Thursday, December 14, 2017


On Thanksgiving Day, on my drive from one side of town to another, a car from two lanes over made an abrupt turn in front of me. I slammed the brakes, pressed hard as they jittered. I stopped about a foot from the other driver’s door. The other car continued as though I’d not been seen. I chose not to follow, not to confront. Instead, I patted and praised my car, thankful I’d had my brakes redone a short time ago.

This week, two friends died. Two friends I’ve known for nearly fifty years. Two friends my age.

Three reminders that I have only today. No one knows when the brakes won’t hold, when a fall may prove fatal, when another battle with cancer can’t be won.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Gracias a la vida

Thanksgiving 2017
Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto - Violeta Parra, Chilean folk singer

Today’s newspaper included 3.4 pounds of advertisements for Black Friday. What a waste. I feel for the delivery person. Now I will have to dispose of it.

I’ve been thinking of cancelling my subscription. The weight of today’s paper may have tipped the scale for me.

But I’m addicted to puzzles and comics. Can I go cold turkey? Probably not.

I’ll need to build a new routine, a way to get my exercise and satisfy my addictions. At least three stores within a mile of my house sell the local paper. Alternate routes. Variety. And I could do my trash lady routine, too. When I walk, I often take old plastic bags and pick up litter along the way. My community service job.

My current subscription expires on December 15.

I know. The dead of winter may not be the best time to start this. But I’m an Oregonian – waterproof, weathered and wrinkled. And I’m ready for a change. A challenge. A way to give thanks for being alive.

Sunday, November 12, 2017


Years ago, it was the craze to have I stop for . . . (fill in the blank) stickers on your bumper. I found one that said, I stop for no reason. One day I was in the right lane of a two lane road when the car to my left turned to the right in front of me. I hit the brake with both feet and everything on the seat crashed to the floor.

Before I could start up again, the light turned red. I was bent to retrieve my purse when someone knocked on my window. A motorcycle rider smiled at me. I rolled the window down. “That was a really good reason,” he said with a laugh. My panic and anger disappeared.

Now, the craze is to tell everyone about your family in symbols or words.

Recently, I pulled up behind a black SUV. The back window had four stickers:
TEXAS in orange, the word MOM underneath
Oregon State University, MOM underneath
• a bucking bronco and rider in brown on cream, MOM underneath (I looked it up: Wyoming)
• a yellow O, MOM underneath (didn't have to look it up: University of Oregon)

I wanted to run up to her window and say, Wow, MOM – that’s a lot of colleges . . . and kids.

But of course that would be rude. And her stickers are much better than the sticker I saw on a pickup canopy: a row of guns in decreasing sizes – rifles down to handguns – with THIS IS MY FAMILY next to it.

I have stickers on the back of my current vehicle. These help me find my white SUV in parking lots full of white SUVs. One is the shape of Oregon with a yellow O in the middle. Two others are symbols meaningful to me, but understanding those is unlikely to cause a confrontation. I don’t plan to add any others.

Monday, September 4, 2017


an incident at midnight, August 13, 2017

I woke to three loud knocks.
Not on my door, but close.
I waited.

Within a minute, a light illumined
the closet door in my hall.

I sat up.
The light blinked off.

I heard nothing more
and wondered if someone
had come to say goodbye.

I scanned the house,
returned to bed with that song
running through my head

Knock three times on the ceiling
if you want me . . .

It took several attempts
get the next words right

Twice on the pipe if the answer is no

In the morning, I found the lyrics,
listened to Tony Orlando & Dawn
and laughed at the line
(tap, tap, tap) means you’ll
meet me in the hallway.

I had ventured into the hall.
Now I wonder who didn’t show.

Friday, August 25, 2017


I stumble against it
my age of goodbye
bruised deep with each

I struggle for words
tender yet spiced
with bright sauce
of memory.

I stagger through days
empty of youth
and bump into fear
of waking
or never.

I savor the story:
A man, 100 years old,
rises each morning
writes details
of ordinary days
mails them off
to all
with love.

*inspired by a column in the Register-Guard by Dorcas Smucker

Sunday, July 2, 2017

A Girl Named Lee

Apparently the world does not like women who are named Lee. Or any 'either-or' name. Maybe they forget women like Lee Remick and Billie Holiday.

Still, I shouldn’t be surprised that it happened again – another virtual sex change.

For those out there who don’t know, my full name is Rebecca Lee Darling.

I call myself Lee. My friends call me Lee. I prefer to write under the name Lee Darling.

But a poem published this week is described by the editor as a man’s vision of an old woman crawling in bed with him! This in spite of the fact that I very carefully used the feminine pronoun in my bio. And the bio, as printed, is correct.

I notified the publication and they have indicated a correction will be made.

Last time it happened, the poem was about me choosing a little black dress. The error then was partially my fault, since I had not been specific in my bio. I found humor then, visualizing a burly, hairy chested man in a little black dress with plunging V-bodice.

This time, I’m not amused. I’m tired of the assumption that because my name is neither male nor female, I must be male. I’m tired of the assumption that my career as a computer programmer defines me as male.

I think I’m just tired. And old. Maybe I should write a song about it, like Johnny Cash. Only mine would be A Girl Named Lee.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Best She Can Do

It’s the best I can do, she said. The best internet deal with a phone is just $1.00 less. I’ve explained I don’t need a phone. I have one. I’m only one. One person. Single. Singly purposed today with unknotting confusion over my bill.

She admonishes me to be patient. Difficult, when all my bills are going up. Difficult when promised yesterday that this bill would not. Difficult when surprised by today’s email indicating a $25 increase. Difficult when explanations via phone this morning came with accent and awkward phrases.

Here in the store, she can only see part of what happened. Next time, call during normal business hours, she says, so you’re not outsourced to the Philippines.

I want to scream. I breathe. She finds an in-between solution, a moderate increase from last month.

the fella in Manilla
I knew his name
wasn’t Adrian