Wednesday, October 8, 2014

To Wholeness

"I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that—I don't mind people being happy—but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It's a really odd thing that we're now seeing people saying "write down three things that made you happy today before you go to sleep" and "cheer up" and "happiness is our birthright" and so on. We're kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position. It's rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don't teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say, "Quick! Move on! Cheer up!" I'd like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word "happiness" and to replace it with the word "wholeness." Ask yourself, "Is this contributing to my wholeness?" and if you're having a bad day, it is."

Wednesday Morning

The morning sets up like a piano sonata.
Soft, quiet, with a moon still full.
Feathery clouds crest the mountaintops of the canyon.
All is still, save a few buzzing alarms in the apartments around the river trail.
Breakfast, coffee, emails as a rising sun turns the eastern horizon into cotton candy.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

2014 Fall Foliage Pilgrimage

I feel as thought I've restarted myself. Which is a good thing to do I suppose when everything is failing. Like in a computer or phone or camera or car... unplug everything, take the battery out, start from scratch.
I blame it on the loons.
This year's pilgrimage was riddled with challenges... as Ben calls them... opportunities.
Things got off to a rocky start with shifting the days of the trip around, excluding Errin, and for very different reasons excluding Ben. So I slept best I could, shoved my whole bed in the back of the C R-V (whole new appreciation for it's RV status now) and headed north.
There is something surprisingly pure in heartbreak. It crushes facades and exteriors, leaving you in a sedated raw place.
We stopped at West Shore for a walk and a drink. When we got to the border the Canadians asked if we were camping alone and who we were meeting up there... ha... good one... not this time. The road to the Provincial Park was closed. Two-thirds of the camping loop was closed, the remaining four spots taken. I drove to the picnic area and trailhead, backed up to the woods. There was a man there with a truck, small RV, and tarped off tent. Judging by the comfort of his two cats seemed he'd been there for awhile. That sleeping spot would have to do.
So I rested.
Surrounded by western red cedars, aspen, birch and balsam fir. Beyond the lush forest - the lizard range, Mount Fernie, The Three Sisters, The Ghost Rider. Rigid, stark, engulfing me in only this place. Morning came and I was slow- breakfast, walk, book, afternoon. I traipsed through town trying to find a plan B for the Blue Toque... there was no suitable substitute. Crammed into an old bank however was a brilliant interpretive display of the history of Fernie, I explored for awhile.
We tried to drive to a different Provincial Park on Crowsnest Pass... but it didn't have camping. We stayed long enough to eat an Indian feast, then hit the road.
Somewhat satisfied, somewhat disappointed.
Koocanusa - Kootenai + Canada+ USA = the lake surrounded by all three nations, why not. Three miles off the main road, just a ghost park. The water so still, the two other campers absent or quiet. We backed up to the lake. A near full moon rose, sunset cast a ballet of colors on the water, geese honked with whooshing wings, splashing into a landing. And all was lovely, quiet, and still.
Like clockwork, the loons started their frantic cackle. Haunting, piercing, comforting. I put on For Emma, Forever. Lost in British Columbia with no one to protect me, or rescue me... and no one to threaten me or stress me. Fading into the landscape.
We slept. When you fall asleep around 8pm , eight hours later puts you at 4am... we tried to sleep again. But the morning was more lovely, more quiet than the evening. I fixed Geronimo's breakfast, grabbed my leftover kheer and sat on a log by the waters edge.
By the time I was sipping my favorite cappucino and lolligagging around quiet Kalispell I began to feel more like my old self. Brightened and relieved with the world around me. I made it home... eventually. With everything cleaned up and sorted my favorite neighbors visited. Canadian Pumpkin IPA and leftover Malai Kofta for dinner, bedtime with the sun by 9.
And so morning comes again. There is Errin, coffee, fish oil for dogs, and a subdued clank of wind chimes. October is here. I am still raw, but alive and present.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

June 11

The full moon makes it's way above Mt. Setinel. Strong canyon winds ruffle spring-lush vegetation while a full river swishes by. The sprinkler water tinges off the chain-length fence and wind chimes bounce off a wooden center. 
Nighttime at Creekside.
There is an energy in the air of change. Changing weather, changing landscapes... perhaps more. 
It is our sixth month here. Geronimo, Errin and I are finding our groove, as I pray for whatever final piece will come together for the next six months. For now home is quiet, peaceful and lovely. With music, NPR, books, journaling, bikes in the living room. A simple beauty of space. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Nearly Night

In a Montana summer the days take their time to exhale.
Eventually releasing a long, deep, slow breath as evening hours float just before night.
The song birds have much to say, chattering alongside crickets.

Pink and purple light drains from freshwater.
The skies stretches deep teal while stars sleepily emerge.
The air shifts to a mountain chill, staying the slide of glaciers.

Rocky peaks and needled trees silhouette against a deepening blue horizon.
The day decrescendos to lapping water and nocturnal murmurs.
A wild quiet rejoicing.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


I miss
someone strong enough
to watch in wonder as I battle,
willing to scoop me into love as I break down wounded.

I love
someone joyful enough
to live a path set before them
thoughtful to pause and reconsider, asking me to join their journey.

I want
someone gracious enough
to weather seasons of unknown
with that cornerstone of commitment which binds two stubborn, broken... striving souls together.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Lewisia rediviva

they are small and leafless
growing in gravelly, dry soil
that is pounded through the winter with harsh snows
and scorched in the summer with intense sunlight

they are bright with color
sustaining people here with bitter vittles
as communities collect them for feasts
and taste them during times of famine

they lie dormant in my planters
exposed to what the world will bring
and me, investing in the ways of this landscape
nearby these seeds, hoping in spring

thoughtful spot

it is easy

to feel weightless

in a sea of glacial melt warmed by the sun

rolling with the wind funneled by moraines

it is peace

to let go

of the weights which keep us from deeply breathing 

as waves lap perfect stones, clanking against each other.

i come this way often

because sometimes

I am more water than roots

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

blame it on the bluegrass

Like a firefly night
saturated with dew
a slight chill, a warm fire

I am drawn to you.

Faint resonance of strings
vibrating a wooded space
a pluck, a twang

a landscape singing grace.

Like a sleepy child
wandering towards repose
the day yawns

and I yearn to curl up with you.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


It's quiet.
The christmas lights are as bright as a match, in a very dark camp.
The Hellgate winds move cold, snow, our antlers sway in it.

Remarkable to have shelter at a moment like this.

Today, while working, I bundled up to explore, photograph, try to understand in a way which research will never reveal. To feel. Layers and layer and layers. Sun but still wicked cold - safe only by hiding bare skin from the wind. I wandered.

After footsteps, heartbeats, in wonder I made my way back to the entry point. Knee high snow, and a few yards away from the haven of my car. On the other side of the panels.... a man... smoking.

He asked me for a dollar, for the bus. I wasn't bluffing when I told him I had no money. I scanned the scene. External frame backpack, heeled boots like a fire worker, the back cuff worn from the bottom of his carhartt type pants. He sat on the bench, blocking the panel, and stuttered though not knowing where he was, where the bus was, where downtown was, and getting kicked out of the gas station.

ALL I could think was Sir - you need shelter.

I suggested warm buildings, places I thought someone would, could offer him something. he said Nah, no thanks. I guess I'll just stay right here.

Drunk I thought. Something. I encouraged him to get inside and wished him luck. Then something funny happened - he wished me luck too.

I got in my car and left, happy to have parked with an escape route. But worried about him.

A crossroads, a canyon, steeped in stories.

Last week - I was in the Emergency Room. A few days later I was dog sitting for my best friend. The next afternoon, her mother died. Phone calls. Logistics. My first casserole.

But somewhere in between I slid the glass door open, with three dogs watching, closed it behind me, and walked to the fence between the river and I. Frozen.

Wind. Cold. Quiet. Deep sadness. Deep thankfulness.

Saturated in the moment, I breathed, returned indoors.

It's still out there, all around, as we nestle in our homes. There is just enough light. Just enough warmth. Just enough food. Just enough love to continue propelling us though the night, into the next day.

Each of us needs these reminders - the yin to a yang.

Boreas. I know that wind. It brings a peace, a soothing about knowing, being, and doing what I need. You know where you need to be his voice echoes, you're getting there. You will get there.

As I lay me down to sleep, my heart is in my neighbor's apartment. With a best friend. Sorting and sifting though Life.

My wish is for a weary, lost, traveler to find solace and rest.

My hope is that tomorrow, we all understand, just enough, to bring light to that day and continue us all forward in our journeys.

But then again, a little luck sure couldn't hurt.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Faceplant: Dark, smooth, unfiltered, and malty.

It's a wild morning in the canyon. Our dog rope is frozen stiff and the Hellgate winds have drifted a carpet of snow in front of the sliding door. The air is cloudy with wind-displaced snow.
After the initial wake-up pee, Geronimo and I get back in bed. I woke up hot this morning... in an apartment we keep at 60 degrees thermostat.
Last night Dacia called me, looking for adventure. In the right place. She caught me eating BBQ pizza, drinking a local unflitered Doppel Weizen, dancing in the kitchen. I love that in a lot of ways our friendship is just as it was ten years ago. Me in the dorms, her in a little apartment, a quick call and we're in her car going who knows where around town. Only now I have Geronimo, she has Maya. Excellent additions in my humble opinion.
I'm extra giggly by the time I walk into her mom's apartment next door. Two 7.5 % beers... she loads my silly self and Maya into the van and we drive across town to her apartment. "I swept the snow off your car this morning! It was my little love note to you." she says. "But I didn't leave the apartment until 6pm today! Shoot!" We laugh. I'm almost sad purely for that gesture that I didn't drive to the office at 8am. What love.
We get to her place and she sends me to her storage unit to inspect a futon mattress her neighbor stashed in her unit. She needs it out for Maya's toys, I need to not feel the slats under my current futon mattress. We tromp through snow loading baby clothes for donation, my backpacking food, and a pretty nice futon mattress into the van. And drive back across town.
We talk about guys, work, our homes, our babies. We vent, we dream, we hope, and laugh until we nearly pee our pants.
I start singing and dancing with Maya. More more she giggles. Shy, but always charming she steals the show around my home.
We get this mattress into my room and I decide the best thing is to fold over my current mattress, with all my bedding still on it, and just... you know... sliiiiiide the second one under it. Yeah right. These floppy mattresses, weighted down with a Montana amount of blankets- Dacia has the foot, I have the head, and I yell for Errin, Miss Sporty Spice to bring her muscles in here and work out this issue. So Maya climbs on the bed and starts pushing. Sweet almost two year old Maya. What a mighty baby. Errin, of course is the secret ingredient, and somehow we work it all out - panting, laughing.
"Princess and the Pea!" Errin yells. =) Yep. But the real princess hops on before I can even try it out... and Geronimo stays in bed the rest of the night.
Dacia threatens that aunty Bekah will have to try to get Maya to sleep after all the excitement.... but I know I'm off the hook, because I don't have what My calls "milkyside".
Morning - Errin's already made coffee. I grab a cup, topped with some of Andie's extra creamy whip cream. Mo and I get back in the warmest, coziest, loveliest nest in all of Missoula.
Another beautiful day of blessing, love, laughter - and having just enough shelter from a howling wind to know just how lucky I am.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

“Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said. 'One can't believe impossible things.'

I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast".

 ~Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll

I have loved the Alice tales since I can remember hearing stories. Riddles, wit, nonsense, dreaming, curiosity, adventure, poetry... I love them.
Having caught a nasty illness, I spent most of last week in bed; while there I watched Tim Burton's Alice and Disney's Alice... because... why not?
Having moved into a new, completely unfurnished apartment recently... with other... non furniture nomads... I've been on pintrest a lot, dreaming about how to frugally and artfully arrange my new home.
Some of my best friends in Missoula have been visiting a church they enjoy, so I've been tagging along. We sit in a large space with a lot of strangers, feeling the comfort of camaraderie, and listen to the pastor get all fired up about how beautiful the Christian world view is.

In a way, the Bible is a fairy tale, as Alice is, as Cinderella and King Arthur are. And why shouldn't it be? For stories stitch our being together. Words that mean something to us, stir our souls, shape the world we believe we're living in. Epic tales of adventure, hope ... impossible things happening. And we, as students of stories, begin to believe this adventure, hope, impossible things.... miracles... can happen to us too! Our very own story.

I believe them all. I know this makes me silly, full of nonsense to many people. But let me tell you... in my near thirty years of life, what others find impossible, often becomes possible for me. Miracles. Blessing. And I am nothing but awed and grateful in the wonder of it all.

Recent events.... Six impossible things ....

1. I found dog-friendly, affordable housing and community to share it with in the only city I wanted to live in!

2. My new home is on the river, in a gorgeous mountain canyon, across the grass from my best friend's Mom and now we see each other often!

3. I have a new job where I'm paid to learn and share about river recovery and restoration, and a little independent contracting on the side for an organization I'm super excited about.

4. After ten years of purging my possessions every move to only keep what fits in my car... I'm now the proud new owner of a truck and trailer full of furniture a best friend needed to unload.... and all it cost me were phone calls, emails, catching up with old friends and sharing chili dinner with the movers/ new friends.

5. My longest, dearest friends in Missoula have all sat in Church with me! And hopefully will again soon!

6. Last year was hard on Geronimo and the CR-V. They're both hanging tough, doing well, carrying me through the beginning of yet another life chapter.

I've never read much formally on the power of positivity... but I know this...

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

~Romans 5, ESV Bible

Hope, does not put us to shame. It's all possible. My cup overflows, my heart could burst.

So... the only question is - what have you been practicing? I recommend believing impossible things before breakfast... and using the rest of the day to bring the dream into your reality.