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The staccato sound of rain on steel fills the house.  Just beyond the upper window pane, a purple glow marks the edge of the neighboring RV.  I’ve done the dishes, and put away an odd assortment of items which have yet to settle into one of the niches here.  For now they get stashed in the cedar chest with the baby blankets, a black wool sweater that I want to keep safe from the moths, and the exercise bands.

I did not much of anything today.  I made the obligatory trip to Lodi to return a lock.  I stopped at Pier 1 and bought a large cushion from the clearance pile which i fancy might make a good headboard.  I read a funny book, edited a stipulation, and spent two hours arguing with an office laughably called “Guest Relations” at Stanford.  They use initials instead of surnames and don’t give out extensions.  I wrote a three-page letter about my experiences in Cardiology, and tricked someone into disclosing both an e-mail address and a fax number.  I can be persuasive.

Not having a real job has finally gotten under my skin.  I’m starting to get interviews, so it won’t be long now.  But I can’t rearrange cupboards that I don’t have.  I’ll be in Missouri next week, which hopefully will soothe my jitters.  I’ll get a couple of more cases resolved.  I’ll go to St. Louis where my son and I will help each other process the loss of our beloved dog.  He’s meeting me there, taking the five-hour drive from Chicago.  It’s my sister Joyce’s birthday.  There’s no place like home.

But tonight the rain relentlessly hammers on the expanse of blue metal above me.  I’ve read all the novels that I bought for the trip.  I’ve exhausted my patience with social media.  I close my eyes.  I want to cry but that feels like a betrayal though I’m unsure of where my loyalties lie.

What’s the saddest song? someone asked on Facebook tonight. I posted a link to something by Bonnie Raitt.  But now, it comes to me:  The Sounds of Silence.

It’s the fifth day of the fifty-second month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


My favorite tree on Jackson Slough Road with the merest hint of Mount Diablo on the far horizon.



I don’t mean to complain, but. . .

I’m trying to understand the world.  I hear so much coming out of Washington that troubles me.  Protections for our climate, for children, for immigrants, for older Americans, all seem to be under attack.  I don’t mean to complain but it seems as thought the world is going to hell in a hand basket.

I get on the phone and I’m told that the customer service person cannot give me his name “because of Company policy, ma’am”.  After 35 minutes of struggling to get the clerk to help me,  I begin to think that there might be a language barrier.  I finally demand a phone number for an American agent.  I call that phone number and a cheerful voice provides me with her name and in three minutes, accomplishes what the first individual could not do in a half an hour.

I don’t mean to complain but I do not understand why the second clerk had no trouble doing what I needed whereas the first clerk could not despite having a half an hour to do so.  Was it the inability to communicate or was the man just a jerk???  I don’t want to blame an entire foreign nation; maybe the guy just doesn’t like his job.

I turn on the radio to distract myself.  I browse the NYT.  There I read about tariffs against others by this nation and tariffs against our nation.  The stock market plunges and clearly, we aren’t getting greater.  I don’t mean to complain but the average Joe and Jane gets screwed and it’s business as usual.

I have a headache.  I did manage to change my plane reservations as well as my rental-car-drop-off reservations with only a net outlay of twenty additional bucks, so it’s a win if you don’t count those lost 35 minutes and my rising frustration and agitation.

I draw in a very large cleansing breathe. I remind myself that we’ve just lost our dog; and that my son and I are both grieving, he more so than me because of their special bond.  We couldn’t be with her; we feel that we failed her.  And the stock market plunges, and the government  keeps eroding the hard-won progress of the last fifty years and I still don’t have a job!  I don’t mean to complain BUT!!!!


This not-complaining business overwhelms me once in a while!

It’s the fourth day of the fifty-second month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues. . .and tomorrow’s another day.


Growth potential

Living tiny seems to have begun to change me.  Years ago, I wrote a poem called, “How To Go For A Walk In Loose Park”, in which I advised disabled people to “keep your head down / don’t make eye contact / then you won’t see the fear / or feel the shame”.  But now I walk the quarter-mile loop around my side of the park every evening or every other evening.  I know I still look as clumsy as ever but I no longer seem to mind.

Nobody here thinks I’m any odder than anyone else.  Someone in Kansas City once told me that he described me as having “gimp in [my] get-along”, to warn another person before meeting me.  I found that incredibly painful.  If you were to make a list of the first three things that I would want someone to know about me, my funny walk would not even make the top fifty.

In fact, the only physical characteristic about which I alert people is my hair.  It’s curly, wild, and virtually uncontrollable.  I ironed it until I turned fifty.  At that point, I looked in the mirror after a shower and studied the ringlets.  “Oh what the hell,” I told my startled image.  “You’re a curly girl.  Get over yourself.”  I threw away my flat iron or at the very least, tossed it in the back of the highest shelf of the bathroom cabinet.

Right now it’s probably in one of the boxes which my friend Katrina carefully labelled, “Bathroom 1′, “Bathroom 2”, and so forth.  Those boxes made it as far as a storage unit.  They hold all the girly stuff that I bought in a misguided attempt to look like other women.  One of these trips, I’m busting open those boxes and giving all those bottles to homeless people.  Unless they’ve been opened, of course.  But I happen to know that a lot of those purchases sat unnoticed within hours of being taken out of CVS bags.

I spent 62 years trying to be the female of handsome men’s dreams.  The mere thought of that makes me laugh derisively now.  What part of “the American dream” ever involved the likes of me?  Not one man on the face of this earth ever awakened and thought, “Damn, I want to marry a crippled girl with bad teeth and a wicked stubborn streak.”    Somehow I thought if I got skinny enough (I did, down to a 00, and yes, that’s an actual size) and acted extraordinarily chipper, I’d fool somebody.  I knew I was fighting against the current because when I was in eighth grade, my mother told me that I should go to college because I was not the kind of girl who would ever get a proposal.

My mother.  MY MOTHER.    She warned me.  I think  she meant well, and I’m here to explain, that I believed her for the next five decades.  Even when I actually did get not one but three proposals, I still considered it a fluke, a product of my studied ability to appear to be something I wasn’t long enough to trick someone who wanted marriage badly enough.

What this process of going tiny has taught me is that my mother’s assertion fails because of its false premise.  She assumed that getting a proposal was the standard by which my worth would be judged.  I don’t blame her; she was raised in different times, and my generation came to its ascendancy as the last of that era.

I’m truly pleased for anyone who has made a success of their marriage; and I take full responsibility for the mistakes I made which contributed to the failure of mine. But what this last six months of cleansing and decluttering has given me is a new premise.

In this equation, my worth is judged not by who wants to be with me, but by my inner essence, the kernel of kindness, how I use that kindness in my dealings with others, and my capacity for joy.  More than that:  The measure of my value consists not in whether my legs wobble when I walk around the park, but whether my lips smile, whether I hold my head high to feel the evening breeze, and whether my heart rests lightly in my chest.  It shows in the hand that I raise on the steering wheel when I come around the hairpin curve on Brannan Island Road and pass another vehicle.  I prove myself every day by swinging those crippled legs onto the floor of Angel’s Haven and standing, against all odds, despite every setback, and whether or not I should, in all reality, be able to do so.

I might not be anybody else’s idea of marriage material, but I think I’m one fine person.  And you can take that to the bank.  Guaranteed growth potential.

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








This is the new screen door at Angel’s Haven.  For a door stop, I’m using a rusty old bolt that I found at a thrift store in Rio Vista and bought for $3.00.  The lady said, “What are you going to do with this thing?”  When I explained, she cooed: “Oh that is so cool!”  Indeed.

Damn Fine Pets

I’ve always asserted that I am not a dog person.  It’s true that I shy away from dogs.  It might be my relative unsteadiness.  I can be knocked sideways with little effort.  Perhaps I don’t like the feel or smell of a puppy; who knows.  Maybe it’s a myth.

I spent many hours sitting on our porch back in Brookside in my nightgown, calling to Chocolate, our runaway Beagle.  I lamented his accidental death which, truth told, I unwittingly occasioned.  But more:  I spent hours in my living room, crying over my sad life, with Little Girl’s head on my knee and her warm brown eyes studying my face.

Today my son made the brave choice to let go of our beloved Little Girl.  I haven’t stopped crying for more than a few minutes at a time all day.  We knew this would happen soon.  But we will both be in Missouri next week.  Another week, and one of us could have been there with her.

I trusted the vet’s advice and my son’s decision.  Her cancer, arthritis, and a ruptured disk all combined to put her in too much pain.  We tried to orchestrate it as well as we could, but in the end, she went quietly.  Our friends Chris Taggart and his mother Katrina stood in for us.  We consoled each other; they consoled us. Katrina had her hand on Little Girl’s soft head, petting her, comforting her.  They did the best they could for her, and so did we.

And she did her best for us.  From Sprinkles, the black-and-white cat, through Chocolate, our first dog; the boycats Tiger, Scruffy, Chief; and the stalwart Little Girl, we had some damn fine pets in our home.  We loved them well.

I will never forget the sight of my son carrying Little Girl down the street in his arms because she got tired on a walk.  Or when he taught her to sit, to “un-sit”; and to spin; and how we tricked her into running upstairs by saying, “Go see Patrick!”  But most of all, for the rest of my days, I will remember Little Girl going out of her mind berserk with glee the first time that Patrick came home from college and she realized that he had returned to her.  Her joy knew absolutely no bounds.

She was his dog; and he was her boy.  I owe her so much because she loved him without reservation.  If there is a heaven (and no, I don’t need a copy of “the Rainbow Bridge”, but thank you) and if dogs go to it, I hope she finds my mother and that the two of them go for long walks, keeping each other company for all eternity.

Rest in peace, Little Girl.  And thank you.

It’s the second day of the fifty-second month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues, albeit with a Beagle-Lab-mix-shaped hole in the universe, and a heaviness in my heart.

Portrait of Sprinkles and Little Girl by Patrick Corley

Full circle

I’ve told this story a thousand times.

I stood in a chain discount store, staring at the action figures, trying to recall what four-year-old Patrick had asked Santa to bring.   I finally settled on something and hoisted it into the cart.  A wistful teenage clerk spoke to me.

“Ma’am,” he ventured, “you’ve been standing there a long time.  Did you get what you wanted?”

“No,” I admitted.  “I wanted a girl.”

I love my son, make no mistake.  But I imagined he would be a girl.  I was so certain that I had her name selected — Elizabeth Lucille, after  my sister Joyce Elizabeth and my mother Lucille Johanna.  When I had amnio, the technician asked if I wanted to know the gender.  I shook my head and said, “No, I don’t,” in a loud clear voice.  I didn’t need to be told; I knew.

“It’s a boy,” she crowed.

Which part of “no” didn’t you understand?  I have not forgotten her stunned look, nor my next question:  How in God’s name will I potty-train a boy?  She shook her head and muttered, “Pregnant women.  Spare me.”  I don’t think she meant me to hear.

I couldn’t think of a boy name until Patrick was a week old.  I called him “Buddy” for those first days, a name which he subsequently carried until late in elementary school.

But I love my son; and he loves me.  He’s kind, strong, and gentle.  He’s witty, talented, and accomplished.  He inherited his writing talent from his mother’s side and, it must be said, his musical talent from his absent father.  Thankfully, he got his father’s calm demeanor but just as thankfully, his mother’s fiercely loyal nature.

I’m glad, now, that I had a boy.  But I truly did want a girl.

I’ve latched on to other people’s daughters over the years, hopefully not in a creepy way. In the first of my ill-fated marriages, I strained to be a decent stepmother to Kim and Tshandra.  I failed, but later in life,  I’ve reconnected with them, especially with Tshandra.  Our relate gives me extraordinary enjoyment.

My son’s best friend Chris has two sisters, and I came into my surrogate mother role with them.  I relish the times that I’ve had with  Caitlin and  Jennie.  I take a small measure of satisfaction that I might have done them some good.  They both turned out smashingly.

I had another stepdaughter, Cara; and I mourn the loss of my relationship with her because she’s a fabulous woman, beautiful, keen-spirited, tenacious, determined.   Then there’s a few more, the daughters of friends — Abigail Vogt comes to mind, with her two little boys growing like weeds.    Abbey will be married this fall, and I am hoping to play some small role in her ceremony.

This morning, I left the Delta with the sun full in the sky here in the river valley.  I headed north.  A blanket of fog clung to the foothills above the San Pablo Bay.  I drove for two hours, to Windsor, to the home of another of the girls whom I’ve collected and from whom, with the blessings of their mothers, I vicariously derive the experience of being a girl-mother.

I met Sharon Alberts and her daughter Ellen Cox at Pigeon Point Hostel several years ago.  They had come down to see the seals.  We got to talking about yoga, and I sensed something phenomenal in each of them.  Sharon has a peaceful, kind spirit, and her sweetness shines from her daughter’s eyes.  Ellen’s fierce intelligence dominates her  persona, though.  Every moment that I’m around her, I sense that she hovers one step away from greatness.

Maybe I got what I wanted after all:  the wonderful son who will never forsake his mother, no matter how far he roams; and the chance to share in the lives of some grand girls who’ve grown to be phenomenal woman.  Yes, yes; and oh, it was Batman that Patrick wanted.  Turned out, I had gotten it right.

It’s the first day of the fifty-second month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


Me and the lovely Ellen Cox.

Caught Red-Handed: Or, how a recovering Catholic spends Holy Saturday.

A different person might have taken the first Beet and Mandarin Orange Salad recipe offered by Madame “Ok, Google”.  Had I done that, I would have used 1, 10-ounce can of Mandarin Oranges with juice; a jar of “good” pickled beets; a red onion, thinly sliced; and equal measures of quality olive oil and a vinegar of my choice.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

But I could not take such a mundane dish to Sharon Alberts’ Easter Sunday brunch so I kept looking, and eventually, came across a recipe which I could cobble together along with a modified version of quick-pickling instructions to make something fresh.

I feel good about that.  I have no complaints, even though I’ll be attending said brunch with red stains on my hand.  The pleasant afternoon of cooking faded into an evening which ended on a perfect note — with visitors.  The Karaoke Diva, Jeanne Oxley; her husband Danny Johnson; and the lovely Louan Lee came over to my side of the park to look at my new screen door and assess what it will take to install it.  They sashayed around the inside of Angel’s Haven, cracking wise and generally inducing a feeling that they might actually like the place.  Just as quickly as they arrived, they piled back into Jeanne’s car and returned to the south side of Park Delta Bay.  I’m still smiling.

It’s late in the evening on Holy Saturday. at the tag end of the fifty-first month of My Year Without Complaining.  A tolerable fatigue has settled over me.    I’m not worried about eggs, or Reese’s bunnies, or even the fact that all my Easter Bonnets must be in the storage unit 1800 miles from me.  It’s all good.  Life continues.


This recipe is a cobbled-together blend of several found on the internet, and hence, original.  The secret is fresh quick-pickled beets.  Yum.


For this recipe, which made 9 cups, I used two whole LARGE fresh beets.  Cut off the ragged ends and peel with a good, sharp peeler.  I use one with a firm grip because — well, lily-white spastic hands and all.  Clumsy!  Peel clean and rinse.


Chop the peeled beets into one-inch cubes.  Approximate, don’t obsess.


Using about two inches of water, steam the peeled and cubed beets fork- tender.  I steamed for about 12 minutes on a medium-high gas flame.  Then I set it aside and of course, as we learned on the Food Network, the beets continued cooking and thus were absolutely perfect.


Don’t forget to use white vinegar to clean the cutting board! Especially if, like me, you find plastic boards slippery and stone boards too heavy so you insist on using the wood board your father made which is the right size and easy to use but porous.


Thinly slice a large red onion.  As far as I can tell, this is one of the few times that even Scott Conant would approve of using red onions and he despises them.


You’re going to use 2/3 of a cup of red wine vinegar, three tablespoons of sugar, a few good rounds of fresh ground black pepper, a couple of dashes of cinnamon, and of course, pink Himalyan salt, as your pickling liquid.  The salt was sitting elsewhere and thus not pictured.  Quantities not exact.  This is a Rachel-Ray sort of recipe.


Dump out the steaming liquid (which will be beet-red, so watch out for your clothing especially if your lovely apron is still in Kansas City).  Put the onion and the pickling ingredients into the pan which previously held the water with which you steamed the beets.  (Notice the beets still sitting covered in the steamer portion of the two-tiered pan.)  Turn the burner on medium, and let the pickling liquid get nice and warm, stirring with a heat-safe spoon like this bright-orange one that somebody brought to my house and forgot to reclaim.

Cook until the onions soften


Then throw the beets into the pan with the onions.  Turn the heat off.  Mix like crazy!


Put the beet/onion mixture in a nice stainless steel bowl.  I have a set of these that I traded for the stand mixer when I got divorced the second time.  My ex threw in the cast iron pans as a bonus.   I have always felt that I got the best of the bargain.


Now things got really lovely.  You’re going to peel and section six mandarin oranges.  As far as I am concerned, Halos are better than Cuties but pick whichever one you can get.  Zest each one before you peel it, letting the zest fall into the beet mixture.  Don’t zest down to the palest part as that is nasty and bitter.  You want to stay sweet.  Always.


Zest, peel, section.


Once you have all your nice little orange sections in the beets, dress with about three tablespoons each of olive oil and red wine vinegar, and of course, add a bit more pink Himalyan salt.  If you don’t have pink Himalyan salt, use a good coarse sea salt or even just kosher salt.  If you have neither of those, use Morton’s or even Best Value but don’t let on that I said it was okay.  Once you have it dressed, refrigerate in a covered container.  Serve chilled.

Please let me know if you like it!


As you can see, my hands got a little red when I peeled the beets.

Happy Easter!


Dedicated to Sharon Alberts, who asked me for my recipe.  



Split Personality

Take a deep breath.  Pour another cup of coffee.  Wiggle into your most comfortable chair. Compose your mind.

This might take a few minutes to explain.

My father told the story of naming me one afternoon when we stood next to each other at his work bench.  My father made a lot of abysmal choices in his life.  He beat his wife and children. He drank too much alcohol.  He let himself fall into an impoverished state, leaving his family to fend for itself.  He never pulled himself out of that misery.    Until his last days, he remained a broken man whose wife, who had died six years earlier, supported him even from the grave.

But he could make things out of wood, tinkering for hours downstairs in the silence of our basement.  Regardless of my ambivalence towards him or maybe as part of it, I hold fast to my fond memories of hours spent in the workroom which he had created after we tore the coal room out. (I’ve written about that coal room elsewhere; the memory of it causes me to shudder.)

His creativity had limits.  He didn’t like to do finishes or to paint.  Few carpenters do.  He sometimes chose inferior woods, probably due to not having the money for better grades.  He let items go to their intended recipients with cracks or misshapen holes; I never knew whether he saw those flaws and didn’t mind them, or just made mistakes that he didn’t perceive.  I’m sure he used his power tools while drunk, which could account for a lot of the imperfections.

I stood on a small bench, called a “schomely” (t’s an Austrian word for which I’ve never found an acceptable spelling) to “help” my Dad.  I know my relationship with my father carries complicated emotional memories.  The children of abusers struggle to resolve the good feelings mixed  with fear when recalling their childhoods.  But those times in the workshop gave me memories that I appreciate.

During one such time, my Dad told me that he and my Mom had disagreed about my name.  She wanted to call me “Mary Kathleen”.  He favored “Bridget Corinne”.  Eventually they compromised with “Bridget Kathleen”.  After my birth, so he said, he and the wife of the owner of the bar where he drank wrote the various permutations of the four names on a cocktail napkin. He decided that “Mary Corinne” looked better with “Corley” than “Bridget Kathleen”.  He claimed to have gone back to the hospital without telling my mother, persuading the clerk to discard the original paperwork and essentially rename me.

I asked my mother about it and she smiled.  She told me that it happened more or less as he recounted, but that she didn’t mind.  She told me that she had intended to call me “Bridget Kay” but that she also liked “Mary Corinne”.

Later in life, “Bridget Kay” became my pseudonym.  I used it for writing the virtue of which I was not entirely sure.  Would people like it?  Stamp a fake name on it and see.  I gave that name to men in bars and to strangers in stores.  When I got online, I used it for dating sites.

Bridget Kay had a Facebook page before I did.

This morning, Facebook notified Bridget Kay that 72 people had not heard from her in a while.  It urged her to sign into her page and let people know how she fared.  I sat at my lovely fold-down live-edge table, looking out of my four-foot bay window as the sun rose over the harbormaster’s RV and my weeping willow, now in full leaf, verdant and beautiful.  I tilted my head so my good ear could hear the birds greeting the fresh day.   Their song filtered through the open upstairs window, wafting through Angel’s Haven with the slight nip of the cool morning air.

If I could remember Bridget’s passwords, I would post this status on her behalf:

Today, the body which carries me through life aches a little.  Its heart wobbles.  The legs on which it walks through life strain against the rawness of the broken electrical signals flitting through their nerves.  Pesky viruses lurk at the cellular level and periodically erupt in various annoying symptoms.  On Thursday, salty water leaked from those fading eyes as that body drove around Lodi, irritated, frustrated with bureaucracy, worried, lonely.  But as the sun eased itself higher in Friday’s sky, on balance, the brain and the heart had become refreshed by a night’s sleep surrounded by soft spring air.  Boundless zest for life in northern California had returned.  On balance, I can report that  I remain one step ahead of mere survival, even though I sometimes have to struggle to assert myself over the morose personality with whom I share this body.   She’s the one who dragged us out here, though; and that’s one of the best decisions that she’s ever made.   I’m calling that a win.  Check back in a few years.

Bridget Kay never actually complains about anything.  She reports her occasional setbacks then shrugs, smiles, and keeps going.  She’s always been my better half.

It’s the very last day of the fifty-first month in My [amazingly long] Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Follow the clickable road

In the animated feature “James and the Giant Peach”, one scene depicts James and other adventurers on a long stream, twisting and turning in the atmosphere.  I can’t recall of what — a river of peach, possibly?  The fence?  The image stayed with me, and seems to flicker in and out of my consciousness.  Like Dorothy’s yellow-brick road, the path that James followed parallels my own.  I ride my small boat down a river wandering to who-knows-where.  I tread an old street taking me to who-knows-what.  The cobblestones fall away behind me; the river disappears within the icy reaches of cloudless sky through which I pass.

I spent a half-hour unsubscribing from all the Kansas City vendors and politicians yesterday.  I’m following a clickable road to my future.  At the same time, I traded barbs with opposing counsel in one of my remaining private cases, a sure sign that the lawyers want to settle.  Posturing precedes negotiations.  I sent a draft stipulation at about nine o’clock and closed my computer, waiting for tomorrow, pencil poised to place a check by another Missouri obligation resolved.  I’ll try the case on April 10th, settled or not, and walk away, hoping for the best, heading for the west.

Another click closer to turning an imagined future into a resolute present.  Don’t look back.  Have you started your #journeytojoy yet?

It’s the twenty-ninth day of the fifty-first month in My [Never-ending] Year [Trying to Navigate] Without Complaining.  Life continues.

I shall squander my days in the embrace of books.

My daily existence has grown amorphous enough without the consistent interjection of inexpensive reading material, but there you go.

I spent a mere half-hour at Rio Vista Books yesterday and everything has been blown to blue-blazes.  I’ve read two entire books since 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, reading into the evening and rising again at 5:00 a.m.  I finished the second book just before my 9:00 a.m. mediation and dropped it onto the table.

Admittedly, these books do not challenge me, well-written though they might have been.  I read a Ngaio Marsh that I hadn’t previously devoured; and Book Four of the Botswana-based series The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Morality for Beautiful Girls, which somehow I had skipped.  Both can be considered light-weight, though each author beautifully describes their settings and deftly reveals character and plot in a manner that makes me salivate and regret my wholly abysmal attempts at writing fiction.

Between the first and second of these reads, I did manage to run other, more critical errands, fix and eat dinner, and do dishes.  I also deleted a thousand useless emails, folded a load of clothes, and sent out resumes to three vaguely potential employers.

But what I mostly did for the last twenty-hours, was read.  And now I have to scramble to regroup.  I have a deposition scheduled in Kansas City on Friday for which I need to draft questions for my pinch-hitter and nail down my client on whether she wants to go forward with it — code for whether she can afford it or not.  Other neglected tasks await — I need to get a duplicate Social Security card and apply for a California Driver’s License.  There is the nagging need to resolve the problem with the careless cardiologist who called my EKG normal when, in fact, it was not.  He waved the paper in front of my eyes and said that he didn’t care whether or not I took my medication, though conceding, when pressed, that if the EKG was normal, the medication probably accounted for the result.  His tiresome lack of judgment and disinterest discouraged me from dealing with his entire department.  I’d rather read.

But I cannot lose myself in the rhythmic comfort of words today.  The mediation concluded with a draft parenting plan between two parents for whose child I have served as guardian ad litem.  One more case can be ticked off of my list.  One less tie to Kansas City.  One step closer to done.   I will need a job soon.  Putting aside the question of finances, how I spend my days defines me.  It provides a vehicle for me to express my values.

I stare out the eastern-facing window at the fullness of the weeping willow tree. the delicate branches of which hang lush and low over the meadow.  It’s a lovely day.  I would like nothing better than to snatch another volume from the stack, and go outside to my rocker, with a cool drink, and a comfortable shawl.  I would surrender to the embrace of books.  I would be quite content.

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



I drove to Vacaville yesterday just to see the mountains. On the way home, I stood for twenty thrilling minutes in a fierce wind to video-tape the windmills.  My body swayed with the force of the air pushing against it.  I studied the snow-capped Sierras on the far horizon.  I could not have ordered a lovelier day.

In the grocery store parking lot, two ladies grinned as their carts bumped mine. I watched them move beyond me to their vehicles.  They loaded bags into each of their trunks, one grey head bending over to lift a Lira’s re-usable bag, one dark black sheaf of straight hair doing the same. They stood chatting and then turned to leave.  They each gave me a little wave.  I think they mistook me for someone else but i waved back.

On the road to Park Delta Bay, I stopped to photograph the barge.  It has turned in the last few days.  I studied the rust of its girth, marveling at the heaviness of it.  The river rippled, its natural current meeting the rise of the evening breeze around the curve of the island towards the marina across from where I live.

When I descended the pavement to the park, I noticed a flock of crows in the trees over my row.  They guard me.  I stood talking with my neighbor for a few minutes, then went inside.  I found myself smiling for the rest of the day, and into the evening.  The wind had cleared my soul of pettiness, if only for a little while.

It’s the twenty-seventh day of the fifty-first month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Here’s a video of the windmills.  My apologies; the wind noise continues throughout.