Saturday, March 28, 2015

I Love Lupus...


I just read something by a cancer survivor which was basically a romantic love letter to her cancer for teaching her so much. K, that is nice...glad she had an epiphany. It is one way to deal with it.

If I had cancer (which my chemo can actually cause), I would be hating on it and smashing its evil little cancerous head into the ground. There would be not one thing I would be grateful for about it. It would be the enemy invader and me the warrior. What I would be grateful for would be the days I would wrestle from it.

I think it's okay to do the happy crystal fuzzy warm feeling stuff, but it is definitely not for me. I would like to go out like an old tired warrior, knowing I put up my best fight to stay here. I was horrified when I began chemo for lupus, aware that every day, probably for the rest of my life, I would ingest a sort of poison to lower my immune system and without it, I would not live...but now that medicine is my weapon. Lupus is the enemy, and will never, ever be my friend.

Friday, March 27, 2015


Thistle was sent home with pinkeye, which is an eye infection a lot of kids pick up. The doctor gave me eye drops which hurt Thistle so much that I had to hold her tight and put the other drop in with her eye closed and had her blink...wIth more excruciating pain. A friend on Facebook said that the pain is caused by the sore eyes, not the drops per second. I was supposed to inflict this torture three times a day. I called the doctor the next morning and asked her for an alternative. She said the drops often cure the infection with one application and that there is a cream to use if it doesn't. Good!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

No Photos

It strikes me that I should take some photos of the work I am doing on my house.  I really don't have a lot of resources to do the real work on it (new roof, new deck, deciding whether I want a deck in the back, or a paved sort of thing, or a big garden space or greenhouse: actually could do the two latter things myself).  I still have been able to release old papers (I do not need all my old handouts and crap from teaching and grad school: I've kept all my class notes and a few other things, but the rest is  all going into the mists of time.  That and old kids clothes, ewaste, etc).  There is a "little library" in front of our small-town laundromat where you can donate old books.  The patrons of that establishment could end up being very emotionally healthy, because I keep donating all my old self-help books to the little library and they disappear from the shelves as fast as I can put them there.

My place had a few trashcans worth of stuff to get out, but it was definitely not like the  hoarder home that I was privy to and horrified at, the cleaning of which fell to the grown children in the family when the woman died. I felt sad for the friend I knew who did not even want me to see that house or go inside and seemed terribly embarrassed by it when I did..I think he even apologized for it as we drove home, though none of it was his fault, or any of his siblings.  It really ended up being a beautiful home when cleaned out, but when I first saw it, it was filled with hoarded papers, among other things--I mean piles of old magazines, ancient newspapers, etc. 

The first time I saw the place, I was okay in terms of being around all that paper (I used to have severe asthma), but the second time, the paper fiber, dust, and detritus got into my lungs and damn near destroyed them, and set off a chain of health problems that I have only begun to come out of this year.  I had been in relatively good health up until that time.  You can't get a hoarder to part with much, but I still wonder why no one tried to intervene with the elderly woman who lived in all that stuff.  It wasn't dirty, just crammed to the rafters, as homes sometimes get. I did get some nice things for Thistle out of it: a chalkboard easel, a cute rocking chair which she loves, a larger rocking chair I practically lived in when she was small and first came here, and a very sweet girl's lamp, which I am going to restore. And, for me, a lamp that illuminates my writing space; one day it will live in my little house, but it is somewhat fragile and needs to be handled and moved carefully.

Anyways, my stuff is greatly reduced and I am glad to get rid of it.  I gave away seven leather jackets to Goodwill: where did they all come from?  Nobody in my family wears leather jackets.  It's  as if they multiplied in the night, like Tribbles. 

Even though my little house is run-down, the inside is starting to look nicer and I am happier for it.  I sat out on the deck as usual and just let myself be a part of the absolute quiet, and willed gratitude for the things I have.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Wedding Bells

My young friend Paloma, a brave woman, just bought her wedding dress, which she will  soon wear to marry the love of her life. She was at the fringe, or the center, of the ensuing unpleasantness that severed my life from m., and I appreciate her abiding courage in what she did, not to be discussed here. May her marriage be forever blessed.  They are a sweet couple.

I myself do not think of marriage, focusing my attentions on my little girl, improving my health, and pouring my heart and soul into this book, determined to bring it to light.  I am, in some ways, married to it!

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Listening to the rain, getting tired. Good.  Better than last night: no fear of the story now.


The Disembodied Voice of M. starts up when I try to write (not a "voice in my head," but an intrusive memory:

"Your life is a series of crises.  Most people do not live like this." (and many other little gems of hostility tossed at me through the years, and he knew better than to do this).

Disembodied Voice of M., shut the fuck up, seriously. I'm sick of having these little gems of criticism in the back of my mind when I try to work.  I've been told various things by some of the people I've known through the years, but for some reason, m's criticisms hurt the worst, and they stick...maybe because this person, more than any other, was someone I trusted absolutely with my light and my shadows.  A friend should never take those things and use them for hurt.  Perhaps I devolve into them because his criticisms became familiar territory.

And yet, there is a bit of use in the little gems: every time, I overcome them and sit down to write another few pages of what I think might be the best writing of my life.  There is strength in finding the center despite everything.

 There are times  my fears about this book swarm me, about writing it, fear of the places it will take me, and I know it, and am afraid: I will be a witness to all the wildness and the shadows of the human heart, will write of the murderous rage of the killer, and at the center of it, will be a witness to the story of Asha herself, the one I do not know and yet who stands at the center of this story, which is not a story, but a recounting of human lives, people who live out their days holding a grief I could never imagine in my worst nightmares, and the innocent ones who live no more.

Every time I sit down, or endlessly edit the email I have in my drafts folder and will soon send to her husband, a thought comes into my mind: "What right do I have to tell her story?"  And yet I feel I know some things:  what it is like to be pregnant and not know what to do, and find the strength to have the baby after all.  I wish I'd had her courage, to move away for a time, to have my baby in safety, to decide what to do with the rest of our lives together.  I had that courage, but did not know where to find it in myself or how to use it. I know what it is like to have to walk away from someone I love with all my heart: I have done that too many times in my own life, carrying heartbreak for years. I do not know what it is like to stand in a parking lot and confront, unknowingly, a person willing to take my life, but I know absolutely situations where a man could have easily killed me and did not.  I write in the book how the thinnest silver of circumstance separated my fate from Asha's and from my friend Anne's too.  

I have to find sleep so I can use the last remaining months of Thistle's school year to write and not just sleep the day away.  I will look at my sadness for what it is: just a part of my landscape, and I will put that piece aside, find the sleep I need, and keep finding a way to hear what Asha wants me to say.  The metaphoric echo of her voice from the world beyond this one, a much less destructive voice than m.'s criticisms, drives me forward through all the things I have to push aside in order to write: voices that nag in my memory, the self esteem I still find is crushed to the ground, feeling as if I am a stranger in this house, the extreme tiredness at the end of the day after taking care of a kindergartner.  Then I realize that Asha's husband would likely give all he has in this world to have such a precious little girl like Thistle, to have his wife back, living.  And then, for whatever ineffable reason I am writing this book, I move forward, page by page.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


I go outside a lot after my work is done for the night and listen to the screech owls who have nested in a tree adjacent to my house. They are so close I can hear their baby owlets squeaking; I hear the adult ones stir in their nest and pick at their prey. They do not screech; they trill, and I listen. Last night they were absolutely silent, unusual for them, and I wondered what was going on. After a time, I heard why: a great horned owl called in his bass voice, large pauses between his calls, as they are sometimes. I used to have mating pairs in the trees, but they are a rarity now, preferring, it seems, the deep woods where they are safe, like old hermits who only emerge now and again. I thought of the screech owls huddling in their nest, safe from the predator, heard the echo of the large owl's voice, and was glad to be part of that night, and that moment.

I believe we get whatever paradise when we die, and I have two: one begins with a beloved person in a meadow with the ocean at a distance, in Santa Cruz, in lives where nothing bad has happened to either of us and never will; when I want things to change, just for a little while, I will put on a coat and mask of feathers, and wings that are silent, and glide through the forest at night, unseen, but with a voice that echoes.

Friday, March 20, 2015


Working in my Lompico home, sorting through editions of the local newspaper, the Press-Banner, for the recyle bin, I pick up one folded edition and get an overwhelming urge not to throw it away.  I unfold it and the headline, from September 2006, says, "Mother-To-Be Found Slain."  There is a big color picture on the cover of the memorial altar which was set up for Asha after she disappeared, which was added to after her body was found.  How loved this young woman was!  I never keep editions of any paper this long and wonder how I managed to hold onto it for this many years without it departing into the recycle.  Perhaps its discovery is Asha once again kicking my butt to keep moving on her story.  I was so angry to see a miniscule article in the paper about it, as if murders of expectant mothers happen every day around here, and as usual, nothing really significant about Asha herself, as if her life and who she really was, did not matter enough for the editors of the paper to take time to find out.  Most of the time, the coverage was about the perpetrator and his family, including extended family such as nieces and nephews. 

Which I do: I handwrite it now as Thistle plays with her friends after school  I feel better about doing this now that there is a different yard duty: the previous one cast rather baleful glances in my direction when I wrote in my notebook, and I always had a sense that she thought I was taking notes on her.

So, last night I put the paper on my desk, went outside as usual, turned off all the house lights and sat listening to the wind in the trees and the owls scratching around in their nest (they are really nesting that close: one can also hear them eating and picking apart their prey).  I thanked Asha for the reminder that hers is an important story and that her life mattered.  These are good things to keep foremost as I move forward, slowly by slowly.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


First off:  I want to say that I am extremely grateful to have had my father continously in my life, even when he was not sober.  The gift of his sobriety, his generosity with my family of time and financial help, and above all, his love, have been one of the stabilizing forces of my life.  He went into recovery when I had my first child because he did not wish for his grandson to know him as an active alcoholic.  He has always had immense courage.

My father is now in his late eighties and is growing more frail and somewhat confused, and his wife is placing him in assisted living.  She is no spring chicken herself and the care is very taxing for her.  I know this was a hard decision for that side of the family.  I think it is a good decision, though it may signal my dad going down that last road.  He has had a very hard life at times, and I pray that the world beyond this one is a place of peace for him. I also hope he has a few happy years left.  I cannot imagine my life and this world without him in it, and I know that time is coming.

So, I hope that people who read this will send good thoughts to him (his name is David) and prayers if you wish and are of that ilk.

I cried all the way to dance rehearsal tonight and bucked up before I went in, as I wanted to enjoy my time there.   As always, my dance family was so kind.  We really ARE a family and I think this is very special about us; I never feel like I am paying my teacher to be my friend, as I have felt with some other instructors.

My computer is so balky writing this (could it be the solar storm??) that I am about to throw it out the window, so it is time to stop for now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Northern Lights

Many places in the world are experiencing beautiful Northern Lights.  I thought I saw a faint greenish glow in the sky, and the sky was definitely more luminous than it usually is at this moonphase.  Or maybe I am just imagining all that.

Here is a link to the lights as they appeared in Michigan tonight.  I think all this is very special and magical:


Saturday, March 14, 2015


I cleaned and worked in my Lompico house tonight; amazing that it will be paid off in just two and a half years.  As I had my customary cup of tea, the screech owls started up in the redwoods.  I always turn every light out, so the redwoods look like black lace against an overcast gray sky.

Screech owls do not really screech; they have a staccato call (at least one of their calls is so; there is also a double trill; I heard both tonight).  I feel very lucky to have a mating pair so close to the house. 

Here is a picture of the Western screech owl, in case you haven't been to the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History to see the specimens there (yeah, taxidermied creatures...it weirds me out, too, but at least I can get an idea of what creatures live in this county).  These owls are quite cute: