A desk, a walk and an idea

I bought a desk

When I decided to be a writer, to go all-in with the profession whenever it fits within the larger profession of all that stuff I do at home, I decided to buy a desk. We found a beautiful writing desk, probably from the 1940s on Craigslist and I sent my husband to fetch it. My first write-off.

It sat in our bedroom, beautifully situated against dazzling red curtains striped with gold, where I could gaze into the yard at the flowering plum tree and growing cypress trees.

We moved from that house and the desk came with us.

It still sits near the curtains but faces a wall and I seldom sit at it. Above it hang watercolor paintings reprinted in a storybook of Christmas tales from around the world. These being from China, remind me of my grandmother of Chinese heritage. There is a pink depression-era vase from my grandmother as well, with an artificial stargazer lily that helped me stage our wedding cake decorations 13 years ago. Also, a lavender-scented candle, the journal I don’t use, a stack of books I may or may not be reading, but feel the need to keep close for the time being.

miscellaneous items that inspire me

There are palms from Palm Sunday (which happens in spring), two vintage thimbles, and a squirrel ornament. The store called it a Buri squirrel. We call it a “John Buri squirrel” after a favorite college professor. There are scraps of mail and a borrowed book from the historical society. Two doilies from a friend who knew I’d like that sort of thing, and a statue of the Virgin Mary I hauled around Europe for the man I’d eventually marry sit on the corner. Oh, and one antique key. I do so love antique keys.

It’s all just as haphazard as it sounds.

Books and a buri squirrel on my desk

Tonight these things are joined by my laptop where I sit to write the third night in the row. Now that events are on, so is the world, which means I have events to write about.

I return to my desk.

The kids returned to school, that is, a school routine in our living room where they are homeschooled.

I returned also to walks.

For various reasons I seem to move less in life this past year and finally felt awful enough to do something about it. Out to the field, I walk following the dirt roadways between the orchards that surround our home. My eyes scan the tree trunks for coyotes. The birds’ song fill my ears as I observe the changes of the seasons.

But most of all I think of the day I walked out with my son and daughter. That day, we did not merely walk. They took me into their little world, a world with names like the Blissful Field of Eternity, Barron Rock, Fun Hill, Shadow Ranch Fort and Dew Trop Tree. There, they showed me their forts and causeway, their hiding spots, their settlements. We walked through fallen trees, branches and weeds.

This place that so secret, so special, so entirely in their heads, they showed it all to me, and happily at that.

They let me in on the secret.

And by opening that secret to me, the trees, ridges, dirt and overgrowth of winter are transformed into something magical I could not make myself. Here at my desk, I surround myself with the remnant of others’ art because it inspires in my deep thoughts. These children with their imaginations are making the art, even if it is as passing as the seasons.

There is something about that invitation that I cannot move beyond as I look into my thoughts to retrieve a subject for this column. Perhaps that is part of the magic of it. For children gain no good other than the play itself. They do not create these worlds for money or prestige or likes. They do it because they must, as creative beings, bored in their old-fashioned upbringing, blessed with some space to run.

We need to remember that, too.

Whether for utility or pleasure, the walk is a good in itself.

And maybe, just maybe, the writing desk is, too.


Weekend Links: 7.28.17

I find beauty means everything to me now. In this article from The Imaginative Conservative, Aaron Ames shares the great wisdom that our imagination is so important to our understanding of God because it is only through our imagination that we can possibly begin to glimpse what God is capable of and what God has in store.

I hear friends who blog debate, “I don’t know how much I want to share.” In youth group and professional work, I have seen those who want to bare all to get the reaction or attention they seek. This is an important consideration for those currently blogging or sharing from their lives with others. There several circles of intimacy around an individual. I share about my life here, yet there is a deeper level I will not share publicly. Maybe I share it with friends. Maybe I share it only with my spouse. Are you happy with where and how your circles lie?

If you are plagued by “shoulds” when it comes to writing, this may help. We tend to develop an image of what this type of person does and if we want to be this type of person, we had better check all out boxes. A bigger picture will yield different details.

With any project comes a level of vulnerability. Here is some practical advice on dealing with automatic negative thoughts. For me, the negative thought that pops into mind some when something goes wrong is “here we go again” or “of course,” as if our good times can never last or we could always expect something to go wrong. At least, with the latter, I am able to stop myself and count my blessings. A lot of things go right for us, even if some big things went in the direction of greatest difficulty.

Motherhood has a strange loneliness. This blog helps put it in perspective. The author writes, “For now, I’m viewing loneliness as one of the small (sometimes big) purposeful crosses of my vocation. It’s a cross that will turn me toward Our Lord if I let it.”

Think it is hard to manage kids in a pew? I rather resent pews on Sundays as my children pile on top of me and there is no place to put my feet. It brings me delight to know while there is a tradition of pews in churches, it is relatively new.


I fell off the wagon with Facebook and starting checking 2-3 times a day. I admist, it was relaxing. At the same time, I also stopped reading. My goal is unchanged. Time to start again. During the week we traveled to San Francisco for doctors appointments, visited the Legion of Honor and I contemplated the beauty of life and art. I am going to start practicing my Thursdays again, time away for reflection and short-form writing, and implementing writing days, 3-7 hours away from home to work on long-form writing. The husband and I also discussed a Writer’s Retreat (for both of us, separately). He could spend two nights away in the wood somewhere composing his heart out, and I could do the same on a different weekend of the year.

I hope you enjoyed these weekend links!