Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Below is what Starhawk has to say about what's been happening in Gaza. She acts and writes in service to the world, and she is far more knowledgeable and articulate about it than I am. Posted with permission. At the end are actions you can take. I embedded all the links but I didn't check them all so if one doesn't work, let me know.

Dear friends,

All day I’ve been thinking about Gaza, listening to reports on NPR, following the news on the internet when I can spare a moment. I’ve been thinking about the friends I made there four years ago, and wondering how they are faring, and imagining their terror as the bombs fall on that giant, open-air prison.

The Israeli ambassador speaks movingly of the terror felt by Israeli children as Hamas rockets explode in the night. I agree with him—that no child should have her sleep menaced by rocket fire, or wake in the night fearing death.

But I can’t help but remember one night on the Rafah border, sleeping in a house close to the line, watching the children dive for cover as bullets thudded into the walls. There was a shell-hole in the back room they liked to jump through into the garden, which at that time still held fruit trees and chickens. Their mother fed me eggs, and their grandmother stuffed oranges into my pockets with the shy pride every gardener shares.

That house is gone, now, along with all of its neighbors. Those children wake in the night, every night of their lives, in terror. I don’t know if they have survived the hunger, the lack of medical supplies, the bombs. I only know that they are children, too.

I’ve ridden on busses in Israel. I understand that gnawing fear, the squirrely feeling in the pit or your stomach, how you eye your fellow passengers wondering if any of them are too thick around the middle. Could that portly fellow be wearing a suicide belt, or just too many late night snacks of hummus? That’s no way to live.

But I’ve also walked the pock-marked streets of Rafah, where every house bears the scars of Israeli snipers, where tanks prowled the border every night, where children played in the rubble, sometimes under fire, and this was all four years ago, when things were much, much better there.

And I just don’t get it. I mean, I get why suicide bombs and homemade rockets that kill innocent civilians are wrong. I just don’t get why bombs from F16s that kill far more innocent civilians are right. Why a kid from the ghetto who shoots a cop is a criminal, but a pilot who bombs a police station from the air is a hero.

Is it a distance thing? Does the air or the altitude confer a purifying effect? Or is it a matter of scale? Individual murder is vile, but mass murder, carried out by a state as an aspect of national policy, that’s a fine and noble thing?

I don’t get how my own people can be doing this. Or rather, I do get it. I am a Jew, by birth and upbringing, born six years after the Holocaust ended, raised on the myth and hope of Israel. The myth goes like this:

“For two thousand years we wandered in exile, homeless and persecuted, nearly destroyed utterly by the Nazis. But out of that suffering was born one good thing—the homeland that we have come back to, our own land at last, where we can be safe, and proud, and strong.”

That’s a powerful story, a moving story. There’s only one problem with it—it leaves the Palestinians out. It has to leave them out, for if we were to admit that the homeland belonged to another people, well, that spoils the story.

The result is a kind of psychic blind spot where the Palestinians are concerned. If you are truly invested in Israel as the Jewish homeland, the Jewish state, then you can’t let the Palestinians be real to you. It’s like you can’t really focus on them. Golda Meir said, “The Palestinians, who are they? They don’t exist.” We hear, “There is no partner for peace,” “There is no one to talk to.”

And so Israel, a modern state with high standards of hygiene, a state rooted in a religion that requires washing your hands before you eat and regular, ritual baths, builds settlements that don’t bother to construct sewage treatment plants. They just dump raw sewage onto the Palestinian fields across the fence, somewhat like a spaceship ejecting its wastes into the void. I am truly not making this up—I’ve seen it, smelled it, and it’s a known though shameful fact. But if the Palestinians aren’t really real—who are they? They don’t exist!—then the land they inhabit becomes a kind of void in the psyche, and it isn’t really real, either. At times, in those border villages, walking the fencelines of settlements, you feel like you have slipped into a science fiction movie, where parallel universes exist in the same space, but in different strands of reality, that never touch.

When I was on the West Bank, during Israeli incursions the Israeli military would often take over a Palestinian house to billet their soldiers. Many times, they would simply lock the family who owned it into one room, and keep them there, sometimes for hours, sometimes for days—parents, grandparents, kids and all. I’ve sat with a family, singing to the children while soldiers trashed their house, and I’ve been detained by a group of soldiers playing cards in the kitchen with a family locked in the other room. (I got out of that one—but that’s another story.)

It’s a kind of uneasy feeling, having something locked away in a room in your house that you can’t look at. Ever caught a mouse in a glue trap? And you can’t bear to watch it suffer, so you leave the room and close the door and don’t come back until it’s really, really dead.

Like a horrific fractal, the locked room repeats on different scales. The Israelis have built a wall to lock away the West Bank. And Gaza itself is one huge, locked room. Close the borders, keep food and medical supplies and necessities from getting through, and perhaps they will just quietly fade out of existence and stop spoiling our story.

“All we want is a return to calm,” the Israeli ambassador says. “All we want is peace.”

One way to get peace is to exterminate what threatens you. In fact, that may be the prime directive of the last few thousand years.

But attempts to exterminate pests breed resistance, whether you’re dealing with insects or bacteria or people. The more insecticides you pour on a field, the more pests you have to deal with—because insecticides are always more potent at killing the beneficial bugs than the pesky ones.

The harshness, the crackdowns, the border closings, the checkpoints, the assassinations, the incursions, the building of settlements deep into Palestinian territory, all the daily frustrations and humiliations of occupation, have been breeding the conditions for Hamas, or something like it, to thrive. If Israel truly wants peace, there’s a more subtle, a more intelligent and more effective strategy to pursue than simply trying to kill the enemy and anyone else who happens to be in the vicinity.

It’s this—instead of killing what threatens you, feed what you want to grow. Consider in what conditions peace can thrive, and create them, just as you would prepare the bed for the crops you want to plant. Find those among your opponents who also want peace, and support them. Make alliances. Offer your enemies incentives to change, and reward your friends.

Of course, to follow such a strategy, you must actually see and know your enemy. If they are nothing to you but cartoon characters of terrorists, you will not be able to tell one from another, to discern the religious fanatic from the guy muttering under his breath, “F-ing Hammas, they closed the cinema again!”

And you must be willing to give something up. No one gets peace if your basic bargaining position is, “I get everything I want, and you eat my shit.” You might get a temporary victory, but it will never be a peaceful one.

To know and see the enemy, you must let them into the story. They must become real to you, nuanced, distinctive as individuals.

But when we let the Palestinians into the story, it changes. Oh, how painfully it changes! For there is no way to tell a new story, one that includes both peoples of the land, without starting like this:

“In our yearning for a homeland, in our attempts as a threatened and traumatized people to find safety and power, we have done a great wrong to another people, and now we must atone.”

Just try saying it. If you, like me, were raised on that other story, just try this one out. Say it three times. It hurts, yes, but it might also bring a great, liberating sense of relief with it.

And if you’re not Jewish, if you’re American, if you’re white, if you’re German, if you’re a thousand other things, really, if you’re a human being, there’s probably some version of that story that is true for you.

Out of our own great need and fear and pain, we have often done great harm, and we are called to atone. To atone is to be at one—to stop drawing a circle that includes our tribe and excludes the other, and start drawing a larger circle that takes everyone in.

How do we atone? Open your eyes. Look into the face of the enemy, and see a human being, flawed, distinct, unique and precious. Stop killing. Start talking. Compost the shit and the rot and feed the olive trees.

Act. Cross the line. There are Israelis who do it all the time, joining with Palestinians on the West Bank to protest the wall, watching at checkpoints, refusing to serve in the occupying army, standing for peace. Thousands have demonstrated this week in Tel Aviv.

There are Palestinians who advocate nonviolent resistance, who have organized their villages to protest the wall, who face tear gas, beatings, arrests, rubber bullets and real bullets to make their stand.

There are internationals who have put themselves on the line—like the boatload of human rights activists, journalists and doctors on board the Dignity, the ship from the Free Gaza movement that was rammed and fired on by the Israeli navy yesterday as it attempted to reach Gaza with humanitarian aid.

Maybe we can’t all do that. But we can all write a letter, make a phone call, send an email. We can make the Palestinian people visible to us, and to the world. When we do so, we make a world that is safer for every child.

Below is a good summary of some of the actions we can take.

Please feel free to repost this. In fact, send it to someone you think will disagree with it.


Updated Action Alert on Gaza:
We Need "Sustained, Determined Political Action"December 29, 2008

As of this writing, a third consecutive day of Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip have killed an estimated 315 Palestinians and injured more than 1,400. According to the UN, at least 51 of the victims were civilians and 8 were children. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has vowed ominously "a war to the bitter end."

Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip are being carried out with F16 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, and naval gunboats all given to Israel by the United States with our tax dollars.

From 2001-2006, the United States transferred to Israel more than $200 million worth of spare parts to fly its fleet of F16's and more than $100 million worth of helicopter spare parts for its fleet of Apaches. In July 2008, the United States gave Israel 186 million gallons of JP-8 aviation jet fuel and signed a contract to transfer an addition $1.9 billion worth of littoral combat ships to the Israeli navy. Last year, the United States signed a $1.3 billion contract with Raytheon to transfer to Israel thousands of TOW, Hellfire, and "bunker buster" missiles.

Make no mistake about it-Israel's war on the Gaza Strip would not be possible without the jets, helicopters, ships, missiles, and fuel provided by the United States.

Ali Abunimah, of The Electronic Intifada, wrote, "Palestinians everywhere are asking for solidarity, real solidarity, in the form of sustained, determined political action." In light of our country's enabling role in Israel's war on the Gaza Strip, it is the least we can do. Here's how:

1. Attend a protest or vigil. We've compiled a list of more than 60 emergency protests taking place in 25 states and the District of Columbia, many of which are taking place today or tomorrow. Find one near you and bring as many people to it as you can. More events are being posted all the time-check back frequently for the latest updates.

2. Contact the White House, the State Department, your Representative and Senators, and the Obama Transition Team to protest Israel's war on Gaza and demand an immediate cease-fire:

a. White House: 202-456-1111 or
b. State Department: 202-647-6575 or send an email by clicking here
c. Congress: 202-224-3121 or find contact info by clicking here
d. Obama Transition Team: send an email by clicking here

3. Make your voice heard in the media. Contact your local media by phoning into a talk show or writing a letter to the editor. To find contact info for your local media, click here.

4. Tell President-Elect Barack Obama that " We Need a Change in Israel/Palestine Policy." Join more than 200 organizations in 38 states plus Washington, DC and abroad and thousands of individuals by endorsing this letter which will be published as a full-page ad on Inauguration Day. Let all your friends know by copying and pasting the graphic below into your email signature, blog, or website and by joining our Facebook group.

5. Sign up to organize people in your community to end U.S. military aid to Israel. We'll send you an organizing packet complete with our brand new postcards featuring the icon below. If we're going to change U.S. policy, we've got to go beyond agreeing among ourselves and educate and organize others as well. Sign up today and we'll send you a package tomorrow .

6. Join us in Washington, DC for Inauguration Day on January 20. Upwards of 4 million people are expected in Washington, DC for President-Elect Obama's inauguration. This is a perfect time for us to reach out to and educate our fellow citizens about U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel. If you plan to be in Washington for the inauguration and would like to help us distribute information and get signatures on postcards calling for a cut off of arms transfers to Israel, please click here .

7. Join us again in Washington, DC for a Grassroots Advocacy Training and Lobby Day on February 1-2. Interfaith Peace-Builders and the US Campaign are organizing this exciting two-day event, featuring interactive, skills-building workshops and the chance to meet with your Representative and Senators to discuss U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine. Spaces are filling up fast. For more details, and to register, please click here .

8. Forward this post to everyone you know and ask them to take action.

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Friday, December 26, 2008


I am writing. Several things. And I'm doing nothing. And many things. And the mysteries keep unfolding. No, that's wrong. They don't unfold. They just are. For instance, in this new book I'm working on, I hear the story in Irish. Not Gaelic. But Irish English. Or English Irish. I don't know. I just know it's in my brain. And when I write, that's the rhythm of the words. When I read it out loud to Mario, that's how I talk. I try to stop, but then the rhythm takes over. I can't do accents when I try. But if I'm around anyone who has what my brain perceives as an accent, I quickly pick up the rhythm of the speech and I begin talking that way. Same thing with the invisibles who have accents, I suppose.

I dated a man once who had worked in the CIA. He was a linguist. Part of what he did was figure out where people were from by listening to their accents. I don't remember if that was part of his work or just something he did in addition to his work as a linguist. He was fluent in Chinese, among other languages. (He was quite a bit older than I was.) He could usually listen to someone talk for a few minutes and be able to pinpoint where they were from. He couldn't do that with me. I was a little monkey, picking up accents and words from here, there, and everywhere.

Characters often tell me their stories. This time it's not a character. It's just a voice telling this story. Maybe the accent isn't Irish. Maybe it's a Scottish voice. Or Welsh. I've been to all those places and heard the people. But I don't really know. I don't really care. I'm just a stenographer to the invisibles, to my imagination, to the stories.

I had more to say. Or less. But we're off to bed now. We'll get up early and work, and then we're driving to Scottsdale for a holiday dinner with my family.

May You Let the Mysteries Be in Beauty!

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Three Degrees of Separation

It's only 3 degrees warmer here than it is at home. That's how cold it is here. Brrrr. A friend sent us the photograph she took of our house. Her caption was, "Let's play find Kim and Mario's car!" Can you? Thanks, Jeanean! (Photograph by Jeanean Burgon.)

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Quinoa, Movies & Motorcycles

I sat down to write this and I was feeling quite cranky. But then I got up to check the quinoa I'd put on to simmer. I lifted the lid and I could smell the quinoa. What does it smell like? Grain, a nutty grain aroma. Smells are so difficult to describe—especially when you've barely smelled anything in fifteen years. But I was so happy to smell this smell that my crankiness evaporated.

I'm glad Xmas is over. It's not my holiday. I'm happy people are happy, if that is so. But I'm glad it's over. The owl returned last night to the palm tree, on Christmas Eve. My present—that's what I took it to be. The owl was gone this morning and didn't return all day. That didn't make me cranky, just melancholy.

I've been having normal bodily reactions to me being here, which makes me a little cranky but not overly so. I have a cold sore that has caused women and children to run away from me screaming. (Not men? No, I've got white hair. Men don't look at me. Especially when I have this thing growing from my lip the size of Bombay. I'm sorry. My mistake: the size of Mumbai.) I've got a rash all over my hands. Not sure if that's the sun or the water (from doing dishes). I'm gonna say it's the water and then I'll have to stop doing the dishes. I weep for this loss in my life.

We left the house tonight after listening to a motorbike or motorcycle at one of the neighbors. Now THAT made me cranky and anxious. I can't abide that sound. My heart races, my blood pressure goes up, my stress level sprawls all over everything. I mean it's a mess. So we got in our car and drove away. Granted, we were going to leave anyway, but I did it with more flourish. So there, we're leaving because of your stupid noise machine!

We went to eat at an Indian restaurant. Then we went to see Slumdog Millionaire which we really enjoyed and Doubt which we really did not enjoy. Talk about your completely contrasting movie styles. I am so over the Catholic stuff and the religion stuff. I don't relate. I don't care about it. Other people can relate and care about it. I don't.

Today I thought I'd write a book on grief. Call it Good Grief. Get people to talk about terrible things that have happened in their lives and how they grieved and lived through it. But then I thought, man, I'd have to ask about 30 people to talk about something terrible in their lives. That would be tough.

OK. I'm on Mario's computer because mine is turned off, and I'm getting woozy, so I'm going to say good night.

You wouldn't believe the dreams I've been having!

Lucky for you, I'm too tired to write them down. And the quinoa is burning.

May You Dream in Beauty!

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Dreamy Desert Life

It's evening here at the Old Mermaid Sanctuary. Mario is making us vegetables which we will combine with Amy's frozen dinners which we will microwave. I'll take some Vitamin B to make up for the Vitamin B the microwave kills. We don't have a microwave at home, so we only use one when we're on the road, usually to heat water or to cook the occasional frozen dinner.

More than you wanted to know about that, eh? Read on. It only gets better. Or worse, depending upon who you are.

We've been here a week now. It usually takes me about a week to acclimate. Before that time, I'll usually have a backache, a rash, depression, cravings for sweets. And I dream. I have had more dreams here in a week than I've probably had in a year, and remember, I can sometimes remember half a dozen dreams a night. (I'm now going to tell you some of the dreams, in shorthand, more for myself than for you, so if you get bored by dreams, skip on down to when I start taking about something else. Although I will tell you there is nakedness, drugs, and food.)

I asked my psyche and the Universe for big dreams, to help me decide what to do while I was here. In one dream, Mario and I travelled to some exotic place to see some wonderful thing but something happened and we ended up on this kind of hospital. I thought, man, I don't want to be in this place with sick people, just stuck here. And then the hospital began to move. It was a train. I thought, wow, it's all about perspective.

I dreamed I was teaching. I had dream after dream about doing workshops and teaching. I woke up and wondered if I should do that while I was here instead of writing.

I dreamed one of my health care providers was dying, something with her immune system, and she came to tell me about it with Regis Philbin. I thought maybe if I put my hands on her I could help her, but I was afraid I would get the illness, too.

After my uncle died, I dreamed I saw dead people. One of them was my friend Sheila who died a month before Linda. Someone else, too, but I can't remember who. I was so happy to see her. I thought she was alive, but she said, no, still dead. And something about running around naked with or without these dead people I could see.

One day I got a book from the library on plants and shamanism. I opened it at random and read something about having to abstain from sex and eat a particular diet in order to be able to talk to the plants. In my never-jump-to-a-snap-conclusion way of being in the world, I said to Mario, "What horseshit. I don't need to stop having sex or eat a certain way for the plants to talk to me. If the plants want to talk to me, they will." So that night I dreamed of ayahuasca, which is a combination of a couple plants prepared in such a way that they create a sacred (and psychedelic) potion that shamans and others use for healing and revelation. Mario and I went down this long stairway and at the bottom was this huge bin of bright green goop which in the dream I knew was ayahuasca. (Even though in real life the drink is brownish.) People were standing and lying in the ayahuasca. I said, "No way. I'm not doing that." I am not the type of person who should do drugs." I figured the shaman was a fake. He said I didn't have to ingest it; I just needed to immerse part of my body into it. I didn't want to do that, but I did, and Mario disappeared.

In another dream, a Native American man was telling me about the plight of cayenne workers in another country. Days later I dreamed of cayenne again. This time I was melting a dark chocolate bar, putting chopped nuts in it, and adding a bit of cayenne to it. I kept making this again and again in my dream.

I suppose the plants were speaking to be after all, without me giving up sex or food.

I had many more dreams, but that's enough.

Mario and I have been walking in the desert every day. We don't walk in the wash much because of the filthy "no trespassing" sign. Instead we go to the monument a mile or so away and walk amongst the saguaros and prickly pears and other desert flora. Today my father and my sister came out and we walked together. We saw a jack rabbit. Only the second one I've ever seen. They look mythological. Exaggerated. Lovely. Slender. With the longest loveliest biggest ears I've ever seen. Before my dad came, I asked all the wild things to come to the sanctuary, so my father could see them and know that he still has connections in this world. We saw the jack rabbit, and storm clouds moved overhead.

On Solstice, Mario and I walked in the park. And I began a new novel. I won't say anything about it yet. I've been able to start novels lately, but I haven't been able to finish them. So we'll see what happens.

I had more to say but it's late at night and I am tired. I almost always get depressed when I come here, and it happened again. But I knew it would pass and it did, as soon as I began writing. When I write, it is one of the few times in my life when I feel a part of life, when I am not lonely. It's such a strange thing. Now I shall go to sleep and see what wonders await me.

May You Dream in Beauty!

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Shine On

Happiest of Solstices to You.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Regretting Endings

It has been a full day. And a sad one. My dad's brother, my uncle, died last night. He went into the hospital and didn't come out, so it brings up memories of my mother's death. And it's just sad. My father has lost three family members in the space of a year: my mom and two of his brothers. My friend Evine's husband just sat down and died unexpectedly several years ago and her brother and sister died unexpectedly in the same week. I asked her how she dealt with it all. She said, "You grieve. You don't try to repress it. You grieve. And then you go on."

Not easy. Just necessary. Tonight we had dinner with a woman whose nephew was struck and killed by a train last week. He was 23 years old. How does a family deal with that? I don't know.

I came home and learned my uncle had died. I thought of all the time I had spent with him when I was a child. I used to go on camping trips with him, my aunt, and my cousin, who was my age. My uncle had a temper and he would get very angry when he was driving. My aunt sat very close to him, like they were still sweethearts—which I think they always were. And my uncle would swerve the car (with the camper attached) and curse out errant drivers. I did my best not to annoy him.

Once my cousins and I were playing darts in his garage and one of my throws was a little off and the dart hit the windshield of his car. Everyone else ran away. I stared at the dot on my uncle's windshield. Everyone knew that we were not to touch any part of his car. I thought about not telling him, but I knew he'd see the dot and someone would catch hell. So I waited outside for him to come home from work so I could tell him. He hated work. We all knew his job was not something he liked. (He got much more mellow once he retired.) I waited outside of the garage and paced and bit my fingernails and waited for him. I knew he would scream and yell and I would be in big trouble.

He drove up and got out of his truck carrying his black lunch box. He was wearing his work clothes. They were blue or khaki green. I can't remember. I cleared my throat and told him what had happened. He didn't say anything. He opened the door to the garage and went inside. I followed him. He looked at the dot on the windshield, ran his fingers over it.

I can't remember what he said. Something like, "It's not so bad." Or maybe it was, "All right then." I don't know. I only remember he softened when I told him. He wasn't angry. I thought back then that he admired me for telling him. I don't know if that was true. I don't even know if he remembered it. But I know that I felt more relaxed around him after that.

He told me once that he and my aunt used to ride around on a motorcyle together, dressed in leather, and I loved that image of them. It's difficult to imagine them apart.

Endings are so difficult.

I watched a DVD tonight of Bill Moyers interviewing Maya Lin. One of the things they talked about was the Vietnam War Memorial. She said that we are a young country, and Americans pretend that death doesn't exist. In other countries, they mourn the dead. There is ceremony and ritual. People wail and mourn. (Of course, she said it better than that.) I thought that was an interesting observation. I certainly don't know how to mourn. It took me twenty years to get over the death of my dog and pony. I couldn't look at a photo of Linda or my mother for a year after they died.

There are some times when I wish I never left home, and this is one of those times. I miss that I am no longer a part of the lives of my relatives. They were the people I spent most of my life with until I was eighteen. And then I went away.

Regret is a nasty thing. I just looked the word up. It comes from the Old French "regreter" which means to "bewail the dead."

Perhaps our regrets are too silent. Maybe we should wail and rend our garments.

I don't know.

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It is 38 degrees outside. Brrrrr. Mario went and turned on the heat in the Quail House for me. I'll eat soon, and then we'll go our separate ways to work. I still don't know what I'll work on. Or even if I will work. Yesterday I started reading The Old Mermaid Sanctuary, the second novel in the Church of the Old Mermaids ouevre. It was good to be back with the Old Mermaids, but I've got some work to do. I've never done two books with the same characters and I spent the first chapter summing things up. Yuck. But I can easily fix that.

Yesterday I took some photographs of the desert. I have decided they need to be shown big, because this is big sky country. I can't show big here, so I'm going to use Furious Spinner as my photograph album. Go here to look at the photos and at the bottom of that post you can come back here.

Weren't those beautiful? It does a body good to see the sunshine, doesn't it?

I had more to say but those photographs lulled me into bliss, so I think I'll go eat breakfast and then go outside and see if any wild things are visiting. Yesterday we asked the wild things to come to the Old Mermaid Sanctuary. We are missing the javelinas, owls, and bobcat. I don't have to actually see them, but I want to know they are here, and I haven't even seen any of the tiny cloven hoofprints of the javelinas.

May You Walk in Sunshine!

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Are You Kidding Me?

So I've said I would be supportive of the new administration. I said I wouldn't rant and rave for a while. I wanted to see how it would all play out. I want them and us to succeed. I have thought the choices for the cabinet were way too conservative but you have to understand that anyone who isn't left of Dennis Kucinich is too conservative for me, so I've waited. But then I heard that Rick Warren is going to give the invocation at President Obama's inauguration.

I think Kathryn Kolbert, president of the People for the American Way, best sums up why I am disgusted and dismayed with this choice. (And she is more articulate then I am right now. I've just been mumbling "grrrrrr" since hearing about it.)

Kolbert writes, "Warren...campaigned for Proposition 8, the initiative that stripped same-sex couples in California of their right under the state constitution to get legally married...In an interview with, (Warren) has since equated allowing loving same-sex couples to get married with redefining marriage to permit incest and pedophilia.

"And he has repeated one of the Religious Right's big lies: that somehow allowing marriage equality to stand would have threatened the freedom of preachers like him to say what they thought about homosexuality. That's not remotely true, but it's a standard tool of Religious Right leaders trying to resist the public's increasing support for equality...He adamantly opposes a woman's legal right to abortion and dismisses common-ground efforts to reduce the need for abortion by comparing them to accommodating the Holocaust. He is disrespectful of progressive people of faith, suggesting that they are tools of the Democratic Party or more Marxist than Christian."

This is how we want to start a new era?

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

COTOM at Antigone Books!

Those of you who have read Church of the Old Mermaids (or even if you've read the first chapter on my blog) know that Antigone Books is where Myla Alvarez sets up her Church of the Old Mermaids table; there in front of the store, she tells stories about items she's found in the wash at the Old Mermaids Sanctuary.

Antigone Books is a real (and wonderful) bookstore here in Tucson on 4th Avenue. As of today, Antigone Books is selling signed copies of Church of the Old Mermaids! So if you live in the area, go on down and get yourself one. And even if you don't live in the area, they do mail order. COTOM is not up on their website yet, but you can always call. (They've got all my other books on their website.) I love this bookstore and am very happy to do what I can do to support it.

There is something so delicious about setting part of my novel outside this bookstore and now this bookstore is selling my novel. There's a word for that, but I can't think of what it is, so I'm saying it's delicious! Scrumptious. Wonderful! It's just all so meta.

After we dropped off the signed COTOMs at Antigone's, we walked down the block to Maya Quetzal for dinner and to give Sandra Sanchez, the owner of the restaurant, a signed copy of the book. Mario and I love this place and we admire Sandra and what's she's done with her life. Maya Quetzal also figures in the novel. We had a delicious meal, as always, and we felt like we were home with friends. (In COTOM, Myla and George have dinner at Maya Quetzal and I seem to remember they discuss their sex life. Or something like.)

Now we're back at the Old Mermaid Sanctuary. Ahhhhh!

May You Dance in Beauty!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Showing Off

I've added some of the reviews Ruby's Imagine has gotten to the Ruby's Imagine page here. Just scroll down to "nice things reviewers" are saying.

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I should do a FAQ page one of these years, especially for this question. But until I do that, I will probably keep repeating the answer to this question because I don't mind saying it again and again! Kind readers often ask me what they can do to help get the word out about my books.

There are three things anyone can do to help support their fave writers: 1. Buy a copy of their books, 2. Tell people about their books. Word of mouth is the best advertising in the world. 3. Ask your public library to purchase their books. If most libraries buy a title, then the author does all right. But sometimes for whatever reason—usually lack of promotion—a book will just disappear. Most public libraries got Broken Moon, for instance, but tonight I was looking around at various libraries around the country, and I was appalled that hardly any public libraries have Ruby's Imagine. It's a beautiful book, it got great reviews, but it's not selling. So feel ask your public library to buy Ruby's Imagine and Church of the Old Mermaids. (Because COTOM is not published by a major publisher, the odds are they won't get it, but you'll know you tried! ;-) You can make the requests in person or online.

These are some of the libraries I found tonight that don't have Ruby's Imagine: New York Public Library, Boston's libraries, D.C.'s, Alexandria's. Tucson Public doesn't have it! Scottsdale and Phoenix libraries don't have it. The list goes on. Detroit Public has it! Yeah! (Thanks, Ruth.) Multnomah County Public Library has it. (Thanks, Mar.) Seattle Public has it. (Thanks, everyone.)

So there you are.

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I am in my beloved Sonoran Desert in the Old Mermaids Sanctuary. At least that's what I call it: the Old Mermaids Sanctuary. It is the place where the Old Mermaids walked up out of the wash and began telling me their tales.

Things are different here this time. They are always different. And they are always the same. My arm hurts for one. It's really from my back. And I am sure it will dissipate, once I relax, once I acclimate, once I get accustomed to this place. In the meantime it makes life interesting, to say the least. And I still don't know what I'll write or where I'll write it or if I'll write. Maybe I will sit near the palm tree and just listen to the sound the dry leaves make when the desert wind shakes them.

The owls are nowhere in sight. This will be the first year we have been without an owl or two. We are hoping they return sometime this month. We have had the company of a hummingbird for the last couple of days. We've also seen a couple of rabbits, and a coyote watched us watching her/him.

The biggest change is one that is pretty difficult to fathom. It changes the whole way this part of the desert feels.

Those of you who have followed my adventures over the years know that when I come here, I wander the wash, just like Myla wandered the wash in Church of the Old Mermaids. I pick up stories in the wash. The wash runs through several properties and the people and other fauna in the neighborhood have always used this wash freely as a thoroughfare.

Until now.

We walked a little ways down the wash and were confronted by a "NO TREPASSING" sign with two strands of barbed wire across the wash. Fortunately our housemates had warned us; otherwise I think I would have dropped down into the sand and sobbed. Or screamed bloody murder.

This part of the desert feels different now, no longer free, no longer safe. (Safe is a relative term, of course. The desert is never "safe," but it felt like the wash was safe from human danger.) Mario and I are still walking the wash, but I put the fath fith on us and hope we will be safe.

I was going to take a photograph of this, but I couldn't raise up the camera to do it. That would make it too real. It is too sad. Maybe later. Instead I took a photograph of our beautiful eating area in our casita. It reminds me of how this problem might be solved: Newcomers to the desert near the Old Mermaids Sanctuary put up a fence. Everyone in the area was very upset. So Sister Ruby Rosarita Mermaid invited the whole neighborhood over, they made soup together, and they let the fence-builders talk about how they felt about the way the world was going. They welcomed the fence-builders and let them know they were all in this together. The newcomers felt as though they were a part of something, and the fence came down. (You can read all about it here.)

It could happen.

More later.

May You Walk in Beauty!

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Lunaea Weatherstone has made some exquisite goddess rosary necklaces. I am drooling over several of them. I have several malas at home and I've thought for some time that there should something like that for the goddessly-inclined. (Yes, I believe goddessly is a very fine word.) And now there is!

If you want to support the work of another beautiful person, check out Cate Kerr's shop. She has a multitude of wonderful things. I'm especially fond of the "knowing woman" collection right now.

And great news by another deserving artist: Joanna Powell Colbert's wonderful Gaian Tarot Deck is going to be published. Yay!!!!! Congratulations, Joanna!

Read more here...

Monday, December 15, 2008


Wander over to the Old Mermaids Journal now and again. I am trying to post there more regularly. And now that I'm in the desert, who knows what will turn up there?

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Fool's Progress


We are here at the Old Mermaid Sanctuary! Yay! The coyotes are howling. The moon is spilling milky light all across the sanctuary. Mmmmm.

We left LA county early this morning. We had frost on the car and snow dusted the tops of the nearby mountains. We drove and drove, away from the cities and into the desert. We listened to the radio. Satish Kumar was on NPR. It was an interesting interview, primarily because the interviewer just didn't seem to understand Kumar and he sounded frustrated. "What do you mean you're never stressed? What do you mean you never hurry? How is that possible?" And Kumar said he did everything slowly. "Don't you feel the burden of trying to change the world?" Kumar said he wasn't trying to change the world—and yes, indeed that would be a burden. "I serve the world," he said. "I don't try to change it."

Wow. And wow. And more wows! I felt one of those quantum shifts people are always talking about.

To be in service to the world rather than trying to change it. All at once I understood when people said they were in service to God. It didn't have to be a groveling on their knees kind of service. It's what I feel about the Earth, about the world. I do want to be in service to the Earth! Trying to change the world suddenly felt like incredible hubris; me saying I wanted to change the world was like someone else saying they wanted to change God, I supposed.

To serve the world. To serve the world.

Later a big ole truck roared past me, too close, too loud. For a moment, I wanted to scream at him, give him some appropriate sign language. But then I thought, "Does that serve the world?" And I knew it didn't. My annoyance disappeared and I continued on my journey.

We got to my dad's place around 3:30. I got to see two of my sisters, one of my bros-in-law, and my mother's psycho cat. (The psycho cat is another story.) It was good to be with everyone. Mario and I gave my dad one of the computers that had made me sick, the one from Craigslist. He was a happy camper. It felt nice to be of service to my poppy.

Now we're in Tucson, or just outside, on the foothills of the foothills of the Rincons. We brought in all of our stuff, and then we went out into the moonlight. We said hello to the horses, then hello to the Quail House, the place where I wrote Church of the Old Mermaids. Something ran in front of us in the moonlight. Desert faeries? A mountain lion? Coyote? Only fools walk in the desert at night.


Time for dreams. We're listening to KXCI, Tucson's community radio. I'm so tired I think I've fallen into a kind of trance. I know the dj is speaking English, but I can't understand a word he's saying.

Outside somewhere it is snowing. Somewhere else it is raining. And the mountains are dreaming. Shhh. If you listen too hard, you will never hear them. If you don't try to listen, you will never hear them.

Something is happening here. And there.

May You Dream in Beauty, Babies!


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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Outrunnin' the Weather

We are snug as bugs just inside LA County. Mario is on one bed and I'm on the other. Like in the old sitcoms when husband and wife couldn't sleep in the same bed for some odd (i.e. stupid) reason. He's doing a puzzle. I'm writing this. It is cold and windy outside. Cold is relative, of course. It's not cold, cold, but it does feel like winter. And speaking of weather, we missed all the bad weather so far. Thank you weather spirits! I enjoyed dancing under the full moon in a strange parking lot with you, too.

Today we saw so many birds. In one marshy area we passed, a white egret stood on one leg looking out toward us on the highway. In a row alongside her were probably twenty (black) cormorants. Something beautiful about this long line of black birds with one white one at the end of it. It was like seeing an exclamation point on its side—only the dot was white.

Lots of hawks, egrets, great blue herons, and other smaller birds. At one rest stop, we stood under some young trees and listened to the songs of juncos, red-winged blackbirds, and a gazillion other birds. It was so lovely.

Yesterday, we drove by a work crew on the grassy median between northbound and southbound I-5. They all had on orange vests and yellow hardhats. Each of them held an orange plastic bag and they were walking south, the same way we were travelling. All of them. In slow motion. It was such a strange tableau—a moving tableau. (Or is that a contradiction in terms?) Mario noticed it, too. They were beautiful, walking together, spread out so that they were really apart. They were like the birds, actually: beautiful, strange, and part of the natural landscape.

A biplane circled around us at some point. And then it dumped its pesticides on a field near the highway. This is one of the reasons we rarely visit California: the ubiquitous use of pesticides. There is so much pesticide drift in California. Airborne toxic pesticides were found in more than 60% of state tests. It is a Pandora's Box of...really bad stuff. (Those of you who were regular readers of Furious Spinner know that I've been writing about this subject for years and working in my community to try to stop the use of pesticides there, especially along our roads and in our schools.)

Huge storm clouds floated above the Diablos, close to them, like a kind of shadow mountain range of the ether world.

Now it's time for bed. We'll clean off one bed, get rid of the newspaper, computers, detritus, and we'll crawl under the covers together. Ah bliss. I'm following mine.

And yes, I remembered to dance with the weather spirits today, in another parking lot.

May You Dance in Beauty!

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Friday, December 12, 2008

On Da Road Again

Boom! Too lazy to get up out of bed and take a photo of anything to show you where I is. We left at 5:00 a.m. to avoid a massive storm that was coming our way. I couldn't sleep last night, so I checked (and re-checked) the weather. The warnings were dire. They said only go over the pass if you must. Go back now! Don't even think of going. Bring a winter survival kit. Have enough gas. Have enough food. Prepare to eat your young. You know, those kinds of warnings.

We're in California now. We missed it all. Yay!!!!

We passed the Dragon. (She's so cool. Go here and scroll down and you'll see the dragon.) So we're really on our way.

It's Full Moon today. Rah rah sis boom bah!

We were going to leave Thursday afternoon to avoid the storm, but we decided instead to get up very early and leave Friday morning. Thursday morning was just too busy to get everything done. First I went for a job interview in Vancouver. Then I had a bizillion things to do before we left and it ended up I couldn't get them all done.

When I got home after the interview, a present was waiting for me. My friend Charlyn had made me a drum bag—big enough for both of the two hoops drums Mario and I made. It's a gorgeous bag, made out of some kind of colorful wool. When I get home, I'll take a photograph of it. I love it so much I tried to find an excuse to bring it and my drums with me to our Arizona Old Mermaids Sanctuary. But we try to go to the OMS as simply as we can. This time I didn't even bring any books. I think this is the first time in my life I've not taken any books on a trip.

We've got the TV on. I love watching TV in hotels rooms. Have no idea why. It always feels so decadent. We don't have TV at our house any more. We have a television but no service. We're cutting wherever we can, like most people. Getting rid of TV saves us between $600-$900 a year. Then we figured we go out to eat once a week. That's $20 a week. If we stop doing that, we'll save around $800 a year. (Not $1040 because we still will go out sometimes; come on!) I figured when we grocery shop we get $20 worth of processed food that we don't need to get. That's another $1,000. And I'll go see my naturopath and cranio-sacral therapist once every six weeks instead of every month and that will save me about $1,000 a year. Weeee! We kept our jobs, but we won't get any extra hours, which will cut our income significantly. Plus I haven't sold a novel in a couple of years. But we're doing fine. I see it all as a wonderful challenge. I'm saving my pennies for an Old Mermaids tour!

OK. I've got to go out and dance with the weather spirits. Thank them for holding off until we went over the pass. (Yes, the world revolves around me and my doings....Well, my world revolves around me. I kid the peeps.) But I am going to dance with the weather spirits and see if we could get through the rest of our trip without any weather problems. Apparently it might snow in Sacramento and the LA mountains.

Read more here...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

Power to the People

The people have to fight back. Big business keeps shipping jobs overseas. Why doesn't the government give that bailout money to start up companies that are making sustainable cars and then they can hire the autoworkers? Did you hear that the CEO of Merrill Lynch wants "his" 10 million dollars. Are you kidding me? That bank bailout is, unfortunately, exactly what I said it was: Welfare for the rich.

Here's an example of the peeps fighting back.

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Sunday, December 7, 2008


My mom died a year ago today. This morning. After midnight yesterday. A year ago. Pearl Harbor Day. That's gonna be difficult to forget, eh? Over half my family is sick right now. Been working on not going into panic mode because of that. (Mom died suddenly, in the space of about six hours.) Some things in life get easier. Sickness and death still isn't easy. I took care of Mario today and hope his illness will go away soon. And may my dad and sisters feel better soon too.

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Nice Things

More nice things being said about Church of the Old Mermaids here. I am very pleased.

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Hello Sweethearts All

It is Friday night. I'm sitting on my couch next to Mario listening to Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy singing "Adieu False Heart." Man. I love this album. I love their voices. Love, love, love. If I could sing, I would have been a singer. I just can't get over you.

I don't know enough about music to describe this album. A combination of Cajun and Celtic. Reminds me of my time sitting in the Quail House writing. Mmmmm. I am lusting after the sunshine and the Old Mermaids Sanctuary. Knock wood, we'll be there in about ten days.

I've been having a lovely time here, however. I feel as though I am finally weaving together a community. No, that's wrong. I am finally becoming part of a community. A part of the tapestry. Using that word sounds corny, I know. But I am a little bit corny. I do hail from the Midwest. We had the second Old Mermaids Gifted workshop on Saturday. On Tuesday, I went to the Reiki circle in Gresham, at the end of a very long day. A healing day. Acupuncture, some other stuff. Plus we went to see Milk. (We thought it was a fabulous movie, by the way.) I love these Reiki circles. It just feels like love, love, love.

What is Reiki? Hmmm. My friend Therese Fisher says, "Reiki is most commonly described as a Japanese stress-reduction and relaxation technique that also promotes healing. Reiki is translated as universal or spiritually guided life force energy. Reiki itself is not aligned with any specific spiritual path or religion."

When I first heard about Reiki years ago, I thought it was a racket. For one thing, it sounded like a pyramid scheme. You could get the first two attunements for relatively little money, but to get the third attunement, to become a master, you had to pay $10,000. No way! If this was such an amazing healing technique at a time when the world needed it why would they charge that kind of money?

Well, others felt the same way and they began training people to use Reiki for free. The first time I got a Reiki treatment, I got vertigo the very same night. In fact, I woke up with vertigo, didn't know what was going on, and thought I had gone blind. One of the most terrible moments of my life. So I didn't go near Reiki for years.

Then when my dad got sick, I became a Reiki Master just so I could have one more tool to use when I went home, you know, to make my daddy all better. Uh-huh. Instead I had one of the worst visits to my ancestral home I had ever had. Vowed never to return home. Ever. And I didn't use Reiki again. Even when Linda was dying. Just kind of forgot about it. And then this past year I started using it again, along with the braucherei (Pennsylvania Dutch folk healing that involves chanting).

I am at heart a scientist. I don't believe science is separate from the Invisibles. Nor do I think our minds and bodies are separate. Descartes did the world a great disservice with his articulation of the mind/body split—a false mind/body split. Yes, we need sanitation, we need to understand our physicality, we need to know how to staunch a wound, and we need to know from which direction the cold wind blows, where the sun sets and rises, what the air smells like before it snows. And we also need to know how to create community with all that is Visible and Invisible.

I don't happen to believe in God, but I've never thought it was out of character for a scientist to believe in God. The more one knows, the more wonderful, profound, and mysterious life is. By separating our life with the Invisibles from our life with the Visibles we are creating a schism—a chasm—which becomes harder to bridge as time goes by.

So we need to step out of time and listen to the whispers...

When I do healing work, I keep track of what works and what doesn't and how long a "healing" lasts. Sometimes it is amazing what happens. Powwows are known for being able to stop bleeding and heal burns—chants seem to work well for many inflammatory conditions. The other night, Mario burned himself on the edge of a cookie sheet. He came into the living room where I was and held out his arm. "Can you powwow this please?" I gulped when I looked at his arm. I breathed deeply. It looked like a second degree burn.

Powwows don't generally put cold on burns or anything that might push the inflammation back into the body. Instead they want to take it out of the body and stop the inflammatory process completely. I immediately began chanting, "Inflammation and pain come out of the marrow and into the bones, out of the bones and into the blood, out of the blood and into and the flesh, out of the flesh and into the skin, out of the skin and into the hair and out of the hair and into green forest..." while my hand went in a counterclockwise motion over the burns. I could feel the heat.

I kept chanting until the heat was gone. A few minutes later, I put my hand over his arm and it again felt hot, so I chanted some more. I was not confident this would work. I mean, I was pretty sure it was a second degree burn. He was going to hurt and hurt bad. I worked on him until I felt no more heat. When he first got the burn, he felt pain. Once we started doing the powwow, Mario had no pain.

Anyway, I think there are more things under the sun and moon than I will ever know or understand.

Last night we had our Healers Circle here in town. Ten people came. I am so moved and impressed with this group of people. We are all so different with different training and different interests, and I LOVE that. At the bottom of every email flyer we send out monthly we say, "We come together without dogma, in tolerance, respect, and love for one another." Is that not so cool? I have visions of us starting a healing and teaching center here. A true Old Mermaids Sanctuary. All about sustainability. Local economy. Communion with the Invisibles and Visibles. Love, love, love.

I applied for a full-time job this week. It's amazing how much energy looking for work entails. I haven't been able to do any "promotion" on Church of the Old Mermaids. Thirty people have bought a copy of the book from Two people have bought Kindle versions of it. I am so grateful to those people, and I'm confident they will love these Old Mermaids as much as I do.

The Old Mermaids often turn up in my healing work, by the way. I did a Soul Retrieval for someone this week, and the Old Gals showed up. I kind of like that.

Neither Mario or myself was laid off this week. We are glad for that. A woman who worked at the library for seventeen years was laid off. These are grieving times. And times where we can remake the world. It is scary. And it is exhilarating. I wear the necklace I made at the Gifted ceremony most of the time now, along with my Old Mermaid pendant from Cate. I look down at it and remember I am Gifted. And so are you. We can dance through this. We can cry, laugh, make love, dance, drink, and be merry. Why not?

Tomorrow at this Old Mermaid Sanctuary we are having an Enchanted Evening. I am teaching some of the things I have learned this year before Mario and I head south. The coyotes, bobcat, and Old Owls are calling to me.

My life is so blessed. It is dark and hard and beautiful and easy.

And I am trying to dance my way through it all. Naked in my mind's eye, singing out Boom-chicka-boom!

May You Live in Beauty!

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Big Three

OK, this is what I think: Congress should tell the Big Three to kiss Uncle Sam's ass. No bailout. No loan. I'm from Michigan. I was raised in Michigan. Two of my sisters depend on the auto industry for their income. Another sister had to move away from Michigan because the economy is so bad. Everyone I know back home has something to do with the auto industry, even if it's only peripherally. But this I will tell you: The boards and executives of the Big Three don't give a shit about their workers or their communities. They never have, at least not in my lifetime.

If they cared, they wouldn't have sent most of the jobs overseas. If they cared, they would have been innovative instead of building those jackass SUVs. We've known since the 1970's that the oil is running out. (Or if you don't believe that, we've known that getting oil would be problematic and I don't think anyone can argue with that.) These people have opposed nearly ever safety regulation and feature. They have lied about global warming. Oh man, I could go on and on. But I'm getting a headache just thinking about it.

Do I want the auto companies to go out of business? No. But we shouldn't give them money. (I mean, come on, look at the bank bailout, which I was also against. What has it helped?) I think the government should take the auto companies over and run them. Retro-fit these factories to put out automobiles that are good for the environment and people's pocketbooks. Those of you who are free-market advocates—we don't really have a free market system, but that's for another post—and think that taking over the auto companies smacks of socialism, why isn't giving them a bailout socialism? Hmmm?

Where's a Lee Iacocca when you need one? He wasn't perfect, but he was a thinker, an innovator. He wasn't (and isn't) an idealogue.

I've been listening to these auto-people on C-Span all day. I don't believe a word they're saying. Everything they're saying could be true, but they just sound like they're threatening us and Congress.

I am so waiting for a New New Deal.

Read more here...

Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day

I feel about World AIDS Day the same way I feel about Earth Day. Every day is Earth Day. Every day people live and die with AIDS. It is good not to forget, however. May this pandemic soon end.

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All work copyright © Kim Antieau 2008-.