cabin door

Another door, this taken by my daughter,  of me and a door. We stayed in a cousin’s cabin because our most functional and least ghost occupied cabin was set for a new roof. My cousin kindly let me use their cabin.

My parents helped my aunt and uncle build this cabin. My father talked about it. I have been going to the lake since I was a baby. Now I go about every other year: too far for yearly.


There is more than one list of seven virtues. Courage, or bravery, goes back to Aristotle and Plato as one of the four cardinal virtues.

What is bravery to you? An extreme sport? A warrior?

My sister endured cancer treatment for 7 years, over 30 rounds of chemotherapy. She said, “People say I am brave, but they don’t understand. I don’t have a choice. It’s do the therapy or die.” It’s still brave, though, isn’t it.

The person who comes to my mind for bravery is a woman, a long time ago. She spoke Spanish and we had a translator. Her son had had rheumatic fever and they had gone to the pediatric cardiologist for the yearly visit. Her son had a damaged heart valve that was getting worse. He was somewhere between 9 and 12.

“The heart doctor says he needs surgery. He needs the valve replaced. But the heart doctor said he could die in surgery.” she said.

I read the notes and the heart ultrasound. “The heart valve is leaking more and more. If he doesn’t have the surgery it will damage his heart. He will be able to do less and less and then he will die. If he has the surgery, there is a small chance that he will die. But if he doesn’t, he will be able to grow and to run and to be active.”

She said, “I am so afraid.” But she returned to the pediatric cardiologist. And he got through the valve replacement surgery and did fine.

That is courage to me. The parents who take chances for their children: get into boats to escape war. Search for treatments. Fight for their home, their children, their loved ones. It is both men and women, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, and people who have no blood relation to a child that they reach out to help. Adoption, volunteering in schools, supporting a student, supporting an organization that helps children grow and thrive.

For the A to Z challenge….and last year.





Missing my father

Today is my father’s birthday and I miss him quite a bit, since he died in 2013. This picture was taken in clinic at the opening party. I left a message for another friend, also a singer, who has the same birthday.

Sad but I am happy thinking of him and I am still in the chorus that he helped start, Rainshadow Chorale.


I wrote this two years before my father died. I did find him…..

We are going sailing
My partner says to me
“Invite him if you want.”

Then I am busy for a while

I think of calling, then forget

He was not at chorus on Monday

At last I say,
“I haven’t called. We’ll just sail.
Just us today.”

I haven’t called
because he was not at chorus on Monday

He is frail
55 years of camels
two packs a day
as if each cigarette
destroyed one alveolus
in his lungs
one tiny air/blood interface
built to exchange oxygen
and carbon dioxide
the loss is cumulative
He is frail
he is proud that the choral director
says, “I need you.”
He can’t sustain
but his entrances and time
are the best
among the basses.
They need him.

is our winter link
two introverts
we hug at the start of chorus
sing for two hours
and talk for a few minutes at the end

Occasionally we go for a beer
I invite him for dinner
but he comes less and less
he often does not feel well at night

He looks smaller at chorus
this season
this is normal in emphysema
the body sheds weight
too much tissue to oxygenate
too hard for the lungs
and the heart, working overtime
to make up the difference
he is blessed with low blood pressure
genetic, from his father,
tough English stock,
otherwise I think he’d be dead

I didn’t call
before we went sailing
because I am afraid

I’ve driven out before
when he has not answered the phone
for a day or two
wondering if I would find him dead

I didn’t call
before we went sailing
because he was not at chorus on Monday
because if he didn’t answer today
I would not go

I took the photograph in 2009

Last bonsai

This year both my children are 18 or over and they wanted this small tree for the Christmas tree. “Don’t kill a tree, mom.” they said.

This tree is the last bonsai from my parents. My mother died in 2000 from ovarian cancer. She was at home in hospice for nearly seven weeks and we had over thirty visitors. My sister and my father and I all ignored the plants: and most of the bonsais died with her.

My father cared for the remaining ones even as his health deteriorated. He died at home as he would have wished, in 2013, alone and a sudden death. Two of the three remaining trees died. So this ficus came home with me. I water it faithfully and brought out the small ornaments to decorate for the holidays. I don’t know how old it is. After we lose our parents, we wonder about things: where is this from, how old is it, was it important to you, was it a random gift? Did you buy it, did you love it, was it not something that you cared about?

This holiday ask a family member to tell you a story about something in their house. Ask about something that you like, or is unique, or that really doesn’t fit in. Ask about a piece of art or a piece of furniture or jewelry. And write the stories down for the next generation…. while you can.