24 July 2018

Blessed honored pioneers

Yesterday was a workout, full of tension, anxiety, and release. As I was going to sleep last night, I had an inspiration: “Start the day with the morning devotional.” The idea is familiar to me, and in the past I’ve bookmarked it, but never taken action and made it a serious practice. This morning, on Pioneer Day, I made a start and a commitment to myself to work it in somehow, and already I’m pleased with how it’s shaping my day.

Yep, I am a descendent of people who were “Mormon pioneers.” I’ve also come from people who pioneered in other times and places by surviving and stopping cycles of addiction and abuse; by embracing new faith and unfamiliar ways, and making strenuous journeys within the walls of their ordinary homes, rather than through the dust and miles of a wild nation. I’m proud of all the members of my families who’ve in one way or another pushed on, faced fears and darkness and resistance, and stretched toward the light of hope. I honor them today, and I’m grateful I took some personal time to sing and study and pray and reflect. I’m interested in making morning devotional a daily practice, even if it’s only for just a handful of minutes before the usual craziness of the day begins.

To all pioneers, past, present, and future, I offer my respect and gratitude for your spirit of continuing and for your beautiful and imperfect courage. I want to be like you.

18 June 2018


1- Three cicadas came into my house this afternoon, on a stick brought home from the canyon by a happy hiker who shall remain nameless. “They’re on their way out,” he said, meaning out of this world, as in they’re near the end of their life cycle and they’ll soon be on their way to Bug Heaven. By this evening all three had defied the captor’s logic and gone off exploring in our house. This one was found, and we each took a turn holding him-her-they. The cicada resisted being taken outside and left in a tree and kept flying back onto Rob’s shirt. Finally, I encouraged it onto a green branch and it stayed. There are still two cicadas somewhere in my house.

2- Watching The Incredibles 2, for free, in a lounge chair theater. I fell under the Pixar spell, as I always do. The pre-show short, Bao, had me in tears. The feature, of course, was excellent, such good storytelling and execution. It’s probably strange how much gratitude I feel for Brad Bird, but I love his vision, and his creative integrity. He and his collaborators add to the collective joy in this world. If I were counting up reasons to keep on living, I would put seeing Brad Bird’s films-yet-to-be on the list, and not too far from the top, no kidding. Thank you to SmartyStreets for letting Rob and me share some seats in your private Cinemark screening today.

3- Clean water

4- Mexican Coke

5- Nice aunties and uncles who love Moxie

True confessions

Do you live near me? Like, next door, or within earshot? If so, I want to apologize for the ungodly sounds that likely passed through the windows and walls of my home this morning. I had a breakdown, and it came out in wretched gut-emptying cries and screams, waves upon crashing waves of them. I could not hold them back. I’m sorry to anyone who experienced any part of it: Rob, and maybe unlucky you. In case you’re worried, Moxie was not present, and only saw a couple of my quieter tears fall before the real trouble began.

I don’t write this to make you uncomfortable, or to be an exhibitionist, but to be honest. I’d like to be able to go on like nothing happened. I’d like to think that nobody shared in the upset this morning, but since as I sit here by my window now, hearing a child’s little voice from more than half a block away, and the front door of a house being shut somewhere, and the rap of a hammer one of my distant neighbors is using to fix a thing, I can only imagine that my volume and vehemence likewise carried on the breeze, to my shame. 

This is not a new feeling. Early on in my marriage, I had some deep issues rise to the surface and really shock me, and there were times when Vesuvian emotions erupted. Always there followed the burning fear that someone had heard me (or us) passing through my hell, and sometimes people did. The worry of it only compounded the terror and the shame of whatever I was going through. I could almost hear devils laughing at me and my distress, and my pain which had been so gracelessly broadcast to the world. 

I am coming out of the worst of this now, and I’m trying to put myself back together. Moxie is playing in the shop with Rob while he works, and I’m locked in the bathroom, deciding to come clean, as it were. 

It got so bad today that I found myself hyperventilating, sinking, starting to black out. I lay down on the cold chipped tile of the kitchen floor and tried to slow my breathing and the pounding of my heart. When the hot lava had all been spewed out and its flow was slowing, I kept still there a long while, then fragments of prayer began to form in my head. I talked to God in broken bits of language about feeling lonely, disordered, ignorant, unskilled, and disconnected. A scripture came to my mind: “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him.” —Isaiah 53:2 That scripture is about Jesus Christ, the sweetest, strongest, and most perfected of us all! And yet He felt what I feel.

There wasn’t much else that came to me, except that as I lay there, recovering, I was reminded that I have words. Maybe they aren’t educated or imaginative, my words, but I have been given something of a gift of expression with writing. Their main purpose may only be therapy for me. Occasionally I know they’ve helped me share something of value with others. Words. There was no divine negation of the validity of my feelings, not a hint of correction. In the stillness, on the ground, I breathed and understood that I had two things going for me: I have a Brother who knows what I feel, and I have some words.

This is why I’m writing now, because it’s what I’m able to do. I hope you find something about this useful.
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Three years and three months later

As Father’s Day 2018 comes to a close, I’m wearing earbuds while I read and write in bed, listening to my MaMuse station on Pandora. Rob is snoring softly beside me. Moxie is asleep in her own bed downstairs, having been carried there after catching the train to Slumberland from the parental bed station. I wish I were eating homemade pot stickers, the ones I added to the extended family pot luck earlier this evening. I’d never made them from scratch before—a keeper recipe.

I miss the family I came from. I’m thankful for the dear people I’ve gained through marriage, adoption, and plain friendship.

Look at this. I’m blogging again, Who’s really got time for writing? I certainly don’t, yet here I am. Seems like nobody even reads blogs these days. So I guess I’ll be talking to myself, mainly.

Foods of a day spent celebrating Rob and our dads:
Shaved ice made from peach nectar
Banana yogurt breakfast parfaits with squares of orange chocolate
Rhubarb custard pies, one beautiful, and one that couldn’t make custard without the forgotten eggs
Beef pot stickers
Thai curry popcorn
Root beer floats at church
Pot luck at Ahma’s house and the plate of food I had to abandons
A bag of Gin Gins for Rob

20 March 2015

Changing seasons

Yesterday, the last day of winter—
Minutes after my forlorn little blog post, I was sitting on my front porch with Moxie, pausing after our stroller walk, when completely out of the blue, she projectile-vomited, twice, with a force so powerful I later had to clean the INSIDE of a closed wooden chest which holds our shoes. As I sat there in astonishment, at the epicenter of the spew, I stripped mucky Moxie down and yelled for help from Rob, who just happened to be in the house at the time. Careful to keep his feet on dry land, he laughingly reached across the gorge and rescued our little puker from the great puddle that was once my lap. He kept on laughing as he took her into the bedroom to change her diaper and get her comfortably pajama-ed while I took care of the damage.

About the time I got the floor mopped up and the furniture clean I heard a loud exclamation. Still covered with barf, I ran in to find Rob hunched over a naked, startled baby Moxie on our bed, and pulling all four corners of her changing pad up around her. He was paralyzed. I knew exactly what had happened. "Geyser?" I asked. "She's in a pool of pee!" he cried desperately. "Grab something! Help!" I brought in a towel. We managed to make a less than devastating transfer; the bed only got wet on his side. Heh.

So this was a first—it was Moxie's first complex blowout. I know there's still room for another level of achievement, but hey, a 2-in-1 is impressive. And a funny way to conclude Mama's bout of personal melancholy.

Today, the first day of spring—
I got the last paper, a medical form, filled out and signed and turned in to the agency. There's nothing more to do now except drive to the courthouse Monday with my people, pay some legal fees, stand before the judge and smile and cry as he pronounces us a legal family. WHAT!

Moxie and I went a-thrifting, and found us each a good outfit to wear to court on Monday, and only spent $12. Hey!

Rob and Moxie and I attended the annual Book Collectors' Conference luncheon at BYU. Rob prints their keepsake every year, and this year he also taught a workshop on lino cuts. It was nice to see some friendly familiar faces, and to introduce them to our little party crasher.

We three spent the afternoon together. We visited the South Valley pound and pondered dog ownership AGAIN, considered adopting a hulking backyard bunny that looked like a dalmation, and watched with great interest as a prison inmate and one of the medical staff chased down a hellcat that flew out of its cage when someone opened the door to refresh its water. Have you ever watched an angry cat go insane escaping and run up walls?

We went on a ramble down Spanish Fork way. First, we got hooked by a promising sign that said HUGE ESTATE SALE and gave directions. We drove and drove, following more signs in this series, and after about a dozen arrows and maybe that many meandering miles, we found ourselves in Woodland Hills, up against the mountain. A nice place, forested, with a beautiful view and some good houses. But the estate sale? Cruddy leather couches, an old Pfaff, lampshades and worn out Mormon vinyl lps: Osmonds, MoTabs, Carpenters. Lots of beige and plaid. We were duped! But it was fun anticipating the treasures we didn't find. And it was interesting exploring that area.

We found an antique store we hadn't been in for some years, bought a small cheerful treasure. Discovered that Moxie seems to like creepy old dolls. Anything with a face, maybe, but the antique dollies appeared to capture her interest most. What does it mean? We'll have to pay a visit to Cat's Cradle Antiques soon to test her tolerance.

Finished off our time with BYU Creamery burgers and fries then headed for home. Rob and Moxie were both such great company today. Our little girl was bright and in great spirits all day and we all laughed together a lot. The world is beautiful right now with all its blooming and bursting. The only downside to this kind of fun day is that it has to end—Rob has to work late, and Moxie is peeved that she is called upon to sleep. Oh well, still worth it. A few rounds of reading, singing, fighting against the zzzs, succumbing, waking, crying and yelling, and I got her settled, for the night, finally, with kisses and promises that we'll have another day in a few hours.

I worked on a project while my people both worked on their own, and at the end of my day, I dipped into my "creative account" and ordered two instruments online. If you're still reading this travelogue, can you guess what they are?

It was a good first day of a new season. It feels like a party when the world begins coming to life. Makes me want to sing. Or make something sing.

19 March 2015

Mothers need mothers

I have gotten a later start than some on mothering, but my hope and plans are to keep myself clear-minded, able-bodied, and strong enough to love well for a long, long time to come. If Moxie has a child herself one day, there will be times when she cries for her own mother's comfort and wishes for familiar relief and support, and maybe perspective. I want to be able to give her that relationship, in the flesh. I want to remember what the good times and the hard times feel like, so she'll have an empathetic friend in me. Even if she doesn't have a child—of course! But right now I'm having specially keen grandmotherly visions because I miss my own mama so much. I wish she would come walking through my front door. Mothering is kicking my butt. Yes, I love it. It shreds me some days. 

17 March 2015

Around my heart in 181 days

This is fun:


I always liked playing with calculators. My folks bought me a fancy one for high school that did all sorts of great higher math tricks, plus it could spell—it was during the time when it was a popular game to make words out of numbers. Did anyone else do this, or am I the only one who geeked out making a Texas Instruments Scientific say HELLO?

Key in 0.7734 and turn your calculator upside down. See? Fun. Sadly, this probably won't work with your smartphone, but if you can find an old calculator in your parents' junk drawer, you can teach it to say words like hillbillies, legless, oozes, and—hey!—even my name, Geo.

Here's a list of possibilities to get you started:


So there's this beautiful baby in my life—my ladyfriend, my small woman, my seedling, my Mighty Mox, my daughter. I wake her up in the morning and she smiles hilariously. I spend the day feeding and caring for her, teaching her, playing with her, and trying to solve the great puzzle of mothering, and she accepts many of my efforts. I sing her to sleep at night, poor little thing! She practices talking (through a megaphone?) in the middle of the night. She is a funny, intelligent, delightful creature. And today she turned six months old! That's 181 days! I've been there for every one so far. She's circled my heart countless times since September and I am bound, captured. It's joy to love this child and to watch her become herself. I do not have words to express the depth of gratitude I feel for the opportunity to be a wife and mother. I'm glad my husband and I are making this journey together.

Next Monday morning, Rob and Moxie and I will go to court and be able to finalize this adoption. We thought we were going to have to wait till late April, but we just learned that we can shave a month off that expectation. Standing before the judge will be a small moment, but one that changes history for all of us, forever.

This is a great age, six months. There's so much discovery. I'm amazed at the rapid, solid way little humans grow and learn. Moxie's projects today were, with my help, practicing pulling herself up to sitting and balancing, and, without my help, finding new items to snatch while playing in her walker. Yesterday it was just a dish towel that hung on the fridge door. Today it was the dish towel, an outgoing box of thrift store donations, magazines, books, and her daddy's bathrobe. Luckily, I got to the bathroom garbage can before she did. I'm surprised to have to start babyproofing so early, but hey, it just means she's becoming capable and independent, right? Naps and spoons are becoming more familiar. Drinking (or something like it) from our water glasses, and tongue-scrubs are favorite fascinations. Nose-wiping results in thrashing wails, but the nose-sucker, now that's entertainment. I give her a chance at the piano most days, while she sits on my lap. Today she attacked the keys with enormous enthusiasm, giving them her best pounding yet and throwing her whole little force into making those sounds. She likes to dance with me and ride around on me, supervising and grabbing at whatever I lay my hands to. She gets excited about books as well and would like to devour them.

This is typical; all babies do these kinds of things. But HOW INCREDIBLE IS IT THAT I, OF ALL PEOPLE, GET TO BE HERE, EXPERIENCING THIS. My mind is forever blown and I want to savor all of it I can.

I can't count as high as my amazement. I'm going to need one powerful calculator to help me add up all the good words: belle, bibs, blesses, bliss.

I think I want to blog again.

Is it okay, to start again AGAIN? I've let seven months pass without a post. Is this finally a dead blog? Should I let it rest in peace? Do I need to move away from Bright Street and find myself some new digs? I mean, I am a mother now. I AM A MOTHER, PEOPLE. DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I'M TELLING YOU?

Neither do I.

This is a blog post. I am blogging. Maybe I'll blog here a while longer, or maybe soon I'll give you directions to a new home for some of my words.

Meanwhile, three things:
  1. Armed with a bulb syringe you CAN win battles against bubbling baby snots. 
  2. Something about dividing your meal with an unexpected guest feels a little sacred.
  3. How did it get to be 1:00 in the morning? No wonder I'm tired. 
Tomorrow my baby girl turns six months old. DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I'M TELLING YOU? I AM A MOTHER, PEOPLE.

16 August 2014


Surprise #1: Happy balloons & a mysterious note.

Fess up, you mysterious note-writer.
We've been analyzing your handwriting and love your dry humor. 

Surprise #2: There's a porta-potty parked in front of my house. 

Surprise #3: Pretty flowers and a thoughtful note from friends.
Thank you, Bairds! 

Not pictured: The nicest surprise of all—going for a drive in the Uintas with Rob and enjoying three more hours with him than we'd planned together today. Gosh, I've been missing that guy lately. Work, work, work. 

A nice day. Thanks, everyone. Except for you, construction workers. I wish you'd move that porta-potty.

My angels

I quit my opiates cold turkey yesterday to get my head clear enough to prepare for the arrival of baby Moxie (her placeholder name till we find something permanent). Today I woke up hurting and sick and it was hard to come to life. As I lay in bed , trying to sort myself out, I got a call from my little nephew, F. He's getting into a real groove with FaceTime lately and it's fun. Last night he had his first awful migraine—they run in the family—and today he felt headachey but better. It was nice keeping each other company a while. I love my nephews and nieces.

Early this evening, two of my nieces, the littles, came over and climbed into bed with me. (I didn't spend the whole day there, just most of it.) We talked about Moxie. They had questions. They wanted to see a picture of Moxie's biological mama. D., the older of the two little girls, said to me, "For every loss there is a gain." Isn't that a great thing to remember? And very true in this case—here I am, recovering from a hysterectomy that I didn't want, and VOILA, here comes a baby that I do. I try always to pay attention to my nieces and nephews. They are all such good people, and often wise.

Moxie's bio mama wants her to grow up around blonde children so she'll blend in well. WE'VE GOT IT COVERED!

I invited the girls to toss out suggestions for a baby name. A. thought of several names, most of which already belong to other beloved cousins. But she also said Rose, which set us off brainstorming flowers. I pulled The Language of Flowers down from the bookshelf and D. and I perused the possibilities while A. played one of my ukes and wrote a song—

Living in the west.
Make a lamp.
Make a tent.
Sleep well.

She added two more verses later—
I like to hike.
I like living by myself.

A. serenaded us and then D. and I settled on naming the baby Bluebell Speedwell. So there you have it!

After dinner with family, D. wanted to braid my hair—always a great activity when you find yourself with a pokey convalescent who'll do nothing but sit still for you. D. made me a fishtail—

Am I not a mermaid? I'm a lucky auntie, at the very least.

I was also blessed today with a grownup visitor—my beautiful friend, Nancy. It's a rare treat to get to spend an hour with her. Her visit was a light to me and a lift, and I realized while she was talking that I've had a great ministering of angels—earthly angels—recently. Probably the other kind too. Other friends have come In person or have written loving words. A few family members have come too. These have checked in after my surgery. They showed up after I made the big announcement yesterday. They bring baby accoutrements, cheer, happy tears, sometimes laughably sober hospital faces, food, friendship and interest. I love their good energy. I love them. They don't think of themselves as angels, I imagine, but I do. And the same goes for Rob; he's an angel of mercy, the goodest of them all.

God bless my angels.

14 August 2014

Welcome to our world

Something wonderful has happened, is happening, will happen. Rob and I have made a new friend. She is bright and funny, good-hearted and brave, kind, communicative and beautiful. I loved her the first moment I saw her, and even a little before that. This young vibrant woman is pregnant, and has chosen Rob and me to be the adoptive parents of the baby girl she is carrying. And we have said yes. 

This child is due to arrive September 21st, but there's a good likelihood she won't wait past the end of August. We would appreciate any prayers and good thoughts you can send thisaway, to help our friend through the homestretch and beyond, and to help us prepare for and receive this unspeakably lovely gift. 

We just wanted you to know. 

And happy anniversary to us. August 14th—it's an auspicious day, as friends told us years ago.