Cactus blossom


Our first rain in six months. It sprinkled gently for maybe thirty minutes tops. The plants in the area made the most of it, blooming overnight, showing off in reds and yellows and purples. Alice Walker taught me to be careful to always notice purple, so I do.

In the desert, you have to look fast and you have to miniaturize your expectations. One perfect bloom 3/4 inch in diameter may be . . .

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Little toot

You’ve gotta be pretty old to know this, but there was once a song with the lyric, “Don’t you ever give up, Little Toot.” If I recall correctly, it came from a cartoon made about the children’s book The Little Engine That Could. The story and the song were both about courage, determination, and overcoming obstacles. It was a favorite with me as a kid. I loved to sing the song, and my dad took to calling me Little Toot as a nickname. . . .

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I’d been planted behind a newspaper in the lobby of the Four Seasons for hours. Outside a fiesta of some sort was underway. Mexican flags and red, green and white banners where everywhere. I prayed he wouldn’t come out of the elevator and walk into the growing crowd outside.

Elisa’s voice cracked in my ear. She was undercover as a maid on his floor. “He’s moving,” she said. I felt a surge of adrenalin and sat up, ready for anything. Anything except the crowd outside where tracking him would be impossible . . .

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Animals are

Animals are invading my dreams. Moose, bear, wolves–they’re all in my head and popping up in my dreamtime. I attribute this to Dana Stabenow, whose 8 or so books about Alaska native Kate Shugak I have read in the last month or two. I love these books, these people, this Alaska she writes about. I picked up the first one because it was a mystery, which I read a lot of, but have learned to appreciate Stabenow as one of the more accomplished writers in any . . .

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Remember when

Remember when you heated up your baby’s milk in a saucepan filled with warm water? Now everyone zaps a disposable plastic container of milk in the microwave. Then there were those little bottle warmer gadgets that used electricity to gently warm a single bottle in a little cup-like container. What I want to know is why don’t they put those little electric cup-like warmers on the ultrasound carts, so when you plug in the ultrasound machine, the gel that makes it work gets warmed up. That gel is cold enough to . . .

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Shalimar. Mixed with a faint undertone of fear-drenched sweat. How peculiar, since we leave the air filters running in the office all night, and I had unlocked the door to come in, presumably the first in for the day. “Anybody here?”

I took a few steps down the small corridor to my office and found it trashed. Drawers open, papers scattered, chairs overturned.

I started backing out as I dialed my partner, Stacy. I was almost out the door when I heard Stacy’s phone ringing inside the office. “Stacy! Are you there?” She didn’t answer and her phone continued to ring. . . .

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Viet Nam

Viet Nam Memorial in Angel Fire, NM
I’ve seen the Viet Nam Memorial wall in Washington DC, and now the memorial chapel in Angel Fire, NM. In Washington, the very air around the wall felt saturated with grief. People choked back tears. In Angel Fire I was alone, the only person there, and the emotional tone of the place seemed very different to me. Maybe I was just in a hurry and didn’t take time to sit in the chapel and let it soak in. Maybe I just rushed through the small museum . . .

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Let go

The prospect of dying elders creates a split personality in us. We know in our heads that it’s time; the years were well spent, the elder is ready and peaceful about the change to come, we know it’s inevitable. Yet when the moment comes to actually let go, our heart screams out disagreement with the information we’ve worked out in our head. We are hard-pressed to honor do not resuscitate orders that just moments ago seemed reasonable.

You think you’re ready, but . . .

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May Day

Thanks to my habit of awaking hours before the rest of the world, I snagged the shade under one of only three trees in the mosaic covered courtyard of the church of Our Lady of the Cave, where a Greek May Day festival was underway.

Graceful young Greek women in traditional hand-woven cloth danced in the brilliant sunlight reflecting off the white walls of . . .

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I waited for a stately parade of cars trapped behind a slow moving school bus to pass, then I ran across the street. I punched 911 into my phone as I approached her. Jeanette lay on the ground beside her house, the hose in her hand spurting crazily in the air like a fountain gone mad. “My friend needs an ambulance,” I told the 911 operator. I threw the hose aside and felt Jeanette’s neck for a pulse. “She’s breathing, but not conscious,” I said and gave directions to our location. Jeanette was soaked from . . .

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