From J.M. Roddy

THE DOMESTIC
J.M. RODDY is a self-proclaimed domestic creative, a catch-all phrase for those old-school arts like sewing, cooking, and gardening. What she lacks in the ability to make her vegetables flourish (she never said she was good at it!) she makes up for in her search for personal wholeness, always seeking new stories and new ideas to foster growth, with particular interest in motherhood, minority voices, ecology, and spirituality. These days you can find her cooking in her farmhouse kitchen with the help of her two mini sous chefs and bread-baking husband in the Seattle area. Joanna also writes fantasy books for children and freelance travel and lifestyle articles. Find her at jmroddy.com.

Cozy without comfort?

Hygge is the posture of the Danes in the long dark months of a northern winter.  They create environments of beauty and pleasure, safe from the harsh elements outside. Candlelight in the windows, wood piled high for the hearth, knitted blankets, hot tea, and good books. Everything this hobbit of a girl could ask for.…

The abundant now

My phone alarm wakes me. As I silence it, groggy and half-blind, I see a notification that someone has commented on my post. I swipe to see it. And there I am, phone already in my face, inundated by images and words through a luminous screen. Before I’ve even taken stock of my body, said…

Love in a new language

It started with a research project for the novel I’m working on, but it’s quickly turning into an obsession: the culture of Persia. I became especially interested in the cuisine because my fictional main character has a culinary talent. Problem: I’d never actually tasted Persian food, and the more I read about it, the more…

The ones we keep choosing

Last week I opened an email that began, “Unfortunately, Joanna, you did not win…” It was lottery tickets to see Hamilton, which just opened in Seattle. The tickets have been at scalper’s prices since like five seconds after they went on sale. This lottery is my best hope of seeing what some have called the…

The things she handed down

Years ago my aunts put together a photocopied version of my Italian grandma’s recipe notebook. I didn’t live in the same state with her growing up and my non-Italian mom only cooked the recipes that my dad liked from his childhood. So coming upon these hand-written recipes as an adult feels a bit like a…

Two Reflections

This tiny miracle The woods were dark, but it was summer, and the darkness was warm and not unfriendly. It was dark enough to hide my hand in his, twelve years old and trembling, breath catching with wonder. He was dark-haired and dark-eyed. Beautiful and kind and somehow, beyond understanding, mine in this moment. Chooser,…

Anniversary interrupted

I woke up to the sound of my five-year-old vomiting and shot out of bed. “Noooo,” I groaned, filled with sudden dread. Not just because I hate vomit. Not just because my son’s suffering fills me with helpless pity. More than either of those, I felt forebodings of disappointment. This was the morning my husband…

The allure of intentional community

When I was twenty-two, I filled a backpack and flew to Switzerland to live in an intentional community. It’s called L’Abri, which means “The Shelter” in French, and functions outside typical labels—part retreat center, part seminary, and part commune. Despite its name, the main language spoken is English. Its cluster of chalets built onto the…

The pursuit of self-awareness

You may have heard of the Enneagram. It’s a personality typing system. I know, insert eye-roll here. If you’re like me, these things are fun, and a little narcissistic, and about as useful as the daily horoscope. It can sort of apply, but it’s not going to change your life. Except this one has. For…

Mothers, makers, miracles, part two

This article is part one of a two-part series on parenting and pursuing a creative vocation. Last month I shared about my journey as a young mom to find my creative life within the limitations and challenges of parenting. Creative parents are in a time-resource bind that can feel unbreakable: not enough money for childcare…

Mothers, makers, miracles

This article is part one of a two-part series on parenting and pursuing a creative vocation. Part two will appear next month, June 2017: Retreat. Being both a mother and a creative is a catch-22. Unless you are one of those rare and mythical creatures who can make a living from your creative work in…

Two dreams and a memory

You stood on the concourse, ready to depart with Diesels, red hoody, and me. But not me. She was awkward, overweight. “We’re going to Hawaii to think about this relationship,” you say, arm around this other version of myself as I stand on the curb, seeing you off. “Verdict upon return.” . Years later, I entered…

Migratory birds

Cape Porpoise, Maine, 2007. The first snow has come. But why, I wonder, do they always speak of snow as blanketing, as if comforting, warm? Underneath its smooth spread surface I can only imagine a seering cold. On Saturday the ducks hunted for their lunch in icy shallows, pecking algae through a film of ice, advancing spectre.…

Arrows into darkness

It was the mid-eighties. I went to an urban elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee. My best friend Sunny had apple round cheeks and wooly pigtails tied off with bright double-ball elastics. I, with butt-length hair and bell-bottoms, was the unwitting victim of parent fashion crimes, but she loved me anyway. And I loved her. It…

In me was the Word

My oldest daughter was born on New Year’s Eve, and, hugely pregnant at Christmastime, I was often in mind of Mary. I felt bodily what it meant to submit oneself to the creative force of the universe. I felt what it meant to live with expectation, the giddiness and fear and uncertainty. I’ve been pregnant…

Every ordinary person

“She needed a hero so she became one.” I’ve been teaching my students about heroes and hero stories. We talk about the literary criteria. A hero is someone set apart, often from birth. We identify with them. They have a code of honor that requires them to take action when other’s won’t or can’t, usually on…

My own muchness

I was early on my first day of high school. My parents couldn’t drive me and the school district decided buses didn’t make sense when most of the students could drive themselves, so I took public transit. The city bus timetable got me to school forty minutes early. It was either that or twenty minutes late.…

The importance of unseen things

Yesterday a homespun miracle happened: I cut our first artichoke. Artichoke plants take three years to bear fruit and the starts I put in the ground last April weren’t in good shape by this spring. One had died and the other was slug-eaten and sad looking. Another year, I told myself. If it lives. But…

Directions for Delight

Go to the nearest body of water. Stand on the furthest point of land–the end of the dock, the bow of the boat, the lip of the shore. Take your shoes and socks off. Squelch mud or sift sand between your toes. Feel the earth beneath the hills and valleys of your feet. Feel how…

In Defense of Grief

I dreamed about Ella last night. I knew I hadn’t seen her lately, and I felt vaguely guilty, wondering if I had been neglecting her. She hopped onto my lap and I ran my fingers over her white, satiny fur. She lifted her face, nose and ears the color of pink ballet slippers, and wild…