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Articles in "Spiritual Smart Aleck "

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.

Cousin Nancy came up from California to visit the other week. She is going to become a grandmother in the next couple of months, and her expectant daughter-in-law Ariel grew up in Seattle, so Ariel’s Seattle friends and family held a baby shower for her.

Here follows part of an email written by my friend Susan Bardwell some years ago. Susan passed away last November after a brief fight with lung cancer. We miss her terribly. I must have written to her complaining that some religious proselytizers had come by the house and she responded:

The series "House" has ended, and the character of Gregory House stayed unrepentant to the end, though he (spoiler alert if you haven’t seen it) redeemed himself in his own twisted fashion by faking his death so he could be free to make the final months of his best friend, Wilson, happy. He literally lays down his life for his friend, and as we have been told, greater love hath no man.

First of all, an apology to Narcissa Whitman, who has suffered enough. After I sent out my last column I was informed right smartly by several people that the person who brought the dandelion to Seattle was in fact Catherine Maynard, second wife of "Doc" Maynard, Seattle’s first doctor.

Sunday. It is the first beautiful day, almost like summer. The sky is clear, the sun is hot, the sounds of lawn mowers and weed eaters are abroad in the land. It is a day that makes you feel like you’re young again and anything is possible.

Well, I felt like that until after I’d worked pulling weeds at the church for an hour and came home and sat down for a while.

Our dog, Jive, passed on about a month ago. I’m sorry if I forgot to tell you. I thought I’d told everyone, but I was talking with Sonya yesterday and said in passing, "Now that the dog’s dead..." and she shrieked, "WHAT?"

After my cousins Charlotte and Nancy and I finished visiting the Pioneer Cemetery in Watsonville, we headed out to the Pajaro Valley Memorial Cemetery to pay our respects to our grand parents, Percy and Lyllian.

When I was a child, we used to go out and place flowers on Lyllian’s grave. She died in 1938. After her passing, Grandpa took solace in the brothels of Watsonville.

My cousins Charlotte, Nancy, and I made a cemetery tour. My father and their mother were brother and sister, so we share grandparents and great-grandparents. Charlotte has become more intrigued by genealogy the last couple of years, and she wanted photos of family headstones to put up on the internet.

Drove down to California a few weeks ago.

I went down I-5 as far as Grants Pass, and then cut over to Crescent City on the coast, where I spent the night, after driving up to say hello to Smith River. Had to say hello, because my father’s family used to have a place there.

In a recent column I spoke of a VW van in less than flattering terms. Those remarks prompted a friend, Alan Blue Heron Milinazzo Barnett, to write in praise of the VW bus. I asked him if I could run his letter as a guest column. He said yes. Here it is:

It occurred to me the other day that there are similarities between being a farmer and being an artist.

My father was a farmer, as his father was before him. He raised apples out in Green Valley, just west and north of the Pajaro Valley, near the Monterey Bay. My mother raised my brother and me, kept the house up, and did the book keeping for the farm, and occasionally played the piano.

Last week our big projection television lost its electronic mind and began showing pictures in strange colors, and also breaking the images into streaks and blotches, while making a noise like something inside was whirling around furiously losing pieces, and getting ready to explode. We turned it off and moved a back-up television from my office into the living room. We seldom leave the house and television is our main form of entertainment, and I didn’t really need to watch TV while working on the computer, did I?

First, an apology & correction: In a classic slip of the mind in my last essay, I said that my friend Becky grew up in the Madrona neighborhood of Seattle. This prompted a LARGE FONT email from her saying that she grew up in MAGNOLIA, not Madrona, and she was proud of her neighborhood.

Three mighty warriors gathered to go hunting. These were their names: She Who Argues; Makes Many Plans; and Straight Arrow, so called by the other two because she tended to drive the car straight through curves instead of around them.

They wanted to begin early in the morning, so they caught a ferry to Southworth a few minutes after noon and headed for the fabled hunting grounds of East Bremerton,

It is that time when we pause to look back and reflect on the year that was. Well, those of us who buy into the conventional idea that a new year is coming on January 1 do this, anyway.

The Island’s years tend to have a regular routine, and this year mainly followed that routine: the tide came in and went out, usually a couple of times a day. Some trees fell over. Some hillsides slid. Some days we saw the mountain