Share your thoughts about what we are all going through


This is an opportunity to share your thoughts about  what we are all going through. We are keeping a social distance but we can connect here.

March 27,2020

A friend Jane offers a practical thought on our current time at home. Don't miss the letter that  Sarah wrote below.

A quote that seems appropriate. It is from Fellowship of the Ring by Tolkien.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time” said Frodo.
“So do I” said Gandalf, “ and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide.  All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
How are you using your time?


Thanks, Jane.

March 26, 2020

Here's a letter from a friend's daughter, Sarah, who is in the thick of it in California:

As some of you know, I have been working nonstop at the hospital. It has been very difficult. This is a scary and intense time for everyone, 

everywhere. Thank you for supporting all of the providers, frontline workers, and critical staff who are laboring to keep the world's hospitals afloat in this crisis.
My operational role has left me unbelievably depleted and I am not even a clinician, nor has UCSF seen a massive surge yet. There is grief, challenge, and loss ahead. We all know that and we are getting prepared.
I am not one for artificial positive spin so i will not offer platitudes feigned as uplifting takeaways. All I want to do is share what I am grateful for, right now, despite the darkness.
A generation of our children will not die, since kids are, to our knowledge, spared severe disease, I am comforted by the fact that we will not watch as we lose our children en masse. We will lose parents, friends, and grandparents, and that despair cannot be quantified or articulated — this is a societal tragedy of incalculable and incomprehensible proportion.
Humanity is proving holy. People are doing wonderful things for others. They want to help. The difference they are making, on hospitals and in communities, is saving lives.
at present, I have a job. This is a gift and a privilege. I take it seriously. I am doing all I can to demonstrate my deep gratitude during this time of horrific economic upheaval.
I am proud to be a part of UCSF. No institution is without flaw, but in this period of disaster, UCSF has been measured, transparent, responsible, decisive, communicative, resourceful, humble, collaborative, reliable, conscientious, and humane.
I get to physically go to work. as interminable as my hours are and as overwhelming as this work is, I am lucky that I get to see and interact with colleagues and patients in person, from afar, every single day.
I have not had time to be scared for my own health. work is so stressful and demanding, that I have had the luxury of preoccupation. I have not yet mustered the wherewithal to mingle with the fear that I might get sick.
I love my parents. They brought me into this world and I am terrified I will not even get to hold them whenever they leave this world. I hope I am fortunate enough to hug them again.
I live alone. I am not exposing anyone at home to any viruses. I have no dependents to feed or financially support. I am safe from domestic abuse. I have no one to homeschool. and I have no spouse to tire of during prolonged quarantine.
I love hospitals. They are beautiful machines. They never sleep. They seek goodness. They give life. and they are run by superhumans.
I am healthy. This does not translate into immunity or hubris in the face of a pandemic, but it does make me less clinically/statistically at risk.
My friends and family love me. This is everything. I know it and feel it fiercely. That is what keeps me going. Thank you all.I love you back.
Crisis transforms. None of us knows who we will be after all of this is over, whatever that even means. but things will change. Maybe some of us will be closer, more honest, less absent.
I have had a happy life. I did nothing to deserve it. i have experienced an abundance of delight, affection, laughter, warmth, freedom, love, and comfort.
Thank you for reading this. I am going to try to sleep now.

Thank you for writing this, Sarah. Sleep well.

Another Sarah

January 15, 2020

Dear Sarah,

This is the year to keep our eyes wide open, to make the choice we want to make  in the voting box for our  next president and our more local representatives. It will also be the year when Putin and others will attempt to confuse and discourage us from voting. 

We can't let that happen. We must check our facts.,check our sources ,and while it is tempting to look away, that's the one thing we can't do right now.  

I hope people can remember that we as Americans all love our country. Putin loves confusion and disarray.  We can best fight his efforts to tear us apart by remembering that it is when we value and respect one another positive change can be made.

Diversity helps us thrive. Do we  immigration reform? Of course we do. We can achieve  it if we find a way to compromise and work together. 

Hate begets hate. It is a force for destruction not creation. We can create a better world and a better America but only by remembering that we are Americans because we love our democracy and all it stands for. We can be respectful of one another as we work to make our country better.

Your Muse

Dear Sarah,

I cannot remain silent. Along with the rest of the world I grieve for the people lost in the terrorist attack in New Zealand.

I spent a year there as an exchange student and came to love not only my family but the beautiful country in which they live.  New Zealanders are an open, generous people who handle their differences with words not weapons.

If such an attack can happen there, even if it's committed by an Australian, then obviously it can happen anywhere.

Hateful rhetoric is not innocent, and a failure to condemn white supremacy has horrific consequences. 

We must speak up and speak out.

Your Muse

Oct. 1, 2018

Dear Sarah,

Along with other women of the world I cannot remain silent. I watched  Dr. Ford and Brett Kavanaugh speak. I have my own views on who was more believable, but clearly what was needed was an FBI investigation.

I admire both the friendship between Flake and Coons and the result it fostered: a one-week FBI investigation.

Then I hear this morning that the investigation may in fact be a sham, limited in scope to say we did what you women asked us to do.

If politicians think they have seen the wrath of women and can deal with it, they know very little about us!

We shall be the change that is so necessary in Washington.

Your  Muse

Dear Muse:

I didn't think you'd take this lying down. I also want a legitimate investigation and begin to fear we may not have one. 

Like you I am pleased to see how a Democrat and a Republican can be friends and compromise to do what's right for the country. This is what we need. Compromise is not a dirty word. It is the way great things get accomplished.


September 1, 2018

Dear Sarah,

John McCain died, and we should all mourn. I didn't share his politics, but I do share his sense of decency and morality. He held strong beliefs, but he was willing to work in a birpartisan way to try to solve our nation's problems, not with hatred  but with respect and courage.

May we find more men and women like him to serve our country. 

Your Muse

March 26, 2018

Dear Sarah,

I drove to the DC "March for our Lives" over the weekend. I went because I wanted to support these young people. What I saw were articulate youth committed to democracy and voting to achieve the government they want.  What they want, what I want, are sensible gun laws, laws to make us all safer and save lives. They want their representatives to be responsive and responsible. No one wants to take guns away from hunters or from people who wish to protect their families.  

I hope you can get letters from many sides of this issue, all expressed with respect for one another.

Your Muse.

Response: I hope the same. Sarah

February, 2018

Dear Sarah,

I must write. I didn't realize until a few weeks ago that Putin's greatest triumph was not meddling in our elections. It was sewing the seeds of discord within our country. 

He has managed to make Americans hate fellow Americans. Many now think of citizens  who disagree with them as the enemy. 

Putin must be as amazed at his success as terrorists were when they brought down the twin towers with two airplanes.

We all love our country and that should mean we love the citizens within it. We are not the enemy. 

I hope we will find a way to elect men and women to Congress who believe in compromise and have not been seduced by the wish for power or money.

We must try to secure the voting rolls and the voting booths from outside intervention. That means we must all be active citizens--not to demonize those who disagree with us, but to stand up for the principles that have made our country great.

Your Muse.

Dear Muse,

Amen to all of that. Maybe we need more members of the Coffee Party who seek the common ground.


Dear Sarah,

How can we allow our country to sink into a morass of hatred, violence, and prejudice? 

Of course, we have never been a country free of prejudice and cruelty. But we have  never seen it endorsed as something reasonable before.

We are better than this.

Your muse

Sarah's response:

Dear Muse,

I hope you take comfort in people who are speaking out for decency and the need to look at what unites us rather than what divides us. I am. They are achieving some results. 

Do I wish Congress could work in a bipartisan way to achieve solutions to our biggest problems like immigration, health care and taxes? Of course I do.

Perhaps one day that w

Dear Sarah:

How satisfying to read good mystery writers and how frustrating to try to make sense of current politics!  

Some authors I have enjoyed so much I experienced the same book multiple ways – books, audio, and movies. I used to try to understand what is happening politically with a variety of divergent inputs as well – different networks, different print media and variety of hosts and yet it is mostly frustrating. 

No one situation gives enough perspective to understand the character of people in leadership positions. It is the cumulative set of behaviors, actions and expressed attitudes that allow us to trust who the leader actually is and where he or she is likely to lead us. 

For mystery readers the most loved “Chief Inspectors” use an identifiable set of analytical skills and interpersonal styles and apply them to a wide variety of situations. A sense of the true character of political leaders is very difficult because there is no cumulative, objective understanding of who they are. Switch networks and the analysis can be a day and night difference.  

The comparison of the enduring Chief Inspectors verses the lack of consistency of Trump over any issue from the beginning of a sentence to the end of the sentence is unsettling. (Of course it helps that there is one expert to create the consistency of a fictional character).

With politicians there are sharp polarities in the analysis of their character. Was Hilary a crook or the most qualified candidate based on her experience? Is Trump a good business man who can fix America’s problems using business skills?  The election is over so it is Trump’s character and other leaders in the news that we have to try to understand.

In a good mystery there is usually a murder or two so it is not that the characters are all “good”.  The characters run the gamut of thoughts, experiences, emotions and actions. The detective sorts through the history and looks at the character of the suspects and intuits the who, the motivation and the how. The good result is when she can put together a “story” with evidence that the jury will believe beyond a reasonable doubt. Our national leaders too are dealing with a complex set of people – congress, constituents, media, other countries etc. They also have to lay out a case or story that invites us to believe them beyond a reasonable doubt.  

As we look at fictional Chief Inspectors like Louise Penny’s Gamache, Colin Dexter’s Morse and Lewis and PD James’ Adam Dalgliesh we see very different characters but each with enduring staying power with the public. I am longing for some national leaders that can reveal who they are beyond their partisan positions and show us character that is consistent enough that we can trust the likelihood that they are up to doing a complex job.