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QUINTESSENCE

Coffee at Midnight

REUNION
The very best part was rowing out onto the small lake in a little boat:

James and I taking turns fishing, one fishing while the other rowed
slowly-
the long sigh of the line through the air,

and the far plunk of the hook and the sinker -
lily pads, yellow flowers

the dripping of the oars
and the knock and creak of them moving in the rusty locks.

- Marie Howe

I awoke in the middle of the night last night having a conversation with my dead husband. He and I were sitting in an open air cafe and just talking. His teeth flashed in the sun in that large, whole-body laugh of his and his eyes twinkled in amusement. And there was something else in his expression - a particular fondness, the familiarity of long love, the ease in any gathering of familiars. His smell, of tree bark and sun in the pines, and the warm pulse beneath his skin as he placed his hand over mine, pulled me from delight in his company to an awareness of detail my sleeping mind found improbable. I was startled and thrilled by the completeness of his presence, the vividness of this moment of recollection, or visitation, whichever it might be. We don't lose that fulsome sense of "the other" in the empty years after death? No matter how long the absence? I rejoiced in wonder, looking at the sun shining in his hair as he stirred his coffee. Nothing faded or implied about his presence, Ken was somehow in my life, even if only in a dream.

Thinking about all of this, I went for a run before breakfast, and as I sometimes do, found myself mentally talking to Ken. Updating him on the kids, running the questions of my life by him, and often as not, including my mother in the conversation as well, always somewhere in the background. But as I ran along the ridge of the trail overlooking the yaw of the ponderosa valley below , I abruptly stopped the rambling thoughts and asked one simple question - Are you there?

It hadn't seemed to matter before. Ken was gone physically, and the spiritual essence of our togetherness, of the man, was firmly in my heart; whatever more might be true of existence would be revealed on my own death I was certain. But our shared coffee at midnight, the slow, sensual tangibility of sitting together and talking had left me edgy, unsettled. There were things I now needed to know that I asked as I ran the dirt trail - his thoughts about my remarriage, his knowledge of the wondrous journey of our children, the uncertainties of work, the next move in my new life... If Ken was there, more present than commonly accepted, then please, I invited, come back and be my friend. How deeply I missed his light chuckle, the easy toss of head when he found something amusing or incomprehensible, the jut of his jaw when he was frustrated or determined, the warmth of his hand.

The path seemed to disappear beneath my feet as I talked and talked to the man in my head. When I came to the end of the trail and stopped, winded, I felt the answers in my body. We nest within those we have lived with, those we have loved; and these ghosts, our familiars, coil within our days and nights, just as we knew them. Vivid as our imaginations, sturdy as memory. And yet there was something more than the poetic or philosophical that settled into the aftermath of my run - concrete answers I did not expect. Questions, that now had answers. Answers that floated home from a place other than my own well-worn thinking. But like coffee in the midnight hours, nothing is certain but knowledge of experience itself.

Good enough.
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A Phrase in the Air

Two women sitting at a kitchen table
Muted light on rainy morning
One has car keys in her hand.

- Robert Haas, from "January"

Today I was musing on inspiration - triggers of creativity. Like wisps of cloud, bits of the passing world that writers happen to hear, read, or notice through the day. This phrase, from a prose poem by Robert Haas, is just that sort of evocative imagery. The imminent action in the detail - car keys in her hand - that leads from awareness and observation into exploration of where the moment might lead. Many poems are born of a phrase in the air. Many book scenes and story ideas come from bits of overheard unhinged conversation, or the sudden "framing" of a life moment wherein clearly lies an unspoken story. In writing, the actual elements of what is present are but a catalyst to what might be, and thus the story is born.

In this scene perhaps the two women are discussing the painful discovery of the infidelity of one woman's lover. Perhaps they are midway between planning and delivering a gift to a friend. Perhaps one has confided a devastating illness and the other is itching to leave, and ashamed of the urge. Perhaps one woman is leaving her lover and the other woman arrived to drive her away. Maybe they are just out of coffee creamer and about to hit the convenience market on the corner. What I love about the human imagination is that it builds from knowledge of the known and then sends scaffolding out into the realm of the purely hypothetical. Possible or not, our imagination takes us beyond the boundaries of our known existence, and this I think is also where the most unsettling emotions lie - fear, anticipation, lust, wonder. In an essay awhile back I talked about the idea that "passion lies in the risk" - yet risk requires departing the known for an unknown we can only hope for. What power the imagination!

Robert Haas ends "January," musing on the twist and stretch between what details and impressions he observes present with his friends juxtaposed against what he knows is actually happening, with a pure "writerly" moment:

Back at my desk: no birds, no rain,
but light - the white of Shasta daisies,
the two red geraniums against the fence,
and the dark brown of wet wood,
glistening a little as it dries.


Details, no story.

What is our reaction? We crave the infusion of the tale. The painter will build a complex image from a detail, a writer a story.
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Memories on Memorial Day Revisited

And still it is not enough, to have memories. One must be able to forget them when they are many, and one must have the immense patience to wait till they are come again. For the memories themselves are still nothing. Not till they have turned to blood within us, to glance and gesture, nameless and no longer to be distinguished from ourselves - not till then can it happen that in a most rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them.
- Rainer Maria Rilke

A year ago at this time on Memorial Day Weekend, I wrote an essay on this blog about the power of memory. Memorial Day is for some a weekend that kicks off the summer holidays, and for others, about remembering the loved and lost, and most especially, the honor and courage of our soldiers. Here is that original essay from last year, and then I will update the year for you at the end. Enjoy!

My husband is buried above the wild and tumultuous Spokane River, down from the high train trestle bridges we call the "wishing trains" because we so often whisper secret wishes as we cross under the train cars suspended high above. They thunder overhead on their way across the continental U.S., great diesels hauling container goods, crops, oil and chemicals, slatted stock cars swaying down the tracks before they disappear through granite cuts into narrow pine valleys. My husband quite liked the idea that he would have a view of the river and the trains. Nature and commerce. Chaos and fortune. Our lives are ruled by them.

Today, cemetery breezes wave ribbons of color along narrow paths that are lined with the stars and stripes. Families with lost looks on their faces and clutching plot grids, wander the acres under the ponderosa, looking for the buried but not forgotten. Children's hands are tucked in those of parents - in the little fists more small flags, bouquets of lilacs. America does not forget its loved ones. It does not forget its soldiers. The green shade seem to be a continuous sea of monuments. A new engraved stone, a simple bench, stands next to my husband's - a nineteen year old boy, lost in Afghanistan. Somebody's son, someone's brother. There were two flags flying in his honor, and the gift of a baseball mitt. Was it his, I wonder.

Bending low, I place a flag in the ground a boot length away from my husband's marker. A Vietnam era Air Force Veteran, Ken was proud of his service. He met men in those years who became friends and mentors. I couldn't help but think of our own boy, now twenty, at the US Naval Academy. His life is at a crux point as well. What direction will it turn? How will he think of his service, years from now? National service opens us to community beyond family - opens us to the identity we share as Americans. Whether serving in the military services, the Peace Corps, Teach for America, the USO, the Red Cross - take a moment to thank the next young or old person you meet giving of themselves to all of America.

This fall my daughter will run her first half-marathon for Team USO - proud of our soldiers, her brother, her father, and all those whose names she does not know who came before her and follow her now. Service requires only that we show up, hands open and ready to do whatever work needs doing. Let the poems of your memories carry the day.

As I think of my son and how proud his father would be of him, as I wonder about his future, I think of Eric Greitens, the decorated Navy war hero and author of "The Heart and the Fist - The Education of a Humanitarian, The Making of a Seal." Eric penned a personal note to my son on the title page - "Follow your heart and continue to live with courage." Words that might inspire us all I think.


That was May, 2011. And now it is May, 2012. How right Eric was! The months after writing those words have been difficult and, unexpectedly rewarding. For my son, a challenging illness at the beginning of his junior year at the Naval Academy lead to an honorable medical separation from the Navy. He had just signed the upperclassman's seven year commitment to serve, and instead found himself unexpectedly lost - the Academy dream, his friends, his education, his health... interrupted, perhaps broken. In the face of disaster, this young man "walked the talk": He had the courage to follow his heart, redefine his dreams, kept his old friends as well as made new. He has recovered his health, completed an interim semester of classes, earned a prestigious internship at a national science lab, and matriculated to Stanford University, continuing in his intended major. His year has been about accepting loss, finding center, and moving forward. He has grown up a resourceful man, dealing with life in its complete unpredictability.

My daughter has successfully completed 5 half-marathons now, and was recently asked by Team USO to run the 2012 Washington DC Marine Corp Marathon and the 2013 New York City Marathon in support of the USO once again. She will begin her medical education at the University of Washington Medical School in August. Her year has been about setting goals that were big reaches (distance running) and making wise long-term life choices (which medical schools reflect her goals, budget and intentions?). And becoming an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church Monastery, she married my sweetheart Greg and I on Haleakala Crater on Maui this past April. A big year!

There is an old saying that we never forget the ones we love when we love anew, we simply add more room in the heart. I am happy to have found love again, and happy with the memories of all that has come before. Memories are the foundation of the soul. And so I take a moment this weekend to celebrate and revisit the wonder of life and all its surprises.
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In the Risk

Shield of Charlemagne

Beth: Dad. When you married Mom, did you ever think that you wouldn't make it?
Beth's Dad: Elizabeth Ann. Honey, you cannot learn from my mistakes. You're going to have to go out there and make your own. Now, you could get your heart broken or you could have the greatest love affair the world has ever known, but you're not going to know unless you try.
Beth: But what if there was a guarantee that you'd never get hurt.
Beth's Dad: Baby... the passion is in the risk. It's like I always say, If you're going to be a bear...
Beth: ...Be a grizzly.


- from the movie, WHEN IN ROME, 2010, directed by Mark Steven Johnson, starring Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel.

I decided to write this morning on the worth of risk, thinking of one sentence fragment from the 2010 film WHEN IN ROME. Beth's Dad says to Beth on the cusp of her wedding vows, "...the passion is in the risk." He is touching on a truism we have all heard a thousand times: Take a chance! The guaranteed outcome is the boring one.

Beth's Dad goes on to tell his daughter, who is uncertain whether she has earned her groom's love or stolen it in a magic twist of coins stolen from an Italian fountain, that if you're going to be a bear, "...Be a grizzly." In other words, go big or go home. I think we all too often cop out on ourselves when it comes to taking risks. Common sense intervenes, past experience warns us off, uncertainty makes us hesitate. Yet this insight that passion lies in the element of risk is absolutely a core truth. We are moved to take chances by great desire: To win the cup, woo the girl, cross the crevasse. Risk and passion are co-igniters. They are catalysts for one another in purpose and in meaning. We value what we struggle to achieve and we struggle to achieve what we value. And if you're going to put a toe in the water - plan on jumping in completely. Nothing is ever won by being half-committed.

Our heroine Beth goes on to risk her lover's commitment by confessing the trick of the magic coin only to discover the coin was never in his possession, and the assumed "guarantee of love" was a sham: all along risk ruled in the giving of their hearts. Risk is true of love, but there lies a wider meaning than that. All life is a gamble, and the passion we bring to embracing opportunity is directly reflected in what satisfaction life awards us. Risk is truly noteworthy following failure. Such nonchalance to embrace risk when we've only ever made successful leaps to the opposite side. Far braver, far more poignant, the risk for one who has fallen before. And yet, wouldn't we also agree far sweeter, when the next, truly uncertain leap, takes the prize?

The courage of the human heart is a shield we take into battle with uncertainty. It is not so much that we are never wounded, but just never enough to quit the game.
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Worth

In the arts there are no As awarded for effort.
- John Braine

The artistic process is more than a collection of crafted things; it is more than the process of creating those things. It is a chance to encounter dimensions of our inner being and to discover deep, rewarding patterns of meaning.
- Peter London

I was recently struck by the harsh honesty of Saul Bellow's remark after receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature: "I've been writing now for nearly twenty years. The first half of that time I didn't get published at all, and for the second half my appearance in print has been limited to little magazines that pay in copies and self-published broadsides, open letters, pamphlets, and full-length books. Obscurity doesn't build character. It feeds resentment, envy, anger, and fear." In such landscapes of solitude, bravo the persistent writer! But how do we navigate the rocks? The best writing comes from centered personal originality, yet Bellow acknowledges writers are dogged by resentment, envy, anger and fear. These emotions are anything but conducive to calm, productive inner fires.

I had just been conversing with a friend on her pained decision to put away a manuscript that did not find representation, thinking of two of my own novels in the drawer. Each one of those manuscripts represents an enormous devotion of time, discipline, vision, and craft. But there comes a point when the energy required on the part of artists to battle the markets and sustain faith in projects for which there is no receptive interest becomes too much, and grows damaging. We let go in order to move forward. But if feelings of failure often co-mingle with persistent obscurity for an artist, and criticism seems to accompany success, what is the win?

The win, my friend and I agreed, it is the writing itself. Perhaps that sounds trite, but if creativity is to be hung on the maxim Andy Warhol penned, that "Success is what sells," then we are doomed from the start to persist in the reinvention of art driven by marketing, trends, mass appeal, discounted quantity and bland mediocrity. Wordsworth put it best I think, "Every great and original writer, in proportion as he is great and original, must create the taste by which he is relished." Fulfill first what deep inner drive brings you, the artist, to your task.

Emil Nolde is quoted in Eric Maisel's book "A Life in the Arts," reminding us that "Hardly any of the names of ancient artists are recorded, even though they did more for the happiness of their people than the pharaohs, generals, and world rulers whose pride filled the world with sorrow." Yet obscurity is painful in this modern age of the Cult of the Individual. We modern artists feel talent is somehow validated only by a star on the sidewalks of Hollywood, famous prizes, bestseller lists. The lucky are envied by the unlucky. And most of us deeply fear our struggles are in exact proportion to our lack of ability.

My friend, a genuinely gifted writer, made the decision to step away from the negativity of pushing her manuscript against resistant publishers and return, for the time being, to the flow of her other writing, for which she is justly and widely recognized. I reminded her that no writing is ever lost. The grief of the stillborn project, whose creation has consumed years to months, is very real. But putting a stalled manuscript to rest, finally, releases our creativity to move on. The work isn't dead, we will revisit it someday; and yes, interest in any one subject may have ebbed, but not forever.

A decision to let go takes great courage. It is the first lesson in truly writing for oneself: the work may only ever be yours. But all we are belongs to the world. Bits and pieces of what we write will find their way into the world. Creativity is never wasted.
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Cathedral of Green

one does a whole painting for one peach and people think just the opposite - that that particular peach is but a detail.
-Pablo Picasso

In the last essay I touched on the idea of finding the midpoint between the deep high and low points in the sine wave of life - that personal place where we rest in stillness and collected self, gathering and absorbing the moments of living.

I entered deep into one of my personal balance points this morning, and the experience seemed to highlight the meaning of vitality to me. I headed out for my usual morning run, only marginally aware of the turquoise sky streaked with high strata of white cloud, the May flowers like Matisse cut-outs, opening to the sun in mosaics of color beside the road. I was preoccupied thinking about my work and upcoming events, deadlines and dilemmas as yet to resolve themselves. Yet inevitably, the effort of running settles my soul. It takes the body machine and gives it a good drive - opening the internal spark plugs and cleaning out the lines.

But more than that, running, like many athletic endeavors, rewards sustained push. The focus and discipline required distract the noisy mind, and a shift occurs from mental analytics and fretting to release - abiding in soft awareness, a listening within. At some point on a run (and it may take a hellacious frustrating effort to get to that point) I abruptly unmoor from my usual boomerang thinking and hear this perfect symphony that is heart beat, breath, blood and muscle burn. The body clicks in, harmonizes in that perfect place that is the center of the point of ease. The place where effort is equaled by performance, and the sense of sailing - of moving freely through one's own power - replaces struggle. Every run is for this: the exercise, to paraphrase Picasso, is mere detail.

This morning my run took me down an avenue of grand old maples in line along parallel boulevards. New tender leaves, the size of stepping stones or stars, have opened up above me and I am moving, no, flowing in this sun-filtered river of green light. I run, suspended in a cathedral of green, floating in harmony with all that I am and all that is the world.

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Bees of the Invisible

We are the bees of the invisible. We frantically plunder the visible of its honey, to accumulate it in the great golden hive of the invisible.
- Rilke

I love this metaphor for that simple, luxurious passage of time we drink life in, like the absorption of a clear cold trickle of water into a parched earth. Sometimes I am afraid that as people are, distracted in our busy lists of must-dos and "urgent nows," we are not still long enough for life to sink in. Artists often talk about the fallow period before a great creative effort. This time when the unconscious self is assembling, clarifying, visioning, gestating in still creativity. It takes a true breath between bursts of effort to rebalance and center, to reclaim the steady center of the life's sine wave. I believe this is true of rooting into life itself: before there can be branches above there must be a deep and anchored support system below.

Rilke speaks of plundering the world of its sweet joys, and somehow storing all that we collect deep within ourselves. To do this, to secret away the sacred, we must return home. Home inside ourselves and home with our loved ones. Home where we feel most happy, and where we know we belong. Home in the divine, centered in the pure certainty of heart beats and moments of stillness.

I was diverted from writing into household chores today. The dust on the shelves was not to be ignored any longer. Resolved to move through my task expeditiously, I set to work. Yet the focused efficient work of wiping things clean somehow unspooled into daydreaming. I was handling gorgeous works of blown glass, dusting and admiring. Shapes of broken surf, the inner light of the sea, the rings of Saturn, spheres of vibrant color and delicate tracery... I forgot my irritation, the rush to be done, and cradled each object, letting its beauty sink into me. My soul was so thirsty! The next moment I looked up, the morning was gone. But as I made a cup of tea and took it upstairs to my study, I felt certain that somehow, in the "nothing done"-ness of just dwelling in beauty, I had deepened. Tucked more of life into my store of the invisible sweet.
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Genius Has An Inside Out


My slow painting, I tell myself, is like life; you don't know how it's going to end. But that doesn't release you from choosing from moment to moment, from point to point.
- Andrew Forge

I've finally come to the conclusion that you must accept what's bad about your work along with what's good. Maybe they are one and the same.
- Lillian Hellman

Spring is having a party outside my study window. There they are, the tulips languidly soaking up sunshine. It has been such a long gray winter, I, too, want to bask in the sun, supine on the grass. The perfect excuse to defer diligence and discipline at the computer re-working my "creative genius" of the day before.

Fact is, I don't always know if I'm improving or damaging my original efforts as I mash with my sentences. A coffee cup sits on my desk, proclaiming in large black letters EPIC FAIL. It always makes me laugh. Somehow, in the big scheme of life and work, acknowledging right up front how often my chin hits the concrete frees me to try it again. But today, the plan today is to bail and read in the garden. My current read is the wonder of Anne Tyler's, The Beginner's Goodbye. I lose myself in Tyler's story even as I am aware of an inner envy that accompanies each good paragraph. It is impossible as a writer not to fully admire another. The craft demands it.

But the real topic of today's blog is not spring fever, but writing blocks. Specifically, blocks that are self-induced. A belief that you are a) Less productive or efficient than your peers churning out publishable work, or b) Your awareness of your own writing style issues is messing with your confidence in your writing strengths. Either way, you're not writing. And that sucks.

A recent mystery writers conference highlighted the difference for me between genre writing timetables and those of mainstream or literary fiction. Genre markets are built on a proven, expected schematic for the romance, sci-fi, fantasy, or mystery story. In mystery, a dominant character rides within the frame of Plot +Action, and this is repeated throughout sequels; which permits the mystery writer a more efficient and quick build of serial work. The roadmap is laid out, the main frame of character and setting has been defined. The hapless fiction writer on the other hand, meanders through the ideas at hand, picking out a new path toward each story. A story populated by major characters and story arc that might also include a host of subplots, minor characters, changing eras and landscapes - interwoven with discourse on all manner of things that might provide interesting reader "wall paper." Depending on those sub-characters and that inward-looking context, a fiction novel can take two years to a lifetime. So yes, I have "production envy" of my fellow writers skilled in mystery.

The big confidence canyon on any given day for me is a "working problem" wedded into the publishing experience: all critiques stand. Your work is out there. Agents, editors, book salesmen, librarians, booksellers and readers...all have weighed in on your your writing and henceforth, forever will. With each published work, a new notch on the high-jump pole is set for the writer - beat your own last performance. Whether athlete or actor, writer or painter, the drive to hit excellence is incredibly intense. That "excellence point" becomes a moving target: a major source of artistic anxiety. Eric Maisel, a California psychotherapist to people in the arts said, "Criticism and rejection are twin demons in the sphere of social evaluations. It takes courage and a persistent dismissal of the evaluative powers of others for the writer to resubmit his manuscript after a dozen agents have panned it... Sometimes what fails the artist is not his courage but his ability to keep these critical evaluations from getting under his skin. He's come to believe his novel really is too quiet, not because he's come to that judgment himself but because others tell him so." (A Life in the Arts).

So what do you do? The book you want to write (that I am in fact writing) must be as good if not better than whatever mysterious novel charisma launched the one before, and yet also be fresh, different, and not disappoint readers. This next book must be in synch with moveable market trends to calm a risk-averse publishing acquisition committee. And finally, because you, the author, now have sales data - this new work must meet or beat your last book. Writers call this pressure the "second book block." It's not enough to write a book - again - the trick is to do it better. Every book out.

I find myself working to keep the outside voices out of my head, but in fact, they're in there, loud and clear. I generally feel the critics are more or less right. As a writer, I have a subjective inside-out view of my writing, but publishing professionals and readers frame a more objective view. (Insofar as "objective" refers to the affect of the writing on the page. Good or bad is always subjective per individual, but if enough people say the same thing, it's a given your writing has some specific impact.) I turn to Lillian Hellman's dry surrender: own them both. What you do well is part of what you do poorly.

Genius has an inside out. Examples from history are instructive, if not particularly comforting: Van Gogh's unorthodox paint stroke was both his bain and his triumph; Martha Graham's modern choreography earned early ridicule before praise; Melville's Moby Dick, the work of years, was considered a failure in his time. But the persistence of the artists reminds us we must not let judgment (our own or the critics) block the progress of the work itself. Perhaps it is enough to do as Jackson Pollock is said to have done after each masterpiece dried - call it crap and then watch unbelievably as it sells. The key is to do the work. And if it takes, well, may we all be so lucky!
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Morning Has Broken

April 22, 2012 Sunrise on Haleakala

Last Sunday, April 22, 2012, my sweetheart Greg and I drove the long winding road from the seashore on Maui to the 10,023 foot summit of Haleakala Crater. We were on our way to view the sunrise from the rim of the dormant volcanic crater overlooking the gleaming Pacific. To begin our new life together alongside the rise of a new day.

Our wedding entourage met not in flip-flops, summer dresses and Hawaiian shirts, but in fleece and jeans and mittens in the dark hotel parking lot at 3 a.m. The intimate party of six included my daughter from Connecticut (our officiant), my sleepy son (our classical guitarist and photographer), and Greg's eldest son and fiance from Seattle (readers of poetry for our ceremony). We drove inland from the sea to the national park entrance and slowly snaked up to the summit in a string of gathering headlights, white pearls rolling up the side of the black mountain. We reached the top of Haleakala slightly before 5 in the morning: the couple in the back seat climbed out of the rented Town & Country van green at the gills after two hours of stomach-churning switchbacks up to the rim. The volcanic desolation, blasted by wind, was truly cold in the darkness at that altitude. Everything that could be worn was piled on, including a pair of pants tied around someone's head for warmth. Dawn would not be for another hour.

Quietly the parking lot filled - no car engines allowed to run, all vehicle lights off. With a small group of sunrise pilgrims we climbed the stone steps to an observation deck and gazed out over a white sea of roiling cloud beginning to glimmer at the horizon. The horizon turned metallic ruby and then the clouds a fiery red, followed by an explosion of color that illuminated the world from the hot disk of a new sun. Sunrise gilded the vast ocean and touched Haleakala in a bowl of gold. We stood in awe. In a cathedral of such immense natural wonder no one spoke. An instrumental hymn set to an old Scottish tune my son would play later for our ceremony swelled in my thoughts, "Morning Has Broken."

As the crowds dispersed, we followed a short path along the ridge until we found ourselves on a knoll overlooking the islands and clouds below us. We faced our beaming officiant, newly licensed by church and the State of Hawaii. My son uncased his guitar and began to play Bach, blowing on his fingers to thaw them. Grateful for the warming light, Greg and I spoke our vows to one another on the red soft rock of Haleakala, which in Hawaiian means "House of the Sun."

There's more to this story, and bits and pieces will find their way into the blog to amuse you (enter a flinty-eyed female Park Ranger stage left, packing a pistol with an eye on enforcing signage). But we wanted to share with you here our official wedding announcement, submitted to the New York Times Sunday Styles section. With half the family residing in New England and my publishing life out of New York, we had felt very connected to the Sunday Styles readership. Alas not. Our announcement was not printed. Snubbed love. (Thus the Sunday Styles dreams of one middle-aged bride are crushed. All that work to tell our tale in Times Wedding Speak! That strange, formal Town Crier language. Admittedly we were a business day late hitting the six-weeks-in-advance due date. Who knew. Sigh.)

So friends - our wedding announcement is included below. Just for you. Enjoy.

Glenda Burgess and Gregory Scotford Miller were married Sunday at dawn at the edge of Haleakala Crater, Haleakala National Park, on the Island of Maui. Katherine Grunzweig, daughter of the bride, officiated as a member of the Universal Life Church Monastery.

The bride, 55, an author who goes by her professional last name of Burgess and whose most recent work, "The Geography of Love," a memoir, was nominated as a finalist for the 2008 Books for A Better Life Award, met the groom, also 55, an anesthesiologist with Physicians Anesthesia Group of Spokane, Washington, on a blind date set up by mutual friends. The bride, a widow, is keeping her name. She has two children, Katherine Grunzweig, aged 22, a graduate in Art History from Yale University attending the University of Washington Medical School this fall, and David Grunzweig, 21, who attended the US Naval Academy in Annapolis and is continuing his studies in computer science engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston this fall. The bride’s former career was with the U.S. State Department where she began her career as a Presidential Management Fellow, following a stint working for Senator Warren G. Magnuson on the Senate Appropriations Committee. She is a graduate of the University of Washington Evans Graduate School of Public Affairs. Her parents, Mrs. Louise W. Burgess, and Thomas K. Burgess, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF (Retired), both of Washington State, divorced in 1972 and are deceased.

The bridegroom earned his medical degree from the University of Utah, followed by residency and fellowship in North Carolina. Dr. Miller is the author of a monograph on anesthesia techniques for robotic heart surgery. An avid salmon fisherman and outdoorsman, trekking frequently to Alaska and Canada, Dr. Miller grew up in South Dakota where his parents, Dr. and Mrs. Maclynn Miller, still reside. Dr. Miller has three sons. Daniel Miller, 27, a graduate of the University of Washington, is employed in the web/internet industry in Seattle, WA. Matthew Miller, 25, is a third year medical student at the University of Texas, Houston, and Jonathan Miller, 20, is a chemical-biological engineering major at Rice University, also in Houston. Dr. Miller's previous marriage of twenty-five years ended in divorce.

Ms. Burgess met Dr. Miller in June of 2010. They were introduced by married friends, physicians, who knew the couple individually and felt they would be “perfect for one another.” Ms. Burgess had not dated since the death of her husband seven years prior, focused on raising her children and her writing. A blind date, the first for either of them, seemed both intimidating and simultaneously care free. “I mean, why not?” Ms. Burgess laughed. “I’d love to enjoy a meal out and meet someone great to talk to.” As for Dr. Miller, a cyclist, he recalled thinking Ms. Burgess, a runner, was beautiful and fun to be with. “We were both so different and yet we hit it off spectacularly. There was a great deal of chemistry.” After a whirlwind courtship involving a symphony picnic in the park and an autumn trip to New York City to visit with Ms. Burgess’ publisher and attend both the opera and theater, Dr. Miller proposed to Ms. Burgess in their favorite Spokane restaurant, saying at her look of delighted astonishment, “Yes, I’m serious!” As they share the 22nd of the month for their birthdays in September and July, they chose the 22nd as their wedding date.

The wedding ceremony took place outdoors at Haleakala National Park following a spectacular sunrise overlooking Maui and the Pacific Ocean with a view of the surrounding islands. The bride’s son performed Bach on the classical guitar and his mother's favorite hymn, "Morning Has Broken." Daniel Miller and fiancé Becca Allen both read poetry in honor of the couple, and Ms. Burgess followed the couple’s vows with her own poem, written to the groom. After an al fresco breakfast at a local coffee house in the crater valley, the wedding party celebrated that evening with a surfside candlelight dinner. The couple will follow their wedding with a June trip down the Rhine by boat from Amsterdam, and then by train into the Alps, exploring art museums, historical sites, and outdoor recreation. The couple will continue to reside in Spokane, Washington.
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