*Afterthought #80 – Good To Be Home

hn coverSeptember wrapped up an exciting year of sharing my memoir, Hiking Naked. I was fortunate to do a tour in the Northeast and Midwest this month, and here are some photos from events in Connecticut and Chicago.

I discovered how much I enjoy events that include interviews/conversations with others, like the ones I did at Seminary Co-op Bookstores in Chicago with Homebound Publications author Theodore Richards Iris & THeodoreand at Beacon Hill Friends House in Boston with Quaker author Debbie Humphries.



debbie humphries





Leslie Browning



A highlight of my travels was spending time with Homebound founder, Leslie Browning, and meeting several other Homebound authors at CT Folk Fest and Green Expo in New Haven, CT.

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Then there was an event at Bank Square Books in Mystic, CT, followed by dinner at Mystic Pizza (yes, THAT Mystic Pizza).










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Katherine Hauswirth, Gunilla Norris, Leslie Browning, and I enjoy dinner at Mystic Pizza


Many thanks to my gracious hosts and people who joined me in conversation about writing memoir, life in Stehekin, and seeking balance.



cropped-office1And now, I’m grateful to be home on Lopez Island and back at a new writing desk as Writer-in-Residence with the Washington State Ferries. Seems like a good way to end the month.


*Afterthoughts are my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the morning’s worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, books, previous posts, maybe even bumper stickers.

This I Believe


This week I’ve been listening, reading, and watching about the confirmation hearings for our next U.S. Supreme Court judge. No, that’s an understatement: I’ve been consumed by this historic event.

Just this morning, I watched a video of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s entire statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee. I also watched her responses to attorney Rachel Mitchell, questioning her on behalf of Republican senators on the committee. I was able to watch Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony and questioning live the day he appeared before the committee. I’ve read countless news reports about the testimony and the aftermath as well as opinion pieces in news outlets and on social media.

Here’s what I believe.

  • I believe I’m one of the rare women who hasn’t been sexually assaulted. I feel deep gratitude that I’ve been spared.
  • Ever since my teens, I’ve carried fear of rape or other sexual assault.
  • I believe I’m one of the rare women who knows details of only a few women friends who have been sexually assaulted. I believe many of my women friends have been assaulted and have chosen to not share their stories with me (and likely not with others).
  • Ever since my daughter’s birth, I’ve carried fear that she would be raped or sexually assaulted. Now I carry it for my daughter-in-law and granddaughter, too.
  • I believe Dr. Ford’s allegation that she was sexually assaulted by Judge Kavanaugh.
  • I believe Judge Kavanaugh demonstrated at the hearing that he can’t maintain the kind of impartiality, decorum, and integrity our country requires of its Supreme Court justices.
  • I believe there are many men feeling as devastated by and furious about the recent revelations and displays of misogyny in our nation.
  • I believe we all have much work to do to name and end the misogyny endemic in all areas of our society.

I’m not yet able to say I believe we WILL end misogyny, but I’m willing to do whatever I can to get us closer to that day.


Listen to Black Women — Repost from Heidi Barr

Most of this month I’m traveling – a combination of work and pleasure – so my writing routine is erratic. Plus, my mind is whirring with issues I care about deeply – preservation of orca whales and the Salish Sea, white supremacy and white privilege, the Supreme Court nomination process, immigration policies, and Hurricane Florence to name a few.  I’m searching to find what I can do as a writer to contribute to conversations on these topics.

Fellow Homebound Publications author Heidi Barr is seeking, too. In a recent post, she expressed well my desire, like hers, to write about white privilege; I received Heidi’s permission to re-post her essay here.  I’ll continue to listen to black women and other people of color and examine my white privilege. And I hope I’ll have the courage, like Heidi, to risk saying the wrong thing. Remaining quiet is no longer an option.

Heidi invited readers to add to her list of resources at the end of her post.  Here’s one I recommend:  So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Thank you, Heidi, for speaking about racism. I look forward to more conversations.

“America would not be the wealthy country it is without slave labor. We would not have our power or wealth if we had not, for a very long time, depended on the unpaid labor of millions of human beings. I feel like I shouldn’t have to spell this out, but maybe I do. America was […]

via Listen to Black Women — Heidi Barr | Author

*Afterthought #79 – Clearer Skies

Foggy August morning on Lopez Island

At the time of my last post (Wildfire Season), smoke from fires in the region seeped into my open office window. Now it’s been replaced by morning fog that gives this month the nickname “Foggust.” I’m grateful for the return of nearly-pristine air quality. I end the month, though, with a deepened awareness of the billions of people who never find relief from smoke’s harm.

I recently met a man who works for Oxfam, specifically with its efforts to develop and implement clean cooking solutions. Globally, three billion people cook over open fires that burn heavily-polluting fuels like charcoal, kerosene, wood, and animal dung. Not only does cooking this way have serious health and environmental impacts, but it disproportionally affects women and children who are most exposed to cooking smoke’s harmful effects.

Cooking-fire-with-drying-venison-Auxiliadora-Perez-house-Sta-Elisa-Nicaragua-1024x768I saw (and felt) these effects during a visit to Nicaragua, standing at the side of a woman in her family’s smoky kitchen as she made tortillas over an open fire. Two NGOs I’ve worked with there, Center for Development in Central America and Bainbridge-Ometepe Sister Island Association, support health clinics that treat hundreds of people with asthma and other respiratory illnesses related to this pollution.

Fortunately, clean cooking solutions exist that can reduce exposure to harmful cookstove smoke and decrease climate damage. Putting these alternatives in place is complex, but groups like Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves are working to eliminate barriers to production and use of efficient stoves and fuels.

Stories from the Oxfam worker don’t negate the reality of the discomfort and harm caused by wildfires and their smoke this summer. But they do remind me of what a privilege it is to turn the nobs on my electric stove each day.