PeerSpirit Blog

Writing Time

Tuesday and Thursday mornings—it says in my electronic calendar: Christina writes… an injunction that spins out through the year and into perpetuity—purposely. This is my commitment for the foreseeable future: save time to write, and use it to write! Yeah. Right. A review of the past weeks: Tuesday: PeerSpirit Annual Meeting to set our course for the year. Thursday: yay—WRITING. Tuesday: Fly to Austin, TX with Ann to present a day of health care consulting ...
More
/

Pilgrimage Back to Denver

Recently I was asked to give opening remarks at a pediatric care conference named in honor of my son. My preparation included both a careful crafting of remarks and a deep recognition of the significance of returning to Brian’s home city of Denver. There was a ritual for getting there. First, call close family and friends. All of us love Brian. We draw strength, meaning, and understanding from one another’s stories, words, and actions. We ...
More
/

Stardust, Black Holes, & Fog

Our mother always loved the open road. In the 1950s with three, then four, small children and not much money, she would pack us in the car and head west from Indiana or Minnesota to various family homes scattered throughout California, Oregon, Washington, and Montana. Two-lane blacktop in the era before Interstate highways and no air conditioning. Our father would stay and work, taking the bus to Montana to meet us at his parents’ homestead ...
More
/

Standing in Stardust

Until last Monday, my mother was living in Nanaimo, BC in a nice apartment in an independent senior housing community. She had moved there in May 2013 from her townhouse in Ladysmith and from her church in Chemainus… both small towns about 35 kilometers south on Vancouver Island. Though her impetus was to “take in more city culture,” the past three years have been a spiral into diminishing capacities: increasing short-term memory loss, decreasing mobility, ...
More
/

Candlemas

February 2 is halfway between the December solstice and the March equinox. It is a time in the northern hemisphere when day length has jumped from 8 hours from sunrise to sunset to 9 ¾ hours. The light is returning and the plants are showing it here in western Washington. The garlic is up. Tulips are peaking through the soil. Heather is starting to bloom. And it is time to prune the raspberry canes! In ...
More
/

Everything Requires Tending

Everything requires tending  When I look out the picture window with my morning cup of tea, one of my great enjoyments is watching the birds come in for their morning seeds or suet. Rain or shine, frost or fog, they eagerly arrive from their mysterious nightly roosts. I marvel at the urgency of their feeding and feel happy that I can contribute to their well-being. However, a couple of weeks ago an article in our ...
More
/

Balance

The month between American Thanksgiving and the year-end sacred holidays is full, full, full. Pageants, concerts, holiday parties, shopping specials, family gatherings. There is no end of opportunities to keep externally engaged. It is a time to reweave communities and families. It is a time of a lot of fun and good-heartedness. And it is also an important time for quiet tending to one’s life. Taking my cue from nature in the northern hemisphere, I ...
More
/

Tending Our Trees

Over the weekend the Pacific Northwest mountain snows began, heavy lowland rains returned, and the winds howled through the trees with winter strength. For the first time in years, the wind did not make me nervous. Huge, wonderful conifer trees that not infrequently shed large branches in the first winds of the season back our house. This shedding is a natural occurrence: a way that trees prune themselves. We are accustomed to driving down the ...
More
/

The Impossible Has Happened

Today, Sept. 28, 2015, Shell Oil announced that they have sealed and abandoned their exploratory well in the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea siting “insufficient amounts of oil and gas to warrant further exploration.” Even though they drilled to 6800 feet, they found very little oil or gas. Despite investing billions of dollars in this endeavor, they will “cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future.” Wow, I am thrilled beyond words! Our passionate ...
More
/

Welcoming the stranger

In 1952, when I was six years old, my parents scrambled together a down payment on a chicken coop. that’s what we called the strung together shed-like building on half an acre in the flood plain of the Wabash River at the edge of Indianapolis. Linoleum floors, drafty fireplace in a small living room, funky kitchen, big yard, a few climbable trees. My parents put in a garden, bought real chickens for eggs and meat, ...
More
/

Camping out & in

Every year on the last week of August, we head off with a couple of friends, our dog and their dog, and go camping. Usually we cross to the mainland and into the Cascade Mountains. This year wildfires and smoke veered us west to the Olympic Peninsula where we skirted the edges of the National Park and camped along the north shore of the state, gazing across the Strait to Vancouver Island, Canada. Soft, end ...
More
/

Every Action Matters

In my May 25 blog I shared what it was like to participate in the kayak protest of the Shell drilling rig in the Seattle harbor. My mother seemed interested, but she is not on the internet so I mailed her a hard copy. We talked about the protest and Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic several times after that on the phone. Weeks passed with no conversation about protests, then all of a ...
More
/

The Twins

The doe and her two twin fawns are regular visitors in our yard this summer. The other day I had returned from kayaking and left the kayak in the back yard to dry off—not its usual resting place. Ten minutes later I had changed clothes and gone into our office in the backyard to complete some work. Within minutes the two fawns came out of the shrubbery behind the kayak and literally stopped in their ...
More
/

A Summer Day

What a sweet local life I have. Waking with early light, I raise the shades to look at Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains. I make tea. I take time to write a bit in my journal. Sitting on what we call the facing bench, my partner and I watch Nature waking up around us. We talk about who is doing what on the list that accompanies our days. We talk about what is next, ...
More
/

I Must Do Something

On May 16, I joined hundreds of Seattle kayakers protesting the presence of Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer. It was in our port to be retrofitted for drilling in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea—a place that is only navigable about four months of the year. Named after the native peoples living on the Siberian edge of the sea, Chukchi is home to polar bear, whales, walrus, and numerous other northern marine mammals. A month ...
More
/

An Inside View of Seattle’s Kayak Protest

The scene at West Seattle’s Alki Beach was chaotic in a friendly sort of way. Hundreds of kayakers were moving their multi-colored boats across the cobble shore for launching. Someone yelled out, “Everyone please gather over here.” A young woman explained the flow of the morning. “We will follow the Native canoes into the water. A Salish long boat will come by to let us know it’s time to launch.” For me, the announcement that ...
More
/

War & Peace

Six feet from the kitchen door, my neighbors spend the glorious days of spring squabbling from dawn to dusk— If they were human, maybe we could negotiate the terms of living side-by-side…but these squabblers are hummingbirds. Particularly the rufous male guards the round of sugared water. Anna’s hummingbirds of both genders, and even female rufous, swoop and dive trying to get to the essential sweetness that sustains them in the early spring weeks of courting, ...
More
/

Planet of the Stones

During his two-week spring break last month, we took our ten-year-old grandson, Jaden, on a road trip to camp in the magnificent canyon lands of southern Utah. For Ann, this trip was a touchstone into desert landscape that had shaped her early adulthood and the golden years of mothering. As a young teacher and naturalist, she had taken her two children, including the mother of Jaden, on extensive camping trips into this territory ...
More
/

Hawkeye and the Peregrine Falcon

Our two-week camping excursion in the desert southwest with our 10-year-old grandson, Jaden, was extraordinary. He brought a freshness of perspective, an eagerness of spirit, and keenness of eyes and ears. One chilly morning in the middle of our trip, he woke us out of a sound tent sleep at 6:30 a.m. “Maga, Nina, listen!” he said. We sat up in the predawn light so our not-so-young ears could perceive what had caught his attention ...
More
/

Cursive or Cursor?

As I entered my local library, I walked past a sign that read, “Quiet corner, slow reading in process.” I have been seeing announcements about this on various Internet threads around town: a return to placing books in hands. A device free zone. A place for the whispery rustle of turning pages. A place to curl up with a good book. A life-long habit for me—being rehabitualized in the digital age. I peeked in to ...
More
/