Just bitchin'

A Hazy Shade of Hell


You know how it is with the news.

What’s happening is usually so far away that, although your inner sympathy-chip is engaged, you aren’t really affected in your insulated, little, day-to-day life. You kick back in the evening to watch the latest events of local or national interest and thank your lucky stars it’s all happening far, far away.

But sometimes what’s occurring reaches out with vaporous fingers and reminds you in a more visceral way that you, too, are part of this world where nothing stays the same.

My state is on fire.

Hundreds of thousands of acres are blazing. There is loss of homes and loss of lives, both human and non-.

In my comfy, little, beach cottage, hundreds of miles and a mountain range away, the sky is yellow. The sun is bloody.


When you step outside, the discomfort is noticeable. Your eyes sting. You smell something acrid in the air. The color yellow now has a scent.

The birds have gone still, venturing forth for food and water, but not engaging in the usual aerial acrobatics and song.

At the end of your normal, unaffected day, a throbbing headache reminds you that smoke is a formidable opponent. And your neck hairs rise when you look to the east and wonder how your fellow Washingtonians will sleep tonight. Or where.

For the first time, we’ve sent out a call for help, for volunteers to stand at the front lines and engage the enemy.

Australia answered. So did New Zealand.

A thrill of thankfulness runs through us for these brave souls so generous with their courage.

It’s a hazy, yellow shade of Hell.

But we’re not alone…


poem, writing

Another Farewell…


A raging beast, the disease came back.

At the end her memories rose to the surface,


A champagne distillation of her life.

Words halting and slow.

‘City lights,’ she said. ‘I saw them

like a belt of stars against the night.

Do you know, I could find their echo in the streets…

Fairy lights twined through iron balconies

like a giant’s brush of glitter.’


Her eyes closed.

‘Smiles. I never realized I’ve seen so many…

so many…

Do you know, thinking of them makes me feel warm…

in here…’

A decimated hand touched the hospital gown

over her heart.

Eyes opened, so earnest.

‘I think the most precious thing is trust.

I used to think it was love, but…

Do you remember the rabbits I found?

How the mother let me help her babies?


That wasn’t love. It was trust for love’s sake.’

Her words grew fainter.

‘Maybe it was born of love,

but trust comes first.

I’m going to miss all of you.’

For the last time, lids lowered.

‘I’m going to miss weather.

I hope there are storms…’


She left us

with the image of a woman

raising her face to taste rain and thunder.


Just bitchin'

Homegrown Terrorist


I share my home with a terrorist.

I used to think he was just a little odd. I would use terms like quixotic, beguiling, manipulative. But that’s all changed. Those days are gone.

He has finally earned the formerly affectionate sobriquet Wicked Evil, for it is now shrieked at volume and with unfolding horror. He has now emerged from the pages of a Stephen King novel, jaws agape and eyes glinting.

It wasn’t always so. His transition from simple mischief to act of terrorism was a gradual one. But now, from the far side of the abyss filled with my screams, I can see it. I can see the learning curve and the hellish intellect behind the progression.


His evolution meandered with subversive intent from targeted pounces during the deepest phases of sleep, to noisy forays onto countertops, to exploration of architectural integrity, resulting in exposed drywall and shredded door jambs. None of it was random. I see that now.

I appeased him along the way, which was a mistake of monumental proportions. I saw myself as the peacekeeper when in fact I was the dupe; the lab rat being subjected to stimuli until one of sufficient power to produce the desired reaction was found.

He succeeded.

He released it into my bed, scaly and writhing.


It generated the ‘extremely loud and incredibly close’ reaction for which he was hoping. He’s still laughing in that quiet way his kind do.

Having found the catalyst, he will try to apply it again. I can tell.

I live with a terrorist.

For I am terrified…