GET LOUD – Because right now, we are NOT a great nation

I didn’t need Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue to write this; I did need to hear it to give myself permission to publish it, to get loud about what I feel. I felt I needed to rein myself in, knowing that when I get emotionally distraught my words can feel destructive, even to me; they’re angry rants, instead of finding the passages in the darkness where a little light might shine at just the right angle where even the blindest person perceives it and turns towards it and listens to the truth that I believe in my heart must exist in every person out there, no matter their political persuasion.  It is difficult to find hope for our society when children continue to be murdered.  So the least I can do is get loud.

I’ll start with the common sense things I KNOW.

If I don’t wear a seatbelt I will be fined, even though the only person it hurts is me if I don’t wear it.

If I even  touch my cell phone when driving, I can be fined and even imprisoned.

Every driver in this country must have a license to drive a car and will be fined and possibly jailed if they fail to abide that law. And they must renew it regularly.

Every driver must take a test and prove they understand the laws and rules governing their legal right to operate a vehicle on public roads.

Drivers can be fined and lose their licenses and/or be jailed for violations that endanger other members of society.

Every car must have insurance to protect people and property from a car’s inherent ability to kill and maim (yes, it’s not the car that kills; it’s the driver, right?)

Every car must be licensed. And, in most states cars are required to pass safety checks to insure the car is not handicapped (i.e., insanely unsafe) to drive safely on the road.

Those things I know.

At the very least, these same things should apply to gun ownership. 

Background checks for the mentally ill?  It seems to me that in America, we are in a situation where the fox is guarding the hen house.  Why have we come to accept that someone who is obsessed with a sense of fear that others might attack and/or kill them (paranoid delusions), and hence feel the need to arm themselves with weapons of war and other semi-automatic weapons are sane? Why have we accepted the idea that a person with a Personality Disorder of Excessive Power Strivings  is also sane?  I propose that these people, constituting a growing number of people in our society, are in fact mentally ill, and they themselves should not be allowed to own guns.  In other words, the simple “background checks” is not going to weed out 95% of the mentally ill people allowed to purchase and carry weapons of killing.

Negligent homicide.  It seems to me that people in government positions that support fewer gun laws are in fact complicit in murders occurring within their jurisdictions. Knowing our laws, and the irony that they control those guns and gun laws, it’s unlikely they will be charged with such crimes.  But voters do have the power to remove them from office and replace them with those who will not prostitute themselves to the NRA (or other corporate institutions that cause harm in our society).

Education not prison.  I propose that “freedom” is not turning our schools into prisons with armed guards and only one door. But education might avoid such prisons. Anyone who owns a gun should  undergo an intensive educational program not just on safe gun handling but an extensive, hours-long education on the evolution of our society’s gun culture, anger-management screening, intensive victims’ panel discussions, and testing on those subjects as well as gun safety.  Yearly. The problem is a cultural one which needs to be addressed with education, not more guns or prison walls for our children.

Registry and insurance. Like a vehicle, every gun needs to be registered.  Further, no ammunition can be sold to any individual without proof of a registered weapon, and the amount of ammunition and types of ammunition will go into a monitored data base, just like a driver’s record is kept in a data base. Each year, a gun owner must present his gun in person to a designated office, to prove they are still in possession of it. Like automobile insurance, which varies with the make, model, year, and value of a car as well as where that car is primarily driven, a gun owner needs to pay an insurance premium commensurate with the type of gun. For example, their premium would be $1,000 a year for each AR-15; $500 a year for a semi-automatic pistol; $50 a year for a .22 rifle. For the right to own a gun and prove they are being responsible gun owners, their home must be open for inspection to prove that their weapons of murder are locked in safe boxes, and that they have a license and insurance to own it. If they do not prove yearly ownership, and cannot show proof of sale, they will be fined and/or put in prison. Just like uninsured, unlicensed reckless drivers.

But our societal problems are deeper than just gun control.

We need to have  a Constitutional Convention to bring the Constitution into the 21st Century and correct its obsolescence, because all these representatives who swear to uphold the Constitution are in fact continuing a status quo that is not in line with modern times.

The 2nd Amendment was written because at that time, there was no government militia. There was no army. If attacked, they wanted the ability of citizens to form a military to protect the country.  Further, the southern states wanted a militia so they could protect themselves against a slave rebellion and/or track down slaves that ran away.

There is no longer a need for individuals to form a militia to “secure a free state”; we have a monstrous military complex in place protecting us against foreign attackers for which our tax dollars contribute a disproportionately huge amount.  The 2nd Amendment is obsolete in that regard. Though racism is not dead, slavery is, and there is no need to hunt down and re-imprison those human beings who made the slave owner rich and and powerful.

A new look at speech. News took days if not weeks to be disseminated.  Now, with our instant social media, in seconds, lies and hate speech are disseminated that incite crimes of hate and insurrection, all of which seem to be leading to anarchy and fascism and a breakdown of the very social mores our Constitution was meant to protect against. We are in dangerous times when there are more weapons than citizens — weapons that can shoot not one bullet every two minutes but hundreds in seconds —  while being fueled with lies, disinformation, and hate.

I propose the Electoral College needs to be excised from the Constitution because it perpetuates a multitude of continuing injustices in our society. It was installed for purely racist reasons: Before the South would join the union, slave owners insisted that 3/5th of their slaves constitute one vote in elections. A slave owner with 100 slaves would be allowed 60 votes, and the Electoral College was established to favor those white male slave owners.

We no longer have slaves. There is absolutely no bias to anybody to have one person, one vote. The number of electoral votes is equal to the number of members of Congress: senators and congressmen.  But there is incredible bias when a slight majority of delegates in a state can vote against the will of the majority of the people, hence instilling a president who did not win the popular vote, and who does not represent the will of the people.  Instead, the archaic and discriminatory Electoral College continues to represent the interests of a smaller group of the wealthiest people with their own personal interests, biases and prejudices, their own ignorance, and influenced by the controlling corporations and monied individuals, who do not have the interest of the average American citizen in mind.

The Constitution is obsolete because, to this day, women do not have constitutional equal rights.

We need a constitutional convention to correct these deep societal and cultural wrongs that exist in the Constitution. It was a document created by wealthy male landowners in a time so different than ours is today.  We need a governing document that aligns with the wiser and more just society that the majority of the people of the United States aspire to have.  We are wiser than our “founding fathers,” and the world is a different place.  Until then…

We are not a great nation when there are more guns than citizens and our government allows their free use to murder children, women, people of color (something perpetrated by continuing to have the Electoral College in place).

We are not a great nation when we have institutionalized racism and sexism and gender discrimination and the white male conservative majority prevents correcting these wrongs so they can maintain the status quo (something perpetrated by continuing to have the Electoral College in place).

We are not a great nation when women, who have brought forth every one of us from their wombs — through a process called labor, a labor no man could endure — do not have the equal rights of their male counterparts in our society, and whose right to make decisions about their bodies is taken from them by those same men who hold power over them (something perpetrated by continuing to have the Electoral College in place).

We are not a great nation when our government officials are nothing more than prostitutes to corporate lobbyists, an ill-disguised form of deep-pocketed corruption in our system of governance (something perpetrated by continuing to have the Electoral College in place).

We are not a great nation when one body of Congress prevents the legitimate selection of a Supreme Court Justice in order to pack a court that is no longer an independent overseer of the laws and no longer that third arm of our democracy, but are mere puppets of corporate interests and prostituted legislators.

We are not a great nation when our representatives in Congress “can’t figure out why people are gunning down children” and shoppers and movie goers daily in our country (think a little harder, Lindsey) (perpetuated by ignorance and their chosen career as prostitutes).

We are not a great nation when we our freedom of speech and our right to read and educate ourselves is being curtailed by a few power-hungry, corrupt individuals who feel threatened by those who might hear the truth and learn of a different point of view than their biased, bigoted, discriminatory proselytizing.

We are not a great nation when we put billionaires’ interests ahead of the poorest and most needy.

We are not a great nation when we do not provide paid maternity leave but instead put capitalistic interests ahead of the ability to nurture our children for their formative years so that — just maybe? — they won’t feel abandoned and unloved and decide they will deal with their hurt by killing others. We are not a great nation when we refuse to substitute or subsidize free day care for our children in a nurturing environment but instead have X-Box shoot-em-up videos babysit latchkey children after school (something perpetrated by continuing to have the Electoral College in place).

We are not a great nation that puts the GDP over the existential environmental degradation from which we are less than three years away from passing the point of no return, and we are not a great nation when the almighty dollar is greater than our trust in God (something perpetrated by continuing to have the Electoral College in place).

We are not a great nation if we are hypocrites.

But we are fucked ….. if we can’t immediately address the gun laws and the inequality, and the lies, and the corporate corruption, and all the other problems that this not-great country suffers from.

BUT, we can be a great nation if we put our trust in God, in whatever way one believes in that invisible force that breathes us into life, that hums us with love when we’re quiet enough to shut out all the bullshit of the gun-totin’, woman-hatin’, racist, corrupt politicians and those who support them.

We can be a great nation when we put the love of our children ahead of the almighty dollar.

We can be a great nation when we stand up to the corporate interests of the NRA (and other greedy corporations) and renounce the culture of male supremacy, bias, fear and other power-hungry people.

We will be a great society when we choose to melt the fucking guns down with which we will build a monstrous monument to peace and love with equality and social justice for all.

So get LOUD.

Get LOUD and get out and VOTE.

Vote the hypocritical murderers, political prostitutes, conspiracy nutcases, wimps and liars out of office.

Embrace the human values we all aspire to:  equality, peace, love, inclusiveness because otherwise, it will be Ted Cruz’s world of Texas bacon: One door with a couple paranoid power-crazed jailers who make the decisions as to who gets in or out.

GET LOUD

 

Nature as it is.

Nature is my peace. It is my balance. It is where I live in a quiet harmony within myself. It is where there is no judgment as to good or bad, evil or the opposite. It is.

It has a voice that plays on a vibration beyond my eyes or ears, and yet, like Spirit in man, it only has its clothing, its dresses and shoes and hairstyles, in which to express itself. So its leaves dance with the wind, allowing itself to be caressed, rubbed against. It’s sensual in that. And then, as a storm rolls in, the wind shakes the leaves, branches shudder, like an orgasm, and then there’s calm again.

Nature has a secret world deep in its soil that only now science is getting to know, but I knew some of it as a child, playing in the dirt. I was lucky to live in the country until I was ten. And even afterwards, it was nature to which I flew — ran to — for my personal health. As a teenager in Santa Barbara, the worst of years, my best friend had two horses. We lived in the foothills, and every day after school we took her horses up higher into the mountains along trails, horses struggling with their footing, rocks slipping. We’d find streams, mottled with sunshine and shade, where we could listen to that voice as expressed by Nature, the rippling of water across the rocks as it rubbed against river banks. A symphony of sounds.

I often feel the problem of the world is that people live in concrete jungles. They don’t touch nature; they are not one with it. I live in a small 27-foot van on acreage at  the dead end of a road; it’s dark inside that van, and inside of that darkness my thoughts in-dwell, too often finding criticism — of mankind mostly. But I never criticize or judge nature. I love its hurricanes. I love that its voice, Mother’s voice, is speaking up in a voice that humans, who can’t control it, feel is destructive: a voice of tornadoes and hurricanes and fires and floods and ravaging ways where Mother is reprimanding those who have trod on her, violated her; who refused to walk with her, or speak with her, commune with her, to help heal with her or let her heal them.

Yes, it’s all so-called destructive, and yet it’s not. It’s nature doing what nature does. And mankind screaming that it can’t control what nature does. I laugh. I think good on,you, Mother, for finally spanking your “last thought,” those children of humankind that evolved out of your simplest thoughts: the amoebas and bacterias, the globs that grew into more diverse forms. I think, okay, you’re a truly loving mother to try to clean up the mess that those errant children made.

Yes, I could well be subject of your wrath some day. I could be in the path of that tornado or fire. But in my simplicity, I don’t walk in high heels; I don’t wear the tight skirts and restricting shirts that prevent my free movement. I don’t live in concrete jungles where nothing can survive. I try to dress more in harmony and to be able to walk in your beauty down your paths or, if need be, flee your wrath. If you take me down, I also accept that that’s part of nature; it’s part of my nature that I was born, get sick, and I will die.

Sometimes I think you, Mother, would appreciate me dying soon so there’s fewer of us on this earth so that maybe, maybe some of your more precious children — all the plants and animals — have a chance to survive. But for now, you let me rock in your arms, daily. I hold your ethereal essence as you hold me in your physical form. I watch you rain and give water to all around me — sometimes too much here. I watch the ants and bees and fungi and mosquitos and beetles and all your other creations do what they do. I watch your dance across the grass outside my window, and I watch the deer come almost to my door, which I can see only through the little rear windows of my van, which is, as is your right,  getting covered with moss and pollen now. I’ll let you breathe me as you are my breath.

All the history I did not know….

I promised myself, when I decided to start blogging again, that I wouldn’t get “political.” But sometimes it’s just too darn hard to keep my mouth shut.

I didn’t like history or social studies in high school. I don’t remember it being a deep discussion of ideas or philosophies but instead a process of memorizing pages and pages of events in history: the main characters, the main event, and the date, as in, 1620 the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock; in 1492, Columbus “discovered” America (with, of course, no education as to his murdering and decimation and enslavement of a whole population of peoples who definitely didn’t need discovering to begin with); pages of lines of similar history to be memorized. I remembered 1492 — because it had a rhyme attached to it. I remembered 1620, possibly because my maternal grandparents’ generations were early settlers of Massachusetts (a great, great, great — possibly greater great-grandfather being the first president of Harvard College in 1690). And of course everyone of my generation knew December 7, 1941, which had only occurred a brief 25 years previous to my high school history lessons.

Every line to be memorized was an event of war and domination. But the truth? At least in high school, we weren’t taught that the white man committed genocide upon the First Nations people of what is now the United States. Nobody taught me that the white male society of Britain shipped opium to the Chinese and addicted a whole nation just to equalize their huge trade deficits from their own insatiable appetite for tea. It was simply one-line facts of white male society’s domination over the African continent or South America or India or the conquest of some other empire. They were facts we were to memorize and accept.

Nobody answered my teenage question, “Why did I need to memorize these one-line statements of mankind’s history, most of which reflected wars and conquests?” Oh, that’s right:  it was necessary to memorize these facts so that history would not be repeated. Huh? I might have been interested if I was actually taught the story behind His-Story in high school. I might have become an activist if I was taught that the United States is the only developed country in the world that does not guarantee equal rights for women in its constitution — even to this day! Though all provisions have been met ratifying what would be the 28th Amendment codifying the Equal Rights Act (ERA), codifying women’s equal rights, as I understand its status, it has yet to be certified by the archivist that would embody it forever in our Constitution!! I urge the reader to read Her-Story here. https://msmagazine.com/2022/01/27/equal-rights-amendment-resolution-us-house-28th-amendment-constitution/

I wasn’t taught history or the reasons I should be interested in history, and quite frankly, stuffing facts in my head bored me. Instead, for multiple reasons, one of which was an innate sense of wanderlust in my soul, I found myself sailing the South Pacific throughout the Seventies, five years after high school. I was in the South Pacific, without radio, without newspapers, without knowledge of the world “out there” for seven years.

I was overseas when abortion finally became legal in the United States, though I didn’t know that. I only knew that it was illegal when I went to Mexico (across a border that was still free and open) with my boyfriend seven years earlier (my boyfriend’s father, thankfully, having made the arrangements, of which my parents, now long dead, never knew). I was overseas, living in a thatched hut, subsistence farming, in New Zealand in January of 1973 when, I learned many years later, the American War in Vietnam ended. I was somewhere near the Marquesas or Tahiti when burglars broke into the Democratic Headquarters. I was somewhere near Walpole Island, in the middle of nowhere, when Nixon resigned after Woodward and Bernstein, through a free press, revealed his, and the republican party’s, role in the attempt to corrupt the democratic process. I didn’t even know what “Watergate” was until I saw a movie called All the President’s Men years later. I was somewhere in Australia, the home of Germaine Greer, when I heard this thing called the Women’s Liberation Movement. I didn’t give it much attention because, after all, I was sailing in the South Pacific, free, doing what I wanted to do. Weren’t Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best just childhood fairy tales like Peter Pan, nothing to pay heed to? Women weren’t really like that, were they?

Now I’m bombarded with news. I listen. I absorb it. I get upset. I research what I hear, checking the information. I get horrified when, during Trump’s campaign, I see a woman on national TV grab her own crotch and proudly say, “He can grab my pussy any time he wants.” I feel horrified and helpless when an American congressperson, Marjorie Taylor Greene, proclaims “women are the weaker sex” and that “you belong to your husband.”

All things end, all things change. That’s the nature of things. The misogyny in America will end.  My hope is it ends today, this election term. My hope is that the change that comes is for more equality, not less equality, for more compassion and kindness and love before more hatred and darkness. My hope is it ends before my granddaughters are ordered to wear the handmaid’s robes.

If time passes before my next post, it’s because I’m taking a long walk in nature and looking for its goodness and beauty. But today, because I’ve chosen to live in this society and no longer in a thatched hut cut off from the world, because I see these continued and mounting threats against women’s rights as well as the continued discrimination against people of color:  Sometimes a woman has to speak out against these continued injustices.

Or then again, maybe I’ll leave again and fly to Midway and take care of the albatross.  Who knows (I sure don’t.)

Mothers’ Day

Heather Cox Richardson is an historian and professor at Boston College.  If you’re not aware of her, she posts informative daily blogs on current and past history.  On this mothers’ day, as we witness the mindless brutality of the war in Ukraine, and other places, as well as assaults on women’s rights and human rights, she reminds us that the beginning of Mothers’ Day originated from the cry of women who are left to carry on, work the fields, and work in the industries, while rearing their children and tending the wounded, all while their sons, husbands, brothers go to war to kill and maim or be killed or maimed.

https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com/p/may-7-2022?r=1fl2xg&s=r&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=email.

Remember Peter, Paul and Mary’s song:  Where have all the flowers gone… the fathers gone… the husbands gone…the soldiers gone — where have all the graveyards gone?  When will they ever learn?  The white male-dominated society continues to keep the war machine going.  It continues to suppress women.  It continues to deny equal rights to people of color. In some states, that dominating destructive energy is attempting to deny other rights including those of transgender people.  And now, it’s trying to turn back the clock on women’s rights — which have never been equal — and strip away our rights to our own bodies, our own health, and our own personal choices.

I’ll not pretend to be as articulate as Dr. Richardson, but I share her article as a rally call to women. As we spiral towards self-destruction on many fronts from the environment to insane reptilian wars, it becomes more imperative that women take the helm — not the Marjorie Greene Taylors of the world — God no! — but women who can actually carry a heavier load in tough times with patience, and mercy, nurture, love, deep caring, through dialogue and love. Through a labor no man could suffer through, remember we, women, bring life into this world.  And  yet “man taketh it away.”

Thank you, Heather Cox Richardson for reminding us that Mothers’ Day is not a Hallmark Holiday, but was the beginning of a women’s empowerment movement which is still grinding on, two steps forward and, it appears, three steps backward.

I also encourage you to watch or read the PBS interview of Hillary Clinton and Alyse Nelson, Vital Voices’  president and CEO, a nonprofit organization that Clinton started with Madeleine Albright.   https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/hillary-clinton-discusses-war-in-ukraine-democracy-in-the-u-s-and-future-of-roe-v-wade.  Again, it’s an informative interview.

With that, I will leave the talking to those more educated than I.

A Most Interesting Road Trip

I’ve been on a road trip the past 10 days, which is why I haven’t been getting to my blog, but my, oh, my, what an adventure! It started simply enough, driving down to see my daughter in Oregon City, then out past Boring to visit my friends in the Columbia Gorge. I rendezvoused with my 35-year-old son in Issaquah, and my granddaughter in Seattle. All and all it was an almost perfect road trip, but nothing to raise a Monkey’s Eyebrow to. So to spice it all up, before I took the ferry home, I decided to mosey off to the back of beyond, do some exploring which turned out to be Nothing that was Boring or Dull.

(Author’s note, in case you don’t get it: All italicized names are real names of towns and street signs, though the distances traveled could only happen in one’s imagination. Also, it is slightly R-rated, so if you’re sensitive, stop near Santa, Idaho — though a slight downgrade from the North Pole — and wait for my next blog post).

As I started following a map and road signage in italics, I felt it was all a Riddle to be solved. Curiosity got the best of me, maybe like Jump Off Joe felt when he met Tom Dick and Harry over by Jackass Butte. Yes, I found Friendship in Book but it was Difficult trying to understand folks pronouncing Zzyzx Road as the way to get to Hell For Certain. In a Pinch, trying to Jot Em Down, the Recluse in Fingringhoe insisted the shortcut was through Weiner Cutoff, Condom, and Clit, but for obvious reasons, I chose to go down to Booger Hole in the opposite direction from Goofy Ridge. Though I found myself briefly at Happy Corner near What Cheer, it was a Tightsqueeze. I experienced a brief Surprise when I drove down Goa Way, finally feeling a bit more Neutral before I realized I had gotten Nowhere.

I got in a Funk because I could not find Money to spend, being so poor I couldn’t even buy a Bread Loaf or Two Eggs. Speeding through Knockemstiff and then Hooker, I stopped briefly in Hopeulikit but there was a Little Snoring in Onacock down Fanny Hands Lane, so once again, I carried on down another street that some Dickshooter named Dingleberry Road which took me directly to Cocking Fuckborough, a town that at least asked visitors to “Please don’t laugh at our village’s funny name.” That was kind of Cool, I thought, but it was no Fluffy Landing when I skidded at Greasy Corner, ending up at Bacon Level near Deadhorse, wondering where that bacon might have come from (but pretty sure why that corner was greasy).

Desperate to return to Paradise but at least try to find Sublimity, I thought I’d go to the Blue Mountains. But I immediately started questioning the morality of the area when I saw Humptulips and Loveladies standing at the edge of Whorehouse Meadows. The morality squad had apparently tried to change the name to Naughty Girl Meadows, but that idea went down the Crapper — which, by the way, was a town that really swirled down the Drain, because — as the story goes — folks in Burns Down convincingly proclaimed themselves more Needy of the services and more Rough and Ready to keep the name, because, though Remote, they were competing with the Intercourse Pretzel Factory over near Ticklenaked Pond. It need not be said that most decent men quickly said Aloha to that whole area, and would Zigzag to avoid Truth or Consequences which would of course result in Gouge Eye in Bitchfield if their women got wind of where they’d been.

Though I had left Boring in search of anything not so Dull, I began to Desire to return to a more Happy Corner. But I found it hard to escape some of the routes, feeling trapped in an endless Bear Dance. It seemed it was all a Sweet Lips Community wherever I turned. Right outside of Tightwad, I entered Ugley. Upon driving down Done Movin’ Lane, only briefly did I think I’d found my exit but realized it wasn’t Goodenough. The sign then told me to drive slowly past Cocks, but possibly I did not drive slow enough because I ended up at Wankers Corner, which was Halfway to Why (which of course at this point I had been thinking Why for quite awhile) where I was so desperately praying to enter Humanville, but, no — Oh Hell no — it turned into a Three-Way with a Dildo, followed by a Failing Plunge to Virgin. At this point, Cut and Shoot was a Hazard though it no longer seemed Peculiar.

I stayed long enough to hear about Blue Ball who clearly stayed too long in Titty-Ho, but he had missed the turn, I’m told, to Idiotville and so arrived Spread Eagle with someone else’s Bastardo where the whole town came out yelping Yeehaw and throwing Rabbit Hash at him like Windpassing, which blew the doors wide open at the Smut Eye Grocery. I knew for sure now that I was in Satan’s Kingdom, which they claimed was simply a state recreation area, but it was actually a Flasher town in Young America. Every town on the map was leading me either to Lizard Lick — or was that Dick Lick Springs or Beaver Lick? Lotsa licking going on everywhere I went is all I know. All I could think was Oh Pity Me. I honestly did, and Whynot? It was a nightmare as I turned down Uncertain Road, past Bucket of Blood Street — a labyrinth, for sure — before I came to No Name. I was beginning to realize I might have arrived at Low Point right off of Middlefart when a Bend took me straight to Asylum.

Now completely in a Panic and wanting to get home, I drove down Bad Root Road to Point No Point where I came to Climax so slowly I almost missed Penistone. Near Crapstone, Embarrassed as I was, I had to use a bathroom but they wouldn’t let me use Pee Pee Creek, so I carried on down A Dog Will Lick His Butt But Won’t Eat A Pickle Road which dead-ended in Accident. There was a toilet in Bathtub Gulch but it wasn’t very clean because the sign said, “Please put toilet paper only in the toilet. Everything else goes in the trash,” and apparently everyone had followed those instructions. I was quite getting desperate to get out of this nightmare when I suddenly arrived in Half.com where there was a sign that said “That Way To Earth.”

Feeling like it had all been a nightmare, I started to see more familiar territory. I passed through Muckanaghederdauhaulia, which I knew translated as Piggery Between Two Expanses of Briny Water, so I was confident I was finally coming out of the darkness I had entered. All I’d wanted to do was to escape things that were Dull and Boring, maybe like the bartender who named his town Äteritsiputeritsipuolilautatsijänkä because he wanted to name it a name no one else could use — or misuse like I just have.   Thank Dog or the Universe, I thought. Whynot?

Almost home, I passed through A Spring Where Two Buffaloes Were Killed With the Same Shot, aka Tweebuffelsmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein. From there, I came over the ridge, and I finally breathed in the sweet tranquility of home-sweet-home, though I’ve never been able to pronounce it in all the years I’ve lived there, but its translation brings me Serenity and Comfort, and eases my soul: Saint Mary’s Church in a Hollow of White Hazel Near the Swirling Whirlpool of the Church of Saint Tysilio With a Red Cave — Such a lovely sounding name  — Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.   I think I’ll stick to Boring and Dull after that seemingly immoral trip to Hell’s Canyon.

Aging Gracefully

In late November of 2011, while living in Costa Rica, I was contacted by a friend of a friend. Introducing herself, she said she was bicycling through Costa Rica, down to Panama, and our mutual friend had suggested she contact me.  I, myself having been a traveler and receiving the hospitality of many friends of friends and total strangers , was quick to invite her to stop on by.  Eleven years ago, she would have been 60 years old.  Though I don’t know all the details of her life, I know she’s lived a simple life, house-sitting for some of the same folks each year,  working half the year in a co-op in Corvallis, and, most pertinent to this story, going off to a foreign country where she would buy a bike upon arrival, and set off touring.

This is when I met her where that year’s adventure brought her to Costa Rica. She’d bought fairly simple 10- or 15-speed (definitely not the high-end bikes).  With two small funky bags strapped to the back, she came and stayed at my house for a few days, participating in the English classes I taught my neighbor children, but eventually headed down to Panama for a month, through the Christmas and New Year’s season.  She returned back to my place in Southern Costa Rica before heading up to Nicaragua.  She had been doing this for several years before then, and she’s done it since then.  Each time, after her four or six months of exploring a new country, she’d then donate her bike to an orphanage or similar place for others less advantaged to use.

I missed her in Bogota, Colombia, by a couple weeks in 2013, I think it was, when I’d gone down for a month-long CELTA course.  I had the chance to meet with her in Taiwan as I was flying to Thailand for a month, but I chose not to get sidetracked from my goal.  COVID kept her in the States these past two years, where she biked around Texas, she said. I’ve met with her once in Corvallis when I was driving down to visit my son in Humboldt County.  But our meetings and correspondence are hit and miss.

But she recently contacted me and asked if I’d like to participate in what she called a “survey,” her instructions:  “Hello my elder friends. In my exploration of how to age ‘gracefully’. I feel I’d like some other inspirations and perspectives. My idea is please send a pic and a few words that tell something positive about this time of your life,” adding, “I’m now 71, I want this to be successful seventies.”

She should know better than to ask ME to send “a few words.”  This is my recipe for staying young or aging gracefully…

A Clear-Flowing River — all the rest is just window dressing

First thing each morning, I put on my clothes — no, that’s not true.  First, after I jump out of bed, I scurry quickly five feet down to turn on my little heater in my van in which I live, and as that heat quickly changes the temperature from 39 to a passable 64, then I put on my clothes, often the same ones I wore the day before, but-for clean underwear and socks. I put on a saucepan of water to boil for my coffee while I grind my half cup of beans and put them in the French press, and then, a never-fail ritual, I turn on my laptop and check my emails.

I have five email addresses created for different reasons. They’re like different clothes I put on, or different hats worn for different occasions.

The first email I opened was a weekly post on CaringBridge, updating a friend’s journey with cancer. This week, five weeks after her treatment began, she is completely bald. She posed in the window of the camera lens in her baldness and in a colorful head wrap, trying on her new looks that she’ll wear for awhile.

She also shared a picture of her granddaughter’s sixth birthday, the Great Unicorn Gathering. With sparkles in her eyes and a smile, she, her granddaughter, was standing by a table of colorful cakes and cupcakes, also dressed in their own headdresses of white-“haired” frosted chocolate cupcakes, drizzled with something looking like strawberry syrup, and a round single-layer cake mounded with fresh raspberries and sliced almonds.

In her CaringBridge entry, my friend writes about the joy of her granddaughter’s little party. Also, she makes a comment about a “challenging” nurse she’d had to contend with during her last chemo appointment. Something that’s so special about my friend is her compassion and understanding of others.  This is often reflected, I think, in her filter and her ability to think before she speaks, making her the go-to school counselor for hundreds of children, and a dear person who has shouldered maybe too many of her friends’ secrets and woes. I too have taken my problems to her, where she’s listened deeply, and then asked those questions of me wherein the answers rested. A miracle worker, she is, revealing the one constant of life: the beauty of love and caring.

These are the thoughts I have as I look at these images she’s shared reflected in these window frames: her bald pate, her colorful head wrap. She emanates a beauty from within that overshadows any of the guises of clothes and hairdos she’s worn over the years.

She also wrote of the tears she cried as a friend shaved off the last tufts of hair that had clung to her head like flood-torn branches on a river’s edge, life’s river. But her current still runs strong and clear, and if obstacles appear, she is held safely by her husband and surrounded with the closest and most loving friends to help her remove those rocks and boulders or to portage her around, over, or through them. The love she’s given is returning thousandfold.

She is and always has been the most beautiful woman I’ve had the privilege to share my life with. Just as I get used to my thinning hair that’s come with aging, just as she watched her husband’s hair turn from dark to white (both of which were slow processes that slipped in through the cracks of time, while hers came upon her so quickly), she will get used to not having hair for a while. It’s just a different guise — or disguise — she’s trying on, while her beauty shines even brighter.

Right now, she’s the beauty of an acorn without its top hat, shiny and smooth. We already know — all of us who love her — that within that shiny, beautiful seed is a great, strong tree, burgeoning with life, strength, and love which is, after all, the beauty that always has and always will shine forth.

She is the clear-flowing river.  All the rest is just window dressing.

You know who you are, and I love you.

E komo mai nou ka hale





“Make yourself at home” — Come on in.

Hawai’i is where my big sailing days began. I say “big” because I had sailed 8-Ball prams in Santa Barbara when I was 11 and 12. Even before that, though, from the youngest of age in Maryland, water was my medium, my place of peace and refuge. As young as four, my brothers and I played on the estuarial channels of the Chesapeake, where we had our own rowboat, our own oyster beds, our own sandbar to which we’d row for clams, as well as long stretches of river on which to lay out trotlines baited with chunks of salted eel to entice the Chesapeake Bay blue crabs. Great bodies of water, whether mighty rivers like the Columbia, estuaries like the Chesapeake, the Crater Lakes of the world, or the endless ocean itself, humble me, quiet me, heal me.
The Big Island, of all the Hawaiian islands, is not famous for its beaches. Instead, the long-driven energy of the ocean’s movement meet these rocky coastlines with great exhalations and explosions of its power. Again and again, the mighty sea slams the volcanic cliffs, some newly created by Pele, leaping high in its apparent desire to keep moving and not be halted. Its swells back off and recede, only to gather together again to fling itself onto that hardened shore. Then the moon pulls the weight of the water to the other side of the earth, quieting its assault, maybe giving it respite before surging forth with yet another high tide. Ancient myths are whispered in the salt spray and foam, giving explanation for the dance of the elements.
Like I did sailing at sea, I can spend hours on a beach, on a coastline, gazing out to the farthest horizon. It’s one of the few times I can truly relax and let go of any need to “do” or “be” or, sometimes more importantly, think anything. It is healing to me in these times we live in. The ocean is, to me, like a Buddhist monk, sitting in perpetual stillness under the stormy waves at its surface. Though I too hear its death throes caused by the onslaught of an arrogant and greedy human race that has taken too much from it, returning to it only the sewage of our wasteful lives, I find stillness and peace at the point where water meets earth, exhaling its breath to sparkle in the sunshine of that turbulent explosion. Water, earth, air, fire. Dance.
I’ve been in Hawai’i on the Big Island since the first of December. I’ve come to visit and stay with one of my sons for several months. I come only for him, because the now damaged makeup of the land of Hawai’i is not the same as it was 50 years ago when I first came to these shores — and then sailed away. It’s filled with box stores and crowded roads, high-rise buildings that alter the direction of the wind. It looks not too different from the Mainland, except it’s warm year round. The coral reefs are dying due to global warming, yes, but, now they’ve discovered that the chemicals in sunscreen have an extremely deleterious effect on coral and may be responsible for killing up to 50% of the coral reefs in Hawai’i. Further, it has been discovered — always in hindsight — that the seawalls built to protect the waterfront homes of the rich and famous are in fact increasing the erosion and destruction of the coastline.
While here, I try to sell my book. Writing is much easier than marketing, at least for me. I sit in farmer’s markets or I approach people on the streets of downtown Hilo asking if they’d like to buy a great adventure story, my story, of my seven years in the South Pacific. Some walk past me, not even catching my eye, as if I were one of the invisible homeless panhandling; some thank me for writing my book, but “no thank you.” And then there are those who stop and talk with me, share their stories, and sometimes buy my book. Some of them come back and buy more copies because I touched something in them that they also want to share. I feel that the ones who stop are also the ones who care about this earth and its relationships on all levels.

It took me 45 years to find the voice to write my story. Some of the impetus came when the echoes of my memories met the anguished cries of an earth abused. “Aweigh of Life” won’t stop the bulldozer of “progress.” But it points to a simpler life. I invite you to experience a time not too long ago, where cultures still thrived in harmony with the magic of a paradise now forsaken.

Anchors aweigh, my friend.

Anchors aweigh, my friend.  

Ah, to be aweigh of life

Ah, that I could be aweigh of life
And not know the miseries of the world
Perpetuated by the greed of man-unkind,
Perpetuated by the evil of power seekers,
Perpetuated by delusions of fear and lack.

Ah, that I could be a river’s flow
Lacking attachment to bank or bottom;
That I could be an ocean wave
Reaching out to caress a shore,
Before gathering back into its wholeness.

Ah, that I could wake up man-unkind,
Pulling off the blinds used to separate.
That I could convince the cults of the world
That the proclaimed apex of “God’s creation,”
Man-unkind, has brought doom to all.

Ah, to be aweigh of life,
To not hear the screams,
To not see the wounds,
To not feel the pain, to not witness
What man-unkind has done to this earth.

Ah, to be aweigh of life and not know
That too many planes flew to Glasgow
And powerful people talked…
… only to decide what they’re willing to do
To protect the bottom line…of the wealthy.

Ah, to be aweigh of life,
In blissful ignorance
Of all I cannot change.
Where, from a distance,
There are no boundaries.

And that from a distance
And aweigh of life
Only then can I feel hope
In the quiet
Of my dreams.

Ah, to be aweigh of life.

pm 11/14/21

Two years later

A little behind-the-scenes about writing Aweigh of Life: I wrote the rough draft of Aweigh of Life while living in Costa Rica back in 2013. Though I had kept very detailed journals during a large part of my sailing years, I wrote most of the first draft from memory, just the “big picture.” And then Life got in the way – I think. I’m not real sure why — but I set it aside and never looked at it again until January of 2019, at which point, a bit appalled that I’d done nothing with it all those years, I spent three months doing the hard work of editing it, rewriting it, rearranging it, adding to it, and subtracting to it. (In spite of all that work, there’s still a few typos — aggh!!). Finally, with a great sense of trepidation, as it was a rather hefty monetary outlay to self-publish, I sent it off to the publisher.

I was living in Arcata, California, at the time. As part of my “publishing package,” I received 40 “free books.” Besides selling on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other on-line sites, I would sit on the street corner on the edges of Arcata’s farmers’ market and hawk my wares, i.e., my book. Whether they bought the book or not (I usually would sell one or two on a Saturday morning), I enjoyed the conversations with passers-by, even more delighted when one or another would return a few weeks later either to give me praise or — the ultimate praise — to purchase another copy as a gift to give to someone. Having finally sold or gifted that first 40 books, I dove in deeper and ordered more.

COVID-19 affected my ability to be a book busker. Public markets and farmers’ markets closed. Summer festivals ceased. The books sat in boxes. My restlessness returned, and I bought an old converted box van, a land boat, so to speak, and after settling in for a bit, I took off vagabonding. I’d find remote and free places to “drop anchor.” I’d hawk my books in camp grounds and at viewpoints when chatting with folks. Folks (particularly older folks) seemed fascinated (yet so natural to me) that this single woman in her seventies would be cruising around in a big ol’ box van on her own. Conversation would lead to my past life of cruising on sailboats, and then, voila, I’d make a book sale.

I met a wonderful lady while camping on the Olympic Peninsula who invited me to park my rig on her property, reminiscent of the generosity of folks met while sailing years before. With winter coming on, it’s a good time to hunker down. But when the weather is good, I’m back sitting on street corners and at markets, meeting wonderful people, talking tales, and selling books.

After two years, still not having quite recouped my investment, I am trying to find balance. In one breath, it’s discouraging realizing that no matter how much heart, soul and skill I’ve put into Aweigh of Life, it is unlikely that I will get rich and famous. With another breath, a more invigorating one, I recognize that indeed it is up to me alone to market my book. Street corners alone won’t suffice, hence the impetus to create this web page and blog regularly, to hopefully create that buzz that puts the book into more hands. Many of the reviews I’ve received suggest this would make a great movie. Of course, I agree, but, hmm, I’m not holding my breath. From the reviews and feedback I’ve gotten, though, the praise has assured me I’ve written a book well worth reading for which I’m humbly pleased and filled with gratitude.

What can I say? I can say it’s much easier — and definitely more enjoyable — to write a book than to try to market it. So I’ll keep it short and sweet, and I will end with my last-ditch pitch: if you haven’t bought Aweigh of Life, please do. If you have bought it, please consider buying copies as a gift for whatever occasion.

Until next time, be kind.