Wednesday, March 10, 2021

March 10

There are two events that I order my week around: Wednesday is garbage day, and on Friday, at 5:00, I have a Manhattan with two cherries and quietly toast the passing of another week alone with my dog. All the other days are the same. I got super excited today because I could just tell that it was one of the special days. And just now, at 4:30, I realized that it's only garbage day.

But guess what?  Crocuses!  I have am growing the world's tiniest crocus flower; it is so magical that I've been watching to see if a miniature person might be nearby, because I think it is possible that a leak into an alternate miniature universe in the middle of the earth is right here in my garden. 

Monday, March 8, 2021

March 8

 Ok, here's the whining:

It bugs me when you finally do one thing from your list, an extra thing that's not the cooking or the dishes or the laundry or the bill paying or the actual job that keeps us in kibbles and high-speed internet.  Maybe, for example, you order wetland boots from the internet, for example, and that seems reasonable because you're a wetland biologist and have been wearing leaky boots for a year, boots that you've repaired a few times but they keep leaking, probably because of the bunion.  And yes, we do call the bunion Paul. Paul is hard on the boots.  

Anyway, you order the boots and they're the exact same brand and size, but they arrive and they're tiny.  And Paul looks at them and laughs, HAR HAR HAR no way are we going to fit into that boot. 

So the chore that you checked off now becomes three more chores:  figure out how to return, return, verify that they got there and the charge was reversed, order again.  And it's like that all over the place.  You sweep and then drop crumbs.  You call to cancel the land line and it takes an hour on hold and then they won't let you cancel.  And on and on until the days, the long rainy days are filled up with this stuff.  And that's why we wear leaky boots and pay $90 a month for a land line so that the spam calls can interrupt my naps.

And here's the good thing.

Spring is coming.  Indian plum is flowering down in the valley; not up here yet but soon.  Crocuses are popping up.  I know, spring, such a cliched thing.  But truly.  It is a pretty good thing, when the earth spins and tilts and things get a little bit warmer and little bit flowery and full of babies.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

March 7

 Ok, I'm going to try to write about one thing each day.  Maybe it will be a good thing, that's the plan.  But maybe it will be whiny and irritable because that's often the truth.

I haven't been writing because the days have a flat sameness.  I used to enjoy writing about the quirky people in the world, people who's lives might cross mine briefly, and something about it would make me laugh or think or learn something new, but a few things are different.  One is, I used to sort of think I was sort of funny on occasion, and I thought that because people would laugh.  Without people, it's a little hard to tell.  I made this video a month ago and I movied it to a few friends (movie is a verb now, that happened in 2020), and they thought it was funny and I was kind of surprised.  Funny?  Is that still a thing?  The dog never laughs.  I say something that might be a little funny and I look to my dog for confirmation, and she always says, "Look, can't you see that I'm resting on the couch?  If it's not about going for a walk or eating, I'm not particularly interested." 

It seems that for the past few years, there's been a dark cloud of doom around here, where people I love lose their favorite things.  They lose their children and their spouses and their health and their beloved pets.  Even the pets.  It's how the world goes, and especially with pets, we usually outlive them, especially if we have fish or gerbils.  I guess if we want our pets to outlive us we should go for the tortoise.

Anyway.  I'm going to try to write every day (please don't hold me to that.  I'm very sketchy and unreliable.)  And include at least one positive thing.

1.  What is the deal with "cancel culture"?  I've been trying to understand what it is and I think it's this:  if someone behaves like a racist asshole, people don't want to hang out with them.  And if the racist asshole wasn't a friend, but is a corporation, people are like, hey, I think I'll spend my money elsewhere, and not give it to the racist asshole.  Do I have that right?  Why does that even have a name? Isn't it just how things work?

2.  And for the positive thing, moss.  Because it's beautiful, and it's everywhere, and it was the first plant.  It takes more carbon out of the air than all the trees, and most especially I love the way it grows on big-leaf maple trees in the winter.

Monday, November 9, 2020

We can forgive, but I'm not about to forget.


We are hearing calls to forgive and move on together as a nation.  Most of us would like nothing better than to have a united, functional nation that can address difficult, complex problems the way adults do: by studying and discussing and relying on experts, and trying our best, and correcting course as new information arrives.  

I’m going to work on forgiving trump voters for the harm they’ve caused to the nation and the world, but I’m not going to forget.  I’m not going to forget that weeks after a tape was released showing trump boasting about grabbing women by the genitals, you voted for him.  You stood by him when he separated children from their parents and put them in cages.  You stood by him when he mocked a reporter for a disability.  You stood by him when he called soldiers who gave their lives for this country, “losers”, and asked what’s in it for them.  You stood by him when he mocked people for wearing masks. You participated in spreading false information. participated in the falsehood that the Coronavirus isn’t a deadly disease.  

You stood by him when he lied, over and over.  You were silent or complicit when his administration shoehorned a supreme court justice in, while voting was already underway, though you agreed with Mitch McConnell that it wasn’t appropriate to even consider allowing Obama to fill a vacancy on supreme court 18 months before an election.  You cheered when he called the racists in Charlottesville “good people”.  You shared lies, claiming that our sacred election process is a fraud. You stood by when he had mass, mask-less rallies in defiance of medical experts and local officials who work hard to save lives.  You made immigrants, people of color, and many others feel unsafe by endorsing or staying silent in the face of hateful rhetoric.  You lauded Trump, a man who paid hush money to porn stars so they would be silent about his use of prostitutes while his wife was pregnant, as a family man.


Meanwhile, you attacked us as “liberal snowflakes” on social media, and answered our legitimate questions about these and the myriad of other fraudulent and disgusting behaviors with red herrings, like Hillary’s e-mails or Hunter Biden or cries of, “but socialism!” and any number of accusations.  You were not kind to us.  

It seems that your biggest fear is that Biden will raise taxes. As if adjusting the way revenue that the country runs on, by increasing the share paid by the wealthiest among us, is a bad thing.  

You forsook the traditional news sources and decided to believe unbelievable things, like there’s a cabal of Satanist pedophiles trying to take down trump.  Think about it.  Are vast conspiracies, where lots of people secretly coordinate secretly, realistic?  Have you ever tried to have a surprise party?


I will work hard to forgive you, because we all deserve second and third and even 500th chances, but you have lost my respect.  Maybe you can earn it back, we’ll see.  You’ll have to put in effort though.  We’ve all done things that we regret, because we acted carelessly, or ignorantly.  We learn and we grow.  But the mark of decency is to own it, apologize, and explain what happened.  We all want to know: why did you endorse the cruel acts?

I believe we can move on together as a nation, because that’s what grownups do.  We understand that we’re all living on this tiny planet together, and we can politely stare at the ceiling or chat about the weather.  Beyond that, I will bring soup if I hear you’re sick.  If your children are suffering, I will do what I can.  I will try to be decent; I will try to model decency.  But I cannot unsee what I’ve seen.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Explaining the afterlife to my dog...

 The other day, my dog asked me what happens when we die.  Gulp.

I look at Jasmine and think dammit.  I didn't think dogs knew about mortality, which is why they're so cheery all of the time.  But maybe she knew all along, or maybe she found a note or the body of a hiker in the bushes that tipped her off.  At any rate, here we are. She knows.

"Oh Jazzy, you aren't going to die for a long time.  You take good care of yourself, and eat the kibbles and go on so many walks every day and tend to your relationships and take a lot of naps, and you wear your mask when we go out and you try not to drink too much."

She stares at me and I realize she won't be placated like a four year old.  She is six, after all. If it weren't for the Coronavirus, she would be in first grade.  Instead, she's "homeschooled".  I put that in quotes because it's mostly home and very little school.

How much should I tell her about death right now?  She's isolated from her peers for the most part, which is hard.  Her job as a lab assistant has slowed way down.  But on the other hand, truth is always a good plan.  So I dive in.

"No one actually knows for certain what happens when we die," I begin.  "It's something that so far, can't be determined using the scientific method, so people just pick what they think happens and believe that.    Some people believe we go to heaven (UP) or hell (down), based on how we behave in this world.  Up is for the good creatures, and down is for the bad ones.  

Some people, like me, believe that we die and most of it ends.  There's no re-uniting with the puppies that were taken away from you when you were practically a puppy yourself, etc.  Your heart stops beating, you stop breathing, and soon, stillness takes over and your mind quiets and that's it.  The end.  Your family either incinerates you and sprinkles ashes in beautiful places (or, in my dad's case, you live in a can in a suitcase in the basement storage locker of a retirement community; I'm not sure why that is but I guess that's how we do it in my family), or they bury you, or set you up with a mushroom suit, and what was once you is gone.  

Some people, especially those who make movies, believe that when you die, you hover around near where you died or near the people you loved or hated, and almost communicate with them.  You can sort of drop things and make noise and watch while your person falls in love with a living creature, and so on, but you aren't nearly as effective as you were when you were alive.  Like, in your case, if you died and I got another dog, maybe the other dog would sense your presence and growl inexplicably.  Eventually, in a good movie, you move on and rest on a pillow in heaven and the new dog takes your place.

One area that remains a question mark for me is what happens to the brain waves and creative force.  I'm not sure how much I even believe in that, but I know there is uniqueness to each being, something that sets each one of us apart.  Like you, for example, have that towel fetish.  When you go into a house, you beeline for any towel you can find and grab it in your teeth and roll in it until someone asks you to stop.  What happens to that impulse?  Is it floating around out there, waiting to land on another creature?.  All of that tail-wagging, all of that towel-grabbing.  Where does it go?  Does it live on in the hearts and minds of your loved ones?  Will I become a person who honors you by stripping off my clothes, heading for the bathroom, and rolling in the towels when I go visiting, in much the same way that people make grandma's sheet cake?  Or is that impulse magically transported into a being that's about to be born, who arrives on earth with some hazy memories of your life?

We may never know, Jasmine.  In the meantime, enjoy your days.  Keep wagging.  Oh, and if I go first, and we're home alone for a week before anyone notices, please try not to eat my face right off the bat.  

Monday, September 14, 2020

Finding Your Voice in Pandemic Times


Well, my friends, 

Here we still are, in the pandemic, no end in sight.  

I would like to offer this:

A writing workshop.  Most of us don’t need help with our writing; we just need encouragement and inspiration to write.

Someone said that teachers tend to offer what they need, and this is what I need.  I need someone to gently remind me to sit down each day and write, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

I need someone to say, “STOP refreshing the covid death numbers.  Stop checking the news. Just write, and here’s what to write about.”  I need that because I know that when I write, I feel better and can think more clearly.  And with practice, I know I’ll become a better writer. And who knows, I might write something along the way that helps someone else feel better or understand something, or laugh out loud.

I’m not a great writer, or a particularly dedicated one, but I do believe in writing in the way we believe in our unshakeable things: humans are basically good; art matters; we should do our best to live each day filled with hope; writing can change lives.  That’s what I believe.   

I wrote one thing once that got published, about my then-teen age daughter’s struggle with finding her way toward adulthood, and how scary and disorienting it was to be her mother at that time, and how much I loved her and wanted the best but, as they say, the die had been cast.  She was her own person and I could merely stand on the sidelines and cheer her on in the ways I knew.  All I could think of was to put a poem in her shoe each morning.  It felt helpful to write about it, even the scary parts.  And now, five years after that was published, I still get occasional notes from people who are watching their own teens struggle, thanking me for offering a tiny candle on their path.  To think that words and stories can do that.  They can provide comfort or inspiration, to ourselves, to others.  That’s what we all need now.  

Life is challenging and different now; the water temperature is changing quickly, and its helpful to write about it.  And I believe that everyone is a writer.  Everyone has a story to tell, an idea to share, grief to process, a silver lining to discover. 

Here is a sample.

Dates:   October 5 – November 7


  • Daily prompts available each day, October 5 – November 7; 
  • Zoom meetings, October 11, 18, 25, and November 1, 4 – 5:30 (Sunday afternoons)
  • Each person enrolled in the class will create a final essay to share at an online reading on November 7 at 7:00 PST.  (Time will be adjusted if needed to accommodate needs of participants)
  • Optional critique of essay drafts
  • Final reading!
  • Laughter, fun, writing!

Sign up here:

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Dear Future, Are you out there?

I wrote a little thing for the local historical society about how it is now.  A letter to the future!  Yay, there's a future out there!
Anyway, read it here if you like.

I hope you're all staying safe out there.

March 10

There are two events that I order my week around: Wednesday is garbage day, and on Friday, at 5:00, I have a Manhattan with two cherries an...