Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bye, bye,Berkeley

B is for beginning life in my new (to me) home. I shot the above photo at the height of the rhododendron season.

ye, bye, Berkeley, the city where I was born and where I lived for most of my life, first as a child, then for the more than sixty years that my husband Otto was a professor of electrical engineering at the University of California.

This little house in Port Townsend, Washington, is now my legal address. It belongs to my son Otto and is right across the street from the house where he and his wife and my dear friend Kristin live. As I become more and more dependent on others because of age, arthritis, etc., they are the angels in my life, taking care of me in a thousand ways and claiming to enjoy it.

All of my children have been wonderfully helpful. Daughter Candace will meet me in Berkeley next week to help me with the disposition of a few of my belongings in the big house on the hill which I still own. The grand piano will be sent to Port Townsend, where it will dominate my small living room. But what is nicer than a house with home-made music?!

I have had a wonderful time redecorating the interior of my new home with sometimes unusual color schemes that I have dreamed of but never tried before. My dragons will move here too, in fact will be the theme of my house which I have named Dragonhaven. There will eventually be a sign out front proclaming it!

Since the photo above was shot, ramps have been built to enable me to encircle the house in my wheelchair or reach the wheelchair-friendly walks of Port Townsend or be loaded in an auto for longer trips. (I'll tell in some future blog of some of memorable trips we have already made.)

This blog is definitely egocentric, not to be confused with the educational, informative, and creative entries of other ABCers. For their entries, click here or on banner.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


You walked all night to beat the cold
so now you drowse on a sunlit bit of sidewalk
legs sprawled, head lolling on your knapsack
backed against a facade of patterned tile
from Mexico.

Your eyesballs move behind your eyelids
but your face is slack and inward turning.
Surely your dream is not here on the avenue,
hassled by corporate cops, muttered at
by passers-by who must detour around you
as they scan store windows for a way
to spend their money.

Where do you dream?

Do you toss a football to the brother lost in 'Nam'
Weave a mysterious plot that's fraught
with dream significance?
Walk a shaded path you know but can't say where?

Will you remember when you're wakened
by the grip on your shoulder
and the order to move on?

No. Dreams like that escape like noonday ghosts

You stumble to your feet,
grit grinding where your elbows met the sidewalk,
limbs still leaden with fatigue
mind struggling to retain the dream
where lost loves linger—
even your own lost self.
Phyllis Sterling Smith

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Me Then and Now

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This poem was written in the year 2000. Since then I have aged in a multitude of ways. I am confined to a wheelchair, have been ill any number of times, am in pain much of the time with all the problems associated with pain control. Am I happy? Yes, almost always, blessed with children who not only take superb care of me, but who are also delightful company. My only sadness is mourning my dear Otto. I love my new little house and am enjoying redecorating and furnishing it. I am surrounded by music, both live, due to my talented son Otto and beloved daughter-in-law Kristin, who live just acrosss the street from me.


I thought the world was mine.
I thought that I could swim in any ocean.
Clouds below were my familiar landscape.

How could I know that wings that carried me
would be landlocked, horizons shrink and borders close forever?

Oil executives
I object!
It’s my life that you circumscribe.
I miss my world!
Your oil is running short; so too my years
and I am bitter with thwarted expectations.

I know that somewhere children starve.
Their eyes rebuke my selfishness.

But oh! I want my steaming jungles, jangle
of unknown tongues, smells of roasting coffee,
lights of a city never seen before that mark
a thousand homes in each of which
I live a lifetime
for a moment.

Phyllis Sterling Smith revised September 11, 2000