Archives for the month of: January, 2011

Writing from CHPerc Prompts of the Day!

I have a touch of guilt as I think of all those shoes lying on their sides on the floor of my newly cleaned closet. This closet I might add is now an extra book room, and clothes have been banished, at least the top shelves of which had clothes, and they now live in the garage. I hear them sometimes when I am secluded in my bedroom. They whine, but I just realized seclude is not an appropriate word to use when one lives in a 2 room pool house with another human being affectionately referred to as Esther’s Velcro Strip.

In case you were wondering or wandering, take your pick, it’s morning, the brain is myopic and hasn’t chosen its neural pathways of the day. I think I could wear Ortho Docks, you know Doc Martens shoos (shoes, shews); and then we could take the phrase “fetters of orthodoxy” and sell it to a pr firm, and maybe by stock in shoes, like the aforementioned Ortho Dock which fell out of my brain, and Foobar on a frozen field, instead of ideas coursing from my head through my arms, fire in the fingertips type of thing.

Lordy, where am I going with this? Nowhere. Everywhere. I do so like a good Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride through the bumps and hollows of my brain. It has meaning somewhere, in an alternative universe.

Okay, now someone lists a phrase the proper sacrifice, which calls to my mind nubile virgins laid out on huge twigs stacked to the sky or at least halfway up a mountain, and someone with flame, as matches hadn’t come in yet to the world, and virgins of nubile ways became feminists.

Sacrifice could be proper if one realizes that he/she is just letting go of something lower for something higher. Take the pig for example. He can snort, snort, sacrifice is corpulent life to become bacon, thereby helping the farmer make money, and all those pancake house visitors gruntingly happy. Doesn’t sound good for the pig does it?

So what if some day, this elderly, not so elderly, handmaiden on earth decides, gas prices are Foobar, and she will go hither and thither by foot, delicate long feet, which sport s a toe next to the big toe, and this neighbor of the big toe is longer, whatever that means. Thus this handmaiden of the earth is going to do two things as a sacrifice. She is going to sacrifice part of her meager earnings and buy some Ortho docks, and then, (hear the earth rumble), she is going to walk all over Pasadena. This could be thought of by anyone lucky enough to understand these ramblings, as sacrifice. She helps the foot shoe, doc martens store owner; she boosts the economy, perhaps not all that high minded as our former President had urged us to shop for God, or the nation; can’t remember which. She has reduced her carbon instep to a degree; she does not buy into high prices at the gas line, and she gets to see all the nooks and crannies of her neighborhood, by slowly pacing by Trader Joe’s, where she sees her Velcro Strip driving into the upper parking lot of Trader Joes.

None of this matters, of course; his carbon imprint and sacrifices are his own, and she has just used 5 of the prompts, some more than once, and that is solidly satisfying and a good sacrifice of her time in the morning, when she could be walking, or even brushing her hair, so one might say this little blurb of ink could be considered a proper sacrifice.

Well, I’ll be a yellah bellied chuckwagon. Here I sit; my first night in night class at a school which has big letters A, B, C and stuff like that on their building. It’s the first college dedicated to would be writers, and we get those sentences which we are supposed to respond to.

Is this a Rorschach test? Maybe an entry level Mensa. Are they spies?

Well, here goes. Dear Tester of Baby Writers; just call me Baby Lois after Lois Lane. Lord thank you for guiding me on this rainy night and leading me to the Bulwer Lytton School for Writers, but I notice, Lord, can I call you Lor?, precious few people have joined this class Why are there only four people tonight at the first writing class, Lor?

We each have a gray cloth cubicle, a number 2 pencil and a yellow lined paper, longer than the 8ish by 11ish ones you see at the 99 cent store to write on.

The first question is respond to this statement: “ A person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle. – Your thoughts.”

Well, I’ve heard young men and maybe women are too fat to go into the Army anymore, and powers that beeee (bzzzz) are belaboring this. There’s a lot of tskkkk, tskkking on the national scene, but I ask myself, Baby Lois, which would you rather do, die on the battlefield, crumpled up like a smashed in can, amidst smoke, bombs, while the fat cats that decided on this bullshit dance of fighting, sit at white linen tablecloths, with the two forks on the left and the knife and spoon on the right, like my mama told me to set a table properly, and they are discussing the war and the lack of eligible candidates from our nation? Or how about living to eat?

The nerve. Have you ever had a Twuohey’s Hot Fudge Sundae, a foot high? Its fudge sauce is dark and creamy and drips lasciviously over the two huge mounds of Vanilla ice cream. It’s so good I want to put my face in it and mush around.

Have you never eaten at Thai Restaurants and sopped up those crusted large like potato chip thingamajigs after you poured sweet sauce over them?

Have you ever received a Box of Sees Candy at Christmas, and had your finger tips feather touch the curves and squares and indentations and bumps on this candy as your mind has memorized which one is a chewy (chocolate over caramel) and which is nougat?

Have you ever driven into In n Out Burger, wait behind a line of 25 people, and keep your car running – to hell with the gas prices and finally, at 1.33 when your tongue is hanging out, your nostrils have abandoned your face in despair, your order comes through, and it’s with fries too. A hamburger, hot melting cheese like a pole dancer clinging to the sides of the burger, and the fries, cooked with no transfat, and you eat so much your tummy hurts, and you reek of beef?

Hi, I’m Esther, and I’ve done all of this.

Hi Esther, welcome.

Ooops wrong venue.

My point oh reader of this sensuous essay. Would you exchange losing a leg, an arm, or being stressed out for 100 years in a war we didn’t want versus having a large waist which grows, and nothing else does?

Can you be a person with no waist, no need for belts?

Can you put up with pullover sweaters and a slow walk?

The alternative is mud in training, being yelled at, having to be angry and kill, and worst of all doing something when the people of the planet want war cancelled. New definition: war is something people send other people to fight for and they lie about the reason they have to go to fight.

No, better to be a person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the
middle.

Remember, there’s always Weight Watchers.

MudboundMudbound by Hillary Jordan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just reread it as I suggested our book group do so too. Also one librarian wants me to be part of a discussion (an honor); this is a fantastic book; the themes, the authenticity, her writing is fabulous and I was so deeply immersed in this book; wonderful; i wish Hillary Jordan tremendous sucess!

Writing Workshop-collective voice/group poem
In an elongated white walled basement room, tinges of odor seep through of chicken feed, dog doo, or whatever, from a puppy mill next door, but the writers, the writers say, over the feelings of nervousness, of never having done this, or of just breaking the silence of a Monday night Courage to Write workshop:

I write for necessity,
the beauty of my darkness,
fragments of feelings
connect with my heart,
feel the grace of God’s love.

I write to empty words
out of my head,
dig deeper and open up,
journals, maybe essays,
to do just what I’m doing,
a manual overcoming betrayal,
things I have not said before.

Start my voice, tell a story.
I’m courageous, caring,
do anything with grace,
with God’s help, to share,
heal, teach, grow, express,
play, and read Save the Cat .

I want to create wild art,
film and heal kids, self, and act more.
I want to be a spiritual director, to journal
and develop courage to write,
articulate my reflections,
draw them to deeper levels.

I want to help others
sharing experiences and
work on a biography about my
Finnish American mother-in-law
and my own mother’s
best friend.

I want to teach Science, and I write
to see my friend develop, help friends
invent, enjoy learning.
I read Billions and Billions
Carl Sagan you know.
I want to develop my own voice
and lots of poetry, but slowly
I’m working on a children’s story.
I’m lucky to be an artist, working
on two books, one poetry, the other
my life story.

By day I write
And produce music,
but I really want to be
A screenwriter, a filmmaker,
and I read Story by Robert McKee.

I write because I can,
one of the few things
I do well.

The best writing teacher you'll ever want to meet

Jack Grapes -fantastic writer, teacher of poetic souls, and lovely man

Help, I lost a few days. Last I knew it was the 11th and then this morning, I called out to Bill, “What day is it”? He replied, “the 13th.” I read from the most incredible daily reader of the Baha’is Writings, published in London and out of print, and it is heavenly and unique and the fragrances of same float around my heart. Baha’is are encouraged to read from the Writings in the morning and the evening, and of course, we say what prayers resonate with us. There is a requirement of an Obligatory Prayer, and there are 3 choices. The following is the noonday prayer:

I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth.

There is none other God but Thee, the help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.
Baha’u’llah

I wake up in the morning, and the first thing that flies to my mind is “I have wakened in Thy shelter, O my God, and it becometh him that seeketh that shelter to abide within the Sanctuary of Thy protection and the Stronghold of Thy defense. Illumine my inner being, O my Lord, with the splendors of the Dayspring of Thy Revelation, even as Thou didst illumine my outer being with the morning light of thy favor.”. Baha’u’llah

You know this blog started out about losing a few days; all of which have been action packed, insightful, wonderful connection with people, but here I sit, it is 1.25, and I should walk. I haven’t even taken my morning meds. I may take a nap instead. Hard to be wise with my body.

Last night in Pasadena, at the Judges Nelson’s home, Navid Dheghani spoke. He’s a scientist and one of the people who work on the Mars is it Rover? the machine that lands on Mars, and all. Last night he gave a wonderful presentation of an overall view of the Baha’i Faith, and then in the question and answer times, talked about science a bit. A funny, modest, humble, and knowledgeable man. It was great.

I have several books to read: Mudbound. Read it once; it’s terrific and it’s Pasadena’s One City, One Book read; a friend wants me to participate in my favorite library, La Pintoresca, so I will re-read it, and our book club which has been meeting for at least five years is reading it for February. Then, we are reading The Long Walk, now made into a film; the author’s name is a Polish one, and I lent my copy of the book out.

Years ago, late 1960s I discovered this book, and it made such an impact upon me. I notice it’s been republished, and one of the blurbs on the front cover describe it aptly as “Homeric,” and I would say yes. The story of this man; his survival; the group he is with, their connection and unity with each other, remains nested within my memory bank; hopefully forever; and surely along with An Interrupted Life by Etty Hillesum and her Letters from Westerbork.

Why is it I am so drawn to memoir? I think I have always been fascinated with man’s inhumanity to man, and man’s humanity to man. My first pilgrimage, trip to Israel, visiting Christian and Jewish holy places and then to Haifa, to the Baha’i Shrines, I felt the themes of this ribboning through the country as I witnessed the Holocaust memorial.

The Baha’is believe in all the religions and consider religious truth to be like an unfolding scroll, relative to the day and age, but God, an unknowable Essence, is absolute. Spiritual truth is spiritual truth and is not obsolete. It is revealed with each Messenger in a different manner, much like if you looked around you and saw lights or lamps of different kinds, you would see the light source is the same, but the vehicle holding the light is different, and then the social teachings are changed to meet the needs of the day. All of the Messengers of God, Prophets, or what we in the Baha’i Faith call Manifestations occupy the same high, mystical, incredible level, an abstract level of unity really which we as puny souls can hardly imagine. We need these Divine Luminaries, these Educators of Mankind, these Divine Physicians of the Age.

At any rate i read voraciously and read a lot of books by Buddhists, Jewish, Islamic writers. And of course all memoir. I think we are in such an age of transition that people must speak out and record their truths. I often think of a kaleidescope as an image; are we not all chips of different colors – moving, shaping, but connected? I would like to think so.

Wow I can’t believe i’m going on like this, but so be it.

I had a writing workshop Monday evening, at Ten Thousand Villages, which is an awesome and aesthetically pleasing experience. They feature artifax, jewely, vases, cloth, you name it, from around the world, made by villagers who support themselves by their creations. I am st up in the basement, and it is a long white walled room, and somehow we did it: 2 tables, some folding chairs around, and I set up a whiteboard talking about showing versus telling in writing. I spoke about Oakley Hall and Jack Grapes, two of my writing heroes and teachers, and 17 people of all manner came, and we had a blast. We cooked as I like to say. then the next day i taught my usual writing workshop at the Women’s Room, a haven for homeless women, and women in transition, and they (the clients) and the volunteers can participate in writing. They have done soooo well, and we are family. What a group.

So now, I’m going to close after this unexpected tell it like it is, blog, and take a nap. Bill’s daughter, Tory, coming up for a vist. Did I mentioln, the day is utterly gorgeous, sun, breeze, temp of about 71 degrees by our little pool house.

One more thing; i liked President Obama’s talk; my heart twisted, particuarly gazing at the father’s face of the wonderful little 9 year old girl; I hope this even brings about more civility and unity. If we had children, would we let our kids squabble so divisively in a family?

High regards to all who read this.

Fabulous Place


courage_to_write_poster[1]

I’ve been teaching The Courage to Write classes since 1996 or so; started out in western New York. Here in Pasadena, there’s a wonderful Fair Trade Store, Ten Thousand Villages, which is pure heaven. Prices are fair; lots of volunteers, and the work done by people all over the world is fantastic.

We held a writing workshop there tonight; i led it, and I loved it. One small problem – Puppy Mill (store with animals), odors come through; have to bring spray and candles next week. that store is moving; I won’t go in it; can’t stand seeing puppies in a store; horrible way to be raised.

Joy!

Oink - melted on the tongue

fabulous ladies

happy moms

We got there before bride and groom; we ate lots of chips; hmmmmm

Happy, Happy

The Honeymooners

The fabulous Miss R
To die for

Darling children

rock on

handsome dear men

Everyone was happy

waiting for the bride
The flower girl was dear

Happy Bride and Groom

Outside of room waiting for Chiara before the wedding

Chiara's Mom - the other Guam traveler

Dad on left is living in Guam - Sean on right is waiting for his bride

Taking care of Paper BusinessEsther and the wonderfully lovely Chiara

Wonderful wedding, conjoining of families. It was a global venture. Chiara’s mom and dad came in from Guam, one brother from Michigan, the sisters from California. Not totally sure. An aunt and cousins came from southern state, and Sean’s family came from Mississippi. A small gathering of absolutely joyous friends witnessed a glorious union!

The reception rocked; we went to Mijares, and Sean and Chiara are an incredible couple. Hooray and blessings for them!

Well the morning started with Lindsey, Matt’s wife, my twin’s son and treasured daughter-in-law FBing about cocoa and one made by some brothers, to which Matt added, a bon mot phrase about other brothers, and I added the paucity of my memory of old jokes, including Prince Albert in a Can.

then writing workshop at Altadena Healing Arts Center; good group; and then quick dash home, look under the bed for those pre-purchased greeting cards, not like a pre-purchased automobile, which in my day simply said, ‘used’ and now to head back to the closet and put on my incredibly chines red silk jacket; found and fit to myself immediately while hoofing through an estate sale, and the other witness Renee will wear red too; we say to each other “we’ll be the babes,” and meanwhile the above pictures show the Western Justice Center, a title deserving a distinct blog input of its own, but time and joy restrain me.

Chiara and Sean are getting married. So despite a horrible shooting in Arizona, politics again. “A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the human heart.” something that needs to be heeded more. Our atmosphere has been infected with coarseness, hate and anger, but Sean and Chiara, Chiara and Sean, are getting married, and it’s time to suit up, and spend a splendiferous afternoon with two wonderful young people, and then tonight book club! Wow


Just read 2 books: I’m with Fatty, Edward Ugel, which is funny, honest, grave, gets to the marrow of addiction, and yet his writing is whimsical, serious, and good. Then i picked up down among the Dead, a year in the life of a mortuary technician, Michelle Williams; which I found to be a good tell it like it is fascinating read.

Busy day, no walking, but some yoga, start a new class Monday, so material all over our small living which I love for its high ceilings. One has the illusion of space. Big event tomorrow, friend Chiara getting married, and another friend Renee and I are witnesses. She’s having a Baha’i ceremony, and then we go off to a small dinner. I’m really happy for her. Haven’t met her beloved, but tomorrow it is.

don’t have a lot to say other than I’m trying to be organized, connect with usual gang of 500 thru internet or locally, and walk, and hang with Bill, my husband and pal of 25 years. Good news is he says he feels strong in the mornings, so now he’ll work on afternoons too, and then night time.

I’m dying to see a bunch of films, but no time; submitted two pieces of poetry to Altadena for contest; the lady liked them, went to a friends ESL class, and boy is she vibrant and loving. i think teaching people ESL is an incredible gift; i have a certificate, but i do better at teaching creative writing. There’s a purity and a vulnerability in learning a new language, and somehow each student is dearly pure and there’s always a lot of love and laughter in the classes.

Okay, nothing to say; trying not to watch the yackedy yackedy of meanness politically; went to fabulous Baha’i fireside at the Nelsons; friend Tadia spoke, fascinating and wonderful as always. I notice for a writer I am using very general worlds but at least i haven’t said well, it was like, it was like a fireside, where we talked about like…

I’m crashing; hope i can squeeze walk in tomorrow; have book club that night; we have read Little Bee and Ape House, but I didn’t get Ape House, i’m still in a queue for it.

hugs to all.

A minister friend sent this to me; thank goodness people are writing about this.

To: sightings@lists.uchicago.edu
Subject: *Sightings* 1/6/2011 – Iran’s Baha’i Minority Suffers Increasing Persecution

Sightings 1/6/2011

Iran’s Baha’i Minority Suffers Increasing Persecution
– Elise Auerbach

Seven leaders of Iran’s Baha’i community were sentenced to twenty years in prison by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran last August, a sentence that was reduced to ten years in September. They were convicted on serious but baseless charges including “espionage for Israel,” “insulting religious sanctities” and “propaganda against the system.” They had also been charged with ifsad fil arz or “corruption on earth.” These charges could have resulted in death sentences. The seven leaders were convicted after a trial that failed to adhere to international standards for fair trials.
The Baha’i faith was founded in Iran about 150 years ago. An estimated 300,000 Baha’is still live in Iran; they are Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority. Although Baha’is had faced persecution in Iran since the founding of the religion, their treatment grew worse after the Iranian Revolution. Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran, the Baha’i community has faced systematic persecution and harassment. While other minority religions such as Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity are officially recognized (adherents of those religions having been deemed “People of the Book”), the Baha’i religion is not recognized in Iran’s Constitution and Baha’is are denied equal rights to education, employment and advancement in their jobs. Furthermore, they are not allowed to meet or hold religious ceremonies.

Worse forms of persecution have been committed against Iran’s Baha’i: More than 200 Baha’is were killed after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, after which a large number of Baha’is left Iran. The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran was disbanded in 1983 after the government outlawed all Baha’i administrative institutions. Since then the community’s needs have been met by the Yaran, or Friends, who are now responsible for the Baha’i community’s religious and administrative affairs.

Although persecution of the Baha’is abated in the 1990s, harassment has increased since President Ahmadinejad’s first election in 2005. According to the Baha’i International Community, there are currently 47 Baha’is in detention throughout Iran.

The Baha’i faith is considered heresy by hard-line clerics since it was founded in the mid-nineteenth century. Because it post-dates Islam, it is viewed as a repudiation of Islam. After the Iranian Revolution a “pure” form of Islamic government was established with the support of conservative clerics, which involved discrimination against adherents of more recently founded religions such as Baha’is. The clerics implemented punishments such as stoning and amputation. This theological “purity” is maintained by clerical hard-liners who are crucial allies of the current government.

The Baha’is are convenient scapegoats—the government points to the Baha’is as fomenting the post-election unrest. The Iranian authorities have also blamed the Baha’is, among other groups, for orchestrating much of the unrest that took place on the Shi’a religious observance of ‘Ashoura on 27 December 2009.

The religiously fraught charge of ifsad fil arz has been specifically used against the Baha’is, but another charge, moharebeh, or enmity against God, has been lodged at more and more people in the past year. It has been used to justify imposition of the death penalty for politically motivated “offenses.” Although it should only be used in cases where there is evidence of armed resistance against the government, the charge of moharebeh has been used against ethnic and linguistic minorities who advocate for greater cultural rights or who are otherwise politically active.

The persecution of Iran’s Baha’is—and specifically the harsh sentences imposed on the seven Yaran—has been roundly criticized by prominent figures the world over, including the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. His report of October 14, 2010 noted that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed deep concern over the absence of international observers and the lack of due process in the Baha’i leaders’ trial and that the criminal charges brought against the seven appeared to constitute a violation of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in particular those of freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression and association. Despite the international condemnation, the Iranian authorities remain obdurate. In February a high-level delegation, led by Mohammad Javad Larijani, the Secretary-General of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, defended Iran’s human rights record before the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. Mr. Larijani insisted that no Baha’i is persecuted because of his or her Baha’i faith, but rather because of their engagement in illegal activities—completely evading the issue that perfectly legitimate activities or beliefs are construed as “illegal,” that the evidence for such “illegal” activities is generally non-existent, and that the legal procedures that try and convict people on such charges are woefully inadequate.

Elise Auerbach is the Iran country specialist for Amnesty International USA. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.

———-

Sightings comes from the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Submissions policy

Sightings welcomes submissions of 500 to 750 words in length that seek to illuminate and interpret the intersections of religion and politics, art, science, business and education. Previous columns give a good indication of the topical range and tone for acceptable essays. The editor also encourages new approaches to current issues and events.

Attribution

Columns may be quoted or republished in full, with attribution to the author of the column, Sightings, and the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Contact information

Please send all inquiries, comments, and submissions to Shatha Almutawa, managing editor of Sightings, at DivSightings@gmail.com. Subscribe, unsubscribe, or manage your subscription at the Sightings subscription page. Too many emails? Receive Sightings as an RSS feed. Sign up at http://divinity.uchicago.edu/rss/sightings.xml.

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Our January is grey at the moment, and cold, well California cold, but Bill and I are over our colds, and i am back walking (moving the muscles after 8 days of sniff, sniff, cough, cough). Friend came by and we hoofed down a hill, across a long residential street, picture perfect, winding street, green lawns, trees arching over the street, and me with my coughdrops but no inhaler, hoofed and trudged up another hill, and then she took me for coffee and an Einstein Bros. power bagel.

I am catching up; we live in 2 room pool house, and our sliding glass door sounds like there’s a crocidile stuck in a moat, and the door bumps and bumps and jerks. I am blogging again, tra lee, tra la, and am getting new writing workshop together; 6 weeks at Ten Thousand Villages; a great fair trade store, with artifax, jewelry and stuff from all around the world. It truly feels like a spiritual place, and I think it has to be because it’s based on the Oneness of Mankind, and one feels the connection immensely.

My nephew and his wife are having a baby, and it’s a girl, and they are naming her Elizabeth, which is his mom’s – and my twin’s name, and I love it to pieces. We were known as Es and Bess when we were little, and I always called her Liz, and we sort of are polar opposites, except with the same linguistic twang and mannerisms. She’s more like my father, and I’m more like my mother, but I can tell you we always looked out for one another. I am grateful that on her death bed she turned to me and said, “I never realized, but you’ve always been there for me,” this from a twin who was often disappointed in my Faith’s beliefs, my political views, my inclusive view of life. But still we managed. Last night I had a dream, because she died about 3-4 years ago, that we are okay between one another, and I like that. The first and second year she was sick; she’d cry out at 5.30 in the morning for help, and i’d jump through the ceiling in a dash to her room.

Tomorrow, I get my hair cut. Had it so short this summer, most people liked it except for a dear Persian lady in my community who said, “I hate it,” and I laughed. I wait for months and months, and then some random day I take whatever scissor are near me, and hack at my hair over a small bathroom sink, and then sashay out to people’s comments, “Looks good.” then comes the dread day when my head, look and hair take on an attacked by the North Wind, the West Wind, East and south, War of the Winds, and my poor hair which is with me while my body gets older, just has a hissy and stands up, lays down, and in a way doesn’t play well with the rest of me.

So tomorrow i shall be shorn. Saturday a friend and I are witnesses at a Baha’i wedding, and all involved are excited.

That’s about it for now, move the muscles, drink water, and stay wonderful.

The Legend of The Villa Della Luna

graphics, recipes and prose astound

Look, it’s a Tuesday, just after New Years, an on the run food; sticks to the roof of your mouth and spinal column; no folding, mutilating, stamping, stapling; just throw out 2 slices on whatever, even your knee if you must, grab a knife – slop, spread, seal together, and fist it towards your mouth.

That was before writing workshop, after a walk cut short because stuff calls, and then writing workshop. There’s a book I want to chat about, The Legend of The Villa della Luna which is a book referred to as “The sequel to the Secrets of Pistoulet.

I met this book when i worked for a friend Loretta in Jamestown, western New York, in 1996 or so when she created Literary Tea, an African-American writers (mostly women I think bookstore) and a restaurant. Suffice it to say, her chocolate cake won awards, and the crowed of Lit Tea people all gained 10 pounds, and her place became a hub of great activity.

This book appeared, and I casully opened expecting little, and I gaasped; its a combination of incredible graphics (think Griffin and Sabine) and dear messages and recipes. I sold that book a million times, but never bought one for myself. Last year I was thinking about it, emailed Loretta who is in New Mexico now, for the title. I found The Legend on Amazon, book marked it, forgot about it, until this Christmas when I was so thoughtfully gifted with an Amazon card.

I have the book; it’s amazing, and the part i like is a reference to a tear bottle; won’t say anything else, but I took it to workshop, and we used it for prompts; wonderful. ISBN 1-55670-628-6.

I’m home, dropped off a ton of books at library; picked up reading in Chinese or something like that and a few other things; am gazing to my left at my Port-a-Pug, Christmas gift from a friend, and think, i hear the familiar ding of the microwave; time for dinner and crashing. Nothing earth shattering, but just a hello and my day; great writing from the group today!

My fabulous coat with its arms around Vera in Germany

I sit in my long Jones of New York, dark camel colored coat which comes to my ankles, and type like an eager French Poodle, whose toes (my fingers) click across the floor (keyboard) in anticipation of something.

Well that’s it, anticipation, can’t sing it, but experience it. I anticipate a time this week when my hair will no longer look like it’s trying to figure out all traffic lights at once, whether to go north, south, east or west. I anticipate a cooked breakfast by myself in a few minutes, and a slug at the unwahsed dishes which rest casually in our miniscule sink. The weather flickers sun, and then clouds, and cold is still present, which is good because I need to hoof down a long hill, up a few slow trails of sidewalks, I’m urbanized after all, and throw a week’s worth of holidays, colds, no moving muscles into an invisible trash bin which I might dub Goodbye 2010.

Went to grocery store, so cold, I left, and went to Fresh and Easy. I find I crave fresh fruit and veggies. This is almost a miracle, and I hear my own personal oratorio burst through light filtered skies singing in praise of my insatient soul which wants to cast off her insatiate wants, trills, frills and needs, and be basic and moderate and healthy.

Last year got me in that direction, and yesterday I bought several sizes smaller slacks/trousers/pants; whaddya call those things these day.

I am still a computer nudnick but working on it; a writing class starts, Courage to Write next week in the basement of Ten Thousand Villages, an I’m just finishing up on it, and will garner eclectic objects that make noise, are visual, or just say, “Hi I’m an object d’art or d’ump or d’utility,” and “Would you care to write of me in tripplingly on the tongue prose.”

I’ll probably wear my Africa earrings, my Soviet Army Belt (real) and who knows what else. i love teaching, and i am not filled with myself, as I find I go into some zone and stuff flows out.

Okay, that’s today, and i’ve only had a banana; this will not do. Ta ta for now, and glorious days filled with spiritual meaning, and wishes for all of us to get through grunge and grudge alike, and see our interconnectedness.

One more thing: gratitude of the highest order for my wonderful family and for all friends old and many new whom I can gave upon with wonder.

Where were we? Where was I? Remember a whole year? Not likely. Okay, it was the year Steve Pulley felt the strain of his friendship with Esther, where she, if her night or day vision worked correctly, should have seen about 26 small snakes, think vipers, arise above his intellectual forehead, as he sat before her computer, while she moaned and wailed, “Lulu.”

Valiant, courage under fire. This year You Carry the Heavy Stuff, with a wonderfully spunky cover, showing, oh my, get ready…. Showing, the back, oh the precious, curved back, of a Fawn Pug Dog, along with a tall, thin lady, wearing red high top sneakers, both canine and old girl staring out into the sky, the dawn, the sun, the moon, with road signs beside them, like “Grist for the Mill,” “Been There,” “Done That,” as Esther doubled her book writing and publishing capacity.

Somehow, we all survived it, and now I, the writer, am at the merciful or nonmerciful stage of “marketing and selling the book.” Do you think this is why God invented garages? Storage of books. Books, book, and more books.

I give a lot of writing workshops, on The Courage to Write, the idea to show up, suit up, forget the dust balls under your bed, and write about them or anything that snakes or cavorts through your brain’s passageways. Most of them were free, because there are a lot of people out there with precious little, said phrase, “Precious Little,” being a comment by a corrugated with anger Literary Criticism Professor wrote on my friend Kate’s barely 3 pages of a blue book-designed for essays on the whys and wherefores, of Plato, and his mimesis, and Aristotle who advocated fear and pity for a tragedy, but which I, for some stuttering randomness kept saying peer and fity.

But because of that school, that man who ranted directly to me, because of carrying around heavy green or blue backed Norton Readers, because of taking Oakley Hall, incredible writing teacher, because of Jack Grapes and some workshops ranging over the years, and because, because, of CHPercolator, here I sit today, like an intent hedgehog. Have to leave here in 15 minutes. I produced a book. I teach writing to homeless women, and everyone else in transition. Sometimes I make money; sometimes I don’t, but I have a forum within which to write.

It’s been a year of a lot of new friendships and keeping the older ones; a year of finally being able to walk around the block and to be told, “Your heart muscle is strong,” and a year of modulated eating, so now a chocolate camel can circumambulate my block and not fear my gnawing teeth and needy ways.

It’s been a year of soul talk and authenticity, and joy in the realness of life and inner richness, coupled with getting up in the middle of the night, wondering will Bill be okay, will this, will that… but those are the blah blah’s of dark nights, and mostly I’m hoofing, and I’m thriving; this from someone who has an aortic plastic valve, lung stuff, heart stuff, long illness. As an old gal, that seems to be receding, and I tell you I’m hoof’ in out.

How’s by you?