Sweet Baby James

Can’t believe I didn’t think of that title two days ago. Can’t believe I held the child for the better end of an hour without singing “Fire and Rain” to him, either. I ought to be ashamed of myself….

Jamie and the Hippie Chick
Anyway, here I am with my ridiculously adorable new nephew. His mama shot the photo for us.

It was weird attending Grace’s shower last week. But it was way weirder to watch her tending to Jamie this weekend. I remember watching Mom take care of Grace when she was that size. It was hard to reconcile the memory of that little baby with the grown-up mommy I saw worrying over her own baby the last couple of days.

Meanwhile, my dear, sweet, trying-to-be-hard-boiled journalist brother-in-law is just about the proudest daddy you have ever seen. I think we were the two least cynical newspaper editors on earth this weekend. James McCaddon is certainly a respectable name, but I had to give Geoff a little static for failing to name his cub Woodward Bernstein or perhaps Benjamin Bradlee Ritter….

OK, that’s enough fawning. You don’t want to hear me yang about the baby. You want to see pictures. And I have plenty of them for you — click here for all the cuteness you can stand. And don’t even try to tell me that Jamie is not the cutest little guy you have ever seen, because you know he is.

Back in Tulsa for two hours, and I miss him already. Grace and Geoff are just going to have to move to Oklahoma. That’s all there is to it.

Aunt Hippie Chick


My nephew is beautiful. He’s SO cute, and he’s just as sweet as he can be — he doesn’t cry without a good reason, and he doesn’t particularly care who’s holding him (although he has figured out that Grace is the lunch lady, and if she holds him, he fusses and fidgets and chews on his hands and works his little mouth like a goldfish until she feeds him).

I got to hold him for a long time yesterday. He’s a sweetie. I took tons of pictures, but I don’t have access to a card reader at the moment, so I won’t be able to post them until I get home.



Sorry I didn’t post any updates all day. I was totally focused on finishing my work as fast as possible so I could get out the door in a timely fashion. Gotta get home to see my new nephew, who finally showed up this morning, weighing in at 8 lbs., 14 oz. (a bit bigger than his mama was, but not quite as big as his uncle). My mom reports that he has red hair. Last I knew, Grace and Geoff were planning to name him James, but I forgot to check with Mom to make sure they’d stuck with the plan.

Mother and baby are both doing fine, and Aunt Hippie Chick is typing as fast as she can and hoping to get out the door and on the road in the next two minutes.

Updates and pictures forthcoming as soon as I have them.


On the nature of healing

Still waiting on that baby to show up. My sister is understandably scared, so please keep lifting her up with your prayers and good thoughts.

While we wait, I have a story to share about a wonderful healing I experienced recently.

As a Christian Scientist, I don’t take medicine when I feel unwell; instead, I turn to prayer to overcome the problem. If my own work doesn’t bring quick healing, I call a practitioner to help me adjust my thoughts about the situation and focus my prayers in a more productive way.

On a recent afternoon, I was dealing with a vicious migraine headache that seemed to be intruding on my consciousness. I felt too sick to get up or read or work or even think clearly, so I picked up the phone and dialed a practitioner who often helps me in such situations.

After I talked with him, I decided to let go of the problem and just try to get some sleep. (At that point, I felt too rotten to do much of anything else anyway.)

I rested for a couple of hours, but after a little while, the thought came to me to call and check on someone who had requested prayer about a difficult situation a few days earlier.

I balked. I couldn’t possibly make that call right then. I was too sick! How could I be any help at all to this person when I felt too ill to hold my head up? I didn’t need to make a phone call. I needed to sleep!

The thought came to me again: Make the call. I tried to ignore it, but it just wouldn’t leave me alone, so I finally gave up, grabbed the phone, and made the call.

As soon as I called, the conversation commanded my full attention, and we wound up talking for the better end of 45 minutes. I felt so much love for the person I was helping — and I was so focused on trying to be helpful — that I didn’t even realize at first that I’d been up and wandering around the house the whole time we were talking. I have no idea when the headache left, but by the time we hung up, it had vanished without a trace.

I think that’s the aspect of healing that amazes me the most: We can work on our own problems and find healing, but the work goes much faster when we take a break and help somebody else in the meantime.

I think maybe it’s like math. I always thought I was terrible at math, but when I taught high school a few years ago, I supervised one section of study hall, during which I was allowed to hand out only two hall passes at a time. If three students needed to ask other teachers about their classwork, one of them would have to wait until someone returned with the pass.

In moments of desperation, the kids would bring their math books up to my desk and ask me to help them. I would joke that there was a reason I’d gotten my degree in English, but invariably, I found that in trying to help my kids, I would gain a much deeper understanding of whatever they were learning. A time or two, I found myself explaining algebra or trig concepts that had always eluded my grasp in the past.

I think metaphysical concepts are the same way: I can struggle with a problem for hours, days, or even months. I can work with an idea and work with it and work with it and get absolutely nowhere. And then, quite unexpectedly, an opportunity will arise to help someone else, and the situation will require me to understand the very idea I’ve been struggling with, and somehow — often without really thinking about it at all — I understand, and both of us are healed.




I bagged this sunset on Illinois 13 somewhere south of Pinckneyville as I was coming back from my parents’ house last night. I wish I could figure out the exact settings my eyes use to see stuff like this so I could make the camera replicate exactly what I’m seeing. The colors were much nicer when I was actually out there, and the light was giving a pinkish-golden cast to all the farms on the backroads in southern Illinois.  I love the pink cloud in the picture below:


The dogs had some excitement this evening. My friend Terriann came by to bring me a present she’d picked up for me at the White Rock Marathon in Dallas this weekend. Her munchkins, Jaiden and Corbin, came along for the ride and had a ball playing with the dogs. I’d be hard pressed to say who was having more fun — the kids or the dogs.

It’s funny: Scout normally hates strangers, but if the stranger in question is less than three feet tall, she’s the most charming little hostess you ever saw. I think she recognizes a kindred spirit when she sees one — and rat terriers are perpetual puppies, so they identify with little kids.

Jaiden and Corbin have two big dogs of their own, so they weren’t the least bit intimidated by Songdog and Jason, who can be a little bit much for some kids. Wish I’d had the camera handy when they were playing; they were really cute.

Hope you had a fun and exciting afternoon, wherever you are.


A new record


I finally got around to putting up my Christmas tree this evening. I had it out of the box, assembled, and decorated in exactly 15 minutes. That’s five minutes faster than last year and 10 minutes faster than 2004.

It took me another 15 minutes to assemble the new color wheel my mom gave me for Christmas.

This picture does not even begin to do justice to the ever-changing splend-o-rama of ’50s fabulousness that is my tree.

I bought my tree at a great little vintage store in Belleville, Ill., called Oblivion. I think Oblivion is the only thing I really, really miss about Belleville. I went there when I was looking for a wedding dress. I didn’t find a suitable dress, but I bought a harvest gold fondue pot, which I still have and still use regularly. I bought a macrame owl there, too, along with several vinyl LPs, several hippie patches for my backpack, a couple of dashikis, a bunch of postcards, a lime-green halter top, and a handful of black-and-white photographs from somebody’s vacation in the 1950s. The owner once gave me a collection of macrame plant hangers that she’d made herself in the ’70s, too, because I needed them to go with the dark brown cabinets and avocado countertops in the apartment Ron and I lived in when we got married.

I still have those plant hangers. I use them, too. They hold the daisies and petunias I like to grow on the patio.


Don’t know why

I don’t know why City Farmer’s webcam fascinates me so much, but I check it at least twice a day. That garden is 2150 miles away. I’ve never seen it, and I probably never will. But somehow looking at a picture of it a couple of times a day, keeping tabs on what’s going on there, makes it seem less distant. Somehow seeing it every day makes me feel like I know it, even though I’ve never turned a forkful of compost or planted a seed there. Indirectly, there’s a little bit of that garden in my own back yard and in my own kitchen, because it was the City Farmer site that really lit a fire under me a few years ago to get out of my apartment and into a real house with a real yard where I could plant a real garden instead of consoling myself with potted herbs, and it was the same site that inspired me to start my first vermicomposting bin. Now the garden and the worm bin are part of my day-to-day existence.

It’s nice to be able to look in on the garden in Canada that inspired me so much seven years ago, and it’s fun to daydream about who’s driving the cars on the road in the background, and what’s lying dormant under the snow, and where Gyro the garden cat might be napping at this moment.

I love the Internet. Somehow it makes the world seem much smaller and friendlier.



I got sidetracked by the snow, the ensuing hassles, and my new Route 66 Food Web site, so I just clean forgot to post the latest week’s marathon training schedule on Friday.

Fortunately, today was a rest day anyway, so you didn’t miss anything. Unless, of course, you tried to run instead of resting, in which case you should take tomorrow off.

The Triple Dog Dare page has now been updated with the schedule.

What I would like to do at this point is find out how many of you are actually considering taking me up on this dare. Who’s in? Marathoning is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done. I cannot begin to describe the sense of accomplishment, relief, excitement, joy, and gratitude that washes over you at the finish line. It’s an incredible experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It is still early enough in the program that anyone at a moderate level of fitness should be able to catch up fairly easily, so feel free to jump right in!

If you’ve decided to accept the challenge, head over to the Triple Dog Dare page and post a reply telling me which marathon you plan to run (if you don’t know which one you want to try, check out Marathonguide.com for reviews and information about the marathons scheduled for next year), why you want to do it, and how your training is going.

If you have questions about running, post those, too. If I don’t know the answers, I can always go bug my coach for information. 🙂

If you’re in eastern Oklahoma and would be interested in participating in some training runs along Route 66 this winter and spring, let me know that, too. And even if you aren’t up for a full marathon, don’t be afraid to start the program. When you reach a mileage level that you like, you can just keep running that distance and improving in other ways — speed, difficulty of the course, or whatever else floats your boat. The big thing is just to get out there and start moving. The first run is the toughest; after that, you’re just building on what you’ve already established.