First addiction

The kitchen is dark except for a wedge of light from the refrigerator door.  Since I am 5 years old, only food in the middle shelves is at my eye level, including a block of butter. I take the butter to the kitchen table and put it in the sugar bowl, then stir with one […]

Three crows

Three crows patrol the entrance to my neighborhood.  They stay close to each other, pecking in the grass or flying from tree to tree near the street waiting for fresh roadkill.  In flight, they call to each other—two or three brisk “caws” at a time.   They can be heard for blocks. [Crow calling] Hardly a […]

Chinese wife and husband

The old Chinese couple sit in straightback chairs. The old wife looks down at her hands. The old husband turns his head to look at her. He doesn’t move but a plastic tube threaded into his nostril trembles. He speaks. The wife inclines her head slightly, rises, and shuffles from the room. She returns and gives […]

Shadow Puppet

Her lips curve upward. She lowers the puppets onto the stage. She makes them talk.  They start to argue. They raise their voices. One hits the other and laughs. Now they throw things and scream. She shrieks with laughter. You no say this. You no can have. I make you do. I not do. You […]

Parallel Universe of George Booth

This dog has been a regular on New Yorker pages for over forty years. Looking aggrieved, the dog often sits in a room with wrinkled carpets, rickety furniture, and a crochety old couple.  A naked light bulb dangles from the ceiling. The dog belongs to George Booth, a cartoonist in his eighties who still sits […]

Happy Birthday, Maggie Kuhn

Happy Birthday, Maggie! August is Maggie Kuhn month.  Maggie founded  the Gray Panthers in 1970 and fought for the rights of elders all her life, even before she became an elder herself. She was affronted by the lack of respect with which the young treated the old.  She once said, “The ultimate indignity is to be […]

Guidelines for house cats

When a human is paying bills or doing other paper work, sit in the middle of it. When dislodged, watch sadly.  Then roll around on the papers, scattering them to the best of your ability.  After being removed the second time, push pencils, erasers, and other small objects off the table one at a time. […]

Tom Waits, I Love You

Only this year, after my 78th birthday, did I discover Tom Waits.  Now I’m in love and it’s too late.  Tom is probably happily married and too old for this, anyway.  I’m not married, but I’m sure too old. I’m spellbound by Tom’s gravelly, singing voice  In YouTube videos, I watch him dance on the […]

Dam Beavers

This is an actual letter sent to a man named Ryan DeVries by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Quality, State of Pennsylvania . Mr. Devries’s response is hilarious, but read the State’s letter first, before you get to his response letter. SUBJECT: DEQ File No.97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20; Lycoming County Dear Mr. DeVries: It […]

Life Without TV

The other night, a 10-year-old friend told me her class is celebrating No TV Week. When I went to the internet to find out more about this wonderful idea, I learned that TV-Turnoff Network, a nonprofit organization, began promoting No TV Week back in 1995. This grass roots project, started in protest of the mind-numbing […]