Dark Chapter

52 chapters/stories for my book…that’s how many I have written but the rape chapter is the hardest.

I started out being kind of namby-pamby about it. That’s the feedback I got from my mentor/auntie, an author I deeply respect. She said “Kathie, you have to remove the sugar coating and tell us what actually happened.”

It took many years, but I finally did what she asked, leaving out no disturbing detail. To that version, she responded with “Well, maybe not THAT detailed!”

So I am trying a completely different approach this time.

I am house-sitting for dear friends as I write this. I am in a situation I rarely put myself in…alone for days (and worse, nights) in an unfamiliar house, in a very remote setting. I did all the things that for me are normal when I am in any new place… checked out all conceivable exits…found the quickest routes away from the house, noticing fast exit dangers, like locked gates, stuff to trip over, etc.….discovered any weaknesses in normal security (windows, door locks) and tested how they all sound. And I found the best hiding places inside the house in case escape is not an option.

It’s a pain in the butt to be me.

The point of telling you this is that even though I have done a shitload of therapy and healing work on having been raped, one result remains the same. I live my life differently than most people.

Here’s the opening I wrote when my mentor requested a more “detailed version”, but I edited it in this draft to honor her feedback to not be THAT detailed….

If I do ever get this chapter on paper the way I want it, I will keep my original title.

What I want to know is would you want to read a story that starts like this???

“Being Raped”

Being Raped has to be the title of this chapter. The odd tense of the word “being” implies a current circumstance that captures the experience, as if describing a state of being rather than an action.

That’s why it’s perfect.

In an instant, an event like this can become the definition of WHO you are. There is a part of the act, the trauma, the experience that continues in your body, your psyche, your mind, and your heart…as if it is in fact, still happening right now, always in the present tense.

If you have been raped, the incident just goes on and on and on, granted less loudly with time. But for you, intrusion, in any form will shock your body right back awake, no matter how far into the back of your Secret’s Closet you’ve shoved that rape, hoping to keep it fast asleep.

This will be true for the rest of your life…no matter how much therapeutic work you do. No matter how deeply you are able to heal.

You will never not know the terror of being awakened with a knife at your throat.

You will never not remember the feeling of being held down in your own bed by two men.

And you will never forget the popping sound of a gun being fired, RIGHT BY YOUR HEAD, in the middle of this surprisingly quiet chaos… rousing the thought that though you may survive this knife, you still might end up getting shot!

All comments welcome! Thank you.

Trees-for Marilyn

I love trees. They have played such an important role in my life, starting at 5 years old when my new Dad bought a tree that was exactly same height as me so I could watch it grow all through my childhood.

I loved that tree…a Star Pine…and as it grew, I played in its shade, building miniature forts out of natural debris. When it quintupled its size, I climbed up in it to check out the view of the ocean over the top of our house or to just read a book where it was quiet. That tree was my secret hiding place during many childhood dramas (and traumas).

I seriously bond with trees. I was lucky enough to have made several trips to the Redwood Forest as a kid, where I met and still remember this one particular tree that I visited several more times in my life. It was not one of the tourist trees…this one was mine.

Not that you can actually own a tree……..

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk (where I am writing this right now) on a perfectly calm, sunny day. No wind, no rain storm, no earthquakes. Nothing. Perfectly peaceful.

I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. Then, came the sound. Sickeningly familiar. I’ve heard it before, but thank god, only a few times in my life…like when the snow load on a tree is just too heavy. Craaack. From my desk I can see my two favorite trees, very mature Ornamental Flowering Plum trees, and I watched helplessly as a huge limb on one of them slowly cracked and slowly split apart. It slowly fell onto the “Baby Bird”. (That’s what we call the 57 T-Bird that lives at our house while her owner is abroad. We are trying to sell her.)


What I can see from the window by my desk (board put there in a desperate attempt to hold the branch off the car)

I jumped up, ran out the back door, down the deck steps, and stopped short in the driveway as it hit me. What the hell was I going to do? Try to stop the several hundred pound limb from falling further???


Can’t see it in this photo but there is another car buried under there, nose to nose with the T-Bird

As I stood there, visually assessing, that awful cracking sound continued…quieter, but in short staccato bursts. I didn’t know if the whole tree was about to collapse or what! I could see that heavy limb was miraculously being held very slightly up off the Thunderbird by all the smaller branches that already reached the ground surrounding the car…like a purple cage of twigs and leaves.

But the continued cracking was a warning. If that branch came the rest of the way down, the Baby Bird might well be crushed.

Now, I panicked.

I’m always complaining (mostly playfully) about having to live with six men, but today, I was wishing for even one of them to be available. This felt like a Guy Emergency! I broke two cardinal rules. I interrupted my son Michael at work and James, at band practice!!

I just texted them each the above photo. They both came. I don’t know what I thought they could do though. Super James is getting older (finally) and younger, muscle-man Michael was hampered by some newly broken ribs. They were not going to be able to lift that limb either.

I also sent out an SOS on our neighborhood group email asking for all available youth and muscle to come to my house ASAP. Several of them came immediately. I love my neighbors!! Still not enough to lift it and besides it was getting really unsafe by now.

The most urgent dilemma was getting the Baby Bird out from under that limb in case it finished giving way. The obvious thing to do was to back the car out from under the potentially crushing tree…impossible to open the driver’s door but the passenger door not impossible. Here’s the thing though. James stores the car with its battery disconnected. There was absolutely NO getting that hood up to reconnect the battery. Below you can see him buried in the tree trying to lift it.


And even if we got it out, how much more of the tree would fall onto the Taurus, the car hidden nose to nose with the T-Bird??


the Taurus

OK, so tow it out of there, right? And hope the huge limb doesn’t scratch the Baby Bird or crush the Taurus when the Baby stops holding up its weight.

Well, towing a 1957 Thunderbird is not easy. Those suckers are heavy!! But James got it out with his 4Runner and miraculously, the smaller branches continued to hold the heavy limb up off the Taurus, gently resting on the ground.


The crisis with the cars was mostly averted, only purple streaks across their hoods and roofs. No scratches deep enough really to even damage the paint jobs. Amazing.

Then a potentially more serious problem showed up…


Look closely at the above photo and you can see a wire pulled down by the limb….uh oh….


I have been after the power company, the cable company and the phone company for years about the placement of their connections to my home, and a few years back the power company did finally come out. Not to change the location of their power pole, but to trim my trees just a bit…to keep their wire safe.

But now, to the left of this whole T-Bird vs Tree argument, there is a wire laying on the ground…and it goes all the way across the street to the main power pole for the whole neighborhood. My street is a long dead-end lane and there is rarely traffic on it except, of course, at this exact time of evening. Everyone is arriving home from work.

We are all standing around, no one 100% confident they know which kind of wire this is.

So I call the power company. I call the cable company. I even call the phone company although our landline is now through the cable. No one comes. They all say they will be there within 45 minutes. NO ONE SHOWS UP!! (Not for 36 hours!!!)

Finally, one knowledgeable (or just brave) neighbor pulls on the wire hard enough to lift up the slack that had lain on the street. Second crisis temporarily averted.

Except for the day and a half of no TV (only hard on the grandsons) and no internet for those adults in our house who work online, we (cars and all) survived the event just fine.

Now, the real trauma….

If you happen to follow the wonderful Marilyn Armstrong at Serendipity ( https://teepee12.com/ ), you know that she and her family had a horrific ‘nature tragedy” earlier this year, that terrorized her and nearly destroyed their trees. If you are not suseptable to nightmares, you can read about it here.


What I am about to tell you in no way compares to what they went through but I bring up Marilyn because I think she might understand my recent loss better than most.

Though it is a long and complicated story about why, basically here’s what happened next.


My beautiful trees are killed…



I can’t write any more right now. All I can think of is the countless birds associated with those gorgeous trees. Hummer nests. Blue Jays. Flickers. Woodpeckers. Nuthatches. Chickadees. And whole flocks of beautiful House Finches whose colors matched the tree! It’s where the Crows waited each morning for me to feed them. Sometimes the crows would talk to the hummingbirds there. And even the cute but irritating squirrels would steal the crow food and leap off the corner of the deck into the safety of those plum trees.

Here’s a slideshow in Memoriam…………

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I’m almost glad I don’t have any pictures of them blanketed in their full Spring Pink Glory….just that partial one at the very top…


This is my Therapy Room. If you had come to see me, you might have sat on this brown couch, positioned so you could look out that window…at my beautiful Flowering Plum Trees.

I guess I will be rearranging furniture soon.



Hair, for Marilyn (surface, my A_ _!)


These are all pictures I have already posted at one time or another but Marilyn, at Serendipity recently wrote such a delightful piece on her hair,


I am choosing to respond this way.

I have never considered myself particularly pretty. I came of age in the Sixties, with a backdrop of Hair, the Musical, and CSNY defending long hair


and we were not supposed to care about such things as physical beauty, but I secretly did anyway. (I wore nice, handmade Hippie clothes and always made sure my hair was clean and shiny before I put those flowers in it!)

HippieKathie       IMG_7364

Tail end of California Color                                       Living in the Northwest color

After some therapy (in search of my self-esteem) I was finally able to claim for myself, the descriptor “fairly attractive”….and the fact that I had great hair! It has always been too straight and obnoxiously thick, but I liked it anyway. When others were going in for cuts, straightening or perms, I’d have mine “thinned”. Oh, I tried the perms (we’re never happy with the hair we get) but those amazing waves would only last about 2 weeks. Then, having a mind of its own, my hair would spring right back to absolute curl-lessness.


                                 80’s Big Hair Perm

I really relate to some of what Marilyn describes about the hassles of hair. I thought I would have to shave my head during menopause to avoid that hot, “Itchy blanket” feel on my neck. Pulling it all up in what she called a “scrungy elastic and fabric thingie” was the only option. And my biggest issue was where the heck to put it all when wearing my motorcycle helmet?? It simply would not fit up in there and what was left out would take hours to comb through after a ride. (Don’t even get me started on Helmet Hair!)

Oh and the whole thing of trusting another to actually cut my hair?? I’ve been with Kelly for more than 30 years and she knows she is not allowed to retire before I die!! We are great friends by now, and sometimes, I even bring my own finishing equipment if it’s a day when I want my hair a certain way. She is so great and patient, especially when she has to repair those in-between-appointments bangs cuts I try to give myself.

I can finally acknowledge that I have actually received positive attention for my hair since I was a surfer girl on the beach. In my high school annual (you know that comment they put with your senior picture?) mine was not about talent or intelligence or future success. It was about my friggin hair!

My whole life, total strangers have come up to me in stores, airports, libraries and not just commented on my hair. Sometimes they even TOUCH it!!

I actually like the attention, the compliments, the questions about where I get it cut, what shampoo I use, etc. But not so much the touching. (Hey, I have enough PTSD triggers to master. Strangers suddenly touching me is NOT OK!)

There were also debates with those complete intruders who felt the need to lecture me on my choice “at my age” not to dye! (My hair was white by 42 or so.) Or, to still wear my hair long when “really, that should be for a younger woman, don’t you think?” (f. you!!)

Anyway, now at 68 years old, when I look in a mirror, I don’t see much left of “fairly attractive”. (See my earlier post on “Time”) https://chosenperspectives.com/2016/02/11/time-warning-to-young-women-rated-r-for-terror/ )

But it has not bothered me much. The Sixties actually did teach us about much deeper and more important things than our appearance.

And besides, I still had my hair! Until recently, that is.

I haven’t felt well for almost 2 years now. All my symptoms have pointed to a thyroid problem but no one seems to be able to diagnose anything because the “numbers” haven’t matched what their specialty says they should be. So, trying to track down the cause of some pretty bothersome symptoms, I have seen a cardiologist, a pulmonologist, a dentist, rheumatologist, a gastroenterologist, and ENT, a dermatologist, a polysomnographist and two endocrinologists. (I remember the “old days”, before medicare, when I had a fantastic Internist for 35 years, who was the best detective and considered ALL systems when I had a malady!! Sigh…)

Anyway, while they are all trying to figure out (each looking only in their field) what the heck is wrong with me, my teeth, skin and hair are biting the dust. I have always shed a lot but had so much hair I never cared. Now, my eyebrows and eyelashes are completely gone, and my hair is coming out in piles! I had to give up really long hair (my favorite style) early last year but have refused to go short short as it is just not me.

But it gets thinner every day and I no longer like it. I am disgusted with myself but I feel all self-conscious (again) and am pretty depressed about the whole thing. I really did expect to like my hair until the end, wearing a long gray braid down my back, like a proper elder, looking the part of a sage, a crone.

As my self-esteem is once again plummeting, I read Marilyn’s delightful post. She wrote it for the word prompt Surface, and used the word shallow, but I found such deep relief to know I am not alone with my hair issues. Thanks Marilyn and to your commenters as well.

Then yesterday I took James to the VA Hospital for his colonoscopy.

I passed a young-ish, white haired nurse on my way to the waiting room. She stopped me, hand on my arm, and whispered “Oh yay, another beautiful white haired woman!” Then she asked if everyone tried to get me to dye it. We had a quite a sweet moment!

My first thought, in my lost hair, lowered self-esteem state? “Wow, they sure train the employees here to be nice to visitors.”

But then I had to go to the car for something and a guy driving a truck in the garage stopped, hand-rolled down the passenger side window and said “Wow, I really love your hair!”

Hmmm, maybe I’ve still got it???


Marilyn, if you are reading this, THANKS AGAIN!!


Warning! You may have to be a cat lover to appreciate this one…

We are a two cat household. That’s it. Just 2 cats. No dogs. No fish. No birds. And they have to be indoor cats as we are inundated in our blissfully country-like neighborhood, with kitty cat predators. Mostly urban coyotes, but also eagles and owls! (Well, I do have those bugs, but seriously, we are a TWO CAT house.)

Until last summer when Lucy delightfully intruded into our lives.

I won’t tell you the whole story of each cat…that could be a whole coffee table book…just a tidbit about each.

There’s the King, 16 year old “Zorro, the Grey Blade”, the Sean Connery of cats, named for his slashing ability! (He is my animal Soul Mate.)


Next comes “Phineas, the terrorist”, named for his ability to wreak havoc with anything susceptible to gravity or that involves water! I have not had a vase of flowers for six years now. Nothing is safe really; plants, art hanging on the walls, the toilet, and anything my hands touch. This keyboard I’m using is his bed! (I just know he knows I am allergic to him!)


And last, along comes Lucy, the princess. We found her in the woodpile at 4 weeks old and there was just no getting rid of her!


(read her story at  https://chosenperspectives.com/2016/01/08/warning-cuteness-overload/ )

I asked my grandsons to come up with a powerful girl-name for this kitten. I knew she’d need to be strong with two such feisty (and alpha) older brother cats. The boys had seen previews for the movie “Lucy” (Scarlett Johansson) so that’s the name they chose.

But here’s the deal, Lucy has not turned out to be super-hero material. She is tiny, delicate, gentle and both plays with and gives clawless affection. I’m not saying she is perfect. She has destroyed her share of plants and she tends to eat things she shouldn’t (camera strap, phone cord, etc.) but man is she ever sweet. And I have to say, polite. You only have to tell her “no” about something once or twice and she remembers.

Lucy, resisting the beads and buttons I make jewelry with.

When Lucy and Zorro met it was mutual Love at first Sight.


I know it’s probably some “honor the alpha” behavior but she loves to clean the big cat’s ears.


She has never been afraid of him and treats him like her personal teddy bear.


So all that is the background to tell you what I witnessed last night.

We’re in bed, our two-cat family (with three cats) gathered around with us as usual. Lucy spots her very favorite toy (or what’s left of it after playing it to pieces) but it is underneath Zorro, who is asleep. She wants that toy…bad. She quietly circles the Big “Z” but can’t figure out how to get her toy without disturbing him. So here’s what she does.


I’m not kidding. She ever so gently, lays her paw on his head, and then taps, twice. “Uh, excuse me but you are on my toy?” 

Zorro is still old cat-snoring and doesn’t budge. So Lucy does this.


This time she holds her paw there for maybe 20 seconds, taps his head a couple more times, and then holds her paw there again for…like forever.

She finally gives up and quietly assumes a waiting position next to Zorro and her toy.


Can you see the piece of clear plastic cord that Zorro’s body has anchored underneath him?

Don’t give me that whole Anthropomorphism argument. I know what I saw.

And if you had been there the day that both litter boxes had accidentally been blocked from the cats’ access, so one of them left a single pristine turd right on James’ side of the bed (he is the cat box maintainer), you’d be a believer too!

My Virgin CFFC post-Stairs

OK so the instructions are down below. Will someone let me know if I did this correctly…not that a virgin likes to be corrected, but you know what I mean, right?

The theme I am responding to is Stairs, Steps and Ladders.

4-10-08 090

These steps are in the backyard of my best friend’s home outside of Sedona, Arizona. I use this photo often in my therapy practice (given as a greeting card or a framed picture) for a reminder to take baby steps or One Day at a Time in their healing and recovery process.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge
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THREE songs for Song Lyric Sunday 7-24-16

I love this new weekly challenge from Helen Espinosa! It’s been so long since I’ve been able to do one of my favorite things in the whole world, and that is to find and share specific music with people. My poor clients for 35 years, especially the couples, had to put up with me making them sit through a song picked specifically for them as part of their therapy. But you know what, more often than not I would pick exactly right, and that couple would have a new song, at least for a while.

I had the privilege of meeting my all-time favorite performer once and got to tell her how I used her music in my work. I believe she was genuinely touched.


Music can be so powerful. It can cross amazing barriers and unite many people, like the whole “Playing for Change” movement.

But here are my picks for today!!

In my opinion, Jackson Browne is one of the greatest Musical Protesters of my generation. He is a master lyricist and though musically, I don’t like absolutely every song he wrote or sings, I almost always love his lyrics, and they often inform my political stance in the world.

Here are my two favorites! The first video is pretty hard to watch because of the images it contains, and the second one, well, just just a lousy video, but I hope you are moved.

“Lives In The Balance” (azlyrics.com)
by Jackson Browne

I’ve been waiting for something to happen
For a week or a month or a year
With the blood in the ink of the headlines
And the sound of the crowd in my ear
You might ask what it takes to remember
When you know that you’ve seen it before
Where a government lies to a people
And a country is drifting to warAnd there’s a shadow on the faces
Of the men who send the guns
To the wars that are fought in places
Where their business interest runsOn the radio talk shows and the T.V.
You hear one thing again and again
How the U.S.A. stands for freedom
And we come to the aid of a friend
But who are the ones that we call our friends
These governments killing their own?
Or the people who finally can’t take any more
And they pick up a gun or a brick or a stone
There are lives in the balance
There are people under fire
There are children at the cannons
And there is blood on the wire

There’s a shadow on the faces
Of the men who fan the flames
Of the wars that are fought in places
Where we can’t even say the names

They sell us the President the same way
They sell us our clothes and our cars
They sell us everything from youth to religion
The same time they sell us our wars
I want to know who the men in the shadows are
I want to hear somebody asking them why
They can be counted on to tell us who our enemies are
But they’re never the ones to fight or to die
And there are lives in the balance
There are people under fire
There are children at the cannons
And there is blood on the wire

This song is by Jackson Browne and appears on the album World in Motion (1989) and on the album The Very Best of Jackson Browne (2004). Written by Little Steven (Van Zandt)


And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
SomedayI was walking with my brother
And he wondered what’s on my mind
I said what I believe in my soul
Ain’t what I see with my eyes

And we can’t turn our backs this time

I am a patriot
And I love my country
Because my country is all I know
I want to be with my family
The people who understand me
I’ve got nowhere else to go

And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous

And I was talking with my sister
She looked so fine
I said, “Baby, what’s on your mind?”
She said, “I want to run like the lion”

Released from the cages
Released from the rages
Burning in my heart tonightAnd I ain’t no communist
And I ain’t no capitalist
And I ain’t no socialist
And I ain’t no imperialist
And I ain’t no democrat
And I ain’t no republican
I only know one party
And it is freedomI am, I am, I am

I am a patriot
And I love my country
Because my county is all I knowAnd the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
SomedayAnd the river opens for the righteous…

Another video of  “I am a Patriot”…longer and bad sound but this looks like a great gathering!!  (Glastonbury Festival, 2010)



Happy Father’s Day to my Son


The Reward

“You can’t trust kids; they’ll grow up while your back is turned.”    Teresa Bloomingdale
Ever witness something so beautiful, it hurts. Ever come across a scene that freezes you in your tracks and makes you wish fervently that you had a camera with you, or the talent of a poet so you could really convey what you are seeing to others.

Ever see or hear something you are desperate to share with others only to realize that it might actually be happening just for you.


Ever feel that tidal wave of gratitude when you realize you are finally being rewarded for your endless, sometimes heartbreaking work all those years as a parent?

I have.

After my precious two year old grandson, JuJu, had been terribly sick for days, his parents asked me if I could come and sit with him while they went to an afternoon movie for a much needed break.

I spit out an unqualified YES before they finished verbalizing the request.

My grandson Julius and I are seriously bonded. I would do anything for him. I am fueled by a shameless, unconditional love over which I am completely powerless. I consider my life exceptional in the sheer number of opportunities I have been given to love deeply but no one could have prepared me for the quality and quantity of this affection and protection I feel toward him.


I am not that grandparent who enjoys spoiling the grand kids but am relieved to send them home. (This might be a little bit about being a mom who had to raise a son alone, riddled with guilt while working three jobs and going to school, but getting a second chance to “do it right” with her grandsons.)

Because of proximity, I have been given the profound honor of participating in the lives of my grandsons daily. Like an old-fashioned extended family tradition, (at the time of this writing) they live directly across the street.

Reactions to our family’s living circumstance range from dismay at the imagined expectation of responsibility, to blatant and petulant jealousy at my fortunate nearness to my grandchildren….this latter being primarily (and naturally) from Julius and Luca’s other grandparents.

For us, it just plain works. We all seem to love it and benefit from it. I was raised myself, without any extended family in the picture, but in what might be described as the forerunner to the 1960’s commune type of life. Created Family. My Mom adopted stray kids right and left like others adopt cats.  And, after some of my teens and early twenties were spent in actual communes, I continued a form of that tradition with my son, always sharing our uniquely configured house, with at least two or three people, often other single parents struggling to raise children of various ages. Over the years, we would start out calling them “renters” but before long each new group became like family.

I have always believed “It takes a Village”….

Anyway, on this particular day, an extremely ill JuJu had awakened from his third or fourth nap of the day, but this time he was pulled from the relief of sleep because he had one of those sick-kid, diarrhea blowouts that required not only a diaper change but an entire load of laundry to clean up. After taking him into the shower to remove his clothes and to, in essence, hose him down, Michael had dressed Julius in fresh PJs and was drying his hair with a towel. Julius had been the kind of sick that has you achy all over, writhing and stretching for some kind, any kind of relief. Poor baby had not been able to lie still or stop whimpering for days, except during his frequent, fevered naps.

So, unnoticed by either of them I enter the bedroom and see the following scene. Michael and Julius are on the bed with Juju’s tiny limp legs draped over his father’s so that they are two overlapping bodies. This Dad is leaning close to his boy and whispering something over and over that I can’t make out. All the while Dad is ever so slowly and gently rubbing, fluffing and massaging Julius’s long and curly wet hair with a big fluffy towel. He does this well after JuJu’s hair is dry. It is obvious that Michael is continuing because Julius is finally quiet, so relaxed, completely mesmerized by this gentle, nurturing gesture from his “DaDa”.

Julius, already a gorgeous child, has the lovely, peaceful face of an angel. He never takes his eyes from his Daddy’s.

I can remember the exact sensation of a dangerously hot-faced little boy’s cheek next to my own. I know, in the muscle-memory of my arms, if I were to pick up this tiny boy right now he would be a noodle…like sleeping-baby dead weight. He is so tranquil and blissfully pain free for the first time in days.

This father/son love scene continues for a very, very long time…..until Julius drifts off to sleep again. I take over so his Mom and Dad can get out for a bit. It’s been a long week.

Skip ahead to later that evening. I go back across the street to check on Michael and the patient. Juju’s fever has broken and he is on the mend.

As I am leaving, though I don’t want to intrude or embarrass my son, I tell him what I saw earlier in the day. I tell him how beautiful it was to spy on such profound father/son love. I apologize to him for my part in his never having had a father to do this for him when he was a child. I thank Michael for being the Dad I always knew he would be but that no one else would have ever believed.

He gently took me by the shoulders, looked into my eyes and said (with that slightly impatient tone of his that says duhhh), “Mom. I’m just doing for my boy exactly what you used to do for me.”


safe nap

SAN JUAN'S 4-09 047

(excerpt from a chapter of my book)

*A minor disclaimer about the top photo. Those are not scars on Michael’s face or holes in his t-shirt. My scanner was down so I had to photograph an old photo that was wrinkled and full of pinholes.

My House as a Life Chapter One


My house has been added on to so many times we have truly lost track of the square footage….probably close to 4000.

But she was just a one bedroom cabin in her youth. Born in 1908, she was picked up off her foundation and moved up the hill in the 1930’s because she was sinking due to the underground springs beneath her.

She is by far, the oldest house around for many miles. I bought her in 1975 for $40,000.

Now, she has 6 rooms upstairs (2 bedrooms, a bathroom, office, living room and kitchen) and 9 rooms downstairs (3 more bedrooms, 2 more bathrooms, another living room, a laundry room, a kitchenette, and a large Therapy Group room/office). There is also a music/workout room in process making it 10 rooms downstairs.

She has 32 windows. From 20 of those, you can see other windows in the house.

Just think about that for a minute.

She is seriously, quite a character.


From this window I can see…


this window


And many other windows provide visual connections throughout the house.

It is often how I find my cats. I just check their favorite windows….

My House as a Life-preface (for Badfish and his Buddy Duncan)

Dear Badfish, my favorite Blogger,

You , me, David Attenborough and Barbara Kingsolver…the Hermit Crab Connection. I love how you seem to be able to make a home for yourself wherever you travel. I, on the other hand, am only completely at ease in my own house.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my house lately. I think I may be ready (finally) to write about it. I will title it “My House as a Life”. (Have you seen the movie “Life as a House”? )

But I will have to tell it in chapters. Here’s the preview.

Young woman with small child, left by husband so he could move in with secretary….

Oh wait, that could not sound more boring. It happens every day.

How about this?

Young woman, abandoned with small child, fights to keep the family homestead…

Better, but not particularly enticing. Sally Field and Cissy Spacek already showed us this story in their great triumph movies! (Places in the Heart and The River)

Wait, I know.

Reformed Hippie returns to her Sixties roots and shares home with 52 people and 16 animals over 40 year period. Stories abound.

Yeah, that’s where I’ll start.

The Hermit Crab connection? Well, they have this amazing system for replacing their homes when they have outgrown them. (see Attenborough and Kingsolver connection below)

But you know what, there is no antonym for the word “outgrow”. If there were, it would describe where I am in my life, and where many of my baby-boomer generation are also. This is a problem in our culture. We are living so much longer than our ancestors that we don’t even have words to capture many of the  dilemmas we now face.

Like the fact that I have “ingrown” my home.

I wonder what the Hermit Crabs do as they age………….

I only know I have to write about it….


I had no idea what a process I was interrupting when I collected these empty shells on the beaches in Fiji.

Watch David Attenborough explain. One Of my favorite all time videos!!!


And as for Kingsolver….



(It says I can not reproduce this but can I legally include this link??)

Trailer for “Life as a House”