Other Voices, Other Stories

I’ve been trying (again) to listen more.  I’m still not very good at it, as many of you know. Please accept my sincere apologies, all who have experienced the fire hose of verbiage that I can be.

I succeed most in venues where I absolutely cannot talk, or at least have to wait my turn, like poetry readings. There have been a few this month, the first a Friday night reading and Saturday morning workshop with Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer,* from the western slope.

Gateway Canyon, southwest Colorado-2015

She’s a beautiful, gentle soul who does many good and kind things, including writing poems on rocks that she leaves around Placerville, Colorado, on the banks of the San Miguel River (NOT pictured here).

Quechee Gorge, Vermont-2013

Her reading included music and art and was a delicious blend of beauty, whimsy, and laugh-out-loud humor, but also grief, loss, and enduring love. In the workshop, Rosemerry encouraged us to bring all of life to our poetry, including those complicated moments when laughter and weeping coexist.

A few days later, OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at CSU) hosted a reading for this year’s poetry students. More laughter. More tears. This willingness to be vulnerable has created a truly special community of writers.

So I can let others speak, if I don’t get too excited about the topic. I do mostly keep my mouth shut when home alone listening to a podcast, although I catch myself correcting–out loud–the most egregious misuses of “I” and “me.” Can’t help it. Drives me crazy.

Fortunately, some stories are so compelling, I completely forget myself. I listen, rapt, not caring about grammar. Classic favorite podcasts: This American Life and Fresh Air. Also Gospel in Life, which I’ve mentioned before.

I discovered another noteworthy podcast late last year: Ear Hustle. Described as “a consistently surprising and beautifully crafted series on life behind bars,” it was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 2020. I highly recommend it.

Finally, this past weekend, I attended another poignant poetry reading. The poet, a friend of a friend, has been told she has only months to live after the resurgence of an aggressive cancer. While she still feels strong, she has scheduled a number of life-affirming events and happily welcomed me, a complete stranger. She was charming and gracious, and it was a privilege to hear her beautiful poetry.  It–and she–left me blessedly speechless.

Sunrise over Lake Sunapee – 2015

Wishing you many opportunities to hear and be heard!

*Be sure to click the links to the various websites. Worth a look–and a listen–I promise.

Wine Tasting

Le Temps des Cerises, Paris

I’ve been sipping through a class called Wine Tour of France for the past four weeks, and it’s been great. Not as good as actually touring France while tasting wine, but I’ll take what I can get.  I’ve loved wine tasting since David’s brother Doug took us on our first jaunt through the Willamette Valley in Oregon.

Colene Clemens Winery

Of course, it’s partly the actual wine, but it’s also the stunning beauty of the scenery, and not just in France and Oregon. David and I stumbled upon this gorgeous place just outside Albuquerque one day in early 2013. We went for a drive and suddenly found ourselves pulling into the Casa Rondeña Winery.

Casa Rondeña Winery
Casa Rondeña Winery – March 2013

Still. I do love the beauty of France. We loved Saint-Émilion (more photos at this link). . .

On the Great Vineyards Train — Saint-Émilion in the distance

and the Loire Valley. Check here and here for more.

Château de Chinon
Near Tours – Val de Loire

Today, since I am in neither France nor the Willamette Valley, I drove up the Poudre Canyon for the scenery and fresh air.

Poudre Canyon – near Fort Collins, Colorado

It was a glorious afternoon, and I enjoyed a few quiet moments by the river out behind the Poudre Canyon Chapel. I haven’t felt fabulous since Easter weekend, but finally seem to be truly on the mend, so this was just what I needed.

Wishing you grace, peace, health, and beauty–wine and dancing under a shower of swirling blossoms optional!



Memories of Maui

I’ve been in a bit of a funk recently, for no good reason, just a few disappointments, the fact that spring still feels a lot like winter.  And I miss David. You might think after five years I’d be . . . what?  Immune? Over it? That’s not really how grief works. Focusing on the positive helps, though.

Maui – November 2003

So when I stumbled upon these photos from a November 2003 trip to Maui to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, I was not just cheered up. I was delighted. I’d thought the bulk of them were long gone. I’ve had the photo above enlarged, framed, and on the wall for years, because I just can’t get enough of those blues, but the rest were a wonderful surprise.

Maui 2003
Maui 2003
Maui 2003
Maui 2003
Maui  Sunset 2003

Sunsets are spectacular there, of course, but I also love the early morning light. The last two are from the walk we took every morning before breakfast.

Early morning Maui 2003

I don’t even know what to call that stunning shade of blue, undulating with peachy pinks and molten silver, flecks of navy in liquid mercury, but it feeds my soul somehow.

Maui morning – November 2002

So even though the early spring weather brought us a near-blizzard this morning, canceling one of my poetry classes and the first of five “Wine Tour of France” educational tastings, I’m okay.

I heard this today from Timothy Keller on the Gospel in Life podcast: “Because of God, there is an ocean, an infinite ocean of love and joy out there for us, and we’re trapped temporarily in a little tiny piece of darkness, microscopic practically. Evil is a passing thing. There’s light and high beauty forever beyond its reach because evil fell into the heart of Jesus. It doesn’t matter what happens. It’s going to be all right.” 

Take heart. It’s going to be all right.

Loads of Love

Who doesn’t think of love in February? Be it friends, family, or partners who spring to mind, there’s no escaping the ubiquitous theme of the month. In our family, it was also Brooks’ first birthday, a definite celebration of love for this little guy.

Time to get ready to party. Check out that look of love for his mama!

And for his big brother, Beckett–plenty of love to go around…

Beckett, Chelsea and Brooks 

I don’t know if Brooks loved his vegan cake, but he certainly seemed to enjoy it…

A few days after the party, I was with my friends Tom and Christy French.* Christy had invited me to come see the new Pathways Inpatient Care Center on Valentine’s Day. She would be playing a meticulously rebuilt and restored 1920 Steinway grand. This is the hospice organization that helped me care for David in his final weeks and then helped me begin to process my grief. I’m not sure what I would have done without them.

Christy plays weekly in the great room of the inpatient center for anyone who cares to listen, beautiful music that soothes the soul even when heard from down the hall. I’ve since learned that a number of my pianist friends also volunteer in this way. It’s a luminous, peaceful place, brimming with gorgeous art and overflowing with love–and sometimes with music. It was the perfect place to spend a bit of Valentine’s Day.

Then over to Chelsea and Brian’s to babysit and get my dose of love from Beckett and Brooks. I was a very good day. That morning, I had woken up to this…

Valentine’s Day Blooms

…at the height of perfection just that one day. It felt like a Valentine’s Day gift from beyond.

Wishing and praying for you loads of love, both to give and receive!

*The link on Tom and Christy’s names will take you to another post they’re in, as I usually do with my links, but it’s also the post with a link to the slideshow we showed at the Celebration of Life for David (including the little videos we showed only at the reception). Couldn’t resist watching it again and found myself smiling so much my cheeks hurt. Love does not end, thanks be to God!

Adventures in Wanderlust