Return to Tiburon, pt. 2

As I wrote a few blogs back, I am spending a fair amount of time in Tiburon these days, enjoying the company of my parents and the serenity of my childhood home. Being back here rekindles many childhood memories and the connection I had with this hillside on Mt. Tiburon. I spent hours playing on our hill and down by our creek. This was my world as a child and I’m thankful to have grown up so close to a big city yet surrounded by natural beauty. Continue reading

In rough times, God cares

It struck me today how little control we have over our lives. I was traveling on I-580, in the fast lane, just after the Richmond Bridge, going about 65 mph. Suddenly I came upon a stopped truck in my lane, with flashing lights and a sign that said “lane closed.” In seconds I had to change lanes, right in between two larger trucks, a car carrier and an 18-wheeler. Had these trucks been closer together, without a gap between them, I would have crashed. I was shaken up at my close call. Maybe, I thought, God had protected me in that moment. How else could I explain it? Continue reading

Return to Tiburon

I’ve just spent the last 10 days in Tiburon, my hometown. Everyone else in my house was away, so I decided to get away myself and spend time with my parents. I had a wonderful time, getting to know my town again. Continue reading

How a liberal flip-flopped on MyPillow

It all started three Christmases ago, long before the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and long before the right-wing conspiracies that the election was stolen.

My husband bought us a set of MyPillows. He had heard an ad on his trusted apolitical news station while driving to work, and he became convinced that these were the best pillows in the world. Continue reading

My brain on fire

Bold! Courageous! Creative! Articulate! Passionate! Artistic! Energetic!

Those are just a few of the things I felt in hypomania the first few months of this year. But even that list seems too tame. I felt all of that and even more. I could do anything! I heard God talking to me constantly and saw miracles by the hour! I was on fire with ideas and actions! The fire burned brightly day and night. Even at night I would wake up remembering vivid dreams. Everything, every word, seemed to have importance. Continue reading

In defense of Biden and why Trump was a poor leader, from hydroxychloroquine to Thomas Jefferson

Happy President’s Day! Here’s some interesting trivia. Which president since Truman had the lowest approval rating? Trump? No. Not surprisingly it was Nixon with 24%. Next was Harry Truman with just 32%. Why? Because he used the atomic bomb, which was controversial, and he sent troops to Korea. George W. Bush got 34%. Carter, the most moral president we’ve had, got 34%, not surprisingly due to the hostage crisis. Who had the highest? Obama? Clinton? No. It was Dwight D. Eisenhower, with 66%. Clinton tied him with 66%. To fill out the picture, Johnson got 49%, Ford 53%, Reagan 63%,, George H.W. Bush 56%, Obama 59%, and G.W. Bush 34%. To read more go to

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The year I became a Meetup junkie

I was standing on a bluff overlooking the placid blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, my body stiff with fear. Continue reading

What Grandma taught me about living a lockdown life

In mid-March, after California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered shelter in place, my mom and I commiserated over the phone. Continue reading

Descent to madness, ascent to joy

How does one describe an experience of mental illness? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately as I think about putting into words an odyssey I’d rather not dwell on too long. In the last four months I experienced a series of situations I wouldn’t wish on my greatest enemy (not even Trump). It was intolerable, full of suffering, and of course, as these things are, full of grace. Continue reading

Mini-review of The Samurai Garden

Sometimes we experience a real resonance between our real life and the world of a book we’re reading. That has been the case as I’ve read The Samurai Garden, a 1994 book by a local (El Cerrito) author.

The main action of the book surrounds a young university student, Stephen, who has moved from Hong Kong to a small town in Japan to recover from tuberculosis. The book is written as a series of diary entries Stephen records for about a year, starting in 1937. World War II is beginning and the Japanese are invading China.

Stephen moves from busy, crowded Hong Kong to his grandfather’s beach house in Japan and is cared for by Matsu, an older man who has worked for the family for many years. Matsu’s touch is tender, as he cooks simple Japanese meals of fish and tofu and encourages Stephen to rest by painting, working in the garden, and swimming at the beach. As I read, I longed to be transported to that peaceful world too. I don’t have tuberculosis, thankfully, but I’m struggling with depression and anxiety and need much of the same medicine Stephen received.

The book has a wonderful parallel subplot. Matsu, it turns out, has been caring for years for a woman, Sachi, who has leprosy. Sachi lives in a mountain village with other lepers. She moved there years ago so she wouldn’t cause disgrace to her family. Matsu has been her lifeline over the years, helping her build her house and delivering food and supplies. Stephen begins accompanying Matsu on his trips to visit Sachi and is deeply impressed by her. She is still very beautiful, despite her scars from leprosy. It’s a beautiful example of how bonds can grow between people in unexpected ways. Part of Stephen’s recovery is made possible by his friendship with this woman, an outcast of society.

This is a very atmospheric book, with beautiful descriptions of Matsu’s garden and Sachi’s garden. Life and health come through the natural world. Stephen faces many trials (such as the dissolution of his parents’ marriage) but friendship and nature pull him through. This was a healing book for me.