Category Archives: Personal Blog

A Lesson Never Learned – A Poem

This poem first appeared on Curensea after being written in 2007. I have made a few minor edits.

I chose this poem based on many thoughts coming up for me over my lifetime while living in the United States. I grew up in Virginia and found it strange that I could live next to a Holocaust survivor and then move to a town with an active KKK chapter other kids at the elementary school nonchalantly talked to me about their parents being members of. My parents explained what that meant when I asked. Same with the Neo-nazi rallies in Yorktown, Virginia – you know, that place where we apparently “won the Revolutionary War”. What’s so revolutionary about it anymore now that you allow those kinds of rallies there? But Virginia did. My parents felt powerless against it because the courts ruled in their favor on the grounds of Freedom Of Speech and Freedom Of Assembly and that was used to argue for social tolerance of intolerance. Now, here we are, being asked to tolerate violence against each other as that too becomes normalized.

A statue face from St. Mary’s cemetery Missoula, MT, photo by Lo Potter

A Lesson Never Learned

It came up through the floorboards,
Zyklon B reaching forward through time
Ripping at our throats,
Forming itself around our nostrils
condensing into blue ice, after being trapped in the cold
of existence.
This depressive state of humanity
Seeming only to slumber in its death
Released the gas upon itself,
Using the world as its chamber
Many can claim their innocence
-besides-
Innocence through ignorance is the best kind
While dictators commence genocidal rampages
Using ill-earned power to rape a people
destroy their very creation of a God,
And yet, for those who are suffering:

The strongest woman I (n)ever met
sat crying at the grand opening of the Holocaust Museum
She surveyed the surrounding young people
Generations too young to remember or know what
She Survived
Walking through in awe of their own misunderstandings
She looked back without a single failed memory
Her arm exposed so everyone could see:
the vining rose tattoo that grew
out of the numbers that changed her life forever


Thank you for reading this poem today. The comments section is reserved for your thoughts. Moderating is only for preventing spam/trolls – I approve as quickly as possible and approval is only needed once to post without moderation on this website.

We Are Nothing – A Poem

I first wrote this poem in 2007 in my first semester of college. The draft was the first time someone in a collegiate academic setting told me I should consider being a professional poet. I’ve never succeeded in publishing it, but those words still encourage me. Listen to your friends – let them be the voices in your head when you desperately need them.

We Are Nothing

we are nothing, but nothing –
razor-edged souls cutting through time
with a steely gasp of twilight before our instant sunset,
packaged in a plastic microwavable container with a label stating,
“just add water”
we a single individual with many minds and parts –
societal schizophrenia on a rampage.
perhaps the voice of muscle spasm can sear through your tyranny,
as you have trapped creativity and youth in oppression,
tearing them from their families
as though they were meant to be institutionalized with
bars on the windows and
locks on the doors.
Keep faith, children!
For there is always an alternative route grasping for a mind that could fathom his existence.
Outside the window is a world darkened by a starless reality,
yet lit by polluting city lights.
Red, Green, Blue
Straining for that chance to say, “Coca-Cola” in Times Square.
But this –
this is nothing.


Please feel free to comment your personal experiences openly and freely below- I reserve the comments section for that.

Pet Obituary: Freckles

In 2014, I wrote my first pet obituary for our beloved dog, Freckles. She impacted me as much as many of my other human friends and family have and I knew her longer than some of my other friends that had and have since passed. I wrote this obituary as a gift for my family and through this learned that I love writing pieces that capture the beauty a life can hold and share with the world.

Because this piece is so important to me, I requested that my family allow me to post it here (with some minor editing and personal information removed).

Dear Friends and Family,

On the 29th of August, 2014, our family lost their furry daughter, Freckles. She lived a long life of almost 20 years filled with love, adventure, excitement, mischief, and the never-ending need to prove her intelligence to those bipedal creatures around her. Shortly after Joe arrived with another moving truck, Freckles suffered from a stroke, causing her to lose the majority of control over her hind legs and develop severe reoccurring seizures. Our family would like to extend our deepest gratitude to a new family friend and neighbor for finding a veterinarian that would take us on short notice and relieve Freckles of her pain and suffering in the kindest, gentlest, and fastest manner possible while Glenda and Lo held her, kissed her, petted her, and spoke very softly to her until she passed peacefully.

Freckles joined our family when she was 8 weeks old, rejected by her mother, abused, neglected, and scared of the world. Joe and Jennifer went to Winchester, Virginia to pick up her from the Virginia Border Collie Rescue League during January 1996. Since then our family was blessed with the most amazing friendship and companionship.

When this small 8-week old puppy arrived in our hearts and home in Annandale, Virginia, Rebecca convinced the family to name her Freckles because of the markings all over her legs. Unlike most dogs, responding better to distinct “-ee” or other long vowel ending names, Freckles immediately responded and took on her identity. Perhaps this was the first sign that we had gotten ourselves into trouble with adopting a precocious and intelligent dog gifted with unique cognizance and an understanding of the English language.

The powers that be gifted Freckles with a strong herding instinct. She herded everything. On at least one occasion our family was blessed by watching a small puppy corral a group of slugs on a back patio and herd them. Chickens too could not escape her herding instinct. Our former chicken, Chica, constantly engaged in a battle of tolerance and wits with Freckles as she would crouch in the grass and sneak up on Chica to begin herding her again after Chica’s retaliations against her. Other animals that did not escape her herding instincts included the Canadian Geese at the local community college campus, rabbits, many many insects, and anything else she could herd, sometimes including house guests.

In addition to her herding instinct, Freckles was also gentle and loving. As an example, one night Freckles collected two small baby mice and very gently carried both in her mouth over to where Joe slept and deposited the two babies on his chest. She succeeded in waking Joe and insisting on him caring for them as she nudged them to make sure they were still alive.

As a young dog, she accompanied our family on trips to Florida, New England, and Canada. One of her favorite past times were car rides with Joe and the family. A particular memory from these travels includes a hotel in Montreal, Quebec. After a long day of driving, Joe attempted to piece together bits of French and English in order to communicate with the hotel staff tried to get approval for Freckles to stay in the room with our family. The hotel concierge eventually simply asked “No yap yap?” in broken English, and Joe grateful for the language breakthrough responded “No. No yap yap.”

When Joe’s father passed away, she looked for him everywhere, following his scent around the house in Falls Church, Virginia, mourning his death and crying with Joe. She comforted Joe in silence as he dealt with the loss his best friend, father, and role model in life. Freckles also aided the rest of our family during this hard time, comforting each member individually in very personalized ways, and communicating with us through her imitation of the human language. She kept our entire family together and sane during the greatest loss we had suffered at that point in our lives.

Freckles’ exceedingly brilliant intelligence included many talents, such as problem-solving, language comprehension, obedience, her ability to act as an obedience teacher, and playfulness. Shortly after Freckle’s first growth spurt, she began opening the door to let herself outside, as just one example of her problem-solving abilities. Additionally, her talents in the English language are not to be ignored as part of her remembrance. On more than one occasion Freckles answered yes or no questions by nodding or shaking her head. She also regularly imitated the English language when greeting Joe upon his arrival home from work each day. There is no question that Freckles understood almost everything anyone said within her hearing range. Shortly after obedience training, it became clear that Freckles’ obeyed commands only on her own terms, yet she passed her obedience and expectations of obedience on to other family dogs shortly after their arrival in the family.

Her joy and vivacity in play with Joe were incomparable. Three of her favorite games included Tug-Of-War, the Black Drain Pipe, and catching the hand monster. Freckles aged with grace, dignity, and pride for herself and her family.

Our Family was always welcomed home, snuggled, and sought after, sometimes out of herding instinct, but mostly out of love. Our family human children: Jennifer, Rebecca, Lo, and Austin walked protected by her through the yard, and guarded every moment we walked through the streets of the neighborhood. She watched over the safety of all of Joe and Glenda’s children and the friends of their children of which she approved, both furry and bipedal.

Freckles will be cremated and her ashes placed in an urn made of pink granite to match that of our family memorial. At a future date, our family will take Freckles’s remains on a final trip to Savannah, Georgia to visit the family memorial in a small private ceremony.

Our sincerest thanks to all of our friends and family during this difficult time.


Thank you for reading Freckles’s obituary/memorial today. The comments section is reserved for readers to share their own personal experiences and thoughts around pet obituaries. Do you agree with having them written? Disagree with them? Comments are moderated only to prevent spam and middle school style indecency. Once you have one approved comment on the website you won’t have to wait for comment moderation. I try to get comments approved as quickly as possible.

How To Shop For A Sextant Online During A Global Pandemic

Or… Shopping For My Spouse’s Birthday Gift

I shake my head and stare at the screen.

“I want to feel the brass and hold it. Feel the movement of each piece and know I’ll be able to calibrate it for him,” I whine to the cat. The autumn winds blowing down from Alaska drown out my words as they wind their way over the Rockies.

Staring at the pictures, I imagine the heavy brass of my family’s sextant balanced in my clumsy hands as my father lets me look at it. His calloused palms poised to catch the instrument should I falter.

“This one won’t do.” I toss it into the mental pile of surveying and mapping equipment I look at; never purchase.

Who can afford to spend over a thousand dollars on something like this over the internet? I mentally discard another with a fancier, more modern black finish.

I call my parents. “I want to buy Jacob a sextant for his birthday. What’s the story behind ours? Does Dad have any advice?”

Thousands of miles of static and telephone lines crackle. “The one your dad has was your great grandfather’s from the maritime academy. Why do you want one for Jacob?”

I pause and shrug into the phone. “To record our locations for dark sky photography. GPS can’t be trusted out here.” I grasp my forehead and castigate my own thoughts. But I’m the one that knows how to use one for surveying, navigation, and astronomy – that would be a terrible gift.

I stare out at the horizon hidden by mountains and try to find the ocean beneath the curvature of the earth. Jacob doesn’t care about the difference between a mile and a nautical mile. What does he care about?

I catch him and ask about his feelings around flying and clouds pass over the sun – visibility down to less than 5 miles and he gives me a look that says VFR ain’t going to fly. He never got a seaplane rating and this dream is about to try a water landing without pontoons. “I don’t know when the next time I’m going to fly is. Please don’t get me anything that could be related to flying.”

I decide against getting him a sextant and reminisce about when we spent hours talking about the intersection of history where airplanes and ships used the same navigation systems and why. I stare at the stormy sea of sky lapping against the mountain sides and remember our last aerial photography trip. I order his birthday cake and continue to brainstorm better gifts.

Montana now has the highest rate of transmission of any state. Distracted, I stare at the news and try to process how dangerous it is to step outside. This was all predictable based on the behavior patterns of 1918.

Birthdays have to remain special in the face of COVID, so I order wine and check our reservation for the weekend. I check that his favorite decaf pop and breakfast cereal are in the pantry. I try and decide what else we should do to make it a special day about him.

While most of the United States has been living with this since March, Jacob has been living with COVID since it first hit obscure global news last autumn and I brought it home by explaining how diseases follow human behavior patterns. In February I set up forecasting models and told him how to prepare before the preppers drained the stores of paper products, resulting in channeled anxiety and full isolation.

My incredible husband and love of my life sits with me in my mind while I wonder how to celebrate someone as amazing as him. I think of bonfires, quality time, adventures, and our daily lives. I think about these acts of preparation and foresight and how they are gifts and acts of love in themselves.

I buy Jacob 2 books and 2 glass vessels for his birthday following the theme: Scientific Magic. I write a blog post about not buying a sextant and realizing that was a dumb gift idea. I refuse to spoil the surprise while I continue further preparations and celebrate his existence everyday.


Happy Birthday to my amazing partner and best friend, Jacob. I have many best friends, but you are the one I married and the one I celebrate today. My forever partner in adventure 💕