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.


Friday, July 31, 2015

Howling for Madyson Middleton

At 8:30 pm, as the moon rose, everyone was to howl like a wolf for Madyson Middleton,the child murdered in Santa Cruz this week, for she loved wolves, The canyon where I live echoed with howls, as if a hundred packs of wolves had gathered, all our neighborhood taking part. Thistle and I howled at the top of our lungs; a small gray owl and a bat flew just over our heads. Goodbye, little girl, goodbye; may our voices carry you down the river of light.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Sadness in the World/Madyson Middleton

I have flashes of memory about Maddy Middleton, who played with my granddaughter occasionally when we went, of the young man who killed her...though I knew neither of the two very well, I remember Maddy playing with Thistle and others at the Tannery playground and courtyard from time to time after Thistle's dance class or forays to the Tannery cafe. She was just a sweet, outgoing child. I saw her last Thursday with other kids in the courtyard. I talked to the young man also from time to time. He was an amazing yoyo player, and Thistle loved seeing the yoyo tricks. He seemed just a regular-looking teenager, though I thought he was much older than fifteen.

His arraignment is tomorrow; I am not going because, if it is in Superior Court, it will be crowded with angry and grieving people, and tons of media. I will start updating things again tomorrow. Please bear with me; this is an exhausting time for Santa Cruz citizens.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Madyson, Gone

On Sunday, July 26, 2015, an eight-year-old girl, who lived at the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz, went missing without a trace.  It seems she was riding her scooter one moment, and then she was gone.  Around eight p.m. the next day, her body was discovered in a dumpster, located inside a garage area at the Tannery.  One source stated that law enforcement had thoroughly searched the dumpster and trash containers at the Tannery on Sunday, and so it is very likely her body was placed by the killer after that search.  A fifteen-year-old young man has been arrested in the case and is being questioned.  He is a resident of the Tannery. No charges have been filed so far; they are still questioning him. 

For those of you not in Santa Cruz, the Tannery Arts Center has been an astounding focal point for our community.  It was built on the site of a real tannery (Salz Tannery) and now hosts art studios, dance spaces, and a big living complex for artists, writers, etc.  It hosts amazing events and has a great little cafe, the Art Bar.  I am at the Tannery often; I take two dance classes there and Thistle also has a class there.  It has been a very wonderful place for our community to gather.  It also is located in a sketchy area, but that had nothing to do with Madyson's disappearance.  I theorized to people around me and privately on Facebook that it was likely a "stranger" abduction, though what I meant was that someone had observed her playing around the Tannery, or knew her, and got her trust somehow to lure her off.  Indeed, Madyson must have know this young man, and probably for some time before he took her away.

I am sickened into my deepest heart over this.  I suppose it is an eternal question, never to be adequately answered: why do these things happen?

 There is no answer.  There are only our voices asking this, and hearing our echoes back.

The sad truth is, we can never identify all the potential killers among us.  Ted Bundy was an extremely charming, brilliant, and personable man, malignant and destructive at his core.  Michael McClish helped take groceries out to people's car, greeted people in the Ben Lomond Market where he worked with Asha Veil, and was described by many people (who probably didn't know him as well as people close to him) as kind person; to this day, some in our community feel that "such a nice guy" didn't kill Asha (despite that he was found guilty through irrefutable evidence).  Even the Unabomber had friends when he lived in his wilderness shack. He frequented the library to order and check out books, and befriended the librarian, whose son he tutored in German.  The mother was aghast to find out that this "nice man" who was her good friend and had an interest in helping her son was the Unabomber.  Killers who, in the course of daily life, seem personable and relatively sane are the norm, not the exception.

So what do we do with this ocean of destruction and grief, which never ceases rolling in and overwhelming everything, all over the world?  I do not know.  I do know that for myself, it again consolidates my resolve to write about Asha and Anina and the effect it had on everyone around her, to show how courageously she lived--the courage of a young woman determined to give birth to her child and raise her alone, if necessary--and how courageously those left behind carry their sorrow.

I think the best we can do at times is to wear grief like a tattoo on the heart and be aware of its presence, because grief never really goes away.  There is no "moving on." There is no "putting this behind us."  There is only scar tissue that covers a perpetual wound.  Though the grief is not actively felt, in time, it is still there and can roar back if the right circumstances are present.  For myself, this sort of grief is an honoring: I carry it in my heart and in my life, a scar to show that someone lived among us, and was a part of us, and that person is now gone.

Note: there is NO vigil at the Tannery tonight nor the town clock. There is supposed to be a candelight vigil at 9  on West Cliff Drive, meeting at West Cliff and John Street.

Please hold this little child and her family in your hearts or light a candle in her honor if you cannot attend the vigil.  We tried so hard here in our community to bring her back safely to her loved ones.


Madyson Middleton, the missing girl I wrote about in my last post, was found dead in a dumpster behind the Tannery Arts Complex in Santa Cruz. A fifteen year old boy has been arrested in connection with her death. I used to see Maddie at the Tannery often, riding her scooter.


I am too heartbroken to write more tonight.

Monday, July 27, 2015


An eight-year-old girl is missing from the Tannery Arts Center, Santa Cruz County. She has been gone since last night. Here is the Missing Person flyer, another picture of Maddie,   and a security camera photo showing the outfit she was wearing and the scooter she was writing. She has vanished without a trace. Please feel free to download the flyer, post it on your website, send via Twitter, etc.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


I was up in my Lompico house most of the evening, sanding the inside of the first cabinet I will paint with Kilz .  I do not like the "old summer cabin" smell of the cabinets and want to get rid of  that.  Sanding is quite meditative.  I will probably put a new finish on the cabinets when done.  I do not like to unduly praise myself, but I am doing a good  job with all the DIY repair in the little house.  It is hard work, but very pleasing and good for self-esteem.  I hope to have all the repairs I can do personally and all the cleanups done by the end of summer, and the carpets cleaned (taking advantage of the hot weather).  It is a relatively tiny house at 950 square feet.  It would fit into the top of CG's house, easily.

 But it is mine, and in my little safe, snug house, Asha Veil comes to me more easily to tell her story.  I cry there at times, though, for all I failed to do as a mother and, when I was married, a wife.  Given that I still have PTSD from a violent rape so many decades later from the experience (though it is much better now and quiescent in my daily life)., one might infer how it affected me when I was younger. I relived it nearly every night in my sleep; I have not had a nightmare in well over a year and a half, and rarely before then, but in those years, fear and helplessness stalked my sleep.

I sometimes tell people that 100 percent of this book--maybe 200 percent--is being written on faith alone. I have no idea if Asha's husband will speak to me (there is some information about that I do not wish to share here), or her family.  At night, I have candles I light on my windowsill, and have been doing this for many years.  One candle is of Pope John Paul II,  because he is the patron saint of Poland  and I ask him every night to help me speak to Asha's husband and family, but only if it will not do more harm than good. I ask for the money to go there if it is in Spirit's will. At every step of the way, I have to monitor my integrity and my intent with this.  I turn to spiritual sources often for the things I need these days, and often those prayers are answered.

In other news, I have to make up a choreography in the next 24 hours for a phrase in a song in one of my dance classes.  I have to say that I really do NOT like the song.  It takes eight bazillion years to get to the phrase I am choreographing, and I am not even sure I am doing it right at all...but all it means, if I did something wrong, is that I tried, and will do better next time.  My teacher isn't going to shoot me for not getting the choreography right (I think she may have foisted something rather difficult on us, too, perhaps challenging for the newbies in class).

So, a lot of things to do with writing and very little time to do it in!  My Thistle is very demanding this summer, as I am the chief cook, bottle washer, and entertainment committee.  I am very much enjoying Thistle's time at the beach with me, for one thing: the first time she saw waves, she flipped out., and now she is becoming very bold about being in the (shallow part) of the ocean--so much so that when the water got rough, she wouldn't stop sitting down in the water, and kept getting knocked down when the water pulled back.  We had a long talk about respecting the ocean, and that it was not like a swimming pool!

Well, off to the choreography....

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

 A favorite poem by Pablo Neruda:

Here I Love You
Here I love you
In the dark pines the wind disentangles itself.
The moon glows like phosphorous on the vagrant waters
Days, all one kind, go chasing each other
The snow unfurls in dancing figures.
A silver gull slips down from the west.
sometimes a sail. High, high stars.
Oh the black cross of a ship.
Sometimes I get up early and even my soul is wet.
Far away the sea sounds and resounds.
This is a port.
Here I love you.
Here I love you and the horizon hides you in vain.
I love you still among these cold things.
Sometimes my kisses go on those heavy vessels
that cross the sea towards no arrival.
I see myself forgotten like those old anchors.
The piers sadden when the afternoon moors there.
My life grows tired, hungry to no purpose.
I love what I do not have. You are so far.
My loathing wrestles with the slow twilights.
But night comes and starts to sing to me.
The moon turns its clockwork dream.
The biggest stars look at me with your eyes.
And as I love you, the pines in the wind
want to sing your name with their leaves of wire

Monday, July 20, 2015


Well, well, well.  Miracles abound every day.  My ex finally took down the information he had in his personal ad about my lack of basic mental health and my breakdown after being sexually assaulted. I had become privy to this ad due to an alert by a mutual friend on the same site, and yes, I have checked since then from time to time.

I suppose I should thank him for showing a shred of human decency, even if consideration of me was not a factor in changing his ad.  It's the closest thing I have ever had to an apology of any sort from him.

Just as background, I felt compelled to handwrite him a note about the ad some time ago, asking him to consider that I am only human and fragile, like the rest of the people on the planet, and that was the sum total of my "crime" in reacting as I did after I was attacked.

And frankly, no human being should EVER feel compelled to write such a note to someone who once purported to care about them.  Ever. In all the years I've had relationships, I have never felt the least need to write such a note, to anyone, no matter how badly things ended.  In fact, I've had exes come out of the woodwork to apologize to me in the last few years for unacceptable behavior towards me, and I accept these apologies: it takes a lot of humility and courage to do that. I've made many such apologies myself. But I've never had to ask for any form of mercy for something that clearly, at heart, was the doing of a perpetrator who came out of the dark and attacked me.

The truth is that there are very few people in modern society who escape mental health issues, from mild depression onwards.  Trauma can bring down sanity in a matter of minutes, though we are an astounding species in that our minds CAN recover.  Life can turn on a dime and not one person can ever become hubristic enough to believe that they can escape that.  Hubris is fatal, because it leaves you vulnerable and rather stupid, and often not able to cope when life throws its worst at you.

When you realize that life can and will, to greater and lesser degrees, turn on a dime, you can at least know that the good things in life are a true gift.  I've known friends who have gone from being able-bodied to disabled  in a matter of seconds, from having a stroke to being in an accident of some kind.  Heck, I broke my lower spine by slipping and falling off a high bank into a creek, on my back. It is a miracle that I can even sit and type, much less dance, or even walk around. That we are alive at all is a gift, given all the things that go against us.

To ridicule someone for any sort of mental health issues is a trait that belongs to a time when people wrote with dip pens on parchment, not now...yet in my opinion, these issues are still often treated with cruelty, judgement, and shaming.  And it should never, under any circumstances, be that way.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Day One of 1/2 chemo

I will likely report on how things are going with my chemo cut in half.   This is going to take time to gauge if my remission holds.  Today was a good day, with no nausea.  That is good, because it has been very up and down: relentless at times, and I could only take Zofran (anti nausea) in a limited way.  My pain levels are nonexistent except for some in my lower back (I broke my spine at L5 in a hiking accident a few years ago and have a slightly bulged disc.  I have worked very hard at getting to a good place with my back and am gaining much strength again.

It was a good day.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


I have had systemic lupus since 1993.  If you don't know what lupus is, please read the following Wikipedia entry, which is very comprehensive.


I have had a long struggle with this illness, which killed my sister Maryanne in 2008.  We dreamed of being old ladies together, of living close to each other and visiting each day.  This did not come to pass.  When she died, I didn't even know she had gone to the hospital, so sad were the circumstances surrounding her life.

She deserved so much better, and I believe she would have lived longer had she known some measure of true happiness in her relationship.  I have never attempted to contact the man she was with. I could not believe the swiftness with which he wanted to purge himself of anything to do with her.  He insisted on keeping her ashes.  When he was going to supposedly disperse them at Point Reyes, he invited only my younger sister and tried to pick up on her when he did so (she didn't go).  Sometimes I ruefully say that the container of her ashes is on his closet shelf, gathering dust.

I have outlived her now by seven years.  In November 2013, I entered into a near-fatal flare of lupus and nearly lost all my kidney function.  I began a course of chemotherapy with Imuran, which once was used to combat leukemia and now is used as an anti-rejection agent in organ transplantation.  It is incredibly toxic. I cried and was terrified to take it; I had been trying to eat healthily and exercise, and suddenly I would begin taking such a toxic substance.  I did not know that everyone who takes chemo in ways large and small goes through this.

I have been on Imuran for a year and eight months.  Yesterday, after many months of blood tests, my rheumatologist told me that my lupus is probably in complete remission and he cut my chemotherapy down by half.  In six months, if all goes well, I have the chance of going off chemo entirely.  This last bout of lupus was the closest I have ever come to dying of the disease.  It has taken a long time for my body to begin to recover and feel really healthy; that will take time.

For now, though , a reprieve: I shall live.  I will not lose my kidneys.  I fought very hard for this day and am proud of myself.  That is the simple outcome of such a fight: I have bought more time, and that is a precious thing to hold.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


It's sad to witness division in a family you knew and loved, some of whom still love you. It is sad when the eldest of a family instigated that division for the sake of money. Now he can slap a check down any time he likes and travel to Europe, this guy who, when I thought I was pregnant with his baby, told me that he had just gotten to the point in life where he could buy nice things for himself and a child would change all that, implying I should get an abortion for the sake of his wallet. Of course. I wasn't pregnant then. I never told him when I did get pregnant by him and miscarried, alone. Perhaps it was wrong to deny him the few weeks of knowing he was, for the briefest time, a father. Perhaps I wanted that baby to myself, fearing a negative reaction.  He will never know that I carried his child.  If he knew, he likely would only be happy the pregnancy didn't take. I want to forget being treated like that, but it is a thorn.  Hopefully one day I will dig it out of my heart.

He has money and lots of time to do what he pleases, and perhaps he is far happier in his life now without me.  Money compensates for a lot of things, or so it seems.  I am sure he would not trade any of his life now for the good things we shared for so many years.  When he dies one day, his money and possessions will be scattered to the four winds, just like mine. I wonder sometimes what he will have to show for his existence on this planet. I wonder that about myself as well.

The root of my anger is not his attitude towards money, or really his freedom to do as he wishes, etc.--it something else, a shadow seed.  I ask into the forest at night, silently: How can this be? How can a person be like this? I do not understand it.  How did I not know this, and yet knew it somehow, for years? I dreamed over and over that we lived in a beautiful multi-level house, but he would always tell me in the dream there was a fourth story we could not enter, ever, that something scary lived up there. That secret was like having a cobra hidden beneath our bed, one he knew was there, but I did not. When the cobra slithered out and attacked, I had no way to defend myself.

 His secret is not mine to tell.  Many couples have a fatal secret between them: that is all I can say. When I think of him, it is there, like a drop of red falling into a glass of clearest water.  There is the absolute dissonance between the person I loved and thought I knew, and the person who emerged when the mirror of our life shattered.  Sometimes I see such silly things, in memory: making tomato-ginger soup at his stove in the Tall House, cooking beautiful heirloom tomatoes in a big pot, so many colors and flavors, m. approaching the soup pot with a GIANT handful of grated ginger, with his sweet, goofy smile, as if offering me a bouquet of the most beautiful flowers.  It was a simple life. Would he trade his life now for one more minute of the happiness we shared, which was far more abundant than the sad times?  Will he, at the end of his life, remember those things, the small everyday things he ultimately thought were worthless, and yet in truth are priceless?  These are questions with no answers: I speak them into  the night and the wind takes then away. 

As cruel as this is, and yes, it is cruel, I realize I am wealthier than him, when all is said and done.  I took Thistle to the beach for the first time today; at first she screamed in terror, never having seen a wave since she was a tiny baby.  She ran away from the water and then came back; I encouraged her to dip her toes in at the place where the wave leaves white foam.  Eventually she was screaming with laughter, clinging to me (at my insistence) as the low waves broke and the water came in.  She threw seaweed and sand  into the water, and watched seaweed lift into the transparent curl of a wave.

Between wave sets, I whispered to her about the otters out in the kelp beds, and dolphins, and deeper still, far out beyond the waves, whales singing to each other, telling their ancient stories.  She walked back to the car with me, tired and yet wound up, her clothes wet with salt water, asking a million questions about the ocean, the waves, and when we would go back to the beach.  Soon, I told her.  Tomorrow she will go to swim lessons and her dance lesson.  I will sit and watch all these, the kids jumping into the pool, the little girls twirling and running with colorful scarves.  I realize how lucky I am to have these things.

There are people who build their lives around concealing a secret who can do no more than that: everything they do is enslaved to the secret.  I am sorry for the way he has to be in this life, for the frightened cleverness he has to employ to keep one step ahead.  Who knows the real story?  Who has glimpsed the cobra in the shadows?  And why was he created so, to shoulder such a burden?  I will not know these things.  What he does in this life is surely built around a core of terrible emptiness, an emptiness no human being could ever want.  This I knew, when I knew him.

When all is said and done, this is my wealth, far beyond what I can pull out of my wallet or build up in my bank account. It is the incomparable wealth of holding a child in the tide as she laughs, braving every crash of the waves with her, and putting her to bed that night with the scent of salt water still in her hair.