Risk, Reveal, Relate: The Poetry Circle Goes to Manzanita

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer,
it sings because it has a song.”

Maya Angelou

 

IMG_20150126_124136Last year my friend Stacey Hill told me she’d begun a ritual of gathering herself up three words to guide her for the year. She challenged me to do the same, and I did. But, by 2015 I’d already forgotten our new “ritual”. Stacey, of course, was on top of it, and I found a good old-fashioned letter in my mailbox: She announced her three words–“C” words.

“What are yours?” she wrote.

Finally, weeks later, mine woke me in the night–“R” words this time.

In the morning, they were still in my mind, so I texted Stacey. (No time for the old-fashioned letter, I wanted to tell her NOW.)

Only minutes after I’d sent the text, my phone rang–or, rather, sang.

“I love your words!” said Stacey. Which made me happy, and I asked her about her own, and we talked about the mountains of snow that kept her home from school for yet another day–as she drove her car home.

“Hang on a minute, Deb. The plow truck’s in my way!” Her driving in post-blizzard Massachusetts had me feeling nervous–but that’s another story.

Yes, in 36 inches of snow, this New Englander was talking to me (hands free, of course) while she drove home from a cafe! Continue reading “Risk, Reveal, Relate: The Poetry Circle Goes to Manzanita”

Changed For Good: Motorcycling in Marriage & Doing What You Thought You’d Never Do

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly,
you cease for ever to be able to do it.”

― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

 

Shadow of motorcycleThis week I’ve invited writer and artist Majida Nelson to tell us about something that has inspired her life. You’ll love her story–one that begins on her 58th birthday–in the 99 degree “bake your skin off HOT” desert.

Besides numerous illustrations and art projects, Majida K. Nelson, writing as M.K. Nelson, published her first middle grade novel, THE RED ROYAL SECRET in November of 2012 (Puddletown Publishing Group). The adventures of camera-mad Lucky Lukenyenko, his best friend Ken Wong and tag along little sister Mei Ling unfold in contemporary Portland, Oregon but have roots in history. It’s a fun read–highly recommend!

A native Portlander, Majida and her husband, Mark, recently moved from the Hawthorne district all the way across town to Humbolt–our neighborhood in northeast. Majida is an avid gardener in the process of leading her neighborhood in the planting of more native habitat.

Thanks, Majida, for sharing your creative spirit and being the first guest-writer for L.I.T.!

Ride on! Write On! (or is it Right on!) and Boogie-woogie. . . I wonder if you have energy left to dance along the way. Maybe it is internal!

 

Riding the Motorcycle Pillion and how it changed my life for good

by MK Nelson

Pillion Post     May 2009
Grand CanyonWait a minute…it’s my birthday. 58 (but who’s counting?) and how am I celebrating? Sweating in 99 degree heat in California City (near Mohave–as in desert) “assisting” with a flat tire change. Mostly I’m keeping “the mechanic” here above watered inside and out.

We were cruising along in the 99 + degrees doing pretty well for maritime types. We hoped to get into the Desert Tortoise Reserve before noon. In the shade of a gas station we stopped to drink water and to get our bearings when I noticed a Harley guy coming across the lot. “Are you looking for a tire repair?”

Bewildered, we looked down at our rear tire. The bike had picked up a nasty shard of metal outside town and pierced our new tire.

Bikers look out for each other and thank our lucky stars for that. It was hot. We had a flat. The town had no motel. We needed lunch. Did I mention it was bake your skin off HOT? Continue reading “Changed For Good: Motorcycling in Marriage & Doing What You Thought You’d Never Do”

Certainty, Insanity in Paris

“We are still shocked by what has happened, but we will never give up our values. Our response is more democracy, more openness, and more humanity… We will answer hatred with love.”

Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg

More than a million people demonstrated for peace on the streets of Paris–40 presidents and prime ministers from around the world, leaders from diverse religions, ordinary people like you or me–and they marched together to show solidarity against a latest act of terrorism..

This outcry comes after 17 people died this week from an outrageous assault on the staff of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. The writers and cartoonists dared to express themselves. The attackers did not agree with the magazine’s editorial decisions and chose to kill the people who held and shared opinions unlike their own. Continue reading “Certainty, Insanity in Paris”

On the First Days of the New Year: Be Inspired by Something Yummy

 “Cooking is like love.
It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”

Harriet van Horne

 

IMG_20150103_173428As we drove home from our New Years visit to Port Townsend–always an amazing eating venture with friends Paul and Sharon–I thumbed through a cookbook borrowed from the Multnomah County Library. I even jotted ideas in my notebook! I knew I’d get lost imagining flavors and textures, so I scribbled possibilities for first-week-of-the-year menus.

Mollie Katzen is author to one of the first cookbooks I used back in my twenties: The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. Who wouldn’t love to cook from a book with such a great title?

Since then, Katzen has updated her nutritional understanding: Continue reading “On the First Days of the New Year: Be Inspired by Something Yummy”

Get L.I.T.! Saying Goodbye to 2014

“To like many people spontaneously and without effort is perhaps the greatest source of all personal happiness.”

Bertrand Russell
(favorite reminder-words of the year!)

 

DSCN4467
Kalaloch, Pacific Coast, Washington

It’s been a world of L.I.T. in 2014–Lives Inspiring Today.

Thanks to each of you who have traveled along. It’s been a pleasure to notice and note so many people who are making a difference in our world–and doing good stuff.

From friends Julie Buccerri and Stacey Hill in Massachusetts who are teaching kids to think and act with care, to the many poets who invite us to feel and see in ways we might not otherwise–Peg Edera, Esther Elisabeth, Carolyn Norred, Sarah Kinsel, Glenna Cook and John Fox: Thanks for letting me talk with you, for letting me write about you, and for letting us feature your work.

When I look back over the months, it is fun to see some of the people I’ve met this year- Continue reading “Get L.I.T.! Saying Goodbye to 2014”

Poetry: Writing Our Relationship with Trees

“What we are doing to the forests of the world

is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing

to ourselves and to one another.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Cape D 2011 070Not long ago, John Fox led a poetry writing workshop in Portland, Oregon. The theme, “Writing Our Relationship With Trees” seemed ho-hum–until I attended.

During these two days I witnessed the wonder of words and sharing that happened as John offered prompts, read poems by Wendell Berry, Jane Hirshfield and Naomi Shihab Nye–and invited the rest of us to write and share.

It’s amazing what can happen when we sit to write about and with these tall lives from deep root to branches–and when we write from our memories associated with maple, cedar, apple and pear. Trees help us to breathe, yet how often do we stop to contemplate their impact?

This week I want to share some of the writing from that weekend by Carolyn Norred, Esther Elizabeth and Peg Edera–all poets who have been previously featured on L.I.T..

On the second day of the weekend-workshop, we gathered around a near-by Red Cedar. If you haven’t leaned against one of these giants lately Continue reading “Poetry: Writing Our Relationship with Trees”

In Season! Sauteed Delicata Squash with Carmelized Onions & Feta

“I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.”

-W.C. Fields

For IMG_20141116_152131this week, why not get down to basics? Food and the harvest can keep us warm.

Friends have been swapping recipes all over the internet lately, but here’s one I picked up at the King Farmer’s Market this icy morning.

To give shoppers a sense of what’s possible, the market managers, Anna and Amber, have arranged for someone to demo a recipe each week. They offer a sampling of food and highlight a piece of the bounty being sold by local farmers.

They often choose a vegetable people might not know how to cook–like delicata squash: It’s wonderful! No peeling necessary! Slice, seed, saute–or toss into a saag or a stew. Options are endless.

IMG_20141116_161035

The farmers and vendor and people like Amber and Anna who make the market happen are inspiring. They help to build community–while providing fresh food. And this extra effort–the cooking onsite–gives all of us some new way to find delight.

The cook looked happy as she chopped the delicata and sauteed it fresh. She then mixed in the already caramelized onions–and sprinkled some fresh cheese on top. (Since no one sold feta today, she bought what a vendor had on hand.)

sauteed delicata squash with onion and fetaWe had today’s demo-recipe for dinner tonight–along with beet greens harvested from the garden yesterday–and some leftover brown rice.

What’s inspiring? Anna and Amber run the market, and a lot of others work alongside and behind the scenes. It’s dedication. It’s community-building. Thanks for being there!

 

Click the recipe image to expand.

“My doctor told me I had to stop throwing intimate dinners for four unless there are three other people.”

-Orson Welles

Brooke Hall’s Leap Into the Wilderness

 “Ethical behavior is doing the right thing

when no one else is watching

– even when doing the wrong thing is legal.”

Aldo Leopold, 1887-1948

Ecologist & author of A Sand County Almanac

 

20140621_183222_AndroidMy interest in the outdoors started when I was horseback riding as a child,” says Brooke Hall, now a Naturalist teaching children survival skills, ethnobotany, bird language, primitive crafts and wildlife tracking.

“Some of my favorite memories of riding are through fields outside of San Antonio–finding a swarm of bees in a tree, or encountering a rattle snake on a road. In New Hampshire, I remember being bundled up on chilly fall days, following trails amongst the colorful fall trees.”

Brooke says she did lots of exploring and loved being outside with the horses and all of the hard physical work that went along with the sport. “I loved being covered in hay, dirt, horse hair, and sweat.”

Though her parents aren’t outdoorsy types, they supported their only child to do what she loved.

Riding taught her how to jump into things and not be afraid to get dirty.

“I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to cover myself in mud and crawl around on the forest floor practicing native scout skills this year if I hadn’t had those early experiences.”

Brooke spent nine months as a student in the Wilderness Awareness School’s Anake Outdoor School–about 30 miles northeast of Seattle. She learned to track wolves, build fire from friction Continue reading “Brooke Hall’s Leap Into the Wilderness”

When No One Is Watching: Thank You Parents–and It Takes a Village

Wear gratitude like a cloak and
it will feed every corner of your life.

~Rumi

 

20140917_162617_AndroidThe other day I had my annual appointment with *Jennifer, my dental hygienist.

“You have two kids, right?” I say in-between fingers in my month. She’d already told me about her son who’s off to college.

“He’s always been so easy. Things always turn out for that kid.” Happy glow she tells me how once he told an elementary school teacher, “This is my favorite holiday–not because it’s Halloween but because it’s my mom’s birthday, too.”

“My youngest is 16–a strange age.” Her voice tightens. “He’s driving now and he got himself a job, but recently he said to me, ‘It’s okay if I’m a little late,’ –and I about went wild on him.”

She looks at me for confirmation and I smile.

This generation! I can’t stand that kind of attitude–as if it’s okay to be casual about everything. That is NOT okay! People are counting on you,” she told her son.

“Then he asked me a week later if he can go to the Homecoming Dance. He was scheduled to work that night, but he says to me, ‘I can leave early,’ and I tell him ‘No. No you can’t: You made a commitment. You can’t just leave early. People are counting on you.’

I nod sympathetically, wondering how this story is going to turn out. “At least he got himself a job,” I manage as she completes the polish.

“The next week he asks if he can take a day off work to go watch his girlfriend’s volleyball game. It’s the same conversation, and I ask him this time, ‘How long have you known about her game?’ and he says ‘A couple of weeks.'”

He was talking to his mom about this conflict the day before the volleyball game.

After each of these scenes, Continue reading “When No One Is Watching: Thank You Parents–and It Takes a Village”

The Other Side of Silence: Chopping Onions and Peeling Potatoes–Cooking at SCOL

 “The way to the star

can often be

to pick up a stone.”

Roger Housden, Risking Everything

20141025_172251_Android-crop2For a bunch of years I would spend at least a week of my summer break away in silence. Usually to Cloud Mountain, in Castle Rock, Washington, I would attend one of the Buddhist retreats. Though I hadn’t identified as Zen, Tibetan, Theravadan or even Buddhist, I loved the deep quiet.

Besides the stillness and gentle guidance, scrumptious vegetarian meals were served, and it was a luxury to not worry about feeding myself or anyone else. I simply showed up to the table and filled my plate.

Those “vacations” from the whirl of the world nourished: Besides the food, I could witness the wildness of my very own mind making a big mess of things with no danger of doing further immediate damage. I didn’t need to figure out what to say to anyone.

Odd as it may seem, I’d return from my days away more refreshed than from most beach-vacations. Many times, some trouble I was feeling had worked itself out–or didn’t seem such a big deal. Some crazy relationship with a colleague, a neighbor or someone in my family didn’t seem quite so impossible. The luxury of quiet allowed me to observe how my own mind creates the chaos, drama, and constant travels back in time and hops into the future. Continue reading “The Other Side of Silence: Chopping Onions and Peeling Potatoes–Cooking at SCOL”