a visit to NYC!

Hello again,

We just got back from our semi-annual trip to NJ and NYC, to see family and friends. In NYC, we stayed at the Washington Square Hotel, on Waverly Place: highly recommend! The staff were super nice and helpful, and it was fun to learn from them about the hotel’s art nouveau decor and the many people who’ve been its neighbors in New York history (including the Roosevelts). The hotel is worth a peek even if you don’t stay there.

Art nouveau chandelier, Washington Square Hotel, NYC

On our last morning, we walked up to one of my favorite places in the world. Come along!

Another day, we took in the Surrealism exhibit currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum which was Fantastic, as was the Afrofuturist Room. The labels displayed alongside those exhibits are particularly noteworthy–kudos to the curators, for telling stories and giving life histories as well as providing provenance etc., as you’ll see below:

Fabiola Jean-Louis, Haitian, b. 1978, Justice of Ezili (2021).

Arshile Gorky, Turkish, 1904-1948, Water of the Flowery Mill (1944).

Tarsila do Amaral, Brazilian, 1886-1973, City (The Street) (1929).

Also delightful were passing sights, like these:

— an Audre Lord poem in the subway,

–and a sexy unicorn !

(Big Gay Ice Cream shop, 61 Grove Street, NYC)

Last but not least, my art shot, taken from our room at the hotel, which I may call Keeping Things in Hand

or Still Life with Boots. Either way, that room was sooooo comfortable and quiet.

Great to have photos like these to imagine it again, now that we’re back under the cold wet drenching rain here in Seattle. (Note the sunny weather in NYC?? It was Amazing!)

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day 68, Hey Jude take this sad day and make it better

It is so wet and forbidding outside today that my thoughts stay indoors. I tried various tactics—devoured the newspapers as usual, read through emails of (upset) friends and acquaintances, browsed a few favorite books,  but it was all pointing to disappointment, anxiety, and despair. You know enough about all that.

So, I listened to “Hey Jude,” instead.

“And anytime you feel the pain

Hey Jude, refrain

Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders.”


Here’s yesterday’s face mask production:

Face masks made on May 25 2020




Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

Hey Jude, don’t be afraid
You were made to go out and get her
The minute you let her under your skin
Then you begin to make it better

And anytime you feel the pain
Hey Jude, refrain
Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders
For well you know that it’s a fool
Who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder
Na-na-na, na, na
Na-na-na, na

Hey Jude, don’t let me down
You have found her, now go and get her (let it out and let it in)
Remember to let her into your heart (hey Jude)
Then you can start to make it better

So let it out and let it in
Hey Jude, begin
You’re waiting for someone to perform with
And don’t you know that it’s just you
Hey Jude, you’ll do
The movement you need is on your shoulder
Na-na-na, na, na
Na-na-na, na, yeah

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her under your skin
Then you’ll begin to make it better
Better better better better better, ah!

Na, na, na, na-na-na na (yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (Jude Jude, Judy Judy Judy Judy, ow wow!)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (my, my, my)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (Jude, Jude, Jude, Jude, Jude)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (yeah, yeah, yeah)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (yeah, you know you can make it, Jude, Jude, you’re not gonna break it)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (don’t make it bad, Jude, take a sad song and make it better)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (oh Jude, Jude, hey Jude, wa!)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (oh Jude)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (hey, hey, hey, hey)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (hey, hey)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (now, Jude, Jude, Jude, Jude, Jude)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (Jude, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (yeah, make it, Jude)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude (yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!)
Na, na, na, na-na-na na (yeah, yeah yeah, yeah! Yeah! Yeah!)
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude
Na, na, na, na-na-na na
Na-na-na na, hey Jude

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul McCartney

Hey Jude lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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day 60, listening to the sea, not the usual

Today’s morning walk took me back down the mountain to the sea. More precisely, from the tip of West Seattle to the point where Puget Sound enters Elliott Bay, at Duwamish Head. Walking along Alki Beach, I realized I had forgotten how much I love that place and how wonderful it smells, sounds, and feels. (If you wonder why we don’t go there every day, check out this view of the hill from down below, on the way back up.)

It's an uphill climb May 18 2020

While walking by the water, I was swept up in a deep feeling of peace, the waves’ calm rhythm reminding me of some long ago lullaby. We can’t spend all our time gazing at the sea, but we can listen to it more than we do.  For now, I’m listening to this ad-free ocean soundtrack, instead of the usual stuff. Or maybe I’ll turn it off too and listen to “nothing.” (Which is never really nothing; there is always birdsong, car noises, people talking now and then, far-off trains and sirens.)

Let’s give our ears a break, and our minds a rest. All that bad stuff will still be there when we tune back in.

See you on the other side of tonight,


Fyi: yesterday’s face mask production:

Face masks made on May 17 2020


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day 46: local stuff

I’ve been carrying around an article ripped out of last week’s Seattle Times in my bathrobe for a few days now, and since it’s been useful to me, I’ll share the advice with you too.

fight anxiety by being local

It is a query from a young person wondering how to go on, in this time when perils loom large all around (environmental crisis, public health disaster, financial ruin, dashed hopes of professional work). “Be local” is the advice.
Being local, what does that mean?
The usual stuff you’d expect—volunteering, donating time and energy, connecting with neighbors. But when we’re sort of afraid of being around other people, and the officials tell us to stay inside, it is hard to muster the motivation to do all that.

friendly rock May 4 2020
So today, I just treated myself to the best that my local situation has to offer: a nice brisk solitary walk up and down a couple steep hills to get the heart pumping, some sunshine, and a visit to my favorite rock. I cleaned it off and put some new flowers on. It feels like a secret, though it’s in plain enough sight if people really looked.
Feeling strong and healthy, having a secret that I put out for others to discover, that’s enough to get me smiling again.
Before I get back to work, here’s yesterday’s mask production, for Kelly, and her bag awaiting at the Honey Girl face mask “store” in the early morning light.

Hang in there, until tomorrow at least. Maybe things will be better. One thing’s for sure, they will be just a little different from today…

art happiness health work

day 20: on buoyancy and a good omen, maybe?

Hello!  This morning began slowly. I felt utter despair while perusing the testimonials in the New York Times Magazine from Sunday, “Exposed. Afraid. Determined,”  where ordinary working people–“essential” people like cleaners, delivery people, pharmacists and E.R. doctors– explain how the crisis has impacted their daily lives. It is a heart-breaking revelation of our broken system, which should be required reading for all elected officials. Anyway, after feeling hopeless and shedding too many tears, I went out.


The day is cool and windy, and the walk down our steep hills to Alki Beach was bracing. Little by little, however, my spirit rebounded. For some reason, it just happened. Like these seagulls, we humans have the capacity to bounce back endlessly, even with the weight of gravity pushing us down and without that nice salty water to hold us up.

Buoyant [Etymology: Old French bouyant or Spanish boyante, light-sailing, pres. part. of boyar, float, from boya BUOY noun + ant]*

  1. Able to float; tending to float or rise; floating; lightly elastic; resilient; able to recover, light-hearted.
  2. Able to keep things up or afloat.

As my spirits rose, my eyes rose too, and saw things I’d never noticed before, like the cool street art hanging from a wire at the corner of Harbor Ave SW and California Ave SW.  Would love to know who created that: so cute and colorful!

It’s fitting that the final image of today’s walk captured an accidentally funny or possibly prescient icon seen here:

Funny street art at Alki April 8 2020

This juxtaposition of images could be a good omen! It could mean that the coronavirus (the creature hanging from the wire) which has been devouring our population (the pedestrian with his head in the creature’s mouth) is on the way down (the arrow pointing down) here in Seattle (the ferry boat and Space Needle).  It’s a floating totem, twisting in the wind, telling us what we want to hear…

Finally, here for the record is a pic of the face masks produced yesterday. Got to get back to work now; more people are waiting. (I am loving this work actually, so thanks, customers and neighbors, for letting me be of service!!)

Masks made on April 7 2020

May all our spirits be buoyant!

*The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), vol. 1, p. 308.



creativity happiness nature trees wisdom work

day 13: purpose–and cheer–are back!

Hello dear readers,

After yesterday’s slump, I am surprised and delighted to announce the return of good cheer.  Who knew?!  three things helped make this turnaround.

First, there was a major job yesterday, when I finally overcame procrastination and met the 3/31 deadline for revising my second children’s book, A Spooky Tale of Spring, or How the Grumpy Mom Got her Cheer Back, now set in today’s world with the coronavirus playing a minor role. This rewriting of A Christmas Carol has moved into the hands of illustrator Kiera Highsmith, and we plan to publish it with Honey Girl Books and Gifts by Fall 2020. It feels good to make plans for the future in a grim moment like this.

Second, the morning gloom was considerably brightened by the article by Farhad Manjoo, “It’s Time to Make your own Face Mask” which includes a pattern and directions for sewers. Yay! I can now get to work!

Finally, I just got back from my fourth anomie-beating walk of hmmm… well a bit more than 4k (I got lost!), during which a mossy old bridge provided a boost of wisdom. Looking at the bridge, my mind focused on the old cement, thinking of urban decline, neglect, and the isolation of prison (the bars). Then suddenly something switched, and I saw myriad shades of green signifying new growth and resilience, and the bars became a tool of fun (for playing peekaboo with the trees, or spying on people down below).

Blah or bountiful, why we feel what we feel, nobody knows. But having a purpose helps.

Au boulot!  (To work!)


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day eleven: to cope, verb


What’s so bad about coping? Must a coping strategy be a vice? As much as people talk about “positive” and “negative” strategies, the entire concept of coping seems somehow tainted by failure or inadequacies of some sort, as if life ought to be easier and one shouldn’t fret about it so much. I disagree with that punishing attitude toward human frailties. The walk I took this morning—as per yesterday’s realization of how anomie was eating away at my mental health, and the subsequent commitment I made to walk every morning—was bracing, energizing, and invigorating!  I plan to use that coping strategy as often as I can—ideally every day, even after this crisis has passed.

But the word to cope gets a bad rap. Describing a character’s alcoholism, one writer notes: “A coping strategy, Margaret Cleary had called it. The only problem was, when your whole existence is something you have to cope with, you look back one day and find that your strategy has become a way of life.”*

Aha! The dictionary once again comes to the rescue. Reading the definition of to cope below, you realize this author’s error. It is erroneous to pit “to exist” against “to cope (with)”, because life is sometimes excruciating. In other words, the two verbs sometimes designate the same action. As the third definition of exist reminds us: “3. Continue alive or in being; maintain existence. Also, live, esp. under adverse conditions.”

Conclusion: Whatever you are doing to cope with the annoyances, anxieties, and confinement of life during this coronavirus crisis, if your strategy is helping you to “deal competently with your life or situation,” then more power to you! Maybe you’ll find that your new activity actually improves your situation, if you stick with it over the long term.

Still searching for the best way to cope?  For some great ideas, see the brief testimonials in “How We Got By: Advice for Getting Through a Crisis, by Julia Rothman and Shaina Feinberg, from the New York Times, 3/29/20; p. BU3.)

Till tomorrow, cope on!


Cope, verb intrans.**

[Etymology: Old French co[l]per (mod. couper) strike, cut, from co[l]p blow from medieval Latin colpus; see COUP noun]

I. 1. verb intrans. Strike, hit; come to blows with; engage or meet (together) in battle, archaic & dialect. ME [Middle English]

2. Contend successfully with (an opponent, difficulty, situation, etc.); colloq. deal competently with one’s life or situation

3. Have to do with; come into contact or relation with. archaic.

4. verb intrans. Match (something) with an equivalent. rare (Shakespeare)


Exist, verb intrans.***

[Etymology: Latin ex[s]istere emerge, present oneself, come into being, (in late Latin) be (aux.), formed as EX- + sister take a stand]

  1. Have objective reality or being.
  2. Have being in a specified place or form or under specified conditions. Of a relation, circumstance, etc.
  3. Continue alive or in being; maintain existence. Also, live, esp. under adverse conditions.


*Joanna Cannon, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, (New York: Scribner, 2017), 213.

** The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), vol. 1, p. 514.

*** Op. cit., vol. 1, p. 889.


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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!