birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.


Little about my day is routine, except the sun coming up and going down. Even that varies substantially. When we are in Alaska, we go from 5 ½ hours of daylight in the dead of winter to 19 ½ hours of daylight at midsummer. A quick calculation shows that we are at all times either gaining or losing close to five or six minutes of light each day, or 35 to 40 minutes a week. The accompanying temperature changes in Anchorage go from mid-80s on a hot summer’s day to twenty below in January; from dense and exuberant green and 100-pound cabbages in August to bare trees dense with ice crystals in the depths of winter. But we are often traveling, and then the light, the day-lengths, the temperatures are all different.

After 72-some years, little is routine any longer. The kids got born, reared (to be correct), sent off to college, and then to Seattle, over the space of thirty years, not one minute of it routine. My husband of 37 years changes – loses hair, loses weight, finds new jokes, and makes up Monty Python skits on the spot. It’s true that his wardrobe is unvarying, but that’s his routine, not mine. I still work at the same agency where I started in July of 1974, but the work is research and writing, meetings about state-level justice policies. The issues remain the same (sadly), but different people are pursuing ideas about how to resolve them, progress is made, oil prices (and budgets) swell and diminish, and nothing is routine.

I can be counted upon to want a hot shower every morning, and to go to some lengths to arrange for that, even when traveling. At home, the morning routine includes writing one or two haiku in between teeth brushing and drying off. Not particularly routine. I can be counted upon to want coffee, but as I get older, I find myself being a little more flexible about exactly when I have to have it. Jim and I sit to meditate twice a day, morning and evening, but although that is usually a reliably pleasant experience, it never feels routine.

Perhaps as soon as I finish thinking about this subject, I will say, “Aha!” and think of something profoundly routine about my life. I shall append a postscript to this, and treasure that tiny bit of certainty in the universe, until it shows itself to be a photon instead of a wave, and I look for Schroedinger’s box where I can remain indeterminately certain.