Memories Out of Season

Memories Out of Season

October 6, 2018

Girl cousins.

You can see it in their faces.

A not-yet conscious strength in their shared sisterhood.

For them neither glass slippers nor glass ceilings.

Capable, confident, willing to kick some serious butt if necessary, 
they will create a different future.

Through them, and many girls like them,
will come a new humanity, unshackled and free of the past.

And in this freedom will men and boys find their own liberation.



May 18, 2017


To honor the mountain's dramatic eruption thirty-seven years ago
on May 18, 1980, Cowlitz County's local newspaper, The Daily News,
ran a quiz testing its readers' knowledge of the event with thirty-seven questions.

The quiz appeared on page 4, the answers at the top,
followed immediately below by the questions.

I got all thirty-seven right!




I fly the flag at half mast. What does it say about my country that half of the voters chose a loud, ignorant, crude boor and con man for president? (That was a rhetorical question. I don't want to know the answer.)

For me, this is worse than 9/11. As terrible as that event was, it brought us together as a people. It was George W. Bush's finest moment--and let's face it, he didn't have all that many.

No, to come close to the sense of grief and desolation I am today feeling, I would need to go back to when I was a high school freshman on November 22, 1963.

It's not that such a person as Donald J. Trump will be President of the United States (that's bad), but that so many Americans would elect such a man. I grieve for my nation. I have lost faith in my fellow citizens.








May 26, 2016


Eighteen years ago today my father went up to the lake for the last time.

We were told he died quickly. Heart attack. Nothing could be done.


Of course. Suddenly my world was without a father--How strange was that? A new emptiness opening in my soul.

And yet, when considering the alternatives, it was a good death,
especially for a man who took joy in the simple pleasures,
who made no great demands on life,
content to see what each day offered,
who managed to have no Big Dramas--
except World War II and me. (Father, forgive me.)

It seemed fitting that he would depart this life quietly, quickly,
doing what he loved,
and much loved.




October 25, 2015

Lazy afternoon,

sprawled on my bed with book and window open,

listening to the syncopated rhythms of the rain,





wandering through mind-drifts of memories...

              of the farm at Barwon Downs,

              of hiking up Mt. Takao in autumn,

              of planting the chestnut with Dad,

while listening to the rain, reading.





August 4, 2015



 Oddly perhaps, this woodland scene reminded me of living in Tokyo.

 Like most apartments at that time (the 1980s) my "aparto" did not have a shower or bathtub, so each evening I would go to the community bathhouse, called a "sento," where,
like this tanager, I would bathe and emerge clean, if a bit ruffled, before my neighbors.


Once I overcame my Western discomfort at being naked in a foreign language--the discomfort lasting maybe all of ten minutes--I was able to relax and settle into the wet, steamy ambiance and naked neighborly camaraderie of the bathhouse.


You left your shoes outside, along with dozens of other pairs at the entrance, and entered the bathhouse, males through the door on the right, females through the door on the left. One needn't worry that one's shoes would be stolen. This was Japan. I left my apartment unlocked for the same reason. Why bother?


One stepped into a warm, immaculately clean locker room. Beyond the glass doors was the bathing area, rows of faucets along the walls where one washed, shampooed, and rinsed thoroughly before relaxing in one of several large baths. The baths were set at different temperatures, the mildest being slightly below scalding.


Here each night I observed Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man: ancient, withered little o-jisans (“O-honorable grandfathers”), the middle-aged husbands and the young men and the teenage boys just coming into their hair, down to the youngest boys and infants, who the fathers would sometimes bring with them, giving their wives a break.


Here, too, one found the happy tipsy giggly little Salarymen (office workers) stumbling back to their neighborhoods after an evening of eating, drinking and making merry with their male colleagues. Felicitously intoxicated, they’d shed their dark blue suits and careen around the slippery area, catching up with their neighbors on the day's news or sports or local gossip as they soaped and soaked together.


Some were eager to practice their night school English on me--"Ah, goot evenink, Mr. A'ran. How-are-you? I-am-fine. Shank you"--which frequently was the extent of our conversations. Still, more of a conversation than I could manage in their language. All were courteous and friendly, and, though a gaijin (foreigner,) I always felt welcomed and accepted as part of the neighborhood.


In time, this custom of bathing with one's neighbors struck me as eminently civilized and sensible, and years later I would warmly recall these experiences in Tales of Tokyo, and build the sensual ambiance and camaraderie of the Japanese bathhouse into the community life of my utopian novel (yet to be published.)





July 30, 2015
















For the past four months I have been working with a fantastic team of volunteers to raise $200,000 by July 31 for the Emergency Support Shelter, to be matched by a very generous donor.

Two days left and we are within $1000 of our goal—which means $400,000 for our domestic violence shelter in Cowlitz County!

In a final push to reach the goal, I am calling on all my friends (both of you) to consider donating $10 or $20 to this good cause (Okay, $100 if you insist.)

Here is the link to donate:…


And if you need further convincing, read Executive Director Sherrie Tinoco’s article in The Daily News (“We witness the worst and the best in people…”):…/article_0e837e2a-dd85-522b-9c23-4cc64ae841…



PHOTO: So what does my flowering prairie crabapple in springtime have to do with the Emergency Support Shelter? Just a symbol of hope and new life for the women and children who take refuge at our shelter.

Thanks for your consideration!




April 18, 2015

 My grandnephew Zachary and grandniece Annabelle asked their mother Robyn, a math teacher, to give them math problems to solve. This is their idea of "fun." I do not consider this natural.

Maybe there is a genetic link. My mother enjoyed math and gave my nephews and niece math problems to solve when they were young, and now my grandnephews and grandniece are enjoying them as well.

Clearly, with me the math gene skipped a generation. Or, anyway, skipped me.

People have suggested, You need to think of math as another language.
I tell them, Yeah? So say "Good morning" in math.

Maybe if I had Robyn for my math teacher, I would enjoy math, too.

I might even be fluent in it.


(For my Australian friends, that's "Maths" to you.)




March 2, 2015


My niece Renee holding her niece Halley (and my grandniece).

As befitting her name, Halley came blazing in like a comet on February 23. Jen was in labor for...15 minutes?! (Like, let's hurry and get this over with already!)

With a mother who is a geologist and an aunt working in water quality and conservation, chances are good that Halley will be closely attuned to nature. I'm already looking into hiking boots for toddlers.

We as a family rejoice at her arrival, for each new birth is another hope for humanity.








January 13, 2015...

I have announced my intention to move on from Lower Columbia CAP (Community Action Program) at the end of this month.

I have been at CAP fifteen years—a record for me--first as Director of Community Services, then as Director of Development & Community Relations.

The only place I spent longer was while growing up at home in Vancouver (18 years.)


Typically, I have felt the need to seek new experiences and new challenges every five or six years.

I have no specific plans or even expectations; only an excited sense of expectancy.

The comfortable and the familiar can be very seductive, but there is also within us, I think, this urge to push on into the unknown and to see what is out there waiting.

And age is a factor. From the time I was a child, no matter what my age, I have always wanted to be older. And now I am.

There comes a point where our lives no longer stretch unconsciously, day after day, into some seeming infinity, and I am reminded of Tennyson’s lines from “Ulysses”—

“Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.”

I hope that there is still "some work of noble note" that I may yet undertake, some contribution that I may in this world still make.

And, too, I have always loved beginnings.