Archives for category: Friends

I have never been old before. Funny I just heard Bill Gates’ mom say that.  Does everyone feel like an observer inside? I heard writers are like that; so that makes me a writer; but I have been doing this for a while.

At this point on the planet, I find life fascinating. Not easy. Fascinating balls or stupidity will back those thoughts up. I was born shortly before the Hurricane of 1938, with a twin, but I was four pounds, so hung out in incubator till I fattened up. (In later years, I would have no such issues of fattening up.)

It’s all an inside job on one level, this growing awareness. Childhood, adolescence, the emergence of tension of the opposites; gnashing forces of worth, no worth, feelings of inadequacy masked by leading kids the wrong way, getting suspended from Roslindale High 3 times in sophomore year by Mr. Gately who looked like a prison warden from the twenties. “You have the worst record of any girl in this school,” he would announce, right before he said, “Don’t come back until you tell your father.” Sunday night would come, and Mr. Gately would have called my father. I was emotionally afraid of my father, but somehow I went back to school after they spoke. I later pulled it together so by senior year, I was voted most popular and studied enough to get A’s and B’s.

Now in my late 70s, I look back upon that scattered, frightened young girl and think how lost she was.  My twin, Elizabeth, said to herself when she was ten years old, standing outside our 12 room house, standing in our circular gravel driveway, “I have to take care of myself now”. She would tell me this in her second year of fighting cancer, at age 68, and she also told me, “We were not born 5 minutes apart, but 12. Lord she held that 5 minutes over me for eons. I was the youngest in the family. Turns out she and I were placed in different classrooms after Kindergarten because she copied my yellow wooden shoe drawing.

I was consider the leader, but in middle school my French Teacher who taught us to sing (Rudolph Le Serf Au Nez Rouge – Rudolf the Red Nosed….) said to me, “Esther, you are a leader. Why do you lead people the wrong way”?

My father despaired over his children. Were we cretins to him?  My mother had her own demons and died when Liz and I were 17. Each one of us, John, Meb, Liz and I drove this man through many an anguished hour.

Now in 2017 I know we act our turmoil out, conditions in the world, in the household pivot through our psyches, and we were all pretty troubled .In 1966 I began my oneness path, took my little yellow lunchbox of thoughts and newly discovered Faith down the road. This Faith saved my life.

In 2017 after some harrowing months I realized I have never done “old” before. This awareness survived many a hospital trip, but I always bounced back. on Last month, recovering from harrowing doses of Morphine during an emergency run to two hospitals.   Little did I know within the space of 27 hours of no sleep, constant pain, and some unexplainable events, I felt tumulted into a fake cult.  Funny how this cult pulled of similar physical surroundings as in the hospital’s art work looked the same, but there was no kindness, no explanations of process.

I ended up in a morphine psychosis, which led me, mild mannered Esther, toddling out of a hospital room, physically in agitation over a recent brutal surgical procedure, asking a man, “Excuse me are you a scientist.”  The scene expanded in a silenced way with my moaning to serried ranks of hospital employees, “help me, help me,” and my running away from a hatchet faced nurse, zipping down a hospital corridor and ripping out the offensive surgical implant apparatus. I was put in a room with another patient who was so inert I thought she was dying.   I thought she was being slowly killed, and I thought her nurse was being punished also, but she got to go home.  Because of this cult, would never again see my son’s face, see anyone I knew and loved, and would be in a world without Baha’u’llah.  recovering from thinking I was in a fake cult which looked like my regular hospital, ripping out something from a surgical procedure, and then running down a long corridor away from the nurses,.  The nurse in charge of my well being was the same hatchet faced nurse who never smiled, only repeated, “You will have that implanted again.”  A kind resident emerged and listened to me, and I felt safe again.  It took me several days to realize exactly what had happened.  Time had stretched for me, but all of my drama was contained in an action packed 27 hours.

I then emerged from my haze only to learn of a suggested search for kidney cancer. Well it wasn’t cancer and I’m fine. Two weeks after this escapade, on October 21, 2017, to be exact, I dashed out for a waiting Uber, skidded and flat lined across the narrow hallway outside my room, realizing seconds later, something was seriously wrong.

Reader, I had a short clean break in the upper part of my pelvic ring, and a hairline fracture at the bottom of this ring. What would this mean?

I am patched up and recuperating and now have time to face my technical dysfunction. I feel like a woman, tossed down a sparse hill, covered with grass, patchy grass. My long arms and skinny fingers dig into hard dirt because I am slipping, sliding, gasping, down a hill. Going down.

I am not keeping up with: Kindle, Ipad, and worst of all Windows 10. Reader, are you with me? I have forgotten how to blog. I can’t find my dashboard. I spend hours looking at WordPress books and the letters “How to Blog,” blur into tiny ants on their march towards my crossed eyes.I will end with this ephiphany. Piph on that dear Reader.

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imagesCA9U2AM5Dancing the Tunes

I am a woman of rich inner means, of hips which widen, and of feet which grow clumpier as the years go by.  The word “dance” does not call to me as it did in my younger years.

At twelve, my twin Liz climbed out of a tree, swung into the back door of our twelve- room house, and ran up stairs to our bedroom.  We shared.  She drew a line down the middle of the room.  No crossing.  Twins are like that.  But on Friday nights at 7.30, all the twelve year olds in our town dressed in either suits for the boys or dresses, stockings and shiny patent leather shoes for the girls.

Harry Raymond’s Dancing School, Friday night sessions ,were held weekly in a sagging huge yellow house with white trim on Centre Street in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, near the Shawmut Bank.  My father or mother drove us, and we sat in the back seat feeling like victims in a Black Mariah, wheels silently thwopping towards Harry’s.

Dressing for Harry’s was weekly penance.  Red silky type dresses; made by my mother, with tiny cloth buttons and Peter Pan Collars.  Under the dresses, the dreaded undershirt, and down further the garter belts which were like magnets to the seamed beige stockings we reluctantly hauled over our young girl thighs.

This was a mournful time for us; a time we didn’t fight, too locked into the mutual tragedy of garter belts – long floppy rubberized stretchy thin bands with hooks on the end.  The clips at the end were like a snake’s mouth – open, slide over nylon stocking, close, and clip, a metal slider of small proportions would pull the length of the strips tight.  Ugh.  A beginning rite of passage where I would learn women’s looks are for pleasing, pleasing men.  Am I okay?  All right, as in are my seams straight?  Liz and I were poised on the edge of some type of womanhood, reluctantly brought into the fold of How Do I Look, Does This Please?  Will He Like Me?

Once left off on the curb, we clumped up beat up wide stairs next to a rickety white banister and head towards the powder room.  Jannie Cleary with her curly red hair seemed unfazed.  I wondered if she wore a bra, maybe that’s why she seemed to carry an aura of confidence. “She likes boys,” Liz whispered to me with a downward twist of her mouth.

We filed out and sat on chairs in a huge circle around the edges of the ballroom.  We sat like cows watching Harry Raymond, a thin double for Liberace, glide across the floor, moving by each young girl saying, “Girls’ legs are meant to be closed.”  Then, each week he’d tap Liz’s ankles with his slim black and gold cane, and say, “Ladies do not sit with their legs apart,” because Liz always sat as if ready to spring upon a horse and ride off into some elusive West.

First we learned the Fox Trot, l clump, 2 clump, 3 clump, sway together 4.  During the week at Ruthie Anderson’s house, we danced the fox trot with each other.  Ruthie was Protestant, and we were Roman Catholic.  Our mothers were best friends – daring in a world of people who kept to their own.

Then we learned the waltz – l, 2, 3 – l, 2, 3, feet stomped instead of slid  on the old wooden floor as we stood like fledgling dancers auditioning for a musical.  Eventually we sweated through the waltz.

imagesCAXX4KJA

 

 

 

 

 

Girls had to sit and wait to be asked to dance. The boys liked Liz; she was cute and sporty.  I sat there like a female Prince Valiant, a large red square of silk, my hair a dark clump of blunt and my bangs sort of straight, but not really.  My throat filled with doubt, as one by one, the seats around me emptied.  Finally after thinking I’ll just put my throat on a hook, tall, small-headed, round-chinned Holland Morgan stood silently before me.  His brown eyes questioned me, and his right eyebrow went up as in a “why not,” and we wordlessly cobbled our dancing feet together..  A fox trot.  Step, Step, Step and Step; learning to hoof in a measured square to a musical beat.

Then, as if Zeus threw a thunderbolt into my mouth, I heard myself motor mouthing about dogs, our once poodle who died.  Holland knew of this sad event.  I spoke droolingly of our beige non-altruistic pug and our copper-toned farting boxer.  Words poured out of my mouth like an overfill of chicklets spilling out..  I don’t remember his response.

Years later, when I was twenty, I met Holland again.  He was a friend of my step-brother.  I fell in love with him because of his writing.  He called me Cynthia one winter night as we walked over to Howard Johnson’s for coffee in Kenmore Square, and I was shattered.  He was at Dartmouth, and I worked down on State Street for attorneys.  I lived with roommates near the back of Fenway Park, near Kenmore Square.

I still dream of Kenmore Square because my mother died one icy day in our apartment on Bay State Road. Old issues maybe, or deep wounds, not all caught up by the therapist’s dustbuster.   Liz and I were seventeen.  We had a pug and a boxer, and Liz and I would walk them across Storrow Drive, and walk by the river, the wind whipping through us in the winter.  It was a good day when I realized, after Holland, after Bob, after blah, blah, I wanted what they had:  words, empowerment, not to be lost.  I was a dance in progress, and it’s taken a long time to become myself.  I no longer wear stockings with seams, although they are coming back, and I’m glad that time period is over.  Some people want to go back when times were good.  Good for whom, I might ask.  Then I think it’s all some sort of a dance – this life – a dance indeed.

This was terrifically fun and well done; Steve’s a buddy, and the biggest encourager (word?) for my work. I’m reading this in my pjs; hmmmm

Life at Fosselmans

oink, oink

Reader, are you there?  I haven’t been posting, because I’m so busy clicking and clacking everyone else’s wonderful blogs, and teaching writing, and laying down on the floor in a faint because of  the workshop’s wondrous voices, and other stuff too.  Did I tell you it’s been hot, ugh, hot?  The older you get, the more you feel it.

Generalized statement.  Once, when the earth was young, I was born in the Village of West Roxbury, Massachusetts, and I had a twin, normal weight, and we were born in the Boston Lying-In Hospital –part of Peter Bent Brigham (not the ice cream place) or something like that.  I was 4 pounds so I stayed, and Liz, my twin, Elizabeth Deegan Bradley, went home at scheduled time.  I was a 4 pounder named Esther Graham Bradley.  We completed the phrase “4 children within 3 years.”  My sister Mary Ellen Bradley (Meb) was above us and John Williams Bradley a little older –they were Irish twins.

Six months in our career beginning in Dirt City we had whooping-cough, so bad, that Children’s Hospital took us for free.  My father was an economics major from Harvard, but was out of work.  In September, before whooping-cough, the Hurricane of 1938 swash buckled and swash bent houses and boats, and the lights went out in West Roxbury.

Somehow we survived, and we grew up, fraternal twins.  Long story short, Liz, (everyone else called her Elizabeth) died at 68, in Idaho, her family near her.  I have written about this in my book You Carry the Heavy Stuff (a series of essays, poetry, range of depth, and range of writing voices) (Lulu.Com and Amazon.com and Author’s Garage (smile).  Liz was born 12 minutes before me.  Today, as I was brushing my teeth, I thought, what if 12 minutes could be viewed as a day a minute.

I decided I have at least 12 years to hustle and get my gritty, well I’ll be a yellow-bellied chuck wagon prose out on the page.  I may last longer, but I do have aortic valve replacement, blah, blah, and blah, blah, blah – get the full story when I’m 92.

Friday, I went to Nordstrom’s with a good friend who uses Clarens Products on her skin.

She had 2 free facials, and gifted me with one.  It was heavenly, an adventure, and we had lots of catch-up and laughter and old friends’ perceptions to toss at each other over a divine green as green could be, and red as red strawberries could be, and blackberries, and coated sugared pecans, and, and, and we started out as she went for the first facial at 11.30.

Reader, I think I made it home by 6.30 or 7.00 p.m. to my waiting Bill. It was glorious, and the next day my skin, my face, was as soft as a baby’s butt.  I have good skin; don’t know why, and Pam, the skin care specialist, asked what kind of self-care I did, and what I used for my face, because it was great.  Reader, I said, “I throw on water, rub it with a towel, and hit the road.”  It’s worked so far.  But September 29, Janet and I are going back to an adventure at Nordstroms – she’s picking me up at 6.3o a.m. at the end of my driveway – I’ll blog about it.

Sunday, my wondrous daughter-in-law Laura wasn’t feeling well, so Nico, Nicholas, Nick, my 6.5 son came up; Janet of the famed skin care story met us at the restaurant, and Bill and I rode with Nick to a Greens Restaurant on Colorado, near Vromans.  Excellent and not overly pricey.

Then, the plot thickens, as my waist would in a parallel universe.  I have never gone to Fosselman’s Ice Cream, open since 1919, http://www.fosselmans.com/ and I decided to try it.  Nick had a map drawn by Laura, and Bill, myself and Nick headed towards Alhambra, via Los Robles, long, some winds, and took a right on Main, got a little lost, took a U-turn, and there is was on the right hand side.  I must tell my friend and encourager, our friend and encourager, Steve Pulley, who originally told me about Fosselmans being the best ice cream ever.  I grew up going to Bailey’s in Boston, downtown Boston, once a year, and Brighams on the side, and used to be so skinny I could eat all the ice cream sundaes I wanted.

I had 2 scoops of heavenly vanilla ice cream, lots of fudge sauce, delicate, strong, and marshmallow – something I called in my high school years, a “vanilla, fudge, marsh,” and because I had a good lunch, good slices of beef, nor normally eaten, I felt okay.

Today I awakened and cooked stir fry, Tofu and Veggies, as the days of ice cream and splendor are coming to an end.  I then took my hefty gift certificate to Vromans in Pasadena, the best independent bookstore around, and bought 2 more writing books, and 3 memoirs I probably won’t see in the library.

Reader, tomorrow I will be 74, and for the most part I thrive.  I thrive I think because of my Faith, Mr. Bill my husband, my pal, may laughing buddy and snuggler, my kids, his kids, our grandkids, my Faith Community (Baha’i Faith) and all those incredible people in my workshops and in my expanded blog life.  How lucky can an old gal get?

So I just thought I’d share this.  I am very happy at the moment, and indeed, grateful for all I have.

from You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Lulu.com/Amazon, the author’s garage….. ISBN 978-0-557-20933-0-essays, poetry, observations from a twin’s dying to cubicle despair in a corporate world with voices of buoyant pathos, mystical reverence – you catch my drift

Why do I write?  Like now, when the dishes sit orphaned in the kitchen sink because I, the washer, am typing, sharing, breathing, living, putting off the inevitable, because once a long time ago, I was so hurt, I couldn’t breathe.  I carried that hurt with me forever, until I found out that sensitivity is the price and the prize for being able to write, for being able to read people, to Braille the unsaid.  I write to a lady in prison, who said “I liked a phrase you wrote, “The language of God is a tear running down someone’s cheek.”

I write because I read, insatiably, gobbling, inhaling, filling myself with the human condition; splat on the floor some days, like a big old squishy bug, flattened, dead, its body swept up by old straws on a broom; and then I write to show the magic of St. Theresa’s Snow Queen Altar when I was young, and how everything looked like a wedding cake, and I write to tell how when I was younger, and so needy I could have impaled myself on a stake wide and big, sort of like a meta-letter holder, except the stake would run through my insatiably needy heart, and a note on my back would read “loves too much,” and that was before the book Women Who Love Too Much.

I write because I have gone beyond Medieval Posts puncturing my despair and loneliness and have decided Men Who Love too Much is here too.  Maybe we all love too much, and I write because maybe none of us love too much, for we are told by images in advertising, that we should be thin, jaded in the eyes, like the look of models for Vogue or whatever, who probably could shoot up heroin on their lunch hours, and because despair is trendy and nihilism and materialism and not giving a damn might be the language of the hour.  But then there is the lonely, little, big, young, old, trembling, brassy, you-catch-my-drift-writer who writes because he or she must, and words have a visceral effect upon her, him, the dog, the surrounding room.  I write of hopes for the world, and a good ham sandwich or description thereof on a sour dough roll, with slabs of mayo, and a bed of lettuce, and curled pink ham,  ready to go into someone’s mouth which is opened to the size of half a ladder, is  a good thing, a good description.

What this nation needs is a good ham sandwich and a Pepsi without the aspartame and some down to honest to goodness honesty that is the natural condition to communicate, to be real, to be afraid of bugs in knotty pine walls when the walls come alive at night; to watch an elderly blind woman, clutch the corners of her walker, take a breath and remain a sweet sweet spirit, knowing that her condition, her tests are the divinely calibrated kind, even though trucks have run over her emotionally, and I write to tell of the anonymous amongst us, the bravery, the small acts of courage, kindness in this nation where the world is narcissistically checking its derriere in the mirror, and no one or precious few are listening to the “midnight sighing of the poor,” and where we must have immense courage and speak up; talk, yeah, walk the talk, be it; speak up; tell future generations who we were, wanted to be, became anyhow and our hopes for the future; because someday we will all be sensitive, spiritually inclined, aware of our oneness,  and otherness will go on a back shelf like Twinkies, no longer approved of by the American Heart Association, and writing will be celebrated by hoots and hollers and a piping or two from a medieval horn or Siberian throat, and the arts will have a way of grabbing our soul’s innards and carrying us through the day.  These are some of the reasons I write, but there are others, but today is Wednesday and those are my Wednesday’s writing reasons.

A harmonica

We sit inside a lodge near Lake Baikal in Siberia. It is 1990 and all the young people are going off onto a boat, where they will come back and say with a crooked grin, “We had to eat the raw fish lunch.”

Leslie, myself and a few others have stayed behind, feeling a bit ragged in a large hunting lodge, alone, empty time, tired.   I have an enormous sore throat.  I feel hot red fur going from the back of my throat down to the back of my ankles.  Well, yes I do exaggerate.  But this is coupled with the fact we are in the middle of nowhere, in the tundra maybe that’s what it’s called.”  I will later incur a toe plague which will itch interminably as we wait at the Ulan Ude Airport, and I will be hustled away to some hallway in an inner corridor and a Russian lady with white hat and lab coat will apply green stuff on my entire foot liberally.  This green stuff will remain stuck on my whole foot for the length of the full 63 days on tour with a musical group in Siberia,Ukraine, i.e.,Kiev, L’Vov.  I was like an aging rock star, no voice, green feet, stuck in the back of the chorus.

In L’Vov, we will hear rumors of a revolution which will turn out to be two arguing forces yelling at one another in a downtown park, and where we have found a coffee place and gorgeous pastries, but that’s another story.

Leslie walks into my room, a large woman, with a very small harmonica.  She sits on my camp-type bed and plays,  Notes, small, steady and true fall into my heart.

A knock at our door.

We open it, and a doctor whom we met the previous week, on instinct stopped by to visit.  He gives me stuff for my throat, and I am agog by the fact that we are so isolated, in a strange city, trees, roads, fish and the vastness of Lake Baikal, and my very unspoken needs are met.  It’s like that.

Leslie plays and plays, and I settle into my bed, comforted.  She then says, ‘I had a dream last night.  We were all knots in a fisherman’s net.  When my knot went down because of something I did that was negative or plocha, Russian word for not so hot, bad, I pulled the whole net down a little.  Then she said, pausing to pipe out My Old Kentucky Home’s first few bars, “When my knot when up, I also brought up all the knots with me.  We are all knots in a fisherman’s net.”

Sore throat and all, those simple words, framed in amber notes of harmonic beauty, stayed in the inner lining of my soul.  And that’s the news from Lake Baikal this week, where the fish are full-bodied , the lake is wide and pure, and all the people in the lodge go home deepened and filled with the wonders of humanity.

Five weeks ago I had a steady Sorry Gnat blog following of about 7 people.  People know me a bit around the City of Pasadena.  A few months ago my Irish Mug was on the cover of Pasadena Weekly, because I teach writing at the Women’s Room in Pasadena, a workshop for volunteers, homeless women, and women in transition.

I also teach a couple of other  writing workshops in the Pasadena- mainly at the La Pintoresca Branch, and conduct a small one, for donation only, in the basement of Ten Thousand Villages, the most fantastic and aesthetically snappy fair trade store, located on Lake and California.

I felt stagnated by my inadequacies with my blog.  I had a major friend who has helped me a lot.  The fabulous Mizz V – shrunk my SorryGnat banner, twiddled and twaddled comments and headings appropriately, but she got a job, and I ordered 10-12 books from the library on Blogging.

I need to stretch I thought.  This is how I get creative thoughts.  They nudge me or pop up when my nose is halfway down my first cup of coffee in the morning.  Along came #@MNINB, and I was a hashtag apprentice, a Linkedin Babe, a Twitter type of gal.  I’m already on FB with people from around the world.  It helps to travel and live in other countries.

A few weeks ago someone sent The Versatile Blogger award, and I have still to figure out how to affix it to a margin type area so it hangs out in the neighborhoods of facts and figures about this writer who’s up there in age, but has the writing voice of a 35-year old.

This week, of which Monday seems a 100 years ago, 2 of the #MNINB recommended me for a Liebster because for the month of  April MNINB challenge a goodly amount of writers scattered from Massachusetts to Malta (not really) connected, with a spirit of oepn welcome and we cheer each other on.

So thank you to  Susan Craig, http://bysusancraig.wordpress.com/ .  She’s a scientist with a background in neurobiology, and studied effect of Alzheimer’s disease proteins on brain cells for over 10 years.  She currently teaches college biology.  Her favorite thing to do is write books about strong, smart women and men who love and appreciate them.  Her blog reveals true stories, science material, fiction, inspiration, and you name it.  Lucky us.  Lucky me, I subscribe to her blog.

And also, another blogger nominated me during the same week of 100 years:

Thank you Kristi Carver, http://kristicarver.blogspot.com/2012/05/  Kristi is a writer, small business owner, and Registered Nurse.  My twin was a Registered Nurse, and believe you me, I felt safe with her in my life. Thanks Kristi.  When you visit her blog, you fall into a heavenly photo of a lake in Colorado, and all tension slips away.  Colorado beauty, plus aspiring author, who is a blueberry fanatic, wine enthusiast, and constant reader, and a memoir addict.  Be still my heart.

Now, I pay it forward and nominate up to 5 blogs with less than 200 followers, and let these nominees know they’ve come under the Liebster shadow by leaving a comment on on of their posts.  I added the Liebster image, so I’m okay ont hat.

My nominees are:

http://kofeart.wordpress.com/category/doodles/ – what can I say? When the world gets too lurchy, self-absorb, insane, I click on Kofeart’s site and her art enchants me.  I hope you like it too!

http://blackwatertown.wordpress.com/ I don’t know if he has 1,000 followers, but he was one of my original 7 devotees, and he’s special in my blogger’s heart; funny, current, aware, and enchanting.

 The blog & the book – are by Paul Waters from Northern Ireland, writes, makes radio & telly shows, blogs and footer about with social media. Get in touch if you’d like me to do it for you, either here or at paulwaters99 at hotmail.com .  It’s not a kangaroo, it’s a horse’s head, which might be from The Godfather. The pith helmet however, definitely used to sit on the head of Spike Milligan.

http://krpooler.com/feed/ (Memoir Writers Blog)I need all the information on Memoirs.  I don’t know if she’s widely blogged, so I added her, because I learn from people like this blogger.

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-of-cake.html – okay, okay, the blog is about depression – but to a writer, artist, or whatever creative type, depression is a fantastic topic, and I am sure she heals herself by her work.  Her images are enchanting.  I adore her post.  What can I say, check it out!

http://swpulley.wordpress.com/ – Artist, writer, traveler, whimsy, E.B.-White-wit goes outer space, early member of CHPercolatorcoffeehouseforwriters.com, incredible friend, encourager, and lives next town over.  His Uneasy Rider posts are terrific.  He’s the reason why I write better than I used to after my first book, and why I published (he helped-bless his saintly soul) You Carry the Heavy Stuff, and is just all in all an enchanting wit and fried of both myself and Bill and so many others.

So that’s it. Now they check out The Liebster Award, and sally forth.  Gratitude to all who labor! Smile.

Okay Reader, I’m going to jump right in.  http://hereismars.wordpress.com/  Mars recommended me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  \

I thanked her and waited in silence for an email to come over the horizon saying, “You’ve won our Versatile Blogger Award.”  It doesn’t work that way.

My them for the April Challenge, MNINB, “It doesn’t work that way.”

So today, I am going to try to do several things at once.  I am a superb multitasker, but whiz around so, I fall off the planet on a daily basis.  My call to action comes at the end.  First the award.

pathway to knowledge, wonder and humility

Thank you Mars, dear tender-aged Mars whose blithe spirit shines through and captures the poetic tendrils of my heart.   http://hereismars.wordpress.com/ (repeated it).  Select 15 bloggers I’ve recently discovered or have been following regularly.  I nominate the blogs below for the versatile blogger award. (Advice:  Google it, and following the instructions.)

http://swpulley.wordpress.com, long time friend, writer, lived in Bolivia and Chile 30 years, early member and continuing member of CHPercolatorCoffeeHouseFor Writers, and just one who you can roll around a floor laughing.

http://bahaithought.blogspot.com/

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/02/04/rainn-wilson-soulpancake/, I adore Soul Pancake, and use it in my writing classes at times.  I also gave the book Soul Pancake to my granddaughter.

http://www.bendsintheroad.com/  I have connected with blogger and will do online interview!

http://blackwatertown.wordpress.com      Northern Ireland, author and enchanting commentator; have been following him since he found me – how I don’t know.  I think I had 7 followers then.

http://elenagorokhova.com/  Author of Mountain of Crumbs, on Goodreads, Russian heritage. I lived in Ukraine and Belarus, spent some time in Moscow and Siberia, follow her blog on Goodreads.

http://creativityontheloose.com/   new; intriguing; she was in a class of mine

http://thekitchensgarden.wordpress.com/   a  new, refreshing blog about farm life, and well written.  Sagas, small s really about lambs being born, lamb bloat, the birds; all have names, and the blogger’s pieces undo the knot in the back of my neck from my social media strain.

http://kofegeek.wordpress.com/   Kofegeek is a silly geometer, a lover of coffee and fresh carrot

http://catewrites.wordpress.com/feed/   An exquisite young writer, working on her first novel – we meet once a week and share our writing through prompts!

http://mrslittlejeans.blogspot.com/2012/04/our-cat-boys-are-tree-huggers.html

friend, who is a scientist, a Baha’i and who writes enchanting, whimsical pieces.

http://livingbackstreet.blogspot.com, a very talented artists.  She had a stroke and since then she’s been producing the paintings you will see on her website.

http://holessence.wordpress.com/ one of the first bloggers to reach out at beginning of our MNINB April challenge, generous in spirit and knowledge

http://bridgetasher.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

terrifically informative re writing

http://debbieohi.com/home/atom.xml  I love her art

Okay this is for the lovely Mars – 7 things about myself

1.  I am 73, but have the writing voice of a 35 year old;p spunky, funny, deep, spiritual, whatever.

2.  I am a twin; fraternal, she died a few years ago.

3.  I am a member of the Baha’i Faith – since 1966 – was Catholic from Boston

4.  I am a pug dog devotee

5.  I have lived in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, Minsk, Belarus, spent time at Lake Baikal in Siberia, looked across borders to Mongolia, stared at the biggest fattest head of Lenin in Ulan Ude, Siberia, and crawled across railroad tracks and clung to barely the inside of a train in Eastern Ukraine, and last I road on a bus with our interpreter who thought beings from Mars would soon pop up, and where the bus driver stopped the bus, and said about the quacking goose in our midst, “Off with his head,” but of course, the goose lived, and we did too.

6.  I am a memoir addict, and started reading 4 books a day when I was 7; since then, my addiction has grown.

7.  I teach several writing workshops, one of which to homeless women, and they rock.

 

 

 

Reader, may I call you reader.  This is a response to my blog of yesterday about being an old gal with a 35-year-old voice.  You see that blog had its genesis in CHPercolatorCoffeeHouseforWriters – a yahoo site.  My friend Steve encouraged me.  Steve is responsible for my latest book You Carry the Heavy Stuff, and ChPercolator.  It’s free; we only encourage, never criticize, check it out.

Keith is a funny writer, and any email or comments from him make me yuck and chortle.  Steve and I even drove down to Disneyland area, Anaheim area, to visit Keith and his wife, who were in from New Jersey.  Keith also wrote a blurb on the back of Carry Heavy Stuff, and this is his response to my blog of yesterday, soon to be yesteryear:

I underlined Bob sounds like an inspiration person because it was so deadpan.  Yes, I roll on floors over stuff like this.

Re: SUB: Dingbat and stuff

I often think that I was born in the wrong century, which is a great joke either on myself or the calendar professionals (The people who put cute animals, religious pictures and girls in swimsuits over individual months). Facebook? Twitter? They’re all the rage right now and I admit that both E.A. Poe and C. Dickens would have been all over them and so too would J. Caesar and Ramses Jr. I just can’t get into it. Maybe I’m lazy or maybe I’m reticent about new things that are all the rage (I never had a moon rock and I never saw a single episode of “Miami Vice”). If there is a disease called “fuddy-duddy-ism” then I must have it.
Is that at all related to being a dingbat?
Are frabjous and frabulous synonyms?
If I had a canary I would let it perch on my shoulders.
Bob sounds like an inspirational person.
My mother-in-law and you could climb mountains together.
What, what, oh what ever happened to the cardboard pug?
Jessica wouldn’t be that fictional writer/sleuth who murdered all those people and then hypnotized someone else into confessing to the crime? It’s just too much of a coincidence that she lives in a tiny hamlet in Maine with the highest murder rate in the world when she’s home and someone gets murdered wherever she travels. If that’s the same Jessica I would exercise caution.

A friend, Al, who is in advertising,  said to me one day over coffee at Peets in California, “You need to have a blog,” and so because of that casual remark and my faith in his techy wisdom.  I commenced walking over rocks and pebbles of techy knowledge, and a blog was born.

September 5, 2006, Sorry-Gnat enters hyperspace life letting those who are interested know that in the Baha’i Writings one can go on the path of transformation and be a sorry gnat and become a giant eagle.

“I’ve just had lunch at Tuohey’s Restaurant in Alhambra and had dinner there last night.  No I’m not trying to be giant like an eagle physically.  I’ve ruminated a good deal about stuff to put into this blog:  poetry?  pug dogs? notes about books?  human rights? racial justice: schlepping, Esther, don’t forget schlepping.  I have a lot to learn on this blog, and will consult with my techy friends as to how, what, why, when!  I’m reading The Earth is Flat, Thomas Friedman, excellent. Very good writer.  We just saw Jessica, our granddaughter, at an early soccer practice.  She’s almost 7-going into first grade, and all the little girls are not aggressive players at all, but very cute.

Today, April 5, 2012.

Well Jessica is 12 now, and has an equanimity about her and kindness to all that I adore.  My family was like a Rorschach test, and I used to wonder what it’s like if my kid had the soul of an accountant.  He didn’t, and that’s okay, but Jessica, my granddaughter’s mom, leans to that side:  stable, and a tremendous educator with regards to child rearing.

Okay, I do blogs, and  at times in my life the only themes seem to be pug dogs or spirituality, and for a while pug dogs were winning.  Of late, it’s books, and maybe a while or so about my adequacy level down by my ankle bones,  blogging wise-the techy side.  I’ve avoided Twitter.  Facebook?  Boys and girls, I’ve got FB down; I have friends all over the globe.  The good thing about moving 17 different times in 25 years is you meet a lot of people.

Sure I grieved over leaving some, but I tell you, I’ve met incredible people and to this day I never cease to wonder.  Today we had lunch at Farideh’s and we had Tadiq, golden crusted flat slabs of potato under Basmati rice.  Oink.  We had wild salmon, vegetables even turnip.  Then we had dessert served on creamy white china and looked like a vibrant water color:  blueberries,  peachy colored mango, and a scoop of vanilla soy ice cream.  I’m so slogged with fatigue and memories of good food, my brain turns to sludge.  Later I hooked up with Jean a new person in our Baha’i community.

She’s new to Pasadena, and hasn’t been in the States for 10 years.  She has lived in India, and I can’t remember the name of her city; small – 5 million, but she’s traveled all over. Did I mention she’s blind and gets around by cane.  We’ve hung out before.  She’s done everything; social worker, worked in radio stations, done voice over, teaches ESL, works via the computer.  No dust on her heels!  It gave me just another chance to marvel.

Tomorrow, I’m off at a little before noon to a Christian church up the Street on Lake, in Altadena/Pasadena area, where the Ecumenical Council is observing Good Friday.  I remember Good Friday when I was Catholic, sitting in the silence of the church, the religious figures draped in purple silk, and I remember a day before, called Holy Thursday, when Liz, my twin, and her best friend Jannie Cleary, walked and visited the 7 Catholic churches, a tradition we participated in only once.  When we got home that day my sister Meb (Mary Ellen Bradley) was hanging her head out of the bath room window on the second floor, showing a newly bleached blonde.

We were three sisters; close in many ways, and yet Meb would die of alcoholism, as my mother did.  They were terrific.  They both played classical music, and I can’t not stop when I hear Chopin’s polonaise in something Minor.  My mom died when we were 17, and my sister died when I was living in Dnepropetrovsk. She was the size of a twig, ravished by emphysema and years of alcoholism which I think she kicked towards the end.  She had once survived on the streets for five years.

So back to homeless women.  I’ve done two things in my life influenced by these two women so close to my heart.  My mom had Latvian Babushkas come to our little house on Wren Street, tuck into the small kitchen with the red checkered oilcloth table covering, and she’d teach them English for free.  They talked of their husbands, “lost behind the Iron Curtain,” and I’d visualize a large iron shower curtain stretched across a vast empty land.

Years later, in 1990, I traveled to Siberia with Bill, my husband.  I wrote a book Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, which tells about Meb, Russia,Ukraine, and all.  People like it.  I often thought  my mother’s selfless act of reaching out had reverberations into the future, when I, her daughter, very much her daughter, went into Slavic countries for service only.

That said, we’ve lived in Pasadena for 11 years, and it’s the longest we’ve ever lived anywhere.  Bill is 77 and I am 73, and first we house sat in a gorgeous condo for 3 years and then found this pool house, and we can afford the rent they charge which is not high.  I’ve survived open heart surgery, having the surgeons write the whole business off for free, and I’ve had a lot of trips to Cardiology at Kaiser, bleeding out, stuff like that, but now I thrive.  I’m like a Russian doll that tips over and bounces back.  Someone said to me the other day, “You have a strong life force,” and I do.  I feel life gets better and better for women as they age. I am no longer moth-holed by self-doubt and scalding inner words of rebuke.  I’m me now, and I sort of glow at times, at least when I’m teaching writing, meeting friends for coffee and always stretching to do more.

Poem by Chris Annick

poetry of women from women's room - fund raiser flyer

A few years ago I gave a goodly amount of writing workshops-method, process, and did so for free at the local library branch of La Pintoresca in Northwest Pasadena.  The Women’s Room a group formed and created by members who were connected to an Ecumenical Council realized women in Pasadena, either homeless or in transition, had nowhere to go.  This is a day refuge, but oh what a refuge. Showers, laundry, good food, make up suggestions now and then are available, and oh, my writing class.   Long story short, a room above the food pantry of Friends in Deed was created, like a small living room, dusty peach walls, art with symbols of 3 poppies, art on the wall, small kitchen and on Tuesdays 1-3 I teach writing.  Everyone is welcome, the volunteers and the guests (homeless/in transition) and it is truly solidified in love and community.  The bonds are strong.

We were asked to have something for tomorrow’s program at this Church.  I wrote a poem on forgiveness.  I’ll publish it later.  Then I had the women do a group poem, each writing 2 lines.

They’ve performed before; different women, different voices, and at first they were terrified.  But after they had the guts to get up behind a microphone and say their piece, their pieces, they were and are proud.  You can’t take that away from anyone.  Above is a poem written by Chris Annick which graced our first fundraiser flyer.

I always say to them before they read, “Own this.  Own your voice,” and by golly they do.  So with that, I didn’t expect this to be such a rattle on blog, but here you go, and that’s the facts Jack.

Reader, my on line writers’ group, CHPercolator, prompts Post July 31, 2011:

You mean life is more than material for books?
Seeds of crazy believe
Black marks march across the page
Working like a canine for very little money
Mended, the floor of my soul was finally strong enough to bear my full weight.

The floor of my soul is doing pretty good now, occasionally it has the strength to do an oingo boingo, like a brand new trampoline! Yesterday, my soul went oingo boingo all day. You betchum Red Rider, The funny thing about souls and weight, when you lean into fine tempering your soul through life experience, or just pulling the splinters and shards of same off the floor, once you get it down, get your soul mended strong enough to bear full weight, it becomes gossamer light.

Which brings me to a gossamer event yesterday of two people who found each other, Red and Jan, and their wedding. No black marks march across the page on this wedding; nope letters of every hue; flamboyant pink, awesome yellow and rainbow blue and ultraviolet appeared in the sky.

Some people might say what kind of seed of crazy are you ingesting old girl, and I tell you, most of the time I live in the land of practicality. Years ago I worked like a canine for good money as a secretary in law firms, good law firms, and now I work like a joyous canine for maybe not as much money, but I am like an abused greyhound dog, or Black Beauty the horse, remember Black Beauty, finally out sharing the pasture of words and events and how to do this and write like you talk, sing, dance, you know. You catch my drift.

A lot of people comment on how much I read. Okay I admit turning our one and only walk in closet top shelves into a library, despite the fact that we live in a two-room pool house might be excessive, but they leave such a lovely glow in my heart. Yes, books glow, but I tell you this reader; are you still with me? I tell you, life is more than material for books!

See you around the trails, around the bend.

Judge James Nelson

A Humble Tribute
(Written to CHPercolator Writing Group)
Esther Bradley-DeTally

Well, I might as well spit it out, and I think the best people to spit it out to is the CHPerc community, because you know what? Are you with me? You guys, and me too, include me, yep, are solid. We have something here, more than exchange of little, Times New Roman 12, words going across the ocean, and up into Wyoming, Nebraska, England, India, Pakistan, and even down in Temple City, California. We are a mix, we guys, and sometimes we rendezvous at restaurants near Disneyland, in Anaheim, (eat your heart out), or sometimes we just smile when a Haiku from Cochabamba trots up to our eyeball level. We are a tender, loving community, and we surf our waves, up, down, across and under.

I first thought about our circle of writers and their compassion for one another. We are Muslim, Christian, Bahá’í, Agnostic, you catch my drift. We are old, young, funny, serious, and all becoming people who sling words around either like the best fried hash in town, or bonbons wrapped in chocolate to kill for. I particularly noticed this underlying theme of caring a few years ago when one of us died, and Mike, Mike the wonderful Army man, often times in the Middle East, had a week off and somehow managed to be in the States, and managed to go to the funeral.

Something happened the other night at 8 p.m. which I’ll get to. Be patient reader. You know it’s all grist for the mill, but you know me. I have to go down and out and twist and turn within the rabbit warrens of my mind, before I spit it out. Yeah, spit it out.

A wonderful man, married for over 60 years to an equally wonderful wife, sat in a quiet family celebration, Bahá’í days of gift-giving and service. He just had dinner, and was sitting in his favorite chair, when all of a sudden, silence, and his huge, huge spirit left the physical world. Yep, this world we all know and love called the blue marble, the planet of names, this Purpose of Physical Reality, this soul workshop. He soared on to the other worlds of God.

This man was the cause of my finding my beloved Faith, a Faith often referred to as the “Spirit of the New Age.” This Faith has carved me out, taken barnacles off my soul. Now, I look at a lot, a lot, a lot, of people and see the Face of God in them. It’s not about lines, or borders, because the human heart doesn’t measure souls that way.

He was like a spiritual father to me and countless others. I will add my relationship to my birth father, although try as he may, was hard for both of us. We seemed to be two peas in the wrong pod. I often felt I never sang for my father, which is the title of a play and a play on words, which means I never was enough. But fortunately, I know deep in my bone marrow, most of us do our best, and if there was sand in my Becoming-A-Pearl-In-My-Shell, this sand grit buffed me up, polished me, for the here and now of today, and as I write these words I think, yeah, I’m an old Poil of a Goil.

So this man Jim, in whose Bahá’í community I live, sat and encouraged every fledgling speaker trying to reflect oneness in the world, shape their words. He also performed the marriage ceremony of my son Nicholas and his wife Laura. He’s visibly gone now. When I first heard the news, I felt a gasp within me and then my thoughts rushed to, “Dorothy, Dorothy,” his wife. They are like overlapping Venn diagrams, circles within, over, around, under each other. We in the local Bahá’í community know our treasures, and passionately love them. We never have taken them for granted. Every minute of their lives they welcomed, hugged, encouraged, and shed love and wisdom unto all of us waiting souls.

I know I’m overwriting. I’m trying to keep this simple. That’s why for you writers out there I’m doing a little bit of “write like you talk” with a “straight talk” phrase thrown in. If I really went into the majesty of this couple, my writing would become so multisyllabic and operatic that my prose would jump off the page.

So instead, I imagine this man who was magnanimous and majestic and prodigious in thought (had to get that word in) in his physical and spiritual presence, now seems to me like a 500 pound canary in spirit. You might say, “His cage door opened, and he went.”

May my life be worthy of all those who serve in this century of change.

Thanks for letting me share, and now, prayers and solace to his incredible wife—I will carry her around in the inner folds of my heart for a long time.

I think in the end, we all end up pulsating with love for one another.

Dear All Out There – this newsletter is from TC Paulinkonis, and I have been corresponding with TC for 8 or so years. We met through the International Women’s Organization of Writers. She’s spunky, has integrity and I thought this letter important enough to put on my blog. Love to all, esther

The T.C. & Mama ´P´ Newsletter – 1st QTR, 2011

Dear Family of Friends,
As we face the beginning of a new year and hopefully changes towards a better tomorrow, you will notice a change or two to the format of this newsletter. While I have had no problem making my voice heard in regards to prison politics and select injustices within the system, I thought that it may be interesting to add a few more voices to the true intents of this quarterly report. There are other prisoners who have more knowledge in certain areas, and I thought, „Why not bring them on board?“ So, I did.
In this issue you will be introduced to Liz Lozano, who at the age of 16 was sentenced to die in prison. I am appalled by the fact that our legal system is locking kids away with ridiculously lengthy adult sentences, including LWOP, which is Life Without the Possibility of Parole. Pretty much a detach sentence without the lethal injection. With new focus on legislation to provide those kids at least half a chance as a second chance, I wanted to dedicate attention on the subject. So, I invited Liz, who as both a writer and a jubenile offender sentenced as an adult, is the perfect candidate to take on this issue in each future issue, beginning with this one.
I have invited another prisoner to address healthcare service and the aging inmate population and their concerns. I hope to intoduce her in the next issue, as she was working on a piece about breast cancer when we had to go to press.
This newsletter is intented to address concerns, answer questions, and provide updates and relative knowledge. If you have any ideas to improve it, please feel free to share your thoughts. After all, it is for you, the reader.
May this be a good year, with a new governor, and opportunities for all of us on our paths.
Namasté
T.C. and Mama ´P´

Please Help Free Molly Kilgore
A couple of issues back, I requested support letters to be sent to Molly Kilgore‘s counselor to be shared with the Parole Board. Now, I need fo ryou to do something very simple. I‘m going to write a sample letter below that I‘m requesting each of you in turn write, copy, whatever … just get it mailed off to Governor Jerry Brown ASAP please. I‘ll let the letter speak for itself.

Dear Governor Brown,
I am wiritng on behalf of Molly Kilgore, W14177, currently incarcerated at C.C.W.F. in Chowchilla. Ms. Kilgore has served 32 years on a 7-years-to-life sentence. Like most young adults who received that sentence in the late 1970‘2, she was left with the impression that she‘d have been paroled long ago. It should be noted that not only did the courts recommend that she be released once already, but last year the BPH also found her suitable, only to have Governor Schwarzenegger reverse it. The BPH has once again found Ms. Kilgore suitable for parole at a January 12th hearing. I respectfully request that you support the panel‘s findings and grant the parole of Molly Kilgore.
Ms. Kilgore has a thick file of achievements, certificates, volunteerism, exceptional supervisor‘s reports, and extensive self-help participation in courses and groups alike. However, it is more imperative to point out that Ms. Kilgore has had 32 years to grow, change and gain personal insight into the full impact of her crime and victim, as well as the elements involved both directly and indirectly. She has been accepted by the crossroads re-entry program, and has made plans for a productive future that I hope you‘ll allow her to pursue. Please see relative decency in granting her parole in 2011.
Respectfully,
Your name & address
Send to: Governor Brown
State Capital Bldg.
Sacramento, CA 95814

A Second Chance
Where is a lifer to go if they have nowhere to parole to? That is a good question. I have an answer: Crossroads.
Crossroads is a long-term transitional housing program where newly released female parolees can learn how to readjust to life beyond prison walls. After a couple of decades in lock-up, one needs a re-entry program like this. It helps reduce culture shock and recidivism. They are taught substance abuse prevention and avoidance, education, life skills, and Crossroads also offers serious employment-related services. They even help you open a savings account to where you deposit at least ¾ of your paycheck to build up your own financial stability. At the end of yorur stay (about 6 months), you will be more suitable for once again becoming an independently responsible citizen.
Crossroads is ran by Sister Terry Dodge in Claremont, CA on October 26, 2010, she was one of five recipients of the Minerva Award, created by Maria Shriver in 2004. This award recognizes extraordinary legacies of service and contributions to California and the country. The other four recipients were Oprah, Sandra Day O‘ Connor, Carolyn Blaysek (who launched operation Gratitude to send personalized care packages to deployed soldiers), and Oral Lee Brown (who founded educational and financial support to at-risk school children). The Minerva Award winners receive $25k grants to further their work. First Lady Michelle Obama was amongst the many participants in The Women‘s Conference 2010, where the award was presented.
Mama ´P´has applied to Crossroads. This means that volunteers involved with the program will help write letters in support of her release to the Parole Board. They will tell the Board that not only do they have the perfect place for mom to parole to, but that they welcome her with open arms. It is next to impossible to line up a residence and employment plans from behind prison walls, but Crossroads is offering mom both at once. It is the perfect opportunity to help set her free.

Letters of Support Needed ASAP!
Mama ´P´and I are both soon to be scheduled on the calendar for a 2011 Parole Consideration Hearing. Mama in about November, myself in December. There is no way on God‘s green earth that the BPH will ever grant the both of us a release date in the same year, let alone one month apart. My #1 priority has always been that my mother be released first. She doesn‘t belong here. Therefore, while I‘m giving it serious consideration to waive my parole hearing again to take the spotlight off of myself, I‘m also advocating for her release. This is where you come in. I need your help.
If you can read this newsletter, then that means that you can write a letter. There are at least 60 people reading this. Every letter can make a difference. If everyone assumes that out of the other 59 people there will certainly be enough letters written, then we accomplish nothing. I want everyone to assume that NONE of the other 59 people are writing a letter, and start hitting the keyboard.
We aren‘t asking you for financial aid or housing to be promised in your letters. We are only asking that you point out mom‘s good record and clean C-file, and adamantly show support that the BPH allow her to parole to Crossroads. Your letter can include the following facts:
· How long you have known her
· The fact that she‘s been disciplinary-free her entire 21 years of incarceration, which is rare for a lifer
· Her volunteerism in the Sexual Abuse Awareness and prevention Workshops conducted within the prison‘s educational department (with emphasis on non-violent resolution)
· The fact that her dauther, Teresa, has gone on the record countless times accepting full responsibility for a crime that her mother neither committed, participated, or had any knowledge of until nine months after the fact, once they were arrested
· Include considering factors such as her age (she‘ll be 70 at time of hearing), deteriorating health, and the fact that it is costing California taxpayers over $80k a year to continue to imprison her
· You may want to include your personal feeling about what she has to offer society given her life experiences, and your thoughts on the injustice of a denial of parole
· Please include her current parole plans to go straight to Crossroads Re-entry Program directly from C.C.W.F.

There have been some of you who wanted to help in wirting a support letter, but just couldn‘t organize the words. I‘m about to help you with that be creating a sample letter. You can copy it, reword it, take parts of it to incoporate into your own letter, or simply use it as a guide. Whatever you do, please take this request seriously and write those letters and send to addresses below. Thank you!

Original to: Central California Women‘s Facility
Attn. CCI Burretta
P.O. Box 1501
Chowchilla, CA 93610

Copies to : Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati and Pauline (Barbara) Paulinkonis
Attn. Elisabeth Peterson W45120 514-16-4L
650 Page Mill Road P.O. Box 1508
Palo Alto, CA 9403 Chowchilla, CA 93610

Sample Letter To Support Parole Suitability
Dear Board of Parole Hearings,
Please allow me to address my concerns regarding the consideration of parole suitability for Pauline (Barbara) Paulinkonis, W45120, housed at C.C.W.F. 514-16-4L.
I have known Barbara for about (ten) years now, and given that her daughter, Teresa, has openly taken sole responsibility for the life crime (that Barbara only learned about after their arrest nine months later), it seems highly unjust to continue to keep her imprisoned for a crime she did not commit. She cannot be expected to make a false confession to seek her freedom.
While enrolled in the Sierra Vista Adult School, Barbara has completed two vocational training courses in Electronics and Graphic Arts. She was one unit shy of a completion in Upholstery when she was reassigned after an annual program review. She also completed courses in Parenting, Substance Abuse, Victim Impact Self-Awareness, and Breaking Barriers. Those courses provided insight into coping with anger management, cognitve awareness, communication, problem-solving, goal setting, victim impact and perception, healing & recovery, as well as resiliency and giving back to society. She added a second Parenting class to her resumé and has used her personal life experiences and traumas to volunteer in conducting dosens of workshops on sexual abuse and Domestic Violence Awareness/Prevention to promote healing options and non-violent resolution.
Barbara has remained disciplinary free her entire 21 years of incarceration. She would prove to be an asset to the many victims of abuse at vomen‘s shelters, where she hopes to commit to volunteer work. She has applied to Crossroads, a re-entry program that welcomes female lifers back into society with the structure to provide a second chance. I ask only that you too, give her that chance. Her prison record speaks for itself.
Respectfully,
Your name/address

Q & A With T.C.
Q: You often sign off letters & newsletter with Namasté. What does that mean?
A: NAMASTÉ is an ancient Sanskrit word that means this: The Divine light in me, greets and embraces the Devine light in you.
Q: What is a nexus in regards to parole suitability?
A: I‘ll use myself as an example. I have two disciplinary 115‘s for force and violence. The first was in 1993 against a bully classified as mutual combat. I couldn‘t just NOT stand up to her. The second was in 1998. That one was classified as a battery, a more serious charge. I didn‘t wait to get hit that time. I learned my lesson after receiving a concussion in the 1993 incident. In the latter, I knocked the other inmate‘s hand away from my face and shoved her backwards away from myself. I stepped away myself, not wanting to fight, however, by my knocking her hand away and her body away from me, I was found quilty of battery. This is where the Nexus comes in. Due to the fact that both 115‘s are directly related to violence (regardless of why), the BPH sees it as being the first place. That is the nexus. The connection. The legal grounds that the BPH will use to justify a denial of parole. They‘ll say the nexus proves that I still demonstrate a risk level of a threat to society.
Q: How does a lifer prepare for a Parole Hearing?
A: Technically, if you stay ready, you don‘t have to get ready. It helps to have all of your certificates, chronos for participation in groups and other commendable activities, Supervisor‘s reports, GED/Diploma, and letters of support all in a file and organized neatly. Many lifers go to their hearings unprepared. It takes months to prepare, not just the two weeks before the hearing.
Q: Are lifers required to relive their crime at the hearing?
A: No, not required. I‘ve done so at mine thus far. How will they know how I feel if I don‘t? Remorse is a vital key to true insight, and unless you can look at where you‘ve been and what you‘ve done, you can never truly do a personal inventory. However, at a certain point in hearing after hearing over the years, attorneys have stepped up and said to the panel, „we are not here to discuss the life crime itself, but the woman who committed that crime.“ In other words, your prison record, behaviorism, achievements, and personal growth. After all, that is the real reason behind the hearing: Your progress.
Q: What happens if the BPH denies parole based upon irrational nexus or other excuse not justifiable?
A: In the event you‘re denied, you can file a Writ of Habeas Corpus, especially if the panel did not make a justifiably rational nexus as to why you CURRENTLY pose a risk of danger to society. All of the certificates, chronos and support letters you gathered in support of a favorable finding for a parole grant, can be included as exhibits for the writ.
Q: Can you please tell me again, what can I send in to you?
A: You mean besides all of your well wishes and good lovin‘? Sure, I‘m often asked this question due to the list getting misplaced or memory fading. Here is the list:
· 40 plain or embossed envelopes; white only, no colored envelopes or security type with print on inside of envelope.
· 20 postcards – picture type or postal embossed.
· 40 postage stamps maximum per mailing regardless of face value.
· 10 greeting cards with envelopes (white envelopes only). No musical or 3-D type.
· 4 writing tablets; white or yellow paper only.
· Up to 500 sheets of stationary paper (fancy & cute allowed).
· Money orders made payable to our full name and W#, or by credit card directly to our account via JPAY.com or WESTERN UNION. We receive it within 24 hours.

A Few Statistics To Chew On
· The number of women in prison has increased 800% within last three decades.
· 42% of incarcerated women never completed high school or earned GED.
· Two-thirds of women in prison are mothers.
· More than 147.000 minors have mothers in prison.
· 24% of incarcerated women are diagnosed with a mental illness.
· Most incarcerated womenwith a psychiatric disorder do not receive treatment.

A Simple „Thank You“
Mama ´P´ wishes to thank whomever has continued to anonymously subscribe her weekly issues of TV Guide. She‘s received it for years now, unaware of the person‘s identity. Your gift has made her TV planning schedule much more convenient, and she thanks you.

Quaker‘s Cancelled Stamps Mission
Since Brad Hathaway began the cancelled stamps project well over a decade ago, the Quaker‘s Friends Meetings have collected stamps of all shapes, sizes, values and countries. The stamps are sold to collectors, with the profits going to worthy causes that include third world countries that don‘t have fresh water to drink, let alone any medical clinics. Through the stamp project it has been possible to build a clinic in Kenya and provide the daily necessities to the needy that we all too often have taken for granted ….. like shoes, or mosquito nets, or food. The project has successfully collected nearly $80k in aid for those in need. Please make a difference. Keep sending me your cancelled stamps off of your mail, careful not to cut or damage the stamp. This is a never ending project. You may not know who you helped, but you‘ll know that you did.

Who Sentences Kids To Life In Prison?
Back in the early 1990‘s in the state of California, there were teenagers being sentenced as adults, and hardly anyone thought twice about it. I was delivered to CCWF in July 1992 unaware of the wave of juvenile offenders that would face the same fate as myself. In may cases, they were dealt a bigger blow than I was. And for some ridiculous reason, it was legal.
An onslaught of liberal legislators wanted to turn their tough on crime focus onto youth offenders. They argued for the passage of AB136, saying that it would only affect a small percentage of youths. In the state of California, in 1994 there were 234 arrests of youngsters between the ages of 14 and 16 for homicide. During that time, there was a rise in gang affiliated violence, but not all violence was gang violence. However, leave it to the Republicans to make it appear so.
After the enactment of AB136, future legislative sessions brought forth even more bills to make it all the more easier to try and sentence teenagers as adults. The list of juvenile offenses expanded to include everything from the penal code that could result in an adult prosecution. Futhermore, the burden of proof switched from the prosecutor to the defense team to show just cause why a juvenile offender should not be transferred from Juvenile Court to Criminal Court. Now, I had a Public Defender, so I know what it is like to have an attorney not fight for you. Imagine being 16 years old and having your fate int he hands of an attorney who just doesn‘t dive a damn. I can tell you, I have friends here at CCWF that don‘t have to imagine it. They are the victims of bad laws.
In March 2000, voters were asked to approve a ballot measure called „The Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime prevention Act.“ In ballot terms, it was Proposition 21, which rewrote over 50 pages of law related to the California Juvenile Justice System. This includes the decision to try juveniles as adults at the sole discretion of prosecutors without any judical review or hearing.
Prop 21 mandated secure confinement and stronger panalites for a wide range of violations, including vandalism. However, and this is scary, it clarified that juvenile offenses would count under the existing adult Three Strikes Law.
While it was the California District Attorneys Association that advocated for years a law such as Prop 21, Pete Wilson, the governor during this reign of madness embraced it. He made it a big part of his political agenda. He had his sights set on the White House, and his path looked positive, so of course corporate supporters jumped on his bandwagon to help the „Yes on 21“ campaign. They hoped for political favor down the road. Corporations like ARCO, UNOCAL 76, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Hilton Hotels all made a healthy $50k contribution. Chevron contributed $25k. It is not that these corporations wanted tougher laws against youthful offenders; they simply wanted to be in Wilson‘s back pocket if he made it to the White House. Once they were confronted by the public opposition, many withdrew their moral support, but their money was not refundable.
Once Wilson left office, Gray Davis became the new governor and continued to push for the passage of Prop 21. He had a little help from the CCPOA, the prison guard‘s union. They plopped down another healthy contribution of over two million dollars. For them, it is job security. In the big house, the more inmates , the better. It didn‘t really matter if they were kids or adults, just fill the beds!
Most voters do not research the propositions that they vote on. Many go according to the TV ads and press coverage. They thougth that Prop 21 was asking them to endorse a measure to prevent uvenile violence and street gangs. If they knew what it really ws, it would‘ve had less support. Opponents could not raise the big corporate dollars that governors can, and Prop 21 was passed by a large majority of voters. Most, knew not what they had done.
Adolescents, with their frequent cynicism, arrogance, sarcasm, and tough minded approach, may seem to have the analytical and formal thinking skills of a young adult, but neuroscience has proven that the opposite is true. They can be naive, overy sensitive to criticism, and have a lack of understanding to their own egocentric demeanor. At about the age of 14 or 15, they are begin making conclusions using deductive and inductive reasoning. Piaget described analytic thinking as „requiring a certain level of intellectual maturity, brain capacity, motivation, and practice.“ They are still developing impulse control, capacity to plan and strategize, and that doesn‘t include coping skills. When it comes to weighing risks and consequences, things such as personality, culture, and the given sitation, should all be taken into account! Risk taking behavior increases from age 11-18. The younger the youth is, the more serious their consequences of risk taking. A year in prison is far more detrimental to a 16 year old than a 40 year old. Why am I telling you all of this? Because these are the very individuals that Proposition 21 and AB136 focused on. They could have been your son, or daughter, sister, or brother. Heck, they could‘ve been you.
There are prisoners here with me at CCWF that were arrested as teenagers and tried as adults with adult sentences. At the ages of 16 and 17 years old, with no prior criminal history, they received life sentences. There are quite a few with LWOP – Life Without the Possibility of Parole. Who gives a kid a sentence to die in prison and throws away the key? I once read that it is easier to help a kid than to repair an adult. What were those judges thinking? When you give a youth 25, 35, 45 and 50 years to life, I gotta ask, „How do you sleep at night?“
There are over 200 individuals serving LWOP sentences in California prisons, that were basically sentenced to die in prison for crimes committed as juveniles. They weren‘t considered old enough to vote and in some cases, to even drive a car, yet same idiot decided they were competent to be treated as an adult once the DA had them in custody. One of those kids was Liz Lozano. I‘ve asked her to make a quarterly contribution to this newsletter as the voice for youthful offenders sentenced as adults. By joining forces, maybe we can get the word out there and get you involved too. All I‘m asking is that you keep an open mind, listen to the facts, look at the inhumane laws, and hopefully you‘ll agree that to lock up a kid and not give them a second chance is deemed cruel and unusual punishment. One bad decision as a juvenile should not constitute locking them up and throwing away the key. Please, read on, get involved, and be a spoke in the wheel of change …..

Youth Offenders Sentenced As Adults by Elizabeth Lozano
My name is Elizabeth Lozano, I’ve been incarcerated for 16 years here at CCWF. I’m serving a life without parole (LWOP) sentence for a crime that happened when I was 16 years old. I’m sentenced under the murder felony rule, a person convicted under the murder felony rule is not the one who physically committed the murder. The law does not require the person to know that a murder will take place or even that another participant is armed.
Approximately 227 youth have been sentenced to die in California’s prisons. They have not been sentenced to death: the death penalty was found unconstitutioal for juveniles by the United States Supreme Court in 2005. Instead, we have been sentenced to prison for the rest of our lives, with no opportunity for parole and no chance for release. Our crimes were committed when we were teenagers, yet we will die in prison. Remarkably, many of the adults who were codefendants and took their part in their crimes received lower sentences and will one day be released from prison. Youth LWOP is an effective death sentence carried out by the state slowly over a long period of years. In fact, most of us juveniles serving life sentences without any hope of ever being released feel it’s worse than death.
Neuroscience has found that teens continue to develop in ways particularly relevant to assessing criminal behavior and an individual’s ability to be rehabilitated. The focus on this discovery has been on teenagers’ limited comprehension of risk and consequences, and the inability to act with adult free will. Societies make decisions about what to weigh when determing culpability. California’s law as it stands now fails to take into consideration a person’s legal status as a child at the time of the crime. Those who cannot buy cigarettes or alcohol, sign a rental agreement, or vote are nevertheless considered culpable to the same degree as an adult. Experts say that even at 16 and 17, when compared with adults, juveniles on averages are more impulsive, aggressive, emotionally volatile, likely to take risk, reactive to stress, vulnerable to peer pressure, prone to focus on and overestimate short-term payoffs and underplay long term consequences, and likely to overlook alternative courses of action.
So why is our country so quick to throw away their youth??? In fall 2010, California had the opportunity to give youth sentenced to LWOP a second chance at life; a glimpse of hope, by supporting and passing SB399, a bill that would have resentenced LWOP youth to 25-to-life. Instead, legislation shot the bill down by TWO VOTES!! This bill was not a get out jail free card, it would have only let us get our sentence reduced to another life sentence, and even then we would have had to meet certain criteria to prove we deserved it. Today Senator Yee and other Senators that believe in us youth offenders changing have indroduced a new bill the same like SB399; it’s SB9. It would only have our cases reviewed by a judge who would make the decision to reduce our sentence or leave us at LWOP. To support SB9 or for more information please go to the Human Rights Watch web page: http://www.fairsentencingforyouth.org

Elizabeth Lozano
W65013 515-3-3L
P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, Ca 93610-1508

From The Heart
There are many of you that have told me time and again that you don’t know how I do it … this life sentence. You are amazed at my spirit and how I haven’t let the reality of my situation become an unbearable burden. While you’re amazed at me, I’m amazed at some of the women around me …..
There’s Liz, whom I already introduced to you. Imagine if she were your daughter or sister. Wouldn’t you be disappointed in the system? Okay, so that’s putting it lightly, but feel free to use whatever word you want, you know what I’m saying. If you met her, you’d be amazed at her spirit as well.
There’s Molly Kilgore, who let me tell you, has not let Arnold’s decision to make her prove herself suitable for parole yet again, deflate her good nature. She’s quick to smile and greet me and if I ever witnessed faith in anyone other than Deborah Peagler, I see it in Molly’s eyes. You’d be amazed by her as well.
Then there’s L.R. who has done everything that the Parole Board has asked of her. She’s jumped through all of their hoops, and they finally granted her a release date, only to have Arnold reverse it. Still, she holds her head up, she continues to help those in need, and she fights her fight to return home to Michigan one day. You’d love her spirit!
Oh, let’s not forget all of those kids forced to grow up in Youth Authority and State Prison having been sentenced as adults. Their strength and preserverence leaves me amazed. If you heard some of their stories, you’d be appalled by their sentences, but amazed by their adaptability, spirit, and maturity from the experience. I was almost one of them, and I quess that is why I’m so moved by their raw deal.
So, I say from the heart to you, get involved. I know this issue of the newsletter asked for support for Molly, mom and juvenile offenders, but I wouldn’t ask if my heart wasn’t in it. I ask only that you put yours into it too.
NAMASTÉ
T.C.

T.C. Paulinkonis Barbara Paulinkonis
W45118 514-16-4U W45120 514-16-4L
P.O. Box 1508 P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610

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.

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.

My friend Pili Pili Saka who is on my blog roll is prolific. There’s a sort of cool breeze to his thoughts, his prose, and I find myself admiring his mind a great deal. He wrote about Salvation, and I had been at a discussion regarding that same term last night; not the literal, cause hackles on the neck arise, type of discussion, and then he discussed north and south, and in this case Africa, calling to my mind the different young authors of incredible talent I have written, one of whom wrote about Biafra – north and south, and then finally the tennis balls Pili Pili speaks of call to mind a piece I wrote after my twin’s passing. So I offer it here:

Lobbing
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
i sorrow for a twinging tooth
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
a back tooth like an old couch waiting for Goodwill

sorrow was two weeks ago standing in front of
my twin’s coffin, she in her blue bridal dress of old
me, alive, sorrowing for the little girl on a tricycle
sorrowing for her life of dripping Rorschach ink

wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
sorrow has gone up like a balloon on a helium sortie
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
thwatting away epic events tumbling through and around
the people on the earth’s stage

order, thwats, pops, bops, all metronome-like
in their reassurance, the steadied beat of routine
comfort, sorrow, joy, laughter, anger, all runs together
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents

Kudos to Mrs. Little Jeans http://mrslittlejeans.blogspot.com/ whose blog is light, scientific, spiritual, but mostly whimsical.  I feel as if I catch a ride on a butterfly’s wing each time I enter the pages and read about Ollie and i forget his name, forgive me God.

Enchanting whimsy and delight my time spent in these pages, where my heart softens, my arms feel as if I’m holding a pug, or viewing a cat that is my own for these cyber moments, and laughter of the silent kind causes my ribs to go up and down.

Meanwhile I might just add today was an accomplished day.  Bill saw a physical therapist, feels heartened by guidance, and we had lunch at Corner Baker which means tonight is no cook because we’ll have the other half of our lunches!  Trader Joes where I found the monkey Mollie, after some grandmother loudly told her little grandson, “Look above the pizza,” and then later I go to the checkout and learn I can get a lollipop or a sticker, and it is a brutal disappointment.  I thought i’d win a month’s free watermelon rinds, or free pickings of stuff not eaten, or one free 99 cent card, but still the joy of shopping at TJ’s; the beauty of the glossy fruit, pushing a red shopping cart to and fro and just palling around with Mr. Bill is wonderful.  To heck with Rosie the Monkey, who I am secretly happy is strictly for children’s joy of discovery.

Am very sleepy; will read paper and walk around 4-time fleets so to speak, skates, vaults, you name it; the joy of being an old gal with a buddy, Mr. Bill.  A sunny day, too hot for my liking, but living in a tree-lined neighborhood where some trees arch over any walker as if gracing the walker with protection.  total wow.

s;

French Lessons

 

 The Fabulous Mizz V, not only the best blogging teacher in town, with enormous patience and cutting edge creativity, also speaks French.  These lessons will be highly worth it.

Yooo Hoooo Monday, where are you?  Drat, ack, eek.  I lost you.  “I forgot” can be applied to homework, like because my dog ate my homework, I can’t turn it in, or I just discovered I can’t speak Esperanto easily, or I’m not Celtic, Mayan, Troll-like, I can’t turn it in.  Doing this blog is not like homework.  I respond to Pili Pili Saka, the moment his blog comes up.  I’m like an orangy labrador, and I get a whiff of something coming to my territory.  My head lifts from the floor, my cold nose moves up and down microscopically, and then, there it is, Pili Pili Saka. 

Forgot, day swept by with fantastic emails about my book, my participation in a Wilmette Study Course, and an email from dear friend who wrote blurb on back of You Carry the Heavy Stuff.  Mikey likes it; even pili pili compared my writing to a French writer.  Reader, i slid under my desk, yes, by the dust, and the brick, red if you want to know, placed carefully over my email connection link, so as not to disturb and keep me connected.  Such is the old wiring in this incredible little pool house.  Be still my heart.

Yesterday, they filmed Mad Men down the street; I swear I posted that; have to check it out.  At any rate, Bill went to neuro guy who was incredibly thorough and wonderful – it seems severe allergy attack, plus benign positional veritgo, plus anxiety about being so dizzy sick, caused his adrenal responses to shoot up and thus the shakes.  Wow, and now we will go towards solutions!  We are relieved.

Okay I finished a book, The Man From Saigon, a novel, Marti Leimbach, a gripper, writing incredible.  It turns out this writer went to MFA program in Irvine, and that’s where when I began writing, I took classes from Oakley Hall and the other guy, Donald, can’t remember his name, and Roberta….. and it tricked into my curly brain and heart, and i began writing.  Showing, telling, using strong verbs, always 3 at the time.  I never do things lightly.  I’ve pulled back to 1 verb usage, find myself more moderate these days

I am going to reserve Dying Young and Daniel Isn’t Talking by the same author, although part of me shudders to think of adding more books to my list.  While you’re at it, throw in Jesse Ventura’s new book; forget title, yes Jesse Ventura.  He was a Navy Seal and he taught at Harvard, and he has stuff to say.  Who knows, but check it out. 

Okay so to add a more shallow cap to my day, while I finished Man from Saigon, sitting next to Bill on the couch, having done my daily huff puff walk for an hour, we watched TV.  Every now and then at 8 I’d click in Dancing with the Stars to see Kate clump across the floor, and the part of me that used to be a single mother thought, “Good, she’s earning money for the kids.”

You catch my drift reader; blessings and a glorious day and best wishes from Monday who regretfully is speaking Tuesday.

Next post may be about Baha’i Holy Days and stuff like that; hope you stay tuned!

Dynamite.  You all were dynamite.  Website for CHPercolator for writers is:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CHPercolator/

I’ll put books about writing list up later….

am crashing; you guys are terrific.

Well I’ll be a yellow bellied chuckwagon!  i’m a gal of a better age and scoopy, funny wisdom and I am as of this day, thanks to a Three -Legged Duck, transferring from an old blog to WordPress.  Words are ice cream cones, lamb chops with white crinkly paper on a smooth glossy China plate, inky letters of solace, snorky snorts of humor and I’m a wordsmith glad to be here.

Angus was a bassett whose belly hung lo, so low, he make Br’er Fox of “He
just don’t do noth’in but stay low” – he make Bre’r Fox look lak he done a
hundred crunches a day. Do I lie? Well maybe but here on the planet, now
zoom in to the United States of America, where lying is a bad word unless it’s
uttered or uddered by a politician who supposedly drinks too much caffeine
and can’t hold his words in.

Call it evolutionary degrade or skin dissolution or sloth, or beings who are so coarse, they’s like a redundant bunch of cattle, but I thank to mahself as I watched last week’s rodeo show where the people were bestially rood to our presdent; and I
think, “They’re toilet trained, ain’t they?”

And the only answer I gave to myself is “Angus has more manners than that
red faced anger ridden man who yelled “Liar.” If they can hold their
piss; why can’t hold their vitriol? Whatevah happened to the Good Book and
high manners and language. Cain’t we find a replacement for chronic belligerence?

I tell you. I miss Angus. I would hold Angus with my arms stretched around his big belly, hold him in tahms of crisis like in today’s world. “Bestial verbosity,” my Aunt Jenny Who Never Had a Wrinkle in Her Life and ate pork every day would say. But Angus, fell in love with a blonde lady who used to run a restoront down on the Avenue, don’t you know, and he went to live with her, cuz she had another Bassett called Blanche, and Angus sort of hand a hunkering and a hankering for Blanche.

At Blanche’s house, they don’t listen to people saying mean things. I’m glad
Angus is happy. Gotta end raht now, as I’m gonna to send an old poster to the
Senate and the Congress, and it is a medium large poster and sort of sepia faded, don’t you know. It shows politicians in diapers with bandages over their mouths, and in the background, which is really faded, is a fuzzy image of a toilet with a hand chain. The slogan is sort of like Uncle Sam needs you? This slogan tho is how to potty train politicians, one mouth at a time.

Here is a copy of John’s obituary.

John Howard Kavelin January 7, 1944 – July 18, 2009

John died as he lived — with joy, gratitude, wonder, and amazing spiritual clarity and wisdom, defying the effects of brain cancer diagnosed 15 months ago. John was a devoted member of the Baha’i Faith and embodies its teaching to “let your vision be world embracing rather than confined to your own selves.” He gave joy to so many as an art director and imagineer for Walt Disney Imagineering. When he was little, he was called “Mr. Toad” because he moved so fast. He later designed “Mr. Toad’s wild ride” at Disneyland. John received his Bachelor’s and Master’s of Fine Arts degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and Brandeis University. His 40-year career as a designer spans the worlds of opera, theatre, exhibit design, television and film. John is a 17-year veteran of Walt Disney

Imagineering as an art director and show producer, He was the lead designer for “Asia” at Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida and spent 6 years in Japan as Director of Design and Production for Tokyo Disneyland. In 1990, John, his sister Linda Kavelin Popov and brother in law Dr. Dan Popov founded The Virtues Project, a global initiative inspiring people of all cultures and beliefs to live by their highest values. It began on Salt Spring Island in 1988 and spread to more than 96 countries and has been endorsed by the United Nations and the Dalai Lama.

Of all John’s creative projects, the two most meaningful to him were The Virtues Project and the design for the Baha’i World Congress in New York in 1992. John’s sweet nature, loving friendship and wise mentoring will be deeply missed by his family and countless friends. A celebration of his life will be held Friday, July 24th at 11 AM at Harbour House and all are welcome.

From Linda Popov regarding service, celebration, memorial for John Kavelin:

Saturday, July 25, 2009 10:26 PM, CDT
Dearest friends,
Tommy just read aloud many of your guest book entries to members of our family gathered at Spirit Lodge. Our hearts have been deeply touched by the outpouring of your love and support. How wonderful to know we have this amazing global family, especially at this time when joy and sorrow have embraced, as our father used to say. Tommy’s daughter Zhena who lives in Sweden came from Puerto Rico withTommy and Farahnaz. My son Craig came from San Francisco, son Chris from Australia and Tommy’s daughter Nava from Haifa, Israel! At John’s burial, a small, exquisite circle of friends and family accompanied by a piper recited prayers, sang, and each placed a rose on John’s casket. More than 100 attended yesterday’s celebration. The visual presentation of photos of John’s life including a portion of the dvd of the 20th anniversary conference will be available soon on line. We wish all of you could have been with us for this amazing celebration of John’s life. We did it up right, decorating the hall with tapestries and paintings from John’s home, & lots of flowers. Tommy sang so beautifully as did others. My eulogy was met with many tears and lots of laughs as well. I feel we all need to stay in touch for a while. Dan and I are going away for a week. After that I will send you thoughts on where to make donations in John’s name. Tommy and all of our family join me in sending you our heartfelt love and gratitude. Linda

from John Kavelin’s blog on health – his health-good news

John and I want to share with you a truly amazing new development, due in no small part to the prayers and positive thoughts you continue to send. Please don’t stop!

John says: I have been wrestling for some time with this feeling of being between two worlds. The medical prognosis seems to have been incorrect. We have been told since the beginning that I just don’t have a lot of time left. So, I told Linda that treading water and holding my breath is exhausting. She asked me “What do you need?” I said “To move forward.” When we explored what that meant, it was to finish the design for a new Virtues Project website that began before my diagnosis. So, we went back to work!!!! We have been consulting with the web designer to finalize my part of the project, which is the design template. Then of course it will take Linda and Dan some time to complete the content.

My sight is better. My energy is more consistent. Linda says I’m sharper than ever in discerning the decisions being made now.
Brother Tommy and his wife Farahnaz are coming tomorrow and we look forward to fully enjoying their visit and doing lots of walking.

I have a keen awareness that healing takes many forms. At this point my physical and mental condition is surprising all of us, and especially the palliative care medical team!

It is wonderful hearing from all of you! It’s regrettable that I simply don’t have the capacity to write to each of you what my heart is feeling when I read your loving messages.

If I could define the three virtues most prominent in my life right now, they are Joy, Awe and Wonder.
Much love to you all from John, Dan and Linda

Input from Linda and Dan Popov regarding John-

John and I went to Saturday market on this cool, but thankfully bright Spring day. His stability is really good and he walks without assistance.

John says to tell you that the steroids that his brain requires to keep swelling down which he has taken for a year have added a lot of weight and he hardly recognizes himself in the mirror anymore. He is also growing a beard and I think he looks quite distinguished. The amazing thing, he says, is that during the year, other than occasional headaches, he has had little or no pain (other than what he calls “grab and stab” during hospitalizations). We will get some photos on Caring Bridge for you soon…

John was asked what prayer he gravitates to now. One is a long healing prayer and another is a Baha’i prayer for the midnight hour: “O Lord, I have turned my face unto Thy kingdom of oneness and am immersed in the sea of Thy mercy. O Lord, enlighten my sight by beholding Thy lights in this dark night, and make me happy by the wine of Thy love in this wonderful age. O Lord, make me hear Thy call, and open before my face the doors of Thy heaven, so that I may see the light of Thy glory and become attracted to Thy beauty. Verily, Thou art the Giver, the Generous, the Merciful, the Forgiving. — Abdu’l-Baha

With love from Dan, Linda and John

John Kavelin is in transition with his terminal illness, and his sister, Linda Popov, left a note on “Caring Bridge,” which is site on the net to inform everyone of someone’s illness, joys, challenges, and I thought I would post today’s (April 20, 2009) comment. To describe John would take more than a bucket of words, and my buckets are out today, so suffice it to say, he’s noble, valiant, highly creative, highly loving, giving, and we house sat for him in Pasadena, and the Pasadena Baha’is had the privilege of listening to John and Linda at a fireside at the Nelson’s several months ago.

He has the same kind of brain tumor Ted Kennedy has. John was also the designer of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney, and won awards I believe for his Animal Kingdom in Disney World. He also designed stages, etc. in most major Baha’i conferences. He has a twin Tommie, and a sister Linda, and a brother-in-law Dan. Dan and Linda are living with him in his gorgeous place on Salt Springs Island, called by him Spirit Lodge. So here’s the note: love and prayers to all, and for John and his family. How’d we get so lucky to know them, and for us, in particular, John?

I want to receive Journal update notification e-mails.

Friends, you know from reading our journal that there have been a great many gifts and blessings in the last year for our family. One of the sweetest is the sacred time John and I spend most mornings together. This is an opening for John to discern and to speak whatever is on his mind or heart, and for me as well.
I am realizing that while his short term memory fades, his spiritual acuity is brightening. Yesterday he was saying that in his prayers, he is not asking to go or to stay, but for contentment with what is. He said “It is a commitment to NOW”. So, we are very much at peace living in the now of each moment and each day. Sending you all our love, Linda



July 11, 2008 – Saturday; airconditioner on. We are taking care of a rescue pug chiuahua for Nicole, Lucy’s mom (the black pug). Katrina, who is a friend of Nicole’s rescued Lila (new name for dog) and is coming today to dog sit while Bill and I go out.

Last night I googled potty training instructions for the dog, and we all are doing much better. The trick is to sprinkle salt on the wet spots and the salt pulls it up, but before we turned into a Biblical looking landscape, I googled advice.

She’s very sweet, and I’ll post a few pictures. She has a light cough, and I hope it’s nothing serious. She meets her new owner hopefuly Thursday, but meanwhile we are on dog duty!


May post a pic of Liz and myself, or my twin Elizabeth. Only I called her Liz. A friend photoshopped it; nice! might put other pics up now; not sure; am working on my book Writing on the Fly, editing, final stuff, but probably will have two or more more edits later. The putting out of a book requires a lot of work, but I am impelled, compelled. Bill listens to the NewsHour, and i have to mail a friend who was evacuated from her home in the mountains near Chico; are they mountains are just huge hills. Hmmm; how hard.

Lucy the black pug’s mom is adopting another pug possibly, and we will house sit this little one for a week and then hook up with Lucy’s mom. She was not picked up and has been in the pound and quite sad; my heart goes out to little animals in the pound. It’s not Pasadena’s Pound; somehow i think that’s better. But kind people are working very quickly to help this little pug out, and i may be a Pug Nanny again!

Tmorrow night, the little pug will have had surgery and then be brought to our house until Nicole returns from her travels. We will love her and spoil her and be relieved when she feels better on all levels. They are going to name her Lila! She’s fawn.

Zoe Marie Fransson – latest edition to earth school; fabulous parents, Angela and Wade, congratulations!

Steve Pulley did this. He had taken a photo of me that turned out relatively well, and then put it on postage stamp; ah yes, author, wouldn’t that be a nice stamp! Thanks Steve!

Saturday – day before Mother’s Day. Already celebrated with my son, Nicholas, and Laura, his wonderful wife, and Jessica, his daughter, and Bill, my husband, Now, that I have mastered the art of the comma, and serial names will chat a bit. I’m putting Jessica’s picture up here because it lights up my heart. Also not last or least is Sheli – Jessica’s mom, was able to see her briefly, give her card, hug and view the guinea pigs outside in extended like base camp. Very clever.

Sophie the Pug is doing well. Had hip replacement yesterday, lying on some sort of cushioned mattress, and she comes home today. I haven’t been writing, but friend reading my latest book (only have 2) one of which is in print, the other is waiting in her tutu on the sidelines, Writing on the Fly, and I am pleased with the writing. Somedays I cringe, but that’s normal. Writer’s mood swings – that’s a whole t’other story.

Myenmar, or Burma, more particularly needs big prayers. Hopefully I will reverence that need appropriately. TC the lady I write to in Chowchilla has had a very good law firm take on her case. Yippee. Am emerging from a lot of sleep this week, eleven hours Wednesday night and hopefully I’ll have more energy. A friend at dinner said, “Athe young people at work are dragging too,” and attributed much to the heaviness in the world, which I translate into pundits punditting ceaselessly and solipsistically and sillily, if there is such a word. Plus world conditions and the fact that I suspect the majority of ordinary people in the world hunger to unite and get on with the business of unity. War and disunity and greed and abuse have been practiced to the max; let’s flip around integrity, justice, oneness of us all. Oh dear, I’m in my nightgown, the one with the ugly coffee cups and “love My coffee” on it, and here I go again.

Enough, I just read teachers wanted elsewhere – that’s California for me, and Arizona, nevada, Hawaii, Kansas, Virginia and Texas are looking for good teachers. California stands to cut $4.8 billion in educational funding this year and next.

This started out as a chat, and a posting of Jessica. I clicked on Breast Cancer site, and Hunger, and Animal and LIteracy, try it you’ll like it. I’ve checked into CHPercolator at Yahoo, my writing group of choice, and I’m off into a grey morning into downtown Pasadena, then to pack this afternoon, rest and go to Margaret and Michaels with the hopes Sophie will speed along in her new hip and recover splendiferously.


Lucy the Pug, whom I got to know briefly in her last days, passed. Her owner writes:

It is with a very heavy heart that I’m writing to tell you that Lucy has passed away.

Many of you know that she had been increasingly sick in her final weeks and was suffering repeated and severe bouts of anemia which left her extremely weak, with no appetite and unable to support her body weight. She had a very aggressive form of cancer which caused her to bleed into the tumor. Today she was released from her suffering while her family surrounded her.

I want to thank you all for your sincere concern and support these last weeks. Attached is the last picture of Lucy. Though very sick at the time, her sweet, soulful nature is still apparent.

This is a picture of Lucy, who is 14, and whom i take out for a walk at noontimes. She had to go to the vet today; had blood tests, a biopsy. She’s 14, arthritic, deaf, and somewhat blind. After my pug got old, I learned how wonderful old dear pugs are. Lucy is terrific, loving, cute as a button and yet fragile. I hope she has more time on the planet. She has a wonderful owner. At any rate, she has won my heart. I may not be able to have pugs where I live, but it’s wonderful to meet some, care for them, love them. It’s a real privilege.

Left Mouse Click, Inc.

I have a computer angel, who has a company and fixes all your worries and troubles ever to enter a snarled head regarding computers. His name is Robert Rubino, and his website is above. He came over on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon and spent several hours rescuing me, a friend and former neighbor, out of a morass.

I decided to put his name up here and tell you, if you are ever in a jam, he’s your man; sounds rhymy doesn’t it. At any rate, Left Mouse click is a phrase that makes me grin ear to ear today and probably for more days than I can count in the future.

Love to all, esther

A young friend, Carmel Clavin, is interning at the Middle East Institute and has published an article on Henna which is delightful and informative. She’s on page 5. Check it out!

http://www.mideasti.org/files/March_08.pdf




February 27, 2008 – A year ago, I was walking with Dom and Vera in Weimar, walking across cobblestone streets, near Bahaus University where Vera getting her doctorate, arm in arm with both of them. Today, I sit here thatched headed, and Bill is nearby. He is totally without energy, lightheaded, and on antibiotics. he’s in Day blah blah of his Saga, which involved an almost all night sojourn at Huntington Hospital’s ER last Wednesday, to which valient friends showed up. Because of his Epstein Barr, his liver is enflamed, and he had a very bad reaction to previous meds. We are just grateful he’s home, and we find ourselves at night sitting on the couch just holding hands.

The above pictures seem to be my themes today, and I have been concerned about Bill whom I call Mr. Bill of late; I feel like a pug dog facing the door waiting for my owner to appear. Tonight, Maryam and I with an assist from Mona, giving the fireside at the Nelson’s on the role of education, but it’s so much more.

Prayers for Counsellor Aghdasi are in order; not sure in my haste to get this in I spelled everything correctly. The fortunate thing with prayers is spelling doesn’t count. Sandra just called and passed out on the floor of Target which we call Tarjay yesterday afternoon. I told her she probably was the dishiest blonde to hit the floor that day. She’s home, after ambulance ride to ER; friends right there, stitches in head and lip, and lived to tell the tale. The ER is still quite crowded she reports. Poor people are struggling with the flu down here.

Couldn’t resist the picture of Bill digging or ready to dig into ice cream. that was in Idaho when we were 24/7 with my sister, and neighbors provided ice cream and we all dove into same as if there was a shortage, or at least I did.

Okay that’s it for the day; wishing everyone well in their myriad footsteps hoofing around their metaphorical neighborhoods. Johnnie is leaving Friday for Haifa, and Ann and Stephan are on a plane, as we speak, going back to Dalian, China.


Kathy was on vacation from Trinidad and sent this picture taken in the Cayman Islands! hilarious; love it! everyone misses her!

Okay, so meanwhile Ralph, stalwart husband of Sue, married 58 years, published a booK – PICTURE IN THIS BLOG – which is a fine, fine comment and quite scholarly too, of the BOOK OF REVELATION, which one Christian minister commented on:

“The Book of revelation is one of the most remarkable and upsetting books in the collection of writings revered for nearly two millennia in the Christian West as the Holy Scripture … Schreiber neither turns away from Revelation because of its highly violent themes and images, nor is he content with the idea that this document describes what will happen all at once at some future time, indeed at the “end of the World.” Rev. Dr. Jeffery Utter

and from Judge James F. Nelson

“Ralph Schreiber took on a prodigious task in his commentary on the Book of Revelation. future scholars will often look back upon this effort with great appreciation. This book bodes to bring humanity closer together as it helps them understand more fully the events of history. It gives a unique view of humanity’s approach to unity by presenting history as stages of development in which the concept of progressive revelation becomes clear.”

In Memory of Sue Schreiber (January 28, 1924-December 2, 2007)

You know I could go on in my best high school valedictorian manner about Sue aka Lillian Schreiber, but that’s not who we are, nor what I remember. So I’m going to go for images and moments and hopefully people will see well beyond the curved up, quiet, still gracious form, who endured her last days with precious little complaint. Tremendous care surrounded her a lot of courtesy from a couple of very good guys like Ralph, Janet, Peggy, Jo and others. She appreciated every one.

Sue wasn’t one who walked into a room and commanded space, because she was a gentle little thing. She did have though a tensile strength, a fortitude to endure, and sustain others.

She must have started out as a sliver. I think she was surprised by her ending days, with such curved bones, almost like a detached moon crescent, but she was still a sliver emitting a quiet grace. Inside that ravaged body of hers lay a spunky self, and a tremendous capacity for endurance. I think she got the attribute of patience down, really down, and Abdu’l Baha said that was the hardest quality.

My husband Bill and I are often noted for our obsession with pug dogs. I love the phrase, “A hell of a lot of dog packed into a small space.” That was Sue, “A lot of soul crammed into a small space.” She doesn’t have to worry about small spaces any more. She’s a bird released from her cage.

Did you know she started out in South Dakota, born on a farm, and later and went to a one-room school? She would ride a pony back and forth to school bareback. One day in the sixth grade, she fell asleep on her pony, coming home from school. That pony just took off lickety split, ran under a tree branch, knocked Sue off her keester, and kept going. Sue laughed about that forever.

Sue’s Mom, Nora, adopted Mertie because the flu epidemic killed her parents, and later when Sue’ mom died, and Mertie who was about 12 years older was married, Sue went to live with Mertie and Don. Sue adored Mertie, spoke of her many times throughout her life. Anyhow, I know Sue had 3 years of college but somehow left and went to work in Seattle. When she met Ralph, he took her to dinner at his parent’s house right away, and she liked him and his parents. I thought Ralph and Sue married in three weeks, but she said, “No, 2 ½.” “The first 35 years were the hardest,” she said one day when we were talking in her kitchen. She had health problems up the kazoo, and odious migraines.

I remember watching Sue and Ralph holding hands in 1985 or 1986 at a Baha’i Conference in San Francisco. These last 10 or so years were hard for her, as she gradually went blind, and just plain out struggled physically. She didn’t complain. I honestly don’t know how she did it. I would have been chewing up corners of my blanket or putting my face in a dog bowl growling. She valued Ralph’s steadfastness and constancy greatly. I don’t think a day went by when she didn’t mention to me how lucky and how protected she was. She loved her kids, grandchildren and the Baha’i community.

She was a thin little thing most of her life, eating Bieler soup, which from my point of view is a hell of a lot of green beans and precious little else. She ate it by the vat load, because that’s what resurrected her immune system. She liked ice cream and put it on the kids’ cereal every now and then, and when Ralph had his quadruple or whatever bypass, she started eating ice cream every night, and one day, she wasn’t skinny any more.

The biggest thing about Sue is she worked on not ever even thinking badly about anyone, let alone not saying anything negative, She understood the human condition, and to me personified the quote “The greatest pilgrimage is to relieve the sorrow laden heart.”

She loved books and found a used book about the Baha’i Faith and came home and told Ralph about it. That was in the early 60s and from then on Ralph and Sue’s home filled with people and all manner of Baha’i gatherings. Sue knew how to listen, and she understood things like addiction, or broken hearts or just plain someone being tuckered out, and she kept a lot of us women going through some grubby days.

She loved the Baha’i Writings. Her favorite prayer was the Tablet of Ahmad and its wondrous phrase, “By God! Should one who is in affliction or grief read this Tablet with absolute sincerity, God will dispel his sadness, solve his difficulties and remove his afflictions.” She loved books about Abdul-Baha and Baha’u’llah, and she was steadfast and served. Finally, there’s a quote from the Seven Valleys, mystical writings of Baha’u’llah, “Dost thou reckon thyself only a puny form when within thee the universe is folded”? This quote personifies Sue. I hope I was worthy of her friendship. I loved her dearly.

THIS is the lady I correspond with at Chowchilla. She was sexually abused most of her life and she and her mom are in prison for killing her stepfather/her mom’s husband. The legal work was shoddy, and there’s a certain amount of obfuscation regarding obtaining police records. I have been writing for several years now, and find TC the pluckiest, most grateful lady one could find. People from the “outside” help, and i give a small amount for her tuition which has to be in money order. I had to get permission to write to her, i.e., fill out a form. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED, let me know.

The following gives a true account of life in her prison. I pray for her, give her some money, send stamps, and the like. someone from a writer’s group is putting her book together. If anything, can you pray for her?

The T.C. & Mama ‘P’ Newsletter – 4th Qtr, 2007Dear Family of Friends,We hope that this finds each of you doing well. There are nearly 50 of you that receive this newsletter, and I don’t know how many more that it is shared with. Our goal is to help you see into our world behind the walls,and to answer any questions that you may have. Prison is not like thoseHollywood movies. Sometimes it is worse, most the times it isn’t. We want you to continue to share your world with us. The lines of communication go both ways, and it has made an impact and all the difference in our lives. With love and gratitude, T.C. and Mama ‘P

’Wired Pizza Many of you are already aware of the terrifying incident in which mom choked in the chowhall. Please allow me to quickly update those who are not already informed.One Monday night, Mom & I went to the dining hall for dinner. They were serving cheese pizza. After one bite, she shoked on what could’ve proved fatal! A piece of twisted wire with sharp edges was hidden beneath thecheese topping. She was able to dislodge it, but she had to physically remove it from her throat. Some warm salt water and a few spoons of honey helped to heal it.I confess I was scared to death I could lose her, but somehow I remained calm and instructive. I eventually wrote a letter to the man in charge of all inmate prepared food in the prison, Mr. Cook. Yes, that really is his name. I sent him the piece of wire in a clear medicine baggie so he could see what was in her throat. I also informed Mr. Cook of other incidents thathave recently taken place. I cracked my tooth on a rock that I found in my rice. The dentist charged ME $5 to fix it! The prison should’ve covered it.A roommate found a rock in her beans and another found a hard piece of plastic about the size of a lipstick cap in her tuna salad. I told Mr. Cook that he either had some very unsafe food preparation practices taking place,or a sociopath in his hands. He hasn’t replied.Mom has healed and is doing well. We are scared to eat in the darn chowhall.It is one thing to know that the dishes aren’t washed with hot water,because the inmates don’t want to burn their hands. Or that they use the mop sink in that area as a toilet because they are lock inside. It is sickening to know that dried goods like rice, beans, and cereals stored in bulk bags are being served although they have clearly been used by mice to led inside,and even have babies. We’re disgusted by the spread of germs from hands,hair and spittal from talking over food being processed. But when you add wire, rocks and hard chunk of plastic in our food, it is just down rightterrifying. If this were a restaurant in the free world, the HealthDepartment would have shut it down years ago. We couldn’t be so lucky.Health ReportOn Saturday, October 6th, Mom & I both receive our Flu vaccination shots.Hopefully this will help.We’ve been walking at least one mile 4x a week together. Even with her bad feet and hip, she’s out there on the track. She keeps dropping a pound here,two pounds there. She’s pretty happy about that.I believe I have arthritis forming in my right hand, which is aggrivating mycarpal tunnel. Basically, we’re doing good and hanging in there.

How Do You Do That? I have been asked by several of you just how I manage to make shreddedbeef or ground enchiladas in the cell with nothing more than a bowl ofboiling water. Here’s how. First, we need the following ingredients:
1 bag Nacho Chips, crushed
1 can black olives, sliced1 fist of dried onions
1 bag of dehydrated beans (refried)Flour tortillas
1 Jalapeno Pepper, large chopped
½ teaspoon of garlic powder
1 bottle Jalapeno Squeeze Cheese
1 can Meatballs in Tomato sauce
First, you remove the meatballs from the tomato sauce setting sauce aside.Crumble the meatballs into ground beef, add onion, half of chopped peppers and a tablespoon of the olive juice. Put in cup and place as stove. (Note:the stove in this case is the bowl of boiling water closed within a trashliner which holds in the hot steam for surround heat).Add boiling hot water to crushed chips along with the rest of the peppers and 3 tablespoon of squeeze cheese. Cover and let set. The goal is to have a thick masa, not a mushy mess.Once beans are prepared, place a layer on flattened flour tortilla, cover with a layer of seasoned beef, some olives and squeeze of cheese the length of tortilla. Roll, but do not tuck the ends; keep ends open. Place masa a top the rolled tortilla, packing it in good to where the tortilla is hidden beneath. Pour the tomato sauce over the top, more cheese can be added, and top with olives. I usually add jalapeno peppers to the tomato sauce first,but not everyone likes their food as spicy.I place the trays atop “the stove” for about 45 minutes an let them cook.Once the masa is hard I know the meal is ready to be devoured. In prison,one must be creative to make meals interesting. For about 12 cents these items can be purchased at the canteen, and some ingredients are stretchedfor other meals. We usually have very little problem getting someone else to go in on the meal, which helps cut costs. Yes, one can make emciladas on a bowl of boiling water. And folks, that is how I do that!

Many ThanksThank you to those of you who have answered our request for postage stamps.It is impossible for us to keep up correspondence without the necessary
stationary supplies, postage stamps being the most expensive necessity.Thank you for your generosity. We can always use them, and yes, we’ll definitely need some for the holiday Christmas card season. Again, thankyou.Personals I want to thank a small group of people for their contribution to my college education. Whether it was a one time donation, or a semester pledge, you are appreciated. I could never afford it on my own. I never thought that I’d be enrolled in college. However, I’m halfway to my AA Degree, due to the generosity of Lucy & Max, Elayne, Carol, Anna, Nancy, Uncle Frank & AuntiViv, Esther, Bev, Stella, Laura, Xuya, and Kay. Over the last year and half,totalling 30 units, and currently working on my next nine units, I am forever grateful to each of you. I want to let you down. Your investments in my future are my road to success.Mom would like to welcome Paulette, Linda, Dianne, Carol R, and Lisa to theNewsletter Family of Friends.Mom also thanks Julia for the recent subscription to the Native American Newsletter, and welcomes you to our life. This journey is so much better,when not alone.Judy Rose, it has far too long without word from you. Please, if you’rereading this, drop a quick note.Elayne, your knowledge and wisdom has been most helpful in my seeing th eworld through new eyes. I may never be enrolled as one of your students, but you teach me all the same. While friendship continues to blossom, class is always open …. the classroom of life.Carol Peck, had it not been for your patience and diligence in typing mymanuscript, I wouldn’t be as close to publication of my memoirs as I now am.How do I thank you for that? You’ve been wonderful to Mom & I over the years. Our lives are truly touched.Mrs. Bear, you are truly a gem. There are those who see prisoners as the scum of the earth. There are those who see us as getting what we deserve.And then there is you. Not everyone in our life’s path behind the walls has been as negative, but few were as trusting of us as you have been. You seen our true colors; you sensed that we were good people in bad situation. Youdidn’t judge us, but accepted us, and welcomed us into your life. We know life is tough for you right now, and it could be better. Keep up your strength and know that you’re in our prayers.And to everyone else ….. thank you for your priceless friendships, your much needed correspondence, and the support you lend us in our trials and tribulation. If life were a vessle at sea, you are our another that help us remain stable and calm, as shore is closer in sight.

Freedom Fighting Plans Although I have yet to actually draw up my concept plans, Larnette has agreed to build a web site for Mom & I. The plan is to draw the attention o flawyers who could gain a quick review of our case and hopefully offer to legally represent us for free. We only have until January 1, 2010 to file the Writ of Habeas Corpus for Battered Woman’s Syndrome. The web site could also generate public support for our release. I’m not saying that it will, I’m only saying that this is possible to some extent.I want to make sure I haven’t confused anyone, so let me do a quick reviewof where we are right now.The California Habeas Project, is a non-profit organisation of volunteers in San Francisco. They have reviewed our case and agreed that under the newlaw, we may qualify for a several of our verdict based upon the fact that evidence of Battered Women Syndrome was NOT addressed in trial. They’ve agreed to put us on a waiting list for legal aid, however there is no telling when legal aid will be available. It is also unknown if legal aid will be made available in time for us to file our appeal before the 1/1/10deadline. All attorney aid is volunteered, and the list for women like us,is unfortunately very long. So, while we wait for the CHP to assist us, I’mmerely trying to create backroads to the same destination point. I’m tryingto help the CHP to help us.I’ve also asked Carolyn and Steve to place a free ad at the web site Craig’slist. The goal is still the same: seeking free legal aid for justice. If you have any idea of your own, please feel free to express them.Applications for assistance have already been submitted to the California Innocence Project. This is basically a bunch, how students working on your case for school credit. The problem is, us students, they move on, and new students must begin from the very beginning all over again. There are prisoners here who have been waiting 5 years for results. While the CIP haswonderful intentions, they also seek clients who claim innocence. That means“I didn’t do it!” They’ve had our paperwork for a couple of years now. So you can understand the need for more options. We’ll keep you posted on any web site accomplishments.

Make A Difference More than one in three American Indian and Alaska Native women in the USA will experience sexual violence in her lifetime. They are 2,5 times morelikely to suffer a rape or sexual assault than the general U.S. female.According to article titled Failure To Protect in the summer 2007 edition ofAmnesty International Magazine, 86% of the men who omit these horrible violations against these women, are non-Indians. In fact the majority are white men.Since Alaska became a state in 1959, federal authority took over crimes committed with criminal prosecution if they made any attempt to enforce their own village laws. Tribal councils care prohibited from tryingn on-Native suspects. That would be the 86% mentioned above. This is appalling.Due to nationwide advocacy, congress established the Tribal Title (Title IX)of the Violence Against Women ACT (VAWA) to address specific needs of NativeAmerican and Alaska Native women.I am asking that you help ensure the rights of these women by urging theU.S. government to fully fund VAWA, particularly the Tribal Title (TitleIX). You can do this by writing a simple statement expressing concerns about the levels of sexual violence against Indigenous women and the government’sfailure to punish those responsible. Please ask that the respect and rightsof these women be protected. It doesn’t have to be a long letter. Just copythis last paragraph if words are had to find. This is an appeal for changeand support. Send your letters to:
Rep. David Obey
Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee
2314 Rayburn/House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515

Overpopulation Situation We had sent out several letters for several of you to sign and send to JudgeThelton Henderson is one of three on a federal panel of judges who are deciding the way in which the problem will be solved.The letters helped make the dilemma a lot less of a burden. We can rest assured that the beds will NOT be added to our side of the dayroom. Mom & I don’t need to worry about being uprooted and separated. We had feared that they’d need our cell for a community shower. That is no longer a fear. As a matter of fact, there is an unconfirmed rumour that the beds are supposed to be removed from all the dayrooms by the end of the year. At this time, a few housing units still have half of their dayrooms with beds filled. That includes our housing unit.In a recent meeting, the Warden said there are only 2500 beds available in the states 33 prison. I can honestly say that there aren’t any in CCWF.According to the 3 judge panel, non-violent felons and parole violators who are in custody for petty violations, will soon be released as part of their plan to reduce the prison population. They also intend to eliminate the practice of petty parole violation such as address changes being reported to parole officers after the fact. If you report it before you move, then you’re okay. To report it even within hours after physically moving, could result in a flat year violation of parole. The judges agree that this practice is nothing less than job security for prison guards and parole agents. Relief is soon in sight.

Who Started This Christmas Stuff?A woman was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable; andafter hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many selves, she finally made it to the elevator with her two kids.She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season time ofthe year. Overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming,taste all the holiday food and treats, getting that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, making sure we don’t forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card.Finally the elevator doors opened and there was already a crowd in the car.She pushed her way into the car and dragged her two kids in with her and all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed she couldn’t take it any more and stated, “Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up and shot.”From the back of the car, everyone heard a quiet calm voice respond, “Don’tworry, we already crucified Him.” For the rest of the trip down the elevator it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

The Shakedown
In From The Cold
Shut in like a fly,
Stuck in a glass,
The last time out
The noise echoes in my head.
the frigid air engulfed me
I can’t think clearly,
frost biting at my heart
A dozen voices so loud,
reluctant to trust again.
They’ wake the dead.
Green suits in the hall,
With a gentle hand
Keys jangling,
a compassion so evident
Latex gloves on hands.
I knew not
We know not why,
what warmth was
This is happening,
until you brought me in
But we all understand.
From the cold.
Stress fills the air,
Chaos on the loose,
The cell door opens wide.
“Step out ladies,”
They always call us ladies,
The sea of green steps inside.

From the Heart On Wednesday, October 3rd, Mom wasn’t feeling very well. As a matter offact, she was in pain from what would prove to be a bladder infection. I had gone to the clinic and requested a favor from my favorite nurses. Being one who never cries wolf, and earning the respect of staff has its privileges. Iwas able to have Mom seen that very hour! Normally, it would take a week.When the RN took Mom into the office, I sat on a bench in the waiting area.I looked up at Jennifer, the nurse, and I said, “I just love her.” Mom was taken care of and when I seen Jennifer the next day, she said, “I told your mom that she’s lucky to have you.” I smiled back, “Yeah, well I’m lucky to have her too.” That got me to thinking, in life, we’re all lucky to have each other. Then again, it really isn’t about luck at all. It’s about blessings.Mom and I are lucky to be blessed with each one of you in our lives. The sharing of your lives, the expressions of your hearts, and the giving of yourselves. We are truly blessed. As Mom’s 66th birthday arrives November30th and your cards find her, we’re reminded of the love and support each of you has for us. We’re lucky to have you.So I say from the heart, look around yourself. Look at your life and everyone in it. It’s more than luck, it is a blessing. Each person in your address book, each path you cross and keep in your life. We’re all lucky to have each other; we’re all doubly blessed. You’re God’s gifts to us.
Happy Holidays,
TCTeresa C. Paulinkonis
W45118 514-16-4U
P.O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610

Barbara Paulinkonis
W45120 514=-16-AL
P. O. Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610

AS I SAID, i think you have to get on a list to write. There are restrictions: no more than 5 pages, no more than 20 or 40 stamps, no books unless sent directly from well known publishers,bookstores? money has to be in money orders. One fact: they make little money and are charged for stuff, and it’s usually expensive; so they pay for their food. MCI charges extra for them to make phone calls too. At any rate, if nothing else, keep them in your prayers! love esther

Just got newsletter for TC and her mother Barbara, battered women, in jail for life? maybe, for defending themselves against abusive husband, stepfather; bad trial. It is being looked at by an advocacy group; but their prison is Chowchilla, and this is typical fare, the description below of what happens. If you have time anyone, prayers for TC and Barbara and all in Chowchilla would be appreciated; much love esther

Dear Family of Friends,
On Monday, August 6th, mom nearly choked to death in the darn Chowhall. We
tried to stretch our canteen and quarterly Box Food, by goin to the chowhall
for dinner. After one bite into her cheese pizza, mom began to choke and
gag. I gave her water, but it didn’t help. She began to have trouble
breathing. So, I handed her a paper towel and directed her to cough as hard
as she could into it. At that point, I really didn’t care about anyone
else’s loss of appetite. I was scared, but remained calm. After 3 hard
coughs, mom felt the substance in her throat dislodge, but it wouldn’t com
all the way up. She reached in and with 2 fingers she pulled a piece of wire
out! It was about 1 1/2″ long with sharp edges at both ends that cut her
throat and tonsils a bit. She’s okay now, but people wonder why we don’t
want to eat in the chowhall. If it’s not the inmate’s deficating and
urinating in the area where dishes are washed, it is a piece of wire in the
pizza.

Wonderful 69th birthday. I awakened earlier than normal, feeling healthy after a fantastic Chinese massage yesterday. Said a prayer for my sister, Liz, recently passed, my twin and began my first birthday day without her presence. Interesting. So many friends emailed or called; i felt very spoiled. Roberta dropped by; great talk; went off to a gathering; then met interesting lady at Peets for long talk, and also ran into actress acquaintance and has nice exchange. Donna emailed; wanted someone to go up to Hill and Orangegrove for Move-On, at 6; she was bringing Blanche her Bassett, and it only involved holding up a sign for not wanting the war. I don’t participate in anything for civil disobedience, but went to this on the principle of the matter. Then Steve from the restaurant, one of our gang came out from his condo, nearby. Then we, the three of us, went to local Mexican Restaurant; food excellent. I only had soft taco as I had peanut butter sandwich earlier; and we had such a great time; donna gave me a lovely bracelet which has a story and helps cancer research, and I’ll post when i find the information. We just had a nice evening, and then the restaurant came along with a huge Mexican sombrero, red, and a guitar and some flan with whipped cream and a candle and maybe some chocolate sauce; can’t remember. I had one small bite and made them eat the rest. I am off sugar and white flower. We dropped Steve off, and donna came home and Bill, Donna and I chatted wonderfully while Blanche leaned against Donna. Great way to end day; lovely, lovely birthday. I have such wonderful people in my life. Will attach picture.



Violetta took pics of us for her photography class!




Kathy is back in Trinidad, but sent pictures of her recent 3 day trip to Mr. Carmel in Haifa and also a picture of her back in her legal
robes in Trinidad. Great pics! Everyone misses her.

SOPHIE THE PUG; we just visited her in La Quinta for several days, along with Margaret, Michael and Nikki, and we were thoroughly spoiled. Ah gratitude!


A son’s photo of his father’s Sodoku. I see divine calibration, numbers metaphor for a soul of an intricate mind. I see numbers bold and shaky, like the psyche’s bookends, fading upwards into a white haze, the haze of the abstract soul, too dimensioned to put lines and borders, and yet a soul who uses numbers as in a love affair with the abstract, the chaotic order of one’s life. I see whimsy, fascination and wonder in the photographer’s view, the unexpected, unexplained, but definitely, do not lose this image in history’s sloughing off of past moments. I see image and moment and Basquat’s suggestive art, and above all I see love of the man for the son, and the son’s Golden Braille Images touching upon a small piece of our world in wonder.

Donna’s, aka South Lake Italian Kitchen, Lake Avenue, East Side, between California and Pasqual, gathering place of the diverse who love to laugh and share. Donna, whose love encloses us all. How lucky can we be?
Be still my heart – Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
From: DStarr2491@aol.com
To: DStarr2491@aol.com
Sent: Thursday, November 16, 2006 11:25 PM
Subject: SLIK Updates December 19th and January 3rd, 2007

HI Friends Of SLIK,

Thanksgiving is my most favorite holiday. I love it because it’s a holiday we all can all share together. You can be Jewish or Catholic or Bahai or Pentacostal or even Athiest. You can be from any ethnic group or any social class….from uptown to downtown ………old as dirt or a babe in the woods……You can even be a Republican…..but the best part of it is that none of that matters…not important….insignificant…… It’s just a holiday that asks you to give “thanks” with people you love while fighting over a drumstick. That is a beautiful holiday and I wish I could be fighting over that turkey leg with each and everyone of you. Grrrrrrr.

I also want to give you our updated SLIK Legal News. The arbitration has been set for Jan.3, 2007. All I have to say about that is …..and Happy New Year to you too!

And finally, some good SLIK news to share. Blossom (our basset hound) will be celebrating her 12th birthday on December 19th again. But this year she’ll be sharing the red carpet with Jeanette and Steve Lamb who will be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. Needless to say this year’s theme is silver. I am very much looking forward to this fun party. I hope you all can come over. You know we’ll have ton’s of dessert out front to share with everyone in the neighborhood….and champagne on the inside for the many toasts I plan to make.

Until then, I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving day.

Paws For peace,
Donna


Bill is 80% better, and we went for an early dinner at Donna’s SLIK (South Lake Italian Kitchen). We are really a crowd there, like Cheers, without the alcohol. Donna is a basset hound devotee, and has fabulous photos of her dog Blossom whose birthday party is December 19th; we all go, she rents a red carpet, i tell you. The pictures of Blossom grace one wall: Blossom with big hat and pearls; Blossom with this, and that, what a beauty. Sort of like a Vogue gallery for bassets. I first met Blossom 5 years ago, as she sat outside of the restaurant, belly sagging to the ground, an unashamed woman, and I said to her, “You look like you’ve had a full life Blossom,” and she agreed. 5 years later, Donna with another Basset, Blanche, and a thousand stories and events in our memory bank, i thought, I have been selfish. Put up a pic of a basset for goodness sake, so in honor of Donna, a pure lover of humankind; here’s a picture. Now i am going to put it in; this is an art i just learned today!


Martine is there now, John is working there. He bumped into her today at the Gardens, wrapped in a haze of beauty and peace! March 5th I will commence my 9 day Pilgrimage!

A week of intensity. A writing group member experiences loss, someone dear or more than someone dear struggles. It seemed as if 90% of my hang-out-love-em-to-pieces was experiencing struggles of the push-a-rock-up-the-mountain kind last week. Sunday, today, air clear, we are off to see Jan from New York, with whom we rendezvous once a year in some coffee house and motor mouth about life. Then we go to a reptile place in Huntington Beach for Jessica, our granddaughter’s birthday,” oh be still my heart. My heart skips rope at the thought of doing so.

Friday night, we went to Kathy’s house, and she deals with conflict resolution and arbitration in her work world at the Western Justice Center. She hosted a Devotional for Racial Unity, and her oak floored apartment, was lit with small candles; two gemoetric clear vases filled with flowers sat like bookends on the coffee table, and across the back of her white couch were stewn tiny little red petals of Chrysanthenums, and there was more. We had a great group, all younger than Bill and I. Konjit is from Ethiopia, Kathy from Trinidad, Violetta from the Congo, and recently from Paris, Laura, also from Western Justice, Latino, said a prayer in Spanish, David, from China, me from Boston, Bill from western New York. Did I miss anyone, yes, John, born here, first generation Persian-American. Laughter and intense conversations vaulted the walls, and I thought, “If we all held race unity devotionals around the city, wouldn’t it be a different city, a beginning, a tilling of the hard earth of hurt and misinformation.” Oops; news from Cardiologist; heart valve good for another 25 years on Earth’s great big track; I have to adjust to new meds which keep my blood pressure slightly above lying still moth, barely breathing, but that’s nothin!

Kathy and Laura are friends of the Faith, and I was so touched by Kathy’s offering. We have begun walking together and as soon as I can really hoof 3 miles, will be back on soon.

Saw a friend in the hospital; older, soo beautiful, the way her white hair swept off her face, a tiny little thing, needs someone to stay with her at home, day and night, but she’ll recover!

Piece de resistance, Jim took Bill, myself out to dinner to join John at Parkside Grill, and I had a wonderful fish, as did Bill, topped with flowers, and felt, if i were to have a last meal, “I’d choose this.”

The theme of Children of the Half Light played out a lot this week, and it first came up when we were fortunate to hang out with Rod, and we really are on the crust of change. “The world’s equilibrium” has been “upset” by the emergence of this new order, and I think, “you bet your sweet bippy it has,” and I am also on the theme of our tests, personal, perhaps collective (if it works on one level…) are divine calibrated, not from a punitive God. I have found that whatever darkness i have to face and go through, there is some light or blessing, or insight at the end, and I emerge, deeper, more carved out; a barnacle or two off my soul, and so it is i suspect for a lot of us.

okay enough for now; did I mention that Kathy has mud pie and i ate a hefty piece?
oh dear….tomorrow is another day!

A MUST READ; read BassiBabba’s post; re Anderson Cooper

Don’t think political position; just read the story about the little girl and then continue, even though your heart may break!

Hi, Carolyn Strickler gave me this card last night.It says “Take 2 flies and feel better.” She’s one of the gang at South Lake Italian Kitchen where we hang out, and Donna, its owner and lover of humankind par excellence has been bringing us dinner the last few days; Carolyn also created a US postage stamp; not real, but it’s a cartoon of a round face guy in long or tall cowboy hat! i love the frog stuff. life is busy; not writing yet; reading wonderful quotes; just wanted to publish this picture and say how much i loved everyone in my life.

from John Amir-Abbassi,
September 9, 2006

Gratitude streams forth from hands
Words sprinkled across a page
Love flowing across a bridge

God and I
Dancing
Side to side
At times close
At times far
But always connected

Through hands
Outstretched
Beseeching
Needful and Indebted

My Master, I bow to you
I dance to the song that you compose
I move to the tempo that you orchestrate

Do with me what you will
In this dance, I do not lead

Here’s something from Thomas Merton

Identify Me

“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the things I want to live for. Between those two answers you can determine the identity of any person.”

Thomas Merton, from the Man in the Sycamore Tree

Carmel, once pictured in my book Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, sitting next to Puggy who had his tongue hanging out of his mouth and looked frustrated because he was dressed up as a bride, and she sat next to him with her tongue out, is now grown up and her hands and possibly legs are featured. She is a model for henna tattooing, and she goes to Kent State-great modeling job for a student; you go girl!

http://www.mehandi.com/shop/index.html

http://www.hennapage.com/