lucy lion cub

today my wacky Lu wanted me to play outside with her, just her. i was nauseated and exhausted after a long emotional week (btw, it's only thursday), but she didn't and couldn't know of that, so i agreed and out we went. she goofed around on the swing for a bit and we collected fallen avocados. she jabbered the whole time, demonstrating a trick zoey taught her for safely jumping off mid-swing. one of her pale skinny knees got a bit of mud on it while she was un-spinning. she swung as high as soon could, trying to reach the plastic baseball bat she asked me to hold out in front of her, first with one foot, then two. 

for the grand finale she taught me a complex game she claimed she and eleanor had played before. she carefully placed herself on the swing, gripping the ropes while at the same time grasping the iridescent pink hula hoop in her right hand. as she swung (after a few starter pushes, the hula hoop was heavy), i was to toss bean bags and tennis balls through the moving hoop; extra points were awarded if i was able to hit the tree trunk. we absolutely delighted in this silly game, and before heading inside switched places, though my giant body made it a little tougher for her to hit her target. we rejoiced when she "won."

at clean up time, eleanor instructed her to complete some microscopic task repeatedly, and i became, as i nearly daily do, the sole witness to lucy's subtle lionlike tendency, almost exclusively awakened by eleanor's sass. the child is a characteristically quiet creature, but when provoked, lu's lion heart stoutly resists the disrespect. "eleaNOR!! that's not my job! i'm still working on THIS job and you're supposed to be doing those! don't keep making me do that kind of thing when i'm still trying to finish this because that's not fair!" eleanor, unflinchingly certain that she is the queen of the pride, maintains her boss energy but says little to lu's clearly legitimate refusals. 

there is nothing that sends blood through my arteries as forcefully as those small courageous cries of self defense from Lu in the little-sister-big-sister-bully scenario. absolutely nothing.

20. human haiku: fear

sometimes it's like i 
can't swim out of the whirlpool
can't know, can't see, can't –

// human haiku project prompt, april 2022

1. human haiku: who you are as a human, now

alexandra steele
believer, mother, maker
trying to be kind

the rise and fall of a sand dollar

Eleanor found a sand dollar at the beach. This has never happened. She was beside herself with excitement.

more here 

Second Listening

I am 31

I must decide 
for myself 
what's right
No one, 
no pamphlet, no prophet can decide for me;

I must listen
I must listen with my eardrums to the voices of those I trust
the prophet, the pamphlet, the parable, the mystic, the ancestor, the sister –

and then
I must filter those words, 
sounds, sentiments, opinions, beliefs
through my eardrums
the sieve of my own heart
and listen again
to what my heart believes.
I'll call it
the Second Listening.

It is where I heard Heavenly Mother's vibrations
where I decided to love instead of label
and where I cut myself loose from traditions that feel out of place on and in my body.

The Second Listening is my power
only mine,
like a patriarchal or matriarchal blessing.
I don't look at what I've heard in my Second Listening and expect
anyone else to hear the same sounds!

That's where Jesus is
in the choice
the atomic cosmic power of being a human (bought and paid for at the highest cost)

He showed me how to Second Listen
when He confounded those intent on stoning the cheating wife
when He healed on the Sabbath
when He forgave His killers in front of His mother's face.

It is within my Second Listening
that I become okay with the lack of a neat and tidy solution to all things.
Sometimes the Second Listening sounds like
"I don't know"
not because I wasn't paying attention, 
but because I was, 
and the sound has not yet traveled this far
not yet
not yet.

And so!
I will listen
and relisten
and think
and rethink
and Second Listen 
and pause
and wait
for more.



"Creation itself, the natural world, already believes the gospel and lives the pattern of death and resurrection, even if unknowingly. The natural world believes in necessary suffering as the very cycle of life. Just observe the daily dying of the sun so all things on this planet can live. The total change of the seasons. The plants and trees along with it. The violent world of animal predators and prey. Necessary suffering goes on every day, seemingly without question. As I write this in the deserts of Arizona, I just read that only one saguaro cactus seed out of a quarter of a million seeds ever makes it to even early maturity and even fewer after that. Most of nature seems to totally accept major loss, gross inefficiency, mass extinction and short lifespans as the price of life at all. Feeling that sadness and even its full absurdity ironically pulls us into the general dance, the unified field, and ironic and deep gratitude for what is given, with no necessity, and so gratuitously. All beauty is gratuitous. So whom can we blame when it seems to be taken away? Grace seems to be at the foundation of everything."

– Richard Rohr

My beliefs on the priesthood 2/12/22

It Starts with a Problem

I’ve been searching for more clarity on the doctrine of the priesthood for about four years. Here’s where I am as of today, February 12, 2022.

“This doctrine of the priesthood—unknown in the world and but little known even in the Church—cannot be learned out of the scriptures alone. The doctrine of the priesthood is known only by personal revelation. It comes, line upon line and precept upon precept, by the power of the Holy Ghost to those who love and serve God with all their heart, might, mind and strength." (source)


 2021 was a weird and wonderful year. Here's some of my best personal work from those twelve months. 

tons more right over here...

kathryn's chocolate cake // 15 jan 2022

lucy always asks for chocolate cake for her birthday. i'm okay at cake – stella parks' white mountain layer cake usually turns out pretty well for me, as well as my sister's carrot cake and this ricotta raspberry cake, but i've failed repeatedly with mediocre strawberry cakes, yellow cakes, chocolate cakes, and citrus cakes. and don't even get me started on frosting. my nemesis. 

for lu's birthday i just planned to use a box mix from the pantry and a can of betty crocker frosting. then i remembered my secret weapon! how could i have possibly forgotten?!

enter: kathryn's magic chocolate cake. as a teenager, this was our go-to special occasion cake at my aunt kathryn's. i remember having it on father's day with my grandparents, after baptisms and baby blessings, and on my sister emily's birthday the day after we got our wisdom teeth out. 

this cake is truly perfect, plus it's ridiculously easy to make. dense but soft, extremely chocolatey but not too sweet, with a bit of texture from the chocolate chips. the glaze has a pinch of salt in it so it brings the whole cake together. this is a very dangerous baked good.

- - - 

Kathryn's Chocolate Bundt Cake

1 (18.25 oz.) pkg. devil's food cake mix 
1 (4 oz.) pkg. instant choc. fudge pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 c. vegetable oil (olive oil ok)
1 cup sour cream (or greek yogurt)
12 oz. semi- sweet choc. chips (2 cups)

optional glaze:
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
dash of salt
3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  In a large bowl combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, sour cream and 1/2 cup water.  Beat on medium speed 4 minutes scraping down sides of bowl often.  Stir in chocolate chips.
Turn into a greased 12-cup bundt pan.  Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.  Let cool 10 to 15 minutes in pan, then invert to unmold onto a rack or serving plate and let cool completely.

for glaze:
In a 1 quart glass bowl, combine butter, corn syrup, salt and 2 tablespoons water.  Heat in a microwave oven on high 1 to 1 and a half minutes or until boiling, stirring once.  Stir in the chocolate chips until glaze is melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool to room temperature and thicken slightly to spreading consistency.  Glaze should not be thick.