5/5: no. 16






I once said, “There will be chickens.” I like it when I keep promises to myself, fruition earned through action and perseverance.

The small flock of hens outside our back door has added a subtle, new tone to our life — there is something sweet, sincere, and steady about opening the coop door, hearing the soft peeps and clucks, checking the galvanized steel feeder and scattering grit.

Each day is bookended with “letting the chickens out” and “putting the girls in.” Beginning and ending with this small and gentle purpose. A humble effort.

She brings a book and sits inside their pen on a small blue milking stool (found just the day before the coop was finished — I hid it in the shed and gave it to her with a smile and a serious gaze, anointing her Chicken Mama, Feeder and Catcher and Petter and, if we do this well, Egg Gatherer).

A week ago, three Tibetan monks sat on my brother’s couch and intoned blessings on his house and family. They scattered rice and “Buddha’s nectar,” urged us to build upon positive love and keep negative forces at bay. I left with a white, gauzy scarf inscribed with prayers. Turns out, blessings can be carried home.

[ED: Technically, The 5×5 Creative Challenge is over. June is over. This has been such a great nudge for me to practice, practice, practice. To show up and make time. I have a few more posts in the draft folder, so I’ll carry on for a bit. Thanks for coming along!]

5/5: no. 15






The universe is a collection of gestures. Body leaning toward body. Tilting away. Curling in, breathing out, connecting gaze to gaze, negotiating what’s between us.

Once, my father showed me how to draw the spaces between letters. Color in the curves and angles, and shift your eyes just right — meaning rises up from the page. It was magic.

[Note to me:]

Strive for this: stretch into the between-space. Find spark. Make heat, seek light, tilt face to sun, slide into the cool of shadow, remember to be curious. Polish the dull until a shine begins to show. Seek out a quiet place and sit. Make something from nothing much.

5/5: no. 14






Five minutes: bringing attention to yesterday’s memory.

We stuff snacks into a bag, wrap cold packs around a two-thirds full bottle of Pinot gris. Mason jar of lemonade. Sunscreen slather. Low lawn chairs and leashed dog, kid-scramble let loose into the Eurovan back seat, and we’re off to the river on a Friday afternoon.

The nephew is at first entirely outraged at our chosen site. There will be no crawdads or enough digging, he is certain. He hurtles across the grass in protest, scales a tree to sulk. It’s hard to have expectations dashed, even a little, when you’re seven.

Soon enough, he is back — lured by cousin and hidey holes, a bag of plastic backhoes and monster trucks, lapping river.

A canoe slides by, carrying a young woman with a tiny poodle between her knees and a green parrot on her shoulder. The craft is steered by her likely lover, button suspenders stretched over his naked torso.

We drink the wine from Dixie cups. A crawdad scuttles through the shallows. We can feel the kids exhale into summer and their world of partnership and skirmish.

Tomorrow is the longest day of the year.

5/5: no. 13






Found: five minutes.

Train whistle wail. Hammer staccato in the backyard (our chicken coop commences). Rushing whisper of passing traffic, someone stayed late at the office, missed dinner, late for happy hour. Overlapping evening birdsong — the triple-coo of mourning doves, shrill single whistles, chirps. Just there, the whine of the tablesaw (see above). Kids playing in the street.

Today was so full. Swallowtail butterflies, a probable fox sighting, kingfisher hovering and then smashing down through the surface of the river, bounty claimed. And two wee, dotted fawns. The girl-child performed her trademark “Duck Dance” in the park. My applause was genuine. We went to the library and got greedy at the shelves.

And then, home. I hinge my hopes for quiet hour on two things: our library card, and hammocks. If I could recommend one single thing to parents of small children, it would be this — do everything you can to teach them to read for pleasure. It is a two-way magical gate. I absolutely roll around in the luxuriousness of an hour of quiet. I would name a milkshake after the delight of time reclaimed with zero guilt, pure confidence. Call it, The Reader’s Delight. Slurp it up through a bendy straw, because it is the saving grace every day. And not just because I get those minutes to do … whatever I want. (Like read.) But because she comes away loving something new, every single time. Thirsty for the world, and gulping it down. Right now, she’s teaching herself to speak Giant. Like, actually learning the language of Giants, as recorded by the author. Today she asked me, “Where is the small sheep?” in Giantese.

And then we get to cuddle in her bed after lights out — legs tangled together, her head cupped under my nose, hair smelling like salt and bergamot — and talk about it all. Books are our delicious dessert. Our voyage across the universe and back in time for supper. Our Favorite Thing Ever.

5/5: no. 12






Five photos, and I see the thread — grids and squares. Order. Tidy lines. Which is interesting, you know? Because, today I practiced accepting the mess. A rare day without deadlines, every project out the door, milk in the refrigerator, hours stretching ahead with no plan. Facing down four pints of raspberries, we baked. The chickens have learned to fly up and out of their box, and so, now, I really do have chickens in my laundry room. I’ll say it again. I have chickens in my laundry room. I discovered a pile of outgoing mail, cards and letters, that never made it past stamps. Remember my issue with Things That Require Stamps? There is yogurt smeared on the dining room rug. I can’t get the sprinkler system to work. Mess, and grace in the face of it.

Five minutes of quiet. Reaching down into the mental snarl of today’s collected bits and pieces, grazing imagined fingertips across the brain-tangle. Twigs, stones, colorful scraps, an assortment of Interesting Snippets. I gather shiny things throughout the day. Words and ideas with a particular glow. Snagging my attention on their barbs.

The Theology of Rest is something to consider. We glorify busy, productivity is king. But what really happens when we pause, drift, daydream? A lot of good. Two years later, and my hair has mostly stopped falling out. My paid writing is better, my mothering less hypervigilant, my library fines fewer.

“We treat rest like a sin, not like the sanity-elixir and ambrosia of creativity that it is … Rest, instead of being something passive, is actually an act of resistance.”

Tell me. How do you resist? Where do you find rest?

5/5: no. 11






From where I sit, waiting, finding today’s five minutes:

There is one tiny moth in our house, day 3 of evading cat claws. It looks like a comma flung at the wall, just there. Blink and it takes flight, quick and teasing.

It’s cold. But even inside a grey day, there is color. The clouds gust through, followed by sun gleam and petrichor. We found half of a tiny, blue eggshell in the grass. Rainbow ribbons snap and flutter in the chill breeze. It’s hard to believe that strawberry season is nearly over on the other side of the mountain.

The practice of noticing. Free verse, holding attention, making mind space.

5/5: no. 10






Coffee with cream. Rumpled muslin pillow cases. Soft light. Bound paper. The underside of her forearm. The patina on the bottom of a saucepan. Croissants rising. Brass fittings. Milk glass. Today the challenge found me noticing color themes, but after I’d already grabbed a dozen images. I scanned the thumbnails and saw cafe au lait, linen, chocolate. The colors of gentleness, softened gaze, plush simplicity, slowed time, hush.

Happy weekend, friends.