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.

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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).

Available free on request at annaing@centrum.is

Dear Family of Friends,
Welcome to another issue of our quarterly newsletter. Your feedback regarding additon of other writers to introduce additional perspectives, has been upbeat and positive. We have continued to request submissions by other prisoners and hope to keep providing new writers in each issue.
In the years that we‘ve published this newsletter, we have only ever once dedicated an entire issue to a single person. That was to Deborah Peagler, AKA TRIPP. Well, that‘s about to change. This issue is being dedicated to Molly Kilgore. Yes, that‘s right Molly! This one is for you!
When Molly received her 7 years-to-life sentence, I was in the eigth grade. She had no idea she would need to witness seven Presidential terms, two wars, and a parade of governors before hope would be rewarded. She stood tall through it all. If you look up the word perseverance in the dictionary it should list names like Harriet Tubman, Nelson Mandela, and now … Molly Kilgore. You have no idea what it has been like for her. I‘ve only been locked up 22 years compared to her 33 years, and I can only imagine.
Another think that I can only imagine is the elation that filled her as she was reunited with her family on June 20th. I can only imagine what was going through her mind as they drove her off State property to freedom. Yes. Friends, Molly Kilgore is finally free on parole! It took 33 years, a world of hope, a heart of faith, the support of good family and friends, and most of all, the mercy of God.
On Molly‘s behalf, I would like to thank each and every one of you who wrote those letters to the Parole Board and the Governor. Thank you for signing her petition on the web site that was set up to aid in her plight. Every last letter and signature made a difference. Not only the night before, but the morning of her release, Molly gave me far too much credit. She credits our featuring her in the newsletter as a vital turning point in her battle. While we stood together united to support and plead for her release, it is Molly who served the sentence. It was Molly who never put down her shield and kept facing the dragon in battle. I guess it just made it easier when she had a small army behind her. It inspires and reinforces hope. That‘s a terrible thing to lose, hope is. But she gave us too much credit. It is she who persevered.
So, I say to each of you – thank you for helping us, help Molly. Thank you for being a spoke in the wheel of change. God bless each of you for your prayers and assistance in helping the freedom fight of our Friend Molly Kilgore.
And Molly? Yes, I‘m talking to you, girl. You simply amaze me. There are short timers here sniveling about a parole violation and a lousy ten months to serve. Girl, they aint got nothin‘ on you! I‘m so glad you never gave up. I‘m so happy your family was here to embrace you at the gate. It has been our honor and privilege to help you. It has been a true blessing to call you a Friend. We believe in you. You have so much potential, so much to accomplish yet. Take it one day at a time and don‘t let things overwhelm you. Girl, you already beat the dragon. Now is the time to celebrate your life. Congratulations!
Love, Light, Prayers & Hope T.C & Mama P

Mail Delays
Thank you for your patience and understanding regarding the delay in our responses to your incoming mail. The mailroom is understaffed and slow as molasses in January. A 602 was filed to resolve the problem. We hope for the best.

My Friend Molly Kilgore – Respectfully submitted by: La Donna Robinson

Congratulations Molly, I keep hearing people say, „I want to be like Molly!“ Well, I‘m not one of those people. I don‘t want to be like Molly. I don‘t want to give the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation 32 years, 6 months, and 5 days, of my life. Does anyone remember the phrase „Cruel and Unusual“? Well, it is still cruel, that hasn‘t changed at all. But it certainly isn‘t unusual. It has become habitual and routine in the state of California to hold prisoners who are sentenced to an inderterminate sentence, to 20, 30, even more that 40 years in some circumstances. Some of these inmates were sentenced to only 2 years to life, 5 years to life, 7 and 15 years to life long before the mandate of completing the base term even came into effect. In Molly‘s case, she was sentenced to 7 to life, but served the time of someone who was sentenced to two first degree murders. Her prior grants for parole by the Board of Parole Hearings were subsequently overturned by then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Molly will forever be loved and remembered by me and will live in my heart for the rest of my days. As the saying goes, „Bye Molly! See ya…but most definitely do not want to be ya.“

Making Amends submitted by Angel Meza
Sometimes, we as humans lose ourselves on the highways of life. We fall short of our direction of just who we truly are, or the values our mother, father, grandmother, and others taught us as we were growing up. So, today let‘s make a difference by making amends.
For years I have struggled with trying to atone for the harm that my actions have caused others. This goes for those that I have harmed both directly, as well as indirectly, through my poor example.
I have a gnawing guilt for those that I misguided through my actions, and whose futures I feel I have robbed by way of my example. Whenever I see or hear about a youngster coming to prison, I am reminded of the painful fact that my own actions contributed to the negative culture that influenced that individual. This awarness …. insight if you will … provides the fuel for my desire to atone.
Over the years I have come to understand that making amends is not an act, but rather a way of life. It is a spark that ignites within you (remorse) and empowers those around you.
As the saying goes, „You can give without loving (an act), but you cannot love without giving (a way of life).“ Making amends is exactly that. You can make amends without being remorseful, but you cannot be remorseful without making amends. Writing a letter to your victim is an act of amending; having the nature of character that seeks to contribute to others is a way of life. One is fleeting, while the other is lasting.

In making amends I cannot undo what has been done, but I can do better than I did. In other words, while I cannot change the past, I can affect the future. By improving on my self, I can positively impact those around me as opposed to the negative results of my previous behaviour. I can be ever mindful of my ability to influence those around me in a more positive manner. Especially the incorrigible youth offenders coming to prison nowadays. It gives me the opportunity to honor my ability to encourage change. Not when I get out, but now. Nothing like the here and now.
We may not be able to fix all of our past mistakes, but we can address the ones we can. I cannot express enough how making the smallest amends can make the biggest difference. Anything doen from the heart is always worth the effort.
Always.

Nothin‘ Like Friends In Low Places
When I first arrived at C.C.W.F., I was warned that you don‘t have friends in prison. I was told that people will use me and take any kindness for weakness. I have been there many-a-time both in the free world and this concrete paradise. I know I‘m not alone, you probably have been used, manipulated, and had your heart broken too. With each relationship, regardless of being platonic or more intimate, I have gained knowledge moreso about myself than other people. Each circumstance was a life lesson that was part of my personal blueprint. Each scenario resulted in a personal inventory.
To this day I still hear that you don‘t have friends in prison. They prefer to say that you have associates. Yes, while I have many associates, I still have friends that are at home in my heart. If you were to ask me what I thought of or feel for Dee Dee, Pops, Niki, Belinda, Tanisha or Molly, i lwould tell you that they are my friends, and I love them. Ah, there is that L-word that is thrown around all too loosely in prison. I hear „I love you“ so much that I now joke, „oh, so much love in prison!“ I‘m telling you, if there was half as much love in the middle east as there is in prison, we never would have gone into Afghanistan or Iraq.
What is love anyway? My definition includes being when you care more about someone else than you do your own self. It is unselfish and kind, it is given without expectation of reward. It can be in the smallest actions or compassionate deeds. It is when Dee Dee needs to talk, and no matter how dog-dead-tired I may be, I‘m right there. That‘s what I mean by putting someone before yourself. It‘s when Pops missed Huera when she paroled, and needed a shoulder to lean on, so I volunteered on weekends to work even when it was windy as Chicago and cold as Alaska. It was when Niki needed help with her case to see if she could get a reduction in her ridiculously lengthy sentence. I didn‘t really know a lick about legal research or where to even begin, bu I‘ve learned to navigate my way around the law library and find case law that may be of relevance in her freedom fight. What else would a true friend do? Yes, you do have friends in prison. I have friends in prison, and I love them. Yep, the L-word.
No matter where you are in life … free society or prison, people are people. They are like pebbles on the shore, each unique in their own way. It doesn‘t matter what their ethnicity or background is. Some of the nicest people can be found in prison. There are many people in society that probably shouldn‘t be, so it makes no matter where you are. All that really matters is who the person in the mirror truly is.
To open myself up to another person invites the reality of vulnerability. It requires that I open the door and let them in. While I have my own trust issues due to my own childhood and personal relationships that scarred my heart, I still find and believe that there‘s something good in everyone. When I look back on my life once it is over, I would hope to see what looks like a road map. I want to see my own path having crossed many more in this life‘s journey. With each crossing comes insight, growth and wisdom. There may be hearthbreak along the way, but even an airplane is safer on the ground than in the air, but that is not what it was created for. You have to be willing to take the risk, otherwise you‘ll never know what you are missing. The same is true of love and friendships.
So, whenever I hear someone tell me that you don‘t have friends in prison, I just gotta smile, because they are wrong. I know that I have friends, I have friends in prison. And I honestly believe that they know that they have a friend in me. Just goes to show that you shouldn‘t believe everything that you hear. There‘s always going to be a Dee Dee, Pops, Niki, Belinda, Tanisha, Molly or lil ol‘ me to prove them wroing. Why?? Well, don‘tchu know? There is so much love in prison!

*August 7, 2011 is National Friendship Day
So, if you received this in the e-mail or saw your name in print, please know that I am your Friend … and I hope I‘m the kind of someone you‘re glad to call a Friend, and not just an associate. I‘m here for you … and I always will be.

„Da Brain! Da Brain!“

Let‘s talk about the human brain. You know? That thing that weighs about 3 pounds and has about 100 billion neurons with another one trillion supporting cells. The brain has several sections, or structures, all with their own purpose. My focus is on the frontal lobe.
The frontal lobe is where the prefrontal cortex is located. This is where judgment, rational decision making, reasoning, and the logic and understanding of consequences originates from. It governs one‘s capacity for abstract thought, aggression, goal setting, and impulse control. Sounds pretty important, doesn‘t it? It is the power house and command center for cognitive flexibility, however, it is not fully developed until about the age of twenty-five. It is one of the last areas of the brain to mature.
Now, let‘s discuss the temporal lobes. Please, just bear with me, I do intend to make a point. This area contains the limbic-reward system, which includes the amygdala, which regulates emotions that are essential to one‘s survival. This can include fear, pleasure and anger.
The brain is composed of axons, which are like little messengers that communicate across a synapse to a dendrite of a neuron. What T.C.?! In simpler terms, there is a constant circuitry of impulses with a bunch of actions and reactions taking place making it possible for you to read this right now. The axon has a coating on it called the myelin layer, which is like insulation that permits all cognitive funtions. Myelination is a continous process as well, that begins before birth and takes place gradually until adult age.
Okay, so now that you know all of that, let me explain why I presented a biology lesson. You see, there is scientific empirical evidence that the above is all true. We now know that the adoloscent brain is not maturely developed until age 25, with special emphasis on the prefrontal cortex. We are aware that juveniles react emotionally centered (amygdala) because they lack a mature prefrontal cortex that would better regulate emotions in given stressful situation. In realistic terms, a 17 year old is not capable of thinking like an adult, so why is it that our collective society allows retributive justice to be carried outon juvenile offenders, equal to that of more mature adults? The Supreme Court ruled in Roper V. Simmons to ban the death penalty in all juvenile offender cases due to, in their own words, „The court observed that juvenile‘s lack of maturity and comparatively underdeveloped sense of responsibility ofen result in impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions. Juveniles are more susceptible to negative influences and outside pressures, and that the character and personality traits of juveniles are more transitory and less well-formed.“
We live in a society that has heard the evidence, yet lacks the will to help reverse the error in law that they voted into existence. With new emerging science that clearly shows that youth rely upon their emotional center of the brain, which in turn can result in negative consequences, I have to wonder how you can read this and not get mad. I mean, what if were your kid, right? Did you know that between 1992 and 1999, every state except Nebraska passed laws making it easier to try juveniles as adults? Twenty-three states have no minimum age, and last I heard, Kansas and Vermont can try 10-years-olds as adults. Are we still calling ourselves civilized? Is that not barbaric by any measure?
Back to the brain, people. If a 15, 16, or 17-year-old doesn‘t have the biological mental capacity to rationalize a situation in a matter of minutes, let alone the blink of an eye, how can we call them adults? After all, if you sentence them as an adult, you‘re calling them an adult. Want to make a difference? Get involved. Burying our heads in the sand will not fix the problem. Only action on your part will. Go to http://www.fairsentencingforyouth.org or write to them at:

Human Rights Watch
11500 W. Olympic Blvd. #441
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Q & A with T.C.

Q: Did that story about the trip to Yosemite really happen?
A: Yes, it did. I had the time of my life!
Q: What is all the hoopla over releasing prisoners early?
A: On May 23, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that overcrowding conditions in California‘s 33 state prisons is a violation of our Eighth Amendment rights in regards to cruel and unusual punisment. It had mostly to do with the prison system‘s failure to provide minimal care to prisoners with serious medical conditions. A three-judge panel in a lower court had stated that „it was an uncontested fact that an inmate in one of California‘s prisons needlessly dies six or seven days due to constitutional deficiencies.“ The U.S.S.C. has given Governor Brown until May 2013 to reduce the prison population down from 144.000 inmates to 110.000. The prison were built to house only 80.000 people. Only non-violent feons will either be released or transferred to county jails. There are already about 10.000 inmates who have been shipped out-of-state over recent years, but more can fit into such a proposed plan. So in a nutshell, NO they are not releasing murderes, child molester‘s or savage beasts that are in custody for violent crimes. Those news reel bites are mostly of over zealous tough on crime advocates that think every prisoner is another Charles Manson or Richard Ramirez. Without proper data and hard cold facts, people can create the worse scenarios in their heads.

Q: You forgot to list the medical hotline info in last issue.
A: Ooops. To contact the California Prison Health Care Services people in Sacramento regarding your concerns about an inmate‘s inadequate health care, phone (916) 324-1403.

Q: Why are you overcharged so much at your special sales?
A: The fundraiser is a privilege for us to taste or obtain select items that as a prisoner, we would otherwise not receive. We recently had a KFC and Costco bulk item sale, which raised over $9k for charity. Any charge over the actual item price goes to a charitable organization. So if you think about it, a fundraiser/special sale is a win-win for both us and the organization receiving theproceeds. Right soon we are expecting two more sales by or before October. One is Little Caesar‘s Pizza … and who doesn‘t love pizza? The other is another Costco bulk items sale.

Q: What is going on with Marsy‘s Law?
A: Marsy‘s Law, which was ignorantly voter approved using scare tactics, permits the Parole Board to deny a lifer seeking a release date, far up to 15 years until their next possible parole hearing. An inmate named Michael Vicks (not the Pit Bull fighting football player) filed a writ when the BPH denied him parole using Marsy‘s Law as their justificationfor a lengthy denial. Because Vicks was in the system before the passage of the „Let‘s screw over lifers“ law, the BPH should not have applied it to Vicks. The court agreed when they heard his case. Marsy‘s Law only can legally apply to prisoners sentenced to life terms after the law was enacted. In more simpler terms – it does not apply to any lifer given a life term prior to the law‘s passage, January 2009.

Q: Is it true that more lifers are being released now than before Jerry Brown became Governor?
A: Yes. He has made it clear that if the taxpayers are payiing the BPH decision-makers over $100k a year each in salary, plus all of those ridiculous travel expenses, then he will need to trust that they can do their job. He‘s not treatening them like Wilson & Davis did, nor is he insulting them like Arnold did. He‘s not running for any higher office, so he has no personal agenda that would cause him to trample on a lifer‘s hopes. Ole J.B. was in office in the 1970‘s. Yes, he was Governor when Molly became a lifer prisoner, and he‘s Governor to release her. Do you like apples? How about them apples? Yeah!

One of the Things I‘ve Learned in Prison by Jennifer Hall
I‘ve been incarceratedat CCWF since 1993. Over the years I have particiapted in workshops, self-help groups, and numerous other classes which have enabled me to grow as an individual. By far, the most rewarding and challenging class I have taken, is ASL-101 (American Sign Language).
Not only am I learning another language, but it has opened up the door to an entirely new world for me. It takes patience and tolerance to teach this class. My teacher, Ms, Vonnie, is outstanding – not only as a teacher, but at understanding a group of people and being able to transfer that knowledge over to us. What she has taught me I could never have learned from a textbook.
I am learning more than just sign language. I am learning life lessons that are invaluable and will stay with me forever. The compassion Ms. Vonnie has for the deaf community has had a profound affect on me. I‘m looking forward to completing her Religious Signs class, and am excited in taking her ASL-102 class in the fall.
There are many things one can learn in the prison environment … some negative, some positive. I choose to seek the latter of the two. What I‘m learning in these classes offered to prisoners here, has opened my eyes, mind, and heart in new ways for a better tomorrow.
Ms. Vonnie, you rock!

Best Friends For Life:
To Molly May Kilgore, From Vickie Lee George
Molly, I want to tell you (and the world) how much I love you for being a family member to me while I have been in prison. When I first arrived at CIW (California Institute for Women in Frontera for all readers outside of California), I believed in my heart that I would do my 25 years-to-life alone … but then I moved in with you into your cell, and I felt that I was not alone. And I wasn‘t.
Molly, thank you for helping me learn how to do my time by both sound advice and demonstration. Not every new lifer is so blessed. When I count my blessings, I count you twice.
Now that you have left CCWF for new horizons, frontiers and a better life … a well earned life, it takes some time getting used to the fact that your prayers were truly answered. I look down A-Wing and after a minute I realize allover again that you are no longer there. When I was you go throgh the R&R door and you waved good-bye to me, I turned and said „thank you, Lord, for putting my best friend in my life.“
Molly, I wish you the very best out there. You‘ve worked so hard and waited so long for this freedom you‘ve been allowed to embrace. My Friend, I believe in your true potential. Yes, I miss you, but I wouldn‘t want it any other way. Besides, give me a minute … I‘ll be joining you soon.

Love Always – Your Friend – Vickie George

The Kindred

A new roommate moves into the cell and introduces herself. You discuss the house rules – simple structure of common courtesy and respect. They‘re always happy when I tell them that they don‘t have to remove their shoes before entering. More than happy actually … more like relieved. Once they settle in and realize that I don‘t bite and I most likely have all my shots (well, the ones that count), they ask that one question. You know? THE QUESTION. Sooner or later they ask, „so, when are you going home?“ And half of the time they don‘t comprehend when I reply, „I don‘t know.“
Being a lifer is an experience, not for the weak. We are a strong breed. It may have a little something to do with the road that got us here, but it has a lot to do with how the system has affected us too. If you were to ask me what it is like to be a lifer, it would take more than a simple sentence or minute to explain. To say that you‘d have to be one to understand is an understatement.
As a lifer, I have seen more roommates parole from my cell than I can even guess to number. I‘ve been in this same cell for the last 16 years of my 22 years of incarceration. What can I say? I play well with others. There are times when someone on the walkway will get annoyed that I don‘t remember them. They will try to make me remember their being my cellmate six, ten, twelve years ago. Really?! More people have passed through my cell like water through a seive than I can count. If anyone should be annoyed, it is the lifer who watches the parole violators keep coming back through the revolving door. It is like a slap in the face of freedom.
As a lifer, I know that to get close to anyone in here automatically requires trust. The reality though of getting close to a non-lifer, is that the other prisoner will eventually parole. It‘s gonna happen eventually. Our reality is that we watch many others get a second (third, fourth, and often tenth) chance, when all we want is half a chance. When it happens to someone that we care about, we have mixed emotions. On the one hand we are happy for them that they get to leave this place. On the other, it almost feels like a small part of us has died, as they take that part of our hearts with them. We don‘t want to be selfish, and so we let go. With each good-bye, we let go. It hurts … it hurts like hell. Can you imagine saying so many good-byes over a couple of decades? Unfortunately for the lifer, we need not imagine it. If anything, many avoid it by keeping their hearts guarded. Even hardened. However, like the storm clouds in April, a calm comes over you and life goes on.
Ironically, most of my prison friends are lifers. The ones I‘m closest to at least. They understand what it is like to wake up in here every single day and not know when they‘ll go home. They know what it is like to stress with anxiety the preparations of a parole hearing and to be abused by the panel (emotionally, mentally). They have the same fears of either dying in here or being stuck in here when their loved one dies … and not being able to attend the funeral. They have forgotten the feel of a real bed on Christmas morning and the taste of the home cooked meal that only mom could make. They know all too well what it feels like to be judged, condemned, and misunderstood. They comprehend that to quit is to die, and same question what the hell there is to even live for after all. They understand. They are my kindred. They are just like me, but also different.
So, when are you going home?
I don‘t know.

Umm … huh? I‘m a lifer

Oh, I‘m sorry. Why are you sorry?

I don‘t know. My point, exactly.

From The Heart
In the summer of 1978, I spent two weeks at Mt. Cross, a Christian faith based summer camp tucked in the Santa Cruz mountains. I didn‘t go there alone, but with my best friend Nancy. It had the usual campfire sing-a-longs at night, arts and crafts, and whatnot. The first week we were there, we heard about the hike to the summit, a good two hour hike one-way. We passed on it the first week, but come week two, we were gung-ho about making the trip. The thin was, we didn‘t want to look like wimps if we couldn‘t make the grade, so we decided on taking our own practice run. We thought that if we could hike uphill for about half the run, then we were good to go. So, we make plans, told our cabin counselor, Bear, and set out that late morning.
We headed up the incline path behind our cabin, which was set at a short fire line that separated the woods from the line of cabins. On the way up, we had to climb over a couple of downed trees, and around at least one too large to climb. After about fifteen or twenty minutes, we came to a clearing set aside for night campfire. We had met everyone there the week before. It was large enough for a good fifty people to sit on the logs that encircled the fire pit in the middle. Nancy dicided she wanted to take a break and she headed into the circle. I followed her into the wide open space and sat on a log. That‘s when she pulled out a pack of cigarettes, and I reminded her she wasn‘t supposed to smoke in the woods. Camp rule. She claimed she‘d be careful and lit up anyway. I can‘t stand cigarettes, and anyone who knows me, knows why. So, I stood up and as I did, that is when I felt it. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. My stomach flipped with anxiety and dread. In an instant, I knew we were not alone. We were not safe. My strong sixth sense said, „RUN!“
I stepped directly in front of Nancy and whispered only loud eonugh for her to hear, „You know how I sense things?“ She said she did. I continued, „Don‘t look around. Don‘t do anything unusual. Just put out your cigarette and lets head back to the cabin.“ She just looked at me like I was pulling a joke on her. „Nancy, we‘re not alone. I‘m leaving. You coming or what?“ I headed to the circle‘s entrance and turned back downhill. Nancy was behind me, uncertain of wheter or not to believe me. Finally, she said, „Teresa – I swear, if this is a joke …“ I turned toward her over my shoulder to tell her that it wasn‘t, and that is when I saw him.

Behind Nancy, higher on the incline, but on the path, was a man. He had white clothing on, dirty and torn. He looked like he crawled out from under a rock. But hat wasn‘t the first thing I noticed. No, the first thing I noticed in the three fastest seconds of my life, were his eyes. Almost not even human. All I could do was yell, „RUUUUUUNNNN!!!“

It wasn‘t until later that I found out that Nancy afforded herself a quick glance overher own shoulder before she began to run behind me. I‘m telling you folks, it doesn‘t just happen in the movies. There‘s always that girl who will ask, „Run? But why?“ One look and she was like the wind on my heels.

I wasn‘t sure if he was chasing us, but I wasn‘t about to slow my pace to find out. What if he wasn‘t alone? I could hear Nancy behind me mumbling jibber jabber all the way down the mountain. The mysterious man bought us a little space when we heard him stuble over on of the downed trees, not landing very gracefully. The clean air burnt my lungs, but I kind of liked being alike, so I kept running.
As we neared the cabins, I began to yell the only thing I could think to yell: our cabin counselor‘s name. Nancy began yelling too. The funny thing is that everyone came out of their cabins because we were screaming „BEAR! BEAR!“ They all thought we were being chased by a bear. Our counselor, Bear, stood with them and grateful to see a crowd all I could do was point into the woods behind us. Nancy was ghost white drained of all color. She couldn‘t even yell anymore. Nobody understood what we were trying to tell them, then suddenly their faces all lifted, looking into the forest at my back. Their eyes displayed amazement and fear all at once. I turned and locked eyes with Mystery Man. His were black as far, possibly also the color of his soul. He made a wide panoramic sweep of the crowd left to right, then right to left. And then he locked eyes with me. He got this crazy little smile on his face, and the he turned and walked back into the woods. He never said a word. I don‘t recall anyone else saying anything either, let alone trying to follow him. He just disappeared out of view.
It didn‘t take long before Pastor Crowley had us called into the dining hall to meet some police looking guys. Forest Rangers or State Police? I don‘t know. They had those Smokey the Bear hats on. Nancy and I were shown a few photos. Instantly, we recognized the guy in the ice cream man uniform. Turned out he had recently escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane. I really know how to have a good time don‘t I?
The moral of the story is, always listen to your gut instinct. It is like a compass that will always point you to the North. God put it in each of us to help us, protect us, and guide us. It is when I ignored my gut instinct that life dealt me some of the hardest blows.
So, I say from the heart to you … no matter what you may be going through, regardless of what other may think, always follow your gut. It tells you what is best for you. It is allabout you, and well, you‘re kind of a big deal. The world is a far better place with each of you in it. And if you ever feel a little lost or overwhelmed, call a friend, or, just yell at the top of your lungs. „BEAR!“ Trust me, someone will come running to see what is wrong. Worked for me. Namaste -T.C. and Mama P. me.for

T.C. Paulinkonis W45118 514-16-4U. PO Box 1509, Chowchilla, CA 93610

Pauline (Barbara)
W45118 514-16-4L
PO Box 1508
Chowchilla, CA 93610

HAPPY NATIONAL FRIENDSHIP DAY!

III John, verses 13-15

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.

The wheel of hours was going to be long, and would involve a lot of waiting, just like I’m waiting in this darkened Park Street Subway station, which smells of hot dust and urine, and feels like I am in the vestibule of death, when in reality, I am only on my way to Monday, my first day at a new job.

Reader, can I whine, can I have a plaintive voice. Think of my voice as wine dripping from my mouth and forming letters which complain, and my plaintiveness resembling old tin cup, which when I put my lips on it, curl back and reveal teeth, white, but tired, tired from having to live inside my mouth so long they’ve developed a lacework on their tips. Yeah, the bottom teeth with the dental hygienist said last week, “Oh you have such little teeth. How cute.”

Reader how are 73 year old teeth, the bottom once, which are white, which are precious few, and which are squeezed together as if bunching up in fear, “No don’t take me,” also have had the nerve to show delicate little edges, not smooth lines, and my teeth, I’m afraid are going on to a grey/gray, land of older, older woman, even though I still slash red lipstick on my lips which prune and pout as I ponder the bleak outside world where all the newscasters spewing yellowed print, green print, red print out of their mouths, quickly like blades of steel grass, and they all have opinions. About jobs. It’s about jobs, which is why dear Reader, my life is looking black, purple and I feel a shade coming down, as if it is sundown, and it’s only morning, but I’m off to my new job as photocopier for a law firm.

This law firm is on State Street, where years ago old men wore white spats over their shoes and women in clothe green felt hats, or grey felt, or any kind of felt, color it any way you want, hats, and these hats hid the obedient eyes focused on the rough, knobby cement, glanced at the brick exteriors of old Boston Buildings, spelled the ocean air coming up from the harbor or Harbah if you are a native, and scurried into buildings to be on time for the men they worked for, such as our leisurely white spatted gentlemen circumambulating the Boston Gardens.

This was our out, and it was a good one. Secretaries. Now there’s a word. Reader I once knew practices like Gregg Shorthand even though I took the college courses in high school, I was now and had been a Boston Clerical Girl for years.

Did I mention, at fifty-three I became “temping” later a word exalted to “freelancing,” all words pointing to don’t hire the older woman. Did I mention I wore black a lot, because it was cheap, and slenderizing, a word people don’t use any more. And did I mention I once had a life filled with magentas and yellows and starburst lemon, and grew flowers like the Iris, a delicately laced flower with deep purple hues, and I had dogs that were silky red with long hair, and small little beige squatty little dogs whose curl of tail was beyond creamy, beyond perfection?

But now, I live in the real world. Did I mention when I worked there were no pensions, no this, no that, no insuring one’s end of days with padding of the economic time. I had thought the legal world would protect me, because in the depression of yore legal secretaries found work. Teachers found work. But it is now 2011, and I must work because I could be one step from living in the streets. I will work until I’m 85, or until I can’t see the documents which will come in serried rank, page after page, and I will push, click, staple and fold, and somehow my creaking wheel of hours will end.

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!

Girls with Pink Lipstock
(from Miss Halloran, You Carry the Heavy Stuff, p. 53)
By Susan Zucker – June 6, 2011

Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.
They have their beach towels and bathing suits.
They have money for their lunches.
Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.

Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.
They wait in front of the house on Clifton Avenue.
It is the most central, after all.
They wait for that one mom to drive them to the beach.
Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.

Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.
They have arrived at the beach and the ocean is tame.
It is low tide and they spread their blanket and move as one to the sea.
Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.

Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.
After getting wet they will dry in the sun.
They will apply their pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, and clump together as one.

Susan Zucker attends my writing workshop, “The Courage to Write,” held Monday nights at Ten Thousand Villages store, a fair trade store and a visual poem in surroundings. Susan is a writer and a friend. She grabbed a line from my latest book, You Carry the Heavy Stuff, opened to an essay on Miss Halloran, and girls coming of age theme and took the line, “Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together,” and wrote her own take – I loved it, still do; hooray Susan.

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

T.C and Mama ´P´ Quarterly Newsletter, 2nd QTR, 2011

Dear Family of Friends,

It is our hope that this issue of the newsletter finds you doing well. As time goes by, more and more readers have joined us by the sharing of distributed copies with others. We would like to encourage each of you to pass it on to others to read. Esther has posted it on her blog while others have e-mailed their e-mail versions to their friends. Knowledge is to be shared. In some pieces, it may be more perspective than scientific fact, but there‘s nothing wrong with sharing that too. Please feel free to make copies and share with others. For anyone who wants to automatically recevie this quarterly newsletter via e-mail, all you need to do is to send your request to Anna Ingolfsdottir who resides in Iceland. She is my typist and publisher, yes, but she is my friend first. E-mail is annaing@centrum.is

I have asked several other „writers with a number“ to join forces with me by making submissions to include in this quarterly report. Some did not meet the deadline, so maybe next time. In this issue you will be introduced to Gia, a volunteer Health Peer Counselor and breast cancer survivor that helps educate other inmates on health related issues. I‘m proud to have you meet La Donna, a woman I met about 13 years ago in the U-Turn prison prevention program directed at youth-at-risk. Donna Lee, an LWOP prisoner, choose to write on the topic of parole. Her piece was most informative, but I had to edit it to fit in this format, while hoping I kept it well in tact.

Thank you for not judging us. I mean, if you‘re reading this, you‘re either a prisoner or you know one. To those of you who‘ve stood by us over the years, please know that it truly is your strong shoulders that we lean on. Thank you for ever stuff!

Namasté

T.C. & Mama ´P´

What Is D.I.D.?

Have you seen the movie, „Sybil“? Sybil had what was termed MPD, or Multiple Personality Disorder. Over the years MPD got a pretty bad name as a defective title for a person who is totally messed up. The MPD was for the most part, replaced with D.I.D., Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Now, I‘m not a psychologist, but I‘ll explain this the best I can.

When an individual is subjected to trauma, and their conscious mind (present tense person) cannot deal with said trauma, they may dissociate. That means to mentally check-out, leave their conscious mind and hide in the safety of the subconscience. When that happens, they may appear changed, or in some cases, in a daze. In those instances when one has dissociated, another personality often referred to us an alter, is developed. That alter personality can be male or female, even genderless. They can be of any age, and not age as the host does. You, being the host. D.I.D. is most commonly brought on in childhood sexual abuse cases. In my case, when I could not deal with the trauma that I was subjected to, I checked out. When she couldn‘t handle it, she checked out and another stepped in. That‘s why they referred to it as multiples.

Each personality has their own memories. Where I have lost time, is when I checked out. The alter that was present is the one holding those memories. In recovery, you attempt to pull the memories together. Trust me, that requires professional counseling. Think of it as a huge jigsaw puzzle, and each piece is a memory. The pieces however belong to more than one personalty. The idea is to piece the picture together. In my case, I really don‘t want to recall whatever I don‘t remember. All that really matters to me is that I know now what I didn‘t know back then, and that is that I did nothing wrong to get D.I.D.

Did You Hear About the Super Jail for Kids?

In the last issue of this newsletter, I asked who would lock-up teens for life and throw away the key. The answer quite simply was: our legal system. Lady Justice wears a blindfold supposedly to not see defendents by race, gender, culture or any other means by which prejudice can be measured on her lopsided scales. Personally, I think she wears the blindfold to avoid seeing how terribly bent the system really is. I mean, how can you not want to fix it once you see it? I discovered an answer to my question that took place in my own backyard, Alameda County. The facts are appalling.

In the late 1990‘s, the state legislature voted to reallocate federal funding that was meant to support the construction of new prisons and to renovate and expand local juvenile correctional facilities. The general concensus was that local juvenile detention facilites were in a state of disrepair. Many of the existing buildings were at least 50 years old and inadequate living conditions. The chief Probation Officers Accociation tried to get voters to agree to a bond measure to remeoly the conditions, but California voters adamantly rejected not only bonds to improve detention centeres, but clearly did not support expanding juvenile facilities or building new adult prisons.

President Bill Clinton‘s administration began making federal grants to partially defray the building of new prison facilities. California‘s share of the pie was a whopping $275 million a year. Almost all of the money was used for renovations and improvements to adult lock-ups, but the grant mandated there be some expansion in custody beds.

The BOC, Board Of Corrections, was given the task of either improving or building new juvenile detention centers. It wasn‘t enough that the adult rate of incarceration was a booming economy for the state, lets add juveniles to the melting pot of the prison industrial complex. The counties all wanted some of that money and began applying for grants to the BOC for their cut. Of the 58 counties, 40 received grants. In the end, it ws a tidal wave of madness that proposed expanding the juvenile bed capacity by 3150 new beds, a 50% hike in total. It should be noted that this took place in the late 1990‘s when juvenile arrests had been on a continuous decline. Hmmm …. follow the money.

Alameda county operated a 299 bed facility in the northern part of the county near the neighborhoods where most of the youth lived. Technically, the place was in such bad shape, it should‘ve been illegal to house mice there, let alone 299 kids. To consider their options, the county hired a firm out of Georgia to evaluate the situation and help prepare an analysis for just cause to build a new juvile center with even more beds. That firm proposed the plan to build a new 540 bed juvenile hall to be located on the site of the old adult county jail, SANTA RITA JAIL (SRJ). The old SRJ was shut down in September 1989, just two weeks before our arrest. It was a rat motel at best. Yeah, lets remodel it and put kids in there. Are they nuts?

Well, that‘s when things became interesting. The site was in Dublin, across from a federal prison, the new SRJ hi-tech county lock-up, and out in the boondocks, meaning it would be more difficult for those youths to receive visits. Public transportation is fairly limited to that area. The site was justified due to the acreage of land. The need was further supported by false data that showed an increase in juvenile arrests. Alameda county applied for funding, having secured nearly $30 million for renovations and an additional $3 million to subsidize bed expansion. The funds only covered a small percentage of the costs for the new facility. They must have figured that once they began, grant money would certainly be given to complete such a big project. They never figured in the funding for staff and operating costs. That‘s like buying a fleet of cars that you can‘t afford to insure or put gas in. Where‘s the logic?

Finally, after all the hoopla, a small group of youth advocates called Books Not Bars (BNB) stepping in to oppose the madness. They pointed out that mostly minorities faced extreme detention, local budgets had taken away from youth programs, public schools and welfare, and that the super jail for kids was nothing more than a political investment for Supervisor Scott Haggerty, in whose district the new super jail would be built. His agenda was to bring a new source of revenue to his district by way of local construction businesses who were bidding for the contract. That‘s when the media got more involved. All coverage, was bad coverage, so the pressure was on. Dublin residents got involved, protecting the new super jail in their backyard. It took the tireless efforts of BNB, the center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the Youth Law Center, and several other juvenile justice advocates to shut down the maddening plan for what would have been the largest youth detention center ever heard of. Reasonable renovations and building did take place in Dublin, but not before the persons who sought personal gain at the expense of a bunch of kids where eliminated from the picture. This included personnel changes in high positions of both the Probation Dept, and the Juvenile Courts System.

Prison is an industry of making money. Everyone from building planners and builders, to staff, local businesses, and vendors that win state contracts, all profit from the incarceration of 33 state prisons. And they want to build more. By taking away funds from public education and after school programs, our budget planners reduce the chances that today‘s youth will succeed. It almost seems like a set up. It is long proven that humanities in the arts guarantees a kid a better shot at half a chance and higher self-esteem. So why are our legislators reducing their chances? There are many besides myself that think it is to increase the delinquency ratio, and pack our prisons. And with life sentences being handed out, how can you argue with that? Money is money, right? Even at the cost of today‘s youth. And that‘s a high price to pay.

Juvenile Offender Facts To Consider

· There are approximately 275 California youth presently sentenced ot life without the possibility of parole (S.F. chronicle 12/6/10)

· Within months of the passage of Proposition 21, San Diego was the first county to put the new law to the test charging eight middle class white students as adults for chasing down and beating some Latino immigrant workers. Being there were 8 of them, according to the text of Prop 21, that is defined as a gang.

· No other country outside the United States implements children to be sentenced to LWOP.

· In many cases where a youth was prosecuted with an adult for the same crime, it was the kid that received the heavier sentence.

· Many youth sentenced as adults, had no prior criminal history.

· Each youth offender sentenced to LWOP will cost taxpayers about $2,5 million.

· To continue incarcerating the 275 youth already sentenced to LWOP, will cost close to $ 700 million.

· The principal opponents to Prop 21 included juvenile court judges.

· Neuroscience studies report that children have a greater capacity for rehabilitation than that of adults. This scientific theory was recognized by the supreme court in Roper V. Simmons as well as Graham V. Florida. The Graham case was ground breaking, as the U.S. supreme court held that it was unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to LWOP for nonhomicide offenses as well. The Graham case recently affected more than 100 juvenile offenders who received LWOP sentences for nonhomicide offenses.

Parole Denial in Federal Court?

The U.S. Supreme Court held in Swarthout V. Cooke, 562 U.S. (zoll) (Per Curiam, 1/24/11, case 10-333) that California lifer inmates have no right to federal habeas corpus under existing law to challenge a parole decision, based on the „some evidence“ rule. Federal writs are based upon the grounds that one is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States. In a nutshell, this ruling states that federal habeas corpus relief does not lie for errors of state law. Period.

I Am One Of Many – submitted by La Donna Robinson

My name is La Donna Robinson, and I am serving a sentence of 15 years to life for 2nd degree murder. A murder that was committed at the ripe old age of seventeen. I am now forty years old, soon to be 41, in 3 months.

I don‘t pity myself, and I don‘t feign innocence for the crime of which I know that I am guilty. However. I know I have served my time-nearly double-than that of which I was sentenced.

I have appeared befoe the Board of Parole Hearings approximately eight times, and have been denied each and every time, regardless of the positive psychological evaluations that I have received, stating that I am a „low-risk“ of danger to society if found suitable for parole. I have been disciplinary free since my arrival, have become a certified Airline Rerservation Agent, a certified Animal Groomer, and have received all the necessary hours to become a licensed Cosmetologist. I have received my GED and an AA degree, and have completed too many self-help classes to count.

There are numerous juvenile offenders just like myself who are struggling every day to achieve their freedom. We program every day for up to eight hours, return to the houseing unit to be counted, and immediately report to some self-help class or another. We struggle to remain diciplinary free in a miniature world where we are constantly threatened with „how ´bout I get you a 115 to take to the board?“ We find the strength to support each other no matter how tired we get on our journey because as with any species, when one gets tired one will fall back and wait with hi until he has found the strength to move ahead. We have created our own makeshift family of juvenile offenders who have discovered that it makes it a little easier whenn you know there is someone struggling to paddle in a boat just like yours. We don‘t always like each other, but we love each other, and we are here for each other.

Thank you T.C. & Mama ´P´ for the opportunity to participate in something that reaches far beyond these prison fences. There are people who need to know that there is more than „convicts“ stuck in this place, ther are „prisoners“ who left society when they were too young to legally take a drink of alcohol, or to get a job, or to even marry. What about us? What is to be said for a state that will not allow you to take a drink until the age of 21, but will try you as an adult and lock you away for the rest of your life at the age of 14? There is a lot to be said. But no one wants to be the one to say it.

Juvenile Justice Reform Update – by Elizabeth Lozano

On April 5th, California‘s Public Safety Committee voted 5-to-2 for SB9, which is derived from SB399 that did not pass by two votes last fall. As I‘ve said before, this bill is not a get out of jail free card. SB9 is a bill introduced by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) to end life sentences without parole (LWOP) for juvenile offenders. It would require that I prove that I deserve to be considered for resentencing. As an LWOP juvenile offender, should SB9 pass, my fate would lie in the hands of a court judge.

This bill has many stages to go through. Any support by way of phone calls, e-mails, or written correspondence to Assembly members and Senators in Sacramento would help immensely and be appreciated.

In another area of reform, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on March 23rd on whether police officers ought to consider a young suspect‘s age before Miranda Rights are read to them. (The right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, you know the drill). Currently under Federal Law, a suspect taken into custody is Mirandized. Certain uses of restraint such as prolonged interrogation, handcuffs, and restricted surroundings, add up to custody. Under court law if a „reasonable person“ would feel free to leave, then the rights need not be read. In this case and others like it, children are being expected to obey authority figures and have the thinking processes of an adult. Both technically and scientifically, that is unrealistic.

The case being argued is that of J.D.B. v. North Carolina. Detectives went to a middle shool and escorted 13 year old J.D.B. to a school conference room where officials awaited him. The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled in this case that since the door was not locked, and he began to speak after agreeing to answer questions, that he must have reasonably understood that he did not need to answer any questions regarding his involvement in property crimes. He was not Mirandized. The U.S. Supreme Court however, granted certiorari, creating what could be a ground breaking case to protect the legal rights of underaged suspect. So far, the last two cases brought to the U.S. Supreme Court involving uvenile offender rights were ruled in favor of the juveniles. This case is pending decision.

For more information or to learn how you can become more involved in reform, please go to http://www.fairsentencingforyouth.org.

Breast Wellness – contributed by Gia M. McClain

Let‘s talk about breasts, Baby. Yes, breasts. If someone were to gie you a free gift, wouldn‘t you accept it? Of course you would. I have a gift for you. It is information about self-breast examinations. Now, while both men and women can get breast cancer, the focus of this piece is on women‘s health.

Thousands of women die needlessly each year from breast cancer. Many women automatically assume that during a self-exam, they are looking for a lump. The purpose of the breast exam is to become familier with how your breasts naturally feel, so that when you feel something different, you wil lknow it. This can allow you to get to your health care provider in a timely manner. It will help to ask your healthcare provider for guidelines that are appropriate for your age group.

Within the prison environment, inmates are their own best defense, and in some cases, their own advocate to fight for their own medical rights for healthcare. As budget cuts have come down upon us, there has been a lack of doctors, replaced by nurse practitioners. However, regardless of whether you‘re a prisoner at C.C.W.F. or a citizen within the free society, here‘s my advice as a Peer Health Volunteer:

1. Do a monthly self-exam. It is best to do it about the same time of the month every month, and while you‘re not on your menses (period) or ovulating. You may experience tenderness and discomfort at those times and be less likely to do it properly, or at all.

2. Have a buddy check system, which is a friend or loved one that you contact monthly as a reminder to do the self-exam, and they in turn do the same for you.

3. When you see your healthcare provider, as for a clinical breast exam on a yearly basis. Using your birthday as an easy reminder can make it less likely to forget the last time you had one. Also, ask them to show you how to properly do a self-exam. Far to many women assume incorrectly, missing anomolies.

4. Get a mammogram, set by guidelines of American Cancer Society. Guidelines include age, ethnicity, and family history. Remember, the life you save, may be your own.

A Perspective of parole – submitted by Donna Lee

If you ask a lifer whether parole is a right or a privilege, most will say that it is both. If you‘re sentenced to a life term with the possibility of parole, that opens the door to your legal rights. However, being granted parole encompasses the respect of the privilege of a second chance at freedom.

Life prisoners are a special breed. They work hard to satisfy and meet the nine circumstances tending to show suitability criteria. They learn the rehabilitation tools needed to insure that they can succeed on parole and for therest of their lives. The lifer spends a majority of their time and energy in thinking about the factors that led to the crime and how they can avoid similar situations in the future. With age comes maturity, and the likelihood that the paroled lifer will not reoffend.

Like anyone else, the lifer inmate has goals. Usually, many. Some want to help support family and friends who‘ve stood by them over the years, while others dream of starting up businesses or families. Granted, one released after decades of confinement, the newly released lifer will experience culture shock. That is where re-entry programs like Crossroads can benefit them and help orientate them back into society. The goal however, is to be granted parole first.

The nine circumstances to become suitable for parole can be a challenge to meet, but is achievable. They include:

1. Lack of a juvenile record depicting career criminal behavior.

2. Stable social history that demonstrates you‘ll have the support of family and friends upon release, especially during transition.

3. Signs of remorse (a step in the insight issue)

4. Motivation for the crime (also part of insight)

5. Battered Woman Syndrome, if applicable.

6. Lack of criminal history, – first time offender.

7. Age.

8. Parole Plans, which include employment, housing, and counseling or support groups relative on a case-by-case basis.

9. Institutional behavior.

Even if you‘ve satisfied the criteria, there is a chance thatyou will not be found suitable for parole. It could be the psychological evaluation you were subjected to, or the inability to adequately answer to a panel question regarding insight issues. If found unsuitable, and you believe your rights have been violated in that denial, you can file a Writ of Habeas Corpus in your trial court. It isn‘t easy to do on your own without legal counsel, but there are a number of jailhouse lawyers who can help guide you through the process. It will not be easy. It can be quite stressful overall. However, when your personal freedom is at stake, you either step up to the plate or you walk off the field and guilt. I say look the pitcher in the eyes, because a girl‘s gotta do, what a girl‘s gotta do, Parole is possible. You just have to want it. You have to earn it.

Donna Lee, LWOP prisoner

Communicado

When we write in our letters, some prison slang or facility terminology comes out. There are words and numbers we use quite regularly, so let‘s define some of that here.

C-file: Central file. Our peersonal prisoner file that contains all of our achievements, write-ups, numerous documents.

UCC: The classification committee that evaluates us yearly.

Program: Well, like robots. To do a good program is to do as you‘re told and expected to regarding school or work assignment duties.

Hooch: Inmate manufactured alcohol, AKA PRUNO.

Recall: This doesn‘t relate to memory. It means return to our cells.

Insight: The Parole Board expects that we can see into various elements of our crime, the full impact and all aspects of it.

Canteen: Not a thermos. This is our local 7-11 store.

805: The infirmary (Bldg. number)

504: Administrative Segregation, death row, EOP (Bldg. number)

602: Appeals process (document number)

115: Disciplinary Action (document number)

EOP: Enhanced Outpatient Program for mentally unstable inmates

The Health Care Issue

Although the information is not plastered up in the clinics and 805, there is actually an Inmate Health Care Inquiry Line mainteined by the California Prison Health Care Services. It allows members of the public and families of inmates to report concerns in regards to our health care from behind prison walls in Chowchilla.

As a prisoner, it is my right to 602 any complaints that I have regarding medical services, or lack thereof. The first step in the complaint process is the 602 grievance form. They allow me only 15 days from incident of complaint to have the 602 filed. The form specifically states that they in turn also have that time limit, however, there is a loophole exception to the rule for administration that inmates do not have. Staff is afforded the right to a time delay. Their prison, their rules. I just live here.

What do we 602 on midical grounds? Per Title 15, Division 3, Article 8, Section 3350 Provisions of Midical and Dental Services, the prison is obliged by law to basically take care of our medically necessary requirements. That includes, but is not limited to reasonable care to protect life, prevent illness or disability, and alleviate severe pain. The problem with defining severe pain is that it has become a matter of opinion. Believe me, if I feel it is severe or chronic pain, I will file a 602 to seek a medical remedy.

I cannot find a section int he Title 15 (Prisoner‘s Bible of Legal Rights basically) that refers to the conditions in 805, where some inmates are housed indefinitely. Pour souls. There are partially paralyzed inmates who rely upon nurses to help bathe them and change their bedding. The problem is that many of those overpaid babysitters don‘t want to be bothered. The Health Peer Counselors that volunteer their time to those inmates on occassion, find themselves carrying out those nursing duties as a matter of an act of humanity. But, nobody wants to make waves. Nobody wants to speak out. And then there‘s me.

Tripp‘s dream

In the third quarter issue of this newsletter, we shared the plight and perseverance of our friend and sister in Christ, Deborah Pegler. We even dedicated that issue in her memory, as she had lost her brave battle with Stage IV lung cancer in June 2010. It has been almost a year since she joined the angels, and I find from time to time, she enters my thoughts like a fresh summer’s breeze. She was my friend, and I loved her like a sister, and I miss her as both.

Before her passing, Tripp, as many of us knew her, had the privilege of seeing a dream come true. She did not want her painful past to all be in vain. She believed that if she could help save just one life by telling her story, then her journey would be complete. Filmmaker Yoav POTASH made a documentary that detailed the repeated beatings, rapings, and torture that Oliver Wilson subjected Tripp to. Much of the abuse was to entertain his friends, but we all know that abuse is about control. Potash leads the viewer through the death of Wilson and Tripp’s 1983 murder conviction. But, it does not end there. The film tells the rest of her story. A story of recovery on several levels and the path she took to freedom. Tripp was incarcerated for 26 years, and was released in October 2009. She spent 9 months with her children and grandchildren before she left us. She did not fear death. She accepted it. She’s one of the most influential and courageous women I have ever had the honor and privilege to have met.

Tripp’s dream was for the documentary to be made. It was completed in time for her to attend a premiere prior to her death. The film debuted to critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival in February. It is called “Crime after Crime”. See crimeaftercrime.com for more details.

As I’ve said before, I imagine she’s giggling while riding a rainbow on the other side. Even now, she makes me smile.

From the Heart

As a life term prisoner, I know all too well what it is like to be judged – by those I thought were my family and friends, as well as some of the general public. Funny how people think that THIS could never happen to them. If they’re lucky, it never will, but one would have to have worn my shoes the first 24 years of my life to have any idea what it is like to wear them now. People judge people. It is a defect we’ve all been guilty of doing. I’ve long ago learned to shrug it off. I can handle the looks, gossip, assumptions, even the abandonment I’ve experienced from so-called friends, who judged my. Being that I was more of a square in my school years, I had a lot of practice feeling like an outcast. I sort of embraced it. I didn’t need to fit in. Lucky too, otherwise in spring 1989, I would’ve gotten my sensitive lil heart broken…

I was a time bomb inside of myself. I could feel it. I was guilt stricken by my life crime. I couldn’t sleep of rind any peace. I couldn’t erase the images in my mind. I needed to get away from the Bay Area for a weekend, so I asked BREE to join me, Bree was like a sister, but we were total opposites. She was 100% Biker chick. And I don’t mean Schwinn neither. I mean Harley-Davidsons, motorcycle clubs, bearded bedfellas, drugs, the whole nine yards. That includes the mouth, language, and “Are you talkin’ to me?” attitude that comes with it. In a word, Bree was a Badass.

We went to Yosemite National Park for the weekend. When we reached Curry Village, where I had made reservations for a canvas tent cabin on my VISA card, I was in for a shock. They accidentally gave my cabin to someone else for the first night, but we could have it the second night. When I asked where we were supposed to sleep that first night, Bree volunteered us to share that cabin. I kindly rejected. I’d sleep in the back of my mini-truck before I did that. The clerk gave us a room at the Ahwanhee Hotel for the first night. The cost difference was comped to us, so off we were to find this place.

We had to drive up an incline and around a mountain but we found it. Oh my gosh, it was beautiful! We were expecting a motel setting, but what we drove into was a country club setting. I felt like I had driven into the Twilight Zone. I pulled off of the highway into a dirt lot and parked my Dodge RAM 50 between a Mercedes and a Porsche. I saw the people playing that lawn golf game with giant hammers – what’s it called? Croquet. That’s it! I turned to Bree and said, “This should be interesting.”

I was wearing a black sleeveless t-shirt, SOL JEANS, hiking boots, a leather belt with a rodeo buckle, and a buck knife in the sheath. Bree was wearing a t-shirt that she fringed the sleeves off of, skin tight black jeans, knee high Zodiak boots, her arms and chest tattooed with enough ink to print the Sunday paper, and a large handbag hanging off of her shoulder. My hair was short, hers was wild. We looked like we just left the Sturgis Run, and as we left the lot to approach the main lobby, which was a good 100 yards away, all eyes were on us. We stood out, we didn’t fit in. One woman defensively pulled her croquet-playing daughter to her side as if we were hungry cannibals. I just smiled and kept walking. Personally, I think they were trying to recollect if they had seen either of our faces on a Wanted Poster. We were being judged by how we looked. No doubt about it. Someone call America’s most wanted, immediately!

Once we reached the front lobby, I could feel the holes burning into my back from their stares, as the clerk looked up from the front desk and did a double take. I could swear I heard him gasp and his neck crack. I knew what he was thinking. He asked if he could help us, and by that, he meant with directions to where the peasants camp. I explained that we had a reservation to which he said, “oh no…. there must be a mistake.” I handed him the paperwork. He immediately got on the telephone to call Curry Village, probably to cuss them out. Next thing I knew, he looked up over my shoulder with this absolute look of horror on his face. That’s when I realized that Bree was no longer at my side. It had to be her that caught his eye-bulging attention. Sure as water is wet, it was Bree alright. There was a complimentary table sat up in the lobby for guests checking in. It had bread rolls, crackers, cheeses, meats, and lemonade. Bree didn’t need their beverages, because she pulled out her bottle of Yukon Jack to wash down those little sandwiches. She was making little sandwiches and wrapping them up in the large fancy napkins, and stuffing a few in her handbag for the road. I swear it, I couldn’t take her anywhere, but in that moment, I saw her point! Treat us like we don’t belong, she’ll act like she doesn’t belong. However, she was just being herself. The clerk humbly apologized and gave me the key to our room, happy to see us leave his lobby. I bet he lost sleep over it.

After we settled in to our room, we returned to the valley floor for the day. Around 4 p.m. the dark clouds arrived and it began to pour rain. Darkness enveloped us as I drove up the mountain back to the hotel. It sat in complete darkness, as the storm had taken out all of the power. Before we got out of the truck, I opened the glove box and removed two flashlights and an extra package of batteries. We made our way to our room, walking along the outdoor wrap-around porch where people sat at tables with candles flickering as they played cards and chess. One older woman with a snotty attitude asked me, “Excuse me, but how do you rate?” I had no idea why she was so animistic towards me, and I simply said, “Excuse me?” She went on a tirade about how the clerk in the lobby said they only had complimentary candles that were for outdoor use, and how they should fix the lights or refund their charges. I didn’t know how to respond without being offensive. That is, until the rich grouch said, “So, how do you rate? Where did you get those flashlights?” As calmly as I could muster, I replied, “Ace Hardware,” turned, and went to our room. Bree was so proud of me. I’m a pretty nice person, but I had finally had it with the “we’re better than you. They may have been more financially set than either of us was, but at last I had the good sense to bring flashlights and extra batteries to the frickin’ wilderness! Hmpf!

This experience rally did happen. A whole lot more also happened that weekend, but the moral of the story her is…. no matter who you are or where you are, it doesn’t really matter what others think of you. What truly matters, is what you think of yourself. I can look at my reflection in the mirror and not be ashamed of how I treat others. I live my life with Hebrews 10:29 in mind, but I also live by one main philosophy: I make every effort to be the kind of person that I’d be honored to call a friend. And so, from the heart, I simply say, that if you are reading this, it is an honor to call you one.

NAMASTÉ,

T.C.

T.C. Paulinkonis Pauline “Barbara” Paulinkonis

W45118 514-16-4U W45120 514-16-41

PO Box 1509 PO Box 1508

Chowchilla, CA 93610 Chowchilla, CA 93610

Reader, have you ever had a bad week? I mean bad in the sense that you lose everything you put down two inches beyond your reaching hands, tired eyes, and you feel as if your personal radar has up and left you, no longer interested in hanging out carrion-like on the garbage heap of your mind.

Yes, it was on Mother’s Day, that esteemed day when syrup flows from the lips of cards, sons, daughters, dogs, husbands, and loneliness for the unmothers, or unmothered, spikes. It’s probably equally a day of despair. Well, reader, can I call you reader? It was a day like any other, except my eyes creaked open, and I said to my husband, God bless his soul for eternity, as he brought me my second cup of coffee in bed, black, soy silk cream and some Stevia, and this is the 25th year of bringing said cups of coffee to me while I lie like an inert seal, just barely clinging to the rocks, I said “Happy Mother’s Day,’ because why not. If we are going to have any kind of day, reader, may I call you Read? Read, we can wish every happy day, mothers, brothers, dogs. What this world needs is more happy days.

Read, this was not the case on Mother’s Day when caffeined up, I approached my desk looking for my Edward Gorey calendar (I love sick humor), and spent the next 3 hours, tearing through all the paper trash: the recipes I’ll never cook; old drafts of writing; coupons, notifications of home loans even tho we don’t own a home, except in our hearts of course, and Read, you do get my drift.

It took 3 hours and I finally opened a keyboard drawer and there it was. Then I had purchased two things of a monetary nature for Baby Nick who is 6’5” and 42, and spent the next hour looking for the second, until a 30 watt light bulb went off in my head and I went out the door, down the driveway, straight to the paper trash bin, and look in, and scooped up the other economic gift. After that, I didn’t dare go out the door.

I felt crazed, and I felt an elevator shaft of doubt, said shaft having been gone a week or two from my young life. But this elevator shaft of doubt came back with a vengeance, and like a morality play, coming through the village square on an old beat up wagon of straw, with actors spilling out of it, and titles of Morality Plays, such as Lipstick Tube of Beauty, Alchemy of Varicosity, and 3:00 a.m. Epiphany, and I clutched these phrases to my heart; I could say bosom but, on the other hand between “chest,” “bosom” and “heart,” – the latter was easier.

My legs are an alchemy of varicosity, and the 3:00 a.m. Epiphany’s I have are usually after awakening from one of the five routine dreams that have visited me for 25 years. These themes are: I’m still working for law firms. I am moving. I am moving with Bill. Last night I was driving a huge van which I couldn’t see out of (do you think I’m too busy)? No need to tell you the rest. I’ll save them for future prompts.

So back to Mother’s Day and what did I do? Read I sat at my computer and worked on it from 2 in the afternoon to 8 or that night, and basically got an Anthology of writers together-at least 80 percent of it. I cleaned up my desk, which if you want to know is littered once more with papers, and I prepared my CHPercolator prompts. If the world ended, I wanted to have them ready. So now, after I notice my thoughts are like an alchemy of varicosity, I’ll end. But reader, I have merely quarried the top layers of my personal depths. I shudder to think of the granite beyond.

Thanks for listening.

PS. I am off to walk and find a tube of lipstick, hoping said tube will make of my visage a lipstick tube of beauty.

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.

This isn’t to say I don’t have regrets or I don’t remember them. Some regrets sweep away easily when manicured estates employ gardeners impeccably blow lawns, long stretching driveways and sidewalks to reveal nary a curved or crisp autumn leaf. I’m not sure regret can be swept away like autumn leaves.. Then again, I loved autumn leaves on the sidewalk, particularly walking back from the library, the West Roxbury Library on Centre Street, my fingertips feeling the rough concrete images of a stone wall along the upper part of Billings Field. I loved walking under chestnut tree branches and kicking thick piles of yellows, burnt orange, tinged red of maple leaves, everything: leaves just thick enough to walk into piles, scuffing. Ever scuffed? It was hard on my brown tie Oxford shoes, the ones my mother insisted were so good for my feet, but still I walked and scuffed and kicked and felt full of warmth and protection as I hugged my books and stopped to smell burnt leaves in the air nearby.

The smell is wonderful, not a good word for a writer to use, but it’s Sunday afternoon, and I haven’t remembered scuffing leaves for eons. Easier to remember the leaves, the scuffs, than the regrets. I regret I never sang for my father, and that I didn’t kiss my mom goodbye, the day she died, and I left that morning in a hurry because I had to take 2 trolleys to high school because were moved to the city, Back Bay if you want to know, by the Charles River near the Harvard and MIT crews, where we walked the Pug and the Boxer even when the wind tore through us.

I certainly wish I had done better with my teeth. That’s a universal regret. Somehow I know this. I wish I had been able to continue piano lessons. I wish I had studied computing, and maybe taken auto mechanics in first grade. But I don’t regret Miss Higgins, my first grade teacher, or my Uncle Bill Johnson, who brought us molasses candy in long oblong boxes, a box for each kid, and the sticky time of it after Sunday roast beef dinner. I don’t regret his cartoons of my mother following our kitty whose tail stuck up to the ceiling, and a string from her rear parts moved along the floor, under the shadow of my mother with scissors. He called this cartoon “The Lost Cord.” I don’t regret the bookcases filled with books, and the absolute privilege I took as a human right, to sit in a huge chair and read, and not be interrupted, because that was normal in my house. “I’m reading,” gave each reader a sacred space.

I regret not knowing my parents, or the other adults for that matter, knowing them as people. I tried with my father, but my mother died early. I regret moments of being a bully, and that’s private and a long ago. I regret being so afraid of things, but don’t want to sweep it away like errant leaves which escape a rake. I regret most that my twin and I were such opposites and lived most of the time in the tension of the opposites. (Reader this phrase is right up there with “grist for the mill” which I use too frequently, but I have dropped, “my dendrites are hanging out.”) We were opposites: when young, she sturdy and athletic to my frail, roller skating, but bookish self. She kept her emotions tucked in like a North Easter, a person from Maine, and yup and nup and her not speaking of emotional revelations fell over her like a yellow slicker preventing rain. I was the emotive, get-into-trouble twin, funny, daring, but underneath probably equally unsettled or frightened. I regret in our later years her wall regarding my beliefs, but I don’t regret going beyond this wall and caring for her 2 years in a row, and in her final days, her reaching out to me, lifting arms from a body ravaged by cancer, and wanting to be held. And hold her I did. Nope, I won’t sweep that away.

Jim Nelson passed on last Saturday night, surround by intimate family, and joy. Since then our hearts pulsated for Dorthy Nelson, his wife of over 60 years. They are spiritually humble giants, and I personally think no one in the Baha’i Community took them for granted. We treasured them at evry moment.

Last night was the Baha’i Community’s Feast (Feast of Ala Glory) Lord, it’s late; hope that i have that right. Our chairperson when she introduced consultation, said, “I offer you all condolences,” and I was struck by her sensitivity. Everyone who met Jim loved him. He had a huge, huge spirit, honed from years of perceptions. He had a fine mind, and could say thing in ways none of us were or are able to, and he and Dorothy were incredible together.

Below is a brief passage of life after death concepts.
Tonight we all went to “fireside” which is a gathering people of all ages, skin colors, creeds, heights, weights, gather for inquiry regarding the Baha’i Faith. There must have been 50 people in the room; it glowed, and flowers all around reminded us of his recent passing. A husband and wife spoke, as they had met each other in that very room, some umpteenyears ago, and their 13 year old son wrote a song, and played the guitar, while his 11 year old younger brother sang the lyrics. Our speaker spoke of the soul eloquently and engagingly. Heaven and hell: a Bahá’í view of life after death.

One of our friends played the piano at the end of every evening, but tonight, did it before a social hours

“What song are you going to play, John?”, Dorothy asked

John, his hands already on the keys, said, “For Me and My Gal.” and the timing and the serendipity of the title of the song was incredible.

what an evening. Tomorrow Jim’s burial will be at the Inglewood Cemetery in Inglewood where many Baha’is are buried. Thornton Chase, the first North America Baha’i is buried there. He died in 1912. No quite sure of exact year, but thin i have it.

As in the world’s other religions, the Bahá’í concept of life after death is deeply integrated into teachings about the nature of the soul and the purpose of this earthly life.

Bahá’u’lláh confirmed the existence of a separate, rational soul for every human. In this life, He said, the soul is related to the physical body. It provides the underlying animation for the body and is our real self.

Although undetectable by physical instruments, the soul shows itself through the qualities of character that we associate with each person. The soul is the focal point for love and compassion, for faith and courage, and for other such “human” qualities that cannot be explained solely by thinking of a human being as an animal or as a sophisticated organic machine.

The soul does not die; it endures everlastingly. When the human body dies, the soul is freed from ties with the physical body and the surrounding physical world and begins its progress through the spiritual world. Bahá’ís understand the spiritual world to be a timeless and placeless extension of our own universe–and not some physically remote or removed place.

Entry into the next life has the potential to bring great joy. Bahá’u’lláh likened death to the process of birth. He explains: “The world beyond is as different from this world as this world is different from that of the child while still in the womb of its mother.”

The analogy to the womb in many ways summarizes the Bahá’í view of earthly existence. Just as the womb constitutes an important place for a person’s initial physical development, the physical world provides the matrix for the development of the individual soul. Accordingly, Bahá’ís view life as a sort of workshop, where one can develop and perfect those qualities which will be needed in the next life.

“Know thou, of a truth, that if the soul of man hath walked in the ways of God, it will, assuredly return and be gathered to the glory of the Beloved,” Bahá’u’lláh wrote. “By the righteousness of God! It shall attain a station such as no pen can depict, or tongue can describe.”

In the final analysis, heaven can be seen partly as a state of nearness to God; hell is a state of remoteness from God. Each state follows as a natural consequence of individual efforts, or the lack thereof, to develop spiritually. The key to spiritual progress is to follow the path outlined by the Manifestations of God.

Beyond this, the exact nature of the afterlife remains a mystery. “The nature of the soul after death can never be described,” Bahá’u’lláh writes.

Judge James Nelson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subject: Total Moral Victory in the World’s Worst Prison Today (For Friends, the Public, as well as the Media)

Dearest Family and Friends:

The following is a vivid testimony to the ultimate moral, mental, and spiritual integrity, dignity, and destiny of the Baha’is and indeed of the entire human race:

Ever since the most unjust and undignified imprisonment some three years ago, without a single crime, of the most innocent, the pure, and the saintly Baha’i Leaders in Iran called Yaran, and their subsequent transfer from the Evin Prison to the most backward and unusually harsh prison of Rajaei Shahr where some 5000 topmost killers, drug dealers, and others are kept in clusters under sub-human conditions, despite the lack of food, toilet, sanitation, and basic subsistence conditions, despite the dirt, filth, and illness, in pitiful conditions themselves, the two saint Baha’i ladies Mahvash and Fariba, as with the other five in the men’s quarters, have by the power of their Faith managed to support and uplift the minds and hearts of their fellow pitiful prisoners by giving them their relentless and genuine loving support to the poorer, the more needy, and the more frail fellow prisoners, seeing no evil in any soul, finding and nurturing dignity even in such a man-forsaken hell, and by such genuine constant manifestations of loving kindness, tact, and wisdom, they have now won, as a testimony to human moral triumph, the hearts and minds and the respect of the entire company of these same so-called “criminal” fellow prisoners, despite the moribond conditions and with all forms of dangers to their own very lives!

Over the months, whenever by token of the only good modern-day miracle of cell phone in the prison yard it was made possible for me to hear several times from Fariba herself, and on the one and only occasion when I got the chance and was so blessed by Divine Destiny to visit the two most precious ladies from behind their prison cabins two months ago for one hour myself, as well as from other family members and even directly from prison guard, I heard myself how miraculously the dangerous killers and criminals had been overwhelmingly moved and transformed by the vivifying souls of these two saintly Ladies.

One can recall the moving poem by Mahvash which shook the world, who, amidst the extreme pains of her own, backed against the withered single pomegranate tree in the prison yard, contemplates how the entire burden of these soul-and-body tortured fellow prisoners and indeed all the down-trodden suffering women of the World are now on her shoulder.

I am still amazed how for the entire three years during the rare occasions she could talk on the phone at various times, I never heard Fariba’s voice even once tremble slightly except for joy, with full faith, complete optimism, and total jubilation, as if walking in the highest Paradise all these long suffering days and months and years.

I still recall the moving sharing lessons of Fariba relaying to me how she had found the single remaining hidden spot of beauty and purity in each and all of these worldly despised and abandoned souls. I remember when she described to me the miracle account of how the most feared gang leader of the prison mafia, despite the huge body, knife-cut and broken face and other fearsome features, shun by all other killers and criminals, had been so moved by our twin spiritual heronies over time that she had on one occasion when Fariba had to pass a toilet dirt mud which had become watery sludge after rain, with their prison-customary slippers, she saw Fariba from far and told her from the distance “Please wait, please wait, may your holy feet not be touched and smeared by these dirts”, then, throwing her own slippers bode and insisted Fariba to kindly step on her slippers and pass by the place lest she be mired. No such things happen in any deadly criminal prison anywhere in the world, specially not in any place similar to this Rajaei Shahar, where only for the mere sake of prolonging an already issued death sentence with formalities paperwork procedures, often the killer kills one more unfortunate and helpless person often at random in the prison, days prior to the execution.

I remember how once Fariba was so overjoyed to tell me how one of her friends, where a few had died mercilessly by swine flu and cast and treated like swines by prison authorities, had first completely given up strong drug addiction, only to replace it with super heavy cigarette addiction, then, by the loving care of our two Baha’i Ladies, day by day she had been reducing smooking to the last one cigarette per day. Fariba told me how that day, just a month ago, Fariba hugged that lady, and rather than insisting or requesting her to give up the final cigarette, only told here gently how much she loved her and was proud of her who despite her years of bad luck in life turning her into a despised criminal, she had obtained the positive hope, the will power, and the supreme determination to accomplish what so many others in the free world had failed to succeed despite all facilities, toos, and support. Fariba told me how the lady, now a close friend, immediately threw to the ground the last final cigarette, crushed it with her heels, and, cried and said: Today I finally give up this addiction for the sake of love of you, as I feel and know that some day I shall visit you in your home and tell you and show you the effect of the loving transformation you have affected and created in me and our many other fellow prison mates!

This is how a candle can shine like the torch, nay as the mid-day Sun, in the darkness of desolation, pessimism and hopelessness, and selfishness that has overshadowed the human society.

Now, I just spoke to Fariba few hours ago on the phone who called from the Rajaei Shahr Prison.

For your information, as the latest news, by tomorrow the two most precious angelic ladies, and the crowning pride of future human civilization will be transferred to the worst section of the Prison entitled “The Under-Ground Dungeon for the Worst of the Villains and Criminals”.

This latest panic move by a remorsely helpless oppressor signifies an entirely unparalled scenario in the World History ever, even up to the present date; that is, for the holy and saintly riligious prisoners of conscience to be once more exiled within the prison, one more tier down from the already terrible exiled Prison allocated for the worst of criminals, killers, and drug addicts to the lower degree underground dungeon for the most dangerous criminals amongst them, just becasue these two already grossly-wronged innocent Saint Lady Prisoners, while in the prison under sub-human conditions, have by their shear Faith and their most pure love and consistent un-conditional tireless and selfless caring actions have transformed the prison-hell into a moral and spiritual Paradise, by moving the souls, changing the hearts, educating the minds and rectifying the conducts of the worst criminals, killers, and drug addicts to such a degree as to empower on the one hand many to give up their severe drug addictions simply on their own free will and by natural encouragement they so lovingly received rather than by persuation and without the need to appeal to any medicine or doctors or tools, or force while against all odds in such deprived hell-prison, and on the other hand enable most others to repent and wash their hands and hearts away from all crimes, purely through the power of real love and by the intense natural free persuation of mind and transformation of heart solely affected via the dynamic power of example of the Twin Tahirih’s of the Time!

Fariba said today on the phone that despite the repeated public prison loudspeaker announcements and stern warnings for all prisoners to stay and shun away, and do not associate with the Baha’i prisoners, groups upon groups of prison ladies thronged and gathered around their cell these past three days, with tearful eyes and warm hugging arms and in a unified supreme array of moral support and expressions of reciprocal love and as spontaneous sign of total unified allegience by all prisoners to the Two Saint Ladies whom they have grown to know as Angels from Heaven stationed in this human hell of a notoriously fanatic and repressive unhumane and dark Regime. Even in the oppressors, the Baha’is see light and apply the transforming and healing power of Baha’ullah’s Revelation which is the Most Great Elixir to ultimately
apply the unifying panacea to the ailing body of the World of humanity and finally affect the evolutionary transformation by God’s Will to the entirety of humankind.

“God hath, likewise, as a bounty from His presence, abolished the concept of “uncleanness”, whereby divers things and peoples have been held to be impure. He, of a certainty, is the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous. Verily, all created things were immersed in the sea of purification when, on that first day of Ridván, We shed upon the whole of creation the splendours of Our most excellent Names and Our most exalted Attributes. This, verily, is a token of My loving providence, which hath encompassed all the worlds. Consort ye then with the followers of all religions, and proclaim ye the Cause of your Lord, the Most Compassionate; this is the very crown of deeds, if ye be of them who understand.” Baha’u’llah; Aqdas #75

Just hours ago, Fariba in most happy tone of voice told me that one of the miracles of the Supreme Manifestation of God, Baha’u’llah, is that to the degree He gives His loved ones sufferings for the sake of the mental and moral and spiritual education and upliftment of humanity in this dark age of the transition to the collective maturity of the entire human race, to a multiple degree of that He also bestows upon them true felicity, joy, and jubilation; and that how truly happy she is that she is going down to the underground dungeon, with no fear nor a bit concern for imminent interrogations and torture.

This, reminded me vividly of her hand-written letter to me some thirty years back, in 1982 or 1983, posted from Babolsar to Boston, when our dearly beloved martyrs had just ascended to the Abha Kingdom, how she wished to be like the example of the root of the Cause of God, that Divine Tree which is neither of the East nor of the West, whose roots are firm in the earth (dark, cold, wet, lowly soil of the earth as she described), so that its branches and fruits, us, the Baha’is and all the people of good will in the outside world, can overshadow and benefit the entire human kind. Surely that Divine Tree is growing to overshadow the entire human race, now that the roots are going deeprer inside the darkness of human soul in order to bring and apply the world-wide healing remedy of Baha’u’llah.

What a sublime drama in the human history!

Speechless in awe and admiration, I remain.

Ya Baha’u’l – Abha!
(Oh Thou The Most Glorious Glory!)

(name deleted for safety purposes)

To my beloved friends worldwide, please pray for these noble souls. Gratitude, immense gratitude. Love to All, Esther

Baha’i World News Service to me
show details 2:24 AM (6 hours ago)

Grave concern for safety of Iran’s imprisoned Baha’i leaders

NEW YORK, 15 February 2011 (BWNS) – Iran’s seven imprisoned Baha’i leaders have been transferred to more brutal sections of their prison complex.

In the case of the two Baha’i women, the circumstances of the move have raised concerns that it may have been orchestrated as a means of creating an insecure environment that threatens their lives.

The Baha’i International Community has learned that one of them – Fariba Kamalabadi – has already been physically threatened by inmates since being sent to the notorious Section 200 of Gohardasht Prison.

“Apparently, the atmosphere is highly charged in this section, and there is a great deal of tension and animosity among the inmates,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.

Mrs. Kamalabadi was transferred to Section 200 on Saturday 12 February, along with Mahvash Sabet.

“It is difficult to be certain about the reason for the move,” said Ms. Dugal. “However we believe that, since their arrival at Gohardasht, the Baha’i women – despite their own extremely challenging situation – have nonetheless been a constant source of comfort and hope to other inmates. The prison authorities apparently became alarmed that the two women began to receive signs of respect from a growing number of prisoners. As a justification for the increased harsh treatment, the authorities accused the two of teaching the Baha’i Faith.”

Throughout their entire imprisonment, added Ms. Dugal, the two women have conducted themselves in a spirit of service to others. In early 2009, for example, they shared a cell at Evin prison with Iranian-Japanese-American journalist Roxana Saberi, who later wrote that they had helped her through her ordeal.

Last week, a general announcement was made to all prisoners that they were not to have any contact with the two Baha’i women. Undeterred, however, fellow inmates continued to seek them out.

“After the women were transferred, a number of prisoners made their way downstairs to visit them in their new quarters, despite efforts by the guards to restrain them,” said Ms. Dugal.

Mrs. Kamalabadi and Mrs. Sabet were told that – prior to the move – the inmates in Section 200 had been “warned” about them, she said.

Harsh and unsanitary conditions

The seven Baha’i leaders were sent to Gohardasht prison, 20 kilometers west of Tehran, in August last year. Having previously been incarcerated in Tehran’s Evin prison without charge for 20 months, they were accused of espionage and the establishment of an illegal administration among other allegations. All the charges were denied. After a brief trial, they were sentenced to 10 years in prison.

While Gohardasht is infamous for its harsh and unsanitary conditions, the Baha’i prisoners were at first kept segregated from some of the more violent elements at the complex. They also had relatively frequent access to outdoor exercise areas.

But over the past few weeks, all seven of them have been moved from the quarters they originally occupied into sections where conditions are much worse.

The five men were transferred three weeks ago to a wing set aside for political prisoners, known as Section 4, which is more crowded and reportedly under close surveillance. They are now suffering severe physical deprivations.

“Three of them are together in one cell, with the other two sharing another cell,” said Ms. Dugal. “There are two beds in each cell, so one of them has to sleep on the floor.”

“The inmates in this part of the prison are able to go outside for fresh air only at designated times, whereas previously they could do so whenever they wished,” said Ms. Dugal.

Appeal to governments

“In our open letter of 7 December 2010 to the head of Iran’s judiciary, we stressed that such an odious and degrading environment is unworthy of even the most dangerous criminals,” said Ms. Dugal.

“We say to the Iranian government once again – does it believe the principles of Islamic compassion and justice to be consistent with the imposition of such conditions on innocent citizens?”

“We continue to call upon governments and people of good-will throughout the world to take whatever action they can to impress upon the Iranian government that its actions are being watched, and that it will be held responsible for the safety of these and the more than 50 other Baha’is who are imprisoned throughout Iran,” said Ms. Dugal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHPercolator coffee house for writers at Yahoo has a group of global, local, “hi I’m from New Jersey,” or in the case of this writer, Pasadena, and a good friend, a town nearby, Temple city. It was my week to supply daily prompts. We all respond, well if we have time, are in town, whatever. You catch my drift.

So I think one of the questions I asked taken from a fantastic book Soul Pancake, was “What are the 5 questions you don’t have answers for?” something like that. Are you with me?

These are responses:

1. Where did God come from?
> >
> > > No one knows for sure but I don’t think it was New Jersey. God did create
humans (On the evolution vs. creationism argument I feel that they’re pretty
much cause and effect; in other words, evolution was the mechanism for creation
– I know I’m in for big trouble now) and a land area that humans call New
Jersey, so in an indirect way, God also created New Jersey. Of this much I am
certain.
> >
> > > 2. What was before the universe?
> >
> > > It’s hard to draw a definitive picture, but I think we can safely rule out
pepperoni pizza as being around back then.
> >
> > > 3. Is there life out there?
> >
> > > Oh yes! Just this morning I was driving to Hackensack where I work and
some life form in an SUV was blocking the entrance to a breakfast nook that I
frequent some of the time.
> >
> > > 4. Who built the pyramids and how?
> >
> > > My grandfather, Stasiu, never actually took credit, but I do know that he
made his own wine and according to legend it was so bad that no one would drink
it except him and he drank every last drop. So I reckon that there was nothing
he couldn’t do when he set his mind to it.
> >
> > > 5. Where did the Mayans really go?
> >
> > There were no Mayans. The whole thing, the pyramids, the ancient scrolls
depicting the end of the world in 2012 and even the eyewitness reports of
Spanish invaders was an elaborate hoax. The Mayan urban legend was born from a
cloud of ennui that circled the globe after the explosion of the volcano
Krakatoa in 1883. People just didn’t know what to do with themselves. Lizzy
Borden found herself a pastime but others decided to construct a paper mache
civilization. It was something like the movie, “Blazing Saddles,” where Sheriff
Bart, the Waco Kid and Mongo build a faux “Rock Ridge” in order to lure the bad
guys into a trap. Leonardo da Vinci apparently drew up the plans which later
fell into the hands of Nostradamus and the whole thing just kind of took off by
itself. Another theory is that Lee Harvey Oswald did it.
> >
> > Kathryn, I hope that these insights will be of value to you.
> >
> > — In CHPercolator@yahoogroups.com, ChikPMcGee@ wrote:
> > >
> > > I actually have some free time and I have enjoyed reading all the
submissions even though I haven’t commented on any of them. The prompt that
caught my eye today was the one about 5 questions I hate not having the answered
to. Here’s my list:
> > >
> > > 1. Where did God come from?
> > >
> > > 2. What was before the universe?
> > >
> > > 3. Is there life out there?
> > >
> > > 4. Who built the pyramids and how?
> > >
> > > 5. Where did the Mayans really go?
> > >
> > > As you can see I think too much, LOL.
> > >
> > > Kathryn
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >

http://media.causes.com/1005500

I humbly suggest if this concerns you, not to react with hate or anger towards anyone, but to find Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, and go to page 285, and Paragraph CXXX. “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 generaton, a fruit upon the tree of humility.”

thank you, esther

Writing from CHPerc Prompts of the Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hi Esther, welcome.

Ooops wrong venue.

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

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

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

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

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

Remember, there’s always Weight Watchers.

MudboundMudbound by Hillary Jordan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best writing teacher you'll ever want to meet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

High regards to all who read this.

Fabulous Place


courage_to_write_poster[1]

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

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

Joy!

Oink - melted on the tongue

fabulous ladies

happy moms

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

Happy, Happy

The Honeymooners

The fabulous Miss R
To die for

Darling children

rock on

handsome dear men

Everyone was happy

waiting for the bride
The flower girl was dear

Happy Bride and Groom

Outside of room waiting for Chiara before the wedding

Chiara's Mom - the other Guam traveler

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

Taking care of Paper BusinessEsther and the wonderfully lovely Chiara

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

hugs to all.

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

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

Sightings 1/6/2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

———-

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

Submissions policy

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

Attribution

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

Contact information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Legend of The Villa Della Luna

graphics, recipes and prose astound

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

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

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

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

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

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

My fabulous coat with its arms around Vera in Germany

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How’s by you?

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8098685-forces-of-our-time” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Forces of Our Time: The Dynamics of Light and Darkness” border=”0″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51SRUk8vHbL._SX106_.jpg” /></a><a href=”Forces” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8098685-forces-of-our-time”>Forces”>http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8098685-forces-of-our-time”>Forces of Our Time: The Dynamics of Light and Darkness</a> by <a href=”Hooper” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2975096.Hooper_C_Dunbar”>Hooper”>http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2975096.Hooper_C_Dunbar”>Hooper C. Dunbar</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”5″ _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/133887663″>5″>http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/133887663″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
This book is exceedingly profound.  It speaks in highly readable and gracious prose, of the condition of the world today, and the dramatic changes taking place.  He addresses the visible deterioration in so many fundamental processes and instittions (financial, political and climage change and energy, and social fabric of society.  He gives his readers an enlivening clear upsurge in knowledge, reflects concern for human rights and speaks of gtechnologies that bring people together.  From the back of the book, “These energies are spiritual in nature and result from Mr. Dunbar’s membership and deep commitment to the Baha’i Faith and its founder, Baha’u’llah (a title meaning the Glory of God). Mr. Dunbar shows how processes creating a new divine civilization have arisen, are arising, and he also speaks of the negative forces which have arisen to resist this divine purpose.  He examines the character of the spiritual forces as set out in the writings of the Guardian of the Faith, and the first part of the book considers the terms, ‘force,’ ‘energy’ and ‘power.’  The second part of the book comprises a selection of quotations drawn from the writings of Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Cause and many are published within this volume for the first time and arrnage chronologically so readers may consider the ideas in their original context.
<br/>
<br/>5 stars doesn’t do it, but that as high as the rating would go.
<br/><br/>
<a href=”View” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View”>http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

 

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

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8062214-you-don-t-look-like-anyone-i-know” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1283891920m/8062214.jpg” /></a><a href=”You” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8062214-you-don-t-look-like-anyone-i-know”>You”>http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8062214-you-don-t-look-like-anyone-i-know”>You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know</a> by <a href=”Heather” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/217205.Heather_Sellers”>Heather”>http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/217205.Heather_Sellers”>Heather Sellers</a><br/>
<br /><br />
Excellent book.  Delightful writer.  Has facial recognition condition, and that plus a very complicated childhood reveals a young woman who finally figured out what was wrong with her – she was not schizophrenic like her mother, or like her father; the facial recognition issue is genetic, and she’s done an enormous job overcoming it, or living with it and is a wonderful writer.  Heather Sellers is the writer
<br/><br/>
<a href=”View” _mce_href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View”>http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

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.

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5704912-held-in-the-light” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Held in the Light: Norman Morrison’s Sacrifice for Peace and His Family’s Journey of Healing” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1267801442m/5704912.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5704912-held-in-the-light”>Held in the Light: Norman Morrison’s Sacrifice for Peace and His Family’s Journey of Healing</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2549270.Anne_Morrison_Welsh”>Anne Morrison Welsh</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/124189757″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
A friend returned from her summer at Chautauqua.  She grew up there as a child, and has spent most summers, if not all, of her life at Chautauqua. She said over dinner, “You must read this,” and it was Held in the Ligh, Norman Morrison’s sacrifice for Peace and His Family’s Journey of Healing.  The book is profound.  Norman Morrison’s were startling, but left this reader wondering, “did he stop a nuclear war,” and the results of his actions reverberate through time.  His wife writes with courage and empathy, and deals with compassionate but clearly observed love. The meaning of this man’s death had an astrounding impact on the Vietnamese, and of course his beloved family.  One cannot judge the act, as it is impossible.  What the pages reveal is the dilemma of a soul on a war torn planet, and his torment of the rapaciousness of war and its attendant evils.  A must read.  I have reference for his wife, his family, and him.
<br/><br/>
<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2316197.Prayer” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Prayer: A Baha’i Approach” border=”0″ src=”http://www.goodreads.com/images/nocover-111×148.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2316197.Prayer”>Prayer: A Baha’i Approach</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1041260.William_Hellaby”>William Hellaby</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/122435751″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
profound, and contemplative, and insightful, and perceptions which lead to action shown.  Madeline Hellaby just died, and I fear this book might not be republished.  It’s a must.
<br/><br/>
<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

On the back cover, “To Baha’is, prayer is indispensable:  ‘the core of religious faith,’ writes Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Baha’i faith, ‘is that mystic feeling which unites man with God.  This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of prayer.

Written by William and madline Hellaby, I’m focusing on Madeline, who just passed.  She writes of “prayer as a living reality–prayer as ordinary people experience it in their daily loves.  ‘How can we practise the presence of God?'” she asks.  Describing with honesty, good sense and humour the various obstacles to effective praying, she finds insight in quotations and examples drawn both from the Baha’i Writings and from a wealth of religious literature, history and day-to-day experience.”

PS I use Alibris a lot to find 99 cent issues of books and up.  I like them.

WAR PROFITEERING
2. VA, Prudential Made Secret Deal

Could this resonate as much as the Walter Reed scandal? Bloomberg
reports that since 1999, Prudential Financial Inc. has had a secret
agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that allows it to
withhold lump-sum payments of life-insurance benefits to the family of
fallen soldiers – so that Prudential can invest that money and keep
whatever money it makes for itself. The arrangement was completely
secret for 10 years until it was put into writing in 2009. “Every
veteran I’ve spoken with is appalled at the brazen war profiteering by
Prudential,” says the executive director of Veterans for Common Sense.
Survivors who request lump-sum payments are sent “checkbooks” –
essentially, IOUs that aren’t insured by the FDIC – instead of actual
checks. Prudential makes eight times as much through the investments as
what it pays in interest to beneficiaries.

Read it at Bloomberg:
http://e.thedailybeast.com/a/tBMj9SLB7SwhTB8Us9YCayQbnuB/dail2
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<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7840064-mentor” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Mentor” border=”0″ src=”http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1273513481m/7840064.jpg” /></a><a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7840064-mentor”>Mentor</a> by <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/297212.Tom_Grimes”>Tom Grimes</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/121643444″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
Oh  Oh, Oh!  I liked this book so much! No, make it loved the book.  I got a Borders’ gift card and hotfooted down the street.  This book called out to me, and the writing is superb.  Tom Grimes takes the reader down the path of working in construction, to waiter, to this, to that; and his writing career unfolds.  He meets Frank Conroy, and this book is valuable for writing, but also the writing process and the struggle and the joy, and I felt as if I were folded within the words and became one with the page.  I couldn’t put it down.  Insightful, dear, honest, revealing, educational, terrific.
<br/><br/>
<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

 

 Okay, Regarding Those Buildings in New York and Everything Else Ishkabibbly

 Was there really a person called Ish-ka-bibble?

 Listen you dweet, in my neighborhood on Wren Street, we knew the name ishkabibble, ‘cept we pronounced it ishhhkahhbibbble.  You know what I mean?  Anyone who listened to radio shows in the 40s knew words like that.  What’s more, my linguistic heritage, you dweet, thank you for asking, was on stuff like Baby Snooks, when she was surprised, and Baby Robespierre wasn’t screaming enough “wah, wah, wahs.”

Those “wah, wah, wahs were loud enuf to hit our pointed roof and bounce off gas lit street lights shining dimly on top of old Buicks and Studebakers (now there’s a vehicle – great ashtrays).  Where wuzz  I? My skill lay in imitating Baby Snooks, “Well, I’ll be a yellow-belled chuck wagon.”  Later in the 50s I went on to memorize the Drop of the Hat dialogue, from a play that ran in London and then New York for years.  Now when people ask about balances and present treasurer’s reports, as we so oft do in my young life, I think to myself in large white cloud-like puffy letters, “Many a Mickle Macks a Muckle.”

 Today,  there’s more than one rumble going on.  And because of this question Ishkabibble, and fighting over buildings and rights to worship and mudslinging both ways, another phrase comes to mind, “Come what, come may, time and the hour pass through the roughest day,” and that was a phrase from Hamlet which graced our walls with indigo, green and traces of yellow and magenta  threads on old white linen, framed with a thin black frame.

 There are so many interesting phrases in the world.  Get your mind off buildings.  Guys are all alike.  Start with blocks and where are you?  Ranting and raving about blocks, except now it’s buildings. 

 But that isn’t to say life was so much better in the olden days, olden meaning the 40s, 50s, and perhaps the 60s, cuz brotha, may I call you brotha dweet, good for who or whom?  I’m beginning to think that phrase, you know about a butterfly flying, or flapping — maybe baby just one wing — has repercussions in the next century. I can’t figure it out mathematically because I’m still trying to figure out how Doris got to Harvard Square by bike with pears and mayonnaise, and Dennis is on his way to West Hollywood with kiwi and crackers, and the  time, mileage thing and fight the despair they’ll never meet, even though they are soul mates, except for the fact that Doris does not like kiwi.

 I think there’s a wing of a butterfly in history called point of view.  Everything depends on point of view an English prof once said. Whose point of view?  Now there’s a handy little four word phrase and a dandy question at that. 

 What if the 50s were a great era?  Yeah for white guys who went to the Diner and ate skinny French fries loaded with salt, and didn’t go home, but grunted dialogue between each other, all the while, the white girls, their counterparts, were worried about “will he like me,” and “please God let me get married.” Down the road apiece in starkly structured architectural lines, invisible walls went up.  Walls so invisible and solid, people like Whitey Bulgur and some of the FBI could load drugs into the Boston projects, and blacks couldn’t move an inch, and they had to get on the elevated at some Station after Green street.  That’s when women were worthless if they weren’t married, and they had to wear veils to Catholic Church, for “bless me Mary, I’m a woman, and I’m sorry.”

 I think a lot of things were done under Imperialism, which some call skin color privilege, but nothing’s that starkly simple.  Hatred is awful in any sector. 

 I think the power boys behind the scene, don’t give a rat’s ass about where buildings are.  I think the power boys and girls want what they want and feel entitled.  I think blessed is the heart that listens to the midnight sighing of the poor, and I ain’t just whistling Dixie, or spitting mud, and this all comes from someone who used to seriously believe in Chicken Little falling from the sky.

 Maybe the sky is falling after all. Dunno.  Many a mickle macks a muckle.  Who knows? The Shadow, that’s who.  The Shadow knows, and if a Jungian read these fast flowing words going to goodness knows where, he/she might say, “Ah, the shadow.  And what is your shadow telling you”?  Words, love em, hate em, can’t live without em.

Pug Lovers' Paradise

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In Iran, shackling the Bahai torchbearers

By Roxana Saberi
Saturday, August 28, 2010

For several weeks last year, I shared a cell in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison with Mahvash Sabet and Fariba Kamalabadi, two leaders of Iran’s minority Bahai faith. I came to see them as my sisters, women whose only crimes were to peacefully practice their religion and resist pressure from their captors to compromise their principles. For this, apparently, they and five male colleagues were sentenced this month to 20 years in prison.

I had heard about Mahvash and Fariba before I met them. Other prisoners spoke of the two middle-aged mothers whose high spirits lifted the morale of fellow inmates.

The Bahai faith, thought to be the largest non-Muslim minority religion in Iran, originated in 19th-century Persia. It is based on the belief that the world will one day attain peace and unity. Iranian authorities consider it a heretical offshoot of Islam.

After I was transferred to their cell, I learned that Mahvash had been incarcerated for one year and Fariba for eight months. Each had spent half her detention in solitary confinement, during which time they were allowed almost no contact with their families and only the Koran to read. Recently the two had been permitted to have a pen. Oh, how they cherished it! But they were allowed to use it only to do Sudoku and crossword puzzles in the conservative newspapers the prison guards occasionally gave them.

Mahvash, Fariba and their five colleagues faced accusations that included spying for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and, later, “spreading corruption on earth.” All three could have resulted in the death penalty.

The Bahais denied these charges. Far from posing a threat to the Islamic regime, Mahvash and Fariba told me, Iran’s estimated 300,000 Bahais are nonviolent and politically impartial.

Despite the gravity of the accusations against them, Mahvash and Fariba had not once been allowed to see attorneys. Yet my cellmates’ spirits would not be broken, and they boosted mine. They taught me to, as they put it, turn challenges into opportunities — to make the most of difficult situations and to grow from adversity. We kept a daily routine, reading the books we were eventually allowed and discussing them; exercising in our small cell; and praying — they in their way, I in mine. They asked me to teach them English and were eager to learn vocabulary for shopping, cooking and traveling. They would use the new words one day, they told me, when they journeyed abroad. But the two women also said they never wanted to live overseas. They felt it their duty to serve not only Bahais but all Iranians.

Later, when I went on a hunger strike, Mahvash and Fariba washed my clothes by hand after I lost my energy and told me stories to keep my mind off my stomach. Their kindness and love gave me sustenance.

It pained me to leave them behind when I was freed in May 2009. I later heard that Mahvash, Fariba and their colleagues refused to make false confessions, as many political prisoners in Iran are pressured to do.

It was January when the Bahais’ trial began. This month, the same Iranian judge who had sentenced me to eight years in prison on a false charge of spying for the United States sentenced the Bahais to 20 years. The charges they were convicted of have not yet been reported.

Human rights advocates have said the trial was riddled with irregularities. The defendants were eventually allowed to see attorneys but only briefly. The lawyers were given only a few hours to examine the thousands of pages in the prosecution’s files. Early in the trial, state-run TV crews were present at what were supposed to be closed hearings. After the Bahais’ attorneys objected, family members were allowed to attend the hearings, but foreign diplomats were barred, and the only journalists permitted were with state-run media. It appears that no evidence was presented against the defendants.

As their lawyers appeal, Mahvash and Fariba sit in Rajai Shahr prison outside Tehran. Even Evin prison, cellmates told me last year, is preferable to Rajai Shahr. The facility is known for torture, unsanitary conditions and inadequate medical care for inmates, who include murderers, drug addicts and thieves.

While Iranian authorities deny that the regime discriminates against citizens for religious beliefs, the Bahai faith is not recognized under the Iranian constitution. The known persecution of many Bahais includes being fired from jobs and denied access to higher education, as well as cemetery desecration. (The Bahais created their own unofficial university, which Mahvash used to direct; Fariba earned a degree in psychology there.) In addition to the seven leaders, 44 other Bahais are in prisons in Iran, the Baha’i International Community reports.

People of many nations and faiths have called for the release of the Bahai leaders. But many more must speak out — such as by signing letters of support through Web sites such as United4Iran.com. Protests of these harsh sentences can make clear to authorities in Iran and elsewhere that they will be held accountable when they trample on human rights. Mahvash and Fariba occasionally hear news of this support, and it gives them strength to carry on, just as the international outcry against my imprisonment empowered me.

I know that despite what they have been through and what lies ahead, these women feel no hatred in their hearts. When I struggled not to despise my interrogators and the judge, Mahvash and Fariba told me they do not hate anyone, not even their captors.

We believe in love and compassion for humanity, they said, even for those who wrong us. Roxana Saberi, a journalist detained in Iran last year, is the author of “Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran.”

I just read an article this week about hormones in Monsanto’s food and a friend just sent this:

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25th, 2010

Contact: Travis English, AGRA Watch
(206) 335-4405
Brenda Biddle, The Evergreen State College & AGRA Watch
(360) 878-7833
http://www.seattleglobaljustice.org/agra-watch

GATES FOUNDATION INVESTS IN MONSANTO
Both will profit at expense of small-scale African farmers

Seattle, WA – Farmers and civil society organizations around the world
are outraged by the recent discovery of further connections between the
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and agribusiness titan Monsanto. Last
week, a financial website published the Gates Foundation’s investment
portfolio, including 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock with an estimated
worth of $23.1 million purchased in the second quarter of 2010 (see the
filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission). This marks a
substantial increase from its previous holdings, valued at just over
$360,000 (see the Foundation’s 2008 990 Form).

“The Foundation’s direct investment in Monsanto is problematic on two
primary levels,” said Dr. Phil Bereano, University of Washington
Professor Emeritus and recognized expert on genetic engineering. “First,
Monsanto has a history of blatant disregard for the interests and well-
being of small farmers around the world, as well as an appalling
environmental track record. The strong connections to Monsanto cast
serious doubt on the Foundation’s heavy funding of agricultural
development in Africa and purported goal of alleviating poverty and
hunger among small-scale farmers. Second, this investment represents an
enormous conflict of interests.”

Monsanto has already negatively impacted agriculture in African
countries. For example, in South Africa in 2009, Monsanto’s genetically
modified maize failed to produce kernels and hundreds of farmers were
devastated. According to Mariam Mayet, environmental attorney and
director of the Africa Centre for Biosafety in Johannesburg, some
farmers suffered up to an 80% crop failure. While Monsanto compensated
the large-scale farmers to whom it directly sold the faulty product, it
gave nothing to the small-scale farmers to whom it had handed out free
sachets of seeds. “When the economic power of Gates is coupled with the
irresponsibility of Monsanto, the outlook for African smallholders is
not very promising,” said Mayet. Monsanto’s aggressive patenting
practices have also monopolized control over seed in ways that deny
farmers control over their own harvest, going so far as to sue–and
bankrupt–farmers for “patent infringement.”

News of the Foundation’s recent Monsanto investment has confirmed the
misgivings of many farmers and sustainable agriculture advocates in
Africa, among them the Kenya Biodiversity Coalition, who commented, “We
have long suspected that the founders of AGRA–the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation–had a long and more intimate affair with Monsanto.” Indeed,
according to Travis English, researcher with AGRA Watch, “The
Foundation’s ownership of Monsanto stock is emblematic of a deeper, more
long-standing involvement with the corporation, particularly in Africa.”
In 2008, AGRA Watch, a project of the Seattle-based organization
Community Alliance for Global Justice, uncovered many linkages between
the Foundation’s grantees and Monsanto. For example, some grantees (in
particular about 70% of grantees in Kenya) of the Alliance for a Green
Revolution in Africa (AGRA)–considered by the Foundation to be its
“African face”–work directly with Monsanto on agricultural development
projects. Other prominent links include high-level Foundation staff
members who were once senior officials for Monsanto, such as Rob Horsch,
formerly Monsanto Vice President of International Development
Partnerships and current Senior Program Officer of the Gates
Agricultural Development Program.

Transnational corporations like Monsanto have been key collaborators
with the Foundation and AGRA’s grantees in promoting the spread of
industrial agriculture on the continent. This model of production relies
on expensive inputs such as chemical fertilizers, genetically modified
seeds, and herbicides. Though this package represents enticing market
development opportunities for the private sector, many civil society
organizations contend it will lead to further displacement of farmers
from the land, an actual increase in hunger, and migration to already
swollen cities unable to provide employment opportunities. In the words
of a representative from the Kenya Biodiversity Coalition, “AGRA is
poison for our farming systems and livelihoods. Under the philanthropic
banner of greening agriculture, AGRA will eventually eat away what
little is left of sustainable small-scale farming in Africa.”

A 2008 report initiated by the World Bank and the UN, the International
Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for
Development (IAASTD), promotes alternative solutions to the problems of
hunger and poverty that emphasize their social and economic roots. The
IAASTD concluded that small-scale agroecological farming is more
suitable for the third world than the industrial agricultural model
favored by Gates and Monsanto. In a summary of the key findings of
IAASTD, the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) emphasizes
the report’s warning that “continued reliance on simplistic
technological fixes–including transgenic crops–will not reduce
persistent hunger and poverty and could exacerbate environmental
problems and worsen social inequity.” Furthermore, PANNA explains, “The
Assessment’s 21 key findings suggest that small-scale agroecological
farming may offer one of the best means to feed the hungry while
protecting the planet.”

The Gates Foundation has been challenged in the past for its
questionable investments; in 2007, the L.A. Times exposed the Foundation
for investing in its own grantees and for its “holdings in many
companies that have failed tests of social responsibility because of
environmental lapses, employment discrimination, disregard for worker
rights, or unethical practices.” The Times chastised the Foundation for
what it called “blind-eye investing,” with at least 41% of its assets
invested in “companies that countered the foundation’s charitable goals
or socially-concerned philosophy.”

Although the Foundation announced it would reassess its practices, it
decided to retain them. As reported by the L.A. Times, chief executive
of the Foundation Patty Stonesifer defended their investments, stating,
“It would be naïve…to think that changing the foundation’s investment
policy could stop the human suffering blamed on the practices of
companies in which it invests billions of dollars.” This decision is in
direct contradiction to the Foundation’s official “Investment
Philosophy”, which, according to its website, “defined areas in which
the endowment will not invest, such as companies whose profit model is
centrally tied to corporate activity that [Bill and Melinda] find
egregious. This is why the endowment does not invest in tobacco stocks.”

More recently, the Foundation has come under fire in its own hometown.
This week, 250 Seattle residents sent postcards expressing their concern
that the Foundation’s approach to agricultural development, rather than
reducing hunger as pledged, would instead “increase farmer debt, enrich
agribusiness corporations like Monsanto and Syngenta, degrade the
environment, and dispossess small farmers.” In addition to demanding
that the Foundation instead fund “socially and ecologically appropriate
practices determined locally by African farmers and scientists” and
support African food sovereignty, they urged the Foundation to cut all
ties to Monsanto and the biotechnology industry.

AGRA Watch, a program of Seattle-based Community Alliance for Global
Justice, supports African initiatives and programs that foster farmers’
self-determination and food sovereignty. AGRA Watch also supports public
engagement in fighting genetic engineering and exploitative agricultural
policies, and demands transparency and accountability on the part of the
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and AGRA.


GENET-forum

providing background information for the
European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

contact:
Hartmut MEYER (Mr)

phone……. +49-531-5168746
fax……… +49-531-5168747
email……. hartmut.meyer(*)genet-info.org
skype……. hartmut_meyer
url……… http://www.genet-info.or

Ana Etchenique
Vicepresidenta
Confederación de Consumidores y Usuarios – CECU
Mayor 45, 2º
28013 Madrid
91 364 13 84
619 955 277
fax 91 366 90 00
ana.e@cecu.es
anaetchenique@yahoo.es
http://www.cecu.es

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SaddledSaddled by Susan Richards
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I bumped into this book, and somehow after flipping through the pages and seeing, memoir, alcoholism in family, transformation, I took the book home from the Pasadena Central Library. I am a memoir addict, and the authentic and well written voice calls me. I couldn’t put it down.

those who know me personally will imagine and know my delight in the author’s triumphs and courage, but imagine that this reader, a pug devotee par excellence, gasps when she looks at the back inside cover flap and see Susan Richards with what? A pug, a pug, a wonderful looking, high i’m the center of the universe pug. I feel as if I know this lady. The background of book had aspects of Boston, my home town, and so it goes. I highly recommend this book. I’m off to read her others; have to order them too!

View all my reviews

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

Girl in TranslationGirl in Translation by Jean Kwok
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews »

Dear One and All in my world.

the recent sentencing of seven imprisoned Baha’i leaders in Iran, impels me to place on my personal blog a request that anyone and everyone who is able or willing to write to the repreentative of their congressional district and to their senators about the unjust sentences of 20 years. We seek humanity’s assistance.

Background information and updates about this situation are available at http://iran.bahai.us and http://news.bahai.org. We, the Baha’is in my area (San Gabriel Valley, California, USA) are enlisting the support of our friends and co-workers, as well as other faith communities and civic organizations, to take whatever actions within their power to shine a spotlight on the Irananian government’s behavior. We respectfully suggest that one should never underestimate the effect their words can have in making the Iranian authorities aware they cannot violate basic standards of international human rights unseen by a watchful world.

For thos who can support this cause, please know that it will bring solace and comfort to the hearts of the long-suffering Iranian Baha’is.

You can find who your senators and congressional representatives are by visiting http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml.

Below is a suggested example of a letter to write to an official. Gratitude to all who care and let us hope some day the oneness of humankind will be a reality and suffering of all the peoples will be a thing of the past.

Dear Senator ___?___/Representative___?___,

The Baha’is of Iran have been subject to religious persecution and
execution for the past thirty years at the hands of the Islamic
Republic regime of Iran. Recently the Islamic Republic court
sentenced seven innocent former Baha’i leaders to twenty years of
imprisonment each – a total of 140 years. These seven innocent
Baha’is have already been in prison for over two years awaiting trial.

The flagrantly unjust sentence has provoked vehement protest from
governments throughout the world – including Australia, Canada,
France, Germany, the Netherlands, the U.K. and the U.S.A. Most
recently, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a
statement condemning the sentence and reaffirming that the American
government has not forgotten the beleaguered Baha’is of Iran. The
following is a link to Clinton’s recent statement:
http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2010/08/145953.htm

I urge you to take whatever actions are within your power to shine a
spotlight on the Iranian government’s gravely unjust behavior. Your
words and actions will have a powerful effect in making the Iranian
authorities aware that they cannot violate basic standards of
international human rights concealed from a watchful world.

Background information and updates about the situation are available
at http://iran.bahai.us and http://news.bahai.org.

Your words of support will bring comfort and solace to the hearts of
the long-suffering Iranian Bahá’ís, the American Baha’i community and
human rights advocates all over the world who keep watch with these
innocent prisoners.

Sincerely,
___?___

Little BeeLittle Bee by Chris Cleave
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I feel as if an ocean roared through my being, and I’ll never be the same. Outstanding novel, incredible writing. A must

View all my reviews >>

CaucasiaCaucasia by Danzy Senna
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Danzy Senna is an incredible writer; her prose is very tight and descriptive involved with motion, either external or internal. The subject matter is profound, and I heard her read a week or so ago at the California Pacific Modern Art Museum – they have a reader’s series. She was a Stanford undergradute and a UCIrvine MFA student; their program is excellent, and her craft is top notch and her subject race, so profoundly handled, all dimensions were fabulous. I also read her other book Where Did You Sleep Last night; very good; as I said, her writing is incredible. This is a must read from my point of view. Boy, do I wish her well!

View all my reviews >>

Why I like wonderfully written books, such as Tatjana Soli’s The Lotus Eaters (St. Martin’s Press)

From The Lotus Eaters, a novel, by Tatjana Soli

“They drove the empty, hacked roads, dust flying like a long sail of sheer red silk behind them, hanging suspended in the coppery sky. (p. 51)

This is what happened when one left one’s home—pieces of oneself scattered all over the world, no one place every completely satisfied, always a nostalgia for the place left behind. Pieces of her in Vietnam, some in this place of bone. She brought the letter to her nose. The smell of Vietnam: a mix of jungle and wetness and spices and rot. A smell she hadn’t realized she missed. P. 277”

The Lotus EatersThe Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Compelling, brilliant, literary acumen dazzling! wonderful I am going to follow this author!

View all my reviews >>

A Time to Betray A Time to Betray by Reza Kahlili

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a hard book to read, and I have read a goodly amount about Evin prison, and a man who was Persian born, and a hostage, an an American citizen working in Tehran at the time of the Hostage Crisis in Iran. He asked me to write his book. I was too new of a writer to do so. He has since passed.

Most people know there are 7 Baha’is in Evin right now, and much has been written of them. In fact the journalist who was freed (Roxanne Saberi) writes about them also in her book. This book (A Time to Betray) was hard, because the suffering was immense, the brutality so real, and his mission so gripping, and I as a reader was always worried for his safety and the wellbeing of all people in his country.

The hand of fate will simply visit those who torture others, and we in this generation cannot know when or how, and it isn’t with vengeance I comment so; it’s just that nothing we do goes unnoticed in a higher dimension.

I think the book it a must in that it gives tremendous insights into the suffering of the ordinary citizens of Iran and yet the heroic acts of some. My heart goes out to all who suffer.

View all my reviews >>

My cousin, Keliher Walsh, and her husband, James Eckhouse are in this play. We are going June 6th matinee

Theater review: ‘Behind the Gates’ at Marilyn Monroe Theatre
May 21, 2010 | 6:30 am
An extraordinary monologue opens “Behind the Gates,” Wendy Graf’s passionate if soapy cautionary tale about religious extremism, now at the Lee Strasberg Creative Center.

Pierced rebel Bethany (Annika Marks) stomps on stage, furious at her privileged parents (Keliher Walsh and James Eckhouse), who send her to Israel to shape up. As the teenager recounts her growing fascination with Jerusalem’s ancient ways, Bethany begins to shed her jeans and Goth style, gradually donning the clothes of an Orthodox woman — a powerful conversion sequence.

Approached by an ostensibly sympathetic rabbi (Oren Rehany), Bethany is drawn into the secretive world of the Haredi sect, which enforces public segregation of the sexes and extreme modesty. Her desperate parents come looking for her, only to find themselves in a labyrinth of languages, beliefs and exile.

Played out on Stephanie Kerley Schwartz’s set of stone columns and sheer curtains, David Gautreaux’s staging has a minimalist elegance occasionally at odds with the style of the play, which mixes the tropes of a Lifetime movie with journalistic clarity. What ultimately resonates in this Hatikva Productions drama is the fierce hunger of an adoptee searching for her true home.

– Charlotte Stoudt

“Behind the Gates” Marilyn Monroe Theatre at the Lee Strasberg Creative Center, 7936 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends July 3. $25. Contact: (323) 960-5772 or http://www.Plays411.com/Gates Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.

Images: Keliher Walsh, left, Annika Marks and James Eckhouse. Photo credit Ed Krieger.

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The Man From Saigon The Man From Saigon by Marti Leimbach

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Incredibly well written, gripping, mesmerizing, literary, fantastic; i guess that means I liked the book. Superb writing, difficult subject, and wonderful point of view – woman journalist is protagonist. At any rate a friend in book club recommended it, and we are glad she did. We fell in love with the book!

View all my reviews >>

A Thread of Sky A Thread of Sky by Deanna Fei

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Lovely, lovely writing; References Alzheimer’s as “brain plaques and fibrillary tangles,” “strands caught in knots.” Her style is wonderfully literary, yet compelling about sisters, mother, and grandmother’s return to China for a trip; and relationships and lives so differently lived. Philosophical observations keenly observed, choices of women, foward pull and backward pull, one’s place within the generations and the society. Wonderful read.

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,

One Good Dog One Good Dog by Susan Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A page turner regarding dog and man; the dearness of it, the struggle, and good for me to read of a pit bull in friendly terms. wonderful read!

View all my reviews >>

Wow, what a weekend. Saturday went to a Cluster Reflection Meeting in Altadena, held in the loveliest of homes; very user friendly to large crowds. Great people, great conversation, basically we Baha’is encourage each other to contribute to humanity’s well being; and that plays out into children’s classes, devotionals, etc. We don’t do this to “make Baha’is,” but just to contribute to the ongoing advancement of the society and the individual, which includes us totally.

Devotionals are usually with lots of writings from other Faith Traditions, music, and then conversation about concepts. we had so many diverse points of view last night at a friends and the food then was luscious. different people who didn’t know each other found they had a lot in common. It was sort of a 6 degrees of separation type of thing.

Today we heard Judge Dorothy Nelson come and give a report; she was our delegate to the Baha’i National Convention. again, such an atmosphere of love and knowledge in the room. Wonderful. Also had great book club meeting; we discussed The Man From Saigon and I can’t remember author’s name. The writing was superb! We all brought something to eat, had brunch, tremendous conversation and divergent views about the book. Everyone liked it; but our points of view naturally differ because of our different lifestyles.

I don’t have a lot to say, but think despite all the heaviness in the world, and the utter crippling acts of some, there are many hearts and souls who work for the well-being of humanity, from all ranks, religions, traditions, and this weekend, there was evidence of this. We truly are one! Have a good week everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The sky I was born under indicated the Angels were planning a Rumble.  This is, of course, if you were to ask our housekeeper Rita, who when we had thunderstorms, told us “The angels are moving furniture.”

My twin and I were born August 28, 1938, and she was robust and I was more squirrel like.  But, I’ve nattered on about that before.  What threatened in the future for my father and mother and the neighborhood of West Roxbury’s small houses where Protestants and Catholics shared the streets of Oriole, Wren, and gossiped about Tarzan the man who swung naked through the trees at the very top of Wren Street, near the water tower.

We were born, entered a family already a bit intense, my brother, then my sister within the next year, and then the next year, Liz and I.  I think I fattened up, a phrase one would only welcome in our narcissistic world when one is a baby and four pounds at that.  After 7, years and pounds, consciousness enters slowly.

I probably got home, and cuddled up to my chubby twin, and the Great Hurricane of 1938 struck and smashed and just in general had the biggest weather hissy this generation of neighborhood dwellers had experienced.  Electricity was out.  People washed clothes with washers and wringers, and hung diapers out on a clothesline.  Making formula was highly more complicated and I think they went thru at lest 180 diapers a week.  Gives “doing a load of washing, “new heroic tones.

Well, in the meantime, my father who graduated from Harvard in economics was out of work, and within six months after the 1938 War of the Winds and Howling Furniture, shadows of illness struck us, the twins, the babies, and we came down with whooping cough, a serious disease in babies.  Children’s Hospital would foot the bill and get us better, and my father was always eternally grateful.

A year later, well a month and a year later, World War II started by Nazi invasions and this would lead to a seriousness of tone, a heaviness, and eventually to our peeing in the dark because of blackout curtains, our jumping on cans to flatten them, my mom smoking my father’s pipe after closing the drapes so the neighbors couldn’t see, and then Pearl Harbor Day where my mom thought my Uncle Tom had died.  He had been transferred from one sub to another, and since he was in charge, he scooted his sub out to the middle of the ocean and stayed out, thus my mother’s grief was short.  It was a complicated time, a time of innocence, slogans, and unawareness, particularly regarding race and religion.

I would grow up to the sounds of clashing pan tops when Roosevelt died; what can I say — we were the only insensitive Republicans in the neighborhood. 

I remember no sounds when Miss Flaherty swept between the school desks in third grade and shook me and shook me because I didn’t know 8 x 7 – which now gentle reader, I will tell you is 56.  I remember the sound of Liz crying in 4th grade; okay, okay, we were late bloomers, when the principal came into the classroom and said, “How many people still believe in Santa Clause? And Liz and I were the 2 who raised their hands, and he stilettoed that belief to pieces on a schoolroom floor.

I remember the sounds of my mother’s feet lurching down the stairs announcing, “They’ve electrocuted the Rosenberg’s,” and she was crying, and then the sounds of Chopin, her favorite composer, and his compositions and her hitting the piano keys with an alcoholic force in the middle of the night.

These are some images that shaped our lives.  When we lived in Dnepropetrovsk in 1990, I felt as if we had traveled back in time, to the 40s and some of the sounds and sights seemed familiar.  To Bill it was the bluing of laundry and stiff sheets starched and ironed, the beating of rugs flung over clotheslines and being whopped every Saturday.

I like sounds and memories.

  • The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this:
    >
    > A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him … a
    > touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy
    > is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is
    > death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering
    > necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating
    > of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his
    > very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out
    > creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really
    > alive unless he is creating. ~ Pearl S. Buck, novelist, Nobel
    > laureate (1892-1973)

 

When I was a young girl, I discovered Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, and then I went on to read all of her books.  Since an early age, I read everything an author says.  Last week or so her name came up, and I forget the context, but I discovered Anchee Min’s latest book is about Pearl – a fiction book.  Some critics say not as good as Anchee Min’s previous books which are cliffhangers, but anything she writes I read, and I was so glad to.  It sounded so accurate.

At any rate, I think Pearl Buck probably changed or added immensely to my life as I think we are hungry for other lives, insights, and in essence, we feel as if we are that person – oneness through literature.

A few years ago, a friend said in an email, “This is you,” and then the above quote was imbedded in my email.  I felt an immense relief.  I am in the last chapters with much creativity and contributions ahead, but I remember my younger days of emotional pain, of therapy, tests, struggles, now knowing who I really was.

I think we all go through that forming journey; the who am I, and in our later years, we are answered, and think, “aah that’s it.”  At any rate, I used to cringe that I was so sensitive.  I wished I simply could not feel as much.  People talked about getting in touch with their feelings, and I was trying to stifle them; they were too much.

Still time and writing, and a spiritual path, mine being the Baha’i Faith, where I firmly believe we walk the mystical path with practical feet, a path which has carved me out in order that love for others may fill me, a path of constant change.  I no longer experience that twisting pain of feeling as if inwardly I felt my heart was a bruised peach pit; I have gained insights, clarity, a voice, more laughter, and it’s all a dance in one way.  Still I cannot tell you how solaced and how solaced I still am by this quote of Pearl Buck’s.  It gives relief to the DNA which is standing still thinking will epigenetics reveals its stamp.  Luckily it has, but I know so little.

It’s exciting to have experienced a lot, learned a lot, and still always on the edge of knowing and learning; I sense epigenetics is one of my next themes.

I discovered  this wonderful young lady by trotting thru Facebook today, and a friend had posted her site:

http://www.kickstarter.com/e/fjl0c/projects/brina/reggae-singer-brina-needs-to-mix-and-release-her-d

All I can say, is try it, you’ll like it, and I hope she makes her deadline!

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.

When I was much younger, I used to shuffle along the streets of Boston, scuffing autumn leaves, keeping my trench coat, wrapped tight around my west, and my head was always bent towards the ground.  Years later, I saw the film Housekeeping, I think, based on Marilyn Robinson’s novel which was excellent.  The characters, two sisters, walked the same way.  One chose life and growth and staying in a town after their mother committed suicide, and the other chose traveling with her aunt, hopping trains, vagabonding, in an era, when you could still get away with it.  Did I mention, they both walked with their heads down.

When we lived in Ukraine and Belarus, my head bent down, and a hump emerged right below my neck because we carried so many heavy things.  The Russian way of carrying heavy stuff, is one person on the left carries on handle, and the person on the right, carries that handle.  We schlepped to railway stations, busways, trolley cars.  There’s a joke that on Women’s Day, which is highly observed and beautiful (the streets are filled with people carrying all colors of tulips), on Women’s Day women get to keep one hand and arm free and only have to walk carrying stuff with that arm.  We would roar with laughter when we heard that.

Jokes were funny there.  Someone sitting around a small kitchen with you, having some chai (tea) would point to a poster on the wall of glossy fruit, bananas and particularly red apples, and say in a deadpan voice, “We have food in our museums and in our posters,” but not in real life.  In real life we have cockroaches.”  And we would yuck and slap our knees and then I the table. 

Look up is something I think of when a very wise man said, “If things are going contrary to what you wanted, don’t worry.  Keep your eye on the horizon,” and things will get better.    At least that’s my hope. 

Today at the end of the day, i hadn’t taken my more demand walk, so I threw my backpack on and toddled down the street towards Ten Thousand Villages and bought a mother’s day gift for Jessica’s mom. Then I walked out the door and saw Laura was there.  We hugged and chatted and then i walked.

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.

From http://www.binaryturf.com/the-blog-of-a-twice-fired-techy/

5 things every aspiring blogger must know about blogging

Are you sure you know these? There’s a lot you’ll learn as a blogger. You’ll get to research on your niche and topics. You’ll get to experiment with your ad placement. But you need to know these 5 things before you take to the blogging way.

  1. Blogging is not a quick way to make money – No matter how much you’ve heard someone rant about making quick money with blogging, you’d be lucky to earn .01 cent in the first few days of firing up your blog. It will take you long time before you reach one dollar a day. Make sure you are prepared for it and get rid of illusions.
  2. Blogging is not an easy way to make money – If someone tells you its easy to blog, think again. You need to research on the niche, your topic. You have to make it sell and make people buy your ideas. It will be a challenge to strike a chord with your visitors and it will be a challenge to make sense with your blog. You’ll need pictures for your posts, you’ll make mistakes and learn from them over time. Not easy.
  3. You don’t have to be an expert on a subject to blog about it – My friend just shrugged it off – “I don’t know a thing about that subject”. Well you don’t need to. You have to be willing to learn and share your learnings.
  4. Bloggers don’t compete – This is the best thing I learnt from blogging. There are millions of blogs out there. Given that, there are too many blogs on any given niche. But blogs don’t compete neither do the bloggers. Every person knows different things about any given subject. Just like two fine-art graduates have different knowledge and different experession. People don’t stop subscribing to a technology blog because they are already subscribed to another. There’s no competition – only the visibility plays the big role. You have to make a mark with your uniqueness and style.
  5. You don’t have to blog yourself – Most of the bloggers making big bucks don’t necessarily do their own thing. They hire people to write for them. As your blog grows in popularity over time, the returns outdo the investment you make into content creation. This gave birth to blog networks where the bloggers can join and work for a blog network which can pay them a salary. If you don’t make a penny with your blog, write for a big blogger and get paid. And if you have a blog that earns you big bucks, you can set it to auto mode – hire someone to write a post daily and pay them back.

What have you learnt about blogging?

Readers check this out. I am outstanding and joyous at the fertility and unexpected

twists and turns of the artistic mind!

http://myloveforyou.typepad.com/my_love_for_you/

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)

Morning reading, Jalal 14 (Glory-14th day of April – Second day of Ridvan

“Meditate on what the poet hath written: ‘Wonder not, if my Best-Beloved be closer to me than mine own self; wonder at this, that I, despite such nearness, should still be so far from Him.’  ”

                                                          Baha’u’llah (Gleanings, p. 184)

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.

French Lessons

 

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

Marti Leimbach is new to my young life.  The Man From Saigon was recommended in my book club, and I couldn’t put this wonderful novel down.  Kismet Ms. Leimbach went to UCI writing program and Harvard, and I guess in that order.  She live sin England and teaches at Oxford University’s creative writing program.  She, as a contemporary novelist, writes of the Vietnam War era.  She is beyond skilled at place, scents, sounds, terrors and sorrows of the time.  Darkness made visible, humanity and duplicities of war.

Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Led wonderful workshop yesterday; went to great devotional  – Baha’i and writings from world’s scriptures read; great music, lovely home, wonderful people, conversation with laughter, spirituality, and great food.

Exhausted today; off I went to Monterey Park for fantastic Chinese Massage – $20, $5 of which is the tip.

Came out semi alive and looser, and crashed, and now on pewter updating life.

Small post-huge day, with bill, quiet; tomorrow neurology appointment for him.

Themes, Ideas, Prompts, Triggers, Time Lines, Past Moments, My Mother Told Me, I remember

 So we are in our journal, and we write and we write and we write.  We write about vegetables growing, hangnails removed, the war in Baghdad, a sore throat, a secret wishThe important thing is to write.  This is not being literary, but getting the stuff out on the page, a sort of verbal or vocal flow.

 How on earth do we get in touch with our thoughts and feelings?  We are not concerned with punctuating, crossing our t’s; barely do that anyway.  This is not a confessional way, but just a way of writing.  Writing like you talk is simple and natural.  No literary sentences. Boy this is hard for the writer, believe you me, I wanted to show what a hot dog of a writer I was, all the while, waves of insecurity competed.

 One way to locate your most urgent subjects is to ask yourself: Where is my heart breaking? Or what breaks my heart?

 Make a list of the fears and concerns that keep you awake and night and interfere with your days.  Think of your list as a prayer bead; finger one at a time; rather than including large sweeping topics like world hunger, abortion, nuclear disarmament, the disintegration of the family), name specific people, problems, fears, and issues.  “I’m afraid my mother will die in a nursing home.”  What if the biopsy is positive?

 Time Lines, –

Where were you on 9/11

When Obama was elected?

 If I could write about only one subject (or person, place event, or obsession) what could it be?

 Ask yourself what noun would you want spoken on your skin your whole life through? Marc Doty-My Tattoo

 Write down all the identities that describe you; cat lover, cook, hiker, military brat; keep going; include past identities; student,

 Would you have been different with a different name; whom might you have married if you hadn’t driven to California!

 I wish I could stop thinking about

 In the dream last night, I

Nobody wants to hear about

I can’t possibly tell anyone that…

Write until the truth emerges;

 What weather dominates your feelings; is it raining inside your mind; is it dry and hot; muggy and close; is there a storm cloud on the horizon; a tornado swirling toward you, an earthquake splitting the ground

 If you were to paint your feelings, what colors would you use; what shapes; would you use; watercolors or oils; a small canvas or a large one; would you use a delicate brush, a palette knife or your own bare hands.

 What music plays inside you; and are you what key; in what time signature; what instruments do you heart; maybe you’re the instrument playing the music.

What does your body want to do; does it want to crawl into a hole; pound its fist through a wall; float on a raft in the middle of the ocean, scream until its throat is raw, pack a suitcase, kiss a neighbor’s husband, drive as fast as it can.

Make a list of people Who have been important to you:

Alive or dead; young or old

Their impact on you; either good or bad

The age you were at…..

 What about significant events;

A day I’ll never forget…

An experience that made a great impact on me…

My pulse quickened when …

 Times when

La Pintoresca Library, April 17, 2010

Esther Bradley-DeTally –

(“Everyone has talent.  What is rare is the courage to follow that talent to the dark place where it leads.”  Erica Jong

Finding your voice isn’t looking at the dust balls under the bed to see if you coughed up anything in the dark.  Finding your voice is suiting up and showing up to write about the here and now and to meet other people who have written, not written, or may write.  You will increase your breadth and depth of what you know about yourself, i.e., give written form to the line drawings of life.  Do we know the maps of our hearts?  The Courage to Write offers a way to strip the layers of social niceties, to dig deeply and find the authentic within.

There is no “constructive criticism” within the class, but rather a listening and honoring of each person’s contribution.  For the beginning, we will write in first person, the “I” and it’s a write like you talk.  Are you doomed to write that way the rest of your life?  No.  But this is home base or home on the computer for the writ.  Journaling in the here and now brings forth new vistas!  I will refer to books about writing and teachers of writing whenever possible.  I won’t hesitate to recommend people and books.

WHADDA WE GOING TO DO:  We are going to go through a process, which will take you through various modes of writing.  When I took Teach Writing the Natural Way at Irvine, we learned to mix details, descriptions, dialogue, and academic writing.  Writing is very much like mixing a soup.

People, places I highly admire who have taught me are: Jack Grapes:  the Pied Piper of bringing out the voice, whose workshops are in Los Angeles.  Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones, the writing process book you need for the desert island experience; UCLA Writing Extension Courses; Deena Metzger, Writing for Your Life, and a gazillion more.  Any writing teacher’s task (and joy) is to take the writer as far as he/she can go. “This is supposed to be fun,” my UCLA writing instructor, who looked like a maple syrup ad, told a group of us clenched-teeth, stomach-burning students one night.  And you know, it is; so relax and let’s enjoy.

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

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

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

am crashing; you guys are terrific.

Time is going by on roller skates.  I just clicked on central library, my account, and gasped when it said 7 books await-as I have still 5 unread, 3 to go back, some Baha’i books of great interest I’m studying and am off at 11.30 to meeting with friend.  Time is liked butter sizzling on a slick hot skillet; there you see the cube, there you don’t; but the color yellow is a lovely color albeit in solid form or bubbles.

CHPerc is in one of its modes, crazy, laughter, witty, witty repartee, just a gang of sillies that causes each one of us, whether in England, Pakistan, Wyoming where there’s still snow, or Pasadena and Temple City and Reno, to just (oh don’t forget New Jersey) yuk at the bon mots tossed around in humor amongst us.  Makes life worth living,

Tomorrow give free writing workshop at La Pintoresca library, that wonderful little white building that sits kitty corner on Raymond and Washington, and cries out, “Hi I’m a library, but more that than, c’mon in and skate through the corners of your mind, cuz this is a happening place.”

And so it goes, horror, like black paint spilled on the world’s canvass, still exists; dust of volcanic ash dots our hearts and minds and airplanes, and clogs further the arteries of greed in meanspirited leaders, but still, laughter, like a tiny Jack Russell Terrier, still jumps to the sky and we find meaning, I find meaning, in the small things: like vivid colors of red, and gold, and the glossy black fur and intent brown eyes of a black pug sitting in the sun, half dozing, but intently keeping his eyes open (food) and glad i can see the beauty and joy in it all.  You catch my drift?

WWW.bigsunday.org

Volunteer opportunities in Pasadena

#38 – *Rebuild with Rebuilding Together

Rebuilding Together is a wonderful organization that helps low-income elderly and disabled people restore their homes in wonderful and amazing ways. They have branches all over the country. We’ve been working with them in Pasadena for many years. This is a great opportunity to work hard (check out the hours) repairing, painting, and cleaning. Try and sign up early for this one: the more people we have, the more ambitious we can be!

Sign Up Now!

Email this project to a friend

* Date: 05/01/2010
* Start Time: 08:00 AM
* Age Group: 18+ * End Time: 03:00 PM
* Volunteers Still Needed: 8 * Location: Pasadena/Altadena
Address
Captain will provide address

#148 – *Help Food Forward Pick Fruits & Vegetables for Food Pantries (Pasadena, Saturday)

Food Forward helps to feed thousands of hungry people each year by gleaning peoples’ excess fruit and vegetables and donating the harvest to Los Angeles area food pantries. Volunteers will pick fruits and vegetables from three different locations around L.A County (your project captain will let you know the exact address). Don’t forget to wear sturdy shoes and sun block, and bring gardening gloves and pruning shears if you have them. (If you’d rather pick on Sunday, check out project #s 346, 347 & 348.)

Sign Up Now!

Email this project to a friend

* Date: 05/01/2010
* Age Group: 12+ * Start Time: 09:00 AM
* Location: Pasadena * End Time: 12:00 PM
* Volunteers Still Needed: 17

The women are writing, well and diversely, and we all love those Tuesday afternoons when we gather in the warmth of fellowship and write crazily, spinningly, seriously, and most important, freely.

WWW.bigsunday.org Volunteer opportunities in Pasadena

#38 – *Rebuild with Rebuilding Together

Rebuilding Together is a wonderful organization that helps low-income elderly and disabled people restore their homes in wonderful and amazing ways. They have branches all over the country. We’ve been working with them in Pasadena for many years. This is a great opportunity to work hard (check out the hours) repairing, painting, and cleaning. Try and sign up early for this one: the more people we have, the more ambitious we can be!

Sign Up Now!

Email this project to a friend

* Date: 05/01/2010
* Start Time: 08:00 AM
* Age Group: 18+ * End Time: 03:00 PM
* Volunteers Still Needed: 8 * Location: Pasadena/Altadena
Address
Captain will provide address

#148 – *Help Food Forward Pick Fruits & Vegetables for Food Pantries (Pasadena, Saturday)

Food Forward helps to feed thousands of hungry people each year by gleaning peoples’ excess fruit and vegetables and donating the harvest to Los Angeles area food pantries. Volunteers will pick fruits and vegetables from three different locations around L.A County (your project captain will let you know the exact address). Don’t forget to wear sturdy shoes and sun block, and bring gardening gloves and pruning shears if you have them. (If you’d rather pick on Sunday, check out project #s 346, 347 & 348.)

Sign Up Now!

Email this project to a friend

* Date: 05/01/2010
* Age Group: 12+ * Start Time: 09:00 AM
* Location: Pasadena * End Time: 12:00 PM
* Volunteers Still Needed: 17

Nothing like a slouch on the couch with a longest time friend; the one who held your baby; or better yet, listened to you as you were 8 mos pregnant and hysterical because your mother-in-law, a Wilshire Methodist, was spending a month or so with you. we have had chicken soup, canned, light, 70 calories, 1 point, and then i had margerine and akmak crackers, and we talked about greed in California, and abuse of power, and then cavorted over to WWII and leaders and the dance of intrigue people did, the leaders, and now Janet my friend is reading the essay about Khatyn in my first book Without A Net, A Sojourn in russia, and i was talking about the oddness of having this place come into prominence on the news because of the death of the Polish President and many other dignitaries.Connection is wonderful; she’s leaving so i’ll end; otherwise i won’t get a post in; gratitude for friendships

The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something
of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.

-Pearl S. Buck, novelist, Nobel laureate (1892-1973)

Two weeks ago, Bill, my husband, had to go from Huntington Hospital in Pasadena to Baldwin Park to kaiser Hospital, so a neuro guy could double check him just in case he need to be trundled into a hospital bed.

He didn’t; he stabilized, and he said it was a 20 minute ride. The ambulance bill: $1400 – 20 minute ride, tho two qualified attendants, one who drove. We didn’t have to pay.

I’ve been reading, walking and writing. I had a huge list of want to read books, and today How to Sew a Button along with Alice I Have been, Finding Nouf, and they sit alongside a book Revelation and social Reality, Learning to Translate what is Written into Reality (a profound book).

So I push aside my Pug Calendar, work on a student’s essay, check my emails for news from one of my 400 cronies, and on Facebook, note with absolute joy of erica’s wedding. Incredible lady. You don’t need to know.

today started out slow, and i had blood test; blood too thick; oh dear, too many veggies; i hate being on Coumadin, no choice. Library and meeting at noon; wonderful gathering, profound and dear people, walked home – 2 miles; don’t push for the third Esther, you drive yourself.

Yaran 7, Baha’is imprisoned in Evin Prison had hearing today; blocked, not allowed families; three years now; how long must this go on.

No One Would Listen, a True Financial thriller by Harry Markopolos is a gripper. Forget that I, a daughter of a municipal bond person, can’t read the stock page, and this book is filled with discussions of derivatives, Ponzi Scheme (think Madoff), Harry Markopolos grips the reader to his account of discovering Bernie Madoff and his scheme which was ignored by the SEC and eventually grew to the size of $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

Markopolos is a wonderful writer, chatty, very intelligent, a math geek, quant, who sees relationships among number as a writer would letters to a page and a composer stairways to the sky in a jazz rift. He struggled for 8 years trying to warn investors, the SEC of Madoff’s schemes, only to meet disinterest and disfunction.

Totally huge event. Had agencies listed to Markopolis. Had the SEC listened to Markopolos in the year 2000, the money saved would have been forty-three billion dollars.

Amazing story; brave man, and it was dangerous for himself, his family and his team. a must read.

Reply |Baha’i World News Service to me
show details 2:23 AM (6 hours ago)

Next trial session in Iran for seven Baha’is set for tomorrow

GENEVA, 9 April (BWNS) – A third session of the court proceedings against seven imprisoned Iranian Baha’i leaders is scheduled for tomorrow in Tehran.

It is unknown whether the hearing – scheduled in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court – will be open to families of the defendants and other observers. The first two sessions were closed.

The seven defendants, who have been imprisoned for two years, were responsible for tending to the spiritual and social needs of Iran’s 300,000 Baha’is.

In January of this year they were finally presented with formal charges, which include espionage and “corruption on earth” – accusations that they categorically deny.

For more information, see recent news stories http://news.bahai.org/story/760 and http://news.bahai.org/story/759. For further background and photographs, see http://news.bahai.org/human-rights/iran/iran-update/

http://pilipilisakasakadiaries.wordpress.com

read this dear ones and weep – but with stomping feet and yahoos to the sky. this is a fabulous blog. pilipilisakas’s writng is like butter on a hot black skillet. mmmmm hmmmmmm!

okay back to me. I’ts only almost noon and i’m still at the Pewter replying to blogs, email, facebook.

Today, this morning, old shirt, blinking eyes, fingers that run across the keyboard like the sound of French poodles in a hurry clicking their toes towards food bowls, these are my electric hours. Life is electric and i’ll list a few things at the end so you catch my drift. Drift dear reader; drift is important.

Today is exhaustion day big time. Was surprised. Went to cardio guy yesterday; and he’s now Bill’s Cardio guy too; very funny, dry wit, sardonic. While Bill was getting his blood pressure taken (read abnormally high) (read, situational) I was standing in the hallway, and I felt as if I were going to pass out. I never feel that way there. we were more nervous of Bill’s test results than we realized.

He’s got a hardening aortic valve, but doesn’t have to have surgery, like I did and he won’t. I lived and that’s good depending on who is saying it. smile.
They’ll watch him, and give him ultrasound in 6 months.
A friend writes, “Can they soften the valve”?

We both felt as if a steamroller decided not to bury us in mud! Wow.
Big, I guess one could say.

So day in honor of big,I’ll laundry list the “bigs” in my life.

Bill’s heart not too bad or heart valve
Reading pilisaka’s blog
Watching on You Tube _Devotional – Baha’i
Finding out the red light, third one in on the blinking model if you really want to know, is the result of perhaps a patchy connection to be replaced easily by trip to Best or Radio Shack.
Fireside (Baha’i chats) at Nelson’s last night. Steve and Juliana Licata and their two heavenly sons; music, entertainment; incredible talk
Meeting a new person; a muscian who heard of Baha’is on the net and from his spiritual leader who said, “Go.”
My walking an hour a day – El Moleno, a nice hill if you like puffing, but the way back a treat.
Friends, Mizz V helping me become lickietier and splickietier on the net.
Friends, Son, Daughter in Laws, Grandkids
The Women’s Room in Pasadena where homeless women have respite and the writing class I lead on Tuesday afternoons where the moments expand to tears and riotous laughter.
good writing.
Enemies of the People, Kati Marton, a great read (for Pasadena book club)
Waiting to read a wonderful book published in early 1900s on Muhammad, clear, insightful.
Gleanings. Baha’u’llah’s writings at the top. Always.
10 books waiting, some study, some fun, all fascinating.
Physical exhaustion, but a day of forced rest.

all of these are big in my young life, and now if I run into a pug today, walking his or her snorty self, i’ll know it’s a wondrous life.

Dear friends,
The Internet has made amazing things possible, like freeing the Jena 6 and electing President Obama. None of it could have happened without an “open” Internet: one where Internet service providers are not allowed to interfere with what is seen and by whom.
Now, Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon — the most powerful broadband providers — are trying to fundamentally change the way the Internet works. They’re seeking to make even bigger profits by acting as gatekeepers over what we see and do online. If they succeed, the Internet would be more like radio and television: a few major corporations would control which voices are heard most easily, and it would be much harder for grassroots groups, individuals, and small businesses to compete with large corporations and well-funded special interests.
The FCC wants to do the right thing and keep the Internet open, but the big providers have been attacking their efforts, with help from Black leaders who have financial ties to the industry. And a recent court ruling just made the FCC’s job even tougher.[1] If the FCC is to preserve an open Internet, they will have to boldly assert their authority and press even harder. It’s why they need to hear directly from everyday people about the importance of an open Internet, now.
Will you join me in sending a message to the Federal Communications Commission supporting their effort to preserve an open Internet? It takes only a moment:
http://colorofchange.org/opennet/?id=2153-222969
The FCC is working to create rules that would protect “net neutrality,” the principle that protects an open and free Internet and which has guided the Internet’s operation since it began. It guarantees that information you put online is treated the same as anyone else’s information in terms of its basic ability to travel across the Internet. Your own personal website or blog can compete on equal footing with the biggest companies. It’s the reason the Internet is so diverse — and so powerful. Anyone with a good idea can find their audience online, whether or not there’s money to promote the idea or money to be made from it.
AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon are spending millions of dollars lobbying to create a new system where they can charge large fees to speed up some data while leaving those who can’t afford to pay in the slow lane.[2] Such a system could end the Internet as we know it — giving wealthier voices on the Internet a much bigger megaphone than poorer voices, and stunting the Internet’s amazing equalizing potential.
Buying the support of Black organizations?
President Obama strongly supports net neutrality, and so do most members of the FCC. With so much at stake for Black communities, you would expect Black leaders and civic organizations to line up in support of an open Internet.
But instead, a group of Black civic organizations is challenging the adoption of net neutrality rules. Some of the groups are nothing more than front groups for the phone and cable companies. Others, however, are major civil rights groups — and all of them have significant financial ties to the nation’s biggest Internet service providers. For example, AT&T donated half a million dollars last year to the NAACP, and led a drive to raise $5 million more[3], and boasts of donating nearly $3 million over the last ten years to a number of Black-led organizations.[4] Verizon, meanwhile, recently gave The National Urban League and the National Council of La Raza a $2.2 million grant.[5] Comcast is one of the National Urban League’s “national partners” (Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen now sits on the NUL’s Board of Trustees)[6], and the NUL’s 2008 annual report notes that Comcast donated over $1 million that year.[7] Many of these groups have now filed letters with the FCC opposing or cautioning against net neutrality,[8,9,10,11] and the Internet service providers are using the groups’ support to promote their agenda in Washington.[12,13]
The main argument put forth by these groups is that net neutrality rules would widen the digital divide. They say that unless we allow Internet service providers to make bigger profits by acting as gatekeepers online, they won’t expand Internet access in under-served communities. It’s a bogus, trickle-down argument that has been thoroughly debunked.[14, 15] Expanding access to high speed Internet is an extremely important goal. But Internet service providers are already making huge profits,[16, 17] and if they believed that investing in low-income communities made good business sense, they would already be doing it. Allowing them to make more money by acting as toll-takers on the Internet won’t change that. When these civil rights groups have been asked to back up their arguments, none have been able to do so without appealing to discredited, industry-funded studies.[18] Nevertheless, the FCC has taken notice of what these civil rights gro ups are saying about net neutrality, and is wary of going against them for fear of being perceived as insensitive to minority concerns.[19]
Now it’s up to you
The FCC wants to do the right thing and implement net neutrality rules. FCC commissioners know, as we do, that the anti-net neutrality arguments coming from civil rights groups are bogus. But they don’t want to appear to be on the wrong side of Black interests.[20]
We need to demonstrate that there’s support among Black folks and everyone else for protecting an open Internet. Please join me in telling the FCC that we support net neutrality.
You can add your voice here:
http://colorofchange.org/opennet/?id=2153-222969
Thanks.
References:
1. http://bit.ly/drWbQ3
2. http://www.savetheinternet.com/threats-open-internet
3. http://bit.ly/akyXZS
4. http://bit.ly/aGOz89
5. http://www.nclr.org/content/news/detail/54262/
6. http://bit.ly/93zDr6
7. http://bit.ly/dnqyq4
8. http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7020141807
9. http://mmtconline.org/lp-pdf/NatlOrgs%20NN%20Comments%20011410.pdf
10. http://colorofchange.org/opennet/jan-letter.pdf
11. http://colorofchange.org/opennet/naacp-letters.pdf
12. http://colorofchange.org/opennet/usindustry-letter.pdf
13. http://bit.ly/d8GdOu
14. http://www.freepress.net/files/nn_fact_v_fiction_final.pdf
15. http://bit.ly/ay0dx7
16. http://bit.ly/9JQSDk
17. http://nyti.ms/cZaGq8
18. http://bit.ly/cpPA51
19. http://huff.to/awKtvk
20. http://huff.to/awKtvk