Easter, friends, Jelly Beans

Pull Over.

This morning, at 5:21AM to be exact, the jelly beans got pulled over.

SeaTac airport was quiet, people were orderly, I went to the correct scanner with my fake hip. All was well until I saw my bag drop-kicked out of the conveyer belt and sent to detention. Knitting needles? Never happens. Food? A tidy legitimate turkey wrap in my handbag. Hand cream? Always check that I am under 3oz.

A very serious, perhaps end-of-shift TSA agent was slamming bins into a cart when he saw my small roller and marched — ominously — to my bag, looking neither left or right, while I hopped into my shoes and scuttled to his kiosk.

“Unzipping” he said, not looking at me. I had an urge to laugh.

I tend to run from snow and ice and skiing every year, at least for February and March, to the Pacific Northwest. To each their own and enjoy, but I prefer rain, early daffodils and the cascade of time change that has the migrating song birds shouting outside my window by mid-March at 4:45AM.

Today I head back, for an exciting spring of family events and my late garden, friends and catchups. My bags have less clothes and more thrift finds this time, secured curbside. I am as always sad and excited at the same time.

“Anything sharp’ he continued — not a question.

“I am a knitter” has proven to be the best way to answer this. “Beware of needles” is more informative, but that cheeky humor once incurred a more extensive search than was necessary in a small regional airport. So I keep it simple.

He pulled on blue rubber gloves and began to rummage. Immediately yarn teetered precariously on the edge, an eye crayon threatened to bolt, magazines commenced to slip. Then he pulled out the offender: an unopened, brand new bag of Brach’s black jelly beans.

A tender memory: every spring for the last uncountable years I have returned to the frozen land before Easter and my dear friend across the street has placed a bag on my kitchen island for me, sometimes in a bunny-themed bowl from Marshall’s. After she passed in 2020 I skipped them for a couple of years: as grief goes. When my cousin brought a bag home for me this week I savored the amazing that somehow the memo had been passed on. Thanks, Lou.

So I packed them, in my carry-on no less because jeez, no thanks a sniffer dog grabs and runs with it while inspecting downstairs in baggage transfer.

The agent, not a smile or a chuckle, meticulously massaged the bag — every last jelly bean — through the packaging. He replaced it, zipped (stuffed) the bag together and pushed it across the counter.

I thought: my friend is laughing her pants off somewhere.

What is the simplest, most pleasurable act you can do today, for you and for another?

It’s the tiny big things.

National Women's Day, Success, Surge, Women


Early this morning I waited outside in a wintery mix for the doors to open at Apple. Through the glass walls the tech teams got ready for the day in a meeting that began with an International Women’s Day video played on the big screen; Michelle, Hillary, Malala, Maya Angelou flashed across the vast room. The employees clapped through the clips. I didn’t need to hear the audio to feel inspired.

At the end, this sentence hung on the screen until the doors opened:


I was a half hour early in panic mode so gratefully this focused my attention on something besides my blank, un-chargeable brand new iPhone 14. Who indeed?

Whether I go backwards or forwards in time, women have been the indelible, invincible marks on my life. From a grandmother who endured health challenges while holding up households, to one who became a Senator. To a mother who chose art over secretarial school. To my daughters who have strong careers and choose their lives, their way. To my future daughter-in-law who is the backbone of her job.

And my women friends and family: Writers, lawyers, negotiators, mothers, doctors, influencers, curators, designers — to name just a few of their remarkable talents.

Do I have to pick one? I am surrounded and always have been. And by men like my son who supports us all with grace and honor. My mother once said to me, when I balked at a PHD: “What did I burn my bra for?” We argued, for years, that I got where I did because of that bonfire that was her, and now I had to do my own blaze.

My phone had experienced a ‘surge’ and I learned how to reboot from a nice techie who took thirty seconds to identify and fix the problem. We conquer, one step at a time, in our surge of failures and successes. Cheers to you all, past, present and future.

Proud of them all.

MOG, Silence, Sparkle


This morning I was sewing a button onto my oldest most favorite peacoat listening to the water strike the hull while the ferry cut through Puget Sound.

In, out, cross over, cross under, swoosh, swoosh, swoosh.

Fully aware that I only had navy thread in my little sewing packet which was not ideal as the coat was black. Fully aware that my fingers were seizing up with cold. I persevered; in, out, under, over. Here is what struck me — I loved this thirty minute suspension of time, when I unclenched my teeth and listened. Focused on the minute. Not one need to move.

I miss suspended time, like the period of quarantine during covid when not a car was on the road and the earth was flooded with silence. My ears and mind opened to all the possibilities. So sue me; I loved spooling myself back onto my core being when it was mandated to stay still.

This month I am in Seattle, meeting deadlines and sitting in small spaces with my fellow memoirists, drafting and charting and prompting our stories into more layers of words and story. I feed off their energy, squirrel it back with me to my desk, run it through my head on walks, wrestle with new format on paper. But this February, 2023 I feel hustled; hustled to do things fast, run from one moment to the next, cram it all in again; do more, try harder, go back to the way you used to be!

Because I have a better template, one that savors not squanders. One that understands only so much walking feels good, so many errands are important, too many workshops are just — well — confusing.

That said, I went MOG shopping yesterday with two patient women. As the Mother of the Groom I feel more pressure than MOB because I have trouble being neutral. I pulled on dress after dress (this is another blog that involves Nordstroms, sizing on the racks, and real bodies), tossing colors and deep necklines and contour fits to the floor alongside mountains of tulle, rushing in and out of the room for consultation. By the end of the first hour my hair was standing on end and my patience and composure ragged. I took them to lunch and had a very uncharacteristic glass of wine. Then I found the one, only to worry the next ten hours that it was a little too sparkly. TBD on whether I order the dress that made me feel marvelous. Read: not so neutral.

All of this swirled around my head in the tub last night, soaking my tired dress-shopped-out feet. The urge to keep shopping, try more stores, do it all over again made me jittery. Then I thought this exact thought: you don’t have to do this, didn’t you learn anything?

I did indeed. So I ordered it.

What did you keep from the time of covid lockdown that you actually love?

First rack down...
Dry January, Memoir, New & Old, Patience, Publishing

New. Old.

All sorts of new things to be learned in January. It is quite an exhausting month.

On a very bracing twenty-degree morning walk last weekend I saw ahead of me, in the middle of the street, a man reach into his wool overcoat pocket then hand another man something glittery. Money? Too bright. Car keys? Too small. Who am I — Agatha Christie? He turned to me as I passed and offered me the same, a local confection, wrapped in gold and silver foil. “You won’t see me again when I have given them all away” he answered when I thanked him.

Two things I learned about myself right then: I wanted to run go find him another box of candy because come on what a great way to meet and greet the new year and this exact second of pleasure — not for the sweet but for his cheerful smile and jaunty cap — made me want to keep knowing this gentle man, just giving away his Christmas box of chocolates on a winters day.

And two: turns out I will take candy from strangers.

January, 2023 was also a good month to identify the culprits for my crippling insomnia so my version of dry January is a caffeine- free month. Now, it also might have something to do with my new PCP shuddering in horror when I told her how much espresso I consumed in a day. Ok, Ok! Covid habits die hard. As do post-covid no taste or smell untenable consumption of dairy products. So. There’s that; decaf everything. Hold the cheese. This is not new news, but old news I need to take seriously.

Also learned: I can live without caffeine. Maybe my blood pressure will reduce to passable numbers. And I thank the Goddesses that decaf exists in all forms. When January is up I will reintroduce ONE double espresso and see what changes. I will report back.

We made it through the holidays with a revolving door, a full fridge and a lot of ribbon. But my kids are grown. Two will be married by next December. I have been giving this a hard think: what can I do to help them create their own traditions and still get some time all together on, true confessions, my most favorite time of the year? This is a work-in-progress thought explore.

I learned: quality time is the only time. So if we get the sleepover-gift exchange-all around a dining table somewhere near the holiday, all together, I can make peace with that.

Back in the Pacific Northwest for my migration away from snow and cold to rework and get cracking on my memoir project after a long hiatus of short essay and flash non fiction writing. See my piece “Itch” January 16, published online in River Teeth, Beautiful Things. FYI I submitted in March, 2022 and the publishing date was ten months later.

I learn, over and over: Patience.

Alexandra Dane writes by the sea in Seattle and Boston. Her memoir-in-progress explores coming of age twice at the mercy of cancer; first as caregiver, then as patient. Her most recent essay, “Found. Well.” was published by San Fedele Press. “Itch” is forthcoming in River Teeth: Beautiful Things. Read her thoughts at www.alexandradanewrites.com. She knits to think.

Brave, January, New Year

So this is January, 2023

We made it.

I woke up on January 1 and said hello you and did not get out of bed to see the sunrise over the harbor. Because I was tired. And I am enough as is, with more tea and a grand dog and the beautiful pink sky visible from my bedroom window. No matter what your travel, family or virus status has been for the last month, we came out on the other side. Stand tall.

The new year is just the old one with new numbers. I sit at my desk January 3rd with so many emails, piles of ideas and a few deadlines. There is a re-knit to finish, a literary submission and a bio to edit for a publication date. I had to push away bits of wrapping paper and an old cup of tea to find my pad. I made a list and prioritized. Tomorrow is plenty of time to tackle the second line.

‘Tis the season of re-do and frankly, I have been redone, remade and restarted enough times that me — all taste-less, smell-less, tired and lover-of-fruitcake-me, is fine, thank you. Take it all with a grain of salt, in fact, take THIS with a grain of salt, because we have been through enough to recognize the pointlessness of weight-loss pressures, or sales pitches or self-improvement bombardment. We made it, remember. Just as we are.

My word for the year is Brave. In my health, my writing and my desires. I will not entertain doubt because after all, here I am world. See my feathers unfurl.

It could be ugly. But I will know I tried.

Tea today with a friend I missed seeing over the holidays: I am bringing fruitcake, made by monks, a splendid cake studded with candied gems. We will roll our eyes and enjoy every bite, laughing over the days we made our own and coddled them on the kitchen counter for months, swaddled in linen and bathed weekly in booze. Let the monks enjoy that process now; I plan to pry the lid off and cut a big chunk to accompany our Earl Grey.

Meet yourself where you are today. And tomorrow. And beyond. This first month is really just the same old/new/wondrous month as the next. Do what you can; a new twist on bravery AND joy is ahead.

I look forward to hearing about it.


Bike, Fixing, pain


“Fix your form, fix your life.”

Olivia, Peloton instructor

Yes, Olivia. In sparkle shoes.

I scoffed at that hunk of metal with pedals in the garage until one day I really, really needed to get out of my head and fix the downward spiral of my body. I was unpleasantly surprised that her 20-minute beginner class almost killed me. Then I realized that is the whole point, to push past the recovery-everything hurts-walking is fine year so far. I wanted to end on a much higher note in 2022.

For those that know me, I take on a new physical challenge every time my age adds a zero: yoga in my 30’s, running at 40, 5-mile-a-day walking in my 50’s. Until, midway, there was cancer and a hip. The 60’s have been a stutter-step pardon the pun of trying to get back to something without pain. Pain makes me a ‘no’ person. Pain makes me cranky. Pain — chronic — takes the stuffing out of my soul.

And then I hopped on this bike.

Interesting when a prosthetic joint lands on a hard, pencil-thin seat. Really, Peloton? I solved this problem by grabbing a hank of bubble wrap and swaddling the cruelly designed perch. While I am now wide open to hilarity it works. I fixed it.

2022 has been a year of feeling helpless on a large and small scale; politics, Ukraine, education, abortion, voting, my loss of taste and smell alongside clothing moths, cholesterol, sleep. I dig deep to remember that baby steps accomplish a lot and that the year had a lot of successes and joys, too: published pieces, an engaged son, everyone healthy, good books, loyal friends, clean scans, to name just a few.

For 2023 I will work on daily success, putting on my shoes and pedaling one minute at a time the best I can. And for the holiday season, finding fixes in what I can do vs. what I cannot. Do I really need to put out ALL the decorations or make ALL the cookies?

I can’t say that I walk nimbly from the garage to my shower after the 20-minute, now 30-minute sessions on the torture bike but Olivia assures me that “just showing up, you are awesome!”

And who doesn’t need to be told we are awesome?

Show up, do your best, remember the HoHoHo in the season. Put on your sparkle shoes and send out the year.

You are AWESOME.

Cheers, friends.

'Tis the season, Stillness, wellness


‘Tis the season to do a lot of things well or wrong, too fast or too slow.

For me I do all these things mostly at once. There is baking and hosting and cleaning and family I want to see and then there is knitting and writing and not enough time for either because something is in the oven or needs to be or has burned in the oven or someone is coming over and napkins need to be ironed and lets not forget decorating and all of a sudden it is midnight or 4AM and neither time is my best time and the list is still long.

It is like I conflate an entire year of want-to-do or need-to-do into six weeks.


I posted a list I found about Nine Types of Rest here is one: Stillness to decompress.

At the end of this week I plan to practice some stillness. And go to a new bookstore, find a chair, and kill time looking at something for a while. Then I am going to drink a hot, big, over-the-top coffee drink. And walk in a park. Or, stay in bed all day with a book. We shall see. Hold me to it?

What will you do to find rest in this season of joy and heartbreak?

Cake, Coping, Courage, Holidays, Memoir

November goals.

Leaves. Frost. Owl calls. Vests. November in the Pacific Northwest; squeezing a little time with my writer support group, the island, cousins and friends before the holidays. I am reading a piece on a virtual site tonight about cake, coping and courage. My mother loved that word ‘cope’and overused it, especially with a child who didn’t actually know what it meant but I knew — from the force of her voice — that this was an important action to take.

It has taken me so far a lifetime to accumulate and practice the nuances of coping. They include blind faith, closed eyes, simple pleasures, complicated relationships and love. How did you cope during 2020, 2021 and now 2022 when we still mask, worry and take great risks in the most mundane places — movie theaters, the grocery store, weddings? Coping or crap shoot? I carry N95’s and wear in groups situations. I fly masked and without drinking/eating/snacking. I still have a sneaky cold today, picked up despite five vaccine jabs and the flu shot. Crap shoot week.

There is an endangered squirrel that found it’s way into the walls of Wren Cottage, and chirps in distress all night. Today we cannot hear it, and hope — with crossed fingers — that it found a way out. A few days ago we watched a little family of them play tag on a tree, little black creatures full of bounce. How sweet, small and vulnerable it is; “cope” I whispered to it before I went to bed last night. Why not.

The holidays speed towards me and I love them, lugging home gifted cookbooks and full of ideas. I simply do not know how to slow down about now, but maybe, after I make David Lebovitz’s Pistachio Rolande, I will sit in front of the fire, fork in the deliciousness and cope with that affliction.

Kick up some leaves. Remember down time. Thinking of you.

Fall in, Friendship, Health, Layers

Live in the layers not the litter*

October 1, 2022.

Heat on. Wool shaken. Hat and mittens to walk the grand-dog. Crunch. All things pumpkin (orange brings joy!). Wind. Knitting. Morning reading, now in the dark. Bourbon is back. Boots dusted off. Tea to warm hands. Down comforters deployed. Socks. Lighting candles. Asters. Rinsing the crock pot. Planning next years garden. Wondering if the rake has one more season left in it. Finally wanting pasta. Stacking wood by the fire. Soup is back. Checking the outside thermometer in the morning. Zipping up, adding on, stripping down. Sharpening pencils.

In New England, the change of seasons keeps me humble. What I did just last week in 80 degrees I can’t do today in a crisp 45, maybe until many months from now — swim, feel the warm sun, wear linen, bare feet. But layering up will be intentional, inside and out; regain my health and hair, try the Peloton, find the best yoga downloads. The facts is I have too many down coats. I do not have enough boots. My writing sweater (there is one) is getting very ratty. But what really matters? I will fall in.

My change of season runs external and internal: a change of attitude, a shift of my needs. I plan to sweeten the time I have with people, layer on the best of the best; hunker down, switch on the lights, brighten the bulbs, light a fire, stay a while. So long, detris of summer. Winter has begun to roar.

See you; even if it means shoveling my way to your door. Wait for it.

Boule de Neige, Last roses, 2022

*Poem,The Layers, Stanley Kunitz.

#septemberismymonth, Birthday, Spiders

September is my month.

In the morning the cottage doorway is draped with masterful spider webs, big as dreamcatchers, flecked with wings, leaves and sunlight. As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, spiders spin all night, increasing their web real estate to lure insects and mates in preparation for winter. This week I have opened the door numerous times forgetting to look up and taken quite a few face-first. On my early walk in the woods Saturday I broke through so many across the path that afterwards their glinting, gossamer threads were woven through my hair. I try not to think if or where those spiders have landed.

September has always been my month. I am renewed in cooler temperatures. I think of pencils. I make the first soups and gratin, thrilled to be able to turn on the oven more often. I read more (believe it or not). There are holidays ahead and pumpkin bread. A Barred Owl woke me this morning under a full Harvest moon.

It is also my birthday month. As a cancer patient in the middle of a ten-year watch I go a bit contemplative with each year around the sun; one more down, one more set of tests clear. 2022 was an important marker — five years — and this September I celebrate the gift of another favorite month. I also very deliberately do not think ahead; given this day is good. Given all of this month is even better.

This September I will split between my two favorite places and many favorite people. Cake is very optional because after a long post covid summer I still have no taste or smell. Instead, I may root for a berry cobbler and melty vanilla ice cream, a combination so dear to my heart I can absolutely convince myself I can taste the puddle of sweet and tart.

We weave our webs as we get older, catching the things we care for the most: friends and family, dogs, dinners around a table, armloads of late summer nasturtiums, starchy vibrant zinnias, fruit baked to perfection. Our family will weave a new member into our fold officially next spring, and we are so the better for her. There may be new puppies.

Just today, for instance: the sun, a giant Flicker at the feeder, an immense spiderweb hanging from the clothesline, a bowl of yellow tomatoes.

Spin, friends. Hold close what matters.

Birch grove at Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island, WA. Some of you know what to do here when the day comes.