The Worst of Times? The Best of Times . . .

What happened this weekend in Arizona had me despairing about the state of my country. Will we never learn to swim above it all? The violent rhetoric, the us-vs.-them mentality that leads one human being to hate another because of the difference in political affiliation or church membership or income level or skin color? While…

New Year’s Tangent

We wake up this morning to a new year. Will today be just another day? This year just another year? Will we succumb to the humdrum routine of modern life with its whirl of spirit-numbing lights and noise? Or will we live this year fully awake to the wonders around us? I don’t know about…

Cozy Up and Write

The shortest day of the year has come and gone, yet outside my window rain still falls. Whether it’s snow or cold or drizzle, winter has a way of keeping us inside for a season. Why does nature require this fallow time? Why can’t the sun shine and the air blow warm on bare skin…

At Rainbow’s End

If you squint and look closely you’ll see a rainbow arching behind Portland’s Hawthorne Bridge in this photo. It blazed across the sky after one of those December deluges that leaves your pants soaked to the knees–even though you’re carrying an umbrella which has probably turned inside out anyway. Rainbows are like finished stories. You’ve…

A Perfect Time for Book Buying

One of my favorite bookish quotes comes from Erasmus: “When I have a little money, I buy books; and if any is left over, I buy food and clothes.” At this time of year, I like to remind everyone who writes that books and magazines make perfect gifts for everyone. And if those of us…

Chai and Chi

One of the most interesting parts of working in cafés is the opportunity to overhear conversations. This afternoon, the background “music” for my pot of eggnog chai (total yum!) was a Portlander who was fretting over how badly his “chi” was affecting his ability to grow his business. If he could just get his chi…

Writing Practice

I’m reading more Natalie Goldberg: Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft. Thinking about what Goldberg writes reminds me of something Sandy Asher said at Chautauqua last year. If you want to make money as a writer, “Do one thing, do it well, do it over and over again”. Natalie seems to have found her…

Highlights and Me

I’ve met many a writer who first broke into print by publishing a story or an article or a craft or a recipe in Highlights for Children. I was not one of them. It was not for lack of trying. I sent many a tale across the desks of the likes of Christine French Clark…

Former Chautauquan Wins National Book Award

There’s no news quite as wonderful is learning that one of our writing “peeps” has grabbed the brass ring. Kathryn Erskine, who attended the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop at Chautauqua as well as taking part in at least one Founders Workshop at Boyds Mills just won the National Book Award in the children’s category for…

Meticulosity

The word for today’s post is meticulosity. It means “taking extreme care over the details.” It’s the word that came to mind when I looked down on the luminous mandala you see in this photo. Drepung Loseling monks from South India created this intricate sand mandala in the Collins Gallery of the Multnomah County Library here…