To read an excerpt from the book, please click on the following link:

ashaveilbook.blogspot.com


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Back Again

I am back after a short absence again. Hopefully when my time frees up again in a week or two, I will be able to write again.

Yesterday was the birthday of a few close friends in my life, and also of my son, Jamie, who was stillborn 30 years ago.

I can hardly believe it has been 30 years.

I love this poem by Dana Gioia, which I think says it all for any parent who has been through this experience.

Planting a Sequoia

All afternoon my brothers and I have worked in the orchard,
Digging this hole, laying you into it, carefully packing the soil.
Rain blackened the horizon, but cold winds kept it over the Pacific,
And the sky above us stayed the dull gray
Of an old year coming to an end.

In Sicily a father plants a tree to celebrate his first son's birth—
An olive or a fig tree-a sign that the earth has one more life to bear.
I would have done the same, proudly laying new stock into my father's
orchard,
A green sapling rising among the twisted apple boughs,
A promise of new fruit in other autumns.

But today we kneel in the cold planting you, our native giant,
Defying the practical custom of our fathers,
Wrapping in your roots a lock of hair, a piece of an infant's birth cord,
All that remains above earth of a first-born son,
A few stray atoms brought back to the elements.

We will give you what we can — our labor and our soil,
Water drawn from the earth when the skies fail,
Nights scented with the ocean fog, days softened by the circuit of
bees.
We plant you in the corner of the grove, bathed in western light,
A slender shoot against the sunset.

And when our family is no more, all of his unborn brothers dead,
Every niece and nephew scattered, the house torn down,
His mother's beauty ashes in the air,
I want you to stand among strangers, all young and ephemeral to you,
Silently keeping the secret of your birth

Friday, August 26, 2016

Comments

I am sorry to say that I am removing the comments feature on this blog, at least for the time being. If you have a comment, please use my contact form (in the left sidebar, next to the current post). I will consider publishing as a blog post if you wish, as long as it is appropriate. If you are using the mobile version of Blogger, you will have to access the web version in order to use the contact form. A link to the web version is at the end of every post on the mobile version of blogger.

 I have had an inappropriate comment via Google Plus and Blogger's comment managing system seems not to work, so disabling comments seems to be the last resort.  I have also removed the ability to subscribe to comments, though you can still subscribe to my posts. I haven't had to consider any changes whatsoever in my commenting system for many years.

Thank you to all the readers of this blog for your forbearance. Hopefully I can turn on the comments feature sometime in the near future.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

These Are The Days

I have been away yet again due to working on the eternal tangle.  Thistle's hair has survived and all the hair coming out of the tangle is healthy and beautiful.  I am very grateful. She had a fun dance recital today and I maneuvered her hair into a bun to cover the tangle, and put a pretty crocheted bun cover over it.  I love her so much and will make sure to never, ever have this happen again.  I brushed out her hair to put it in a bun and am blown away by how beautiful it is...probably because it has been washed and conditioned within an inch of its life all summer.

How I wish I could just catch this time and hold it, like fireflies collected in a jar: but even they must be let go. It goes so fast, these times.  And so to remind myself of staying in present time, I have included a favorite song to share.




Sunday, August 14, 2016

To Know A Story: Joette Smith

First off, thank you to my readers for your patience during these small breaks. As I have written before, Thistle, my granddaughter, has an enormous tangle on the top of her head--a mat, really--which felted up.  We were told we would have to cut her beautiful strawberry-blonde hair--pure Tudor gold, I like to say.  As a person who has spun wool for years, I told myself that there is no fiber which can't be unraveled, with much effort.  After nearly two months, I have made enough progress that I can put her hair into a bun above the tangle and it looks fine.  I expect everything to be greatly diminished, if not gone, by the time she is back in school.  She has even gone back to her swim lessons.  We are having a fun summer, albeit an abbreviated one.

I went to a writing group last night, comprised of women I have known (at least some of them) for over thirty years. These women had not seen Finding Asha Veil (new working title of the book) and loved it. I had excised a crucial chapter from it--describing my own experiences of losing a friend to a serial killer, of being assaulted by a professor as a young woman and my entire life falling apart.  My other group felt it  didn't belong, that it was disrespectful to Asha to have my story in there also (even though my story exists in service to hers in this book).  The women said, "NO!  Keep your story in there.  It doesn't detract. It bears her up."

Personally, I think Asha woud have wanted every woman's story told, if that were possible. I never knew her as well as I might have liked, but through the voices of friends and a bare handful of family, I feel a sense of her.  I can't put every woman's story in this book, but there are salient ones I feel I need to touch upon: the murder of Juanita Nelson, for one thing.

My friend brought up another murder I had totally forgotten about, though I was horrified beyond measure when it happened. I had researched the murders of women in Santa Cruz County thoroughly, I'd thought.  Why was this murder never mentioned in all the articles and research I did?

In 1983, a woman named Joette Smith vanished while walking home from Henfling's, a bar in Ben Lomond near the Ben Lomond Super. Her body was found in the San Lorenzo River the next morning, underneath the bridge near the market.  She had been beaten, raped, and strangled. Her clothing, along with the clothes of another woman, were found a short distance down the river. The case went cold and was closed a long time ago.  Here are a couple of links to old, weathered pictures of articles from our local paper, the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Talk about a woman who just disappeared in the media!  At least they told something about her life beyond her disappearance, unlike Asha (something I found horribly unjust). You can click on these articles to expand them; the text comes up very small, but is readable:

The Murder of Joette Smith

The Community's Response To The Murder

Joette's Friend Creates A Reward Fund


Michael McClish came instantly to mind: but he was a kid then, fourteen, close to fifteen. Joette's injuries reminded me of Asha's so strongly that I felt weak and had to sit down when I read the articles. What did McClish look like then? In adulthood, he was a strong, strapping man; you could easily imagine him overpowering a strong woman like Asha.

Still, a teenager that young can rape and kill, especially if the victim--albeit a grown woman--had been drinking, as Joette had been. He had to start somewhere; he boasted about his previous killings and was very specific about how he killed.  He had a very long history of this kind of boasting.  Even if he did not commit this particular murder, I am certain he knew about Joette, as he lived in the same town.

Whatever happened to Joette, she seems to be vanishing into the progress of time, the way a comet slowly retreats from the night sky until its light disappears.  I, too, forgot about her. The horror of how she was murdered--including that clothes from another woman were found with her--so chills me to the bone, so instils in me a feeling of shadows and this killer's derangement, that I intend to ask around about her. I wonder if any of the detectives on her case are still working for the department.

Like an origami box, Asha's story, and all its attendancies, keeps unfolding. What more is going to come my way?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Moose and Squirrel





Those of you who are of a certain age will know where the phrase "Moose and Squirrel" comes from. If you were unfortunate enough never to watch Bullwinkle and Rocky, the phrase is uttered by the Russian spy on that show, Boris Badenov. He had a sidekick called Natasha. He was a pretty funny character during the Cold War.  Maybe Trump could adopt him as a campaign mascot.

Just when you think Trump's campaign can't become a bigger clown show than it already is (and a sinister clown show, too), Trump has asked Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton's emails.  His campaign clowns tried to cover Trump's rear with a barrage of excuses ("He was just joking").  Can you imagine what would have happened to anyone else in ANY political position if they said that?   Congressman David Cicilline has requested that President Obama withhold any classified information from Trump in the interest of national security.

Yes: a candidate for the President of the United States has, in essence, called for an allegiance with Russia to spy on an opponent.  There have been suggestions of treason (I think it is), high-ranking officials speaking out strongly and harshly against Trump, and now a call for withholding classified information from him, to protect the security of the United States.

This guy should really go down in history as someone who had to have his Presidential nomination stripped in the interest of preserving the safety of our country.

In the meantime, the folks at DailyKos have helpfully designed a new Trump campaign logo.

Trump and Putin: Make Russia Great Again: DailyKos




Sunday, July 24, 2016

Working Steadily on Asha's Book: What Did She Think That Night?

I am working steadily now on my book about Asha Veil's murder.  I feel much closer to the story now: this is hard to describe. I like to say that I live my stories (and probably present myself as incredibly tedious when I talk about my writing, as everything in them seems real to me).  I have not lost interest in Asha's story, even though I haven't updated any information about it here in some time.

 I have been too involved in what is turning out to be a very angry Presidential election.  I am not immune to being swept up in it. There is so much at stake--always the case with an election--but it all seems so more crucial and urgent this time around.

Yet my time to write is necessarily limited and I have been squandering the two hours I give myself to write every single night in my Lompico home.  I feel lucky for that time, which many writers do not have at all.  Gone are the days when I could do a six-hour stretch in my office!  Maybe one day this will come back, but it is not my path right now. 

Two days ago, I went to the Felton Cemetery where, so long ago, Asha Veil thought she may have conceived a baby with the man who would eventually destroy her, and the child she carried. because of crucial information I have been given about whether this was consensual or not, I believe strongly that she did not have willing sex with McClish: that she was forced.  The reason I believe this is confidential, but the more I think about it and read court records and news reports from that time, the more I believe it.


The cemetery itself is eccentric and a peaceful place.  Apparently one can place any sort of headstone; there used to be someone who had half a surfboard as a tombstone.  Right now, the weeds have turned golden and dry: the time of year is approaching when she disappeared.  I sat in a redwood gazebo and wondered if she sat there, too: it's cool and shady. I have never seen anyone but Michael McClish there, for I used to see him cutting wood at the edge of the cemetery and listen to the thwock of his axe.  There was a tool shed; I wonder if he kept his hatchet there, the one which he used to threaten another woman.  Did he threaten Asha with that hatchet, the night she was left alone with him?

A grave stood directly in front of me: a child who died at only ten years of age. There are so many old graves, worn out by time and weather. There are graves of babies and children, some graves from the time of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918.  There are Civil War soldiers, entire families in one plot, so many inscriptions: beloved mother, gone but not forgotten, I will never forget you, love never ends, called home, an angel in heaven.  Michael Gray, a sheriff killed in the line of duty, has a beautiful gravesite there. One of my students is buried there, a young man named Shawn.  I taught him in my early twenties, my first real job out of college. He died a few days after his mother, Patra, who is buried by his side.  What is the story behind that?  I will never know. I have not yet found their graves.

 Did Asha walk among these graves, looking at all the names?  Does her spirit ever visit this place, which turned in a matter of minutes from a place of tranquility and peace to one of fear and confusion?  I will not know the answer to that one, either, but I sensed she does not roam here.

When I entered Felton Cemetery that day, I left a silver dime for Baron Le Cimitiere (I buried mine among a stand of amaryllis belladona, pink lilies that have the curious name of "naked ladies"). He is the keeper of cemeteries and I give him his due when I visit one.  I do not fear him: he holds the key to many secrets.  He likes rum with a hot pepper steeped in it, a waft of tobacco smoke.  I never deny him these things.

Then I whispered to Le Baron, as I have to so many spirits, so many unseen visitors: help me write Asha's story. Help me find the people who knew her. Help them see that my intentions are pure: I do not want to become famous off her story.  I want her to be known.  I want women to see what a predator does to kind and unsuspecting people.  This is my connection; this is what drives me; this will push me to get this book done.











New Yorker Article: Donald Trump's Speechwriter for Art of the Deal

Tony Schwartz, Donald Trump's ghostwriter for The Art of the Deal, was interviewed by The New Yorker.  He had much to say about Drumpf and it is worth checking out the article. 

Before I post the link, I would like to include a quote from the article which should terrify every human being on the planet.  Mind you, this man knows Trump well and worked with him closely. 

“I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization."


It has been decades since I put a child to bed and worried about whether there would be a nuclear war.  My greatest fear is that I would die in such a horrible scenario and Thistle, a little child, would be left alone to negotiate a nightmare. I have not worried about this in more than thirty years.  Thistle has been well-schooled in what to do if she finds Grandma is very sick, etc: all scenarios which deeply frighten me, but there are solutions to these things. I have taught her to dial 911. I have told her to stay on the phone with the nice person who will answer the 911 call and they will help her stay safe. I have taught her all the safe exits in case of a fire. 

In all these years, I have never considered that, in case of a nuclear war, I would want her to die first, so that she would not have to live without me to take care of her. 

This is one of the most horrifying thoughts I have had in over thirty years. 

Even if such a war never came to pass, Trump would wage war on every freedom we have.  He has promised as much. 

No way to end this except to pray this evil man never gets elected.







Friday, July 22, 2016

Trump Really Is Evil...Really

After a long absence, I am back.  We  are still battling The Tangle, but it is much diminished and the household is happier.

Adolf Trump...oops...Mussolini....oops, Drumpf...is the GOP candidate.  They  have quite the nerve to invoke Lincoln constantly.  One wishes for a new movie: "Abraham Lincoln: Fascist Hunter."

So, part of my postings will discuss Mr. Trump as a dangerous, evil man who wishes to be America's First Dictator.  Some time ago, the laughing ended about his orange fake tan, which is the exact color of those orange marshmallow circus peanuts, and the nasty hot air constantly belching out of his mouth.  He has fattened on the adulation of his supporters like a tick; like a tick, he doesn't let go.  And I can't say anything better than this writer on DailyKos.  I urge you to take a minute and read it, and consider what it says.  Do we want this man in office?

Time to Stop Being Polite (re: Trump)








Saturday, July 09, 2016

Tangle

Dear Readers, I have been away for this long because of a tangle--a mat, really--in Thistle's hair.  I spend hours on it a day.The reason it is there is because, basically, another member of this household said, "Wait! Do not work on her hair!  Tomorrow is another day! Do not place it in a braid! Ha ha ha, the mat on top looks just like a MOUSE!  Ha ha ha ha ha...."

By morning, almost all her hair on top of her head had been sucked into the tangle, creating a massive mat.  It has taken nearly three weeks to unravel and there is more to go.  Rather than turn the air blue any further, let's just say that Thistle has reveled in unlimited screen time and I have had more than enough knowledge of detanglers and patiently working apart a hair mat. I did not want to cut her beautiful hair.

So angry about this I could scream, like the Munch painting, but am going back to the knot.

Thank you for your patience.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Juno Arrives!!

The Juno spacecraft has reached Jupiter as is orbiting successfully!

https://www.theguardian.com/science/live/2016/jul/05/nasas-juno-spacecraft-arrives-at-jupiter-live

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Orlando Shooting: Grief

Updated information on CNN here about the Orlando nightclub massacre

Orlando Nightclub Massacre


Monday, June 06, 2016

Funny Comedy Bit About Trump

This cracked me up, a nice bit of amusement in such bizarre times.  I have to post it as a link, sorry.

Trump as a Cartoon Rich Guy



Thursday, June 02, 2016

What Has Been Brought Forth

I have been away for a bit again, just recharging the batteries.

Yesterday I went to a local church to use the bathroom (am on friendly terms with the church). It is located in a hallway just outside the sanctuary.  There is a message board on the wall between the bathrooms.  It contains announcements of church activities, etc.

But there was a new one posted there: a large, pastel purple sign with a line drawing of a woman in a hijab.  The caption was, "All Are Welcome Here."

Has our country come to this, that we have to post signs in a church for something that should be a given? Trump has given permission for all the monsters among us, greater and lesser, to rear out of the closet and, with perverse pride, let their sickness be heard.  It reminds me of the era in which I grew up: pre-civil rights. And tRump encourages it more and more every day.

It's like someone opened a grave and unleashed a river of maggots.

When a church has to post that it is a sanctuary for everyone, that signals the beginning of an end that we must suppress by defeating Trump.

Please, no "Bernie or bust."  You might as well go vote for Trump.  Put your pride aside and think of someone other than yourself: think of younger generations who will spend eight years of their life under a fascist, racist, boor who has no idea how to run a country.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Yes and No

1) No, I will not be going to see Bernie Sanders when he comes to Santa Cruz.
2)No, I will not listen to arguments from friends as to why I should vote for Sanders.
3) No, I do not believe "the system is rigged" against Sanders.
4) Yes, I think Donald Trump is a loathsome little bully who can't even peddle crappy steaks.
5) Yes, I believe racists, homophobes, misogynists, etc., will vote for Trump. When Trump loses, at least we will know who these people are.
6) Yes, I believe certain of my relatives are racist, homophobic, misogynist, paranoid, etc. I worry about their amassing of guns to "defend their rights." I worry about my younger relatives being exposed to such craziness.
7) No, I am not voting for Clinton because she is a woman.


Monday, May 23, 2016

We're Not Asleep, Bernie!

If you follow my blog, you know that I am voting for Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate. I was briefly for Sanders, but am not voting for him. So are many, many Democrats. Voting for Clinton does not mean I am selling out to anything. It means that I believe she will derail the Trump Train and also will be a strong President who will not undo all the good things accomplished by the Obama administration: much more so than Sanders, who is showing  himself to be downright mean and divisive, and he will take these qualities to the convention.

Great article in Salon today about Sanders and the people who have chosen to vote for Clinton:

No Dummies Here, Bernie

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Rude Pundit re: Party Unity

I tend towards liking the things which The Rude Pundit has to say, and want to share an article.  I believe he is saying something quite timely at this point in the game:

http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2016/05/our-stupid-clintonsanders-battle-is.html

A House Divided Against Itself

 Interesting Sanders interview with George Stephanopoulos in which he says that the
American people feel that Hillary Clinton is "the lesser of two evils" (the other one is Trump). This is unfair: why, then, is Hillary close to cinching the nomination if people think this of her and are choosing her over Sanders?

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/bernie-sanders-american-people-hillary-clinton-lesser-evils/story?id=39280278

I have enormous respect for Bernie Sanders.  I will wholeheartedly vote for him should he have a Hail Mary pass at the last minute  and I shan't say a bad word against him at that point. I'm perfectly fine with humble pie.  Sanders has a record of doing tremendous good in his long political career. I love his promises (even though he hasn't convinced me one bit as to where he is going to get all the money to do this).  I wish that I could believe in his words.  However, I have heard enough hot air in my life that I feel suspicious of Sanders at this point.

 In my opinion, Sanders is devolving into the guy at the poker table who has no idea when to fold his cards. I think he should gracefully step down as soon as it is clear that Hillary Clinton has the nomination.  Anything else would be sheer vanity on his part.  He has the absolute right to take his campaign all the way to the Democratic Convention. At some point, he has to fold, though, and get wholeheartedly behind Clinton (heck, Clinton may even ask him to be her running mate, which would be a very shrewd move on her part).

Hillary Clinton, in my opinion, is the lone candidate who can stand up to Donald Trump and defeat him. I believe she will continue with the slow and steady progress forward which the Obama administration has set in motion. She will be far from a "bad" president. I wish the people I knew who hate her so much would peruse fact checking sites and read some unbiased information about the attacks on her and all the questionable issues. I believe she can go mightily against the Trump Juggernaut, with coolness, iron grace, and strength, and send that jerk back to financing beauty pageants.

UPI has a good article on Sanders and unifying the Democratic Party.  I sure hope he is thinking about these things.  It has been said that a house divided against itself will not stand.  That is a timely statement right now.

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2016/05/20/Bernie-Sanders-Senate-colleagues-say-his-future-rides-on-Democratic-unity/3931463760234/

And Now For Something Nice: A Rose

My roses are doing very well this year, though I did not prune them as well as I ought to have.  Here is my first bloom on my Gertrude Jekyll rose,  It is a very intense pink rose.  I do not know if there is a Mr. Hyde rose, which would be quite an interesting  pairing. I want to get away from my angry political posts; this election season is simply horrible: but roses remain steady.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Politifact re: Nevada Convention

I liked this article (and Politifact, a well-respected fact-checking site) and will be posting fact-checking articles from time to time on this blog. My peaceful hippie friends may key my car after this post, but no matter.

Clarification about peaceful hippie friends: these are the people in my life who congratulate themselves on being progressive in thought and deed, but whose actions and things they say are consistently hateful, all the way up to being abusive in some way. I call them peaceful hippies as irony.  Keying my car is an all-purpose joke, but I would not put it past a couple of them. My relatives who support Trump might do well to go to fact-checking sites also.  One of them, when I asked them to provide me with their source, said, "I don't need to prove my facts.  What I say is true." 

Here is a fact-check of the recent Nevada convention:

http://www.politifact.com/nevada/statements/2016/may/18/jeff-weaver/allegations-fraud-and-misconduct-nevada-democratic/

You can check more facts by going straight to the site:

Politifact



Thursday, May 19, 2016

Setting In The West

Just a correction: Sanders has the right to remain in the campaign for as long as he wishes. My hope is for him to graciously step down (maybe at the convention) and work hard to help unify the party. We have a monster named Trump to defeat.

The Sanders campaign is setting in the west.  Sanders is a great guy who needs to realize it's over, that he fought a good fight, and when he loses the nomination, should wholeheartedly support Hillary Clinton and get behind the hard work to defeat Trump.  I have a feeling Sanders is not going to do this, and will create enormous division within the Democratic party.  He is a good man, and yet I feel he is now showing himself to (perhaps) be an egotist who will no know when to call in his chips.

Peaceful hippie friends, please do not come and key my car over my opinion here. There is a time when you have to accept loss graciously, stop dithering about nonexistent conspiracies, and stand behind the Democratic candidate when this is decided. It's very likely not going to be Sanders, sorry to say.  If he has some sort of Hail Mary moment at the last minute and becomes the nominee, I am happy to  stand by him 100 percent.  But it looks like this is not in the cards.

Some strong words now: if you decide to be a whiny little baby and "protest with your vote" by writing yourself, or Sanders, as a candidate, or pout in the corner and not vote at all because Sanders lost, then you might as well vote for Trump and make ready for the Fourth Reich.  Protest some other way, but please don't roll out a red carpet for The Fuhrer.

I considered Sanders for a long time.  I really did.  I ignored Facebook "news" and did a lot of my own research about both candidates.  Snopes.com was very helpful in debunking crap about both the candidates.  One has to go about these things calmly and with painstaking consideration. My conclusion was that Sanders is promising pie in the sky and his rhetoric has increasingly devolved into attacks on Hilary Clinton. These deflect from answering just HOW he will bring all his massive changes to pass. This I still want to know.

So...

Madam President, you have my vote and my support.  You are the ONLY one who has the ghost of a chance to defeat one of the most evil, bigoted men to ever run for the Presidency. And I pray that every Democrat sees the urgency of our need to hang together as a party: else we hang separately, as they say.


A Handy Dictionary

I know that the Trump Train is going to derail, but just in case it doesn't, here is a site that will prove quite handy during his dictatorship:

Newspeak dictionary

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Write

I have been trying to work my way back to poetry again.  Until 2005, I was a fairly prolific poet.  90 percent of my literary magazine publications have been with poetry.

Poetry died for me in graduate school; it happened subtly and painfully. It was impossible for me to just cough up poems on demand.  Poems, for me, rush in like a mysterious force, a tether of some kind to creativity. I often feel like I offended the Muse of poetry or something, dramatic as that is.

So, tonight, I decided to start using the exercises in a book I really love, The Poet's Companion.  I am grateful that my treatment for bipolar disorder has eliminated my panic at sitting down to write.  I had that for many years.  So far, I have made a list of significant events in my life!  I feel as if I am a student in one of my creative writing classes.

I am plugging along with Asha's book, and am working on getting some interviews done before Thistle is out of school.

I am extremely glad that I may have a writing group now who will critique Asha's book.  The subject is so horrifying that I do not blame anyone for not wanting to read it.  The person who helped me get back into the group was so kind and encouraging, even answering my concern about the age of a few group members (late twenties). He said that it would be good to let younger people read the book, as their critiques might help me see if the book might be read by a larger audience.  I am grateful for his encouragement and kindness. I feel very solitary with this book and could use a little push.








Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Flowers

Writing this on my cell phone, so I am just going to post a couple of pictures from my garden



Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Hilary vs. Bernie, Part 3

Still can't find the meme someone (anonymously) sent me (assuming I am some sort of traitor for not voting for THEIR candidate--even though I could very well be voting for Bernie Sanders. It's this sort of knee-jerk craziness that bothers me about the Bernie camp).  I've included the picture at the bottom, which I have captioned, though the words were written in white on the original picture (which made me think of an athletic supporter--you will see why--but no matter).  I think the meme is vile and stupid.  It was sent to me by someone in my area; that is all I know.

My decision to not tell anyone who I am voting for, and not indicating one way or the other (by not going on and on about one candidate or other), has been a social experiment of sorts.

 It's enlightening to observe the peaceful and compassionate Sanders supporters act like a pack of rabid dogs against Clinton. I have never heard such vile language towards her, nor such absolute disrespect (and, of course, volleys of  unresearched facts that people see on Facebook and just throw out there as true.  Snopes is your good friend in terms of verifying what is said about both Sanders and Clinton).

Quite a few of the peaceful hippies of Santa Cruz (btw, I am at least sort of a hippie) have really shown their true colors in this way: petty, sexist, cruel, unable to entertain anyone else's viewpoint, and absolutely divisive.  I appreciate the few--very, very few--Sanders supporters who are courteous and willing to weigh the arguments of both candidates, calmly, rationally, and reasonably.  I've met two so far (just kidding, but these really are in the minority.

Next part of my personal social experiment: everyone I meet just assumes I am voting for Bernie Sanders.  Granted, I've said nothing at all about my choice of candidate (for all they know, I am voting for Sanders), but everyone I know--and I mean everyone--just assumes this by virtue of the fact that I live in Santa Cruz.  Not one person assumes I am voting for Hilary (though apparently the ones who think I am, feel free to send me pictures like the one at the end of this post).

I should think that, given my experience, the caption for the following picture could easily be reversed, given  my current experiences in my little corner of the world.

In future, I do not want pictures like this sent to me.  Thanks.



HILARY SUPPORTER VS. BERNIE SUPPORTER











Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sanders v. Clinton memes

I wish I could find the meme link which was sent to me via my contact form yesterday, but I must have deep-sixed it: it is of Alien threatening Sigourney Weaver, and the caption is, "Hilary Supporter Meets Bernie Supporter."

Alien is apparently the Hilary fan. Sigourney Weaver is the Bernie fan.

At the risk of losing a reader, I think the intent was to imply that I am akin to Alien if I vote for Hilary. This is because I refuse to tell anyone who my Democratic candidate of choice is and I posted as such here.  I've had a lot of awful things said to me by Bernie supporters, but not quite like this.

I would wager Sanders himself, a tolerant and kind man, would condemn that meme as an embarrassment and completely against what he stands for, and might very well rip a new one for anyone who sends something like that out.

 I rather like being compared to Alien, thought: indestructible and fierce, why not? And I surely could use a thicker exoskeleton at times!!






Saturday, April 23, 2016

Voting for Sanders or Clinton, Part Two

My friends, I forgot to say in my last post about the election that I will support 100 percent the Democratic candidate for President, no matter what.
 And I am not going to be a whiney-baby "protester" and refrain from voting if my candidate of choicr loses the nomination in my state. You might as well cast a vote for the Republican candidate if you do that.

And please research news sources you post in support of your candidate of choice, especially with memes and articles posted on the eternal Facebook. Make sure they are not authored by organizations you do NOT want to support.

I do these things, too (last night I inadvertantly posted a picture of Earth as taken by the Hubble telescope. I am a very, very amateur astronomer and should know better). My friend told me to check Snopes. My bad: erase.





Sunday, April 17, 2016

Alive in Dreams

Transcendent dream last night. I dreamed that I carried Thistle out to the back deck; she was just a toddler. The forest , dark as ink, looked like a jagged wall. I looked to the left and a procession of people, in an angled but straight line, walked towards Thistle and me. They were in a long stretch of dim light, yellow-white with a border of soft, smudged amethyst. They drew close and stopped at the deck railing. I sensed they could not cross it.
I looked at the line of people and saw that all of them were relatives who have passed away. My grandfather, Gordon McMillan, stood at the head of the line. Behind him, my sister, my grandmother, my mother, my Aunt Anna and Uncle Mike, my great-grandmother Maria, and some men I sensed were uncles.
"They want to look at Thistle," said Grandpa McMillan,so I held her up a little higher. My relatives started talking: "What a beautiful child; she's a redhead; we love her; we love you." So many voices; I had a dream-thought: these are firefly voices. After a time, they turned and walked back through the soft light, which faded, along with them, into forest shadows. Thistle told me the next morning that the "ghost lady" she keeps dreaming about has gone away now.
I think that they came to remind me of important truths, but above all, that love survives everything, even the sadness and separation of death.

It reminded me somehow of the final scene in The Elephant Man film. I have perpetually felt like an outcast in my life, or a misfit. I certainly do not have the terrible deformities of this man.  I admire his unbelievable strength to endure an unimaginably horrible, poignantly sad life--among other things, his father forced him to sell gloves and other dry goods door to door, and no one would buy from him.  How beautifully fortunate he was to be surrounded by kindness and have such a good place to live. The woman in this clip represents his mother, one of the few people who truly loved him in his life and died far too young to protect her child.

I wish I could publish this as the actual You Tube video here, but it will not let me. Please follow the link to watch it:

Elephant Man: Last Scene
















Thursday, April 14, 2016

My Beloved Ruth Stone

This poem by Ruth Stone is one of my favorites. It can be about the return of someone close to the heart, but I like to think it is also about the return of poetry to a poet who has been far from it.  Maybe both things are the same.

Ruth Stone is my favorite poet and you can read about her here:


Ruth Stone


Poems

When you come back to me
it will be crow time
and flycatcher time,
with rising spirals of gnats
between the apple trees.
Every weed will be quadrupled,
coarse, welcoming
and spine-tipped.
The crows, their black flapping
bodies, their long calling
toward the mountain;
relatives, like mine,
ambivalent, eye-hooded;
hooting and tearing.
And you will take me in
to your fractal meaningless
babble; the quick of my mouth,
the madness of my tongue.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Redoubling My Efforts Re: Asha's Book


Warning: though this post will not be graphic, I am discussing today my reaction to receiving, after some setbacks, Asha Veil's autopsy. I felt I needed to absolutely look upon what happened to her that night, hard and hearbreaking as it is. I am not allowed to reveal elements of it publicly, and won't, and wouldn't anyways, for the sake of decency and to protect her loved ones and friends who come here to read my words. But suffice to say that Asha displayed enormous courage to the very end. How she found that courage is a testimony to all she was, and all people remember her for.

And the man who denied her the very right to live her life, to bear her child, to go on whatever path intended for her in this world: all I can say is that I once saw a photo of Josef Mengele and other SS agents and camp guards at Auschwitz, on holiday, smiling and laughing: I easily imagined the face of Asha's killer among them.

I think back on the times I interacted with Asha--so funny, kind, and considerate--and I think of the things people have told me about her. I ask, over and over, "Why?"

I have never told this story about her, but there was a time when I was on food stamps, which are issued on a sort of debit card called an EBT card.  There was a VERY sour-faced cashier at the Ben Lomond Super who never failed to make snide remarks about food stamps and often claimed she could not get the purchase through, never failing to announce to anyone within earshot that I was paying with food stamps.

 I used to avoid the sour-faced cashier's line, but one day couldn't avoid it, as she took over checking in the line.  As usual, she claimed she couldn't get the EBT card to work. Somehow Asha showed up at the register, took my card, and expertly put the purchase through in less than a minute. I thanked her and she said it was not a problem at all, that she was happy to help.

All this redoubles my efforts to finish this book, to hold Asha and Anina, and all who loved her, in my heart until the very last word (and beyond that, of course). This I promise through my heartache today and my falling tears.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Voting: Sanders or Clinton

I dare not reveal which candidate I am voting for, lest Santa Cruz's peaceful hippies get in my face with idiotic, unresearched, knee-jerk-accepted "facts."

One of the few things I'm proud of about myself is my ability to sit and do hours of research for my book, which translates to researching the information on Facebook. ANYONE can take five minutes to at least go on Snopes.com to see if their "urgent news story" has been debunked. I'm guilty of this, too, but realized long ago that if I post an hysterically-driven story on Facebook and then post a redaction as a comment, people are likely not to read that. Then they spread the bogus news story, which is picked up by others, and so on. Thus, the research, which generally takes about ten minutes, tops.

I am not voting for Trump. That should suffice, and that is all.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Awful and Good, and Dance

I apologize yet again to my readers.  I have many loyal readers out there, and I really like to communicate about my life, the progress of Asha's book, and everything else.

I am going through enormous stress on the home front.  Nobody is ill; nobody is dying; finances are okay, but my household remains under a lot of pressure and anxiety.  I hope it is resolved soon, positively, for all involved. I intend to keep up from now on, even if it's to show off my sewing projects, though I intend to write of other things, and to talk about what I'm doing with Asha's book).

Meanwhile, here are a couple of pictures from my first bellydance solo.  The photos are by Daev Roher, one of our wonderful photographers in the Santa Cruz community.

Though I do not want to focus on my weight, the photo where I am doing a mudra and posing is of me at a weird angle, and my choli, stiff and somewhat weighty, is off to the side a little. In sum, I look bigger than I really am.  I wish I could get off the weight thinking (sort of borderline obsession, like many women, unfortunately). At this point, what I want to get to is being light enough weight-wise to not put further stress on my knees as a dancer.

The photographer caught me in mid-floreo, which is why my hands look that way.

So, here I am, and here I will stay.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

You've Been Trumped!

I apologize for having been away for a time, dear readers.  I'm going through a lot on the home front.  I'm going to commit to writing more now.

In the meantime, a very funny video from the Jimmy Kimmel show. It stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, and it helps if you know a little bit about The Producers. Enjoy!


Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Donald Trump and the Nazi Salute

Please note that the video contains offensive symbols presented in a song from Cabaret's film and stage version. It reflects the setting and overall anti-Nazi message of both the film and play. I do not endorse these symbols in any way and present them here for the purposes of parody.

In consideration of Donald Trump's continued metamorphosis into The Fuhrer, I thought I might suggest a new campaign song for him. It would be quite appropriate next time he asks his devotees to raise their right arms to salute him and pledge their loyalty. Tunes from musicals are always catchy and Cabaret also has that edgy feel of a society about to experience massive change, whuch should tickle The Donald's fancy no end. I hope Mr. Trump considers my suggestion, and I'm grateful to be able to to post this well in advance of a possible Trump presidency, before my First Amendment rights are curtailed.


Monday, February 29, 2016

Morpheus

There is a very silly spell in one of my many books of rituals.  It involves tapping one's big toes together whilst invoking Morpheus, to cure insomnia.  I have never tried it, but it's tempting tonight.

Might as well blog...I can't catch up on email because notifications come through people's phones nowadays and I might wake them up.

I feel very far away from Asha's book right now.  I am still absorbing a lot from the conversation with a significant person related to Asha's story.. I am often the point of feeling not up to creating this kind of a book. This is a bad space for a writer like me to get into.  I get myself out of it quite fast, though. This is not a fun book to write, but it is a real one.

A friend recently found out I was planning to visit Auschwitz when/if I can go to Poland. He first said that, as he understood it, there was little to eat in terms of vegetarian food in Poland, and people smoked on trains (I am a vegetarian and cigarette smoke is one of my asthma triggers).  I detected a subtle note of concern.  Then, in a gesture I thought was very kind, he next sent me a link to a Facebook page for the Loire Valley in France and said , "Why visit concentration camps when you can go here?"  He knows what I am writing about, that Asha was from Poland, and I have told him that I feel the need to visit Auschwitz when I am there, as my book is also about the evils human beings visit upon each other.

But his statements, to me, said, "Why are you doing this? Why are you going back to the shadow lands,? I thought you were not going to do that anymore." Maybe even, "Can't you write your book in a nice, nurturing place instead of going to places that will only hurt you to see?"  I entertain his concerns more than almost anyone's in my life, because he was there to see my house of cards fall down once, and I hear some unspoken concerns in his link to a beautiful area in France.  "Wouldn't you like to visit somewhere really nice like this instead?" it seemed to say,  It is a sweet gesture and breaks my heart at the same time.  I do not want him to fear for me, to worry, but I hear it.  I have neglected to write and promise him that I will not go into the shadow lands and get lost there, and I will write that to him soon.  He will not believe me 100 percent and I think he will breathe a sigh of relief when my travels through this book are done and he finds that I did not get lost in the shadows after all. It is good to have a person like this in one's life who does not think I am just some superhuman.

But the truth is, in some ways, this book chose me, not the other way around, and when that extraordinary thing happens, such a gift can't be given away.  It is a good lesson in learning how to walk carefully in the places Asha's story will compel me to go.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Compassionate Man and the Extraordinary Day

Transcendent day regarding Asha's story. I spent the late morning talking to a very kind person related to her case (I will not reveal the connection or who he is, but I am going to call him Compassionate Man her).  It was, I must say, an extraordinary discussion and I am again amazed at all the connections between Asha and the people involved with the case here in Santa Cruz, who knew her in life, or just feel drawn to her story: shared birth dates, names, an amazing cornucopia of serendipity. Why are people so drawn to this young woman's story, drawn to the light that was, and is, the essence of her, and the innocent child she carried? That is her exquisite cipher, one I keep following.

After speaking with Compassionate Man (whom I hope to meet and speak with again, deeply appreciative of his patience, kindness, and willingness to meet with me), I walked around downtown Santa Cruz for about an hour.  The day was transcendentally beautiful, rinsed clean by last night's intense rain. I decided to go to Bookshop Santa Cruz, my eternal refuge.

Just before I walked in, I looked down at my feet and saw a bright penny, brand new.  I picked it up as I always do when I find one, and tried to look at the date on it.  I  had no reading glasses on and the sun shone so bright that I could not see the date.  I put in in my satchel's pocket, the satchel full of court papers related to McClish's trial.

In Bookshop Santa Cruz, I bought reading glasses and, after browsing a while, a sewing kit.  I own more sewing supplies than I will ever need in several lifetimes, yet I wanted this one, drawn to its ornate green and silver box.

I realized as I stood in line to pay that I was aldo buying it because my deep heart wanted to do what I never can: repair somehow the unconscionable rent in the universe left by Asha and little Anina's murder.

After paying for the reading glasses and the sewing kit, I stayed in the bookstore, feeling like I needed the cocoon for a bit more.  I browsed the used books, not really seeing their titles, thinking about the conversation I had just left.

Then Asha Veil walked through the door of Bookshop Santa Cruz.

Shock hit me like a burst of electricity and I truly thought I was seeing her ghost. The woman was Asha's height; she looked exactly like her, and she was visibly pregnant.  For years, I have only seen flat pictures of Asha, and suddenly seeing a real-life, 3-D image again was almost too much for me.  It dawned on me after a heart-pounding minute that this was not Asha's ghost, but a woman who resembled Asha so much that she could have been her twin sister.  She talked to a male companion as she walked through the bookstore and I had a bizarre urge to follow them. Of course I didn't, but it was a compelling, outrageously strange experience.

Freaked out, I went down to a local ice cream store which has wonderful handcrafted treats.  I figured that the diet could just go to hell today, so I ordered an affogato (vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso) and sat down to think and write.  I remembered the penny I'd found just before seeing Asha's doppelganger.  It had fallen down into the folders of legal papers, but I found it at the bottom. When I saw the penny's date, I gasped, causing the two people at the table beside me to turn their heads in my direction.

The date on the penny (nestled in a folder of legal papers related to Asha's case) was 2011, the year Michael McClish was brought to trial for Asha and Anina's murder.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Haitian Dance


Some people have asked me about Haitian dance classes, and I decided to include a short clip of a performance by a local, and revered, Haitian dance company, Rara Tou Limen.  A few of the performers and musicians in this segment are my teachers, and I am blown away by the great honor to be working with some of the most amazing, inspiring people I have ever known.  These are some outtakes of the performance, but I hope you will come away with appreciation!

Saturday, February 06, 2016

House and Other Things

I just wanted to let my readers know that, though my childhood home in the San Fernando Valley was razed to make room for condominiums, I was able to find some pictures of it online, via a not-so-frequently-updated map site.  I was very, very glad.

My next topic is about a difficulty for me.  In one of my classes, a young woman apparently left the area because of an abusive marriage, taking her child with her.  I was surprised to see her walk into class last week.  One of my friends talked to her after class about what was going on, and I was heartbroken to hear this young woman say things like:

He pushed me and screamed at me, and started hitting my arms.  But he's never done anything like that before.

He says he will change.

I know that I can help him change.

It was just a little argument.


How I fear for this young woman! How many times I said such minimizing things in my own situation, in different forms, but always the same soft-heartedness and willingness to forgive the very destruction of my mind, heart, body, and spirit.  I have no idea of the person I might have become, of the mother I might have been to my children, or how well I might have been in body and mind if I had not had to live though those things, beginning in my early twenties.

I do not want that outcome for her, but given how sweet and soft-hearted she is, I fear for her. I am glad she is at least in a large circle of women, many of whom have been through a lot of life and can counsel her.




Sunday, January 24, 2016

House

I did a search last night for the address of my childhood home (in the San Fernando Valley area).  My family and I moved away when I was nine, and left a beautiful, airy, spacious home, with much family history and love, and with my grandmother living in a small house on the property, and two acres of land.behind it where we played all day.  We moved to a much smaller house with a backyard of gravel and redwood bark.  We had a pool, which did not compensate for the very, very bad memories for me.  I realize that having a nice house and a middle-class income is really a privilege.  We wanted for nothing in our lives, but an atmosphere of addiction really severed whatever nurturing there was.  I always looked at my first childhood home as the locus of what was good in my early life.  If I hadn't had that time, I would have been much worse off emotionally than I was.

I live in an area now where I rarely see houses razed to make way for condos and shopping malls.  There is a lot of resistance here for that  sort of thing. In Los Angeles, it seems like a frequent activity.  The house I grew up in was the very last old, ranch-style house to survive a wave of condo-building and an easement for a busy street behind our house (which was the reason we moved).  Hard to explain: we had a home with a huge amount of acreage behind it, basically an enormous field.  Everyone had this, as the open space extended very far.  It looked like miles and miles of grass dotted with old walnut trees--it had once been a walnut grove. There were houses all along the street. I have one gorgeous picture of the front yard and one of the next-door houses.  It was all so lush and beautiful--the lawns, shrubs, old trees, all the greenery and care, and pride in the homes.  Now it's condos with absolutely no landscaping in front, and a dusty, dry bare lot where my house once stood.

So what do I take from this?  All around the world, people lose their homes to horrible things: earthquakes, war, disasters of all kinds.  Many lose everything they have in the process, including people they love. So I take my sadness with a grain of salt.  What else can you do?



Saturday, January 23, 2016

Slide

I originally posted this on Facebook, and  wanted to share it here.  Santa Cruz, California certainly is not experiencing weather like the terrible snows on the East Coast, but we are having heavy rains here.  This is what I experienced on my drive home tonight:

I have lived in the mountains most of the time during my 30-odd years in Santa Cruz. I have seen a lot of landslides on the canyon roads, but nothing like the one I crept around tonight. Huge mass of wet soil, boulders and rocks, at least one uprooted bay tree, the main slide about the height of my car, and higher in places. Drove up to it, said "Hm. That's interesting. Maybe I should take the other road." Realized suddenly: that WAS the other road, or rather, used to be. There's nothing quite like inching one's car around a landslide that size, knowing that it's still quite unstable and the one-lane road you're on could suddenly become a no-lane road. The small "caution" sign" posted at the edge of the giant slide made me smile, ruefully: no kidding!


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Rain, Blessed

California is drinking the blessing of rain this last few weeks, dry soil soaking it all up, almost joyfully, sometimes dangerously.  A madrone falls behind my house, and one branch hits the roof, but does no damage.  And now, so much firewood for next winter, and a well-stapled tarp.

On Lompico road, the waterfalls which were barely visible over the canyon's tall cliffs are flowing so beautifully that it breaks the heart to see.  Now they are torrents, white and strong.  My heart fills with happiness.  During a break in the rain, on a night when bare trees make black lace against a gray sky, owls call, so many that it is a true, rare chorus of owls. They call and chase each other all over the forest, their hollow voices echoing.  It is a moment which transcends time, holds me as if in a bubble of gray glass.

At the same time, I pray for things: no floods, no creeks or rivers overflowing their banks. I pray for no days-long power outages, I pray for shelter for all, so that no one has to walk around soaked and despairing of a place to be dry and safe.  And no landslides, though I often have to dodge big rocks on Highway Nine and Lompico Road.

I pray Spirit keeps all of us safe,  Yes, the climate is changing.  Yes, we are edging more and more into a time when things worsen, when the earth becomes angry for all its scars and misuse.

Yet while it is happening, I intend to enjoy the ride.

Let the rain come down!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ripping Up Flowers

I am taking advantage of breaks in the rain to eradicate some non-native species from the back and front yard of my house.

First: thistles (not my sweet Thistle).  Easy right now to dig out and toss, as the ground is wet.  I love the pretty purple flowers, but do not like dozens of spiky plants in summer.

Second: Scotch broom.  It is one of the most invasive species in the county, crowding out native plants.  Again, easy to pull up when the ground is wet. There are considered an absolute plague in Santa Cruz.

Third: Forget-me-nots.  I hate to pull up this pretty flower when in bloom (in fact, I will leave it once it is in bloom--too many sweet memories of this flower!)  I do it when the plants are just sprouting and not blooming.  Another invasive non-native species, they crowd out things like redwood sorrel.  Forget-me-nots are the source of some very annoying burrs later in summer.  I have had to throw out clothes and socks that got hopelessly covered.

Fourth: Ivy.  'Nuff said.

A rather bad habit I have, though, is not eradicating daisies or purple violets. Oh, well!  Can't get rid of every flower. For my own extensive flower and vegetable garden, I use containers.  If I weren't in such a wild place, I might consider some flowers as landscaping, but I live straight in the middle of a forest and want to encourage all the native species.

I am trying to encourage things like redwood sorrel, native violets, trillium, wild strawberries, and wild iris. I also have some very delicate little wild roses in the front yard of my Lompico house.  I also have a very pretty Sierra lily there, but it has not bloomed in many years.  Perhaps the rains this winter will coax it forth.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Look It Up

I so wish that some Facebook users would learn to look up information, research "news" stories, and refrain from posting hysterical responses to dubious news information until they find out whether what they are reading is true.  It's easy to look most things up on Snopes, or take ten minutes and do some real research.  I know everyone is not like me (I can meticulously spend hours on research, which I learned to do in graduate school), but ten or fifteen minutes might be fruitful so as not to disseminate false information over primary social media. We already have enough of that in the world.  By the way, I've done this, too, but hopefully no more.

I also am not fond of the fake "Buddha says" stuff in particular on Facebook--I would wager that Buddha did not say 99.9 percent of the things attributed to him on social media!  Here is a useful site, which has many areas to explore:

Fake Buddha Quotes, and Some Which Might Be Real



In other words, question!



.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Life is Long

Whenever I want something immediately, and really cannot figure out a way to have it (due to lack of resources, etc.), I've adopted a new phrase: "Life is long."  Even if I am disappointed in the outcome right in front of me, there is no reason to really believe something could never reverse in the future.  If you are alive on this earth right now, there is hope for every circumstance. The sister phrases are, "Time will tell," "wait," or sometimes, "bide your time," which is a bit more conscious in form.

By waiting, you can watch an empire topple in on itself, of its own accord. You've done nothing at all to make it happen.  You've just stood back, refused to get caught up in the mess, and watched the implosion.  This does not count for something terrible you witness, something you have an obligation to tell some authority.  This goes for other things, the tidal wave which may or may not come in.  We know what they are, and who they are. Just watch.  Time will tell.  In that interstice between waiting and refusing to create a crisis in a situation, Spirit works to bring about the consequences of all things.  A person with sick intentions can never keep up harm forever. The hardest part for me is when I have known that caring and trusting people, often an entire community, are getting the wool pulled over their eyes, for years. They happily bring a metaphorical bowl of milk to a cobra, as I have said elsewhere, thinking they see a kitten. There's nothing I can do or say: for various reasons (often due to the cobra's hypnotic influence on others: who would believe me?)

When things come to light, these people will hurt, badly, and question themselves, and wonder how on earth they could not have seen it....but they are not the ones at fault.  The one who spins the web: that is one one at fault.  Even the strongest web can break, and well.  It is the hubris of the spider to think the web will last for all time. It is the strength of the seer to not be deceived, to look straight into the eyes of the cobra as it spreads its spectacled hood.  In true knowing is strength, even acceptance.

Life is long.  Bide your time.  Just wait. Just wait.




Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Bowie the Starman

This is a wonderful video. He was surely a starman--my sister and I used to even speculate as to whether Bowie could really be an alien!  People actually have believed this in all seriousness.

No matter what, he was an amazing performer.  Here is an early performance, in a dance party I would have given a lot to attend!

Again, sorry for any ads that might annoyingly pop up.



Tuesday, January 12, 2016

David Bowie: Blackstar and Lazarus


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Blackstar


Like the rest of the world, I was shocked to learn that David Bowie had passed away. I'm just going to share the videos he made for his last album, Blackstar.  His publicist stated that Bowie created this final album as a gift of appreciation for his fans. This video has many amazing symbols and messages in it about his process of coming to terms with dying...and living, also.  Note the visual references to Major Tom.

The next video is Lazarus, which is powerful, raw, and very moving.






And sorry about any stupid ads during the videos.  I wish I could get rid of them!


Wednesday, January 06, 2016

For Lightning

In honor of the lightning storms in the Bay area this week, a picture of ground streamers, which is the electrical charge rising (from the ground or an object, as you see here) to meet the electrical charge from a cloud. I think these are exquisitely beautiful and seem nearly alive.

 





Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Clean

Feel much better after letting myself grieve a little last night. It.is amazing.how washed-clean one can feel after just letting tears flow until the sadness subsides and a big breath lets everything go.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Get Over It

One has to realize that grief recycles, that we can go along in our ordinary life and suddenly grief trips us up.  I still grieve the baby boy I lost in 1986--so strange to think he would have been thirty years old now.  I will go along in my life and find something: an old journal from that time, a hospital bracelet, and for a short time, the tears fall.

I came across some things m. gave me tonight, a copy of the Course in Miracles (which I've never finished--for some reason, I still find it difficult to read after a certain point), cards, a few things I had tucked away and then found today as I was sorting (I am trying to get rid of things and move some more stuff to my Lompico house).  It was not a mistake to look at these things (and of course I will never get rid of them), though the tears cascaded out.  I have some pictures of his family and looked at them too, the family I so wanted to be a part of...and was, for a little while.  That is probably, partially.,why the trauma has been so great for me: I have very little family of my own left, and what is left has fragmented and will really not come together again. We meet as a group at funerals and say,"We should see each other more often." In most of my relationships, there was no close family at all, or people who did not accept me.  My time with m. was the first time I felt I belonged, anywhere in the world. I am grateful for the kindness and contact with which so many of them still gift me.

Grief is good.  I don't mind being deeply personal in this blog.  People grieve like this, and often some ass tells them, "Just get over it!"  I think grief is more like one's life proceeding, gradually with less pain, but there are lacunae which hold our memories of that person, the good and the bad, and there are times we stumble across them.  I hope my words help people to know that it is okay to have the grief recycle, to feel like the past is here again for a little while. Perhaps it is some consolation to know that we carry all of it inside us, always.


Home

I haven't been doing much over the last few days but battening down the hatches in the face of impending rain.  I find myself with the usual gratitude that the holidays are over.  I love giving gifts to family and to Thistle, and making Christmas special for her, but I honestly stopped loving Christmas in general in 2013.  I'm really glad for Thistle, though, as she gives me a chance to try and make things fun.

Time seems to pass so quickly when you have a child.  Thistle is growing up, including getting a little mouthy from time to time, especially when she is tired. In tandem, she is also growing intellectually and is really into making cool invenions with Legos and a wonderful building set series for girls, Goldiblocks.

Wow, that's all for tonight!  It's after two in the morning, and the rain has begun.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Jerry Sandusky's Pension

Jerry Sandusky is generally a pathetic waste of time for me to devote brain space and writing space: he's going to stay in prison for the rest of his life, and will waste taxpayer's money for endless appeals until he is forced to stop. I was disgusted that the man is getting a pension, and a huge back payment, but hopefully at least the ruling will enable his victims to sue for compensation and get every dime. There's not much old Jerry can buy with it anyways: maybe Top Ramen and toothpaste from the commissary. He lives in restricted housing (a form of solitary confinement) and gets to sit there for the rest of his life.

At any rate, I think it is still important to post about predators who live among us.  Everyone who reads this post has had an encounter with at least one in their lifetimes. I think it's fair to say that the ones who really think they do no wrong are like a cobra coiled up on the porch.  Unsuspecting people metaphorically feed the cobra a bowl of milk and coo over it, because they seem to think it's a kitten. Predators know and exploit this.  The sadness, humiliation, and embarrassment leave lifelong scars on friends and family when that happens and the deception is revealed, in addition to all the scars inflicted on the victims.

I'm not saying there are people out there who realize they have a legitimate problem and spend much time and effort working on it, getting professional help, and making a real commitment to change. There are even people I know who have changed their lives (not necessarily people with predatory behavior, but certainly with a variety of struggles) in very admirable and honorable ways, and hurt neither other people or society at large, contributing positive and good things only.. However, it is a sad fact that many will never change. If Sandusky is ever released on appeal (completely unlikely, but there is always a slim chance), he will go back to his old ways in short order.

For now, let's hope his victims and family reap the benefit of his pension and back payments.  It is small compensation for lives permanently and tragically altered.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Touchstone

Note to self: don't let so many days go by without saying hello to one's faithful readers--whom I appreciate more than I can say.

Did another drive-along through Ben Lomond tonight to look at Christmas lights and think.  I found myself once again on the street where Asha's killer lived.  No Christmas lights at that house at all, as if a permanent blight has settled there.  I thought of his family, how he lived there among them, all the while planning a murder--this man whom I categorically believe had killed before.  I think of the people who covered up for him, for a time.  That didn't last long.

I tend to take my drive-alongside on the same route--to the McClish house, to Asha's final residence, to the site where her car was found, to the market where they both worked. I do not go up Love Creek Road where she was found.  It is remote and dark, and I am afraid of getting lost or stuck up there.

I expect that Truman Capote revisited several places in Holcomb repeatedly when he was writing In Cold Blood (not like I am anywhere in Capote's league). I don't feel quite so bad about revisiting some of the places I'm writing about.

Writing a book like this is sheer, hard work.  I am grateful for those who have spoken to me about Asha--through them, I feel as if I know her, as if I can write about her in a way that will show the importance of her story.  Through them, I know what courage is: I cannot imagine the courage it takes to tell me about a person lost in the worst way imaginable.

Women die all over the world, every day.  Every day, another woman's story is lost.  I can't hold all those stories, can't tell them.  There are days I feel as if everything I have ever done as a writer is like running around with a teacup, trying to catch a monsoon: but it is what I do.  If the last book I ever write is Asha's story, I will feel I have done some good in this world.

When I drive around to the familiar places, I feel I have gone to my touchstone and can go home to work once more.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Crow Rain

I always seem to sit down and write at night.  I have done so for years, and write best when there is no sun, no light, only stars and the changeable moon.  There is rain tonight, blessed and welcome for this drought-stricken state.

Last night, working in my Lompico house, the place where Asha's spirit seems to visit me most--I often feel her presence--I heard the incredible sound of a crow (or perhaps a raven) cawing at night. Have only rarely heard "daytime" birds sing.

Does it mean anything, except a bird calling well out of its time?

I like to think so.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Scarred Mother

Always strange to feel a creepy, knowing vibe about someone, the sense that they are being furtive, up to something they ought not to be, and that "something" may cause a world of harm.  Knowing what I know, feeling that terrifying, icy fear, I draw my sweater tighter around me, light candles to Erzulie Dantor, a fierce and fiery member of the vodou pantheon, the scarred mother who protects her daughters, whose image I wear on a silver chain at my heart. She draws close to me when I am afraid; her scent is tobacco, vanilla rum, pepper, sweet Florida water, sharp citrus, heady lavender.  She knows well the blade of fear; she snatches daggers out of flames and dances with them, whirling like a dust devil, a blurred shadow: her secrets are whispered in ash, in the thin cry of an animal far off in the woods, in embers that fall apart, revealing a treasure of fire.  She will root out every secret and hold it in that inescapable light: she does this for women, for children, for all the vulnerable ones. She is the mother whose skirts I, at times, hold onto as a child might, when I fear I might become lost.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Mountains And Starry Sky Bellydance

Had the  most amazing, incandescent bellydance show and gathering at my Thursday night dance teacher's home.  She lives in an intentional community far up in the Soquel hills; they have a wonderful pavilion under the stars, flanked by warm fireplaces, with a canopy and beautiful strings of colored lights winding around it.  I was in my best form tonight, and when the "free dancing" part started (non choreographed, with audience participation), I did gypsy style bellydance with skirt work (basically taking the full skirt which I wear in some performances and swirling it, holding it and dancing in a fast pirouette, etc).  People were quite impressed.  We then had an amazing community dinner, had lots of wonderful talk around a campfire, and then we went home.  I love being in this group of women as a dance troupe.  We are truly sisters.

As I sat in the campfire circle, on a log that has been made into a bench, I thought about how I feel hollow these days, like a gourd that has been scooped out.  I am in a new phase of grief about m.  I realize it will probably go through many phases. This feels like the times when I felt such sadness, knowing he never really took effort to "see" me. It takes time and effort to see a person, to see their worth, and I was always so unsure that he did, anyways, after the first few months, certainly after the first time I thought I was pregnant.  I never told him about the second pregnancy, the one I held secret and lost.  I still feel the loss of that not-to-be baby, sometimes.  Perhaps that is why this grief has been my shadow on my life's journey.

I expect I will write more about all this, so please bear with me.  I know that many who come here to read my words feel this sort of sadness and a long thread of grief about someone special they knew, the grief you might never really get over, the one that accompanies you through life. Certainly I wish he could have been there tonight. My troupe leader is going through something right now with someone who has left her.  There is another loss perhaps impending in my life, one that I dread in its utter, heartbreaking permanency and complete unfairness, the loss of someone so special to me, to a terrible illness. Everyone there, I expect, has felt that emptiness, that powerlessness.

But a hollow gourd still has much beauty: place a light in it, and it shines.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Better

I feel personally better than the last post, but remain horrifically saddened still by the increasing violence in our country and in the greater world.  I am 56 years old and have not seen such increasing violence in many decades.

I don't know what the solution is.

Is there one, at all?

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Juggernaut


Today I feel done with existing in a world which seems to be nothing but hell and murder. Today there was another mass shooting. There are many people like me who feel, it seems, the pain entire of a world that every day grows more violent, replete with the worst horror and at some point, they wonder if they have even a shred of agency in a world gone utterly, perhaps permanently mad. They cannot feel that any thing will get better. I would count myself among them.

 I look at Thistle and her friends playing their cute and innocent games. Three and a half years ago, I walked into hell and rescued her. I watch her play right now as the sun goes down. She is so little. They are all such sweet innocents. I worked to the very last shred of my inner reserves to bring her from silence into light. I pray with all my heart that she will find the courage that I have not. She inherits a world gone insane, but perhaps these little ones will grow up to find solutions. Try as I must to protect her, I cannot be a complete wall against her and the insanities of this world.

I have to say that I would like to release any sense of hope for this world getting better at all, and let others carry that noble burden. As for me, my heart stands too broken in a world that gorges itself on madness and violence like a tick.

The Second Coming

William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The Ways of Silence

Something my years in Al-anon have taught me is that often, all you have to do is wait. If you don't try to force solutions, you may find that the people in your life who have recklessly harmed you and others, even outright criminals, come to justice in one way or another.  You may also get answers to baffling questions, solutions to problems you thought were simply impossible, and reconciliations that you never expected: a veritable treasure trove of circumstances which come about on their own, without you having to sweat a thing. In short, I don't control the universe, and the more I release that idea, the better my life is.  It takes faith and patience to wait and see.  The one who waits, the one who watches things unfold, maintaining conscious silence and a refrained stance, is often the one who gains everything.  It is almost as if something is out there that strives to maintain balance, and to hold back and let that "something" work, to believe it's going to do its work, is the heart of true faith, at least for me.

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Painful Anniversary, and Catherine of Aragon

December 2nd will likely be a lifelong day of sadness for me.  Unlike other anniversaries of loss in my life, this one is still agonizing and my therapist believes I have severe PTSD  around it.  I can believe it because I feel I am actually reliving the event tonight--the end of a time in my life when I believed I was loved, when I believed I would be buttoned up into a family who loved me and whom I loved,whom I still love, people who accepted me with immeasurable kindness, even to this day. I am still Facebook friends with most of them and love seeing pictures of their adventures, and of their children growing up. 

There are so many conflicted feelings tonight, like falling leaves I cannot catch. Though being chronically ill was not my fault, I still feel badly for the times when I got so sick in my years with the person in question.  I feel great sadness over what he had to endure. I initially had the chain of chronic illness set off by walking into his mother's house and inhaling some sort of particle or fiber from the many boxes being sorted, and my asthma--not doing well already--went out of control.  I had an asthma attack so severe that I should have gone to the hospital--but, stubbornly, I refused. It was the end of my health for many years.  Only when I was willing to fight like a tiger by submitting to chemotherapy for lupus did I get well again.

The story I take from all this is how difficult it is to convince someone with little "long-relationship" experience as to the way love both shades and strengthens in time; it becomes a deep and abiding caring, a precious one.  Romance is something you get at the beginning of a relationship so you can bond.  I think the other party wanted romance only and did not understand that in time, romance fades, and real love begins--the love that keeps you sitting in the trenches with the other person.  Life is mostly trenches, to be honest. The delusion of permanent romance is a fruitless search, the pursuit of a phantom.  That endless quest is like helplessly watching someone edge closer and closer to the same cliff they fell off before. I wonder if, given some of the interactions we have had recently, whether he values me now, or might one day. One never knows. Stranger things have happened in my life.  At the foundation level, something is still there.  I think we both know that, beneath all the scars and the tentative pushing to and fro, the distancing and the eventual (however fragile) return.

The pain that emerges in my heart is always there, coexisting with still-great love. Does he even remember this date, the day we lost each other?  I don't know. He's in love with a ghost. Behind every woman's face, every woman he has ever been with, lingers this ghost.  A ghost can never be anything but perfect.  No one can measure up to a ghost.

So, tonight, left with a snarl of emotions, I think of the way Catherine of Aragon was treated so shamefully by Henry VIII (though note that he could have found a way to have her executed and did not). She was a virtuous and brilliant woman, and I think he knew that all his life.  She continued to make his shirts long after he had separated from her; Anne Boleyn caught a servant carrying linen to Catherine's chambers.  When she asked what the linen was for, the servant replied that it was for Catherine of Aragon, so that she could make Henry VIII some shirts. Anne flew into a fury, went to Henry, and proceeded to upbraid him, demanding that Catherine cease making them.  Astounded, an uncomprehending Henry replied, "But I like the way she makes my shirts!"  Somehow that reminds me of what their marriage's foundation really was: there was a closeness, an accustoming that did not die, the closeness of couples who have known each other a long time.

She made his shirts, and he liked them.  What more is there to say about the people we love and hurt, whom we sometimes come back to and cherish because we learn, hopefully before it is too late, who and what they are? The people who do this should consider themselves blessed beyond measure for a second chance.  Too many people never get one.

 I do have one last parable: I like parables, and history, and I like the Tudors, because their lives were so messy and strange, a microcosm of human folly. 

When Catherine of Aragon was dying, she dictated a final letter to the husband she had married as a very young woman.  She spoke of her concern for Henry's soul, a chiding that could only come from someone who knew him very well. She forgave him for the troubles he had caused her, so many that it still boggles the mind--what a selfish ass he was, a tyrant who cared little for anyone but himself.  And yet she forgave with her whole heart, not worrying whether Henry was indeed worthy of her forgiveness.  She asked him to take care of their daughter (whom he eventually did bring back to court).  Her final line is heartbreaking, a simple one that somehow contains in its essence all the complex feelings we retain for the people we  truly love, no matter if they are gone, no matter if they have wounded us beyond comprehension.  Love still is willing to sit in the trenches, after all.

Catherine of Aragon's final words to her husband were these: Lastly, I make this vow, that mine eyes desire you above all things.

Upon reading this letter, shortly after Catherine passed away, Henry VIII held it to his heart and wept.