I’m a loner, more comfortable in my own space
than with others.
I’d rather stay home with a book or movie than
go out at night with a group.

The pandemic reinforced
my introvert ways
made me want to stay home
even more. It was safer.

But recently I realized
I also long for contact and shared experiences.
And sometimes it is good to gather.
Sometimes human laughter and storytelling
is healing.
Sometimes a hug or a smile
is energizing.

So moving forward I plan to mix
alone time with
gathering time
and weave a comfortable cloth
from the two extremes
that works just for me.

Our palm tree

A palm tree planted itself
many years ago
on the edge of our yard
and now it has grown maybe 20 feet high
with big beautiful green and brown fronds
hanging down.

It provides shelter for so many birds
– mockingbirds, finches and
even an occasional Oriole —
who alight on it and sing
in the early morning light.

The palm tree is an oasis of life
in a tough desert world and
I am grateful it chose us
for its home.


I raised a Monarch butterfly as a child,
filled a jar with milkweed until
the caterpillar created its chrysalis and
one day the beautiful orange winged creature emerged.

I held up my hand
and my butterfly flew
up and up and away
to freedom.

I dream of my own journeys, my own freedoms,
of wandering rivers and forests
and meadows filled with yellow wildflowers.
I dream of traipsing through woodland creeks
and hiking to waterfalls.

I dream of a cabin in the woods
that can be reached only by walking a good hour.
And here the butterflies flutter beautifully and
the blue jays fill the sky.

Planning an expedition to Norway by ship

I keep thinking earbuds. Don’t forget the earbuds.
And the little book light and the novel.
Seventeen issue of The New Yorker.
My favorite soft pillow.

I keep thinking binoculars. A really good bird book.
Chocolate bars from Switzerland. Ginger candy.
Our deluxe edition of Scrabble.
Photos of our dogs and cat.

I keep wondering, will there be wine on board?
Good food? A library?
A big room full of puzzles?
A TV with Netflix?

Yes, I want to see the Northern Lights,
I want to see old churches, fjords and the deep ocean.
I want to see whales, eagles, and reindeer.
I just need the little comforts of home
to keep me tethered safely on board.

The day of the bluebirds (Indiana in April)

Five women gather at the meadow
to hear the rangers talk about bluebirds –
how they are related to robins and
almost went extinct because of habitat loss.

The rangers are young women,
and they are enthusiastic about the birds,
showing off a nest in a plastic container and
explaining how nest boxes helped the bluebirds recover.

Then we walk through the dew-damp meadow under the oak trees and
we learn to check the boxes.
We knock on each box to warn any birds, then
remove the nails that keep them closed.

We hold our breaths as each box opens –
One is empty, waiting for a nest.
In another, there are three eggs like blue jewels.
In yet another, a group of fledglings peep, ready for their first flights.

We are giddy with each discovery and energized.
We have seen the bluebirds,
we have witnessed the miracle of new life.
Somehow in this meadow, our own wings have grown stronger.

The river

Here is where I can sit for hours,
here in this place, on this bench,
where I watch the Ohio River
glide by.

Sometimes when I am especially quiet
I see families of white-tailed deer
stepping delicately into the river
for a morning drink.

Sometimes geese fly along the top of the water
and then plunge into the river,
honking at each other
to stay out of their glidepaths.

Sometimes the town church bells play
delicate songs that I can’t quite place
but are somehow also familiar
and sweet.

Sometimes I walk through wildflowers
on the grounds of the old hospital
and the blue jays call out all around me
and wild turkeys scurry across the path.

I know all the stories here:
those who drowned in the river,
those who married and raised families,
those who still haunt the graveyard.

I can imagine growing old here,
spending peaceful hours watching the river,
being with the river,
slowly becoming part of the river itself.

Letters with Grandmother Dana

I still have the first letter I wrote to my Oregon grandparents:

I want to see you. The leaves are falling.

My grandmother, Dana, noted on my letter the date it was received: Oct. 13, 1971. And the she replied on a card postmarked the next day, Oct. 14, 1971:

Dearest Dee … Granddad and I were so very happy to get your lovely letter yesterday. Your handwriting is really beautiful, honey, and we’ll always treasure this “first letter.”

 If I were writing to her today, I would say the same thing: I want to see you.

 Honest, heartfelt: I want to see you.

 And because she was magical and had ESP, I think she would write back the very next day.

Dearest Dee …. I want to see you too … Imagine we are walking at Smith Rock in Central Oregon and it is a beautiful spring day and we are talking about books and dreams and hopes for the future. And after a wonderful hike with family and the schnauzers, we will go to Juniper Junction for huckleberry ice cream… 

Oh how wonderful it is to see you again! 

What do you see from your window?

I see an empty sky, brown lawns,
I see a landscape without flowers
or trees —
just dust and fire.

The sun is blazing hot.

I see baby birds dying in their nests,
penguins washing up lifeless on the sand,
cattle dropping to the ground and
crops withering in the fields.

There is no more water.

I see a beautiful world pushed
to the point of no return,
and I see people
turning away from the images.

There is no other planet.

I want to open my window,
scream and plead:
time is running out,
we have to do something!

Our planet needs us and we need our planet.

Playing piano for the last time (Ukraine)

Amid the chaos and cruelty of war,
amid the bombings, the fires,
amid the desperate attempts to flee,
amid the broken glass, smashed pots,
abandoned belongings,
the woman uncovers her beloved piano,
wipes the dark dust from the keys,
and then,
for the last time,
the very last time,
she sits down in her coat and hat and
she plays,
her hands floating across the keys,
creating notes of hope and peace
to fill the shattered home that
she now must leave behind.

Los Angeles

I actually thought
the streets would sparkle with
twinkling light and diamond sunshine,
boundless possibility and joy in this,
the City of Stars.

But now I see
there is no sparkle here,
only lost hopes and broken promises,
a world of deep darkness in this,
the City of Stars.

And I am an angel without wings
picking my way
down uneven pavement,
trying not to breathe in the
forgotten dreams of yesterday.

And I am an angel without flight
resting under tall palm trees and
listening to the parrots overhead,
chattering and screeching as
they fly in groups across the sky

And I am an angel without spirit,
pulled down deep into darkness and
unable to lift my wings to fly
toward the light
of the real stars just above.

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