Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Vistor To This Blog From Wroclaw, Poland

I noticed that I had a visitor today to this blog from Wroclaw, Poland, where Asha's parents and much of her family live.  I wanted to let them know that I am indeed working on a book about Asha (the search terms were under her birth name, Joanna Dragunowicz).  The intention of my book is to try as best I can to show Asha as she really was--a person I consider to have had enormous courage above all, preparing to raise her child as a single mother if necessary.

I knew Asha a little from the market where she worked (I am a local to this area and was deeply affected by her loss). As I talk to people who knew her, I gain more and more respect for who she was.  I have never heard one person say anything negative about her at all.  I want to show what a tragedy her loss was, and in a greater sense, show how her loss affected our community, and perhaps shed a greater light on these crimes.  I also resonate a great deal with Asha because I was a single mother for many, many years and my first and last pregnancies were under threat also.  I also lost a friend from my college, who was murdered in 1985 by a serial killer. 

 Also, I find that these crimes focus much more greatly on the criminal and not the victim.  Our local papers never published any sort of biography on Asha.  No one had much idea of her life because no newspapers here ever wrote anything of her beyond the circumstances around the crime.  I was astounded to learn that she had a music degree and was an accomplished musician.  Not one media source told this about her; I learned of it through the trial transcripts.

Above all, I do not want Asha and Anina to be lost to time, as happens so often with crime victims, and I want to show the effect on her family and friends in terms of loss and also survivorship.  I personally cannot imagine a grief of this magnitude and am in awe of the strength it must take to get through life after a loss like this.  Others who have been through this may find the strength to keep on life's journey despite unimaginable loss, if I write this book with all my heart.

I have frankly stalled at approaching Richard Veil and the Dragunowicz family because I cannot seem to find the right, gentle words to ask if they might talk to me about Asha.  I do not think the exact right words will ever come to me, though, and I have to find the courage to ask.  Please, if you are a relative or friend of Asha, know that my reticence has been because this crime was so devastating and I am afraid of causing any further hurt or sadness to the people who loved Asha. I do not intend to just plough through and write this book without input from her friends or family.  Right now, what I have written focuses on my inital experiences of Asha's disappearance.

As I learn more about Asha, she further touches my heart. I think that very thing keeps me trying to write the best book I can.  As I said, this book is to honor her life and, as best I can, help her to not be forgotten.

If you would like to contact me, you can email me at poetlore@gmail.com, or use the contact form on this blog.  Thank you for visiting here; I appreciate it very much.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


The flyby of today's asteroid is significant in part because it is the closest flyby of such a large object in recorded history.  I did not get to see it because of cloud cover, but watched NASA's coverage.

Here is a radar image of the asteroid, which picked up a small moon in its travels, and a bit of information on it.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

More Walking

Had a wonderful day with the women from my old Thursday night African dance class; we had a day of walking in the redwoods  and then dancing and drumming in Felton, at the local yoga studio which rents out for such things.  Then I participated in a concert/get together for my singing group, the Voice Weavers.  It was quite fun~

We did temporarily lose a couple of people in the Henry Cowell Redwoods park where we walked
(we found them again, on the wrong trail), and a four-mile hike was miscalculated as a one mile hike.  I think I have hiked ten miles in two days.

I am hoping m's critical words will be erased from my memory at some point...I brush them off, but they detract from my day a little and I do not like that. As I hiked today, one of his statements popped into my head, of the first time we hiked and my concern that I was not in hiking shoes and felt really vulnerable.  He retorted that HE used to hike BAREFOOT for miles. 

Astronomy news:  I've been observing Comet Lovejoy and detected a definite nucleus, and also saw the Andromeda galaxy.  There have been excellent skies over the last couple of nights

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Voice

I have never been able, when something happens in my life that changes my schedule, or is hard for me to figure out, or when I don't have enough money for something, to exorcise m's voice out of my head, or rather, his emails: "Your life is a series of crises.  Most people do not live like this." Continuous criticism is NOT the way to effect change with anyone or anything, ever...and sometimes doing a kind thing like actually helping someone is better than sitting on your perch groaning about them. 

At any rate, my VW's oil light started blinking yesterday and I took it to my trusty mechanic this morning. A repair he assured me would take little time turned into nine hours of work for the poor guy (it took a long time to figure out and is hard to explain, except it has to do with older VW's and the way they use oil, and sense oil pressure).  I ended up walking all around Santa Cruz and up to Thistle's school, a considerable distance and with no buses in that area at all.  Thistle and I stayed at afterschool care til it got cold and then tried to find a bus: no dice (the only ones in the area were the Davenport and Bonny Doon buses).  We ended up walking the considerable distance back down to Santa Cruz.  Thistle was an old trouper about it all and I showed her the two houses where I lived when I first came here, a big Victorian house and a little one.  When we got to the library, it was closed.  We stayed in Bookshop Santa Cruz and finally went to the car.  I ended up having to miss my writing group tonight because I simply got home too late: and I had a section of the Asha book for them to critique. I do appreciate greatly the mechanic's heroics through the years with my various cars.

Still, whenever anything goes wrong, that little email-arrow comes through despite efforts to silence it, and I do my best to brush it off, ignore it, and go on.  I have said things too that probably still hurt people, so it is a lesson to keep trying to watch what I say, and do.

A Short Break, and the Night Sky: Orion, Lovejoy, Asteroid Flyby

I have had a short break from writing in this blog partially because I am stargazing at night--conditions in winter are usually wonderful, if the sky is not cloudy, of course.  It's even fairly good when the moon is bright.  After I observe, I make sketches in my stargazing journal

My little red house in Lompico is a primo place for stargazing, despite the surrounding trees. There is NO light at all at night and it was so dark the other night that I could see Orion as a huge, scintillating constellation--there was even starlight illuminating the woods around my house (it's at a pretty high elevation).  I saw the Orion Nebula (shining just below Orion's three stars that make up his belt) much more clearly than I have ever seen it before.  It is a nursery for new stars, and within the nebula are some cool things: the Horsehead Nebula, and the Flame Nebula, among other things.  If you want to observe it or learn more about the Orion Nebula, here is a link to its page on Sky and Telescope (with the caveat that, unless you have a very high-powered telescope, you will not be able to see the red colors in the nebula):

Please note also that most of the star charts on these links are located at the bottom of the webpage, or nearly so, so please scroll down if you go to the page.


Comet Lovejoy is still around; I observe it nearly every night.  It is definitely getting a wispy tail as it gradually approaches the sun, though the tail is easiest to see under excellent viewing conditions, as I had the other night.  Lovejoy is now in the constellation Aries, which I locate by finding the world's easiest constellation to spot, Triangulum; I locate Triangulum and then find Aries beneath it.  Lovejoy is to the left of Aries, just slightly.  Please remember that a) you MUST have binoculars or a telescope to see it (I usually locate the comet with binoculars and then find it in my telescope), and
b) the comet is not as close to Aries as it looks on the chart; space is quite vast, obviously, and the distances may be greater between stars and objects, so scanning around with binoculars is recommended:


The last exciting bit of news is that there will be a fly-by of a very large asteroid on Monday, January 26th (don't worry; it poses no threat to Earth).  It will be in the consellation Cancer.  You must have a telescope or good binoculars to see it. If you look on the chart in the link I have provided, you will see that the asteroid initially proceeds neart Altarf, the brightest star in the constellation.  The chart shows the asteroid's positions in the night sky, beginning at 6 pm. How to know you've spotted it?  It will be the "star" that's moving!  Please note that because nothing in nature acts perfectly and in accordance with our wishes, the asteroid might be a little off track, so scan around.


This article gives more information on the comet, including how to see it online if your skies are cloudy, etc:


Monday, January 19, 2015


I can't believe so many folks seem disinterested in a comet as easily visible as Lovejoy. It is still visible in a good set of binoculars and will be for some time. If you want to see it tonight, locate the Pleiades and scan to the right (e.g. your right as you face the Perseids) and just a tiny degree down. Lovejoy looks like a luminous, fuzzy gray-white dandelion head. Do not give up: it is very visible.

I saw Lovejoy in my (cheapo) telescope night before last and could see the small but very bright nucleus.

If you stargaze tonight, do check out the Pleiades, Taurus, Orion, and Jupiter.

I am off to stargaze, myself.

Ps...yes, the original of this said "staircase" instead of stargaze, lol.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


I spend about six hours a week now doing maintenance and clean up in my little Lompico house.  It's gotten to the point that it is pleasant to be there. Right now I am working alternately in the kitchen and the yard.  It is good to get rid of so much stuff in the appliance cabinet: old Teflon pans that are awful and toxic, especially, two old coffee makers (how did I end up with two?), part of a food processor, a toaster, a hot plate (why did I need a hot plate?)  My sister generously would go out and buy me things like this, and I am glad they have served their purpose.

The e-waste people are going to be really happy, too: I have three computer monitors, old motherboards, and keyboards.  Good-bye.  

I will be salvaging things like old video games and such so my sons can see if they want anything: I doubt it, but am doing it anyways.

I always feel bad about tossing books, but some have really deteriorated and I am not sure what to do with them.  I wonder if I can recycle them.  I don't need a 1999 version of What Color is Your Parachute.

After owning that house for nearly 30 years, I also found out today that my kitchen shelves are removable.  I cleaned them and put them outside to air.

I think when I am there a lot.  I wish I had been a much better mother to my children.  I wish I had asked my neighbors and friends for help, instead of relying so much on my ex-husband's family.  I am so grateful for my friend Carol, whom I have known for nearly 30 years.  My children and I could not have made it without her, or my sister.

Still in love with that house, very glad it is getting fixed up properly now.  

The Old Grouch Speaks

Having lunch with friends today, I heard the old phrase, "Everything happens for a reason."

Yes, this is true, if you apply it to a broader sense: sometimes that reason has to do with another person's free will, including evil acts.  I believe it is up to other people who have free will and a basic moral sense of good to respond to such evil acts in a responsible way.

I also think that people are capable of exercising enormous stupidity and human rights violations in service to what they personally think is right.  ISIS thinks that what they are doing is perfectly right, for example, based on their belief systems.  They don't think they are crazy, murderous, insane, etc.  They simply think they are right and wish everyone would be as right, too.

Someone who tells a  cancer patient that they brought cancer on themselves is, without usually knowing it, being disrespectful and even cruel.  I believe people say these things because human mortality is frightening: people can't really visualize what it really is like to die if they haven't been in the dying process.  I think affirmations and positive thinking really do help in coping with illness and difficult life situations, but I do not think they apply in any way to the great question of why evil exists.

I can say for myself that reasons will bloom out of my experience as a way of making sense.  I know that I have more writing time now that I have had to retire; I have more time to spend with my daughter.  The loss of m. helped me to see how much my self-esteem was torn down: being looked down on because I was poor, had a child, and in his opinion, a crisis filled life (when, in all fairness, he had continuous ones too, smaller than mine, but cumulative).  It  has made me remember that there are people who will just come and destroy as much as they can, because you represent something to them they, however unconcsiously, hate (whether that was older women in general, a mother, or some other symbolic thing).  The sad thing is, many of these people don't really mean it and really believe they are trying to do some good in your life. 

Probably I should challenge people a little more when I hear facile lines of thinking, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  I just wish they would accept or even listen to mine!  I am writing about one of the worst things that can happen to a person, friends, and family, and I am trying to come to terms with why such things happen. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Michael McClish trial blog

I am having extreme fatigue tonight due to a dance performance today and the recent, albeit brief, health glitches. I seem to be okay; my doctor gave me some ideas of what to do for my tummy, and I think I am feeling better.

I wanted to point my readers who are interested to the following site; some very helpful person went to the McClish trial in 2011/2012 and did a very good job of transcribing it. I realize now why I was not at the trial, and very much wanted to be: Thistle had come into my life right around then.

Anyways, this can be a fascinating read on a very, very sad subject, so please be forewarned.


Friday, January 16, 2015

Labs In

I went to my rheumatologist mainly with the complaint of the usual, increasing tummy symptoms from lupus, which are increasing as chemo goes on. The medication I take is very toxic (it really takes a lot to tear down the human immune system, which is a miraculous system, if you think about it...mine is damaged and destroys ME, as if I were an invading virus...that is why lupus is so damaging to the body). Chemo for lupus is not to destroy a tumor, but to get the side effect of a low immune system (the chemo is every bit as difficult as chemo for cancer). Dr. C. told me that he could cut my chemo in half to see if that helped the tummy problems, which are causing me much distress and insomnia). I am afraid to reduce my chemo right now and he agreed, and we will try other suggestions first.

I do feel grateful that I bought a year of life by being willing to do this.

My bloodwork is coming back with okay results except for a few small things here and there.

Getting tired, hopefully will be able to write more this weekend.


I am fine, but having numerous medical tests, the usual. I am fine, just having fatigue and stomach pain, and have been given some ideas as to what to do about that. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Been having some hopefully transitory health issues...Will get back to posting updates soon.

Monday, January 12, 2015

More Work on the Book

This is getting to be a true labor of love, this book. My family has been unbelievably helpful, understanding when I need to take the car out and retrace steps on back roads to figure some detail out. The neighbors on Estates Drive, the place in Ben Lomond where Asha's car was found, must think I am the crazy lady in the yellow Volkswagen who likes their street a lot. At some point, probably tomorrow, I am going to take a walk from the store to where Asha's car was found and see if McClish could have driven it to the place it was found, then retrieved his truck somehow.

There are some problems with this scenario. First, the store was still open on the Saturday night Asha disappeared; by Sunday, she had not shown up for work and people began to get worried about her. If her car were still in the parking lot when the store opened, it would have been noted by people who worked there. Could McClish have somehow moved it the day after the murder? He went to the dump around 8 am that day, and it is presumed he also dumped the murder weapon and the tarp there. It is doubtful to me that he would have gone over to the market that Sunday and moved Asha's car at the same time, because the market opens at seven a.m.

Residents of Estates Drive told law enforcement that the car had been parked there (Estates and Brookside drives) since people woke up on Sunday morning. Curiously, I don't know if anything in the missing persons fliers mentioned her car (you'd think they'd mention something like that...the car was not found by law enforcement until Tuesday). My question is how McClish got the car over to Brookside and Estates, presumably that night (his DNA was found on the wheel and he pointedly made a statement from jail to his wife that he drove Asha's car the day she went missing, to put air in its tires, probably an alibi). The Ben Lomond Market was open til ten Saturday night, at least an hour after the murder, and the risk of someone seeing him fetch the car from the lot would be too great. McClish was home that night well before the market closed.

This is a small mystery I've been thinking about. The scenarios I have are thus:

1) McClish slipped out of his house somehow after his family was asleep and moved the car in the very early morning hours on Sunday (he could easily have parked someplace and walked over to the market--presumably he had been able to get a key to Asha's car somehow, though they found one with her discarded backpack--he may have stolen the spare key).

2) Somehow Asha was coerced or otherwise drove the car herself to Brookside and Estates--but it is one of the most inconvenient places to park in that area, with barely any turnouts. Besides, McClish's DNA was found on the steering wheel. I would think the only reason she would have gotten into her car would be to get the hell away from McClish and she sure as heck would not have ended up in such an unlikely spot. It's heavily populated with houses everywhere; an altercation would have been heard. No blood was found in the car.

3) McClish somehow, in the hour and fifteen minutes he had to do what he did to Asha, wherever he did that, go up and down Love Creek Road, used some bit of that time to park near the market, park his truck (presumably where it would not be found, and by this time, it was full of DNA evidence from Asha, by the way), get in Asha's car, move it to Brookside, then hike back to his truck, all around eight-thirty pm on a Saturday night in the San Lorenzo Valley. with traffic on Highway Nine, the market still open, etc. I've been to the market around that time when there's no one around, but still, it seems nearly impossible that nobody would see him.

4) He had an accomplice who moved her car (somewhat plausible if he swore a friend or relative to secrecy and that person absolutely wore gloves)--I think this is not totally implausible, but surely it would have ruined the DNA evidence they found.

Of all these, I think some scenario around option one likely happened. If my readers have any other ideas, feel free to chime in. This part is important because it helps me establish a clear timeline for the murder and most especially, where exactly this man took Asha to end her life.