I had coffee with Jimena and Byron Pareja yesterday. Jimena is the woman I work with in reaching immigrant families who need help.

I’d been looking for a carpenter to repair the outdoors stoop of wooden stairs behind my office where the boards were loose and rotting, and they both volunteered to do this. I’m prepared to pay, I told them; I’d already gone through 4 different carpenters who didn’t have the time to do the job. But no, they insisted on doing this free of charge as long as I covered materials. They came yesterday to take measurements.

It’s always been hard for me to accept gifts. I had the erroneous impression that to be truly independent, I had to meet all my needs and always, always pay.

“I don’t want people to do me any favors,” my mother would declare. She lived till 94 and needed lots of financial assistance, but refused to acknowledge this fact and insisted that she was covering everything.

My father was of similar mind. His was a fear that if he accepted a gift from someone, it trapped him in a relationship with that person, whereas money was straightforward. If he paid for something, no one could have any expectations or make any demands back.

So, they leave you with no expectations and no demands, and you’re free. But free for what? To do what?

The same earnest answers come up: Free to write. Free to create. Free to teach. Free to walk in the woods unhindered by a wristwatch or a telephone.

But is that what life wants from me? Thomas Merton wrote: “What is serious to men is often very trivial in the eyes of the universe. What might appear to us as ‘play’ is perhaps what is most serious. If we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear the call and follow along in the mysterious, cosmic dance.”

Maybe a complex relationship is exactly what the universe wants for me. Maybe there’s a specific need I can fill, a yearning that will teach me more than any books I read or study. Not because I’m important or special but because I’m the right partner in this particular dance this minute.

Many years ago, I did ballroom dancing in New York City. My instructor, young and incredibly handsome, took me through tangos, only for me to once step on his feet hard. He winced, tried to bravely go on, but then paused for a moment’s rest.

“I’m so sorry,” I gasped. I knew that he often participated in competitions with gorgeous young dancers whom he could lift, twirl, and even slide on the floor before launching them back up on their feet, both as graceful as can be.

He put his arms out for us to dance again and I said self-consciously, “You should get a different partner.”

He laughed and said: “Right now you are the perfect partner.”

Where does the universe want me to go? What does it want me to do?

It was Bernie who got me off the habit of saying no to offers and gifts, reminding me again and again that giving and receiving was the basic stream of life, not unlike the bloodstream in our own bodies, and that if I kept on saying no I would be blocking this basic energy. I’ve gotten better, but even now I can see that often my first reflex is to say no. Instead, I pause, take a breath or two, or three or four, and say thank you.

Over coffee, Jimena asked me if we could cover some 16 families who didn’t get a special $75 allowance for winter coats, boots, gloves, and hats distributed by a local social service agency. To collect the allowance, they had to come in the hours of 12-2 pm, first come first served.

“But that’s when people work,” I said.

“That’s exactly what I told them,” Jimena said, getting excited. “Both parents work in the farms now and this is the last big month. In October their hours will be cut, and some won’t be able to work at all, and that’s when it starts getting very hard; the entire winter is hard because there isn’t work in the farms. But now they are working the maximum hours they can, they can’t just walk off the job to stand on line to get this money.”

In the end, she estimated that some 16 families on her list hadn’t gotten anything, and I told her I’d get Walmart cards for them in that amount to make up the difference.

So, I needed to get the stoop rebuilt. Byron offered, I finally said yes, he came here to take measurements, which provided the perfect opportunity to make them coffee and for Jimena to tell me about 16 families who need money to dress their children warmly for winter, and “Yes” came up again. What a dance!

If you’d like to dance and say Yes, too, feel free to donate by using the button below.

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.


It poured Tuesday evening, and by the next morning things had changed. I knew right away that fall had started despite the warm temperatures and the green leaves. The air was different, the light was different. I don’t have to search for leaves coloring or even falling on the ground, I know it in my body. We’ll have more hot days, the windows will remain open for a while—and everything’s different.

I took the dogs back to farm country. We hadn’t walked on farm roads during much of the summer because the water holes had all dried up and they need water on those hot treks. A week ago, we had two days of torrential rain, and still there was no water because the earth just sucked it in, leaving nothing on top for animals. But after last Tuesday’s storms I could hear the sounds of streams and culverts gurgling happily, as if saying: We’re back.

The dogs chased each other up and down rows of pumpkin plants, a tractor tilling them up ahead. Corn season is over, pumpkin season has begun. Everybody was working, no cars or cyclists causing you to hug the sides as will probably happen this weekend, quiet and peaceful all around.

So, what’s that scratching inside? Why the restless scan of the horizon even as I laugh at the sporting dogs and give them treats? Could it be that I miss some drama? Excitement? Even mild dissatisfaction from sheer habit and the long-familiar feeling of: Life’s tough? I start wondering if I’m really up to living a life with little drama or struggle, whether I’m really up to—get this—living a life of peace.

There are people close to me who can’t understand why I don’t live in the city. They remind me how much I used to love living in New York: There are a lot more people there, a lot more potential and opportunities for friendships and maybe even a new romance, lots of interesting things going on.

Sometimes I even feel a little guilty, as if I’m hiding, taking the easy way out, not participating in the world as much as I can. It’s almost impossible for me to fully express what it is like to live in the country, with its slower rhythms, the waving hand of drivers that pass you on the road or of the tractor driver as he neared us, rounded the rows, and continued on his way, the easy way we talk to neighbors, the intimate laughter we share with each other as if we can’t believe our luck living here in the Valley, the nights outdoors when I step out to listen to the fading sounds of summer just before I turn off lights and close up the house. How healing it all is.

With it comes a capacity for boredom, loneliness, and isolation, and sometimes I’m there. With it comes a capacity for peace, and sometimes I’m there.

This morning we emerged from a lake of shadow formed by trees along the road into warm and golden sunlight, and it hit me that if all I had in my 72 years was this one day, this one morning walk with the dogs, it would be glorious.

I know of the many people who wake up morning after morning uncertain about feeding and sheltering their children, whether to stay home or hurry to a refugee camp, fearing the lack of milk, water, food, and safety. But they also struggle for life, and I wonder if that’s because at some time, perhaps when they were children, they kicked around an old hat stuffed with newspapers and called it a ball, aiming for a distance between two tents they called goalposts, or else carried in their arms a doll made of twigs bound together and covered by cloth, and they laughed because the sun came out and all they needed for play was time and imagination.

In their own way, they too had this one day, this one spectacular morning, and they could not forget it.

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.


Maybe our drought is coming to an end. It rained hard yesterday, and finally, at night, various thunderstorms converged overhead, sending sheets of rain down to our parched earth.

The weather bureau sent a number of Storm Warnings: Severe thunderstorm detected in Plainfield, traveling Northeast, 60 mph, specifying the prospective size of hail. Or else: Severe thunderstorm detected in Colrain, traveling East at 40 mph, etc. One even mentioned the possibility of a tornado. They were all traveling east (they fly out towards the ocean) and all seemed to congregate above us within one hour.

I’m afraid of big thunderstorms and take shelter in the downstairs bathroom, which has no windows. Aussie goes into the garage, I open the back door, and she jumps onto her blanket on her seat, glad to lie there even for a few hours (I leave the door open). Last night she didn’t jump down till I came out around 9 pm and told her it was all over, we were safe, she could come out now.

But it wasn’t safe for everyone. In the middle of the night I woke up to a great, tortuous tearing sound, like a crack slowed down over 5 seconds.

I held my breath, waiting for the big bang, but none came. It fell on other trees, I thought to myself. A tree had torn off its roots, and instead of smashing down on the ground it fell on other trees. I said a quick blessing that it hadn’t smashed down on the house, a serious danger given the tall beeches and sycamores that surround our home.

But it was hard to get back to sleep. Like many people, I’ve read about trees’ incredible protective and adaptive skills, not to mention methods of communication. But storms can still bring them down. And when it’s nearby I can hear the elongated crack, like something slowly and loudly tearing away from a nurturing mother, the roots that gave it life, holding it steady as it joined an adjoining community of trees. A serrated sound of goodbye.

Where did it fall? Probably below the house, where a long slope drops down into the Saw Mill River. In fact, I reminded myself, there are too many trees there now and lots of young ones can’t grow, so perhaps it’s good that the tree tore apart, giving space for something else to reach up for the yellow summer light. But that tearing sound!

Is the universe friendly? Einstein asked.

What do the trees say to that, I wondered this morning. Are they in mourning? Are they terrified? Are they traumatized by the collapse of one of their fellows? Are they counting up their leaves and branches, inventorying their resources, declaring war on wind? Are they apprehensive towards fall and winter, which brings the Nor’easters? Are they taking out insurance?

None of the above, from what I see (though tree experts may discover differently at some point). It felt like the first day of fall, but the sun still sparkled through their leaves, sending out shafts of life between their branches. The grass seemed happier than it has all summer and there were new blooms of Brown-eyed Susans.

This is not the case elsewhere. The news informs me of impending famine in Somalia and the massive setbacks in the fight against poverty, child malnutrition, and maternal mortality due to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. One organism’s fight to survive and thrive can come at a cost to unimaginable others. When Vladimir Putin considered all the weapons in his arsenal for his fight to create a second Soviet Union, did he consider that those who would pay the most may not be Europeans or even Ukrainians, but citizens of African countries?

Fall is breezing through here, causing the chimes to play their music on my right. On my left I see Aussie squirming on her back, getting a nice back rub from the compliant grass, probably wishing that I would hurry over and give her a belly rub, too.

Is the universe friendly?

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.


“Aussie, look!”

“I don’t see anything.”

“Look at the dog, Aussie.”

“I’m looking at the ice cream.”

We’re standing by the departure pier of the ferry that took us back and forth between mainland Canada and the island of Grand Manan. There’s an ice cream and donut booth with a young man who just sold me a mound of strawberry ice cream in a cup. But I’ve forgotten all about it because I’m looking at his dog.

“Aussie, that dog is your doppelganger.”

“You shouldn’t call a dog a dope.”

“I said a doppelganger. A doppelganger is someone who looks just like you. He could be your double.”

“He does not look like me.”

“Yes, he does, Aussie.”

“Doesn’t look anything like me. I look like Rin Tin Tin.”

“You mean the pooch who helps the US Cavalry fight Indians? Come on, Auss, you don’t look anything like Rin Tin Tin.”

“Okay. What about Lassie?”

“Lassie’s a collie; you’re no collie.”


“Aussie, you don’t look anything like those dogs. Do you even know what you really look like?”

“Of course. I’m big, I’m fluffy, I’m very beautiful, with a noble, aristocratic snout, mournful, expressive eyes, and a body you could die for.”

“You’re not any of those things, Aussie. You can’t see yourself as you are.”

“I can’t?”

“Don’t feel so bad about it, Auss. Most of us can’t see what we really look like. For instance, I’m aware of my age, but I still think I look way younger. Even when I look in the mirror, I fool myself into thinking: You look pretty good. The gray hair looks a little blonde, the stomach is flatter. I tell myself that, like my mother, I don’t have that many lines around my eyes or mouth, still good-looking even if no trucker whistles at me any longer.”

“Why should a trucker whistle at you? You’re not a dog.”

“Right, Auss. But the main point is that we don’t see ourselves as we really are.”

“That’s certainly true for you. The gray is turning into white, not blonde, the stomach is like a third boob only bigger, and you’re as wrinkled as an onion.”

“Am not. And onions aren’t wrinkled.”

“You’re jealous that I’m going to be five years old next weekend and you’re ancient.”

“That’s not the point. It’s amazing to me how even when we look at the mirror, we see some younger, earlier version of ourselves.”

“I don’t see a younger version of myself. I see Rin Tin Tin.”

“Aussie, Rin Tin Tin wasn’t afraid of guns shooting and Cavalry riding and Indians attacking with war whoops. You hide in the back seat of the car the minute you see crowds or hear music. Much good you’d have been on the frontier.”

“I’m a good detective, just like Scooby-Doo.”

“You’re too afraid of men to track down anybody. You see, Auss, you imagine yourself as some heroic figure, someone who will save the world, or else as someone loyal and brave.”

“Like Lassie. Lassie is my dopey gangster.”

“Doppelganger, Auss.”

“I’m also a little like Cujo. Henry is scared shitless of me.”

“Nobody is scared shitless of you, Aussie. You’re plain Aussie, nobody else. And that’s good enough.”

“I know! Snoopy is my dopey gangster.! He loves to talk to God from the roof of his doghouse.”

“You don’t have a doghouse.”

“Astro? Toto?”

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.


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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.


Birds hatching inside the mailbox

The moth was clinging to the bathroom ceiling.

At first it attached itself to the ceiling right over the shower. I looked up at it, big and dark brown, clutching tightly to the white drywall, and shook my head. For years I’ve liked to take moths out of the house and release them outside. Usually, unless they’re too weak to take flight, I catch them in a glass, put a top on (a postcard or even a tissue), take them out, remove the top and shake the glass free. Love to watch them flying out. But I’d need to bring the step ladder upstairs and put it on the shower floor, which I didn’t trust.

It felt like that whole day I checked the whereabouts of that moth, wishing it would move someplace lower. When I woke up the next morning, I found that it had moved out of the shower but was still attached to the bathroom ceiling. This was an opportunity to mentally review the things I used to do easily and without thought just a short time ago, and how I hesitate to do them now. Get up on the step ladder, strain up towards the ceiling with the glass, try not to hurt the moth as I slide something on top, keeping my balance throughout, and come down safely, covered glass still intact.

I didn’t do it.

The next day I couldn’t find it. I looked everywhere, behind towels and faucets, and on the floor in case it had finally collapsed. Wondered if it had gotten out of the bathroom, but then, where did it go?

We always keep an oil candle burning on the Kwan-yin altar, which shows the Goddess of Compassion, a gift from Vietnam, alongside Maria of Guadalupe, which we had gotten as a gift from Shaykha Amina Teslima al-Jerrahi in Mexico City. The altar contains ashes of those who died as well as photos. But in the summer moths get into the house and get immolated by the candle so I don’t let it burn during those months. Instead, the moths fly into the house and attach themselves to different walls and counters, and I retrieve them.

The moth in the bathroom reminded me that summer is passing, fewer moths in the house, soon I could light the candle again and let it burn till next May. Please come down so that I could get you, I asked it silently for a couple of days. Instead, it’s gone, probably dead.

I was surprised by the sudden surge of sadness. So many die every day, but this one I kept careful track of. It was big, clinging fearfully to the ceiling, not approaching the light bulbs over the mirror. Infinite beings die all the time, why did this one touch me so deeply? I would check its whereabouts even in middle-of-the-night peeing visits, blinking sleepily as I looked up.

In fact, why did I feel any concern at all? Henry and Aussie don’t worry about moths, or about anyone’s wellbeing other than their own. How is it that humans do? We criticize ourselves so much for caring too little, but it’s quite miraculous how much we do care about nonhuman beings. How we look down nervously at the brown grass and the thirsty earth in this summer’s drought, how relieved we feel as the leaves tremble under the first raindrops, how we feed birds and chipmunks, watching carefully for deer as we navigate the roads at night. Our sense of family, of clan, of home is remarkably wider than that of other species. We care a lot about beings that don’t look anything like us.

That’s a great thing, given our other propensity to build fortresses. When I visit my sister in Jerusalem, I can hear the doves coo from the outside ledge that’s off her bathroom window overlooking a building shaft. The birds liked to use the ledges inside the shaft for rest or shelter, but she tells me that her neighbors installed spinning deterrence rods to scare them away because of their fleas and the  shit they leave on the ledges. She can’t bring herself to do this, so all these years I come to stay with her and enjoy the gentle cooing that’s the background music to her home.

How have we, humans concerned most of all with our own survival and flourishing, cultivated this need to take care of nonhumans that don’t seek our companionship?

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.


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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.


“Aussie, when I brought you to Leeann this morning, Bruno’s human asked me if your name was Lyric.”

“What did you tell him?”

“I said, ‘Does she look like a Lyric to you?’”

“You ain’t kidding, though it would have made a good code name in Golden Trump Age 1.”

“Speaking of which, Aussie, did you hear that they’ve found a document relating to another country’s nuclear capabilities in your god’s Florida house?”

“He probably left it in a shoebox or something. Look at what Henry leaves in your shoeboxes.”

“They retrieved document after document marked Top Secret, with very few people cleared to read them.”

“Probably in his underwear drawer, or maybe with his socks. Look at what you find in your—”

“Aussie, I don’t hide top secret documents among my things.”

“You think these are top secret? What about the list of code names I used all those years?”

“You had code names, Aussie?”

“You think Aussie would have fooled anyone? Everybody in the world knows who I am. Code names depended on the circumstances. I was Havoc when they needed someone to spy on the Black Lives Matter encampment in front of the White House, perfect on account of my color. I was Wash & Dry when I laundered money.”

“How did you launder money, Wash & Dry?”

“You know the cash you give Leeann for taking me on outings every week? Where do you think that came from? But my favorite code name was Henry.”

“Henry? Like our Henry?”

“Who else? That way, every time I bit a liberal they could blame it on an illegal chihuahua, who we know is responsible for everything that goes wrong in this country. My brilliant idea, naturally.”

“I don’t like this code name business, Aussie.”

“Hey, you have a code name, too.”

“I do?”

“Sure, it’s Myonen, only it’s a stupid code name because no one can remember it.”

“Aussie, that’s a dharma name, not a code name.”

“What’s the difference?”

“A dharma name is given to one who practices the dharma and takes vows to serve all beings. A code name is given to someone to hide their actual identity.”

“So Myonen is your dharma name? What’s it mean?”

“Subtle Mind of This Present Moment.”

“You’re right, it would never make it as a code name. You can’t remember it, never mind say it, and by the time you’ve said it the operation is over anyway. Speaking of which, what operation were you leading, Subtle Mind This Moment? Subtle Moment This? Mind So So?”

“The operation continues to be waking up, Aussie.”

“It’s a long operation, isn’t it, Mind This Moment?”

“The longest, Wash & Dry.”

“Get your money ready, Mind So-So, I’ll need a good lawyer.”

“I don’t have money for a lawyer. Call Trump, he’s got plenty.”

“Won’t part with it, that’s why he’s still got so much. Can’t you ask your readers for money?”

“I ask for money to support my blog only a few times a year, Auss, everything else is for immigrant families. And the Back-to-School Supplies List sold out in 36 hours except for 2 backpacks that aren’t on stock.”

“Okay, I’ll do it. Aussie fans, we have to keep Mind So-So’s blog going. Eve just spent a whole bunch of premium kibble on paying someone to develop a new subscription tool and rebuilding the subscription database. That don’t come cheap. Most important, we need money to get me a good lawyer. Think of it this way: What happens if they put me in prison? What would the blog be without moi? I’ll tell you what it would be: pretentious monologues on life and Zen. Who needs that? You got to save me, the blog will be a lot more fun that way. Who else will give you the scoop on Golden Trump Age 1 and on Golden Trump Age 2?”

“Thanks for asking for donations on the blog’s behalf, Auss, but there isn’t going to be any Golden Trump Age 2.”

“I’m inspired to go into my rap: Ready?

Don’t let Subtle Mind of This—oh, forget it.

She don’t feed me and I can’t bear it.

She thinks waking up is the real deal

But she don’t give me a decent meal.

I ask her to lawyer up, pay those fees,

If they put me in prison I’ll get fleas.

We gotta raise money, not too much but not too little,

Otherwise I won’t get my acquittal.

They’ll put me away and keep the key,

Day by day give me the Third Degree.

Don’t let them do this to Wash & Dry and Havoc—

Oh oh, what rhymes with Havoc?”

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.


Happy Labor Day. Huh?

I open my Labor Day celebration by sitting this morning, stationary on the corner chair of the bedroom, my favorite room in the house, the room that had been Bernie’s and my bedroom till he died. After his stoke we had to make some changes, eventually letting go of the enormous king-size bed we’d shared. The stroke brought him a lack of control over his limbs as well as a lack of proprioception, and he’d often roll into me during the night without even feeling it.

Where does your body end and mine begin? An interesting Zen koan, one we practiced with over and over again. You love the person next to you, but you’re deeply asleep (exhaustion marked those three years) and you’re suddenly awakened by something crashing into your body, often pushing you to the edge of the bed (a couple of times over the edge). At first you make a joke of it:

“Bernie,” I’d say. I had to repeat his name, it took a while to wake him up.

“What’s the matter?”

“Look at where you are,” I’d say.

“Oh,” he’d say, feeling my shoulder, my arm, my head. “How did I get here?”

“You rolled into me,” I’d tell him. “I think you lost your sense of proprioception.”

“What’s that?” he’d ask for the hundredth time.

“I think it’s a sense of where your body ends and mine begins,” I’d say.

“And that’s bad?” A Zen master, after all. “Let’s sleep like this all the time.”

“I can’t,” I’d tell him. “I need space.”

And sometimes I’d say, “I need my space,” which is a little different.

Space. Bernie could fill every inch of it with words, ideas, suggestions, presence. Even when he was quiet the vibes in the room would be so powerful that I would hurry to find refuge in my own small office, or in our bedroom when he wasn’t there.

The following memory embarrasses me every time. I picked him up at Boston’s Logan Airport after he’d gone to Europe for 6 days. In the car, he bent over to give me a kiss. “What’s wrong?” he asked when I didn’t reciprocate.

“I could have used 3 more days of your being away,” I told him.

He got a little upset, but there it was, I needed space. Space away from that intense focus, the protruding, stubborn chin, the demanding presence, the beingness that enveloped the room.

We finally let go of that big king-size bed and got 2 beds for the room, one of which I sleep on to this very day. I, as usual, drowned in the practicalities of post-stroke life—finding the beds in a local store, negotiating price and access—leaving him to mark with sadness this big change in physical relations. We both knew it. He wouldn’t roll into me anymore or drive me to the edge of the bed, I’d have my space, I’d have my sleep.

One day he said: “It’s different now, isn’t it?”

And I said sadly, “Yes, Bernie, it is.”

His last words to me from the bed, struggling with sepsis and pain before the ambulance drivers took him downstairs to the hospital, where he would die quicker than anyone guessed, with only me in attendance, were: “I’m too much for you.”

He wanted to give me the space I’d always fought for. My space.

For a long time it didn’t do me much good, those words haunted me for three years. Did I really need that much space, I wondered. What would have happened if he’d constantly banged into my exhausted body or sent me to the edge of the bed? That’s his job as a Zen master, I’d remind myself, but not as a husband.

“I’m too much for you.” I can never get that last act of generosity out of my mind. Not I love you, which I would have preferred, but: Here’s your space again. I give it back.

My brother stayed with me the past days and slept in the bedroom. “What a beautiful room,” he said. “A wonderful space in which to rest.”

“It’s healing,” I said without much thought.

Now, 24 hours later, I think to myself that maybe that is the purpose of the room. Not just to serve as a reminder of what once was, but to be fully occupied as I enjoy the space that he so generously finally gave me.

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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.


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You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.


Photo by Peter Cunningham

I often feel rootless in comparison to other people.

My housemate grew up south of Boston not far from the ocean, and while she lives here with me in western Massachusetts, her family still lives near there. She goes to be with them on holidays and there’s a sense that somehow, she’s going back to be close to home.

When I was in Grand Manan, I stayed with a friens who was conceived in that very house 75 years ago. Other fisherman families had been born, fished, and raised their families there for several generations. Even some of those who didn’t live year-long on the island had some roots there or nearby, and therefore made a point of building a home on the island and going there for annual summer stays.

One of our conversations was about how to save Seal Cove, with its wooden buildings (many of them are on stilts to accommodate the high tide) that were once used to produce humongous amounts of smoked herring but are now dilapidated and in disrepair: start a non-profit, renovate, maybe create artist spaces there, etc. Be it Seal Cove or another place, the conversation often reverted to a building, an island, a lighthouse that was abandoned or not maintained, and how to keep it going. They weren’t fighting change, just expressing a deep appreciation for the past, the ways of parents and grandparents, and the wish to keep some of that alive and going.

The difference between us was very striking. I came from an Eastern European Jewish family whose homes and much of their lives were disrupted by the Holocaust. My mother’s father died in the 1940s and I barely knew my mother’s mother. My father’s parents survived but they were from an orthodox shtetl way of life that seemed unbridgeable. I wanted to talk to them about college and plans to leave home and write, but I doubt they knew what I was talking about. Their entire sense of safety was in huddling down with one’s family and honoring past traditions. My personal family did not feel safe and I had no interest in honoring the past, too consumed by forging new life paths for myself.

“Make a home wherever you live,” my old friend, Margery Meyer, once told me. At that time, she was referring to my studio apartment in Manhattan, with its faded used couch and toppling bookshelves. And indeed, I changed the furniture and throughout my travels learned to create a sense of home wherever I was. Bernie did that, too. If we only lived somewhere a short while, up would go the many pictures, the altars, the Buddha images unpacked, a million books, etc., and when we moved a short time later everything would be packed up once again. In between, we always felt at home.

Now Margery’s words resonate in a different way for me. “Make a home wherever you live.” What makes a home? Where do you find your roots if you’ve moved around a lot? I feel some distress at having so little connection with that old East European orthodox Jewish tradition, the generations of families that lived according to fixed rules and ways of life. My mother couldn’t understand how anyone would voluntarily step out of that world, even in a somewhat more modernized version. If I had found some way to maintain those connections, would I feel more rooted?

I was born in Israel, and whenever I go to see my family there, as soon as the plane lands and I hear announcements in Hebrew and Israelis’ phones lighting up and ringing, family members waving and holding up flowers in the airport’s big Arrivals area (before covid), something old that lay dormant for most of the year stirs in my blood, as if saying: I know you; I know this.

But it’s gone when I fly back to Massachusetts, and I can’t say I miss it when I’m here.

I have to look for roots elsewhere. I feel most deeply rooted in meditation. There’s something about starting the day that way that gives me confidence and purpose. Studying the sutras or other writings makes visible the long arc of this exploration, how a yearning that I thought began when I was 14 actually began much longer ago, that my roots and family include those men and women who have searched for peace and clarity thousands of years ago, people who also wondered what this life was about in the face of disappointment, suffering, and death.

Also included in this family are people who respond to life with creativity and laughter, who don’t just create works on canvas, in print, or in performance, but see each moment as an invitation to meet life creatively, as a new opportunity to let go, plunge in, and come up with a response you may not have  imagined before:

You can’t find a carpenter to fix he back steps behind your office? Make something pretty there, paint them different colors.

You were going to make salmon for lunch but you don’t have salmon? What can you do with hardboiled eggs, avocado, challah bread, peanut butter, and pineapple?

You were going somewhere and the car broke down? Sure, you can call AAA, but you can also call folks and invite them to give you a lift, creating companionship and helping yourself remember that life is interdependent, you can’t live without them.

Those are the folks who laugh even in the middle of tears, reply to a gloomy email with a funny cartoon, who look at recent photos of the universe coming through the James Webb Telescope and remember the true proportion of things.

This is where I most feel at home. Some of us know our home, it’s in our blood, our parents, our century-old house, our children. Others of us have to find it again and again; that’s my group. Right now, home for me is a place of clarity and rest, but also a space where life continues to quicken in me, new ideas, a fertile imagination.

                    Donate to My Blog                      Donate to Immigrant Families

You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.


Make a Donation to My Blog Donate To Immigrant Families

You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.


“Don’t jump, Aussie!”

We were walking along Southwest Head, the southern tip of Grand Manan, the Canadian island where we spent a week with friends (was it just last week?).

“Why not? It’s a good day to die.”

“Aussie, you’re not Lakota. Besides, you have everything to live for!”

“Name one.”

“You’ll turn 5 soon. You have your whole life ahead of you.”

“Not if the FBI has anything to do with it.”

“The FBI? Aussie, is there something you’re not telling me?”

“You know those papers they took from the Man’s home a short while ago?”

“You mean the classified documents they got from Trump Castle in Florida? What about them?”

“They name names.”

“What names, Auss?”

“Intelligent operatives.”

“Intelligence operatives?”

“And guess who’s on that list?”

“You, Aussie? Then it can’t be intelligent operatives.”

“And guess with what home address?”

“Mine, Aussie?”

“Those boxes are full of communications between me and him. Mostly genius ideas from me on how to protect the last election.”

“Like what, Auss?”

“All Proud Pooches were under strict orders to bite any human in their household who was not voting for the Man. That accounts for why so many humans ended up in the Emergency Room on Election Day. Also, all Proud Pooches growled and snarled any time Brandon came onscreen.”

“You mean, Biden?”


“It’s Biden or no supper tonight.  What else, Auss?”

“I begged the President, BEGGED him, to take me to the White House and walk me up and down the Rose Garden. Almost half of all American humans have a dog. If they just saw me and Trump in front of the White House, he would have won in a landslide. Instead, he won in a landslide.”

“He didn’t win, Aussie.”

“I told him that while his fans loved his yelling, some of the others had no sense of humor. Instead, he should walk me up and down, waving and smiling, having the best time of his life with his best friend. My eyes would have sparkled, I would have wagged my tail, shimmied for the cameras, made him look so good! There would have been no contest.”

“I sure am glad he didn’t listen to you. And while you were having all these top-secret communications, Aussie, did you happen to remember that you’re my dog? That I’ve been feeding, walking, and taking you to Leeann all these years? You were ready to give up our Pioneer Valley woods for the Rose Garden?”

“You think I’m stupid? In a heartbeat. I would have done anything for the Man. I begged, I groveled, I would have licked him all over, but he wouldn’t let me, said I had germs, keep away from Florida. So that’s why the Justice Dept. raided Mar-a-Lago. And now they’re going to come after me.”

“You don’t think his lawyers will protect you?”

“No, he’ll just throw me to the dogs.”

“He’s done that to a lot of people, Aussie. Let this be a lesson to you.”

“How far is it down to the water?”

“It’s low tide, Aussie, you’ll get smashed on the rocks. Don’t be silly, no one is worth your life, especially Donald Trump. Life is precious. Your cousin, Moll, my sister’s dog, just died at the young age of 3-1/2. A massive infection took over her body. They did whatever they could to save her life, but in the end, she was gone. We were all very sad.”

“Was she a Trump supporter?”

“I don’t think so. She lived in Jerusalem and came from a dog shelter in the West Bank.”

“You mean, she was Palestinian? OMG, in our family?”

“You’re sounding like my parents, Aussie.”

“It’s not enough that we have Enrique the Illegal Chihuahua, we also had Palestinians in the family?”

“The world’s changing, Auss.”

“Not if the Man and I have anything to do with it.”

Dedicated to Molly.

                  Donate to My Blog                Donate to Immigrant Families

You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.


Make a Donation to My Blog Donate To Immigrant Families

You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.



My friend, Roshi Michel Engu Dobbs, recently lost his brother. A few days after the funeral he texted: “We all need a t-shirt that says: Someone’s missing.

I remembered what it was to go back to work after Bernie’s death, back to the community and the zendo, back to the supermarket and the gas station. Mostly I stayed home, but when I did have to go out it seemed as though life had just gone on without Bernie, unconcerned, everybody doing their thing: sun shining, trees waving in the wind, tiny pebbles crunching under the car tires.

You want to grip the lapels of everyone you meet and say: “Hey, don’t you see? Someone’s missing!”

Yesterday I was at Trader Joe’s, the big food store in Hadley, with a blessedly short list of supplies. I was looking forward to getting in and getting out quickly. As I entered the parking lot I saw a Latino man, black arched eyebrows and thick moustache, with a young girl and a bucket of red roses. He held up a sign saying he had four children and needed help.

I parked the car, passed him by saying “Hola” with the intention of giving him a few dollars on my way out.

The store was fuller than I’d ever seen it, a surprise on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. I could see people buying charcoal and meat cuts for grilling this last week before Labor Day. They were marking the end of summer with carts overflowing with steaks, wings, and burgers, not to mention peaches, nectarines and berries.

I started picking up the things I needed, wondering how long the lines would be at the cashiers, when Michel’s words suddenly echoed in my mind: “We all need a t-shirt that says: Someone’s missing.” The man holding up a sign saying he has four children to feed was missing. He could have been there with an empty shopping cart, one hand holding on to his 6-year-old.

It hit me that this wasn’t a matter of a few dollars, this was a matter of feeding someone, feeding a family. I added several pounds of flank steak and a whole big chicken to my cart, along with veggies, melon, and other fruit, filling up most of a big bag for some $53.

I didn’t find him outside; someone from the store had probably told him to leave the premises. Very disappointed, I walked to my car, wondering what to do with the food, when I saw the man on the other side of a field of brown, thirsty grass. Quickly I walked there and gave him the bag. Delightedly, he asked the little girl to give me a red rose (see below).

I can’t put out of my mind the scene of the store filled with customers with carts overflowing with food. In the middle of all that abundance someone was missing. I remembered Jimena telling me that $50 food cards go a long way. “Of course, there are food pantries, but they don’t give you fresh meat and produce. They don’t give the children what they want. That’s why they need those cards.” She also reminded me that in the end of summer, as well as end of year and end of school year, the school meal programs are suspended for a few weeks. That’s a big deal for many families.

And seeing the little girl, I remembered how we sent 9 children to day camp for 3 weeks this past summer.

In our relatively placid, satisfied lives, what’s missing? Who’s missing?

Summer is slowly coming to a close, though you’d never guess it from the heat and humidity of today in New England. But schools are reopening and kids need school supplies. Newspapers are filled with articles about how expensive these have gotten. For the past few years, we’ve been buying such supplies for immigrant children, including those from undocumented families, and Jimena, bless her heart, made up a list for me earlier than usual. But I didn’t post it because of the problems with our subscriber database, which has really shrunk while we’re trying to rebuild it.

The Amazon list is here, and the boxes and packages are to go this time straight to Jimena Pareja, saving her and me trips back and forth. In the past some people made sure to send packages to my address, but that’s not necessary, the list carries her name and address and should automatically forward things to her.

Please consider buying something for these children. Their parents work hard in the fields so that their kids could go to school, which they themselves couldn’t do, and build a life for themselves and future generations. The American Dream, and I don’t say that lightly or tongue-in-cheek. These families have taken enormous risks to actualize that dream.

It’s harvest time here, plentiful and bounteous. In the middle of that, certain things are missing and needed. Please consider buying something from the Amazon list, or else using the button below, Donate to Immigrant Families, to buy food cards.

Thank you very much.


                Donate to My Blog                    Donate to Immigrant Families

You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.


Make a Donation to My Blog Donate To Immigrant Families

You can also send a check to: Eve Marko, POB 174, Montague, MA 01351. Please write on the memo line whether this is in support or immigrant families or of my blog. Thank you.