Essentially, Spaghetti with Beans

It’s December 10. I don’t know it yet, but this will be the last time I see Dad for many months. We have no idea what’s coming. We have no idea that I’ll decide, last minute, to cancel my next visit in the first week of March, just before his retirement home goes into lockdown. […]

Dear Earth:

April 22, 2020 Dear Earth: I’m sorry. I’m sorry for my species and the abuse we inflict. The contempt and disregard. The decision that we have a right to dig you up and chop you down, raze you, blaze you, poison your veins. We tunnel into your heart for a thing we hold dearer than […]

Fragmentation: Why the US was so not ready for a pandemic

We should have been ready. This country has what it needs to fight an outbreak. When world experts created the Global Health Security Index to assess 195 countries and their capability of preventing and mitigating epidemics and pandemics, the United States ranked No. 1. “Out of all the countries that were assessed, the United States […]

Biscuit Muffin: a story & a recipe

Several cats live in our yard. We did not put them there. They chose this space – though they didn’t choose us, per se. We live in a residential/agricultural community with a lot of cats roaming the fields and acequias. They all look like cousins – because they probably are. And yes, I know all […]

We are altogether all together

Many years ago, while working on my master’s, I took Vietnamese classes at the University of Oregon in preparation for a semester in Hanoi. My instructor taught language by explaining the cultural protocols of daily life. I will never forget the way she described Vietnamese society in an anatomical analogy. She likened individuals to blood, […]

How we get through this

Ten days, and the world has changed. Last week, I had planned to visit my dad at his apartment in a retirement home. He lives independently – alone – in a complex that also houses dozens of assisted-living and memory-care residents. They all get meals from a community dining room, and my dad has a […]

Step by Step: Inside the Homes of US Farmworkers

South Texas farmworkers’ kitchen Years ago, still close to wartime, many of my Cambodian friends spoke of dreams they chased step by step. Hunger and hardship were still too near to be called memories. Security and prosperity were distant visions on a road that felt vast and overwhelming. So they began that journey step by […]

One Man’s Story

Benjamin Ruiz, preparing tortillas for breakfast at the soup kitchen where he volunteered on the Mexican side of the US-Mexico border. Last year, I met a 34-year-old man named Benjamin Ruiz. He volunteered at a soup kitchen, spending every morning preparing tortillas to go with rice and beans and big vats of calabacitas to feed […]

Framing the Picture

We’ve been back in Southeast Asia for a month now, and I’ve been thinking a lot about framing—how we convey and interpret pieces of the world around us. A couple weeks ago, we visited the Cambodian coast. We hadn’t traveled to Sihanoukville in years, and we’d heard how much has changed. My first memories of […]

Lao Sabai

? I remember the very first trip. It was August, which meant sticky days and a heat that swelled until the skies opened with a gush of rain. The rice paddies sparkled in a light I still can’t adequately describe. Radiant. Brilliant. Electric. Cliché. They were the very definition of green. It was our first […]