Category Archives: Life

When they are all gone

When they are all gone

And you are left

All that is left,

All that is left

Is you

Clocked knowing

The grandfather clock in my parents’ entryway hasn’t worked for over forty years, pendulum unswung, deliberately silenced long ago because it was “too noisy.”  12:04, its hands read. Time is an illusion; time stands still.

Sitting here, at the kitchen table, across from my aged father, out of sight of the silent clock, I am aware that time is all too real, passing even when unmeasured.

I sit and listen to stream-of-conciousness, demented rambling that lasts for hours and mingles past and present in a word salad that includes frequent, unhappy, and often fierce repetitions of “I don’t know,”  “I know but I don’t tell them I know,” “Everyone is stupid; they don’t know,” “I’m not stupid; I know,” “What, do you think I’m stupid?” and “I don’t care.”

“Oh, but you do care,” I don’t say.  Nor do I say, “And I care, too.”

The only acceptable responses are “I agree”, “OK,” or “I don’t know either.”   Beware engaging with the convoluted substance of the rambling; instead, focus on the emotion and acknowledge it, and maybe there will be a little less anger and frustration at all the loss and the unknowing.

And the caring that is so hard to take.

Are you trying to tempt me?

Hangman word of the day is: traumatic.  

(I play hangman once per day on my phone and pretend that the word predicts something about the day.)


Rat in the Walls 3: Angrr

Here’s the third video in Rat in the Walls, in which I read the third post that I wrote during the last year of my brother’s life.  A copy of the post appears below the recording.

I recorded the video at BayCon 2017 but have delayed releasing it.  Approximately 45 minutes after I got home from the con, my sister called to tell me that Mom is back in the hospital, so my sister is now watching over our 91-year-old Mom in the hospital while I take care of our 95-year-old Dad at home.  More caregiving.

Title:  Angrr


Tiger in the chest
Claws out.


BayCon 2017 Costumes

Shael in knitted
Shael Hawman knits fantastic costumes.  For BayCon 2017, she knitted a Star Wars flight suit!

Last year, Denise Tanaka was Wonder Woman.  This year, she is … faceless.





Rat in the Walls Introspective

Last night, I couldn’t sleep.

My brother died of ALS in February 2008, after blogging almost daily about his illness following his diagnosis in December 2003.  I began blogging about caregiving in a companion blog during the final year before his death.  I called my blog Rat in the Walls.

After he died, I stopped posting and let the rats fall silent.

In May 2014, I finally revisited the site for the first time since his death, and I posted this:

When I first started on Blogger, my handle was Ratty, maintaining anonymity so that in my Rat in the Walls blog I could write about my brother’s fatal illness without giving away his identity. Under that pseudonym, I could voice things I couldn’t elsewhere. Rats thrive in the dark. ::: Now, five years after his death in 2008, I’m coming out of the walls and reclaiming my humanity.

I didn’t reread any of my posts in 2014.  Too soon.

Now, in May 2017, I’m ready to reread them.

So, here’s the project:  as I open each post and look at it for the first time since my brother died, I’m going to make a video recording in which I read the post aloud and say something about it.

I don’t remember much about the posts, except the following:

  • They are short.
  • Some of them state a brief lesson about caregiving that I learned that day.
  • Some of them respond implicitly to the post that my brother made in his blog that day or a preceding day.

Here’s a link to the video I made last night while looking at the first post.

The original blog post says:

Title: Knock Knock

Scurrying, nibbling, hiding. That’s the Rat in the Walls. Knocking about at night, avoiding the light, coveting the cheese.

You only see the leavings: the dry little kernels that trace Rat’s passage through your cupboards; the holes gnawed behind your stove. The fruits of your labor, tooth-marked, scattered.

The Rat lurks in your back brain.


45, 65, and 1

I’ve been thinking about the quote from Montaigne excerpted in the film Experimenter: “We are, I know not how, double in ourselves, so that what we believe we disbelieve, and cannot rid ourselves of what we condemn.”

Twisty thing, the mind.  Slippery thing, self-image.

The 65% of people who flipped the switch to administer supposedly harmful and possibly fatal shocks to a fellow human in Milgram’s experiments in the 1960s would not have believed themselves capable of acting against their individual moral code at the behest of an authority, apparently causing severe harm to another person at that authority’s insistence.  I would like to think that I wouldn’t have been capable.  That I won’t be capable, should I find myself in a similar situation.  That I don’t have to be frightened of myself.

But I’ve bowed down to authorities.  Found reasons to obey.  To rationalize or to allow or to excuse or be meek.  I know I can fail.  And that sometimes I have good reason to be frightened of myself.

The subjects in Milgram’s experiment were told that “the experiment requires” them to comply.  The authority in that case was the experimenter and, more generally, science.

Today, in 2017, many people who willfully ignore the authority of science, who mistrust education and the lessons of history, who reject out of hand any claims with which they disagree … these same people with no doubt good reasons to doubt authority now vehemently cede all authority to a man who defies all reason.  A man who, with every passing day, shows by his actions that he will gleefully flip the switch on all of us just to make a buck or to inflate his self-image.

Shaky thing, that man’s finger.

Can we flip the script before he flips the switch?


Pebble 10


Choose your weight.
How much can you bear before you break?


Pebble 8


Sign: 2 feet, no diving.  So, if I had only one foot, could I dive?



The tree grew round.


Cut by straight-edged tools

Shaped by soft hands

Becomes the wooden plate.

The tree grows round again.