What this expression really means. It’s not what you think.

My father, from the age of 60-ish, often joked about how getting old was not for the faint of heart, referring to his own faint and failing one. My mom, widowed by her second husband at 60-something and anything but happy about her reflection in the bathroom mirror, dashed out and got a facelift before his ashes were cold. My friends, most now of a certain age, lightheartedly complain about their creaking knees and aching back, tossing out a wry “ain’t for sissies!” as they lumber out of their overstuffed recliners.

We oldsters laugh, shrug it off, move a little…

Perhaps it was just a dream… How would we know?

To some of us, time has a shape, often twisty and convoluted, with no beginning and no end. The years stretch backwards into a deep, black hole of memories, and forward into an impenetrable dense fog.

In “normal” years, I think of time as mostly linear, but, to my mind’s eye, each current year is like a spiral, with December at the top, representing a steep mountain to climb through the fall months, then sliding down into spring, flattening out into a long, level summer, with all previous years trailing behind like the undulating tail of a kite.

However, 2020…

Evolutionary Biology-inspired Sciku

A thank-you letter from the future

the climate heats up
new virus — can we adapt?
herd immunity

Hello, I’m speaking to you from the year 2169, when your future people –– we call ourselves Fumans, sounds like “few mens” because we’re few and far between –– don’t look quite the same as you do. We all have the exact same skin color, for one thing.

We just want to thank you, our honored ancestors, for finally taking the bold and difficult actions that rescued humanity, in the nick of time, against impossible odds, from certain extinction. …

“It Was a Dark and Stormy Night”

When I met my Southern Baptist great-grandmother

The following story began its life as a 75-word novel, one of dozens I scribbled for a Facebook group a couple years ago. We were having fun, loving words, telling stories, challenging each other to be funnier, pithier, juicier in our offerings.

Writing these extreme short forms is excellent practice for writing in general. Every word has to count, has to contribute to the storyline and character development, and must generate a level of suspense. And most of all, it has to entertain.

And although these super-short novels were intended to amuse and impress the others, sometimes a story would…


Remembering how it used to be

Perched high in the crotch
of the ancient weeping willow tree,
she waited for the hunters to return,
drooling in anticipation
of her father’s spicy recipes
for pheasant and venison.

Hot and humid that autumn day,
she could feel
a rivulet of sweat
rolling slowly down her spine,
tickling tiny hairs in its path.

She heard in the distance
the bay of hunting dogs
not yet spent from the chase,
all secretly annoyed that her pet pig Porky
had led the pack this day.

Her stomach growled as she
scrambled down the trunk,
landing hard on the ground,
making her ankles ache…


But too many are never enough

Truth is, there’s no such thing as too many tomatoes. This year I actually do have too many, after several years of chilly, rainy summers here in the PNW with essentially none. Maybe there’s a positive side to global warming?

Let me start at the beginning, way back to my dad’s little hameau (small farm) in the Loire Valley, a stone’s throw from Chambord. The French consider themselves ne plus ultra when it comes to growing food, and no Americain could possibly have a clue about raising tomatoes—not even my father, the most gifted gardener this side of Eden.


Dan, this is a great idea, to write notes about this series. Love this! And thanks (I think) for the photo credit. Just wait until I harvest the carrots! HeeHee!


And why we need both

When I was in grad school struggling to become a bona fide scientist, it surprised me to discover that many of my fellow students, despite having to teach or work in the lab essentially 24/7, enjoyed outside interests in the arts. From playing the tower bells on weekends to composing symphonies to painting enormous abstracts, most of my chemistry comrades were deeply engaged in creating art in some form.

Back then, I was certain—because those were the days when I thought I knew just about everything (!)—that taking a break from science to play around with a completely different kind…


She knew how to put on a show

In the good old days, a long time ago
she was young and hot, a good lookin’ blonde
who loved dancin’ at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go

She danced the Boogaloo and the Mashed Potato
in the white go-go boots that she had donned,
in the good old days, a long time ago

High up in her bird cage, she put on her show
flirting with the boys, winking her “C’mon!
when she was dancin’ at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go

Her love of dance she’d never outgrow.
She longed to study at La Sorbonne
in the good old days, a long time ago

But tonight…

Adelia Ritchie

A long time denizen of the Pacific Northwest, PhD science lover, educator, artist, farmer, chicken wrangler, contributing editor at SalishMagazine.org.

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