death dogs English literature loss retirement wisdom

can one be sad “better”?

Hi, Feeling a bit sad this morning, about the inevitability of decline. Three reasons why : 1)First there are the enormous vet bills that have been pouring in for our beloved Honey Girl who, at 13, is a less mobile, less aware dog whose ahem, unhygienic habits are starting to make my life exhausting as well as breaking the bank. 2) Then there’s husband about to turn 70. 3) Finally, there is all that mail I suddenly started receiving about Medicare. Wow, we must all three of us be getting old!

So this morning I turned to audiobooks for help, and I’m now listening to Helen Russell, How to Be Sad. It’s pretty good. (Despite the annoying subtitle: Everything I’ve Learned About Getting Happier by Being Sad, Better. Why can’t they just let the sadness be?)

I’m still sad.

Sad is ok, just kind of quiet…

Hope you are ok too.


seen on this day

Bonne fête de la Saint Valentin ! Happy Valentine’s Day !

Here are some images of beloved sights from my world, and a favorite quote by Epictetus to warm hearts wherever you are:
“Faithfulness is the antidote to bitterness and confusion.”
The Art of Living

P.S. Being faithful applies to your self too, your principles, hopes, and dreams. Live deliberately, like Thoreau said. What better time than now? Back to “Respect” quilt no. 7 I go…

(Respect quilt no. 7, in progress)

health wisdom

day 62: the inevitable Slump

Hello dear readers,

Sorry for the late post, but things are not going so well today. We’re limping along—Honey Girl with a sore paw and me with a migraine—and hoping to feel better later on.  There are few things so sad as a limping pet ☹

Sometimes that’s all we can do, isn’t it, just limp along.  Sometimes it happens, it’s inevitable: you hit a Slump. As Dr. Seuss wrote, “And when you’re in a Slump, / you’re not in for much fun. / Unslumping yourself / is not easily done.”*

Oh well. Maybe admitting the Slump is the first step toward leaving it?  Here’s hoping so (and hoping her limp is a just passing phase… )

Til tomorrow…

Fyi: yesterday’s face mask production:

face masks made on May 19 2020

*Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!  (New York: Random House, 1990).

dogs happiness Uncategorized

what dogs really want

If you’ve got a dog with a lot of fluff

Who smiles at your heart and all that stuff;

Don’t be scared, don’t be angry at her

All she wants is a Furminator.*



*A most wonderful device for separating dogs from those pesky, shaggy layers of undercoat that make us all miserable.

With love, to Honey Girl

dogs happiness health wisdom

Cheer up! let negative ions help

Hello on a cloudy day, one of many out we’ve now had here in my new home, Seattle.

Cloudy day with Space Needle Oct 9 2018.jpg

I knew that this cloudy, rainy weather was coming. I remember having cold wet feet all day long in high school, after riding my bike there in the morning darkness. But it’s different to be here now. I want to love living here as much as I did when it was sunny and warm in July, August, and September!  Being a bit older and wiser, I’m also aware of the dangers of depression and SAD.

So I recently read Heather McAuliffe‘s helpful book, Beating Seattle’s Grey, and I recommend it to everyone, no matter what cloudy sky you live under. Among the best tips I took away from from it are: 1) water is not the enemy, darkness is the culprit; 2) bright light is good for the mood; 3) decorate with color; 4) go out and get some bright light at lunchtime if possible; and 5) there are actually “rain shadows” in Seattle, created by the small mountain ranges upon which this city sits, and which allow some neighborhoods (Yay, North Admiral is one!) to be less rainy than others.  6) But the most intriguing scientific fact that I read, and which underlies McAuliffe’s advice about getting and using good rain gear, lies in the concept of negative ions. Negative ions are especially numerous in places where air meets water, as in waterfalls and mountain streams, but any body of moving water will do, I imagine. (The Saint Joseph River, back in South Bend, was always a nice place to walk also, even if the effects were less exuberant.)

As Bruce A. Mason notes in an article called “How Negative Ions Produce Positive Vibes”: “It’s time we get back to basics, people! The healing properties of negative ions have been recognized for thousands of years. Different cultures and societies have embraced the power of negative ions for centuries. The ancient Greeks recommended seaside health spas to cure skin diseases, and in the 1800s the English developed seaside resorts to treat the depressed and unwell. So if you’re able to seize the day and find a way to recharge in nature this season, run don’t walk and just do it!”

Ever since I read McAuliffe’s description of all the good done by negative ions, I’ve made it a point to walk along Alki Beach as often as possible when I’m out with Honey Girl. Although the skies are cloudy, the seas are choppy, and the air is brisk, it is still a beautiful experience. Honey Girl likes it too, as you can see from pics of today’s morning walk. (She’s not thrilled about rain and being wet, however.) I hope to make this a daily practice, even in the pouring rain (and possibly without the dog). Just think how many negative ions would be in the air on a day like that!



dogs happiness travel

Road trip day two: a long straight drive to drama!

Day two was hot and windy as we headed out from Albert Lea to cross Minnesota. Spirits were calm in the car, the music on the radio was not bad; the main struggle was to keep our eyes open on that long, straight hypnotic stretch of I-90.

freak out map image

Somewhere along the way, however, things began to get more interesting!  First, there were the strange signs–and red & white road barriers too–that show how I-90 can close on occasion. One can only imagine what kind of weather brings that on: tornadoes and blizzards come to mind. Then there was the startling sign at the rest stop about poisonous snakes.

But even those strange signals could not dampen our car’s spirits! Honey Girl is now positively loving this adventure!

Honey girl the happy traveler June 29 2018.jpg

As we hurtled west at 80 miles an hour (the speed limit in SD!), things started to get very interesting–the Badlands were approaching and man, are they cool!  Words are insufficient to describe this 300,000-year-old natural phenomenon, so here are some pics:

While we were awestruck by that fabulous scenery, and the glance sightings of those adorable little furry creatures called prairie dogs, that blue sky began to fill with spectacular clouds…

Ominous sky over South Dakota June 29.jpg

By the time we pulled into the motel in Rapid City, South Dakota, the storm clouds burst open with quarter-size hail, cold hard rain, and lightning. But it passed, as all things do, and a good night’s rest was had by all.

Honey Girl has now discovered the pleasures of a nice bed. Funny to think this was the same dog we used to close up every night in a metal cage… then we made her sleep on the floor, then the couch, and here she is on the beds! The natural progression of love… which we humans can enjoy too.  Ahhh, life is much better out here than I imagined!

conflict dogs humor travel

Road trip day one: immensity!(and just a little irritation)


After we escaped from the aggravating agglomeration known as Chicagoland, the drive from South Bend, Indiana to Albert Lea was sort of bland yet exhausting, the landscape huge, the rest stops tidy. Crossing the Mississippi was impressive, especially imagining how people managed to do so in the olden days!

Honey Girl is a calm and pleasant traveler; no complaints about her. Traveling all day with another person is not so easy. Heck, spending all day in a car hurtling down the highway at 70 miles an hour is not that relaxing, no matter who you’re with. I feel a new-found admiration for truck drivers, who do that every day, all day.

As a reminder to be grateful, despite the irritations of daily life which are after all impermanent, I’ve brought three little stones to align at the end of each day in our motel room. They resemble a cool rock formation seen somewhere in Wisconsin!


Here’s a good thought for the day ahead from Gabriel Cohen:

“I used to think of the spiritual path as a detached, solo journey, like Moses trekking up the mountain or the Buddha wandering off to sit under his bodhi tree. I imagined how challenging it would be to renounce life’s pleasures and meditate in a cave. Now I realize that life offers a much more common but just as powerful spiritual trial: just try getting along with one other person for the rest of your life.”

Cohen, in “Of Course I’m Angry,” in Right Here with You, 143.


art creativity dogs humor Zen philosophy

three days to go: peaceful thoughts and Night pillows

poney in attic.jpg


I am a fuzzy pony here with a peaceful thought: being is round.

When you think about life from a round point of view, it is much easier to cope. Lots of nice things are round: the earth is round, and there are round-trips and homecomings. You could think of roundness in terms of ladybugs, birds in flight, and seasons too.

Bachelard explains the philosophical satisfaction: “images of full roundness help us to collect ourselves, permit us to confer an initial constitution on ourselves, and to confirm our being intimately, inside. For when it is experienced from the inside, devoid of all exterior features, being cannot be otherwise than round” Poetics of Space, 249.

Everything round invites a caress. Like these pillows.

pillow in profile

And me, of course. Fuzzily yours,


poney in attic profile.jpg

Announcing the new Night Tranquility Pillows, model 1, “Shooting Star” (left) and model 2 “Moonrise” (right), available soon via Honey Girl Books and Gifts!  In their soft, squishy yet firm presence, they incarnate what Bachelard calls “the phenomenology of roundness.”


Three stars accompany each pillow and they have a symbolic meaning: the back of the white satin star shows the fears we carry about every day. The back of the blue star is a dream of happiness. The third star is the S.O.S. “Freak Out!” star which has the nightmare on both sides. This pillow can be used as a nonverbal means of communication, so that can family members can be alerted to a person’s distress.


Time for a walk with Honey Girl!








conflict dogs storms T'ai chi wisdom

Day Ten: the brewing storm

ThinkstockPhotos-175009629MD.jpg29 days to go and the skies are churning. A storm is coming to South Bend this afternoon, they say, and I am looking forward to it. A storm breaks the tension, gives us a common enemy, and may even accelerate other life-giving events. 27 years ago in July, some thunderbolts gathered over Tempe, AZ, and may have hastened the birth of my son. Or so they told me at the hospital, when I  arrived…

The storm at home is as prickly as the heat today. Why? No big reason but several small ones. My partner is manifesting some old habits of passive-aggressive hostility, now that he’s being forced into concrete action and decision-making after many years of retirement. Honey Girl pounced and killed a small ground hog yesterday on our walk. I have felt and voiced unkind thoughts toward a number of people, mostly elected officials but still…

What to do?

What is there ever to do?

Practice the Morning Routine. Refrain from harmful speech. Bury the little grey critter, if it is still there.

Rejoice in the rain when it arrives!



Storm image courtesy of

dogs friendship wisdom

when you’re down and troubled… maybe Honey Girl can help


Hi readers,

Did I mention our house is now sold?!  What a relief. Now we’re onto the next step: the house inspection. Since the inspectors told us we had to vacate the premises today for three hours, Honey Girl and I have been hiding out at my office. Working at my computer with this big warm dog nearby has made grading papers feel completely different!  (Luckily she went to the groomer yesterday–otherwise it would smell pretty differently in here too!)

What an angel. Honey Girl is so quiet and patient, yet always hopeful for a pat, a smile, or another trip down the hall…  May her sweet face cheer you up too, and give you hope for whatever life has been throwing your way.  If the blues persist, I recommend going for a walk. It’s amazing how a brief spin around the building can raise one’s spirits…

Hang in there.