Monthly Archives: February 2022

In Which I Make A Brief Appearance To Acknowledge That I Have No Complaints

Dear friends:

As you might know, I started this blog in January of 2014 to document my effort to go a year without complaining.  Thus far, I have failed in that mission; and so, along the way, I declared my year to be measured by infinity.  

These days, I strive to share small events of my life which remind me of how fortunate I have been.  My friend jane Williams inspired that direction for this blogsite.  She observed that my initial entries only recited lists of circumstances about which I then proclaimed I would not lament.  I perused the recent passages at the time and decided that she had a valid point.  Her gentle nudge sent me in a different direction.  I started truly striving to ‘count my blessings’.

The events of this weeks have underscored my positive judgment of my own condition.  While Ukrainians huddle beneath the onslaught of Russian aggression, I ruminate over what to cook for dinner or whether to take myself out to breakfast.  This dramatic reminder not to whine about one’s lack of shoes in the face of another’s lack of feet strengthens my resolve to move closer to a state of joy.

This blog documents that path.  It is not political.  But today, my #journeytojoy has particular poignancy, as I pause in the day’s chores to reflect on what my life could have been like if I had been born in another place and time.  So, I have no pithy slogan for you today.  I’ll tell no sweet story.  I will simply, briefly, remark, that I have nothing about which to moan in the slightest, smallest manner.  All good here.

It’s the twenty-sixth day of the ninety-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

If you wish to read my commentary on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, click HERE.

Russians protesting Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.  The sign says, “No war.”


Lost and found on the California Coast

I took the road east with the gravest of reluctance.  With the radio tuned to Hidden Brain and an Americana (hot) in the cupholder, I turned left on 92 in Halfmoon Bay, and the ocean fell away behind the city in my rear view mirror.

I had done what I set out to do.  I had wandered among the folks who frolic and fish on the Pacifica Pier.  I had walked on the edge of the world.  I had stood with seagulls, followed the path of surfers, and watched boats pull away from the dock in more than one harbor.  A few dollars fell from my wallet into the local economy.  I settled into sleep with the sound of the ocean outside my window.  The owner of a coffee shop hugged me after a two-year hiatus.  A waitress brought my coffee to the booth from which  I could gaze on the Pacific as I ate my scrambled eggs.

For a long time, I have felt the absence of something indefinable that I once cherished.  I cannot name that for which I so desperately yearn.  But as I drove down Highway 1 this weekend, I felt some glimmer of its return.  Something vague, and sweet, and serene wove  itself around my flagging spirit.  Like the people of the Pacifica Pier, who call to each other as they unpack their gear and scatter peanuts for the pigeons, I found myself suddenly feeling frisky.  As I sat on the rocks and watched the sunset at Rockaway Beach, I could have sworn that I heard my soul begin to sing.

It’s the twentieth day of the ninety-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

There are 58 photos in this slideshow, ending with the sunset.  Enjoy.

Note: If the slideshow lags, click on the photo at which it is stuck to open that photo, and then close it again.  For some reason, that will trigger the show to resume.  My apologies for any glitches.

Old Home Week

When people ask me why I moved to California, I often demure.  Who wouldn’t want to live here, I’ll say, shrugging.  Have you seen the weather report?

Truth told, the original draw lay on the fourth floor of a mid-century building on the Palo Alto campus of Stanford Health Care.  A doctor belonging to the viral-encephalitis-as-culprit camp willingly accepted me as a patient in his controversial Chronic Fatigue Clinic.  Beginning in December of 2014, on the strength of my estranged husband’s obsessive search for someone to cure me, I flew out to California every three months to be poked, prodded, tested, and ferried from Infectious Disease to Neurology and back again.  

Ironically, when I moved to California and switched to California Blue Shield in January of 2019, I suddenly lost coverage for the Stanford services.  Eventually I landed at UCSF, with a string of vaguely anorexic millennials who seemed to have attended med school on daddy’s money and snapped their fingers in my face while denying that my existing diagnosis was “a thing”.  My stomach turned.  But then I came of age for Medicare, which disdains the whole concept of “networks”.  An earnest young clinician took pity on me and made a referral back to South Bay.

One only has to step into the halls of Stanford to understand the difference.  To be sure, competent medical folks roam other corridors, in other cities.  But at Stanford, the very linoleum exudes a certain kind of quiet confidence that seeps into your soul on entry.  You feel no arrogance, just brilliance.  Their eyes dance as they bend over your spastic legs with their piercing needles.  The jittering graph on the monitor mesmerizes them.  They gasp; they chortle; they grimace and huddle; and then they turn to you with nothing short of gratitude for allowing them to have such fun at your expense.  

I left Stanford a bit before 3:00 p.m. today, feeling oddly content.  I won’t get the surgeon’s pronouncement until next week, though by dinner time I already knew that I had flunked the bone density scan.  It matters not.  Give me cheerful news or dump dire predictions on my head.  One way or the other, I know I’m in good hands again.

I drove west and checked into a motel next to the Pacific.  I hear its song now:  Its steady hum; its rise and fall onto the beach; the occasional crescendo as the wind lifts a wave and lets it drop. 

I had dinner at the adjacent restaurant.  As I finished my wine and watched the sun send its ruby flames through a low bank of clouds, three women settled in the corner table.  One of them called across to me that she liked my scarf.  I stopped to thank her, and soon, in the way of women everywhere, we assumed an easy banter.

Somehow the conversation flowed around to places of origin.  One said, I’m from St. Louis, and of course, I had to ask her where she had attended high school.  Hazelwood, she acknowledged, prompting us to ferret out a connection between my cousins and a childhood pal of hers.  Another mentioned Washington, Missouri, inspiring me to name two friends there, Mike and Portia Clark.  Of course I know them, she exclaimed.  What sweet people!  Portia taught my daughter!  A moment later, I sank into the fourth chair at their table.  Our life stories tumbled out, while the sun slipped into the rippling omnipresent water, darkness gathered beyond the seawall, and my world turned another click closer to joy.

It’s the eighteenth day of the ninety-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Blame it on the moon

Once you could depend upon me to bear an earnest look and wrap myself in layers of cloth to hide my shame.  The passing decades encrusted me with a forlorn patina, worn copper tinged with the dingy black grime of disuse.  You only needed to raise your voice or turn a certain damning glance in my direction.  I would shrink; I would withdraw.  My own speech recklessly swung between shrill and shy; between demanding and dejected; between condemnation and apology.  

But tonight I drove my car into a fallow field beyond the dumpster on the edge of the community in which I live.  I eased myself from behind the wheel and rested my little camera on the frame of the door.  Heedless to the rising swarm of mosquitoes and the chill of the February Delta, I aimed my lens toward the heavens.  My failing eyes strained to see even the guiding square of the automatic focus but I did not flinch or falter.  I snapped and snapped and snapped while geese rose from the earth and streamed across the sky. bare branches swayed in the biting wind, and birds cooed each other to a soothing sleep.

Then I went home, to my 198-square-foot tiny house on my 50 x 80 lot at the south side of the west half of a twelve-acre trailer park perched beside the banks of the San Joaquin River.  I never felt so fine.  Blame it on the moon.

It’s the sixteenth day of the ninety-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

These are far from professional, but they are mine to share.  There are twenty.  Please enjoy.

Things I Possess In Abundance

I do not need more scarves, blankets, or warm wooly sweaters.

I have an adequate number of handbags, overnight cases, reusable totes, and storage baskets.

My supply of light jackets and cardigans surpasses requirements.

I have enough shoes, boots, and bedroom slippers.

I could provide socks to a small family as long as they like crazy colors and cashmere.

My leggings inventory embarrasses me.

I could serve coffee to the entire tiny house community in the park where I live without needing to wash mugs.

I have dozens of plates, a plethora of bowls, and not one but three oven-safe medium-sized ramekins (one green, one yellow, and one that’s a weird color which I think must have once been called Harvest Gold).

In my lower cabinet, there are still, despite repeated purges, three espresso makers, two French roast pots, and more disposable storage containers than one person could possibly use in a month unless she were supplying Meals on Wheels for a small army, which I am not.

I have adequate guilty feelings for everything that I’ve failed to do and most of the undertakings which I’ve done but botched.

I possess excess anxiety, an overflow of worry, a wealth of regret, and an extraordinarily healthy supply of grief.

I have an ample endowment of longing.

I think it’s time for another major declutter.  This time, I anticipate no difficulty distinguishing among what to keep, what to donate, and what to unceremoniously  discard.

It’s the twelfth day of the ninety-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

I used this photo in one of my slideshows, but its delicacy haunts me. This little bird seemed to be deliberately posing for me. Taken in the parking lot at Pigeon Point, February 2022.

Calling All Angels

On 09 February 1982, I parked my car on Westport Road in Kansas City, Missouri in front of the old Tivoli.  I sat for a few minutes as the car cooled.   Then I pushed the heavy door of my Oldsmobile open and stepped into the street, the silk of my interview dress rustling, my brown suede pumps wobbling a bit on the rough pavement.  I glanced to the right, the left, the right; then I stepped into the path of destiny in the form of a VW driven by an uninsured (self-identified) Persian immigrant who had been blinded by the afternoon sun.

You know the details of the main event:  Body flew upwards more than three stories.  Sensation of leaving my mortal frame.  Hand of an angel resting on my head, telling me, It’s not your time.  Falling, falling, falling — past the office of Summer Shipp, then the owner of the Tivoli, working on books.  She dialed 911 and reported that someone had jumped from the roof of her building.  Curled arms around head over bent knees; smash into the hood; crack the windshield; fly 82 feet forward and land in the street without shedding one drop of blood.  (Ms. Shipp later visited me in the hospital. Still later, she disappeared; the victim of a heinous murder.)

Thirty-two breaks in my right leg.  Was it her good leg, someone asked my mother, weeks later.  She has a good leg? my mother exclaimed.  A moment of awkward silence ensued.  I broke the embarrassment with my own laughter.

Maybe you’ve heard that part, some time in these last  hectic forty years.

But did you hear about the KU nurse who cradled my head in her lap until the ambulance came, holding my neck rigid in case of spinal cord injury?

Did I tell you about the paramedics who tried to calm me with assurances that my leg might just be sprained?  (I paraphrased my brother Mark, at 13, protesting my mother’s similar assurances about his arm:  “It’s my leg, and it’s broken.”)

Can you picture the emergency room nurse who gently lifted me from the ambulance gurney to an examining table, holding all of my parts together including the back board onto which I was strapped?

Imagine the security guard who came and escorted the errant driver from my bedside, where he had been urging me to sign a paper across which he had scrawled avowals that I had not been hurt and that if I had, it was not his fault.  Hours later, the ER doc muscled the guy out again.  The next morning, a KC cop told him in no uncertain terms that the hospital did not wish him to return to the premises and I did not wish to sign his release.

On the med-surg floor, one aide wrapped round after round of elastic to hold my crushed leg stable while another wiped the constant stream of tears as they flowed onto my hospital gown.

A diminutive surgeon gently took my hand and explained that he could not operate until the swelling subsided which might, he quietly opined, be several days.  Two weeks later, he smiled as they wheeled me into surgery, or at least so I was told.  By then I had succumbed to the anesthesia.

A succession of physical therapists joined the long line of those who contributed to my successful though clumsy stumble through the next few months.

Classmate after classmate brought me notes, tapes, outlines, and assignments so that I could keep my end of the bargain that I made with the assistant dean of the law school to avoid a forced withdrawal.  Someone brought a giant chocolate chip cookie which I shared with the staff who cared for me over a seven-week stay.

My worried parents abandoned their lives in St. Louis to come water my plants and sit at my bedside.  My grandfather sent money.

The law firm which had hired me that day held my job until I could navigate the working end of a gas pedal.

For the next four decades, I have answered children the same way:  I did not cross in the cross walk.  Let that be a lesson to you, honey.  Hold your parent’s hand; look both ways; and always, always, always cross in the crosswalk.   As for adults,  I peer straight into their eyes and quietly tell them: I battled with a moving vehicle and won.

It’s the ninth day of the ninety-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

A blue heron seen at Owl Harbor, in Seven Mile Slough off the San Joaquin. February 2022.

Calling All Angels by Train

Songwriters: Charles Colin / James Stafford / Pat Monahan / Scott Underwood

Insufficient space

I plan my weekends at the coast according to my physical capacity and the dictates of the weather.  Fog does not depress me, but when it settles on the seaside, I curl in a chair and read.  Blue skies lure me to the road, high on the ridge through the redwoods or south to the small towns and state beaches.

My walking stick only guarantees a few steps on a level surface.  I can’t risk falling so far away from anyone who knows me, so as I age, my trips become more about the view at sunset than hikes along the bluff.  But the beauty does not disappoint.   The heady air invigorates me even in the small spaces when I navigate the broken ground to sit on a wooden pillar and listen to the waves fall against the shore.  My egg salad sandwich tastes wonderful in the parking lot at Davenport after the long ride down Pine Flat Road from Bonny Doon.

Back at my lodging, I take a cold glass of water out to the yard just before the sunset begins.  I raise my camera to begin the thrilling process of recording the end to an amazing restorative day at the farthest edge of the world.  But the memory card will not cooperate:  Insufficient space! it cries.  I completely understand.  Same.

It’s the fourth day of the ninety-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


When the call came to change my appointment at the Stanford Spine Clinic to a video visit, my first reaction surprised the scheduling clerk.  Awesome! I exclaimed.  She laughed but did not question my exuberance.

I could have cancelled my weekend on the coast.  After all, I now had no immediate need to travel west.  The appointment could happen from the comfort of my tiny house after a half-day of work.  But the sea beckoned so I headed to Half Moon Bay with a full tank of gas and a fully charged phone.

I first saw the Pacific Ocean in 1980 with a boyfriend long vanished from my life.  We drove to San Francisco for Christmas, through Utah in my 1972 Chevy Nova that kept dying as we crossed the Salt Lake flats.  We sat by the bay in a heavy fog and wondered why everyone seemed so happy.  On my second trip for treatment at Stanford in early 2015, I drove over the La Honda road to the Great Coastal Highway and found the answer.  

The video visit went off without a hitch.  The neurologist and I bonded over a shared first name, though her “Corinne” has an “a” on the end.  How do you pronounce yours, she trilled, and laughed in delight that we both hit that long “e”.  Then she split the screen and delivered an intricate lecture on spinal stenosis and several other maladies.  I stared at the image of my pinched nerve canal and remembered, with no small measure of dismay, my constant nagging of various doctors for help with my increasingly numb feet.

Now I’m in a small building on a working horse farm in Pescadero.  Three glorious days near my beloved Pacific stretch before me.  Tomorrow I will wander down to the town with my egg-salad sandwich and my bottle of Super Greens juice.  I will pull over to photograph sea gulls.  When the sun sets, my camera will seek the dance of its amber rays on the misty clouds.  And I will sleep — oh, how I will sleep, with the heady air and the ocean’s voice and the soft certain knowledge of the coming dawn.

It’s the third day of the ninety-eighth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.