gathering good :: 21 october 2016


Gosh, it’s exhausting to be an American right now, isn’t it? In the spirit of all that is good, I am offering a election-free round up of links to take us into the weekend. Because we all deserve a breather here and there, so we can carry on when it counts.

Around here we’ve been talking about how to set yourself up for maximum creativity. Brain Pickings has more to ponder here.

Did I hear booklist? All 399 books referenced in The Gilmore Girls.

Julia Child’s crew…heh (this totally cracks me up).

10 tips for great travel photos. It’s nice to be reminded that even challenging circumstances can produce a great image.

The big rock theory.  One year Steve and I were such believers in this that we placed a big rock in a jar of water on our kitchen window sill. True story.

Just for fun, buildings that resemble what they sell.

And just for laughs, tweets from Fitbit owners (these are pretty funny).

Internet friends are real friends (you know who you are).

OMG, these pencil sculptures.

Just in case you missed it, my 35-word stories from our trip in Chicago.

And a really lovely story from Karen Walrond about the Northern Lights.

See you on the flip side.

always short and almost true stories :: making it work in Chicago

chicago work stories

This set was inspired by our recent trip to Chicago and the people who work there.  More short short stories are here. Thanks for reading. -K


Eli’s position as an elevator operator

was certainly

the best job

at the Chicago Stock Exchange.

He knew


to expect

the ups and downs,

and controlled the red button

that made them so.



Professional pumpkin carver at

Lincoln Park Zoo

wasn’t the first item on Jonah’s checklist.

But when a truckload

of 1000 pound pumpkins showed up,

his career path seemed destined,

at least for the season.



Art school prepared him

for his latest gig,

applying faux gold leaf to

the faux fancy store window.

Contemporary realism—

creating the illusion

of authenticity

with plastic, glue and good enough hand skills.



Sylvia drives around Chicago,

dutifully delivering Uber customers

to their destinations.

She has a novel in progress and

collects stories,

one passenger at a time.

Everyone needs a bit of fiction

to get where they’re going.



Most Chicago Cubs fans

were nervously optimistic,

but the guy who spray painted his dog

to look like a goat

(with red, white and blue socks, no less)

was 100% committed

to the winning cause.


how we are who we are

168th Street

I’ve had a fine life—with moments, and choices, and paths and people. And I like to think that I remember them all, and how they helped me become myself.

My theory about raising kids and how they turn out is a theory of thirds, and has been repeated many times with our friends, usually over a second or third bottle of wine. I typically trot this out when one of us is struggling with something our adult child is doing, as we try to understand how to watch from the sidelines.

This is my theory of how our kids become who they are: One third is family, what they get from us. Either through DNA, experiences, structure, rituals, traditions, or lack of. Family includes siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. The second third is what our kids get from others, the circumstances that surround them. Schools and teachers, coaches, trainers, neighbors, friends, youth leaders. It’s opportunities, trips, and camps. It’s timing. It’s the hand they are dealt, through luck or privilege, or not. And the final third is what each child decides to put on the table, how they decide to manage their own life. It’s their heart and soul, and where they detour, where they persevere, how they choose to show up.

Until today, I never considered how this theory of thirds applied to my own life. On Tuesday night, as Steve was making dinner, I sat in the chair in the kitchen corner, drinking wine (always the wine, you know), and starting searching for childhood friends on Facebook. I had been thinking about memory and loss all day, and somehow I felt brave. I was already friends with two of them, and I quickly found four more. Without thinking, I quickly hit the “friend requested” button. Isn’t this silly, that at age 59, I required courage to ask to be friends? (As an aside, at Kate’s wedding, I mentioned to my friend Kevin that I was concerned at what people would think of me. Kevin, who has known me for 40 years, said, “Do you mean you don’t already know?”)

One by one “friend request accepted” popped up on my phone, along with sweet notes and memories. There was a group of girls in our neighborhood, and we all had little brothers. We also had Barbies and jump ropes and play houses in our back yards. We were Indian Maidens together, and then in Tri-Gra-Y (it was part of the YMCA, and we had vests instead of Chippewa Indian costumes, but we learned to cook and stuff). We had birthday parties and slumber parties and pool parties. We rode bikes, and I think one summer we played softball, but this was before Title IX and team sports weren’t part of our experiences together. But I remember my mom made bases out of newspapers and green cotton fabric, and we played ball in our street. Four-square in our driveway (Dad painted a court for us), and tetherball in the back back yard (that wasn’t a typo, we had a double back yard, which may have been one of the greatest gifts our parents gave us).

Lori, and Laurie (who was also Muffy), Renee and Mary Pat. There were others too, Gayle and Colleen, and Robin, another Lori, and a Laura. Later there was Donna, and Pam, there was a Peggy who was in and out. At the beginning there was a Big Kim, and I was Little Kim (and to my chagrin, Kimmy). There may have been a Diana who was also Naomi, but I might be making that one up.

This was my first posse (you know, tribe, but since I have already used my cultural appropriation chits on the unfortunately named Indian Maidens, we are now a posse. By the way, my Indian Maiden name was Sparkling Waters, and my mom was Still Waters.) Laurie, Renee and Mary Pat all had older sisters, and they offered an inside peek into the world of teased hair, boyfriends and music.


Lori and I lived on the long street, and our homes were the same, at least in floor plan. But as she reminded me this week, they were also very different, and she thanked my mom for welcoming her into ours. I found a picture of some of us, and was surprised that I could remember everyone by name. I had drawn an arrow over my head, as if I was worried I wouldn’t recognized myself later. The date on the photo is June 1967. I see Lori next to me, in the center, and her sister Karen, in front of me. My brother Doug, their brother Billy. Other kids who had moved away, making way for newcomers. I see the long sidewalk, the one that stretched between our house and Lori’s, past the curve that connected and separated us. I can still remember how that curve, with a dip and then a slight rise, made bike riding and wagon pulling tricky and somewhat adventurous.

I belonged, until I didn’t.

I am guessing it began to shift when we were ten. Some of it had to do with rules imposed by my parents (and in my imagination, no one else had rules…I was the only one). We were friendly, but we were dividing up. They were part of the popular group. I wasn’t unpopular, but I wasn’t part of them. I had a church youth group that held me through those tween years, and I remember feeling I had a posse at the First Presbyterian Church of Gardena.

It wasn’t painful, it was just a turn in the path.

Our elementary school went through 8th grade, and we all went to high school in 9th. Our family moved the summer I started 10th grade, and I found a new group, where sometimes I fit, and sometimes I didn’t. But I was more prepared this time, and had other friends outside of my high school, and transitioned easily to college, and the newspaper, and my marriage to Steve, and the life that has became mine.

We were ten, and now we are almost sixty. Facebook statuses note retirement, grandchildren and parents lost. We have wrinkles. Gray hair, some of us more than others (that would be my gray hair). This is just weird.

If I follow my own theory of thirds, they are part of who I am, where we began. Where we played all day long, into the evening. Exploring each others’ homes and yards and parents and siblings. It’s where I noticed how my family was the same, and different. Where my parents made a place for us, where we had the big back yard, with the cool fort, and a row of trees where we were allowed to dig and climb and hide and hang out by ourselves. It was the neighborhood where we would gather in someone’s family room, spread out with our dolls and their cars, Barbie and Ken and Midge and Skipper, figuring out what our dreams for our next life might be.

It’s where I belonged until I didn’t.

We all had our own experiences and memories. Of course, I’m not sure if mine are true, or if they have been created in my head in the fifty years between 168th Street in Torrance and Brentwood Place in Davis. And in the end, it doesn’t matter. Earlier this week, Steve and I were talking about how we got here (it’s been a very emotional week). He said, “We’ve both been given so much, but we worked hard, and we didn’t drop the ball.” I like to think he’s right. I hope he is.

In the end, we are all doing the best we can, with what we’ve been given. The rest we’ve discovered along the way. The part that really matters is where we go from here.


gathering good :: 30 september 2016


Last weekend Steve and I took 24 hours at Lake Tahoe to celebrate his birthday, and to remind ourselves how to breathe. It was a success on both counts, and now I am wondering how to follow it up this weekend. Suggestions welcome.

In the meantime, here are a few links to share:

This fall foliage map makes one want to head east, yes?

Anthony Bourdain is not a fan of pumpkin spice. Anything.

Scientific American has a theory on where creativity comes from. My family has a creative component for sure (even those who think they aren’t), so this is pretty interesting to me.

I have plenty of mugs, but this one showed up, and I think I need it. (Maybe I will fill it with pumpkin spice something and take it with me on a fall foliage field trip.)

Warning, rabbit hole ahead. MOMA puts 1000’s of exhibit photos online.

Why we are so bad at shopping (note to self).

Perfect penmanship makes me swoon.

Sometimes my immaturity surprises even me. Like when I giggle at product names like this (and when I seriously consider buying the product, so I can giggle every day).

Did you know this was Banned Books Week? Banned Books Themed Gifts…(I know of one daughter who would love any of these…you know who you are)

And with that, I am off to take a walk, read a book and open a bottle of wine.

See you on the flip side.

always short and almost true stories :: singing into the wind

music man

Thirty-five words or less. These stories show up and I do my best with them. This is my latest batch. The rest are here. Thanks for reading. -K


Today would be different.

She would be strong enough.

She’d be in control and

show she could lead.

Courage mustered,

the six-year-old reached for the leash

and called the dog for their morning walk.



He had always been

a risk taker,

a daredevil.

Rules need not apply

when one eats danger for breakfast,

with an adrenaline chaser.

It’s not over.

Leaving his walker behind,

he scaled the stepstool,





that’s the hardest part

of being a mermaid,“ she said.

“Also, everyone asks if I know Ariel.

Which is ridiculous,

because there are lots of mermaids,

and it’s a really, really big sea.”



Practicing his cantata,

he sang into the wind.

He stood on the bluff by the bay,

sheet music in one hand, conducting with the other.

The percussion section rowed below,

keeping beat with their oars.



Part One:

He was dancing on the street corner,

spinning a “world’s best sandwiches” sign,

and wearing a giant pickle costume.

Last night’s cocktail party question of

making a living or making a life

wasn’t relevant today.


Part Two:

On a good day,

he imagines his giant pickle costume

is wearable art.

No one knows he’s listening to NPR podcasts

while spinning his sandwich sign.

He’s no fool,

just an artist in a pickle.