Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Musing (On An Historic Pride March)

My husband and I took the ferry into San Francisco yesterday morning for the Pride March. The ferry from Vallejo was packed in equal parts with Giants fans (big game) and Pride celebrants.  A heady mixture.

In line for the ferry, we spoke to various groups of people: het couples with kids, lesbians, gay men, and who knows who else.

The ferry is a glorious one hour ride down from Vallejo at the north tip of the SF Bay to the San Francisco waterfront.  Even as we left the ferry building in SF, there were ecstatic groups of young folks there to raise a ruckus and have a great time.

To use an often used phrase, the 'diversity' of the crowd was heartening.  Young and very old, pale white, to pink, to brown, to black. A delightfully yummy Neapolitan of humans.  Everyone perfectly aware of how momentous this particular celebration was.  I told a group of youngins that I was one of the folks married at City Hall back in the day when Mayor Gavin Newsome instructed county clerks to register same sex couples for marriage licenses.  I must have seemed ancient to these fresh faced youngsters.

Meanwhile, my daughter was also celebrating somewhere up the street with her pack of gal pals. I started taking my daughter to Pride parades when she was but a tot.  She loved them, and she loved the drag queens.  After a Christmas parade one year, she was sorely disappointed because there were no drag queens to be seen.  Bummer.

As I was saying to S. on the drive home, this momentous decision by the Supreme Court would not have been possible if it were not for the huge outpouring of love and support from allies of the LGBT community.  After all, we're only an estimated 10 percent of the population.  How in the world could we do this on our own?  This is why:  very, very brave men and women stood up and said, "I will not be invisible."  I will not go quietly and shamefully into your police vans, handcuffed and humiliated.

Can you imagine the courage of the very first marchers?  In my own community of Santa Cruz, the first parades were very small and were met with a fair amount of derision from on-lookers.  At the time I thought, "Why bother?  You just get a lot of grief thrown at  you."  What I didn't realize at the time was, they 'bothered' because they wanted to increase the visibility of queer people and to shout to the world that they were proud of who they were.

These many years later, their hard work and bravery has paid off.  Their visibility increased the support of straight people.  Together, we all made this day possible.  In my life time.  As we prepare for the foolishness and hate from those who believe the court has gone off the rails, it's important to remember that love has prevailed.  Love is stronger than hate. 

The work will go on.  We are closer to the finish line than we were before.  We're not at the finish line.  We have a long way to go to live up to our nation's promise of justice for all.

"There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires. 
-- Nelson Mandela.

This was my husband's first Pride parade.  He had a blast.  I feel fortunate to be with such a loving human being.  Thanks, Honey.

Friday, June 26, 2015

TGIF (On Marriage Equality)

Eleven years ago this appeared in the San Diego Union newspaper.  Ten years ago our friend's blog posted our San Francisco wedding story.

To think it all began in Hawaii in 1991.  Justice did not prevail then, but without brave Hawaiians filing suit, this issue may not have advanced.

As you know, our marriage didn't last, but I still love that the fight for marriage equality has carried on and we have prevailed with the US Supreme Court.  In a mere 24 years the issue of justice and equality for all, yes, even for queer folks, caught the peoples' imagination.  While the battle seemed long and made us weary, 24 years is actually lightening speed fast when it comes to such social change.

I have been married to both men and women.  When S. and I were married August 2014, I was amazed at how easy the process was.  No big deal.  No earth shattering consequences.  My parents attended our small ceremony.  They did not pay the same attention to my marriage with my wife.

So, in the end, justice has prevailed.  Love is love.  The legal institution granting 'validity' to relationships is available to all who desire it.

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”  -- Ben Franklin

So, now, may be advance the rights of all marginalized people in this country?  Now is the time.
  • Voting rights for African Americans.  
  • The right of African American men to walk freely and unmolested by police.
  • The Equal Rights Amendment for women, which is back on the national stove-top.
  • Economic justice for the poor.
So much to do.  But I'm feeling it today, si, se puede!

Have a great weekend my friends, comrades in arms!

Friday, June 19, 2015


The crickets (and perhaps the frogs as well) are singing outside the window, the flowers from the Farmer's Market are aglow in the lamp light; I have sorted through the detritus on my work surface and found lost items, baseball game tickets and digital memory cards.

It's quiet and I like it this way.  Nocturnal space to move freely in, explore my thoughts and breathe in the world.

A weary week of heat, and memories of lost ones.  Both weighed heavily on me.  News that another former colleague and friend is seriously ill, gets me to counting the number of friends and family I have lost.  Seriously?  Yeah.  What person in her right mind does this?

A former and still beloved Father In Law to one of my sisters has died after elective surgery.  Sudden and so unexpected.

My husband is re-printing some photos of deathly ill children he made when he was a pediatrician.  The look in some of their eyes is haunting.  They are tired, and they are sick.  Their families invited S. to photograph them, so close he was to their suffering and their lives, what little of it was left.  Some made it through.  Many did not.  He captured their experiences in the hospital, living with tubes and monitors and surgical scars and wrinkled sheets that spoke of their restlessness.

I know I have to keep remembering the good.  It's the only way.  So when I clean up my work area, the place where I get to play with my photographs and writings, I affirm that there is worth in this life.  I place the flowers there in further demonstration.

Flowers. Life affirming. I remember well the weekly trips to the flower market in San Francisco that my friend M. made.  Each week she put fresh flowers about, in artful designs that affirmed delight in beauty for beauty's sake.  For years, Spider Mums were her cherished choice.  Then it was Irises.  I thought of her when I bought my flowers this week.  I thought about what a joyful life she had.  She was a creative soul through and through.  She possessed an old-world elegance with a very modern sensibility.  She welcomed her friends with wide opened arms and, it seems to me, lived her life better than most do.

I remember sitting on the beach with her one night; she was talking about how she had decided not to have children.  She was worried that she was being selfish.  She knew herself, and she knew what she wanted her life to be.  And she didn't let the pressure than women feel to procreate change her vision.  She remained true to herself.  I remember telling her that I wish more women would be so thoughtful in making their decisions to bear children or not.  Selfishness didn't even come into it.  I desperately wanted children, and that was my choice.  I thought her brave.  I still do.  I think she really did have the life she wanted, with the man she wanted, in the city by the bay she wanted.

I was in San Francisco last week, and I entered across the Bay Bridge, longing to see her and knowing that she is now gone forever.  Whenever I've gone to that city I think of her.  She and that place are resolutely married in my mind.  One does not exist without the other.  Except that, of course, now it does.  An incalculable loneliness has settled in to my heart.

Momi's Flowers

Friday, June 12, 2015


It's been a lovely week.  Rain on my birthday cooled things off considerably and made it a delight to be out in the middle of the day.  My husband helped to make my day special, from gifts (the photo book is especially great) to meals to just being his usual sweet self.  My Facebook friends showered me with the love.  My daughter and her family sang 'Happy Birthday' to me over the telephone.

Dad made my favorite stacked red enchiladas with a fried egg on top.  Strawberry cheesecake was devoured with champagne.

Mom and I marveled that I could possibly now be 58 years old.  We all swapped hysterically funny stories of life at Chez Crowley when the sisters and I were young.  Mom had a very good time watching her family yuck it up.  I love the smile on her face on these occasions. She lights right up.

Tonight we are going to San Francisco to visit with Peter Turnley at the Leica store/gallery on Bush Street.  He'll be signing books, of which we have many, most of them already signed.  After his lecture and signing, we're off to dinner with several friends who share our passion for photography.

Fifty-Eight and feeling great!

I leave you, friends, with this great quote from Pablo Picasso:

It takes a long time to become young.

and Bob Dylan:
May you stay forever young.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Monday, June 8, 2015

Monday Musings

Yesterday there was a rip in the universe for moi.  First thing in the morning, I learned the singer Ronnie Gilbert had died at 88.  Rest in peace, Dear Lady.  You were my hero.  The workshop I took with you years ago was a peak experience in my life.

Second thing in the morning, maybe an hour later, I find out a friend has died.  She died last month; I hadn't been in contact for several years and had attempted to get back in touch back in April.  Too young, too vital, too wonderful to go so soon.  Many tears flowed yesterday; many fantastic memories of my time with her.  My one big regret is that we weren't in touch.  I figured I had time.  Pancreatic cancer waits for no one.

Third thing: a loved one is seriously ill and finding a doc who will take a serious look has been a nightmare.  Meanwhile, her health deteriorates.  C'mon, people.  Figure. This. Out.

I am reminded that another friend who died last year had his birthday yesterday and his husband is grieving deeply.

Coinciding with these things, I discover two of my on-going but infrequent health issues have reared their ugly heads.  Nothing to be done for either one of them but to take care of myself and ride them out.

Thank you, thank you, for my dear husband.  For my dear friends whom I've been able to talk with yesterday.  For all the many good good things in this life.

My husband and I have been watching the Life series from BBC.  Mother nature is not sentimental.  She cares not one whit if creatures live or die.  She is indifferent.  Somehow, we humans believe that we are privileged to live above the fray.  But we don't.  And we are not.  Sure, I don't have to be concerned with being eaten each time I exit my front door.  I didn't bare eggs and then have to die to feed my offspring my body, their one good chance at life.  So, yes, I guess I am privileged.  But not immune.  Most times I can comfortably fool myself.  Yesterday was not one of those days.

I'll leave you with a marvelous clip that affirms life.

Friday, June 5, 2015


A whirlwind week.  Got the new shed painted.  Got 2 book projects finished (count 'em: 2!).  Had my monthly massage (yes, I know).  Had my fill of Jenner hate.  Have the full dvd set of Game of Thrones (thank you for the loan, Leslie).  Successfully problem solved for my parents and I did it all remotely.  Saved myself a car trip in crazy Friday afternoon traffic.

Wandered out to the blistering hot patio to make sure the dogs had water and spied this interesting play of shadow and light.

My husband is continuing to unearth treasures from his boxes in the garage.  Lovely pieces of Navajo, Hopi and Acama pottery.  Photography books by Craig Semetko, Peter Turnley, and the Leica Users Group.  Maybe we need more bookshelves.

Or maybe the SPCA Thrift Shop is going to get some real book treasures that they can turn into money for our furry friends.

Progress.  Forward movement.  I love the feeling.  One of the book projects I did was photos from the last four years -- since I left my marriage and moved to Sacramento.  Can you say "cathartic?" It all began six years ago when I cut my ties with the university-that-was-out-to-kill-me.  After years of fear and inaction (fear of poverty, inaction due to my need to maintain the status quo), when I finally moved off the mark, life just started to get better and better.  Nice to know that what the experts recommend ('just DO it') actually worked in my case.

So, here we are.  Almost 58 years old and the pieces have at last fit into place.  Completely aware that it could all change on a dime, so I'm not getting too smug.  I'm calling the book "Four Years of Joy and Gratitude." 

Not TOO New Age-y.

You Can Go Home Again

 I took a vacation in the first week of May.  I went back to my high school and college stomping grounds, still populated by many friends of...