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Articles in "Spiritual Smart Aleck "

Mary Martin, the Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Seattle, was interviewed by the Seattle Times the other week.

Our dog, Marley, has a condition called cherry eye, a genetic defect in which the "cherries" are actually membranes which are supposed to be under the eyelid, but instead are squeezing out next to it.

It is May, and I have medical insurance. I won’t call it health insurance, because it isn’t something you use when you’re healthy.

December, 1943: Mom and Dad were on their way to Dad’s first duty station in Galveston, Texas, when they took a little detour to Dalhart

My gall bladder recently decided to pre-decease the rest of me.

Our granddaughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a few weeks ago. The diagnosis blindsided us. She was wasting away before our eyes, becoming more listless and tired, but it happened so gradually.

This week’s column is by my husband, Rick Tuel, who, now that he’s retired, has time to record a little family history. He writes: My dad, Mark Tuel, was born in Lehigh, Iowa, in 1921, the elder of two brothers. 

It is the season of Lent in the Christian church, a time of reflection, penitence, and self-denial, one object of these practices being humility.

There is a joke that if the genders took turns having babies – if the woman had the first, the man had the second, and the woman had the third, there would never be any fourth babies.

About 4:30 this morning my husband and I were lying there petting the dog and talking about our random sleep schedules.  He is hooked up to his dialysis machine at night, and it makes various beeps and boops

Sometime in the last couple of years I saw a young standup comic, a guy, riffing on relationships, which is a pretty reliable comic vein to mine. He said that no one he knew looked at people who had been together for 30 years and thought,

This year, on top of the holiday stress, we are looking at my husband’s being laid off from his job. He plans to make the best of the cards he has been dealt by calling himself retired. The man is 67, after all, and on dialysis. People have retired with less justification.

It is time to call it a year, and in the spirit of tidying up and finishing the unfinished, here are a few items I never got around to this year:

Hello, boys and girls. Much as I love struggling with the problems of being human and attempting to write about those problems in a way that can make us all laugh, sometimes it’s good to take a break and bring in another voice, and another story.

Around the time a story circulated of Romney saying it was too bad you couldn’t roll down the windows on jet planes to get some fresh air, I decided to stop re-posting political memes on Facebook.

It occurs to me that I could probably save a lot of time and energy by ceasing to try to control other people. It’s a relief to think about doing that.

We have had no animals living with us since our last dog, Jive, shuffled off this mortal coil last March.

No more animals, my husband said then, and we agreed. No more responsibility, no more grief when the animal dies, no more expenses for food, vet visits, toys and treats


My beautiful cousin Nancy and I were talking the other day, having a nice canter down memory lane as we so often do, and we remembered the 1950s television show, "Queen for a Day." We both watched this tear-jerker show, which some have called a forerunner to today’s reality shows.

One of my favorite ways of blowing off steam or working off a case of mad is to pull weeds. Several times a week I go out in the yard, put on my gloves, grab a trowel and a pair of pruning shears, and go to town on the buttercups, Stinking Robert, blackberries, and dandelions. Pulling weeds make me feel better, and it makes the garden look better.

This morning I sat on the kitchen porch and stared at the trees. It was a perfect day - cloudless, sun shining, a slight breeze. A small airplane grumbled by overhead, followed by a jet lumbering in to land at SeaTac or Boeing Field. The song birds were chirping incessantly over in the blackberries, and a couple of blue jays were wrack-wracking at each other up the hill in what I think of as TK’s bird sanctuary.

Thinking about politics ties me in knots, because as soon as I do I feel like I’m in a funhouse maze, trying to find my way through the dark alleys and dead ends, not mention trying to parse out what’s real in the illusions created by smoke and mirrors.

"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light." – Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas was writing of his dying father when he penned that poem in 1951, or so the story goes. You can find the complete text online or at the library or perhaps on your own bookshelf.


We recently returned from California, where we attended a reunion of people with whom Rick attended high school when his dad was stationed in Germany 50 years ago, and where we also spent some time with Rick’s dad and step-mom.

My Cousin Nancy and I went to the Quinault Resort and Casino ("$89 rooms!"), out by Ocean Shores. It was a good trip for both of us, getting away from our regular lives for a couple of days and doing pretty much nothing. Nancy and I are skilled at doing nothing, especially together. Oh, we talked a lot about our lives, "solved the world," as Nancy likes to say, and we also napped, watched TV, gambled a little, and walked on the beach.