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

Friday, November 20, 2015

She Was An Immigrant

Asha came to the United States from Poland, and when she died, there were such cruelties on message boards; anonymous people posted that she had married her husband to stay in this country, that little Anina was an "anchor baby"--such cruel words directed at a person none of them knew.  How many of their parents were immigrants to this country?  How many grandparents?  At some point, all of them had immigrants in their background.

I'm disgusted, frankly, at the amount of people, even friends of mine, who post that if we let in refugees fleeing war and the horrors perpetrated by ISIL (sorry, will not use the name of the goddess for those insane and murderous people), we will be letting in a bunch of terrorists.  I think nothing could be further from the truth.  There have ALWAYS been people here (including American citizens) who have commited crimes, terrible ones, for some cause or another, in the name of an ideology.

I think it's a matter of balancing what this country has always stood for in terms of immigration: opening our arms to those who come here, for whatever reason, to seek refuge in the United States.  During World War II, the government turned away over a thousand Jewish refugees, who then were forced back to Europe, where many of them died in concentration camps. ISIL is one of the most evil forces to emerge in modern times.  Their atrocities fill me with absolute horror, that such sickness and barbarism exist, and they are willing and even happy to perpetrate it. Should we send families, including children, back to that hell?  They come here seeking safety; we will give them none. If the shoe were on the other foot, many Americans would be demanding to get into other countries and appalled if no one let them in--even insulted.  I would wager that countries overseas would be kinder to us than we have been to them.

Our world and our country are on the brink of change where we ALL have to pull together and take care of each other.  Perhaps I'm naive.  Maybe I am.  This is my opinion, born from thinking a lot about these issues. Can we, as a country, open our hearts yet again, in the same way this country opened their hearts to people coming here to seek a better life, free from oppression?  It remains to be seen.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New Excerpts at the "Asha's Book" site

I just want to put it out there that I have two new chapter excerpts up at my "Asha's Book" site.  These new excerpts are stand-alone pages, under the heading "Additional Chapters and Excerpts," just underneath the photograph of lanterns. I finally figured out how to put in additional chapters sequentially!

Please remember, these are very rough drafts and I often look on the website to see where adjustments need to be made in the work.  It is easier to see on the blog, and is a good resource for me.

Thanks in advance if you read what I have so far, and if you have suggestions--feel free to make them, using the comment form on either blog!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Terrorist Attacks, Paris, Part Two

I am appalled, as is the rest of the world, about not only the attacks in Paris, but in other countries: Beirut, Kenya...the list goes on.

Now France is retaliating against ISIS.  Will anything come of it?  ISIS seems to be the worst, most terrifying group I have heard of in my entire lifetime. They seem absolutely soulless, heartless.

And I realize that writing the above phrase, if I were not someone sitting in a warm bedroom in California, does not endanger my life.  Yet someone writing the above phrase could be killed in a country haunted by terrorists.

By the way, m. was renting a little studio apartment this summer when he stayed in Paris, working a little and enjoying the museums and sights.  It was literally around the corner from the cafe where many peoople were shot and killed a few days ago  (thankfully the owners did not get hurt).  He posted on Facebook a photo of the rose which was in the courtyard.  That rose meant more to me than any rose on the planet, and probably always will: across continents, time, and despite all the hell we put each other through, we began talking about how to care for the rose, which led to all our marvelous conversations (albeit online) through his trip, and perhaps baby steps to more healing someday.  The little rose seems emblematic now of the fragility of everything in the world.

I sorrow not only for the citizens of Paris, for the families and loved ones of those who were killed, but for all the horrors perpetrated on innocent people.  The world seems to be gorging like a tick on bloodshed and horror.  I do not seem to be able to find words of comfort for anyone, anywhere: but our love for one another and the good we can do for the people around us: it is significant and I must believe that even the smallest good will flower in the world, somehow, somewhere.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Terrorist Attacks in Paris

I apologize to my faithful readers, as I have been away from this blog too long.  I will make concerted efforts to try and write every day.  Thank you to those who have inquired after me.  I appreciate you all more than I can say.

Like everyone in the world, I am saddened and sickened beyond human belief by the terrorist attacks in Paris. I have no real words to offer in solace except to encourage everyone to surround the people affected by this tragedy with hearts full of love.  It is all we can do right now.I pray that the terrorists responsible for this are brought to justice.

There are times I feel my efforts to do good in the world are a joke when events like this happen, that I am trying to catch a monsoon in a teacup.  Not one of us can change the world, but we can, as Mother Teresa said, "step forward with our little light."  I believe that any effort to work for peace and the greater good has an effect, even if we never really see, ultimately, how it happens.  Any act of kindness or compassion surely takes root and blooms somewhere.

Please hold the citizens of Paris in your hearts and prayers. 

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Giving Yourself a Break

I had a dance performance at a local venue, The Crepe Place, which has bellydancing every Saturday.  No matter how much I practiced and practiced, I just seemed not to be able to get the choreography. There  is one young woman in the troupe who is kind but judgemental of me: I don't know if it is because I am older, or because she has a bossy streak, or what, but she often has a pickle face  when I perform with the troupe.  I made several mistakes during the performance, so I left without saying goodbye to anyone or socialize afterwards. Honestly, I didn't want to face this dancer. I'm many years her elder, and should be more mature about things, but I'm not, and that is just the size of it. I've nearly left the classes because of her, but I love my teacher and the dance style, so I do not want to leave, and will not.  I could have practiced more and not put a costume together at the last minute. I relied on an old costume which did not fit and had no time to put together another one.

I  realize that I live a privileged life and that fretting about dance classes is nothing compared to what people go through. However, it's such a major part of my life which also highlights how critical I am of myself.

Time to work on that, I suppose.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Brooklynne Enix Found Safe and Sound, Father Arrested

I am happy to report that little Brooklynne Enix is safe and her father is in custody. Please follow the link for more information:

Amber Alert, Tennessee: Brooklynne Enix

Since my blog is read nationwide, I will be posting Amber Alerts when. they come up. Please follow the link to see this one from Knoxville, Tennessee:

Also, a video:

Let's hope she is found soon.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Of GoPros and Rattlesnake Dens

There is a video going around about a clueless Darwin Award candidate who brings a Go Pro to a rattler den and basically harrasses and freaks out a bunch of rattlers, who strike the camera lens over and over (the Go Pro falls into the snake den, too, further freaking out the snakes and causing them to strike).

The most horrific part is not the rattling, etc., but the sound of the frightened snakes getting badly hurt by striking very forcefully onto a rigid, unyielding camera lens or Go Pro housing, which is cruel and frankly abusive, allowing them to strike a hard surface like's really sad because those snakes, if they bruise their mouths, can easily get an infection, will no longer be able to hunt or eat and will starve to death. Plus, their venom is mostly to help them catch food, not get spent on some idiot's camera.

Reptiles are actually vital in the food chain, to raptors, water birds, and many other animals, and rattlers naturally keep pests down...that is their job on this planet.

It was a very cruel and thoughtless video. Much as snakes give me the creeps, those snakes were just denning up and bothering no one, and some moron came up to bug them. What I worry most about are other idiots with GoPros who decide to do the same thing and also win a Darwin Award by hassling snakes who would really just like people to leave them alone.

Readers, please think twice about reposting that video; you probably know what it is, as it is all over the Internet. As much as rattlesnakes freak a lot of people out, including me, they do not need to have someone hurt them like that.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Asha Says

Practicing dance two days  ago, I sensed, very strongly, Asha's presence behind me, as if she were really there.  I sensed her saying, "Why are you concentrating on the Pope? I want you to tell my story. Why are  you focusing on the Pope and not my story?  I don't want you to leave me behind." She is an insistent spirit.

I told her that I would starting working. It is not fair to Asha and all the people who loved her, who are encouraging me and helping me, to just drop off the map. I will never know her nor be able to tell her story.

It's getting to the time of year when I feel closest to Asha...this dry autumn, such a dry-leaf fragrance in the air.  The owls have returned; mountain lions hunt at night and coyotes.  I saw a stag chase a bobcat away, running at it, snorting and showing its horns. The world when Asha was taken away, a dry landscape, returns now, and I return, too, back into her story.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Last Words Re: Francis and Kim Davis

I think the saddest thing which has come out of the Francis/Kim Davis event is how willing people are to believe, wholesale, what the Vatican says.  We all can believe that the Kim Davis camp could be lying (I sure would like to see more pictures of that--there are a handful which don't show much convincing evidence. There's Kim Davis and her husband in the embassy waiting room.  There's a picture, supposedly, of the van which took them there. They are cellphone pictures, though one of my friends told me that the Vatican photographers took photos and disallowed cellphones.  If there indeed are photos of her, the Vatican is never going to release them).

 I'd like to believe Mrs. Davis and friends are lying. I'm just not yet convinced about the Vatican. Why are people treating the Vatican as if it's the most honest source around about its doings?

Not one person in the meet-and-greet line (which Kim Davis was supposed to be in) has come forward to say they saw her.  That's odd to me. Surely someone would have known who she was.  I dare not talk about it publicly on Facebook--too many people defending His Holiness as the wonderful "pope of the people" whom I should embrace (even though I am not Catholic). I wouldn't do that anyways, because of his stance on the ordination of women and his canonization of Serra.  Besides, I'm not Catholic. As an ex-Catholic, I remain skeptical of the modern Church, which is not really modern in practice.

Of course the Vatican would distance themselves from Kim Davis.  What are they going to do, say they like what she stands for?  They have everything invested in saying that.

I'm puzzled why the headlines are also blazing suddenly with the private meeting between His Holiness and his friend in a same-sex marriage, as if that makes everything all better.  Good Lord.   Francis can meet with a former student and friend, be in the same room with him, give him a hug, and still condemn gay marriage as a mortal sin. I am tired of my friends saying that because he met a longtime friend who is gay and hugged him, Francis now changing his stance on gay marriage. It just shows he cares for his friend and respects him.  I would hate it to be a situation of "hate the sin and love the sinner"--which I find such a bizarre phrase, used often in the Church.

Anyways, if there is anything further to be revealed, it will be. Done.

Friday, October 02, 2015

The Vatican, Kim Davis, Post-Francis

If more draperies start coming down from the Vatican regarding Francis + Kim Davis, I'm going to give Christo a call.  He's likely to have enough material to swaddle the Grand Canyon when all this is over.  

The Vatican has issued an official fig leaf today in the form of a letter.  Weaselly-worded, it nonetheless attempts to put distance between The Supreme Pontiff and the esteemed Mrs. Kim Davis (by the way, I hope we are soon shed of her photos with face to the heavens and outflung arms, as if she's about to break into "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina"). Now the Vatican is pushing back that they never granted Mrs. Davis a real audience, nor spent any substantial time with her.  By the way, my father (who grew up in the most Baptist of churches) had an audience with Pope Paul, at the end of WWII.  He was with his fellows in the Navy, and spent little time with His Holiness, but it was still an audience.  I wish I had that picture today: I still can't get my mind around the fact that  Dad--whose fellow churchgoers spoke in tongues and handled snakes, though he didn't care for all that "damnfoolishness"-- has been the only one I ever knew who got to stand at the Rock of Saint Peter.

Anyhow, this story is now starting to strike something of a minor chord on the level of Clinton vs. Monica Lewinsky, minus the naughty bits and blue dress. The Vatican says that Mrs. Davis was only part of a meet and greet line, that there was no secret visit arranged ahead of time.  Her lawyers and Mrs. Davis contend otherwise.  It's starting to boil down to a "he said, she said" situation so far.  In addition, Rome has trotted out a "some of my best friends are gay" story, describing a meeting between Francis and a friend in a same sex relationship, in order to show how tolerant is the Bishop of Rome.  I have no doubt he tolerates gay people, but I would wager he thinks they are committing mortal sin, too. It doesn't surprise me that he maintains the Church's condemnation of marriage between people of the same sex, though his "Who am I to judge" statement made me feel a glimmer of hope.  What does surprise me--though I should have been a bit more skeptical--is that the good Pope Francis seems to speak out of both sides of his smiling mouth, when I'd hoped otherwise.

So which one is lying, or at least telling half-truths--the Vatican, or Mrs. Davis and friends, or both?  Wouldn't Mrs. Davis and her lawyers have a lot to lose if they fabricated an entire scenario?  The credibility in this case is self-inflicted, so to speak, but she's an "eye of the tiger" now for bigots and hatemongers, and fabricating a Papal meeting out of whole cloth would toss another shovelful of utter foolishness on top of the steaming pile. I don't put it past them to deliberately hallucinate anything, but I'm also not buying the Vatican's attempt to cover its own nakedness.

I don't believe for one minute that the Pope had no idea who she was.  Why, then, would he do something that the Vatican has not denied at all: praise her for her courage and tell her to stand strong in her faith, and to pray for him?  We will never really know, because the Vatican can create as many fig leaves as they want.  They've been doing that for centuries and are masters at that sort of thing.  I don't care if Mrs. Davis sailed out of the Rockettes kick line to clasp hands with the Pope for a millisecond.  His statement shows awareness of who she is, and what she stands for. If he had no idea who she was, he would have shaken her hand, prayed, and given her a rosary (he passes them to everyone: someone in his entourage must have the equivalent of a brimful Hefty bag). To paint him as someone who didn't know makes him look like a naive and unquestioning lunkhead--which I hope he is not.  Granted, the College of Cardinals tried to vote in a successor for Benedict who had the least skeletons under his miter, but I doubt they wanted a completely witless one to boot.

I will give the Vatican the benefit of the doubt that meeting with Mrs. Davis was not a show of support for her particular cause, but it was surely a sign of support for HER--and by default, her cause.  Will the circle be unbroken?  Time will tell.