A year ago today I got to participate in one of the most amazing events of my life – I officiated the wedding of two of my former students, Amanda and Keith. They are awesome. The wedding was incredible. I was just honored to be involved (and get to quote some Hafez, too!).

8917217604_3b7ac9c6fd_oHere I am preparing for the ceremony. Photo by Keith Montgomery, June 1, 2013.

One of the gifts the new couple gave me was an awesome sculpture made of graphite, created by Batle Studios in San Francisco (click there to see the objects – they’re beautiful). To honor them on their anniversary, I decided to draw a small picture with the sculpture itself. Though not quite as easy to use as a standard pencil, my graphite shell was perfect for the task. I drew a small china plate with a chunk of bread on it – a tableau I had seen at the wedding (Keith and Amanda shared Eucharist together during their wedding).

2014-03-02 20.26.07Here I am beginning the drawing, back on March 3, 2014. Below is the final product:


Congratulations on your first anniversary, Amanda and Keith! Thank you for all that you are!




Tenth Anniversary



Above: One of my favorite pictures of Alison from our wedding day, ten years ago today.

I wanted to do something special for my wife for our tenth wedding anniversary. Last year I wrote a short remembrance piece about some music that was with me on the day Alison and I were married (read it here). After that, as a gift to my wife, I made a commitment to write nine more stories and present them to her today. I wanted them to be personal, funny, quirky, and timely. More than that, I just wanted to be able to follow through and actually complete the project. I’m happy to report that I did it – 10,980 words, 8 pen and ink illustrations (converted to vector graphics in Illustrator) – 40 pages total. Just for her. Just for us.

I’m deeply thankful that I’ve always been a person who writes and, beyond this, a person who remembers through writing. Human beings – across all seeming barriers of creed, race, and historical context, desire narrative. We want a story that makes sense of our experiences. It’s crucial that we have a place in setting that narrative structure in place. I write, and have always written, to – as the old Christian hymn says – “raise my Ebenezer.” I write to sight the lay of the land, to set the landmarks, and to cite past precedent. The stories I’ve written for Alison are by no means exhaustive of our life together, but they are “Ebenezer” landmarks for us. They are our story. I’m glad I’ve written them down, and I think the importance of taking the time will reveal itself more and more as the decades pass.


As of right now she has not seen the book. That will come a bit later tonight. But I’ve already given her Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino for us to read aloud (I love his story “The Distance of the Moon” and can’t wait to read it together). Here it is in it’s wrapping earlier today :)


For dinner I handmade Chinese style pan-fried dumplings. I found a recipe last month, researched the ingredients, and then went out today while the girls napped and Alison worked to get all that I’d need. Once home I began the process. Here are a few shots taken along the way (!!WARNING, #foodporn AHEAD!!):


Prepping the ingredients…




Pinching the dumplings…


Laying them out, ready for cooking…


Post pan-searing, a bit of simmering in the broth…




The presentation…


Ah, success!

Today was such a good day… time in the back yard with the family. Then good food, good books, a nice walk in the evening, a chance to chat with my mom (her birthday is today, too!), and now sleeping kids and time to kick back. I’m planning to reveal the Anniversary Stories ~ 2003-2013 book to Alison soon, and then maybe we’ll look back over some of our pictures from the honeymoon. And tomorrow we have good friends in town, so it’s Indian food for lunch after the standard Saturday morning Daddy-Daughters-Date!

So good. I’m so thankful. Ten more years, please. And ten more after that…


I Keep Your Picture Close to Me

Let’s keep going, ok? These pictures have been in my wallet for about eight years. I take them out to show to students and friends. And I frequently look at them myself – so thankful and appreciative for who you are. I want to see how these pictures look in another eight years, and another eight after that, and after that. I love you, Alison.

*see little Miranda Grace Ballou’s first bow there? I keep that in there, too:)

And here’s the link to last year’s remembrance