Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ted Kooser, awkward poet

I do like Kooser. Simple words, sharp images, hard situations, crazy humor. This poem reminds me of the end of Ecclesiates. So vivid, too. From Flying at Night.

Uncle Adler

He had come to the age
when his health had put cardboard
in all of its windows.
The oil in his eyes was so old
it would barely light,
and his chest was a chimney
full of bees. Of it all,
he had nothing to say;
his Adam's apple hung like a ham
in a stairwell. Lawyers
encircled the farm like a fence,
and his daughters fought over
the china. Then one day
while everyone he'd ever loved
was digging in his yard,
he suddenly sucked in his breath so hard
the whole estate fell in on him.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

To always remember

When grace rescues you, then giving thanks is the responding action.
When grace delivers you, then action defines you.
When grace takes you in right where you are, then you act out your gratitude wherever you are.

I found these words on Ann Voskamp's blog today. Sometimes I forget things like this. In the same way I forgot that I was reading Isaiah because I hadn't actually picked up my Bible in several days and opened it to where the dark red bookmark hung, I forget His grace. When I look at it, I am overwhelmed by God's goodness, but sometimes I forget. I forget where and how His grace found and still finds me, and I forget what I need to give Him back. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Healthy and Happy Potato Soup

Monday was a day for soup. Ergo, I went shopping for very specific items and made a pot of it. I had in mind my mom's utterly comfortable potato soup, but wanted it a little more refined and healthy, a little more bacony, and wanted to skip one ingredient hers has that I think just might not belong. It was a good experiment, and I'm writing it down for the sake of posterity, or maybe just so I remember how to do it again. My method is pretty relaxed and unmeasured, so I apologize if you aren't the kind of person who eyeballs it, or adds ingredients by pinch and slosh.

First, I peeled 5 pounds of red potatoes. The pot fed 12ish people, so it's a decent amount. Chop them up and simmer them until almost soft, and drain them (the fork goes into them but they don't fall apart; they will cook more after everything else is added). While they are cooking, cut up 2 pounds of bacon and fry it. A large onion (hot), 2 or 3 crowns of broccoli and 5 or 6 cloves of garlic should be prepared. The sliced onion, diced broccoli, and minced garlic are sauteed in about 1/2 of the bacon grease (put the garlic in only for the last minute or so or it will overcook and not taste as good).
Add the bacon and the veggies to the potatoes. Don't put the rest of the bacon grease in unless you like a thick skim of fat floating on top of the pot of soup. Also add a couple cups of chicken broth and enough milk to cover everything and a bit extra so it's a half-inch or so above the potatoes etc.

Salt and pepper generously and to taste - I think I used about 1.5 teaspoons of fresh ground pepper and at least a Tablespoon of salt. Cook on low (not quite simmering; it's easy to burn this milk-based soup) for an hour or so. Best with bread of some kind, not crackers. And homemade bread, fresh and warm, if possible.

Monday, November 12, 2012

This day...

Life is not a stroll through a perfectly-manicured flower garden. The sun doesn't always shine, and sometimes you have  nightmares rather than daydreams. Sometimes snow means sledding and pom-pom hats and happily rosy cheeks, but sometimes it also means not being able to get to work and having painfully cold toes. Life includes stumbling and falling and getting dirty and thinking you're lost, and getting really lost and blubbering like a baby about it; it includes realizing you're inadequate and that horrible knotted feeling in your middle when you have to apologize to someone you care about, and the even worse knot when you have to ask them to apologize.

Life is not always fun and adventurous, or sweet and peaceful. But it is always just what God has appointed for you. Let His gifts fall thickly about you, and let your hands not clench when your heart feels cold, nor your feet stand still when your knees feel like folding. He is your all; let all of His love push you down the way He set for you.

Thankful and prayerful today:

-for 4 cups of coffee from the french press for 4 cold roommates
-for our good dog Patch, and that he would be found and returned to us soon
-for flicks to comfort the sappy chick soul (saw The Vow last night)
-for beautiful songs (!/artist/Amy+Adams+and+Lee+Pace/748111)
-for Mel's family far away, and seeing them with her via Skype
-for tire chains and a chivalrous eldery man who helped me get my car from the ditch, and that I'd stay out of it from here on
-for the way a wet cold morning makes you love dry clothes
-for the bright and cheer of christmas lights around our front window
-for being unsatisfied (and hence depressed) about how I've been doing with life: may it make me change and grow and do better
-for His grace and His faithfulness

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Boys and Men

This links to something written by Pastor Joost Nixon of Spokane, WA. Good words.

"One of the deficiencies of Western culture is that there is no objective marker for young men to know when they have passed from "boy" to "man." . . . But what this ambiguity about adulthood does, practically, is leave our mature males to be "boys-in-men's-bodies"; irresponsible, piddling around with follies, instead of moving the football of cultural dominion down the field and into the end zone."

Read it.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Season of Leaves

I am actually still working on this poem, but it belongs in this season, not in the next, so here it is along with some pictures I have taken recently.


Before the sun
was all the way up
the front of the house pelted
by an onslaught of mad leaves
driven on a wild wind.


Two black birds, crows,
locked in flight of love or war,
plummet like mad whirling blades
falling from the sky, fanning outward
the pale leaves on the asphalt below.


This hard wood floor,
dark and lightly
dented, scattered with thin leaves:
teardrops and crescents and stemmed hearts
and the red serrated shape we associate with Canada.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wife of Sysiphus

As a nerd, a lover of poetry and of the classics, a sucker for the blues, and a believer in death-and-resurrection, I appreciated this poem.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


This is the morning-after of our biggest dinner to-date at the Jefferson House. Four tables were used, twenty-four people served, and eaten was zucchini soup, bread and butter, fresh pineapple, diced sweet potatoes with onions, mulled wine, and oatmeal raisin cookies. I love how generous my house of roommates is, and I love it when everyone comes together (including guests) to make table space and seating work. Two tables, many chairs, and a couple stacks of bowls, along with a handful of spoons, were added to ours to supply our every need. And a good time was had by all.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


It's hard to pinpoint when I started writing, or even started loving to write. There's the time my mom's great-aunt sent me boxes of her books on college english and narrative and writer's markets. There's the year my dad had us copy poems or psalms for handwriting practice, to be read in front of the family in the evening. Then there's the fact that Mom loves to write, and that I have schoolteacher ancestors, and that my sisters and brothers and I would tell one another stories as we washed the dishes every day. Writing came kind of natural.

But this is the first poem of mine that my mom saved. I was 11, and I think this was inspired by a recurring nightmare of mine about being chased up the driveway and into the house by a black bear. Don't laugh. We all have to begin somewhere.

There Is a Tree


There is a tree

that’s just for me.

Along came a bear

and gave me a scare!

I was up in my tree

when it saw me.


It gave a growl and prowled around

so I jumped down to the ground.

I ran to my house as fast as I could.

I was safe: I’d run faster than any bear would!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kings pardon, but He bore our punishment

John Donne, Holy Sonnet XI

Spit in my face you Jews, and pierce my side,
Buffet, and scoff, scourge, and crucufy me,
For I have sinned, and sinned, and only he,
Who could do no iniquity, hath died:
But by my death cannot be satisfied
My sins, which pass the Jews' impiety:
They killed once an inglorious man, but I
Crucify him daily, being now glorified.
Oh let me then, his strange love still admire:
Kings pardon, but he bore our punishment.
And Jacob came clothes in vile harsh attire
But to supplant, and with gainful intent:
God clothed himself in cile man's flesh, that so
He might be weak enough to suffer woe.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

pieces and homes, and lots of pictures

(Many of these pictures were taken by other people)
driving north
              Naomi and I with huckleberries                                    The Sidney Psalter
 I have been an adult for longer than I'd like to admit, and moved away from home years ago now, and there is much joy and fulfillment and strength God has given me in this community and town and house which I am part of now. But still fresh in me is the uncertainty and responsibility and loneliness, the lostness and the frustration that come with leaving home for the first time and having to figure things out for yourself in the wide, wide world. You are pulled two ways. You are pulled on by the past, the things that made you who you are, the people who know you best, the habits and friends that delight and comfort you. And you are tugged at by the future, by possibility, by promise, by the expectations of others, and by your own strengths and ambitions. Leaving home is simultaneously one of the best and worst things about growing up.
Silas and I explore a culvert                       Lydia and the CdA beach
clear blue Pend Orielle river
Perhaps that was a hard time, and perhaps every young person knows it - that in-between where home with your parents doesn't quite feel the same way it used to, but you haven't married and bought a house and settled in for the long haul of establishing your own home for the rest of your life there.
Natalie and I                                                  The Cove                          

                                 Moscow Mountain cookout
                                     the happy orange chair

Jonte and I only wish we were hobos
                             drinks to celebrate our new place
Perhaps it is true that I'm still there, in that in-between. It feels that way now and then, no matter how satisfying my job is, how happy I am in my church family, how lovely my house and roommates, how delightful my weekends and evenings with books and good coffee shopes with live music and writing and beer with friends and long talks with sisters and all of the things that fill my life.
Elsi reading in the van                                                            Ben with Alyssa

Hailey and baby

NY Johnny's with friends late at night (Kristina, Kurt, me, Sara, Fraser, Mel, Susanna)                                                                
But I am here for now. I am building a home. And I am building who I am. I buy things for those purpose: tall lamps and old books and sweet-smelling candles and bright flowers to beautify and make useful my home, and food and clothing and more books and tuition for classes that fill my soul and body. And I hope to be building up another body, another household, with my presence and my hospitality and my gifts given to this community. This home becomes more home to me all the time.
Matt and Evelyn                                                            
Laura, Elsi and I

Snake River with Jonte, Emily and Ashley
Coeur d'Alene Lake                                                                         
But one of the nicest things about not living where I was born, and about trying to accomplish this settling-in and home-making here, is being able to go home in more than one direction. For home to be not in one place means that I have bits of my heart in more than one place, and while that hurt when it first happened, it does less now. The longer we live, the more places we go, the more pieces our hearts become, and this isn't a bad thing. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also, a wise man once rightly said. Where you invest your love, you invest your life, sang someone a little less important, but he was right as well. Love means investing, love means caring, love means missing what is loved when you are far away from it. Those places you have so many memories of that parts of you want to go back to sometimes so badly that you ache? That is love. Those faces you can visualize perfectly even though you haven't seen them since the beginning of the school year? Those are your investments. That place on top of the mountain where you sat and stared out at the dark of the world and the lights of mens' lives, and stared up at the dark of space and the lights of singing planets and stars, and you felt like you could stay in that moment for all time and be content? That is the glory of being a human with a soul.

Moving into our new house: Jonte, Mel, Tali and I

Ellis and Rachel's wedding            
                                                    Abel, Seth and I
The more places I taste, the more people I shake hands and chat and eat and work and theologize and commiserate and laugh hysterically with, the more books that I open and decipher by means of ink and phonics and imagination, the more songs I discover -- the more I live, the more I love, and there is always - and constantly increasing - things tugging at me from different directions. This pull - back toward all the things I have a fondness or a sharp memory of, forward toward all the things I want to know and love and stash in me like so much treasure - is part of what makes me know I have a soul. The pull shows me I am creature.
                                                                                              outing with Ria before she moved                                                            
Mel's birthday. Riquel, Donny, Adam, Mel, me, Jonte, Zach, Cherie, Bridgette, Wilson, Bailey
                                                            wonderful parents

Steptoe Butte with cameras and good cheer

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ford Raymond Tucker, in memoriam

You may lay his body in the ground today
    like a grain of wheat that has fallen,
       but what is rainfall, what is the dark of sod,
       when your life has been hid in Christ with God?
    Your son, your brother will be called
to rise up tall with eternal day,
and the Son of light will dry all tears away.

Ford (center) with 6 of  his 10 siblings at Easter

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fallen Hearts

Bohun staggered back against the wall, and stared at him with frightful eyes.
"How do you know all this?" he cried. "Are you a devil?"
"I am a man," answered Father Brown gravely; "and therefore have all devils in my heart."

- G. K. Chesterton, The Hammer of God

The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked.

- Jeremiah 17:9

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within and defile a man.

- Mark 7:21-23

Friday, July 13, 2012

Around here

It is summer around here, and these are good times for exploring. For going to a lake

for walks in the lively green woods

for campfires

for cooking in cast iron, for veggies

It's a good time for photography with friends, and for staring at sky and earth

for finding patterns in things

for discovering new flower faces in the yard

There are so many things I haven't photographed. Granite Point on the Snake River. Maria sketching in the backyard. The yard after I mowed it diagonally. The eagle and owl and snake at the Reservoir. My brand new niece open her eyes straight into mine. The fireworks in my grandparents' yard.

There are so many times that are good and can't be captured in pictures, but need to be remembered.  Iced coffee with my sister and talking about our work like grownups. TV shows that are completely ridiculous, but fun because of who I'm watching with. Going to the nursing home in Pullman and having Dodie not want to let go ot my hand. Meeting new friends in a coffee shop and having them feel immediately like old friends. Conversation with Dr. Wilson about snakes and toads. Heaps of chunky sauce. Laughter with my student. Convicting sermons. Singing with all of the strength in me. The relief of cutting yourself off from something unhealthy and knowing what it's like to pluck an eye and throw it from you. The heat rising from the pavement under the thin soles of my sandals.

God is mighty. I am broken. Christ is grace. His world is gorgeous.