Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This morning

More snow!
Heaps and heaps of soft flakes balanced
on branches and buds
furry fingertips
reaching skyward each
to collect a soft white cap

A field of cotton bolls
a convention of miniature chefs
hundreds of vanilla ice cream cones hanging
outside our window
this morning


Monday, March 30, 2009


Aspen holds fresh snow
in her bare arms, on her buds
blizzard of lilies


Sunday, March 29, 2009

My old flame William Carlos Williams

Love Song

SWEEP the house clean,
hang fresh curtains
in the windows
put on a new dress
and come with me!
The elm is scattering
its little loaves
of sweet smells
from a white sky!

Who shall hear of us
in the time to come?
Let him say there was
a burst of fragrance
from black branches.

William Carlos Williams

I loved a yellow tulip
took it home for my own pleasure
a burst of sunshine on our table

This morning Bob saw aspen buds
waving just outside our bedroom window
We put our skis on, followed Fish Creek trail
and heard redwing blackbirds calling


Thursday, March 26, 2009


Driving north from Kremmling on a March afternoon
riding through eroded snow fields
clumps of gray sage, dreary rabbit brush
dreaming of spring

I fly by a team of crows
facing each other across a ribcage
somber surgeons performing their slow
meticulous work

Ahead on the right
a herd of antelope springs to life
formed out of old snow and brown dirt
Illuminated by a rare light

The air sparkles
My heart skips
fluttering between death
and life


Sunday, March 22, 2009

House a-fire

In my dream I see a woman
a younger woman than I
standing in the doorway
of a burning house

Her arms are filled with things she wants to save
shoe boxes stuffed with treasured photographs, grocery lists
plastic bags bulging with outgrown mittens
mismatched socks

From her arms a Raggedy Ann with red yarn hair
dangles by one leg
the other long missing
a casualty of war

The woman has only to cross the threshold to freedom
Just a few flaming steps
But she can’t fit through the door
She’s carrying too much
All those heavy old dreams and expectations
she’s trying to save

I call her name and she looks out hopefully
to the sound, the light
the gardens and the green fields
to the wide blue sky beyond the fire

She knows my voice
but I don't think she can see for the smoke
I’m afraid if she hesitates much longer
the burning lintel will crash down upon her


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Is your blog one of these?

So many blogs I come across
are banners flapping in the wind
colorful pleas for attention

Buy my book!
Join my team!
Aren't I right? (or Aren't I so Left!)
Think like I do!
Vote for my candidate!

I have wasted many words myself
and hours
touting my own projects, handing out opinions
like paper fliers stuck under windshield wipers

Here's what I want to know:
Who are you, really? Give me a glimpse
and I'll try to give you a peek at me
on a random day

Let's all pose the question,
Who am I?
Who are you?
Do we matter?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Write (do) what only you can...

One piece of writing advice, as it has jack-hammered its way into my concrete skull, is this: Don’t chase the market, don’t try to write the next bestseller, or even what you think your readers want. Write only what you are immensely curious about, what you want to discover. Write what you love. Or fear. Or lust after. Even if it is hopelessly geeky compared to what you think others are writing. Write what only you can. Everything else is garbage, a complete waste of time. In fact, if you aren’t in love with your story, your characters, I doubt you’ll even finish the story.

Some of the best, truest things I’ve written you’ll never see on a library shelf. Ten years before Star-Crossed was published, I wrote my first y.a. novel called “With a Little Luck” and it won the 1996 Maui Writers Award. Jubilation! Yet sadly, “With a Little Luck” had no luck at all. I could not find a legitimate publisher on the face of the planet. Many of the rejection slips (enough to wallpaper a small room) had notes scrawled on them. Like, great writing, but not for us… Lyrical, and well-crafted, but we don’t think there’s a strong enough market for it. Beautiful story, but we’ll have to pass. Would love to see something else, something trendy and hot that’ll make us a bazillion dollars…

I gave “Luck” a proper burial and went on to write Star-Crossed, which the New York Public Library honored as one of the Books for the Teen Age – 2007. Jubilation! (But Star-Crossed is definitely not a book for the masses. You have to be a bit of a geek to enjoy it. It's definitely not making Random House any money, but then so few people know about it.)

The best reward is when someone reads what I have written and they get it. We connect! They can experience vicariously what I experienced, or imagined; oh my God, that’s the magic of writing! Amazingly, there are other geeks like me, I am not alone in the universe!

At best, writing is an ongoing discovery, a solitary life-long university. So write (or do) what you love -- even if the money doesn’t follow. Time is short and the water rises, so write what only you can!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Have words, will travel...

I'm thinking about going back to work, part time. Not as a nurse, I don't think times is that hard and I've always said you should go forward, not backward. There has got to be some way to use my hodgepodge of skills (giving shots, plotting, starting IVs, developing believable characters, suctioning secretions, varying sentence structure)to bring in a more reliable paycheck than the royalty statement is currently providing.

Browsing through the help wanted in Routt County's Daily newspaper I'm getting some ideas: Wanted:

"Cowboy wanted; Steamboat/Dinosaur area. Fence and watch cattle."

"Open Range Calver... to perform duties principally on open range, attending to cows during calving season; observe cows health to determine delivery time; able to recognize birthing problems; assist calves with nursing...prevent cattle from eating poisonous plants, protect from predatory animals and theft..."
"Sheepherder with 3 months experience" Attends sheep grazing on range or pasture. Herds sheep using trained dogs. Guards flock from predators and from eating poisonous plants..."

Hey, I could be like Anne Proulx! I could do this job, then write a story about it. Then my agent lands me a sweet movie deal and they turn my story into a movie like Brokeback Mountain!

Here's another one, sparse on details. "Weed Supervisor, Routt County." Weed supervisor??? Hmmmmmm....Interesting. Maybe while working this job I could write the sequel to Pineapple Express...

Oh! oh! Here it is, pick me! Pick me! Steamboat TV 18 needs a Morning Show Host to do our live morning show. "Enthusiastic, engaging, mature candidates that can conduct informative interviews need apply." That's me! Enthusiastic, yes! Engaging, uh huh! Mature? Yeah, baby! This so appeals to the Leo in me...

Ah, but the hours suck. I am not a morning person. I remember when Bob and I were on the world record attempt for the most people to jump out of a hot air balloon at one time record, which we achieved, and which if I were to apply for this morning talk show host job I would cite as part of my experience in the field of entertainment, since CNN did come to film us but because of weather we had to postpone the jump, and they were booked the day we did the re-jump. (Yes, I know that's a run-on sentence in the first degree, but this is a blog and I love the freedom of stream-of-consciouness writing!)

I found out during that world record breaking adventure why I am not into hot air ballooning. You have to get out of bed while its still dark. (All those years as a nurse, I mostly worked nights...)

OK, OK, I'll keep writing. Maybe the next novel will be a best-seller. Back to chapter four of Blue Milieu.

Or maybe I should take that cowboy job and write one called Greener Pastures...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

You can't take it with you.

I'm working on my talk for Donor Alliance, for which I'm a new volunteer. This Thursday I'm to present the talk to Jennifer Lange, the coordinator, for review. I'm going to print it here, for practice. Feel free to give me feedback. Here goes:

Hi, I'm Linda Collison, I'm a volunteer for Donor Alliance, Colorado's organ procurement organization. I'm here to share my personal story about how a transplanted kidney changed my life.

Memorial Day Weekend, 2006. On Friday, Bob, my 58 year old husband, has a check-up, a physical exam, in Denver. (His first complete exam in years.) Lately he hasn't been feeling well but his symptoms are kind of vague. He blames the fatigue, occasional nausea, and the chronic bad taste in his mouth to some dental problems he's been having. After the exam we go up to the mountains to Steamboat Springs for the weekend.

Saturday night the phone rings, kind of late. Bob picks up and by the look on his face, and I know it's bad news. His hand is shaking.

"Can you talk to my wife," Bob says. "She's a nurse." He hands me the phone.

Yes, I'm a registered nurse, retired, with many years experience in critical care and emergency medicine. I used to speak with doctors all the time, late at night. But this time the patient is my husband.

I take the phone. The doctor on call tells me, "Ma'am, your husband is in kidney failure. His lab values are critical. You need to take him to the nearest hospital immediately."

The bottom drops out of my stomach as she tells me what his lab results are. Bob is a train wreck. I had no idea he was so sick. If it hadn't been for the lab tests...

All my past experiences working nights in the ICU and ER come flooding back. Only this time I'm not the RN, I'm the wife, and I feel as afraid and as helpless as every wife of every patient I've ever cared for.

It turns out Bob's kidney failure was due to an unfortunate combination of benign prostatic hypertrophy and bladder stones. The combination prevented him from emptying his bladder completely. Over many months, possibly years, his bladder gradually distended and the urine backed up into his kidneys. Although the problem was fixed surgically with a TURP and a laser to dissolve the bladder stones, the damage to Bob's kidneys was irreparable. We were told he would need a transplant, and so Bob joined the more than 76,000 other people in this country, waiting for a kidney. The wait was estimated to be at least three years, here in Colorado.

I asked if I could be a living donor so he wouldn't have to wait, and because our blood types are the same, I could -- if I was healthy enough. But I had recently gone on a medication for my blood pressure which made me ineligible to be a living donor. But I was convinced that my recent blood pressure problems were due to Bob's problems! Duh! What wife wouldn't have high blood pressure? So I went on a mission to lower my blood pressure and get off the medication, so that I could be a living donor.

So I lost weight, did yoga, meditation, biofeedback, the whole nine yards. It took me nearly a year to pass the blood pressure test off medication, but I did it. And I passed all the other tests they threw at me. I could have joined the marines I was so (frigging) healthy!

Meanwhile, Bob went to dialysis three times a week. For 53 weeks and six days (not like we're counting!) Dialysis kept him alive, but it's very hard on the body, and it only filters about 10 percent as effectively as a kidney. And dialysis can't do any of the other marvelous things a real kidney does, such as play a role in making red blood cells and regulate the phosphorus-to-calcium ratio, which keeps the bones from deteriorating.

During that year Bob was on dialysis we learned more about the dire need for kidneys and other organs. Like livers, pancreas, lungs, and hearts. I began to think harder about what I can leave behind when I leave this world.

One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people, and one tissue donor can help up to 100 others. Amazing! What a legacy one person can leave!

But it wasn't until April 24, 2008, the day Bob got his new kidney (my left one!) that I saw first hand what a difference a transplant makes. Bob's new kidney started doing its job, making urine, even before the incision was closed! (Atta girl!) And my remaining kidney started taking over, doing the job that two kidneys had shared for 55 years. It's a beautiful thing.

The difference the transplant made in our lives is phenomenal. Bob has his health and energy back. For us it's a miracle, a miracle I will know and appreciate every day for the rest of my life. I'm so thankful I was healthy enough to give a kidney, and I'm thankful to have my husband back.

Not everyone is healthy enough to be a living donor, but if we were all registered organ donors, if we all chose to pass on our much-needed organs and tissues after we die, so many more people like Bob could be helped.

You can't take it with you, but you can give it away.

www.donatelife.net Just by going to that website and registering to be an organ donor, and talking about your wishes with your family and friends, you can be the difference, you can give the gift of life and health. I thank you for your compassion and generosity.

Thank you for hearing my story.