Reading Aloud

tcb at sea

I read aloud often to Tom. Lately, as tonight, I sometimes read him his own poetry. We agree, these are good poems. (See a few of them below, and try reading them aloud yourself, not hurried. You can also find them, and others, in a new window at

Part of the pleasure is having Tom hear the poems newly, almost as though they’d been written by someone else. But then of course he remembers details of the experience and why he wrote them.

Atlantic Crossing

For NDH (Norris D. Hoyt)

Knuckles nut tight on the wheel,
running my mantra like an outboard.
Like the time I’d fallen in, alone,
in the middle of the pond,
breaking my way to the edge.

I’ll make it home, I’ll make it sure,
running there with skates still on,
over the frozen fields.

Or the first time I prayed,
my white rat lying senseless
on the bed from when I hit him hard
with a sockfull of BB’ s because
he’d half eaten the starling I’d
saved, fallen from its nest.

(The rat, righting itself, blinked pink.)

And you, the skipper, tallest teller
of any tale, you were speechless
in the banshee night, storm trys’l set
running before a full gale, and I
needing blather to keep my mind
from broaching, pitchpoling, giving in.

My mantra half in gear now and slipping,
over the edge, and you, the skipper
catatonic. But no, (TE DUM!)
you gray beard loon, you were asleep.
half awash but sleeping. If you
could have that much faith,
then I could too, and tell the tale.

* * *

Hwai-Yuen 1910

I open the ibis box for treasure
of old china, brittle as temple
birds brocaded on the lid of memory
and recall old songs, like roofs
of red tile, the streets empty
except for beggars and dead dogs.
Next to us the orphanage, the girl
children, some from our own doorstep.
Spinsters sequestered in their earmuffs
coming in battalions to help the mission
yet another year; we were so young
we all called them auntie.
Auntie Tatti appears in silk,
silent footed along the rattan halls,
when we were breast fed by amahs.
These old albums sting my eyes with dust.

* * *

I Was In The Men’s Room

Standing next to a Harley D. guy wearing
A Nazi helmet at the urinal, when all I could
Say was, “Hi, nice day,” falsetto in fear.
He didn’t bother to respond, so I didn’t croak “Peace.”

Imagine, then, the background to this:
Think of Emily D’s “stillness at the bone” —
(she was thinking of serpents) — me encountering
bikers the size of behemoths, in leathers, pissing.

We (family and dog) were at the rest stop
Sawtooth Mts. and gassing up — then all
The bikers roared in, next to us, bearded.

We, gassed by now, pulled away, and I
Girding my loins went to pee (see above) —
And me, I wanted panoramic shot of all
Those bikers fueling up, against the mts.

“No, no daddy, don’t!”  But I did, swinging
The camera, so they wouldn’t notice and they
Didn’t– the bikers, calm at the pump, quiet.


Distancing Voluntarily

I hardly need to tell you, beyond what you’ll see here, how our lives have changed, how little we can plan for the future.

Hopewell House is still silent, but Friends of Hopewell House is alive and well, an amazing group, a corps of which meets weekly (now virtually), and will be ready when the time comes to resume where we left off. Legacy, until the virus hit, was getting ready to turn it over to us. You can go to our website at, and read our first newsletter, just out today, by CLICKING HERE.

It’s curious, being retired anyway, and not lacking in ways to carry on our lives, our inner lives and our lives together, without a great deal of new input, how we go on about our days, quietly and mostly full of hope.

The present “head” of government bears responsibility for thousands of deaths, continues to ignore this, and behave irresponsibly. Whether he will waken to that realization, and change, is another question. I am afraid he’s not capable of that.

Here’s how I started one day this week, in the beautiful clear dawn:

Leaving for the store at 6:55 a.m.
Leaving for the store at 6:55 a.m., I see the Kerria Japonica is half out by the turnaround.
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At the end of the driveway, I get the pleasure of the beautiful cherry that Uncle Phil Joss planted in about 1945 when they built that house.
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The sun is farther up when I return, hitting the Magnolia, which looks like this from Penridge Road.
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And looks slightly different from down below on our driveway.
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When I pull all the way in, our house is still not fully in the sun, but almost.

You can find many restful poems, meditations, and mantras in the collection I’ve been assembling called “Well-Being and Being Well.” It’s under my name at, or I encourage you to open it by CLICKING HERE.


Calling All Friends of Hopewell House!


Many of you have heard that Hopewell House, the hospice program I helped start 28 years ago, has been slated to close by Legacy Health, which now runs it. They say that changes in Medicare funding have caused it to start losing money.

It has been wonderful to see so many friends and supporters from Portland and beyond come together to help make sure that Hopewell House doesn’t close, and that it will continue to help dying patients and their families in some way.

A group called Friends of Hopewell House has been formed with a page on Facebook, which you can join by clicking HERE. There’s also a petition circulating that tonight has 1,370 signatures! You can sign it, too, by clicking HERE.

Friends of Hopewell House will host a meeting Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Hillsdale Library at 2 p.m. Please join us there.

I’ve heard from so many of you in comments on this blog, but I’m not sure about the best way to contact you. Please email me at Thank you all so much for supporting Hopewell House.

The Newest Great-Grandchild


When I got to our daughter Hester’s house the other day, our youngest great-grandchild, Maya, was lying happily in the lap of Lily. Up till now Lily has been the youngest. That gentle supplanting happens to us all. Here Lily watches and perhaps understands. Maya, only two months old, has just registered on another smiling face, and Lily observes from the couch.

The three sisters, Emily, Julia, and Hannah, Hester and Len’s daughters, have taught me a lot in the last months about sisterhood. And it’s wonderful to feel the richness of people around us, spending time together, all ages, different relationships.


Days, This Week

image1 (3)Tom with one old friend, from graduate school days. This couple lives in Gresham.

image2And here he is with another old colleague. We went by their house Saturday and found them home. At the ends of all these long lives, it does take doing, making the date, driving across the city. But somehow it’s the embellishment and reaffirmation of friendship in the face of governmental chaos that’s important now.

All our younger friends and the three generations image3growing above us (this is our great-granddaughter, Lily, organizing the ducks and the loon by our wood stove) can probably barely imagine how we feel, but they help make it all possible. And we are grateful!

We’re also excited to learn that Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin will air on PBS American Masters on August 2 at 9 p.m.

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Welcomed by Family and Friends


Friday, May 17 – We’re just coming in to Rochester NY, breakfasted, beds out of the way, “Some of these farmhouses are lovely, porches around them, all wood. Haven’t seen a single brick one,” says Tom. We were asleep all the way through Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania where those would have been. We’ll be glad to be in bed in a Springfield motel tonight.

unnamed (46)Saturday, May 18 – First day. Picnic (tailgate) with son Dexter and Keri at Oxbow Marina in Northampton where his daughter Clara was playing in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament. The hills around were soft with new green and I asked Dex for that photo. We were right by a wood full of sensitive fern and the fiddleheads of wood fern, and at the other side of us were playing fields, tents, and hundreds of high school age men and women throwing Frisbees.

unnamed (44)Then they dropped us off for a nap, and grandson Griffin (red t-shirt, “Fund our Future”) picked us up at our motel and took us to their house, only a few minutes away, for supper. It’s lovely, sitting in the woods, with a beautiful (and weedless) garden. He and Heather have a sweet year-old corgi puppy, Leeloo. We had a warm summer evening, wonderful feeling.

Griffin is working as a carpenter, starts graduate school in September at UMass Amherst Labor Center. We’ll visit Heather’s HTWoodshop tomorrow.

unnamed (49)Sunday – We stopped at Heather’s shop on the way. Raining but then the sun came out. Such a good supper last night at Griffie and Heathers! Leeloo is of course sweet.

This was a stellar day, all together with Dexter and Keri, Griffin and Heather, Jewell, daughter of Tom’s brother Bill, and John, Bill’s youngest, and his wife, Beth. Complicated, I know.

Also there were Jewell’s daughter Zoe, and Jewell’s neighbor and friend, Lee Edelberg, the tall man some may not have met.IMG_2015


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Off We Go Again!

60354904_10213168951170709_289344202905485312_nWe’re heading east by train once again, visiting family and friends, and stopping in at the Smith College reunion next weekend – my 65th!

On Tuesday, May 14, we ate our supper coming up the Columbia Gorge, late sun slanted in under swirly clouds. When we drove up this way as newlyweds on the way east in 1954, Celilo Falls was still there. 

I’ve learned to order one instead of two and it was plenty. Box lunch since we don’t get the dining car till we join up in Spokane with our other half of the Empire Builder coming in from Seattle.

Here we are stopped just briefly at the west entrance to Glacier Park.

IMG_2919Tom is tucked in down below, and I’m glad to report getting into the top bunk was not hard. I didn’t realize how much the exercising, change in diet, of the last two months had been in preparation for this trip, but just now, going five cars forward and up and down the necessary stairs to the dining car for breakfast, I knew! I never could have done that with the weight and lack of muscle strength I had in February.


We do get tired by the end of a long day, and getting into my bunk, I sometimes think, “Are we crazy!?” But after a long night’s sleep, everything seems right again. We’re just going along the Erie Canal now, east of Rochester, looking forward to all the visits to come this week in that beautiful Connecticut River Valley we know so well.

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Saying Goodbye to My Sister, Liz

58373040_10219350002165196_5817300337895145472_oOn a day when it did not rain, and the air was soft, a group of us gathered on April 23rd at the cemetery to bury Liz’s ashes in earth that already holds many of our family members who have gone before. We sang and spoke and bid her goodbye. Tom had decided to wear his Cochran kilt in honor of Liz, and he looked dashing.

Friends Joan’s age came who had known our family since childhood. And it was good to be all together, even Dexter all the way from New York.

Julia and Hannah had taken the day off, Hannah carrying the unborn next generation.
Liz never did like taking walks, but several of the songs we sang are ones she sang with Joan, encouraging her while she walked to a restaurant, songs our parents sang to us in childhood.

As one of her caregivers wrote, “She was a lovely lady.”

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Liz Strong – Sept. 13, 1935 to March 19, 2019

IMG_4745My sister Liz died on March 19th in Pt. Townsend, WA, where she had been living since about 1969. She lived only some hours after a severe stroke. She was 83.

A memorial open house will be held for her at her home in Pt. Townsend on Saturday April 13th, and we will have a ceremony here in Portland when we bury her ashes at Riverview Cemetery on April 23rd.

Liz was beloved of many people. Everybody who knew her remembers her laughter and her wonderful sense of humor. She had a huge affection for family members and friends, for animals, and all the pets we’d ever had. And she understood, in a practical way, how the world works.

These recent pictures, taken during a visit by Tom and Jamie in February, give an idea of her. image1 (7)

Her nieces and nephews and grands- grew in their understanding of the many endearing qualities to be found in all “sorts and conditions” of people, as they interacted with Liz over the years.

This brings thanks to everyone who has sent messages of condolence, love, and understanding to us, Joan and Tom, and to our whole family.

Come See Our Show at RiverPlace

art river place logo

pic1This exhibit, which will change slightly from month to month, holds pieces of the work of two lifetimes.

It is designed to be enjoyed peacefully, sitting down to peruse a book, looking at the underside of a piece of sculpture to see how it was put together, looking at a wall of paintings, watercolors, thinking of your own journals, sketchbooks, treasures.

We plan to be there for the opening reception on Sunday, March 10 from 3-5 p.m., and the other Sunday afternoon gatherings on April 14 and May 12. We hope to see you on any of those days.