My grandmother, Cora Belle, lived in a small, clapboard house in northeastern Missouri with a blackberry patch and slanting chicken coop out back. She married at 16 and gave birth to eleven children, eight who survived childhood.
Though I knew her only as a child when she was well into her seventh decade, I still see her clearly, and again experience her strong and comforting presence. Despite innumerable grandchildren, she still prized my young drawings and had hung one of them, its outlines decorated with crooked bands of colored rice, in her parlor where it stayed until she died.
When I was born, a deeply desired daughter after two sons, my mother, Wilma Kathleen, wanted to name me Corrina, in honor of my grandmother. At my father’s insistence, that name kept its hard consonant beginning, but changed to Karen.
My mother had aspirations to be a writer. In between the care of three children and a demanding husband, and despite chronic kidney disease and depression, she wrote poems and vignettes of her life. After she died, I found her poems and stories scattered through spiral notebooks, or tucked loosely in drawers amid vocabulary lists and crossword puzzles.
Ever since I can remember she told me that no matter what life brought, there was something that no one could take away from me – and that was writing.
This blog is dedicated to them, the matriarchs of my lineage, whose lives and encouragement made my life, so different from theirs, possible.
I currently live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with my beloved dog, Maddie, where I work as an educator and as an activist with nuclear, environmental justice and wildlife issues. Passionate about things that matter, I hold a special place in my heart for kids, elders, and four-legged, finned and winged ones.