Pap

October 2nd

Pap + Gram

My grandfather, Trevor, died in June. We had a memorial for him this weekend at his small church north of Tucson, tucked in the shadows of the Catalina Mountains. He joins my grandmother, who passed 4 years ago. Tucson seems empty without them. It is so very strange to visit and not see one of them.

A bit of what I shared at his service:

Trevor, or PapPap as his 6 grandchildren called him, was born September 2, 1926. He passed just a few months short of his 91st birthday. He was the oldest of four children raised in Wolfdale, Pennsylvania. His parents, Henry J. and Clarice Hague Beecham, had Trevor, Harry, Clarice – known as Sis – and Jack. Sis and Jack are still living.

When Pap graduated from Trinity High School, he enlisted in the Navy and served in the Pacific. He was in Okinawa when the treaty was signed on his 19th birthday, September 2, 1945. He returned to the United States via San Diego on New Years Eve, 1945 and would go on to continue for a few more months before honorably leaving the service.

One of the stories I remember Pap telling was how appalled he was, as a child who had grown up during the Great Depression, by the sheer waste of war. He talked about watching with horror as he and his fellow Navy men followed orders on their way home, dumping jeeps and other heavy materials off the back of the ship into the sea making the ship lighter. The only benefit was it made the trip home faster, or so they thought.

After the service, Pap attended LSU and remained an avid Tigers fan until his last days. I remember him fondly holding an LSU bottle opener that when tapped would play the fight song. He’d sit in his recliner on Saturday afternoons and cheer along with those in the stadium.

He returned to Washington, Pennsylvania in May of 1959 to start a job in finance. To his surprise and delight, waiting for him was the small town news that Maxine Pettit Donley, now a mother of two young boys, was recently divorced and had returned home to live with her parents on their family farm. Pap would tell us how Maxine had been the apple of his eye in high school, and he was considering reenlisting in the military, but instead stayed in Pennsylvania. They were married four months later. At the age of 33, he became a husband and a stepfather to two feisty boys, Kit age 8 and Rex age 5. His mother tried talking him out of the marriage; marrying a divorced woman with children was scandalous. He didn’t care.

Soon, Trevor would move his new family back to Louisiana. He continued working in finance in Lafayette. In the 1970s, they moved to Scottsdale, Arizona.

We gathered around their dining room table for countless meals, including one of Trevor’s favorites to prepare: gumbo. Cooking was next to football in Trevor’s heart. He loved to cook for others and enjoyed showing off the recipes he perfected during his time in Louisiana.

He was proud of his time and service at this church. He enjoyed serving as a deacon, elder and moderator. He liked being a lay speaker, choir member and Bible school teacher. On one of our last visits, he told me he once thought about going into the ministry because he loved to preach.

 

He was so happy that for his 90th birthday, his siblings – including Harry who was in good health at the time and Sis, who’d come all the way from Pennsylvania, surprised him for dinner and cake. I have photos of him crying, holding their hands, so thankful for their kindness. My Uncle Kit and Aunt Paula made sure the event went off without a hitch. In that moment, it felt like my grandmother was very much in the room as well.

I will dearly miss Trevor. I enjoyed speaking with him about books and travel. He loved me dearly in return. In his last days, I visited him with my husband, Jason. Pap hadn’t been well enough to attend our recent wedding. He held Jason’s hand and asked him to “take good care of me.”

With any luck, he is watching great football from heaven, sitting with my grandmother and great grandmother, and likely arguing with God.

Rest in peace, Pap. You will be missed.

 

 

 

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Family
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Empowered

October 1st

November 2016 garden

In the last week, I’ve attended a women’s conference at church, read a book by Brene Brown on imperfections, and attended Glennon Doyle’s Together conference with a girlfriend. I feel a little punch drunk on empowerment.

The women’s conference was titled “Known” and focused on recognizing how God has made each of us as perfect beings. We are created in His image, and when we compare ourselves to others, or speak poorly about ourselves—we are missing the point. Strong female stories are told again and again in the Bible. The story of the midwives who didn’t wait for Moses to lead the Exodus, but realized the pharaoh was going to bring hell upon their people and instead started rounding up the first-borns and hiding them, is just one example.

The conference speakers discussed the book of Galatians. Afterword, I took some time to read this book in its entirety, which didn’t take long. My experience with the Holy Spirit is one of me being a complete bone head and the Holy Spirit being the most patient, loving, hilarious person around. Regularly She’s like, “Um, dumb dumb. Didn’t we already discuss this? Didn’t I already teach you that lesson in 2004, 2006, again in 2006, the fall of 2009, and that one time in 2011?” — to paraphrase.

In reading Galatians, I’m reminded of how the Holy Spirit is walking along side us all, and there ready and willing to hold our hands and help us see what we cannot on our own, if (and that’s a big if) we are willing to reach out a hand and ask for the friendship. One of the speakers at Known said she was sure the Holy Spirit is a female because she’s “always there, bossy, and ready to get the job done.” That made me smile.

I’ve got one foot firmly planted in this evangelical church and the other dangling in the foyer of the United Methodist church where I was raised. The evangelical movement is traditionally far too conservative for my view of the world and my spiritual understanding. This is a longer post for another day. I need to spend some more time thinking about it, but like a pebble in my shoe, I miss the United Methodist church when I’m at the other church — and I feel like I’m not totally at home in either pew.

The Together conference was a group of women discussing their walks in life, with Glennon ending the three-hour-long discussion with a prayer. She recently left her husband to marry Abby Wambach of Olympic soccer fame. The pair briefly discussed their journey with sobriety, struggling to understand their love for each other and also honoring Christ, and how they are using their fame for good. At the Phoenix tour stop, this included interviewing female farm laborers who are trying to end sexual violence in the fields, and speaking with a Phoenix woman who leads an effort to end honor killings among tribal members in her home country of Pakistan.

There were a lot of tears. Tears of joy, of anger at the injustice in the world, and tears of hope that women can turn this unhappy world around.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control.”

— Galatians 5: 22-23

~K

 

Posted in
Faith
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San Diego

September 12th

September 2017

September 2017

September 2017

I had the chance to spend some time in San Diego last week for work, including a quick visit with my dear Sue. It was so nice to spend time after work wandering barefoot on the beach, hanging out in the pool and day dreaming.

I love the desert, but the beach is my happy place.

When I wasn’t lounging poolside, I was attending the National Association of Rural Mental Health’s annual meeting for a series of heavy, fascinating discussions. One presentation included research from rural Scotland, paired with similar populations in rural Texas. Sadly, there are three leading reasons why rural Americans now have a lower life expectancy than those in cities: opioids, alcohol and suicide.

We have a lot of work to do to improve our access to care for 50% of America’s population who lives in our rural communities.

~K

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Travel
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Danna’s Wedding

September 11th

My friend Danna was recently married. She is Navajo and invited us to attend her traditional ceremony in a hogan on tribal lands. We drove an hour north of Gallup, New Mexico to join a group of folks for a day of celebrations.

It was beautiful, meaningful day.

September 2017

September 2017

September 2017

September 2017

September 2017

xo,

K

Posted in
Celebrate!
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Gifts in the wild

September 10th

September 2017

How cute is this kid?

I’m happy he loves his quilt.

 

~K

Posted in
handmade
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Talking Myself Through This

August 23rd

There is a part to writing novels that never gets easier: the critique. On Sunday, I sat with a group of trusted friends and listened to their thoughts on the first draft of my latest novel, “Counting Coup.” For nearly two hours, they discussed the characters and plot, the things they liked, and a bunch of stuff they didn’t.

And then I received first draft edits from my publishing editor and he had a different list of all that he liked and didn’t.

This is where my brain is still very much stuck in 3rd grade. The internal conversation goes a bit like this:

37-year-old me: Of course they gave you feedback. YOU ASKED FOR FEEDBACK. WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?

9-year-old me: They don’t love me. No one loves me. I hate everything.

I know. I’m ridiculous.

It is at this junction that I stopped, for more than a year, with “Basket Baby.” I put the edits on a shelf for a year before I could summon the courage to sit down and admit the story needed work.

CC does need work. They saw what I couldn’t. They also told me all of this as kindly as they could. They voluntarily spent hours upon hours reading my work and providing thoughtful advice. And my gut response was, “NOPE.”

The ego is a funny, evil thing. It let’s us hide our own imperfections, calling them quirks. It strokes our need for importance, and massages our ugliest characteristics. And when it is wounded, it cries like a 9-year-old girl.

For the next few months, I’ll be working through these changes. I know the bones to this story are there, and that they are great. I want to get it right.

~K

 

Posted in
Media, Novel, Writer School, Writing
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Oh, Montana

August 22nd

Montana 2017!

Jason and I spent last weekend visiting friends in Livingston, Montana—near Bozeman. This part of the world makes me swoon.

Annie Proulx gets it right.

Jason is a national park nut, so the chance to spend another vacation wearing dirt-colored clothing, covered in bug spray, tromping around until the point of exhaustion made his heart happy.

Montana 2017!

Have I told you about my husband’s passion for “backpacking vacations?”

Montana 2017!

Montana 2017!

Visiting Adam and Ashley in Livingston was a good middle ground. We rented a cute basement apartment within walking distance of our friends. We did visit the park, and it was as breathtaking as I remembered.

Montana 2017!

Montana 2017!

Montana 2017!

Montana 2017!

Montana 2017!

We ate one of the best meals I’ve had this year, and we got to see grizzly bears and wolves at a rehabilitation center.

Montana 2017!

It was wild. It was comfortable. And of course, Adam was there—so face actually ached from laughing within an hour of landing.

We also had a chance to catch up with one of our dear friends who recently moved back to Bozeman. I’ll save the story about Mark and our nearly missed flight for another day.

Thank you, Montana. You are absolutely lovely and even a bit chilly in August—the perfect summer getaway.

~K

 

 

 

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Travel
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Publishing Notes: Hiring an Agent

August 10th

Basket Baby signing

When I signed my first publishing contract with Asymmetrical last year, I was overjoyed that it included not only the contract for “Basket Baby,” but for first rights to my next three books, too. I had a unicorn in sight: a small press interested in a multi-book contract. It was time to write.

“Counting Coup” came together within a year, including considerable research and interviewing of individuals who attended Indian schools. The story, in parts, has been workshopped in a writing group, and heavily edited by my writing partner — Bert. It is still in the beta phase, with several copies out for final comments. I hope these will be minor and grammatical, not thematic. The pace of writing this story, by comparison to the first two, felt nothing short of magical. I was in the writing zone, and knowing I had a publisher to hand it off too made it that much more fun.

The next step in this career is to hire a literary agent. As a former member of the Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop, I have a handful of friends who are serious authors. We work on our love for telling stories when our day jobs allow. Add family obligations to this schedule, and the time for the business of selling books quickly falls away. Those with agents fare better. Their stories have marketing dollars behind them.

When writing query letters, you have to be your best cheerleader, which is uncomfortable. Like dating or interviewing, you want to provide just enough information to bring interest, but not too much. With my shoulders back, I am trying to sell myself to agents in New York and Los Angeles with a sincerity about my love of public health and writing.

Asymmetrical is in part run by “The Minimalists,” who you may know from their recent Netflix special, or their popular books and blog. It has been neat to be associated with Josh and Ryan in this small way. Sadly, the press will be closing later this year. The future of my next three books, including “Counting Coup,” is now uncertain.

As my old marathon coach and dear friend JT would say, “Time to put your head down.” In other words, don’t give up. Look at your feet, think of how far you’ve already come, and keep pushing.

Thanks for your continued support and reviews! Please pass your copy off to someone to read. Every reader helps spread the story.

-Kelli

 

Posted in
Novel, Writing
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The Foz

August 1st

Fozzie

This furry cuddle monkey came to stay with us last week for a few days. He is one of the sweetest pups. He is just the right size to hold and loved resting in my arms or on my chest when he was trying to get back to sleep.

The other dogs were not as amused.

~K

Posted in
Heirloom Hacienda
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Come on in!

July 30th

Nelson Mandela Fellowship dinner

This weekend, we hosted a handful of women from Africa for dinner. They are here studying with the Nelson Mandela fellowship at ASU for the summer. Hawanatu is a doctor from Sierra Leone. Sia is an accountant, also from Sierra Leone. Theresa works in human rights in Ghana. Tsige is a civil engineer from Ethiopia. They were learning as much about each other, and the 30-plus others in their group, as they were about America.

Nelson Mandela Scholar Dinners

I am thankful to have sat with them and listened as they talked about their country’s university systems, healthcare and what they expect as they return. I wish the program worked in reverse and I could go for six weeks to learn from them!

~K

Posted in
Africa, Arizona
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