Friday, April 30, 2010


I love my kids because they’re my kids—that’s what moms do—and most of the time I like them too. And then once in awhile they do something that makes me really proud, and that’s just icing on this big old motherhood layer cake—really good icing, like cream cheese frosting, or maybe chocolate ganache. Today I’m proud of Schuyler. He decided on his own to participate in World Vision’s 30-Hour Famine, a worldwide movement of students who, on a designated weekend, raise funds for and awareness of those in extreme poverty. From the 30-Hour Famine web site: “For 30 hours, participants get a taste of hunger by not eating—something more than a billion people around the world experience every day. And by doing fundraising activities, community service projects, and learning more about the facts of world hunger, students are changed in amazing ways as they help others and save lives.”

With their prayers and fundraising efforts dedicated to helping Haiti, the high schoolers from our Little Church by the Sea and Laguna Presbyterian started their fast today at 11 and will not eat until tomorrow at 5. I was a little worried about how this would go, since Schuyler had a tennis match after school and a surf contest tomorrow morning—and he’ll be sleeping under cardboard boxes with the other kids tonight—but he assured me he’s tough and will be just fine. I was so humbled by his attitude that I promised to fast with him, in solidarity. I mean, if my teenager with about two percent body fat and two different sports commitments can take on this challenge, then why not me? Plus, every time my stomach growls it reminds me to pray for Schuyler and the other Laguna kids fasting with him, as well as, of course, the people of Haiti.

So, for Schuyler and his friends:

An empty stomach

and eyes wide open make for

a full heart that gives

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Yoga with Lyle

It’s been a slow week here in lovely Laguna. But I did make it to Geo’s yoga class today, and his unlikely music choice (how will this go with the downward dog and the crow? I thought) made a good thing even better:

Yoga with Geo

and Lyle Lovett: a match made

in heaven. Who knew?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lost and Found

I just read today’s meditation in Frederick Buechner’s Listening to your Life, which I’ve referenced before. I don’t know what I would do without St. Fred. On days in which not much seems to happen (again, not that I’m complaining!) and I’m searching for inspiration, his writings never fail to offer some new angle on life and faith. I love his thoughts on what the parables of Jesus say about the kingdom of God, in terms of it not being a new world order or a mechanism to make us “good,” but rather a place or a state of joyful surprises, in which the lost are sought and found:

“What is the kingdom of God? Jesus does not speak of a reorganization of society as a political possibility or of the doctrine of salvation as a doctrine. He speaks of what it is like to find a diamond ring that you thought you’d lost forever. He speaks of what it is like to win the Irish Sweepstakes. He suggests rather than spells out. He evokes rather than explains. He catches by surprise.”

I really don’t feel like I have anything intelligent to add to Buechner’s wonderful commentary, but since I’m committed to writing a poem a day—good, bad or ugly—here is my haiku:

His is a kingdom

of surprises: lost sheep,

coins and sons, sought and found.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Thank you God for today and
everything in it except
for maybe the fact
that my kids hate me
for making them pick up their
stuff and taking away the
damn video games.
(or: the “damned” video games?)

So I exaggerated;
scratch that part about
the little haters
and thank you for everything.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Seventh-grade Science

In case you were wondering

the formula for

seventh-grade science study

group equals one part

homework to six parts snacking

and smack-talking to

three parts skateboarding

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pax Tibi Marce

I was looking at the Lectionary today and noticed that April 25 is the the Feast of St. Mark, the gospel-writer and patron saint of Venice. I visited Venice (as a guest of my friend Pamela, who gets to live in Italy, the lucky duck) for the first time a year and a half ago, over a couple of gorgeous, cool-but-sunny days in October. Being there gave me giddy sense of what felt like deja-vu. I think this is because Venice has been written about and photographed and filmed so much that most people have some kind of Disney/Casanova/Merchant of Venice-infused picture of it in their minds, even if they haven't been there. It's an outlandishly beautiful, magical city. I can't wait to go back.

But back to St. Mark, and how he came to be the patron saint of Venice: it's a fascinating story. I've got a few books on Venice, but this explanation on the website is concise and actually kind of funny:

So why does a maritime city like Venice have a lion as its mascot? Wouldn't a seagull, a fish, or a duck from the marshy Venetian Lagoon be a more appropriate symbol?

The answer to that question lies in the ninth century, when--according to legend--two or three ambitious Chamber of Commerce types from Venice stole the remains of St. Mark the Apostle from his tomb in Alexandria, Egypt. William Lithgow tells the story in his "Comments on Italy" from The Rare Adventures and Painfull Peregrinations, published in 1614 and quoted in Ian Littlewood's Venice: A Literary Companion:

"They placed the corpse in a large basket covered with herbs and swine's flesh which the Musselmans [Muslims] hold in horror, and the bearers were directed to cry Khwazir (pork), to all who should ask questions or approach to search. In this manner they reached the vessel. The body was enveloped in the sails, and suspended to the mainmast till the moment of departure, for it was necessary to conceal this precious booty from those who might come to clear the vessel in the roads. At last the Venetians quitted the shore full of joy. They were hardly in the open sea when a great storm arose. We are assured that S. Mark then appeared to the captain and warned him to strike all his sails immediately, lest the ship, driven before the wind, should be wrecked upon hidden rocks. They owned their safety to this miracle."

After crossing the Mediterranean and cruising up the Adriatic, the grave robbers reached Venice and handed their cargo over to the Doge. The local religious and civic authorities quickly elected St. Mark as Venice's patron saint, and the apostle's traditional symbol--a winged lion--became the logo of the Venetian Republic.

My haiku for St. Mark and his city:

A lion with wings
presides over a city
that floats--Ah! Venice.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


A Saturday hike
like any other...but wait!
The mustard's in bloom.

Friday, April 23, 2010


A line out the door.
Waiting rooms, plural.
Take a number, please.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Good Morning

Coffee at the French
with talk of tides, surf conditions
and that Rothko painting
that seems to breathe.
The dog's morning swim.
Now, let the day begin.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Every raincloud has
its silver lining, so they
say. But I see pink.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


The kitty came back!
She lives! She lives!
My afore-mentioned spotted cat—
the runaway (and apparently coyote-proof)
eight-pound slayer
of rabbits and rodents—
has come home.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


I flew to Grand Rapids, Michigan yesterday to attend the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College (my alma mater) today with my mom. We had a great day together, attending readings and talks by writers—Mary Karr and Thomas Lynch were highlights—and drinking lots of coffee. “Mother Superior,” as we have affectionately called Mom since her ordination as a Presbyterian minister, is an amazing multi-tasker and managed to draft a sermon, call my siblings, and answer a bunch of email between sessions.

A bright, windy sky.
Tulips in bloom. Books, old friends
and coffee with Mom.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Airport Concentrate

I find it really funny that, after presenting a membership card to get into an airport lounge that purports to be a nice place to while away a long layover, it turns out to be grimier and more crowded than the airport itself! I mean, what the heck, United?!

This so-called airport lounge is
just like the airport itself
only darker, stickier and
more densely populated.

If packaged, it would be sold as
a can of Airport Concentrate
Dive Bar-Lite

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Death and Taxes

I lay awake
thinking about my spotted cat, lost.
Coyotes. Taxes. Volcanos.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Foxgloves: lovely and
potentially lethal, much
like life itself

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Heisler Park in Spring

Out of a yellow
school bus burst several dozen
second-graders. They
scatter and shout with delight,
glimpsing Divers Cove.
Single file, class, no running—
the teacher’s voice is
lost on the spring wind. A lawn
bowler adjusts his
hat, cups the ball in his hands;
then, genuflecting, rolls it.

Monday, April 12, 2010


My son Schuyler is on his high school’s tennis team, and they had a home match today. I went over to the courts to watch, and got there early enough to see the pre-match introduction “ceremony,” for lack of a better term.

The two teams line up, and the host school’s coach says something like “Welcome!” and then the coaches introduce each singles player and doubles team on their rosters. Each player shakes his opponent’s hand, and the other coach’s hand, in advance of the match. I just love the sportsmanship and courtesy of the whole thing.

In honor of LBHS’s match against Cerritos:

Boys in red and black
and white shake hands, do battle
and shake hands again.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Friends toast and fete you,
two years gone. There are tears, too.
We will meet again.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Soccer Mom Zen

A hideous loss:
11-2. Breathe deeply,
drink coffee, read book.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Agate Street, 400 block.
Two Latter Day Saints—
young men in white shirts, dark ties
and name tags
stand in the middle of the road
in quiet conversation with
what appear to be a pair of
Jehovah’s Witnesses, neatly dressed
with books and pamphlets
in hand.
All four look engaged, yet relaxed;
not smiling, per se, but agreeable.
I wish I could hear what they’re saying.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Gentle Rise, Easy Fall

In the spirit of trying different things here at home (the vacation-without-leaving-town concept I mentioned earlier), I went to a yoga class taught by the famous Geo (one name only—he’s that famous). I now see why he has such a huge following in Laguna. The class was great—it was challenging and fast-paced and involved a lot of pushups—ouch. But even better was Geo’s warmth and kindness, which you would think would be core values of yoga people everywhere, but sometimes (in my experience) are not. Geo is your basic dream-yogi: he’s bright-eyed, puckish, sixty-something years old, and has a way of focusing on and affirming each person in his packed-out classes.

I read on Geo’s web site that he served as a U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant in Vietnam and fought during the Tet Offensive. He studied yoga in India in the 70s under some famous yogis whose names I can’t pronounce, and more recently, authored The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Power Yoga, which I will be buying. Bravo, Geo! I’ll be back.

Balance, flow, sweat, breathe.
Watch your breath, let it go and
know that you are blessed.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hakama Glory Day

Spring break at home continues. Today my family and some of our tribe went to our usual spot on the beach. It was gorgeous and almost felt like summer. My friend Carey and I surfed some tiny waves; then David paddled out on his SUP and we saw dolphins, only about 15 feet away. It felt for a few minutes like all was right with the world.

Cold, green-glass water.
Little waves, the sun on my
face and--ah! Dolphins.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Dog's Life

Before you jump to the conclusion that I want to be a dog and have gone stark raving mad, just hang on: what I'm trying to say is that there is something profoundly beautiful about watching one of God's creatures do what it is hardwired to do and fulfill its intended purpose. This is also true of God's human creatures at work and play. So I guess in that sense, I do aspire to be like my dog Genevieve.

May I grasp my calling
and live each day
with the joy and unflagging devotion
of a Labrador Retriever
swimming out into the surf
to retrieve a tennis ball
again and again and again

Monday, April 5, 2010

In a Nutshell

It was a beautiful, relaxing Monday here in our village by the sea. We're spending Spring break at home, which I'm really enjoying. But now it's late, and I've got to post a poem for the day, and I'm not feeling very writerly or inspired. So:

Tennis was played, Thai
food eaten. Titans clashed in
3D. Now, to bed.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Descensus Christi ad Inferos

The "Harrowing of Hell" is a doctrine in Christian theology, referenced in the Church's historic creeds, stating that Christ descended into Hell and proclaimed the gospel to the dead. A haiku for Holy Saturday:

Harrowing of Hell:
holy raid, search and rescue,
the ultimate coup.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

A translucent moon
hangs low

in the mid-morning sky

reminding me of the day

centuries ago

You died alone

and the sun turned to darkness
and that very same moon

to blood.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fool

One April Fool's Day
about thirty years ago
I put salt in the
sugar bowl and my little
sister put it on
her cereal, took one bite
and then cried. (Sorry
Jeannie!) I got busted, of
course. Somehow I thought
it would be funnier, the
way it is in the movies.