Before I go, I have something to say

My Blog

Eyes Half Open

Leo had photophobia, too.

I was going to call this blog Siege of Headaches, but then I thought, 1) Who wants to read about someone with headaches? and 2) What if I want to write about something other than headaches? So instead, we’re going with Siege of Words, which covers just about everything, except the pictures accompanying the words, which are, contrary to popular misconception, worth not a thousand words, but ten thousand. But I would rather write thousands of words than take pictures, despite the astonishing quality of your basic cellphone photo.

For a long time (December 2005 to February 2017), I wrote thousand-word columns for two local arts and entertainment papers here in river city, Iowa. For years, these came out biweekly, with a brief and hair-raising segue into weekly which just about did me in, and that was before the headaches. About a year before my columnul retirement, I slowed to monthly, and then one day, as I sat down to crank out yet another letter to the world, I realized, that No, I was done. I will write about all that some other time. Writers love to write about writing, and also about not writing, but navel-gazing has its limits.

BUT . . . I just wanted to say that all of those columns are here, or rather there (under the Columns link, but you knew that), should you want to read them. Use a tag to find them by subject. These range all over the place, from Chambers stoves to dogs in guitar shops to April 20 birthdays to high school reunions to having relatives who voted differently than I did. I mean, I could not just let them go, all these little essays. They are not all there (I mean here) yet, but I’m plugging away at posting them, all 300+ of them, so they will be. Any month now.

Among the other new things I will write about, in no particular order:

  • Books I’m reading (Ann Patchett! Terry Tempest Williams!)
  • Books I wish my head would allow me to read (Universal Harvester! Hamilton!)
  • Poetry I’m writing (Free verse! Villanelles! Just kidding about the villanelles)
  • Getting an MFA after 50
  • Food I’m cooking (Chez Panisse Almond Torte! Homemade Hoisin Sauce!)
  • The mini-arboretum I’m maintaining in the back 40 (Hostas! Allium! Fiddlehead Ferns!)
  • Podcasts I’m listening to (Night Vale! The Hilarious World of Depression! RadioLab!)
  • Twin granddaughters I’m in love with (Vera! Jane! Jane! Vera!)
  • Family matters I’m contending with (Being my sister’s guardian) (nope, no exclamation point)
  • Breaking my 5th metatarsal and not really recovering
  • Being a librarian, and then not being one anymore
  • Losing my job & prematurely entering retirement
  • Pet peeves
  • and more, so much more

But mainly, or predominantly, I will write about navigating life with my eyes half-open, which is what people with chronic migraines do, either metaphorically or literally. Photophobia is common in migraineurs, and while it sounds like “fear of light,” it actually means having a hideous sensitivity to light, either before a headache sets in (when it acts as a trigger) or during a headache (when it sends a person to a dark room, pulling the blackout shades, donning an eye mask, and so on).

The ironic thing, the highly ironic thing, is that using a computer is my main headache trigger. It is the one thing that just about guarantees I will get a headache if I don’t already have one, and will twist a headache meter up to Unreasonably High if it’s already getting started. And yet, here I am. And I will be back. Until they pull this keyboard from my cold, dead fingers.

Recent Posts

Locust Street McDonald’s

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Here to see our daughter, five-year-old Amy knocked on the door. Midnight frost hovered in the night air, about to settle like dust on the prairie’s broken wheat stems and her bare arms. In her white undershirt and panties, she’d tapped so quietly we almost […]


A wedge of blue, like a powder-puff fairytale shoe, he lands on my feeder, edging in among the dun colored sparrows. “What kind of bird is that?” my husband asks, and I turn, prepared to be delighted. Perhaps an oriole, a bluebird, even a painted […]

Love and Fury in a Plastic Box

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Another Thing My Assistant Can Do

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Too Much Tenderness, or, The Anguish of Moving

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Sylvia Plath: Matter and Spirit

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“Help, Thanks, Wow” — Anne Lamott’s 3 Essential Prayers

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Things my Assistant Can Do

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Tarted-Up Tea

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Anne Lamott’s One-Inch Frame

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A Story Problem in the Family

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Eyes Half Open

I was going to call this blog Siege of Headaches, but then I thought, 1) Who wants to read about someone with headaches? and 2) What if I want to write about something other than headaches? So instead, we’re going with Siege of Words, which […]

Annie Dillard and the 20-foot conference table

Annie Dillard and the 20-foot conference table

There is a quote about writing I have been searching for, and finally found today. I knew Annie Dillard — one our best writers ever, and one of my favorites — had written, somewhere, about how she writes, and the passage that really stayed with […]

What I Gave My First Husband on our Honeymoon

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