Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Solstice

Dear Lucy,
Happy Winter Solstice to those who celebrate the season! Seems like a far better season to celebrate than the expensive, consumer driven, commercialized Christmas season these days.
Dad continues to hover in his recovery. He received his two units of blood last week and looks a bit better, but is still not eating much at all. I don't have high hopes for him if he doesn't get enough nourishment.
I found out that Option Care is in a hiring freeze right now so no job there for me. Don't know how long it will last but I am financially OK so am not worried about work right now. Just wanting to work out of boredom.
Meanwhile, I am going over the 50 thousand word novel from November and trying to take the mess and edit it. Keeps me busy and out of the bars!

Monday, December 14, 2009


Dear Lucy,
So Dad now has a UTI which in layman's terms means he has a urinary tract infection.
A UTI can be deadly for an ill or old person as it can become systemic very quickly. It was a systemic infection that caused Anne's heart attack in 4 days.
So, he is on antibiotics which he seems to be responding to so far.
He still slides in and out of dementia, sometimes I don't think he realizes where he is.
He is very tired and weak yet.
So, we are still going one day at a time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Dear Lucy,
So Ken (my bro for those who don't know) flew up from Southern California (ya he's really feeling the sting of the cold).
We went to the nursing home and had a meeting with the physical therapist, occupational therapist, social worker and Dad concerning his progress.
He is doing better in all areas, he has a bit more dementia and his gout is coming back. He is now off of all antibiotics so they are keeping track of his pneumonia.
He will also have a swallow evaluation done as he is exhibiting some swallowing problems and has been for a few months now.
If he does not have a relapse, he will likely get well enough to come back home and I can apply for government help to get a worker to come in as needed to care for him where Suzie can't.
The real problem will be Lucy as she is still a young, energetic dog and can be a fall risk for Dad.
We will have to do our best.
Nothing has been done concerning the bleed he had though it has stopped for now. But it is like a ticking time bomb that will never go away.
He seems happy enough though he isn't quite sure what's going on. He thinks it's 1954, he is single and always has been, and that all that bleeding was from a hemorrhoid.
Lucky him.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Dear Lucy,
So Dad is now at Alderwood nursing home. He is not a happy camper.
Alderwood is where we put Anne's mother and they treated her well so we are hoping for the same.
The plan is to give him physical therapy for strengthening and balance and then sending him home.
I don't have high hopes for him getting terribly strong as whatever caused the bleeding in the first place didn't get resolved.
So, keep him in your prayers and us too. We are going to try to get him in there permanently for his safety and our sanity.
For those who have parents who are getting older, shoot em, it is easier in the long run.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dear Lucy,
I am told that I haven't blogged in a while. So true.
On Wed before Thanksgiving I had to have Dad taken by ambulance to the hospital and he is still there.
He had a significant bleed in his colon (likely from Diverticulitis). He is on blood thinners for his heart so when he bled baby, he bled.
They ended up giving him a transfusion of two units of blood and he has been on IV antibiotics.
He is very weak and will have to stay in a nursing home when the hospital has done all they can.
In the meantime, Suzie and I both have colds so this is why I haven't written.
I ended up writing 50,183 words in my month's time on the novel and feel really good about it.
We cooked a turkey for turkey day and I got drunk as a flippin' skunk. Me and Suzie just finished the bird off last night.
Still looking for work. Still writing.
Still alive and kicking!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Light at the end of the tunnel

Dear Lucy,
As I come roaring in to the 40,000 word landmark (only 10,000 more to go) I am pleased that I set out on this zany novel writing adventure.
Writing the words hasn't been so hard as having to process the story in its entirety and live the summer again. It was a rough summer.
I have met a woman on line and we have become good friends, even spent an entire night in a hotel celebrating our friendship (wink, wink, nod, nod, know what I mean? Say no more).
The night before we met at the hotel I had a good cry and said goodbye to Anne in a different way. For the last year I have been saying goodbye because she left me. That night I said goodbye because in a way, I was leaving her. I felt guilty and scared and excited about leaving her and taking that first step as a single woman.
I finally took my wedding ring off and put it away.
I think, thank God, I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dear Lucy,

Sent from a friend, I had to put it on the blog. Oh and I hit 31,891 words today.

So after landing my new job as a Wal-Mart greeter,

a good find for many retirees,

I lasted less than a day........

About two hours into my first day on the job a very loud,

unattractive, mean-acting woman walked into the store with her two kids,

Yelling obscenities at
them all the way through the entrance.

As I had been instructed, I said
pleasantly, 'Good morning and welcome to Wal-Mart.

Nice children you have there. Are they twins?'

The ugly woman stopped yelling long enough
to say, 'Hell no, they ain't twins. The oldest one's 9, and the other
one's 7.

Why the hell would you think they're twins? Are you blind, or
just stupid?'

So I replied,

'I'm neither blind nor stupid,

I just couldn't believe someone slept with you twice.

Have a good day and thank you for shopping at Wal-Mart.'

My supervisor said I probably wasn't cut out for this line of work..


Friday, November 13, 2009

Me Fingers R getting tired

Dear Lucy
Hit 30,008 words today! Me fingers R tired and me shoulders are starting to spasm. My brain is crying uncle and my teeth are turning brown from all the coffee.
20,000 more words to go!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Writing Totem

Dear Lucy,

Some writers have a writing totem or favorite had that they wear when they write or a favorite pen or chair.

I found this guy at a yard sale. His eye patch flips up and you shake him and one of those dice things floats up with the answer to your question like the old Eight Balls we played with as kids.

He has said nothing particularly motivating yet...

At 25,948 words...


Monday, November 9, 2009

22,236 Words!

Dear Lucy,

It is week two of the novel and I seem to be right on track. According to the book, "No Plot? No Problem", written by the lunatic who started this crazy contest, by the second week writers are feeling like trashing their novel and starting over. The thrill of newness is gone and now the drudgery is setting in.

That's where I am right now. The editor in me is telling me that this is the worst writing I have ever done and am wasting my time. The plot stinks, the stories are dull, the insights hackneyed, oh I could go on.

I have learned over the years that when things get tough, you have to just "suit-up and show-up" and that is what I am doing. What a drag.

"The thrill is gone...the thrill is gone bayyyyybeeee..."


Friday, November 6, 2009

Dear Lucy,
The word count is now at 14,000, a staggering amount of writing for me. The story is hard to write but cathartic and who knows, maybe one day when I am long gone someone in the family will read it and get something out of it.
The air mattress is doing much better and I am getting good sleep.
I continue to apply for jobs as they show on the computer. So far I have applied at Signature Home Health and at St Joseph for several positions plus an inventory specialist position somewhere in Blaine near the border. I tell ya, I am getting closer and closer to moving to Canada {{{{shudder}}}}}.
Sooner or later, some one's gotta call for an interview. and in the meantime, I write. And hope the air mattress doesn't spring another leak!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dear Lucy,
Hit 9,515 words today on the novel and tho it is hard to start writing every day, it is amazingly easy to do 1600 words once I get started.
I am amazed at how many people at Barne's and Nobel, where I come to do my writing to get away from distractions, suddenly want to talk to me.
Is there a sign on my head? Perhaps I should make one up to put on the table that says, "Please do not feed or talk to the writer".
My air mattress has become my worst enemy, going flat the last five nights. It is a double height mattress, easier to get in and out of but when I wake up in the middle of the night with my ass touching terafirma and my entire body covered in air mattress, I feel like the wiener in the bun!
Suzie and I have tried several times to patch the two holes we have found with patches for bike tires but I guess they just aren't the same. So I broke down (almost literally) and went to REI to buy air mattress patches. Wish me luck.
--Tired in Bellingham

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Strange Way to Grieve

Dear Lucy,
The novel I am writing for the Nanowrimo contest is called, A Strange Way to Grieve. I had mentioned the possiblity of doing this a month or so ago.
Here is the opening paragraphs of the novel:

A Strange Way to Grieve
November 1, 2009

Be silent, and sit down for you are drunk,
and this is the edge of the roof. --Rumi

It had been a full 10 minutes since I last felt my legs.
At lease it seemed like 10 minutes. But then, who can tell when you are stoned?
I looked down and found that yes, they were still there, attached to my body and tapping away in time to the pounding rhythms of Phil Lesh and Bob Wier, remnants of the Grateful Dead playing a concert in Oakland, California.
It was September 18, 2009, 359 days after Anne, my partner of 16 years, had died suddenly of a heart attack. I had never attended a Grateful Dead concert. Never knew much about the Grateful Dead or their music aside from Terrapin and Touch of Gray, Touch of Gray being a number one hit and the only hit the band ever had in their 30 plus years together.
Anne had bought several of their CD and I started listening to them after she died becoming a late-comer fan.
As I looked around the crowded hall of the Ford Theater in Oakland, the pot smoke wafting from every tie dye clad person in every seat around me, 50 years old, stoned, paranoid from weed stronger than I remembered from my youth, alone, widowed, unemployed and nearly homeless, I thought to myself, isn’t this a strange way to grieve?


The Race is ON!

Dear Lucy,

Did you hear the starting bell at midnight last night? That was the sound of millions of writers all around the world starting on their novels.

Should I write every day, I would have to write 1,666 words per day. Oh baby.

I am dinking around right now while I wait for my laundry to dry then I am off to Barne's and Nobel so I don't get interrupted by phone, dog, or Dad hocking up phlegm.

I may write and keep you posted on the blog or I might drop off the face of the earth.


Friday, October 30, 2009

To the Fabric Store

Dear Lucy,
Don't aspirate anything important, but Suzie and I went to the fabric store today. I know; me at a fabric store. I didn't cut myself on any of the material.
Suzie is going to be a grandma. Twins. Boys. She loves to sew. Need I say more?
We bought some material and patterns and she has been happily busy at the dining room table ever since.

I am in awe of her. That anyone could take material and a paper pattern and lay it all out and understand what they are doing amazes me.
I never learned that stuff. Partly because I just wasn't interested and partly because I am left handed. I think being left handed flummoxed my mother. She had taught Suzie and my other sister Nancy to sew but when I came along and everything had to be done backward, she lost it.
She tried for an hour (God bless her she was patient) to try and show me how to knit when I was young. No go. Sewing, even on a machine, was backwards for me.

I did learn how to iron by watching her and then just adjusting to a lefty. The ironing board was set up opposite what Mom did. She would watch me iron and cringe.
I also went through this in PE class in school. Every new sport. Left handed. Drove the teachers crazy. When I go to a restaurant with a group, I have to play musical chairs because I am left handed. Anne was so used to it, she would just naturally have me pick a seat first.

So, I leave the sewing and knitting and crocheting and basket weaving to others.
And to this day when someone says those immortal words to me, "Wow, you're left-handed!", I still manage to avoid looking astounded and saying, I AM???

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cut Me Finger

Dear Lucy,
Cut my finger this morning looking for a pair of pants. I swear I am such a klutz I could cut myself on a marshmallow.
Now I have my middle finger in a band aide (the tip of the finger of course) and I can't type. I have the weekend to heal up for the Nanwrimo contest (50000 word novel in 30 days).
Note to self: watch those paper cuts in November.
Took me five minutes to type this. {{{sigh}}}.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Most Sincere Pumpkin Patch

Dear Lucy,
Suzie and I took a ride to this pumpkin patch Saturday. Not that we needed pumpkins but that we needed an excuse to get out of the house.
People with wheel barrows were walking around the field collecting pumkins with their little kids tagging along looking big-eyed and excited.
We bought a Hubbard squash for eating and some decorative squashettes for laughing at.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Dear Lucy,
This is an email I received today and I am still scratching my head over it:

• I used to eat a lot of natural foods until I learned that most people die of natural causes.
• There are two kinds of pedestrians: the quick and the dead.
• Life is sexually transmitted.
• Healthy is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
• The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.
• Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.
• Have you noticed since everyone has a camcorder these days no one talks about seeing UFOs like they used to?
• Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.
• All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
• In the 60's, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal..
• How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?
• Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, 'I think I'll squeeze these dangly things and drink whatever comes out?'
• If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a song about him?
• Why does your OB-GYN leave the room when you get undressed if they are going to look up there anyway?
• If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?
• If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable o il is made from vegetables, then what is baby oil made from?
• Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet Soup?
• Does pushing the elevator button more than once make it arrive faster?
• Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?


Friday, October 23, 2009

A Short Story

Chapter One

“Follow me.”

“Where are you going?”

“To the drug store to make a purchase.”

The two men walked somberly down 16th street in San Francisco’s Mission District, to the house of a drug dealer named Tony. It was hot, too hot for San Francisco’s crowded old buildings, tiny streets, and throbbing black-top, and the heat made the stench of human urine seep from doorways and alleys. It muffled the car exhaust close to the street where pedestrians inhaled it, hardly noticing it anymore for the lack of mental presence in the city. Heat that sucked whatever oxygen that may enter the lungs out like the sudden gasp of a dying man.

They walked on.

The “Drug Store” was a section of the neighborhood where the dealers seemed to congregate to do business, make deals, squabble and fight over territory and get high. Littered among the parked cars were junkies and winos, undercover cops and patrol cars, and the occasional unwed soon to be mother, pregnant out to here and pushing a squalling infant in a stroller while her boom box pumps out some foul mouthed rapper singing about his old lady. The lyrics never change, just the delivery.

Terry and Greg were brothers, Greg being the older and Terry the dutiful shadow since he was able to walk. Even at the ripe old age of 19, Terry believed the sun rose and set on Greg. Still tall and gangly, Terry’s chest had not yet filled out, nor had his acne subsided and he tried desperately to grow a beard to cover it, the blonde peach-fuzz seeming to taunt him with his youthful appearance. Greg though 3 years older than Terry, was fairing little better in the masculinity department though he had finally conquered the acne.

Always on the corner of 16th and Valencia a man sat in his garage drinking ice-tea and watching passers-by. He was old. Ancient. A fossil of a man whose skeletal body belied the baggy t-shirt he wore with the sleeves rolled over a pack of Camel cigarettes. Smoking, smoking, one cigarette after another, he would light the next one off the butt of the old. Then a fit of coughing that rattled his whole body and brought up bloody spittle would set off until he was just too out of air to go on. The cigarette though, never left his mouth. He blinked hard at the glaring sun as his sallow cheeks continued to suck on his cigarette, the smoke puffing out his nose like some fierce dragon, and watched as Terry and Greg approach him.

The two men walked passed the old man sitting in his garage, ignoring his coughing fit.

“Hey fellas,” the old man finally said after spitting to the side.

“Whas-up?” Terry said slowing his pace a little.

“Want to talk to ya,” the old man replied his cigarette dangling from his mouth.

“We ain’t got time to talk to you old man,” Greg spat angrily, “we got things to do.”

“I know you do,” the old man said smiling, his teeth yellow with age and tobacco, “that’s why I

hailed you”.

“So what do you want?” Greg said walking back to face the man square on.

“Just to tell you not to go,” he replied picking up his glass of ice-tea and taking a swallow.

“Oh right,” Greg said, “what are you some kind of prophet of doom? Let’s get outta here,” he said to Terry and both men began to walk away.

“Ok,” the old guy replied, “see you on your way back.”

“Wait up,” Terry said to Greg, “aren’t you curious about what he wants to tell us?”

“No,” Greg said impatiently, “I’m curious what Tony’s gonna charge us this time. Come on.”

“I’m gonna go talk to the old guy, you go make the deal.” Terry headed back to the garage and the old man.


“So you’re back,” the old man said as he watched Terry heading for him.

“Ya I am. So what did you want to tell me,” Terry asked, shuffling from one foot to the other like a kid caught stealing.

“I wanted to tell you not to go buy the drugs you were after. They will ruin your life.”

“Is that all? Everybody says that. Don’t tell me, are you the guy who came up with that stupid commercial with the fried egg? Man, that sucks.”

“No, I’m not into commercials. And yes everybody does say that. Everybody who has been there and is trying to keep young punks like you from screwing up your life.

I used to be a successful business man her in San Francisco. Had a house in Pacific Heights, had a beautiful wife and kids, couple of grandkids. I did coke now and then, mostly at parties, and then a friend turned me on to crack. Now, I live in this garage. No business, no wife, the kids won’t speak to me. And though I quit the crack a year ago, I still crave it. My life’s over because of a drug.”

“Well, what makes you think me and my brother are doin’ crack?”

“A hunch. You make lots of trips by here every day. So are you?”

“Ya, sometimes. But we’re not hooked, no way. And we won’t be either. So thanks for the talk, but me and my brother will be all right.” Terry started to walk away from the old man, his hands in his pockets as if to hide his feelings, and he headed off to find his brother.

Greg had just finished making his deal. His deal consisted of going to one of the corner markets in the “drug store” neighborhood, and heading for a garage in the back. There he had to get past the guard--a 130 pound Doberman Pincer and his owner--to reach the slot in the garage wall where he slid his cash and got his vials of crack in return. He had never actually seen Tony the dealer, and suspected that Tony wasn’t his real name. He hadn’t gotten three blocks when he ran into Terry.

“Preached some kind of sobriety gospel didn’t he?” Greg asked Terry as they headed home with two vials of crack.

“Ya, how did you know?”

“Ah, I know the type. Says he’s been there,” Greg went on in a martyr type voice, “and he just wants to save you from going down the path he went.”

“Wow, you hit it on the money. He told me he was some big-shot with a big house and all and that he lost it doing crack.”

“What a loser,” Greg said waving the whole thing off.

The old man’s yellow-toothed, phlegmy laugh played through Terry’s mind like instant replay during a baseball game, giving him a blow-by-blow reminder of all the guy said. Terry, who never had trouble sleeping, was now having his first night of insomnia. Not that the six rocks of crack that he did himself was keeping him up, though it often kept Greg up. Terry had never smoked so much before. He had always considered himself an occasional user.

Finally at about 4 am, Terry drifted off to sleep and dreamed. He had never really dreamed in his life. Oh yes he dreamed, everybody does, but he almost never remembered them so he figured he didn’t often have them. When he did, they were drab, colorless images, none of which could be put together into any coherent story. Until tonight. Tonight he dreamed vivid. He dreamed color. The color of blood. And he dreamed a coherent story as unbelievable as the craziest sci-fi movie he had ever seen.

Chapter Two

“You look like crap,” Greg said to Terry as he shuffled into the kitchen.

“I feel like crap too,” Terry replied beginning to cough violently until he spit up blood.

“No, I really mean it Terry,” Greg said looking alarmed, “you should go see a doctor or somthin’.”

“Ain’t seein’ no doctor man, now just leave me alone!” This was one of the rare occasions when Terry ever yelled at Greg. Usually it was the other way around, and Greg was taken aback, and hurt.

“Fine asshole,” Greg spat, “Sorry for caring.” Greg finished his coffee and headed out the door. He was late for class. Terry had classes too, but wasn’t even going to try to make it. He went to bed and didn’t sleep.

He was certain that every car or bus going past the house was coming for him. Knew that every time the phone rang it was someone checking up on him. He even suspected that Greg was keeping tabs on him but couldn’t find a reason why he would.

He needed a hit of crack, and he needed it badly. Needed it like a suffocating man needs a breath of air. Craved it like the suffocating man’s burning lungs craved oxygen.

His throat was dry. Dry like he had swallowed a tumble-weed and all of its stickery spines were jabbing his throat making him cough at the slightest attempt to talk or swallow. He drank glass after glass of water but nothing helped. And the cravings got stronger and stronger.

Oozing out from under the floor-boards like some kind of gray lava, it creapt closer to him. It seemed to make breathing movements--Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale--while its tentacles reached. Reached for whatever was in front of it to grab onto and devour. When its entire body had escaped from the walls it looked like a giant Jellyfish.

It was heading straight for Terry.

“What are you?” Terry said in near panic.

I am craving, the thing replied though not audibly. It continued its relentless movement toward Terry until it was literally crawling up his leg.

At first Terry thought it must be some kind of hallucination or something. Something from some crazy movie he must have seen. Maybe as a kid. Terry had always loved monster and sci-fi movies, especially the horrid B movies. He had seen every kind of monster or alien created, and this one just seemed to resemble all the others. But he was scared anyway. Scared because, no matter how many movies he saw, the monsters had never entered his home, or crawled up his leg as this one was at this very moment.

You have invited me to be your constant companion, and here I am, the thing breathed in a voice that sounded like fingernails on a chalk board.

Before Terry could utter a reply, the thing had made its way to his face and was smothering him as absolutely as a pillow over the face would. Terry panicked.

There were his muffled screams. There was the struggle to peal Craving off his face if only to catch one breath of air. Terry’s lungs were ripping inside of him and the room began to blur and fuzz. Then all went black in his eyes except for the vivid colors flashing like neon lights. He was dying.

Just before Terry finally passed out, Craving let him get one large breath of air. This was enough to send Terry running to put his clothes on so he could get to the dealer. By now Craving had moved onto Terry’s back hanging off of him like a wounded war buddy being dragged to safety. This at least, Terry could handle. At least he could breathe.

Terry checked his wallet for funds. He had two bucks. Two of Craving’s tentacles began to tighten around Terry’s neck again cutting off his oxygen supply. Terry ran headlong into the kitchen to the cupboard under the sink where mom kept emergency money in a Band-aid can.

Fifty bucks. He stumbled down the stairs and out the front door, hoping no one would notice Craving on his back, its long tentacles wrapping around his torso, his neck, and even his head.
He itched violently. It was as if Craving’s tentacles had thorns jabbing his skin, leaving a venom that coursed just under the surface like thousands of ticks burrowing. He scratched madly as he walked to the “drug store”.

It was still stifling hot in the City, and the usual fog--the City’s natural air-conditioning--was not due to come back for days. The air felt like a sloppy-wet, hot wool blanket covering Terry’s body causing the “ticks” to burrow furiously. Terry was certain everyone could see Craving on his back, could see the “ticks” crawling around just under his skin. He was sure everyone was calling the cops on their cell phones, reporting the scene walking down 16th street. He ducked into alleyways when he could. Hung out in doorways watching passers-by every now and then to see if they were watching him. He listened for footsteps behind him. At one point a squad car happened by and Terry nearly jumped into a nearby trash-can to hide. The cop didn’t even notice him.

Arriving at the crack house, he made his way to the back garage where he had seen Greg go to get their drugs. The guard’s Doberman barked wildly at Terry sensing what only Terry apparently knew; there was an alien thing clinging to him. Terry kicked at the dog--something totally out of character for him--and sneered at the guard. “Get that damned thing away from me,” he said and went on to the garage.

Shaking from fear and the itching bugs he was feeling under his skin, he pulled out his money and slipped it in the slot. His vials were slipped back without a word. The deal was done just that quickly. Terry took his dope and headed for home trying to get the constant babble of Craving out of his head.

He was incessant, Craving was. He babbled in his “fingernails on a chalk-board” voice without end. Telling Terry how good the drug was. How much he needed it. What a stud he was for taking it. And so on and so forth. Constantly, day and night, Craving babbled unless or until Terry got high.

He burst through the front door of the house and ran upstairs to get his pipe. A few seconds later he was high and Craving was gone along with his itching tentacles and grating voice. What a relief. Not only a relief, but euphoria. Terry had beaten his demon at his own game. He was a stud.

For about fifteen minutes. He smoked some more, and more, and more, until his cache was gone. And he was out of money. And he had already hit mom’s Band-aid can. And Craving returned bigger and more powerful than before.

Chapter Three

He couldn’t sleep. He hadn’t eaten in weeks. And he had started talking back to Craving, even in public. Fortunately for him, it was not uncommon for people to talk to themselves, even argue with themselves while they walked San Francisco’s streets. Most folks didn’t give it a second thought.

The incessant babbling of Craving was only interrupted by the sound of the old man’s phlegmy voice telling him that crack would ruin his life. “Great,” Terry thought to himself, “all I need is another voice competing with Craving. And a preacher’s voice too.”

He headed back to the crack house.

It wasn’t long before Craving became so insistent that Terry couldn’t even wait to get home before he lit up. He started going to a crack house where people got their stuff and got high right there to save time and energy. But he grew terrified that the other smokers were watching him. Talking about him. Maybe even reporting him to the cops. He started hiding in a corner of the crack house, smoking and waiting for Craving to leave him alone.

And Craving did leave him alone. And then he returned, always in a new and improved fashion. Now Terry could hardly carry Craving on his back, and Craving was becoming irritable, nasty, and insatiable. The “ticks” had turned into cockroaches crawling up and down his body, making nests in his hair, laying eggs under his tongue. He was sure of it.

Craving had tried to suffocate him so many times that his lungs had ripped themselves apart. Torn themselves to shreds. And now Terry coughed violently and spit up blood.

He demanded that Terry get some money and buy more crack. So Terry did. He picked pockets. He stole purses. He took Social Security checks out of the mailboxes of the retired and cashed them. He shoplifted. This from a man who had once been a Boy Scout. Who had cried from fear at the Wizard of Oz when he was little. Who had talked to all the old ladies in his neighborhood as a boy and helped them up stairs with their groceries. Now he preyed upon them for money.

Craving was delighted.

“I just can’t tell you how nice it is that you still help an old lady like me,” Mrs. Johnson said.

“Oh it’s no problem,” Terry replied, trying to work up a happy sounding voice. He placed Mrs. Johnson’s groceries on her kitchen table while scanning the room.

He had helped her with groceries and other little chores since he was about 12 and her husband suddenly died. She always tipped him a little from her coin purse, even to this day though the amount never changed and his needs certainly did.

He walked into her living room as she put her groceries away, and searched for anything he could steal. She didn’t have much and what she did have was worthless.
After a few minutes she came into the living room with her coin purse looking for quarters to give to Terry. She was so old now, he thought to himself. She was old when he was a boy, even before her husband died. Now she was positively antique. She handed him a couple of dollars in coins and gave him a warm smile and a heartfelt thank you.

This will get you nowhere! Craving spat venomously in Terry’s ear. Why do you bother with the old woman when you have me to take care of. Cold-cock her and steal her purse you worthless puke-bag!

Terry felt the choking suffocation beginning as he stood staring at the old lady. Without a second thought he hit her and watched as she fell backward onto the hard-wood floor. He then went for her purse. It was the first of the month and he figured she would have just cashed her Social Security check. He was right. And in her purse, (she had not set foot in a bank since the great crash of the 1930’s had wiped out her father), had three-hundred dollars in it. He took it all. And ran.

When Mrs. Johnson regained consciousness, she called the police and reported Terry. She didn’t want to, couldn’t bring herself to think that he had really hurt and robbed her, but she had to have her money back. Waiting for the police to arrive, she put some ice on her bruised and swollen eye and cried. Cried for the sweet little boy she had once known and liked. How he would look up to her as he helped her. How he would spend hours talking to her as she worked in her tiny garden. How he came running over to show her his report card the time he got a passing grade in arithmetic. How proud she was of the man he had become. Until now. The fine man had been replaced by a gaunt, stringy haired, unshaven, unkempt, thief. What had happened?

Chapter Four

He had spent the better part of the afternoon at the crack house getting high and bidding good riddance to Craving. He was so wired on his walk home that his heart was doing somersaults in his chest while his head--feeling as fuzzy as a Q-tip--reeled from the high. It wasn’t long though before he came down again. Way down.

He lay in his bed sobbing. The depression he had fallen into was palpable. Like being captured in a giant maw and swallowed alive. Swallowed down the throat of despair. An abyss that is lined with oily, gooey cotton that sticks to the skin and sucks the soul out of the body. The more he clawed to keep from sinking deeper, the more oily the cotton grew, the more the throat swallowed, until even the light at the end of the tunnel was extinguished.

He sobbed.

Craving belittled.

He begged.

Craving demanded.

He tried to sleep.

Craving chattered.

He got his brother’s gun.

Craving encouraged. And laughed his maligning, cackling laugh. Go ahead, I dare you. You’re nothing but a worm.

He placed the barrel into his mouth.

You don’t have the guts do you? Do you? DO YOU?

And he watched as his brains, bits of skull and clumps of hair shot into his bedroom wall. The blood, as vivid a red as has ever been painted on a pallet pooled on the floor under his lifeless body.

Craving laughed.

Chapter Five

After fifteen years with the same alarm clock, Terry still hadn’t gotten used to the pealing alarm when it went off in the mornings. This morning though, he was more than happy, delighted even, or maybe even ecstatic to wake up to it.

He felt just like Scrooge when he had awakened after the visitation by the three ghosts. He wanted to dance, because he was alive. He wanted to sing, because he wasn’t being suffocated by Craving. He wanted to go talk to the old man in the garage and tell him he was right. He was about to ruin his life, and the man’s words and his terrifying dream had set him straight. He was a new man.

He looked around his room just to make sure. No skull fragments, no blood, no gun lying on the floor next to his dead body. It had been a dream. He hadn’t gotten hooked on crack. Hadn’t stolen purses or hurt Mrs. Johnson. He hadn’t stolen his mother’s emergency money.

He nearly bounced at every step as he headed down 16th street, not to go to a crack house but to go thank the old man. The sweltering heat wave had finally broken and the usual off-shore breeze so ubiquitous in San Francisco, was back sending flags waving and hats flying.

The people had come alive again. No longer staring at him. No longer crossing the street to avoid passing him. He was just another fellow taking a walk in the City and enjoying the day.

The garage door, usually open by this time of the day, was closed, and the old man nowhere to be found. Dismayed, Terry went to the front door to knock. Who knows, maybe the old guy does stay inside once in a while. He waited for what seemed an eternity to his exuberant mind until finally a woman answered the door.

She had never heard of the old man. Had never even seen a man that fit Terry’s description. And no one lived in her garage, least of all a chain smoker. No, he must have had the wrong house she told him.

Somewhere, in a garage on the other side of town, sat an old man. A fossil really. With yellow teeth and sallow cheeks, and a cigarette dangling from his mouth.
“Say fellas,” he said to two young men passing by, “wait up, I want to talk to ya.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dear Lucy,
Never cross a Girl Scout on a mission.
Dear Lucy,
Some people predict the harshness of upcoming winters by checking an almanac or the weather gurus.
I check the size of the local wood piles. This one, the size of a house, is pretty ominous.

Looks like I'd better break out the warm-woollies!

The Borscht was a Success

Dear Lucy,
Yesterday, I finally finished making the borscht I had starter earlier. It was a bit of a crap-shoot as the recipe was of course a pinch of this and a dash of that, so unless I wanted to make a 50 gallon drum of it I had to cut the pinches and dashes.
I nearly cried when we sat down to eat it last night. I haven't had it in about 5 years as Anne hadn't made it after she got sick.
Got me started telling Suzie of all the Russian edibles that Anne or her mother would make. It was a nice trip down memory lane.
Suzie has spent the better part of 27 years cooking Mexican food for her Mexican husband and so is getting a taste of some real different stuff here between my cooking and taking her out places. Still have to get her to a Thai place. She loves spicy food.
She has carved three of the four pumpkins she brought home last week. She is a bigger kid than I, and that is saying something.
Better to let her play with knives though as I am a clutz!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

20th anniversary of Earthquake

Dear Lucy,
Ah, time flies when you're having fun. Today is the 20th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay area. It was a 7.1, the hardest quake I had ever felt and I grew up in California.
I had just gotten home from work and was lying down to take a nap having just started my period that day.
The quake lasted 15 seconds and took out the Nemitz freeway (it was a double decker that pancaked on itself trapping hundreds of commuters) and a section of the Bay Bridge.
It was the quake that made me paranoid of earthquakes to this day and is one of the reasons Anne and I never moved to Alaska. I could deal with working through the cold and high cost of living in Alaska, but not that AND gnarly earthquakes.
I wouldn't wish anyone to experience a quake as hard as Loma Prieta. I was sure that was the day California was going to, "fall into the ocean".

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Novel is DONE!!!

Dear Lucy,

Hurray for me, I finished Gold Fever today!!!

It is a rough draft, but it has a beginning a middle and an end.

Done. Finished. No more to sit at the computer mocked by the "unfinished novel".

I will need to celebrate this one baby!!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

'Tis a Day to Make Soup

Dear Lucy,

"Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble." (That's Shakespeare)

I am finally doing it; making a pot of Borscht using Anne's recipe handed down from her grandmother.
I am not going to such an extent as Anne did for she had a huge cast-iron soup pot big enough to bathe a small child in.
She would fill this monster to the tippy-top by the time she was through.
Not I.
First off, I don't have such pot and secondly, I don't have the room for that much soup.
I have never made Borscht. This recipe is not the one with beets in it, rather, it is Peasant Borscht. Only the rich, according to Anne, could afford the luxury of beets.
There was a meat sale going on at the local grocer which is what got me to make this soup. I am at this very minute boiling the hunk of flesh in water with dill and parsley until the beef waives the white flag of surrender.
Then I shall remove the meat and add the rest of the ingredients which include cabbage and sour kraut. Mmmm, gassy!
When done, one puts a dollop of sour cream in it and eats it with a slice of crusty bread slathered in butter.
Those Russians know how to live!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Confession of a Madman

Dear Lucy,

Walking yesterday this story came to mind. I title it, "Confession of a madman" for lack of a better title.

Allow me a moment to confess my first murder; a trifle you’ll think, as do I.
A lithe youth of maybe 14, all gangly and awkward, with but a fuzz of man-hair about his loins, pregnant with the exuberance of youth and innocence and future.
Racing past me on strong limbs, hardly a breath passing his lips while I rasp, bony and gnarled and gasping out old, withered dreams.

Without a word, without warning, he sped past me with such ferocity as to make me
invisible. A mere pebble to step upon or kick away.

He had to die, that I may live.

What of a young boy? With no wife or children to connect him
inexorably to the earth; all deserving of love’s caress, while I, in my decrepit
body crave on--
It was but a moment out of my day and his to offer himself on the cross of my geriatric redemption!

Oh, the young don’t see death coming. They struggle not with tomorrow, neither pity themselves for today nor detest themselves for yesterday. They are fresh and immediate; all hormones and adrenaline and suppleness and unmarked by time and eternity.
They deserve their fate.
I did him a service really--
Will he have to endure the heartbreak of lost love? Sit helpless as his bones calcify and his mind slips into derangment?
Watch as his loins, once alive and virile, and throbbing with passion, hang limp and
Will he ever have to sup at the table of disillusionment?
I was his savior! Another human, plucked from the arms of desperate, clawing
existence! Hurrah to the murderer! All hail the keeper of egalitarianism!

The mind of a child is soft and open and tender. It is vulnerable and
Yes, yes, they outgrow that you argue! They ripen and mature; full-bloom and ready for great possibilities. Bah. They are arrogant and prideful. Full of themselves. Egocentric and ever whining with nothing to be so upset about. They haven’t lived long enough to be upset!
I see the acrimony in your eyes. You hate me for what I have done and who I am. I am a mirror to your own bitter, hateful soul!
Have you never turned from you television in
disgust? The ads? The programs all focusing on youth? Idolizing it?
Have you never sat in a waiting room full of job prospects to find you are outnumbered by the upstarts? Passed over for promotion because they are all future and excitement and energy and you are spent?
Turn on the radio! It is their music. Go to a movie! All insipid tales of action and future; moving, moving, moving! Never thinking!

It is madness that they, ignorant of the real pleasures of life, are able to enjoy sensory fulfillment while we, who understand and appreciate, are left desolate. The subtle sweetness of fresh lobster; the scintillating scent of a woman deep in the throes of love. The heart-quickening rapture of an aria. They appreciate none of it, while I--I am left only to remember.

It was a bullet to the head. Quick, clean; the slug enters the brain and spins its magic creating chaos where once was order. Stealing from him that which once was mine. Ending utterly, completely--entirely his chances of ever disrespecting an elder again.

He had to die, that I might live.

Makes you wonder what's going on in my head!


Monday, October 12, 2009


Dear Lucy,
November is National Writing month, and I have registered for a class at the local JC to participate locally. Here is the description from the web page:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel
writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page
(50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact
that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are
going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel.
Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

I have heard of it for years and never had the guts, determination, or total lack of sense to do it.
So, I am giving out ample warning: I doubt you will see many blog entries in November. I will either be crying or laughing hysterically throughout November. I will not be cooking the Thanksgiving meal in November.
Get out the IV bottle for feedings and the depends for the other end. I am going in deep!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Halloween is a Comin'

Dear Lucy,
Holloween is a comin, there's dancin' tonight!
Well, not yet. But Suzie came home yesterday with all these cool pumpkins to carve. They are quite large and strangely shaped.

In another week or so, I shall take her to a "sincere pumpkin patch" as Linus said in "The Great Pumpkin" and Anne used to say every year.

We would drive south to Mount Vernon which is mostly agricultural, and just off the freeway was and is a huge pumpkin patch complete with a corn maze.

Anne and I would go every year and pick out pumpkins--sure you can get them at the grocery store, but what's the fun in that?--and then, God bless her, she would go to the patch after Halloween when the farmer was just going to mow the left overs {{gasp!}} under, and get them for free.

Bunches of them.

Lots and lots of them.

Like we would ever eat all that pumpkin.

But, it was free and when Anne saw free, she saw abundance.

One year we put them in a closet in a spare room we didn't heat because they say keep them in a cool, dark, place.

They rotted.

Then, we put them in barrels of saw dust in the garage.

They rotted.

Then, we put them on lounge chairs--hey why not be comfortable?--and covered them with sleeping bags in the garage.

They rotted.

One year we offered them to friends. But after forcing Zucchini on them all summer from Anne's abundant garden, they were less than enthused about taking 10 pumpkins each.

People started to avoid us.

I begged her not to take so many every year.

I pleaded.

I threatened.

She died.

Problem solved.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Dear Lucy,
I was thinking about Anne today. I know, it doesn't surprise you.
I have a friend who hides a key to her house and tells me where it is so I can get in when I want/need to.
I don't often go into her house as she lives 20 miles away and there is nothing in it I would want to have or use, really. I just sometimes go let her dogs out at her request when she is away for an extended period of time.
But, it got me to thinking about how Anne and I were with our house in Ferndale. We never locked the doors.
If we locked the front door, the back door was unlocked. If it was locked too it was because we knew Dad was home in his attached apartment and we could get in there.
We did this because Anne always said it was just stuff in there anyway and if someone needed it that badly, let them have it.
That was true. We never had anything so valuable that it couldn't be replaced. If someone wanted to risk getting past the dogs to take our cheap computer or 10 year old TV, more power to them.
But really, we stopped locking doors--of our vehicles too--because Anne couldn't keep track of her keys. After having to break into our own home many times and call AAA to get us into our vehicles, it just made sense to leave them unlocked.
At one point we had a kitchen drawer full of keys and we had no idea what they went to. You know the feeling: don't throw that old key away, it might go to something.
Friends would give us their house key or car key (in case they locked themselves out they could call us), and we never knew where the keys were until we got a call from the owner. Then we had to go through a million keys.
I miss how easy going Anne was about "stuff". How easy going she made me about "stuff". The openness she had about her home and stuff was the same openness she had about herself.
I still walk out of the apartment and leave the door unlocked. Sometimes, I do it just for Anne.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dear Lucy,
I haven't written on my blog for a while and I can't really say why.
Haven't been sleeping well lately. I usually take 1/2 ambien tablet a night to sleep and it usually works just fine. Not lately.
So, since I can take a whole one if necessary, I have been. That is working.
One of the side effects I have heard about Ambien is that it can cause a bit of amnesia. I don't remember this ever happening. Get it?
Anyway, I think it did last night. I took a whole tablet at around 7pm. Suzie had gone to a bible study group with a friend and this morning I couldn't remember her coming home last night. I knew she had because it was only from 6pm to 8pm. I don't remember going to bed.
So, I casually asked her a few questions this morning, making her sit in a straight-back chair under a bare light bulb and starting each question with, "Where were you on the night of the 7th?". Then "Where was I on the night of the 7th?"
Well, I did get a good night's sleep anyway...I think...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I need a stronger heart

Dear Lucy,
So Friday evening I am fixing dinner and Lucy walks into the kitchen and pukes on the floor. The puke is all CHOCOLATE. For those who don't know, chocolate is poisonous to dogs.
Seems Dad was eating a chocolate bar on the couch while Suzie and I were away and he fell asleep. Lucy, being an opportunist, ate it and Dad didn't tell me.
So, having had to induce vomiting on a dog before I broke out the hydrogen peroxide and chicken broth and started shoving it down Lucy's throat. She puked some more chocolate.
I ended up taking her to the emergency Vet where they shoved a charcoal solution down her throat twice. She spent the night.
She is fine now, though her tummy is still a bit upset. But no major problems thank God.
I don't have the heart for another loss, which is what I told God or Godess or the Big Joker in the Sky while I was driving Lucy to the emergency Vet.
I got my Lucy back. But it cost me $350.00. Ouch.


Dear Lucy,
You know life is too structured when even in the gutter, you are told which way to go.
The fine print on this grate is: point toward curb.
I quite frankly couldn't take being told what to do by the gutter so I stopped, and yelled, "Stop telling me what to do, you're not the boss of me!"
People stare at you in Bellingham when you do that.
Note to self: I am not in San Francisco anymore.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy October!

Dear Lucy,
Happy October! It is cool and raining today and I feel like making soup or curling up in a warm blanket and reading for the day.
But alas, I am not.
I have been working daily on Gold Fever, chipping out small chapters and adding bits to current chapters.
The best part of writing a novel is writing the evil character. They are so much fun. Is it the evil in me? Who knows, but the words to describe my evil character, Samuel Carter just seem to flow like the rain in Washington.
The tough part is giving him some kind of good quality that the reader can relate to that keeps him from just being completely evil and easily hated. Even Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter had a pathetic side: The misunderstood boy of a crazy muggle mother and his absent magical father; his being rescued by Dumbledore. It makes us all identify with how a person could turn so evil when so abused as a child.
So, Carter grew up dirt poor and had to work to keep his family in food. He is determined to never be a poor nobody again. His motive is good but the end does not justify the means. And it is the means that is fun to write.
Novels never really go as planned. Characters become life-like and take on their own agendas. Makes writing a discovery. Makes the writer continue on through the sweat of writing to get the characters through the story.
It is amazing just how much can happen to distract a writer. People, events, chores, pets, the phone ringing, appetite, thirst and just plain old inertia.
I am determined to work past these and at least get the first draft DONE.
Pray for me!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dear Lucy,
It is 4 am and I can't sleep. Even with the sleeping pill I still take at night, many nights I wake up in the wee hours of the morning wide awake. Thank God I don't have to get up for work.
I got to thinking about Andy Rooney, the guy on 60 minutes who used to have his curmudgeon session at the end of the program.
With all the people doing hair and makeup on him, why didn't anyone say, "dude, we have GOT to do something with those eyebrows, they are obscene."
He wasn't even bald, or we could have surmised that he was planning to use them for a comb over.
I once took my dad to the barber to get a hair cut and the barber asked the man he was working on if he wanted his eyebrows trimmed. The man had eyebrows you could smuggle a terrorist in and he said no. NO? What's in there?
What is it about men and their eyebrows? Is it a macho thing? Like certain species of birds that parade their plumage around to attract females, enormous, wiry eyebrows are supposed to be a turn on?
So, is Andy Rooney trying to hide something? An extra pencil or something? He didn't want to wear a pocket protector to keep his pens in and look dorky so he grew his eyebrows out to keep his pens, and his pocket protector in? Or maybe he was into recycling and had no bins? Plastic and glass in the left eyebrow, cans and aluminum foil in the right?
At 4 in the morning, when you can't sleep and even the dog is snoring, ya gotta wonder.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dear Lucy,

As I was walking Lucy tonight I was listening to James Taylor’s Greatest Hits and came on the song, Something in the Way She Moves.
The bridge of the song goes:

Every now and then the things I lean on lose their meaning, and I find myself
careening in places where I should not let me go. She has the power to go where
no one else can find me and to silently remind me of the happiness and good
times that I know.

That has been me this last year and I haven’t had Anne to go to that place and pull me out. It is a place that friends, siblings, even one’s own mother can’t find; it is the place reserved for one’s self and the life partner. That’s what makes it irreplaceable. What makes the survivor so lost and alone and helpless feeling and inconsolable. No one else knows where that consolable place is.
We are the few who have this or have had this person in our lives. We are like a club, not based on looks or breeding or education or cleverness, or on what god we believe in or if we don’t believe in any. I think we are in a club called damned lucky and immensly blessed.

I Love the Fall

Dear Lucy,
Today is a cool, blustery, cloudy day. The kind that starts to blow the turned leaves from their perches on the trees and sends them skittering down streets.
I love the fall. I love the crispness in the air, the turning of the leaves and the wind storms. I also love the colors. The browns and yellows and oranges of the trees, the bright pumpkins and other squashes and the spent yellow corn stalks and hay in the barns and the smokey scent of the fireplaces and wood stoves.
I also love Halloween. I love Halloween more than any other "holiday", and always have.
As a little girl I thought that Charlie Brown discovered Halloween because of the cartoon. I thought it was just the best idea in the world: dress up for a whole day as anybody or anything you wanted to be and then romp through the neighborhood after dark and get candy for it. And go to school dressed up. WOW!
I wanted to be Snoopy flying around in his Sopwith Camel chasing the Red Baron or sneaking through the woods to a French cafe to drink Root Beer. Mostly it was that he was having this fabulous adventure alone in his own imagination, while everyone else was being part of the crowd.
But, someone had to be part of the crowd. And someone had to have faith in The Great Pumpkin as Linus did. And someone had to go around with a million holes in his ghost costume and get rocks instead of candy and someone had to go off in their imagination to other callings.
Maybe my love for Snoopy, is why I have a beagle.

Hit a Wall

Dear Lucy,
I am back. It seems Sunday that I hit a wall of exhaustion. I was sitting at the Barnes and Nobel with my computer and blam; exhaustion. Each arm felt like it weighed 20 lbs and my eyelids about 3.
I packed up my shit and slogged out of the store and went home and slept from 6pm Sunday night until noon on Monday. Then I mostly lazed around yesterday.
Maybe it was all the emotion of the weekend coupled with all the activity of San Francisco coming to a head.
But I am back and though not feeling like taking over the world, I can blog.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Day is Done

Dear Lucy,
So the "official" one year anniversary of Anne's death has come and it is 11:15 pm and nearly over. I spent most of the day with my friend Lynn catching up after my trip to SF, and then went to a bonfire put on by my friend Deb in honor of Anne.

Anne was a self-proclaimed pyro. She loved fire. Not that she ever set any maliciously or anything. But she and Deb were known to set some doozies.
The best was when she and Deb made one in the woods where Deb lived and forgot about the fact that their fire was directly under some rather low hanging tree branches. We prayed alot that night and thanked God the trees were not real dry.

Anne's big fantasy--well the one I can tell you about--was to grow a huge field of corn and set fire to it to make popcorn.
Our first house here in Washington had a wood burning stove that we used in the winter. When Anne stoked the fire she would put so much wood in that we would ultimately end up opening the door to cool the house off. I was sure she was going for nuclear fission or something.

I miss her in the deepest part of my soul. I ache to hear her laugh again. My skin misses her touch and my heart hurts for her love.

It has been one year. And I still don't know how to live without her.


Friday, September 25, 2009

A Sad Day

Dear Lucy,
According to the death certificate, September 26, 2008 is the official day that Anne died. Actually, she died one year ago today.
When her friend Ann Werner discovered her in bed not breathing last September 25, the EMTs were called and she was "revived" meaning they put her on a ventilator, got her heart started and took her to St. Joseph hospital.
I received a call from Ann Werner at work saying come to the hospital, I think Anne is dead.
When I arrived, they had Anne on a gurney with a tube down her throat pumping oxygen into her. They were preparing to take her for a CT scan. The scan showed that she had about 5% brain function left. She was brain dead.
Ann Werner and I told the doctor that Anne wanted to be an organ donor so they put her into a room to do tests to see if she was eligible.
At that time, when I was alone with her, I crawled into the bed with her to lie next to her one last time and talk to her.
After several hours Ann Werner decided to keep Anne on life support until the next day when her partner could fly in from Reno to say goodbye. That is why her death certificate lists her death as the 26th.
I did not come back to the hospital to watch them "pull the plug" on Anne as I wanted my last memory of her to be "still breathing".
It was the saddest day of my life.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dear Lucy,
Every day I receive this daily Dharma and this one hit home:

September 24, 2009
Tricycle's Daily Dharma

The Lion's Roar

We each need to make our lion's roar—to persevere with unshakable courage when faced with all manner of doubts and sorrows and fears—to declare our right to awaken. We need to take the one seat, as the Buddha did, and completely face what is true about this life. Make no mistake about this, it is not easy. It can take the courage of a lion or a lioness, especially when we are asked to sit with the depth of our pain or fear.

–Jack Kornfield, from “Take the One Seat,” Tricycle, Summer 1993

I think this is what I needed to do when I quit my job and "ran away from home". Anne and I had been together for 17 years. Prior to that, I was with Cathy for 7 years. There really was no time in between (and that's another story).
I had been married for the last 24 years of my life so when Anne died, I didn't know if I even had it in me to face the real grit of life alone.
Taking off, especially to San Francisco where I stayed in hostels for 24 days and wandered the city alone and even went to Oakland to that concert alone, clicked for me.
I still had the courage to be free and to face the unknown on my own and to even have fun. I could stretch without snapping. I could play without a playmate.
Now that I know this, I feel very settled in my soul again. Oh, I will wander off some more I am sure, because I can and it feeds my spirit somehow.
But I don't have to run next time. I can walk away knowing that I will come home; wherever home is or will be.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dear Lucy,
As I think on about the feelings one goes through when dealing with a death, I think about the initial shock.
I don't recall going through as much shock over Anne's death as I did when my sister Nancy died. She had killed herself.
I was with my partner Cathy living in the Bay Area at the time. It was 1991. Because she got home from work before I, she had the lovely job of telling me the news.
I remember her calling me at work and asking to talk to Anne who was there giving me a ride home as my car was in the shop. Cathy wanted to know if I knew about it yet and told Anne. I have to say, Anne hid it from me very well.
The shock was like what I imagine an out of body experience is like. Maybe more like having fallen so far back inside yourself that sound is muffled and garbled. Everyone seems so far away even as they sit before you. And faces look monsterous. Smiles look demonic and frowns clownish. You have tunnel vision. You can't tell if you are breathing or not. You can't form the words or the screams of anguish to let them out. You just scream inside, alone and unheard.
You are drowning in your own freakish world and nobody can help you. In fact, their attempts seem to only send you further down, like quicksand.
You know because you see it, that people are holding your hand or hugging you, but you can't feel it.
You are surrounded by people and utterly and entirely alone...


Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Dear Lucy,
I have been toying with the idea of using parts of this blog to write a book for lesbians (and others of course I am all inclusive) on grieving the loss of your mate.
So, I wrote this as a rough draft start:

The books all tell you that denial is the first step in the grieving process.
It is the brain trying to wrap itself around the fact that the person who has been the single most important human being in your life heretofore is gone and will never come back. Ever. NEVER EVER.
But that is a dictionary definition. Here is the real one:

Denial is expecting her to walk through that front door and flash a big grin at you and say “Hiya sweet cheeks” like she's done for the last 16 years and she doesn’t and you get that pang of worry in your gut thinking something is wrong for her not to be home, until reality says, “she’s dead” and you remember for a while and then an hour later, find yourself staring at the door again waiting for her to come home.

Denial is expecting a phone call from her at any minute while you are at work and the hours and days, and weeks and months go by and you still half expect to get one and every time the phone rings you look at the caller ID fully expecting her name to be there.

Denial is rolling over in bed in the middle of the night expecting your arm to fall gently to rest on her and having it fall completely and utterly to the bed and then waking up and looking over to find her not there and thinking for a brief second that she is up getting something to drink or going to the bathroom. Until reality says, “she’s dead”, and now you can’t get back to sleep or even stay in bed and get up to sit alone on the couch and get angry and depressed and cry until it’s time to get up for work.

Denial is sitting in a burger joint a year after she’s died and having to pick the crunchiest French fries for yourself because she isn’t there fishing them out for you because she knows you like them the best, and she’s been doing that without even thinking about it for 16 years, and you start to cry and have to stop eating and leave.

Denial is strolling down the ice cream aisle of the grocery store and staring at the Haggen Das Vanilla Swiss Almond container for 5 minutes because that was her favorite ice cream and you know you will never eat it again because the memory is just too painful.

Denial is taking your wedding ring off eleven months Stafter she’s died, only to put it back on again because you are not ready to concede defeat.

Denial is that creature that lurks in memories long forgotten, and so deeply imbedded in you that it has become part of your DNA, waiting to creep up and snag you when you least expect it with a memory that is so delightful and feels so good you want to wrap yourself in it and stay there forever and then reality says, “She’s dead and this is the past and you have to move on”.

Denial is fishing out that lock of hair you felt goulish for cutting off her head as she lay dead in the hospital bed and getting cold, and thanking God you had the guts to do it, and holding it and looking at it, and remembering how you had always hated the fact that she was older than you and never got more than a few streaks of gray while you, long ago got to the point of only having a few streaks of brown.

Denial is digging that smelly t-shirt of hers that you took out of the dirty clothes hamper the day she died, out of the bag you keep it in, and wrapping your face in it to remember her scent, and finally feeling comfort again for a few minutes, and having reality set in and say, “she’s dead. You will have to put the t-shirt away for another day and move on”.


Home Again

Dear Lucy,
Boy did you scream and howl and cry and squeak and wiggle and run in circles when I got home. And then this morning when you came into the living room and saw me and realized that you had forgotten that I was home, you nearly did the same thing all over again.
Suzie and I talked and laughed and gossiped for hours when I got home yesterday and so between that and just being home, my body hit a wall and I went to bed and slept until noon today. The only thing that got me out of bed was the "I need coffee" headache I was beginning to get.
I sat on the couch with my coffee--just how I like it, not the stuff of hostels made of dirty socks--and it was so quiet and peaceful, all I could hear was the birds arguing outside (arguing like birds not like Ralph and Alice Cramden, "to the moon Alice!"), and the wind chime and a train whistle far off in the distance.
Bellingham is peaceful and calm and green and beautiful and death to a writer who needs to be shocked and startled and edgy, to get the muse going. I hope that now that I have primed the muse, she will stay primed for a while in this peaceful place and get some work done.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Heading Home

Dear Lucy,
It is Monday morning and I am sitting in the common room of the hostel, blogging and reading emails and just killing time until I have to head to the Oakland airport for my flight home.

It will be nice to get out of the hostel world where privacy is out of the question, everyone is very young and has a foreign accent and is coming from or going to someplace exotic.

I feel very good that I have accomplished what I set out to and even more as I have had the great blessing of having my ex, Cathy back in my life as a new/old best friend.

I finished the research for the book that I needed to get it back on track, ate tons of great San Francisco food, wrote lots of poetry and blog entries, and came to the conclusion that while I love San Francisco and would come back and live here, it is not a priority.

So for those of you on my end and on Cathy's end who worried, wondered, expected that we would just get back together, you may breath a sigh of relief! We did have a few great laughs at your expense though, I must admit.

For me personally, I have always had to have an escape hatch. A way, place to run off to when the need came. Anne seemed to instinctually understand this and just knowing that she did and always encouraged me to "take off" if I needed to made being "settled" do-able for me.

Now, I have another escape hatch--San Francisco. Somehow, if I decided to move back, I would make it and I would like it. It would mean big changes and lots of sacrifice, but I know now that I still have the guts to go out on a limb and try new things even if they are scary, and having Cathy nearby would mean I would have one person in the area to go hang out and have a good laugh at life with. And, it is the people in our lives that matter more than anything, right?

So, it is good-bye to San Francisco for now and hello to autumn in Bellingham.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dear Lucy,
As I lie in my bunk on the 4th floor of the hostel last night sweating for all I was worth, I thanked God that I didn't have to worry about having a hot flash on top of all this.

I was really hot and sweaty as I had walked very briskly home from the concert in Oakland. There were dozens of people from the concert at the BART station, hundreds of people all over the place, so it didn't seem scary.

When I got off BART, I had about a 5 block uphill walk to the hostel and again though there were still lots of people out in the warm midnight, I still couldn't help but let my imagination run away from me a bit.

I imagined turning a corner and there suddenly being no one there. Like being alone in a dark alley. Then, as I finished my 360 degree turn to witness this, up pops Rod Steiger with the Twilight Zone music playing in the background and him with that look on his face. You know the one, the: "I have the business end of a toilet brush shoved up my ass, but you're not supposed to know it" look, as he mumbles about controlling my horizontal and vertical.

But, that didn't happen, mostly because I didn't buy any funny brownies at the concert!
I got home fine, crawled into bed, finally cooled off, and fell asleep to some very strange dreams.

Dear Lucy,

Went to the Bob Weir/Phil Lesh concert last night at the Fox Theater in Oakland. Bob Weir and Phil Lesh were guitar players in the Grateful Dead and are I guess, the post Grateful Dead. The concert was fabulous, but strange.

Deadheads, a microcosm of life that spent their years living in buses or cars and following Grateful Dead concerts all over the US, set up their wares to sell before concerts and it is usually as big a party as the concert. There was a remnant there outside the theater and walking through the crowd one could buy ANYTHING of a mind expanding nature. It was kind of mind blowing.

The Fox theater is an old building established in the 1920s with the old balconies and all the filigree on the ceilings and walls and gargoyles on the railings. Really gaudy and interesting. Strange place for a bunch of tie-dyed, pot-eyed hippies to go hang out.

My seat was in the balcony in row X, so you know that all the pot smoke wafted up my way. Didn't matter that I couldn't see the whites of the band members eyes as most everyone was standing up dancing anyway. The young ones. We oldsters danced the first couple of songs, each song lasting like, 15 minutes, and then we were resting!

I was amazed by the people around me. To my right was a family--literally. A husband and wife with thick New York accents and their 4 girls I am guessing their ages as 6, 8, 10, and 12, in their little tie-dye dresses sitting in seats a row in front of their pot-smoking parents who argued through the whole show in their New York accents.

I was busy being appalled that they brought their kids to a concert to be exposed to enough pot smoke to get all of Oakland high, until I spotted another couple a few rows down from me holding up a baby! A Baby! His head disappeared in the haze of pot smoke as they bounced him around.

Sitting directly to my left was a well dressed couple in their early 60's who looked like they should have been at the "Hello Dolly" play down the road. I figured his name had to be something like Lance as he sat their in his (think English snob accent) Ascot and argyle socks, his wife Buffy sitting next to him and tee-heeing as he likely twittered some amusing anecdote about himself and her at Nostrums over his million dollar cell phone. He never even bobbed his head to the music.

In the row in front of me was the quintessential "pretty boy and his sugar daddy". Pretty boy looked like a redheaded Tom Selleck and his "daddy" looked like the little English dude that played his boss in Magnum PI. Sonny was in a brand new tie-dye shirt obviously purchased by daddy, and he was smoking a joint the size of my leg. Daddy, in his well-pressed slacks and Polo shirt stood ramrod straight and stiff while Sonny danced madly and badly like stoned white guys do.

Pretty soon I realized that I was feeling kind of dizzy and forgot where my legs were, and had a monster thirst and a craving for a chocolate covered Oreo cookie dipped in warm bacon grease, and wondered how I would escape this place should a fire from all the lit joints occur.

Would I tip-toe politely past Lance and Buffy? Elbow my way through the "King of Queens" family? Or jump through Magnum PI and his statue Daddy?

Fortunately, thoughts don't last long in a place like that and I was back to listening to the music and wondering how I ended up in such a mad, surreal, unexpected place anyway?


Friday, September 18, 2009

Dear Lucy,
Whew that sun is out and just a baking the city to a crisp. Folks are walking around looking rung-out and befuddled and wondering how long this is going to last.
It won't last long, I can guarantee that. I shaved my legs this morning.

The minute the cosmic whoever that is in charge of all this sees me shaving my legs, the clarion call goes out to that old devil fog: The pasty white lady is shaving her legs and fixing to put on shorts. Send in the fog! Rev up the wind!
And, I don't mean to sound paranoid, but I think the fog just finds me and follows me around. It's like walking to another aisle in a bookstore when you have just passed gas (not that I do), and the gas just follows you like it is velcroed to your butt.

So, I am at the air conditioned library to do some work and by god I bet when I step out that door into the city, the fog will be back. And I will be in my long pants. And high-tops. With my long-sleeved shirt in my backpack. Just like the old days.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dear Lucy,
I am in Heaven. Sitting in the middle of the "Mission District" of San Francisco in a taqueria eating the best burrito on the planet, concocted before my very eyes by a short, plump, Mexican Mama with dancing brown eyes, who smiles knowingly when I tell her I want mild salsa.

She knows I am a gringo raised on German sausage and casseroles made of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup, limp noodles, canned tuna and topped with corn flakes, and that I didn't discover hot peppers until I was 5 and, eyeing them in the thick glass jar on the counter of Mr. Taco, popped one into my mouth and slipped into some taste-bud Hell where Satan himself stood laughing while I cried and choked and snotted into my mother's midwestern, Minnesota handkerchief.

The Corona bottle sweats as I take each tortilla chip and laden it with salsa and extra cilantro and pop it into my mouth while Sheryl Crow croons in my ear something about the sun setting over Santa Monica Boulevard and a woman walks through the door wearing a dress busier than all of San Francisco itself, laden with luggage and packages, toting worries and dreams and orders her lunch to go so she can wrestle it along with her too busy life, and I am the voyure in the corner peeking into people's lives as I try to lose my own in my now warm bottle of beer...

Dear Lucy,
I bought a new hat today. It was inevitable. They call to me like a drug.
Anyway, I guess I will have to go on living now, at least long enough to break the hat in.

Dear Lucy,
As I stand in the tunnel of the BART station awaiting my train, I can't help but wonder why anyone would go through all the trouble of committing suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge?
Taking all the necessary buses and doing the transfers, and walking half a mile through the throngs of goose-fleshed vacationers taking pictures and being wind-blown,to jump into the turgid freezing water, when one could just as easily take the escalator to the subway station where I stood and momentarily losing balance, fall to the tracks below where the much misunderstood and maligned "third rail" waited every moment of every day to be touched.
Then I am hit in the face by a gust of wind pushed through the tunnel by my oncoming train and I step in and go home to have a good cry and berate myself for being such a goddamn, fucking, coward.

Dear Lucy,
I was thinking the other day (I know, you are shocked by this) about how angry babies seem to be when they are born.
They come out all red and wrinkled and covered in slime and howling like the worst of all of life's punishment has been wrought upon them.
From their warm, safe, womb they are suddenly thrust into the blinding light; people handling them, weighing them, cleaning them, the noise deafening, the chaos frightening, their mother worlds away from them and they are naked and exposed and vulnerable, and shivering and looking for a nipple to latch on to.

And, we never change.


Giving up Hope

Dear Lucy,
I continue to read "When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times"
and continue to get a totally different view of life.
In the chapter titled, "Hopelessness and Death", (makes you want to jump right in and read, doesn't it?)it says:

"If we're willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the groundlessness of our situation."

Other books that I have read about death and loss leave the reader believing that this sudden feeling of groundlwssness is something to get over not something to become accustom to and, gasp, accepting of.

This book actually teaches that as one turns to the "dharma", the Budhist teachings, one begins to get the "knack of hopelessness".
Sounds like a major downer at face value. But it is really very freeing. It allows the human to be human without falling into despair. I think the despair comes when we are in the midst of this groundlessness, and think, believe, hope, that it will subside and life will make sense again. But when life begins to make too much sense, we become bored and restless.

I keep hoping that soon I will wake up in the morning and not think, "oh shit, another freaking day to muddle through", and then thanking God that He woke me up to the fact that I was just slip-sliding through life unaware, and now I am feeling everything again. Seeing everything again. Writing again. Taking chances again. Saying no to people again. Finding Kathy again.
I only hope I like her when we finally do meet.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tom and Jerry

Dear Lucy,
So as I walked along Market Street today, I stopped at a Carl's Jr. for a bite. There is a farmer's market going on outside and suddenly a fight breaks out between two drunk men.
The one, agressively charges at the other, and giving all he's got took a swing at the man, missing him by several miles, sending himself into a Tom and Jerry-esque spin whereupon he does the splits and lands flat on his back.
Two policemen zoomed quickly to the scene on their bicycles (really, they could have taken their time by now) to break up the fight as hords of passers by stand around regalling each other with their version of the scene, eyes glittering, arms flailing, grabbing their crotches and snorting in manly fashion.
And I wonder why I feel like my version of insanity is so accepted here?



Dear Lucy,
Living out of a suitcase is mad and impossible and pares you down to the essentials, giving you pause to wonder how and why we surround ourselves with all of the stuff-ness of living that has no intrinsic life?
Where is it that I am ultimately headed in this one life that demands I own all the trappings and entrapments that suffocate me under the auspices of comfortable and normal living?

As a child I thought I wanted safety and security for the rest of my life only to find that it is illusory at best and confining of the soul at worst. It demands no artistry, no stretching of the imagination.
What is this desire to nest and this rage to run? Is there no middle ground, the great, sighing, ahhhhh of life?

I thought it would be in the pastoral setting where cows graze and gaze upon you with their lovely brown eyes, and the whiney of horses, and the smells of alfalfa and new flowers and clean rain, and here I am in the city surrounded by car horns crying and engines chugging and builders hammering and chattering in Spanish and the incessant whine of the vacuum cleaner outside my doorm room door, and feeling more alive and at home than ever.

A woman can cry madly in this city, out in the open, snot pouring, eye-redening sobbing insanity, and not feel as though a soul is going to be bothered. Being unhinged, left of center, out of sorts, totally lost, is accepted. Not that I want to stay that way. I just want to be able to be that way for a while and rest from my struggle with sanity.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Haight Ashbury

Dear Lucy,
I finally got the time and energy to make my trek to Haight Ashbury. Had a great conversation with the bus driver on the way as he regaled me with stories about what it was like in the 60's and how it has changed. He was 10 during the "Summer of Love".
The neighborhood has changed considerably even since I lived in SF, there being more junky 60's trinket shops for the tourists. Even the Buffalo Exchange, a used clothing store I used to love going to is way smaller than it used to be, but there is now a Goodwill store there likely taking away business. But the Buffalo Exchange had way funkier clothes and was tons of fun to play at.
I bought a few patches (seems nobody sells those anymore)and had a monster ice cream snack at Ben and Jerry's on the corner.
Then I headed home while my bus transfer was still valid. It's $2.00 to ride the bus these days.
Here is a picture of my treat: A chocolate chip cookie with coffee ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream and toffe bits. I can't believe I ate the whole thing!