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

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

Continue reading

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

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.

Poetry, persimmons and my inner battle

Live human conversation is happening in my dining room. In this time of Covid it’s as soothing to me as listening to a symphony.

My son’s friend Emilio is visiting. He has come to build a tower desktop computer with my son TJ. The two of them have spread out the parts on the dining room table and are carefully assembling parts and screwing pieces together. They talk about their online school experience, attempts at working out and living at home. Continue reading

Covid chronicles: life with my 20-something son

I knew something was up when I saw the meat mallet out on the counter.

“Did you use the meat mallet for something?” I ask my son.

“Oh yeah,” he says, with a smile, running into the other room to get something.

He returns with a smashed brown pulpy mass, about the size of a small lime but looking more like a putrified fig.

“What is this?” he says. Continue reading

On a pilgrimage, during Covid-19

I don’t really have a bucket list. If I did though, one of the items at the top would be walking the Camino de Santiago, the ancient pilgrimage route that runs through Northern Spain. I have always dreamed of taking a month off to walk the route and perhaps discover what draws people from around the world to make the journey every year. I’m getting my chance now to do the Camino, only this one is virtual. It’s not the same as going to Spain by any stretch of the imagination, but during this Covid time it’s the closest I can get. Continue reading

Do I really have to leave lockdown? Confessions of an introvert

There’s a scene in Stir Crazy, the 1980 comedy about two men running from the law, when Gene Wilder’s introspective character is about to be let out of solitary confinement.

“One more day, one more day,” he says to the guard in front of him. “I was just beginning to get into myself.” Continue reading

What a miracle looks like

Every morning after I wake up these days, I sip my coffee and hunch over my phone for far too long. What has happened overnight in our Covid-19 world? I’m afraid to know but I want to stay informed. Continue reading