Monday, December 29, 2008

"When a beloved person disappears, everything becomes impregnated with that person's presence. Every single object but also every space is a reminder of his or her absence, as if absence were stronger than presence."
-Doris Salcedo

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


About a year ago I babysat my pastor's little boy so he and his wife could go to "a show". In the hip(ster) neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, "a show" does not mean a movie (common... $12 per person plus subway fare?! whatever) or anything anywhere near Broadway.
Being new parents, they called to check in (from a noisy concert-sounding event) about an hour or so later. Monique wanted to make sure everything was okay because they were going "on" and wouldn't be able to answer the cell phone until their set was over. (as if they wouldn't have answered mid-set... or even turned it off, I'm sure)
huh. "their set?", so they were in the band? I didn't think much of it, because in Brooklyn it is not particularly uncommon to be doing one thing or another on various stages in the area. And I knew that they were good friends with Sufjan Stevens (he's the Vito from Vito's Ordination Song), so I just figured that maybe Sufjan needed some back-up or something.
I tend to prefer the babysitting to going out and being among people more hip (and young) than myself, so I never inquired about where I might catch their next "set".

Then I moved from here

to here

And miss everything about what I left behind so much it's hard to focus on anything else.
Oh, and I was just lamenting about the things I always meant to do but didn't do in the 6+ years I lived in NY... like ice skating and taking pictures of the most beautiful church I had ever seen in my life, where God showed up and sat by me in the old wooden pews and soothed my sorrow with that lovely "old church" smell, and held me tight in the arms of his people, and spoke to me through a man that signs even casual emails with "your servant" (and he means it). Yeah, I've really been wishing I could see those stained glass windows again.
So, anyway, I stumbled across this album on itunes today, and later the following video on youtube. And tonight I am just so homesick, I can't stop the tears. But also thankful for the feeling, because I can't say I've ever been connected enough to miss a place like I miss my home there. Thanks, Vito and Monique (and the lovely Church in your care)... for being my servants.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It's a Small World

it's a world of laughter, a world or tears
its a world of hopes, its a world of fear
theres so much that we share
that its time we're aware
its a small world after all

its a small world after all
its a small world after all
its a small world after all
its a small, small world

there is just one moon and one golden sun
and a smile means friendship to everyone.
though the mountains divide
and the oceans are wide
it's a small small world

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I am thankful for memories so rich, laughter so hearty, joy so full that they are able to sustain in times of famine.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008


if I knew then what I know now...

I'd still say "yes".

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

When it was over and they could talk about it
She said there's just one thing I have got to know
What in that moment when you were running so hard and fast
Made you stop and turn for home
He said I always knew you loved me even though I'd broken your heart
I always knew there'd be a place for me to make a brand new start

Oh love wash over a multitude of things
Love wash over a multitude of things
Love wash over a multitude of things
Make us whole

When it was over and they could talk about it
They were sitting on the couch
She said what on earth made you stay here
When you finally figured out what I was all about
He said I always knew you'd do the right thing
Even though it might take some time
She said, Yeah, I felt that and that's probably what saved my life

Oh love wash over a multitude of things
Love wash over a multitude of things
Love wash over a multitude of things
Make us whole

There is a love that never fails
There is a healing that always prevails
There is a hope that whispers a vow
A promise to stay while we're working it out
So come with your love and wash over us

thanks, Sara Groves

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Murphy, we're not in Brooklyn anymore (part 3)

pressing questions that come up in daily life in Brooklyn:
did I remember to bring baggies to pick up Murphy's doo doo? (thus avoiding the threatened $1,000 fine)

Is it sad to drink alone, even if it's happy hour? (What time was happy hour again?)

what's the difference between "waterproof" and "water-resistant" boots?

is it Halloween or just any Tuesday night in Manhattan?

pressing questions that come up in daily life in Kansas:
ohmygoodness... what's crawling on my neck? ohmygoodness... what do I do with it?
is it drinking my coffee?!what is it?!
how long ago was I outside?
please, please let it be from outside and not inside.
has it been living in my hair?
is it a girl monsterbug?
did it lay a colony in my hair?
how long will I have to stand under scalding water to eliminate said colony?
what did the insert in my water bill say about the water being "not exactly drinkable"?
doesn't skin drink water?
is that crawly feeling all over just the "heebie-jeebies" or is the colony hatching?!
oh Lord... I miss the peace and safety of Brooklyn.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

so, so aware

I found out yesterday that this is National Mental Illness Awareness Week. I love anything that brings attention to the very tangible reality of mental illness, as our society leaves behind the destructive stigmas and prejudices of mental illness and those who are subjected to it.

I am often baffled at how it is more acceptable to take a pill or seek professional treatment for a headache, but crippling shame and fear keep people from seeking relief from conditions that cause symptoms just as real and even as deadly as cancer. How so often the only way to get the treatment you need is to let your life spiral so out of control that it becomes "suicide prevention" or "chemical dependency recovery". What if diabetes was ignored until limbs started falling off?

Mental illness has woven itself throughout my life, effecting me personally and ravaging some of the people who are closest to me. I truly believe that it has become a plague on our generation, and that its methods of "divide and conquer" have the fingerprints of the dark enemy that is out to destroy us.

I've been reading a fabulous book called Touched With Fire, which points out the connection between mental illness and the arts, and discusses fascinating moral and ethical questions connected to treating these people who have added color and dimension to our world through the expression of their suffering. It is an interesting question, whether an artist would be so driven to produce art, would he reach so deeply into his soul if he did not NEED to? Would the world be as interesting if those minds were whole?

I have a lot to say about this, being an artist and being married to an artist, both of us using our talents to create a visual expression of the turmoil we experience as a means of survival. It reminds me of the whole story of our broken, fallen world, versus a world restored to the design of our great Creator. What causes us to create is our need to be who we truly are... a creation reflective of God. I feel closest to him, most like him when I am immersed in his creation and when I am creating, because I am wired to experience a connection to him in that way. In the same way, some people feel closest to God when they are immersed in intellect or service. We are fallen and separated from full communion with our God, so anything that reminds us of what we should be, what we will be, makes us feel more whole.

Through my husband's artwork I have seen depression articulated in a way that is very unique. It shows the stillness, the lure and the beauty that calls out to you and draws you into the abyss. Yes, there is an ugly side, but that is only revealed once you are trapped in its grips. It's the slow, methodical whisper of the darkness that promises comfort.

His work reveals the trap and the torture. My belief is that it will also show the escape, once he finds it. It is my job as his wife to hold on to the knowledge I have of how the story ends, and to trust in the Creator who our souls ache to emulate while this testimony is formed. And rather than standing still, or even laying down and giving up, it is also my job as an artist to narrate the journey to the best of my ability. Because my soul aches to heal like the great Healer, and to tell a story like the great Author. What true comfort that we are allowed to do so much more than merely survive the trials of this world...

Monday, October 6, 2008

the love of a mother

There are times in life that a message is given to you, that something that may have been written thousands of years ago (or a few days ago on a blog) feels as if it was the opening line of a love letter written to you by someone who knows you deeply.
Just before the first big move of my life (the first of many, as it turned out), a stranger came up to me on my last Sunday at that church and said, sheepishly, that she believed that she had been told that a verse she read when she woke up that morning needed to be told to someone she would meet that day. And when she saw me, she heard that intangible whisper... "it's for her". Poor girl, she obviously had never experienced such a thing before as having to choose between looking crazy and going crazy holding something in...

SO, this was for me that day, and it rings true in my life constantly:

"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life..." Mark 10:29-30

This is most present when it comes to being maternally nurtured... as I have given up the "right" to hold on to the bitterness for the lack of mothering I had from the one who holds the title, I have been flooded by care, protection, love and wisdom by the women in my life who mother my heart on a deeply spiritual level.

Many of them have no idea that their words do that for me, like this wish for her children that put to words the lesson I have been on a path to learning recently:

"I hope they learn that when times are good, your circumstances don't have to enslave you or define you. And that when times are bad, your circumstances don't have to enslave you or define you. "

The world is filled with love and hope and all of the nurturing we need to survive, thrive and grow. It's an eternal love that pours over us and truly fills that thirst, but the pitchers are so much a part of the beauty.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Love is believing in what you know a person's character to be even when the evidence stacked against it seems to prove something altogether different. That belief doesn't always come naturally... it is usually a choice, a mastering of the will.

It is how I am able to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, knowing that my God is for me, that he is kind and good and faithful.

It is how he is able to not give up on us or the world he made for us to live in, even when we reject him and mess up his beautiful creation.

It's how I am able to look through actions and heartbreak and see family in lost and empty eyes.

And a mother's love... it is the most powerful a mortal can possess. It is able to believe that this note from her daughter's kindergarten teacher is a description of her girl:

"I just need to tell you what a sweet helper Gracie has been this week. Earlier in the week I was kneeling on the floor and couldn't push myself upright because of my broken wrist. She saw me struggling and came immediately over and offered to help me up. Then, today, a friend was upset and refused to come into the classroom. Gracie asked if she could go out to comfort her.
What a great job you've done fostering empathy in Gracie! Thanks!"

Even when that same day Gracie used her wet underwear as a weapon to hurl at mom's face as she works out her issues in the safest relationship in her life.

Monday, September 22, 2008

bake sale!

Q: what's better than a good, old fashioned bake sale?
A: a good, old fashioned bake sale for a great cause, with a modern twist!!!
head on over and take a look at all of the cookies that are for sale, including 2 batches from my own oven...

Dar's Peanut Butter cookies

and... (my tribute to NYC) Black & White Cookies
(I can't promise mine will look this perfect, but I will promise they will be delicious!)
p.s. thanks,
for letting me borrow this picture since I didn't get my actual ones baked in time to photograph myself

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Huntington Harbor c1982

I miss you, Uncle Rudy... hope you and Topaz are safe.
(last docked near Galveston, TX)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Murphy, we're not in Brooklyn anymore (part 2)

the East River from my neighborhood in Brooklyn

the river forming East of my porch, Kansas (thanks, Ike)

Friday, September 12, 2008


Growing up in California you miss out on a few things. Snow days, dogwood trees, summer rainstorms, lightning bugs. And the changing of seasons. Sure, December tends to be a few degrees colder than June, and it generally rains in the "winter" months, but you never get that pull of the season really changing like you do in other climates.

I need seasons. Mentally, emotionally, even spiritually. I need the tangible example to throw in the face of the "you're always going to feel this way" melancholy moods when they hang on me like wet jeans. I think that before I moved away from the West Coast I was stuck in a sort of limbo, like in the Mid-West and East when it's not quite cold enough for your favorite sweater yet but all of the color is gone from the trees. Sure, the occasional sunny day would hit, but for the most part the weather was of no help when it came to wrestling with depression.

The first winter I lived in Detroit was the worst they had had in 15 years. We got our first blizzard on October 8 (16 inches that stuck around), the last one in April, and nothing but cold and dreary in between. We were living in a basement, so the lack of light did a number on me. I cried a lot for no particular reason. But I will never forget the first sprig of color I saw on a rare clear patch of ground around early May. It was green with a tiny crown of purple petals. It almost hurt my eyes it was so magical and bright against the sludgy snow. I sobbed like I had found a long lost sibling. That was a great moment, even worth what it took to make it happen. How else could I be so effected by a blade of grass? ("...not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these")

In Detroit I discovered the joys of geraniums. Very hearty (so I almost cannot kill them) and cheerful through many temperature changes. Today they just looked so beautiful to me, perched in their pots as autumn was whispering her arrival. The change of light, the slight drop in temperature. Remembering that soon the trees will be glowing with reds and oranges and yellows that don't exist anywhere else in the world. A little nudge out of my "mood". Deep breath. Forced smile that sticks a little longer than the last one. I think I need to bake a pie.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


You know your birthday (or anniversary) is near when it shows up as the expiration date on perishables. When I bought these eggs a couple of weeks ago I had a "gasp... is it really coming again?" moment. But I had to get back to my shopping and couldn't dwell on it because it wouldn't be good to start sobbing in the dairy aisle.

We were living in the suburbs of Detroit on 9-11-01. I was late to work because the house across the street was on fire and I couldn't get out of our parking lot. The radio in my car didn't work, so I had a cd in. When I rushed into the store where I was working (a major home decorative fabric retailer that isn't worth mentioning), ready to pour out my big story about why I was late, everyone was gathered in the office. My "you'll never believe what just happened" disinigrated in the air as one of my co-workers put her arm around me and said "honey, a jet just crashed into the World Trade Center". (I can't even type that without tears)

There are moments that are forever frozen in time, and that is one that cannot leave me. I remember every thought that raced through my mind in a second, trying to process the impossible. "No, wait... what Bruce Willis movie was that? This is a "War of the Worlds" broadcast, it can't be real."

I called Aaron and woke him up, told him to turn the TV on. He asked what channel, and I said "I don't think it matters".

As the day went on (our manager still opened the store and "suggested" that we carry on as normal... with the radio on over the PA system) the shock rolled over me in waves. I will never forget the woman I got stuck with for hours that day. Middle-aged, fake tan, fake boobs, shortish. She was really concerned about finding fabric for draperies that would pull out the mauve in the flame stitch on the wing-chairs in her living room.

The next August we moved to Brooklyn. On the first anniversary I didn't really know what to do, so I took the train into Manhattan. I wanted to just be near the people and the city I had grieved for. I think I hoped they would recognize me, that they would know how I would come home from work at 6 and still be sitting in front of the TV with my keys in my hand, purse over my shoulder when Aaron would get home at 11, just not wanting to miss when they found someone. I wanted them to know how I ached too as hope dwindled, that I sent work gloves with messages written on them and biscuits for the rescue dogs.

I wanted to be a New Yorker, but I felt more like I was crashing a funeral so I just came home. I realized by the silence and the look on their faces that I could not comprehend what their grief was.

Over the next 6 years of living there and becoming a New Yorker, I realized that there would forever be 2 classes... pre and post. I never met a pre 9-11 New Yorker that did not have some personal loss that day. Every fire station that I ever walked past had a memorial to the brothers they lost. Not that they lost some, but that these were the ones who were lost. We all have a story about that day, but it's not the same as the stories of the people who were there.

This is the first anniversary of that day that I am not in New York. It hurts. It forces me to realize that even this sorrow is a feeling of empathy, not of personal grief. When a tragedy happens that effects you on a deep level that you don't understand, I think our nature is to dilude ourselves into thinking that it makes us part of it. The feelings are real, but when you are on the inside you don't have to be reminded of a day like this by the stamp on a carton of eggs.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

my dear sewing machine

Between ages 13 and 26 I burned out 3 sewing machine motors. (I started working on patience more into my 30s)

You know it's bad when your sewing machine repair man begs you to please buy one "you can't break". Honestly, all I knew at the time was I had 7 purple bridesmaids dresses to finish in about 3 days and anything he gave me that would get the job done would have made me happy. Bless his heart, he talked me into spending about $600 on my Janome New Home My Excel 23x, rather than just getting yet another "disposable" one.

I love that machine. Deeply, madly, truly. We've been through a lot together, and it has been just as kind to me when I have made it disgrace itself with purple taffeta bridesmaid dresses or Route 66 upholstery fabric pillows with fringe and a zipper as it was making my lovely silk wedding dress. In fact, I think it was kinder in those moments of what I like to refer to as "whoring my talent", patiently understanding that I needed to pay the bills.

The first time I moved to Kansas there was a tornado warning in the middle of the night and I was down there in the basement with my machine. (never lived that down)My theory is that as long as I have it (we have eachother) I can always start over. Can't you just see me in one of those terrible late night interviews outside in my ragged jammies, talking about how it "sounded like a freight train", clutching to my beloved machine!?

And when I was thinking of adding to the "family" and buying a serger (which, by the way changed my life), I decided to be as unbiased (no pun intended) as possible and really do the research. But what I came up with is that New Home is the best. So much less expensive than the others, and the only thing you can't do is be part of the Husky or Viking Cults. (who am I to talk?!)

So, here are the practical reasons I love my particular machine:
  • it doesn't beep at me, the motor is computerized but there are no digital annoyances telling me what to do or scolding me when I do something wrong (although I will build an altar for the person who invents a bell that goes off when the bobbin thread runs out during sewing)

  • the needle up/needle down button (makes corners a breeze), also the needle always stops in the "fully up" position so there's no need to turn the dial on the side when removing what you were sewing (LOVE that)

  • automatic button-hole maker (pop the button in and it automatically makes the button-hole the right size!)

  • drop-in bobbin with the see-through top
  • conveniently located thread cutter
  • flip-open "junk drawer", which also comes off to reveal the free arm
  • all of the pressure feet, what they are for, and how to use them is right there in front of your face
  • pressure feet pop right off with a red button, so no screwdriver needed!
  • rolled hem foot
Although, the relationship you develop with the item you use (and depend upon) most in life really does happen over time. Late nights, last minute alterations, baby clothes, Easter dresses, curtains and everything in between are what make the bond develop... but being a great machine is what keeps it in that place for you to love.

(p.s. yes, I fully realize that I am crazy to have spent so much time on this post professing my love for my sewing machine while it sits 5 inches away waiting to accomplish the pile of work we have.)

Murphy, we're not in Brooklyn anymore

out my window, Brooklyn
rap video shoot

out my window, Kansas
jr. high marching band practice

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mrs Imiss

Today I almost called my grandma. The flood of "I miss" began as the "oh, yeah, I can't because she died" wall came tumbling down. Dam. (Damn dam) *sigh*
Must be the rain outside my window and the drop in temperature bringing on the melancholy mood. All I can think about today is what I miss...
*grandma, even her propaganda (this election would have made her crazy)
*baking (I think I have some brownie mix to pacify me until I can get the kitchen in proper post-move condition for making some Irish Soda bread)
*the Pacific Ocean (oh, dear... any ocean or body of water larger than the giant puddle in my Kansas driveway)
*the kitchen in my last home, with its high counters and deep sink and drinkable tap water
*Mr. Softee (more later on the ban)
*My nieces and nephews
*feeling like the Queen of Ireland, mastering driving on the wrong side
*looking over at the King of Ireland in the passenger seat

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, baby sister

you were the first baby I ever held, the woman who I look up to, and the inspiration for more than you'll ever know
think about the hard road these girls traveled before they became best friends and don't lose hope in the power of the bond that begins in moments like these

Thursday, August 28, 2008

**deep sigh**

so much has happened since I last posted.
Mostly, my intention to "start writing" is relentlessly nagging me, and the "but where to begin?!" answer is becoming swallowed up in the pleas of that voice inside...
And something happened to motivate me... I was inspired by the sweetness and creativity of a woman who is busier than I (with 4 darling children to attend to). A woman who I feel a connection to although our paths have never crossed (as far as I know) and maybe won't in this life. But her story moved me and motivated me in ways I just cannot explain, which I find is common for a spiritual connection... God just places people on our hearts and says "I'll tell you later...".
So much of what holds me back from telling my story is that it doesn't look pretty right now. A few close friends can see the dazzling beauty that I see in the hope of it, but for the most part it is still messy and rarely enjoyable to put in print. In my less faithful moments I am reminded that the only difference between being devoted and pathetic is the outcome... if the story ends well it is romantic and inspiring, but if it's not a happy ending the one holding on to hope looks like a big loser. Maybe I hesitate to share the beauty I see until there is more tangible evidence of it... since the current state of things seems to taint the love story that came before, rather than being part of a bigger story that is just beginning to unfold. Sometimes I just get tired, and I wish THIS wasn't my story, that it didn't include such ugly things. Sometimes I am stunned by disbelief that this is really happening.
As I process this, I think I understand why I feel so close to Stephanie and her story. It's because she is about to wake up in the midst of the ugly part, the part that she would never choose for herself, the part that will truly test her and stretch her and hurt her, but will make her privy to a facet of who God is that most will never know if she will just keep looking at him. She will have moments of agony and dread that break my heart to even think about. She will have nightmares recalling what happened and wake up still in that reality, wishing that she could wake up and stair at the ceiling as her husband assures her "it was just a bad dream". She is on the cusp of something that I understand and would not wish on anyone; when the tranquility of your lovely story is shattered, and the future is more scary than anything you ever imagined. But the other thing I know is that she will have some moments, (maybe not for a really long time) that she will be so cared for and loved and refined that she will catch herself more than once being glad for this. The terrible, agonizing, transforming power of grace will astound her when she gets the meaning of it on a different level than she could have ever known had her story lingered any longer in "happily ever after".
I think that could be the difference between a story and a testimony.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Local Lunch

Today was one of those days that made me feel like I never want to even consider leaving Brooklyn. It is the closest I have ever felt to my childhood fantasy of living on Sesame Street. (more about that someday...)
I took Murphy (my silly little dog who needs dog friends lest he start believing that he is one of the cats) to the dog run at a sort of near-by park.
On the way home, we stopped by the farmer's market and picked up some random goodies, and came home to make the most perfect meal... braeburn apples, strong cheese, hard-boiled egg, wheat bread and wildflower honey, all from farms within a short drive of NYC. (if it looks like it wasn't much of a feast it's because I gobbled up most of it before it occurred to me how beautiful and "photo worthy" it was.)
I feel so eco! (so much better than a Big Mac)
And for dinner I can fry up the purple potatoes and red onions... yum :)