ridiculous existence

As absurd as it sounds, on sunny autumn mornings when my kid is home from school—this time because the whole town's power went out in Sunday's storm bearing heavy rains and sixty-five-mile-an-hour winds—I follow him holding a large piece of cardboard as he crawls around, trying to thwart his incessant effort to stare at the sun. It is a ridiculous existence to be employed as his shadow, blocking the sun, stymieing his biting and banging, wiping his drool, spotting him up and down the stairs, catching him before he trips and falls. It is hard hanging out with a kid who can do almost nothing, especially when there is nothing to do.

Yesterday, we took a trip to the grocer. Once inside, Calvin had a mini tantrum, having not recognized the place since it was somewhat dark inside, the generators only able to run a few lights and a handful of registers. We couldn't buy dairy or meat or greens or anything frozen since the store was trying to preserve its resources. The lines were long, but two nice gentlemen, seeing me with my gimpy son peg-legging around in his boot splint and trying to bite every surface in sight, offered to let me cut in line. I gladly accepted their gesture.

As we left the store I told Calvin how proud and grateful I was for his compliance and patience. Hearing my praise, he gleefully stuck out his tongue and smiled. 

On the drive home I imagined there were plenty of folks complaining about their loss of power, about the roadblocks diverting traffic from downed trees and power lines, about damaged landscapes and houses. Standing in line in the darkened store had made me think of how goddamn lucky we are compared to people in places like Venezuela, Yemen, Puerto Rico, Iraq, Appalachia, Syria, Haiti and other places racked with war, genocide, disease, corruption, natural disasters and famine. We enjoy a ridiculous existence. We have a roof over our heads; the enormous spruce in our back yard, which had the top twenty-five feet of its three leaders ripped off in the storm, luckily missed our bedroom by mere feet. We have food in the pantry and running water. We have a neighbor who already chopped up the spruce and will soon be hauling it away. Michael has a studio up the road that has power. We have a wood stove for keeping us warm and a gas stove top for frying eggs and grilling bread and brewing coffee and warming milk and heating soup. We have cozy beds and pillows and comforters, and matches and candles and lanterns and flashlights and headlamps to see our way from room to room. We have medicine, wind-up clocks, dry shampoo, telephones, clean clothes, bourbon, and there's even some ice cubes left to pour it over. In addition to all we have, it is somehow luxurious to spend a day or two without email or social media or television news, and a quiet evening bathed in nothing but candlelight and warmth from a wood burning stove.

In other words, we have nothing to complain about, not even monotonous hours spent shadowing our kid as he makes countless loops around and around and around the house.


wicked fits

At five-ten it was the crash that woke me, instead of the scream, my son's rigid body bashing into the side of his bed. It was his second grand mal seizure in as many days, even though last night I had strayed from my intent on not giving him the concentrated THCA tincture as he slept. I had a feeling another morning one was coming.

He'd been exasperatingly whiny from morning until bedtime yesterday, testing my limited reserves of patience due in great part to the effects of some serious sleep deprivation. I had snapped at him more than once, angrily shushing him, hungering for him to shut the hell up, at times shamefully telling him as much, at others, surrendering and folding him into my arms in love. I got frustrated with his restlessness, with his stubbornness, with the awkwardness of a strappy velcro boot splint the doctor had given him for his injured foot. I wasn't sure of the source of his distress, asking myself a battery of questions:

is it the new cbd oil? is it a tummy ache? a sore throat? does the boot fit? does he have an infection? is it a post-ictal funk? why am i such a jerk at times when he probably feels like shit?

I was in denial that his misery might be due to another impending seizure even though he'd had one that morning; grand mal seizures on consecutive days are not unheard of, but rare for Calvin. Nevertheless, I should have known. He had shown many of the omens: rashy butt, whininess, stubbornness, confusion, not eating or drinking, not pooping even having given him suppositories to help.

In the wake of this morning's seizure, I gave him his clobazam plus another dose of concentrated THCA tincture. Thirty minutes later I got him to take his Keppra. Soon after, he awoke to a partial complex seizure so I gave him a dose of THC rescue med, which works well, usually, to stop the barrage of wicked fits. I took his temp. He had a low-grade fever, so I gave him an acetaminophen supp. Those remedies seemed to tie him over, though he still wasn't himself, and at seven-ten he went into another grand mal, only the fifth daytime, conscious-onset one he's had in over three years. Michael had already left, so I made a judgement call and gave Cavlin the rectal Valium aiming to stop the cluster of fits.

My sweet boy is sleeping now. Outside his window I can see that the rain has just let up. Like my boy, the trees are nearly motionless and beautiful as the world around them wakes up. A blue jay hops from branch to branch sending a cascade of rain drops in its wake. The clock ticks by another second of a day in which this wicked epilepsy made up for a nineteen-day seizure-free stint.


new day

My boy enjoyed a decent stint—nineteen days—between seizures of any kind. Alas, I pretty much knew it would come to an end. Last night at midnight he suffered a grand mal. It was notably less convulsive than most and, unlike other times when he has had a seizure that early in the morning, he didn't have any more. I attribute both facts to my new homemade concentrated THCA tincture that I had given to him at ten, and right after the seizure, then again at three a.m.

At five-thirty, Calvin woke to a low-grade fever, so perhaps he is getting ill, which lowers his seizure threshold. It is possible, however, that he has developed an infection from an injury he sustained at school last friday. As the radiology report stated, he suffered a "relatively large ankle joint effusion," an injury that his amazing orthopedist, Dr. Vincent Oliviero, explained is akin to an adult sprain, though in a child involves the growth plate making it prone to infection. Probably, though, Calvin is simply coming down with some sort of cold.

My plan, now that Calvin had the expected seizure, is to switch CBD oils from the 20:1 CBD:THC he has been using for three years to a 15:1 ratio, both made by the folks at Haleigh's Hope. The efficacy of the first one is unclear, but I've been hesitant to remove it during Calvin's benzodiazepine wean because a) it is best to limit variables, and b) in case it might be helping. Several weeks ago we reduced his CBD oil by a third hoping Calvin's complex partial seizures would decrease, and they did, though that could have been the result of having removed his B6 vitamin which had reached toxic levels. In any case, I figured trying a 15:1 ratio of CBD:THC might help improve his seizure control. And, so as to not be confused by too many variables, I will refrain from giving Calvin the concentrated THCA tincture I began giving him at night seventeen days ago, so that I can assert whether the new CBD oil ratio will help his seizure control. Plus, it would be better for the entire family if I didn't have to wake up to give Calvin medicine every night for the foreseeable future. Does that make sense?

In the meantime, I'm pleased with Calvin's progress this month—only two grand mals and three complex partial seizures thus far, which is significantly less than any month this year. I'm also grateful for his calm and content behavior, his number of smiles, his decent balance, his overall improved sleep, all in the face of an ongoing benzodiazepine withdrawal!

So, today is a new day. The earth is getting a good and overdue soaking. The sunrises and autumn colors are brilliant, the temperatures mild. I'm hopeful for what the future might hold.

Yesterday's pink sunrise, no filter.


chemdog to the max

It has been seventeen days since we've seen Calvin have any kind of seizure. This is not his longest stint between seizures, but it is equal to the second longest in nearly a year, and while taking less pharmaceutical medication than he has in years. Prior to this stretch, Calvin was having a grand mal every four to nine nights with complex partial seizures in between. I attribute this luxurious dry spell to the new THCA tincture I recently made which, because it is concentrated and made with a little bit of organic cane alcohol to increase absorption, is easy for me to give to Calvin when he is sleeping with little fear of aspiration. I do not given Calvin his regular THCA oil at night because of the danger of inhaling so much oil, not to mention being loathe to commit to such a regimen when I don't get enough sleep as it is. But his seizures have been inching closer and closer together over time and, as a result, he's been missing a lot of school.

I came to the notion of making this tincture because, since reaching his current dose of homemade THCA oil three years ago, Calvin's frequent daytime grand mal seizures have virtually disappeared, and because I've often given him a concentrated THC rescue med made with alcohol with no adverse effects. My husband, who is prone to be a skeptic, has never fully conceded that my oil is due credit, but since Calvin has gone so long seizure-free in the seventeen days since the initiation of this new THCA nighttime tincture, he seems more convinced.

You may wonder what cannabis strain I use. I get it from the amazing folks at Remedy dispensary forty-five minutes north of here. It is a hybrid high in THCA called Chemdog. It was the first strain I tried for Calvin, having debated long and hard four years ago, finally deciding on a hybrid so as not to sedate nor stimulate him too much. In my mind, it has worked wonders and has also eased Calvin's protracted wean from the benzodiazepine, clobazam, aka Onfi; he has gone from thirty-five milligrams per day of benzo down to less than one and will be off of it, once and for all, end of February.

So tonight, amongst other things, I am celebrating Chemdog, whose name I think is funny since we've been known to call Calvin The C-dog, most lovingly, more than once.

Chemdog soaking in organic grain alcohol


a hard rain's a-gonna fall

Because injustice, because tyrants, because corruption, because war, because oppression, because famine, because exploitation, because misogyny, because bigotry, because neglect, because deceit, because racism, because this year's hard rain falling on our nation, because Bob Dylan, because Patti Smith, because the power and beauty of music that calls us to think and weep, resist, ponder and dream.

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall 

Written by Bob Dylan and performed by Patti Smith 


alone in autumn

There's a melancholy about days like this, this time of day in autumn. The sun is low. The wind is chill. Pine needles sprinkle down in clouds of copper. A jet stream chalk mark fades in a clear blue sky between trees. I'm missing my dad. Missing my mom. Missing my brothers and sister and friends. Missing San Francisco and The West.

Most of all, I'm missing what I never really had at all: a healthy boy.

I'm missing seeing the ocean, feeling the sand between my toes, meeting new folks in vibrant places abroad and at home. Missing looking forward to doing something new.

The days are getting shorter, the shadows stretching in ways unhopeful, with edges so sharp they hurt my eyes. Rocks and shrubs and trees that basked in the sun at times are now relegated to lingering shade. So many birds have flown south. No more nectar for the bees. The streets feel empty. The forests harbor lonely, naked trees and falling leaves.

Is this how it feels to be the only one alive in the world? Cars go by but where are the people? Sun beats down but holds no warmth. Where are the birds that chirp?

I see old photos. Me as a child in a striped sweater, smiling with eyes closed. Me as a giddy bride holding my groom. Me as a new wife with Calvin inside. They're all dusty and faded, looking grey against a shady green outside, a lawn that I've worn a path into doing countless laps with my son. A boy with whom I often feel alone.


stars and epiphanies

At times, particularly in the day or two before a grand mal seizure, taking care of my son is dizzying—the shrieking, the sun gazing, the mania, the insomnia, the banging head and grinding teeth and kicking feet. For the past six days I've been seeing too many stars, the blackened kind I pen in my daily journal to indicate harbingers of Calvin's impending seizures. But since I've been giving him doses of my new concentrated homemade THCA cannabis tincture just before midnight and again at three, the seizures I've expected have not yet taken place.

Eleven days seizure free is by no means a record, though it is a longer spate than of late. My gut is telling me that the THCA is doing to his nighttime seizures what it does for his daytime grand mals, that is keeping them at bay. The problem is that I loathe to be obliged long-term to waking twice a night to give Calvin medicine; to the contrary, I need more sleep.

But I've resigned myself to this regimen for now and until his next seizure occurs, which no doubt it eventually will. Then, my plan is to switch CBD cannabis oils from a 20:1 (CBD:THC) Haleigh's Hope to a 15:1 ratio. My thinking is that by giving him slightly more tetrahydrocannabinol twice a day, without having to wake at eleven and three, his seizures might abate.

And if this strategy doesn't yield the desired effect, I'll have to put on my thinking cap again and hope for the next epiphany.

Photo by Michael Kolster


how it goes

We've passed another milestone. On Monday we reduced Calvin's benzodiazepine again—a drug he has been on since he was five years old—to a daily dose of just one milligram down from an all-time high of thirty-five. At this rate—weekly reductions of just two one-hundredths of a milligram—Calvin will be completely off of it next February just after his fourteenth birthday. We've been weaning it since he was ten.

Calvin had slightly more seizures the past seven months with the exception of May, in which he had fewer when we paused his benzodiazepine wean for a bit. May wasn't the first time we've seen fewer seizures when we've let up on the speed of his wean, so my hope is that once he's completely off of the drug, his seizures might abate. I'm not despairing too much because recently, I looked back to when he was on high doses of three drugs when he was having just as many grand mal seizures, if not more (they often came in clusters) every month.

A few weeks ago we took Calvin to see his neurologist. We've only gone to him twice in four years because I pretty much manage Calvin's treatment myself. I told him about Calvin's slight increase in seizures, adding that he has had only four or five daytime grand mals since reaching a therapeutic dose of THCA cannabis oil over three years ago. When he heard of Calvin's uptick in overall seizures, he asked if I might consider going back up on the clobazam. I said no, and told him why. Then he asked if I would consider the surgical installation of a vagus nerve stimulator. I said no, and told him why. Then he asked if I would consider Vimpat or Felbatol. I said no, and told him why. I've considered those options before, and for various reasons, none make sense for our family or our child, at least not now. About the only drug I might consider trying, knowing what I know now, is Epidiolex, since it is cannabis-plant derived. Even then, I am skeptical. But before I consider putting Calvin on another pharmaceutical, I want him off of the clobazam; no more three and four-drug cocktails for my child whose behavior, most of the time, is much improved compared with what he was like on high doses of too many drugs, back when we regularly had to peel him off of the walls. Yes, we have noticed a slight uptick in seizures, but he is calmer, more focused, usually sleeps better and has much better balance. It will be interesting to see how he does with zero benzodiazepine in his blood.

Another thing I have noticed is that his number of partial seizures, which have increased during the wean perhaps more so than the grand mals, has lessened after eliminating a B6 vitamin due to toxic levels, and after reducing his CBD slightly.

I've still got a couple of tricks in my back pocket that I hope might work to thwart at least some of Calvin's seizures. One is a concentrated THCA oil I recently made using half as much oil as my regular recipe plus one milliliter of organic cane alcohol per gram of cannabis resin. This is a concept I thought of after having analyzed the hell out of Calvin's regimen mining for alternative remedies. Fairly certain that my homemade THCA oil has virtually eliminated Calvin's daytime grand mal seizures, my logic was that if I can safely give him some during nights when I feel he has a seizure coming on perhaps I can eliminate some of his nighttime grand mals. The "tincture" is concentrated so I can give him less, and the added alcohol assists absorption so there is less risk of aspiration. I've given it to Calvin the past four nights in anticipation of a grand mal, and they haven't transpired.

The other tool is on its way in the mail—a lower ratio of CBD:THC cannabis oil we use from the makers at Haleigh's Hope. My thinking here is that perhaps a little less CBD and a little more THC might decrease Calvin's seizures.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Photo by Phoebe Parker



The other morning, just before three, I heard Calvin call out to me from his bedroom which is attached to ours.

"Uh-uh," (Mama) he said, and then again, as if wanting me to come to him. By the time I reached his bedside he was in the thralls of a partial complex seizure, his lips pale, his eyes wide open. I squirted a tiny dose of THC rescue tincture under his tongue. The seizure stopped soon after, then he fell asleep in my arms, and didn't have any more. Still, I kept him home again (he missed three-and-a-half days of school last week) for a few hours while I monitored his behavior. The next day he woke up to a grand mal. It's an insanely long row we hoe, though not as long and hard as some.

Lamenting my relative lack of freedom, and while perusing social media as Calvin rested in bed, I came across a video of the carnage in the aftermath of the Las Vegan shooting, where a man killed fifty-eight innocent people gathered nearby listening to country music. The video was taken by a concertgoer carrying his smart phone as he went from body to bloody body looking for anyone who still had a pulse. One young victim had blood trickling out of her mouth, another, froth, their eyes glassy and partly open not unlike Calvin's after he's suffered a grand mal. Bodies were strewn in and between pools of blood, some crumpled together, some with folks kneeling by their sides holding vigil, while others were splayed out all alone.

I contemplated Calvin's demise if a shooter were to invade his school, knowing well that if his teachers were shot he would not know if to flee nor where to hide. It's insane to have to think this way.

When my brother called me the day after the massacre to say that he had been invited to the Vegas musical festival though hadn't attended, the hair on my skin pricked up, goosebumps covered my shins and arms imagining if one of the dead had been him. I began wondering how far Americans are going to let this type of thing go, this nation's unfettered and reckless epidemic of gun violence. When are people going to understand that owning guns makes us more vulnerable, not safer? When are we going to re-examine and understand the true intention of the second amendment? When are we going to stop fetishizing guns? When are we going to say enough is enough?

I swear our first amendment right to move about freely and safely eclipses the right to carry a loaded gun in public.

After the massacre, I heard the conservative talk show host Sean Hannity say, "You gotta prepare to defend yourself," suggesting that people needed to "get small" to avoid the rain of bullets, then insanely stating that if he had been there, he would have taken the shooter out. This perpetuation of the rash good-guy-with-a-gun narrative baffles me. I sat near Calvin, still sleeping in his bed, and began pondering other insane ideologies and hypocrisies:

The "pro-life" congressman who insists his mistress get an abortion. The folks who gripe about government assistance until they lose all of their worldly possessions in a hurricane. The people who malign universal healthcare until a catastrophic illness or injury forces them into bankruptcy. The so-called patriots who rail against Black athletes for peacefully exercising their first amendment right to free speech. The voters who elected a reality-show POTUS yet want comedians to shut up about politics for their lack of expertise.

Watching my seizure-ish boy sleep, I imagined the grieving mothers and fathers who lost children in the Las Vegas shooting, thinking maybe the tragedy will motivate congress into passing sensible gun-control legislation. I've heard that doing the same thing while expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. I can only hope that we're smart enough to sack those in the Capital who are no doubt certifiably insane.

Photo by Phoebe Parker


birthday gifts and ferris wheels

Though it began with my son having a grand mal seizure, my fifty-fourth birthday became a treasured one. Dear friends from my childhood growing up in Seattle sent me messages. Family members from afar, and homies nearby called to sing me the birthday song. Michael came home early from work and took care of Calvin while I did a little bit of writing, then showered.

Though I was dying to nap, by afternoon—thanks perhaps to cannabis—Calvin had rebounded from his seizure well enough to take him for a ride in the car. We headed up the river to Lisbon Falls, past Michael's new photo studio up to a favorite place called the Big Dipper where I got a hot fudge brownie sundae, a treat I hadn't enjoyed in years. Calvin sat on the picnic table bench—something he wasn't able to manage just a couple of years ago—while Michael spoon-fed him some of his coffee-oreo "noreaster."

Since Calvin continued to do pretty well, we went to the dvd store and rented The Princess Bride, my choice for something light to interrupt the nagging sorrow from recent events in the news and at home. At the grocer, Calvin was compliant and walking strongly and steadily as ever, a gift in itself.

At home, Lauren dropped in for cocktails, followed by Lucretia who arrived with a lovely bouquet of flowers and a basket full of heirloom tomatoes, poblano peppers, broccoli, onions and greens from her farm.

Later, Michael and I opened a delicious Bandol given to us years ago by our lovelies Steve and Gretchen, and with it toasted another spin around the sun. Glasses in hand, we stood outside in the dark, arms around each other while hot, bright flames seared a thick ribeye. When the smashed-potato fries were sufficiently crisp and the steamed asparagus tender (all Michael's doing, of course) we sat facing each other at our butcherblock bar listening to Dire Straights and The Police on vinyl. As we ate, I opened cards, each one with a sweet birthday greeting that made my heart ache missing loved ones. The last one I opened was from Michael's aunt. A photographer in her own right, her handmade cards always include one of her photos pasted on the front. The image on the card, taken from high on what appears to be a ferris wheel, moved me unexpectedly and deeply. A flood of emotion gushed out in a tearful mix of exhaustion, sorrow, regret, love and gratitude. From her perch, she had aimed her camera at a boardwalk carnival and caught a bird's-eye view of striped canopies atop carousels, white umbrellas, kiddie rides, people milling about, and a roller coaster, something which, though it's my favorite ride in the world, I haven't ridden in years. Beyond the midway stretches a vast beach peppered with hundreds of sunbathers and beyond that, at the top of the photo, the teal open ocean. The scene she had captured for me was an enormously rich and vivid world—one beyond my reach physically—expressed in a simple five-by-seven photo.

I released all the tears that were in me, so grateful to—from my relative confines as the mother of a disabled and chronically ill child—be able to experience a new place and imagine myself smelling cotton candy and sea mist, hearing the surf and the gleeful shrieks of excited children, feel myself dart and weave in the salty breeze between happy carnival goers. What a gift to see the outside world on my birthday, from up high on a green ferris wheel.

flowers from Lucretia


soul collage

This morning at six-thirty, my fifty-fourth birthday, I was awakened by the chilling scream of my child going into a grand mal seizure. Its spasms were more violent than usual and it seemingly lasted slightly longer. When it was over I crawled in next to him. There, I am able to hear his heartbeat through the pillow. Not long after he had fallen asleep I sensed his heart rate quicken. No doubt in my mind he was about to go into a second seizure, so I grabbed the syringe of THC rescue tincture and squirted it under his tongue, successfully thwarting another one.

This, the fourth day of various kinds of seizures within six days, finds me weary. Somber weather matches my mood, and yet I am thankful for the rain that is drizzling on trees and shrubs so deprived of water that they've curled up into themselves.

Later, while still in my robe, a knock came at the door. Michael had already left for a day's work. In came my lovely Lauren with a bouquet of flowers from her garden—zinnias, snapdragons and geraniums in the juiciest of colors. In her other hand she held one of her creations, a soul collage, in which she pastes cut-outs from glossy magazines, arranging them in space on a two-sided card wrapped in cellophane.  

A mere glimpse of the collage got me to me weeping, just seeing the boots, a nod to my many pairs, in particular to the pointy-toed studded ones—ass kickers—Lucretia gave me. Lauren had included a woman in rolled up jeans—the way I like to wear mine in summer—reading a book against a backdrop of birthday candles and an autumn scene complete with the acorns so profuse in these parts during early October.

She embraced me as I wept. Over her shoulder I studied the backside of the card which features an auburn-haired woman surrounded by flowers, another sitting on a throne of pillows, her hand on a bow as if a warrior, and a third woman standing on a large ball juggling six smaller ones. In the make-believe room, there are books and baskets and ornamental rugs and a familiar pair of French doors leading into a canopy of trees. I was deeply touched by Lauren's thoughtfulness and insight expressed in her postcard homage to me, my life and my home, a place I often feel stranded in, and yet one I am reminded to be most grateful for.



Recently, Michael bought me a glazed ceramic bird bath, its bowl the shape and texture of a sunflower, to put in the garden just outside the window from where I do my writing. It took a while for the birds to discover it, but now I'm seeing creatures frequent it at certain times of day—chickadees, jays, bees, cardinals, squirrels—no doubt very thirsty from a drought-stricken summer and autumn.

One of my favorite birds is the robin. Scads of them lived around where I grew up. I know their familiar chirp, and when they arrive here in Maine when snow is still on the ground, I'm heartened knowing spring is not far away.

The past few days I've seen a baby robin appear, one with a white ring around its eye. Though it's nearly full-grown, when its mother is near it hunches down, opens its mouth and flaps its wings for feeding. My boy Calvin also tips his head back—mouth open—when he wants me to spoon in more of his favorite foods. He's my little birdie, albeit a thirteen-year-old one in an elfin body whose happy chirps and hurtful cries still sound so much like a toddler.

On strings of days like these when I'm mostly trapped indoors with my seizure-ish child, I pine away for nature, to be outside, to be therapeutically immersed in sun and sky and green and clouds. Thankfully, our house is graced with lots of windows on all sides, so I've got plenty of vantage points from which to observe nature's goings-on—wind ruffling the leaves of the Japanese maple and rippling the water in the birdies' pool, squirrels skittering up rough trunks, bees humming around blushing hydrangea blossoms, woodpeckers scaling trees upside down searching for bugs.

Still, I can't shake the feeling that I'm missing something, that life is passing me by as I while away indoors being my son's nursemaid. I wonder if I'll ever get back to San Francisco or Seattle. I wonder if I'll ever again see Paris or Rome, Istanbul or Rio. I wonder if I'll ever again be able to venture into lands unknown. And if I do, what might that mean for Calvin? Will he be with me? Gone? Neglected in some group home?

But for now I'll have to be content here while watching the robins, perhaps letting them take me along—in my mind's eye—as they soon start traveling south.


(gun) senseless

senseless: no doubt, my disabled child and his missing white matter, his rampant seizures, his drug side effects, his suffering, the senseless loss of what might have been a normal life for us.

senseless, too: lost lives. murdered child. automatic fire. gunman punching out windows. shooting into crowds. bullets flying. innocents ravaged. ambulance rides. bloody emergency rooms. NRA sham. government bribes. impotent legislators. cowards. disingenuous, derelict representatives. greed. thirst for power. reckless defenses of our second amendment. motherless child. childless father. wifeless husband. widowed bride. hazardous propaganda. false freedoms. risky inaction. senseless weaponry fetishized. our first amendment rights defied.

Bang Bang (I cannot second your amendment) by Holly Ballard Martz