Sunday, September 28, 2014


"Persimmons" by Li-Young Lee (copyright 1986)

In sixth grade Mrs. Walker
slapped the back of my head
and made me stand in the corner  
for not knowing the difference  
between persimmon and precision.  
How to choose

persimmons. This is precision.
Ripe ones are soft and brown-spotted.  
Sniff the bottoms. The sweet one
will be fragrant. How to eat:
put the knife away, lay down newspaper.  
Peel the skin tenderly, not to tear the meat.  
Chew the skin, suck it,
and swallow. Now, eat
the meat of the fruit,
so sweet,
all of it, to the heart.

Donna undresses, her stomach is white.  
In the yard, dewy and shivering
with crickets, we lie naked,
face-up, face-down.
I teach her Chinese.
Crickets: chiu chiu. Dew: I’ve forgotten.  
Naked:   I’ve forgotten.
Ni, wo:   you and me.
I part her legs,
remember to tell her
she is beautiful as the moon.

Other words
that got me into trouble were
fight and fright, wren and yarn.
Fight was what I did when I was frightened,  
Fright was what I felt when I was fighting.  
Wrens are small, plain birds,  
yarn is what one knits with.
Wrens are soft as yarn.
My mother made birds out of yarn.  
I loved to watch her tie the stuff;  
a bird, a rabbit, a wee man.

Mrs. Walker brought a persimmon to class  
and cut it up
so everyone could taste
a Chinese apple. Knowing
it wasn’t ripe or sweet, I didn’t eat
but watched the other faces.

My mother said every persimmon has a sun  
inside, something golden, glowing,  
warm as my face.

Once, in the cellar, I found two wrapped in newspaper,  
forgotten and not yet ripe.
I took them and set both on my bedroom windowsill,  
where each morning a cardinal
sang, The sun, the sun.

Finally understanding  
he was going blind,
my father sat up all one night  
waiting for a song, a ghost.  
I gave him the persimmons,  
swelled, heavy as sadness,  
and sweet as love.

This year, in the muddy lighting
of my parents’ cellar, I rummage, looking  
for something I lost.
My father sits on the tired, wooden stairs,  
black cane between his knees,
hand over hand, gripping the handle.
He’s so happy that I’ve come home.
I ask how his eyes are, a stupid question.  
All gone, he answers.

Under some blankets, I find a box.
Inside the box I find three scrolls.
I sit beside him and untie
three paintings by my father:
Hibiscus leaf and a white flower.
Two cats preening.
Two persimmons, so full they want to drop from the cloth.

He raises both hands to touch the cloth,  
asks, Which is this?

This is persimmons, Father.

Oh, the feel of the wolftail on the silk,   
the strength, the tense
precision in the wrist.
I painted them hundreds of times   
eyes closed. These I painted blind.   
Some things never leave a person:
scent of the hair of one you love,   
the texture of persimmons,
in your palm, the ripe weight.

Friday, September 26, 2014

GHB: Year One

Dear Grace Harriet,

What a year!

One day old.
We brought you home...

You anchored yourself to us, and we to you.

You joined in all family fun!

You give me a reason to smile, always, every day.

You helped me explore and enjoy New Orleans while Dad studied. Thanks for being my adventure buddy!

You joined us on the road to residency!

Literally, on the road. Panera in Kansas City!
You are delightful,


and the sweetest daughter.

You are graceful, grace-filled and charming.

You really, really, really love your Daddy!

Yogurt? Not so much. But you're enjoying many more solids now!

You love your mama too, and the beach (but not the waves).

Grace, you are so fun!

Smart and inquisitive!

You are the best person to take on errands, even though dozens of people stop us to tell me how cute you are. (I know!)

I've learned so much from being your mother! Your joie de vivre and willingness to pose for my millions of photos

to your complete loyalty and unconditional love you show your Father and I every day.

I won't even talk about your stubbornness and drive, and how absolutely AMAZING you are doing in physical therapy. You are crawling, baby girl! You are moving!

Your dad and I don't even stop you - we're just thrilled you're moving! Then we grab you away from the wire, from falling off the couch, etc. Whatever hazardous position you find yourself in more than once a day...!!

We love you GHB! The first year has been the best year, and I can't wait for many, many more.

Mom and Dad

Monday, September 22, 2014

Philosophy, Science and Theology: Complementary!

{I'm not sure how much I have talked about starting grad school at Holy Apostles College & Seminary, but I thought I would post my discussion posts now and then as interesting reads!}

Q: Distinguish between philosophy, theology and science.

The relationship between philosophy, theology and science is complementary. People must use all three in order to discover what is true, grounded by reason.

Science is the study of the tangible; knowledge is acquired through empirical and measurable evidence and inquiry. Science is limited as it is only what your senses can measure; however, it can serve as a guide for philosophy by its insight to the workings of the natural world.

Philosophy is the knowledge of everything that exists as determined by their causes, which are open to the investigation of reason alone. In contrast to science, philosophy allows us to obtain truth that transcends the empirical, such as the nature of right and wrong, or a person’s purpose.

Philosophy can show us that humans have the capacity to know truth, though people may deny that there is truth (a different question altogether), and that people seek truth because there is a need to understand the world beyond empirical data. That is, the need to explore the spiritual and metaphysical.

Theology is the reasoned discourse of the study of “faith seeking understanding”; knowledge is acquired through divine revelation, the study of Scripture, tradition, history, human reason and experience. Theology can tell us about the human soul and body in relation to God. We study theology to better understand God, while accepting that we will never have perfect knowledge of Him. It is necessary, however, to have philosophy with theology so that knowledge through faith is also consistent with reason and not based in absurdity and contradiction.

Science can help us understand theology in that understanding the natural world helps us understand God better. Everything taken in with our senses can help us understand and experience God; philosophy allows us to take these sensual experiences and to apply what we know about the natural world to the metaphysical, and the meaning and purpose of life.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Grace's Nursery

When Grace was born, we had just (okay, 3 months earlier) moved to New Orleans. Her parents were counting pennies, and sadly, did not really decorate her space. I suppose it was the most sad for me - I doubt she'll remember the trauma.

Nonetheless! When we moved to Pennsylvania, I promised myself Grace would have the cutest room this side of the Mason-Dixon line. I think I've done a pretty great job, with plenty of white wall space ready for this mama to hang up a few more pictures and hopefully a super cute GHB monogram for above her changing table.

Without further adieu... Grace's nursery!

Crib - gift from Alexander family (two cousins slept there before Grace!), Pottery Barn
Green mat - IKEA
Road map carpet - IKEA

The raspberry couch - a pre-marriage purchase I made from my good friends B&Z, before they moved off to their Minnesota adventures. So many good memories were made there, and continue to be made!

Blanket - gift/ handiwork of Mrs. K, friend of my parents

Pillows - HomeGoods find

I took a lot of these pictures from a relaxing spot on aforementioned couch
Banner - Martha Stewart brand (Target?)

Bookcase - Target

Lamp - gift from my Gusweiler family

The dresser - a gift from my former employers! My SIL Ellen (whose blog you should read, cough) is a very talented artist who freehand drew and painted this. THIS. I'm serious. Girl's got talent, and it's not even done yet. She'll be back at the end of October to visit us and finish painting!

Changing pad - Amazon

Cover - Aden+Anais

Shake that puzzle, Grace.

Rocking chair - My MIL wanted a portable rocking chair for Grace until we bought one of our own... so it's just hanging out, being comfortable, not exactly encouraging us to buy another one. I think this one is from Bass Pro (it is foldable).

Boppy - another pre-loved item from my Alexander family!

Girl painting - I want Grace's room to have a Southern Belle feel, since she is our New Orleans baby. I found this reprint at Goodwill, and am convinced it is a more famous painting. Can anyone place it?!

Louisiana parishes print - The Grove Street Press, located in the CBD of New Orleans, right by St. Patrick's, one of the parishes we attended. Two cousins who do really fabulous work - their instagram is fun too!

I heart NOLA print - A gift from my dear sister-friend Emily, from another fabulous NOLA boutique - Hattie Sparks.

Black frame - "Grace the Goose" poem by Will Baldwin, his Christmas present to me. I'll have to type it up and share at some point - he is such a talented poet! 

Sunny day...
"blackout" curtains - Eclipse brand; they do not really blackout, but they definitely dull the bright light and have a cute, almost fleur-de-lis pattern. Win-win.

End photoshoot, cue yawns.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Handling It

If there was one thing I could change about myself, it would be my over commitment compulsion. I am constantly saying "YES!" when I should be saying "another time" or "no thank you!"

This has led to happiness, and defeat. For me, it currently leads to stress headaches.

I'm not going to say that's okay, but it is my life right now, and I accept the responsibilities. God gives you what you can handle... And you ladle on the extra gravy. It's human nature, y'all. Never satisfied; just one more bite!

Will tells me to focus on one thing: I'm perpetually scatter minded, or maybe I am just trying to multi-task poorly. So before I go back to dancing with GHB (she's self-feeding more breakfast to the tunes of Taylor Swift) or another load of laundry or prepping for class and whatever else I have to do this morning, I'm going to write about how I "handle it" because, frankly, sometimes I don't.

Life is never going to be easy. Let's just accept this fact right now. It's not going to be easy to make friends, meet people, be successful, feel financially set, be caught up on your work load, get enough sleep, find time for X, Y, or Z. Exercise? It's not easy. It's hard. And it's important for a healthy life. You make time for the things that matter, and you handle the rest.

Do you feel like you're on a hamster wheel? Do you feel bored or lonely? Take an honest look at your life. What concrete changes could you make (and control) to make life more fulfilling?

My biggest stumbling block right now is my nausea and overwhelming tiredness, but I also procrastinate on everything. Not feeling well only enables that. So, while picking up printer ink and paper at Staples this week, I found a ready-made To-Do list notepad. Unnecessary and super awesome purchase for $1.49. On one side, I write down the immediate must-dos. These include taking a shower, drinking coffee, prepping for class. On the other side, I write the day's goals: vacuum, clear off the downstairs radiators, empty and load the dishwasher, make the beds.

I have bigger goals too, like put Grace's 0-9 month clothes in the new plastic bin, and put away my own warm weather, non-maternity clothes away in the second new plastic bin. My office needs serious hours put in so that it is functional more than a very large storage room, and the laundry room needs help too. And even bigger goals! Like finishing all my readings for my classes! Finishing multiple articles I have started! But those are not for today.

Today started when Grace woke up around 2:48 a.m. I went in to nurse her, and normally, she goes right back to bed, but since my supply has tanked, she cried ferociously instead until Will was the Hero and took her for the rest of the night/ morning, because I was so tired, I could hardly open my eyes, let alone take her downstairs to feed her two more jars of baby food.

Will is going to be gone all day - grand rounds, then a shift in the ER till 9 p.m. Today is a day I have to handle it. I have to get Grace to therapy, I have to teach two classes, I have to make sure I eat, and taking care of GHB. I am not thinking about the right side of my to-do list because it can overwhelm me, so I focus on one thing at a time. Right now, I am focusing on actually finishing a blog post, which I have failed the do the past few days.

Married folks, in-between people, and single ladies and lads, I am a full believer in living up and appreciating your current vocation. Don't accept that hardships are your lot. Don't depend on other people to make you happy or engage your mind - but don't push people away either.

Cultivate a community. They may not be your best friends (not everyone can be!), but find people you can depend on, and people you can ask for help. Be there for others in their time of need. Listen to others more. Volunteer your time, if you do have it -- there are so many more people who are desperate for the kind of help many of us take for granted.

I am going to keep today's responsorial Psalm close to my heart this day:

R. (1) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
“The right hand of the LORD is exalted;
the right hand of the LORD has struck with power.”
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the LORD.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
You are my God, and I give thanks to you;
O my God, I extol you.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

Whatever your troubles are - be they too much time or not enough time - may you find solace in your human purpose and propensity for good, and may you spread love and laughter to those around you. Keep your blessings close and your problems in perspective. Whatever you need to do, you can do it. You can handle this life - and enjoy it too.