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

ashaveilbook.blogspot.com


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Witness

I am witnessing a friend engaging in what I am sure is a manic phase, given the behavior, and the thought processes which are tipping dangerously into grandiosity. I can't diagnose anyone with bipolar disorder--I am bipolar type 2 under very good control with Lamictal--and I don't know if there are other disorders of the brain which involve manic phases. But this is the only description I can muster of what I am seeing.  I fear the other side of this, when the crash comes...because I know EXACTLY what that is like. Lamictal has smoothed out my mood disorder a great deal. I am still highly creative (I mean, I'm not boasting, but the images and language of writing still flow...I don't have the wild sense that my brain is on fire, which was the height of the manic phase for me. But I have a creativity that is like embers and a very steady flame, and am glad for it.

I am not always a good friend to this person, and should be. I tend to simper and say, "Oh, that's great!" to behavior that worries me. I timidly said something small this time and there was no response. I'm afraid to say more because I know well that irritability which goes along with the manic phase. I'm scared there is going to be more. It is hard to know what to do.

Speaking for myself, I think that the hardest part of being engaged in manic behavior is that I either had no idea what I was doing, or found myself unable to put the brakes on. Even now, I appreciate someone pointing out when I am having breakthrough symptoms, which generally are small and controllable.

So what to do? Break out the popcorn and wait for this person to crash, and keep being there for them? Simper around and say everything will be all right when often, everything is not all right?

The truth is that I can't change anyone. None of us can. I can't put the brakes on for this person. My world had to crash down around me in order for me to start looking at how I was wrecking my life.

There is a saying or two in Al-Anon about not standing in someone's way as they face consequences in their lives: one is "Get Off His Back, Get Out Of His Way, Get On With Your Life."

I think that is good advice for me right now, much as it hurts.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Fathers

I went to Stillwater, Oklahoma this weekend, to my father's memorial service. At some point, I will bring some of his ashes back to Mississippi and place them with his mother and father, and his brother who lived only one day.

My dad is woven forever into my heart. I am so lucky to have had him for 57 years of my life. Many people lose their parents much earlier.

I will never forget his voice and his laugh, his amazing stories.

Last night I found his final letter to me, a sweet note telling me how much he loved me. The handwriting was so shaky--how long did it take him to write?

Yesterday, I cut back blackberry vines on a hot, bright day--so clear and bright, and suddenly felt I was with him in Mississippi, chopping back vines to clear a garden space. The scene set itself so clearly in my mind that I felt transported there.

I think we never get over losing our parents. My relationship with my father was complicated, with a tangle of history made of shadow and light threads. I am even grateful for the complexity.

Hard to believe he is gone.

So it goes.

Here's a photo of him in Hawaii, my very favorite one.



Sunday, June 11, 2017

More Than Ever

I have not really felt like blogging. The world feels like it is caving in on me. My father's death, a slew of personal things involving one of my kids, dreading my father's funeral in Oklahoma, the turmoil in our country, etc. Now I also have a serious injury.

Two weeks ago, after a wonderful African dance class that felt so healing, I caught my foot on a curb in the parking lot and took a hard and very painful fall onto asphalt. I have badly strained, perhaps torn slightly, my right rotator cuff. I cannot raise my arm in certain positions without pain. Performing is out of the question right now. I wonder if I will really be able to dance again, though I am certain I will. At 58, it takes more time for injuries to heal. I'm doing all the exercises and treatments the doctor has said to do. I will likely get physical therapy.

I have survived serious injuries to dance again: removal of a tumor on the same shoulder which now has the rotator cuff injury. I injured my knee early in dance with a teacher who understood nothing about body mechanics. I badly injured my right hamstring a few years ago by slipping on a friend's too-slippery floor. I fractured my lower spine in 2013, and daily do exercises to help this. I have no doubt that, in time, my shoulder will be okay. Physical therapy and not pushing beyond my capabilities right now are wonderful things, especially.

In the meantime, I am attending dance classes, keeping my arms down at hip level, and am focusing on body mechanics, with really interesting results--really learning how the muscles work in certain aspects of dance and choreographies, focusing on steps and cleaning up my footwork, really listening to music...amazing what can be done when you don't really have to focus on what your arms are doing.

Talk about making lemonade out of lemons!  That part has been so interesting and something I might not have focused on had I not acquired this injury.

It's an interesting time...the weather is beautiful, but the sensibility of each day seems foggy and clouded. I know things will change--they always do--and I wait for the wheel of fortune to turn in my favor again.













Sunday, May 21, 2017

No End

I have a delusion which I hear is common after the death of a loved one. I feel as if my father is still alive and all I have to do is pick up my phone and call him, and he will answer.

My father had his shadows, most definitely, like all of us...and yet his goodness, his devotion to family, and most especially the stable, happy life he gave his children when we were small, means everything to me.

I remember one summer he built a little A-frame house in our huge backyard, for a playhouse for us. I remember walking with my sister and a friend over to the next-door neighbor's house and back--it seemed such a safe world then, though my mother always made me walk with a buddy. I saw my dad on the roof of the A-frame, his toolbelt around his waist, and loved him so much for building a playhouse. My first memory is of him unwrapping a toy pink-and-blue terrycloth elephant for me. I was chin-high with the coffee table.

I remember the terrible day my father came home to tell my mother and grandmother (who lived with us) that he had been let go from his job. I was so small that I was in my mother's arms, and when my dad started crying, I did, too. He was probably only in his early thirties, already with three children. I remember his khaki uniform with his name stitched in red above the shirt pocket, because I could see it when he held me, and I remember him wearing that uniform the day he came home. What happened? Was there a layoff, or did he do something wrong? I won't ever know--one of the many things I won't be able to ask him.

 I can imagine why he was so upset and afraid. He had a house, a mortgage, small children to care for. And what my dad did was establish the same type of business he had been fired from. And he grew that business into a strong and steady, and highly lucrative one. He never had to be fired again.

So many stories about a man who taught me what integrity and hard work means. I never expected the world to hand me everything on a platter, that I would have to work hard to get things in life and that was okay...and I would appreciate things more if I worked hard for them.

I'll leave you with a picture of my cool dad, being cool.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My Dad, David Gordon McMillan, July 25, 1928--May 16, 2017

My father died at 3:30 a.m. yesterday. He died in his sleep of old age, bless him. I am glad he is past his pain and in a better place.

In many ways, I held on and tried to survive all my health challenges because I did not want to die and have him grieve another child. He lost his daughter, my sister Maryanne, in 2008. I could not bear to have that happen to him again.

I will probably be writing more on this loss in the days to come.

I think nothing unanchors a person more than the death of parents. Both my parents are gone now, and my elder sister. This year I have had three close friends die also.

What it says to me is the old story of how precious this life is...a cliche, I suppose, but we are all so lucky to have this time on earth.

Here is a photo of him, probably on one of the road trips we all loved to take.



Saturday, May 06, 2017

Wild Rose

I love these flowers. This is growing on a spectacular wild rosebush in the woods.


Monday, May 01, 2017

Waterfall

I am trying to re-commit to posting here every day. I am in an exhausting work situation right now, but do not want to return to the days of posting once a year or so because of that. People are kind enough to read this blog, and I want to honor their readership by posting more to read, or photos and such to look at.

So here is a photo of a local waterfall which I took this weekend. I always wonder what it will look like in a hundred years.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Dance in October, part two

My last post involved a story on the news show "60 Minutes," many years ago. It covered a story about women who went to some elite place--a country club, perhaps--to ballroom dance with young men hired as dance partners. I don't know how this arrangement came about--I know there are men trained to be ballroom dance partners for women on certain cruise ships--so perhaps that was what it involved. In the "60 Minutes" special, the young men were apparently taking advantage of the women's loneliness, bilking the women for large sums of money. I spoke of a scene where a young man leads an older woman out on the dance floor. When she started to dance, she gave a kick out that was, to me at the time, inadvertently funny. I am pretty sure the director of the show meant it to be so: here is this silly rich old woman in the arms of a young guy she thinks might like her more than a dance partner. And look at her trying to kick out and then dance.

So there are deeper questions in regards to this show, with which I unfortunately feel a resonance as an older dancer who lacks confidence and self-esteem at times (something I believe is shared by ALL dancers in a discipline where YOU are the "art"). Now I consider first one thing: the woman was, in reality, quite a graceful dancer. She could have been dancing with Godzilla and looked good. So why was she touted as an object of derision and not the gigolo leading her onto the dance floor?

I think a lot of it has to do with the article holding up these women as old fools blinded by vanity and trying to cling to youth in any way they could. Certainly the young men didn't escape scrutiny: the point of the article was that these young men were part of a group that deliberately took money in this way. But the women were made to look ignorant of the fact that they were apparently old and washed-up.

It brings up, to me, the matter of aging in society, in general, and in the dance world, including the one I inhabit, bellydance. There are troupes around which I KNOW would never have an older dancer, or one that didn't fit a certain body style. Certainly whatever the director wants is what they want, but they miss a whole segment of wonderful performers in the process.

Case in point: sick of years and years of getting my hair dyed, I finally went through the long process of letting it go gray, and noticed a very curious change: I was not invited to perform with at least one set of dancers anymore, even though I had done so in the past (it was a small group and I did end up leaving). And then...wow...all these dancers in the community stopped dyeing their hair! Maybe feeling left out won't soon be a problem anymore.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Dance in October

(I published a version of this earlier tonight, but now have edited it, as I felt it was unfair to some of the people involved).

In October, 2016, I participated in a choreography for Halloween that I instinctively knew, before joining up, that I did not want to be in, but felt I could not back out of. It was to be something in which no one could smile, which is damn near impossible for me onstage. I can do this during slow songs--keep a soft, serene look on my face--but I was supposed to look fierce, could not muster it, and it shows. I felt also very uncomfortable in a costume that I designed to try and look nice on me, but which really did not look good on my body. I think it was one of the worst performances I ever gave. I clearly felt very uncomfortable in my skin, and I looked sad, not mysterious.

I have an image that routinely pops into my head during dance classes, and once in a while, during performances.It is a scene from "60 Minutes" many years ago (I have searched for the episode but cannot find the name). It involved older, wealthy women participating in ballroom dance events with young men as dance partners; there was some controversy about the young men taking financial advantage of the rich women, who paid them for dance and other "services". The image that pops into my mind is one of the women strolling out on the dance floor with her dance partner. She was dressed in a flowing white gown and had an arrogant expression. The music they were using for the dance sounded like Musak, and, just as the woman took her partner/gigolo's arm, she gave a kick that at the time, I laughed at. I am sure she was in reality quite a good dancer...not everyone can kick like that in dance--but she looked ridiculous to me.

And that very image recurs many, many times for me when I dance; I think I am as embarrassing and bogus of a dancer as the woman in that news segment. The Musak runs through my head, the image of the white-gowned woman kicking out as her male escort looks on with an expression that says he knows she's a fool and out of place on the dance floor. And then I have to push away the inner voice that says I am like this woman who cannot dance and is making a fool of herself. I have similar negative "tapes" for any creative endeavor that I do...except for fiber arts, incredibly.

Sadly, watching myself lumber around the dance floor in a choreography I clearly did not like, that old image came up for me. I wish I could banish it.

Not participating in anything I instinctively know will make me feel bad about myself is the first step, I think.


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

On Walking and Writing

As someone with children in my life for whom I provide care (I am an adoptive grandparent and also babysit my other granddaughter), it has been hard to pick back up some of my writing routines. I am blessed to live in a beautiful rural area, with a nearby creek, redwood forests, birds, animals (including bobcats and mountain lions, seen quite rarely), deer, and wild turkeys. It is a wonderful thing to take a walk down my road.

Walking has always been an essential part of my writing life. It's as if there has been a great fall-apart in the last few years, beginning with my granddaughter's arrival in my life, of the writing routines which really worked for me. This included really slacking off on my walking; even five minutes a day helped me to collect my thoughts and return to the page.

So, this month, I am going to re-commit to walking before writing (in the day: I don't walk in the middle of the forest at night!). It really does help to clear my mind of cobwebs, even though nothing seems to quash my lack of confidence, which died in November 2013 after a horrible incident and subsequent years of grieving. What a massive rupture that tore into my life! The confidence returns, little by little, but it is different now: I will not be the same person again. Still, the passage of time remakes everyone in ways large and small.

So, I will try to make some progress by walking, even if it's five minutes a day, and see if it improves my ability to sit down at the eternal page and work.






Monday, April 03, 2017

Attrition, Part Two

I'm discovering that I am ultra-sensitive to the topic of people leaving, moving away, etc., right now. I had three people very close to me die in the last few months; no matter what my faith tells me, it is so painful. Two of my friends died of breast and pancreatic cancer; another friend died of old age.It will take me a long time to get over these losses. I am glad my friends all lived such full lives.

 It is true that, given what is happening in this country, nearly everyone I know is edgy and wants to go somewhere else, to have options. Probably that is what plays into my separation anxiety: a sense of rootlessness and uncertainty.

At any rate, I feel gratitude tonight for this blog and the ability to send my words out into the world and for the readers who keep coming back here to my little corner of the Internet.

I also feel gratitude for something a little bit off-track. Margaret Atwood's book, The Handmaid's Tale, has been adapted for a television mini-series, and it looks to be excellent. I was reading an article tonight in which Margaret Atwood described some of her journals at the time: she, too, struggles with wondering if her work is good, if she's a decent writer, how the critics will receive her work, etc. Good to know we writers all share those threads: and how, despite that, we find the mysterious, exquisite thread of words which leads us through the labyrinth. I'm glad she found the thread to write such a prescient book.





Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Attrition

Before I start dithering on, I want to apologize to my faithful readers for being out of the frame for the month of March. I've really had no reason except that I had to get a nonfiction book proposal and the manuscript of Asha's book (as much as I have, that is) together and sent off. No idea what will come of it, but it was good to get it done...and interesting to note how much work it took.

I've been reflecting tonight on the big changes I've been dealing with regarding people in my life, specifically losing people to death, moving away, retiring, etc. I'm a very bad Zen practitioner in that I do not do well with change...even though change is the essence of life, I often feel that I want to stop time, to have a moment to catch my breath.

Perhaps my entire life as a writer has been simply trying to catch and preserve a moment, an image, or what-have-you.

At any rate, the time is very late and I have to be up tomorrow to go to the DMV. I have a moment to share from the times I've been to the DMV: one worker had about a billion Beanie Babies on her desk; her computer terminal looked like a decorator crab!

I promise I will try to get back to my daily posts. I appreciate all my readers who come to my little corner of the Internet.



Friday, March 03, 2017

Returning to Asha's Story

I may or may not have something to share regarding Asha's book, hopefully soon. No guarantees, but it is a glimmer of hope about the viability of this book.

I have had to do a lot of thinking and writing about the book in the last couple of months: pretty much the entire journey I want to take with this book, to submit for professional consideration. It has been very, very emotional for me. I am haunted by the last time I saw Asha, a week or so before she and Anina were killed. Who on earth would have thought their lives were about to end? She was full to the brim of her spirit with life.

I have also had to gather up a collection of photos to go with the writing about the book, to show Asha and (in a completely separate file), McClish, and some photos from the media, from the time she disappeared.

It's impossible for me to gather pictures of Asha without sobbing tonight. I have many and chose the ones that really show how radiant she was. There is one of Asha and Richard clowning around, but Asha's gaze into the camera is extraordinary. The latter is a copy of a photo the judge in Asha's case kept on the first page of the case file. He must have seen it every day of the murder trial.

This is probably silly, but to keep myself grounded tonight, I have been listening to a song I wish little Anina could have heard. Perhaps in a world of light, in her mother's arms, she does. This isn't the most professional choir, lol: but the children's voices are so sweet and unjaded.



Thursday, February 02, 2017

Woody Guthrie and Old Man Trump

Too good not to share:

Woody Guthrie and Landlord Trump

Life Emerges

I've been going through a curious time, to say the least, since I left off writing daily in this blog. It's a habit that has been good for my writing, if only as an exercise. I find myself scrawling handwritten work, unable to focus.

I wake every day and obsessively check the news. I feel on edge every day. Tonight I thought of children: the ones related to me, the ones in Thistle's school, in the wider world. What is to become of them, of the world we live in? Everything has changed in less than two weeks.

As a writer, I feel it incumbent to write here every day, to witness the world. When I wake, I feel that there is only one day, the day I have awakened to, and I feel centered in that day. However terrible life feels, I am still here.

The supporters of 45, as he's been nicknamed, have probably not yet felt the full impact of what this man and his frightening administration will do. I pray that he will be removed office. Pence is a misguided pseudo-Christian, but I seriously believe he would toe the line fairly assiduously should 45 leave office in disgrace. Pence will be tarnished with the same brush no matter what he does. I would assume he will not want the same fate as 45--if indeed he doesn't end up sharing it. It will be incumbent on him to be a good boy.

In the meantime, the fool wields his pen. And we, the voices of sanity, begin to fill the streets. I have no doubt of this: many voices, many hands, many hearts, can change the rising tide of evil.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

An Open Letter To Our Dear Leader, Donald J. Trump.



Dear Mr. Trump:

"Make America Great Again" is getting a little stale as a slogan. May I suggest one from a fine work of literature? Neither you nor most of your cult will have read this particular book, but rest assured that it aligns quite well with the way your regime is shaping up. It's recommended, but certainly not mandatory, that you distribute sample bottles of Victory Gin on the day you announce this:

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

I will go back to writing in my journal now, well out of sight of the telescreen.

Mini Inauguration

Eyewitness to Trump's inauguration.

https://www.thenation.com/article/i-was-at-trumps-inauguration-it-was-tiny/

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Dan Rather, Another Warning

Timely words by Dan Rather on the current developments in the Trump administration:

"These are not normal times. These are extraordinary times. And extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.

When you have a spokesperson for the president of the United States wrap up a lie in the Orwellian phrase "alternative facts”…

When you have a press secretary in his first appearance before the White House reporters threaten, bully, lie, and then walk out of the briefing room without the cajones to answer a single question.

When you have a President stand before the stars of the fallen CIA agents and boast about the size of his crowds (lies) and how great his authoritarian inaugural speech was….

These are not normal times.

The press has never seen anything like this before. The public has never seen anything like this before. And the political leaders of both parties have never seen anything like this before.

What can we do? We can all step up and say simply and without equivocation. "A lie, is a lie, is a lie!" And if someone won't say it, those of us who know that there is such a thing as the truth must do whatever is in our power to diminish the liar's malignant reach into our society.

There is one group of people who can do a lot - very quickly. And that is Republicans in Congress. Without their support, Donald Trump's presidency will falter. So here is what I think everyone in the press must do. If you are interviewing a Paul Ryan, a Mitch McConnell, or any other GOP elected official, the first question must be "what will you do to combat the lying from the White House?" If they dodge and weave, keep with the follow ups. And if they refuse to give a satisfactory answer, end the interview.

Facts and the truth are not partisan. They are the bedrock of our democracy. And you are either with them, with us, with our Constitution, our history, and the future of our nation, or you are against it. Everyone must answer that question."




Friday, January 20, 2017

First Day of the New Reich

Now that a supremely unqualified clown has taken the Oaf of Office, I have a few remarks.

First off, a welcoming "fuck you" to our new Commander in Chief, who couldn't properly command a breakfast crew at McDonald's if he tried. Your cult will soon find that you are not the Messiah who promised to bring back jobs, improve health insurance, bring coal back, etc. I know of no other administration which is a train wreck from Day One. I've never heard of an administration where there was talk of impeachment before the president was even sworn in. I have zero respect for you because YOU are the criminal in this political equation: a treasonous crook who got a big boost into the White House from the Russian government. You will go down in history as a traitor to this country, and I hope your Trump clown train derailment takes the whole lot of your miscreants with it.

I expect that at some point it will become dangerous for writers, including journalists, to speak out safely. Writers, artists, journalists, etc. are some of the first ones to be targeted and curtailed in a fascist regime.  As the New Reich takes shape, I predict an undermining of anything that might provoke independent and rational thought processes in people. It is already happening as The Donald begins to try and curtail press access. He has promised to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the Humanities. More is to come. It will be perhaps a relatively slow undermining, or a relatively quick one. There is no way to tell. But it will happen.

I have been told to smile, act like a lady, and give the Fascist-in-Chief a chance. Sorry, not happening: not with someone whose Cabinet staff is so malignant that even Kafka couldn't have imagined it. I will never give him a chance. Hell, I'm not even calling him my President. I respect the highest office in the land, just not the orange bookmark currently holding it.

So, these are my thoughts on this national day of mourning, when the New Reich took root in America.






Sunday, January 08, 2017

Welcome Back

I apologize again to my faithful readers here, and to the patient folks outside this blog to whom I owe work that has just not been done. It has been a rough month for many writers I know. Perhaps more on this subject in the next few days.

For now, some humor. Mark Hamill has been doing voice-over work as The Joker.  Inspired by the suggestion that Donald Trump's infamous New Years Eve tweet ("Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies...") sounded like The Joker when he's about to release a swarm of killer bees into Gotham, Hamill decided a little creativity was in order.




Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Thank You, Mr. Suprun

As I have often said in this blog, I am 57 years old and have lived through many presidential administrations in this country.  When I was able to vote and became politically aware, I greeted each new administration with a certain set of emotions.  Some presidents I opposed, actively. But I anticipated none of these presidents with the horror, fear, disgust, and downright sickness as I do with Donald J. Trump, our incoming real estate developer who might or might not sleep in the White House, preferring his gold-flake mansion.  Never have I seen a president-elect met with massive protests,  and denunciation from so many sides, including members of his own party and heads of foreign countries. I have never heard of a candidate who was warned by a foreign power--in this case, Germany--that they will cooperate with an incoming president as long as he upholds the principles of democracy and human rights.

As a woman, I find it unconscionable that any woman--or any man who claims to respect women--voted for this witless despot.  Personally, I would never vote for any candidate who was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists, or who said that he liked sexually assaulting women (groping women's genitals), or encourages violence at his rallies--and these are just a few things he's done, and doesn't include his actions post-election!  He twitters along about the cast of Hamilton delivering a respectful speech, impressions of him on Saturday Night Live, threatens, pouts, and poses. Dan Rather suggested that he put down his cell phone and start attending security and intelligence briefings, something in which Trump has shown disinterest, saying he already knows what he needs to know. He casts a blind eye to the hate crimes committed in his name. Daily, it becomes clearer that this man is unfit for office in any way. 

Happily, at least there are voices of dissent in the Electoral College, soon to cast their votes. One elector has quit, citing that he cannot, in good conscience, cast a vote for Trump.  Six other electors will also dissent and cast votes for a candidate other than Trump.  Today another elector, Christopher Suprum, who served as a firefighter during 9/11, said that he, too, will cast a dissenting vote. I will leave you with his full statement here, but not before I remind my faithful readers that the Electoral College was created so that a person unsuited for the presidency, up to a despotic character such as Mr. Trump, would not take office.  We may only have his words to hold as a candle in the encroaching darkness, but it's worth it to say that we tried.

Charles Suprun, Dissenting Elector Statement




Saturday, November 26, 2016

Ruination

Faithful Readers, Ms. Strega has lived through many, many Presidential administrations. I was born into the
Eisenhower years, though I was but a wee morsel. I remember Kennedy's assassination, though I was a small child, yet clearly knew that the President had died and that was a very serious thing. I watched, on television, Nixon resign the Presidency. I endured the Reagan years, the reign of the Bush family, and the years I really liked: Clinton and Obama.

And now, we have elected a complete madman, so puffed up by his ego that he doesn't seem to have time for security briefings or other crucial aspects of taking on the highest office in the land.  I don't even think Trump wants the job at this point.  As for a First Family, nobody's going to be residing in the White House most of the time; Trump's wife is prudently going to reside with their son in Trump Tower. I don't blame her: somehow there feels a sigh of relief in that choice. Trump will, of course, occasionally visit the Tower (I am not sure why they think their home is so wonderful: it looks as if a truck full of tacky gold mirror squares collided with the Roman Empire and Trump Tower arose from the ashes). Instead of getting down to the business of preparing for office, Trump tweets all night long about what meanies we liberals are and excoriates the press for criticizing him. Meanwhile, people spray-paint swastikas on buildings.  The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented well over 400 hate crimes since November 8.

So here we are, Faithful Readers, in what may go down as the most insane time in the history of the United States. We have a pitifully inadequately prepared president-elect who has no idea what he is doing.  He has begun to appoint a Cabinet riddled with white supremacists and incompetents.  Hate crimes have escalated,because hate-filled and sick people now feel they have permission to do so now that the Trump Reich seems to be on the horizon. It will only get worse.

I support the recount taking place. In the slim chance that Hillary might go over the top in the recounts and win the Electoral Votes, the brakes might be put on a disaster looming large over our country.

However, yes, that chance is slim, as I said.  What I foresee is, first off, citizens becoming unable to criticize the Trump Reich in any way, because at some point, free speech is going to be radically curtailed....at least that is my great fear, along with more and more hate crimes, and more, much more, up to worst-case scenarios I dare not even imagine.

We will be a very different country in a year, and the things we take for granted now--the ability to speak freely, to write as we will and wherever our imaginations take us, to assemble peacefully and protest, to live free of hate crimes and fear: I predict all this will be gone, or in the process of curtailment.

People fought and died so that we may enjoy the freedoms we have in the United States. What a slap in the face to their bravery, to turn this country into a dictatorship.

Pray for the best and prepare for the worst.  That is about all I have to say tonight. Every day, the writing on the wall grows clearer, and the poisonous message is for all of us.


Friday, November 18, 2016

On the Election of a Demagogue

I have been away from this blog for some time, disgusted and full of fear regarding the election of Donald Trump as our President.  It is a travesty of everything I personally believe.  I am not alone in this.  Unless the Electoral College does the right thing and overturns his position by casting their votes for    Hillary Clinton, the rightful winner of this election, he will become President in January: a man who was roundly endorsed by the KKK, who has elected a white supremacist, Steven Bannon, the former editor of alt-right Breitbart News, to his cabinet.

Protests in all countries (not just the US) are called "riots" when they have been mostly peaceful (except for the small number of people who are not peaceful, which unfortunately happens in every protest movement, and which is denounced by peaceful protesters).  The right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the Constitution.

The Southern Poverty Law center has reported more than 300 hate crimes since Trump's election , and I wager there are many more which have not been reported.  It is mind-boggling and sickening.  There have even been hate crimes in my progressive county and the university at which I taught for many years.

As a writer, I came to this blog in fear of my right to exercise freedom of speech. Trump's goons are not going to likely sue a blogger who writes in a fairly obscure corner of the world...but at some point, there is a possibility (strong, in my opinion) that Trump will endeavor to undermine this right, which belongs to every American citizen. He has threatened to sue newspapers that dare criticize him.  When will he target writers?  At some point, German people had to swear an oath of allegiance to the Fuhrer.  You could not say a negative word out loud about Hitler, or you would risk jail. Is something similar coming to the United States, under perhaps a different form, but no less oppressive?

A normalization of Trump has begun in some of the mainstream news, as if reporters and politicians are almost afraid to criticize him.  His rhetoric can never be normalized.  People tell me to just accept, to move on, to get over it.  My own family calls those who voted for Hillary Clinton "crybabies": which includes me.  Let me tell you, NOBODY calls me a crybaby and a sore loser.  If any crying is to be done by me, it is for the hate crimes in Trump's name, and all the oppressions we may have as American citizens.  And mark my words, they are on the horizon. I pray they do not happen, but my skepticism is great.

So, I won't be silenced out of fear.  That is contrary to every belief I have as a writer. I have been told that it will be dangerous for me to make political statements now, publicly.  I will not stop: the danger to this country outweighs my personal fears.

I leave you, for now. with a letter that the Kennedy family wrote as an op-ed piece in the Washington Post.  I strongly urge you all to read it.

Letter from the Kennedy Family Regarding Donald Trump






Monday, November 07, 2016

Luxury

I look at my last post about a supposedly "lousy" dance performance and have to say that I now agree with something a colleague, long in the world of the arts, told me: don't look at a video or pictures of a performance immediately after.  He is right.  I look now at the photos and even saw a video: I was fine, and looked fine, including my hair.  I don't know why I dip into this self-hatred: well, I DO know why, but those challenges are not something I want to discuss.

I want to talk about the upcoming election, and align it with a worship service I went to yesterday.  When I can, I try to attend a nondenominational congregation with an absolutely wonderful minister, a woman whose sermons invariably soothe my spirit.  I still love the Zen center I have attended for years, but this other group nourishes my soul also.

Our minister's sermon yesterday included that, no matter what happens in the election tomorrow, our work for social justice and for the good of each other and the planet, is never done.  The Republican nominee has given permission for many to express what is already there: hatred of other races and religions, violence, cruelty, ignorance: but honestly, there are people on the "other side" who express other views, and the same, just as much.  She said to get off the idea that we are superior to others, that they are "bad people" and we are not.  We are still one planet, one nation.  If we hate others, no work can really be done to heal division.

And there is much, much work to be done, always.

I have to say

Monday, October 31, 2016

Really, really lousy performance.

A day ago, I believe I had the worst dance performance in a group dance of my entire career...and am doubly embarrassed because a friend came from far away to see me. Knowing I danced badly, seeing my pictures (which I refuse to put on Facebook),  really saddens me. I see the weight I have gained, the crappy hairstyle I wore to try and fit into the group, and above all, a choreography that was hard for me partially because I did not practice. It is not the teacher's fault. I am the one who gained weight, who hasn't trimmed my hair in almost nine months, and who has just been living on the perimeter of my life.

So, some small changes to begin, a little at a time.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Clean Out

I have the luxury of a small place to write in my house, and have let that space go, moving away from writing to storage, and a place to put on makeup for dance performances.

There are times I get overwhelmed by de-cluttering, even if it's just a small amount of stuff. In this case, it was two boxes of old giftwrap, staples, tape dispensers, etc.  Out they went, in short order, and my stage makeup off the desk. I have some dusting and cleanup to do, and then I have my writing room back. Not everyone has the privilege of such a thing, and so I feel I ought to show my gratitude by using the space.

My real altar for Asha is in this room; I face it as I write.  I feel I have pulled away a little from the book partially because it is not exactly the kind of book one can write at the dining table, which is what I have been doing these days.  Thistle, for one thing, is very curious about what I am writing, and can read quite well now. Not quite reading material for her, for certain.

So, here we go again: a place to write, and hopefully to make more entries here as well.




Sunday, October 16, 2016

I Am Not By Nature

I am not by nature a person who likes to deal with confrontation.  I guess that is true of everyone. In a way, continuing to keep this blog going in the wake of negative and destructive comments is difficult.  Some people almost like negative comments on their work online, whatever that is. I don't.

It takes a lot of something--I want to say courage, but that sounds egotistical--to keep writing in the face of someone trying to settle personal issues publicly. God knows, in the middle of the worst grief I have ever known--or, more accurately, one of them--I made public comments on both Facebook and this blog which, when I settled down, took away. This blog is not for settling scores; it is for talking about my writing, my ordinary days, my dreams.  I have noticed that my writing outside of this blog is slowing down.  It is because I have not come here to share my thoughts.

There is a larger world outside of any conflict one might be going through in the rarefied world of a family.  I am old enough to know that these conflicts have a way of sorting themselves out and arguments end.  Sometimes it takes about 90 percent time and 10 percent willingness to sort things out.  I have no doubt things in my family will be set right again.

So, on to what I have been doing in the last few days or so.  Mostly, I've been sorting papers and setting up a better writing space. I feel like that behavior is a bit like a rabbit making its nest. I know I am gettting ready to plunge into the hard work again of Asha's book.  It really is her book, I think: I'm just the scribe who toils away and follows the path she unfolds. I also battened down the hatches for a rainstorm which is happening right now.

I dreamed about her last night in the place where I meet souls: a place in my dreams which is an ocean shore on the East Coast, though exactly where, I do not know. The sea is sometimes calm, sometimes less so. There is a stretch of sand and then an old-fashioned wooden sidewalk which looks out over the sea and sand.  There are arched gaslights on dark steel poles sparsely dispersed on each side of the bridge.

When I first entered this dream-landscape, I saw a boat out in the ocean, riding the crest of a slightly larger wave than I have seen in this place.  The boat was red and full of passengers, rowing with long oars.  Suddenly, a whale came to the surface and dived back down, its tail moving in that hypnotic arch, slowly.  I could see its outline in the water.  I remembered seeing them that way at Point Reyes, long ago, outlined in sheer blue water, like archangels made out of shadow and salt.

Then I saw Asha standing casually at the sidewalk's railing, looking out towards the whale.  She wore the white dress I have seen her wearing a few times in the dream-world, almost like a caftan, but with a somewhat tailored shape to it.  Sometimes there is a gossamer cape or veil trailing in the back of the dress, but not this time. The dress always seems to have some sort of radiance to it.  Her hair was dark brown-red and very shiny.  All she did was turn and look at me, but her expression was so kind and warm, her smile welcoming.  She simply acknowledged me and nodded, and did not turn her gaze away.  I felt as if she might be saying, "You are doing a good job.  You cannot stop.  You cannot leave me and Anina behind."

I must admit that every week, I feel like giving this book up, and every week, I find the strength again. Her appearance in my dream this week simply seems to say, "Keep going!"



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Trump the Minotaur

Faithful readers, I have yet taken another long break.  My writing has pretty much gone nowhere in the last couple of weeks. I find it very hard to sit down and work. There is no magic remedy for this: it is called sitting down at the desk and working. I plan to be much more productive this week.

So, here we are, edging closer to Election Day. Trump nauseates me.  After the second debate, in which he prowled behind Hillary Clinton like the Minotaur, I realize now that it is imperative that this man is not elected to the Presidency. He is a sexual predator, and a dangerous, impetuous man.  Can you imagine someone like him with access to approve a nuclear strike? 

Here are all the lovely things Trump said after the debate. This is not a politican; this is a reality show clown, and not a nice one, either: maybe more like the one in Stephen King's "It."  



Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Great Debate: Go Hillary!

I apologize again for having been away from this blog.  I have been dealing with difficult family issues, again.  And again.  And yet again. Meanwhile Thistle is happy, healthy, taking afterschool classes in art, French, and drawing.  I am proud of her.

At any rate, Secretary Clinton knocked Donald out of the park last night.  I have absolutely no doubt now that she will be cool, calm, rational, and collected in the face of whatever our troubled society, and world, can and will throw at her.

Donald was a blustering fool. No other way to say it. There is not one thing any last remaining Trump supporters have to offer in terms of how she performed except to post ridiculous memes on Facebook.  She had a lapel mic, as did Trump, which is controlled by a wireless setup that a person wears under their clothing.  There was a picture of this setup under the back of her suit. The explanation by Trump supporters is that this was a setup to feed answers into her ear via a mic in her earring.  Another interesting meme was that Lester Holt (a registered Republican) is a "Hillary shill" becauuse he didn't ask "hard questions." I'm he was able to ask any questions AT ALL with that windbag talking over him and blowing hot air over his alloted minutes.

She's our next President, and whatever her flaws, she will serve us well. I am at least no longer afraid of a re-enactment of The Road under Trump (who wouldn't escape either, but I certainly wouldn't give HIM my last can of fruit cocktail if I saw him walking down a road covered with ash after the nuclear war he started).



Monday, September 19, 2016

Why Go Back?

Going back now to the time when our community really fell apart, when it was discovered that Asha had been killed and no one knew who the murderer was. 

Sometime just before she was found, I seem to remember that a call came into the household--it must have been all households in the Valley, perhaps--that credit and other cards had been found somewhere.  I was surprised at this call, as I had never heard of our law enforcement department doing such a thing.  It turns out that Asha's backpack was found sometime during her search. I seem to recall--wow, I am saying that a lot, aren't I?--a photo of a backpack similar to the one I once had, with a brightly striped strap. People use these sorts of things as purses.  I am sure this call was in regards to Asha's credit cards.

At the time of her discovery, women began to be afraid that there was a serial killer in our area.  In my records, I see that police gave out a message that they believed there was only one killer. Personally, I did not want to go out after dark, alone. I believed, along with many others, that a killer lurked in the shadows.

And yet I knew her killer all along.  

Many people do not know that McClish's original arrest was for first-degree rape.  And when did that rape occur?

The night before Asha and McClish met in the Felton cemetery, the place of the lone intimate contact they had.  This puts one more piece of the puzzle in place for me: that Asha's contact with this man was not consensual.  Someone said to me, insensitively: does it matter, would it "clear her name" somehow? She did no wrong, she did not have to be cleared...but it might help women to see that all her behavior, leaving her husband, her fear of McClish, etc., were the result of trauma. Women have been made to feel ashamed of such trauma when there is zero reason to feel this shame.








Saturday, September 17, 2016

Back, More Thoughts on Asha's Book

I have been away for some time again due to various reasons--including research on Asha's book--and hope to resume posting regularly, if not daily.

I would like to first say that, for anyone who knew Asha and is now a regular reader of this blog and of the website with her book: I have a great deal of awkwardness in approaching the family simply because I am so concerned about being sensitive to an unimaginable grief.  There are times I don't really even know how to ask.  How do you ask someone to speak to you of the worst thing that could possibly happen to a friend, a child, a relative?

I want to express that the intention of my story is to honor Asha and her child, and to help people understand what families and friends, and even communities, must bear after this sort of violent crime.  In the United States, at least, the media always focuses on the criminal.  McClish, who committed the crime, is now the one news stories focus on, and Asha is simply mentioned as the nice cashier from Poland. I want her to be known as the brave person she was.  I wish to treat her, and her story, with the utmost respect.

To all of Asha's friends and family from America and Poland who have visited this blog, I thank you for reading my words about her. I resonate with her because I was once a young pregnant woman far from home, carrying a child that many people did not want me to have. I had not the love and resources Asha seemed to have, nor a loving family back home. I know she was much stronger than I was then, but I still feel a bond to her because of my own life.

Please know that any information you can give me about her helps me to bring her more fully to the world. I do not want the name "McClish" to be the one most remembered in the course of time.


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