“Where is he?”

“In the hideout.”

“Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhrrrgggrhhhh!!! We’re going to get you this time Butch Cassidy (or someone).” Run, run, run, run, run, run across the pasture to a hole we’d all dug. And there he was, of course, in the hideout.

“Bang, bang, bang!” Wooden guns or fingers. Nothing draws faster than fingers.

“You can’t get me!” Up out of the hole. Run, run, run, run, run, run across the pasture to an unanticipated destination (behind the chicken house? Behind the cottonwood tree? Behind the COW for godsakes?)

“Get ‘im!” Run, run, run, run, run, run across the pasture.

“OW! WAAAAaaaaaa!”

“What happened?”

“I got a nail in my knee!”

“Uh oh.” War over. Cousin on one side, cousin on the other, brother behind. “We better go to gramma’s.”

Hobble, hobble, hobble, across the pasture. Blood streaming down my leg.


Dad comes out. Practically faints. “We have to clean that right now or she’ll get lockjaw.”

“She’s had the DPT, Bill.”

“Infection then.”

“What’s lockjaw?” Suddenly the mortal wound — quite bloody and fairly deep — doesn’t matter as much as this strange word. “Lock+jaw.”

“Tetanus, honey. Put your leg under the water.” I sit on the edge of my gramma’s old bathtub. “The hotter the water the better. Remember, there are no antiseptics better than lots of hot water and soap.” Truth.

“What’s lockjaw?”

“It’s a terrible disease where your jaws lock shut and you can’t eat and you can’t drink and you die. Put your knee UNDER the running water, dammit! Do you want to die?”

My dad was never chintzy with consequences.


In and Of Itself; Glitter and Existence


Among the weird things my parents used to say was “all that glitters is not gold.” There’s a lot of befuddlement in that phrase. First the structure of the sentence is weird (if you’re 5 and new to the language). And glitter? Any five year old KNOWS that glitter is cool stuff you put on paper and sometimes it is gold, sometimes it’s red, silver or blue (which makes no sense, either).

I think there is more or less raven in all of us — some of us have a lot of raven and want all kinds of glittery gold stuff in our nest. Old 45 has a pronounced raven streak (not to dis ravens, I love ravens — they’re intelligent, humorous, loyal and create good communities; they can even learn to talk and I think they make up their own sentences). I have very little raven in me. I don’t get the point of glittery things but glitter itself?

It’s fun to paint with. Especially snow. Snow with glitter is more like snow than snow without glitter. Why? Because snow is glittery… The picture above is an experiment. Night over snow on sand dunes. Yeah, it’s a thing that happens here. I didn’t know what it was going to be when I started. It was phase one in a mail art project some friends and I did this fall/winter.

So what if “all that glitters is not gold”? What’s wrong with glitter in and of itself? Just one of the deep existential questions that plague me all the time.


Heaven’s Interview


IF there is a Heaven and IF I get there and IF there’s a Saint Peter standing there holding the keys and IF he asks, “How was it, sweet cheeks?”

I’ll probably just say, “It was a big blur.”



“No high points?”

“Lots of them, but over all, a blur. It went by too fast to focus.”

“Did you like it?”

“Most of the time I liked it a lot.”

“What did you like best?”

“Mountains. I think I liked mountains most of all. And Switzerland. I loved Switzerland. Is there anything like that here?”

“I have to file a report. Did you bring all those journals?”

“No, don’t be silly, St. Peter. I threw them out years ago.”

“Oh my. Why do you think we inspired you to write them?”

“I dunno. I didn’t want them read after I was dead. That’s catchy. Eminem up here?”

“Stay on topic.”

“I liked it. You know yourself how many times I was slated to eject and fought my way back.”

“That’s true.”

“Some things were disappointing but as my mom used to say — is she here? If she is, do I have to see her?”

“What did your mom used to say?”

“‘I never promised you a rose garden’. But it actually WAS a rose garden. That’s a great metaphor. Beautiful flowers, but not all the time, some pretty bleak seasons when there were no leaves, nothing but thorns and dried up spindly branches. In fact, the rose outside my house in Monte Vista is the perfect rose for this conversation.”

“That’s good enough. And no, you don’t have to see your mother. This is Heaven, remember? But you might want to. You might want to let her tell you she’s sorry.”

“I don’t know, St. Peter. Would she mean it?”

“This is Heaven, I told you, a lot of stuff makes sense up here that didn’t down there. That’s why we always ask ‘How was it?’ You get the chance to think about it, kind of draw up a concise summary, then you come in and, in time, which doesn’t exist here by the way, the thorns and spindly branches show their true nature.”

“Ah, the ‘Dragon Princess‘ thing, right?”

“Pretty much. The difference is that down there the dragon is usually confused and sometimes faithless. Up here, the dragon has the opportunity to see things as they really are and faith isn’t a question anymore. It’s different. It’s Heaven, as I keep reminding you.”

“So she’s here.”

“Yeah, on that cloud, just inside the gate.”

“Oh well. I was warned by a meme on Facebook that the first person I’d see when I died would be my mother.”

“Here are some friends that will keep you company. It’ll be fine.”

“Now I believe it’s Heaven! Hi guys! I missed you!”




Why would a President Hold a Rally?


Terrifying: “I will always be with you.”

“I am here because I want to be among my friends and among the people,” Trump said to open his rally. “This was a great movement, a movement like has never been seen before in our country or before anywhere else, this was a truly great movement and I want to be here with you and I will always be with you.”

The fucker has “followers.”


“People want to take back control of their countries and they want to take back control of their lives and the lives of their family. The nation state remains the best model for human happiness,” Trump said.

Definitions from Webster’s…

Definition of nation–state: a form of political organization under which a relatively homogeneous people inhabits a sovereign state; especially: a state containing one as opposed to several nationalities

Definition of fascism
1: a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
2: a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control

To answer my question, I came up with two things. 1) to gather his followers in preparation for an all-out fascist takeover of the country. But…it’s Melbourne, Florida. 2) because things aren’t going so well for him as President so he’s reverting to wannabe fascist dictator.

Those are both awful.

Yesterday I listened to as much as I could bear of his egregious and seemingly endless press conference. I realized that if he did not repeat everything he says, it would have been 30 minutes long instead of 3 times that long.

He relentlessly attacked the media, demeaning and humiliating actual human beings attempting to do their jobs and who would, probably, like to write something nice about him. But rather than changing HIS approach to the press, he orders them to “be nice” to him and see how much better their lives are.

A sincere and articulate Jewish guy stood up and made a point to say he KNEW 45 is not anti-Semitic and then asked how 45 was going to respond to anti-semitism on the part of his followers. Fuck face NEVER answered that question. Instead he berated the young man who asked it.

It’s a question that needs to be answered. If a small city in Montana can stand up to anti-semitism why can’t the President of the United States answer the honest concerns of a Jewish guy?


I don’t think it’s news ( ha ha) to anyone that not everything written or said in the media is the truth, nor is everything complete. I read a lot of non-news every day. Much of it on both sides is written to inflame either by throwing up a marginally accurate headline, for example, ‘Psychological warfare’: immigrants in America held hostage by fear of raids when the real story (printed below the headline) informs the reader that there was a memo on which action is unlikely ever to be taken but some people are still scared.

I, personally, long ago realized that I exist in a world in which millions and millions of people who are not like me also exist. I have always found this fact tremendously exciting. Rather than wanting LESS of that, I want MORE of that. I’m surrounded by people who voted for 45 and they’re good people. Their reasons are multifarious — everything from “I always vote Republican” to “I hate Hillary” to “I love this man” — and godnose what else.

I’m disgusted by the situation in which I find myself without having chosen it, without approving of it, without liking it or believing in it. Up until now I’ve been able to say, “OK, that guy is going to do the job he’s supposed to do. I’ll just go about my business,” but I’m finding that impossible now.

I am also disturbed by the raised fist. It has meant many things throughout history, but one thing has remained consistent — it signifies solidarity with a group of people. I listened to some of the rally and then the stuff afterward — arguments between the Resist people and 45’s supporters. I had the distinct impression that the followers were very eager to rally behind a leader. Why does that bother me?

I was raised that there are no leaders who are above our conscience. Consult conscience first. A healthy conscience is centered on the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Would I want to be rounded up and sent away from what I consider my home and/or sanctuary if I have committed no crime? No, I would not. The people from whom I am descended experienced just that treatment in Switzerland between the 16th and 18th centuries simply because they refused to put the state before their conscience, to take oaths or to take up arms. I think many of us in the United States could look back on a similar story early in our family’s history.


Hearing this yesterday was sickening, “As beautiful as it looks, it’s 30-years-old — can you believe it?” Trump said while examining the new Boeing Dreamliner. “What can look so beautiful at 30? An aeroplane.”

And that juvenile, demeaning and patronizing sexist remark was followed by a demonstration of 45’s ignorance of how, in fact, an airplane is put together in these Global times, his consummate unawareness that parts made in the USA are also going on foreign made airplanes. Stupid fuck.


Would someone please wake me up from this terrible dream?
Caveat: You can be a supporter of 45 and take major umbrage at all I’ve said here. I don’t want to hear about it. I’m going to do just what he does and say, “No. Sit down.” I’m not interested in debating anything.



I’ve often heard, “It’s not as good in the translation,” and “It loses a lot in the translation.” I used to think, say, believe that, too. Now I’m not so sure. Certainly some things do — the great, immortal Chinese poem, “水,山,云,天” for example, is really stupid in English. It’s the relation between the ideograms and the words they represent and the natural landscape that makes the poem. In English it’s just, “Water. Mountain. Cloud. Heaven.” God’s to-do list?

Goethe, as an old man, received a book of poetry in French and gave it to his assistant to read in the evenings. Goethe was very impressed by the poetry. His assistant said to him, “You don’t recognize it as your own?” Goethe was surprised, then said that it was changed by the other language, but not in any way diminished by it.

Goethe wrote a poem about translation, too. It essentially says that he picked a flower from the field while he was on a walk. The flower wilted in his hand, but when he got home, and put it in a glass of water, the flower was refreshed looked again as it had in the field. The flower was his work, the glass of water represented a different language.

I’m sorry I cannot put quotations here — I don’t have the books in which I read these things, and no one who’s posting their private Goethe online seems to have shared these interests.


Historical Fiction Matters

Good thoughts on the relevance of historical fiction. 🙂

Layered Pages

me-iiIt is no surprise I love historical fiction. I am a history enthusiast and there is nothing like escaping to the past and exploring how people lived long ago. We often find ourselves not so different from them. Or how history repeats itself in more ways than one. Historical Fiction Writers today bring those voices to life so we might share a bond with them or better yet, learn from them. There is so much we have inherited from them. Not only our cultures, religions, social norms and wanting acceptance but a deep feeling of survival and planting more roots for the future.

We must know history to understand and to grow. Knowledge is power. We must also study history so we may not to repeat past mistakes of our forbearers. Which we tend to do regardless. The human condition is extraordinary and an enigma.

Historical Fiction does matter.


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Passing Time at the Local Coffee House



“If you’re going to ‘Go Gonzo’, you have to find some novel you like and type it over a gazillion times until you find your own style. God forbid it’s War and Peace.”

“That doesn’t make sense,” I said.

“I agree. It doesn’t.”

“If I type someone elses’ novel over and over, I’m going to be really good at writing that novel.”

“Maybe, but I don’t think Capote would’ve called Hunter Thompson a typist.”

“He was definitely a writer, though he did have a typewriter.” I thought I was funny, but Peter didn’t.

“People make a lot of noise about his drug use, don’t they?”

“So dumb. It was the times. Remember your frantic phone searches back in the day for ‘Vitamin Q’?”

“You’re one to talk, Mr. Amyl Nitrate.”

“Oh yeah.” I laughed at the memory of us in a cavernous black-walled disco passing around a bottle of RUSH. “Oh and the movies!”

“Yeah, I think a lot of young people know Hunter Thompson through Johnny Depp and maybe some English teacher.”

“That’s a laugh, isn’t it? English teachers?”

“Fuck you.” We were, both of us, English teachers.

“Hey, there’s an Edith Wharton novel in progress. Look at those two.” The couple beside us was clearly in the throes of a late morning break up.

“Oh man, I’d never go back to that, would you?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

“Not a chance in hell.” Peter shuddered. Our young love had had enough drama for twenty people.

“Yeah, and they’re always saying, ‘You’d like to be young again, wouldn’t you?’”

“A lot of people would. You sure as hell would prefer walking without a cane, but…”

“Shhh. This is good.”

We drank our coffee and watched the sitcom at the table in front of us.


“If I have to explain it, you’ll never understand it.”

“Right. Yeah, I get that. If I understood you and all your deep and meaningful ideas and your precious fucking soul, we wouldn’t be breaking up right now, right? This is all because I don’t understand you. Look, I fucking understand you. I fucking understand that this is only scene one in this stupid ass drama you’re always staging. Once a month, at least. I could schedule it. Well, you know what?”


“I do understand you, and you’re just NOT all that interesting. Hot, yes. Interesting? No.”

Brakes squealed. Glass shattered against a light post. A woman screamed. The white-noise of predictable urban traffic came literally to a screeching halt. Only one car was in motion and it was the one that should not have been. A white Nissan.

“Did you see that?”

“Can’t you pay attention to me for once?”

“I think that guy’s been killed.” Mark dug around in his back pocket and pulled out a Bic pen. He spread his left hand, palm flat, scribbled for a second or two, then wrote.

“What are you doing?”

Peter was already running to the corner. I called 911. “Yeah. A cyclist. Hit. No. The driver left. Backed away from the light post he hit and took off down 6th. No I don’t know if it was a he. It could’ve been a she. We need an ambulance here, sweet-cheeks. Not some PC gender awareness interrogation. White Nissan. I didn’t get the plate number. Vanity plates, but no, I didn’t see it completely. There’s a heart.”

Passersby formed a circle around the body, each person hoping that what they saw on the street between head and helmet was not brains, but it was brains. Peter returned to our table, clearly shaken.

“My god,” he said. “Is it so difficult to look out your car window and see a cyclist about to make a LEGAL turn? Did you get the plate number?”

I shook my head. “Vanity plates. A heart. That’s all I saw.”

Sirens screamed all around. The ambulance finally arrived. EMTs pushed the circle of protectors away from the body and lifted it onto a stretcher. Some of the spectators were so shaken they had to be helped back to the sidewalk, safe from the random horror show of life. The ambulance pulled away, no sirens, no lights. Death was no one’s emergency. Fire fighters attached a hose to the hydrant and blasted the brains down the storm drain below the painted a blue dolphin and the words “We live downstream.”

“That’s what you don’t understand,” Mark said, sighing, looking at his hand. “Any minute, any day, any time that could be me or you with our brains splattered on 6th and University, circled by strangers, and some old fag calling 911.”

“It’s not nice to call people fags, Mark.”

“OK look, honey. I was making a point. That guy’s dead. He got up this morning, god knows what happened between here and then — maybe he had a fight with his girlfriend, too, or given the neighborhood…”

“There you go again, gay-bashing.”

“I’m NOT fucking gay-bashing. Why do you keep changing the subject? Wait, I get it. You can’t handle the truth. That’s it.”  Mark — the young man — turned around to us and said, “You guys are gay, right? You’re a couple, right?”

“Yes,” said Peter. “Going on — what? Thirty-five years.”

“There, Jessica. They are fags.”

“That’s right, sweetie,” I called out over Peter’s now bald head. “We’re fags.” I looked at Peter. God he’d been a beautiful young man, this great love of my life.

When the police came by asking questions, the young man — Mark — showed his hand.

“This is the license plate.”

“Seriously? Do Me <3?”


“What was the make and model of the car?”

“Nissan. Sentra. Maybe two years old. White.”

“Anything else you remember?”

As the police talked to her boyfriend, the events seemed to finally register in Jessica’s self-absorbed little brain and she began to cry. Mark reached for her hand, leaned forward and whispered in her ear. They stood and prepared to go.

“Sorry for bashing on you guys,” said Mark. “She can be hard to talk to sometimes.” He shook our hands.
“No worries,” said Peter.

As they walked away I wondered how this smart young guy could take that girl seriously. She was wearing sweatpants with the word “Juicy” silk-screened in glitter across her ass. Peter and I sat together for a few more hours then decided it was time to go to Whole Foods. Peter helped me up from my chair.

“C’mon, cowboy,” he said.


I wrote this story in response to a prompt 3 years ago.


Needs Good Knees


I was daunted at the prospect of using the Chinese toilet, but time taught me that squat toilets are more hygienic and far easier to clean than ours. The thing is, a person needs to be able to squat.

Back then (maybe still?) a person needed to carry his/her own toilet paper, 卫生纸, pronounce “wei shung zhi”, the first two characters being the word for “toilet.” I lived in China 10 months without knowing how to say those characters, only how to read them.

This style of toilet is pretty common throughout the world — I encountered them at the Miramare Castle in Trieste, Italy.


Lamont and Dude Reminisce; to Live and Die in L.A. 10,000 Years Ago



“I was wondering, Lamont, what’s the scariest sound you remember hearing?”

“Earthquake. Big mofo of an earthquake. Thunder where it is absolutely NOT supposed to be.”

“Oh yeah.”

“The earth split open as if it were a cartoon or something, you know? None of this incremental basin and range stuff. It was the real deal.”

“Where were you?”

“We! You don’t remember much, do you, Dude.”

“Probably being hit in the head by a surfboard so many times. Where were we?”


“Both of us?”


“Did we get out?”


March for Science


I’m going to be Marching for Science on April 22. I’m looking forward to it very much. My only other “demonstration” was the first Earth Day back in 1970

This time I’m marching for science, in memory of my dad who was a scientist, and as an homage to that moment, that girl, that day and all that my friend, the Earth, has given me since (pretty much everything).

I came up with a poster that I’ve put up for sale in my Etsy shop. Proceeds will go to the march in Colorado Springs which got a late start fund-raising because the national organization had some hiccups and burps along the way. The poster doesn’t mention any city so anyone could carry it anywhere. So, if you’re marching and like this poster, go ahead and order one. I’ll be very grateful!