Monday, May 28, 2018

Monday Musings

Not a pretty post today.  It's Memorial Day and I can't help but grieve the sickening loss of life over the centuries.  How many of these wars were necessary?  Some were, you could argue.   We are such stupid creatures.  And evil.  Don't forget the evil.

There is a stunningly depressing article in the NYT about austerity in England.  The wealthy in that country, like our country, are not really acting in their long term self interests.  After they have bled the people dry, the people will rise up against the rulers.  Or, will the people be duped into 'patriotism' by another war.  Sound familiar?  It is the one big history lesson that we (the world, here) never learn:

Don't. Fucking. Oppress.  People.

It will bite you in the ass later on, sometime, somewhere.  Not to mention it's just plain immoral.  Like the U.S., England has given huge tax breaks to corporations, while cutting social services to the bone.  In some cases eliminating them.  Public libraries, parks, firehouses and police stations -- gone.  Poof.  Gee, no repercussions there, eh? 

Now that I have you thoroughly disgusted (whether or not you agree), I'm going to sign off with this lovely photo from 2 years ago.  Love is the only thing getting me through.  How about you?

Steve Barbour

Friday, May 25, 2018


Interesting stuff going down this week: 

Weinstein is finally formally charged with rape.

Phillip Roth is dead.  Crap.

The NFL is muzzling free speech for its players.  Will they get away with it?

I'm still -- slowly -- reading Here on the Edge, about the internment camp for contentious objectors on the Oregon coast.

I'm still -- slowly -- getting over my 3 week cold.  Coughing fits are occurring less often.  My appetite has come roaring back (boo).

Our High School Marching band is going to be performing in our neighbor later this afternoon.  I'll try and get some photos to share.

Living Room
The remodel on our new apartment is coming along.  We were showing it off last night to friends who had come for dinner.  The cabinets for the kitchen and baths are gorgeous -- well worth the expense, given that we will be living there for at least a decade (gulp!).  The place has been gutted, much to the surprise of our friends.  Oh yes, when they do a remodel they really do it.   It's fun to watch it get deconstructed and re-made according to our plans.  And it will be great when it is done and we can move in.  I'm really tired of living with unpacked boxes stacked in every room.

Guest bath (deep tub!)

Guest bedroom/office

I'm excited for the future in our new nest.  Our living room looks out on the rose garden.  We are right on the little road (10 mph) but above ground level just enough to give us some privacy.  Cloth shades that we move from above or below will complete the privacy picture, while still letting in ample light.  The hubs will have his own small office, and I have carved out a closet in the guest bedroom for my office.  They are making it into an alcove since there is another clothes closet in the room.  It will suit me just fine.

We also had dinner this week with a couple who live here whom we've wanted to get to know.  He is a photographer and she is a painter (oils).  Both serious artists whose body of work is substantial.  Each have had shows in San Francisco, where they used to live.  They have a great retirement story:  when they did it, they moved out of their house, put everything in storage, and traveled the world for nine whole months.  Imagine!  It's tempting (if we could take the dogs).  Hop on a cruise line and go.


Monday, May 21, 2018

Monday Musings

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

I'm just going to say it:  We must do away with the second amendment.  

I'm done with half measures.  I'm done with the "yes, but...." arguments.  Done. Done. Done.  I don't care if you need your guns to protect your farm stock.  I don't care if you live in a rough neighborhood where you feel you need protection.

We have abdicated our "right" to carry personal guns.  Personal guns will not save us from a government take over.  Guns will not save significant numbers of live stock.  Guns are only killing our children, and our women, at alarming rates.  When you have more children killed by guns than military personnel servicing in the armed forces in a single year, that is reckless, murderous, immoral.

Your arguments are going to fall on my deaf ears from now on.  I won't even entertain the logic you espouse.  Even for a second.

You obviously care more about your right to have a gun than you care about the lives of our citizens.  It really is as simple as that.

The NRA should be branded a terrorist organization. Our congress should be branded as enablers and abettors of mass murder.  They care more about money in their campaign coffers than they do about the lives of our citizens.  Shame on them.

If you disagree, that's your right.  But I don't want to  hear about it.

Friday, May 18, 2018


I have been very sick for two weeks.  Today is markedly better: sinuses flowing, lungs more clear, ears don't ache and I have more energy.  Finally.  Though not having any fever, the last 3 nights have been filled with fantastical fever dreams.  The first two nights brought nightmares, but last night an inspirational dream that goes like this:

I’ve been levitating for a long time – years.  Here and there.  Always when by myself.  I get a tingle of energy in my legs and arms first, and command myself to rise and it happens.  I rise effortlessly, free from the constraints of earthly gravity.  I start off slowly, then build my confidence and rise even higher, to the ceiling, around the rafters, from corner to corner.  I summersault mid air or speed into a streamlined path straight across a vast space, turning from the wall at the last minute.  I can’t explain it.    I don’t know why, I just do it.  It’s safer and I’m more peaceful performing this in doors.  But I have also done it in wide open spaces out of doors.  It’s just more risky out there: the limitless sky calling to me, held back only by the  fear that I could fall from great heights.

Yesterday, however, people were visiting.  Neighbors, acquaintances, no one of any consequence, really.  I started to rise, almost caught myself in self-consciousness, then decided “what the  heck” and continued to rise, astonishing my guests.  I nonchalantly told them this was normal, and then demonstrated some of my more flamboyant moves.  I looked down at the four people, mouths agape, eyes popped wide open, and I felt a surge of pride at my special talent to inspire and amaze.

Later in the day, I opened the mail and read that I had won an essay contest.  I had written an  article on the life and times of two great people who spent their lives in social justice movements, each coming at their work from different viewpoints, but each valid and effective.  We don’t  have to see things the same way in order to accomplish common goals.  We can dance to the beat of our own drummer and do what moves us at our core. 

The prize for this contest was $250,000 and an invitation to speak at the Lotus Convention in Singapore.  I was thunderstruck, immediately calling a few friends to spread the news!  “I will be joining world leaders in peace work, human rights, and spiritual practice.  We will devise a curriculum for the conference, and facilitate workshops for thousands of people!”  The prize, the money, the opportunity for teaching, all represented the ultimate in freedom for me.  The freedom to move about, unencumbered, to fulfill my passion, to spread knowledge and yes, joy, to others.

It was within this state of bliss that I began to rise in the air, out of doors, suddenly aware of bright orbs in the bright blue sky, and a large gathering of people below.  The orbs were burning bright and slowly separating into five round suns in a sky streaked with rainbows and luminous rays of light from each sun as they moved to their positions in the sky.  I shouted out, “What is this?!  Five suns?!”  and from below came shouts of “It is the day of enlightenment, when the five suns appear, it was foretold!” 

“Is this because of me?  Is this what I was meant for?  To be an instrument in the enlightenment?”  It all sounded pretty insane, let me tell you.  It was happening before my eyes, and yet how could it be?  Was I experiencing a massive delusion or could this really be?

It was like a fever dream, yet it was real.  How could anything be ‘normal’ again?  What kind of life would I live from this point on?

A ceremony was held to anoint me.  Men in silk robes placed jewelry on my arms and hands:  a bright green stone that sparkled like the night sky was my favorite, and my choice.  That, and only that, was the jewelry I would wear.  I was dizzy with excitement, and understood that this was a runaway train that could carry me far from home if I were not mindful and deliberate in my actins to remain humble at my core.  Frequently the downfall of great leaders, I would endeavor to wrestle with my pride.  It was essential to my mission to keep myself free of corrupt influences, both material and spiritual.

The choices were simple, really.  What else could I want, other than what had been given?  I had the gift of enlightenment, and required nothing else but to spread that joy to all who wanted it.  It is possible to experience joy on earth, in this very body, with simple (perhaps meager) accoutrement. 

That is the plan.

Wild, or what?  I woke up energized.  I woke up wondering if I was going a bit nuts.  I woke up half way believing I could fly.  Then I laughed and rose to start my day.

Happy Friday to you!  We can be inspirational without the gift of flight.  But wouldn't it be fun?

Monday, May 7, 2018

Monday Musings

A very interesting column in NYT by Frank Bruni.  An ode to gay culture of the past, he also interviews Mart Crowley: at 82, he has seen great changes in our culture when it comes to civil rights for gay/lesbian/bi/trans/etc etc people.  He wouldn't change those advances for the world, and yet he mourns the loss of "Gay Culture."  My first response (knee-jerk as it is) is that so-called Gay Culture was limited to a narrow section of white men.  (I know, I'm an ape flinging shit.)

My experience of that culture (albeit I was quite young for the birth of it) was it was a men's club only.  And usually a white men's club.  I affirm that they were taking great risks just gathering together, meeting in bars and dance clubs.  It was a time of great camaraderie, free love and celebration.  This cohesion was absolutely required when the HIV/AIDS epidemic hit gay men disproportionally.

I remember when I was first coming to awareness about my own sexual orientation, and its fluidity, the thought of going to a lesbian club was dangerously exciting.  And, was there even a lesbian club?  Not where I lived.  There were gay bars that welcomed women in, but no real lesbian space for ourselves.  I longed for a place where I could play, let loose, and meet women like myself.

I have a deep memory of the exaltation of gathering together for pride marches: holding my girlfriend's hand and kissing her in public.  What a rush!  Something forbidden for so long was now openly expressed.  To be completely surrounded by 'my tribe' was a transcendent experience.

The thing is, what we fought for, what we advocated all along, was we were people with equal rights who demanded to be treated equally by the law and by the social norms of society.  Our lives were as boring as any straight person, so the thought went.  Of course, alongside this advocacy, were always the outliers, the Fairies, the free thinkers, the Bull Dykes, the anarchists who never asked for permission or "normalcy" but to be unmolested by society as they lived their lives.

We have come a long way, but there is still far to go, especially for trans people.  There are still pockets of hate everywhere in this country, and queer people are still being singled out for beatings and death.  But I know we have made great strides.

I'm not sure what to make of Bruni's column and Crowley's words -- yes, there was an underground culture born of necessity both to affirm and to protect ourselves.  There are still great gatherings of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people.  But it is no longer clandestine, and for that we should be grateful.  There are myriad experiences of being queer that we love to share with each other, that we appreciate in each other, that we celebrate and mourn with our brothers and sisters.  But people in general do tend to self-segregate, and that's a fact.

I've lost a bit of this 'gay culture' myself, after having met the man who would become by husband.  Happily, every queer friend I have supported me in my choice and celebrated our marriage.  They welcomed the hubs with open arms and it's a glorious thing to behold.  But I have lost a bit of the tribe identity, not because they pushed me out, but because my tribal identity itself was altered.  I re-entered 'straight' culture because the partner on my arm is a man and I am a woman.  That's basically it.  It's not how I perceive myself, but how others perceive me.  

Crowley and to a lesser extent, Bruni, lived through a unique period in American culture.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  Queer people coming out were empowered and exuberant with the rush of it all.  I experienced the second wave of feminism in the U.S. much the same way.

Maybe there is no decision to make upon column.  Maybe it is describing just what is.  Maybe I should just shut up and listen.

Friday, May 4, 2018


The house phone rings.  And so it begins.

It happens to be Vlad, confirming dinner tomorrow night.  I had already begun to assemble this post in my mind.  Vlad loaned me some books on our mutual friend, the poet W.E.  I am finally able to read it, as I have been felled by a virus I picked up on the flight back from Denver on Wednesday.

(The grand kids were wonderful to see, hold, kiss, hug.)

This book, "Perspectives" was written on the occasion of Bill's 80th birthday.  There are some splendid poems dedicated to him; some written by people I knew.

Poems of the wild California coast, so deeply evocative.  I grew up there, was a teenager and a young adult.   I walked the twisting scrub trails at Pt. Lobos, listening to the sea lions basking on the rocks below.

Found my church in those land and seascapes.

I lived in a remarkable geographical and literary area, the home of John Steinbeck and Robinson Jeffers.  As a young adult, I worked in a theater next door to Doc Rickett's laboratory on Cannery Row.  I lived near the famous Tor House of Jeffers.  They were real people, members of the community (though the community did not necessarily look favorably on them in their lifetimes).

Meeting Vlad last month, and reading these works, brings it heart achingly close: my past, the experience of a young mind face to face with the wild winds, cliffs and turbulent waves of a world older than humankind.  As I said, I found my church there.  I became a disciple of Walt Whitman and Thoreau.  I had the romantic notions, typical of youth, to live in the wilderness, away from the horrors of modern man.  Thoroughly unequipped to do so, I lived there on the edge of it, and used its influences for my music and writing, and later photography.

That's another remarkable thing about the place:  home of Weston and Adams.  Their photography very influential to me and thousands of others.  An amazing constellation of artists of all kinds.  And the gifts continue: many of my friends from high school there are themselves working artists with galleries and a lifetime of expressing their craft.  Such persistence.  Such focus.

Have you seen the movie Midnight in Paris?   I imagine that I could live back in the time of Jeffers, Weston and Adams, Steinbeck, too, and befriend them all.  I also imagine that they were all a pain in the butt in one way or another.  Such is the way of humans, and often times, creative artists.

So while this virus has me under the covers and sucking copious amounts of water, I am enjoying the journey of this book.  And, if well enough, the company of Vlad tomorrow night.  But if not well, I will pass.  I would be horrified if I passed on my calamity to a 97 year old darling of a man.

Have a great weekend, and be well.

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...