I Conjured You

Georgia turned two this past week. She has been pretty excited about it and loudly sings "Happy Birthday to me!" to anyone interested: in the check-out lane at the grocery store, to her brother, in the car, to herself. We told her the abridged story of her birth and her big brother wanted to hear his birth story too. We looked through photo books and some pictures from her first birthday - I am so glad I wrote those details down because I'd completely forgotten some of the sweet things!

Now that she's such a big girl, she likes to play with her friends Mimi, Mira, Lindsay and Mekael and Baby Fern (whom she calls Baby Wern). She has many more friends in her co-op preschool class where she goes with Daddy on Tuesdays and Fridays. I asked Teacher Christi how Georgia, the youngest kid, is doing in class and she responded, "She's doing great. She's definitely a girl who knows what she wants!"

I overheard her "reading" - backwards - through In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak, "Mickey. Kitchen. Snug-gle. Cock-a-doodle-doo! Cake. Milk. Swimming. Moon. Airplane. Up. Up. Up. Mickey. Kitchen. Make it. Mommy. Daddy. Quiet down there! Snug-gle. All done!"

She likes to "meep" which means specifically to draw with a black pen - no crayons for this girl. When my Uncle Jim, an artist himself, watched her intently drawing and then looked at her finished piece, he exclaimed, "Just like Cy Twombly!"

A few more endearing things about her at the moment:

  • When I give her kissy-tickles, she says, "More-again!"
  • She calls her big brother "Babier"
  • She can be very demanding, saying, "I want mommy milky right now!"
  • She requests oatmeal, hot and cold, multiple times throughout the day.
  • "Mommy, what doing?" or 'Mommy, what talking about?"
  • She insists on putting her own shoes on, often on the wrong foot, and also insists on getting in and out of her car seat by herself.
  • When we are all getting ready to go somewhere, she asks, "Mommy too? Daddy too? Babier too? Me too?"
  • Every time we stop at a red light while driving, she yells from the back seat, "I wanna go!"
  • Her favorite PBS Kids show is Bob the Builder. She shouts, "Can we do it? Yes we can!"
  • She loves doggies and doggie kisses.
  • When we tell her about something, she listens and then sagely says, "Oh."
  • She often grabs a lego piece from her brother, pops it into her mouth and runs away.
  • Christian built the fence you see above to keep her in as she'll take off by herself to the park to go swinging.
  • She likes to play animal charades with her brother and go swimming in the bathtub.
  • She's a hoot.
  • Christian is worried she's going to be a little hellion.

I wrote this poem a while back for her. I am still amazed that she is here, that she is mine.

I Conjured You

I asked the doll maker
to give you blonde hair
and make you a girl
dressed in shades of blue,
my own best color.
Shall I stitch her name on?
she asked.
Oh yes, please
I did not hesitate
I was barely pregnant
yearning for a little girl
this time.
The doll arrived
in the mail
just perfect.
You arrived months later
exactly as requested
with only a slight



Just Like That Hour Today

Today I've been mostly curled up at home on this blustery Sunday feeling very sick with a sinus infection, but happy too, as it's my birthday. Despite having to cancel the babysitter for dinner out last night, a brunch party with friends this morning and a debate dinner party with friends tonight, I'm still feeling surrounded by love. I got to read in bed this morning while my husband made breakfast and my kids made birthday cards for me downstairs. I built Lego with Xavier and read stories with Georgia. We went for a slow walk through our neighborhood park and the kids splashed in the creek. Family and friends called, skyped, emailed and texted. Xavier and Christian baked a cake while Georgia and I napped. Christian roasted a chicken for dinner and we watched spellbound as Hillary beat Trump soundly in the second-to-last debate. Champagne remained corked in the fridge, but that can be enjoyed all the rest of my birthday month.

I think about this somewhat ordinary day in my beautiful life and I feel so grateful for all of it. My extended family and all my friends are healthy and happy. I hear my kids laughing and calling, Mommy, Mommy! I have a warm home in a safe neighborhood. I feel so lucky, so blessed and I don't ever want to take this for granted. 

And in a sweet bit of serendipity, the book I was reading in bed this morning? Joyce Sutphen's poems. A few hours later my friend Kat sent me this poem by Sutphen I'd never read before, which captures the beauty of moments in a life. Yes, it does make me want to go write a list poem of memorable moments in my life. Thanks, Kat. Thanks to all of you for your love and friendship, today and everyday.

Book of Hours

There was that one hour sometime
in the middle of the last century. 
It was autumn, and I was in my father's 
woods building a house out of branches 
and the leaves that were falling like 
thousands of letters from the sky. 

And there was that hour in Central Park 
in the middle of the seventies. 
We were sitting on a blanket, listening 
to Pete Seeger singing "This land is 
your land, this land is my land," and 
the Vietnam War was finally over. 

I would definitely include an hour 
spent in one of the galleries of the 
Tate Britain, looking up at the
painting of King Cophetua and 
the Beggar Maid, and, afterwards 
the walk along the Thames, and

I would also include one of those
hours when I woke in the night and 
couldn't get back to sleep thinking
about how nothing I thought was going
to happen happened the way I expected, 
and things I never expected to happen did—

just like that hour today, when we saw 
the dog running along the busy road, 
and we stopped and held on to her 
until her owner came along and brought 
her home—that was an hour well 
spent. Yes, that was a keeper.

~ Joyce Sutphen


And Then Even More Sky Comes

Thursday night was the kick-off for Seattle Arts and Lectures Poetry Series with the talented Ada Limón. It was a wonderful night all around as she read from Bright Dead Things. She talked about how "Poetry is an art form that is literally telling you to breathe, and breathe." She said she composes mostly out loud and encouraged all of us writers in the audience to "embrace your weirdness." She loves big endings and admitted that while they can be her crutch, they are important to her and she always wants "to stick it like Simone Biles." On stage, Limón was as fiery, funny, charming, strong and feminine as she is on the page. I could have listened for hours.

How to Triumph Like a Girl
I like the lady horses best,
how they make it all look easy,
like running 40 miles per hour
is as fun as taking a nap, or grass.
I like their lady horse swagger,
after winning. Ears up, girls, ears up!
But mainly, let’s be honest, I like
that they’re ladies. As if this big
dangerous animal is also a part of me,
that somewhere inside the delicate
skin of my body, there pumps
an 8-pound female horse heart,
giant with power, heavy with blood.
Don’t you want to believe it?
Don’t you want to lift up my shirt and see
the huge beating genius machine
that thinks, no, it knows,
it’s going to come in first.
~ Ada Limón 

And this one I loved too, after my own happy days spent in Montana:

Someplace Like Montana
Now when I go to the grocery store,
I’m amazed at the wide aisles of bright
food and food-stuffs and it’s nothing like
the bodega I shopped in for years
in Brooklyn between the bars we liked.
Once when I was going for groceries,
I ran into T, and we decided we needed
to drink, rather than shop, and we did.
There were a lot of beers on tap,
and the taps were all different like toys
in a dentist’s toy chest, so I said,
“I’ll have what she’s having,”
and maybe it was snowing out,
and it seemed to be at a time when
every shirt I bought at the secondhand store
would turn out to be see-through,
but I wouldn’t know it until it was too late.
So, a lot of conversations would start,
“Is this shirt see-through?” And it was.
We talked for a long time, grocery bags
empty on the chair, and we both talked about
moving to someplace like Montana
and how sometimes it would be nice
to see more sky than just this little square
between the bridges and buildings,
but then we’d miss Brooklyn and each other,
and we ordered another beer.
T was writing a play, also some articles,
and we both just needed some money,
and maybe to make out with someone
who wasn’t an asshole. But also, we wanted
to make great art. T was really good at naming
things so we decided she should be a “Titleologist”
and she liked that, so she agreed.
“What would we do if we lived in someplace
like Montana?” “We’d go for walks, and look at trees,
and write and look at the sky,” “Yes, and we’d cook
and go to those huge grocery stores that have toy cars
attached to the carts so kids can pretend to be driving,”
“Yes, and we’d probably have kids too.”
All of this seemed really far off and not like us at all,
so we ordered another beer and said, life was long.
Now, I’m walking around the grocery store,
in Kentucky and I’ve just looked a trees, and sky,
and I should write something, so I ask T to tell me
what to write about, she says, Saturation, and I think
of that feeling when you’re really full, or life is full
and you can’t think of anything else that could fit in it,
and then even more sky comes and more days
and there is so much to remember and swallow.
I ask T what I should call the thing I write about
Saturation, because she’s a titleologist, and she says,
“Someplace Like Montana.”
Ada Limón 


How Small A Thing Can Be Pleasing

It feels so marvelous to get out into the woods. We love the familiar sight of Mt. Rainier rising above Seattle in all her surreal glory, but we haven't actually spent much time there - crazy, I know, since the National Park is only two hours away. We had a very good excuse this last weekend to go exploring as we were invited to a dear friend's birthday gathering. I was happily reminded that the best kind of therapy is tramping around in mountains. Watching yellow leaves falling in the sunshine trickling through the forest and remembering "how small a think can be pleasing..." as Wendell Berry muses below.


Again I resume the long
lesson: how small a thing
can be pleasing, how little
in this hard world it takes
to satisfy the mind
and bring it to its rest.

Within the ongoing havoc

the woods this morning is
almost unnaturally still.
Through stalled air, unshadowed
light, a few leaves fall
of their own weight.

                                       The sky

is gray. It begins in mist
almost at the ground
and rises forever. The trees
rise in silence almost
natural, but not quite,
almost eternal, but
not quite.

                      What more did I

think I wanted? Here is
what has always been.
Here is what will always
be. Even in me,
the Maker of all this
returns in rest, even
to the slightest of His works,
a yellow leaf slowly
falling, and is pleased.

~ Wendell Berry, from This Day


May Your Soul Be Cool

My mother was visiting over the weekend and she and I slipped away for a few hours to go see the Mood Indigo exhibit at the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

I have been looking forward to this exhibit as I have three treasured indigo pieces (in addition to my favorite jeans): an airy maternity dress I still love to wear, a cloth I carry with me as a park/picnic spread my sister-in-law Rebecca brought me from Senegal and a tablecloth made in India that I found at Maiwa in Vancouver.

We wandered among the many and stunning textiles, reading about each piece. In addition to finding great quotes from Rebecca Solnit's A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Tom Robbin's Jitterbug Perfume and Star Wars, I came across this found poem, so fitting for hot August days:

Sacred Shawl (Ulos Ragidup), ca. 1900
Cotton; warp resist (ikat): supplementary
weft; natural dyes including indigo
Indonesian, Sumatra, Batak culture.

Sacred honor is bestowed 
whenever this type of shawl 
appears in Batak communities. 
It is a technically remarkable cloth 
with complex iconography 
that carries great significance. 
Wrapped around the shoulders 
of a person in transition 
(at weddings, for pregnancy, 
and other life changes), 
it invokes speeches by chosen 
people whose great knowledge 
enables them to carefully 
observe the cloth and divine 
a way to enhance the wearer’s 

May you partake of the fat of the fat of the land.
May you find a wallowing hole with no leeches.
…a clearing with no mosquitos.
…a grazing spot with no gnats.
may you be like the bamboo growing in the mountain valley.
No wind to bend its growth.
May your soul be cool.

…Seven generations free of catastrophe. Health! Coolness! Long life to all of us!



Engagement by artist Dennis Oppenheim

Christian proposed to me in November of 2009 when we were living in Vancouver. We sent an email announcement to family and friends:
Christian and I joyfully announce our engagement to be married!  
We are unofficially "eloping" to the butterfly-shaped island of Guadeloupe in early December. We look forward to a wedding celebration in the spring or early summer.
He proposed on November 11th after a beautiful walk through Stanley Park. The ring he gave me is a family heirloom of 18K gold with rubies and diamonds which his maternal grandfather gave to his wife.
This sculpture is currently on display nearby for the Vancouver Biennale. The piece is very aptly named "Engagement."
Christian and Sarah

Last week, while back in Vancouver, our two children played pretend baseball underneath the sculpture. How incredible to see time fold and unfold like this, visibly.