Integration and Expansion

Last night as I lay on the deck looking up there was only one star above me shining its way through the smoky haze.  I felt as though the world was small: one star, friend raccoon rummaging a nightly exploration below the deck, two cats, trees, and me.  We were held in one embrace, and of course, that’s always true, but it was so intimate, and is with me this morning as I reach to understand the complexity of this world.

I want to be Thoreau in his little cabin but my world is wider than that.

When one has a grandchild, views any young child perhaps, one sees past and future combined in an innocence one wants to nurture even as we know each child comes with his or her own gifts, and there is an honoring of ancestry on both sides, branching out like branches on a tree.

For some reason after waking, reflecting, and meditating, I begin my day with Heather Cox Richardson.  Her words are sobering again today.

I’m also with a poem by Rio Cortez and this quote from Claudia Rankine:

Blackness in the white imagination has nothing to do with Black people.’

I want to understand and perhaps this poem by Rio Cortez gives me a clue.  

Driving at Night

For Laquan McDonald

I think it’s quails lining the road but it’s fallen Birchwood.

What look like white clouds in a grassy basin, sprinklers.

I mistake the woman walking her retriever as a pair of fawns.

Could-be animals. Unexplained weather. Maybe they see us

that way. Knowing better, the closer they get. Not quite ready to let it go.

Copyright © 2020 by Rio Cortez. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 8, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.


As it cooled this evening I placed a blanket and pillow on the deck to watch the stars come out. A person in the valley plays a song each night on his or her horn for the 8:00 howl, the howl of gratitude for essential workers.

This is the song played tonight.


It’s Labor Day.  We honor our workers and unions, and this year, there’s an added focus on gratitude for essential workers.  The 8:00 howl began here to thank essential workers, and it continues.  

Yesterday, the temperature topped out at 109 degrees, which is a wee bit rough, as most of us don’t have air conditioning because it doesn’t get hot where I live though with climate change, that’s beginning to change. We love our fog, but last night someone decided to have fun with the heat, and at 8:00 blared out Jingle Bells.

Wet and stinky with sweat, I started singing “Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh …”

Today I read Garrisons Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac on the Blitz in England. 

Along with other events in history, it puts the pandemic, fires, politics, and heat in perspective.

The Blitz began on this date in 1940. “Blitz” comes from the German word “Blitzkrieg,” which means “lightning war.” Germany had successfully invaded France, and now Hitler was determined to conquer Britain as well. The German Luftwaffe, or air force, had been engaging the Royal Air Force for a few months, but without much success. Hitler changed his strategy: rather than focusing on military targets, he set out to crush the morale of the British people through relentless attacks on its major cities.

The first wave of bombers — 348 in all — hit London at around 4:00 in the afternoon. The Luftwaffe primarily targeted London’s docks on this first attack, but many bombs fell in civilian areas as well. Four hundred and thirty people died, and 1,600 were seriously injured. The fires that had started as a result of the first wave of attacks served as beacons for a second wave that hit after dark and lasted until 4:30 the next morning. But Hitler’s attempt to crush the British spirit had the opposite effect. Winston Churchill said: “[Hitler] has lighted a fire which will burn with a steady and consuming flame until the last vestiges of Nazi tyranny have been burnt out of Europe.”

Journalist Ernie Pyle reported from London during the Blitz. He wrote: “It was a night when London was ringed and stabbed with fire. […] The greatest of all the fires was directly in front of us. Flames seemed to whip hundreds of feet into the air. Pinkish-white smoke ballooned upward in a great cloud, and out of this cloud there gradually took shape — so faintly at first that we weren’t sure we saw correctly — the gigantic dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

“St. Paul’s was surrounded by fire, but it came through. It stood there in its enormous proportions — growing slowly clearer and clearer, the way objects take shape at dawn. It was like a picture of some miraculous figure that appears before peace-hungry soldiers on a battlefield.”

The attacks of September 7 were only the beginning. The Blitz continued for 76 consecutive nights, with the exception of a single night of bad weather. Bombs fell on London, Liverpool, Manchester, and several other cities in England and Wales. All told, some 43,000 British civilians died by the time Hitler called off the Blitz in May 1941, and more than a million homes were damaged or destroyed. The Blitz cost the Germans most of their air force, however: they lost most of their airmen and hundreds of planes.


Years ago I heard Fred Luskin speak of The Forgiveness Practice.  It formed when involved in a research project at Stanford, he noticed how people came into work complaining about one or two drivers who had cut them off on the road. He said but look at all the drivers who didn’t cut you off, who came together in an amazing flow so you traveled safely from here to there.  

In these tumultuous times, the words of Alexander Pope keep coming to me: To err is human, to forgive divine.  

When we return to some sense of normalcy with the election of Joe Biden, forgiveness will be even more needed than it is now.

If you want to indulge in a fun read, go for Alexander Pope’s poem The Rape of the Lock, or maybe just read an analysis of it.  The absurdity has stayed with me since I studied it in college 52 years ago. (a note on aging – I first posted this as 32 years which clearly doesn’t make sense, so as part of aging, I’m losing my ability to know the year. I did the math as though it was the year 2000, and there I might say, “if only”).

It’s Labor Day weekend. Unions were formed to honor a need for rest and a nurturing of humanity. Let’s rest in changing the world to what we know is true.

Fred Luskin can be viewed on youtube, but here’s a restful way to move at your own pace through forgiveness to gratitude to Love. 


I stumble upon this poem and as I come to place it here, the children below run outside yelling “Hooray!” I conclude it’s recess time in Zoom school, though I don’t know what springs forth the joy but it’s like flowers blooming shouting the joy of opening to bees, butterflies, and the knowing we go on and on.

The poem is “The Lady in 38C” by Lori Jakiela sharing an experience as a flight attendant.

The Lady in 38C

The Lady in 38C
gets confused. She thinks I’m her nurse.
“Nurse!” she yells. “My finger!”
So I bring her a band-aid
and put it on even though she’s fine.
“Oh thank you nurse!” she yells.
“You’re a good one.”
She winks and smiles and the woman next to her
glares into her computer.
I think the old lady’s charming.
She’s 86, still pretty. Her eyes are blue.
Her hair is a cloud.
She looks exactly like what’s outside.
She’s the only air in this cabin, the only light.
“Nurse!” she yells, and I look back
over the sad heads, eggs in a carton,
faces pressed against
the mite-ridden blankets
and pillows they fought for,
and there she is, beaming.
“Nurse,” she says. “Where are we?”
I take her hand
and look out the window.
I scratch my head, smile
and say, “Somewhere
over Idunno.”
She’s the only passenger
who’s ever gotten that joke.
Up here, nearly everyone is miserable.
I count on small joys to get by.
The woman in 38C says, “Oh, Nurse!”
and the woman next to her
who probably thinks we’re somewhere
over Idaho, that wonderland of Hemingway
and golden potatoes,
rolls her eyes and bangs the computer keys
until the seatbelt sign goes on
and the captain says,
“We’ll be experiencing weather.”
which is what people say
instead of scary things like storm and turbulence
and pretty soon the plane is bouncing
and the woman with the computer
grips her armrest
while the old lady throws her arms up
like she’s on a roller coaster and yells,
“They should charge extra for this!”

Learning from Swifts

I wake this morning thinking of us all like Superman ripping off our ordinary clothes to display a huge L on our chest for Love.  I see our pumping hearts, pumping our path as we meet adversity and pain, always knowing the undercurrent of Love that carries us along.

I’ve been reading about the importance of sitting by a river, being with its movement, honoring beginning and movement to fall into a wider oceanic embrace.

I’m with these words of Sonia Sotomayor: 

But experience has taught me that you cannot value dreams according to the odds of their coming true.” 

Ah, and so I check in with my heart to know what to do.

This article by Helen Macdonald shows how we can follow the example of swifts to handle the challenges in our lives.  

Swifts have, of late, become my fable of community, teaching us about how to make right decisions in the face of oncoming bad weather. They aren’t always cresting the atmospheric boundary layer at dizzying heights; most of the time they are living below it in thick and complicated air. That’s where they feed and mate and bathe and drink and are. But to find out about the important things that will affect their lives, they must go higher to survey the wider scene, and there communicate with others about the larger forces impinging on their realm.

You can read the whole article here:

Voting in the U.S.

We have a man encouraging people to commit a felony by voting twice.  This man votes by mail.

Here is a guide on how to be sure your vote counts.

I’m sickened this morning by how the lies continue, by how a man is allowed to encourage violence. How is it he can’t be stopped?

I’m finding it challenging to stay on course.  I open my door and the world outside is filled with smoke.   It feels symbolic of what’s going on in the country in which I was born.


I’m going through bins of notes and writing.  I’m back in 1990.  

I come across this from the book Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez and think of the fires in my area right now, the smell, fear, and destruction in ash and smoke.  Can I see it like this?

Barry Lopez: “To the explorer, the land becomes large, alive like an animal; it humbles him in a way he cannot pronounce. It is not that the land is simply beautiful but that it is powerful. Its power derives from the tension between its obvious beauty and its capacity to take life. Its power flows into the mind from a realization of how darkness and light are bound together within it, and the feeling that this is the floor of creation.”

A Moment



Full Moon Eve

Yesterday I journeyed to Muir Beach, only ten minutes away by car, and an hour or so walking, and yet another world I haven’t visited in over five months.  I walked to the sand and sat leaning against a log, soothed by soft waves and a few others there in the fog.  

I released on the political news which is sobering.  

Steve and I met a few days over fifty years ago and woke early to discuss how we might celebrate.  So much is closed.  Again, we’re asked to go within even as we connect as we can.  

May change come as fog and smoke move in and out, and nature heals all wounds.

Looking up from the path to and from Muir Beach

Birds on the path

From Above