Some of ya’ll have seen these before, but today is the day for it.



Round and round like a crystal spinning,
my father’s stories stirred
the magic behind my eyes.
Pixilated—fairy-led—that’s what I was,
entranced by his wit,
a slave to my ears, learning
the proper way to tell a proper story.

Dad told many stories.
Some of them were even true.

At seventeen, he lied about his age,
enlisted in the Army to fight the Kaiser:
World War I, the Big Show, the adventure,
to show the Evil Hun
Yankee what-for over there.

“Saw action at Saint Mihel
and at the Ardogne Forest.”

That’s the only story I have
of the charnel house he fought through—
from his discharge papers of 1919,
fresh from the convalescent hospital,
recovering from the poison gas he’d tasted.

If I can hardly comprehend
that flesh of my flesh lived through
that ancient, distant conflict,
looking at me, I imagine,
he couldn’t quite fathom himself
that more than forty years on from that time,
he’d been given new life.

Dad told many stories.
Some of them were even true.

But he never spoke of that horror,
and when I queried of glorious battles,
as children like so much to do,
loquacious Dad broke into silence.
Shifting his eyes to the floor,
he’d mutter, “Enough, now.
You don’t want to hear about that.”

He’d turn the stories neatly
to French m’amselles, especially one
whose father had a cafe in Paris;
to the time he was a cook
on a fishing boat out of Juneau
and the walls of water inside a gale
nearly sent them to the bottom;
or to the lightning strike which took out the boy
sitting next to him on a fence watching baseball . . .

Years after he died I learned the truth
of 1918, that horrible year of mud and carnage
I’ll never truly understand,
though I’ve heard other men’s stories
of sacrificed youth at a bloody altar,
seen grainy black and white photos and films,
peering anxiously at each young Yank,
hoping to see, hoping not to see
the child who would become my father.

Round and round swirled liquid in amber,
the whisky spinning in my father’s bottle,
hot on his lips, straight, no glass, burning
through to that space of not remembering.
Pixilated—demon-led—that’s what he was,
wandering a dark and lonely forest, mute,
trapped by his Celtic blood and all the blood
he’d seen, slave to memories which had no story.

PJ Thompson


And happy birthday, Auntie Maxine.


Spring went screaming through the hills—
orange yellow green white purple—
dying to be noticed, all along the road
as we drove away from your sickbed.

“Life gives us clichés,” I said.
But the harsh comfort of spring remained.

The dark sky broke apart, the sun
muscled through, burning on the hills,
forcing on us the heartbreak of blue sky.

I want to believe you are in that sky.
I do believe you are in that sky,
or laughing in the hills you loved,
bare toes trailing clouds of wildflowers.

PJ Thompson

Random quote of the day:

“Birthdays are soul chasers, ghost bounty hunters that track you down to ask the usual question, ‘Qué pasa, baby?’”

—Jim Harrison, The Raw and the Cooked: Adventures of a Roving Gourmand

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

donna glam

Happy 95th birthday, Donna Rae!
April 7, 1921 – January 22, 2015

donna later

Driving west on Manchester from Crenshaw, I noticed the neon sign for the Love Divine Chapel looked a little worse for wear: dirty, chipped, lacking in light. Neon signs always look a little depressed when they aren’t turned on, but I imagine that even when the giant L-O-V-E shone in the night it would still look dingy. The tiny meeting hall beside the sign needed paint and repair, the revival bus parked in the miniscule lot needed new tires. The homeless man holding up the hand-scrawled cardboard “Need Food” sign didn’t seem to notice the irony of standing beneath dingy love.

Further down Manchester, the planes coming into LAX paralleled the avenue, low and seeming-slow, though I knew they were speeding over the depressed neighborhoods below.

Customers lined up twenty deep at Randy’s Donuts. Even if you’re not from L.A. or have never been here, you’ve probably seen Randy’s Donuts in some montage or other: it’s the gigantic donut sitting on top of the tiny building right off the freeway. A sort of emblem of L.A. in it’s way. The space shuttle parked outside it for awhile, resting on its cross-town journey from LAX to the Museum of Science and Industry.

Randy’s is a kind of demarcation point between the poorer neighborhoods and the gradual swing to upscale as you head west. As the blocks whiz by the prices of rent and purchase gradually rise towards affluent Westchester. My parents bought in when Westchester was still a down at the heels lower middle class neighborhood, but it got “discovered” in the nineties and it’s fully gentrified now. Anything west of Sepulveda Boulevard is pretty pricy.

As I got closer to Sepulveda I saw a giant billboard advertising a place where they freeze fat for cosmetic reasons. I don’t even want to think about that too much. “Fear No Mirror” the billboard declared in far larger letters than the LOVE of the Divine Chapel. I realized we’d moved from the land of Fear No Evil to the land of Vanity of Vanities.

I fear no mirrors, comfortable in my aging skin, even as another birthday approaches. I do fear the fear of mirrors, however.  There is peace in accepting the passage of time, the transformation of the flesh, but we don’t live in an age—and I don’t live in a city—that accepts such peace. Rather the hard lessons of perpetually hard bodies, ever in denial, ever running too fast to stop and listen to the soft words of the soul.  What evils have been wrought in the name of vanity, and continue to be wrought. Yea, verily.

Mar 12
I love this man: 

Mar 13
Some days I miss hanging out with my characters so much it hurts. Some of them were running though my mind a lot today. Maybe I’ll be able to use all this to write a really profound book one day. Either that, or croak early.

Mar 16
Always glad to see Jenny McCarthy slammed for her unscientific and harmful beliefs on vaccines. Can we start on Gwyneth Paltrow now? Oh wait, she’s just criminally elitist and stupid, not a murderer.

Mar 23
I feel bad that you feel badly. Perhaps your doctor should examine your hands.

Mar 24
The dream factory isn’t dead: it keeps supplying me with good ideas I haven’t got time to write.

Mar 25
I like the idea (from The Caliph’s House by Tahir Shah) that the Jinns decide whether or not we’re going to believe in them.

Mar 28
A working mom’s open letter to Gwyneth 

Could this woman be any more blinkered and entitled? Yeah. I don’t think she’s bottomed out yet.

Mar 28
My cat is sad because she wanted to seek enlightenment but all the other cats cared for was tuna.

Mar 29
Louis CK: “I got a white noise machine. You know what that is? It’s a machine that allows white people to sleep.”

Apr 3
Pro-tip: Don’t ask an animal activist the old joke question, “Do you know how to get down off a duck?” You’ll never get to the punchline.

Pro-tip2: Use a ladder.

Apr 3
Duty vs. personal aspirations, that’s my conflict. Most days sublimated, some days excruciating.

ETA: Love is also in the mix, making things more confused.

Apr 4
Walmart’s false argument: RT If Walmart Paid Employees a Living Wage, How Much Would Prices Go Up? …

Apr 4
I believe in science and I believe in spirit. This doesn’t have to be a dichotomy or a contradiction. It just is.

Apr 4
While eating chips I read, “Every bite of food you eat alters your daily metabolism, electrolyte balance, and proportion of fat to muscle.”

Apr 7
And my mother turned 93 today. Happy birthday, Mam!

Apr 8
Dear Nekkid Girl Posing In An Abandoned Warehouse: it isn’t arty. You’re still just a nekkid girl.

Apr 10
Penn & Teller decimating the anti-vaccination brigade in under two minutes. 

Apr 10
When did “alone” become synonymous with “lonely”? The two are quite distinct.

Apr 11
The transport company that takes Mom to dialysis two days a week just called to say that in May they’ll charge $70 a ride not $30. I don’t know what we’re going to do. We can’t afford that, and the alternative is me missing a lot more work.

Apr 13
Potentially hopeful news from the social worker yesterday about transportation for Mom to dialysis. Don’t want to say much for fear of jinxing.

No, I never engage in magical thinking, why do you ask?

Apr 14
Let go and let the Universe. I now have three possible solutions to my mother’s dialysis transportation problems.

Apr 15
I’m so old I remember having to get up and walk over to the TV to change channels.

Apr 18
Me at the cafeteria: This morning I need a whisky muffin. Hold the muffin.

Apr 23
A hornet’s nest found in an abandoned shed. The head is a part of a wooden statue it fused with. [Warning: may cause the wiggins.]

Nature abhors a vacuum.

Apr 24
3 judges sided with Verizon and decided to let ISPs censor the internet. Tell the FCC to restore net neutrality! 

Apr 24
Maybe I should do as my spam suggests and get myself a Russian Bride. Of course, I might not be able to fulfill all her expectations. Too bad they don’t have a green card program for “domestic assistants.”

Apr 25
What Hitchens got wrong: Abolishing religion won’t fix anything …

Apr 29
Avoidance seems to be the chief management style of many organizations.

Apr 30
I’m thinking of starting a company called Clusterf*cks R Us. Probably wouldn’t get much business, though.

Apr 30
Okay, maybe I’m a little panicky over how much I have to do before my surgery in two weeks. And maybe the surgery, too. And the recovery.

A little.

Verging on a lot.

May 1
My spam keeps sending me a “Notice to Appear.” I think I’ll send my Russian Bride instead.

May 1
The night air is full of jasmine crushed into luscious fragrance by the first heatwave of the year.

May 2
Even the most shining hero is a human being with feet of clay. If we’d just remember this, there would be less anger in this society.

May 3
The same government agency which made us prove my mom was married to my dad and that he had died needs us to prove it all over again 20 years later. Different department, you see. Apparently they’re unable to communicate with one another. Dealing with government agencies is a big component of caregiver fatigue. It wouldn’t be so bad except my dad’s death certificate has gone missing and L.A. County takes 4 weeks to get a new one.

May 3
Or maybe I won’t have surgery in 2 weeks. If I put it off this time, it will be 2 times.

May 4
Mom is home from the hospital. She’s doing okay.

May 6
I wonder if the superbuff guy on the cover of so many romance novels who’s face disappears past the top of the cover has a really ugly mug?

Or if, yanno, it’s supposed to be some artistic sh*t.

Or if, yanno, it’s so women can fantasize any man they want?

May 6
Abandoned mill from 1866 in Sorrento, Italy: Oh, the stories this conjures up!

May 6
I think “narcissistic loony toon” sums M. Lewinsky up quite nicely. She has wedged her way back into the public eye just like that string was wedged between her cheeks.

[Fortunately, it was a brief appearance and quickly faded from the public’s notice.

May 7
The Red Queen still rages. “The trick is not becoming a writer. The trick is staying a writer.” —Harlan Ellison

May 9
My surgery has been officially postponed. Mom had some minor setbacks that were major enough to warrant postponement.

I’m deeply ambivalent. I don’t fancy being a cripple for the rest of my life, however.

I think I’ll change my middle name to Ambivala.

May 11
THIS. Roz Chast on people wanting to live to be 120: “I feel like these are people who don’t really know anybody over 95.” 

“The reality of old age,” she says, is that “people are not in good shape, and everything is falling apart.”

Everyone says, “It’ll be different for me. I’ve taken good care of myself.” But you NEVER know what life will throw at you.

That’s life’s sweet and cursed mystery.

“When you’re young you look at old people & just think they’re old people. It’s only later that you properly realise they’re ex-young people.” —Tom Cox, Twitterfeed 5/10/14

Everyone thinks they will be 30 until they’re 75. Until they hit 40, I guess.

May 15
RIP Lady Mary Stewart. You filled my Young Adulthood with many happy hours.

May 15
Ironic Twitter Juxtaposition: 

May 17
Ironic or psychosomatic? I wrenched my knee on the very day my surgery would have taken place. Not the one that would have been operated on, either. My other knee which has as many problems and will need its own surgery someday.

May 21
Ironic Twitter Juxtaposition: 

May 21
I’m at the bargaining with the Universe stage. That can’t be good.

May 22
My friend and I were just saying that the next Survivor should feature an all-geriatric group of contestants.

“If your team all successfully completes your challenge, you will be given your meds as usual. If not…”

And complaint marathons to see who lasts the longest. That competition is expected to go on for days.

May 22
I can hear a train whistle every once in awhile late at night. It’s always wonderful. I don’t know where it comes from. There are no trains closer than five miles, but I guess that sound carries. Either that, or it’s the ghost of a train which once ran just down the hill from where I live.

When I was a kid I used to follow those tracks from Venice, once all the way into Culver City. The trains only ran once a month late at night to keep the access rights. Eventually, they gave those up but the rails remained for years afterwards, partially covered in blacktop in some places. They’re all gone now, alas.

There is so much that is gone. Venice is a highly urban place now but once was full of open fields, trains, horse stables. I’ve seen them all go in such a short span of time. A lifetime. Palimpsests. They’re everywhere I look, all over Venice.

Here’s one of my palimpsests: 

May 28
“It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman

Maya Angelou seemed immortal, but it was her glowing humanity that made her seem that way. Alas, if only. RIP.

May 30 This picture reminded me to send a b-day card to a friend. I may inhabit this skull but I don’t always understand it.

Jun 3
Sexism kills (maybe): 

Jun 3
It’s such a pain reading academic books on the Kindle that I’m going to order a paper copy and be done with it.

Random quote of the day:

“There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.”

—George Santayana, Sililoquies



Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.


17 Mar
It’s been a weekend of Dealing With Shit.  I am tired of dealing with shit. But I don’t have any choice. Privilege!

19 Mar
Tom Cruise is thinking of despoiling another classic 60s TV show: U.N.C.L.E.  Nooooooooo!!

I’ve pretty much resigned myself to turds like Cruise ruining my childhood memories.

20 Mar
She wore black tights and knee-high boots, a lavishly ruffled green blouse, walking her little white dog as if heading down a fashion runway.

20 Mar
Surprisingly, my Lotto ticket does not have winning numbers. One more chance tonight. I bet this time I’ll win big

21 Mar
I’m not sure if I’m ashamed I know about this or not. It certainly is hilarious, and possibly (probably) TMI: 

22 Mar
PETA kills 90% of all animals taken to their shelter: 

22 Mar
I’m finding it highly ironic that I just put a “Freedom” stamp on the payment I’m mailing off to the Tax Board.

22 Mar
Writing tip: Chances are, anything that can be labeled hip is not unique. Know what true uniqueness is before you attach that label to yourself.

25 Mar
Tell the L.A. Times ownership: “No Sale to the Koch Brothers!” 

25 Mar
Girls who define themselves by who they’re dating creep me the hell out. Talk about the Zombie Apocalypse!

26 Mar
Forms, forms, and more forms. The gubmint’s appetite for them is endless.

26 Mar
Dear upscale boutique: having a sign outside your store with script so fancy it can’t be easily read negates having a sign outside your store.

27 Mar
There are days when I could start screaming and never stop till my voice gave out. Fortunately for those around me I’ve maintained control.

27 Mar
Ironic outsourcing facts: The address for the Los Angeles Fire Department EMS billing is in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

27 Mar
Mom home from rehab on Friday. Thus follows days characterized by alternating moments of terror and relief.

3 Apr
I wouldn’t say I’m frazzled, but I just had a moment of panic about missing a meeting this morning…that I actually attended.

3 Apr
My phone conversations with my mother would make great comedy routines—if they weren’t so desperately frustrating to endure.

Who’s on first? That’s right.

8 Apr
Mom turned 92 yesterday and everyone wanted to give her little parties. The Happy Birthday phone calls began at 7 a.m., but she enjoyed herself a lot.

 That’s all that really matters.

8 Apr
I began my “weekend” in the wee hours of Friday morning with a nasty bout of food poisoning, but the weekend ended well enough, Sunday being Mom’s birthday. We took her out to dinner at Billingsley’s—an old-fashioned (70s décor) steakhouse. It was great and she really enjoyed it.

8 Apr
I had a long, happy dream last night about having enough time and energy to have a creative life again.

9 Apr
I think Peter Dinklage should be People’s Sexiest Man Alive.  Dead serious there.

9 Apr
Nothing in life is quite so good as sleeping in your own bed.  And yes, that includes sex and porterhouse steak.

9 Apr
She was always a slamming great cook; it’s a big point of pride to still cook, though it’s not always what it once was. Wouldn’t dream of saying anything to hurt her feelings. Just shut up and eat. Which is emblematic of my entire life, now that I think about it.

10 Apr
Back at the ER.

11 Apr
Mom’s chest pains turned out not to be a heart attack. A day of testing in the hospital. She’ll be released today. Update when I know more.

p.s. My cat is sick. I’ll try to work the vet in.

Finding time to get the cat to the vet while not knowing precisely when to pick up Mom…special.

11 Apr
Found a new use for my portable Bluetooth speaker: sitting it on the counter while I take a shower and waiting for the doctor(s) to call.

11 Apr
A strained muscle in Mom’s chest so that when she took a deep breath it hurt.  On our way home.

And Min is feeling much better tonight, too. 🙂

15 Apr
I spent an ungodly amount of money at the vet this weekend. Min is okay. I don’t feel the money was wasted. I love my baby.

She was harassing me at 4 a.m. to get my slothful butt up and feed her so I’d say she’s back to her old self.

16 Apr
I was busy all day at work then there was a screw up at the dialysis clinic and Mom got hooked up late. We didn’t get home until 8 p.m. so I heard about Boston plenty, but in bits and pieces. I wasn’t flooded with it all day. This morning there were police cars out in front of the building when I got to work. Just parked, hanging out. We’re a soft but unlikely target. Still, I don’t imagine the poor people watching a venerable race in Boston imagined themselves to be targets, either. Godspeed, Boston. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

16 Apr
I feel like the mother of a toddler: my purse is full of snacks and things to entertain the one I care for.

16 Apr
Mom saw a TV ad for the larger Kindle Fire HD and said, “It sure would be nice to have one of those larger ones. Too bad my birthday’s past.” What I thought but didn’t say was “Mother’s Day is coming up.” Mom probably was thinking but not saying the same thing. She may be old, but she’s still sly, and doesn’t hesitate to ask for stuff she wants. Life’s is way the hell too short.

16 Apr
Min has the beginnings of kidney issues. Nothing life threatening right now, but we’ll get her tested every 6 months or so. Kidneys!

11 Sep
Vegetarians sure do spend a lot of time concocting meat substitutes. That isn’t a judgment, just an ironic observation.

12 Sep
It’s amazing how much our sugar bill goes up this time of year as the hummingbirds get ready to migrate south and tank up on our feeders.

13 Sep
Editing. After all the years and the disappointments, I still hope. I don’t know if that’s my folly or my strength. Why can’t it be both? I suppose it can.

Side note: HUGE congratulations to my friend, Elizabeth Hull (darkspires), who after many years and many disappointments just sold her novel, Darkspire Reaches, to Holland House.

13 Sep
A little wild finch landed on the table next to me and looked up expecting a snack. I felt guilty. Meanwhile, the old asshole at the next table is throwing water at them.

14 Sep
You know, I don’t use ellipses enough in my…writing.

16 Sep
Day 3.5 of Crud on Earth and I’m watching UFOs Over Earth. Perfect crud-brain viewing. At least the record breaking heatwave has temporarily abated. Fans and head colds are not a happy combination.

18 Sep
Somewhere a Romney sings but not for me.

I have too many show tunes in my head. I blame it on MGM, Gene Kelly, and Donald O’Connor.

18 Sep
Now my mother has this damned cold. She’s sick as a dog. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

19 Sep
Lindsay Lohan is looking about 40 these days—and that’s in her glamour shots. What the partying life does for you.

20 Sep
The space shuttle is supposed to fly over Santa Monica pier, quite near our building at work, on its farewell tour of L.A. tomorrow. We’re hoping the west side of our building doesn’t sink as everyone rushes to that side, or the balconies don’t collapse.

20 Sep
Last Monday, the 17th, was “Respect for the Aged Day.” Which is ironic, considering at least one phone conversation I had.

21 Sep
The Endeavour fly over anticipation here at work is very high. We expect it to buzz right by the building when it passes Santa Monica Pier.

21 Sep
AWESOME! Endeavour flew by Santa Monica Pier about 1 minute ago! So close! And apparently I don’t know how to take pictures of space shuttles with a cell phone. 🙁 My work compadres are sharing their photos, though, so it’s all cool. 🙂 Some of the talented photographers here got great close ups and even a really awesome movie.

24 Sep
Rule of thumb: any 365 calendar or book that describes itself as “hilarious” probably isn’t.

26 Sep
The view of the Shuttle Endeavour from my ‘hood. I live about 5 blocks due west of here (the direction shuttle is flying).

27 Sep
It’s amazing to me how otherwise smart people think you can be infected by the same cold/virus twice. Not how the immune system works.

29 Sep
Being alone with Caregiving 101 is the worst thing. No one can help me, really.

30 Sep
My neighbor brought over a surprise belated birthday cake and champagne! It was very sweet of them. And great cake. Steve is a great baker.

1 Oct
A literal wall of fog: coming down from the Playa del Rey bluffs this morning the L.A. Basin was completely covered in fog, only the very tips of the tallest mountains in the Santa Monica range showing. Down in the basin, driving through the Marina, the trees were shadows behind rice paper walls until I came within twenty feet of them and they emerged, soft-edged. It’s supposed to burn off and bring record heat in its wake.

Happy 91st birthday, Mom! Looking forward to 92…

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