Remembering a musical mentor

I recently bought a used piano after almost 15 years piano-free. I managed to dig out several of my old, yellowing piano books, which have followed me from my childhood in Washington state to Arkansas to Florida and finally to California. And when I opened them, my piano teacher’s handwriting transported me back more thanContinue reading “Remembering a musical mentor”

Book Life

I almost got in trouble for reading too much when I was in nursery school at Washington State University where my parents taught. The school had student teachers whose job it was to observe children’s interactions. After I had been there three weeks, the head of school called my parents. She gravely informed them thatContinue reading “Book Life”

Lessons learned while washing dishes

In the 1980s, while I attended a small liberal arts college in the Midwest, I worked at the dormitory cafeterias. I held a variety of jobs, from serving students food at lunch to replenishing donuts for brunch to working on the dishwasher line. On the dishwashing line, my fellow students and I sorted out theContinue reading “Lessons learned while washing dishes”

A writing life

My junior year of high school featured a huge disruption that would change my life moving forward and inspire a habit that stays with me to the present. In 1982, my mom, dad, sister and I traveled from Pullman, Washington, to London, England, where we lived for a year while my parents took a sabbaticalContinue reading “A writing life”

Tending a Garden Through the Years

In my youth, I fantasized about living off the land, planting, growing and consuming all of my own vegetables. I knew almost nothing about gardening, and as I began to try this activity, I questioned whether my childish dream would ever happen. I questioned this especially in the mid-1990s when I met Austin Springston, aContinue reading “Tending a Garden Through the Years”

The perils and perks of picking blackberries

Summertime in the Inland Empire means days so hot the moisture evaporates leaving behind oven-like breezes. Back in the 70s, it also meant my mom would load my sister and I up in the back of our ’66 Dodge Dart and point it into the countryside to look for blackberries. Blackberry picking takes grit. TheContinue reading “The perils and perks of picking blackberries”

One thousand and one unrelated facts

My dad knew a lot of random facts. And he would bring up these facts at random moments. He could also quote Monty Python and the Holy Grail at will. Now, sometimes, those facts spring forth from me. For instance, at a recent work meeting, we were discussing nibbling amoebae, as one does when oneContinue reading “One thousand and one unrelated facts”

Dear Younger Me

Dear Younger Me, I am standing outside the apartment building in Washington, D.C., where you lived 27 years ago. You had just turned 25, and you were young and married and looking for your first job. You had been working in D.C. for about nine months, in internship positions. You had two cats in theContinue reading “Dear Younger Me”

The Tree

Every now and then when I am outdoors walking down a random path, a branch will catch my eye and remind me of my Tree. I haven’t seen this particular tree in almost 45 years. I remember few things about the catastrophic illness that nearly took my life, and it is possible that the treeContinue reading “The Tree”

A moving story

When you move, you shed things. Furniture, clothes, dishes, weight. Knick-knacks you’ve kept but don’t remember why. That souvenir that seemed so important at the time, but you haven’t looked at since. Books you have read and know you will never read again. When you move, you find things. Old report cards. Fourth grade artContinue reading “A moving story”