Some of my very best memories were made during the many weekends I spent growing up at my grandparents’ home.

Summer evenings found me washing good dirt from fattened, sun-warmed tomatoes

Making Caprese salad for our picnic on the porch.

My grandfather had a tiny hibachi grill and tended the charcoal like a lunatic with tunnel vision.

We all waited for his: “READY!”

And sprung into action delivering the steak to him, dressing the table, orchestrating the symphony of a picnic on a mosquito-laden, Michigan Saturday evening.

Five minutes into the cook a low-down dog named Totter appeared;

An ancient Basset hound weighing in at 60 lbs with ears wagglingly dropped to the porch brick.

He maneuvered over to the steak on the grill and sat down.

After a nice long chat with my grandfather he received the first cuttings of meat on his own plate and promptly disappeared as the humans dug in.

Totter loved what he loved.

He loved it so much that it was almost embarrassing to watch his pleasure.

Lately, I love what I love fiercely too.

I let myself be overwhelmed by simple pleasures like an early morning breeze becoming blistering heat in the following hours.  Fleeting, impermanent. Can’t buy it or catch it or collect it to enjoy later.

So much in our world is not a problem!

I am choosing to live there; not with a blind eye to the rest but a conscious choice to love what I love as best I can as much as I can while I can.

Going after a doctorate in loving what I love;

The seven pound press of Emma on my lap, my adjustable bed with clean sheets dusted with Chanel #5 powder, pink hollyhocks under an ancient apricot tree, shared table with good friends, summer flush of my skin, coffee as medicine, a radically pared down life.

God only knows how many years of hours and minutes I used up acquiring..

Knowing that was me not too long ago and noticing who I am now is something to love as well.

The list is inexhaustible of things and people and animals and rocks and potions and praying mantises to love!  

(Just now I loved that I called up the energy to rise up off the toilet when , on first and second try I could not..)

Dr. Cathy Phillips Aten knows what she loves and does so fiercely.

Those French People

Donna’s roses


My sister lives in Portland, Oregon.

It is quite hip there.

She gave me the gift of some bath soap which I sadly came to the end of recently.

I loved it.

Used it far beyond the point any sensible person would have let the ugly remains go.

Navy blue and camel striped.


Wonderful scent.

As natural as you can get as far as soap goes.

Very little lather which says something of the political correctness of it I think.

Being soapless as I was I rolled into my favorite store, ARRAY.

Being there is like taking a pain pill; every darn sensation, thought, imagining that doesn’t fit into your personal life puzzle gets annihilated just by crossing the threshold.

I headed for the soap display.

There were many, many natural varieties to choose from.  Tom, the owner buys the best of the best.

They were squared off , most of them.  Lots of corners.

 Nestled in the rich display were two sensually shaped sort of elliptical seed -looking soaps.

They were French.

Both enticingly unboxed and asking to be touched and smelled.

So I did.

The scent was straight out of a wildly chaotic explosion of a French country gardeners offering.

It fit in my hand like a nesting bird.

My grandmother used a black soap made in Spain sporting similar curves; MAGNO soap.

The following morning my French soap lathered up so darn much I stretched my neck up and started laughing at the pure excess.

It is extremely 1% of me I know

But a girl’s gotta be a girl

As much as humanly possible.

I spent the rest of that first day with my new French soap feeling perfectly gorgeous.

I decided this will be a new tool in my daily regimen for armoring up to meet the world the best way I know how.

Purposefully choosing utter excess quite consciously to begin my day allowing myself that extra secret little buffer to keep my precious essence intact amongst the incivility and mayhem.

A shield of scent and pleasure known only to me.

A clean and sassy little samurai am I.

This Is The Body

my hands, photo by Gay Block




This is the body I find myself in.

Magazines say crepey skin is the beginning of the end and we, of the female persuasion should stop doing whatever it is we are doing and go get something-or-other to alleviate this disastrous calamity so as not to visit it on our neighbors.

Also- poor elasticity in the facial skin is a byproduct of living that needs to be hidden.

I haven’t had a manicure in years and god forbid I ever have to visit a hospital for any foot disease where someone is up close and person with my precious darlings called feet.

Come to think of it…I only used to worry about clean underwear for a hospital visit but the list these days is far too long for my feeble mind to actually pull up.

Is it wrong to love myself so much?

Just “as is” ….?

Clothes are always discounted with the “as is” written on the tag.

Flawed.  Holes.  Imperfect.

Sometimes I think it is weird I don’t use every atom of energy I have to try to walk again.

It is a big fuckin’ loss not to walk.  Or drive.  Or get up off the floor.

If I spent my life longing my heart would constantly be moldy from sopping wet tears of glass-half-empty.

Yesterday, I took myself out for dinner.

I made up my face, smoothed Chanel #5 on my neck and grabbed Emma and we had a fine glass of wine with an only fair pizza.

My own company was very good and periodically I told Emma how beautiful she is and what a good dog.

Not once did I dally in the crepey skin worry.

One of the perks of wheelchair use is that there is no chance of any wobble post wine consumption

And as I rolled by other diners on my way out a table of four stopped me:  “We’d like to buy you a glass of wine if you’d let us”  a man said.

“Oh how lovely” I say.  “I just finished a wonderful dinner and am on my way home but thank you so very much.”

“We have been chatting about how lovely you look and how happy eating dinner with your dog.”

I knew the underlying communication was the wheelchair + the alone part.

I have a great life because I say so.

The hard part is ensuring I expend energy only on those things that add to my life force but I don’t wait until I can get a manicure or have the anti-crepe cream to get out there.

Tears of a Bouncer



Richey Rich sits on his old swivel barstool outside the only biker bar in Santa Fe.

It is smack in the middle of downtown having been at the same location for eons.

It it a little scary as the front plays host to the heavy metal of restored Harley Davidsons parked impeccably at measured distance from one another.

Such a show of intent mixed with low-hung choppers and such can serve to accelerate ones “roll by.”

But yesterday, as I was readying myself to hold my breath attempting to avoid the damp beer smell mixed with old sick

Richey Rich asked to pet my dog.

He wore many big silver skull rings and chains and a leather vest with vet insignias and various flags.

Eyes clear, he reached tenderly for Emma.

“My mother passed away not long ago and she left me a yellow legal paper with (pause to wipe his tears)

Forty two things she wanted me to do for her after her death (METALLICA playing in the bar).”

“What were some of them?” I ask.

He pulls out his phone to show me his two tiny dogs.

“This one (more tears) has dementia and the other passed two months ago.”

“Sorry I’m taking your time like this. ”

A giant of a man walks out of the bar, guns his bike and roars away with a wave from Richey.

“No..I really want to hear your story” I say.

“She asked me to take care of her dogs.”

“She told me to be sure to cut and care for her roses.  ALL of them and they go all the way around the house!”

“My uncles, all 4 of them and my Granddad are war heros.  I’m her only child so I got the list.” (tears)

“You have a good heart” I say.

“Mom said if you have a good heart you collect others who do.”

I reached with my good hand for his big paw.

“Bye, Richey…see you soon and thank you. You made my day better.”

“Bye Bye sister.”

This is my kind of church.



untitled, 40×60,m/m




My yesterday began being scrunched and loaded into the long and lonely belly of an MRI machine.

We are trying to discover the source of pain in my tailbone so pretty much all of me had to go in the tube before my pelvis got to the picture place.

My…the air was good in there..

I’m serious.  A bit beachy… fresh with a tad of humidity.

I am not claustrophobic.   That is good.  The tech people were visibly relieved.

When the giant jackhammer noises began I was glad of the earplugs.

I knew I’d be in there for half an hour at least so I pulled my consciousness in and quieted my breath.

I felt very even throughout the test; never moved a muscle.

Curiosity is my main bedfellow these days and I thought: ” Interesting noise” and “Weird sensation” and “Why am I so calm?”

Later the same day Emma and I rolled our way to the park.

Same feeling:  Even.

The light was heavenly and the kids were gyrating at the pigeons like always.

I met some people I really liked a lot and looked up at the sky in gratitude as I do.

The evening had the same quality of curiosity I carried into the MRI machine.

One of these experiences was not better than the other, I noticed.

I found this realization curious.

White Dog Waiting




A white dog waits while

I perform my ablutions.

She extends her paw.



CA. 2017