Sunday, November 30, 2008

Harper St. Women Writers

A new blog! Every month a small group of us meet to write together. And we now have a blog that we think will fill the gaps between our meeting. We invite you to tune in.

Duty calls

I'm on call for jury duty this week. Every year they call me. Every year I sit and wait for my turn to be grilled for suitability and every year they pick their 12 angry men and women before they get to me.
I've known people who served on the Manson jury for 9 months. I've had friends who were part of the Scott Peterson trial for 9 months. These people, rather than basking in the post-trial limelight and signing lucrative book deals, were basket cases in the end.
A friend of mine told me her mother always got out of jury duty by answering their questions with completely unrelated answers: Like, 'Do you believe in capital punishment?' And the mother would answer: 'I don't think global warming is man-made.' They finally gave up on her.
Last year I waited through the selection process for a triple murder trial. An old man was called up. 'What?' he said to every question. They gave him a hearing device but still, he'd crane his neck and say, 'What?' to every question until they finally released him.
I think it pays to listen to our elders. They seem to know how to navigate this world.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

In keeping with our pledge to purge this winter, Irene has donned her no-nonsense cap and is selling stuff at the flea this morning. The crowds are small. Even though our prices are rock bottom people can still get it cheaper at Mervyn's.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Reasons to smile

Everything is wet and fresh from last night's rain.
Before dawn the owl hooted from the cypress tree.
I'm baking a peach pie for dinner at Irene's daughter's house today.
And in my sleep I dreamed the end of a short story that has been giving me grief.


I always miss my boys. But never so much as mornings like this.

Short end of the stick

A few years ago circumstance led us to eat Thanksgivng dinner at a local restaurant. We were waited on by staff who had obviously drawn the short end of the stick. Our particular waitperson had blue hair, trembling hands and thick surgical stockings.

"I'll have everything but the turkey and gravy," I said.

She: We can't do that.

Me: What?

She: Just serve potatoes and vegetables. Each of them would be a-la-carte.

Me: For more money?

She: Yes. Well..a-la-carte.

I'd come prepared. I pulled a plastic bag of sliced tofu turkey from the pocket of my blazer.

Me: Here. Plop this on my plate. Just pretend you cooked it.

She: You want a roll with that?

Me: Is that extra?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hiding in plain sight

Annie Bones is obsessive with her bones. She gets frantic while looking for a secret hiding place. Somehow she seems to think absolutely no one will see the bone at the top of the bed. I hate to move it. It is her stash and all...but my bedtime is coming up.

Don't leave me again...

We went downtown this afternoon to see the 2 hour 45 minute movie, 'Australia'. We were gone for hours and when we got home, Annie Bones was so glad to see us she just wouldn't let go of Irene's feet.

Me and John

Recently I've suffered the heartbreak of thinning hair. I also found out I have more skin cancer. My hairdresser says I look a little like John McCain.

Plymouth Rock...

...protest 1992.


Last night I went to a celebratory dinner at a friend's house. We talked about dogs, becoming Jewish, tattoos and what one woman referred to as a Santa Cruzian propensity for wearing 'unstructured clothing'.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mountain out of a mole hill

We have a mole who digs underneath our patio bench. Everyday Irene shovels dirt and everynight the mole replaces it.
We don't know what's at the bottom. It may be a sink-hole that will devour us in the night.
(It might not even be a mole since we've never seen it. Maybe it's something more sinister.)

Everyone has a style

You know you are goal oriented, not task oriented when you paint a bench red and you paint right over the snail poop.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The pharmacist's fault

Today we were faced with a choice: Paint the deck or go to a bad movie. We chose the movie. I hated it so I tried to work on notes for a short story using my watch light to see by.
After the movie was finally over we decided to go to Safeway so I could get a flu shot.
The pharmacist was at lunch so we went next door to an electronic big box store. We were surrounded by electricity. TVs, video cameras, stereos. All going at once. I mean it was in our pores.
That kind of energy upsets my internal ions. I came away crazed. Wanting to go live in a one room cabin with no electricity at all. Just kerosene lamps.
Tell me, am I insane or am I normal?

North Pacific Gyre

The North Pacific Gyre is an area of the pacific ocean located between Hawaii and Japan that circulates slowly because of little wind and high pressure systems. An estimated 100 million tons of garbage, mostly plastic, twice the size of the continental US float in this gyre.

Artist, Richard Owen has created the earth made from hundreds of plastic water bottles and strung with lighted wires to note continents, oceans and the gyre seen above in yellow.

I came across Richard and his creation as I rounded a building the other night in Santa Cruz and I was able to snap this picture. (fortunately I'd already given up my addiction to plastic water bottles and was carrying a reusable bottle at the time.)

The globe revolves with the wind and is an amazing sight in the dark. Apparently it was a hit at Burning Man this year too, although Richard says it was almost destroyed in the fierce Black Rock Desert winds. Fortunately he was able to "save the planet" and continue its tour.

For more about the North Pacific Gyre check out Richard's website:

The Courage to Heal

Laura Davis, my writing guru, (pictured) and Ellen Bass discussed their groundbreaking book, The Courage to Heal: a Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, last night at Bookshop Santa Cruz.
The book is a revised and expanded version of their original work released twenty years ago. A book that has touched millions of readers.
Quite amazing! Great job, Laura and Ellen.
(The book, published by HarperCollins is available now at bookstores everywhere and on-line.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Found Art Celebration revisited..

Caution, there are artists everywhere... this drumming group that appeared out of nowhere.

I took this picture just before the cello collided with the head of the woman in the foreground. These Gray Bears are a wild bunch.

Lost in the crowd

Last night we went to the annual Gray Bears Found Art Celebration where I had 3 of my found art pieces on display...
Unfortunately they were in a remote building...

...right next to the "paper rolling room rules".

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good times

According to the experts SPAM is making a comeback. I'm excited. We used to eat SPAM a lot. We ate it in our little adobe house in the Mexican village where we lived. We ate it in LA for dinner, fried in lard. We had it for snacks. We had it in a pinch.

Austin, Minn. is known as SPAM City. They've added shifts at the Hormel Plant and the workers churn out these gelatinous cans of ham, pork and salt 24/7. Apparently the slaughterhouse next to the plant butchers 19,000 hogs every day just to keep up with our appetites in these hard times.

The 'good old days' are upon us. (have you noticed how pigs we kill are known as hogs? I don't get it.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

California to New Zealand, The Long Way

My friend and fellow writer, Marcia Heinegg has just published her memoir, "California to New Zealand, The Long Way".
This is a story about a journey taken in 1973 overland to India on the Hippie Trail.
It's a well written, incredible tale filled with humor, insight and fantastic photos taken by Marcia's husband and fellow traveler, Christian Heinegg. (Above, Marcia reading from her book yesterday in Santa Cruz.)
Books are available now at It is a beautiful book.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Last night I dreamed my grandson, Amadisto said to me, "Do you ever dream?"
Before I could answer we were interrupted by dawn.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's the heat

It was 90 degrees in Santa Cruz today. Even with the window open and the fan on there was no escaping it. And it suddenly dawned on me why the characters in southern novels are always so crazed.

Giant among us

He may have gotten taller but...
He hasn't lost his zest for life!
Happy Birthday, Dear Aaron! Your passion, commitment and creativity inspire me every day of my life.
Congratulations on growing so tall.
All our love, Mom and Irene

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Occasional Optimist

Today I saw a bumper sticker: "Catch and release wild strawberries". I've taken the "I'm already against the next war" bumper sticker off of my truck. I'm feelng a little optimistic these days. Not that there aren't things to protest. On the contrary. But I'm going to try a gentler personal approach. I'll let you know if it helps.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

You can't have your cake and eat it too..

Recently I lost some weight, not really intentionally. Instead of looking lithe, I looked frail and wimpy. So I started eating indiscriminately. Still no weight gain. So I started eating things like cake, I should say cakes, whole cakes. This week I've gained 2.5 pounds. Maybe it's time to consider cutting down on my portions a little.

Drying the news

This morning our paper deliverer tossed the paper under our drain spout. Irene spent 45 minutes drying each page as if it contained something really worth reading. (for all the young people out there, this is the kind of thing you do when you're retired)

Across the street

Almost everywhere you look in Santa Cruz, empty space has been filled with a structure of some kind. Except right across our narrow street. How lucky are we?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"You can fool all of the people..."

When you're a writer people might ask what you're working on but they seldom ask to see a product. I've found you can go for years without actually producing anything. People seem to think it is oafish to ask for proof.

But in the end, you can't fool yourself. Here it is, "my book". It really does exist and it's only a 'few years' to completion. (there, proof.)

The Greeter

I have a neighbor who thinks I'm in training as a Walmart Greeter. Everytime someone walks by the front of our house I dash out and say hello. This is true but not the whole story:
Everytime someone walks by the front of our house, Annie Bones runs out wagging her tail and barking her head off. I run after her to quiet her down. And there's this person standing there. What am I supposed to do, not speak?

A dog's life

Annie Bones is such a curious little creature. If she sees a fence she wants to be on the other side. If she sees an open door she wants to go in. If she comes to a seagull carcass on the beach on a beautiful fall morning, she wants to be inside its ribcage.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's time

We tend to live lives of clutter. We collect things. With me it's laziness. With Irene it's speculative.

We've made a vow to do a lot of purging this winter. You know it's time when you open your closet door in the morning and say, "Who's clothes are these?"


There is nothing quite like putting a pie crust on your head and going shopping with a girlfriend.

Pata Pata

Miriam Makeba was one of my mother's favorite singers while I was growing up. I'd come home from school and hear "Pata, Pata" booming from our stereo and my mother singing along with the sultry sound.

She died today, on stage in Italy. Another voice from my past gone.

Passing the buck

This morning Irene wakes up, eyes half open, before a swallow of coffee. I've been up for hours.

Me: Can you help me put a video from You Tube onto my blog?
Irene: Put a what, where?
Me: A video from You Tube onto my blog.
Irene: Maybe Aaron (my son) can help you.
Me: He's at work, 3000 miles away.
Irene: Well, then I'm sure he's more awake than I am.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sisters Singing

Last night I sang with the sisters. I attended the celebration for the Santa Cruz release of Sisters Singing, Blessings, Prayers, Art, Songs, Poetry and Sacred Stories by Women, published by Wild Girl Publishing and edited by Carolyn Brigit Flynn.

It was a night of poetry, music and art, standing room only, an amazing gathering of 400+. A night of incredible energy and spirit that this morning has left me whole.

I am honored to be included in this anthology which is available now in Santa Cruz and nationwide on February 9, 2009.

This book is truly a song worth hearing.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

This morning...

...over a bowl of Cheerios:
Me: I feel like my heart is about ready to quit beating in my chest.

Irene: Like you're having a heart attack?

Me: No, like I'm tired.

Irene: You should rest.

Me: Rest? Who can rest?

Irene: Why don't you just say you're tired?

Me: It's not my style.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The appeal of crowds

It's hard to feel alone when you're supported by half the population of your state.

Certain sense

I've spent the better part of my life feeling a certain sense of entitlement. I think it's time I develop a certain sense of humility.

Hackberry, Arizona

Hackberry, Arizona is east of Kingman on Route 66. A town with one store and a sprinkle of wood frame houses and a woman named Celeste who hikes to the store everyday, then sits outside on a big leather chair drinking coffee from a thick white mug.
She talks to anyone who will listen about her days in San Francisco at the Fairmont Hotel and her encounters with Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. She has been in Hackberry since she was a young woman but she talks endlessly about the desert heat and how she can hardly wait to "get out of here".
Part of me though thinks she has the perfect life. Part of her probably agrees.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008



N. Exhalations within a bodily organ, especially the stomach;
a nervous disorder such as depression or hysteria.

No on Prop 8

For an eloquent argument visit my son's blog today and place your vote thoughtfully: