I’ve been writing a short short story a day for eleven weeks, I am doing this as a participant in a Round Robin at The Writer’s Salon in San Francisco. I now have 77 stories. they are piling up so I have decided to share some here. Each day there is a prompt which starts me off. From there, anything goes. Rule is: one can only write for 12 minutes and can edit afterwards.

Two TREES on the edge of a cliff

~I’m tired of being here

~What do you mean you’re tired of being here? You can’t be tired of being here. You are a tree. We are trees. We’ve been here a long time.

~Right, & we’re supposed to be here for a long time to come, but I’m tired of it. Sorry, but I am even tired of you. You and I, all the time, here on the edge.

~It’s better than being on the edge alone, you know that.

~Right well, you got me there. UHG..this time of year…I hate the gray skin. I hate the nakedness of it all. Truth be told, I’m tired of the whole winter, spring, summer, fall thing. It’s same old same old all the time. So predictable. Nothing happens.

~Yeah, but you gotta admit in the winter we have a lot of fun and in the fall our leaves are the brightest, orange yellow-ish color anywhere on the planet other than some sunsets which never last very long.

~It’s true I like the splat contest. I like that we’re not on a farm and that the people who live near us hardly ever come at the right time to get our persimmons. I like how we play the game who can get the most splats in the day.

~True that’s a fun game but we always know at the beginning of the day how it’s gonna end. Always depending on WonderWind and what mood she’s in that day and the way she cares to gust, blows the surprise out of who wins on any given day she’s around.

~Yeah, But it’s super fun and she’s not always around being the deciding factor.

~True, but I’m tired of being taken for granted. We are saving these humans lives, and they are so busy they can’t even see or appreciate us. 

~Remember that time when people used to hug us?

~Yes, that was nice. I think the worst time was when that idiot Shel Silverstein wrote that book “The Giving Tree”. I mean what the fuck bullshit message was that? What was he doing? Trying to teach people how to have a dysfunctional relationship? 

~Yeah, I don’t think people read that to their kids as much as they used to.

~I hope not. If that guy walked under my tree, I would make for sure to have a big branch fall on his head giving him a headache for a couple decades. Better yet I’d have one of my roots trip him, so he’d fall off the edge a little bit, not so much as to kill him, but just enough to injure his right hand.

~Hey, wait a minute! hold on there! Why would you ever want to injure anyone? Those human beings are in such a mess. They are constantly injuring themselves! Directly or indirectly.

~Yes, I know it’s true. Even I, a species able to maintain complete equanimity feel sad for them. I wish there was some way I could help.

Just then a young woman comes up to the tree. She has a stool with her. She sets that down under the tree. Forlorn, she pulls a rope out of the bag she’s brought with her. Dejected, she stands for a long time at the edge overlooking the chasm. Is she considering jumping? What is she going to do with that rope? It’s for sure she’s not going to play with it. She has an agenda. She comes back to the stool, stands on it while she ties one rope end around the tree branch and the other around her neck.

WindWonder starts to gasp and move quickly around in a flurry. The trees start to wiggle and wobble in the wind. The girl pushes the stool out from under her. There is a moment inbetween, when WindWonder wooshes, and the wanting tree yearns. The branch breaks. It all falls down.

The young lady gasps “THANK GOD!” She lays down beneath the tree and looks through the intricate lace of the old grey naked branches. She watches the clouds in the sky pass one after the other. For the rest of the afternoon, she looks up through the maze of the tree’s pattern at the clouds changing shapes, appearing and dissolving moving across the endless sky.

She comes back many years later, with two small children, gets on a stool and hangs a swing.

Race & Religion Lake Temescal

Lake Temescal

Because of daylight savings time, my walk around the lake is quite a bit darker than usual. It’s Sunday, and a few family outings are ending up. I park a little irregularly, not quite exactly between the two lines because I back up in order to head out easily. I know it doesn’t matter how I am parked because no new cars are going to be coming in at that hour.

Three quarters around the lake, I notice coming towards me and then notice as they walk by me, two people dressed entirely in white. I don’t look closely, but I think they are dark skinned maybe Indian maybe African-American. That’s not the unusual thing. The unusual thing is that they are dressed in white. Part of the Lake Temescal in Oakland appeal, is all kinds of people are happily enjoying the park.

As I get further along the path by the lake, to where the field accommodates larger groups, I see one large group of many many people dressed in white. Not all of them, however. They still look Indian or African-American. There are some stragglers away from the group, people with baby carriages and babies in them and couples without carriages and pairs of friends. The majority of them however are centered in a circle around a sound similar to the hindu chanting I know from Amma’s. A place where people used to dress in white.

The sound I’m hearing is far away so I can’t know exactly what it is. I stop and ask a straggling couple what is going on. The young man doesn’t know exactly what to say so he says, “Church”. “Nice” I say and add “Blessings to you all” before walking on.

The woman with the guy who said ‘church’, disapproves of me. I can see her body grimace, and tighten up when I ask them if I am hearing Hindi. She is dressed in full length white with blue trim around the edge of her head covering. This resembles the clothing Mother Theresa nuns wore in the early 90s going to and from Saint Pauls, where they were housed, near 28th and Sanchez.

Mother Theresa, even occasionally went to that building. I had a boyfriend, who lived a block from there. He broke up with me, and started to become best friends with my housemate. My housemate would, of course go to his house. Once housemate saw Mother Theresa in route. I found that infinitely unfair. I thought I was the one who deserved to see Mother Theresa.

A decade or two before that, I spent a lot of time going to meditation classes and meditation retreats. My best friend was interested in no such thing. She was interested in marijuana and occasionally a lot of alcohol. One night after a bottle of rum or something she teleported to my apartment.

The next day she told me what I was wearing and everything that I was doing the night before. There’s no way she could’ve known that. Again, I thought it was unfair. I was going to the meditation retreats. I was the one trying to reach god. Somehow she was already there.

Funny how the mind works and how I went from the gathering to the blue trim of Mother Teresa to that night.

Walking back to my car, two young men from the group but not dressed in white, stop me on the dark path.

“You come here much?” One asks.

“Yes” I answer.

“Where is there a bathroom?” he asks.

I tell him.

“Thank you so much” The other says sincerely. Perhaps he’s the one in need.

“Of course!” I say.

I realize now, after having a bit more time with these two, that the group is Ethiopian. Not that it matters.

Still, I wonder why they are dressed in white. I could look that up no doubt but I’d rather leave it unknown.

Fingers Crossed

Fingers crossed….it Goes both ways.

Fingers crossed behind your back is what you do when you’re lying to someone

Somehow the crossing of the fingers behind the back

Is a message to, or a deal with, the absolute…

You’re lying to the person but your fingers are crossed behind the back so somehow it doesn’t count that you’re lying

It doesn’t count to who?

It’s got to be the one who sees everything

Behind your back

the one we used to call God but don’t anymore.

You’re cheating but you’re not cheating

because you’re crossing your fingers.

Is it a deal with the devil or a deal with god or simply with you

The other way you can cross your fingers is openly

Occasionally with a pledge

“I’ll cross my fingers for you“

Said to evoke luck and is this not also a petition to the absolute?

I’ll send this request to infinite unknowable source

so that this good thing can happen.

Fingers crossed.

Which way do you want to do it?

Either way works


Watercolor by Dana Zed

I am on the plane looking at the clouds. I needed to get a Lyft at3:30 AM to make this flight. The window view is more beautiful than usual. It is dawn. I always get the aisle seat if I can cuz truth is I can still see out the window

i am looking at these celestial clouds and remembering when I flew after my sister Sally died young leaving three small children. I was in the airport talking to a person dressed in an air attendants outfit that I didn’t recognize.

Suddenly someone alerted everyone to get ready and others stand back. I was told to stand back, out of the way. I didn’t know what was going on. I obeyed.

Then low and behold, Steve Martin appeared. All the people I thought were waiting passengers and airline ticket counter people and attendants, were actors in a movie. Steve began arguing ridiculously with the ticket counter lady.

The experience left me with a strong impression that our real lives are not our real lives. Somehow I felt this had something to do with Sally. Like all our lives were plays and we were actors and it was her time to get off the set

After this experience I was on the plane. Wanting Sally to appear to me in the sky. Much like as a child I wanted God to come down from the ceiling. And do what ? Give a blessing? No. I think I wanted just to connect. I never got farther than God coming down because God never did. Or maybe God did.

Today in the airport cafe, I heard a concerned young lady asking her partner and wondering whether the cafe had hot chocolate because it was not on the menu. I looked hard at the menu and saw mocha this and mocha that. I said to them, “I think they do, just ask” and I went on my way.

Several minutes later I ran into them and asked

“Did they have it?” “Yes, they did!” She said. “Oh good, I’m happy for you”. I said. We all smiled.

And there you have it, God. Simple ordinary love here and there.

“Oh good, I’m happy for you”.

I went to church today

Lithograph from kitchen linoleum by a Mexican Artist in the Mission SF from 2012 Levis print workshop on Valencia St

December 12th is the Feast Day of Guadalupe.

Despite all the paraphernalia in stores you can buy with Guadalupe imagery on it, there is not a single place I could find to go to a Guadalupe mass in the San Francisco bay area. Well, Mission Dolores had one at 5:45am but that wasn’t working for me.

So Tuesday I call up the Newman Center which is the Catholic Church servicing Cal (University of Berkeley) thinking (once again incorrectly) that Berkeley may have the pulse on things.

Amazingly enough the “Father” who gives the mass, Father Stephen, answers the phone. He is nice. He is hip. He is understanding. He explains about the four types of masses they have there. He says the 10am is most vibrant. It has a choir. 

I explain how I am not just going for Guadalupe but also for my younger sister Sally who was devoted to Mary and who passed away 24 years ago. I want to honor her as well as Guadalupe. He understands and gives me to think he will certainly address La Madre on her feast day. He asks me to introduce myself to him and tells me he will give me a cross for my sister. I thank him. He says “God bless you” and I say it right back as I usually so. Then after I’ve hung up I think perhaps one doesn’t appropriately say that to a priest. Perhaps one is supposed to be blessed and not talk back. Either way I am excited to go to church on Sunday.

I’m all dressed up recalling the 18 years I went to church with my family. I have brought a picture of Sally to show Father Steven. I get there and the place is maybe one third full. I notice with interest that maybe the majority of people are there alone. It is so different from my childhood when the church was filled full with families, some of them with eight kids.

it is a stark barren building with no Mary imagery at all and only has the crucifixion front and center. There is no color  except a dark red candle and the priest’s costume.

Father Steven starts off with us turning to our neighbor. He tells us we have 3 minutes total for each of us to express for what we are grateful. No one is near me in my pew (row) so I turn to the guy behind me. He starts to go on and on about himself and then I see that the guy at the end of his pew has no one to talk to so I invite him in and as the first guy continues to go on about himself I realize there is a young woman in the row behind these two men who doesn’t have a partner so I invite her in. The first guy is still going on about himself so I suggest we move on to the next guy since we only have 3 minutes. The next guy is negative and says little. Then the young woman, who is a bit shy and lovely and a student, is glad finals are over and she is going home to her family in San Diego. Then it is my turn and I say quickly that I am grateful for Guadalupe and the fact that there are girl god images. I look only into the young woman’s eyes as I say this. 

The choir is pathetic. It is a barely audible group of 7 people who look like they’d rather not be there. There is a screen with lyrics so we can sign along but sometimes it is not on the right verse and besides it’s hard to know where the melody is. 

Then the priest sits down and whoops! he see someone doing something and apologizes that he has forgotten the children’s part of the mass. About 9 kids (none of them dressed up) come on stage. We bless them. Then they leave to go somewhere else.

I am remembering when I was a kid and we suffered through mass every single Sunday. It was “good for your character” we were told; like brushing your teeth. 

I am also remembering all the many times I have been at Hindu services with the great humanitarian Amma (www.amma.org) where kids run around everywhere in full-on chaos and there is non-stop loud singing sung by many, most of whom don’t understand the language they are singing.

All that is as it may be and I am still hoping for something in church. The priest who is large and a bit round, though his purple gown hides that, sits down again and a woman comes to the pulpit twice and solemnly reads the “Word of God”. Her gone, the priest gets up out of his chair and makes a big deal showing off a bright red book with gold rimmed pages. I assume this is the Bible. 

He opens it and reads a prayer from Paul to the Corinthians but he sort of mumbles “Corinthians” and it sounds like Paul is writing to the “Bolivians” but of course he isn’t. That’s now. He’s writing then. 

Which reminds me, after we said our gratitudes to our neighbor(s), we were instructed to take a few minutes in silence to think about what makes us anxious. I have a pretty good life and I immediately think about all those tornado victims who’d lost everything just a day ago. I think about the refugees; so many of them all around the world. Often when I am breezing through Instagram where I mostly follow other artists, i come across an NPR photo of people fleeing for their lives. I am anxious about them. I am anxious about the people in Libyan prisons keeping migrants out of Europe where the director has told the guards, “You can do anything to them, You just can’t kill them.” (The New Yorker 12/6/2012). I am anxious for them and for babies still at the border.

The priest reads the passage for the day. It is Paul telling a story about John the Baptist telling the people in Corinthia (What is that land now?) not to be anxious.

The church is in the third week of Advent Father Stephen explains and he admits his sermons throughout advent are mostly the same but each week they get deeper and this week he is addressing happiness.

He asks everyone not only to sing but to be sure to do all the movements that go along with the singing. Participation is everything. 

He begins, “When you are happy and you know it clap your hands” (Clap Clap)

I clap and then I realize I am not happy and I do not want to clap. He says something after we clap and moves on to the next line which he claims is more difficult “When you are happy and you know it, stomp your feet”

I get up and leave the mass. I am looking for someone in the lobby to whom I can give feedback. It is more than empty.

I leave the building. A woman is entering. She is very late for mass so I ask her if she works there. She explains she is just going to church. I give her my feedback. I tell her my story. I show her the picture of my sister. She has blond hair and blue eyes like my sister. She listens. She understands. Both of our eyes tear up. She hugs me.

Sally and Red Roses

 And I go home.


Letters to Santa in May

DSC_0001   A couple of days ago, in the middle of May, I got a large envelope in the mail. It was a very official United States one from the “Bay Valley District of Consumer and Industry Affairs Office”.  Needless to say, I was worried. As a self employed person putting two kids through college, I wondered what I could have done wrong on which of the countless tax and financial aid forms I fill out.

It was thin, like one sheet of paper inside. That also didn’t seem like a good thing in my fear based state. An 11×14″ white envelope with a government seal and one sheet of paper inside?

So I wait a day and then open it. To my amazement it is an apologetic letter from the post office. An announcement for an art opening I had last December somehow got itself to the “Letters to Santa” receptacle.

My card was “mistakenly treated as one of the legitimate request letters”. Who knew such a place existed? and that “every piece of mail at said receptacle is intended to be fulfilled by one of our santa helpers”!

They did not know what to do with my card. So they sent it back; with apologies, hoping I’d understand. Truth is, I’m thrilled my request got to Santa, but I don’t really understand.

Where Are You Going?


Amma asks , “There are 86,400 seconds in a day. What are you doing with them?”

She asks, “Where are you going? If you are in a car and someone asks you where you are going, you know. If you get on a plane you know where you are going. Where are you going with your life? To go around willy-mildly is no good”, she’ll say.
“What is the goal of your life?”, she will ask.
“Is it the realization of god?”, she’ll continue.




After my son and I biked 600 miles in 12 days, he jumped off a wall he’s often jumped off and sprained his ankle.

That was a week ago because it takes a 16 year old a week to figure out it’s sprained by the fact that it isn’t getting better.

So we know. He needs crutches. Kaiser doesn’t sell crutches but at the doctor’s visit they’ll give them to you. So, a doctor visit is too much as usual, (due to high deductible) therefore we “google” “crutches”.


I do this first and get offers of surprisingly pricey crutches. They are inexplicably expensive even in supposedly cheap places like Walgreen’s. When Noah googles “crutch”, he gets an entirely different response. He gets all this “church” stuff, referring to belief in god as a crutch.

I probably had the word “buy” in my search. Noah says he had nothing but “Crutch”. Maybe. Noah’s relationship since the get go with reading has been to guess the word first and recheck it later if necessary. It’s gotten him this far. He considers spelling yet another storefront the computer is making obsolete. So maybe his crutch is the computer.

I’ll take “god” over the computer. We ended up borrowing crutches from a friend.