99 Words for 99 Days: July 31

  1. Transfigured
Sometimes we can see what will be before it can be. We sense it. Hear it in the wind. Feel it on our skin. And then it goes – and we cry out – outraged that it is not yet. We mourn. And there must needs be a Gethsemane. A Calvary. A death to which we turn and a resurrection to the new. Then the moment of knowing – the flash of light transfigured – not a trick of the sun in our eyes, but a promise – it lives. We know. In that other moment, we were transfigured.


99 Words for 99 Days: July 19

45. Inside

Days fill up. All by themselves, sixty minutes per hour, they fill. They pass. Or, that is how it seems. I've begun again to wonder about this sense of passing. Perhaps I need to move around a bit and get a better look. I mean, what if they're not filling up, but instead, I'm standing in the flow of a current, and the time that's going by is a sense of the numinous – the unspeakable? This is surely what the mystics mean by God's being in the moment. Only in the moment. Only in this moment. Inside of now.


99 Words for 99 Days: July 19

44. Columbia

The most surprising part of a surprising day was the drive. New job training, new location, new people, new procedures . . . but none of these things surprised me as much as the river today. My first day at that job, and the electricity went down, and the library's own computer records system crashed briefly, and the public computers got error messages and went completely nuts. But the river. The deeply life-flowing water on its way to the sea – the river was near me. I drove on the highway beside it, and the river knew my name.


99 Words for 99 Days: July 17

43. Seen

The fans blowing in the bedrooms down the hall are trying to move cooler air through the house. A puff of the night wafts in here too. Words refuse to surface. I'm in such peace tonight. Sometimes we don't see much of the unseen. Sometimes we're blind. That's probably just as well, I suppose. Most of the time, I think, it would terrify us to know more than we already do. But sometimes – for a moment or a season – the curtain moves – and we see. We know. The universe pulses with it. I guess it's love.


99 Words for 99 Days: July 15

  1. It rained then, too
Twenty-nine years ago, on this date, July 15, it rained. It was, I think, about this temperature, just about the same amount of splashy dampness in the air as there has been today. I remember it because I was paying a lot of attention to the weather. Today was the day of our wedding rehearsal. Tomorrow, it was The Day. Twenty-nine years ago, all I could think about was how ready I was for tomorrow to finally come. In 1983, it rained every day for the first fifteen days of July. On the sixteenth day, the sun came out.


99 Words for 99 Days: July 13

41. Anticipation on a Friday evening

Is there anything – anything at all – more luxurious than the anticipation of a quiet and easy morning coming? Nobody has to leave early. There's good fresh coffee in the house waiting to be ground and brewed. There are almond croissants waiting to rise overnight and be popped into the oven in the when we wake up. There is stuff to do, of course, but there is no need to do it right away. Not first thing. Tomorrow, when we wake up in the soft, cool breeze coming through the window, everything around us will be beautifully still.


99 Word for 99 Days: July 12

  1. . . . and counting
Yesterday I skipped another day. Too much to do, too late at night, too early starting, too many thoughts and attachments and responsibilities. Today's makes 40 posts instead of 42. I count them. 99 Words for 99 Days is taking longer than that. I watch the numbers. Click. Click. Today I see the thousand ways I think like a capitalist. Like a consumer. Like a woman with her harvests gathering into a barn, almost forgetting to eat, and drink, and be merry, counting. Keeping track. Enumerating. But tomorrow we die, so . . . today I think I'll live.


99 Words for 99 Days: July 10

  1. The Sounds of Summer
Through the open window this morning, on the fresh morning air, I could hear the train moving through the Gorge, and I hear it now – in the evening – after dinner – when the sun is only in the tops of the fir trees, making them golden against the pale blue of a very gentle sky. At the base of the trees, enclosed by them, encircled, our hay field and the man on the tractor, pulling the rake. Clacka clacketta clacka clacketta – katack katack katack. Smaller and smaller circles around. Now in the middle of the field.


99 Words for 99 Days: July 9

My mom's mom, and my daughter, 1985

  1. The Ninth
It's the ninth of July, and yesterday didn't count in my 99 days because I didn't write here. It's the ninth of July and it's the day I was going to get married, but the church was booked, so we put it off for another week. It's the ninth of July and the reason I wanted to get married on this day is because this was my grandmother's birthday, and so today I miss her. I miss her lima beans and tomatoes, and I miss her crocheted slippers and painted pillowcases. I miss her sharing these things with me.


99 Words for 99 Days: July 7

  1. On the Morning of my Birthday
There's no good reason to be fully awake so early today. I need to go to work, but not for a couple of hours. If I'd slept in, though, I wouldn't have seen the sweet and exuberant baby deer with their mother. Two little ones, one momma, and much cavorting at the edge of the mown field, over where the blackberry vines engulf the old fence beside the forest. The trio is not making much progress up the field. It looks like the walk around the block a two-legged mom might take with kids. Sidetracked. Random. Leaping, running, morning.


99 Words for 99 Days: July 6

36. On the Eve of My Birthday

I'll have a birthday tomorrow, I think.
I'll be another year older.
I'll go to work and come home and I'll drink
A toast to the brave and the bolder.

I am as old as my grandmother was
When she was a grandma to me,
But my kids are not settled, not homebound, not bearing.
My kids are the brave and the free.

Someday, when the children my children bring home
To me and my husband, their father,
Those children will wonder if grandmother's home
Was always this quiet. It wasn't.

Birthday arriving.
Children're thriving.
God's bless'd us.


99 Words for 99 Days: July 5

  1. Particulate Matter
Part of me participating in the day's particles and part of me elsewhere. I feel stippled. A person made of Pointillism. Pixilated. All my dots have looked, I think, like a whole and present person to the people who surrounded me – the people with whom I talked as I passed out library flyers for the Jugglemania guy and the blood drive. All around the town I went. “Would you be willing to post one for us?” “Thank you!” They didn't see my pixels. My points. My dots of color quivering and ready to fall quietly apart.


Why I Love America

The Fourth of July - that's what I've always called it in my head. It's not "Independence Day" to me - not really. On the fourth day of the seventh month of the year, I feel roots and heritage and ties and all the weight and guilt and joy of community. I also feel celebratory in a very personal way. After all, on the day of fireworks and parades and The Pops on the TV out on the deck in the back of the house where my dad sat to eat popcorn in the flickering blue of the screen in the dark after we'd lit our sparklers and written our names in trails of light in the air ... on that day, it was almost my birthday ... and then my grandmother's ... and then my dad's ... and later on, the next thing became my wedding anniversary. The fourth day of the month of July is big for me.

So I wonder - what is it about these national days that seems to encourage national griping? We feel silly in celebrations more of the mid-twentieth century than of our current day, perhaps. Nobody wants to feel as if they still live on the set of Mad Men. Not really. Today I've seen all the "but remember" wet blanketing and its Janus-faced cousin, "because of the military," posts and broadcasts and talking and defending, and now I want to say something.

I don't love America because America is the best place that God ever made. There have been a lot of good places in history and on our planet. But I do love America. I love our brash hopefulness and our resilience, most of all.

Remember the movie Apollo 13? Two scenes in that movie are made of such distilled American mentality that they say it all for me. Jim and Marilyn Lovell are in their backyard, looking up at the moon, after their party. He says to her, "From now on, we live in a world where man has walked on the moon. And it's not a miracle, we just decided to go."

Then there's the scene at Control in Houston, when they realize they've made square pegs and round holes between the parts of the craft.
 [Several technicians dump boxes containing the same equipment and tools that the astronauts have with them onto a table]
Technician: We've got to find a way to make this
[square CSM LiOH canister]
Technician: fit into the hole for this
[round LEM canister]
Technician: ... using nothing but that.

And they do it!!

That's why I love America. We dare. We dare to dream of possibilities that don't yet exist - and we stride out into our possibilities and fix it when we get there.

We're about to fix health care, I think. It might take us another hundred years. We don't really want to fix it the way the Old World fixed it - and really, we probably shouldn't. In America, we need to do things the way that works for Americans. But we can, and we will, and I think we've started to. Whenever we have remembered that we're all Americans, and that we can and should take care of each other, we have fixed all kinds of things. We opened our colleges to returning veterans and paid their way -- and got the most incredible generation of ideas, corporations, innovations, and public servants imaginable. We stopped pretending that those who don't own land, or women, or black people weren't people. We realized we all have a stake in this land we love. And we opened up the vote. We freed our slaves (finally!), and we have been hammering and rubbing away at the vestiges of inequality ever since.

We know, deep in our starred and striped hearts, that all men are created equal, and that the tyranny of the rich and powerful is not for us. It's time to fight for that idea once more. Here we are again. One nation. Indivisible. This is our heart, and this is our soul, and this is how we work it. Our nation is The People of The Idea, and that idea is a fair playing field and a sure and certain knowing that we are, all of us, rich and poor and black and white and brown and gay and straight and Christian and Muslim and Jew and Buddhist and pagan and heathen and Native and ordinary and extraordinary ... every single one of us, right to expect liberty and justice for all. And for that, I love America.

99 Words for 99 Days: July 4

34. Seeping

A liquid sigh begins to seep into my bones and breath, as if some underground source has come to where the soil and roots begin to feel it. A headboard for our bed, resurrected from an attic, refinished, glowing with fresh polishing and stain. Simple but elaborate. Tall. Like the Norse grandfather who built and used it for his own. Linens have been unearthed, and a mysterious handmade wooden box, an ink bottle in its niche, dried ink inside of it. And now he is looking for the glue so he can repair the old cedar chest. For us.


99 Words for 99 Days: July 3

33. Library Kids

Working at the library on brain-dead days has its compensations. The work is just absorbing enough to keep a body conscious, for one thing. But there are also the kids. Keep one ear out for the kids. The little brother standing at the dollhouse table and fishing lions and tigers and bears out of the bucket of rubber animals says, “This is a really funny one!” His sister requires more info. “Well, how funny is it?” The gaggle of little girls comes in together, and whispers at the catalog, comparing notes, helping each other find good books.


99 Words for 99 Days: July 2

32. The Best Part

The best part was that he followed his bliss. After he raised his kids, he went back to school, and he used everything he'd learned in fathering. The best part was that the students in my class, who themselves have small children, cheered. The best part was overhearing her, at lunch, saying, “It's impossible to hold a baby too much! That's ridiculous!” The best part was the immigrant's dream, fresh from the night before, so strong, so protective. The best part was when I got to say to him, “This is the story of a good man.”


99 Words for 99 Days: July 1

31. Hurrah!

Today I heard a hurrah ascend for the dad who had the terrible dream. His kids and their mother had gone to the mountains. His true, best, love was being torn asunder. Go to the city? Follow his bliss? Do what he was born to do? …. or …. Follow that woman, live in that tiny town, carry on a with a ho-hum job, and raise his kids? The class was on tenterhooks. What did he do? The parent-students wanted to know. “He raised his kids,” she said. A cheer erupted. The class applauded that man.