The saying starting from scratch, reminds me of the time I baked chocolate-chip cookies and for some reason (adding too many eggs, or baking powder) what appeared from the oven was one large cookie. I renamed the product a chocolate-chip cake and it was delicious. Another time I baked brownies and forgot the eggs. Yes, I renamed the flat pan of chocolate, fudge, and doled out squares and placed them atop a mound of vanilla ice cream.

Starting from scratch means you have a plan, but no guarantees of success. What was before has been erased, or no longer exists. Building a house, creating a garden, starting anew brings along all that went before and what will be. A combination of loss and enthusiasm.  

Proportions count. If I put too much emphasis on what was, the new plan will fail. The question becomes how to honor the past and create the future.  

l sigh as I write, caught between the physical and the mental images which collide in my brain. Downsizing becomes a metaphor, weighted with letting go of old favorites, friendships, and comforts, and allowing for growth.

As an author I’m capable of cheating, tying ideas into neat bundles, picking only the thoughts or scenes that show a positive light. Change is messy with triggers that propel one into a tizzy. The GPS on your phone telling you at the new gas station, that home is 1.5 hours away, when in fact your new home is around the corner. Or traveling down the aisles of a grocery store, staring at the vegetables that appear small and limp. The tiny beets clumped by three and costing $4.00, compared to your past gardens that you’ll never harvest. The hollow sound of your voice that echoes with no one to listen. Adding how your leg slips over the other side of an empty bed, the tossing and turning of sleepless night, or how the morning begins without the daily ritual of NPR waking you up.

Even the description of baking removes the mess of the kitchen, the egg that was dropped on the floor, or oversalting and compensating by adding more sugar to the recipe. No stress just the neat and tidy punch line. Yes, I always wanted to be a comedian.

Choosing how we frame a situation helps the framer survive until the transition finally arrives. The perspective is only one side, the depth of the situation is tricky, filled with emotion.

I’m building a balcony garden, a small enterprise, compared to the vast gardens of recent times. I must be creative, an act of faith, distilling the essence of visual delights and practicality. Although I still want to plant carrots, parsnips, beets, snap peas, and lettuce, I also crave perennial greenery and vibrant flowers. Pots are not plots. North, South, East, and West sun is reduced to one direction. Wind and buildings create another dynamic. Planning with these variables dictates more to consider as I contemplate openness to the people below and the vistas of the mountain beyond. Starting from scratch … guided by nature’s way. Others have been here and I’m sure I’ll find some solutions.

I’m struck by connections and habits. Yoga has been with me since 1974 and to this day, I maintain my morning practice. My routine can be performed anywhere, with a minimal imprint–the length of my body and width of my arms. Swimming however necessitates a pool where I’ve zipped across the lanes for thirty years. I’ll miss my shower-room friends. Riding a stationary bike and lifting weights will be my temporary solution to maintain fitness. Vistas and hills change, a daily walk might not have horses, but instead a city scape of pedestrians, storefronts, and parks. I feel like a caterpillar morphing as I shed parts of myself.

I write this knowing that we all are faced with change. From the time we go to kindergarten to the time we graduate school, enter the work force, create a family, retire, and exit, change is a constant. The world opens and we step in as novices. Layers upon layers form the whole, no one segment exemplifies our being.  

The wrinkles etched on my face reveal the imprints of past new beginnings. The lines of kindness, laughter, and sadness intersect at the eyes, with side webs fanning out to the stars to light the way. 

Living is the act of starting over each day.

Thanks to and A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg, I have received for the last twelve years in my in-box a “word” with pronunciation, meaning, etymology, and  usage.  I must confess that the words eek into my brain and sometimes into my stories. Here are two words that struck me as noteworthy:

PRONUNCIATION: (mon-uh-FOH-bee-uh)

MEANING: noun: A fear of being alone.

ETYMOLOGY: From Greek mono- (one) + -phobia (fear). Earliest documented use: 1880. 

PRONUNCIATION: (see-tuhv-thuh-PANTS)

MEANING: adjective: 1. Using experience, instinct, or guesswork as opposed to methodical planning. 2. Done without instruments. 

ETYMOLOGY: The term has its origin in aviation. Before modern instruments, a pilot flew a plane based on how it felt. For example, in fog or clouds, in the absence of instrumentation one could tell whether the plane was climbing or diving by how heavy one feels in the seat. Seat of the pants is the area where one sits, i.e., the buttocks. Earliest documented use: 1929.

My Usage:   

A planner for all contingencies, the writer suddenly found himself alone with just his words. His monophobia set in, and he found that by creating characters from the seat-of-his pants, eased his fears of being lonely. 

I will not play at tug o’ war. I’d rather play at hug o’ war, Where everyone hugs instead of tugs.

Shel Silverstein, writer (25 Sep 1930-1999) 

A merely fallen enemy may rise again, but the reconciled one is truly vanquished.

Friedrich Schiller, poet, philosopher, physician, historian, and playwright (10 Nov 1759-1805) 

This month is a one of reflection. I’ve been jotting down thoughts for poems and for Sealy. I’m adlibbing, flying from the seat-of- my pants, with my work. Not productive but necessary.

You can find me at Seaport Books in La Conner along with other local authors on Thursday, May 26, 2022 from 4:00PM- until 6:00PM.  Jana Gage, the owner of Seaport books believes in local authors and supports us. We’ll be next to her store at Gilkey Square, near the picnic tables. You’ll find Gilkey Square at the end of Morris Street where it intersects with First Street in La Conner, WA.   

The event will be cancelled if it rains.

If you want me to talk with your book group or other writing groups, contact me at

The Burien Library is now open to the public and I’m thrilled. The first book I’m reading is The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennet. Identical sisters follow their own paths, separating from a small town known for its light-skinned black population.  One passes as white, the other claims her identity as black but when she returns to her old home, her chocolate brown daughter is an enigma. Intertwining the past with the present each sister emerges with a different set of experiences. The American history of passing and an amazing family saga blend.

I’m reading Everybody Needs A Rock, by Byrd Balor to my grandkids. This is one of my favorite books on advocating for creating your personal rules for choosing a rock. I’m an avid rock collector as are my grandkids. Ages-4-8.


Dressed in green
Time is made invisible
The rocks hide behind
Robes of moss 
Cover geological eruptions
Glacial melts ripe for sprigs of life
blanket the earth 
Botanical forgetting.
Till it wakes naked

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