Tattoo Stories, Episode 4

Tattoo of wild roses on inner arm
Roses Love Sunshine

Once upon a time, there was a girl who wanted to grow up and get married and have babies. So she waited until she was old enough and found a really cool guy who she loved a lot, and when they were ready, the girl-who-was-now-a-woman got pregnant.

While she was pregnant, she heard a snippet of song* on the radio that she absolutely fell in love with. So she learned that snippet of song and tucked it away in her memory to sing for her soon to be born child.

When the child was born she was perfect in every way. (And she still is. That never changes.) She was also plagued with colic. 

So the woman-who-was-now-a-mom, wrapped her screaming daughter in a blanket, snuggled her close, and walked back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. 

And bounced up and down, up and down, up and down. 

And jiggled side to side, side to side, side to side. 

And rocked forward and backward, forward and backward, forward and backward.

And the whole time she sang, over and over, the snippet of song.

At times the mom-who-really-missed-sleeping pondered the old saying that you should be careful what you wish for. But when she gazed down into the star sprinkled universe in her daughter’s eyes, the mom-who-couldn’t-imagine-a-life-without-this-child-in-it realized that the old sayings got it wrong sometimes.

Several years later, the mom and the dad decided they wanted another child and in 9 months, when he was born, their son was perfect in every way. (And he still is. That never changes.) Also, wonder of wonders, he didn’t have colic!

But even though he didn’t need to be walked and bounced and jiggled and rocked, the woman-who-now-had-two-children gazed down into the star sprinkled universe in his eyes and wrapped him in a blanket, snuggled him close, and sang, over and over, the snippet of song.

When her children grew up, the woman still whistled the tune while she worked, but she didn’t sing the snippet of song anymore.

And then her daughter had a daughter herself.

The mom-who-was-now-a-grandma, gazed down into the star sprinkled universe in her granddaughter’s eyes, wrapped her in a blanket, snuggled her close, and started singing again.

Over and over, the same snippet of song.

And when her dying father asked for someone to sing him a bedtime song, the grandma-who-was-still-his-little-girl, tears falling from her eyes like stars dropping from the universe, wrapped her arms around him, snuggled him close, and sang the snippet of song over and over.

So now, the girl-woman-mom-grandma-who-now-has-two-grandchildren is going to start wrapping her arms around any of her loved ones who will put up with it, snuggle them close, and sing the snippet of song.

Over and over.

Because she’s learned it really isn’t about being careful what you wish for.

It’s about loving every glorious, frustrating, beautiful, complicated, perfect gift reality has given you.

Tattoo of violets on wrists
Violets Love Dew

*This love song to my family comes from an old folk song, Down In the Valley, that I heard sung by The Judd’s on Oregon Public Radio in the early 80’s.

Tattoo Stories, Episode 3

Tattered Web

Once upon a time, there was a woman who had had it up to here with questionnaires that asked what race she identified with. 

“The HUMAN race, for dog’s sake, just like every other person on this planet.”

She became so frustrated by this, that she wrote a story.

About how there used to be a web of human families with many genetic lines.

But the web tattered.



Until only one genetic strand was left.

Which can be traced waaaaaaay back to one woman.

Our greatest, great, great grandma.

Which makes us all cousins.

(Like, really. Cousins. Distant cousins, granted, but still. Because that’s what happens when you almost go EXTINCT.)

And then we managed to come back and THRIVE.

Because we learned how to work TOGETHER.

So what the h*ll is wrong with us now?

That we need to label our cousins with what “race” they are?

People from our own family?


Tattoo Stories, Episode 2

Pacific Chorus frog tattoo

Once upon a time there was a grown up woman who had missed out on playing with tadpoles when she was young. But she loved to sit by the pond in the pasture and dream of possibilities, and one day, she noticed clusters of frog eggs bobbing among the weeds.

Well, that explains why the frogs were so noisy last night,” she thought.

That night, the rain poured and poured, and the next day, when she went to sit by the pond, she noticed that many of the frog egg clusters had been washed out of the pond when it over-flowed it’s banks. 

Looking down at the eggs laying in the grass, she thought, “Well, that’s not going to work.”

So she scooped them up as best she could and carried them home where she put them in a bucket and sat it by the back door. And before she knew it, she had tadpoles.

As she sat next to her bucket pond by the back door, she thought about what it must be like to leave your cozy little egg and go out into a great, big wet world. 

“Well, that must be scary.”

After awhile, she noticed that her tadpoles couldn’t dart around very well. Their new legs were getting in the way. 

“Well, that would be pretty scary if you needed to get away from a predator,” she thought. 

Soon, she noticed tiny little froglets sitting on the leaves of the plants that grew in her bucket pond. Four legs and a tiny, tiny tail. 

And she wondered what it must be like to leave your lovely wet world and set off into a gigantic hot, dry world.

“Okay, that has to be terrifying.”

She decided she needed to know more about her little froglets, and their chances of survival, so she googled them. 

“Good grief! In one day they go from water breathers to air breathers who will drown if they can’t get out of the water AND their whole digestive system switches from vegetarian to meat eater!”

About then is when she decided that frogs were about the bravest, most badass little amphibians out there.

But it wasn’t until she realized that they had to go through all those changes to find their voices that she fell head over heels in love with them.

Tattoo Stories, Episode 1

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved her daddy very, very much. When he died she missed him with her whole soul. 

One day, as she sat under the trees, she noticed a vulture floating through the clouds. 

“Ugly bird,” she muttered to herself.

And then another vulture rose up and joined the first one. 

When they met, they tipped their wings and dove and swooped and circled and glided. 

And the girl thought, “Well, they don’t think they’re ugly.”

And then she thought some more.

About the job the vultures do. 

About how the world would be knee deep in dead things if they weren’t around.

About how life cannot exist without death.

“To take death and rise up to the heavens,” she whispered. “Well, that’s pretty cool.”

And that thought made her feel a little better.

So now, when she sees a vulture dance across the heavens, a she no longer mutters, “Ugly bird.”

Instead, she marvels at his beauty, and whispers, “Hi, Daddy.”

Turkey Vulture tattoo


Every March for the past five years I’ve pored over, proof-read, and polished my then-favorite manuscript and entered it in the SCBWI work-in-progress contest. And then I’ve gone on to the next project and the next and the next until March rolls around again and I send in that year’s favorite.

So yesterday, when I received an email with “SCBWI WIP Winner!” in the subject line, my first thought was, “Oh, how nice. They’re sending me a list of the winners.” And I was right, they were.


I got the shakes. I cried. I’m still a little flummoxed. But I’m also very, very happy.

Of course, I’m hoping this leads to more, but even if it doesn’t, it was just the thing I needed. At just the time I needed it.

Now. It’s time to go work on the next project.

Love, Chris

Highlights Nature Retreat Highlights.

Nature Retreat for ALL Writers & Artists 2018

This summer, I applied for and was granted a full scholarship to the Highlights Foundation’s first ever Nature Retreat. It was magical.

To try to write about the entire experience would be to fill volumes. I decided to focus on ten highlights instead.


1. Jo, travel arranger extrordinaire, sent me my welcome e-mail with this little note at the end:

“I see you live on the West coast, and I recommend flying into Newark perhaps—we provide complimentary shuttle service…and if you need to arrive a day early, we can make that work.”

I responded:

“Could you let me know what coming in a day ahead of time would cost? Thank you!”

Her response:


No charge this time for coming a day early…know you have long travel time.”

The very first communication I had with this wonderful organization made me cry.


2. Linda, of the complimentary shuttle service, picked me up at the airport.

“Where are you from?” she asked.

“Oregon.” I answered.

“Wow! I lived in Oregon in the early 80’s.”

“Small world! Which part?”


I break out in goosebumps. “No way! That’s the biggest town close to where I live.”

“So, where exactly do you live?” Sharon asked.

“Between Salem and Silverton, little community called Pratum,” I answered.

“Hmmm. That sounds familiar. You know, there was this Mennonite farmer who had a basketball court in the top of his barn. My husband and I would go out there and play, sometimes.”

By now, I’m one big goosebump and I’m racking my brain, trying to figure out if there could possibly be two basketball barns near Pratum.

“Linda, that’s the farm I grew up on.”



We fist bump like kids, grinning from ear to ear.


3.   Sue Heavenrich, there with her critique partners doing an unworkshop, after I tell her I saw a millipede, immediately says:

“Don’t eat it!”

You know, I’ve never in my life looked at a bug and wondered if it was safe to eat. 

I do now. 


4. In each cabin is a notebook full of notes from previous occupants. I’m flipping through, reading their testimonials, and come to this page.20180805_163333

Ingrid Sundberg, you will never know how much this means to me. How, all my life, I’ve struggled with feeling like I was enough. How I’ve gotten so much better at feeling like I’m actually plenty, but lately have been questioning if I am enough as a writer, and how this trip is partly to help me figure this out.

And here is my answer, in writing no less.

I am enough.


5. If you ever are so lucky as to get the chance to meet Kate Garchinsky, ask her what the owl says. Because this lady speaks their language. And she showed us how it’s done on a walk straight out of a fairy tale. A forest concert with katydids on percussion, fireflies in charge of the light show, and Kate and the owls in a full on call and response song that filled the air.


Now, when I walk in the woods and darkness is falling, I listen for owls. Better yet, I’m learning to talk back.


6. Chip took us out for a walk around the grounds and talked about taking pictures. It was a lesson in slowing down, paying attention, and being persistent. 



7. Mike and I have often bemoaned the fact there is no barn on our farm. We drive the countryside, looking at barns and saying, “That one! That one would look great up on the hill!” But none of them have ever compared to this one.



8. Dairy farms have cows, and cows only give milk if they’ve given birth. So, dairy farms also have calves. Do you know how much fun I had introducing my city friends to the slippery, slimy joy of a calf nursing on your fingers? Sometimes I forget that I’m living a pretty amazing life on my little farm. After all, it’s a lot of work and that part sometimes overwhelms me. But this was a good reminder.



9. I’m not a water person. (Well, except for showers. I can stay in the shower until the hot water runs out.) But deep water, flowing water, water that is WAAAAY bigger than me? Nope. I’ll stay on dry land, thank you.

However, one of my stories is about fear, and how it can both stop you from doing things, and drive you forward into doing things. So, in the name of research, I went kayaking on the Delaware while it was the color of coffee and just below flood stage. I saw eagles, dodged a rock, managed to let go of my paddle long enough to dip my fingers in the water, and, most importantly, I didn’t drown. Am I a kayaking convert?


No. The fear runs too deep. That’s me in the background, death grip on my paddle, so focused on going in a straight line I forgot to kick back and have fun.


But I did it. And the next time I am faced with doing something I fear, I’ll remember kayaking. And how I lived to talk about it. And hopefully it will make moving forward into that fear a little easier.


10. My fellow Nature Retreaters. There are not enough words to describe our short time together, but I’ve tried to capture just a few that, for me, describe the gift each of you gave me while eating and playing and laughing in a magical place in the Poconos. 

Carol: Maybe being a farmer and a writer isn’t so weird after all. Here’s proof!


Deborah: Find a way.


Chuck: Do what you love. (Like going fishing instead of visiting a flower farm.)


Nicole: See the world and all its wonders.


Sharon: Live out loud, laugh out loud, and sing with your whole body. (How I wish this photo was of you singing about a moose drinking juice.)


Myrna: Speak out.


Kate: Ask. The answer might be yes.


Kim: Yes. It is real.


Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.


Peace and Love,



#50PreciousWords 2018 Writing Challenge

Vivian Kirkfield issued a challenge and I accepted! A complete story, beginning, middle, and end, in 50 words. Enjoy!



by Chris M. Regier

The hay field was empty.
“Hey.” Patience bleated.
They’d been robbed!
“Hey!” Patience bellered.
Anxious to alert the farmer, she didn’t notice the bale wagon disappearing into the barn.
“HEY!” Patience bawled.
Hoarse and hungry, she finally trudged home.
Into a barn bursting with wispy, wonderful…


Last fall, on a camping trip, my husband found a rock painted with a mandala design. On the back was the hashtag #WCPR and the phrase, “Keep, or re-hide.”

I did a little research and discovered that WCPR stands for “West Coast Painted Rocks” and painting and hiding rocks as random acts of kindness is their mission.

And just like that, I had a new hobby.

Last night I hid painted Valentine rocks at the local grade school. This morning, I got love in return. Best. Investment. Ever.


Even better? I’ve been asked to come to school and teach the kids how to paint rocks. And to tell them why I hide them for others to find.

Because it’s fun.

Because it’s kind.

Because it’s love.

Rock on!



I sent a story out on submission this week that I’ve been working on for awhile. A story I wonder if I’m qualified to write, in ways, and, in other ways, know without a doubt I’m as qualified as they come. A story that made me read and reach and learn, until my brain hurt. A story that flowed like water, like air, like life, until my heart sang. A story who’s spark came out of a blackness so dark I wasn’t sure I would ever see again. A story that reminds us starlight is everywhere, the darkness just makes it easier to see.

Happy Earth Day, my loves. You are, each and every one of you, a gift to me.

Peace and love,