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Holiday Checklist

December 19, 2017

Don’t forget to treat yourself.

Photo by Lucia Litman

Finding the Glow

December 18, 2017

For most of my adult life, the lead up to Christmas made me sad, like I was pressing my nose up against the door of a world in which I didn’t belong. People searching for gifts and tree decorations, going to parties, cramming into airports. It was unfathomable. Being single made it worse.  Until I finally realized that the only solution was to participate. And that’s when I decided to make an annual Christmas dinner for my friends. (This will be the 10th year.) Now during these pre-holiday weeks, I, too have a focus. Planning a menu, shopping for food, prepping, cooking, setting the table, and even searching for festive decorations. The way in was to step right through.

Christmas Cheer

December 15, 2017

Typewritten 1950 Christmas postcard that Langston Hughes sent to friends


Dining Alone and Happy

December 14, 2017

My Latvian-born Grandmother made the best potato latkes. She would stand by the stove for what seemed like hours, frying them up in a cast-iron pan for her adoring, hungry family. I’ve modernized the activity by using a food processor instead of a perilous hand grater, and there are times like tonight when I’m making them just for me. Served with dollops of sour cream and applesauce, it’s one of my absolute favorite foods of the year. And I’ve made enough to store some in the freezer to savor for another meal. Wish you could join me!

Thank you, Alabama

December 13, 2017

Last night brought back hope again. And I’m swimming in it. How are you feeling?

Drawing by Mari Andrew

Festival of Lights

December 12, 2017

Sunset tonight marked the beginning of Hanukkah, also referred to as the festival of lights. It’s a holiday whose origin myth is about a miracle. When I light the candles each night, I reflect on that. As I write this post, I’m keeping close track of the Alabama Senate results, which appear to be a tossup. If there ever was a time for a miracle, it’s now.

Photo by Jim Golden


Snapshot from my Younger Self

December 11, 2017

Chart by Matt Shirley

Grateful to Be Here

December 8, 2017

Late this afternoon, on my hands and knees, I scoured a thin layer of soot from my patio floor. It was a cleansing experience after a harrowing week.

Installation by Kameelah Janan Rasheed


The Essentials

December 7, 2017

A neighbor who lives across the hall with her 12 year-old daughter, knocked on my door in a panic. She was worried that we would have to evacuate because of the fires and had already packed a bag. My anxiety hadn’t reached that pitch, but it did get me to thinking about what items I would grab if we had to flee. Apart from my dog and iPhone, would I make time to pull a favorite pair of shoes, jeans or that photo of me and my parents from 40 years ago? What’s on your most treasured list?

Painting by Jana Rayne MacDonald

Holding Our Breath in L.A.

December 6, 2017

My neighborhood is not under threat, but the winds are picking up again and everyone is anxious. The air is foul. These are scary times.

Photo by Genaro Molina/LA Times