I’m too tired to write much of anything, and I don’t have much to say — my mind is completely occupied with Scrappy. She slept on my head last night and we cuddled a lot, so I think we’re both comforted that we’re saying goodbye with love. She’s still here, still eating, but we will take her when she tells us it’s time to go.

Kind friends who know how much we love her have suggested all sorts of things including a second opinion, but if you could see her you would know, too. She has lost so much weight in the past six weeks — almost 4 pounds — and her eye is basically gone. We kept putting medicine on it and it didn’t help, and now it’s just shut. Her sweet little face is swollen on one side. She looks dazed, and I know she’s confused. When we pick her up she’s a light little rag doll, no resistance. I know we should take her in sooner rather than later, but it’s so hard to give her up, and give up the hope of a miracle. Still, she seems comfortable, just drugged out and tired, too.

Looking back at these blog posts, it’s all so SAD. I stopped writing when I was at the height of utter heartache, but I swear, life isn’t so sad, not all the time. But right now, I’m back with my old friend grief, the too familiar feeling of a stone in my chest and tears just behind my eyelids, ready to spill. The thoughts of last-times and what-ifs.

I’ve read a lot of articles about grief in the past 3 years, and one that resonated is that you don’t get over anything, you get through it and just have to acknowledge the pain and sit with it. So even though she’s not gone yet, I’m already sitting with it. It’s all I can and want to do.

And here is Scrappy from three years ago, comforting me while I was sitting with the pain right after my mom died. She has been such a good little friend, and I will miss her so much. Which is why I’m going to shut this down and go sit near her and tell her, again and again and again, how much I love her.


Kiss your little furry friends tonight for Scrappy and me.


I always jokingly refer to myself as “The World’s Worst English Major.” For one thing I’m terrible at grammar, and couldn’t diagram a sentence even if you put a gun to my head. And there are so many books I’ve never read that English majors are expected to read, and when I come across things like this and fall way short, I feel like I’m a traitor to my major, some sort of impostor that faked their way through matriculation. (If that’s not a pretentious English major word, I don’t know what is.)

I was thinking about this as I walked to the ferry tonight, and I had a revelation. A major one. (Har. Har.) I’m not the world’s worst English major. In fact, I was a great English major. Sure, I faked my way through some books (I couldn’t deal with Tess of the d’Urbervilles or The Mill on the Floss and I got about 4 pages into Hard Times and chucked it under the bed), but I read pretty much everything else we were assigned in those fat Norton anthologies with the tissue paper thin pages. I even slogged my way through Beowulf while sitting in a Denny’s on Sunset Blvd. I loved my American Lit and short story classes so much, and read An American Tragedy for extra credit. I didn’t even take electives — while my friends were taking “fun” classes to broaden their horizons, I was misspelling and mispronouncing Yoknapatawpha County in Faulkner survey classes, and learning about xenophobia thanks to Edith Wharton. I graduated from undergrad with nearly triple the required English credits. (I should have been more well rounded. What if I am actually a talented sculptor, my undiscovered skills lying dormant while I was writing terrible poetry? I will never know.) And then I went on to grad school, where I took just as many English classes as creative writing courses, even creating an independent lit study myself — designing the syllabus and everything — for an extra credit summer course. Yeah, no. I was actually a fantastic English major.

It felt like something dislodged in my brain when I realized this, like the ice splinter falling from Kay’s eye in The Snow Queen and I could see again(See? TOTAL nerdy English major.) I’ve been selling myself short for so long that to actually think about the reality of what I had accomplished in school — and there were a number of those academic accomplishments — rather than the usual shortfalls and perceived failures, was a little astonishing and liberating and even comforting. I’d had “a day” at work where I just felt like I was messing up and miserable (not to mention beyond sad about my sweet cat), so it felt really, really nice to put good thoughts — and generous thoughts about myself and my capabilities — back into my head.

Still, there are a lot of gaps in my education — I haven’t read a lot of the classics, and I’ve missed some of the major ones, which is the root of my embarrassment and self-deprecation. Though part of me thinks, “ugh, who cares?”  a lot of me obviously does care because I’ve been thinking about it for years, and it plagues me randomly as I’m just walking along to catch a ferry. But what is so dumb is that there’s an actual solution to this problem I’ve been letting fester in my head for so long, so I wound up making a New Year’s Resolution after all: in 2019 I’m going to fill the gap (a little) and read at least three classics I missed:

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (I know, can you believe it?)

Moby Dick by Herman Melville (Herman would be 200 this year, so why not celebrate him and Ishmael, right?)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (I have had this book on my shelf since like 5th grade when I found it in our garage, so it’s time I actually read it)

Just three is do-able. There are so many great books to read (and about 16 in a teetering stack on my nightstand), and who knows, maybe I’ll decide to take more on. But I’m never, ever reading The Mill on the Floss. Or Tess of the d’Ubervilles. Or The Scarlet Pimpernel or f****ing LORD OF THE RINGS. And you know what? I don’t have to.  And that, too, is a nice thought.






My Girl.

I’m trying to update every day, but today we got bad news from the vet and I’m just not feeling too…  Wordy. Our sweet little Scrappy cat has not been doing well for the past month and a half, and our worst fears were confirmed today.

But for the moment she’s still here with us, and we’re going to make sure she’s comfortable. She’s still eating and just used the litterbox and scratching post, so the painkillers the vet gave us are working. We don’t know how long, but she will be well loved.


She is my forever sunshine on a cloudy day.

Oh, Christmas Tree.

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is over — it feels like it was just Thanksgiving a minute ago.  It also felt like I decorated late this year, but it’s been that way since The Mid-Century Supper Club Potluck ramped up, and all holiday effort gets thrown into that first, and then I can start at home. Last year it was a little chaotic since it was our first Christmas in our new house and I didn’t know where to put everything, but this year I think we had a handle on it.

My mom adhered to the Swedish tradition of setting up the tree after Lucia Day on December 13th, and taking it down on the 12th Day of Christmas on December 6th, Epiphany. I like taking it down then, too, because I like making it last. But we took it down a day earlier this year, because our tree was so dried out I was worried the ornaments would fall and break. I was having dreams that my parents’ and Jon’s grandma’s ornaments were shattering, and it made me anxious. Plus it was a rainy Saturday and I’m still not feeling great, so it was good timing.

Even though we got a late start on the rest of the house, we actually got an early start on the tree on Thanksgiving weekend. On the recommendation of a friend, we went to Loma Vista Farm and were completely charmed. There’s a pony and a horse and goats and alpacas and a friendly barn cat and a miniature pig named Rocky who loves belly rubs! The Christmas tree sales fund the farm year-round for educational activities for kids of all ages. I was enchanted by this little slice of paradise in our town.

[Unfortunately, 2 weeks after we got our tree someone broke in and vandalized all the trees, poinsettias, wreaths and canopy, and they lost out on important sales. It broke my heart so I started a fundraiser for them so they can keep doing their good work. Please visit this sweet little oasis!]

And I was enchanted by our tree, too. For most of my adult life I’ve had a fake or aluminum tree, but after my mom died and I got all my parents’ ornaments, we started getting a real one. Last year we didn’t realize how tall our ceilings in the new house were so our tree was small, but this year we got a beautiful, majestic tree.


I especially liked the top (though we trimmed it) because it reminded me of a story I read as a kid about a Christmas tree with a wonky top that was never chosen and it was sad, but it wound up becoming a pole that a morning glory vine grew on so it was beautifully decorated after all. I think of that story every year.

And it was HUGE! Big enough for our ornaments, but Jon’s grandma’s precious ornaments and my parents’ as well. Unwrapping them is like unwrapping old friends, and I may or may not have kissed some of them before hanging them on the tree.


For some reason, this ornament has always been one of my favorites. It’s not that great or exciting, but I always loved it — it fascinated me. In fact it broke at one point and my mom was going to throw it away, but I took putty and put back together. (I didn’t do a great job, being about 8 at the time, but it’s still holding up!) It was always a very big deal that I had to hang it by a green light, and every year my mom would set this one — and a couple others — aside for me to hang. It was the first to go up this year, by a green light, of course.


But I really was having anxiety dreams that the ornaments would fall, so we took the tree down today.  It was so brittle, but it was such a sturdy, wonderful tree that it held up (and not as many needles shed as we expected), and we didn’t have any casualties. I carefully wrapped them up (I may or may not have kissed some of them before putting them away) and they’re ready for next year.

Its last day, before and after. Goodbye, tree. The corner looks so empty now and it’s a little sad, but then again, I started feeling crummy again so it’s very possible the rest of the decorations will be up until March. Maybe even April. (One time I kept my pink and white Barbie Christmas tree up until July. I just got so used to it I forgot it was even there.)

The holidays were really nice this year (except the getting sick part). They’ve been bittersweet the past few years, but this year was just lovely. I missed my mom and dad of course, and I always will, but this year I was okay. It was nice to be surrounded by their beloved decorations co-mingled with ours, and it felt like they were close. It felt like home.

Which is really good because clearly I kind of love Christmas.


Hudson’s Bay Blanket

For the past few years, I’ve been obsessed with getting a Hudson’s Bay Blanket. It’s become my holy grail.

hudson bay blanket

I grew up with one — well, a knockoff one from JC Penney’s, anyway. That blanket, along with a scratchy red plaid Pendleton blanket, were always around. When I was little and sick and on the couch with Saltines and 7-Up and watching The Joker’s Wild, my mom would tuck me in with one of those blankets, though I much preferred the quilt we got one summer in Wisconsin.

Many years later, in my her last days, my sister brought the Hudson Bay blanket to the hospital for my mom. She was so cold, and hospitals are stingy with blankets. (I’m not proud of how I yelled at the smug orderly who refused to give my mom extra blankets in the emergency room as she shivered. Oh, wait. Actually I am.) We were all glad she had something cozy and familiar, and glad to tuck her in as she had done for us so many times before.


My sister wound up with both the Hudson Bay and the Pendleton blankets (I wound up with the quilt from Wisconsin, which I’m under as I type), and I started looking for a Hudson Bay of my own. I was shocked at how expensive they are! New Hudson Bay Blanket

I jokingly asked for one for Christmas, but knew I wouldn’t get it. Even vintage ones with moth-holes go for a ton of money! I looked in every thrift store, antique store, flea market, and eventually found a small one that is kind of chewed up, but it was cheap enough that I got it for a throw at the end of the bed — almost a placeholder for when I found the real deal.

I also realized that I didn’t really want the real deal — I wanted a knockoff like my parents had. And just when I decided that, we went through our old earthquake kit to refresh it, and lo and behold, we found Jon’s grandma’s maroon Hudson’s Bay blanket, that we had put in there about 10 years ago and completely forgot about it!


Still, I held out hope that someday I would find the multi-colored Glacier Park one. Then last week I idly looked on etsy, never expecting to find one, and there was a 1950s “Golden Dawn” JC Penney knockoff for less than $80, and big! It seemed too good to be true, so when it arrived yesterday, as I was sick on the couch (no Saltines, 7-Up OR Joker’s Wild, but the quilt from Wisconsin), I opened the package and didn’t expect much.

It is perfect.


It’s huge! And soft and wonderful.


Dino TOTALLY approves.

But as it happens when you find your holy grail, there’s initial glee but then a little bit of a let-down, too — the search is over, and what’s left to look for and find?

But I think I have a solution for that.




I’m writing this blog for me, and this is something I want to look back on and remember and know that something special happened on January 3, 2019: the 116th Congress made history today, with record numbers: women, Muslims, African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, young, bisexual, firsts… Diverse, dynamic, and democratic. It feels like water in the desert, finally. 127 women! Wow! Just wonderful.


The New Face of Power in America

Of thee I sing!

Under the Weather.

Why do people say, “under the weather”? health-and-tea

Since I myself am under the weather, I looked it up:

“To feel ill. Originally it meant to feel seasick or to be adversely affected by bad weather. The term is correctly ‘under the weather bow’ which is a gloomy prospect; the weather bow is the side upon which all the rotten weather is blowing.”

I’m not seasick, just a bad cold that hit on New Year’s Eve. Every few years I get really sick, but hoping this isn’t one of those times… And hoping to feel better by tomorrow. Missing work makes me anxious. All I’ve done today is stay in bed, sleeping and listless. We ordered delivery for dinner, and usually Hot & Sour Soup is a good cure, but this was terrible Hot & Sour Soup.  (Our quest for good Chinese delivery in our new town is still ongoing.) Also, I can never remember if it’s “Feed a fever, starve a cold” or vice versa. Either way, it’s starved thanks to that soup.

It’s kind of a crappy way to start the new year, but things can only go up from here, right? Right.





I know, it’s such a cliché to start this up again on January 1st, but meh. I like clichés. Dorothy Parker even had a poodle named Cliché.


This website (blog? Do people blog anymore?) is never far from my mind. Every year I renew the domain with optimism, and then it doesn’t happen. I think of things to write, and I don’t. I get “followers” on Facebook and get embarrassed because it’s been almost 3 years since I’ve done anything. So…  I’m picking it back up again.  My life is pretty different from the last time I logged on, and I’m not even going to go into any of that. It’s a lot. I’m not going to beat myself up to catch up. Already I feel a weight lifted!

Anyway. I was looking at New Year’s traditions and superstitions, and this jumped out at me:

Work:   Make sure to do — and be successful at — something related to your work on the first day of the year, even if you don’t go near your place of employment that day. Limit your activity to a token amount, though, because to engage in a serious work project on that day is very unlucky. 

I’m not making any resolutions this year (I always fail — look at this blog), but I’d like to do some intentions. I’d like writing to be more related to “work” this year, and do what I can. And this is a nice, bite-sized place to start. The serious work projects will come later.

So here is a token! Happy 2019, all.




I finally made it out socially last week, and I was even more awkward than usual.  All I want to talk about is what’s going on; the last thing I want to talk about is what’s going on. But just in case you do see me and  you don’t think I’m SUPER weird, here is a sort of an, I dunno, translation, because my mouth and my brain aren’t communicating too well:

YOU: “How are you doing?”

ME: “Well, I, um, well, you know…”

TRANSLATION:  I don’t know – I don’t even know if I’m thinking in terms like that right now. My first instinct is to say “Fine,” but I’m not. It’s one minute at a time.  Sometimes it’s okay, and sometimes there are moments of overwhelming sadness and I don’t know how to answer or really even speak.  But I’m getting through it. Not over it, but through. And that is good. So I guess I’m as good as can be expected, and really grateful that you’re asking because that makes me feel loved.

YOU: “I’m sorry I haven’t reached out/called/written/texted.”

ME: “Well, I, um, well, you know…”

TRANSLATION: It’s okay.  Really, it is.  I understand. I feel like my grief is a big gaping wound that no one wants to look at, like gross medical conditions you Google and then you see photos and think, “Ew, I wish I had NEVER seen that.” And also, it’s rough, especially if you haven’t lost your mom yet.  My friend had the best term for it – “pre-grief.” She lost her mom, and it was something I was always so scared of that I unconsciously shied away from her, and I didn’t mean to.  I didn’t realize just how deep this could be, even though I thought I was prepared for it. And I know it stirs up old wounds, too.  A few friends have said, “Now you’re in the club,” and it’s a club we all join at some point, even though like Groucho Marx, we never, ever want to be members.  And plus, being around someone sad is hard, regardless of your own temperament.  But I know that my friends love me, and all the love I have felt, whether it’s cards, calls, texts, or just silent comfort, gets me out of bed (almost) every morning.

YOU: “Do you need any help with anything?”

ME: “Well, I, um, well, you know…”

TRANSLATION: Yes.  But I don’t know with what.  But asking is kind and I appreciate it. And watch out, I may take you up on it.  (And if anyone can make skunks magically disappear, let me know.)

YOU: “I’ve been reading what you’ve been writing on facebook, and [fill in the blank]”

ME: “Well, I, um, well, you know…”

This one is super hard. I only started writing about all of this because my mom was asleep a lot, and I needed a way to cope and not forget, and preserve it for my sisters and myself. Plus I wanted to let people know what was going on because I was exhausted from trying to email everyone.  My mom was so special, and had a lot of family and friends worrying about her. It’s nice that I’ve gotten compliments – that makes me feel good – but it’s also strange because that’s not what I was/am seeking. I don’t feel it’s eloquent, I don’t know how beautiful any of it is, and some people have said that they don’t know how I could write like that – they couldn’t in my situation. I felt weird about that, like if there was something wrong with me that I was doing this, but decided it really is my way of coping – I used to call friends and cry, but now I hate the phone. I write; that’s what I do. And it has been more cathartic for me, and I know it’s been a burden on some, but I really appreciate the patience of letting me do this so publicly. Thank you.  Seriously, thank you. It helps more than you know.

YOU: I’m so sorry about your mom. She sounded awesome.

ME: Thank you. She was.

TRANSLATION: Thank you. She was.  She was so awesome. And lovely and kind, and I miss her so much.

YOU: Do you need a hug?

ME: Yes, please.

TRANSLATION: Yes, please.