Category Archives: Uncategorized


Vanity is universal. We are all vain.

Yes, it is Lent, so I am paying closer attention to where and how I spend my time and resources. Or am I? The siren call to look better and younger is rarely ignored.

When we spoke yesterday, an elderly friend, suffering from stage 4 cancer and the side effects of chemo, complained as bitterly about his hair loss. Hair loss seemed to bother him as much as his revelations about the process of dying.

He said no one would listen to him. So I tried. Maybe “Mmmm” was all I needed to say. But I asked whether he was able to sleep, had a metallic taste in his mouth, and more. I failed to ask whether he was scared to death of death. He is busy being angry. He has not really accepted death as the nearly inevitable outcome of this illness. None of us is good at facing that inevitable outcome. It challenges our credulity. We cannot imagine a world without ourselves in it.

Ash Wednesday is my favorite liturgical day of the year. “You will die,” proclaims the preacher. “Dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” It takes off so much pressure. Dust cannot be accomplished, successful, “purpose-driven,” beautiful, kind, or wealthy. Dust does not interact with other strivers on Twitter or LinkedIn. Dust leaves no legacy. What a relief! It’s the best hall pass ever.

Despite this profound revelation, I found myself taken aback after the Ash Wednesday service when a brief conversation with the kindest, gentlest woman took a strange turn. I did not recognize Amy, so she took off her mask, and reintroduced herself. She looked at me, and pronounced me “so very beautiful.” That was then, and this is now. The lights were dim. I am beyond middle age. I am trying to accept this humbling aging business. I hope that she meant an interior glow shining through.

How are you managing the competition between your interior and exterior glow?

Titanic Sinking

It was unsinkable. Now all the titanics are sinking, and we are drowning or afloat in solitary lifeboats. Despite the solemn imprecation to avoid others, we are urged to develop our sense of community. But people who live in this suburb cast down their eyes and step aside as we pass.



No, no. I’m not, really. But I do fear becoming so.

Am I crab walking, sidling up to my next “purpose”? Currently, I eschew leaps & bounds. Leaps, bounds, & orthopedists go together.

ACL Brace-Wearing Mermaid in Sports Bra

Confidentially, I still do some “stupid things” as my physical therapist says. In mid-July, I struggled down the steep steps to Bash Bish Falls. (My ACL brace is submerged in this photo.)

Urged by an impatient spouse and a few wild things, I later struggled down a steep hillside, and waded in muck into Lake Taghkanic. Bubbles ascending from the reedy muck alerted me to the presence of snapping turtles. But I plunged onward, breast-stroking through the reeds into the clear warm lake.

The offspring sprang, recklessly plunging in, and swimming across the lake and back. Only six weeks out from a complex back procedure, cautionary words from a suddenly sensible spouse stopped me midway. I lolled about on my neon green swim noodle, soothed by the serene waters of a warm, quiet lake.

I had an active day for a sedentary person.


“I’m not talking about that now!”

The art of conversation….

This response always hurts my feelings, and makes me feel belittled. You may not be talking about “that,” but I was attempting to.

The above seems like an appropriate response to a difficult conversation, or to a tragic or revolting topic. Today I was musing about where my son might shop for clothing. He has asked for clothing for Christmas. He was working on his bike in the family room, and I was working in the kitchen. Had he said, “I’m really busy, can we discuss that later,” or even “I’m too busy right now,” then I wouldn’t feel summarily dismissed.

Can anyone help me with my issue about feeling shut down when I hear this phrase?

Our son has briefly moved home after living many years in another state, so I did not object to a bike shop in the family room.

We also had an issue about having a fire last night. He was warm, and I was cold, so I suggested he move the repair operation away from the fireplace. When the fire was built, and I wanted the main door shut to keep the warmth in, I was told I cannot compromise. Dad did not speak up on my behalf. So I went upstairs to my space heater and my book. Not being especially neat myself, I have said nothing about tools and clothes all around.

He helped me bake an apple pie today, per tradition. He dropped me and picked me up from yoga on Monday. He has barely arrived, and he worked hard yesterday, so I have been doing his dishes. Lately, I have been too busy for my own lunch dishes, but I have taken the holiday off.

Indeed, I work from home, and I am used to having things my way at home. But I want him to feel at home, too. And maybe we could both work on being thankful.

I think I am being tolerant, helpful, verging-on-doormat Mom, and instead am being met with some hostility, and called out over minor things.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! There is no one in the world I would rather see!

So I am asking for advice. It would be easier if I needed help deciding on a side dish, or whether to wear the black or purple patterned dress, or just jeans or cords. Since the only person I can change is me, I would appreciate thoughtful advice about what to do.

He slammed the door, and tore off to visit his older brother as planned (minus the door-slamming.)

We have been watching The British Baking Show. It is cheery, clever, silly, and calming. Now for more of the American baking show and pecan pies.

I expected issues, just not so many, so quickly. It can’t be easy to move home, even for a day.

Keep calm and carry on?


#family #Thanksgiving #compromise


Basic Knowledge 101

A Brief Quiz:

Do you know what a ratchet is?

Have you ever used a ratchet?

If so, when, and for what purpose?

Somehow, I missed Basic Knowledge 101. Sure, I can turn on a stove, and cook dinner, but if my stove or oven were to break, I would simply use the grill or the camp stove. That is, unless the camp stove is stashed somewhere inacessible in the rafters. The problem is, I don’t know how to repair or maintain household objects, or appliances, or even my own bicycle.

I am always prepared for vehicular emergencies, but I have never changed a tire. On that note, I think I will order a headlamp-style flashlight to keep in my car, and at least watch a YouTube video on changing a tire.

In the last two weeks I have threaded a bobbin on an expletive-inducing, unnecesarily complex, sewing machine. I also figured out how to start and use the electric lawnmower.

Yesterday, I learned what a ratchet is for, and how to use one. My newfound knowledge of ratchets is courtesy of my husband, who was confidently employing one and let me try. I had no idea why he was doing something noisy to the inside of the garage doors. He was tightening nuts. Or was he tightening bolts?

A kind, if amused, friend helped with verbal and visual explanations. He even forwarded two gifs. They made sense, since I had already had a kinesthetic learning experience.

To learn, I must do it myself. Observation alone is insufficient.

A bit of background: I am not unable to create  things with my hands, but words are the tools I employ regularly. I can knit, crochet, sew, embroider, cook, and grow a plant from seed. Yes, I am a woman. My education included home economics, but not shop or carpentry. My parents, apparently, did not consider learning how to build or fix anything mechanical part of my basic education. Or else I resisted learning. I was busy reading, playing dress-ups, climbing trees, journaling, and helping with housework and retail sales in a family-owned shop. Enough about the past!

What tool should I use next? For what basic task?

I await your suggestions. I also hope to figure out how to enable pingbacks. I will try to include a pingback in my next post. This one has languished unpublished for several months.

Perhaps my first goal should be to overcome my new fear of publishing and writers block: Time to ratchet up my writing!


Men at Work

Men at work. The beautiful. amazing, and dare I say, unusual thing about these scenes are that the men are working quietly, and getting exercise and fresh air, not to mention gaining a sense of accomplishment. Who doesn’t love clean gutters?! Um, well, I don’t think about them very often, so I guess love is going overboard. I’m not even sure what terrible things might occur if water and leaves were to coexist in our gutters. Of course I realize that the gutters would become clogged, and water would run down the side of the house, and not neatly through the downspouts. It’s just not the sort of thing this blogger thinks about often. I also did my small part today: I planned my morning so that I had those extra ten minutes to walk to the gym instead of driving. Not only did I get fresh air there and back, but because I was on foot, had a chance to have a 1.5 minute conversation with a friend I rarely see while she was stuck at the red light. (This pleasant impromptu meeting does confirm my fear that it is best not to walk when feeling antisocial. There is no sensible route that doesn’t involve crossing one of the main roads in town, while standing out in the open for several minutes. Yes, I can be a real hermit at times.)

It helps not to be a perfectionist if you are going to have DIY leaf removal with the assistance of two guys in their teens.

Gutter Guy by Circespeaks

Gutter Guy by Circespeaks

Thanks to one of our volunteers, another few piles of leaves were raked up and stuffed into compostable bags. At some point they will be removed by the town crews. What a big fuss over leaves on lawns! Since I have my noise issues–which I now know is a condition called misophonia that I share with many others–I do need to check the calendar and be sure to be elsewhere when the leaf collection vehicles come scraping and beeping by sometime soon again. It was, I promise, more than my imagination: they really were here off and on from 7am to almost 4pm last time. Had I only known, I would have planned to be elsewhere.

Young Man Wielding Ancient Implement by Circespeaks

Young Man Wielding Ancient Implement by Circespeaks

And now that the leaves are gutter free, two guys at work have begun, and almost completed, another seasonal ritual: putting up the Christmas lights. When we moved here from North County, San Diego, and kept up the tradition of festooning the house–not just the tree–with lights, I was sure that this would be looked upon as terribly déclassé. Much to my surprise, neighborhood friends and acquaintances often remark upon how much they enjoy our Christmas lights. And those who find them cheap and tacky are probably kind enough to keep such thoughts to themselves 🙂 These days a peace symbol joins the lights. Though Dr. Bronner–whose philosophy I must research one day–doesn’t live here, and we don’t proselytize “All One God Faith,” the peace symbol includes one and all. Didn’t someone called Tiny Tim once say something similar at the end of a book by Charles Dickens? Am I already getting into the holiday mood?



The Day After: Another Protest

No, as far as I know, it’s not the “End Times” or anything like that. For many of us, this is a quiet day of restoration and relaxation. Not for those who work or shop on Black Friday. Have we become so trivial that everyone in the United States knows that is a day of shopping? I understand why Christians set aside a day for Good Friday (even though I must often explain what the “good” part of crucifixion is, and why it is not instead called “Bad Friday.”) I do not understand how our culture has become so superficial that we have a National Day of Insane Shopping!

I took an online pledge not to shop on Thanksgiving, and I’m not sure what someone would have to do to convince me to participate in the entire Black Friday fracas. Yes, I admit it: I don’t like shopping. Consumerism makes me feel fairly ill. Why does our economy have to be built on throw-away items that need to be frequently replaced? It is largely forging ahead without me.

Today was spent working, visiting with friends and family, at the gym (which also involves visiting with friends) and now, having sent off yet another version of a document on which I have been working for months, I think I am going to rest with a book or my headphones, but away from all screens until it is time to get up and do it again. May the leftovers suffice! Since no one in this family has even ventured into a grocery store, they will have to. What was really missing from today was a nice, long walk.

My sincerest apologies for causing a crisis in the global economy. Could it be I am having delusions of grandeur and really need a nap?! No doubt Walmart did just fine without me.

Here’s to the semi-simple life. Naturally a bit hyper, this takes some effort for me.

Circe, put the lid down on the laptop. This post is not even an imperfectly formed essay, haiku (which I just almost spelled highku…) poem, or anything, but some thoughts on consumerism and my personal resistance to being totally sucked into the dementor thought process of “BUY..BUY…BUY.”

As American as Apple Pie

Home Made Apple Pie by Circespeaks Home Made Apple Pie by Circespeaks

My son and I made apple pie. We even made the crust from scratch. I was surprised at how good he was at this until her reminded me that he is a ceramicist. Used to working with clay, he is very good at pounding and crimping doughy substances. We won’t fire this particular creation, though.

How American we are is another matter. Of his four grandparents, only one was born in the United States. Thanksgiving is, however, an easy holiday to adopt. Though I do confess that in my childhood home there was very little discussion of the Indigenous North Americans who made the original–if much mythologized–Thanksgiving real. That was a school event, and practiced more assiduously by my children’s teachers than my own.

Did your family or school teachers remind you of the origins of Thanksgiving? Or did you all gather, thankful for family and food, and dwell instead on the present or on the religious overtones that Thanksgiving–originally, I believe, a secular holiday–has taken on?

Wishing everyone a warm and peaceful Thanksgiving, with good and wholesome food to eat!


Haikus: High School Redux

High School Redux

Wearing blue sweater,
Laughing, leaning against tree–
Forever fall day.

Sister’s purple room,
Entwined in discovery–
Lethargic at school.

Basketball warmup,
Entangled, breathless on mats–
The gym door slammed shut.

Christmas gift in hand,
Eggnog nutmeg forgetful–
We reignited.