left on walnut

Category: Relationships

Open letter to a sailor

We had a family tragedy in October, when a sister died, leaving our nephew without parents. He’s 22 years old, in the Navy, deployed in the Pacific. Ships go weeks at a time where sailors cannot contact family members. It’s hard, on both sailors and families. Here is my open letter to Quaid, our sailor, in one of the most difficult of weeks.


January 22, 2017

Dear Quaid,

Not one day goes by I don’t think about you and hope you and your shipmates are safe during your deployment on the USS Carl Vinson. I’m packing a care package for you, with something inside for Christian as well. I remember you said you might pull into port by mid-February. We are trying to be patient as we wait to hear from you.

I wonder if you received any news of the inauguration? Trump was sworn in Friday. Whenever you come to port, wherever that is, you will be setting foot into a world that is different from any you have known. His speech set a tone heard around the world:

          This American carnage stops right here and stops right now….

          We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first — America first….

Within moments, the White House website changed. Gone were pages confirming LGBT rights. Gone were pages helping citizens with disabilities. Gone were pages on climate change. Gone were pages on healthcare and civil rights.

Then, on the day following the inauguration, millions marched through cities on every single continent. Yes, even Antarctica. What started as a Women’s March on Washington turned into a global march in protest of this President and his administration. The news is saying it was the largest protest in history. Marches were held in every major city in the US, in numbers that shut down parts of the cities. Washington DC, the center of it all, had an estimated 500,000 people, three times the number attending the inauguration itself. Every major city, from London to Los Angeles, Paris to Chicago, Melbourne to Denver to Seattle.

On that same day, as people protested around the world, Trump launched two new direct attacks on the press. For those who know history, silencing the press is an ominous sign.

Some conservative friends are trying to back up a bit, saying he wasn’t really their candidate! They try to reassure their Facebook friends they really are nice people! Why, they do good things all the time! Yet, they go to bed every night, tucked safely into their white privilege, unaffected by their vote.

I spent the day in a seminar learning how to make the voices of resistance heard. Organizationally, it’s all about showing up, speaking articulately on specific national issues at the local level. It’s about getting our elected officials to represent all of his or her constituents. It’s about forming a more perfect union, despite the odds just now.

My dear Quaid, I open my emails every day hoping you had a little window of Wi-Fi so you could let your family hear you are OK. Your family is surrounding you with prayers for your safety and for the safety of everyone on the ship.

Fair winds and safe seas. We love you, Quaid. Your mother would be most proud. 

Love, Kay



Sheep Heid Inn

I’ve read Roddy’s blog a few years now. He’s smart and funny and writes well. He travels a lot and goes to concerts and book festivals. Before he retired, Roddy was a librarian for Hariot-Watt University.

Roddy lives in Edinburgh. Lindsey gets him out on adventures. Wives can be good that way.

Lucky for us, Roddy and Lindsey were not on an adventure when we visited Edinburgh so they could have dinner with us. We met at the Sheep Heid Inn.

Sheep Heid is the oldest pub in Scotland, established in 1360. (This is not a typo. I’ll pause while those of us in the States try to grasp 1360.) This pub also had the distinction recently of serving a meal to the Queen. This surprised the folks in the pub. “Gobsmacked” is the word Lindsey used.

I knew we’d have a good time with Roddy and Lindsey . We ate and drank and laughed and told stories until they closed that little pub. The Queen didn’t revisit Sheep Heid for a second helping of lamb rump the evening we were there. That’s ok. Meeting our friends seemed royal enough.

PS: If you go, order the box-baked Camembert served with a cherry and thyme sauce.  I’ve prepared it a few times for friends since coming home. When I serve it, the topic of Sheep Heid just happens to come up.


What Children Learn in India

Everywhere in India, my daughter drew a crowd of kids. They wanted to know where she was from, when she got to India, and how long she’d stay. They wanted to know what she was doing there and if she went to college. They wanted to know what she thought of India. Parents clustered outside the circle, waiting and sometimes listening while their children met this new person.



They took family photos with her.




Then we’d all look at the photos together.




Sometimes, they just looked at her, this new and different person. Open inquisitiveness with new people is valued. Kids expected that Katie wanted to meet them just as much as they wanted to meet her. Children learn people are good and differences interesting. Children learn privacy may matter, but not more than having family and friends nearby and inviting new people into our lives.

Children learn the life-affirming goodness of people.



pink tulips

Tom gave me pink tulips.


Tom’s mom has been on the hospital floor of Treyton Oaks for a couple of weeks. She was discharged on Thursday to go back to her apartment. She’s delighted. We took her out to eat at Limestone to celebrate. On the way, we stopped in Cherokee Park and took photos.

Tom’s mom is 87 and is one of the most beautiful people I know.

shower room phone call

The showers at our fitness center are gross. The only good thing is they have two little rooms. A shower stall is in the back. A tiny curtained dressing area with a bench is in the front. I take my underwear to the bench to put on after my shower. Then I return to the locker room to finish getting dressed.

Today in the dressing area next to mine, as I was putting on my underwear and deodorant, a woman called her son’s physics teacher on her cell phone. Apparently Nathan is in AP Physics and she would like the teacher to provide him with extra tutoring. The physics teacher must have agreed, although he or she charges $100 per hour.

“That’s more than a doctor or lawyer!” the mother cried. “Last year, I paid a tutor $45 an hour!”

Finally the mother agreed to the $100 per hour price.

To Nate’s teacher, I’d like to say, “Way to stick to your price!” If Nate tests out of some college physics, they’ll have saved thousands in tuition.

To all teachers, I’d like to remind you of your worth. If $100 per hour is more than a doctor or lawyer (really? is it?), well then, so be it.

To all the people who use cell phones in public places, I’d like to express my appreciation. You make my day much more interesting than it deserves to be.

the wedding

Rain had been forecast for the weekend of the wedding. The rain held off, though. Instead, sun warmed our August days.









May the sun continue to warm their lives together, for as long as they both shall live.

my toast

My daughter gets married in a week. I’m giving a toast on Friday, the night before the wedding. We’ll go to the rehearsal, then to supper, and then to a fire pit in the park. Brad will bring his guitar. We’ll roast marshmallows. Parents will give toasts.

I’ve always been shy about public speaking and I’m a bit nervous. Sarah’s dad died a few years ago, or he would probably be giving the toast. I needed to step up.

Here’s what I’m saying:

When Sarah was little, one of her first favorite books was The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. It’s the story of a little boy and his very first snowfall. He goes outside and makes tracks in the snow, he makes a snow angel, and he builds a little snowman. He sees some big boys. They’re having a snowball fight. He wants to play with them, but he knows he’s not big enough yet. So, instead, he makes a snowball and puts it in his pocket to save it for tomorrow.

This is Sarah. Always saving for tomorrow. She could save Jelly Bellies until they petrify. Now, our tomorrow is here.

Sarah, you have grown to be a strong, independent, and ethical woman. Yet somehow, you have managed to maintain your sensitivity and innocence, and, you look quite beautiful tonight.

Eric, I could look forever and not find a better father than you are, to Liem, and maybe to another baby someday. I will be honored to call you my son-in-law. No, my son.

Ann and Peter, I look forward to grandparenting with you. (No pressure, kids.)

Liem, just when I thought my heart was ready to burst, you come along, and teach me that Lego’s have “pieces” not “parts” and that “old people can have adventures, too.” I’ll always be ready for adventures with you, if we are biking, or swimming, or even playing basketball.

So, here’s to Eric; his soon-to-be wife, my daughter, Sarah; to our friends, our family; and, to tomorrow.