Sunday, December 25, 2005

Oregon fog

Christmas night. We have been submerged in fog for the last few days but tonight it has lifted and the lights on the opposite hill are visible again and lovely floating in the darkness beyond the window's glass. All in all, it was a good day. We had a delicious Tofurky dinner this afternoon with family and friends and, other than the fact that I am miserable from over eating, I happily report that no animals were harmed in the making of the feast. Later on I phoned my brother. Among other things, we talked about Delicata who, at this moment, is tucked into her cozy hot hut home back in Nevada. He complained that I don't update her diary more often. I am flattered to hear he reads it at all. So, as I won't be adding an entry until I get back home later this week, I thought I'd do a quick update here. This one's for you, little brother.

Cockroach Diary 12.25.05
This Christmas is the third anniversary of Delicata, Nugget and Ha'penny joining us and this Christmas Delicata is the only one left. Nugget died this September and Ha'penny the September before. Delicata is an old lady now so this may be her last holiday but I did everything I know to make it a good one. Before we left, I gave her a sweet, fat, juicy, fresh slice of orange, her favorite.

There was, however, a small catastrophe the day before we left. I cracked the side of her terrarium when I accidentally knocked a rock off the top of it. The glass broke, exploded actually, with a terrible sound. It was such a drag. Delicata's world is a peaceful place. Plus, she is a member of an ancient species that has lived peacefully on earth since long before we swaggered out of the jungle and that will most likely live peacefully here long after we stagger off into oblivion. Thinking about her simple life gives me a bit of relief from the unrelenting, mind boggling, soul draining shit storm of human news and events. When I cracked the terrarium I not only violated her tiny sanctuary, I violated the vicarious refuge I find there. To make matters worse, like a fly to shit, Mr. Lee instantly zoomed into the room and, seeing how distraught I was, could not help suggesting that perhaps one of Delicata's tiny legs would get stuck on an edge of tape and be ripped off. Evil bastard! But the tape is tight and smooth and the cracks are contained. I ran my hand over and over the surface checking for splinters or glue and found nothing. The rest is up to the god of small beings.

Happy New Year, cracked glass and all!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Happy Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice
Text version of this poem here

I wrote this poem as poet-in-residence at Actor's Theatre in Ashland Oregon (thanks Michael) and added the graphic later. It's from a photo I took in a canyon in the Nevada Great Basin. It was a magical place, ridiculously difficult to get to even with a rugged vehicle and off-road driving experience. After a few unusually wet springs and flash flooding, I doubt access to it exists anymore.

In any case, this is my favorite holiday so.... happy winter solstice. Here's to a better world.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Found writing

I was at the second hand store the other day when a cheap little sports purse caught my eye. I like bags and am always looking for ones to add to my collection so I checked it out. In the pockets were 2 pennies (they were both heads and go towards my next hexgram from the street thing), an eyebrow brush, lots of crumbs and that rare item, a scribbled piece of "found writing", perhaps composed by the girl who formerly owned the purse.

It's a sad, little composition:

"a single diamond tear emerged from the red eyes, rolled down the bland face, and shattered into a million pieces on the rocky asphalt The wind played with her hair. She suddenly knew what to do. Her feet guided her though the Prowlers & the terrys. Row after row of trailer disappeared behind her. "Don't give me that bullshit" echoed in her head. "You can't get me now dad. I'm free," she thought."

I hope she is free, but more likely she still has a very long way to go.

Ps. The winter solstice is in 2 days. That's the center of my holiday season! Happy Winter Solstice.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Fur farm hell

Click here

Barbaric Trade

In the summer of 2005, investigators from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) traveled to an animal market in Guangzhou in Southern China and reported that:
"Dogs and cats crammed were in tiny wire-mesh cages, and were visibly exhausted. Many had been on the road for days with no food or water. Some were so lethargic they could barely move. Others were aggressive and fought constantly, having been driven insane from confinement and exposure. They were covered in gaping wounds. Many animals slowly perished in their cages; other dead bodies were piled on top of the cages. Some of the animals still had collars, a sign that they were once someone's beloved companions.

As many as 8,000 dogs and cats were loaded onto each truck in crowded cages stacked one on top of another. One by one, the cages were tossed from the top of the truck to the ground 10 feet below, often shattering the legs of the animals inside. The animals were lifted out with long metal tongs and thrown over a seven-foot fence to be killed and skinned. They were bludgeoned, hanged, boiled or bled to death, and strangled with wire nooses. Many were still alive while their skins were peeled away.

The fur stripped from these poor animals is often deliberately mislabeled as fur from another species and exported to other countries to be sold in retail stores worldwide.

In the photo on the right Rick Swain is holding the pelt of a skinned cat, Heather Mills McCartney is holding a coat made from 31 brown cats and Rick Wakeman is holding a rug made from 4 golden retriever dogs. At the conference, Struan Stevenson MEP also showed a coat made from 42 alsatian puppies.

78 animals had to suffer a cruel, vicious death to make 4 garments ....... Please help put an end to this barbaric trade.

China's official response

In November 2005, a spokesman for the Chinese Ambassador in London told BBC News,
"Though cats and dogs are not endangered, we do not encourage the ill treatment of cats and dogs . . . But, anyway, the fur trade mostly feeds markets in the US and Europe. This fur is not consumed in China. So the Americans and Europeans should accept the blame… We have no plans to clamp down on this internally that I am aware of - it is for the US and Europeans to take their own action. They should boycott fur as a fashion material."

The Chinese government's unwillingness to stop animal abuse makes them as guilty of these horrendous crimes as the people committing them. Please write a letter to the Chinese ambassador in your country and protest China's apathy and total lack of compassion for the needless suffering of innocent animals. In the US write:

His Excellency Zhou Wenzhong
Ambassador of the People's Republic of China
Embassy of the People's Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20008

202-328-2582 (fax)

Also sign the online petition
to the Chinese Embassy in the US.

Get informed. Join ban on the entire fur trade. They are deplorable relics of a savage past. Life is life. No animal should suffer living or dying in those conditions. Boycott those who support the fur trade.

Other petitions against fur traders:

EU Commissioner, Markos Kyprianou

Burlington Coat Factory

A petition to ban seal hunting in Canada

Report on the global fur industry (in German and Italian)

Information on petitions in other countries

Now that you've worked so hard signing petitions and writing letters, relax and have some fun kicking the Fur Ho's ass!

Dec. 14th speech another Bush evasion


Pres. Bush made a show of taking responsibility for invading Iraq under "wrong intelligence" in his speech today. It was just another carefully worded evasion of the truth. Bush and Company didn't invade Iraq under "wrong intelligence". They made up the so-called "wrong intelligence". In other words, they lied to the American people about Suddam Hussein in order get support for their invasion of Iraq. When will people get that through their heads?

The fact is Suddam Hussein had NOTHING to do with the terrorist network. Bush and Company are oil men. They are the ones who sell us gasoline. They wanted to secure the oil fields of Iraq for their personal ecomomic advantage, i.e. to stay billionaires as long as possible as oil reserves dry up. They tried when Bush Sr. was in power but Sr. had enough sense to see we can't conquer Iraq. Iraq is at war with itself. Attacking Iraq only means inheriting its ongoing civil war. Saddam, bad as he was, kept that at a simmer. Bush is like a guy who throws a brick at a bee hive so he can steal the honey. It's stupid and dangerous. You can't win in a fight with a swarm of pissed off bees. It's stupid and dangerous. There are smart ways to do business with bees. Bush is a stupid thief and a traitor. I'll listen to him when he takes responsibility for the outing of CIA undercover agent Valerie Plame. Not a second before.

We need leaders who will stimulate the development of alternate forms of energy instead of miring us in an unwinnable war for what's left of dinasaur oil.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Virgin of Guadalupe's day

Today is the anniversary of the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe 464 years ago. She is much loved, especially in Mexico where the day is observed all over the country with festivals. Mexicans have parades and celebrations constantly anyway but today is an extra special day. The Virgin of Guadalupe is the patron saint of the country. I decided in her honor to post a few of the photos I took when we drove to the Yucatan this fall. Her image is everywhere but on the mudflaps of trucks.

As the story goes, she appeared on the hill of Tepeyac, once the site of a temple to the Aztec mother-goddess Tonantzin. She told the pious Aztec convert Juan Diego to go to Bishop Zumarraga in Mexico City and tell him that she wanted a church built there. Juan Diego did as he was asked but naturally the Bishop rejected the request. He insisted on a miracle for collateral. The next day she filled Juan Diego's cloth roses that did not grow in December and when they spilled out at the feet of the Bishop, her now famous image was imprinted on the cloth. I've left out a few details but that's the gist of things.

I'm not into organized religion. It's corrupt, violent and dependent on TV, the bigger the screen the better. But I do like the Lady of Guadalupe. She is kind and she is safe. I guess you could say I'm an informal Guadalupanan, if I got the word right. I am also an informal Buddhist, an informal Taoist etc. I take what I like, what works and leave the rest. And I'm a crank. I can't help wondering if old Bishop Zumarraga didn't "convert" her message to better serve the land grab and genocide the church and Spain were in the middle of. After all, she looked Aztec and spoke Nahuatl. Why would she encourage barbaric foreigners who where plundering her native land and killing her people to build their church on top of a the pyramid of the goddess Tonantzin, a place sacred to her people? The bloody record of religious crusades, past and present, is proof that mixing wealth, political power and religion is an extremely toxic combination.

In any case, these days the old, bureaucratic Church still does it's damnedest to own her, but I don't believe it can. The Virgin of Guadalupe is independent, something they despise. They tolerate her because she is the refuge of the soul of Mexico. Anyway, whatever happened or didn't happen on December 12, 1531, today is her fiesta. Hope you had a good day.

Friday, December 9, 2005

International Animal Rights Day

To live is so startling
it leaves little time
for anything else.
-- Emily Dickinson

Ethics and society.

December 10th, is International Animal Rights Day. Light a candle. Write a letter. Make a donation. Sign this petition. Give your pet an extra pat.

McDonald's scalds chickens alive to make their McNuggets. Labs and schools dissect animals while they are still alive and fully conscious. Unimaginably cruel tests that are redundant, unnecessary or merely padding for an institution's research budget continue to be performed on animals around the clock. If you don't believe in this, sign the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights . Contrary to public assumptions, vivisectionists are not strictly regulated. The reality is that in the lab virtually anything goes, and animal researchers are a law unto themselves. For example, New York's Columbia University is guilty of committing grotesque abuses to animals in their laboratories including routinely performing invasive surgeries and leaving the helpless, suffering animals to die in their cages without any painkillers.

In labs worldwide, animals are cut open, poisoned, and forced to live in barren steel cages for years, although studies show that
because of vast physiological variations between species, human reactions to illnesses and drugs are completely different from those of other animals. This is beyond barbaric.

Today's non-animal research methods are humane, more accurate, less expensive, and less time-consuming than animal experiments, yet change comes slowly and many researchers are still unwilling to switch to superior technological advances. Animal experimentation is not only preventing us from learning more relevant information, it continues to harm and kill animals and people every year. read more

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Christmas past

judybluesky recently posted about the "sense of need that I will never forget". It got me thinking about Christmases past. When my kids were little I was a single mom and we were desperately poor. Yes, we all had feet and we all had shoes and we had a roof over our heads. I don't take that for granted but I couldn't even afford to buy new shoelaces. I pulled them off of the shoes that ended up in the Co-Op free box. You can pontificate all you want about "true spirit", Christmastide around our house was always a bit sad.

In a good year I might manage to save up fifty bucks by Thanksgiving for Christmas gifts but that money had to be spread between several people. I was always, and to this day, too ashamed to tell my sister I couldn't afford to exchange gifts so, besides my own three kids, I bought presents for her, her husband, their three kids and my brother. Actually they all came first because their gifts had to be mailed. Everybody got shitty, little things from the second hand store. I admit I didn't want to abandon the tradition because my sister sent nice things which was a big treat for the kids. Not only did they get something new and cool, they got cash and, more importantly, they were reminded that they were part of a bigger family that also loved and cared for them. My sister also occasionally sent us a supermarket gift certificate, her way of making sure the kids got a hearty holiday meal and, I suppose, that I didn't blow the Christmas dinner money on booze. My brother sent cash for Christmas. Sometimes it was a hundred, sometimes two but it was more likely to arrive on Christmas eve or after Christmas than before. That genuinely sucked. I needed it to buy the "real" gifts for the kids.

To brighten the holidays I went to the Welfare office every year and signed the kids up to receive presents from the "Tree of Joy". Perhaps you know how that works. Children are represented on the tree by little tags that say things like, "Girl, age 9 - Likes books and games" with addendums like, "Needs winter hat" added at the prompting of a grown-up. That kind of thing. Good hearted people in the community pick a tag and buy that child a gift. A few days before Christmas, a smiling old couple would appear at our door, usually Soroptomists, with three gifts. They were very nice. It was very embarrassing for the whole family but I couldn't talk myself out of these sad attempts to make Christmas look "normal". I also signed up for the Welfare department's Christmas food voucher. But, in spite of my efforts, Christmas was never the best of times.

This is my twentieth sober holiday season. The kids are grown and gone on to their own lives. Life is generally good these days but for the shame and regret I have over my failings as a parent and that (horrible) "sense of need I will never forget" that judybluesky mentioned. It's irrational but I sometimes feel apologetic that my standard of living has so dramatically improved since those days. I wish the changes had come sooner, when the kids were still little, but things happen in their own time. It's better today so we go from here. Besides what choices do I have? Like they say, reality is for people who can't handle drugs.

I didn't go with the bird party photo for the birthday card the other day. I used this one instead.

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Task of the day

I begin with what must be done, carving it out of all that should be done. And among what must be done I look for a thread with which to unravel that crucial first step because without defining a simple starting place I will get nothing done, no matter how urgent. I have come to accept this about myself.

Today the time-sensitive task is making a birthday card and wrapping the present and, most important, mailing them by the end of the day. I already have the gift. I need the card so the first thing I have to do is select the photo. I am thinking about using this one that I took last winter but perhaps it's not right? I have one hour. If I accomplish this, I will count the day personally productive. A small measure for a priceless and irreplacable day in one's life but nevertheless it is the task of this day.

In case you're wondering, I have already done other things today. It is not that I just woke up from too much sleep, or sobered up to be overwhelmed by the life awaiting me. No. But I am in shock at all the Xmas tasks awaiting me on the living room floor, the piles of gifts sorted out by name and family. And my motto for the season is "keep it simple". But today, the birthday gift must go and to that end so must I.

Monday, December 5, 2005

Street scenes, Mexico

Here are a couple of photos I took in Mexico recently. To me, these two particular images have a lot in common.

Saturday, December 3, 2005

No exit strategy


Which idiot would make a better president:
Alfred E. Newman or George W. Bush?

(I realize it's a tired old comparison
but we still haven't gotten it right. Otherwise,
why don't we impeached the bastard?)

Here's a nice photo from showing Mr. Spaz and President Hu Jintao sharing a chummy photo during Bush's recent visit to China. Now check out our dingbat President struggling to get off the stage in this clip at This man is our "leader".

Alfred E. Newman? George W. Bush? Who would be a better president? After all, Alfred doesn't even exist. No problem. Neither one of them are real. They are both idiot media creations. Alfred. at least, would be doing a lot better job than Dubya. He isn't a draft-dodging, war mongering traitor, liar, high roller religious freak.

Friday, December 2, 2005

Perspective shift

What do these trailers for the movies The Shinning and West Side Story have in common with Republican politics? Check 'em out. It's all spin in the spin zone.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Home again

We're back from the Yucatan. Over the all, we drove about 10,000 miles so my photo to miles ratio held at 1+:1, the 1+ plus being the number of photos and the 1 being the mileage. Not bad. I've deleted a lot and will delete many more. Then there are the ones that make sense only to me. I'll keep those. Among the remainder, there are a few worthy of presenting to you, the rare, much appreciated, occasional visitor to this tiny outpost border crossing. Also, naturally, I have a few things to say about the trip and, for your traveling convenience, I have compiled a list of tips for people brave enough to leave the gringo trail and travel in real Mexico. All this to come. At the moment, I must get coffee. Outside of tourist joints it is nearly impossible to get a good cup of coffee in Mexico, the land of coffee, a fact I find nearly impossible to comprehend.

Get it RIGHT. Get us OUT.


Go sign the petition at Tell Congress to get us out of Iraq. I did. Here's my letter:

"Get us out of Iraq NOW. We should have NEVER gone there in the first place. You were all FOOLS to go along with Cheney and Bush. Now get it right. Get us out!"

It only takes a few minutes and it is the very least we can do so now you send one.