but who’s counting?

March 8, 2018 Leave a comment

For much of my life, my reading interests largely were science fiction, fantasy, science non-fiction, and history. Over time I branched out, adding philosophy, eastern and western poetry, and various of the classics of western literature. I never really paid attention much to who the authors were, or their gender, or so I imagined. Several years ago though, early in the second Obama term I think, after coming across by chance books by women authors that struck me with their unique perspectives on things I thought I already knew:

it (finally!) became clear to me that I had to actively seek out a wider diversity of authors, especially women authors.

Looking back now at my reading history in Goodreads, it confirms that from about 600 books read in total, there are 442 books by 260 male authors, and only 160 books by 90 female authors. That’s a good motivator to continue seeking out different voices in reading! Zooming in to just this last year, I’ve read 16 books by women and 15 by men, so at least the trend is in a good direction.

Women authors whose books I’ve liked most over the last few years:

Emily Wilson, Simone de Beauvoir, Jane Smiley, Margaret Atwood, Brenda Shaughnessy, Charlotte Bronte, Ursula LeGuin, Kathleen Moore, Rebecca Goldstein, Jane Austen, Carrie Fisher, Adrienne Rich, Hope Jahren, Mary Oliver, Erica Dunbar, Hilary Clinton, Bell Hooks, Octavia Butler, Elizabeth Gilbert, Phyllis Rose, Edith Wharton, Ann Patchett, Cherríe Moraga, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Toni Morrison, Anne Lamott, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, H.D., Cheryl Strayed, Roz Chast, Kate Beaton, Lydia Davis, J.K. Rowling, Sharon Creech, Louisa Alcott, Hannah Crafts, Denise Kiernan, Margaret Chula, Edith Shiffert, Rachel Swarns, Saima Wahab, Carol Tavris, and Eileen O’Keeffe McVicker.



March 2, 2018 Leave a comment


The sun-loving puppy
sits at the open door looking out
at the back yard,
the falling rain,
and her wet toys lying in puddles.
She needs to go out at some point,
but not yet, not yet.

She looks up and asks with her eyes,
“Can I have my treat now anyway?”
“Of course” I say, close the door,
and we both go back to the couch.

inspired by this week’s Wordgrove impromptu prompt, “rain”, and you know, living with a dog in Portland in the winter :-)

If you’d like to see what the other writers made of this prompt, you can check out the weekly Wordgrove Post and Review newsletter for March 4 2018.

what did i miss?

March 1, 2018 Leave a comment

A new poem:

Deep in a mountainside forest, at one bank of a wild, snowmelt-swollen stream, there is a large boulder that shelters behind itself a calm side pool, where the roar of the nearby rapids is muted by the mass of the rock. One of last year’s fallen leaves lies on the ground at the edge of the pool, half in the water. Disturbed by a slight ripple, it falls fully onto the water and begins to drift slowly in the shallow pool’s weak current. The leaf floats around the pool, sometimes near the center but usually closer to the edge, while also spinning slowly, and it trembles slightly each time it passes near the turbulent edge of the main stream. The leaf continues to circle the pool slowly, under the dappled morning light. A few times it nearly becomes grounded again. Once, it touches another leaf lying at the edge of the pool. The two cling together only briefly, and separate before the second can be pulled into the water. Seventy nine times the leaf loops slowly around the pool, as the morning becomes afternoon. Just as the leaf  passes close to the main stream for the eightieth time, a small sudden wave pulls it out of the pool and it swiftly disappears into the rapids downstream, moments before a hiker walking up the stream-side trail passes by and glances briefly at the pool without stopping.

Or in haiku form:

quiet pool by a loud stream –
what did I miss,
just before I looked?

inspired by this week’s Wordgrove prewritten prompt: “loop” and “spring”

wordgrove revisited

February 28, 2018 Leave a comment

Way back when, I blogged about an online community of writers called Wordgrove. I was part of the group near its beginning, but over the last several years life and whatnot kept me from participating. I always enjoyed the Wordgrove events, which are informal, inviting, and very supportive, so I was inspired this week to rejoin active participation.

Each week there is a “prewritten prompt”, a theme given the previous week where each person shares the story, poem, or whatever they wrote using the prompt as a starting point. Then there is an “impromptu prompt” revealed at the event, and everyone has 15 or 20 minutes to write whatever short work is inspired by that prompt.

The prewritten prompt from last week was “credit card”, which inspired me to write this poem:

no credit card required
snow day
she finishes the home-knit
(thick warm) (for me)
sweater, just in time
for our evening
dog walk

Nancy in fact, did just recently finish knitting a sweater for me, very thick and warm, literally in the evening of one of the coldest days of the winter so far, just in time for me to wear it when we took the pups out for their the bedtime walk. :-)

At the event, inspired by this week’s impromptu prompt “tourist and winter”, I wrote two haiku:

blooming too early
as the cold rain turns to snow –
poor white daffodil


two nearly white dogs
bounding around the snowbanks –
dancing brown patches!

If you’d like to see what the other writers made of this prompt, you can check out the weekly Wordgrove newsletter: Wordgrove event Feb 22 2018.

ways of sleeping

February 25, 2018 Leave a comment

One of the joys of having dogs is just watching the many ways they have of sleeping. Oswin in particular has a vast range of sleeping postures, from cute to adorable to hilarious. Sometimes she seems to be part cat!









Tol Tol too is an amusing sleeper. His “thing” is enjoying napping on multiple levels, with his head either higher or lower than the rest of him. Sometimes, though, he just seems to melt into the cushions.




slow and steady

February 24, 2018 Leave a comment

Tol Tol and Oswin have been with us now three years. I’m still amazed how well they get along together, and got along together even from the start — while each still having in his and her own challenge with outsiders.


threeyears2 threeyears3

Tol Tol adores Nancy, and with her he’s a (big!) bouncy happy puppy, which is great to see. He tolerates me, and his love of food and treats overcomes his anxiety. Late evening walk times are the best — the neighborhood is very quiet so he’s at his most relaxed, and will actually let me touch him to put his harness and lead on for the walk. After the walk, he’ll even let me pet him a little, which at any other time would make him bolt across the room.



Tol Tol: “What are you looking at me for? I’m just trying to decide which toy to chew on today.”


Overall, we have two very happy dogs, who love their quiet home. Oswin in particular is happiest when our whole pack of four is all together in the same room. She is still reactive to other dogs, but after lots of practice we can do daytime dog walks anyway, and we can play games to keep her attention away from other dogs. At first she’d react strongly to other dogs blocks away, and she was constantly on alert. But now she mostly just wants to sniff everything, and can tolerate other dogs sometimes even if they’re just across the street.




two goodbyes and two hellos

January 18, 2015 Leave a comment

On September 18, after a sudden but thankfully short illness, we had to say goodbye to Hank. And a week later, on the 26th it was clear that Maggie was ready to move on too. It was especially sweet how over their last months they became again as cuddly and snuggly with each other as they had been right at the start.



In early October, as a memorial we planted three new aspen trees in the back yard (the third one for Willow).


On November 19, visiting the Family Dogs New Life rescue shelter, we found our new shy boy Tol Tol, an 18 month old 65 pound lab / husky mix. Here’s how the shelter’s website had him describe himself:

20150103cYou don’t want just a slice of love, right? You want “Tol Tol” love! A love so complete that you can’t understand how you ever existed without it! That is what I bring to the table. It will take a bit for it to be discovered, but it is there. Like a diamond in the ruff! Sorry, dog pun. But I am “Tol Tol-ly” serious when I say I can be fearful when meeting new people. I am young, but I wasn’t brought up in the loving, supportive environment doggies deserve. I would do better in a home with people who can be slow and gentle with sensitive souls like me. Cats I can handle, but they still weird me out. I mean, have you ever looked at a cat? They’re creepy, man! I love to have a place all my own and all for me! A place where I can unwind when things get “Tol Tol-ly” overwhelming. Like a puzzle, I may be slow to put together piece by piece, but once you see the “Tol Tol” picture I think you will fall in love.

As you’d expect, knowing Nancy and me, fall in love we did :-).


By January, as Tol Tol got more comfortable around us, we knew we wanted to get him a playfriend. We found the perfect match at Family Dogs New Life on the 10th, in Oswin, a lab mix 2 year old 50 pound bouncy girl.

20150115e I have had a lot more Os-loss than Os-win, it sure seems like. I know I can be a little difficult at times. I get excited and like to play a lot. I can’t live with cats, and I need a home with sturdy older children. But for all of my character “flaws,” there are a thousand shining examples why I would be the best ever dog for someone like you! I am the life of the party and things will never be dull when I’m around. I get along great with all the other dogs here, and have a blast in my playgroup. And there are 996 other things you will discover together with me! I just want that one person out there to give me a real shot. I have been bounced around growing up—no one has yet made a commitment to me. I have so much love and fun and life to share with someone, it is bursting from my seams! I know that if someone devoted their time and heart to me, I would make them the happiest ever! You might think it’s a gamble, but I would say it’s a sure Oswin.

Tol Tol and Oswin bonded right away and are great for each other — he’s much braver with her around, and his quietness calms her down (most of the time :-).