The Restless Nest2022-03-29T16:14:25-07:00

Hard Times in Babylon

April 3rd, 2024|creative aging, family, featured posts, journalism, memoir, Seattle, writing|

Bangladesh, 1987. A few months after the Haiti trip. Photo by Hilda Bryant. Thirty-seven years ago, I said yes to this guy. It was April Fool’s Day, but he wasn’t kidding, and neither was I. We were in Haiti at the time, on assignment for the TV station where we both worked, full of hope for our shared future and for Haiti’s too: Haitians had just held their first free elections in the [...]

The Poets and the Helpers

January 26th, 2024|arts, Creative, featured posts, featured posts, nature, politics|

We were practicing small talk. “What is your favorite season?” was one of the questions on our worksheet. When the teacher asked me—her once-a-week classroom helper—what I  wanted to say was “all the seasons, every one of them,” but for the sake of demonstrating to English language learners how small talk typically goes, I said “Summer.” And smiled. And on this cold, gray January morning, everyone in the classroom sighed, because just by saying the word [...]

Still

September 25th, 2023|creative aging, featured posts, memoir, Seattle, Uncategorized, writing|

   The nectarine blush of evening on Mt. Rainier still makes me shake my head in wonder. A stroll through the Pike Place Market still cheers me up, no matter how crowded it is, because the presence of lots of happy tourists means our city’s beloved market is still thriving. The Chinook salmon are still thronging up the ladder at the Ballard Locks, a fact I’m happy to report after my first visit in about [...]

Uncanny

August 24th, 2023|arts, Creative, featured posts, hiking, nature, reading, Uncategorized, writing|

I have never written a ghost story. I’ve never wanted to write a ghost story. So what uncanny wind was it that blew through my brain and compelled me to sign up for a week-long workshop titled “The Ghost Story: A Guide to Writing Compelling Prose?” Baker City, Oregon It all began on a slushy March evening in Enterprise, Oregon. My husband and I were just beginning a two-week road trip, meandering our [...]

Soft Target

May 8th, 2023|featured posts, featured posts, gun control, nature|

Soft target. Am I a soft target? Are you? And what exactly is a soft target, as opposed to a hard target? Does a soft target mean someone who is not carrying a gun? Does it mean someone who is not wearing body armor? Does “soft” mean expendable? And what does “hard” mean? Does “hard” mean Important? Must be Defended? One recent morning, after the latest somber news, I listened to the band Cowboy Nation’s [...]

English Class

March 19th, 2023|education, featured posts, immigration, writing|

One recent Tuesday morning, I held up two laminated photos: one of hot dogs, drizzled artfully with mustard and catsup; the other of pepperoni pizza. “Which do you like better?” I asked C, a new student from Eritrea, who is learning English at a galloping pace. “Hot dogs, or pizza?” We were practicing phrases like, “I prefer hot dogs,” and “I like pizza more than hot dogs.” C pointed at the hot dog. “What?” he [...]

Sixty-six

February 10th, 2023|brain, creative aging, dementia, featured posts, health & medicine, memoir, Uncategorized|

“Good evening,” said a silver-haired woman in creamy linen, as she floated past me with her dapper husband towards the veranda of the El Mirador restaurant. They had a dinner reservation; several waiters hurried to greet and seat them. Another waiter, just as gracious, seated my husband and me with the slightly reduced amount of pomp accorded to the drinks-only crowd. But every table at El Mirador was positioned to take in the show: sunset [...]

Solstice

December 22nd, 2022|creative aging, dementia, family, Uncategorized|

Is it the shortest day, or the longest day? The sixteen waking hours of a day can feel mighty long, when half of them are fully dark. For those of us whose body clocks get us up early, like it or not, light or not, a big slice of our waking darkness happens in the morning. I am in that lucky phase of life when I can do exactly as I wish with those hours, [...]

Fallow

September 2nd, 2022|brain, creative aging, featured posts, memoir, Uncategorized, writing|

The trick, we both knew, was not to think too hard. My husband and I dropped our towels. We ran right in, like five-year-olds, and dunked under the waves, like clumsy grownups. We stumbled out, wet and cold and laughing.  One plunge was enough. This was the Washington coast, out where the Pacific Ocean rolls in all the way from Japan and smashes the sand so hard an intact seashell is hard to find, where [...]

You Who Know

May 17th, 2022|arts, creative aging, family, featured posts, feminism, health & medicine, human rights, parenting, Seattle, women's rights|

Who knew that one of the central themes of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro is droit du seigneur, the feudal “lord’s right” granting the lord of a medieval European manor “sexual relations with servant brides on their wedding night?” Since I am a kindergarten-level opera fan, I am grateful to Seattle Opera General Director Christina Scheppelmann for stating it so clearly in her program notes. Because who knew I’d be watching The Marriage of Figaro—the [...]

About Ecstasy

March 30th, 2022|featured posts|

I-90 Tunnel, Seattle “You have to love the writing process,” people say, and that is true. But what has always made me chafe against that statement is the implication that the process should be enough. Having readers, being published—those goals should be secondary, or perhaps not goals at all. I do want readers. I do want to share what I write with the world. Just as songwriters want their songs to be heard. [...]

Battle Scars

January 4th, 2022|creative aging, family, featured posts, hiking, nature, travel|

One month shy of the middle of 2021, I came across a faded sign tacked to a post in front of a ridiculously tall tree. “BATTLE SCARS,” it said at the top. Then, this: “In 1974, I was nearly 300 years old. I’ve seen lots of change in this Forest. See that scar twisting up my trunk. The savage fires of 1888 did that. I’m getting old now, but I still do my share around [...]

What Will Be Our New Normal?

November 18th, 2021|creative aging, featured posts, health & medicine, Uncategorized|

This fall, 3rd Act Magazine gave me an interesting assignment: to write about what might really be our new normal, as we enter our second pandemic winter and ponder plans for the new year. This time, we have vaccines. But there are plenty of ways in which life is still nothing like whatever our "old normal" used to be. I invite you to read the article, and let me know what you think. How is your [...]

Helplessly Hoping

October 21st, 2021|faith and doubt, health & medicine, memoir, Uncategorized, writing|

“What if I forget what I learned? And what if I can’t learn to hope again?” author Kate Bowler asks her psychologist. It is a climactic moment in No Cure For Being Human (And Other Truths I Need to Hear), her second memoir since she was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer at 35. After innumerable surgeries and therapies—chemo, immuno, radiation—Bowler, a professor at Duke Divinity School, has outlived, several times over, her initial prognosis [...]

Honesty: Good or Bad?

August 30th, 2021|faith and doubt, featured posts, health & medicine, hiking, nature, politics, Uncategorized, women's rights, writing|

“DISARM!” declares the pink post-it in the back of my journal. It’s been there for a few weeks now, and I can’t seem to throw it away. The note dates from a getaway spent with friends at a borrowed beach cottage. We thought we might be expected to set the alarm at night, and I thought I might be the first one to open the door in the morning. So I put post-its on the [...]

Into the Dome

July 1st, 2021|family, featured posts, hiking, nature, travel, urban life|

     “I don’t want to go home,” I said to my husband on the last morning of our nine-state road trip. I loved sleeping in the tent, most of the time, really I did. And swimming in a cold lake in lieu of a shower. And hadn’t I gotten so much better at not caring when there was no cell signal? We had logged 4,733 miles. But I was not over my pandemic cabin fever. [...]

April Come

April 28th, 2021|creative aging, faith and doubt, family, featured posts, hiking, memoir, nature, parenting, quiet, Seattle, Uncategorized, urban life, writing|

“April come!” our daughter Claire used to plead at bedtime. Her favorite lullaby was Simon & Garfunkel’s classic, “April Come She Will.” But the pleading was play-acting: she knew her father loved nothing more than to sing that song to her and her baby brother Nick. This morning, my husband teared up as he read Robin Wall Kimmerer’s poignant account in Braiding Sweetgrass of taking her daughter off to college. He and I laughed as [...]

Pandemic Patience

March 29th, 2021|featured posts, gun control, health & medicine, human rights, journalism, midlife, politics, Seattle, urban life|

“Patience,” wrote an early master of social media, is “a minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.” How absolutely true, I thought. Despair. But minor. Disguised—but poorly, in my own case—as a virtue. This timely quip dates back more than a century, to when the dashing Civil War veteran and writer Ambrose Bierce published his “Devil’s Dictionary,” a collection of satiric definitions he had penned, over several decades, for newspapers and magazines. I was [...]

365 Days

January 18th, 2021|creative aging, featured posts, feminism, human rights, midlife, politics, Seattle, travel, Uncategorized, urban life, women's rights|

365 days ago, I celebrated my 63rd birthday in California with close friends. We marched in the 2020 Oakland women’s march, shouting with and talking to many total strangers, and admiring everyone’s signs. We dined out at a brewpub for lunch and an Italian restaurant for dinner. There was a stop for oysters somewhere in there too. In case we might still be hungry, my friends had hidden a selection of fancy birthday desserts in [...]

Hello, Ceiling

December 13th, 2020|arts, brain, Creative, creative aging, dementia, faith and doubt, family, featured posts, health & medicine, memoir, midlife, Seattle, writing|

“Mom is trying to see a bug on the ceiling using binoculars,” my husband texted our grownup children recently. “Should we be concerned?” “The pandemic has altered everyone’s perspectives in different ways,” my daughter responded. “Or is she just delirious from her reading??” Among the many first-ever virtual experiences I had this year was to participate in an online literary reading hosted by About Place Journal. I was thrilled that they had published my essay, [...]

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