Saturday, October 30, 2010

Truly scary

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless' website "approximately 3.5 million people, 1.35 million of them children, are likely to experience homelessness in a given year (National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, 2007)." While there are many, many reasons people are homeless (mental illness, eroding working opportunities, foreclosures, decline in public housing, lack of affordable healthcare) the problem is nevertheless a visible reminder of America's shame. The wealthiest country in the world and yet we continue to have people sleeping on the streets, in the alleys and under our overpasses. In Key West, the weather is generally balmy and pleasant for outdoor living. In Colorado, people die each year from the bitter cold. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Life in the fast lane...

Life in any metropolitan area is about getting places. And getting there as quickly as possible...
You drop the kid(s) off at school... 
and head off for a busy day: housework, work, or before you get to any of that, if you live in the Mile High city you may very well hit the exercise trail

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Warm waters

The Great Mother's opus surrounds me, her hand's creative juices have been flowing, her painter's pallet magnificently crowning the end of the season. The beauty moves me beyond speech yet I cannot fully bask in the day's glory and I walk amidst the golden leaves of autumn with trepidation.
 Winter creeps upon me in the shadow of this day with it's icy cold fingers, settling down in the marrow of bone with the finality of dusk. Spring, like the sun, will eventually burst forth again, but 'twixt now and the vernal equinox I will face the dark night of the soul, long moments of restlessness and my phantoms in the deep hours of darkness. 
Once upon a time the chill smothered me in twilight and wakefulness, in the few hours that were light, were more akin to half-stumbling than walking through life. As the days lengthened and the glacial temperatures gradually faded, I would reawaken to life again, basking in the sun's warming rays but each winter brought with it a new cycle of internal deadness and the fear of the coming annihilation is what keeps me from reveling in the elegance of the season.  
And so it went... until a few years ago, when on a cold February day, I packed my bags, jumped on a plane along with Mo (and because of Mo) and his two sons, and landed for the first time in Key West,

 there to discover a cobalt blue sky and waters as warm as the air... while a pile of snow stood on the lee of the house here in Denver. I stood on the beach in stunned amazement as sunlight tiptoed on the waters surface and coruscated back to it's source. I lazed in warmer waters than were to be found in the middle of summers in the Rocky Mountains.

 I was enchanted! Dorothy in Oz, I would have been happy to refuse the offer of the red slippers to take me home, to stay on the pebbly shores of Zachary Taylor Beach for the rest of my life, to recline in the sun's warmth far away from winter's grip and give the whole concept of Seasons and Cold a hearty "Eff Off!!!"
Unfortunately, sometimes it's simply too late to give up everything and trot off to join L'Opera national de Paris-- sometimes you're simply too old or the time has passed. I wasn't (and am not) independently wealthy and the prospect of working two (or three) jobs to "live the dream" in Key West sounded more like torment than chimera. So to the "real" world where I already had a home and job I reluctantly returned.          
But Key West has engraved itself on my soul. And when winter's bitter bite reminds me of the harshness of the night, I am cheered by the memories of a place at the End of the World. The song of an island that marches to it's own time and space, where the waters are always warm, and the breeze that blows is flowing from the gulf stream. Magical things happen there... you aren't surprised when you hear whispers of a Green Flash in the sky or reports of wizards or elves hiding in the rocks on Zachary Taylor Beach.
 For my part...          
 I am no longer afraid of the dark nights of the soul that take me down in the long hard months of winter anymore.    

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Following a voice that speaks to her more deeply than any god, the lumbering female slips onto the beach long after the beach combers have packed up their towels, picnics and sand trowels and headed home for dinner. She sniffles around for some moments, nauseated perhaps by the remnant of the days activities, in search of an unsoiled spot. Finally satisfied she settles in and digs, hind flippers a flappin', a deep enough hole to provide a sandy womb for her centaplets (100+). After some time her quiet labor is finished and she blankets her unborn in their sandy nest. She pats it smooth until it is nearly invisible to the untutored eye, gazes down and gives a final silent farewell. She turns back to her watery home as the voice from within assures her that the unborn will hatch, waddle to the water and follow her and the other sea turtles out into the deep where they will rollick and roll on the waves, swim among the jellyfish and graze on sea grass. The sea turtle lives on...  

for today

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What is your perspective?

It is amazing how perspective changes things: Tall and lithe, a living breathing tree among mammals, the giraffe is bending down to look at the world under his feet. 
But step back and allow the camera to put this statuesque creature in his proper context, and the towering giant becomes a bantam baby standing next to another stunted sibling just older than him/herself- both standing next to a tree that is often the feeding post of the older and taller clan. 
It's all about your frame of reference. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

The coin

         A penny lay on the pavement unnoticed by most, but the coin collector spotted it amidst the yards of pavement and bent down to pick it up. "Guess what year?" He held it up so she could scrutinize it's smooth edges and dark coppered tinting.
          "1986" a random guess as good as any other she shrugged.

          "Close. 1982... If you could go back, what three things would you do differently?" An everyday question that had no everyday answer.

          1982.... the world turned upside down and inside out and wrongside up.

          "I'd change... everything." No place to begin or end in this story. "Everything needed to change.You?"

          He shrugged. "Dunno. Not much. Nothing really, I guess. It was good."

          "You were fortunate. Most of us have something we wish we could change" She noted the obvious and they walked down the street, their arms around each other in a deep silence that held regret, satisfaction, contentment and love.    

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Death and Politics at the end of the world

This is an excerpt from my first chapter of 'Death and Politics'. My character is going home to Key West (where else?) and nothing has been explained so you're not missing pieces- it's all being introduced a little bit at a time right here. I have adapted this a bit because there is more going on than there is space here for but I am interested in hearing what my blogging friends think of this so far. Feedback would be lovely!

The initial moments of my entrance onto the island were always cacophonous and strengthening. I ease my vice grip on the wheel, clicking the red ruby slippers of memory. “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”
Involuntarily, yet necessarily
drawn to the water,
I drive. 

            Past the turn in to an abandoned bar;
                                                past palm and pond;
            past bougainvillea and banyan;
and finally,
 past the fort . . .
past the past.
Bread crumb colored shoreline nearly deserted.
The gulf breeze tousles my hair
I come to myself, agape… 

 “So you come to the end of the world, Child,” a lyrical voice breaks my reverie “What you think you’re going to find here?”
            The question hovers, a sparrow caught in a headwind. 

            “Trying to find yourself?” She emphasizes ‘find’ with a tangy lilt that exposes the question’s banality.

            I squint, amused that she is so dispositioned to entice consumers, approaching them regardless of their susceptibility. “What are you selling, Grandma?”

            Her fake grin dissolves. Thick webs of tangled braids oscillate around her counterfeit affability. She smiles wryly. “Lookin’ to tell Martha Money how she will meet the love of her life.”

            “I’m not interested in having my fortune told. Save it for Martha and the rest of the rubes.”
 A lobster-colored young couple lies motionless side by side. An elderly woman creeps to the concession stand. Gentle waves lap onto the beach and I long to be enveloped in their welcoming embrace.  
            “You’ll find many things- here - at the end of the world, child…” Her voice blends into the music of the beach and I turn back away from the beckoning waters for the time being. My senses are awakened by the metallic melody of bicycle bells, the roll of engines, searing sidewalks, and piquant seafood- I was home and I turn toward the parked car to finish my journey.

*Picture painted by talented artist (and my friend!) Amanda Wiese 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Delicious days. . .

I often go walking on the every other Friday I have off after I drop my son off at school-- I take my camera with the intent of adventuring and finding the world in a different light so that I can write about it. 
Today I will not compete with his quiet majesty.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What I'm reading...

I work in Libaria-- a foreign land that used to have the reputation as a Source of Knowledge and a Place to Store Books for the common use. Unfortunately Libaria has fewer and fewer books and the books that are kept here are of poorer and poorer quality (and I am not talking about having tattered covers- I speak of the content). Keeping older books because they have value as research material is out of vogue and if a book has not been used recently, it will find it's way to the boxes marked with red labels "To: CEN: Disposal"  On maps Libaria might look quite large yet the fact of the matter is that Libaria is shrinking like an argyle sweater in the dryer. However as an employee of Libaria I or my coworkers do still occasionally run into the rare bird: Real Literature or Books of Idea or History and as a result we can wind up with too many books on our nightstands to read.

And I thought I would share my reading list with you because right now I have an exceptional piece of fiction to share...
The Place in Flowers Where Pollen Rests

"Radiating from the Hopi mesas of Arizona, this is a novel of voices, of men and women and gods -- a pagan chorale dominated by two extraordinary misfits. George The Place Where Pollen Rests is a mighty artist, a legendary carver of Kachina dolls who, now blind and ailing, is strangely animated by his approaching death. He continues to carve and to tell his stories, at peace within the realm of myth, a whirligig existence crammed with Hopi gods and ghosts. There to tend to his illness is Oscar Beautiful Badger Going Over The Hill, but it is Oswald who is most in need of healing. Tormented by an obscene tragedy that has driven him from a career in Hollywood's low-budget porn films, Oswald now longs to unlock the wisdom of George. But his spiritual odyssey must reach beyond his uncle's death-- to the hell of Vietnam and back again-- and to search among the stars before he finds a vision of his soul."~cover description.

I actually own this one because I also go to bookstores and check out the shelves. (I believe this one was a gift from Mo) But I can't read this when I am tired or too mind weary so I needed something a little less mentally challenging and since I was headed to Key West for vacation and had already done some reading on Hemingway in Key West, I thought I would do a larger work on Hemingway. So I am also reading this:
But then a favorite author came out with a new book and I always enjoy a book at lunchtime so I checked it out--- (picture below in Oct 17th blog entry) Hitch-22 Christopher Hitchen's memoir. He was diagnosed with cancer in his esophagus as the book was released and we have since learned that he is dying with great courage. His is a poignant story that is worth reading though while writing not thought to be over.
And then I heard that Robert Reich was going to have a new book coming out and I quickly ordered that from libaria so that I could receive it upon release. It arrived last week and now I have this in my book bag. Libaria is perfect for a book like this as it is probably a little too Current Eventy to really purchase but it looks quite interesting if you have any interest (which I do) in the current economic crisis and how we can make the world a more equitable place. 
And then today I got another new book in that I have been looking forward to reading...
 But that doesn't even count the books that I purchased at the bookstores we frequent as frequently as possible. Most recently I found a hilarious book by Mark Leyner that I will be reading soon, I hope, and another by Don Delillo... (no descriptions as I haven't the time, I'm too busy with my other books right now! Suffice it to say that both books look terrific)
So many books, so little time!!! 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bookworms in Key West

Not being your typical touristy types, we do find some of the restaurants that are considered tres-tourist  appealing. And Hemingway's house and the Lighthouse are our embarrassing "Raise-your-hand-if-your-a-tourist" must sees. But, we are not terribly likely to spend our money on the Sunset tours that abound just offshore each evening, preferring instead to watch the sunset at Zachary Taylor Beach. And we are not likely to find ourselves on the glass bottomed boat  peering down into the water with crowds of other looky-looers at the sea life as it was more fun to snorkel at the beaches and gaze at the sponges and sea urchins (watch where you step!) at our leisure up and even a bit too close and personal for comfort in some cases. The Nurse shark!!! we swam some yards from was fairly spectacular! And another day at Zachery Taylor I swam just above a large school of fish and watched two bright blue fish stalking them, clearly waiting and watching for a chance to snag a snack.(My camera isn't so high tech that it does underwater shots and I don't think a disposable water camera would have done any good so, alas, no pictures) But we also spent a lot of time zipping from one end  of the island to the other on these...
Scooter cam 
Most years we rent bicycles and find that an adequate means to get from place to place if we aren't going too far afield. But our last trip to the Southernmost we did a bit more toing and froing and rented a scooter to share for several days and found it was great fun We were able to tool around from one end of the isle and found some sanctuaries unavailable to mere pedalers. 
We were not alone in our scootering as you can see! Key West is a bicycle/scooter friendly island and is, in indeed, hostile to the auto. It's hard, if not downright impossible, to park your nonresidential motor vehicle and the island is so small that it seems superfluous to waste so so much of your island time looking for a place in the roasting and humid sun to park your then too-hot-to-sit-in automobile once you do find a parking spot.
So why exactly would you drive on the Southernmost island when you can scooter in around in your flip flops with your arms around your boyfriend singing a song or kissing his neck?
So as we do-do-do-do-do around the island letting the gulf breeze blow through our hair, we might pass an antique store or this...
And we, being the book nerds we are, will always risk tumbling head over heels to find a parking spot and hit the shelves here (hint: scooters are not bikes and will be ticketed if you attach them to a bike rack)   
All the lovely, lovely books. Row after row, shelf after shelf. We scan and scour, root and rummage, poke and probe in hope of finding some treasure that we might not have at home...
 perhaps a treasure such as this
In the inkblot test of vacation and hot tourism spots, it is probably no surprise to anyone that a majority of people see keys, palms, think of west and sees limes throughout the test (okay it's not a scientific study). Although the little isle doesn't have the svelte white sandy beaches that other cities of the Sunshine state cities advertise nor does it offer the body to body crowds that also greet the beach comber. But when it comes to the books, the Southernmost city has the Southernmost party with books going on! LOL 
I am such a nerd!!! 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My son and I

My son and I often stand together 
looking down at the world, 
he in awed amazement 
at the new little universe 
he's discovered 
under his feet 
and I in delight at his wonder 
and astonishment 
each new bonanza brings.    

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Women of world unite?

In the October edition of Harper's magazine in an essay called "American Electra: feminism's ritual matricide", Susan Faludi attempts to address the ongoing antagonisms within the feminist movement. Using examples from recent events she's participated in as well as including her attendance at the National Organization for Women (a.k.a. NOW) in 2009, she shows the rift at it's most raw. The power struggle between young and old (2nd & 3rd wave feminists) brings the organization to the brink of disruption and it remains unclear if the younger generation, who lost the battle at the 2009 convention, will remain with the organization. At the root of the problem, according to Faludi, is the loss of respect that women held in the home prior to the 20th century. Looking back over the history of the women's role in the home, she claims that as advertising and mass media begin an assault on motherhood at the beginning of the 1900s, the mother's role as authority over her children was disrupted, and the place she held as guide and role model, particularly with her daughters, was broken. 

Citing Life Magazine covers from the 1920s, one from October 28 (above & right) juxtaposed by the "new woman" that was displayed six years later on New Years Eve (left), she shows the shifting images women were seeing around them. In addition to the flap over flappers, 1921 introduced American women to the Miss America pageant. Here she says, "the prevailing pageantry of the 1920s wasn't simply an infantilization of the girl. It was, more ominously, an eviction of the mother." She goes on to detail how this eviction resulted in an ongoing dispute between mother and daughter that continues to march on through time bringing us back to the NOW conference where the younger generation is in an uproar and part of that uproar is essentially, or ostensibly, all about sex. But the older generation is not about to give in to a generation that is ungrateful and all about "girl power" and the younger generation is not about to stand down when they are used to having things go their way (we are nothing if not predisposed to letting youth lead the way) so the fight seems predestined to continue on toward future conflict. "So what is the answer to this quandary?" One is left wondering. Faludi's answer is a resounding Education. Women's history and studies, she claims are the answer to the problem while admitting that fewer and fewer programs are being run in higher institutions as the essay concludes with a resounding jingle.


It was at this point that my opinion diverged like the path in the proverbial wood from that of Ms. Faludi. While I will never disagree with the need to remind our children, 3rd, 4th, or indeed 5th wave, and for that matter male or female, of history and the struggles that have come before. It is an  American flaw that is as wide as the Grand Canyon itself that fails to grasp the importance of history, to treasure it, to own it and indeed LEARN from it. No indeed, I would never disagree for the call for higher education of the youth of America especially where it comes to relearning the truth about our history. However I would like to add that this  younger generation of women do indeed have a point in claiming that sexuality is part of the problem. The older generation of feminists have fallen prey to the puritanistic roots of our past and too often made the younger generation feel ashamed of their sexuality rather than powerful and beautiful and sexual. In search of this beauty and sensuality, younger women have exchanged a tawdry bawdiness perhaps as a result of youth and a lack of guidance from mothers who might have been better prepared in other times. In other cultures women worshipped the Moon goddess and weren't afraid of their sexuality or sensuality. But in American in the 1800s mothers were a reflection of a deeply embedded puritanism that arrived on our shores at its inception and was only reinforced with witch burnings. It is no surprise that as the doors opened to the wilder sexuality of the 1900s, that this younger generation was anxious to leave their corseted pasts behind them. No, I would say, it was not as a result of the mass media as much as a opening of long locked doors that could simply not remain locked any longer. 

But my disagreement doesn't end here. Christopher HItchens, in his memoir, Hitch 22 recalls to readers his disgust at finding the feminist movement and the Civil rights movement (or any movement for that matter) breaking into splinter groups -finding separate identities that could only be spoken for by members of the group itself. He doesn't address the result of this fracturing but it was a poignant reminder that at one time the woman's movement was a powerful force in the abolitionist movement and at one time black and white marched together to bring civil rights to this country. (Small aside: highly recommended reading)

A few weeks after reading the Hitchen's quote, I was moved by a dramatic presentation now on video inspired by Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States and Voices of a People's History of the United States. As I watched the struggles of the different  groups spring to life through the different readings, I was struck  by how our history in the United States has been one long struggle to obtain the rights of one group or another. But what was impressed upon me was that it was not Black rights nor Women's history but The People's History.  The unions changed things. The women who fought for our right to vote changed things. African Americans who stood locked arms when water was fired at them changed things. And it was people- men, women, children, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, standing together who changed things.

The NOW organization may fall apart and Feminism itself may become extinct because the older generation has been a leading generation of voices to say that only women can speak for women. Is it any wonder that their younger counterparts refuse to listen to them? Many African-American groups see a similar division in their groups and hear similar complaints. Will they stand? It seems most likely that sub groups that focus on individual needs or complaints will form leaving the whole weaker than it was. It appears, at this point in history, that it will take some time for the people to remember that we are a People and not simply a group of specialized interests. We are all in this together and if we will not link arms to stand together-- then as a wise sheriff once said, "We are all interdependent. One falls, many fall." 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Sun's Opus

In the final minutes 
of the day, 

we sit in quiet solemnity
bathing ouselves in the 
champagne-tinged glow 
trickling down through 
the elongated shadows of shore pine 
The sinewy limbs of the trees sway
in the breeze 
 embering lights 
lick our faces and eyes, 
dappling our bodies 
sunflames embed deeply in flesh 

Apollo’s fiery fingers open 
a rift in the clouds 
gloriously engorge themselves 
across the darkening blue
we sit in quiet solemnity
watching as the horizon coaxes
the last droplets of blue from the sky

Friday, October 15, 2010

Random fun

Perambulating, parking or putting around the Southernmost streets of the Southernmost island (Hawaii is really the southernmost state and could easily tell Key West to bugger off but perhaps they are still not as proud to be a US citizen state as we would like them to be) one sees a variety of variation. Fine dining? Perhaps a rooster roaming nearby--
Toish and froish he wandereth, seemingly unfettered by bounderies...  
but then turned back apparently suffering from a lack of interest in the world outside of his little domain (not unlike many humans) or perhaps  
he was afraid of becoming someone's fricassee.  There definitely didn't seem any parental obligation to hasten back to (not on his part anyway). 
Zipping down the street I pause to view a cement wall around a yard that gives new meaning to to the term "private fence". I am not sure what they are afraid of... perhaps roosters.
 Petite lizards abound and fleetly flee past your feet  
Having lost my way, I looked helplessly around and saw this: plenty of directions but no help for where I was, sadly.  

A strange fowl in the yard of the courthouse feasting and feasting, like the Whos on Roast beast. 
(maybe a white pelican???)
And perhaps if you want to bring the arctic to the tropics, this is the perfect way to do it. 
Had I ventured on Duval at night, wilder pictures would have been mine for the taking. But that would just be too easy! 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Go Mr. Grayson!

Fighting the good fight is Mr Grayson of Florida. I received this e-mail from his campaign today and hope you can take the time to look it over and sign the letter if you are so moved:


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