1. intense happiness.
2. the ability to find appropriate expression for one’s thoughts.

For me 2., if I can find it, always leads to 1.

Mary Oliver’s latest collection of poems Felicity may be my new favorite. I’m enjoying the cover painting, Fog Over Mendocino, by Kai Samuels-Davis just as much as the words. Shop his collection here.

Indiana State Fair


Indiana in pixels

Everything was big at the state fair. IMG_5796

We fed the kids an afternoon of swirling ice cream, curly potatoes and dizzying rides.

Pageant queens in large tiaras and flip flops waved to my little boy. He interviewed a few of them about which castle they lived in and how long they could stay in India-nana.

When the kids sat down with my husband in the air-conditioned arts building, they shooed me on to look at the photography on my own. I was thrilled to get the time and moved quickly through the hallway, looking back now and again to make sure nothing changed.

On the way to the photography exhibit, I found the quilts and knitting entries and studied the stitches.


The ribbons reminded me of my grandmother’s fair ribbons: first place satin bookmarks in her Bible that said things like, “best baby quilt” and “bluest hydrangeas.” She never entered the state fair so her ribbons were from places closer to home with curious names like The Mosquito Festival in Zoar and The Centennial Festival in Holland.


Her homemaking was her storytelling. I realized this would have been the state fair she would have entered had she tried. Somehow, thinking about that parallel geography so soon after our move to Indiana helped me feel less homesick and more part of dots being connected. I am at such close range to the dots now that I can’t yet see Sunday in the Park. I know the larger painting is there and that we are in the luncheon party somewhere on the bank, I just can’t step back long enough from unpacking and navigating new places to see it yet. Only swirls and dots and colors.

I almost missed the scrapbook section, but to look at all of the entries together was the most interesting anthropological snapshot of life here. I’ve made photo books for years, but never thought of them as art. My books were small, selfish endeavors to process things for myself or chronicle moments for my children. But to see the same kinds of pages in glass cases, under spotlights and with ribbons, made me think about my own journals with new objectivity. I could feel joy in the pages, even when looking at moments from the lives of strangers. Creative endeavors may not directly address the remediation of suffering in the world, but they are the important work that fuels us to remember why we try. This is ordinary life observed and storytelling and it is important. Our stories and connections to one another are the thing. They are important enough, big enough.
As big as a Ferris wheel.

Flip Turns

Strong coffee, two open windows and this song by Christina Courtin this morning after the kids were off to school and I am at my desk to work.


For too long I’ve been writing in safer places that I don’t share. And then my blog hosting renewal notice came in last week and I had to shell out a few nickels to keep this site around and began feeling guilty that Teaworthy is a garden I loved but left untended.

In the last week of March, just before the two-year anniversary of our last move, my husband got a job offer that would mean a move to Indiana. We were thrilled for him. It is a dream job.

But we also put a lot of love into our house.

The walls were our favorite colors. The windows and appliances new and clean. It smelled like us when you walk in the door. It felt like us along the stairs, past their artwork and my photographs of favorite days that my husband hung on the walls as a present for my birthday.

I re-watched the video of my children running down those stairs on Christmas morning and cried.

We had just swam the length of the pool in what felt like a 500M and now we had to go back and begin again- an extra breath, a swirl of momentum and a kick off the wall to start again.

We would need to find a new place and new schools, sell our home, leave behind friends who felt like family. It has been a really tough time, but it came on the heels of so much uncertainty in my own career that the leap felt safer than standing still. I had to take the “what-if” loop in my head out and pray for God to take it. Entirely. Even if I didn’t feel I deserved it, I needed help with the uncertainty and had to choose each day to surrender or there would be no breath left in me to make the revolution and begin another lap. The mornings I couldn’t turn it over in fear, I barely kept my head above water.

I guess if any of this has a point, mine today is that I am so thankful for Grace in this really tough time. God has a better plan for me than I have for me. I have to learn that lesson again and again.

We are still swimming, unpacking, adjusting but the pool has changed. Maybe the swimmer has too.





Out in the water earlier that day I told her, “look out, another wave is coming.”

“There’s always another wave coming Mommy.”

The truest true I’ve ever heard.

There’s so much delight in the wave
when it’s not knocking you down
and relief in the stillness when it comes.






“she loved the sea…”

Love this:

Gan-Gan from Gemma Green-Hope on Vimeo.

my seashells




To Listen: The Biscuits & Jam that are St. Paul & The Broken Bones

My new favorite album. Their Otis Redding covers are pretty great too.

To Read: Glitter & Glue


“Welcome to the show,” she used to say when she was three. It was like punctuation. An exclamation mark before the beginning of a sentence. Before she read a book or sang a song. “Welcome to the show.” It has certainly felt like that lately.

I had to think about that and laugh when we missed the show on Friday. We were at a different kind of show that goes on with no intermission around here. My husband had bought me tickets to see Ann Patchett read from her new collection of essays, This Is The Story of A Happy Marriage, in Louisville. We didn’t get there in time because of work, the new puppy and two amazing kiddos who are pretty hard to leave for any amount of time. But if we had made it to the show, I don’t know what I would have asked her to sign. Hers are the books that I finish and immediately hand off – like a baton in a relay – with, “you have to read this.”

If I had met her, I wouldn’t have time to get out what I would want to say – that I read Bel Canto on a boat trip with my dad that we had planned for years and that I left my copy to Penny and Ross, the sweetest couple who kept us safe and happy that week. Penny was from Australia, and Ross from England. They had met on New Year’s Eve in Sydney and have been inseparable since. They were such a lovely couple and Penny, who treated me like a baby sister all week (a role that makes me feel quite at home), said it sounded like a lovely book that she would like to read. I wonder if it’s still onboard. I would tell Ann that I gave Truth and Beauty to a friend who is as dear to me as Lucy was to her. I would tell her that my daughter hid my copy of State of Wonder because I didn’t look up from it on the road to Charleston, and that my husband, who has taught Heart of Darkness many times, would have to buy another copy of State of Wonder for himself. He had so many interesting insights into the book that were far more complex than mine, yet we both cried on the same page. But who would care about those details but me? The best thing would have been just to tell her that her stories become part of our lives.

I once heard Jhumpa Lahiri mention how strange it was for her to see Interpreter of Maladies sticking out of someone’s backpack in a coffee shop, something she wrote in private, because she realized in that moment it no longer belonged to her, but had a life of it’s own. That’s the scary thing, to me, about writing. Once the words are on the page, they are available for people to carry around in their own way, maybe in a way the writer didn’t intend. That is what always holds me back here. There’s a letting go requirement for everything I guess.

We still got to pick up some great books that Friday at Carmichael’s and have a long, drawn-out dinner at Jack Fry’s which is a perfect date and the kind of experience that is so much more restorative now than it would have been before sleep deprivation became a decade-long norm. But I appreciate every single thing now so much more. Even when it’s impermanence hits me like a wave.

It takes so long to prepare the moon to rise around here. Dinner and playtime and bath and books. It’s hours before everything is quiet and then we rush around to prepare for the next day. There are those rare nights, though, when no one wakes me up, but I am awake out of habit and I listen. The house has a pulse and I feel how much I’m needed in this house and it’s wonderful, but terrifying at the same time because I don’t want to miss anything or be missed. It’s hard not to sit up and start writing down the just-in-case instructions and thoughts and stories so that if anything happened, they would really know – know me, know how much I love them, know how much I want to get it right for them.

I have to start somewhere I guess. So tonight, I will begin. Even if someone else puts it in their backpack and takes it someplace I never intended. Because maybe it will be something someone takes on a trip with their dad, or gives to their best friend, or can’t put down because they feel like they aren’t the only one. But most of all, I want the soft breaths that are under this roof in the night to wake up one morning with a story they can return to and know they are always home.