Radio Silence

I might be coming out of radio silence. A little over month ago I got stopped in my tracks due to shocking news.

I have been reconciled with the fact that I likely will not have a relationship with my adult daughter in this lifetime. That acceptance has helped me to get on with my life a bit.

But I had held out hope that I might know my grandchildren who I knew for the first two and a half years of their life. It’s been four years since I have seen them. That hope was diminished at the end of January when I learned my daughter has put it her divorce papers that I am not to have contact with my grandchildren. My ex son in law was wanting me to know them again, but my daughter has made sure that will not happen. It’s heartbreaking. It has set me back. I was writing, I haven’t been writing.

I go to the store, someone asks me, “how are those grandkids of yours?” I say, “I don’t know” as my eyes start to water. This person tells me her cancer is back, her husband just beat colon cancer. She is chipper in her brightly colored clothes. My tears are still there, now for her and the gift of witnessing her strength. I tell her so.

On social media someone is showing off their new grandchild. I click away, happy for them while reminded that I do not have that privilege. I instead go searching for an island vacation.

What I know is that this feeling is temporary. I have to be gentle with myself and everyone involved. I will write again, I am writing now.

What I also know is while the family thing hasn’t worked out so well, I have some of the richest, most authentic friendships a person could ask for. I have kids in my life, a couple of them consider me their stand in grandmother. This does not go unnoticed and is not taken for granted. A therapist of mine says if you have one person you can call during your worst times you are rich in friendship. I have several of those “one” persons. I think they know I am that person for them as well.

In telecommunications, radio silence or Emissions Control is a status in which all fixed or mobile radio stations in an area are asked to stop transmitting for safety or security reasons. I believe it has been a safety issue to not be writing. It’s getting safe again.

Love you all, thanks for reading.

Honoring Barry Lopez

Many of you know we lost the legendary Barry Lopez on Christmas Day after his struggle with terminal cancer. For lovers of language, this world and it’s people it is a great loss. My heart hurts for those close to him, his wife and daughters. They have endured much loss this sorrowful year. The Oregon fires up the McKenzie River, left their property charred and them unmoored. They received the midnight knock on the door demanding they leave within minutes. They grabbed the cat and left. The house is damaged but fixable.
On Christmas Eve, this piece was published in LitHub, An Era of Emergencies is Upon Us and We Cannot Look Away. A gift to have Barry’s viewpoint that day.
In an All Things Considered interview, March, 2019, Barry shares some of how his cancer diagnosis changed him and created more empathy, “I imagined in everybody I passed there was some story that they carried with them that would break your heart. So how could you have the temerity to approach that person and say, here’s what’s wrong with you?”
A few days ago, Literary Arts: The Archive Project re-aired an interview with Barry. It’s worth a listen, more than once, to glean all he has for us to contemplate. A grown up is someone who no longer needs supervision, “meaning they know immediately how to act in a way that harms no one and takes care of everybody in so far that is possible. We are in a time where we are desperate for grown-ups, people who have gotten over themselves, to come together and using the power of imagination that each of us has, create a landscape that no one has ever seen before.” Barry Lopez
In Barry’s honor donations may be made to McKenzie River Trust.

A note for you: If you are looking for a way to seek connection, inspiration and a consistent practice of journaling, The Isolation Journals is offering journaling prompts free for ten days beginning January 1st. Click here: https://www.theisolationjournals.com/10-day-challenge

I am off to buy black-eyed peas to cook and serve on New Year’s Day in order to bring good luck for this new year.

Yellow lilies for solstice

For the shortest, darkest day of the year I share with you beautiful writing from a friend who also moved West from the South.

On The Solstice: Deep Winter Dreams of the Spring to Come by Rick Bass

“I believe they dream of beauty: of the yellow lilies of Easter, and the wild violets and rank mushrooms and pink flesh of trout; of berries, of stones, of antlers, feathers, moss, fire. And fire’s warmth.”

It was a gift to have this be my first read of the day. Hope it is for you as well.

Love is bigger than any grim, bleak shit anyone can throw at us. Anne Lamott

“Hope is not about proving anything. It’s about choosing to believe this one thing, that love is bigger than any grim, bleak shit anyone can throw at us.” ~@ANNELAMOTT

This holiday season, I’m believing it Anne. Holidays have become so different from what I was brought up to believe they are all about. Lots of decorations, lots of presents, parties, food, family and sometimes drunk daddies. All of that did feel magical at times, the anticipation of Santa and what he would bring was real and exciting. No matter how old I get, I can feel that on Christmas Eve, as ridiculous of an idea that it is. Maybe I kinda like that feeling for a moment though. Is it possible that there is magic, is it possible a gift will be left tomorrow, even if it is a phone call from a loved one?
Even though we did have a pile of presents before us as we entered the living room on Christmas morning, I don’t remember what the presents were, except for the sting ray bike. I still have a picture of me on it. We did some miles together and made some memories. A few fond Christmas memories stick with me: the year we had children from the orphanage over to make cookies and the times we visited the orphanage after that. Our time with orphans was a project my mama was involved in through the Junior League or church. I’m not sure which one, but it was her duty to society none the less. I loved it. I also love the memory of running around Christmas eve day delivering presents of baked goods or the like to friends and neighbors. And Christmas Eve service at church was always calming with the candles lit and carols being sung.
Aside from those memories, it all felt like a lot of show. Once I moved to Montana in the 80’s, my older brother lived here in Missoula as well. Christmas Eve, we shared a meal then geared up for a cross country ski at the neighborhood golf course. Silently sliding across the glistening moonlit snow ❄️ I felt warmth, peace and love.
I have a little bit of Christmas in me this year for whatever reason. I won’t be buying any presents. I will be hiking with friends, gathering greenery to decorate with. Some baking will happen. Baked goods will be delivered to dear friends. There will be warmth, peace and love. Wishing you the same.

Contemplating God

On a recent drive, I finished listening to Love is the Way, Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times by Bishop Michael Curry. It was so comforting and got me thinking, contemplating God, religion, my church upbringing and how do I feel about all that now. I had heard Bishop Curry being interviewed on
Brene Brown’s podcast. His voice, Southern accent, Southern stories and his message of love got me interested in his book. I grew up in the Episcopal church. Even though I don’t attend church anymore, I appreciate growing up in this somewhat liberal church with rituals of communion, incense, and fellowship. 
How do I feel about all that? I appreciate the experience of the Episcopal church, although I can only remember feeling the presence of God there once. It was a Christmas Eve service at our church, St. James in Jackson, MS. My parents and my daughter attended. The church had invited the children’s choir from a local black church to join our children’s choir. As those precious faces looked out and sang Happy Birthday Jesus, I was moved to tears. This coming together of people who are not the same is where I see God. I didn’t feel him at any of my three church weddings, the obligatory Sunday morning services or in the priest office where I was sent as a middle schooler when my family was experiencing trouble. When the priest asked if I had ever masturbated and suggested I try it, I never went back for another session. Who knows where that might have gone. 

Attending a webinar with Kiese Layman and his auntie Rev. Carolyn Coleman, I witnessed love. Reverend Coleman reminds us silence is a great teacher, a great communicator. I have learned that during the past four years more than any other time in my life. She also reminds, until you learn to forgive the unforgivable, you don’t really know how to love. Recognize there are imperfect places in all of us, the grace of God covers us and calls us to still rise. With silence and forgiving myself, I am loving myself and others more and more. Someone recently said to me, “I can forgive you”. Those genuine words have brought a sense of peace and lighter heart. Although neither of us are church goers, God was felt. Ironically, some of those I know who are church goers and followers of Jesus are the ones I feel the most judgement and lack of love from. 

Krista Tippitt, On Being, Remembering Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks – Rabbi Sacks tells us we need to be enlarged by people who are different from us, not threatened. We should see that the welfare of others is linked to our own and is best for our own welfare. He wrote Dignity of Difference which is a radical proposal for reconciling hatreds. I’d like to think we can reconcile civilizations and our closest personal relationship and love will rule. 

How do I feel about all that? God shows up in all of us, in community, in nature, in silence, yes sometimes church. I believe most, if not all religions are trying to get at the same thing: love, and how to live in communion in this world. I believe our relationship with God is private. 

“Follow your dream, speak your truth” Rev. Carolyn Coleman

Art and small business gift buying

It may not be the holidays of large family gatherings this year. Who knows maybe that relieves a lot of stress for some. But we all need connection. I continue to me amazed at the connections and support I have made through writing groups and workshops online. Certainly regular phone calls and short outdoor visits with friends go a long way. Won’t it be amazing though when you can run up and give those friends a hug.
Some of my friends are amazing artists and creators. In the spirit of the holidays and connections consider supporting some these creative spirits, send a gift to that person who could really use a package showing up on their doorstep.


Annie Heron Ceramics – I have watched Annie from the beginning, creating pottery, seeing the absolute joy it brings her, and making a living for herself through her pieces. A cup of coffee or tea is sure to taste better in one of her cups.


LeBrie Rich, PenFelt Studio – be sure to check out some of her “way beyond esty” level felted art work. She has introduced some felting kits for all levels to get you through the winter.


Paul Jean’s Garden – Paula is a fellow Southern gal who made her way west to Montana. She lives in beautiful Paradise, MT. One of her woodland lavendar wreaths would make someone very happy.


Joule Art – Terry McIlrath is the artist behind Joule Art paintings, cards and prints. “Artists are the guardians of the human spirit.”


FildiDesign – cool stuff from badass brain – Joyce offers up cool stickers, apparel and more. She also has started a tile business serving Missoula, MT, JOYceof Tile


Savona’s Bitchin’ bohemian boutique – Clothing, jewelry, accessories and more. I worked for Savona years ago. She was my mentor when I opened my own vintage re-sale store, offering up her business sense and good taste.

Susan Carlson – See the world through Susan’s collage, it’s a treat.

Cry-kerchief – Taj hand embroiders kerchiefs, a place for your tears to land. Custom orders welcome. Find her on instagram.

I always have photo greeting cards available for purchase, my heart puddle is perfect for almost any occassion.


Heart puddle greeting card

Comes with envelope in clear sleeve.

$3.00