Many people have asked to read chapter excerpts from the book I am writing about Asha Veil and the crime which took her, and her unborn daughter, away forever. I have decided to create another blog for the specific purpose of posting chapters for my readers. Please click on the link and it will take you there.


Tuesday, September 01, 2015

More Time

Though I have to get up at the ungodly hour of 6:45 from now until next June to get Thistle to school on time, I have deep gratitude that I will have more time to write, and to look for agents, and do as much work as I can on my Lompico house before winter sets in, especially the outside work.  I don't know if any agent will pick up what I have right now in terms of Asha's book.  I doubt I am welcome yet at my old writing group and am afraid of inflicting on them a work which discusses the extreme violence against women which this book holds (even though I am most descriptive of my assault when I was a young woman than anything else).  It's one thing to write about elves killing each other with swords and axes, vampires murdering people in horrible ways, and other destruction involving fantasy characters.  It is another thing entirely to present something that happened to a living, breathing person and an innocent child.  My current writing group, though not perfect, can handle such material.  We are all over fifty and have been through a lot of life.

By the way, a question: why are people such assholes about the way people react (women and men) about sexual assault in general, when they would never, ever react that way if someone was hit, or robbed, etc.  Is it because of the "consent" part?  The fact that some people go into denial and shock after it happened and around the person, try to make things "right," etc. has been dismissed many times as "evidence" that it wasn't rape, but someone just having regrets the next day?  Yes, there are false claims, and I am not saying there are not.  But many women, including myself, try to "make things right" or "pretend them away" as a reaction to any kind of assault, or they stay with or around their abusers.  It is a fundamental aspect of this book: why women stay, why they go, how their minds try to protect them through denial, and also, perhaps, what happens to men if I can get one or two interviews.  The few men I know who have told me about being assaulted in this way (who have been able to talk about it) have enormous shame and often confustion, and can't really find ways to talk about it.

My therapist has cautioned me to be very careful about keeping myself on an even keel as I delve into this book.I agree:  and yet I can't wait to embrace it again with my whole heart. 

Favorite Movies

My favorite movies are not in theaters, Netflix, or Amazon.

They are on You Tube and are home improvement videos.

I have a shameful ceiling in my bathroom: nasty peeling paint. I have learned the ways of the sander and the primer, and shall apply them soon.

I have learned the magic of replacing hinges.

I have come to know Dap and Kilz. I can ask for help and haul-outs. My water heater shall arrive and be placed on a new platform. I have a dehumidifier which cheerfully keeps down the musty old house smell.

The small repairs are adding up.

I rule the little world of my house.

Monday, August 31, 2015

End of Summer

Thistle's summer is ending and first grade is beginning.  This is all going by so fast.  I am so lucky to have a wonderful, wonderful school for her. I still have some school supplies to get--she very much wants a Minnie Mouse backpack.  You'd think Disney items would be ubiquitious, but they are hard to find.  It's always a bit of a hunt, I suppose. 

Girl's clothing is also quite a story.  CG and I went to Target last year (he helps get her school clothes and other things, as I am on a fixed income) and we were appalled at some of the clothes: who gets a little girl skinny jeans, which I certainly think would totally inhibit playing and running, climbing, etc. I try to find conservative clothes for her, as all the little girls in her class wear.

She is so smart and so beautiful.  It is hard to be an adoptive grandparent.  CG is a good coparent, and it helps to have him take over when I need to have a break or go to dance class.  Still, I do a lot.  I get tired and sometimes frustrated when it is the end of the night and I am far too tired to write.  Her life is more important than mine, yet writing is my profession and a book like Asha's takes all of my strength and will, and creativity.  I don't know how women and men do anything creative at all with full-time work.  I can write any time, though, but someone like m. can't just lug a keyboard around with him to work in a spare minute.  It all sounds like a luxury, but really, creativity isn't.

Last school year, I slept in my car after dropping Thistle off, and finally resorted to just going back here to sleep, as the morning routine utterly exhausted me.  Hopefully she will be a little more cooperative this year. and I can tolerate getting up at 6: 30 a.m.   I am going to have a kind talk with her today about being on time.

I suppose this was a sobering summer in some ways.  My garden is finally blooming after such a poor presentation this summer.  I did not have to particularly change my watering, as I use so little anyways, even with a five-year-old. Still, the flowers had weird webs on them, and few flowers despite fertilizer, Epsom salts (good to replenish magnesium), and balky plants in general.  I think it has to do with the fact that they got so little water all winter.  Now I am getting a few roses.

I hope for more rain this year, and next Spring, many more flowers.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Covering the A.J. Gonzalez Trial

I have found myself over the last year in the curious position of "investigative journalist."  I walked into that category the day I found out deeper truths about Asha Veil and her story when she was on this earth, getting ready to bear the child she so wanted, making a life for them both.  The media did not even get right the name of the town she was born in, the beautiful home her parents made for her, and not one journalist ever sought to find out the truth of what happened to her one night in the Felton cemetary.  Not one journalist investigated anything deeper than a few facts about her.  Her disservice in life by media who did not know her, who called her only a "nice cashier" who supposedly was embroiled in affair--no, this was not her true story.  And I was given the chance to say what I am sure is true, and to tell the world that she was much, much more than was said of her in the papers.  I wept when I found out from her friend that they played in the snow at a park back East, that they lay on their backs and howled--I should think they must have howled at the moon in the cold night sky, when the moon was visible.

When Madyson Middleton died, we found out that she loved wolves.  A few days after she died, the community howled for her; Thistle and I heard it all around the county, reverberating through our canyon.  These women and girls: taken from their life by insanity, by selfishness.

People have asked me if I will be covering the Adrian Gonzalez trial.  I will be doing so, and will try to be sensitive to the families of both Madyson and the Gonzalez family, and to both Madyson herself, and AJ.  He is a fifteen year old young man--what compelled him to do what he did?

More will come out.  Perhaps out of this terrible event will come more safety for kids in our community, and more attention to mental health issues with adolescents.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fear and Trust

I had a long meditation last night about trust.  When you accept, even in a minimal way, a friend back into your life who has hurt you so much in the past, and whom you have hurt as well, when is the point where you begin to trust?  I think many people would just rather let these ones from their past go forever, because the effort can be too hard and the chance for the same hurt, or worse, is there.  And yet what do you do if someone hwants to at least not be someone to fear, no matter if they continue to have contact with you or not?

There have only been two people in my life who really took ownership of their own part in some emotional debacle between us, and those are people who have a lifetime of some sort of real reflection.  Their ability to be honest about their part in a rift really helped me to look at my own part in it.  I tend to feel I am the only one at fault at things, and to feel right away that I do not have to take on all of the burden helps me.  Both people have proved to me over time that they are doing their best not to hurt again, and I have also tried to do this, however imperfectly I have done so.  But even so, I am always somewhat wary.  In time, perhaps I won't be.

What do you do when someone who has always been dear to you and with whom you have had the worst possible rift, begins to at least speak to you a little again, when there seems to be at least some effort at cordiality between you, so that maybe you feel you don't have to avoid every place in Santa Cruz for fear of running into them? We have all had something like this in our lives.

I believe the basis to resolve great hurt between people is to first and foremost reduce fear on both sides, and use that to build whatever bridge is to come, even if that bridge is just to be a courteous acquaintance.  Can anyone build any sort of bridge from ashes?   What if a person does not have benign intentions, but just wants to augur a knife in one more time, to be the "winner" with hurt, and to flaunt what they think is a better life now than when they were with you?  I tell myself that, in time, I will know, and am willing to expend some effort, knowing I might have to take it back again. I am willing to open the door just a bit.

I think it is possible, in time, to trust again, but some sort of emotional armor always seems necessary, at first...yet I am glad I am at least able to speak to this person again. 

I do have a conviction that, except in the worst circumstances possible, people can always reach for that original spark of caring, and that it takes courage to do so.  And a lot of people are far more courageous than they let on.

Madyson Middleton's Memorial Service

I went to Maddy Middleton's memorial service yesterday, and felt it was a strong tribute to a wonderful young girl and her family.  I hope that people still check in and help Maddy's mother and family, as their grief will go through many stages and they will need continued support. 

As much as I tried not to, I could not help think of Maddy's last hour of life at times, especially as I saw her many photos.  I pray she was unconscious, for she was not dead when she was placed in the recycling bin,  but died of "positional asphyxia".  It sickens me: when I looked at pictures of her, I wondered why people are born into this world only to be killed by others, and in ways that boogle the mind for sheer cruelty.

I keep thinking of the times Maddy and Thistle playing in the playground at the Tannery, how cute Maddy was with her in the few times they played together. I think of Thistle telling AJ Gonzalez (the young man who killed Maddy) that she had a yo yo at home.  Maddy was such a small child, and the thought of what he did to her haunts me, and sickens me, and strengthens my resolve to work in whatever way I can to help make this world safer in some way.

There is a good article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel about the memorial service here:


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Madison Middleton, Memorial Service

Maddy's memorial service will be held today in Santa Cruz. I will be attending, and will write about it tomorrow.

I still cannot parse that she is gone forever, that little girl who played so happily with Thistle once in a while.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


I have been absent from this for a short time because Thistle and I are engaged in a project:  we have a butterfly habitat, and recently sent away for our first caterpillars.  We have raised them to the point where they have each formed a chrysalis. It's been so absorbing for both of us that time has flown by this week.  I will post pictures of our little project over the next few days.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Madyson Middleton, Coroner's Report

I am not publishing the coroner's report on Madyson Middleton, nor sending a link to it.  It was out a few days ago in the news, and I was frankly horrified: it was on the level of horror that I equate with some of the saddest, worst things that can happen to a kid, who had known nothing at all but love, all her life. She thought even the young man who killed her was her friend.  As more comes out about him, it is obvious he was deranged in some deep, hidden way.

Writing and researching true crime probably should make me jaded about the human race, but it doesn't (at least not yet).  However, I realize more and more that blindly trusting everyone is a mistake, that it is crucial to tell kids (and even adults) to be wary, expecially of someone they have just met, or who triggers even the slightest instinct to keep away.

For example, last night I went to a big, fun bellydance party with dance sisters, a wonderful  band, and an appreciative, fun audience.  It was at an intentional community run by a spiritual leader, and I did not trust him: there was a creepy vibe about him (he was just too "huggy," for one thing, though he neither spoke to nor approached me, probably because I give off a much more pragmatic vibe these days and don't get taken in very easily).  I got some instincts that ran along the creepy with him, and am going to be very careful if I visit my friend in her community, if I ever go there at all again. I used to try and "remake" such folks in my mind, and I don't do this anymore--if I feel I cannot trust a person, I stay away, or if I have to interact with them in some way, I keep my distance.  I am not always successful, but at least I am protecting myself some of the time!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Gratitude for All My Readers

I just wanted to express how grateful I am for people who come to my little corner of the Internet and read my blog.  I have had a few comments in the last few weeks and am sorry I have not responded;  I have had a lot of work to do in my Lompico house, including painting cabinet interiors with Kilz, a primer that is supposed to get rid of, in my case, a very musty cabin smell.  I have been ferrying Thistle to dance and swim lessons, and otherwise have had a very busy couple of weeks. 

I just want to say that I appreciate everyone who comes here, everyone who reads my words, and everyone who comments.  Thank you all so much!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Beautiful Smiling Asha

Asha's dear friend sent me some absolutely beautiful pictures of her yesterday.  Dear God, what an amazing smile she had...I often see an expression of curiosity in her face, a lively one, as if she were endlessly curious about the world around her.  I do not often see such an expression on people.  She had such a beautifully changeable face, at least as far as I can tell in photos.  There is a photo of her on her wedding day; she is smiling into the camera, a beautiful bride's smile.  She has on a lovely dress, with black flowers on the bodice, and she holds a bouquet of pink and white roses--this was probably one of the happiest days of her life. There is a picture of her on a couch in the home she shared with her husband; she holds some sort of black rectangular object in one hand, perhaps a notebook, and I saw for the first time that she had long, elegant fingers, like the ones in portraits of Queen Elizabeth I. 

Coupled with the terrible incident in Santa Cruz two weeks ago, a little girl (who played with my granddaughter from time to time), murdered in the worst and most henious way--I feel like I hold sorrow tonight like a ball of thorns.  Why are the sweetest and the best and the brightest, most good souls taken from this world? It is probably the oldest question in the world. I feel like I want to apologize to Asha for coming to America, the country of my birth, and experiencing such terrible things here.  She deserved so much better, as did Madyson, the little girl who is no more.  They deserved life, the greatest gift we have.

I drove tonight and talked to Asha, as I often do.  I know it sounds crazy, but writers do these kinds of things.  I told her I was sorry she had endured so much, that she did not deserve it, and that I would keep trying to write the best book I can for her--and, as happened once before, an owl glided silently across the space illuminated by my headlights, as if the reply was, "Keep going, all will be well."  I will write, for her, and in some way, for little Madyson, and all women who have been taken away from this earth. I could easily have been one of those women, too; a tiny strand separates my fate from theirs.

I will end tonight on a positive note: when I went to the Tannery for a dance class (the Tannery is where little Madyson was murdered), I went outside to look at Madyson's memorial, after class.  There are two: one with dozens of stuffed toys and letters, and another, outside, which is masses of flowers and candles. There was a table near the memorial where you could sit and decorate a wooden leaf, then hang it up on a large wooden plaque shaped like a tree, a permanent memorial for her.  I sat and decorated the edges of the leaf with shiny bits of silver mylar, and wrote "Light" in the center.  When I hung it on the tree among dozens of other leaves, the silver fragments around the leaf's edge glittered as it twisted in the night breeze.  It did not necessarily make me feel better, but it at least made me feel like I did something substantial to honor the life of a precious child.

Friday, August 07, 2015

In the Realm of Nothing Normal

I went to the Tannery twice this week (the Tannery is the artists community and housing center where little Madyson Middleton was recently murdered).  I had an array of feelings, but mostly can't stand some of the chatter among the newer women in class, whom I am sure I would feel fine with if this were not such a horrible time.  I was sensitive to everything tonight: loud sounds, one woman's nasty vanilla perfume, chatter about boyfriends and sorta silly New Age topics.  It probably would have sounded benign to me at some other time, but I was sick into my heart and had to leave class right away.  I can't imagine what the child's mother must be going through.

I went over to Madyson's memorial site at the Tannery, a small ocean of flowers and candles.  Just as I reached it, a huge flash of lightning crackled overhead and the lights blew out in that part of the Tannery.  It seemed fitting, a bright jolt of anger.