The Grace of Age

One dark winter’s night, not long ago, I was driving home listening to classical music on MPR.  It’s about all I can stand anymore, radio in the Twin Cities having been reduced to a deplorable collection of pop, talk, oldies, and tuneless alternative music that I don’t understand.  It was sometime after 6:00 and The Writer’s Almanac came on.  I was lulled by the sounds of the road and by Garrison’s soothing, hypnotic voice when I realized he was talking about someone I once knew: another English major from Gustavus, class of ’83.  Thirty–or even twenty–years ago, hearing a poem by one of my classmates on a national radio segment would have made me feel jealous and vaguely depressed.  Instead, I felt nothing but happiness for her. (I later searched her out online and shared this story.) The poem was from her recently published collection, Cloves and Honey: Love Poems*, and is dedicated to her husband (“mi alma, mi vida”) who was also a classmate.athena

One of my favorite quotes is by Isabel Allende (found on a greeting card, though I’ve also read her novels): “After 50, most of the bullshit is gone.” If there are any young folks out there reading this, know that the day will come when you are released from the burdens of competition and achievement, when you stop endlessly comparing yourself to others and coming up short.

Back in my bookstore-owner days, I remember standing at the counter and having a conversation with a woman in her early 50’s.  She told me how much she loved this stage of life, that she finally felt comfortable in her own skin.  I was in my late 30’s at the time and thought to be be over 50 was to have one foot in the grave.  But obviously her words made an impression.  Now that I’m there, I know just what she meant.

I also believe that the older we get, the more we realize “that heaven is all around us, not just a blue line at the top of the page” (remember how you drew the sky when you were a little kid?).  We find grace and beauty more readily because we slow down and pay attention.

Here is a poem for today, from Krista’s almanac:


It could be something simple:

your hand resting on my hip

while you sleep.

I wake, thinking

there is as much of God in this

as in other things I love:

cathedrals of birch,

the incense of woodsmoke,

a kyrie of wind off the lake.

All our lives we try

to reach for the sky.

The grace of age is seeing,

finally, that heaven is all around us–

not just a blue line

at the top of the page.

*I would love to share a poem from Athena’s book, but I suspect I need permission to reprint.


Filed under Books, Poetry

When one door closes …

DSCF2820Today I turned in my keys to the space formerly known as Krista Artista Gallery.  I am still waiting for another door to open, but I admit I haven’t been knocking very hard.  In the month since my last day as a shopkeeper I’ve taken a wee vacation, read lots of books, binge-watched some good TV, tied up loose ends, and worked on this #@%& website.  I’ve also tried out a new career: German farm wife. For now, that just means I’m doing more of the cooking around here, although I do admit to doing some research on goats and chickens.  (This last part is to see if my husband actually reads this, tee-hee!)  I have also resurrected a novel that I started writing some years ago.  One of the drawbacks of being a compulsive reader–okay, a book snob–is that I’m my own worst critic.  For now, I’m treating my novel as a writing exercise rather than a potential publication.  My instincts say this isn’t “productive,” but I am trying to embrace the process and the mess.  (If you know me well, you’re laughing your head off right now.)

I really don’t want this blog to be about me, though.  I’m hoping it will be a “gallery” of musings on art and books and nature and other things that make life worthwhile.  The part of owning a shop that I already know I will miss most is the sense of community, so I hope you’ll follow and comment and share!


Filed under Krista Artista


Guidebook_lr (1)Yesterday I met a friend at Barnes & Noble for coffee.  I had been looking forward to it, in part because bookstores have always made me giddy.  Apparently I had temporarily lost sight of the fact that bookstores (i.e. those that remain) aren’t what they used to be.  I have such fond memories of taking my kids to B & N, twenty-plus years ago, and spending an hour or more perusing books while sitting in those overstuffed chairs until we narrowed it down to a book apiece.

Today’s Barnes & Noble is part toy store, part coffeehouse, part gift shop.  There are still books, of course, but if you’re looking for anythings on writing or art or poetry you’ll need to find some obscure corner of the store and check the bottom shelves.  Ten years ago the gardening section was massive; now cookbooks have apparently taken over.  I was also surprised to see an entire wall devoted to “Christian Life,” which made me wonder who own Barnes & Noble (though not enough to find out).  Anyhow, I had a gift certificate left from Christmas and was hard-pressed to find anything I really wanted to buy.  Nowadays when I want a book I usually download one to my Kindle or order via Amazon Prime (free shipping! So easy!), having long ago gotten over the fact that Amazon, more than anything else, is responsible for the demise of independent bookstores (including the one I owned back in the late 1990’s).  I ended up with 3 gardening magazines and Annie Lennox’s new cd (they still make those?)–which is amazing, by the way.

Driving home, I thought about all of the happy hours I’ve spent in libraries and bookstores over the last forty-some years.  Admittedly impatient, I love the immediacy of the Internet, but an ebook is just not the same, nor is the process of discovery.  I like the heft of a book, the promise of its cover art and jacket, the feel of paper under my fingers.  I used to love the hunt, too, before the days of “recommended for you” notifications based on browsing history and past purchases.

I’ve always said that books (and dogs*) keep me sane.  I once estimated that I’ve read somewhere around four thousand books over the course of my life.  Yes, it takes a lot to keep me sane! How other people get by, I have no clue.

*Another story for another day …


Filed under Books

Welcome to the new home of Krista Artista (Gallery)!

If you were looking for the shop in downtown Anoka, I’m sorry to say that we closed our doors in January.  This new site is a “gallery” of musings on art, literature, nature, and wherever else we find beauty in this crazy world.  At this point I really have no idea what shape this blog will take.  I don’t really envision an online store, but I do see a place where I’ll share info about artists, including those artists that I represented in my bricks-and-mortar shop for over ten years.  It’s a new journey (and I don’t have any idea where it will lead), but I hope you’ll follow along!


Filed under Uncategorized