Driving My Stake in the Earth

April 4, 2018

I have not posted in more than a year. It’s partly WordPress. Partly some breakdown in mind. An identifiable breakdown in body leading to a knee replacement in October 2017. Now it’s 2018, April 4. Martin Luther King was shot in Memphis on this day in 1968. It is also the date my mother was born in 1919.

It’s been a weird year.  The stress of having an insane person in the White House. I don’t know but I feel like I’ve just been spinning my wheels even though I have made progress.

My dear friend Wendy Anderson just turned 55 and asked those of us who were in a Unitarian writing group in D.C. to tell her where we placed our stake in life. Here’s what I told her.

Now, in terms of the meaning of life …

I’ve told you and Aimee this before, but my 50s were probably my favorite decade. I started totally new things, like SAR and sheepherding with Cid. I continued things I loved, like birding and writing. I met all of you, except Janice who I’d know in my 40s. But I have to say, my 60s are still pretty darned good. I am still trying new things, like stained glass and the found art windows I’ve done. I am becoming a bit more reclusive but I push against that.

And for me, the things that make life meaningful, where I strike a stake, are mostly tiny…sitting on the deck and looking up at the new leaves on the hackberry trees (horrid trees in reality). They are the lightest possible green, and in the sunset they are gold against the sky.

And skies in general. I just drove to the Smokies to drop Jeff off for a hike and the sky was simply amazing. Grey and white banks of cloud and behind them the most intense perfect blue. And I often think when I’m looking at things like leaves and clouds that I’ve been doing this for 68 years now. I just turned 69. And yet I can remember lying on my back in my yard in San Antonio, before I was six, looking up at the Texas sky with giant thunderheads and getting the same topsy-turvey thrill. 

When in doubt, it’s always right to quote Bilbo: “In every spring, in every year, there is a different green.”

Or a poem my mother used to quote: “Turn world, turn over and over. I’ll lie here and clutch the clover.”

Or read about quantum mechanics, which I just did this morning, and have your brain twisted.

Or get together with friends and laugh until your stomach muscles seize up and you have to wipe tears from yours eyes.

So, that’s my spear in the ground. 

And here is my reading list so far in 2018: *highlighted titles link to my reviews on Chapter 16


  1. A Dark Reckoning, J.R. Rasmussen
  2. The Genius of Birds, Jennifer Ackerman
  3. An Unseen Light, Goudsouzian & McKinney eds
  4. News of the World, Pauline Jiles
  5. Chemistry, Weike Wang
  6. The Woman’s Hour, Elaine Weiss
  7. Wild Things, Bruce Handy
  8. The Rules of Magic, Alice Hoffman
  9. With One Shot, Dorothy Marcic

And here’s 2017:

  1. Kingbird Highway, Kenn Kaufman
  2. Forsaken Kingdom, J.R. Rasmussen
  3. The Nature Fix, Florence Williams
  4. Nashville Burning, Gerald Duff
  5. Riddle in Ruby, Kent Davis
  6. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  7. Amy and Isabelle, Elizabeth Strout
  8. Timeline, Michael Crichton
  9. A Letter from Point Clear, Dennis McFarland
  10. The People Are Going to Rise Up Like Water on Your Shores, Jared Yates Sextom
  11. The Last Kid Left, Rosecrans Baldwin
  12. The Little Friend, Donna Tartt
  13. The Baby Thief, Barbara Bisantz Raymond
  14. Authority, Acceptance, Jeff Vandermeer
  15. Smokies Chronicles, Ben Anderson
  16. Our Dark Duet, Victoria Schwab
  17. Commonwealth, Ann Patchett
  18. Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer
  19. The Gloaming, Melanie Finn
  20.  The Last Billable Hour, Escape Velocity, Susan Wolfe
  21. Dark Money, Jane Mayer
  22. The Girl in the Metropol Hotel, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
  23. Pistaco, Lynn Monahan
  24. To the Bright Edge of the World, Eowyn Ivey
  25. A Conjuring of Light, V.E. Schwab
  26. Natchez Burning, The Bone Tree, Mississippi Blood, Greg Iles
  27. All the Things I Never Told You, Celeste Ng
  28. Girls of the Atomic City, Denise Kiernan
  29. Thunder in the Mountains, Daniel J. Sharfstein
  30. Edgedancer, Brandon Sanderson
  31. Oathbringer, Brandon Sanderson


1- 15.The Wizard of Oz, The Land of Oz, The Road to Oz, Ozma of Oz, Tik-Tok of Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, The Emerald City of Oz, The Patchwork Girl of Oz, The Sea Fairies, Sky Island, The Scarecrow of Oz, Rinkitink in Oz, The Lost Princess of Oz, The Tin Woodman of Oz, Glinda of Oz, L. Frank Baum



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