One more time. I will try one more time. Copy and paste no longer works. Highlighted text no longer becomes bold. No, I do not plan to turn my computer into electrical compost. I may need to change web servers after all these years of sharing. Sure, I will accept help. However, please remember that my age is the ancient symbol for the eternal, or completion, the number 7, listed twice.

I celebrate this moment and pray that the goblin inside the webpage can be removed without ceremony. I don’t want to frighten the neighbors. In the meantime, I am adding my quote for the day at the end. And hope this isn’t a final moment, at least in this forum.

Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward. Oscar Wilde.


We become not a melting pot but a mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.

Jimmy Carter


I joke with a gentleman in the deli area of the grocery as I wait for my turn. Hurry and I have been unhealthy comrades lately. Being in the moment is my current goal. The man has a dark green melon in his cart that could feed a family of 16. We talk about the beauty of watermelon. Of water. He says that the human body contains a large proportion of H2O. We celebrate its importance and laugh about how years ago no one would have bought bottled water. We wish one another a blessed day as he continues to the next aisle.

I am grateful to greet others and speak simple messages of recognition. I nod to a store employee and a mother with a baby. The light brown employee and olive-skinned mama wish me well.

A woman with hair as red as mine faces me as we approach from opposite directions. I smile. She speaks about the high cost of groceries and its difficulties for many families. I think we understand one another until she says she supports Governor DeSantis. “We have enough diversity,” she adds.

I say that I disagree but don’t pursue an issue that doesn’t belong in the political realm because the government can’t decide who is human and who is not.

Instead, I recall the previous day. I was in a hospital setting and heard a little girl say to her mother as they entered the registration area, “I will be the doctor.” If only her innocence could leak into the world. And the beauty of her color could be appreciated. The other individuals I spoke to in the store today also wore different shades of color, from peach to umber.

Diversity. Forget limiting it with definitions. Reach for an understanding of the larger world.





park bench

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ― Lao Tzu



“Ingrid, come sit next to me. I brought that blue jacket you gave me to sit on. Not that you need physical comfort. I want something you’ve touched, even if a breeze is more solid.”

My wife died five years ago.

I pat the plush lining and wait. My wife won’t take long to arrive. The veil between this world and the other side has been thin lately.

About a week ago she appeared in an early morning lucid dream as the young Ingrid. Even asleep I remained wobbly and weak. We walked hand-in-hand through this same park. I knew that everything I saw and touched would disappear when I opened my eyes.  Even so, all the subtleties of nature emerged as we traveled familiar passageways. I saw details in each rock, blade of grass, hill, and squirrel.

Ingrid told me that direct contact with the deceased happens only under special circumstances. I asked her how we qualified, but she told me I would find out later. “Just relax and enjoy.”

When I woke up, she was sitting on the edge of my bed. She comes and goes now. All I need to do is call her—no phone is necessary. I have enough sense not to blab about Ingrid’s visits. Recovering from toxic chemotherapy drugs is bad enough. I don’t need my daughter to worry that I need psych meds, too.

Within about thirty seconds my wife emerges next to me. Slowly. Similar to the way fog comes up from the horizon. But with a lot more warmth. At first, she seems as transparent as air. Her features surface. Young. Beautiful. The way she looked when we first met.

She places her hand on my arm. “Okay, dear, what’s on your mind?”

“Jan told me I could use some Vitamin D from the sun. That’s why I’m out here today while she and the kids hike down to the lake. As if I’d miss the chance. She doesn’t know I heard her talk to Les on the phone last night. He can’t babysit me today. Got a new client coming in. True, I have the hearing of the old dog I am. But Jan’s voice doesn’t need a loudspeaker when she gets excited. Seems lately our daughter has the disposition of a ticking time bomb.”

“I’d say she is upset, and her attitude is more about her than about you.”

I’d say it’s not easy taking care of your father when he’s recovering from chemo. Not easy at all. Sure glad that the final session’s over! Last treatment forever.”

Her hands have lost all their thick arthritic lumps now that she’s in a spiritual state. Her hands are small, delicate, and gentle again. She runs them over my head, mostly bald, with a few sparse patches of dull, almost colorless hair.

 “Ah, Mick! Jan’s not ready for a halo, but I wouldn’t jump to conclusions. Yet anyway. Tell you what. I’ll follow her for a while. Find out what’s going on and let you know. Then I’ll get back to you. The grandkids have been knocked down by your illness. They don’t understand what happened, or why Grandpa doesn’t have the energy to joke with them anymore. But you know you can count on me. We’ll talk tonight. In your dreams.”

Ingrid’s kiss on my forehead could be a warm, gentle breeze.

 I sigh as I hear the kids run ahead of their mom up the trail. Much faster than they would have if I were with them. They don’t know I’d feel just as sick at home. At least in the park, the sun casts incredible shadows through the tree branches. The birds sing an avian kind of harmony. The sky is never the same color longer than a few hours. It darkens or lightens, blends in with the clouds or not. A hint of silver has lined a cluster toward the west. Like the gray in the few clumps of my hair that refused to fall out. Maybe I have a stubborn streak. I have always worn my hair short as a hyphen, so I didn’t need to shave my head.

Change arrives slowly. Although Ingrid says the word that I’m searching for is transformation. Sure, I’m glad my wife broke through the impenetrable barrier from the other side. But I’d take the wrinkled-but-solid Ingrid to the see-through-yet-perfect version any day.  


I watch and listen to Mick’s family as they pretend to be aware of what they are doing. Les has brought work home. He shuffles papers like a deck of cards and stares at his computer. “What do we do about your dad? Should we just, I don’t know…” He spit-whispers into the computer screen.

Jan leans her behind into the refrigerator and turns her body into an awkward V. From the look on her face, I’m guessing she wants the stretch to pull out all her anxiety.

“I could scream,” she says. “I won’t. Even though Dad isn’t listening in. He’s heavily medicated and sound asleep for the night. The kids are out for the count, too. It is a school night.

I hover over the kitchen table, one of the benefits of the afterlife.

“I talked to Dad’s doctor,” Jan continues. “No doubt about it. He hasn’t got much chance. A heavier course of chemo could give him a few more months. Tops.”

 “So why hasn’t the oncologist told your dad?”

“That doctor has professional knowledge. Yes. But he has the bedside manner of a debt collector. I told him I would give Dad the options.” Jan straightens up again. She groans, her hand on her forehead. “Actually, I insisted. Said he could answer Dad’s questions on his next visit.”


“Okay. Then I sort of chickened out.”

“You mean you chickened out. No sort-of about it.”

“Thanks for your support.”

“So, what do you want me to do? I’m a lawyer, not a social worker.”

“You are also my life mate. Come on. Give me an idea.”

“Okay. I’ll stop by after I see my last client tomorrow. We’ll tell him together. Calmly. Let him decide. In the meantime, let your dad know how much you love him. It’s all you can do. Yeah, you’re nervous about the situation. But all he sees is nervousness. He doesn’t know why.”

 Jan drops her head almost to her knees. “Hey for a lawyer that’s not bad advice.”

“Uh, thanks for the backhanded compliment.”

I stop hovering and put one arm around my daughter’s shoulders. She doesn’t know I’m the one comforting her, but after a few sighs she finally says, “Maybe I’m underestimating Dad.”

“More than maybe, sweetheart.”

In a few hours, I will slip into Mick’s dreams. I will break the news about what his children are going to tell him tomorrow. I know my guy. He will allay his family’s fears. Because Mick isn’t afraid. He’s seen me. He knows he will be okay. I will tell him why I broke the bridge between our worlds—because he and I are closer than he knew we were. I slipped through a hairline break between this world and the next one, the designated place where we were meant to meet. When the time came.

When he accepts my invitation, we will be together again. In a few days if he wishes. If he is ready all he will need to do is concentrate on the separation, nothing artificial or traumatic about the transition. In the meantime, perhaps I should set up the scene for his final dream: a sunny day…a park bench…a place where we both can run, laugh, and sing out of tune if we want. It doesn’t matter. Some details look different after passing through the light. But the beauty Mick and I savored will remain the same.       

Always. Always.

illustration created from two personal photos scanned together

story previously published in Piker Press



“The best tunes are played on the oldest fiddles!” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Capturing the whole of life continues to evade me. I have been 70 for more than a few years. Yet, learning doesn’t stop. Life has too many complex parts.

When I stood waist-high to grownups, I thought gray hair and wrinkles belonged to creatures of a separate species. Children in the late 1940s and early 1950s lived in another realm. 

We learned rules after we broke them. For example, building a campfire in the basement is not advisable. Even if the responsible individual planned to put it out after the Native American ceremony. I was probably about five at the time. And yes, I was the child who found fire in a box by the hot water heater.

Children sat separately from their elders during family events. We didn’t listen to any adult discussions. Some of our questions received a laugh and others found censure.  

Why isn’t Grandma bald like Grandpa? The observation was innocent enough that a quick guffaw was the only answer. Asking why Mommy and Grandma were so fat was another matter.

Distance. A distinct memory of my early life. The higher and the lower class. Where they were to meet was vague.

Transitions take tangled curves. I wonder if an easy path would have left space to experiment and fail before succeeding.

Now, I speak to my grandchildren at eye level. We play. My three-year-old granddaughter has no understanding that my husband is my son’s daddy. There is no need to explain yet. Wisdom doesn’t come with a set of rules. It’s organic.

I earned the lines in my skin. I treasure a few more as long as each road offers new passageways.


 The above painting is part of something new I am discovering.



We Call It Vision

I was ashamed of myself when I realized life was a costume party and I attended with my real face. (Franz Kafka)


Sometimes poetry speaks truth better than lines of fact. I don’t have many syllables to share today. One haiku contains lines containing 5, 7, 5 syllables, and one tanka delivers spaces of 5, 7, 5, 7, 7 syllables.  Peace to all.


” I don’t see color,”
says a white man to lynching
as he leaves the scene.


The flower sees bees
coming and opens petals.
Plant and insect share alike.
Even as the stem stands still.

bloody keyboard

Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.” ― Primo Levi

Dachau, May 1938

(Six months before The Night of Broken Glass)

Part I

The little girl overheard Mama tell Great Uncle Benjamin, “I feigned interest in marketplace pork.”

He answered, “You can’t fool Nazis. You should be true to yourself.”

The little girl was pecking the piano one key at a time, black and white, high and low tones. Uncle’s happy songs lay hidden inside the sounds like secret buried treasure, with a beauty that stretched from one side of the keyboard to the other, sweet sounds that rose and fell, music that told a story she wasn’t allowed to repeat, not even in whispers.

She wondered why the sons and daughters of  Abraham and Jacob’s Traditions should anger anyone. The child searched and found only dissonance under her fingertips when she added more than one key. Uncle had promised to come at noon the next day and lead her small fingers across the scales, but it would take work, an attentive ear, and love. She would practice. And learn.

But dark filled the sky And Uncle never arrived.

Papa came home and said Uncle had been taken. Papa had missed capture by a shadow.

He’d found a way to leave Munich with her and her mother, a passageway as narrow as the eye of a needle used for silk, dangerous, yet their only hope.

And the little girl followed, believing that Uncle would come someday and lead her hands into music because she could work, and listen, and love as well as anyone.

Part II

Benjamin felt the heat of the men next to him, a herd, silenced by fear so strong it had an odor, gut-wrenching and rancid.

One of the guards outside the gate glanced at Benjamin and then looked down. The guard’s face looked familiar.

Benjamin and the young guard stood beside a message bent into the metal: Arbeit Macht Frei, Work sets you free.

The guard had been his student, a youth who expected a golden sound from a flip of the wrist and a closed ear.

Benjamin’s six-year-old niece tried harder.

He imagined her waiting for him as he dropped his shoes next to the others, outside the sign marked brausebad, the bathhouse, the place of cleansing, perhaps the beginning, perhaps the end, but never destruction.

He prayed that even if he couldn’t return, and his niece didn’t learn his song, she would create her own.

previously published

road in the rain

They say the universe is expanding. That should help with the traffic. (Steven Wright)

I wonder how many drivers have made road trips—without wondering what the…heck is that guy doing? One driver is traveling at NASCAR speed and another is moving twenty miles an hour in a fifty-plus zone.

When my younger son was about kindergarten age I turned onto a narrow road behind a woman, obviously elderly. Her shoulders sloped, and her head leaned over the steering wheel. She drove the center yellow line as if she were failing a sobriety test in slow motion.

When I reacted, my youngster responded, “Oh Mom, maybe she just has old-timer’s disease.

I don’t recall how I got around her, or when she turned onto another road. My son’s innocence, however, stays with me.

His simplicity didn’t nullify the lady as a roadway threat. It did help me get through the moment.

Years later, my middle granddaughter was in the car when a driver cut me off with half a foot to spare.

I gasped, but my granddaughter saved the moment again.

“Grandma, is that what’s called a jackass?”

“Bad driver,” I answered.

Unfortunately, not every accident is an almost. Signs above the highway note the statistics.

Today I am driving in the rain. Someone, male or female—it doesn’t matter—passes me on the left over the center line, misses an oncoming car by about a foot, and then repeats the favor with the next car.

Peace, I think. Not in pieces. Someday. Somehow.

(The above is an edited blog from five years ago.)

apples in an apple

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.  (Henry David Thoreau)

The Seed

The seed lay snug within her apple. Wind, rain, and sun brushed the surface of her fruit. Inside, protected, the seed grew dark and smooth. The tree told its growing parts that spring blossoms lived on the tree’s branches before they were formed. However, the seed did not want to hear about anything that happened a long time ago. She preferred to rest in a comfortable, firm sweetness that grew as summer brought warmth and long daylight stretches.

The seed expected endless safety. However, one afternoon in late summer, she felt a sharp jolt as her round, red home was snapped from its branch. Other apples left their places, too. They traveled miles from their birthplace.

The seed felt its fleshy home split with a sharp object. She was scooped out with the other seeds who lived with her. They were tossed aside.

“What is happening to me?” she called.

“Or us?” the other seeds replied.

But the seed didn’t hear. She was already taken away.

A dark time passed as the seed lay surrounded by moist soil in a small container for what seemed to be a century. Then something happened. She felt a violent tug in her center. She knew she was changing.

A creature, a lot like the one who pulled her from her home, grabbed her from the smaller container and placed her inside the ground. In time, she realized she looked much different. She was frightened.

“What is happening to me?”

A tall tree towered above her. She did not yet realize that she was also a tree, not until the days warmed and white blossoms appeared on her branches. They became fruit when the heat continued.

“Why did I worry so much. Everything I have experienced is natural. I must warn the other seeds. Somehow. They must not suffer like I did.”

She spoke to her own seeds. They didn’t listen. No matter how loud she yelled.

“Hush,” the wind told her. “You can’t find instant wisdom, especially if you haven’t discovered it for yourself.”

As the season passed, another creature appeared and stole one apple, and then another.

The seed, now a tree herself, watched.

“Wind,” she called. “Have I found wisdom yet?”

The wind did not answer. Nevertheless, the new apple tree waited even as winter came and robbed her of her gifts.


A warm smile is the universal language of kindness. William Arthur Ward

 Kind words. Sometimes they fall into holes in the road and get lost in chunks of debris. Other times they fill the broken spaces and find the exact contour of the cracks. The words can be random. No more than greetings followed by ordinary blessings. Or friendships that begin with unexpected common interests.

I took of picture of four oranges a neighbor gave me this morning. A gift of some extra Vitamin C for nothing more than a smile and friendly conversation.

Peace. Upon all.

If only it were always that simple.   


"A family is a risky venture, because the greater the love, the greater the loss... That's the trade-off. But I'll take it all." — Brad Pitt


Nephew flinches as Uncle drops a fork 
onto a china plate. It responds with a quick high-pitched cry. 
Uncle grumbles, There’s dried dog food on these tines.

The waiter steps away from an adjoining table
where a young woman feeds
a girl in a wheelchair.

No excuse for this, Uncle says.
The waiter offers to get him fresh silverware. 
Nephew sends the waiter a silent eye-rolling apology.

He cuts his salad into small bites,
his focus on beans and rice while
Uncle speaks about how the nation has lost

family values, allowing abortion clinics, 
gay marriage, welfare for fools. Uncle slices filet mignon
and complains about the quality of his chardonnay.

Uncle leaves a two-dollar tip.
Nephew drops a twenty on top of it. Uncle smirks. Insane.
You don’t have the funds to support a hamster.

Nephew nods toward the adjoining table. 
Meet the waiter’s wife and daughter.
They live in the apartment behind mine.

"See you at the next town hall meeting, Lyle,"
he calls to the waiter. 
"Family values," he whispers to Uncle.

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