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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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Source: Talking About Slavery TODAY

I am repeating this blog post for a friend’s view and writing students. I was emphasizing movement, and the reference was how Emma Bovary moved; I tried the technique and out came Toasting Resolutions

Sorrygnat, World Citizen

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The toast, more than slightly burned and twisted, rose with her pale limpid hand, as Emily, a follower of Ron Paul, Edward Dash, Holley Holes and other limpid like creatures, spoke with as much force as she could emanate, all the while reclining in an odd twisted way on the mint green julep chaise lounge, redecorated since it birthed into the world of her grandmother Nenny, who never had a wrinkle in her life, and Emily thought, as her head with its faint gossamer curls of faded L’Oreal Red Fire Engine Red, and Nenny who never had a thought in her life, pondered, her Wet N’Wild Lipstick number 2002, the color that ran in Russian department stores for so long, cracked and a bit of dryness seeped into her part glossy, but dry and cracked upper lip, and she went on, pushed into the stale breeze of conversation about…

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The Ballad of a Small Player

Lawrence Osborne

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THE BALLARD OF A SMALL PLAYER, Lawrence Osborne

September 12, 2014 //

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Isbn 978-o-8041-3797-3; eBook Isbn 978-o-8041-3798-othe Ballad of a Small Player by Lawrence Osborne is a riveting account of risk and obsession in Macau’s casinos. I love Blogging for Books, and preview a book from them once or month. I saw the book’s cover, which I liked, and thought, what do I know about Macau?

The world I know of Macau is poles apart from the small player, Lord Doyle, protagonist in this novel lives to permeate his life with gambling, drinking and dalliances with the occasional lady of the night. He gambles and Macau’s casinos and baccarat tables pull him into winning and losing, and spiraling down into loss and addiction.

The anchor of Doyle’s current existence is a lot of money, alcohol and gambling and winning or losing. Doyle fled England to escape prosecution: absconding with funds. Perfect amount of money for immersion in gambling parlors, one shady one after another, where people are mere ghosts of personalities, showing facades, cracked selves intent only on winning, drinking, and hooking up with women. Osborne touches the marrow of addiction, and its slimy tunnels, and for a brief time in the novel it seems Doyle meets a prostitute who rescues him, likes him, even loves him. An interlude away from the rain slicked streets of Macau show an almost budding of a human spirit in Doyle, but true to his core, he returns to the tables.

The atmosphere is haunting and fugue like, yet written in very clear language. Lord Doyle is lost, and I don’t like reading about empty characters, but they exist and are very much a part of the fabric of life. I read this with some reluctance, but I admired the writing, the questions the book posed, the true portrayal of emptiness and angst of so many humans, and I will look up his other books. So insight is gained.

Thanks Blogging for Books

If I were younger, I’d visit Georgia; as it is I subscribe to an enchanting blog: Bassa’s Blog. I don’t visit it enough, but I found the Georgia About blog through Bassa. The modern architecture in Georgia is fascinating.

Georgia About

The introduction of Public Service Halls throughout Georgia is one of many important reforms that are improving the lives of its citizens.

Public Service Hall in Mestia

What are Public Service Halls?

Tagged ‘Everything in One Space’, Public Service Halls are essentially one-stop-shops delivering key services, such as public access to public records, issuing of passports and IDs and business registration.

Because services are housed in one building there is no longer a need to visit different governmental offices.

This can save a huge amount of time and cost.

Each Public Service Hall houses the functions of:

Civil Registry Agency

National Agency of Public Registry

National Archives of Georgia

National Bureau of Enforcement

Notary Chamber of Georgia.

The first Public Service Hall in Georgia was opened at the end of May 2011 in Batumi. Since then, further Public Service Halls have opened in Kutaisi, Rustavi, Mestia, Ozurgeti and Gurjaani. A construction program…

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Somehow I feel very connected to this blogger; she’s just put out an interesting piece!

35andupcynicismonhold

Last February 25 was the 28th anniversary of the EDSA Revolution, also known as People Power I, in Philippine history.  It happened from February 22 to 25, 1986. People gathered in the Epifanio De los Santos Avenue(EDSA) to topple the rule of then President, Ferdinand Marcos, dubbed a despot. The rest of the so-called civilized world hailed the event as a triumph of democracy, a glorious punch on totalitarianism. I was still in high school in the province, that time… Most Filipino bloggers have been born after that historic event, coincidentally. They have little or no idea what it was like to live under the Martial Law: an iron hand, so to speak…

image of EDSA I Revolution, in 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution unseated a dictator and enabled free press, once again… / filamfunk.blogspot.com

My first serious blog talks about life 30 plus years ago, life as it was lived in a barrio –…

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Image Remember the name “Koren Zailckas,” cuz that’s what I did.  I read Smashed, her first book, and I was mesmerized. I also read Fury her second book.   Forget that as far as age, if I were a tree, I’d have a lot of rings around me.  Koren Zailckas is a freshyoung writer, with unique turns of phrase, and in Smashed she quotes Mary Karr and others, with whom I have kindred feelings for and read everything by them.

For some reason, I thought I’d read Mother, Mother, but must have been my wish list looming largely.  Mother, Mother is a story of evil and the face of banality.  That’s the only thing I remember of Hannah Arendt – evil is banal, and she was speaking of the Holocaust.

Mother, Mother is a miniature holocaust about to happen, sneaks up upon the reader, this reading having been taken immediately the second paragraph, “On this particular Saturday, mother was both a n oun and a verb.  An operative verb for the whole novel could be fraught, but the freshness of her images, and comic views sneak in.  I was engrossed.  Her language is tight, and post-traumatic syndrome formed in clouds within my mind, as I gripped page after page, not wanting to put this book down.

Slowly and skillfully diabolic intent emerges and fuses with Violet’s coming awareness of her mother’s pernicious hatred.  The plot is gripping, and I couldn’t put the book down.  It’s about a mother’s hatred and narcissism, her past abuse and her catapulting  hatred in passive aggressive ways into her children.  What a horror story.

Zailckas splits the story between her version of the mother, and of Will, her younger brother’s version.   They have such alternative views about the same mother.  This was a fabulous read, and I hope many people become fans of Koren Zailckas.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I am like an untrained dalmation when I like something, a cause, a piece of Kabob, but particularly books and writing styles.  I teach creative writing, and feel intensely privileged to have a blog and read glorious writers like Koren Zailckas

 

A friend’s take on Beware the Jabberwock…. delightful

This blog is an enchanting, well written, and fascinating view of farm life and the writer is fabulous!

thekitchensgarden

Timatanga Moana, who rode home from the KuneKune farm on my lap. Cuddled into the crook of my arm.  For two hours. This image was taken from the back seat of the jeep by The Matriarch. It is way too gorgeous to look at only once.  Who ever thought a wee piggie would sit on my knee that long.kunekune-060

She is small, small enough to lay in my lap with plenty of room left over. She is chubby and smiley, has short legs and tiny tiny hooves and plods about the floor making a sound that is a cross between a purr and a small tank engine chuff. When I scratch her belly she slides to the ground and makes a whistly song.  Her long soft hair is a tortoiseshell mixture. Red, black and white. She is set up in the Snug with a bed of hay, a bucket to hide in (Poppy now reverses…

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This writer is wonderful in all areas of her life.

Mel's Madness

I’ve always been fat.newborn

Always.

I have never had a Barbie-doll shape. As a teen, I was told that I had “good hips for having babies.” – because that’s something every adolescent wants to hear. It, of course, translates to, “Yo, you have a fat ass.”

It does. It helps to create a negative body image. How about just, “you are beautiful just the way you are.” What the hell is wrong with that?

In high school, I listened to things like that. It didn’t matter that I was tall, and mostly thin, with washboard abs. It didn’t matter that I modeled. It didn’t matter that on a fat day, at 5’8”, I weighed-in at about 120 pounds. In my head, I was fat.

I fulfilled the expectation of having babies, and with each, I got fatter. After my third baby, I was a horrifying 135 pounds. I was…

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I adored this, and I read this post no matter what every day; enjoy

thekitchensgarden

The man was well dressed and nervous. He was standing on my lawn blocked by barking dogs as I stepped out onto the verandah.

“Alright if I give treats to your dogs?” He called out with his back to the shiny late model city slick car.the-man-at-the-gate-004

‘Down’  I signalled and both dogs dropped like stones to the ground and went quiet. Well Boo dropped like a leaf but his belly did meet the ground.The dogs both looked at me with their snouts still pointed at the man.

“Yes, I do mind actually,” I said. “We were taught as kids not to take candy from strangers so I see no reason why my dogs should.”

“It is not candy.” the man said helpfully. His car  salesman teeth flashed white and pointy.

“No?” I said “What is  it then?” His eyebrows shook at each other.  “I am sorry I just don’t like…

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Baseball, voices of male announcers speak of spots, and of the Dodgers and Braves – playing in Atlanta. The stage is set, and ennui of memory washes over me, my twelve-year old, wide red sash waisted, self in a red dress with white stars as a skirt, and white with red stars for the top, and a Prince Valiant haircut gone amuck.

I am in that flat land where baseball which brings joy and solace to Bill, my aging pal of a husband, and I am tolerant of his current absorption in the world of sports. On the other hand, this landscape, this flatland, exacerbates my struggle to breathe, to garner energy, to see light on a horizon, and to see beyond dust in the house. It’s not that bad, but I don’t have the physical strength I used to, that is when I didn’t have immune system illness. It seems to me I’ve felt 80 years old more times in my life than I’d like to count, which fact will fill me with laughter later as I remember thinking, where is that post-menopausal zest Margaret Mead talks about?

I teeter on the edge of 75. A twin gone at 68. I’m the last of the – whatevers. I am a woman of intense vibrancy, who sees magenta when others see drab red, who gets high on crusty French rolls slathered with butter, who looks into the eyes of a Pug dog and sees God as Humorist, and finally I am an older woman who has survived a great deal, as we all have.

Eight days of bronchitis find me acknowledging ever so readily that I am inside, under a roof safe, and that the breeze is gentle, but somehow, I feel as if I’ve placed myself on automatic life review, like an old Studebaker repeatedly returning to the carwash to get scrubbed up by those thick foamy brushes again.

Life is not for the faint hearted. My Faith is not for the faint hearted. Repeated rendezvous with brushes in Life’s Car Wash doesn’t strike me as an appropriate ending for any day, any life. But, Reader, at 75 and feeling like edges of dog meat gone bad, I think of endings.

What happens to all those childhood patterns, phobias and fears that one conquers? The bursting out of old patterns, like someone hurtling through the paper star in the circus, which burns small orange flames around its edges if you want to know, and that someone’s an old girl, and that old girl’s been shot out of a canon, yeah that one.

Somehow as I get older I am more aware of the gravel, the small stones in my life, and my too much obsession with minutia of picking them up and wondering, should I have unturned this earlier? At all? Fear of Abandonment.

OMG, seventies phrases guaranteed to enter kachunkas in a Therapist’s cash register, and appear in my Robitussin DM filled brain, competing with titles like keep those Run With Wolves, Cavorts with Angels, but Does the Laundry on Monday, even with a Virus Cold, titles which no longer enchant.

It’s the unknown. There I go again, worrying into the future, nettling, rearranging its furniture in the storehouse of my mind. Will I have a bed, a place to live, and some lentils to suck on? I am not a sole voice, lonely giving wolf calls into the hills. My voice is legion.

Should I write to AARP, and say “Hey what does an old gal do?” None of us want our kids to be burdened with our care, and yet again, I don’t want to end up on a broken-springed bed in a dark corner of a Convalescent Home, breathing through my mouth because of the You Know What smells and smiling at someone, while trembling within – will they be kind?

Vulnerability; I feel skin-inside-out vulnerable. And I also feel an abstract level of myself rising up from a rock, shedding identity after identity: the spunky one, the I’m building my career at 74 one, the sure I can drive you there, the be there for 700 cronies around the world type of thing, the blogger whose too pooped to platform, and who wouldn’t dare try on platform shoes in fear of falling.

You catch my drift dear reader. This is a glimpse of an old gal who normally wants to throw her head back and laugh, who believes in our essential oneness, and who is acutely aware of the swords of greed on this training ground of a planet, our training ground, my training ground.

So I’ll end with that’s it. Close the Word Barn for the day. It helps to be able to voice vulnerability. Thought I didn’t have to do that anymore, but this here aging is going to take courage, and I’m going for it. Shoot the Moon type of thing.

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.

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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.

A necessary voice – from a fellow blogger …

Mel's Madness

The president said we have to face some hard questions; twenty elementary school children were gunned down in their classrooms on Friday, along with six adults charged with keeping them safe. It was unfathomable…

Just as it was beyond comprehension when twelve students and one teacher were gunned down in Littleton Colorado… Do you even remember their names? Twenty-one more were injured.  They too were children: Cassie Bernall (17), Steven Curnow (14), Corey DePooter (17), Kelly Fleming (16), Matthew Kechter (16), Daniel Mauser (15), Daniel Rohrbough (15), Rachel Scott (17), Isaiah Shoels (18), John Tomlin (16), Lauren Townsend (18), Kyle Velasquez (16) died along with a teacher, William “Dave” Sanders, at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999.  It was unfathomable that anyone could wantonly kill people so young, so innocent…

But then wasn’t the time to talk about it. Emotions were raw. Americans were in a state of shock…

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I just spent one hour trying to get a Wordle on to my blog, my next adventure.
AM GOING WORD FISHING THROUGH DECEMBER 12, and have to wean myself off Facebook, my Blog, others blogs. I’m teaching 4 classes at moment; subject to change. I started a novel during Nano Wrimo month, and an opportunity to work on it further calls me. I’ll miss everyone, but it has to be done.

<Wordfishing at the Casbar, Old Town words, rainer maria rilke, pug dogs, Boston, whitey bulgher, lost loves, cubicle despair, the many lives of Baby Cakes Nelson, life reviews, Ross Dress For Less, destiny smeshtiny, let go, unemployed, Bubba, Bumpa, pug dogs, forces of light and darkness, 4 pound baby, oneness, being a Virgo, twin, pain, health, relationships, aaargh relationships, hot tears, successful candidates, prey, cabby hats, FISHINGFORWORDS

gotta get to this

Catch 22’s, Conundrums, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride-nouns – verbs? how about fraught! the best in this situation.

Embracing Homelessness

Yesterday, I met with the social services case manager in charge of my participation in the job search program.  And she congratulated me for completing it, and asked what I though about it.

I said it was much better than I’d expected.  The facilitators of County Job Search Program 2.0 (so to speak) actually paid attention to the people in the “class” and did their best to find targeted job leads or hiring fairs that would do the most good, as well as giving us more general leads.  And I appreciated it, because that was NOT the way it worked in County Job Search Program 1.0 back in March.  Case Manager was pleased to know I’d gotten some use out it.  When I told her about the interview of last Friday, she was very pleased, and very sincere in her hopes that I’d get an offer.

Then we hit a…

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Steve is a long-time friend who has lived in South America for years, and luckily lives in Temple City near my husband and myself; i found his account delightful

Uneasy Rider... travels & writings

For nearly 20 years,* together with my wife Yolanda (and my three stepchildren, while they were still young), I lived on Calle Calama (Calama Street), at the time perhaps one of the liveliest streets in the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia. Our home was a modest adobe and brick, two-story duplex situated in a patio surrounded by six other dwellings housing as many families, who also happened to be my in-laws. Scarcely two blocks away was doña Matilde’s silpanchería, my personal favorite eating place for silpanchos.

But I’ll get to that presently.

Directly across the street from our family enclave was the Escuela de Comando y Estado Mayor del Ejército de Bolivia, one of the principal Army officer training schools in the country. It was here that I personally saw, in the flesh, 16 presidents of Bolivia (not counting 5 juntas consisting of 3 to 6 members, and 3 presidents…

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Courage Under Fire

Embracing Homelessness

Friday was a big day: I had a job interview!  At eight o’clock in the morning!  Thirty-one miles away!  And I don’t have a car!

So I asked one of my friends at the shelter if I could impose for a ride.  The answer was yes — until about three o’clock Thursday afternoon, when said friend had to bow out because of a doctor’s appointment that hadn’t made it onto the calendar.  (Boo from my admittedly selfish viewpoint, but hurrah for reminder calls!)  And no one who had the means and the desire to provide me a ride was able to do so, due to prior commitments.

Here follows An Adventure in Public Transportation, and How I Did in My Interview.

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This blogger is amazing; i know her personally and I feel that’s a privilege. this is my way of tooting her horn.

Embracing Homelessness

My feet hurt.

I’m not surprised. I’m wearing shoes that were never built for walking anywhere but on carpeted floors.  And I’ve already walked (or possibly trudged) a mile or so, between getting from the shelter to the train station, from one platform to the next for the three trains I have to take, and from the last station to my destination.  Where I get to stand in line waiting for the doors to open so I can go through security before I get upstairs and report in on my recent job searches.

Been doing this for three weeks now.  One more week to go.  Okay, the first week was mostly filling out paperwork for the job program; active searching started the second week.  Minimum three job applications a day, but of course, more is better, and we want better, don’t we?  I do, anyway, but I admit it’s Frustration…

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This is a good example of the wealthy helping the poor – Faith in Action

This enchanting blog was written a year ago, but since we still have excess heat on the planet, thought i’d reblog it; i am the opposite of a farm girl; having left my house one hot August morning for the day since a worm as reputed to be in our back yard, and yet this blog enchants.

thekitchensgarden

I know I was going to talk with you about the chooks/chickens/hens. But before I go there:  I am sorry to do this to all my readers who are in the winter on the other side of the world shivering quietly in your corners but evidently it is going to be Really HOT here this week. Everyone is talking about the heat index here.  So I thought I would too. But I  was not sure what it means so I looked it up in good old Wikipedia:

The heat index (HI) is an index that combines air temperature and relative humidity in an attempt to determine the human-perceived equivalent temperature .. blah blah blah..

In other words : if you feel hot, the heat index tells you that you don’t feel hot enough yet and you should be feeling hotter!

(I thought I would add a few chook photos so you…

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eloquent, nonpartisan, well-considered response to corruption!

Mel's Madness

The headlines overwhelm me. The financial markets. The NATO rioting. Our own politicians’ posturing about the debt “crisis.” I have grown weary of the political forums on Facebook and elsewhere. The caricatures of Obama as monkey. The tar baby references. The Right tells gays they are abominations.  The left talks loudly about dildos in response. The Right blames Obama. The Left blames eight years of George W. Bush. For everything. Believe it or not Ayn Rand is STILL being talked about though she never had anything to say. Every year teens “discover” her and use her as an excuse to not clean their rooms or take the trash out or babysit their little brothers and sisters.

A pop singer’s nipple was exposed during Good Morning America. Why do I care? We spend $13 billion on porn every year in the United States and girls are sold into sexual slavery

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this lady is in a workshop of mine, and she’s a very good writer, intelligent and funny and maybe a year ago was in solid middle classness so to speak – i want as many people as possible to follow her blog.

Embracing Homelessness

Long about 4:30 in the morning, Mom put the beans in the oven.

Two earthenware crocks, a gallon or so each I’d guess.  One tallish, about as big around as a salad plate, the other shorter but big around as a dinner plate.  Which came in handy, since Mom used an old salad plate — white with a green stripe around the rim — as the lid for the tall crock and a cracked blue willow dinner plate as the lid for the other.  A pound of beans apiece, Great Northerns (her preferred bean) or navy beans, picked over for pebbles or broken bits or shriveled specimens and poured into the crocks with water almost to the top of the crock, put to soak about 4:30 the afternoon before.

Soak 12 hours, bake 12 hours in a slow oven.  That was Mom’s rule of thumb.

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Syd’s in a workshop of mine, and she’s a good writer; i want to draw this post to everyone’s attention; way to go Syd

Embracing Homelessness

You might be asking why I’m calling this blog “Embracing Homelessness”.  Trust me, it isn’t because I’m enjoying it.  I think it’s because fighting the real world won’t help.  But just rolling over and letting it all happen isn’t the answer either.

Sure, there’s a part of me that wants to put it all behind me, use this as a fresh start and just make sure I avoid making the same mistakes.  It seems to me there’s a certain wisdom to that.  It’s all over and done, after all, nothing I can do now will change what’s happened by a single atom.  Or quark.  Or some other, even smaller particle.

And a blank page has appeal–why else do we try so hard to fill it?

Except, of course, for those times when facing the blank page scares us to death.

Maybe we try to fill it, that expanse of white…

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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.

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.

 Graduation-address to graduates; fiction – Esther Bradley-DeTally (this was        

a CHPercolator prompt a while back)

Dear Graduates:

Here on the planet, at Earth School, in Dirt City, on the Blue  Marble, advice is going to be slung at you as you leave your  schooling behind.

I want to tell you a few things. One, fame is an illusion, because  it is just a mercurial moment in time and space where you are a star  who gleams brightly. We live in something called the Kingdom of Names which has to do with who we are, What We Wear, Who We Vote  For. Consider this, maybe that’s nice, necessary, and maybe unreal.  Think of a wider goal.

You are living in an era where you are World Citizens, and either through trial and struggle, or a great
consultative process, we the people of the nations, will go down a  road pointed towards the Oneness of Humanity, a Golden Age spoken of  by prophets and seers. We will do this by today’s standards, “Boys will be Boys” and blow up much of the planet, leaving a postage stamp  somewhere by an abandoned pond on which survivors will survive, and  abolish war forever. Better yet, we individually could all realize
our oneness and strive together for justice and unity.

Consider your body, it is a mass of teeming action and all parts work  to sustain the whole – homeostasis. Did you know that everything in  the spiritual world has an exact counterpart in the physical world?
We are carrying around a blue print for unity in diversity by the  mere fact of our bodies operating with intelligent rhythm.

As you leave this joyous commencement, you each will be handed a packet of instructions. They consist of:

A Hopi Message
A writing from Oriah Mountainkeeper
A Comment from Thomas Merton
A view from Etty Hillesum
An excerpt from the Baha’i Writings.

The rest is up to you.

Thank you for allowing me to deliver this commencement address in  record time, thus leaving no stone unturned.  I suggest you reflect  upon these handouts carefully in that some of you will be tested in
odd ways. Perhaps strangers will come to you and offer you the  chance of a lifetime, and the only way to accept this chance is to  leave with this stranger, thereby not saying goodbye to all you  love.

Some of you in the science fields will have to decide how you can contribute to the Earth’s Beleaguered Being, and come up with  solutions for the healing of the Earth’s Surface.

Mostly it is up to you to live your life independently, investigate truth independently, be just, know you are in the process of becoming your true selves, and finally, be aware, exceedingly aware, of the
exigencies of your time. In a phrase, power is no longer used for personal gain, but it is used for service.

May I suggest, service to humanity be your highest aim. May we all be blessed with your struggles and
attainment.

Handouts

Hopi Elder’s Message 2001 via email to me from friend in Ohio

To our fellow swimmers. There is a river flowing now very fast. It
is so great and swift, that there are those who will be afraid. They
will try to hold onto the shore; they will feel they are being torn
apart and will suffer greatly. Know that the river has its
destination. The Elders say that we must let go of the shore, push
off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our head
above the water. And we say, see who is there with you and
celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personal,
least of all ourselves, for the moment that we do, our Spiritual
growth and journey come to a halt. The time of the lone wolf is
over. Gather yourselves. Banish the word struggle from your
attitude and vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred
manner and in celebration. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Share this.
———–
Invitation
Oriah Mountain Dreamer
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will
risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure
of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to
know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have
been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without
moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can
dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your
fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic,
remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I
want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If
you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every
day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and
still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the
full moon, ‘Yes.’
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you
have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and
despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I
want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and
not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I
want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls
away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly
like the company you keep in the empty moments.
———–
“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

Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life, An entry dated August 20, 1941,
states:

“You must continue to take yourself seriously, you must remain your
own witness, marking well everything that happens in this world,
never shutting your eyes to reality. You must come to grips with
these terrible times, and try to find answers to the many questions
they pose. And perhaps the answers will help not only yourself but
also others.”

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of
the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and
friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich,
an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of
thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be
unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto
them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the
thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the
victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all
thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a
tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a
guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the
countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of
the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind,
an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of
virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of
knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of
wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit
upon the tree of humility (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings
of Baha’u’llah, p. 285)

http://www.bahai.us/

Somewhere down in San Diego, away in some hilly area, a retreat happened today, a women’s yearly retreat.  Last year they asked me to write a meditation for the last day, and I did.  They liked it.  They asked the same this year and suggested the title of Building Community.  Reader, frankly I was stuck.  I was stuck until I shared with my writing students how stuck I was, and the following images came to me of getting up, getting dressed, knitting, knitting friendships.  I hope you like it.  It is mostly Baha’i related, but I never write to just Baha’is, but rather, write to people – their inner essence, for we are all connected.

Building community. Esther Bradley-DeTally for the women who gather at retreat –Spring, 2012.

Building Community

 Oh dear, that heavy block-like phrase, so necessary for foundations, so hard to wield for the artistic mind, the mind that wants to build angel wings into the phosphorescent sky.

Oh well, you, out there, you women, sitting, standing, laughing, crying inside, with not enough to do, too much to do, do you feel as if a large building, let’s take an image of the Empire State Building, is over your head, descending on a crane, and the wires are frayed, as is your psyche, when this building obliterates all sun and light, and only shadows eclipse your tiny, puny, human frame?

No worries my duckies!  Take up words, and paints and colors, and throw some tea with jasmine, coffee with creamed soy of buttercup, butternut essence, grab a friend, a kid, a knitting needle, find a canopy, from arbors of Bougainvillea to hard, green, snappy, umbrellas over the outwardly composed urban woman.

In other words duckies, don’t sweat it.

There’s no one golden bricked path to building communities, no one particular hard hat to wear.  Think:

Mornings:  get up.

This in itself is an immense achievement, because we do it, day after day, year after year.  That’s what women do best.  They get up.

Okay, put on clean underwear.  Any kind duckies.  I still wear granny types, but thongs will do.  Count your blessings if said inner garment is not inside out.  That’s part of getting up.

Shovel the body together, teeth, nails, and do whatever you have to do, the laundry, the work, the subway, the elevated, the car with too big a tank, or the silent runs on the latest tech – you catch my drift.

Think – knit, purl.  Yes, that’s right, knit, and purl.  Duckies, this is what we do.  Let all the manly Germanic phrases of “build community” slide off your head, like excess water in the ears from the swimming pool.  Let it slide down your neck, off your shoulders, down your thighs, your ankles and into the ground.  This is California, and we could use the water.

Knit one stitch at a time, because that’s you, creating whatever base you need, tight, little bits of yarn sitting next to each other like sparrows on a telephone wire, keeping each other company, overseeing the world.  Then if you want to be bon vivant, try the pearl, a backward knit? Who knows, but you catch my drift.  Pull things together one stitch at a time.

You’ll make it; soon you will have knit friendships into this fabric of yours.  Find someone you like, maybe very different from you, but you like that person.  You want his/her qualities.  Knit her into your heart’s edges.

Places to find loose stitches:

The library

Writing Groups

12 Step Programs

Coffee places where everyone shouts and hollers to each other,or whispers, take your pick.

Dogs, talk to them all, if they are on a leash and their canines aren’t fanged and pointed right at you.

Extra points:

Long obligatory prayer in morning, Tablet of Ahmad for yourself, any others

Prayers, prayers for others, i.e., parents, kids, healing, protection, the Baha’is in Iran, help immensely.

Private talk with trusted friends, the ones you can bay at the moon with and grow German shepherd fur on your throat. (We’ve all been there)

Time to make your own list; this is just from an old gal with a writing voice of a 35-year-old, but this is something I count upon for sure, and I’m 73 and in thrive right now:

“Nothing save that which profiteth them shall ever befall My loved ones.”

Baha’u’llah

Check the quote, not sure I have it just picture perfect in print.

Have a glorious hour, day, week, month, and life.

Esther

The theme was forgiveness, i.e., “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”  Luke 23:26-34

First a group poem – in a writing session each woman took 2 lines and voila:

Friday, April 6, 2012 – Women’s Room Group Poem – Jennifer Robinson read:

 

Women Speak

Voices from the Women’s Room, a Group Poem

 Forgiveness is such a big word of many colors,

bruise yellow, anger red, wounded blue, white hope.

Most of the time we feel unforgiven.

The world would be a better place if we acknowledge we are forgiven.

“Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”  Even their

unforgiveness causes us to be unforgiving.

Forgive us, Father, for we sometimes know what we do.

Though my flesh is torn and our hearts are broken.

Forgiveness comes from love we received

when we were made in God’s own image.

I see the world of peace within my eyes growing together as we do our part.

The days seem long, and the nights seem short.

and

FORGIVENESS      by     Esther Bradley-DeTally  For Good Friday Service April 6, 2012

To everything but anguish the mind will soon adjust…Roger White

 

After a great wound no feeling comes,

But, a white hot pain settles upon you.

You stand shivering in a fire of agony,

“Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do,”

is a whispered voice, hidden deep within cumulus clouds,

blocked tributaries of feeling, your heart a mere stump.

Enough, enough, enough.

The well-intentioned speak of forgiveness.

Skippingly on the tongue they toss

“Turn the other cheek” which produces

a yellow, curled up feeling within.

You’ve turned the other cheek so much,

you have whiplash, and your chiropractor

is upping his fees.

You are so done

Chumped out by the world

Sick of greed lurch on the planet

Numb to the scalding rhetoric of gossip,

absolute abandonment of your Lord’s teaching

on mercy, on love Thy neighbor,

Dormancy pokes its head up, a tickling feeling

Your nerve endings prickle, and you realize

not wanting to, you are coming to life.

It’s a crucible this world, and you have

gone through the white heat of change

Ignorance and love will not cohabit within

You cast away the purple bruise of resentment

Which led you to the heart of your journey.

Your crucible.

You will no longer resent

You will not forget

Never forget

But, you are a leaf in the wind

Of the Will of your Lord

And you will love again.

It was a good day.

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.

stunning, epid, riventing

"The Orphan Master's Son is a riveting portrait of a world heretofore hidden from view: a North Korea rife with hunger, corruption and casual cruelty..."

The Orphan Master’s Son is a major book; a major read. It is epic; almost an oratorio, notes of which float over incredible deprivation, struggle, and an exceedingly oppressive society. . I could not put it down. Someone once asked, “Why do you read such books as this? My answer for that day as “If we believe mankind is one, i.e., we are one people, one planet, and we know of peoples’ horrendous suffering,” then we cannot be silent.  I must speak about it even if only in a book review.

This novel pulls from the reader gasps of horror, Adam Johnson’s novel relentlessly pursues a systolic drive to the center of the North Korean world  whose outer shell is constructed of a rigid totalitarianism, and whose  inner core reveals an absolute and moribund corruption.  Its core is rotten. Yet, slivers of nobility, slivers of courage from different individuals emerge.

One critic said, “This is not the real North Korea.”   Perhaps not.  However, books are appearing on the landscape, one of which is the Aquariums of Pyongyang  verify an appalling state of society, and a nightmarish existence in North Korea’s prison camps,  and also in the general society.  We live on a planet where forces of light and darkness lick each others shadows. If we cannot speak for the silent ones, what can we do?

I feel an awe regarding Adam Johnson’s novel .  I believe this novel goes far beyond Pulitzer awards. It is through fiction such as this that truth shines.

Adam Johnson teaches creative writing at Stanford University.  His fiction has appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, Harper’s, Tin House, Granta, and Playboy, as well as The Best american Short Stories.  His other works include Emporium, a short story collection, and the novel Parasites Like Us.

Reader, I belong to CHPercolator, CoffeeHouse for Writers (Yahoo) and what  below are the suggested prompts and my freewrite for same.

1. A unique toast

2. Family traditions

3. Out with the old in with the new!

4. Resolutions–do you make new year resolutions? If so, what are they,
and how long do they usually last?

5. I turned over a new leaf, and under it I found…

The toast, more than slightly burned and twisted, rose with her pale limpid hand, as Emily, a follower of Ron Paul, Edward Dash, Holley Holes and other limpid like creatures, spoke with as much force as she could emanate, all the while reclining in an odd twisted way on the mint green julep chaise lounge, redecorated since it birthed into the world of her grandmother Nenny, who never had a wrinkle in her life, and Emily thought, as her head with its faint gossamer curls of faded L’Oreal Red Fire Engine Red, and Nenny who never had a thought in her life, pondered, her Wet N’Wild  Lipstick number 2002, the color that ran in Russian department stores for so long, cracked and a bit of dryness seeped into her part glossy, but dry and cracked upper lip, and she went on, pushed into the stale breeze of conversation about New Year’s Resolutions, and tilted her toast to the left and then to the right like a politician of years gone by, too ineffective to make a difference, as if difference mattered in these days of political slime and split, but still, the stillness in the air, the pallid air, stilled even more, to a microscopic silence and she said, “Out with the old and in with the new,” and her boyfriend Henry, all new as a boyfriend of 2 ½ days, caught the sailing crisps of bread parts in the air with both hands, and he said in an adoring voice that rose to a falsetto, or sounding like Alfred Deller in a Vivaldi piece, Ode to Joy or something like that, he quivered, “Out with the old and in with the new,” repeating his new love’s most spontaneous act, a second one indeed, if he could count, and he would love to count it, her slight ack moan slipping from her rouged and ruined mouth from their 7 minutes of passion the night before, consummated so quickly, so eloquently, so quietly, and then the crowd, looking more like Edward Gorey characters who just stepped off their one-dimensional cover of the new Edward Gorey 2012 Calendar made up of twitches and twatches of woebegone Victorian figures, some full, and burley in sweaters and pondering thought with pen in right hand, left hand wanly holding a small blank square of paper, some in bold black, green and white chequered plaid, with the usual maiden with darkened Kohl eyes nearby, and a lady who looked very much like our beloved Emily, may we by now, the avid, sturdy, stalwart reader who has reached the end of this essay of small black marks, may we call her Em and may we finish this piece as we hear all the voices Gorey and others, writers and wishes everywhere say, “My only resolution is to write more!”

The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I guess I always give 5 stars to memoirs. I am a memoir addict, but I also write the personal essay and some fiction and teach creative writing. Authenticity and voice are aspects of good memoir writing.

I do not belong to that group of people who think memoir is a solipsistic form. The Rules of Inheritance, Claire Bidwell Smith, is a worthy read. Everyone’s story is the same but different, as is loss and sadness. It is honest, poignant, poetic, and well crafted. She’s not a victim, but portrays true loss and then gradual emergence into finding her truer self. I recommend!

View all my reviews

1. Please tell us about you the person and the author:

Glad that’s worded that way, because above all we are all persons first. In 1990 I started publishing personal and reflective essays in various journals. A writer friend from Israel had recommended me and many other yet to be published writers to write for a particular publication in Australia/New Zealand. This journal was globally distributed. When my friend suggested I submit some of my stuff, I thought, “Is that stuff under the bed collecting dust balls?” But in 1992 I was married to my wonderful husband Bill and we were living in Ukraine, in the City of Dnepropetrovsk, and this magazine published an essay about our lives in Ukraine.

I’m from Boston, born in Boston, and I remember blackout curtains from World War II on our windows and peeing in the dark. I remember the 50s and being a Catholic girl and going to a public high school. I had no writing inclination, but read voraciously from six years on. A huge influence was my mom who became a major alcoholic, but was a lover of books and also taught Latvian women to speak and read English when they came to our little brown rented house on Wren Street, and they spoke of the Iron Curtain, and their husbands lost behind this curtain. I remember thinking in images of a giant iron shower curtain spread across a vast land.

I grew up in a stratified society, where people drew lines about religious affiliations, class position, race, difference. I was a child in the 40s, a young girl in the 50s and was Catholic. In my twenties, I drove to California after the Cuban crisis, drove out by myself. My mother had died; my father remarried; my twin was somewhere; the family was dysfunctional and scattered. My older brother and sister weren’t around. I was a legal secretary and outwardly gutsy but inwardly a wimp.

I discovered the Baha’i Faith at 27, and felt as if I stepped out of a black and white photograph into the land of color. I stopped drinking, even though I hadn’t yet connected the dots of alcoholism sitting in my family’s history box for generations. I immediately became aware of the oneness of humanity, and my old stereotypical views fell off me like corrugated cardboard. Still, until I die, I must be aware of prejudice and how it is inhaled by a baby when born. My life is incredibly full –I teach writing to homeless women and others. I give a lot of free workshops. I guess you could say my husband and I are activists as we totally believe in service to the community at large. I used to be fearful but didn’t show it, and I faced life and have crawled over railroad tracks in Donetsk and been in Ukraine during the Russian coup and written a book about it. I’ve been to Siberia, and I have a son Nicholas who is married and a granddaughter. One last thing: I jump out of airplanes to say hello to Pug Dogs even if they are only dark little dots on the ground. That’s sounds very year-booky.

Mostly I totally believe in the splendor of the human condition, and am horrified by the meanness of our age, but have tremendous hopes for the future. I believe one becomes mystical by embracing the grit of one’s time and that we should be anxiously concerned about the needs of our age. I am the last of my siblings, my twin having died a few years ago. I’ve survived heart surgeries, blah, blah, blah, and walk an hour a day; sound like a gadabout and light up like a pinball machine when celebrating, reading, writing, a good book, justice, being a solace to someone else, being a source of light and laughter.

2. When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

In 1980, when I got a chance to go back to college, I wanted to learn writing.

3. Did you take any classes or go to school to learn to write, or did it just come naturally

No. Writing letters came naturally, but I had no idea whether studying writing would ruin my fledgling writing or not. I went to UC Irvine and enrolled as a junior at 42 as a single mom, fresh from what felt like 100 years of work as a legal secretary. I majored in English as I read voraciously and thought that the most practical. I had no dreams of becoming an attorney. I took a summer class and wrote a story about a blue dye eviscerating the earth from a jeans factory and a dog named Lance I think. I didn’t have the knowhow or the courage to have dialogue. There was lance, the blue dye, the inhabitants of earth leaving the planet, and the owner of lance, a woman who died.
My first writing teacher said, “Take every writing course this school has to offer.”

I took expository writing in the second quarter and the TA said “Take every writing course this school has to offer,” because I wrote a piece about who I was after reading an excerpt of May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude. Reader her talk about depression, writing and planting flowers caused me to think, I can do this. I remember feeling electrified, not hugely, but nevertheless animated.

I then took Beginning Fiction with Oakley Hall, and I was nervous. He has written a book on the novel; was co-head of the UCI Writing Program, and is well respected. He went to Iowa I think. I was nervous until I looked under the large square table where we all assembled, and I saw faded purple Rit died socks, and then looked up into his broad face, and kind eyes, and his hair looked like yarn. He taught how to show, how to be the camera eye, how to use strong verbs, and I flourished.

I then went on to take an advanced writing class with the other co-head who didn’t like older women, but thought I was a very good writer. He tried to discourage me, and I think he did so, because he didn’t make it in the way he expected. It was rough, but I hung in.

Then I took journalism with a very good Journalist who had been nationally known, and he said, “You are a good writer, but what the hell are you trying to say.” I also took courses after graduating as part of teacher training in teaching secondary writing, and Writing the Natural Way. I use those methods when I teach workshops.

I also took from the Pied Piper of Workshop Leaders, Jack Grapes in Los Angeles who is a method writing teacher, and I took his beginning workshop. Then I waited 10 years, took his advanced courses, and around 2003 I was bursting through sound barriers. . I have written 2 books: Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia and You carry the Heavy Stuff, the most recent.

I took a UCLA class too and we were not allowed to praise or criticize anyone’s writings, no comments, but the instructor told me I was very good. So yes, I took classes and really learned method, and craft of showing, use strong verbs, and still read voraciously.

4. Please tell us about your book and how did you come up with the idea for it.

As I mentioned I had a previous book, and the 2nd edition has pictures. Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, about our 3 year period before, during and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. It is a personal view, a behind the scenes sideways type of thing – personal, funny, sad, hard, and spiritual.

I joined CHPercolator Coffeehouse for writers because my friend Steve kept encouraging me. We all give prompts to write about at periodic intervals and thus, writers from around the globe write or not write every day.

After 2 years, I looked at my previous writing and the CHPerc bundle, and thought “It’s time to do another book.” It’s called You Carry the Heavy Stuff and has a street sign that says, “It’s all grist for the Mill, been there, done that, what’s next,” with a pug’s back to the reader and a tall thin red-haired lady with an old leather type valise, inky papers sticking out of it, and she’s wearing red high top sneakers. That’s my persona. I have used “It’s all grist for the mill” so much; people will soon begin to scream.

I had a mother in law who was the size of a small tree trunk and didn’t take noth’in from no one and we lived with her after we came back from Russia because we didn’t think it was wise for her to live alone. When I first met her, Bill and I were packing up our bags to drive away, and she and I were loading stuff at an open trunk, when this low growly voice (hers) said to me, “You carry the heavy stuff for him.” So I wrote a piece about her.

Anna was her name, and Italian momma was her game. I both laughed inwardly and groaned. I wasn’t insulted. Had I been 20, I’d have run away. This book is a series of poetry and prose about who I was, am; life in an office cubicle; life in middle school and a world view taking shape, life after 9/11; essays on prejudice, which makes my African-American friends cry, and essays on spirituality and eating falafel at the Mercatz (shopping area top of Haifa hills) in Israel. I also talk lightly and deeply about social conditions, Baghdad, being a twin, having a twin die, and packing for the future. All of my pieces reflect varied writing styles.

A fellow writer wrote “You Carry the Heavy Stuff reveals an author who engages life with grit, honesty and good humor. Bradley-DeTally rests thoughtfully at a quiet stream to make serene observations, and then she’s up and away again to fight her good fight with a Tally HO! A refreshing read that combines a depth dimension with the tragicomedy that is life.”

I was going to call the book Writing on the Fly, and I had everything in it: fiction, surrealism, poetry, short stories, and then I trimmed it down and a friend said, “Writing on the Fly is overused.” So I had a brief contest where I promised a few select friends a Starbucks coffee card if they voted on a selection of about 5 titles. You Carry the Heavy Stuff carried the day.

I don’t outline. Let me repeat that I don’t outline. I free write and then I tweak, tweak, tweak. I am pretty spontaneous and word crazy some friends might add.

5. Which of your characters were your favorite and why?

My favorite characters are pugs and the people in Children of the Stolen Ones, a poem I hope which gives honor to my brothers and sisters of African heritage.

6. What traits and characteristics did you give some of your characters to make them memorable? Courage, nobility and the human condition is a sideways view.

7. Does your book have any important themes or lessons you wanted to convey?

Well, it’s memoir-ish so the traits would be pissy, funny, ballsy, outspoken, socially concerned, deeply spiritual, thrown in with the theme of global citizenship and the inhumanity of man and the humanity of man (generic man of course).

My themes speak of the wonders and need for oneness; the need to throw prejudice off the planet, the nobility of the anonymous and the suffering among us, the struggle and beauty of the dying cancer patients, the humanity of others, and the downright wonders of slinging around language like hash.

8. What was the road to publication like? Was it turbulent or fairly easy?

I am too old to look for an agent, and have a small following – think larger than a beer truck but smaller than the Coliseum in LA so my friend Steve said “Publish through Lulu.” He has done so with several witty books. Reader it was hell, pure unadulterated hell. Very Kafkaesque and tortuous until I finally gave in and bought a Lulu package, and then it was a miracle. Price wise it’s the best so far, but I’m not an enchanted devotee. One gets lost in Lulu like getting lost in the Hotel California, “It’s a lovely place….but you can’t get out …. Lost in the Hotel California.The biggest thing about a book is not thinking about writing one, not thinking about publishing, but marketing after it’s done. My advice is take it step my step and “follow the force” so to speak.

9. Please tell a reader what they should know about your book before the purchase them.

It’s creative non-fiction, spunky, funny, shows a variety of writing styles, almost a book of prompts plus points of view as an extra added package! It’s 14.96 (the extra penny is the hell part.) Also there’s a download – e book type of thing. (You Carry The Heavy Stuff) http://stores.lulu.com/sorrygnat and http://www.amazon.com/Carry-Heavy-Stuff
Esther-Bradley-DeTally. I recommend the Lulu site because you can read some of the pages. I also have some I can mail.

10. Words of wisdom for aspiring writers.

Read, read, read, read, write, journal, write, never give up; take courses, watch, listen learn, imitate, and trust the process.

estherbill@gmail.com http://sorrygnat. Word press. com blog

11. What current projects are you working on?

I am writing a book about someone with deleted memory; in interview process and at the beginning right now. I also teach the writing process, currently with homeless women, and their volunteers, and under the literacy umbrella of local libraries, plus give individual sessions and have writing groups.

11. What do you want your legacy to be- to have left the world showing worlds of unity, love and laughter, and to be a point of light in the dark dark nights of the soul, and to laugh and yuk about recipes, ham sandwiches and to promote the oneness of mankind, but to write, and know the power of words, the love of them, their ordinariness and majesty and not to worry about publishing, but think of the journey itself.

I wish for a world where everyone is a trust of the whole.

Esther’s ten favorites.

Favorite time of day?

First cup of coffee brought to me in bed by wonderful husband of 25 years.

Dessert: vanilla ice cream and dark, thick and creamy hot fudge sauce.

Teacher – Miss Halloran, in book; changed my world view from neighborhood to vast history and dimensions and the dangers of war within a 5 minute read of giant poster on her wall.

Social networking site; Facebook

Favorite city: Pasadena

Music – Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez

Color: the rainbow

Pastime: drinking coffee, and talking about real stuff with friends

Book: Oh my the over 600 on Goodreads, but if you don’t have time, Gleanings by Baha’u’llah, and An Interrupted Life, Etty Hillesum, and, and

‘Nothing save that which profiteth them shall ever befall my loved ones.’-Baha’u’llah

You Carry the Heavy Stuff

Nov 07, 2010 10:31am

 From You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Esther Bradley-Detally – on Lulu.com., Amazon, and   Author’s possession 

Children of the Stolen Ones
(for Gloria Haithman—December 2, 2004)

“Greens” makes me think of Ola Mae’s Greens, down in my belly, in Olean,New York, as crowds of us burst into Ola Mae’s Restaurant on a regular basis to shoot the breeze, eat her famous Greens, and just to feel all’s well with the world.  Here in Pasadena,California, the subject of greens and chitlins came up.  I thought of Ola Mae, the camaraderie, her corn bread too, and just feeling part of the woodwork welcomed by her open heart and Best-Greens-Cook-In-The-World self.

In Pasadena, on a Wednesday night, Gloria talked about the same thing, but went a step further.  She spoke of soul food on another level, the spiritual teachings of love, hope, and faith.  She spoke to our insides where there are no colors.  Gloria said, “We were not colored when we were born.  Yeah, I thought, we came in that way, and no one crayoned some in, or bleached others out.

What if, instead of calling the dark ones, the Negroes, the People of Color, names given by history book scribes, say, “Black or African-Americans?” Then a phrase measured out, by Gloria, entered our gathering, all the while she was telling of a story of friends who called themselves The Sisters.  These Sisters went to South Africa, honoring their roots, and seeking answers to their identities.  On the trip they were constantly greeted by groups of women who would sing to them.  One day they met some African women who had the “Who are You? Where are you from?” look in their eyes, all the while staring at The Sisters.

One of the South African women said, “They are Children of the Stolen Ones.” Back in Pasadena, sitting on the orange velvet couch, those small noble words, “The Stolen Ones,” bombarded my heart as I felt my soul sink into a place of utter knowingness, of a reverence and majesty revealed.

As a white lady, an older one, who learned of our essential oneness some forty years before and humbly stayed on the thorny and pitted path of discovery and unity, I sat there stunned.  I repeated the phrase over and over to myself.  “Children… Children of the… Children of the Stolen Ones….”

Yes, and for me it was a rightful and merciful appellation.

Finally, dignity and solace packed into five words.  Measure it out on the tongue, slowly: “The Stolen Ones… Children of the Stolen Ones.” Feel your heart melt as if a great and timeless grief has finally been acknowledged.

My heart bowed a humble bow to the true nature of an incredible people, their majestic endurance, their ancestors.  I’m no artist and don’t know my colors, and I live in a world that thinks it knows its colors, and colors inside the lines, not outside—the “lines” being the operative word.

Well, I’d say in this year of 2004, “Maybe we should hear The Sisters, our sisters’, call from South Africa,” and use lines to wrap around: Majesty, Dimension, Endurance, Courage.  Name every quality our sisters and brothers of African heritage carry with fortitude, and you come up with, in my book, “The Chosen Ones.” And, what if God and his Messengers and Prophets saw that these Chosen Ones endured trials similar to the Minor Prophets? And what if Bahá’u’lláh knew His love for His Chosen Ones, knew they suffered the banishment, the chains, the whippings, as He, in the Path of God?

So here’s the final what if—what if this planet really was a testing ground to see who could show courage under fire, love of God, love of people despite that the Stolen Ones and their kin were also robbed? But wait, here’s another view.  I think the Children of the Stolen Ones are the Morning Glories of our age! Their children; their children’s children.  It’s the story Morning Glory.

Let’s proclaim, let’s shout, and let us bow in reverence to our ancestors, ransomed so we might reframe our hearts and join each other in history’s future where lines are a thing of the past and colors are loved-filled stripes of every hue.

Skin Color

At the Black History Parade, put on by the Jackie RobinsonCenter, one cold, but sun-emerging day, paralytic agony stops my nouns, verbs and adverbs describing skin color or lack thereof.  Pain fills my heart as my eyes Braille the sadness of a man’s face, deep rivets line his cheeks, highlighting generational discounts and the pitter patter of white voices.

Numbness clots my throat at this morning’s Parade, while those in other parts of the city, those from White gulags, tuff lawns, buff cars, and spread glossy interracial magazines, photo ops on tables, never viewed by the living.

Brown vs. Board, wasn’t that inTopeka?

In Idaho, Bill and I share a table with a Nigerian psychiatrist.  It’s lunch time in a hospital cafeteria,  and Bill asks a question which floats over our salads:

“Do you have to emphasize your African heritage”?

An acknowledged “Yes.”

A rueful, half-stated reply, “My children will not have that advantage.”

On the broad palettes of television’s life experts on society, are noticeable by their absence of color. Hey, what about The News Hour with Gwen Ifill?  Yeah, and Colin Powell, and… Yeah?  Hey guys, take the tour of Any City, USA, where two separate neighborhoods exist—bookends of ideological contrast.  One is spacious, forgiving, and tolerant, with wide streets, large houses and gracious plants, suggesting it’s easy to feel benevolent.  The other part contains narrow streets, boards on windows, hunger at night, restless poverty, and shootings.  Skin color privilege cuts its wide swath.

I can say no more.

Image

A string of laughter is all the trees lining our long driveway, the bamboo, the eucalyptus, all laughing, small nasty chuckles, because once again, I am thatched headed, in pjs and not walking.  It was a choice, but then the lure of words, the Zen of quiet air pushing out of the fan under my laptop; which if you really must know, I found this fan at a garage sale for $1.00, mighty fan.

A string of laughter makes me think of kites flying over Afghanistan, that land of dust and caves, and cities, and brave women’s hearts, and children’s tears, and when the kites are allowed, they fly into the air, twisting, turning, colors.  What are the colors of kites in the Afghan air? And someone’s heart exults, and then of course, there’s the birds.  They were banned during the time of the Taliban, and now I hope they are back, and I will sit back, and stop clickety clacking across the a, ;.s;. k, dk’s and think in peace you can’t own the sky..  It’s been tried, but the sky is ours, and then a heavenly invisible low long drawn out chuckle, like God was a Westerner with a Cowboy Hat, and then a belly laugh which translates into winds over the mountains, cleansing air, and Scattering Angels of the Almighty seeking the hearts of righteous men (generic of course); women too, and then what do I think.

Hmmm, a string of laughter is a word sky, where the sun and the moon negotiate, because now there’s lots of new solar stuff out there, and it might be a night game of “Olly, olly oxen free… ready or not, here I come.” Or maybe lawn bowling will be the game of choice, except it would be sky lawn ball, and then there are balloons, another topic altogether. Some balloons laugh, go up on a string, and twist out of grasping hands of greed.

You can take a lot of things away from people:  money, a place to live, shoes, health, but laughter always springs from some invisible source, and laughter moves the ribs up and down and up and down, and you can’t take that away.

opy/paste the below text into your blog. And Nothing but the Truthiness: The Rise (and Further Rise) of Stephen ColbertAnd Nothing but the Truthiness: The Rise (and Further Rise) of Stephen Colbert by Lisa Rogak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fun. He is soooo bright; I adore him.

View all my reviews

YA novel about life in the future after the planet has gone bonkers; excellent story, well done; heroic characters, love pervails

Reader, I belong to CHPercolator, CoffeeHouse for Writers (Yahoo) and what fllows below are the suggested prompts and my freewrite for same. 

1. A unique toast

2. Family traditions

3. Out with the old in with the new!

4. Resolutions–do you make new year resolutions? If so, what are they,
and how long do they usually last?

5. I turned over a new leaf, and under it I found…

The toast, more than slightly burned and twisted, rose with her pale limpid hand, as Emily, a follower of Ron Paul, Edward Dash, Holley Holes and other limpid like creatures, spoke with as much force as she could emanate, all the while reclining in an odd twisted way on the mint green julep chaise lounge, redecorated since it birthed into the world of her grandmother Nenny, who never had a wrinkle in her life, and Emily thought, as her head with its faint gossamer curls of faded L’Oreal Red Fire Engine Red, and Nenny who never had a thought in her life, pondered, her Wet N’Wild  Lipstick number 2002, the color that ran in Russian department stores for so long, cracked and a bit of dryness seeped into her part glossy, but dry and cracked upper lip, and she went on, pushed into the stale breeze of conversation about New Year’s Resolutions, and tilted her toast to the left and then to the right like a politician of years gone by, too ineffective to make a difference, as if difference mattered in these days of political slime and split, but still, the stillness in the air, the pallid air, stilled even more, to a microscopic silence and she said, “Out with the old and in with the new,” and her boyfriend Henry, all new as a boyfriend of 2 ½ days, caught the sailing crisps of bread parts in the air with both hands, and he said in an adoring voice that rose to a falsetto, or sounding like Alfred Deller in a Vivaldi piece, Ode to Joy or something like that, he quivered, “Out with the old and in with the new,” repeating his new love’s most spontaneous act, a second one indeed, if he could count, and he would love to count it, her slight ack moan slipping from her rouged and ruined mouth from their 7 minutes of passion the night before, consummated so quickly, so eloquently, so quietly, and then the crowd, looking more like Edward Gorey characters who just stepped off their one dimensional cover of the new Edward Gorey 2012 Calendar made up of twitches and twatches of woebegone Victorian figures, some full, and burley in sweaters and pondering thought with pen in right hand, left hand wanly holding a small blank square of paper, some in bold black, green and white chequered plaid, with the usual maiden with darkened Kohl eyes nearby, and a lady who looked very much like our beloved Emily, may we by now, the avid, sturdy, stalwart reader who has reached the end of this essay of small black marks, may we call her Em and may we finish this piece as we hear all the voices Gorey and others, writers and wishes everywhere say, “My only resolution is to write more!”

 

Rhythm Of The Universe – Anthem For The World **OFFICIAL**

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Play with Words2programsupdate

those were the days

Years ago
when I drank vats of Tab/Diet Soda, you name it, I was what I drank, jagged
edged, thin, with an immune system storing grudges.  Before that when I was 21 and had moved away
from my suburb of West Roxbury and lived in Brookline with my stepmother and
father, who were away a lot, I smoked a pack of cigarettes and drank a whole
pot of coffee every Sunday morning, and needless to say, what I became was
someone with little red pimples on her face and a twitch in her gait, and then
after giving up 3 packs of cigarettes a day, no longer drinking, scotch or
anything else, and getting a pit bull grip off of sugar, but not ice cream, I
became a round person, said roundness appearing and staying, like cement
successfully poured, because after open heart surgery, by pass and a new
plastic aortic valve, I craved milk and ice cream and then I lived in Russia
before that, and we ate ice cream from a cart on the street, in the frozen
winter, because there was no such thing as dairy, and we also ate a lot of
katoshka,(potatos) so that’s when I paid more attention to my being a soul, but
a soul with wide hips, and of late, I am an older lady, coming into her own,
claiming health and well being, but in parsed patches of time, and eating more
regularly, and eating vegetables and dark greens except when my blood gets to
thick and the powers that be in the medical field, the valley of the blood
laboratories, tell me, too thick, not good, or too thin, then I go into the
greens again, and all of this points out to maybe once a 4 pound baby who was
born with the theme of need in the 4 pound folds of skin which didn’t have the
ability to plump out until she got to be 50 and hormones and all, and if I eat
incorrectly; isn’t that a wonderful phrase, considering all models in the past
were on heroin so they could be thin or 90% of them, and I notice if I numb
myself with food or playing solitaire at the end of the day; I’m avoiding life,
and food can do that, and that’s when I pull myself up the next morning, and
pay attention to the prayers I utter humbly to the heavens, and ask for help in
not being such a rebel with food; but it all started with my giving my daily
required cod liver oil pill as a child to our large French Poodle, and she
lived to be very old, and I went on to immune system crappola, but now, wisdom
and moderation have elbowed their way into my path, so I’m just another
moderately wide waisted writer, trying to eat after she writes, trying to walk
after she writes and thinking, who is it just so easy to slab peanut butter on bread,
fold it until you hold it, and take off, not paying attention to details.  Details work when you write, so now, my
little word epiphany thanks to Michelle’s prompts tell me, triangulate details
into your food old girl; that way you’ll have the strength to continue
NanoPrimo.

 

 

 

 

 

I would like to occupy a normal body not hissing black smoke becuz I ate two (2)
pieces of a very high white cake with creamy frosting, and flaky white innards
of cake, cake, cake, tinged, blessed, dewily dropped in heavy cream frosting,
and one was consumed after half a veggie burger at Tuohey’s Coffee Shop.

Said coffee shop is known for its sundaes and
has been around since God invented earth.

So yesterday was Mr. Bill’s birthday celebration, and he was 77 last Thursday if
you want to know, and Mr. Bill is My Mr. Bill and why I get to earn that title,
I dunno, but let me tell you this man is my bill, my guy, and a resplendent
devotee of creamy white cake with strawberry filled icing, and life has been
icing on the cake if you know what I mean, cuz that’s good, but we have had
kitty litter days and days of granular tests, and they always feel like the day
after you eat sugar.

You see, yesterday I occupied, I am happy, with Laura, Nick, Tory, Bill and we were at a
round table, a round table, imagine that, at Twuohey’s; spell it many ways type
of gal I am, and we had our fud and then Laura had brought the cake from
Frederico’s or some place exotic and in her Laura way, she put unusual candles
and both Tory and Laura and Nick gave resplendent cards, and I had given Bill
one earlier in the week, one ready for him at 6 a.m. if you want to be exact.

So we get home, and the desire that occupied my mind, first part of the day to walk 6
miles, left as if on winged horses, and my bed looked wide and inviting and
smooth sheeted, and the phone somehow got off the hook, and I slept for a solid
hour or so, while Bill watched SC and Stanford, a gripping football game, and I
don’t even know what they are doing on that field except falling all over each
other and making an Orthopedic student happy for his future client income.

I crashed, burned, slept and got up and pulled out the other half of the vegetarian burger which was round and brown,
and nicely bunned, and I ate it rapidly because I was on another get the last
few pieces of cake, pour the big milk jug into the circular plastic turquoise
glasses and inhale and slug and don’t forget to breathe. Of course at
midnight I sat on my couch having anxiety attacks, and then I went to bed and I
think I moved furniture and had nightmares and resolved nothing, except my
pancreas was probably pissed as hell at me, which is why I’ll end with I’m
going to some concert by Marvin something or other with Janet my long time
friend from Boston, cuz she has an extra ticket, and in my mind’s eye, I think
if only pajamas with feet were an acceptable outfit, I’d wear them.  So now, I’m taking the ruins of my body,
which had been over occupied with sugar, towards our train sized cubicle of a
kitchen, and I’m going to find protein and healthy food, and then pray the
occupation of help I’ve been poisoned by strawberry creamed soldiers goes away
soon.

PS my brain is too sugared out to fix the margins that scooted over to the right.  the nerve!

Baby Elly visits Bill and Esther at Pool House in Pasadena

Baby Elly Gets urban

I conduct a writing workshop in the basement of Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade store, in Pasadena, CA (corner of California and Lake – sort of) and a student who said she didn’t write wrote this. So I love to share people’s pieces!

A Sense of Place – Yagya Bedi

Sadness did not give up today.
It hovered around like dew on a
spider’s web glistening, sparkling.
I had been fooled before with those
bewitching enticements.

No matter how hard I tried
back here in the murky gloom
of cobwebs and tangled dreams,
I returned. Each time with more
shame and guilt.

I had reached the dizzy pinnacle of
ecstasy more than once. More than once
had I climbed that rocky path.
Yet, more than once, did I return to familiar
sorrow waiting.

Is there more than once?

Happiness is a room full of orange, green
and yellow ribbons. Streamers and flowers,
petals of vibrant joy and energy.
No dark colors are allowed.
Black and grey are banished.

All is lightness. Frivolity abounds.
She walks naked, unabashed and
guilt free. Ease and calm glide
hand in hand, providing solutions
as they pass.

How long does the sun shine here
in Utopia? How will the moon dress us
for the next day? The dance must end,
and the garlands must fall. Sorrow
is waiting to take her place once more.

From…. WorldUnityMedia.com/ Quote of the Day, Sat., August 13, 2011

“Thou hast asked Me concerning the nature of the soul. Know, verily, that the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind, however acute, can ever hope to unravel. It is the first among all created things to declare the excellence of its Creator, the first to recognize His glory, to cleave to His truth, and to bow down in adoration before Him. If it be faithful to God, it will reflect His light, and will, eventually, return unto Him. If it fail, however, in its allegiance to its Creator, it will become a victim to self and passion, and will, in the end, sink in their depths.”
Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Author: Bahá’u’lláh, Source: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1990 pocket-size edition, Page: 346

Here’s something from my book
You Carry the Heavy Stuff It’s a writing prompt and written in a particular style. Kurt Vonnegut (God Bless you Kurt Vonnegut) said, write 4 lines across the page every night; don’t show it to anyone, but just do it. These were my 4 one day, and the word soul just showed up, like it wanted to be on the word train within this piece. This is also something under Jack Grapes’ (best writing teacher of all time) teaching in that he calls this type of piece To Be Read and Sung, okay enuf said, 4 lines:

Read and Sung
Do not ask of your shadow’s future. Do not dwell on your shadow’s past. Do not ask what others think. Rely not upon the delusions of the many. Do not turn away from certitude and a multisyllabic path. Do not listen to politicians’ rhetoric. Do not become a sleeping mute, a junk yard dog. Do take yourself and shadow on a dual path. Take a soul to lunch this week. Better yet, take your soul with you. Best yet, be your soul.

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Share Quote of the Day with friends.

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.


It was 1992, and my husband Igorovich insisted we drive to the Wisconsin Cheese Farm to photograph shelves and glassed in cases of cheese, no abundance of lack as in our city, Dnepropetrovsk, where cheese was called sere to my American ears.

We were newly on our honeymoon and I was to bring Igorovich back to my home in Boston, to a family which prided itself on their standing within the generations. My great grandfather had been Sheriff of Suffolk County in the early 1900s, and with a name like “Keliher,” I gathered he’d come over before the potato famine.

But history or generational placement was far from my mind, that hot day when odors of cows and an occasional sniff of sweet grass relieved the tedium of flat stretch after flat stretch of highway, only relieved by country stores, with 12 empty rocking chairs lined up as if to say hello, come to Cracker Barrel and find root beer candy, sarsaparilla drinks from the past.

But no, Igorovich, as I was soon to learn was a “pusher,” and a bull dog, and I a small Chihuahua personality myself, was not match to his drive and intention. But it wasn’t all “plocha” awful, that day as we drove off the highway ramp, the only Edsel for miles, the only car for miles, because I had heard of a writing group on the “net,” as they say.

We parked in the dusty graveled parking lot, headed towards a low slung, ranch style building covered in a wine-colored wood, and as we opened the air conditioned doors, air, cold air blasted us back an inch or two.

Igorovich was rubbing his meaty hands together, reverting to Russian, “Horoshow, Horoshow,” which to my 2 year old level of Russian meant good. What was it about me, my tiny, small persistent personality? I always feel for men in uniform, and Igorovich met me in the open air market (a euphemism for shock of beef on hooks, wedding gowns next aisle over, potatoes which looked abused, and I was asking for Smetana, and Sleevki, one or the other, they are dairy products, don’t have my smetanas and sleevki’s down. That’s three year old language level.

It was love at first sight, and I called him Sleevki Igor, and now cheeses and abundances of the dairy kind led me to a serendipitous moment of great impact, almost as great as meeting my beloved Sleevki Igor, but not quite – nothing could replace the smell of raw beef, a handsome young man bending over my tiny form, sweat on his neck, a delightful clean smell of sweat, and muscled arms, oh a girl could go far in those muscled arms.

There inside the Wisconsin Famous for Its Cheeses door, the air conditioning pushing cow ears back, was someone in an enormous cow uniform. The cow had human legs in the front, and cardboard legs resting on a cheese barrel with lots of miniature sculpted baby cows around his tale, as if to say, “I’m prolific,” and “All us cows do our dairy best,” and so while Igor ambled around more cheese shelves than he had seen in his life, and was blasted away by the “how may we lay our lives down in service for you employees,” I sauntered up to the Cow.

How is it, there’s a figure in there. Who are you. Well the cow must have been embarrassed, so a small voice laced trills and bass notes, said I’m today’s new Cheese Representative, and todays, my first day on the job. What’s good, I said, slowing myself into what was going to be a rolling dialogue/monologue, repartee, Camembert or Cheddar ?

The cow’s voice dropped several octaves, almost like the sounds on the planet we can’t hear and said, “Look lady, I’m a writer, and an umployed one at that. For cheese’s sake, don’t push me.”

You are a writer, you in the cow suit, by this time I gathered he was a man.

Yes, and because he was in a cow suit and was a writer, I shouted behond the pickles and ham slices rolled up drolley besides the Swiss cheese, and called, “Igorovitch, Igorovitch, Ididi, my word for go which meant to Sleevki Igor, come here, as it was the only motion word I knew.

Well Igor and I love people in suits, or uniforms, and a man in a cow uniform on his first day at work, and on our first time in a famous Cheese Factory was the beginning of a propitious relationship.

It turned out, this writer and many others whom he knew would turn out bon mots of the laugh and lie down with your belly to the floor, and I learned through this man, “Steve,” whom Sleevki Igor called “Steevovitch Seritskee” became a life time friend, and in the future we would venture to lands like Kansas, and Boston, my family loved cheese, and then in our later years, we would find a small pool house, which fit our immigrant hearts, and to our delight, we would discover Steevovitch Seritskee was now a famous writer, but he lived still in his modest family home in temple City and we were horoshow (good).

July 21, 2011

CHPerc prompts

“Today should be my wedding day,” said Annie Mae Clare McDougall Habersham as they moved her out of her trailer park, because newspapers in the back entry way were stacked to the ceiling, and I, her 70ish, low on the ish cousin, shirttail cousin at that, was the only lone female within my clan brave enough to enter the sagging trailer on a hot July day, humidity up to sweat and think “Hell,” and to prepare to breathe through the mouth, avoiding unwarranted odors from the decaying tin can of a trailer, collapsing before my very eyes.

I squeeze sideways, even though people call me skinny, I still have to squeeze sideways to make it through the newspaper filled back entryway, which is book marked on the opposite side by those familiar yellow National Geographic’s that people saved thinking, these will be a treasure later.

That’s what it’s all about, saving, hoarding, hoping something for nothing, later, in the dusty future where a ship will come in, a lottery ticket will pay off, Google will reward the younger in our generation for some unknown embryo of an idea, to be planted in everyone’s need section of their brain. We have all become like raw open throated baby birds I think as my nose begins to reject a sour odor, and I move towards what once was an elegantly curved mahogany and soft light green velvet couch, said couch, looking like a Keinholtz replica, with stuffing coming out of its chest instead of Keinholtz’s original piece which portrayed squirrels nesting on a rotted-out breast, to a horrified crowd at the LA Museum on Mid-Wilshire in the mid 60s.

“Today should be my wedding day,” thrums against my brain, quiet cloud like thoughts, pure fluffy white, floating over chaos of broken lamps, hidden treasures of pearl handle knives and a peer or pier mirror tall, tilted against a wall in the corner, ornate gold frame, from floor to ceiling, this mirror abandoned before it was sold to make a lot of money for Annie’s future abundance.

Annie, Annie, Annie. If I were she, I would have changed my last name. What a curse to be named “Habersham,” so Dickensian in its doom, its curse of the unmarried, a curse which makes no sense in these days at the turn of a new century, the 2000s. We don’t worry about being married, not married. We worry about food, prices, greed, and think of the Wall Street Boys bowling with our brains and hearts, and totally removed from what’s really happening here on Hensworth Street in Lake Forest Park.

We are a long way from the real world, and my purpose here is to make sense and get Annie out of her mess. She doesn’t think mess. Annie’s brain is back in the day in 1938 when her to-be husband was cavorting on the sands of Cape Cod, as he ran along side the ocean. He had just turned his head to shout to Annie, a good looking 20 year old with long chestnut hair, long legs, an arched nose, and the moment was truly golden. Golden except for the fact he didn’t see the giant horseshoe crab in front of him and he fell and its long tail pierced his heart.

He was a bleeder, and he didn’t make it through the night. Annie was devastated and simply not right for the rest of her life.

So here I am now, the only practical one in the family whose tree goes back to Habersham and Dickens, and I am here to muck out, and get her into a rest home, and sooth the community association who is afraid that rats are cavorting all over the trailer park.

I see her, slumped over in an old tattered maroon (they don’t use that color any more) Morris chair which is spotted and its wooden slatted frame is scarred from dog scratches. Her dog Pip sits whimpering at her side. Small, runty dog, small slivered woman, and the day we move this shattered bone and mind of an old lady, unnoticed except for the horror of her hoarding, I think, that’s it. She’s the next subject of my next book.

And then, I pull out my cell phone, dial, “We Clean Up Anything,” pick up Pip, who gives a feeble pug cough, tell Annie, “We’ll have you under 800 thread count sheets by tonight,” and call my husband who will drive her to the hospital, and think, “It’s all grist for the mill.”

Did I mention the LA Times had just printed a photo of an old cane chair on top of a junk pile, with its bottom part threaded out, reminiscent of the Pope’s Chair, verifying he was a guy, as mentioned in that lovely book Pope Joan?

Truth is so delightful when turned into fiction. Writer’s block is over.

check out http://www.bahaiperspectives.com

For those who might be interested. The interview covers my personal beginnings, religious background, follies, foibles of high school years, coming to California in 1962, discovering the Baha’i Faith, prayers of the Faith, life in general, transformation, and writing; hope you enjoy!

I’m posting a review from GoodReads, but Battle Hymm of the Tiger Mother reminded me of a story of a young girl, popular in the 40s-50s called “Katy Did,” and the idea if i remembered it correctly, she’d pull flower petals off of petals and say Katy Did, Kady Didn’t. So here’s an initial review:

Battle Hymn of the Tiger MotherBattle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, what did I think? hmmmm, let’s see – I felt a lot, i observed a lot, and i liked this author’s honesty and dilemmas. Culture clash, and the reader was full on in it.

It’s hard,because we all have our theories, and then there’s the actual practice. Before my son was born, I thought I’d keep him in little white baby shoes, immaculate, and did I say, he wore brown shoes a lot. I said, “No child of mine will watch a lot of TV,” and I do believe on days unnumbered his face morphed into a square from so much screen gazing.

Wisdom is attained when one is a grandmother. Love is attained from birth of a child. Between the two, we pass on the good stuff, cringe at the dysfunction stuff, and pray and act for the future wellbeing.

I have a wonderful son, and that means, we both had to work at it over the teenage years.

Amy Chua is intelligent, honest and writes well. A friend loaned me this book. the most outstadning feature of this book, besides it provoking great discussions, is her children were not wounded, angry at times, but somehow her love came through. It’s a toss up. Culture pushes parents because originally, survival was the base instinct. In a way, it still was. She met her match with her second daughter, and I suspect the daughters will raise their children in a less authoritarian style.

That said, they are outstanding. At this stage in my life I think too much permissiveness or too much authoritarianism doesn’t work, but there’s a middle way of cooperative parenting.

whatever, I think Amy Chua and family made it through difficult decisions and arrived at greater awareness, and I also feel they are a solid family whom I wish well.

View all my reviews

You know they, whoever they are, say, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Well that maybe, but frankly I think they need buoyant lives, smooth skin, and untroubled brows. By that I mean they have to know that it’s a blessing to have stored memories and images without editing in their newly budding subconscious. They have to know the pure smell of ginger outside of back doors, and feel the swell of budding daisies and feel the delicacy of white petals of a single rose, blooming too early, but not too late.

If youth is wasted on the young, all books would change, and learning wouldn’t be possible. Take for instance Red Riding Hood. She’d become old and wrinkly, no need to go to grandmother’s house. Grandmother is dead. Take the wolf, yeah the wolf. All hair, saliva dripping for his canine teeth, drool covering up the yellow, because he’s young, he doesn’t twig his teeth like his momma youth told him to do. He’s young now, virile, and his canine teeth which point to the sky, are strong, as is Young Wolf. How do you think our wrinkled old Red would do?

So that’s my version, but basically I think that we, older people say, “Youth is wasted on the young,” when in fact we have something they haven’t earned yet. Wisdom. Worth every straw that broke our back in the early days.

If I had to do it all over again, I’d be clearer. I’d be insightful, and I’d call the police on my neighbor Sugar-Baby Martin. Sugar Baby Martin was an old lady with precious little wisdom or for that matter kind thoughts wandering around in the billiard room of her brain.

She would bake fresh bread, and the smells of same would kill me. Finally, one day, I broke down, and wandered over to her broken down porch, up those three white stairs that badly needed paint, and would help a youth earn money if she hired one to help her fix up stuff. I knocked on her screen door, the one that didn’t quite shut. You know how screen doors are. Boy, they work the nerves. She answered that Tuesday morning, and it was about eleven o’clock, and she had something in her hand. A freshly baked loaf of round bread, glossy top from butter spread over it, and I felt it warm and secure in my hands. This was unusual, but I wasn’t about to turn away from a gift from Sugar-Baby Martin.
I guess she wasn’t mad at me for throwing her cat Sour Bo Martin out of my second story window. She baked me bread. Maybe she’d forgiven me.

I thank her, and watched my step going down those 3 rickety planks she called stairs and headed towards my house, my kitchen, my butter set out so it wouldn’t be cold. I set that bread on the bread board, pulled out my best bread cutting knife and cut off the end piece. Don’t you just love that end piece, so pure, so crusty, and so ready to be inhaled?

Well a moment on the lips and forever on the …. You fill it in. That bread was filled with kitty litter, and I thought it was raisins, and now I have a rather large bill from the dentist, and haven’t stopped tossing my cookies (a genteel phrase for vomiting).

Just because her cat Sour Bo Martin, snuck into my house for the umpteenth time and barfed fur balls filled with poop on my white, umpteenth thread count, cotton pillowcase, and just because she saw me throw him out my back window, she got her revenge.

Youth wasted on the young. I wouldn’t give Sugar Baby Martin noth’in, no more. As for South Bo Martin? You ask? He lived. Fell on my yellow hammock, but one leg broke, and now he don’t jump as well as he did.

Youth wasted on the Young? Think of reputedly sweet, scourge of the neighborhood, Sugar Baby Martin, and that vile feline Sour Bo Martin. She doesn’t need youth. She needs the trash can, and that’s what I think.

Joy!

Oink - melted on the tongue

fabulous ladies

happy moms

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

Happy, Happy

The Honeymooners

The fabulous Miss R
To die for

Darling children

rock on

handsome dear men

Everyone was happy

waiting for the bride
The flower girl was dear

Happy Bride and Groom

Outside of room waiting for Chiara before the wedding

Chiara's Mom - the other Guam traveler

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

Taking care of Paper BusinessEsther and the wonderfully lovely Chiara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How’s by you?

 

Marsha J. Evans, President, CEO of The American Red Cross. Salary for year ending 06/30/03 was $651,957 plus expenses. Brian Gallagher, President of the United Way  receives a $375,000 base salary, plus numerous expense benefits. UNICEF CEO receives $1,200,000 per year plus all expenses and a ROLLS ROYCE car where ever he goes and only cents of your  dollar goes to the cause.

The Salvation Army’s Commissioner Todd Bassett receives a salary of only $13,000 per year  (plus housing) for managing this $2 billion dollar organization

Authors On The Rise Interviews K.L. B…

You Carry the Heavy Stuff

Authors On the Rise Is happy to bring you an interview with Esther Bradley- DeTally, author of: You Carry The Heavy Stuff. Please grab a copy of her book and post your reviews.

Dee: Please tell us about you the person and the author.

Esther: Glad that’s worded that way, because above all we are all persons first. In 1990 I started publishing personal and reflective essays in various journals. A writer friend from Israel had recommended me and many other yet to be published writers to write for a particular publication in Australia/New Zealand. This journal was globally distributed. When my friend suggested I submit some of my stuff, I thought, “Is that stuff under the bed collecting dust balls?” But in 1992 I was married to my wonderful husband Bill and we were living in Ukraine, in the City of Dnepropetrovsk, and this magazine published an essay about our lives in Ukraine.

I’m from Boston, born in Boston, and I remember blackout curtains from World War II on our windows and peeing in the dark. I remember the 50s and being a Catholic girl and going to a public high school. I had no writing inclination, but read voraciously from six years on. A huge influence was my mom who became a major alcoholic, but was a lover of books and also taught Latvian women to speak and read English when they came to our little brown rented house on Wren Street, and they spoke of the Iron Curtain, and their husbands lost behind this curtain. I remember thinking in images of a giant iron shower curtain spread across a vast land.

I grew up in a stratified society, where people drew lines about religious affiliations, class position, race, difference. I was a child in the 40s, a young girl in the 50s and was Catholic. In my twenties, I drove to California after the Cuban crisis, drove out by myself. My mother had died; my father remarried; my twin was somewhere; the family was dysfunctional and scattered. My older brother and sister weren’t around. I was a legal secretary and outwardly gutsy but inwardly a wimp.

I discovered the Baha’i Faith at 27, and felt as if I stepped out of a black and white photograph into the land of color. I stopped drinking, even though I hadn’t yet connected the dots of alcoholism sitting in my family’s history box for generations. I immediately became aware of the oneness of humanity, and my old stereotypical views fell off me like corrugated cardboard. Still, until I die, I must be aware of prejudice and how it is inhaled by a baby when born. My life is incredibly full –I teach writing to homeless women and others. I give a lot of free workshops. I guess you could say my husband and I are activists as we totally believe in service to the community at large. I used to be fearful but didn’t show it, and I faced life and have crawled over railroad tracks in Donetsk and been in Ukraine during the Russian coup and written a book about it. I’ve been to Siberia, and I have a son Nicholas who is married and a granddaughter. One last thing: I jump out of airplanes to say hello to Pug Dogs even if they are only dark little dots on the ground. That’s sounds very year-booky.

Mostly I totally believe in the splendor of the human condition, and am horrified by the meanness of our age, but have tremendous hopes for the future. I believe one becomes mystical by embracing the grit of one’s time and that we should be anxiously concerned about the needs of our age. I am the last of my siblings, my twin having died a few years ago. I’ve survived heart surgeries, blah, blah, blah, and walk an hour a day; sound like a gadabout and light up like a pinball machine when celebrating, reading, writing, a good book, justice, being a solace to someone else, being a source of light and laughter.

Dee: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Esther: In 1980, when I got a chance to go back to college, I wanted to learn writing.

Dee: Did you take any classes or go to school to learn to write, or did it just come naturally?

Esther: No. Writing letters came naturally, but I had no idea whether studying writing would ruin my fledgling writing or not. I went to UC Irvine and enrolled as a junior at 42 as a single mom, fresh from what felt like 100 years of work as a legal secretary. I majored in English as I read voraciously and thought that the most practical. I had no dreams of becoming an attorney. I took a summer class and wrote a story about a blue dye eviscerating the earth from a jeans factory and a dog named Lance I think. I didn’t have the knowhow or the courage to have dialogue. There was lance, the blue die, the inhabitants of earth leaving the planet, and the owner of lance, a woman who died.
My first writing teacher said, “Take every writing course this school has to offer.”

I took expository writing in the second quarter and the TA said “Take every writing course this school has to offer,” because I wrote a piece about who I was after reading an excerpt of May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude. Reader her talk about depression, writing and planting flowers caused me to think, I can do this. I remember feeling electrified, not hugely, but nevertheless animated.

I then took Beginning Fiction with Oakley Hall, and I was nervous. He has written a book on the novel; was co-head of the UCI Writing Program, and is well respected. He went to Iowa I think. I was nervous until I looked under the large square table where we all assembled, and I saw faded purple Rit died socks, and then looked up into his broad face, and kind eyes, and his hair looked like yarn. He taught how to show, how to be the camera eye, how to use strong verbs, and I flourished.

I then went on to take an advanced writing class with the other co-head who didn’t like older women, but thought I was a very good writer. He tried to discourage me, and I think he did so, because he didn’t make it in the way he expected. It was rough, but I hung in.

Then I took journalism with a very good Journalist who had been nationally known, and he said, “You are a good writer, but what the hell are you trying to say.” I also took courses after graduating as part of teacher training in teaching secondary writing, and Writing the Natural Way. I use those methods when I teach workshops.

I also took from the Pied Piper of Workshop Leaders, Jack Grapes in Los Angeles who is a method writing teacher, and I took his beginning workshop. Then I waited 10 years, took his advanced courses, and around 2003 I was bursting through sound barriers. . I have written 2 books: Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia and You carry the Heavy Stuff, the most recent.

I took a UCLA class too and we were not allowed to praise or criticize anyone’s writings, no comments, but the instructor told me I was very good. So yes, I took classes and really learned method, and craft of showing, use strong verbs, and still read voraciously.

Dee: Please tell us about your book and how you came up with the idea for it.

Esther: As I mentioned I had a previous book, and the 2nd edition has pictures. Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, about our 3 year period before, during and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. It is a personal view, a behind the scenes sideways type of thing – personal, funny, sad, hard, and spiritual.

I joined CHPercolator Coffeehouse for writers because my friend Steve kept encouraging me. We all give prompts to write about at periodic intervals and thus, writers from around the globe write or not write every day.

After 2 years, I looked at my previous writing and the CHPerc bundle, and thought “It’s time to do another book.” It’s called You Carry the Heavy Stuff and has a street sign that says, “It’s all grist for the Mill, been there, done that, what’s next,” with a pug’s back to the reader and a tall thin red-haired lady with an old leather type valise, inky papers sticking out of it, and she’s wearing red high top sneakers. That’s my persona. I have used “It’s all grist for the mill” so much; people will soon begin to scream.

I had a mother in law who was the size of a small tree trunk and didn’t take noth’in from no one and we lived with her after we came back from Russia because we didn’t think it was wise for her to live alone. When I first met her, Bill and I were packing up our bags to drive away, and she and I were loading stuff at an open trunk, when this low growly voice (hers) said to me, “You carry the heavy stuff for him.” So I wrote a piece about her.

Anna was her name, and Italian momma was her game. I both laughed inwardly and groaned. I wasn’t insulted. Had I been 20, I’d have run away. This book is a series of poetry and prose about who I was, am; life in an office cubicle; life in middle school and a world view taking shape, life after 9/11; essays on prejudice, which makes my African-American friends cry, and essays on spirituality and eating falafel at the Mercatz (shopping area top of Haifa hills) in Israel. I also talk lightly and deeply about social conditions, Baghdad, being a twin, having a twin die, and packing for the future. All of my pieces reflect varied writing styles.

A fellow writer wrote “You Carry the Heavy Stuff reveals an author who engages life with grit, honesty and good humor. Bradley-DeTally rests thoughtfully at a quiet stream to make serene observations, and then she’s up and away again to fight her good fight with a Tally HO! A refreshing read that combines a depth dimension with the tragicomedy that is life.”

I was going to call the book Writing on the Fly, and I had everything in it: fiction, surrealism, poetry, short stories, and then I trimmed it down and a friend said, “Writing on the Fly is overused.” So I had a brief contest where I promised a few select friends a Starbucks coffee card if they voted on a selection of about 5 titles. You Carry the Heavy Stuff carried the day.

I don’t outline. Let me repeat that I don’t outline. I free write and then I tweak, tweak, tweak. I am pretty spontaneous and word crazy some friends might add.

Dee: Which of your characters were your favorite and why?

Esther: My favorite characters are pugs and the people in Children of the Stolen Ones, a poem I hope which gives honor to my brothers and sisters of African heritage.

Dee: What traits and characteristics did you give some of your characters to make them memorable?

Esther: Courage, nobility and the human condition is a sideways view.

Dee: Does your book have any important themes or lessons you wanted to convey?

Esther: Well, it’s memoir-ish so the traits would be pissy, funny, ballsy, outspoken, socially concerned, deeply spiritual, thrown in with the theme of global citizenship and the inhumanity of man and the humanity of man (generic man of course).

My themes speak of the wonders and need for oneness; the need to throw prejudice off the planet, the nobility of the anonymous and the suffering among us, the struggle and beauty of the dying cancer patients, the humanity of others, and the downright wonders of slinging around language like hash.

Dee: What was the road to publication like? Was it turbulent or fairly easy?

Esther: I am too old to look for an agent, and have a small following – think larger than a beer truck but smaller than the Coliseum in LA so my friend Steve said “Publish through Lulu.” He has done so with several witty books. Reader it was hell, pure unadulterated hell. Very Kafkaesque and tortuous until I finally gave in and bought a Lulu package, and then it was a miracle. Price wise it’s the best so far, but I’m not an enchanted devotee. One gets lost in Lulu like getting lost in the Hotel California, “It’s a lovely place….but you can’t get out …. Lost in the Hotel California. The biggest thing about a book is not thinking about writing one, not thinking about publishing, but marketing after it’s done. My advice is take it step my step and “follow the force” so to speak.

Dee: Please tell a reader what they should know about your book before the purchase them.

Esther: It’s creative non-fiction, spunky, funny, shows a variety of writing styles, almost a book of prompts plus points of view as an extra added package! It’s 14.96 (the extra penny is the hell part.) Also there’s a download – e book type of thing. (You Carry The Heavy Stuff) http://stores.lulu.com/sorrygnat and http://www.amazon.com/Carry-Heavy-Stuff
Esther-Bradley-DeTally. I recommend the Lulu site because you can read some of the pages. I also have some I can mail.

Dee: Words of wisdom for aspiring writers.

Esther: Read, read, read, read, write, journal, write, never give up; take courses, watch, listen learn, imitate, and trust the process.

estherbill@gmail.com http://sorrygnat. Word press. com blog

Dee: What current projects are you working on?

Esther: I am writing a book about someone with deleted memory; in interview process and at the beginning right now. I also teach the writing process, currently with homeless women, and their volunteers, and under the literacy umbrella of local libraries, plus give individual sessions and have writing groups.

Dee: What do you want your legacy to be?

Esther: To have left the world showing worlds of unity, love and laughter, and to be a point of light in the dark dark nights of the soul, and to laugh and yuk about recipes, ham sandwiches and to promote the oneness of mankind, but to write, and know the power of words, the love of them, their ordinariness and majesty and not to worry about publishing, but think of the journey itself.

I wish for a world where everyone is a trust of the whole.

Dee: Thank you for chatting with AOTR! We wish you much success!

Esther’s ten favorites.

Favorite time of day: First cup of coffee brought to me in bed by wonderful husband of 25 years.

Dessert: vanilla ice cream and dark, thick and creamy hot fudge sauce.

Teacher – Miss Halloran, in book; changed my world view from neighborhood to vast history and dimensions and the dangers of war within a 5 minute read of giant poster on her wall.

Social networking site; Facebook

Favorite city: Pasadena

Music: Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez

Color: the rainbow

Pastime: drinking coffee, and talking about real stuff with friends

Book: Oh my the over 600 on Goodreads, but if you don’t have time, Gleanings by Baha’u’llah, and An Interrupted Life, Etty Hillesum 

 http://thomas-fletcher.com/friendwheel/showwheel.php?site=facebook&name=Esther+Bradley-deTally&userid=729263026&pass=e1a66903f8&monthno=09&xmlwheel=1

The Gulf Re-veiled, Art, Dia Magazine Fashion News, Trends & Styles.

Pug Lovers' Paradise

This newsletter has been ongoing for years, as my friendship with TC. Someone from the outside types it and distributes by email. I thought it insightful and would hope that people keep TC, her mom, Barbara, and the like in their prayers. I regularly correspond with her; i had to get clearance, and when I have xtra $ i send her stuff to pay for school or something, but that’s a private matter.

Here it is:

The T.C. & Mama ´P´ Newsletter – 3rd QTR, 2010

Dear Family of Friends,

The response to our last issue of this newsletter was quite overwhelming. I was very open and apparently, successful in making myself clear in my details about life behind these walls. I understand that it may not be easy for some folks to grasp what it is like for us, so I make every effort to bring forth clearly detailed expressions to paint vivid pictures in your own minds. Life behind the walls here is nothing like those fake prison scenes in daytime soap operas. It is nothing like the movies made in Hollywood. It has its good times of less stress than others, but it also has its moments of fear, anger, victimization, survival, hunger, violence, and extortion. There are bullies around every corner; there are angels with every breath. There is racism, prejudice, and steriotyping. However, there is also a strong sense of sisterhood, womanhood, call it what you want. Sometimes in the air there is the smell of pepper spray and verbal assaults … but sometimes more than not, there is the scent of unity as one subculture in our own little micro world. Like the weather, it varies.

In this issue I will share more details and facts that have no business being buried. I intend to open your eyes a little wider to see what is really happening. Some may feel that in my doing so, I am focusing on the negative. I differ in my opinion I feel that it is important to focus on the negative so that, not only do I know what is striving to suppress me, but I can strategize how to turn it into something positive. One of my favorite quotes is by the philospher, Nietchze. He wrote, „what does not kill us, makes us stronger.“ As you well know, I have lived my life according to that wisdom the best that I can the last 15 years since I broke my silence about the past. As prisoners, well over 3500 women here at CCWF are doing their bet to overcome our pasts … pasts that got us here one way or another.

One woman who made the best of her past, used her scars as lessons to others, and taught me a lot about doing your prison time instead of letting the sentence overtake and control you, is Deborah Peagler – AKA, Tripp. She was a tool and vessel of God‘s choosing, and she did reach me. This issue of the newsletter is being dedicated to the life and memory of Deborah ‚ ´Tripp´ Peagler, our beloved Friend.

Namasté

T.C. & Mama ´P´

Riding A Rainbow

I mentioned Tripp a couple of issues back. She had been brutalized by a guy named Oliver Wilson from the age of fifteen. He did the most horrible things to her, it is a wonder she survived. When two male friends tried to convince Wilson to not hunt Tripp down anymore after she escaped him once more, the altercation turned deadly, resulting in Wilson‘s death. The men were prosecuted and sentenced, as was Tripp, although she wasn‘t party to the homicide. Her case had Battered Woman Syndrome written all over it, yet her Public Defender never addressed it. After 26 years in prison for a murder she did not plan, nor commit, she was released. The governor did not block the Parole Board‘s recommendation because Tripp was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer,a nd expected to not live past three more weeks.

Ten months after her release from prison, Tripp was still enjoying life and reunification with her two daughters and grandchildren. She wrote when she could, and even sent me the most beautiful lighthouse notecards for my birthday in February, knowing my admiration for lighthouses. She seemed to be gaining strength and turning into a miracle before our eyes, when on June 8th, in the early morning hours, our friend and sister in Christ, passed away.

There are some, including mom and myself, who look at the prison and court system with disgust at how she was even sentenced to life in prison. There is anger at the sheer injustice and an echo of sentiment that not only had she gone from Wilson‘s prison to California‘s prison system, but her children were rubbed as well. It just isn‘t fair.

In the same breath, I see the positive. She had the last ten months of her life free with her family. To die in prison is every lifer‘s worst nightmare. But there‘s more …..

Tripp was one of the few founding members to propose and initiate the U-turn program directed at helping youth-at-risk. In her years of service, she reached well over 1000 kids. For each kid she reached, they are like a ripple in the water, and Tripp ultimately reached even more people through each child. You see, for every person that childd comes into contact with, Tripp is vicariously reaching due to her initial contact with that child. There must be thousands feeling the effect of Tripp‘s story and words of encouragement, hope, possible change, and love.

Tripp was on the church choir and through that channel she reached many as well. When I arrived to CCWF in 1992, I was mad at God for allowing us to not only live a lie of pain in a house of secrets, but to allow us to be sentenced to life in prison with open, but invisible wounds. I rebelled by turning my back on God. I went rogue as far as religion went, and I pretty much went from light to dark. Tripp invited my girlfriend Lory, to join the choir. She was fond of Lori and through Lori unknownst to her, Tripp had reached my darkened heart. I sat in the dark of my cell one night all alone in my self-pity and asked God if He could forgive me for my turning away from Him. In His way, He led me to a verse in the New Testament. I read it. It was John 12:35 „He who walks in darkness knows not where he is going. Walk in the light while it is with you.“ I was blown away, as my prayer clearly asked about light and dark. About a week or so later I went to look the verse up again, but „Accidentally“ looked up John 11:35 … „And Jesus wept.“ So did I.

I am not proud of my rebellion against God. I‘m not bragging about it in sharing my confession and testimony. I tell you only to say that the messenger God chose to reach into my hardened heart, was Deborah Peagler. And it‘s not just words when I say I‘m eternally grateful.

I feel badly for Tripp‘s family who were separated from her for so many years. I felt bad for Tripp that she was a prisoner since age fifteen and the system had failed her in so many ways. However, the ones I feel the most sorry for, are the people who never had the honor and privilege of knowing Deborah Peagler.

I wrote Tripp in a letter I believe she received within days of her passing, that I was grateful for her place in my life … in mom‘s life. I told her that we‘ll see her again, where she can find me in a meadow running my fingers through a lion‘s mane. Knowing Tripp, she‘ll be releasing the little kid in herself, riding on a rainbow. I really wish you could have known her. In one way or another, she had made an impact. She always did.

Just The Facts

On May 13th, a state appeals court found Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had „distorted the record“ evidence in justifying his blocking the parole suitability of Joseph Calderon.

Calderon had consistenly accepted responsibility in the death of a security guard in 1993 during a botched rubbery. It wasn‘t part of the plan, but it did happen. Calderon was 23 years old at the time.

Fact … Calderon underwent special therapy for alcoholism and behavioral issues.

Fact … he temporarily joined a prison gang at the onset of his incarceration as expected from peer pressure, but dropped out and risked his own safety by giving a briefing to prisons officials. If you know anything about men‘s prisons and prison gangs, then you know that took a lot of guts. The shower scene in the film „American X“ was not an exaggeration of what happens to a prison gang deserter.

These are the facts, yet Arnold blocked the Parole Board‘s recommendation of parole, saying that Calderon „lacked full insight into his crimes,“ had „only sporadically“ taken part in rehabilitation programs, and he furthermore twisted the truth regarding Calderon‘s prison gang activity. He claimend Calderon was in a gang, as in present tense. This goes to show that either Arnold can‘t read, refuses to read the parole Board‘s report, or quite simply doesn‘t trust the opinion of the panel of commissioners that he himself appointed. It must be hell to have all that power and not know how to properly use it. He has overturned the Parole Board‘s decision nearly 60% in 2008 and more than 70% in 2009.

My question is this: Why have a Parole Board at all if their decisions will not be respected by the governor? And furthermore, why even hold a hearing and file a report if Arnold can simply ignore and distort the facts? It is hard enough to win favor with the Board, only to be shot down by someone in a power suit that never took classes at Law School. When will we ever deal with just the facts?

More Facts About Lifers

· Proposition 89 gave the California Governor power to overturn any Parole suitability finding by the (Governor appointed) Parole Board.

· Proposition 89 told voters that there might be a savings to taxpayers if they passed 89, yet 20 years later the findings by investigative journalist Nancy Mullane found the costs of Prop 89 to be more than 16 billion dollars. Billion, with a „B“.

· The CDCR (prison system) did their own study and found that from the mid to late 1940‘s the murder recidivism rate is 2%. A more recent research study indicated that as of 2007, convicted murderers re-offend less than any other offender group, at 3,7%. The next lowers group is more that 20%.

· Prior to Prop 89, the Board routinely paroled nearly 200 lifers a year.

· Governor‘s campaign finances are heavily supported by Victim Rights groups, which in turn are funded by the prison guard‘s union. Why? Because keeping lifers in prison is in their best interest. We help manage the prison, making it easy on staff.

· One in five prisoners is a lifer.

· California‘s prison system is at almost 200% capacity with get this …. 170 thousand prisoners!

· Statistically, only about 1% of all lifers who face the Parole Boad ever get a recommendation and governor‘s blessing. One percent.

· Statuatory code is for the governor to appoint a composition of cross-section representation from the community to the Parole Board. This would be psychologists, retired judges and the like. Arnold, same as Pete Wilson and Gray Davis, has appointed law enforcement personnel and those who are part of Victim‘s Right‘s groups. The current Parole Board is 100% law enforcement.

· The Penal Code requires that a release date be set once the base term has been served.

· The current suitability rate for lifers is 5%.

· The governor‘s „power to review Parole decisions“ has never been used to review a Parole Board denial, but only to review a positive finding and find an excuse to reverse it.

· The recidivism rate in California for older lifers is less than one percent, so why not let my mother go?

Louise and Helen‘s stories

Louise is 70 years old and was locked away for 32 years on a 7 years-to-life sentence. While the Parole Board kept finding her suitable for parole, the governor continued to reverse their decision. Had he system evaluated Louise as to the written regulations, she‘d have been freed in 1984.

Louise worked on her addiction issues while incarcerated. It was her addiction that led to her convicted crime in the first place. She earned vocational certification and had a pretty imprressive C-file. She was a model inmate, yet she had to file a Writ against the Parole Board to seek her freedom. She was blessed with pro beno legal representation. I‘m glad to report that she gained her freedom, although it was nearly three decades later than what the legal code regulates it to have been.

Helen wasn‘t as fortunate. Sadly, Helen was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, although two vital facts were clear: She had no knowledge of any crime being planned, nor was anyone hurt, let alone murdered. Her mistake was trusting her son to not put her in harm‘s way. She unknowingly had transported money for him. Guess what it was for?

Helen‘s kidneys were failing her the last several years of her life, requiring dialysis treatments 2x a week. It too two officers to escort her off of prison grounds all shackled up to an outside community center to complete the dialysis.

Helen served her base term sentence and sought parole, but the Parole Board denied her relase even though legally, they should have. She couldn‘t walk 30 yards without having to stop, sit on her walker seat, and catch her breath. How did she pose any threat to society? They further impacted the indignant insult of a denial by stating, „she didn‘t have firm employment plans.“ Yes, they actually expect you to gain firm employment regardless of your health if you are a lifer seeking parole. I should add, Helen was 85 years old. She gave up all hope and died in prison last year.

It cost about one million dollars a year to keep Helen in prison, due to her health complications. In Louise‘s case, I actually have a breakdown for her incarceration. In her case, the average cost for an inmate incarcerated from 1985-1996 was $49K a year. It was $138K a year for every year after 1996. Being that they held her for 26 years beyond her legal earliest possible release date, taxpayers spent 2.6 million dollars to keep Louise incarcerated after they‘d already forked out over $340K for her originally determined sentence. Taxpayers forked out over six million for Helen to remain illegallly incarcerated.

So, when anyone asks me why I have zero faith in the Parole Board or governor‘s review, it is a lot easier to just share some of the stories of other lifers who should have been released, but weren‘t. Our legal system is crippled. Our prison system is hell bent to keeping lifers in custody for job security (Parole Board) and to help maintain the prisons with structure and balance. We are quite literally political prisoners. Nothing more, nothing less. I told you not just Louise and Helen‘s stories, but ours as well. There are four ways out of prison: escape, parole, the courts, and death. I only see one of those alternatives as actually reasonable. It will take a judge to release us. We don‘t want to end up like Helen. So if you question why I don‘t trust the Parole Board, read this piece again.

Medical Receiver

The court appointed receiver over all 33 California state prisons has made some waves that Arnold‘s administration is none too happy with. The receiver oversees all areas of the 33 medical departments. If he says they need to do this or change that, it gets done. The problem is that modification costs money … money the state doesn‘t have.

The receiver was originally appointed in 2006 to improve the dysfunctional medical system. There has been much success, beginning with replacing MTA‘s with RN‘s. An MTA is a cop with the title of Medical Technician‘s Assistant. At best, they handed out hot meds and bandages, and took your vital signs. They couldn‘t perform CPR if your life depended on it, nor did half of them care to. They couldn‘t tell an asthma attack from a heart attack, so they were the first thing to go, thank God, literally.

The receiver has since proposed the construction of a 10.000 bad medical facility at the cost of six billion dollars. Arnold choked on his spit, because he‘s already sitting on a projected $20 billion deficit through June 2011. The receiver modified his proposal to house 3,400 inmates at a mere 1.9 billion dollars. Arnold decided to try to get rid of the receiver, but in April the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federally appointed receiver can continue to improve medical for the 33 prisons.

It should be noted that the court pointed out in it‘s decision that, „The receivership was imposed only after the state admitted its inability to comply with consent orders intended to remedy the constitutional violation in its prisons.“ At least the Feds are looking out for us. Now, if only they‘d take over the entire prison system, including the Parole Board.

Q & A With T.C.

Q. Can you plant a garden at CCWF for fresh fruits & vegetables?

A. No. The prison wouldn‘t allow it, fearing we‘d bury contraband in the process to retrieve as needed. Also, there would be a lot of fighting over bully territory and theft by non-growers.

Q. What is going on with your college plans? Any changes?

A. No. The turmoil between staff runs off a top us, and the vice-principal has seen to it that the classroom we had been using, will once again become a staff breakroom. Even if we had a volunteer doctorate student to proctor for us, they would need to be here M-F 800-1500 hours. If they agreed to that, there‘d be no classroom availability, staff would see to that.

Q. Will Melissa Huckaby go to CCWF now that she‘s sentenced?

A. Yes, it could happen. There are three women‘s prisons! CCWF and VSP in Chowchilla, and CIW in Frontera (Southern Cal). The woman guilty in the death of the little cantu girl in Tracy, CA will be housed at any of these three, but most likely at VSP, and in Protective Custody at first.

Q. Where can I find that song by Meatloaf that you shared in the last newsletter?

A. Not sure of original release, but I have it on Meatloaf‘s „Best of Meatloaf“ double cassette set.

Q. Does CCWF do anything special for 4th of July?

A. The first thingI‘ll do, is salute the American flag I have hanging over our cell door. I do that everyday. The prison has a BBQ every year with a hot dog, hamburger, beans, cofn, watermelon, salad, fruit crisp, and usually iced drink. There will be inmate sponsored games on the yard. The only fireworks we see are on TV. This year they elimanated hot dogs and melon.

Q. Can your mom get Omega-3 oil there at CCWF?

A. At our cost, yes. It is good for lowering the cholesterol, and I believe it is heart healthy to the blood pressure as well. They used to RX it to her, but then there‘s the budget cuts to contend with. In June I had decided to begin campagning for the quarterly box vendors to offer it with their other supplement options, but they beat me to it.

Q. You mention the almond orchards out of your window. Do you get lots of almonds to eat?

A. No, not at all. The entire area surrounding the prison is almond orchards. They are harvested by inmate labor, which is hard work in this valley‘s scorching heat for 12 cents an hour. The almonds are sold for profit by PIA FARM. I‘ve elected to order raw untreated almonds in our quarterly box. No salt, no sugar, no coating. Good for the heart!

Q. Did the box vendors grant your request for better water immersion heaters (stingers) and Vegan Friendly Foods?

A. No. The stingers are still that worthless NORPRO brand. Union Supply says they forwarded my letter to their marketing dept. They didn‘t offer the Vegan friendly foods yet, but did grant my request for more diabetic friendly foods that are sugar-free to watch glucose levels. You win some, you need to pester for more. My mission continues, I never learned how to quit once I advocate for something.

A Few Corrections

In the previos newsletter, a type in a particular had a few of you scratching your heads. Mom had her hysterectomy in the free world in 1976, over thirty years ago. No, it was not here at CCWF in 1996.

The website to find the petition to help save the dolphins from slaughter in Japan is SaveJapanDolphins.com. The typo read SAFE instead of SAVE. Sorry about that.

Anna has to contend with my carpal tunnel penmanship in transferring my written words into the newsletter format. So, whenever there is a typo, it‘s most likely on me. With English being her second language, she does a pretty darn good job in helping make this newsletter. As a matter of fact, it wouldn‘t be possible without her.

Medication Cutbacks

There has been a notification flyer posted that effective the end of this year, many of the prescriptions we receive will be eliminated. Those medications are selective items such as cough drops, cold and flu items, digestive aids, and all vitamin supplements. We will be expected to purchase these items on canteen (except not all are available due to shelf space), or in our quarterly boxes. So, what is the indigent inmate expected to do? In a word: suffer.

Mom and I both have GERD (acid reflux disease) thanks to two decades of prison food. We take generic brand of Prilosec on a daily basis. That is on the hit list! We cannot find relief throughTums … not good enough. If the CMO refuses to fill an RX for Prilosec, I will file a 602. We are property of the State. Take care of us or let us go! That‘s my motto.

The canteen sells Motrin, but not Aspirin. Motrin will kill your kidneys, and mom‘s are already in trouble. Aspirin is iffy as to being on the hit list.

The entire purpose is to save money, but at the risk of making our health worse. This decision has ironically came down from Clark Kelso, the current Medical Receiver who is supposed to be on our side! He‘s trying to cut over $800 million in the medical budget to pacify Arnold Schwarzenegger. When he‘s cutting medications and outside specialists, I have to wonder just who‘s best interests he‘s interested in. I‘m not feeling too confident that it is ours anymore.

AB2232

Assembly Bill 2232 is before the Assembly Public Safety Committee. This is a move to raise our medical co-pay from the current five dollar fee, to ten dollars. Yes, even in prison, we have to pay for our medical care, even if half of our conditions are due to the prison lifestyle.

If I have six dollars on my acccount, they will take five just to see the doctor. In the near future that visit may not even gain a much needed RX. If I have no money, they‘ll place a hold on my account and require that I pay that debt before I can buy a bar of soap or tube of toothpaste.

So, if I have no money and I see that doctor, who will not be allowed to prescribe meds I may need, why see the doctor at all? If I pay the co-pay but have nothing left to pay for my meds if available on canteen, why see the doctor at all? I think the goal here is to discourage us from requesting to see the doctor. Cut our available meds and double the co-pay fee, which many cannot afford. This may permit the CDCR to cut staff positions to save money. Yes, I think that‘s their plan.

What Is Considered Indigent Status?

If you have one dollar or less, you‘re indigent. If you have one dollar and one cent or more, you‘re rich.

If you qualify for indigent status, you‘ll receive one bag of hygine product a month: shampoo, hair grease, flossers, toothpaste, horrible toothbrush and vaseline tube. You‘ll also receive 20 stamped envelopes.

If you don‘t qualify because you have over one dollar and a penny, good luck, you‘ll need it. Shampoo on canteen is one-eighthy. You can‘t even afford two bars of the cheapest soap! Indigent status used to be $5 or less, but the budget decided to affect the inmate population in a harsher way. You cannot buy your hygiene for the month for even $5, let alone one buck! What a joke.

If you‘re wondering what an indigent inmate does to survive, they either get a hustle in here, or those with more, help those with less. They system counts on that. It saves them money.

Late Breaking News!

The filmmaker Yoav Potash completed the documentary on Deborah Peagler‘s life story. It is called „Crime After Crime“, and is due to be released next year.

I‘m glad to report that Debbie was able to view the film at a February 4th premier screening.

For more on the film, visit the website FreeDebbie.org and there may be links to the film.

How Much Does A Guard Make?

A lot! A whole lot!

An officier with seniority is set at $50 an hour, but due to a recent budget crisis pay cut of 15%, they began to make $35. Talk about a difference in comfort! Many of the officiers who got the cut are considering retirement, in which they‘ll receive 90% of their salary, plus full benefits.

On average, a guard makes over $15K in overtime pay a year! Prison is a money making industry. However, their union fought the 15% pay cut and left Sacramento no alternative –they got cut down to minimum wage. On 7/16/10, Arnold reversed that decision.

Help Us, Help To Free Molly Kilgore ….. Please?

In the earlier stories I shared of Helen & Louise, I imagine you found it upsetting.. If so, Molly Kilgore‘s plight should be equally upsetting, however it is not too late to help her gain a second chance. After all, wouldn‘t we all want one?

Molly Kilgore was sentenced in 1979 at the age of twenty, to 7 years-to-life. I was in the ninth grade that year. The average person would assume that by 1985 at her earliest possible release date, she‘d have been paroled. That is not the case. Since 1985, she has had 14 Parole Suitability Hearings, having been found suitable by a court of law in 2005 and finally once by the Parole Board in December 2010. As mentioned before, Proposition 89 grants the governor the power to reverse the Parole Board‘s suitability finding, and that‘s just what Schwarzenegger did recently.

Molly has served 31 years on a 7-years-to-life sentence. She is 51 years old and still fighting for her freedom 27 years past her legal matrix release date. The Board gave her hope for a real New Year when they found her suitable on December 30, 2009. She had hope for a new life ….. a second chance. Arnold however, with absolutely no training in the law, burst her bubble in June 2010 by not agreeing with the findings of his hand picked Parole Board.

There are various excuses that the Board and governor tend to use to deny parole. The most common one is the heinow act of the crime. While the law reads that they are to judge us according to our prison record, they still get away with putting us on trial every single time we appear before them. Again, I will state the obvious: We cannot change our pasts or our crimes. We can only change ourselves to become better people that can fit within the norms of a collective society. In her 2009 hearing, they finally didn‘t hold an inquisition in the death of her victim. They judged her on her records she clearly had been rehabilitated.

Do you want to know why Arnold denied Molly parole? It is the very same obstacle most lifers can‘t hurdle. She didn‘t have employment plans arranged in writing and confirmed for the Board. May I remind you that this is not easy in a stable economy, let alone this one we are facing now? Most employers require a job interview, and well, you‘re supposed to go to them for that, not them coming to prison to do it. They also need to know when you can start, but you won‘t know that answer until you are actually released. Unless you have family or a friend in a position to hold a job open for you indefinitely, this is a catch-22. Employers won‘t grant you a job unless you will be released, and the Board & Governor require you to have a job before you can be released. It‘s almost impossible.

The Board was completely satisfied with Molly‘s many resources for houseing, community support and outreach. They were impressed by the support of both custody & civilian staff at the prison, her vocational skills, accomplishments in the Educational Department, and her ability to adapt and work in unison where ever the prison officials placed her. She‘s been write-up free since 1989, yet they did manage to throw that in her face (although she‘s maintained disciplinary-free for nineteen years!) Do you have any idea how hard that is to do in a place like this? She has an exemplary C-file of progress and achievement reports. Molly has proven that change is possible. Although the prison has continued to cut educational, shelf-help, and just about every rehabilitation option and resource we need, Molly Kilgore has persevered. Even with less, she‘s done more.

I‘m asking that you do three things. First, write a letter in support of her release, using many things I already mentioned in this piece to support your request of consideration. Second, send a copy directly to Molly and one to her counselor listed at end of this piece. And third, visit a petition web site set-up for Molly in support of her release. As of mid-July, there were 69 signatures on her petition.

If each of you signs that petition, we can almost double that! E-mail this newsletter to others who may be interested, and let‘s get more people aware of the politics of prison and parole policy.

Molly Kilgore is one of the women at CCWF that is deserving of a second chance. Society could benefit from her release. So far, it has cost California over two million dollars to keep Molly incarcerated past her legal release date. When is enough ……. enough?

Mail letter to:

Molly Kilgore Central CA Women‘s Facility

W14177 514-05-3L Attn. CCI BRADFORD

P.O. Box 1508 P.O. Box 1501

Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610

Web site: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Free-Molly_Kilgore-31-years-is-enough

From The Heart

„Hear counsel, receive instruction, and accept correction, that you may be wise in the time to come.“ – proverbs 19:20

When I came to prison I had a chip on my shoulder. I was mad at everything, especially the legal system. I had to deal with anger issues, my past, and really poor judgement. There are a lot of younger lifers coming in here and it‘s the older lifers who try to exercise a service that advise the Proverb above. We reach some, we lose some to peer mentality, but in the end we simply do our part to keep things less hectic and help the youngsters get started on the road ahead. It is what others did for us, and we keep the cycle going. I‘m not so angry anymore. I needed counsel, correction and instruction.

So I say from the heart to you: Thank you for your part in the long process. It‘s been a journey; a learning experience. And it still is.

Namasté

T.C. & Mama ´P´

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

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Dear Blog Reader,

I tend to publish items about pug dogs, writing classes, stuff I’ve written, other writers, and always quips of book reviews sneak in every now and then. Last year I found my blog had themes of spirituality and pugs, and the pugs were edging ahead. It may very well be this year, thoughts from Baha’i individuals, institutions, artists, and whomever may appear more on these pages.

the world is complex to say the least, and yet a lot of people say about the Baha’is, “They’re always so happy,” and yes, when we get together, there’s a collective joy and renewal from being with friends, like-minded people, community builders from the greater community.

I became a Baha’i about 45 years ago, and outwardly I looked like an airline stewardess and was probably a little lippy too. Underneath tho, I was scared, ruled by underlying anxieties. Transformation came slowly, some patches in my life were incredibly arduous, and I bless every moment. I am at the point where my favorite quote from the Baha’i Writings is, “Nothing save that which profiteth them shall befall My loved ones.” I believe that quote applies to all of humanity, and that we’ve finally achieved the status in the world of a toe step into the circle of Coming of Age. With that in mind, I’d like to humbly offer a paragraph quoted from our recent letter To the Baha’is of the Word, from our international governing body, The Universal House of Justice. It concerns all of us. The message really addresses all of humanity:

“Baha’u’llah’s Revelation is vast. It calls for profound change not only
at the level of the individual but also in the structure of society. “Is not
the object of every Revelation”, He Himself proclaims, “to effect a
transformation in the whole character of mankind, a transformation that shall
manifest itself, both outwardly and inwardly, that shall affect both its inner
life and external conditions?” The work advancing in every corner of the globe
today represents the latest stage of the ongoing Baha’i endeavour to create the
nucleus of the glorious civilization enshrined in His teachings, the building
of which is an enterprise of infinite complexity and scale, one that will
demand centuries of exertion by humanity to bring to fruition. There are no
shortcuts, no formulas. Only as effort is made to draw on insights from His
Revelation, to tap into the accumulating knowledge of the human race, to apply
His teachings intelligently to the life of humanity, and to consult on the
questions that arise will the necessary learning occur and capacity be
developed.”

Stay wonderful…..esther

Reader, I am prompts person this week for CHPercolator for Writers and I must admit they were a little odd, gave me pause, so here’s what i wrote to my own prompts (using all of them) go to Yahoo’s CHPercolatorforWriters:
But I don’t think of blood. I thought this was the German blog and that CHPerc
was for Maxwell House devotees reunions. I had a difficult relationship with my
blood when I first got my sainted St. Jude Plastic Heart Valve. But now,
because I did a quick intake of breath on my first conscious awareness of a
foreign object ticking noticeably in my heart area in 1995, and with that breath
said, “Welcome. If you weren’t there as a full fledged aortic valve, I shudder
to think in what condition I might be.

For instance, I’m happy now to know my innards carry a never ending series of
light rail cars or trains, and that besides my inner mind’s landscape which has
traffic jams and nettling long lights, my physiological system is up and
running. Toot. Toot, Not only like a train system, maybe it’s like a river.
Now there’s a river, and I see ,,,,, oh bollocks, off track again.

Well the big thing in my young life is imagining my brain as three sloppy scoops
of ice cream. I mean I think they’d be on a cone, not a flaky little square
think that looks like it got manufactured at the dollar store, no my cone would
be like an urn, large and wide at the top; with flaky waffle imprints all around
it, down to its pointy, pointy bottom. The NPR guy said “3 scoops of ice cream
cone,” and that you could think of these scoops as your brain.

Does this mean my brain drips, sags, spills, stains? What I do know is I could
make them different flavors. Frog could be solid chocolate, firm, foundational,
and the middle scoop Reptile could be Praline and Vanilla, sort of twisty, the
praline would gently touch the top one Squirrel which would be plain Vanilla
with chocolate chips, stored by Squirrel, ever conscious that it doesn’t always
live in Pasadena and it must plan and save ahead.

Finally, the something or other bellum surrounds this cone of magnificent
splendor. I’d name my ice creams, not Frog, Reptile, or Squirrel, but imagine
them as pet names, like Stinky, Inky and Winky, or Sluggo at the bottom, Nancy
in between, and Ferret on the top.

All of which makes me wonder about the abandoned tunnels of my mind, nothing but
loose cabooses of railway cars shooting through, not stopping. Oh dear.

Well I’ve seen Woody Woodpecker cartoons, cobbled together my life and eaten
some cobblers and love the sound of “cobble, cobbles, cobbles.” I am
co-operative, but am I a Co-operative, but wait when I was 21 (when the earth
was young and you could still see primordial bubbles from your back porch) an
attorney I worked for gave me a Charles Addams Wednesday doll, and he bought it
from the Harvard Coop or Co-op, and it was a Christmas gift becuz I was his
secretary, and I went flying around all floors of the firm, ecstatic to show my
gift.

I was more manic then. Life has honed my psyche down, and upped my physical
presence, i.e., I have a bigger shadow on the sidewalk. Question of the day;
“Does my shadow look fat”?

Answer that question, and like a cultural sleuth that you are, you can
determine, country of origin, and maybe which coast, the left or right the
original questioner lives, or the best coast some people say. No, a duck will
not come out of the ceiling, but you will feel the satisfaction of knowing, and
maybe identifying silly clues, all the while as your derriere goes by a Ross
Dress for Less Window, and you note your nose was ahead of you a good city
block.

Does Ann of Green Gables qualify? Many a Gable makes a gobble and one could
cobble those phrases together if one wanted to bore the hell out of next weeks
respondees to prompts, so one won’t.

But I’ve never played Polo.

Now the perfect man is another matter. I have Old Friends, new friends, young
friends, weird friends (the best) and all manner of friends; I have a husband
who is the perfect man for me, notice the small letters, no initial caps for
this guy, but he’s an earthly being who sometimes I want to wrap around the
pole, but then I remember my own looming eccentricities and feel gratitude
instead; so he’s my perfect man, and we have one bed and two coffees which he
bring to me every morning, no he doesn’t bring the bed, but the coffee.

And so as the sun beams into my right eyeball, and I am late for a doctor’s
appointment with the Perfect Man, and I am in my imperfect flannel, plaid,
green, black, purple nightshirt, I will escape this cobbled rambling and slither
hither and thither into the day.

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;

Thursday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., I will be reading from my lastest book You Carry the Heavy Stuff! at La Pintoresca Library, corner of Raymond and Washington in Pasadena.

Would love to see you there!

Listen up cuz this isn’t about numbers, unless you’re counting meat patties, which are build your own, fresh 100% natural Angus beef, and hormone and antibiotic free if you want to know.  Am I for real, you betchum.  Laura, Nick and be still my heart, Jessica came up, and celebrated early Mother’s Day for this old Sorry Gnat for if you really want to know isn’t sorry at all. 

we went to the counter and it’s in Pasadena next to the Green Street Restaurant, and when my build your own burger came, which to be exact was a Veggie Burger, and lots of buildings on it like grilled onions, red, thin, round onions with tart taste, crisp cool green cucumber slices, slathers of tomato slices, laying on top like a comforter and then the piece de resistance (can’t find my French accents on this pewter), I felt as if I were having a religious experience, and you know what; that veggie burger was light, refreshing, and solidly nutritious, and this wasn’t even a Pepsi moment.

Feeling light and fit and filled with good food, company, and I met the owner, and liked him so much, shook hands.  Well, he had laughed when I said, this is a religious experience, but I wish him well.

So It’s 140 Shoppers Lane in Pasadena, California 91101 and the website is thecounterburger.com

Nice to go to a place where things are so incredibly edible, pretty and no chemicals. My body is in shock and joy.  Shock and Awe that’s it all because of the Counter Custom Built Burgers.  Go there if you haven’t heard of it.

Then I was further spoiled by Jessica who got me a candle with 3 wicks and the most delicious smelling vanilla something or other and Laura and Nick gave me a bracelet which was so totally me. i’d scan it to show you, but not sure; at any rate, it’s like diagonal ivory keys, black and white, angled, and then bracelet is angled too; so me, and then a necklace which is to die for, which I can’t describe now, because i gotta go, and these gifts came from Ten Thousand Villages, a great fair trade outfit on Lake near California, practically next to Starbucks and a must to shop particularly nice for gifts for friends.

We are going to be in the desert on Mother’s Day; same thing happened last year or year before, but Nikki and her husband Shawn will be there, and then Nikki is off to Adelaide, Australia to live, and we will miss her, but her sister Celeste will be happy and her mom and Michael will visit; so all is good on the planet, for this spoiled mom.

“How numerous are those peoples of divers beliefs, of conflicting creeds, and opposing temperaments, who, through the reviving fragrance of the Divine springtime, breathing from the Ridvan of God, have been arrayed with the new robe of divine Unity, and have drunk from the cup of His singleness!

This is the significance of the well-known words:  ‘The wolf and the lamb shall feed together.’    Baha’u’llah (Gleanings)

The Festival of Ridvan — the most sacred Baha’i holiday

http://www.bahai.us/

The Festival of Ridvan (Riz-wahn), celebrated from April 21 to May 2, commemorates the anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s declaration in 1863 that He was the Promised One of all earlier religions.

The Ridvan period is bittersweet, as Baha’u’llah was soon to be exiled to Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey). Baha’u’llah spent 12 days in a garden in Baghdad visiting with His followers. He named the garden Ridvan, which means “Paradise” or “good pleasure” in Arabic.

The Most Great Festival is, indeed, the King of Festivals. Call ye to mind, O people, the bounty which God hath conferred upon you. Ye were sunk in slumber, and lo! He aroused you by the reviving breezes of His Revelation, and made known unto you His manifest and undeviating Path. — Baha’u’llah

When He entered the garden, Baha’u’llah proclaimed the Festival of Ridvan and made three announcements: First, He forbade His followers to fight to advance or defend the Faith (religious war had been permitted under past religions); second, He declared there would not be another prophet for another 1,000 years; and third, He proclaimed that all the names of God were inherent in all things at that moment.

Baha’u’llah’s arrival in Ridvan and his announcement of the Festival of Ridvan mark the moment when the essence of the Baha’i Faith was expressed.

Baha’is suspend work on the holiest days of Ridvan—the first, ninth and 12th . These mark the day of Baha’u’llah’s arrival in the garden, the arrival of His family and the group’s departure for Constantinople.

Throughout Ridvan, Baha’is gather for devotions and attend social gatherings. In Texas, Perry Productions has been staging a Ridvan pageant for the last 10 years. 

At Ridvan, Baha’is annually elect members of local and national administrative bodies, called Spiritual Assemblies. Baha’u’llah taught that in an age of universal education, there was no longer a need for a special class of clergy. Instead, he provided a framework for administering the affairs of the Faith through a system of elected councils at the local, national and international levels. All Baha’i elections occur through secret ballot and plurality vote, without candidacies, nominations or campaigning.