Thursday, May 19, 2011


Adieu to LeDuckBlog for now!

Since this last post, much has happened. I'm in the middle of a divorce. I'm broke. I'm climbing out of a black hole, using words as pitons. I don't know if I will continue LeDuckBlog in the future. Maybe. Probably. Don't know. Wishy-Washy. We'll see. Meanwhile, I'm documenting my climb out at


Diana Hansen-Young
May19, 2011

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Stop the hands of time

And that is the thought for the day.

Monday, October 18, 2010



    So when I pass along books I've finished reading there are always complaints, carefully phrased, of course -- because a newly-read-passed-along-within-a-day hardcover of a favorite mystery author means the giftee doesn't have to buy the hardcover or wait till it gets to the library/in paperback  -- of the state of the book, which is always 1. without outer cover 2. pages turned down 3. notes in margins 4. every page crinkled and 5. blotched where water has caused the cloth cover ink to run.
   No mystery here. I read in the bath, nearly immersed. One of the great pleasures in life. No deep tub in Oregon, as the folks lived in a 76 doublewide. The tub was 16" deep and molded plastic.
  But Brooklyn tubbing. . . perfection. The only question is: When will book publishers learn to make the dyes and inks on the cloth covers waterproof?
  On the other hand, dyes that transfer to wet hands (where they become semi-permanent) are proof positive that you CAN tell a book by its cover. If you can't put it down, if you read it all in one sitting, a copious amount of dye stains your fingers.
  Thus, in handing off a new but abused book to a friend, they remark (looking at your hands): "So you'd recommend it?"
 The Black Hand Syndrome.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Long road behind, long road ahead

So someone asks: why no posts for so long? Let me count the ways.
1. Broken left leg, then two knee replacements
3. Mom diagnosed on a Friday with Ovarian Cancer, dies at home on Monday of same.
4. Take care of Dad with his Alzheimer's, and his native plant nursery in Salem Oregon. Dad falls down the stairs July 09, breaks back and hip, and dies at home three days later.
5. During funeral, my own appendix rupture. Ignore stomach ache; think: "Stress." Bury Dad, next day end up in ER, septic. Three weeks in hospital ICU, 8 surgeries, kidneys and heart fail, systems shut down.
But somehow I'm not done yet. All systems come back online, slowly. Two more surgeries, last one July 2010. Some other personally disastrous stuff, NTBDP (NotToBeDiscussedPublically).
So - maybe, maybe, the long streak of bad luck has screeched to a halt - and this wreck of human flesh can pull itself back together and write again.
God willing and the creek don't rise, as Grandpa would say, I'll be posting again. And please no OMGIMSOSORRYRUOK txts. Time for tea and sympathy is over. There's a long road behind. I'm not looking over my shoulder NYMORE. I'm looking at a long -- and exciting - road ahead.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Eartha and Dad: They come and they go.

Closing Night of LeDuck and Dad's Alzheimer's . . .

So its still dark here in Salem, Oregon. Ice melting from the storm, sullen ice, drip drip drip, digging in its pointy heels, clinging to the branches 'til the last drop.

I think of Eartha and Dad, clinging to life until the last drop.

I walk outside. The ten-foot blueblossom tree kneels on the ground under the weight of the ice.
The Baker's Cypress bows in surrender.

A Yukon birch bends at a forty-five degree angle.
The chorus of willows, a curtain call.
I see the branches of the ninebark tree touch the ground; I am doubtful it will recover.

Dad, who has Alzheimer's, yells for me. I come running inside. He's in panic. "Diana! The wells have run dry!" He's learned for the 100th time that the water pressure is low. I tell him that the ice storm wrecked the pump, which will be replaced Monday, and there is plenty of water. He can't remember that; only the anxiety of No Water, imprinted on his brain after years running the native plant nursery. "Diana, the wells have run dry," he says again, and I write down the answer so he can read it, over and over.

Like Eartha, Dad had colon cancer. And also pancreatic cancer. And kidney cancer. Incredibly, he beat them all. But Alzheimer's got him now, and there's no wiggle room out of that one. And yet he hangs on; he has vowed to "fight that big night" until the bitter end.

He was a true conservative. Patriotic. He served in WWII and the Korean War, and was on the deck of the USS Missouri, standing behind McCain, when the "little Japanese men in black suits climbed up the side" and sat down opposite MacArthur and signed the surrender documents.

For his birthday December 3, we gave him a flag flown over the capitol. He pulled it out of the box and was silent for a moment. Then: "I fought many wars for this flag."
They put him in the army corps of engineers in WWII because had filled out a questionnaire that asked: Do you object to serving with Negroes?

Dad wrote he had no objection to serving with anyone, and so he was assigned as an officer to a squadron of black troops who followed the front lines, doing reconstruction. He learned that the belief was that African-Americans would turn and run from battle, and thus were placed behind the front lines. After the war, it dawned on him that while all of his college friends had lost their lives, many at Normandy, he was still alive because of that questionnaire. His friends had objected to "serving with Negroes," but Dad had not, and was relegated to the back with his black troops, and was spared.

He was furious with Eartha when she denounced the war; there were many family arguments over that one. But he mellowed over the years, and by 2006, when Eartha agreed to play Vallet in Mimi LeDuck, he hated to admit he had voted for Bush. He wanted to see Eartha perform, but he was busy losing a kidney, and couldn't leave Salem.

I hear Dad calling. I go inside and spend a few hours with him. Outside, more ice has melted. The old Garry oak in the front yard has broken free of the white stuff. The sun shines through mist, illuminating the moss. I show Dad. "Beautiful," he says. "This beauty is enough to live for."
Suddenly, I feel a pang of homesickness for the urban beauty of New York. I alternate between coasts these days, running Dad's native plant nursery for him until we can decide what to do, and back for stints of writing in New York. The best of both worlds, I think, but I can't seem to write here in Salem, midst the Trilliums and the Alzheimer's.

And so they go, one by one. I remember closing night of LeDuck.

I was exhausted and devastated and sad. Eartha took it all in stride. She said "give me a hug," and I did (she was so very very tiny, like a bird) and then she said "They come and they go, dear, but not your talent. There'll be other shows for you," and asked if she could use "Everything Changes" in her cabaret act. Of course, I said. Of course.

I am unsuccessfully editing this post when I hear Dad calling again. "Diana, the wells are running dry." I'll post, mistakes, bad tenses, and all.

Dad's at the sink, opening and closing the faucet, panicked. I reassure him yet again. Dad, dad, dad.

We come and we go, but there's water in the well, and there'll be other shows.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Aloha, Eartha Kitt

So I’m iced in on Christmas Day and Marie calls from New Orleans: Eartha Kitt passed away.

And the emails began flooding in from people telling me how Eartha's ethereal rendition of the song “Everything Changes” had moved them.

Our lives overlapped briefly during the production of Mimi LeDuck in the fall of 2006. The show ran for 58 performances, and generally got lousy reviews -- except for Eartha’s performance, which was extraordinary.

Everywhere today, eloquent voices are raised, toasting to memories, and praising her talent, pluck, and humanity. I would like to add a story.

I wrote the song “Everything Changes” for LeDuck after looking in the mirror one morning and for the first time, realizing that my time was, indeed, marching on. Eartha took my words, inhabited them, gave them life, and made them her own. And when they poured out of the depths of her soul, they turned them into the bittersweet cry that all of us who are aging feel, but cannot express.

She took my words and gave them back to me, a song.

My birthday fell during rehearsal. Over the birthday cake, we were conspirators in aging, and when she sang “Everything Changes” that day, it was a gift to me, and for that, I thank her.

The original cast album after the show closed. Despite numerous requests, I never released it. I don’t really know why, Perhaps it’s ghosts, perhaps I’ll figure it out, perhaps I’ll write about what really happened one of these days.

But meanwhile, it is clear to me that thousands of her fans want to hear this song. The partial clips on YouTube have over 60,000 hits. It would be downright mean if I stubbornly refused to release it.

So I’ll get it up on iTunes and other download stores as soon as possible (keep checking) and will have a limited number of CD’s duplicated.

Email me at if you want to be notified when it’s available.

Aloha, Eartha.

Rest In Peace.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Anxiety vibrates out of the TV set

and fills the room as the stock market tanks again.

My cell phone rings; I've cleverly forwarded the Salem nursery phone to my cell phone so I can do dad's native plant business while in New York. I put the TV on mute.

It's a government public works office who ordered several thousand plants for a restoration project six months ago. They are calling to cancel the order. Drastic budget cuts, they say. We have no money. We have to cut programs, or benefits. So, I ask, what about these plants? What about the labor? What about our contract? So sorry, they say; refer to the cancellation clause.

Six major mitigation and wetland restoration jobs put on hold, or canceled, in the past 3 days. This thing is gathering speed, barreling downhill on us.

I'm good and angry as I watch the images on the muted TV screen. Now, I'm disgusted with both candidates, congress, the president, King Henry. Where's the leadership? I hear empty rhetoric. I don't hear a plan. Everyone gets vague when they try to explain exactly how these bailouts are supposed to work.

So tell me, Barak and John and George and Henry: Tell me exactly what to say to the guys here at the nursery if I have to I lay them off next week? They've been with Dad for 15 years.

Give me the words.

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