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Here’s the story of how an American institution came about

Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash

We’ve all heard of Levi Strauss. He’s the German immigrant who made his fortune during the California Gold Rush of the 1850s the old-fashioned way: selling things like clothing and blankets to the dreamers hoping to hit the mother lode. While they were toiling away in the mountains with gold pans, eating plates of $10 beans over an open fire, old Levi was tucking into a nice plate of baked salmon in port wine sauce in the dining room of San Francisco’s Tehama Hotel.

Her husband survived the revolution, growing old among family, but Wanrong was not so lucky

Portrait of Wanrong (Source: Library of Congress)

When I first saw Bernardo Bertolucci’s film The Last Emperor, I was fascinated, not only by its artistry but by the realization that the story was new to me. Not once in all my years of schooling did I recall learning anything about what happened to China’s Imperial family after the formation of the Republic of China in 1912 and or when the Communists took over in 1949.

Trailer for The Last Emperor, 1987 (Source: YouTube)

The schools I attended focused on American and European history. We kids could find China on a map (How could you miss it?), but…

“Green” gardeners (as in beginners) may be in for a surprise

Photo by Rezel Apacionado on Unsplash

Spring has sprung, and a shower of gardening catalogs has descended on my mailbox, poised to inspire dreams of produce and blossoms galore.

I get them all: White Flower Farm, Annie’s Annuals, Burpee, Gardener’s Supply Company, Brecks, The Whole Seed Catalog, you name it.

As much as I enjoy looking through them (to an avid gardener, the photos are practically pornographic), over the years, I’ve come to realize that I will never coax some of the dreams they’re selling into reality.

A lot of what passes for fearlessness is formulaic falsification

Photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash

We all fall for it. That’s why it works so well. Drawn in by a provocative headline, we read on discovering a voice in the wired wilderness that speaks to us of universal frailty, suffering, and resilience.

Here is a soul sharing their most personal and profound truths to uplift and inspire readers worldwide. How generous they are! How fearless! How self-sacrificing! How abominably full of shit. Did it never occur to you that some of these people are pitching fairy tales dressed up as personal experience because that’s what sells? Well, it’s certainly occurred to me.

Too much of a bad thing


A poem of pride and solidarity

Photo by Jana Sabeth on Unsplash

When Gilbert stitched his flag
He didn’t think of me
He made it for the silent
Shunned and shamed
The outcast and alone
He made it for the child
Expelled from home for
Being different from the rest
He made it for others
Not me, no, not for me

When Gilbert stitched his flag
He gave each color meaning
Red: life
Orange: healing
Yellow: sunlight
Green: nature
Blue: art
Violet: spirit
Treasures to uphold

When Gilbert stitched his flag Allies were a dream, a hope Unexpected Seldom realized Yet we were there Cherishing our friends Tending their battered souls Bandaging…


Life’s been a rainbow ride

Photo by Brandon Hoogenboom on Unsplash

First I was yellow, fluffy, and shy

Recently hatched, preparing to fly

Then I was green, just barely a twig,

Yet quickly shot up, began to grow big.

Next, I was brown as the summer grew long,

Then I went blue and I sang a sad song,

Life was a valentine, red as a rose,

Blooming heart beating for him that I chose.

I became orange when baby made three,

Juicy and sweet, straight from the tree,

Queen of my castle the purple robe fit,

Triumphs and tragedies along with it.

My colors have multiplied, so many shades,

Patterns and…


When less is more

Photo by Ardalan Hamedani on Unsplash

1. Morning Sickness

Mr. Over-do-it overdoes it again

Photo by Cody Chan on Unsplash

My husband likes to spend money. Throughout our marriage, it’s been a constant tug-of-war: he periodically blows the ready like a Kardashian at Fashion Week, and I have to figure out how to pay for everything. It’s not fun.

When I got home from getting my car repaired this morning, a large box from “Rosefarmers” was on the doorstep. At first, I thought he bought me a rosebush, which wouldn’t be so bad. After the initial outlay, I’d get free roses for years. But, no such luck.


Am I the only one who feels this way?

Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash

I didn’t use to be this way. I listened to the car radio, played LPs at home, then tapes and CDs. I took singing lessons and performed in musical theatre. I went to concerts and the symphony. I attempted to learn to play piano and guitar (with limited success, unfortunately). At parties, I sang with the band. Music was a big part of my life until it wasn’t.

It happened slowly, this eviction of melody, without my noticing. Just recently, I realized what had happened. It surprised me to think about why. Here’s what I came up with.

1 — The music of my youth stirs up painful memories

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