She's a Writer

“Hey, I really enjoyed what you shared today. It was really good,” thanked Dee Jay, visiting poet, heading out the door.
“Thanks.” I looked up from the papers I was quickly filing between classes.
“She’s a writer,” Teresa, from the District Office, explained as the door closed behind them, on their way to the airport.
She’s a writer. SHE’s a writer. She’s a WRITER! Those words echoed over me all afternoon.
Dee Jay DeRego was a guest speaker in my classroom today. He is a spoken word master from Juneau who has traveled the world sharing this art form. He writes and recites poetry, but it’s so much more than that. He bares his soul, causes the listener to reflect, and teaches students to do the same.
The highlight for me was when he recited his own “I am from…” poem, reflecting back on growing up homeless, filled with metaphors and descriptive language. He then gave the class five minutes to begin writing where they were from. After walking around the room for the first minute getting …

Living Deliberately

(written on Saturday, April 8)

Do you ever drive home from work and when you pull into your driveway, you don’t even remember how you got there? You don’t remember the drive. You were just lost in thought and motor memory made all the turns for you and it’s like you just woke up when you turned the car off? I think most of us have done that or had a similar experience. It’s just routine. We can do it without giving it any conscious thought. It’s a sort of numbness that takes over.
That never happens in cabin life.
Living in a cabin off the grid, every move Gregg and I make is calculated, starting with the initial seven-mile snowmachine ride up the river, following my two dogs. The temps have been in the 30’s this past week with lots of sunshine, making the river pretty slushy, even though the ice under the main trail is still three feet thick. Diligent attention must be paid at all times to the condition of the ice underneath and around me. In places, the river is openly flowing alon…


It starts off as a sort of sadness that I can’t quite identify. It becomes more of an emptiness. Heaviness! That’s what it is. It’s not really sadness or emptiness at all. It’s heaviness. Heavy and slow, my inner reality becomes lead. The world outside my body continues to swirl, but inside, it feels like I’m walking through jello. Thick, heavy, awkward. Tears are just a blink away. I’m tired. Very tired. I wake up and my teeth are sore from gritting them so hard. Even my teeth feel heavy.
I never know when it’s going to hit full on. It’s always waiting there in the background, like a shadow in the darkness. I can’t see it, but I can feel it. It’s always there. I’m not sure when it started. Maybe it’s always been there. I can’t remember ever being free of it, the weight, like an overloaded backpack that I never take off.
I feel it deep inside my ears, shifting thickly with every move. Hot lava. Sound turns up the heat. The TV is suddenly too loud. My tongue feels larger than normal …

Lots to Learn!

Today, I learned how to safely get water from the frozen river.

I watched the sun rise this morning. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that because I’m not a morning person, and the sun usually rises after I’m teaching class during the winter months. 10:30am came slow, lazily dragging the sun just above the mountains where it will hover until early this afternoon when it begins its descent. As usual, the colors outside the large, plate glass windows procured from the old school over 25 years ago, called me outside with my camera.
Today, Gregg showed me where to go get water. We were low, only a gallon or two left, and we’ll need some in our whiskey tonight and some to take a sink bath in since I head back to school tomorrow.
Around noon, we started downriver. It was a mild 12 degrees out with just a slight breeze. I was anxious. I carried the two 5-gallon buckets bungee-corded to the back rack on my 4-wheeler, following Gregg on his snowmachine, hauling a sled with a log to be spl…

Settling in to Cabin Life

As the setting sun restfully dips beyond the rolling Whaleback Mountains, it turns the sky a rainbow of pinks and oranges, darkest along the black shadowy hills, like an ombre silk waving goodnight. Behind me, a blood red moon is rising. The juxtaposition is nothing short of breathtaking.
It’s 4:30pm on a Sunday evening in mid-December, the end of my first of a seven-day stretch that I’m
spending at the cabin with Gregg. An experiment of sorts to see if I’m really up for full-time, year-round cabin-living. It will involve a daily commute to teach school, eight miles downriver, via 4-wheeler or snowmachine, depending on the weather. My lifelong dream is coming to fruition.
It’s funny how real life can be better than lifelong dreams. I always saw myself living in a remote cabin with a couple of dogs, fending for myself, infrequent trips to a neighboring town via 4-wheeler or snowmachine, inaccessible by car or truck. I thought I’d be doing it alone, after I retired or sold a book or …