I’ve had several lucky things happen to me lately.

But if I were to analyze each one, I’d find that when events happen, there is always a triggering event or a connection. I participate in social media for the same reason- serendipitous moments that are born out of simple connections. Or working with our new downstairs neighbors because they are just so darn nice.

Today I was inking my press when I heard voices from the front of the studio. Our friends from River Rock Outfitter had sent up two men looking for mittens for a present. We happened to have one pair of fingerless gloves left, so I left Elizabeth to talk with them. Then I leaned around the corner and saw them, the fathers of two former students.

Within minutes, I’d corralled them back to my shop to show them my presses. After much ooing and ahhing, one of them suddenly looked over at me.

“Where do you want to take this?” he asked.

I didn’t know how to answer, so I stumbled around for a few seconds. Then he explained that he owned a building a few miles away filled with printing equipment. The printer had died, and he now rented the space to a local printer who wasn’t using the equipment any longer. He wondered if I’d be interested. As he talked, I could feel my heart racing.

Visions of printing presses and type danced in my head, and I sprang to my feet, shouting, “A community print shop!”

Ok, I’m not going to abuse Clement Clark Moore’s poem. But I did get as excited as an 8-year-old seeing his bike under a tree.

Once I’d calmed down, I had second thoughts. It’s not in Fredericksburg. I’m not ready to leave Water Street Studio. And, frankly, I don’t know enough about letterpress equipment to be in charge of anything.

But he did say he would give me tour, and maybe, maybe sell me some type. Hey, even if all I do is walk around and touch the presses, I’ll be happy.

Who knew my day would take this turn? Lucky.

Finding Yourself, Losing Yourself, and Finding Yourself Again


It’s the end of the year, and I get introspective around this time.

I also get sad, but that’s another story.

When I was younger, I refused to get sad. I was a Pollyanna girl, sure that everything would turn out all right in the end. “I’m fine,” is our family mantra, and I lived that way a long, long time.

But I’ve been in a lost period for the last few years, trying to figure out who I am and what I want to be when I grow up. In the process, I’ve changed from Pollyanna to Eeyore. I’ve been whiny, critical, and gloomy, sure the next plane will crash or my business will fail.

Sometimes we’ll never figure out what sends us spiraling. But now, five years later,  I’m grateful to be seeing the light. I love working on my presses, sharing time with my young students, and helping to run Water Street Studio. The other day, one of my students stopped by with a gift (pictured above). I was touched he thought to create a framed set of type, including the word “write” and my initials. Seriously, touched.

These days, I’ve learned how little I really can control in my life. But giving in to that helps me appreciate everything else so much more.  Now I say, “What’s the worst that can happen?” And the answer is usually something I can live with.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be a Pollyanna again. Wedged where I am feels like a good fit-a little vulnerable, a little realistic, and a lot hopeful.

All righty, then. I have some wood type waiting for me, and my hands are too clean. Back to work.




White Lights


John O’Donohue © 2001

If it could say itself January
Might brighten its syllables on the frost
Of these first New Year days whose cold is blue.

Meanwhile in this corner of its silence
A weak winter sun lowers down behind
The moor that rises away from the lake.

Beyond reach of light, the shadowed water
Succumbs to this darkening of spirit
That would deny the bog today’s twilight.

All of a sudden something else breaks through
To appear at the far end of the lake
In two diagrams of white, uneven light.

I have never seen white so absolute
And alone, glistening in awkward form
Dreaming across the water a bright path.

As it stirs and changes I see what it is:
Two swans have found the mirror in the lake
Where a V of horizon lets light through

To make them light-source and light-shape in one.
Now they swim and fade through windows of reed
And disrobe the lake of apparition.

I look and look into their vanishing
See nothing. Departing that perfect ground
I knew I had been hungry for a blessing.