From Essays

Welcome to hellstrip

The parcel of land goes by many names. Hellstrip, planting strip, outlawn, greenway, verge. It is that space between the sidewalk and the street, a sort of no man’s land that might be filled with sod, a tree, or dirt piles and dandelions. The verge in front of our home was largely barren when we…

Love in the time of coronavirus

  Wednesday morning.  4:00 a.m. or so.  Another worry-filled day approaching. As I continue to rest in my warm, comfortable bed I begin my ritual of praying for my kids, grandkids. When I get to my Parkinson’s list I get hung up thinking about Tom and his wife Jeanie*. I finally get up, let the…

Strands of rebellion

They sit cross-legged in the grass. The sun reflects on the dew in the community garden, highlighting Durga’s contagious smile. She sits in a bright green kameez with a dupatta draped around her head, binding her midnight silk hair. Her husband, Phauda, sits beside her, twirling blades of grass. Durga’s laugh lines deepen as she…

A welcome distraction

Jacob wrestled with God. I have no idea why. I have no idea how. I just know that he did. I know because I too wrestle with God. I’m wrestling now. Confounded by the parasitic terrorist of a germ threatening my normalcy and yours. So I walk to the water to make sense of it…

In excelsis

Angels we have heard on high. But rarely do we see them. When we’re low and need the peace to help us muster a smile, it may take an angel or two. Seasons show us the cyclical nature of life. One year ago I was being prepped for surgery to remove a very large tumor…

Life is long

I feel guilty a lot. It’s my go-to. Guilty if I take too much time for myself. Guilty when I don’t feel like picking up my kids for the zillionth time. Guilty when I’m tired. Guilty that I’m not doing more, more, more. Guilt can be good. It can mean regret and we learn. An…

Brave enough to break it open

In the past two months, I have lost my home, my possessions, my job, and my church. I’m not a natural disaster victim. I didn’t do anything wrong. My partner didn’t leave me or die. All of these losses were voluntary. I lost them in order to gain something far more precious: my health. Allow…

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.…

Bittersweet

On Tuesday, August 21, 2015, after a 12-½ year battle with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), including almost four years’ separation, my husband, Patrick, now with U.S. Legal Permanent Residence (LPR) status, landed at SeaTac International airport.  Our 8-year-old son, Solomon, and I were waiting anxiously and I sobbed with elation and relief…

Last light

It’s late afternoon on a winter Saturday, and I’ve taken my children to the beach for an hour of fresh air, an hour of running around and tossing beach stones into the water before the day is gone. What light we’ll get today in the northwestern corner of the country has already crested and is…

Pizza and my place in the order of things

I need a single bowl of tomatoes for dinner, but the plant is overflowing with the delicate orange orbs. It’s the end of an extravagantly fertile summer that began with a slow spring and plentiful rain, a rarity for our high desert climate. My garden has responded to the weather, heavy with produce. As I…

Presence

Think of that feeling when you are cozy. Lit candles are scattered around the room, good food is in your belly, and a hot cup of tea is in your hands. Maybe you are alone, on a no-work day, sitting on the couch with a good book and no bra on under your old, tattered…

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…

Trains on their tracks

I can hear it from our bedroom, that low heavy rumble of a train on its tracks. There is a faint whistle, but we are many streets up and there are rows of trees and a river between us, soaking up its sound. Often only the heaviness of movement is what I can hear, a…

New mercies

I am typing this on a borrowed laptop. The ceiling paint above me is cracked and peeling, tainted with yellow stains. The bedroom door won’t shut into a door frame deformed from years of settling. I can see out the window because several of the blinds are cracked or missing, but the view is incredible.…