Monday, April 11, 2011


I was thinking about this yesterday, somewhere in the middle of nowhere Arizona, out in the endless desert on what felt like an endless drive home from Mexico…(Long drives are really good for random thinking. Everyone should take the wheel for a long drive on a regular basis, just to get the mind flushed out.)… I was thinking that when I got home I was going to have a day of regulars. That’s what I might call it. Maybe. Or I might call it “Ordinarily This....” and the object would be to make note of all the regular things in my ordinary days. I guess my head went in that direction because of the pictures on our digital cameras, the ones we were looking at on our drive home from our Mexico vacation. Sarah was wishing aloud that we had taken a picture of everyone together. So I got to thinking that we have these photo journals of our lives that we leave behind, and in them are all the exciting glamorous things- like trips and parties and birthdays and anniversaries; and the showy things like recitals and programs and games. We have all those things recorded well in our photo albums and in our journals. What is lacking is a reminder of the repeated, seemingly mundane motions of our daily lives. What the family car looks like. David sitting at the table studying legal briefs. Libby lifting Gram into her wheel chair. Jordon buttering a piece of bunny bread or sitting in the driver’s seat of an EJ Bartells truck. Johnny digging in the dirt with Parker. Kate, Annie, Ashley interacting with their students. Sarah using a stethoscope. Timo pounding his drumsticks on the headrest in the car. Sherry opening the back door for Pi. Jill sitting before her computer, her face bathed in the glow of a book in embryo.

I remember my mom standing at the kitchen sink. Regardless of where we were living; what job she had at the time; whether it was before or after Dad left. No matter what season, or how many people sat at her table for dinner…there was always the kitchen sink. It was a constant amid lots of changes. I can hear in my memory the clanking of dishes, the ringing of silverware being stacked into utensil drawers, the rushing sound of the water flowing through the tap. Sometimes she hummed, or whistled, but more often than not she was silent, unless there was something to be said. Mom almost always preferred quiet. I guess that happens when people have seven children and lots of noise all the time. Noise on the outside, mixed with the noise of a mind troubled with marriage woes. Things can get awfully loud in the quiet of a lonely bed. Something about the motion of working with the hands makes the sounds in the head line up a bit more quietly. She often folded laundry and washed dishes in silence.

I wish I had a real picture of my mom at the kitchen sink, not just the one conjured in my brain. I wish I had a picture of her at the wheel of the car; or of her pounding a real estate sign into the ground. I wish I had a photo of her hand patting my back, paced against the rhythm of her rocking in the old white rocker that used to be the old brown rocker before she re-covered it herself in that evening community continuing ed class she took on upholstering and refinishing furniture. I wish I had a picture of my sister Sherry holding me. I think we might have an old home movie of that. But not a still. She was a normal teenage girl, darling in her poodle skirt fashion and horn rimmed glasses. So beyond typical in the way she loved and cared for her little little sisters. I imagine her holding me, and when I think of it I can sense her love infusing into me. Wish I had a snapshot.

And so I am thinking we should all take our cameras, or cell phones with cameras, and snap a picture of ourselves or someone we love at the kitchen sink.

Go ahead. I dare ya.

Blogs have been a blessing in this regard. They allow for photos to be added to the journals of our daily living. Hooray for blogs! Go write in yours, people! (And I want to see your kitchen sink pictures.)


  1. I find that I work in silence, too. When I was young, I always wanted music. Now, I work in silence - at the sink, working with Photoshop - I don't know why. I used to write with music. Now I don't write. But I like this challenge. In the old days, film was so expensive and the process of going from camera to print took so long, I think people didn't want to waste time and money on anything but the highlights. But I have always believed that journals should talk about our real lives. The nuts and bolts. So that our great grandchildren can read and wonder at how different it all was back then. that's the real history. And with photographs, it's the same.

  2. Ever since my cancer scare of 8 years ago, I cherish the magic of ordinary days.....I remember the day several years ago when I was outside going for a run (another way of clearing out the brain) and I realized that there were now days when I was not preoccupied on some level with things medical and/or death and dying. It was such a wonderful feeling and a blessing to be able to spend both time and energy on just ordinary tasks and things!!

  3. Mush- You are an inspiration to me, in many ways, but the ability to see and cherish what so many others take for granted is one of your finest gifts. I am SO grateful you are cancer free!!!

    Kristen- First, what kind of crazy person spends ALL DAY SATURDAY reading one silly over-written blog and writing thoughtful, beautiful comments about EACH ONE!? Once we hit the American border I checked my phone regularly just to see your comments. You know how much that means to me? Thank you! And yes, retrieve your comments because they also tell the story of your charmed and painful life. Lives cannot be charmed without pain I believe.
    Second, something or someone has wounded the ego of the writer in you, and we must help her heal so she can do her thing. It's obviously still there, or you would not write so beautifully "off the cuff"; but for some reason she is feeling spent and we need to revive her. Perhaps, like Jo in Little Women, she wants to find her own past and give it presence in word. Can you go there?
    Anyway, thanks for being so willing to see and feel and taste and smell these little things that come out in the Word of the Day. I'm honored that someone who is so accomplished and gifted as a writer and thinker would find any merit in the exercise.

  4. I will take the challenge...this was a great post Sister. I do love the visuals you create with the written word and the visuals we have in our family photos. Thank you for your challenge and for your daily reminders of what really matters. I am ever grateful.

  5. I am moved beyond emotion when I read your posts. They are an inspiration to me every single time. You have a gift. "this is a recording" What an amazing talent you are willing to share. You dig deep into your past whether it is good or bad, happy or sad, ordinary or magical. You report in a most exquisite creative manner. I am in awe. I will be sad when this period of lent is over as I know you won't be sharing until next year. I pray you will choose to do it again! Can you learn to write creatively or is it just a gift? I admire (and envy) the talent you possess! WOW, this is another one of those aha moments when I feel as though I have been lifted, inspired and motivated to write. I'm just an ordinary mundane boring writer, but I should tell the stories of my past in spite of it. I love you more than you'll ever know! Keep writing and never stop.

  6. I accept your challenge, my friend. I will have a photo of me at the kitchen sink if I have to take it myself. Yes, oh yes, I will have one. To leave in one of my photo albums or journals. To remind my own chillins that their mommy loved doing dishes. Especially in the winter when my hands are cold. I love the hot sudsy water, and the smell of lavender (my new favorite scent). Thanks for sharing your memories. Such a blessing to know you!