Tag Archives: love

A Jumble of Emotions

Dear friends,



I hope you are well.

To say I’m going through some weird feelings at the moment because of the pandemic is an understatement. It feels dystopian. Unreal.  It’s a little like the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Some days, I experience all five. This post is going to be a jumble of emotions. So be it.

Two days ago, I think depression was winning. But I’ve been trying to cope by reading, writing, watching TV, going for walks, and taking photos. Here’s a cute black-tailed gnatcatcher I saw the other day :

Black-Tailed Gnatcatcher-2

I admire his optimism. I hope some of it rubs off on me.

I’m worried, especially when I think about those of you in parts of the world, and in my own country, who are struggling the most. Italy, New York City, nursing homes, hospitals. The unemployed, parents who need childcare, people in prisons, the homeless, the sick, the elders … it’s mind-boggling and I know we’re in for a long ride. I never imagined being here. None of us did.

And I’m sad because my family lives 2,000 miles away. I’ve even fantasized about driving there, sleeping in my car along the way so as to avoid hotel germs, and arriving on their doorsteps with sanitizer in hand (which I don’t actually have because the stores were out of it) … but I’d just be a possible carrier, adding to their problems, so it’s best if I stay away. (Which reminds me: Have you seen Mel Brooks’ video where he tells his son to “go home”?)

I guess I’ll have to rely on texting, calling, and even dreaming to stay in touch with family. I literally dreamed about my two young grandsons last night. They will each have a birthday that I will miss this year.

My city, Tucson, just closed all restaurants and bars today. I think take-out is still an option, but sadly, I’m sure that doesn’t apply to bars. Glad I stocked up on wine, but three bottles doesn’t seem like nearly enough now.

On the bright side, scientists, medical professionals, some political leaders, small businesses, ordinary people are actually pulling together and making sacrifices for the sake of the greater good.

And I’m actually pretty impressed with how many of us humans are acting humanely, and are even finding and spreading humor on the internet. Is there a reason that the words “human” and “humor” are so similar?

By the way, here’s what made me laugh today:


In the days to come, I hope to continue with my emotional outpourings. In the meantime, please let me know how you’re doing. Are you coping? Do you need a virtual shoulder to cry on? If so, I’m your person. Comment away.






I’ve written a “senryu” in response to Colleen’s “Weekly Tanka Tuesday Poetry Challenge.” From Colleen, I’ve learned that a senryu is a poem including elements of love, a personal event, and irony, with a 5/7/5 syllable structure. The tone of a senryu is humorous or sarcastic.

See below* for more about Colleen’s weekly challenge.

And now for my senryu, “Heartburn.”

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

my heart is on fire

I wish I were in love but

it’s indigestion

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

*Colleen’s challenge for this week was to write a tanka, haiku, senryu, haibun, or cinquain poem using any words we choose, rather than the two words she usually prompts us with. Not having word prompts made my task more of a challenge!

All That and Apples, Too

(This post is in response to a writing prompt from Lorna over at Gin & Lemonade. The prompt was “A Fall/Autumnal Food Memory.” Here’s mine — an adventure I’ve never shared in print before. And once again, thanks to Lorna for jogging my memory.)


For most young people, autumn signifies a return to school. But for me, in September of 1971, the cooler temperatures and colorful foliage of upstate New York were telling me to leave college, spend $90 (in other words, half my life savings) on a train ticket, and make my way west to California.

I had a little adventure with apples along the way.

In 1971, American kids were dropping out of college in droves. They’d read On the Road; they’d listened to California Dreamin’. They wanted to get back to the land and find themselves. So did I.

I’d planned to take a train from Toronto to Vancouver, and then a bus south to Santa Cruz, where my friend Sharon lived. I was sure I could find some sort of job (or perhaps gold) once I got to California.

At the train station, I met two women who also were heading west. We boarded the train together, and by the time we’d gotten to Winnipeg we’d decided to get off the train and hitchhike the rest of the way.

Call me crazy, but back then I believed it was safe for three 20-something ladies to hitchhike through the Canadian wilderness together. After all, the Canadian government was practically promoting it. They’d erected billboards all over the country telling drivers to “Pick Up a Hitchhiker.” And it was cheap, too. You could stay overnight at a youth hostel for only 50 cents a night.

But before you get too jealous and try this at home, don’t. My traveler’s checks went missing after a night at one of the hostels. Even worse, I had to talk my way out of a #metoo situation, and I managed to outsmart another potential perpetrator. Whew. I was lucky those times. So again, just don’t.

But I hitchhiked with the young ladies through Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and half of British Columbia, and we survived unscathed. We made it as far as Cranbrook, B.C., where they decided to stay, since one of them apparently had met the love of her life named Colin. (For some reason I remember his name and not hers.) I decided to move on. Colin drove me to the Creston bus station, about an hour down the road, so I could safely get to Vancouver by myself.

Creston is a small, fairy-tale village set in a valley in the foothills of the snow-capped Canadian Rockies. It’s blessed with a clear blue lake, a nearby hot springs, and a lot of apple trees.

I was standing in the Creston bus station when a cute (in a teddy-bear way) long-haired blond French Canadian named Ernie approached me and said, “How would you like to pick apples for a while?”

To this day, I have no idea what he was doing in that bus station, or why he came up to me and asked me that question. And I have no idea why I said yes. But suddenly the whole idea of just parking myself in that beautiful little town to “pick apples for a while” sounded pretty appealing.

There was a cabin in the orchard where the apple-pickers could stay for free. It had two beds, a table, a couple of chairs, a wood stove, a parachute hanging on one wall, a collection of Cracker Jack toys, and a gentle, silver-colored German Shepherd named Mr. Morgan who was said to be part wolf. And of course, Ernie was staying there, too. He said I could stay there, no strings attached, and there weren’t any … until there were.

Each morning, we’d get up early, put on our apple bags, climb our ladders, and pick apples in the sunshine. At lunchtime, the owner of the apple orchard came by with tea and homemade baked goods, and we all had a wonderful picnic under the apple trees.

A neighboring farmer once left some turnips for us on the cabin doorstep. We roasted a turkey in the wood stove for Canadian Thanksgiving.

We made friends with a married couple who also picked apples and owned a yellow Volkswagen Beetle, and the four of us took off one day and drove all the way to California and back. We slept on the beach one night, and at a friend’s party another night.

When we returned from California about ten days later, the weather had changed. The snows were coming, and the cabin wasn’t made for winter. We had to leave. Ernie’s mom lived in Vancouver, so we moved in with her temporarily. His mom was lovely. I had my own pink room with a single bed and a chenille bedspread.

I found work in Vancouver as a waitress, and rented a tiny, furnished basement apartment. Ernie and I were doing well as a couple. I applied for permanent residency. I had no idea that you were supposed to do that before getting a job. I naively thought having a job would help me get residency.

The man at the government office told me I had gotten it backwards and that my residency was denied. I burst into tears on the spot. My parents wired me the plane fare and I was back home by mid-December.

Of course, this was before the advent of cell phones, email, or skype, and long distance phone calls were too expensive. Ernie and I communicated by writing letters throughout that winter and spring. He was a good letter-writer. I knit him a sweater for Christmas and mailed it off. We made plans. He was going to come east and we were going to bicycle our way around the Maritime provinces that summer. I would try again for Canadian residency.

But in the back of my mind, I must have known it was just more dreamin’, because when I received his “Dear Jane” letter in May I was disappointed but not surprised.

In spite of the way things turned out with Ernie, I’ve never regretted my adventure in the fall of 1971. If nothing else, I know what it’s like to live in a cabin, to climb a ladder and pick fruit in the crisp Canadian sunshine, to have an orchard picnic with tea and homemade baked goods, to eat a gift of turnips left on my doorstep, to cook a turkey in a wood stove, to travel to California in a yellow Volkswagen Beetle, to sleep on a beach, and to live with a gentle, part-wolf, dog by the name of Mr. Morgan.

I had all that, and apples, too.