musings, thoughts, and writings of Barbara W. Klaser

November 28, 2009

Dear Dad

My dad, Don R. Walker, passed away yesterday, with my sister and brother, Helen and Doug, by his side. He was 86 years old. As my sister mentioned in her message to relatives and friends, my dad was proud to be a veteran who served in the US Army during World War II. He was born in Missouri, and met my mom, Priscilla, when he was stationed near San Diego. They married in December 1942. They celebrated their 59th anniversary a few months before my mom’s death in 2002.

It’s a strange feeling when both your parents have passed, a kind of changing of the guard between generations. And yet, immersed in memories at the moment, in many ways I still feel like a child. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 1:08 pm PST, 11/28/09

April 13, 2009

I know there’s something good happening out there

I’ve been in a horribly bad mood, mainly due to family troubles of the kind that make me feel helpless and small — the news of the death of my oldest brother, and my dad’s loss of independence due to a stroke. I’ve also had some just silly bad luck at home, little things like stubbing a toe so hard a few days ago that I worried it was broken (it’s still sore), straining my back lifting a bag of cat litter yesterday, frustration over the economic crunch that everyone is feeling, when I really could use a newer more reliable car. Why is it that bad news and events seem to come in these overwhelming groupings that feel as if they’ll never end — or, if that isn’t what’s happening, why is it that my mind seems to make even the small problems feel big, once it starts on a downward spiral?

Today I knew I needed to crawl out of this hole I found myself in. I’ve been avoiding the news, because that usually just makes me feel worse, and worse was definitely not what I needed. I know some people think that’s an unrealistic attitude, but I find the news unrealistic, in its focus on everything bad and very little good except nonsensical news about the personal lives of celebrities — people who would likely just as soon be left alone when it comes to personal matters.

I decided to search for some positive news on the Internet, and I found this story on a blog called Great Pet Net that I thought I should share in case anyone else could use a lift: Jasmine the Mother Theresa Greyhound. Dogs tend to have a healing way about them, all around, in my opinion. But this one is exceptional. She certainly had a distant healing effect on me.

It’s a beautiful spring day here. Flowers are blooming, in spite of the gopher that keeps eating them. (Our gopher loves California poppies and nasturtiums. What does yours like?) The The Hooded Orioles arrived early from Mexico, and one almost flew right into me yesterday, maybe because I was wearing green and blended with the plants. Later I watched three Red-tailed Hawks circle the sky above our house. Clouds sail across the sky today in a stiff, delicious ocean breeze. My cat Tara is always up for a game of chase or a tumble with toys. Someone I care about is playing Bach on the piano in the next room.

Yesterday I spotted a long, sinuous cloud in the western sky that looked like a Japanese dragon. I didn’t get a picture, but if you’re familiar with the animated film, Spirited Away, it looked a lot like Haku in his natural form as a river spirit.

Now that I’ve set my mind back in its more customary direction, at least for the moment, good things are beginning to happen inside me again, too.

Every now and then I find it necessary to keep a gratitude journal, to find at least three things each day that I’m grateful for to write about. I think I’ll take up that practice again for a while.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 4:30 pm PST, 04/13/09

July 29, 2008

His name was Independence

because we brought him home on the 4th of July. But we always called him Indi. I started out spelling his nickname Indy, while his “dad” started out spelling it Indi. But it always sounded the same to him.

We never called him Independence, and come to think of it he wasn’t independent. He made friends everywhere he went, and in his first obedience class he was voted No. 1 Puppy. He never chewed up anything he wasn’t supposed to, but he knew what to do with a rawhide bone, and in his prime he could demolish a large one in short order. As a puppy he surgically removed squeakers from toys, and wore out several plastic balls until they no longer squeaked.


Green was his favorite color. I know dogs are supposed to be color blind, but Indi always preferred the green balls to the blue ones or red ones. We tested this, several times.

He liked to be wherever we were, and most recently he was my gardening buddy. He wanted to follow me outside whenever I worked in the back yard, even when he was too old and sick for it to be much fun for him.


Indi died last night, after 10 years of faithful, loving companionship. He was the best dog we’ve ever known, and we feel honored to have had the chance to live with him.

We miss you, dear friend, and we won’t be at all surprised if you’re voted Number 1 Puppy in Heaven.


— Barbara @ rudimentary 6:46 pm PST, 07/29/08

March 7, 2007

Words and weeds

Why is it that seeds I plant never sprout and grow the same way weeds do? They’ve sprung up since our last few rains, and the yard is now lush with their greenery. Yesterday I went out and murdered some weeds to keep the foxtails and other burrs from developing and spreading even more. I barely made a difference. I thought how my words sometimes grow the way weeds do, with wild abandon, and then have to be trimmed, uprooted, rearranged, or killed on the page, so the flowers can show through, get their piece of sunlight, and be seen by anyone but me. Sometimes both Mother Nature and I are too creative.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 11:53 am PST, 03/07/07

February 9, 2007

Cockatoo love

I love birds, in fact we both do, but after the death of our last little parakeet friend, Kiwi, we decided we didn’t want to keep birds in cages anymore, so the bird cages we’d collected over the years, actually quite a few of them it turns out, now hang on our patio in a kind of empty-cage symbolism—or pile of junk, whichever your preferred interpretation.

We enjoy bird friends at greater distance these days. When I came across the linked story today, I decided I had to share. It’s a love story, just in time for that love-related holiday around the corner—if you’re reading this post while it’s fresh. But why wait until a particular time of year to celebrate love?

Here for your enjoyment, straight from Australia, is a tale of love among cockatoos. Note the first time I read it I assumed the first page was all there was to it, and only saw the “next page” link on my second time through, so be aware, there’s more.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 5:14 pm PST, 02/09/07

October 26, 2006

Yellow skies

Fire season in Southern California. The sky is yellow, smoke lingering like fog in the sky, the sun orange, and our windows closed. A wildfire burning in Cabazon, near Palm Springs, has killed three firefighters. Santa Ana winds have blown much of the smoke in our direction. This creates a surreal world in which we’re not sure from one minute to the next whether the fire is still far up in the neighboring county, or a new one has flared up in our own neighborhood. I try to keep my mind off it, but the smell has seeped into the house, and it’s difficult to ignore — a constant reminder to pray for the firefighters.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 1:03 pm PST, 10/26/06

July 13, 2006


This is inspired by Eric’s post, Jeepers Creepers. If bug stories bug you, proceed with caution.

Yesterday we had ants, the tiny black ones, in the kitchen. Not scary, just a nuisance that happens every summer. Usually they go for the honey jar on the counter, but not this time. I think they were looking for water, or they knew this heat wave was coming and were seeking a cooler place. We don’t like to use poisons, but when bugs start to take over the house, we’re forced to take action, to draw the line somewhere.

We do try to coexist. We find moths of all descriptions on the outside wall near our porch light. Some are quite beautiful. We leave the hordes of fuzzy caterpillars alone, picturing them as future butterflies, and gently scoop them up if they venture too near the front door. Daddy-long-legs don’t cause us much concern. We get lots of spiders here, outside and sometimes inside where we don’t want them, and now and then an exotic not-so-creepy-crawly wanders through, like the walking stick we found on the screen door—twice. That was kind of cool. Bats eat insects, and sometimes if we sit on the porch at night we’ll glimpse them, fast and silent, swooping in for small flying bugs attracted by the porch light.

Night before last, after a hot day, we waited until after dark to put the trashes out and retrieve the mail. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 2:06 pm PST, 07/13/06

July 4, 2006

What is privilege?

The subject of privilege came up on a forum where I sometimes participate, and it seems a relevant topic for Independence Day, since we tend to think of the US as a relatively privileged nation. The discussion grew out of one person claiming to be oppressed (my word choice, used to boil the idea down), and another saying he was equally oppressed, with a resulting one-upmanship of who was worse off or better off, at one point involving the term privileged. Out of that grew a separate discussion on what it means to be privileged in this world. Here’s what I shared on the subject, with some edits:


To me being privileged means having more than one’s basic needs met, and there are degrees of privilege, and it is relative, and basically meaningless. I’m more privileged than some people I know, and less privileged than some I know. But all I can really say about that is what I see on the surface.

It’s tragic that so few people in the world have adequate food, water, sanitation, shelter, clothing, necessary transportation, education, rest, safety, security, and health care, even some people in the US. Those should be basic, subsistence level expectations, especially considering how far we’ve come technologically in this world. Unfortunately those advances seem to be reserved for the wealthiest people in the wealthiest countries, for those living under certain forms of government and economics. Basic civil and human rights should also be considered subsistence level—everyone should have them. Not everyone does, even in the most economically “privileged” countries. We can’t even agree on what civil and human rights people should have.

But I also think many people in the world have a skewed notion of what it is to live under what they consider privilege (i.e. better apparent economic or social conditions than theirs). It looks easier. In many ways it is. It’s no guarantee one will be happy. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 9:40 am PST, 07/04/06

April 28, 2006

Plagiarized or packaged to death?

Or both?

Far be it from me to judge what exactly happened with Kaavya Viswanathan’s novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life. I haven’t read it, and I don’t intend to—wouldn’t intend to even if the publisher hadn’t turned around and pulled it off bookstore shelves. But when I read all the off-shoot accounts of the state of book packaging today, I find myself sympathizing at least a tiny bit, as Rachel Pine seems to, with the young author. Not enough to defend her, perhaps, or to excuse what happened, but honestly—what a confusing business this has become.

I recall an old episode of The Avengers on TV, in which a publisher created a computer to crank out formula novels, then passed them off as having been written by a human being. I thought for sure that was pure fantasy until I began reading about this plagiarism case. Kaavya Viswanathan’s name is on the book’s copyright page, but according to what I’ve read so is Alloy Entertainment’s. So who is to blame? How did this happen? (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 4:41 pm PST, 04/28/06

February 11, 2006

Fond memories, anxiety, and back to the book

Yesterday brought news of a death in the family, of a beloved aunt—actually my mom’s cousin. She lived in Oregon, and I hadn’t seen her much since I was a kid. But all my memories of her are fond ones, and I miss her, and I know her two daughters and son and grandchildren miss her an awful lot. I hope she, her husband, my mom, and all the other relatives who’ve gone on before are having a happy reunion on the other side. I can almost hear them, and I like that thought. It brings back memories of family get togethers when I was a kid and would sometimes sit and listen to all the grownups talk and tell stories.


After a quiet day yesterday, I woke early this morning (early for me, anyway), to sirens, thinking I’ve never lived in a place with so many sirens, even when we rented within a couple miles of Montgomery Field and one of the busiest intersections in San Diego. But here we’re right off the main road that runs through town. This morning the sirens were especially disconcerting, and I decided maybe I’d had too much coffee.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 2:02 pm PST, 02/11/06

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