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

Saturday, February 06, 2016

House and Other Things

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

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

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

He says he will change.

I know that I can help him change.

It was just a little argument.

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

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

Sunday, January 24, 2016


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

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

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

Saturday, January 23, 2016


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

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

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Rain, Blessed

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

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

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

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

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

Let the rain come down!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ripping Up Flowers

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

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

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

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

Fourth: Ivy.  'Nuff said.

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

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

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Look It Up

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

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

Fake Buddha Quotes, and Some Which Might Be Real

In other words, question!


Friday, January 15, 2016

Life is Long

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Bowie the Starman

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

David Bowie: Blackstar and Lazarus



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

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

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

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

For Lightning

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