Many people have asked to read chapter excerpts from the book I am writing about Asha Veil and the crime which took her, and her unborn daughter, away forever. I have decided to create another blog for the specific purpose of posting chapters for my readers. Please click on the link and it will take you there.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Definitely the Wrong Post

I have a few email subscribers and want to apologize for accidentally sending out my very first posting from 2006 on Asha Veil's murder.  I was searching through to archive comments on it and accidentally sent it out.  I also checked Google Plus to make sure it didn't go there. I apologize it if was upsetting to everyone.  I need to get all my posts from that time organized, but hopefully there will not be an accidental send-out again.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dear Fellow Vegans

I am a vegan, mostly, and have a message for fellow vegans in my circle of friends,and a few on the periphery:

While you are ranting about how compassionate you are and how socially aware you are, and how much you love Mother Earth because you don't eat meat, and yet cuss out and ridicule people who do, calling them all sorts of rude names and shoving your lifestyle down their throats, you look like hypocrites...and in fact, you are, showing exactly zero compassion for the people around you.

 Please do not wonder, then, why people do not wish to adopt veganism.  No one wants to be bullied into doing anything, so get off people's backs. Maybe if you truly attempt to become a kind and compassionate person, perhaps people might respect your example and be intrigued. By the way, I obviously have a long ways to go in the compassion department, but I try. And I have had a few people say and do some pretty mean things when they find out I don't generally eat meat, but that is their blood pressure going up, not mine.

 Thank you for listening. Now you can go back to excoriating your family and friends, who secretly think you are an ass--a label you have earned, by the way. You don't have to be an oppressive ass to educate and encourage people.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Earthquake in Nepal

Please consider donating to earthquake relief in Nepal. Nearly two thousand are dead, including seventeen climbers in quake-triggered avalanches on Mount Everest. The death toll is climbing; untold numbers are injured and homeless, with people sleeping outside in extremely cold temperatures. Towns are in ruins, as well as huge areas of Kathmandu. Even a five-dollar donation will help. We are one Earth, one family:

Photo courtesy of Reuters

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A River of Light

Tonight was a good example of "cast your bread upon the water."  Some people who could really help me "see" Asha are reluctant to talk to me, for reasons I intuit: pain, grief, perhaps the sense that others have tried to exploit her death for their own gain, and I have no way to express that what I am trying to do might be different...actually I can express it, but if there is a wall of pain, or past betrayal, this is what is. I have no idea of the depth of this trauma, for I have never experienced this: when I face it, I feel like I can only throw a single flower, a metaphor that I truly do care, down into the darkest well of a sadness I can never comprehend.  I lost a child; I lost a man I loved with all my heart who will never, ever really speak to me again, who will never sing in the dark to me again, who will never hold me in his arms, the only place I ever felt 100 percent safe in a world that, for me, has so rarely been safe.

But my child died from some natural cause, though no one ever found out exactly what, and my friend lives on.  I cry only for missing him: his warmth, his touch, the laughter we had, all of which he will share with another whose life is less messy and ragged than mine, someone who is thinner and younger and less ridiculous than me. Someone else will wake in the tall house with the rose tree in front, the Cecile Brunner roses that grow everywhere in Santa Cruz right now, soft pink suns that sadden me. He is not dead; someone did not destroy his existence; I am not left behind with a crater ripped into my heart forever, as least not like that.   For as long as someone is alive, there is hope for reconciliation. Death throws down a portcullis forever.

 How will I ever really see her face, hear her voice metaphorically?  Her life was of worth; I do not want to turn my eyes away from her life; I do not want to turn my back on her, and metaphorically leave her in the place where she died.   The writer calls into the silence; the voice of the dead echoes back.

Asha, what do you want me to do now?

Does this mean you don't really want your story to be told, that you are like Persephone and have finished your time with me, and now you must turn from me and return to the darkness? I cannot call this a "setback:" this is a human being's unimaginable grief and pain, a pain I would gladly shoulder if I could, and not turn away.  Asha, is it that that you were just saying hello, telling me I had the power to write your story, that if it could have been possible, I might have brought you and your child back for a little while in the shelter of my words, to stand in the world again for a time? I am willing to do whatever it takes to write the best story about you that I can.  I am willing to go across the world to "find" you metaphorically.  Why do I want to so much, to write your story? To pour my heart into it?  To make my words into a river of light, the way lanterns are lit on graves all over Poland on All Saints Day, to help the dead find their way? This is what I want to do for you, a young woman and a little girl who were lost; I want my words to be a thousand lanterns in the dark.

I doubt and fear.  I have to receive a "no" with gentle hands.  Even a "no" is a gift.

What were those signs, what did they mean, and were they signs at all?  When I drove through the dark, frightened of not being good enough to tell your story, a grey owl flew across my path.  Sitting in the dark on my deck in Lompico, I said out loud that I was afraid Anina and Asha will go down the river of time, that I want them to never be forgotten, the way so many women and children are forgotten. When I said this, suddenly the owls began their song.  Always the owls, and the raven feathers I find at my feet when I am walking in the woods and think of you.  What about the time when I clearly heard you say, in the dark, "hello" to me in Polish, and that sharp tug on my blanket?  And the time last summer when I asked out loud, in my car, what you wanted me to say if I could write your story, and I suddenly saw a tiny silver charm, shaped like a goddess, on the floor of my car? What were all these things? 

At the end of my book (I wrote the ending first), Asha's voice breaks in directly.  She describes her paradise, of being a mother, feeding her child, taking an afternoon walk with her, watching the sun set over a steel blue ocean. For five pages, I give her the life I believe she deserved to have, the afterlife I pray she might inhabit, if that is what she wanted.  It is as if her voice broke through me and spoke:  I imagined that the spirits of murdered women and children took her away from the ravine where her body was thrown and led her to the afterlife, that she gave birth to her baby, that in a world beyond this one, everything she wanted happened for her.  It is all I can believe, for her, for all of us: do we get our particular heavens when we leave this life?  I think so.  Writers have the power to raise the dead, for a time, to hold their hands and stand with them, to help them tell their stories.

We need these stories told well, to the utmost power a writer can muster, so we know exactly who, and what, was lost, to push us hard into creating a world where these terrible things no longer happen.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Thistle has an extravaganza of a school play tomorrow, so she has been singing her class's song, "New York, New York" all this afternoon, even when we were at Kmart, where she practiced the dance routine that goes with it while we were in the dressing room. Prety funny!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Another Photo

I have some photos on Facebook of my bellydance journey (I have been dancing since 2002 and have a lot of photos).  I really feel like a narcissist posting all of them because I think a bazillion selfies indicate that, but I usually don't put selfies on Facebook.

Here is one that I think sums up my bellydance journey.  I look at these photos and often think I should dye my hair again, but I worked too hard to get it silver, and it started to look so fake...plus all those chemicals on my head...no...I look more like myself now with my long gray hair.  I am sure if I posed in the same clothes again, I would still look okay.

These were some of the happiest days of my life.  I was in love, and I felt loved, and even though I was fighting serious health problems, and had not yet been diagnosed as bipolar (Lamictal brought me back to myself), I still knew great happiness then, and happiness is a good thing to have had.

It was one of the few days in my life where I felt what it meant to be beautiful, inside and out.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bellydance Photos

At the Rosicrucian museum in San Jose, posing behind a papyrus plant. I did not recognize myself when I first saw this. This shows part of the costume for my troupe, Dancers of the Crescent Moon.

I am with my other troupe, Damascus, at a dance festival in Santa Clara. I'm the second tallest, on the end, with dark hair and a royal blue top.

Once again, I did not recognize myself at first when I saw this,

One of my favorite pictures, in a beloved place.

Tribal Fusion outfit, again in that beloved place.

I laughed and smiled more in his photographs of me than with anyone else.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

I Try To

Sorry for not posting for a few days; I am still recuperating from being sick. Thanks to all my readers who visit here even when I do not post.

I look back on times in my life when I was "the canary in the mine" about someone whom I knew had some sort of tendency that could turn dangerous to someone, somewhere: kids, women, me, or just people in general.  I  unfortunately seem to attract such people into my life without knowing.  The last time, I actually researched someone on the Internet before continuing a friendship with them.  I chose to ignore some troubling Internet posts and a few statements in person and in email.  In retrospect, I should have sat down with them and really probed all of what I had learned; it was important and in truth, all those things contributed to the eventual and disastrous end.  I tend to be too lenient with people, too willing to believe that the passage of time alone equals personal change.

But what do you do when someone has tendencies that are really unacceptable by any standard, when you know they have the capability of doing someone harm, who picks out unsuspecting and naive people and probably spends  the majority of their time planning on how to rope those people in.  What do you do when you see it?  There is no way to warn anyone.  I see the potential for something terrible to happen by a person who apparently has learned nothing at all, who may even like what they are doing, especially if they can get away with it.  But nothing criminal or frightening has been done yet.  Persons of their ilk do not care about anything except getting caught.  They can do the trapdoor spider thing for many years,

It is a sad fact that no one believes the ex: the ex-friend, the ex-partner, the ex-spouse, someone who has, for whatever reason, left the circle.  The trapdoor spider is good about saying that those people are crazy, mental cases, not to be trusted, have a grudge.  It is only when they get caught that people say, "Why didn't you say something?"  I don't say anything because nobody in my former circle who could be victimized or has a vulnerable person in their lives would ever believe me.  Trapdoor spiders are good at protecting themselves, until they slip up and their web is broken.  At that point, when all hell breaks loose and they get consequences for their actions, people believe you after all, realize it was not just a grudge, that this person who was seemingly so charming, so nice and benign, was so completely far from that.  They know it and do  everything possible to stay covert, to focus on their project.

I've come to two beliefs: I cannot protect anyone except the ones in my own care.  If I see a predatorial person honing in on someone young and vulnerable, I can do nothing about it except hope the young adult finds common sense.  I can do nothing except wait, because the one thing I do know is that people who are trapdoor spiders often get sloppy after a certain time and get caught.  That is my other belief: actively wait, hope, and pray, and these people trip themselves up eventually.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Last Night

Last night, driving mountain roads to my home in Lompico, which I love so much, I panicked about my book.  Always the question: am I doing the right thing, writing about this woman, the scrutinizing questions I may bump up against if this sees the light of  day: she was beautiful, a white woman, and so many others with similar stories, but who are ignored because of marginalization in this terrible world, go untold.  But she was an immigrant who came here to a country where some of the population maintains cruelty about all immigrants, a courageous woman who did not have so much means that she could raise Anina with child support, like a huge percentage of single parents, an educated and talented woman who worked as a cashier because such jobs are what women in this county, rife with unemployment, often get when they are first here: cashiers, baristas, working in bookstores, caregiving, preschool teaching, cleaning homes.  This is what we do, we who are not women who have endless amounts of money with rich spouses to support us.  I believe she had courage and cared greatly about herself and the baby girl she carried.  To express this courage rightly is one of my challenges

When Asha disappeared, but before she was found, people who did not know her at all cruelly said she was with her husband only to get a green card, that little Anina was an "anchor baby".  One horrible man said that she was a "tattooed Polish whore" just to say it, the stupid evil man.  These statements, when I saw them online, made me sick to my core.  These insane statements I put here because this is also why I write: to show that not all people loved her, though those people did NOT know her, but hid behind their computer screens and passed judgement on her.  This is the hardest to write: the ignorance of people who never knew her at all contrasted with the ones who did, and who loved her best, absolutely.  And yet at times I feel like the ignorant one, like a painter filling in the lines because I did not knew her well. It is ironic that I am compelled to be a writer, yet it is the hardest thing for me so often.

This week I write about when her car was found, and what that meant, and what began to dawn on people, and me, and still we prayed she was out there, alive.  I believed that; I looked for her, an hour or two a day, driving rural roads: I feared she had taken a walk in the forest, as I had done so often when I was pregnant, the midwife had told me when I carried my son that walks were good, they made the baby settle into the right position.  I thought perhaps she had parked her car and gone for that walk; her car was found in a nice neighborhood.  I wondered if she had gotten lost, veered into the woods, God forbid had given birth to a premature baby there. If any of these things had happened, she would have been found, would still be here, among us, with Anina, and with a heck of a story to tell.  When she was missing, I sat on my deck at night and listened into the dark, as I do almost every night now, listening for the scream of cougars, bobcats, and always, the owls.  I hoped I might hear her voice out there when she was lost, and call the police, who would follow that voice to where she was.  None of these things happened.  It is left to me to take a path in the forest, to tell her story, finding clues like bright small stones as I go.

The weight of all these things stood heavily on me, though I concentrated on the road, passing through a landslide area with a ravine on the other side, so much like the place where they found her. I suddenly saw a small gray owl, probably a screech owl, fly into the light cast by my headlights.  It floated across the road and vanished into the forest.  I waited as it flew, grateful for its presence and its grace.  Then homeward to cleaning and working a little, calmed from my fears and centered again.  I think Asha's sign to me are owls, in many forms, a sure and quiet voice from the deep dark and the silence which says, "Don't worry."

Sunday, April 12, 2015

some photos from my little house in Lompico

For those of you who don't know, Lompico is a tiny  mountain community in Santa Cruz County. I have a small house there which I am actively working to get into better shape.

Here is the "Buddha Room," my little bedroom where I also write.  Buddha was given to me by a person I love very much, and Buddha is good company for my writing time. Some of the books in the shelves are disordered because I am sorting out ones to donate. The purple painting is one my eldest son made long ago, of a wave, I think; the other painting is one that I found in my house one day, long ago, as I was decluttering. The little bird statue was given to me byThistle's mommy, my younger daughter.  You can also see part of my altar on the side table, with a turkey feather from one of the wild turkeys up the road, and a little bit of my bed, too. It is a safe spot for me. And yes, in front of the Georgia O'Keefe morning glory painting (actually a book) on the shelf are my ruby slippers. I was Dorothy once for Halloween and covered some red high heels with sequins.

 The other picture is of the guardian of my front door, my angel named Jack.  I don't know why I call him that. He has guarded the door to my  house for over twenty years.

Things are still shabby there, and will be for some time (the walls and curtain, and some of the desk, look filthy but I assure you they are not..the picture has some grayness in spots because my Kindle does not always take great pics and the lighting was not good) but it is a nice and tranquil place, much cozier than the picture indicates, and my true home.  I do not have a lot of money to decorate it, but I like the simplicity.