Heart Set


I got some disappointing news today about a job I was hoping, very much hoping, to land.  Truthfully, my news kind of spoiled the lunch I was having with a friend at the Oak Crest Tavern, a pine panelled rec-room of a bar that easily seats at least 30 people, and serves hamburgers made from beef ground at Knoche’s butcher shop across the street.   I cried a little bit, and we both shook our heads.  No matter how innocuously phrased the rejection, it doesn’t change the result:  the ones I want don’t want me.  And I am going to have to move on.

“You should go and make some pretty pictures,” my friend told me.  I knew she was right, but I also knew my heart wasn’t in it.  Still, I did what my friend suggested, if only to be able to point out, at some future date, that on rare occasion, I do take her advice.

When I got home, I plodded earnestly around the ornamental pear tree in my parking lot for a while.  It isn’t my favorite subject – too tall, with branches that point straight up, holding its flowers far above my head,  On the other hand, my mopey mood lowered my expectations, so I wasn’t disappointed, either.  After 10 minutes or so, I tore off a few twigs with pom-poms of white blossoms, and went upstairs.

I said my heart wasn’t in it, but as I shoved the stolen clumps of pear blossoms into a spice jar full of water – an indifferent prop if ever there was one – it dawned on me.  My heart actually IS in it – inescapably so.  The connection between my eyes and what I feel is irrepressible.  My heart wants so much to be seen, to feel recognized, to be included, trusted, and most precious of all, challenged to grow.  When I take a picture, some part of my true self is there, whether I want it to be or not.  When I ask for a chance to give my time and my skill to work that needs doing, my heart is there, whether I want it to be or not.

Now that I know how the storyline for this job prospect ends, I will have to set loose the hopes that have hung themselves on its bones, and see where they land.  I suppose that’s it exactly.  I will just have to see what happens.


Magnolia More


I spent the day finding out how lucky I am.  Earth infused the breeze with the scent of living rain and grass.  Friendly hearts nodded as if I could not fail.  Nothing can stop the magnolias now, and never mind the the crab apples and lilacs wrestling and straining against their cocoons of dark becoming even as we sleep.
Thanks, Mom, for bringing me here.  I love you.

More Magnolia


Can I tell you the truth?
The picture is an after-thought.
I don’t think I even notice the focus half the time, and truthfully, I don’t think it’s important.
I just want to find a way to see the magnolia, so that I can find out
what shape it is making inside of me.

Pink in Black and White


the precarious root is latin for prayer –
obtained by entreaty
at the pleasure of another.

i fit my life inside this word
unwittingly suiting my description to
a term which
tells my tale so completely,
absorbs the yearning invocation,
relieves me of the burden
answered at last.

Make Your Own Blue Sky


For professional reasons – and I am really not making this up – it’s become necessary for me to get my hands dirty on Pinterest.  It’s a mixed blessing.  I have a suspicion that the more actively we reinforce our role as onlookers, flagging and highlighting images others make and promote, the more we blunt the edge of our own unique voice.  But beauty can also make us hungry to create, and that is a good thing.

One thing I discovered on Pinterest is that, amidst the iterations of billowing butterflies and seraphic faces, my pictures would be the only pictures like mine.  Another’s vision of blooming dogwoods and violets can inspire me to look for my own, but only I can find this particular garden hiding in the clouds.

Thread Bare


Sunday my car was rear-ended by someone in a hurry to get to church.  And the hurry he was in was enough – about 20 mph worth – to mangle my bumper and misalign my trunk.  Yesterday I bit my fork and chipped a tooth.  My lungs are ever so much better, but the repercussions from the loss of work will linger in whatever surprises come with the insurance bills.

I’m feeling pretty vulnerable.  The ladders between the threads, the way they reveal a part of the structure of my world that I couldn’t see before, have their own beauty, though.  I can’t reweave these deconstructed areas, and expect them to hold together for long.   They offer only one option – a gentle and honest approach.  I don’t know when this experience will fade, or what will be different when it does.  But I think I will be glad to have held this fragile place with tenderness, and let it unfold into enough light to be clearly seen.


Many Happy Returns


Eighty eight years ago, Grace and Lamar spent the first night with their new little girl – Barbara Anne Downtain.  She lived in a caretaker’s house with her 2 brother and 2 sisters, squabbling and playing, and hiding from the adult forces beyond her understanding.  She saw this pitcher on the dining room table, watched her mother fill with flowers countless times.  Sometimes, she was the lucky girl who snuggled under this quilt, recovered enough from a summer cold to sit in the living room with the family, and listen to the opera from New York.  At some point, she made a firm decision that life, for her, required art and flowers.

And she grew up to be my mother.

Happy Birthday, Mom.  I miss you so much.