Grampa II

My mother didn't like my farm. She didn't like the smell. Farms always smell like barns and pig shit and chicken shit or the shit of whatever animal you have around the place. They smell like fermenting grain in the bottom of the feed barrels and old dusty hay and oat straw. There are warm animal smells and cold wet dirt smells, stews and pies and compost heaps. Last year's garden and this year's garden. They smell like old oil spots under the tractor and gasoline and horse manure. I think it smells of life. My mother didn't. Read more about Grampa II


My grandfather was short and round and Norwegian. He was the kind of grandfather who thought it the height of humor to make faces at the grandkids by dislodging his false teeth out over his lips and growling. And when we would all scream and laugh and run away, he'd stick them back in his mouth an giggle. My grandfather didn't laugh. He giggled, "Tee hee hee, oh, golly," in a little high-pitched wheeze, and he would slap his knee and jiggle in a short, round Norwegian way. Read more about Grampa

Home Sweet Home

Then, was the family itself and the male political structure enclosing it invented by primitive women to ensure their own survival and that of their children? Where did they see power and freedom residing? What would equality mean?

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Shelter at Home

Shelter at home. Don’t leave the house. You mean do just as I please? All day long? 24/7? 365? Really? That’s all I have to do to help?

Well, blast my overalls.

Okay, well if you insist. Here’s my plan to beat the coronavirus: Read more about Shelter at Home

The Pussycats

Mamacita came to my house when my daughter promised a friend that she would take care of her (pregnant) cat. The friend had gone to New York and left, not only her cat, but a backpack of belongings in the closet in my office. Mamacita promptly shat on it. So I wasn’t too surprised when, upon the friend’s return, said friend picked up her stuff and said she’d be back for the cat. She was going to take her to the Humane Society. She didn’t even have a name.

“Uh, no,” I said. When she gave birth, I started calling her Mamacita. Read more about The Pussycats

Elvis the Cat

“Elvis! Elvis!” I was walking up and down the sidewalk in front of my house on N. 79th street, hoping that Elvis the cat would reappear and I could lure him back into the house. Of course, I was in tie dye, and it occurred to me that someone might be calling 911 about the crazy old lady having Elvis sightings on N. 79th, but I had to be sure he came back. I owed it to John. Read more about Elvis the Cat


Razz, Mamacita, Yoda, Simba, and Elvis.

The last of the cats I have known and loved. The cats referenced when I signed Christmas cards from “Barbara and the Pussycats.” The Seattle cats. Read more about Razz

Portraits From Green Bay

December 1982

A strand of plastic Christmas green wraps itself around the wet top of the light signal like a caterpillar. The trees by the river look like powerless sticks. The streets shine wet on Three Corners in the rain. The lights change red yellow green and the cars come from 5 directions. They play country and western music over at the Banc supper club across the street. Read more about Portraits From Green Bay

I'm Fine

Such an innocuous phrase. I use it all the time.

“Do you need help with that?”
“No, no. I’m fine.”

It’s how I was raised. Asking for help, according to my father, was being dependent. Accepting help, according to my mother, was taking advantage of other people’s good nature. As a result, I don’t need help with anything. I can do it all myself. And if I can’t, I'll find a work around or I decide it doesn’t really need doing. Anything but admit,

“Yeah. I could use a little help here.” Read more about I'm Fine