To be honest, when I logged on to write this today, I was surprised to find I’d done a post in March 2020. It feels like so much longer. Like everything these days.

If there is one thing in this life I am good at, it’s denial. Denial of reality, denial of emotions, of feelings, of potential, of pain. It is perhaps this skill that has allowed me to still be on this earth in the middle of this shitshow we are currently living through.

If you can ignore the complete lack of normal, the missing of people, the futureless, if you are able to exist on shallow breaths only, then maybe, just maybe, you will be here at the end. If there is one. Because I fear if I stop FOR ONE MINUTE to truly see, I won’t be able to bear it.

I feel like there is a haze over everything. Even the things that used to be joyful. There was an article in the New York Times recently describing “joyless aimlessness”. I felt that term deeply, in the very heart of me. I worry there will never be joy again.

We are remodeling our kitchen and bathroom. Last night I nearly had a panic attack when I found out we might not be able to get the refrigerator I want without losing counter space (in our tiny kitchen, this matters.) Utterly ridiculous. A refrigerator! But I just want ONE THING to be the way it should be. ONE THING to look forward to. ONE THING that doesn’t suck.

The lack of joy and wandering from sucky thing to other unknown sucky thing is exhausting. So I grab hard to the things I can count on. Designing and buying WAY too many bags. Talking every day to my virtual like-minded friends, not just about bags, but families and heartache and things that make us laugh. I am aware a lot of my real life friends think my purse obsession is insane. I’m OK with that. Just be glad I never tried heroin.

The last year hasn’t been a TOTAL loss. Thanks to one of these purse friends, I rediscovered quilting. It’s brought me peace and distraction.

And more tattoos over the last month. A work in progress. Somehow adding art to my body that I can see anytime has given me a spark of joy I haven’t felt in a long time.

Friends coming to town in August. A wedding. A beach trip.

A solo trip to the East Coast and Colorado in the fall to see friends, eating and drinking and shopping and laughing til it hurts. And in theory, the planning for Europe in 2022.

And a new kitchen and bathroom in October. Hopefully with a badass refrigerator.

I’m trying. I’m trying to see the glitter and shine of these things. Hope to see you soon, too.


Hello, friends. It’s been a minute.

To be honest, I didn’t know if I could write this. I still don’t. But it seems necessary.

I don’t know where to start. It seems like I should start at the end, since that is what today marks.

The Geek’s dad died a year ago today. In the year since, as many of you know, there was, well, a lot. So much.

6 weeks in a gero psych ward for his mother. Visits with her court-appointed lawyer and social worker. Visits to a small building with a low ceiling on the campus of NW Hospital, whose smell I will never forget. Cheap coffee and cleaner and old people and old things. Court visits via video to decide if she would stay or go.

We watched her waste away. We sat by her side and pretended it was just a regular part of our day.  Unable to change a thing. Waiting. So much waiting.

She moved into a facility that took good care of her. She didn’t know that. Or us. We went to visit anyway, because that is what you do when there is nothing else to do. We answered the phone when they called to say she fell. And found her asleep on the floor in the hall or in her room. She preferred that. We filled out hospice forms, twice. And we waited.

Meanwhile. We sold the one thing we had longer than our kids. We sold the bar. The thing that defined us. It was a leap but the time felt right, the people we sold it to felt right.

But even with that, there was grief. 2019 was nothing but grief. Grief in every color and pattern. It became hard to remember a time without it. Loss was everywhere, all the time.

Darlyne passed away February 5th. We rented a house at the beach to decompress with friends. Little did we know. Oh, how little.

At the end of February, the shit started to hit the fan with the coronavirus. We naively thought everything would be fine for our trip to Europe departing April 1. Of course, it is not. The trip is now postponed until September, but even that may not happen. More grief.

And so now we are at the beginning. The beginning of the new normal, maybe. Where friends are on your screen, not at your table. Where you worry about jobs and bills and health, in the middle of something you have absolutely no control over. Where you have lost the self you used to be.  Now I am grieving the loss of others as well as myself, outside these four walls. Reinvention is uncomfortable and uncertain and I have had enough of uncertainty.

Surely, this cannot last. But nothing will ever be the same. None of it.

Meanwhile, I plan the party we will have if we emerge from this. Something to ease the endless grief. Because if nothing else, this year has taught me that the trite is true, and I appreciate every tiny good thing, every snarky comment and every hug from all my wonderful people.

And so it goes. Stay safe. Much love.




I have written many words in this space. Most come easy. The ones that follow are both the hardest and the most important.  It is hard to believe I am even writing them. My heart is pounding.

As many of you know, 2019 has been a year of loss and heartache for us. It’s not over, as we deal with The Geek’s mom who is still on hospice care after 8 weeks.

Since the unexpected passing of his dad in March, it has been a struggle. Processing not only that loss while trying to take care of his mom is a lot all at once. After 6 weeks in the Gero Psych Ward, she moved into memory care and has declined ever since. Still stubborn til the end.

Anyway. All this to say, after 24 years, we’ve made the hard, painful decision to sell The Roanoke. Gary, my father-in-law, used to be a weekly, if not daily, presence there. Fixing things, puttering, helping. It is a painful place for The Geek to be now. It’s time for the next thing.

Luckily, we are selling to some lovely folks that know the bar well. Who appreciate its history and community and place in Seattle. Sean has bartended for us for 4 years and his wife Teresa also bartends – they have years of industry experience between them and have long dreamed of owning their own place. It seemed meant to be. I wish Sean and Teresa many years of success and happy memories as the new caretakers. They’ll most likely take over in 4-6 weeks, depending on when their license comes through.

When we bought the bar in 1995, we were 27 and 28 years old. It was beer and wine only. Bottles were held in a big trough of ice that we covered with a furry rug at night. We added liquor in 2001. We’ve tweaked the food menu a bit over those 24 years, but it remains largely the same. Some might consider this a fault. Maybe so. But when I consider all the places that have disappeared in those 24 years while we survived, I think not.

We are looking forward to weekends off and long vacations. It’s been ten years since we left for more than 4 days together. His mom used to do the books then but lost that ability years ago. We aren’t sure what’s next for Jeff, but it won’t involve middle-of-the-night calls from ADT or moving all the newly prepped food to the cooler from the frig up front when the temp rises. A little time off for The Geek, for sure.

I won’t lie – I will miss it. What will we say now when people ask what we do? It’s been a part of our lives since before we had kids. It’s where we met some of the best people we know, as customers and employees. Where friends met and married and hung their photos on the wall. Where we held two baby showers, a bachelorette party and a wedding reception. Where we watched the Seahawks win and lose a Super Bowl. Where the staff Christmas parties are legendary. Where we celebrated the lives of two favorite customers after they passed and held the wake for Gary.

Where I convinced people they DO like brown liquor. Where many summer hours were spent on the deck or playing beer pong. Where Ashley took a chance on a place she didn’t know and came to ask a stranger if he’d sponsor a gay softball team, who then played for us for years. Where people of all colors and stripes are welcome.

So. Thank you – thank you to the old-school customers who took a chance on us way back when and stuck with us. Thank you to the new folks who saw through the ivy and stepped inside. Thank you to our amazing staff through the years – we know we were so lucky. Thanks to my Saturday crew who drink whatever I make them.

Being a part of this special place is the thing of which I am most proud.

I’m trying to see through tears as I sign off. Next time you see me at The Roanoke, I’ll need a drink.




Hello, friends. It’s been a minute since I had words to leave here.  I’m not entirely sure I have them now, but I’ll leave some anyway.

Spoiler alert: I’m pretty sure this story doesn’t have a happy ending. It’s also not unique. But it has been our story for nearly a month now.

On March 12th, I got a call at work that I’d long been dreading: my father-in-law had had a heart attack. I wasn’t dreading that specifically – just that something had happened to him. Something serious and maybe not fixable. Since they live in a rural town in eastern Washington, the EMTs took him 90 minutes to a hospital on our side of the Cascades.

This meant I had to tell The Geek what happened. I was glad I was the one who got the call. The EMT said it looked good, so I passed that along to my husband and we headed to the hospital.

My father-in-law turned 82 a few days before. He was tall and strong and rarely sick. Seeing him so weak and helpless was awful. But they said they thought he would be released the next day and have to come in for another procedure in a couple weeks.

They were wrong.

I could tell you everything that happened, every detail and fear and tear that we shed. How we brought him home for a few days and ended up readmitting him to the hospital, how he grew weaker and weaker and was so tired. How we told him it was ok to go, that we had everything handled. In the end, his heart that was the biggest of anyone, of all of us, was too wrung out. He died March 25th.

That’s only part of this story. As if it’s not enough.

The Geek’s mother has suffered from Alzheimer’s for years.  His dad took care of her, stubbornly, completely, even after we found place after place that would take care of her. He felt it was his duty. No matter that she hid knives in the house, bit him, ran out in to the street and into strangers’ cars, or hid the phone for days so that we finally had to call the Sheriff to check on them. Twice.

And now her caretaker was gone. The Geek did it while his dad was sick, but it is not a job for amateurs. A son should not have to bathe his mother or worry that she will take his things or come after him with a knife while he sleeps. The place we found in their town tried their best, but couldn’t handle her for more than a day.  She needed meds and professional help.

And so. We found ourselves this morning for the third time going to “court” at the Gero Psych Ward. It is where she was admitted after we took her to the ER three weeks ago. The same ER where they had to call a Code Grey to restrain a 100 pound, 82 year old woman, who was so, so angry. Who didn’t know us. Who wanted only to go home, where she lived as a teenager, who didn’t understand where her parents were and why they weren’t coming to get her. Who wanted to take a woman’s purse in the waiting room, convinced it was hers. Where I held her while they drew blood, twice because old people have tricky veins.

Where I had to leave the room in tears and couldn’t talk to the social worker, where the nurses and staff were amazingly kind.

The Gero Psych Ward is not for the faint of heart. It smells like old people and coffee. Its ceilings are low and the halls are dark. Sometimes, people scream. There is usually always crying. There is a one woman in normal clothes, eating her food with real utensils. She does not get a “safety tray” like Darlyne. We have been to visit maybe ten times now, and it is a different Darlyne every time.

They are trying to stabilize her with meds so that she can move to a nice memory care facility. But currently she does not sleep. At all.  There is kicking and spitting. She talks to people we cannnot see. But other times she almost seems to see us, really see us. Those times give us hope that we are almost there. Until we go again, and she is angry and onry.

We have been lucky, I suppose, so far that when there is a “court” day, she has agreed (as best she can) to stay in the hopsital. If she were to refuse, there would be a hearing in front of the judge, and we and the hospital and her lawyer would have to testify.

The Geek has been amazing throughout, doing what must be done, with no time to grieve. He apologizes for something for which there is no one to blame. It just is. The hardest part is not knowing how this story ends. We just do the best we can.

So while we deal with the loss of a man who knew us and loved us, and all the logistics of death – money, mail, a house, a brand new car and no one to drive it – we continue to deal with the loss of a woman who hasn’t known us for years. Yes, she knows that we are familiar, somewhere inside her where the secret memories are. And she tells us she loves us, sometimes.




The Geek recently reminded me that it’s been, as the kids say, a hot minute since I laid down any words here. My bad.

No particular reason, aside from lack of motivation and/or inspiration. I find 2017 – and by that I mean Trump et al – sucked every last bit of positive energy from my soul. I do not exaggerate. On a near daily basis.

But I digress. It wasn’t all bad. I was lucky enough to visit Europe TWICE last year. Who’d a thunk it. Not me. Once to Paris and Amsterdam with the Girl Child and her friend and in December with three friends, a whirlwind of a trip to Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Paris over 10 days.  It was beautiful and exhausting and refilling all at the same time.

I also turned the big 5-0 last August. I celebrated by splurging on a Gucci bag (they gave us champagne!), dinner at Canlis with our BFFs from San Fran, and a weekend extravaganza at the beach with lots of lovely friends and family. Though, I won’t lie – that last bit was quite socially taxing! Appearances to the contrary, I am NOT an extrovert.

Which brings us to 2018. Nothing on the docket, which I have to say is pretty refreshing. We have big plans for the homestead! I SWEAR TO GOD this is the year we clean out the garage. No, seriously.  I’ve already started inside – I made $282 from consigning some things! Lots more to go, but it felt good. I’ve got a swap with friends coming up to offload even more.

On the social/entertaining side, I’m also planning to downsize. Due to my bossy nature, I usually make all the food which ends up being quite the investment. So I’m resolved to let folks actually bring stuff! I know! Shocking! It’s a compromise, so The Geek will let me still invite people over – the rest of the family would never have another party again if given the choice. I like to see people (see above re extrovert; go figure), so here we are. Maybe some other folks will invite us over. Hint hint, nudge nudge.

Big plans for making things in 2018, too! Sewing, painting and gluing galore!

I hope your 2018 brings you peace and goals achieved. Fingers crossed mine will.


Me in snowy Prague



I like the broken ones.

I like the things that aren’t quite perfect or maybe have outlived their original purpose. An envelope gets dyed and tucked into what used to be a book.  A wool sweater that’s now 10 sizes too small gets cut up and resewn. A leather purse that can’t be rehabbed gets torn apart and stitched into a notebook cover. No longer useless, now ready to be loved again.

But I’m especially drawn to the broken people. The ones with little cracks or maybe even great big pieces missing. The ones whose edges are rough, whose surfaces aren’t bright and shiny. The ones who have put their bits back in a different way, the ones with stories to tell.

They have things to say. Sometimes it takes a long time, sometimes never. I don’t mind. It means more when you finally get to hear them.

I know what it’s like to be the one whose edges are rough, whose pieces don’t quite go together right. I know what it means to find someone who is safe. Who is easy.

The collage of us is what makes it fascinating. A kaliedescope of scratches and gashes, some so deep you wonder if you’ll ever crawl out. The texture of your heart and skin and scars.

So to my people who are a crazy quilt of jagged stitches and silk and bare velvet, I see you. I know your worn spots and soft places that you hide away. And I love you anyway.



Hello, friends.

It’s been some time since I’ve had words to lay down here. In recent weeks especially, there has been a weight on my soul. Since November 8, to be exact.  I know many of you feel the same. That there is nothing but darkness and despair lying before us for the next 4 years. Because when it comes right down to it, there are people in our country who had no problem, who thought it right, to vote for a man to be President who thinks it’s ok to “grab them by the pussy”.  No matter all the other reasons not to vote for him, that one alone should have been enough.

But here we are.

Broken-hearted, yes. And for awhile, hopeless. Literally without hope. Bitter even.

But then, the art came. Beauty seen at the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. The mind-blowing voice of Andra Day at a show the day after the election. The gritty words and music of Sturgill Simpson a few days before. Those things started to mend me.

I am myself not an artist. At best, I make things. I assemble things. I started a new project making junk journals as gifts, turning old papers and books and maps and junk mail into something new.


In the midst of this, when I was taking pages out of an old book from 1929, I found this. img_0190

And now those pages live on in something new, something shiny. Bringing me a little peace and joy in the making.


And more music most recently in the form of Bowie tributes by the fabulous Star Anna as well as the Seattle Symphony with Tony Vincent.

Star Anna

Star Anna


Seattle Symphony & Tony Vincent

Seattle Symphony & Tony Vincent

I am more grateful than ever for the artists who can give us the music from their soul and the art of their heart. Who are not afraid to be vulnerable that way, in the way that I cannot. We need it. I need it to fill in the cracks, to make the dark a little less shadowy. To remind me that there is still beauty in this world, that all is not lost.

There are still things like this.

Find yourselves some art, friends. A concert. A glorious sunset. A really great meal or cocktail. Some words that strike you. A visit to a gallery.  A little doodle you drew. Whatever it is that lifts you. Even better when shared with friends.

We’ve got this.




It’s been a few days since Orlando. I’ve barely been able to think about it. But on the way to work on the bus this morning, when the tears came, I felt the words that needed to come out. They may make no sense. But I can’t carry them inside anymore.

The friend I’ve had the longest in this world is gay. He is deep in the fabric of my history. The one where no questions need to be asked and sometimes no words said at all. Then there is Margo and Nicole, who I met in college – the couple that has been together the longest of all of us. And Bobby, who came as Sue’s BBF and we’ve kept him ever since. Now Randy, Bobby’s partner. They are family.

The Buzz, the softball team we sponsored for years at The Roanoke. A boy at The Girl Child’s school. A girl in my son’s class making the brave decision to embrace the man inside. Scott and Delmis and Jerald and Ian and Mike and Sue and Tara and Ashley and Madden and Andy and Gayle and Rebecca. The lovely married-to-each-other women at the bar who told me they hoped to look as good at my age.

They are funny, snarky, witty, brilliant, loving. Fiercely loyal. Because they know what it is to be on the other side of loyal, when friends and family cast them aside like nothing because of who they love.

So the tears came when I think that it could have been them. I couldn’t think that for a few days; I still can’t grasp the magnitude of loss. The mom getting the text from her son hurts on another level.

It isn’t fair. It hurts. And nothing I can do or say will change that. But I need you to know one thing.

I love you. I love you. I love you.



I’m writing these words for someone who may never see them.

Our firstborn turned eighteen today. A legal adult. Technically free to leave and go about her business.

She’s got one toe out the door. What she’s doing after graduation in 8 weeks is not quite decided – she may be going away to college or staying here for community college.

It’s a little surreal to think that this little person who’s been living with you for 18 years is now old enough to be on her own. I can’t quite wrap my head around it. I can remember being 18, for crying out loud.

So before she leaves, here is what’s rambling around in my head.

Whether you leave for school in September or stay here, this is your home. No matter what happens where you are, you can always come back. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can bail the second things get hard. Stick it out. Don’t take the easy path. Make it mean something.

You’re not done growing – we never are. There will be some big challenges coming up. You won’t succeed at all of them. That’s not always the point, anyway. Sometimes what you learn by failing is more important than succeeding.

Try new things. I wish I had. There will be so many opportunities for new adventures. Take advantage of them. If it’s not your thing, that’s cool. At least you’ll know and your pot of experiences will make you more interesting.

Be flexible. I know that’s hard for you. Sometimes the joy is in the unexpected and unplanned. Learn to like surprises.

Trust your gut. Make smart choices, especially when your safety is at risk. Don’t have 8 shots in 45 minutes at a party.

Admit when you’re wrong. It takes a big person to apologize. Be sincere.

BE ON TIME. It shows others you respect them and their time.

Do it right the first time. This isn’t high school anymore. You won’t be able to talk your way out of late assignments.

Balance your bank account. For the love of god. Save some money every time you get some. I wish I had been better about that along the way.

Hoochie is not classy. Start buying quality now.  Yoga pants are NOT pants. Dress like you respect yourself.

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Avoid the comments – they will crush your soul.

Please be a Democrat. If you aren’t, don’t tell me.

The work that you think you’d like to do now is probably what you’d like to do 25 years from now. It’s true for me, yet I didn’t follow that path. I wish I had. Of course, if I had, I might have hated it, so who knows. See above re: flexible.

Put down the freaking phone. See what’s going around you. Be still sometimes. Let your mind wander. Be grateful for something, one thing, every single day.

And about that phone: those pics you’re always posting? They’re still out there. Be aware.

Surround yourself with people who are worth it. Let the toxic ones go even though it may hurt.

Finally. Life is really damn short. It seems now like it will last forever and you have all the time in the world. Trust me – you don’t. You will be pushing 50 before you know it, wondering what happens now. If you’re really lucky, you will have a partner who is your best friend. I selfishly hope there are grandbabies (but NOT for a good ten years). It won’t be perfect and it will take work, and sometimes it will be harder than you think you can manage. You can.

Above all that, you’ll have me and Dad and your little brother who’s bigger than you behind you all the way. We can’t wait to see what happens next.

(When the tears come, I know the words are right.)

Happy birthday.




I’ve been on this earth for close to half a century now. I don’t feel that old. I don’t think I have a lot to show for that much time.

Bur recently while out with a new friend, it occurred to me that what I do have is a pretty great collection of people. Some around since college or shortly after, some found during these 21 years at the bar, some brand new.

I don’t have a wide variety of experiences – same job for 26 years, bar owner, hardly any travel. So it’s fair to say that a large part of who I am is shaped by the people around me. The ones I’ve known forever, who I can talk to without words, whose history I share, whose families I consider friends as well. The ones who have worked for us at the bar and became part of the Roanoke family. The ones we met when The Girl was in kindergarten and have held tight to ever since. The shiny new ones I am discovering.

These people lift me up. They let me feed them and endure my snarkiness and purse addiction and messy house. I take joy in their joy and feel their sadness. They are mine.

Of course, things change. Friendships sometimes just fade away without a reason – life gets in the way, it was only a slight acquaintance…but sometimes, it’s more than that and it hurts. They aren’t who you thought they were. Sometimes, it can be fixed. Sometimes not. Then the spot that person held in your heart is jagged and empty for a while, maybe a long time. Slowly it fills in, a little scarred and thicker. The walls grow higher and the gooey center is even harder to reach.

That used to be the way of it, anyway. I mourn the loss of a friend, to be sure, but now I can let it go. I see the value of even that failure and heartache. I see that it’s just part of the patchwork of my life and heart. Someone once told me that one day I would thank a person who had hurt me. I laughed. I could never see that happening. But I get it now – the dark spots make the bright ones so much brighter. The scars give my heart texture and depth.

I am grateful every damn day to my friends for the shine they bring to the dark places. Wanted you to know.