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.



Hello, my pretties. Brace yourselves.

I am about to put down some words about things that are NOT depressing. Or whiny. Pretty exciting.

Back in September, someone in the vintage Coach collectors Facebook group posted something about planners. Like the old-school Filofax kind with calendars in them. And she mentioned that there were VIDEOS of people showing their planners on You Tube. I was all “what?” People WATCH these videos?! AND she said there were entire Facebook groups about PLANNERS. I figured everyone just used their phone and post it notes like I did. Mind = blown.

So of course I had to go find one of those videos.

Long story short: I found a planner made by Gillio, since one of the Coach gals mentioned that brand, and THAT led me to Midori travelers’ notebooks. Huh, I thought. Now THIS is pretty cool.

Midoris do not have rings. They are long and skinny and made out of leather – notebook covers. They have elastic bands inside that hold “inserts” that can be whatever you want them to be. Midori makes various ones, but just like the covers themselves (called fauxdoris by some people) you can now find all kinds of inserts and notebook covers on Etsy. There are calendars, journals, fitness trackers, meal planners, sketchbooks, bullet journals, more calendars – you name it, there is an insert for it or someone willing to make you one. The funny thing is I made something very similar to this when I sewed a cover for a spiral notebook – I had no idea things like this actually existed.

I went down the rabbit hole, people.

My first notebook was not an actual Midori brand notebook, but a lovely yellow one made by Perfect Papier on Etsy. I love that notebook. Then when The Geek went to Japan, which is the holy land for stationery supplies, he brought me back an ACTUAL Midori, which I’ve been using for about 3 weeks now. I also tracked down a limited edition Pan Am blue Midori that I used for Thanksgiving and Christmas planning – (I plan to use that every year so I don’t to reinvent the wheel each year.)

Midori and Nahe pen case

Midori and Nahe pen case

There is a learning curve to this system, and that is part of the beauty of it – it is infinitely customizable. I’ve switched things up several times when something just wasn’t working. Some folks get very scrapbooky with their notebooks – lots of stickers and stamps and washi tape. That’s just not for me – way too much going on and I don’t do cutesy. I tried some inserts with colored paper but swapped them out for the standard Midori inserts (a gridded one, a thin paper one, and their dated weekly calendar). I decided I like the minimal, consistent look, though I have added some Kandinsky stickers and bit of washi here and there.

I just set it up for 2016 yesterday. First look – a list of what I would like to do in the new year – maybe if I see it every day, I’ll actually do it? One can dream.


Midori weekly calendar with Pan Am 2016 stickers

Midori weekly calendar with Pan Am 2016 stickers

I switched out the bullet journal-style journal, and moved this calendar to the front. I found I was duplicating too many things between the calendar and the journal.


Now I have this brain dump/tracker/projects/miscellaneous insert instead of the bullet journal.

Everything journal

Everything journal

One aspect of the Bullet Journal I did keep was the collections idea – that group of post-its of things I wanted to remember is now kept in here instead, in tidy little indexed lists. There are lists of music, books, screen, restaurants to try, college info, gift cards, words I like.20151230_083517



For future planning, I’ve got this monthly insert I ordered from Frasizzle on Etsy.


excuse the bad photo!

I’ve also got a plastic zipper pocket and a slip pocket for pens and papers. I made a pocket for bigger things out of a file folder that I stick in the back. Speaking of pens, that’s a whole other rabbit hole, but currently my favorites are a Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen, a Pentel Tradio .05, a Pentel Hybrid Technica .03 and a Pilot Hi-Tec .04.

I still use my phone to log appointments or plans that The Geek needs to see so we can be synced. But I no longer record things on there that I forget about because I never see it again- it’s all in the notebook. I use this thing every day. There is something soothing about putting pen to paper, about arranging it just so, adding little bits to it that make me happy when I see it or use it. The textile nature of it appeals to me; the coldness of the phone never did. The warmth and softness of the leather, the smooth brightness of the paper, the rythym of the pen making the words – I get that.

And I combined my Coach habit with my new notebook habit not too long ago and made a Field Notes-sized notebook to use as a wallet/notebook on days when I don’t want to drag it all with me.

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The Geek even has his own notebook – I got him a green Perfect Papier cover when I got my yellow. He follows more of a strict Bullet Journal system in his. And for 2016 he’ll be switching to an undyed leather cover that I made him for Christmas. I’ve got more leather left so I’m going to make myself one too. Next up: a custom Van der Spek Nomad that should be coming in January from Amsterdam thanks to a Christmas bonus. And then a Naked Cow cover at some point.

At first, I couldn’t understand why anyone would need more than one notebook, but now I get it – they’re like purses. When you get bored of one, you can move into another. And since purses are what started this whole thing, that makes perfect sense.



Guys, I’ve lost my sparkle. Gradually, day by day, month by month, so that I barely noticed it leaking away, leaving something foggy and thick. Suffocating.

I am pretty good at sniffing out a lie or maybe-not-the-whole-truth in other people. Not so much in myself. Because if I was honest or brave, I would say this part of me, this fog, has always been there, just easier to ignore and conveniently buried. Or maybe it’s not a fog but a piece missing, a hole where something was always supposed to be, a piece other people have.

If I was honest and brave, if I trusted people, I would say shiny also equals hard and brittle and protects the core of me. The part that can’t be risked.

Now that the shiny top layer is gone, this dull stuff is all that’s left to protect the heart of me. It covers me, a sticky film that takes the joy out of things that I used to find fun or creative or exciting. Sometimes I see a glimmer of how it used to be, like seeing myself through a translucent veil, one step removed.

I went to a concert this weekend, Glen Hansard. He put himself SO OUT THERE on stage. I don’t know what that’s like, never have. You could tell he felt things so deeply. You could tell even with the things that were sad that he owned those feelings. He was not afraid. I was so grateful and jealous.

Sometimes I think I am SO CLOSE, if I could reach a little further, I could grab that shiny bit of string and unravel it and wrap it all around me. I don’t know if this is a phase, a part of aging, or permanent. I don’t know how to find the map back to myself, the part that found joy and sadness and all the things in between.

So I put words out there and let things simmer and settle. Even writing the words here is a step removed. even knowing that people who know me will read them. I would never say these things out loud. That would make them real.

What if I can’t find the map. What if the missing bit is not fixable or findable. What if I used up all the shine and sparkle and this is all that’s left.



Oh, my people. It’s a delicate time in my household.

My daughter is a senior in high school. It’s an exciting time, to be sure, but I’m finding that excitement to be tempered with stress. A LOT of stress. For both of us.

She is perched firmly at the top of the yawning, gaping maw of her future. There are decisions to be made that she is unwilling or unable to make. Or she makes a choice one day only to undo it two days later.

It is exhausting, soul-sucking. I alternate between nagging/encouraging things like applications and college essays or studying for the ACT. Making her tour other schools besides the one she kinda sorta likes best. (Which by the way would be a great choice IF she ACTUALLY CHOSE it and did the things necessary to gain admittance.) And then when my nagging does nothing but cause both of us grief, I SWEAR to never say another word and let the chips fall where they may. This lasts for about two days. It’s a vicious, bloody cycle.

I know it’s a stressful time for her, too. I have told her that college isn’t her only choice, and maybe it’s not even the best choice. I would like for her to have an amazing college experience like I did, but maybe that’s not her path. Or maybe not her path right now. I want her to know that I only nag because I want the best for her.

So I have firmly resolved to only help when asked. She started another college essay and I think this one has real potential. She has three weeks to study for the ACT and access to a website with tips and practice tests. I am crossing all my fingers and toes that THIS TIME she follows through on these things. That she submits her essay for critique and turns in her application early so she can get priority housing. But in the end this isn’t my path, either. She has to want it bad enough to do the work herself, and I suppose that will be the true indicator.

It’s a big leap, this one. What I ultimately want is for her to avoid the jagged edges at the bottom of the cliff she’s on. A few gentle bounces perhaps. I want her to embrace the opportunities about to come her way, find things that bring her joy and maybe a way to make money doing that. She is so close.

Whatever happens, I’ll be the one cheering her on or picking her up and brushing her off. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

In the meantime, it’s all about the brown liquor.