A Truce with the Spider in the Door Jamb

  One of the door jambs in our back hall provides housing for a small spider. I call her Gertrudis. She occasionally ventures out of the door jamb onto the floor, but if I put a finger within inches of her, she scurries into her lair with unbelievable speed. I know the spider is in residence when there are no ants wandering about in the hall’s wooden floors.   Whenever the weather changes, ants wander in from the back door where the insulator between door and floor is less … [Read more...]

Guns Kill, Not People. So, Control the Money Behind Guns

We have allowed the Gun manufacturers and their front, called the NRA, to control all discussion. They threaten congress with their money.  Republicans, afraid of the gun makers' big money, refuse to discuss gun control, claiming we instead need to fight ISIL. They pretend this is an either/or choice. What Hooey! It's like pretending we need to choose between fighting ISIL and providing better mental health care. You and I know we can and do fight ISIL. At the same time, we can and must … [Read more...]

Be Prepared to Enjoy

Yes, we’ve talked about how to be prepared for the next emergency. We’ve got a long way to go to really be prepared and I worry about getting you, my eager readers, all the information we both should have. But, in between writing about the butane stove and giving you-all our next ‘get ready’ alert, the world had given us some moments of wonder. There was the moment I realized the family’s youngest girl is on the edge of learning to read. The excitement shone in her face as she began to … [Read more...]

Are You Ready for Small Emergencies?

I bet you have stories that support my belief that citizen leadership springs up in emergency situations. I’d be glad to read your comments or accounts of similar situations you’ve been in. My thesis here is based on a sample of two situations. Situation One: On an afternoon last spring, Woody and I returned from our tree farm, driving on Oregon Highway 30, the highway that follows the Columbia River from Astoria on the Pacific Coast to Portland on the Willamette River. A car in the … [Read more...]

When I Publish for Others, I Am Rich

My friend, Cynthia, had ALS for ten years. Before she died last fall, she published a non-fiction book that is still read and cherished by all her friends and family. We, a team of friends, made this book happen for Cynthia. Another book came into being this year. My middle school students wrote stories all during the school year, and now they have those stories in a book. That book is in their school library and in their homes. Together, we, a team of the students, their families and me, … [Read more...]

Want a fresh outlook on life? Volunteer with kids.

I enjoy kids of whatever age, but when I volunteer, I have my focus on middle school grades. Middle School students are eager to explore ideas about justice, social expectations, and cultural differences. They want to test their ideas in story. They push me to explain and to listen carefully. They test all of my assumptions, and their natural humor makes me laugh a lot. During the school years 2010 through 2015, I had the privilege of teaching a weekly short-story writing class in North … [Read more...]

Two Coins in my Pocket

I put my hand in my pocket and pulled out two quarters. Before I paid for my taco, I took a second look at the coins. That look sent me scrambling for enough change to pay for the already-ordered lunch and still keep the two coins. These coins sat in my hand and spoke deeply to me about the choices we make in art. The first coin: South Dakota as depicted in the state coin of 2006, shows Mount Rushmore – the complete view of the four presidents. It also depicts a Chinese Ring-Necked … [Read more...]

Celebrate the Day, whatever Day you’ve got!

Twenty-five years ago, our daughter, then a young college student, planned an anniversary party for Woody and me in the fellowship hall of our church. Her friends and brothers helped. The ladies of the church helped. Our friends and family came and we had a wonderful celebration. That happened to be an Olympic Year, which fact led to the following event. Toward the end of that party, Woody’s dad, Grandpa Clarence, made a toast: “Woody and Rae, you’ve got the Silver. Now go for the … [Read more...]

The Teller Window

Here’s an ‘aha’ about perspective and choice that hit me just this week. I write a lot. And I design gardens. The garden business works to get me out with people and plants, some of whom appear in my fiction – the plants, I mean. I’m Out and About, working on gardens, I need lunch and a break from shoveling. I’m Celiac. Gotta be Gluten free. Since I also want good taste, I head off to Taco Time. Taco Time means crispy tacos with real meat, excellent cheese and fresh lettuce. So, that’s where … [Read more...]

Why Survive the Apocalypse?

I’m looking at our world in a brand new way this year. Life is fragile, and we are part of that fragile fabric. Aware of the ephemeral, I decided to gift my family with the first step in a survival kit. Ever since, I’ve been watching the small habits and charming humor in the people around me. I’ve been smelling the morning, greeting the raccoon and the chickadees, really studying the texture, the light and the shadows in places that I often take for granted. I’ve had some readers comment … [Read more...]