Tag Archives: SephiPiderWitch

The Silencing of Justice

ProtestIt was another day, another failure to indict a cop for the killing of a citizen.  There are protests taking place all over the country.  Thankfully, most of them seem to be more peaceful this time than the ones in Fergusen.  I have been feeling the need to express how I feel about all of this and struggling to find the words or know where to even begin.

First, I think I need to say that I am not going to approach this from making a statement as to the guilt or innocence of any of the parties involved.  What we know of the situations is what we are given by the media.  And information from the media is always, always tainted to whatever they feel will sell the most papers, glean the highest ratings.   So, I am not going to focus on whether any of these men were guilty, innocent or even venture a guess to who held and to what extent they held any culpability in the events.

My biggest concern is what has happened, or rather not happened, in the aftermath of these killings.  Because, killings happen every day.  They happen in the home, they happen on the streets, and they happen at the hands of “public servants”.   And I think that is the main area where my concern lays.  Because, I found the need to put public servants in quotation marks.  For it seems they no longer seem to feel that they are public servants.  Its become a systemic problem, starting from the bottom and continuing all the way to the highest ranks in Congress.  And the reality is that both sides need to take responsibility for this breakdown.

One cannot argue that police are capable of abusing the power of their uniforms.  This has been a problem probably since the first creation of a police department.  Its a position of power, and there are always those that will abuse it.  The question is, is it worse now than it has ever been.  I’m not sure.  Statistics list that between 500 and 1000 people are killed each year by police.  That number is more than the number of soldiers that were lost in the war in Iraq, more than were lost in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Departments are not required to submit information about their use of force.  I think that bespeaks a problem.

There are protests continuing around the country.  And to an extent, I feel this is a good thing.  But, where I see the problem is that protests tend to run out of steam.  The cause is often forgotten.  They are not long term fixes for the abuses of power.  Because the abuses are much farther reaching than what the protests are addressing and I believe ignoring the extent will only further erode our rights and freedoms.

Police are almost never charged with abuse of power.  At the very most, the departments are ordered to look at their procedures.  Things clean up for a while.  There may be a few people that lose their jobs.  Politicians no longer tell you what they will do to clean up the abuse on the streets.  They now simply tell you what their opponent did not do, could not accomplish.  And the air waves are full of so many people preaching their own brand of hate, blame, bias and intolerance.    We have politicians trying to insert their own brand of religion into our government and the right to discriminate against anyone that doesn’t fit their brand’s acceptable model.

It seems to be a no win situation.  It makes you want to just bury your head in the sand and never come back out.  To be honest, I have lived through times where such biases were part of everyday life.  I don’t want to again.

Its so easy to point fingers in all of these situations.  To say the police are wrong, to say the victims are wrong, the politicians are wrong, etc.  But, all of us hold a piece of the responsibility in the degradation that is taking place in our society.  Whether it be through acts of hate, or inaction.  We have created the climate.  We are seeing the fruits of those labors.  But, as is generally the case, we seek an immediate answer to a series of problems that have been brewing for years.  But, the change will happen, if it does, the same way we got here.  One step, one change at a time.

I listened to an interesting podcast a few days ago by a man named Bart Campola.  What he said, though it didn’t have anything to do with the current demonstrations, still had much to do with the current demonstrations as well as what has happened to our society.  Its true that we have become and are becoming more and more of a secular society through the years.  That’s not a bad thing, in and of itself.  But, what is a bad thing is that we have released the connection with others in letting go of our beliefs in the supernatural.  And it is through those bonds, those connections that we create community and make change.  We did it in the 60’s and 70’s with the Summers of love, with community projects, outreaches, organizing.  And what change was made during that time!  The embracing of peoples of color, religions, sexuality.  It utterly changed the landscape of the world as we know it in an handful of years.

And then we got busy with other things and forgot about making a better world and thought only about buying a bigger house or where our next vacation was going to be.  We got richer.  We got greedier and we gave up community in exchange for the new and improved American dream.  And it was all about the individual and we forgot we were part of the community of man.

Then the towers fell, Wall Street fell and those in power seized the opportunity to recreate the world in their own image.  We gave up our freedoms for the illusion of safety.  The elected said we will pass this bill to protect the citizens even though we have not read it and they made it so.  And they gave powers to the police they had not had before.  And they gave military equipment to the police, who were not military.  And many believed it good that we were so well protected by these newly re-armed police.  And we put in office people who said they would make government smaller, care for us, represent us.

And we saw our rights erode before our eyes.  And they fed us stories of hatred for our neighbors and our friends.  The gays, the women who wanted control of their bodies, the Muslims, the atheists, the black, the immigrants.  And they brought in the preachers and the speakers from the lower levels to take up the causes.  So, each was only preaching for the rights of their small group.  The black preacher was condemning the gays, the women.  The white preacher was condemning the Muslim, seeding fear of any person of color, damning the gays.  They fractured and they split and they shattered.  And no one knew who to trust.

We made a step with Occupy.  But, it lost its momentum.  I believe this was because there was no real leadership in it.  That was one of the primary things in it, was that there were to be no leaders.  Leaders are needed.  But, leaders that answer to the needs and wants of the group they represent.  The problem with Occupy is they didn’t understand that.  They didn’t have leaders.  They didn’t have goals.  They didn’t have direction.  And you can’t win a campaign without those things.  They lacked the cohesive glue that holds a movement together.  They lacked the structure that creates a community.

The 60’s and 70’s with all its promiscuity, drug experimentation, insanity, did have all of those.  Granted, there wasn’t a single leader in it.  But, there were leaders.  There were communities.  There were goals.  Ending the war in Viet Nam.  Women’s rights.  De-segregation.  And in most of it, they all held hands together.  They were in it together.  And they changed the world.

The side of power is winning because we are wandering like chickens with our heads cut off.  We march in the streets and then next week or next month, we go back to whatever we were doing before.  We ignore our neighbors, we anesthetize ourselves with electronics and we stay home on election day because we convince ourselves that our vote doesn’t matter or its too much trouble to turn off long enough to go to the polls. We have effectively told those in power that we don’t care what they do.

And so, they are doing whatever they want.  With the knowledge that we aren’t going to do anything about it.  We aren’t going to vote them out of office.  We aren’t going to take the time to understand the system enough to know who is responsible for what.  All we will do is throw a tantrum for a few days and then forget about it.  We’ve been doing it for quite a few years now.

Those that have the greatest long term vested interest in what will happen to their world, the young people are turning out in fewer and fewer numbers every year to vote.  This last term, they showed at 13% of those that were registered to vote.  And even as they complain about things like student loans, gay rights, voter right infringements, they still do not show at the polls.  And then when it blows up in their faces, and the powers against them begin to abuse their power, they cry foul.

The other side, however, does show up in large percentages to vote.  The ones that believe that gay marriage should be criminal, that all blacks are thugs, that women who want the right to govern their reproductive lives and their lives in general are whores, that rape victims must have done something to ask for it, that domestic abusers should have the right to carry guns, even if they have a record, that there should be no limits or restrictions on gun ownership, that you should be able to shoot someone simply because you “think” they pose a threat, but you should not be able to marry who you want or choose when its right to have a child, that arguing with a police officer is grounds for being tackled and strangled, that the President of the United States should be shot, no respect should be accorded him and calling him a nigger is part of your first amendment rights.  These people vote.  Every. Single. Time.

You don’t think your vote matters?  There is a reason it matters to them.  Because they know it counts.  And they vote.  Every time.  And they organize.  And they have a community.  Granted, its a community based on hate and bias and intolerance.  And if only hatred votes, then the laws of hatred are what will prevail.

The sad thing is that it really doesn’t seem like love is a very strong force.  And sometimes it isn’t.  Hatred is so very often far more powerful.  It is far easier to get people to take the hands of others and cross the lines to meet the eyes of a stranger in anger or fear than it is to do so in brotherhood and in love.  But, that is what we need if we want to change the climate.  If we want to change the power.  We need to build communities, not based on superstition, but on human connection.  We need to take the hand of our brothers and sisters without looking at their color, their religion (or absence of religion), their gender orientation, their hairstyle or their shoe size.

I believe there are far more of us that want an inclusive world where everyone matters.  I believe there are far more of us that want a world where it doesn’t matter how you gender identify, what color your skin is, what god or demon you follow.  I believe the 1% will cease to matter if the rest of us stand up for what our hearts tell us is right and stop listening to what Brother Loveless tells us.  And I believe it is harder for the police to brutalize when a true community exists that will call them to task.

We need to bring to light what is wrong in our communities and our power structures.  But, we also need to take responsibility to create the communities that we want.  We can’t just sit back and trust that justice will prevail.  Justice will only be as good as the elected official in charge of it.  The good of the community will only be understood if the community works together and talks.  And shows up at the polls to insure that the officials best suited to meet their needs are put in office.

I hope that maybe the good that will come out of all that has happened of late is that maybe people will realize this.  That maybe they will take back their communities.  That they will go beyond the protests in the streets to the real long term actions necessary to reclaim the government for “the people”.  And that if you don’t stand together, you will find that you are standing alone.  And that is how “they” win.


Nano Recovery

Winner-2014-Web-BannerSome insanity overtook me and I decided to enlist in the Nano madness for the first time ever.  For those not aware of it, its Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month where you commit to writing 50,000 words in the month of November.

I chose to engage in it because I have had a book idea brewing and thought it would give me the kick in the pants I needed to make a serious dent in it.  And I am very proud to say that I did indeed meet the 50,000 word count.  *Bells and whistles off in the background*  The task took me away from many things and I pretty much spent all my extra time plugging away at the keyboard.  I got none of the books I had read reviewed, haven’t gone through the photos in my camera and haven’t drawn anything.  But, I got the 50K!

That said, I am such a very long way from saying that I have a “novel”.  I have the foundation of one.  But, as in most things in my life, I seem to have bitten of a rather large bite on mine.  I have decided that before I consider plowing forward, I need to take a step back on the book and lay a bit more groundwork and decide what needs expanding and what needs some culling.  So, I will probably become a quiet subject for a while.

But, its over!  I did it!  And in the few days since, I have gotten a couple of reviews written on books I read during November.  And I plan on going through the camera this weekend.  The swans and snow geese are in and I have gotten the first batch  of pictures taken of them!  Oh, and the snow is filling up the mountains!  Very pretty!  Which caused me to sing a little ditty on the way home while waiting for a friend to pick the phone back up.  Little Christmas trees in the snow on the side of the road, covered with Christmas snow in the afternoon sun.

What a joy to live where there are seasons.  And thankfully, the rain has taken a short break giving the roads a chance to dry out  bit.


One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

1000 White WomenI believe I learned about this book through Good Reads.  The synopsis kinda sparked my curiosity, so I checked out an audio version of it to listen to while driving to and from work.

This is one of those WOW! books.  I must honestly admit that I did not expect much from the book.  I’m eating those words now.

Premise of the story is that a Cheyenne chief named Little Wolf makes a deal with Ulysses S. Grant for a trade of 1000 white women for 1000 horses.  It took a while for the logic to sink in on this.  His theory is that they wanted to make wives of the women, impregnate the women and when the children were a year old or so, send them to the white world.  This way, they would become one people as they shared blood.  Women, because they are matrilineal, so  the children belong to the women.  Once it sunk in a bit, it actually made sense.  Course, the chance it would actually work with the white man, not so likely.

I actually had to do some research to find out if this was based on fact or not.  The truth part was that the request was made.  The fiction is that Grant agreed.  At least as far as we know.

The story is told through the journal entries of May Dodd, one of the wives who had been in an asylum for promiscuous behavior (she lived with a man her family didn’t approve of and wasn’t married to).  Most of the women in the story were from similar situations such as the twins who had been in jail for prostitution, Sarah – mental hospital, Phoeme, the beautiful, powerful negress, and the rest of the misfits.

Through her diary, you get to know the outcast women that are sold off for horses and travel with them as they enter the lives of the tribe and learn the ways of the nomadic tribe.  Its a stark and beautiful portrayal of all that is good and bad in man, the beauty of the savage and the monster of the white man.  I laughed, I cried, I cheered as I went through the book.

It’s not a true story, but its written with such reality, such a feel of truth, that you walk away believing that maybe, just maybe, it might be.  Its one of the rare novels I would seek out a copy to put on my shelf so I could refer to its beautiful words often.  Well written, lyrical prose and characters that leave a deep mark in your heart.


The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The GoldfinchYou almost want to pass on writing a review of The Goldfinch.  I mean, it did win the Pulitzer Prize.  Though, I must admit.  I have tried to read a number of books that won Pulitzers or Nobels, and for the most part, don’t find them terribly interesting.  The Goldfinch was different.

First, its a bit of a massive tome.  But, it’s worth the time investment to read.  The main character of the story is Theo Decker.  Raised by a single mother, it opens with them going to the museum for the day.  One of their favorite painting there is The Goldfinch, painted in the 1600’s.

It is a wonderful, dark, real story about a boy whose mother dies while they are visiting the museum where The Goldfinch is and he leaves the museum with the painting and a ring from a dying man in one of the rooms.  He gets passed around through a couple of homes, including his estranged father and his new wife.  He also meets the partner of the man who gave him the ring at the museum and returns it to him.  This begins a friendship that last a lifetime and where he learns about the antique business.

It’s there that he meets Boris, a boy his age from Russia who introduces him to life with drugs and alcohol.  This is where the very long segments on drug usage came in.  She almost lost me on this area.  Some of it was very good, but I think maybe she could have culled it a bit.

Its a heartbreaking, tragic, joyful, redeeming, destructive, complicated story populated with characters that are real.  There are no really true heroes in the tale.  All are mostly anti-heroes.  People who react to the world around them and in which they live.  One of the more profound lessons from the book is that good deeds can often have horrifying results and sometimes bad deeds can hold very positive ones.  It is both a morality tale and an anti-morality tales.  A bit long, a bit too drawn out in areas, but otherwise a most excellent read.










The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahonThe Winter People by Jennifer McMahon was definitely an interesting read.  Its the story of the winter people, deceased who can be called back into life for 7 days.

Its a true Gothic ghost story brought forward to modern times while still stroking the romance of the Victorian gothic tale.  Jennifer has a lovely writing style and it obvious that she is a fan of the old Victorian’s love of ghost stories.  The kind that are not full of gore and blood, but  built upon mystery and the intrigue of the unknown.

The novel is told from multiple perspectives and a dual time line, those of the modern world and the voices of Sara Harrison Shea and her family through her diary which was published after her macabre murder.

Its the story of the extremes people are capable of and will go to in order to bring back and hold on to that which they love.  Its a fascinating exploration of human nature at its best and worst.  Jennifer breathes life into each of her characters and creates a bond with the reader, even to the specter.  And its an intriguing mystery, actually, mysteries.  As each of the groups has their own mystery that draws them in in the first place and through solving Sara’s mystery, they hope to solve their own.

The Winter People is a wonderful tale that reminds me that the art of weaving a finely wrought tale has not be lost.


What is Visible by Kimberly Elkins

What is VisibleAll I can say about this book is Wow!  Lyrical, haunting and pulls at every emotional string you have as it runs its course.

What is visible is the story of Laura Bridgman.  A woman I had never heard of before reading this book.  Laura was the first deaf-blind person to receive a significant education in America.  Laura was stricken with scarlet fever when she was two, taking away 4 of her senses, sight, hearing, smell and taste.  The only sense she was left with was touch.  During her life, she was referred to as the second most important  woman in the world.  Though she seems to have been lost in history, replaced by her successor, Helen Keller.Laura Bridgman2 with scarlet fever when she was two, taking away 4 of her senses, sight, hearing, smell and taste.  The only sense she was left with was touch.  She wore shades over her eyes and only a couple of people ever saw what was behind those shades.  During her life, she was referred to as the second most important  woman in the world.  Though she seems to have been lost in history, replaced by her successor, Helen Keller.

What Is Visible is told in the form of diary entries from Laura as well as all the people she interacts with the exception of her childhood friend, Tenny.  Ms. Elkins does an amazing job of giving a distinct voice to each of the characters in the book and weaving their voices in a way that brings you into the room with them and witness to their thoughts.

I think it would be very easy to find the need to portray someone as disabled as Laura in the light of a saint or martyr.  But, Ms. Elkins did not fall prey to this either with Laura nor any of the other characters in the story.  And that is what makes this such an incredible book.  The characters are very human.

Laura moves between being this intelligent rational observer of her dark world to moments of vanity and arrogance.  There are times when she shows petty jealousy, meanness and downright hatefulness.  But, in the blink of an eye, you get another insight into her where you want to cry and forgive her any and all cruel thoughts she has.

Laura Bridgman1She speaks of her impressions of the people around her, what she likes and dislikes.  Her need to touch, her only sense, often overwhelms the people around her and she is often disciplined for crawling in bed with the other girls and fondling them.  Her discipline for misbehaving is having gloves put on her hands for a unique version of time out.

Ms. Elkins creates a love affair for Laura, in the form of a servant named Kate.  And she again shone her talent here as she described the intense relationship between the two women which often migrated into the realm of S&M.  Her reasoning in the afterward was that she had to imagine that such an area would be explored as far as it could be taken with one whose only sense was that of touch.  And also given that it was well documented that Laura did “hurt herself”.  And she executes it well, creating an intense and beautifully blossomed relationship between these women.

The other voices in Laura’s life are given equal consideration.  From theLaura Bridgman “doctor” and his wife, the servants, teachers, friends.  The triumphs, frustrations, anger and disappointments, not only in Laura, but in every aspect of their lives.  It is not just a picture of Laura’s life, but equally a picture of the life of her universe, both when it is alongside her as well as when it has moved on.

I laughed, I cried, my heart sometimes sinking deep with the weight of the words.  At times, my breath was taken for a moment at the sheer beauty and wisdom of the words in this book.  Through it, I not only got a peek inside what it must be like to live your life in a form of solitude, with only one tiny gateway to the outside world, but what it was like to take the hand of that soul for just a while.

Most of the story is true and based on documented research, according to the author’s afterward.  She took some liberties, gave Laura some things she only guessed or hoped she would have experienced.  I appreciated the fact that she laid all this out in the afterward.  Because, you walk away knowing that almost all of it was real.  And you are glad for the elaborations she made, and hope, that maybe even in those, Laura was granted those boons.  They just weren’t “known”.


Deception Pass 05/24/2014

Deception Pass 05-24-2014-1Its like a house of mirrors that just seems to go on and on and on and on.  Welcome to Deception Pass.  And one of a set of bridges that gets you across it.  We didn’t get here quite as early as I had hoped we would.  First thing in the morning is one of the most magical times to see the pass as the morning mists hang over the water and hills.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-4
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-7Holy Bat Monsters Robin!  That’s the biggest fish I’ve ever seen!  Doesn’t this thing go any faster?  I think he’s gaining on us.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-8Have crack or crevice, will grow.  Stony mountainside?  Not a problem.  If there’s the tiniest fissure, green will happen.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-9Tiny lichens hanging on the branch.  Tiny lichens grabbing any line to cling to.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-12And when you find that the forest floor is too populated for your liking, you can always take root on the side of the trail.  The added benefit of this is to create worry of crushing by the hikers that walk alongside.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-20For those that need to know if they really want to take on a hike of a certain magnitude.  One is, after all, a daunting .7 miles distance.  Of course, what they don’t tell you on these signs is the elevation gain and drop on any of these.  So, the .1 mile could potentially be .1 of cliff climbing.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-26Can’t you just close your eyes and imagine those roots reaching up and wrapping around your ankles to drag you screaming into a gaping maw of earth before closing in over your head??
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-30It just looks more ancient when you strip the colors, doesn’t it?
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-32There really, really needs to be a swing from the center of this!!!  That would be an E-Ticket ride if ever there was one!!!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-41And it looks much the same after a trip backward in time.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-47And way off in the distance, you can see the prodigal son.  Looks like he is trying to figure out some fancy setting on his camera to show his mother up.  But, he is missing the gaping maw before me, which no fancy setting is a match for!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-52And there is even a treasure hidden deep in its depths.  They may look like simple beach stones to the average person, but they are really coins dating back to the caveman days and still used by our local Sasquatch communities.  They have found that the exchange value isn’t quite as good as they like when trading with the locals though.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-55Bout all you can say about this little plant is Oooooh, Ahhhh!!!  Pretty!!!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-57One more time – Ooooh!!!  Ahhhhh!!!  Pretty!!!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-60Filters are fun to play with!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-63They’re even pretty in shades of gray!  Ooooh!  Ahhh!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-67Gotta love those determined cliff clinging trees!  Its nature’s way of showing off and letting you know She can put her trees anywhere and they will be fine.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-69As it rises from beneath the rocky shores of the island, reaching out its green mandibles for unsuspecting bare toe blood sport!
He’s just a shell of his former self.Deception Pass 05-24-2014-72
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-76Okay, now if this doesn’t look like something from a scene in Dune, I don’t know what does.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-82For those who are wondering where it is the flower fairies hide when the humans are around, they have these little clifftop retreats.  This also explains the tiny acorns that get dropped on your head even though there is no wind nor oak trees around.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-85What luck!  It seems we have the fortune of being witnesses to the ever elusive dance of the wood nymph!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-91And they are known for dancing to full exhaustion.
Cute little guy, isn’t he?Deception Pass 05-24-2014-97
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-99And the nurse tree that had the boy so fascinated.  Next time, I’ll have to take him to one of the old growth trails.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-105Blends quite well with the natural wildlife, doesn’t he?
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-108Peek-A-Boo!
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-111Breathtaking, isn’t it?
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-113Pretty little flowers, all on a vine.  Pretty little fan leaves, following close behind.
That quite a long way down!!Deception Pass 05-24-2014-120
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-122Wild roses!!!  Pre-thorn era.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-124Now you didn’t think you’d get through one of my wanders without a shot of something dead or decaying, did you?
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-127Its a miniature little land within the great above.
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-132Rollin, rollin, rolling down the river!!
 Deception Pass 05-24-2014-137And this was where I learned that my son has issues with heights.  Now, I am sure I never dangled him out of a window, so I am innocent for implanting that fear in his mind.  But wait!  He flies all over the country.  He doesn’t have an issue with that?  Well, that could be because it brings back fond memories of his first plane trip where he threw his tray of food all over the stewardess.  Yes, there was a time where they did feed people full meals on flights and not just in first class.
 And yes!  The water REALLY is that color!Deception Pass 05-24-2014-141
Deception Pass 05-24-2014-143

Its one of those linear things again.  But, it does gt you to the other side!