The Restless Nest2019-11-18T10:45:31-08:00

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, [...]

Birds, Ballots, Barrett

October 27th, 2020|faith and doubt, featured posts, feminism, hiking, memoir, nature, politics, reading, Uncategorized, women's rights|

I once visited a bird hide (or blind, as we call them in North America) in the wet, windswept fens of East Anglia, far to the northeast of London. That is all. Please forgive me, birders of the world; I remember nothing, at least nothing that has to do with birds. I was 19, and a newly arrived exchange student at the University of East Anglia, whose concrete, mid-1960s buildings resemble oversized bird hides. UEA [...]

A Kind of September

October 1st, 2020|featured posts, hiking, politics, quiet, urban life|

On the first day of September, 2020, I turned my head at just the right moment and saw an owl, still as a portrait, on a branch over a teardrop of a pond in the Arboretum. It was noon. The owl was enjoying the shade, and did not care to move, even after a whispering clutch of onlookers gathered to snap photos on their phones. We were mesmerized by the owl’s patient gaze; by its [...]

Pandemic Mountain

August 30th, 2020|featured posts, hiking, politics, Uncategorized|

In the middle of this pandemic summer, in a tent on a ridge just a stone’s throw from Mt. Baker, my husband and I woke in the wee hours to the sound of two young voices, chatting away, getting closer and louder every second. We could see their headlamps bobbing like a pair of fireflies as they hiked towards us, up the steep trail known as the Railroad Grade route to the Mt. Baker climbers’ [...]

Pandemic Mirror

June 30th, 2020|brain, creative aging, family, featured posts, health & medicine, memoir, midlife, quiet, Uncategorized|

“When did my hair get so long?” I ask myself, as I look in the mirror. “And I look so  OLD!” I am 63. We are winding up Month Four of the pandemic. No. I’m not 63. I am seven, and I am winding up two weeks of being home sick with the mumps. I’m standing in front of the full-length mirror that hangs inside my parents’ bedroom closet door. When the door is open, [...]

After the Blast

May 18th, 2020|featured posts, health & medicine, hiking, journalism, nature, reading|

In early February, aka one million years ago, I requested an advance copy of After the Blast: The Ecological Recovery of Mount St. Helens by Eric Wagner, published in April by University of Washington Press. I had been thinking about the upcoming 40th anniversary of Mount St. Helens’ May 18, 1980 eruption—an event which loomed large over my early years as a journalist, even though I had missed the main event—so I was thrilled to [...]

Pandemic Road

April 28th, 2020|family, featured posts, health & medicine, memoir, writing|

The taste of blood mixed with gravel is metallic, it’s gritty, but most of all, it is surprising. I hadn’t opened my mouth on purpose; the taste was just suddenly there. Remembering, I can taste it now. Just as I can hear the big kids yelling: “Go get her mom! She’s bleeding!” I remember lying in the gravel, squinting in the bright sun. And, before she dropped me, how it felt to be carried by [...]

Use Your Fear

March 31st, 2020|faith and doubt, family, featured posts, health & medicine, nature, Seattle, Uncategorized|

“Want to hear what our resident coyotes sound like?” read the headline in our south Seattle neighborhood’s Nextdoor Digest email. You bet I do, I thought. Anything to distract me from the latest coronavirus news. I clicked play. Do you know the sound? It’s not haunting in an old Western movie way; it’s more like something out of a horror film; like the screeches that slice along with the killer’s kitchen knife in Psycho. I [...]

Emotional Truth: Teaching Memoir in the Time of Trump

February 29th, 2020|arts, brain, Creative, creative aging, featured posts, memoir, politics, writing|

Sixteen years ago, on Leap Year Day, my mathematically gifted brother left this world. Felled by glioblastoma, he did not have much choice in the timing of his death. But he did have a flair for drama, and it may have pleased him to give a parting nod to the beauty of numbers. The fact is that he died on February 29, 2004. The emotional truth is that he died not on any old dreary [...]

Veracruz

January 15th, 2020|featured posts, memoir, midlife, travel, Uncategorized|

We welcomed in the 2020s in the Mexican port city of Veracruz, where even the restroom signs can’t stop dancing. Rustin and I arrived on December 28th, thinking it might be quiet for a few days before New Year’s festivities kicked into full swing. Quiet would have been fine with us: we’d been traveling for two weeks and we had a few things to get over, including illness (Rus’s flu) and theft (my phone.) But [...]

Wild Isle

December 9th, 2019|featured posts, hiking, memoir, midlife, nature, parenting, quiet, Seattle, Uncategorized, urban life, writing|

Wild Isle: what a beautiful pair of words. But where, on earth, might there be a wild isle in a city? Right in my back yard, as it turns out. One hundred and just about nine years ago, the voters of Seattle gave themselves a gift they decided to call Seward Park: an island of wild old-growth forest that juts into Lake Washington from its southwest shore, barely connected to the mainland via a then-slim [...]

Still Restless

October 16th, 2019|creative aging, faith and doubt, hiking, memoir, midlife, nature, writing|

It’s 3 a.m. and I hear my neighbor’s car start and I wonder where he’s going at this hour and then I wonder why on earth I’m awake enough to wonder. And then I start wondering other things like will my book get published and will Rustin and I figure out how to live without our children in the house and will I ever get back to sleep? Welcome to the Restless Nest. It isn’t [...]

Being Mortal in the Time of Trump

August 18th, 2019|creative aging, faith and doubt, featured posts, gun control, hiking, human rights, immigration, politics, Uncategorized|

What matters most? That question has been like a three-word anthem for me this month, as I re-read Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. The small Seattle church I attend is having a summer book club, of sorts, which consists of reading Being Mortal and getting together in small groups to talk about it over dinner. The group I was in kept coming back to that question: what matters most? [...]

Vietnam

June 24th, 2019|featured posts, memoir, midlife, travel, Uncategorized, war|

The day I left Vietnam, I laughed and laughed. I had not expected to. I woke up feeling sad about having to leave after only two weeks: far too short a time for my first visit to this captivating country. But my travel-mates—Anne and Lindsay, close friends I have known since freshman year of college—and I had hatched a plan for our final morning: we would get up at 5:30, throw on clothes, and walk [...]

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