress—that uniform of beginnings—needed its own ending.

I see myself in that dress back when it was pale and new like me, filling a bottle with Muscatel on a hot, Spanish afternoon, hearing a story of beekeepers and beginning to form a story of my own: of a woman who spins her fear to love like I was just learning to do.

I gave birth to my character Melissa in that dress—my first book child. I wish her well as she grows up and moves about in the world. If you see her, snug between the covers of The Honeylicker Angel, I hope you’ll spend some time with her and enjoy her story.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Six Pics Speak: Oregon in her own "Words"

"Flood of Fire" Trail, John Day Fossil Beds

Iwetemlaykin Trail, Joseph

Wallowa Lake, Joseph

Mt. Howard Summit: Wallowa's

Walking out Wallowa Road, Joseph

Painted Hills, John Day Fossil Beds

Carroll Rim Trail, John Day Fossil Beds

Rogue Gorge, near Union Creek