Saying, “farewell,” to friends during a pandemic

(The Liljestrand House, photo by the author)

If you move to Hawaiʻi from somewhere else, or grow up in Hawaiʻi then stay away too long, you may struggle to weave into its social fabric, dangling instead with other transients in a loose, non-local pattern. Family ties, the cost of living, and sometimes, yes, even the weather — the humidity, vog, or “lack of seasons” — send friends back to the continent, leaving you back where you started — alone on an island. Unraveled.

Before two more friends left this month, they decided to visit Hawaiʻi’s mid-century modern masterpiece, the Liljestrand House, and invited me along.

In Wisconsin…


Getting a pet fish during COVID

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

COVID cancels my March trip to Japan. Careless leaders cancel my trips to everywhere. Indefinitely. I decide to restore our fish tanks. And finally get my betta. Sammy has been swimming in my heart for years, and it will break if he dies.

To make Sammy’s home, I need to fix the patio electricity, inspect old gear, buy new gear, build a stand, and plant, cycle, and balance my tank. It’ll take months.

But I’m stuck here. And Sammy’s stuck in a little cup. Somewhere. I push on.

I Zoom with former co-workers still living in New York City. Families…


Reflections on my first Dharma retreat

Daisho-in, Japan (photo by me)

Day 1. Evening

I’ve been meditating for only maybe a couple of years now, un-religiously, so I have doubts about this retreat. Sitting on the Zen Center porch, preparing to submit to the community’s rules, I see a golden cat. She bounds up the wooden stairs, springs to the weathered couch, and plops her sandalwood body down next to mine, a whisker out of reach.

Registration will have to wait. My not-my-cat and I have to savor the sun’s last rays. Together. As if we aren’t soul mates.

Half an hour later I stroke behind her sleeping…


How to prepare for your worst nightmare

Photo: Taken with my iPhone

“I refuse to do it, and they can’t make me!” insisted my mother, describing a procedure I could not believe existed.

“They stick what? Where? While you’re awake? Wuuuut!”

She was too mad to explain herself, but I assumed I understood her. To her a colonoscopy was not a standard medical procedure that catches an easily treatable cancer afflicting one in twenty-four women over fifty. No. …


Rose-“coloured” reflections on British civility

Two lovely Devon banks and a deep Devon lane

I escape my own country these days in search of greener grass abroad. But it wasn’t England’s greener grass that enthralled me — green as indeed it was: it was its green country lanes.

The Wisconsin roads I grew up on seem to have been designed by civil engineers who had never seen the place and meshed their regular geometric grids onto our irregular undulating hills. How else would we have ended up with stop signs at the bottom of massive hills instead of at the logical top, and with irrelevant and impersonal road names…


I’d been waiting for the thing. Because that’s how things used to work. When powerful people did dumb things, one of those things would become a thing, and then their days of doing dumb things would end. For a time. At least.

I thought grabbing pussy would be the thing. Or firing Comey. Or separating children from parents — then letting them die, and raping them. Or praising Nazis — then condemning their victims. Or insulting American hurricane survivors — then abandoning them. When Helsinki wasn’t the thing, I stopped waiting for the thing. There wasn’t going to be a…


Civility in uncivil times

The Maverick

When John McCain died, my Twitter feed split between those with power, who predictably lionized the “Maverick,” and those without power, who listed his public record. “Not now,” the chastisers shushed, “the nation is mourning.”

According to the legend McCain the Maverick lived above pettiness and party lines in the world of eternal principles, abiding truths, and transcendent American values. Free from party and power, he did what he felt was right. While missteps happened, they reinforced his humanity. A true American, he was John McWayne in the senate.

The Maverick versus the Ugly American

If McCain had passed away two years ago that would have…

Rachael Ann Siciliano

I should not like Baby Yoda this much. Yet here we are. @sosillyano

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