Saturday, August 29, 2020

Mask Choices

      Many years ago, in my rebellious late-thirties, I chose to defy the law requiring me to carry insurance on my car. According to the law, if I didn't carry a specific type of insurance, I could be arrested and sent to jail for several months.

       Being a libertarian at heart, I objected to being forced to buy something. My money is my own; whether or not I spend it on car insurance should be my choice. I was willing to face the financial consequences if I had an accident.

       Also, putting someone in jail because they didn't pay for something, felt a lot like debtor's prison to me. (Didn't England get rid of that two centuries ago?) Jailing a person because they don't pay a bill deprives them of the livelihood to pay any bills. Also, they become a drain on social resources, rather than just a drain on a debt collector. It is completely counter-productive, which is why debtors prison was abolished.

       For these reasons, I did not carry vehicle insurance.

       In the course of time, I was stopped for speeding – well, okay, the third time or so --  (Remember, this was my rebellious period.) and ticketed for not having insurance. The police officer was not interested in my views on debtors prison.

       Neither was the judge. When I told him why I didn't carry insurance, he listened politely, then told me the fine I would need to pay and the deadline to prove I'd purchased it.

       Of course, I had a choice: pay the fine or go to jail.

       Also, I could have challenged this law in the court system, maybe even taken it to the Supreme Court!

       E gad! Years and lots of money.

       As so often happens, my family was the deciding factor. I had little kids who I preferred to be with than being in jail. Our finances were adequate but not for a lengthy legal battle based on a perceived lack of freedom of choice.

       I paid my fine, bought insurance and continue to do so.

       I understand the desire to not wear a mask, the irritation with authority, the disbelief that this is happening.

       However, I obey traffic laws, tax laws, and obscenity laws whether I like them or not.          

       Wearing a mask is another kind of law, or at least a social etiquette rule; it is addressing a much more serious issue than car insurance: a world-wide infectious disease.

       I believe, in my heart of hearts, that by choosing to wear a mask I am saving people's lives. I hope you do too.


 This gorgeous psychedelic cats mask is available at, a shop in Minneapolis run by a friend of my daughter. The masks are two sided, so you get two for the price of one. Many designs to choose from. (No one paid me to talk about these masks, I just want to.)

I've received many compliments on this mask, which is an interesting upside. 😏

Also printed in the First United Methodist Church of Alamosa, Mid-Week Message.


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Chicks and Hope, Anyway

       I lifted one of the chicks and plopped it down into the brown hands of the little boy.

       He gasped. "Oh!" Took in a breath. Stilled. Said again, "Oh."

       This ten-year-old had been following me around for half an hour, filled with questions that he barely heard the answers to, curious but cautious, and roving non-stop.

       I was showing him our new baby chicks.

       During this spring and summer, while COVID-19 ravaged the world, our flock went from eighteen chickens to six. Coyotes or foxes had taken a daily toll. This is the price we pay for letting the chickens range freely around our yard and grounds: they become prey to the local food chain.

       Our six chickens were only laying two or three eggs a day, barely enough for us, much less our Airbnb guests. Our reliable, standard food resource was threatened, adding to my fears of  apocalyptic disaster.

       Finally, my partner ordered six chickens from a mail order catalogue. They arrived in a cardboard box with wire-covered holes and small plastic cups inside for food and water – watched over by the post office employees! The next week, we learned that a local farm store had day-old chicks, so Partner went shopping and returned with twelve very tiny, fluffy, cute chicken babies.

       One of these chicks is what I handed to the little boy.

       "Put your hand under its feet so it doesn't fall," I told him. "And cup your thumbs around it to help it feel safe."

       His head was tilted down so his black cap hid his dark eyes. He held completely still, staring at the tiny, fluffy, peeping life in his hands. That moment stretched out as we stood, toe to toe, silently studying a baby chick.

       Having chicks again reminds me that life continues. That despite the invisible pandemic monster outside the door, we can bring healthy little babies inside our hearts.

       Fluffy, peeping chicks and awe-struck little boys remind me to hope.


Saturday, August 8, 2020


        A close friend of mine contacted me and said, "I went to your blog to catch up and you haven't written since March?!"

       Her words made me weep.

       Even as I write my answer to her, I weep.

       What could have happened since March to keep me from the page and bring on all these tears?

       The answer is mind-numbingly global and deeply personal.

       In March, our world shut down. I'm not referring to my family's world, but to the Entire World. We all stepped off a curb and into a separate dimension, one of those dystopian, apocalyptic times described so painfully well in science fiction novels.

       Every single person was ordered to go home, quarantine, refrain from contact with anyone. No travel, no concerts, no summer vacations. No going to the grocery store much less visiting the sick and dying.

       Faced with the magnitude of living inside a pandemic, what was there for me to say?

       I attempt, in my blog posts, to be hopeful, funny, personal yet universal.

       How to be hopeful when we were all terrified of the invisible, deadly monster outside our doors? How does one even mention "hope" when faced with a world-wide plague? Like everyone else, I was deeply afraid.

       And any attempt at being funny in such a terrible time, would be irreverent. It would feel like I was belittling our mutual, real, anxiety. Even writing about the antics of our chickens felt cheap and thin.

       And finally, why write about my personal experience of these terrible times when everyone else was experiencing the same? Any feelings I would write about were shared by billions of other people. I could not think of any unique angle for myself.

       And then, in late May, when I was finally sharpening my pencil to write blog posts, a horrific act of violence was perpetrated against a black citizen by a white police officer -- using his bare hands to kill on a public street, witnessed through video by the entire world.

       This act occurred in downtown Minneapolis, six blocks from where my daughter lives. She is a hard-working, tax-paying citizen who was suddenly inside a war zone.

       Every night more disturbance occurred there and every day I talked to my child about surviving there. This went on for a week.

       Then another week.        

       Then another week.

       My experience of that time is unique, and I knew I would write about it on my blog. But I couldn't write then. The intensity of my feelings would have destroyed countless pencils, burned up pages and scorched my desk, got me kicked off the internet for my foul, bitter language.

       I have wanted to write about that, and about my own tiny survival of the 2020 Plague, but I have been in a time capsule of suspended animation.

       It took the love of a friend to get me back here.

       So often, as a writer, I feel alone. Why bother to tell stories or to react to the news of the day? My voice is tiny, insignificant, unheard.

       And then, out of the blue, someone wondered where my voice had gone. She tapped on my capsule and inquired about me.

       Because I love her, and because I do have a voice, and because my voice craves to be heard – even by one beloved friend – I return to this blog.

       My blog will be different now because I am different. But truthfully, every single one of us is different now.

       We are in a new dimension, a time of apocalyptic change.

       I will attempt to report about it from my tiny place, even though the reporting makes me weep.

       Thank you, friend.