The Little Book of Lost Words

Anyone who has ever listened to Shakespeare knows that our forebears had far more dexterous tongues than we now possess. They could take the hide off you with a fine blue acid and never use a word you could not say to Grandma. So when I heard an interview with the author, Joe Gillard, I was totally taken with the ideas behind his website, History Hustle. The book project grew out of his efforts to create “a history site for the digital and mobile age.” I have only sampled its delights, but so far my favorite is Blatteroon: “A person who talks or boasts incessantly and constantly.” You never know when you’re going to encounter one, but it’s nice to know the technical term

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Raven and the Box of Daylight

Preston Singletary’s show at the Tacoma Museum of Glass ends Sept 2, which is too damned soon. If you can see it before it leaves (for Wichita and then The Smithsonian) do yourself a favor. Raven and the Box of Daylight is an exploration in glass of the Tlingit story of Raven releasing the light for human beings. Singletary calls his work modern traditionalist.

First of all, the art is brilliant: blown, sculpted and sand-carved glass of Raven, of a canoe and paddles, of the boxes containing starlight, moon and sun. These are big, bold pieces, carrying their parts of the story. The ravens, white before the theft is punished, are strong representations of the archetype, with sand-carved detailing white on white creating clan details and animals,  or revealing further layers and complexities in the body of the glass.


photography © Russell Johnson , ©Museum of Glass, Tacoma WA


Secondly, the exhibit is mounted to show it to superb advantage. Kudos to Miranda Belarde-Lewis. The lighting shows each piece to best advantage, using dim light and spots to energize the glass. Shadows and projected images add extra life. Audio contains Tlingit oral histories, music and northwest beach sounds.

We were blown away.

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We Beat ’em in Band

    I saw this ad in the New Yorker, and the picture took me back.
The high stepper out front is the drum major of The University of Michigan Marching Band. I believe the photo was taken in 1958 or 1959 at Ferry Field, part of a 17 acre parcel donated by Dexter Ferry in 1902. The high brick wall in the background gives the game away. In those days, Michigan was not at the top of the heap in the Big Ten, but under Dr. William D. Revelli the band was remarkable. We could always say, after a loss, “Well, we beat them in band.”




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Judy’s Birthday

Today is Judy’s birthday. Judy was my older sister, whose loss still grieves me.

I am the oldest and smallest (6′, 215) of three brothers. Growing up, Judy ran us with an iron hand, but by college we became more collegial, and after her divorce, we came to be great friends. We’d talk about movies and music, books and travels, and the latest doings of her Boston Terrorist, Rocket.

My father could whistle between his teeth, a sound that could cut steel plate. Of the 4 of us, only Judy ever approached that sound, a skill she found handy in advancing her career. She worked for the phone company, when there was only one. She determined to crach the glass ceiling, going to pole-climbing school, learning the installation business. Assigned as the first woman manager for Hunter’s Point in San Francisco, she walked into her first meeting with her men (this was the late 60’s) to find them smoking,, talking, feet up on the table, paying no attention to her. She marched to the front of the room, turned to face them and cut loose her whistle. They all sat up like dogs, and Judy had established herself.

Judy died March 16, 2017 after a short illness. I still find myself thinking, when I see a movie, or read a book, “I have to remember to tell Judy about…” I need a place to put those things, so I guess this will have to do.

So we’ll raise a glass to Judy under the cherry tree.


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Nurses Recognition Awards: The Daisy Foundation

Went to a memorial for an old friend, Marilyn Lauer. She had a dry wit, liked a dry martini. Heart goes out to her husband Dave.

Her obit had mentioned donations to the Daisy Foundation. Looked it over online, it’s a family foundation for Patrick Barnes, who died of an autoimmune disease. The family was impressed by the skill of the nurses, but that they’d sort of expected. What moved them was the kindness, the respect and compassion the nurses showed the patient and his family. They wanted to recognize that. So they built a foundation and they provide a set of standards/awards for hospitals and health care sites. It’s mostly all paper, but it is recognition. Recognition helps nurses fight off burn-out. That’s a good thing.

I might be a trifle sensitive on the subject having recently been to the emergency room with my 100-year-old-mother and seen that care+kindness in operation, hour after hour.

So then I went to the memorial for Marilyn, where I met Mark Barnes, Patrick’s father, and Marilyn’s one-time brother-in-law. He is based in  Glen Ellen, Ca., site of of much of my book, Passage of the Kissing People.  Mark is very persuasive. We will be making a donation.
For more information :


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