Books

Coming Soon:
Marshallville Stories

Fifty Stories

Want to do your own fun-and-easy family history? Email Fran for a discussion.

Perilous Times

An Inside Look at Abortion Before- And After- Roe V. Wade

Dying Unafraid

Inspired stories of endings and the beginnings they encourage

Never In Doubt

A memoir of sorts … a man and his time

America

On Tyranny — and Anti-Tyranny

Everybody knew one: the bully kid you couldn’t avoid; the neighborhood tyrant. When I was six, little Beverly Ann Brooks was queen. Everybody deferred to Beverly Ann. When pushed against, she had only to say, “Well, I quit,” the ultimatum that ended any game (or whatever) unless the rest of us immediately caved. That was …

Mob Violence – Is it here to stay forever?

A TALE OF TWO CENTURIES Her name was Joyce Almeida. An 18-year-old student, she was killed instantly by one shot through her lung. Joyce had been on the edge of the downtown crowd with her parents, who had fled for cover behind their car and at first failed to notice Joyce’s soundless collapse onto the …

A Jury of Our Peers

CHAUVIN’S – – AND OTHER JURIES Twelve of our fellow citizens quietly did their civic duty in Minneapolis. Beginning March 29 and ending April 20 they listened to more details of a terrible crime than most of us could handle. They debated among themselves for what had to have been one very long day before …

Watching History Eerily Repeat

We’ve seen this movie before: A newly elected president is on his way to Washington to be inaugurated. The results of the election have been certified by electors in all the states, and are waiting in two boxes to be read aloud by the sitting vice president – a mere formality. But word has gotten …

Covid

Twisting a Friend on Twitter

“If you voted for Biden,” she wrote, “you are still my friend. If you voted for Trump, you are still my friend. We are all friends and neighbors, no matter what.” Can you argue with that? The writer is a 20-year-old college student; smart, pretty, popular and well-grounded. Someone who actually believes that business about …

New Year’s Day in July

My friend M reports losing five pounds since starting a new weight loss/mindfulness program. The next door neighbor is training for a marathon in the fall. Actually, I’m signed up to do the (virtual) Rabun Ramble 5K, having plotted an acceptable route in San Francisco not quite as challenging as the real Ramble’s North Georgia …

(Wo)man’s Best Friend in Pandemic Times

One more strange thing during the dark days of Pandemia was my sense, much of the time outdoors, that I may have been the only person in San Francisco without a dog. Crossing the dog play area while doing my par course thing at Mountain Lake Park, skirting the similar space in Lafayette Park, or …

Going From Vaccine Envy to Vaccine Guilt

Recently I joined the ranks of the vaccinated. A great relief for an octogenarian, which I have been for quite some time. But, as has been or will be true for most citizens, about the time I rolled my sleeve back down I was beset by other emotions: guilt, angst and a nameless fear for …

End-of-Life Issues

You can’t quite find the right words?

RECOMMENDATION Someone you know has just lost a spouse, a parent, a child? A friend is going through a difficult divorce? Perhaps you know a family member of one of the 550,000+ Americans who have died of Covid-19 since the pandemic upended our lives? You need this book. Dana Lacy Amarisa, who spent decades as …

Downsizing: The incredible lightness of being

On moving from a four-story, century-old Edwardian into a 1600-sq-ft condo eight years ago I wrote a lengthy feature for the local newspaper (The New Fillmore, May 13, 2013) titled “Lessons Learned from Downsizing.” It drew editorial applause and a bunch of affirmative comments. But it seems not to have sunk in all that well. …

Staring into the Great Beyond

Since this space is often devoted to end-of-life issues, today’s essay is offered as a new and unique perspective. And in case you need a laugh. It was written by my old and definitely unique friend Bob Dodge, a fellow supporter of End of Life Choices California. Asked for identifying bio he replied only that …

The F-Words of Senior Housing

Looking for a Senior Living spot for a parent or friend – maybe even for yourself? Here are a few tips to speed the process, in these upside down times when you can’t simply go visiting. Where to start? There are almost as many varieties of Senior Living as there are seniors on park benches. …

Feminist Collection

Watching Reproductive Justice Disappear

I am old enough to remember when, in 1973, Roe v Wade was ruled into law. I can also remember having a kitchen-table abortion, in 1956, after a workplace rape – in a time when both rape and abortion were too shameful – but only for the woman involved – ever to be mentioned.  So …

Gag Rule Harms Millions of Women

Can you muzzle a million women? Really? Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the Global Gag Rule seeks to do. Reinstated by President Trump two days after the Women’s March on Washington (take that, women of America,) the Global Gag Rule stipulates that non-U.S. nongovernmental organizations receiving U.S. family planning funding cannot inform the public or educate …

Protests, and Hope for the Future

We considered it a badge of honor. An event I engineered recently (with a LOT of help from my friends) in San Francisco drew luminaries from the interfaith community, women’s rights and reproductive justice groups – and several stalwart protesters holding signs aloft in the chilly drizzle. What’s a champagne reception without protesters? Actually, they …

Signs of Our Marching Times

The March was intended to be about women’s rights – workplace rights, immigrant and minority rights, the right to make our own reproductive decisions, all those rights that suddenly seem threatened. It turned out to be a celebration of the spirit. It was hard to separate rights & purposes from our new president, and hard …

Optimism

Optimism in Five Easy Steps

We’re still here. The Optimists of the World Society may hold its annual meetings in ever-smaller closets, but it is a relentlessly ongoing – optimistic, you could say – society. Here are a few steps with which you can guarantee continued inclusion. Faith. For example, I live in a 12-story building with two elevators, both …

Must Hate be Here to Stay?

When did instant hate become okay? There’s a charming new neighbor in my building. We have a lot in common: graduate-degree education, reasonably successful grown children, a fondness for historical fiction and long walks around San Francisco. One major difference: nobody ever yelled at me to go back where I came from. Or spat on …

Joy! Prosperity! Here’s to the Eights

Should be a very good year. Having just turned 88 on the 8th, I am assured by many of my Chinese friends of an especially fine time ahead: Double joy! Prosperity! Wealth and success! Devin, my extraordinary acupuncturist, tells me that when he was racing motorcycles (a few decades ago) his number was 88 – …

Change, Masks & Humankindness

How many Presbyterians does it take (you may have heard this one) to change a light bulb?? C-H-A-N-G-E??? I get to repeat this, having been a Presbyterian for about sixty years and being intimately familiar with our reflex opposition to change. However. The global changes of the past 14 or so months have given an …