I started writing this blog back in 2008. I started it for a specific reason. I’d written an essay that I submitted to America magazine. It was a risky essay, and it was a nuanced one– about living in an imperfect church and in response to Barack Obama being heavily criticized for going to a church with a “radical” pastor. I got a response back from the magazine saying they would like to publish it in an edited form. The edited form removed the context (Obama) and was just my description of the imperfections of my own local church. I said no. And I really wanted to have an essay in America. To let them publish my essay in this eviscerated and seemingly gratuitous form was impossible– would have been immoral, actually.
So many times, in my relationship to publishing, I have felt pain– I’m not talking about rejection, I’m talking about the way my work has been treated by those who accepted it. And that experience with America was kind of a last straw. I wanted to write and get out to people what I was writing without going through that process. I started to blog.
At first I thought I would do mostly long-form essays. But I became a blogger instead. And I didn’t want to call my blog something clever, but just simply my name, a place people could find my work.
Soon after, I found cowbird.com, and I used that as a place for posting “creative” work. On the blog I wrote about life– which was more and more about growing food and cooking, and in the winters about movie and theater reviews. It was less what I was thinking and more what I was living.
In the years I’ve been writing this blog, I have also written many, many pages about the art of The Saint John’s Bible. I have written a collection of 100-word stories based on the oral histories of Benedictine Sisters I had the honor of working for from 2008-2012, called Habits. It did pretty well out there. I wrote another collection of poems, published in 2016, H is for Harry. I wrote an unpublished novel in several drafts, and began another I hope to finish in 2018.
When I received my cancer diagnosis in February 2016, all I could write for the next year was the blog. And through the blog I received tremendous support as people followed that way of living with me.
I’ve come out of chemotherapy and into remission, which I hope will be a long term remission. The longest. Sometimes I dare to ask myself– will I die of something other than cancer? As I meet and read about older ovarian cancer survivors, this seems possible.
I’ve also found myself in a big juggling act. I am slightly diminished in my mental and physical capacity. I am doing three small jobs, but they require me to change gears more often (or maybe my gears don’t shift as smoothly). I’m about to plunge into a major writing project (Religious Education curriculum) and know my fall will be full of that. I am still gardening and still cooking, and the greenhouse has added another layer to that activity. But I don’t find myself sitting down to write the blog entries– my camera fills with images I don’t post. Sometimes I don’t have my camera with me. The blog feels more like a burden than a delight.
I’ve been writing more poetry. It is a different poetry for me. It comes, I think, from working on poetry with children, and also from wanting to go other places in my imagination. I find myself not digging into my own life experience as much as casting out lines and seeing what strange things I pull into the boat. I’m publishing that on medium.com. If you’d like you can follow me there.
And I hope to embark on a big writing adventure in February, if I can get into a class at the Loft in Minneapolis and get back to that North Dakota novel I left behind in March 2016.
I’m thinking of also getting a clever handle on Instagram where I can easily post my daily harvest and my cooking projects. Oddly enough, I still go to this blog each year when I need my red pepper sauce recipe or my pickle recipe.
For now, it’s time to “close down” the blog, by which I mean just to stop regular posting. It will always be here, I hope, (though it might move again to WordPress).
Over these years, readers have come and gone. I’ve met new people online and enjoyed some who just dropped in (to tell me how their camel cooking adventures went, for example). I’ve also been able to more deeply engage with people I already knew. It’s been strange to visit with people in real life and have them know already what’s going on from the blog. Now I’ll get to tell the stories myself.
Thank you, dear reader, for your friendship and companionship these years. Keep in touch.