Dear Badfish, again (random memories)

  1. The Chart House restaurants in North San Diego County were a favorite eating place on vacation with my adopted family each fall.
  2. When I bought my house forty some years back, I picked it for its unusually large  piece of unincorporated city property, complete with corral and finished horse barn. It came with two Shetland Ponies, a great start to the idyllic Horse-Life I’d dreamed of. Country paradise smack dab in the middle of suburbia!! But 3 weeks after we moved in, my son’s father left us. He sold the ponies (and my Dalmatian Clancy) while 3 year old son and I were off gathering our wits for the next phase of our lives. I ended up boarding other people’s horses for years, throwing myself into two jobs and trying to finish a degree so I could start my practice. I had also picked this house because I could immediately see building my office and Group Therapy room in the unfinished basement. I had the same struggle we women all had back then, fighting the mom vs career battle and I wanted to work at home. 112_1248
  3. When trying to finish college, I waited tables at one of Seattle’s two Five Star restaurants, Henry’s Off Broadway. I got the job with zero experience, by barging onto the construction site and approaching the restaurant manager as the restaurant was still being built! He said he hired me for “my balls”. Hey, I was a young, desperate single mom and this place was just blocks from Antioch University. To fit everything in logistically, I needed a job either right next to home or to school, so apparently my ovaries turned into balls on the spot.
  4. I’ll never forget the John Denver concert at the Tacoma Dome, when we had just heard that one of our Board of Directors for INDEPTH (Institution for Developmental Education and Psychotherapy) had died. Buckminster Fuller was our most important supporter, and as it turned out, one of Denver’s closest friends. Mr. Denver could barely go on with his concert, all choked up. (One of my favorite quotes from Bucky was There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.)
  5. I would have done obscene things back in the day to cross paths with any of the Eagles. The closest I got was attending every concert I could, including one when I was 30, a Super Concert with The Eagles, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, and BONNIE RAITT!! An amazing birthday gift from friends!! And, I’m thanking the universe now that my family treated me to the Eagles History tour (again, in the Tacoma Dome) just 2 years ago, for another birthday. I will grieve for Glenn Frey for some time to 3photo 2photo 4
  6. I was a Hermit Crab thief. On a once-in-a-lifetime, non-touristy trip to Fiji, on an extremely remote, uninhabited island at the southern most tip of the Lau Group, I collected fifty of what I thought were uninhabited hermit crab shells, beautiful ones. I wanted to bring back a shell for each of my clients at the time. Normally, we would not collect anything off the many beaches we visited without that island’s Chief giving us permission (after the whole Kava drinking ceremony) but as I said, uninhabited. So I asked the Universe if I could take some shells and it said “Sure, why not?” What it didn’t tell me was how to know if my chosen shells were occupied. Nope. Didn’t discover that until later that night. Soundly sleeping in my beautiful stateroom aboard The Tau (means “friend”), a 90 foot yacht housing a crew of 5 and me, with my 6 best friends, I am awakened by this frantic scritching sound! FijiJust about all fifty of my “empty” shells, being stored in a bowl of fresh water, were scrambling to escape!!! Not to worry, unless you believe that Hermit Crabs are traumatized when you move them to a new beach. I gently placed all of them on the sand of the very next island we came to, with a sincere apology for their uprooting.(I’ve always struggled with anthropomorphism). And then our Fijian First Mate, Sefo, taught us how the natives find out if there is “anyone at home” in shells of all sizes. (They hold the shell close to their mouths and whistle. If someone is in there, they come right out to say HI.) I then successfully collected 50 empties!IMG_6309
  7. Cross Country Skiing- I learned in an idyllic circumstance. Imagine you are deeply, newly, psychotically in love…..with someone who lives as far across the country as you can get. (man, do I ever hate a long-distance relationship) BUT, he just happens to be in a location for 2 weeks that is a 12 hour drive from where you live. He is on the US Disabled Ski Team and West Yellowstone is their pre-Olympics Training Camp. He can’t get to me…he’s blind, so I decide to surprise him by showing up there. On our regular, nightly, blissful and painful phone call, I tell him to walk outside so we can be sort of standing under the same full moon. He dutifully (or romantically) walked out of his motel room, guide cane in one hand and phone in the other. I then scared the shit out of him by walking up to him to hug him! (I was not yet fully Blind Etiquette Trained.) It worked out though and we spent from midnight until the beautiful moon set/sunrise, with him teaching me how to ski the groomed trails he and his team practiced on all day. He already had them fairly well memorized, even though he skied with a sighted guide. Only surprise were the huge, and I mean HUGE buffaloes that apparently wandered across these same trails all night long. THAT was a bit less romantic.
  8. I married the guy, kind of, on the above mentioned Fiji trip, and we were together for 13 years, most of which I would not trade a minute of, including one spectacular, take-only-the-back-roads trip to his best friend’s wedding in Breckenridge. That’s the closest I got to your old stomping grounds. I loved my guy and I loved hanging with the US Disabled Ski Team for those years, a crazy, irreverent bunch with nicknames like Blinky, Wheelie, Stumpy, and Flipper (this last, a Thalidomide baby with birth defect shrunken arms that just flipped around). Ski Team (2)
  9. There should be a law against, and an immediate consequence (Karma takes way to long and is less satisfying to the injured parties) for certain kinds of marital cheating; like doing it with someone you know, especially someone close to you, or using any of your territory or equipment (your bed or vehicle), or right under your nose, etc. In my case, it was with a former client of mine who was now a client of HIS…definitely the biggest No-No in my profession! Can I pick ’em or what?!? Yeah yeah, I got the lessons part and all but shouldn’t I be able to choose (on purpose, that is) which classes to sign up for???
  10. And that brings me Back to the Eagles–Don Henley in particular (along with Lynch and Winding)…one of my favorite healing songs is “My Thanksgiving”. My favorite line is “sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge”.

Oh and Badfish, I’ll see your Ted Bundy and raise you with a Charlie Manson. (That whole thing was happening less than a mile from where I brought my sweet baby boy home from the hospital.)

And there you have it, at least until you write the next chapter of your memoirs, to trigger the next bunch of memories for me!!

PS I forgot San Diego, which I already wrote about, and your Om T-shirt!


This is a handmade cloth paperweight.

If you have not visited  it’s one of my favorites, a visual treat and a fascinating journey!

Time-WARNING to young women: rated R for terror

Time sped by this week. Time’s up tomorrow for posting on TIME. I had to work up my nerve all week. This will undoubtedly be one of my most frightening posts ever….(really scary for me but terrifying for women under 50 or so…)

I saw the actress Ali McGraw a few years back, maybe on Oprah, maybe along with Jane Fonda and Diane Keaton. The topic was beautiful older women (or over 60 women).

Ali McGraw said she had a secret to keep her face looking young. I’m sure the women watching expected surgical tips or miracle face creams but no. She lifted up her hair and pulled out this weird apparatus that was hidden there. As she slowly removed it, her face sagged more and more. With the faked tightness gone she looked much more her age, maybe older.

The women on stage with her were stunned into silence. It was a dramatic and pretty amazing difference. (It reminded me of childhood when an aunt who would brush my hair into a pony tail so tight, she would tell me, in her well-intentioned way, that I looked like a China doll.)

After a moment, a recovered, non-plussed Oprah said she thought Ali’s action was one of the most “generous” things she had ever seen a woman do.

I hope you see my personal photo sharing as “generous” and not egotistical or even worse, self-pitying. I didn’t think I was even mildly attractive until I was fifty!

ABOVE–Me at thirty, forty, fifty and fifty-five



Then the phrase the ravages of time comes to mind…..



I do not know what happened to the TIME. I do not recognize who this person above is. I don’t know what some of these body parts even are!

(Judy Collins singing in the background here…Who knows where the time goes…)

Here I go. I’m gonna push “publish” now Karuna!

The Choice

Here is a disclaimer of sorts that I wrote when I was new at this blogging thing. (That’s a joke by the way as I am still incredibly new at this…)


Black and White, Light and Dark

I can tell a lot about my mood and general state of mind simply by what I choose to write about. I am absolutely blessed to have had a big enough range of experiences now (at 67 years old) that I can see how trauma and chaos will inevitably be balanced by joy and peace….if I can just wait long enough.

This is a disclaimer for my readers (all 4 or 5 of you now) so you can decide what you are in the mood for reading should you choose to check out my Blog on any given day.

Life has given me two very distinct kinds of experiences and I need to write about both….Consider yourself warned.

Thanks for reading either.



I’ve included it here again because I want to share a darker story. Thanks in advance for reading this.

Her name is Sraddha

September 2015

Some of us learn pretty young how to make “the choice”.

It doesn’t take more than one event. If a violent act happens to you or even in your presence, you can stay…or you can leave. And when you can’t depart physically, you simply learn how to leave your body.

If it happens early enough in your life, you get hardwired for it…this “choice”.

I learned about it, a toddler, still in my crib. I got so good at leaving, I could look down and see what was happening, but I never had to feel it again.

Everyone learns their own version of this “choice”, not always because of some ordeal. But if yours came the way mine did, this ability to choose is not a bad skill to refine and practice. You must train yourself to use it ONLY by choice. You can’t let it control you, and believe me, it will. You must master it or you will use it to trash your most important relationships and you could walk through your life an enormous bundle of PTSD symptoms.

Ugly words will get attributed to your skill…”she can be so cold and distant” but you know exactly what you are doing…and why.

I’m glad now I developed this skill. In my professional life as a Psychotherapist, I can decide to never allow my feelings to be more important than those of my clients’. I can choose to be unconditionally present for them, even if their story is very close to my own.

But here’s the thing…You never get perfect at it. Sometimes things happen so fast, the Choice moment will slip right by, unnoticed.

That’s what happened just 21 days ago, on September 29th, the day before our long-planned dream vacation.

Let me go back there now, just to confirm for myself that I had a choice.

James and I are waiting at an intersection, the first car behind a metro bus. I’m driving. He is the passenger. The sound comes first, loud enough for me to look out to my left, expecting to see a car barreling toward us. Then, from my vantage point, I see a huge spray of sparkling glass, taller than the bus. From his side of the car, he sees what I would never recover from witnessing….a car, hit head on and pushed up onto the sidewalk…into several waiting pedestrians. James is out of the car in an instant to see who he can help. My emergency training kicks in…I put on the car’s flashers, turn off engine, grab my phone, and am out of the car, dialing 911…all in seconds.

But those same seconds are an eternity for the young mother who is pulling her toddler out of her completely crushed stroller….

As happens in emergencies, time loses all meaning so hours or maybe nanoseconds are flying by. The Mother is cradling her baby and wailing while she is frantically dialing the phone, again and again and again, reaching no one. She is clearly alone.

Having coached high risk childbirths for more than 30 years, I’ve seen way too many dead babies so I know her child is already gone. The first policeman on the scene knows it too, although he is performing CPR as if this is his own child. The firemen and the EMT’s who are arriving also know this little girl is dead.

But the Mom does not know yet.

This is where I give up my choice to protect myself. I can’t bear her being alone with this and though she never even knows it, I am standing with her. I plant myself right behind her as the CPR performing cop finally gives in to the truth. I stay here when the head EMT orders his team to move on to check for other victims. I remain while she is dialing her phone again. I am still here when her baby is covered with that awful death blanket. I am present when one cop tells everyone who is not hurt to move on but I say “No, I’m staying. She is alone here”. He thanks me. And I am here some infinite number of minutes later, when another cop is asking me if I saw the actual impact. When I say no, he tells me I now have to leave as this might be a crime scene. I don’t remember the walk back to the car.  I am still with that young mother.

As I am writing this, I realize I don’t know the ending. I could talk about how, afterwards, instead of finishing packing for our vacation, I frantically searched for more information on that mother, just so I could tell her she was not alone….that I had seen her daughter there. And that her baby girl did not have to make any Choice, to feel or not to. She was gone the instant that car smashed into her.

Or I could write how on the first days of our long awaited trip, I felt jerked back and forth between the sweet time we should be having and the auditory memories of the crash and that mother’s cries of anguish. Or I could describe the very kind detective who had to interview us by phone, apologizing for disturbing our beautiful train ride down to San Diego.

When you do not make the choice to protect yourself, whatever the horrendous event is, it happens to you also. I was that baby girl. I am that mother. And now, I need to recover also. All of us who were there that day need to grieve.

Then I remembered…I might be writing this story for more than just my own processing. I might want to share it, but I need a focus. I thought of the Moth Story Slam (open mic Story Telling competitions). The topic next month is “Guts”, but in re-reading this, I could not find anything that required guts on my part. Not switching into emergency mode…years of practice with that. Not standing with that Mother while the horrifying truth dawned on her. That was primal and any other mother would have done the same. It took no courage to take a huge bouquet of flowers back to the busy accident intersection later in the day. That was actually comforting to find a couple of others others had the same thought. A few flowers, some stuffed animals and a toy. A small sweet tribute to that small girl and her family.

But now, we’ve been home from our vacation for 3 days. Though the fateful intersection is on my regular driving trail, I have successfully dodged that corner…until today while out running errands.

So…I pulled off the road and gave myself a good talking to. I decided to find the “guts” to go there. You can handle it I told myself. They had, of course, cleaned up the glass and all that blood on the first day so what was I afraid of seeing?

Then I realized my biggest fear. What if there was no trace of the event, that sweet toddler and her devastated family already forgotten?

Finding the courage to do something like this can cost you such a painful flashback. Or it can pay off big time.

It is three weeks later and here’s what I found there.







Various news stories:

(don’t know how to transfer this picture…)


Isabella Sturm, 4, tapes a drawing she made to a memorial wall at the corner where a 28-month-old toddler was killed when a two-car accident sent one of the vehicles over a curb and into her stroller. Isabella and her mother, Meghan, had been at the same corner only 5 minutes before the fatal accident.


From KIRO news…..When 2 year old Sraddha Panchakarla her mother Bhavya went for a walk on their Bellevue sidewalk Thursday morning, a violent collision between an SUV and a car would change their lives in an instant.

The impact sent the car onto the sidewalk, over the spot where Sraddha was riding in a stroller.

“Nobody imagined it that would happen this way,” said family friend Kishor Vadla. “They were just trying to cross this road.”

Vadla told KIRO 7 that Sraddha, an only child, was killed instantly. He said her parents were new to the U.S, having moved to Bellevue from India four months ago.

Siva Kumar is trying to comfort his friends who have been through the unthinkable.

“I can’t believe a daughter dying in the hands of her mother. That is the most saddest part no one should ever expect,” said Kumar.

Bellevue police say the toddler and her mother were on the sidewalk waiting to cross Bel-Red Road at 140th Ave Northeast. Bellevue police say two vehicles crashed in the intersection.

According to investigators, a Dodge Durango was heading southbound and a Nissan Sentra was heading northbound.

Police said on Wednesday the Sentra had a blinking yellow arrow, failed to yield, and turned in the Durango’s path. The vehicles then collided.

The Sentra left the road and went onto the sidewalk, hitting the stroller with the toddler inside.

Witnesses rushed to help the little girl and her mother. The first police officer gave the little girl CPR but her injuries were too severe to survive, according to police. The toddler’s 25-year-old mother was taken to the hospital to be treated for distress.

Bellevue police investigators spent hours talking to witnesses and taking measurements to find out what caused the crash. The drivers of both cars had minor injuries and were also taken to a hospital.

“This really seems to be, at this point, a horrible, tragic accident,” Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett said.

Tuesday night, as the memorial to little Sraddha grew, Vadla said the world lost an extremely smart little girl.

“She’s very bright, though she’s just two-and-a-half years old,” he said. “She speaks very fluently and you know she tells all the rhymes and all, though she’s just two-and-a-half years old, she is very bright, she’s very sharp.”

Now, Sraddha’s parents are surrounded by a community who wishes it could do more.

“We are all standing to support him financially, morally, (that) kind of thing,” Vadla said. “But loss is loss for him. Nobody can return that.”

A fundraising site for the family raised more than $20,000 in 17 hours.

Friends said Wednesday there was enough money to cover travel costs, so they shut down the GoFundMe account.

The family will take Sraddha back to India as soon as possible.


Update: The flower wall in Sraddha’s honor grew and grew and remained right there for almost 3 months, apparently unprecedented in our area.