Monthly Archives: March 2017

March 31 – Reconcilliation

by Marilea Rabasa

When I met my partner, Gene, twenty-four years ago, he was an experienced canoeist, and he loved paddling every summer. So I figured I’d better learn fast. One memorable incident was during a trip to Quetico Provincial Park across the Minnesota border in Canada. It was there that I added a chapter to my “Life Lessons”  journal.

Gene and I always went canoeing with his best friend, Jack and his wife, Pat. I didn’t like Pat from the beginning. She talked non-stop, endlessly showing off how much she knew about everything. And worst of all, because I can’t even boil a carrot, she was a gourmet cook.

So the two weeks of wilderness paddling and camping were a challenge for me. At the end of one day, we scouted around for a stellar camping site and I showed Pat the one we had found.

“This island sucks,”  she sniffed, “Jack and I’ll stay on that one over there,”  she informed us, pointing to another one across an inlet.

“Okay,”  I chirped. “See you tomorrow.”

I was awakened in the morning by the smell of smoke in the air.

“Gene, get up!” I screamed, looking across the water. “There’s a fire on Jack and Pat’s island!”

We piled into our canoe and raced across the inlet to find them frantically trying to remove the underbrush from the flames. Soon we heard the Canadian Forest Service arriving by helicopter to douse the area. It took twenty-six hours, but they finally extinguished the fire.

Pat had neglected to stamp out her cigarette while she was shitting in the woods, and, well, shit happens.

She was inconsolable. She loved nature and couldn’t bear to see the results of her carelessness.

The Canadians sent a crew of four, two Ojibwa Indians, the ax man and the pump man, an assistant chief and a chief, both White. The cost of the manpower and equipment could have exceeded $12,000 if they hadn’t called off the aerial bomber. It was a particularly dry season that summer in Canada, but they didn’t fine us. We were lucky.

Pat and I had pushed each other’s buttons plenty before that incident. But our esteem for one another began then. I suppose the dark side of our natures enjoys it when our adversaries falter. And I’m no different. But somehow that smug inner smile turned the mirror back onto me, and I didn’t like what I saw.

“Pat, Pat, come on,”  I insisted, offering her a hug and a shoulder to cry on. “It could easily have been me. I smoke too. Please, don’t be so hard on yourself. It was just a terrible accident.”

She and I hold each other in very high esteem now. This brief confrontation with my darker side opened my heart to appreciating Pat’s good qualities. Maybe it also reminded me how human we all are and how important it is to lift each other up as we pass through life.

Beats bitchin’.

Marilea Rabasa is a retired teacher and the award-winning author of her first memoir, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Her recovery blog is published at She and her partner have an orchard in New Mexico. Summers are for grandchildren and salt air at their home on an island in Puget Sound.


March 30 – Fitbit Farts and Other Funny Follies

by Letty Watt

During the week of making funeral arrangements and preparing for family visits, I couldn’t sleep much. One night, however, the noises of the house stole the hours of sleep from me.

Tossing from one side to the next, my body tired and wrinkled from near exhaustion and heartache, I could hear a nearly pulsating sound, like a fart! I questioned my mind and body. Was I so tired that my own body was giving out on me?? One more worry to add to the ever-present aging process.

Now, if my father had ‘tooted’ he would have blamed the dog, immediately pointing to Ticky or Tootles. As a child I laughed at Dad’s tricks, and then watched the poor dog hang his head in humiliation. Of course, my father, being a trickster, owned a hand-held rubber tube that fit in his pocket. On ladies day or for golf tournaments, Dad would put the fart ball, as we called it, in his pocket and casually walk by golfers and squeeze his toy in the middle of some one’s back swing. No matter what type of fart he made, the long slow “toot toot buzzz……” or the pronounced “Toot” without odor, the victim tucked his or her body in embarrassment, then followed that move by outrage or laughter when the group figured out what had happened.

Shifting in sleep mode I once again heard the squeezing sound of a fart. With one eye opened I rolled to the side of the bed and sniffed. The air was clean. The dog could not be blamed.

Now I rolled closer to Jack, so as to rub his shoulder the next time he farted! Not Jack!

The early morning hours arrived and I heard the fuzzy vibration. In sledge-hammer mode I arose and walked around the bedroom searching for some unknown fart machine or dying animal. At last when sunlight flooded the house, and my awareness returned I heard and saw the noise. There on my dresser lay my Fitbit with notifications ON! With each notification or reminder.
to get up and move the Fitbit quietly buzzed, but the fart noise came when it actually vibrated on the dresser top. My emotions ranged from laughter to anger at my loss of sleep, but the mystery was solved, and my dad would have laughed.


For those who wear Fitbits to help motivate or count steps, I must say I’ve learned a new trick. After complaining week after week that I must surely walk more than it counts, I discovered that it truly counts steps when I attach it to my tennis shoe laces and walk. Then my steps each count, when walking through stores with a basket being pushed or on the treadmill when I’m resting my arms at the sides instead of swinging them.

Writing soothes Letty Watt’s soul and clears her mind. She began writing a weekly blog over five years ago, with the purpose of building a repertoire of stories for telling aloud, but things changed. Now she writes because stories hidden in the recesses of her mind are begging to get out into the world. Check out her blog, Literally Letty, at

This piece was originally published at Literally Letty. (

March 28 – Simplicity

by Martha Slavin

Simplicity. Just the word itself sends me on a mental quest. What a wonderful idea, something that most of us crave in our lives. Do you have a favorite way to make your life simpler?

I have a friend who is a wiz at decluttering her house. She has removed objects that no longer matter to her. Walking into her house feels like taking a breath of fresh air. Her art adorns the walls, and the furniture is arranged so that you want to sit, relax and have a long chat. The best part is opening the door to the back yard into a lovely garden with a 180-degree view of bay waters, hills, and Mt. Diablo in the distance.

I haven’t learned the art of decluttering. I tried the trendy method of holding an object to see if I have still had any connection to it. No luck for me. Not only do I have a response to almost everything, but the object becomes a new distraction as I sit down and look through its pages or rub the sides of the teapot to bring back fond memories or wander through the stacks of art materials in my workroom. I can always find something interesting that keeps me attached to that object.

I’ve realized that being organized matters to me. When everything gets stacked up and my space to work becomes too limited, I can’t produce as well as I can if the room is more open. I spend a day organizing, and I come away with a sense of accomplishment. I know I have more mental space to pursue my creative projects.

I spent a week one summer at Scripps Camp, a retreat for alumnae from Scripps College. We stayed in the simply furnished dorm rooms with just a bed, desk and chair. To my surprise, I accomplished a lot, even forfeiting opportunities to take workshops and to attend get togethers with other alums because the room opened my senses to the quietness and stillness of the world around me. I wasn’t thinking of a million different things like I do at home. I had time to listen to the silence.

I still struggle with how to carve out that kind of space in my daily life. Going to our local coffee-house, sitting outside at a table, and sketching the people at other tables gives me a little of that freedom. Walking on the Iron Horse Trail opens my eyes to the natural beauty around me. Occasionally working somewhere else in the house instead of my workroom offers me a new perspective.

What do you do to live a more simple, more fruitful life?

Martha Slavin is an artist and writer. Her blog, Postcards in the Air, can be found each Friday at She also writes poetry, memoir pieces, and essays. She creates handmade books, works in mixed media, watercolor, and does letterpress. She lives with her husband and two cats in California.

March 22 – The Snow Angel

by Shelley Johnson Carey

The recent snowfall brought to mind another snowy day that I’ll always remember.

As another barrage of sleet and snow began, I blasted my car’s heater to clear the windshield. It was around 10 pm on New Year’s Eve and I had stayed later than I should have at my friend Pam’s house. My children were exhausted from an evening of good food and an impromptu dance party. We were having such a good time that we continued our celebration even though snow had begun to fall faster and earlier than predicted. Now we were paying the price–the slippery three-mile trip between Pam’s home and mine seemed to be taking an eternity.

The weather had not deterred many from going out to holiday parties so the street we traveled was far from empty. About halfway home, my daughter Lauren told me that a man in the car next to us was trying to get my attention.

I glanced over and didn’t recognize the car or the driver. My first instinct was to ignore him, thinking he’d indulged in too many holiday spirits. The road conditions were so treacherous that I was more interested in keeping my family safe than chatting with a stranger. However, when he continued to frantically wave and drive alongside us, I rolled down the window to see what he wanted to say.

“Yes?” I said hesitantly.

“Your back tire is almost completely flat,” he called out. “You should drive home very, very slowly.”

I nodded and thanked him for his concern and advice and the man drove ahead while I turned on my blinkers and slowed my car down to a crawl. What had started off as a slow trip home now seemed as if it would never end because I kept my speed at under ten miles per hour.

We were about five blocks from home when, to my horror, a pileup of cars began at the traffic light. In what seemed like slow motion, each car in my lane skidded and smashed into the car before it. Since I was traveling so slowly, I was able to glide to a stop without an impact. And since I wasn’t driving fast, the car behind me also had plenty of time to stop. I said a quiet prayer of thanks and felt grateful to the kind stranger.

A few minutes later, we arrived home. The kids were in a rush to get into the house but I still needed to check my tire. When I went around to the passenger side of the car, I was astounded. The tire, which I expected to be nearly shredded, was perfectly normal.

I’ll never know who that man was and why he was so insistent, but I feel that he must have been a guardian angel, sent to allow us to greet the new year safely and soundly. From that day on, I’ve kept my heart and mind open to strangers…you never know who is trying to deliver a message that you need to hear.

Inspired by her own long-term relationships, Shelley Johnson Carey enjoys exploring themes of friendship in her writing. She is the author of the book, Thin Mint Memories: Scouting for Empowerment through the Girl Scout Cookie Program. Shelley lives in Maryland, with her husband and two dogs, Daisy and Buddy, and less than three miles from her now grown children. Find her online at