The bunnies at Dreamland Party Pals recommend that you stay home and eat plenty of chocolate!
I’m at it again!My recent Letter to the Editor:
A difficult task
As a recovering New Yorker, I found a recent letter writer’s suggestion to have a “positive thought about Trump” difficult at best. The man was practicing unscrupulous business dealings as far back as the 1970s, with the simple objective to line his own pockets. Listing them all here would quickly exceed the 200-word limit, although I would like to point out that among other failed ventures, he lost his long-struggling Atlantic City casino in 2014. A casino! Who bankrupts their own casino? But let’s fast forward.
In 2018, the Trump administration fired the U.S. pandemic response team to cut costs.
Throughout February 2020 he continued to insist that COVID-19 was a “Democratic hoax,” leaving us ill-prepared for the crisis we now face.
He’s spread false rumors regarding vaccine availability, lashed out at reporters who ask for encouraging words for a frightened country, and claimed that he “knew about the virus a long time ago.”
Still in denial? These statements occurred live, in recent press briefings.
Enabling this kind of behavior is irresponsible and dangerous.
And yet, albeit somewhat indirect, there is one “positive thought” that comes to mind, reminiscent of a TV clown from my childhood: Bozo.
(April 3, 2020)
These, the weirdest times yet in my life, remind me of being swallowed by a giant breaker at Jones Beach as a child, tumbled for what seemed like an eternity, then spat out onto the shore, only to look up through scraggly strands of sand-laced hair and see people standing ankle-deep in the water, staring out at the sea, hardly noticing me because their attention is directed elsewhere.
I can’t seem to reconcile the image of a president who wears make-up with the leader of the free world. We find his wild lies and daily self-contradictions mind-blowing, and he looks like a pathetic clown. His supporters remain fully dug-in, as if under some kind of spell, unreachable by any apparent sense of logic or dignity. Staring out to sea.
“Oh well, civilizations come and go,” I tell myself. Maybe it’s time to hit the reset button on ours.
Need further proof?
Our beloved Possum, Ranch Boss, went over the Rainbow Bridge on Sunday, December 8. He was 11¾ years old. Of all the cats I’ve had, he was the sweetest. I can’t remember ever hearing him hiss, although in retrospect, I think he hissed at me once when I tried to give him a pill.
I adopted him and his brother Sparky from SoHumane in 2008. I'd always wanted to adopt a pair of siblings, and I could hold one of them in each hand. When I brought them home and opened the cardboard box they both leapt out like circus performers, playing, attacking and chasing each other around the house. During that first summer, I often felt as if I were in the middle of a bar fight.
Possum had a fascination with licking things. Many a morning I would wake to find that my hair had been licked into bizarre shapes, as if the little guy had spent the entire night on my head, creating the perfect “Possum-do.”
Once our older cat Sofie trained the little brothers in the ways of the outdoors and they outgrew her, Possum, due to his large, bulldog-like stance, was elevated to the position of Ranch Boss. He took his job very seriously, and directed the effort of keeping the gophers at bay. Each evening he made his rounds, checking the property, before settling in for the night.
I’d often find him on the bed in a deep trance, kneading on the bedspread. We tried to discourage this habit, which he practiced on us quite liberally, but to no avail. When it developed into accompanying drooling, licking and kneading-with-claws, I’d have to nudge him away.
“But I love you!” he seemed to say, with an air of disappointment. He’d usually come back in less than a minute, hoping to "love on me" again.
“Not everyone wants to be licked,” I’d remind him. I knew there would come a time when I’d regret pushing him to the end of the bed so I could get some sleep on dry sheets.
A few months before his passing he began cuddling next to me on the couch, placing a paw on my arm and gazing at me tenderly, almost as if he knew his time was coming.
Yes, he was a bit cross-eyed and loved to lick us, but he was our groovy, laid-back, mellow, loving Possum. I miss him every day.
I’ve always been a huge fan of anthropomorphism. Ever since I was a child I fantasized about animals doing people things. I was fascinated by the works of Beatrix Potter, Kenneth Grahame, Max and Dave Fleischer, and Harmon and Ising. And, of course, the Walt Disney studio. I spent many classes at school daydreaming about animals performing musical numbers and tiny operettas. When my family would go out to dinner I would often imagine our dog and cat seated in a booth around the corner dressed as humans, quietly snickering at their great fortune in convincing the wait staff they were humans enjoying a meal out…so I’m ever grateful that I managed to finish school, despite my clandestine fantasies.
Fast forward to college in the Northeast, where my professors often complained that my work was “too cartoony.” After graduating, I tacitly excused myself from the east coast and left for San Francisco. I spent hours at animation festivals, sometimes sitting through two showings. I studied animation at San Francisco State and created several short films on my own. But I was also getting spirited away by electronic music and playing in new wave bands. Yet, I continued to imagine animals dancing in a corner of whatever nightclub I happened to be playing in, dressed in contemporary fashion.
Fast forward again: I had a fairly okay run making and showing (cartoony!) animal clocks at higher-end craft fairs. Then I began making dolls with papier-mâché heads. I was living about 30 miles north of Novato, California, the site of the Black Point Renaissance Pleasure Faire. “Wouldn’t it be cool,” I thought, “if I could make dolls dressed in Tudor fashions and sell them there?” I borrowed books from the library on Elizabethan costumes, and sent away for an application to the Renaissance Faire. Remember, back then the internet was still in its infancy, so you had to do everything by mail! I created a menagerie of characters such as The Squirrel of Leicester, Kitty Wenchkin, Friar Duck, and St. George, the Dragon. My mom, who was well aware and supportive of my anthropomorphic tendencies, pitched in and bought me a new sewing machine. The deadline for applying to the Faire was fast approaching, so I photographed my characters, had them developed at a one-hour place and sent in my application, along with a few sample dolls.
A few weeks later I received an invitation to join the Renaissance Faire! Even though a claw had fallen off St. George the Dragon revealing a 20th century plastic straw, they were willing to give me a chance. I had a good time working the Faire every weekend, dressed as a French merchant, although I also had a job at a small software company and was captivated by computer graphics. By the end of the Faire I could barely look at burlap anymore, but I made enough money to buy lots of cool Elizabethan merch, and my very first laser printer.
I eventually moved to Mount Shasta, where tragedy prompted me to inherit a small graphic design studio. Still, I couldn’t help imagining our studio cat, Buster, an intrepid street rescue, operating a small lunch cart business in town, later becoming a successful baker due to his excellent kneading skills. Meanwhile, I drew the little cartoon bears on the menus of the then-fledgling Black Bear Diners.
I eventually moved up to Oregon and brought my graphic design studio with me, along with Buster and my other cat, Joey. After Joey went over the Rainbow Bridge, Buster suggested that we change his name to Beasey. He wanted a more “country gentleman” sounding name. Eventually, I got a part time job doing graphics for the Southern Oregon Humane Society aka SoHumane, where I remain to this very day. One Christmas I revived the animal dolls – just cats and dogs with raincoats – for SoHumane’s entry in the Providence Festival of Trees, “It’s Raining Cats and Dogs” Christmas tree. A while later I donated two cats and two dogs, dressed in fancy evening attire, for the silent auction at SoHumane’s “A Toast For Tails” fundraiser. This new incarnation, which I refer to as “Gen 3,” had wire skeletons to make them posable, and glass cabochon eyes. As an incognito guest at the affair, I maybe sipped a little too much champagne, quietly terrified that no one would be interested in them. But then, a tiny bidding war erupted! I was thrilled, and it gave me the vote of confidence I felt I needed to go into full production. “Gen-4” was a lengthy R&D period in which I explored more intricate facial features, the fine points of hand and foot construction, and skeletal issues.
Now, without further ado, may I present the “Gen-5” animal dolls in their latest manifestation, Dreamland Party Pals, available on Etsy.com!
You can also see me in a video describing my process, and the materials involved.
Friday evenings from 5:30 pm until dusk this summer, Wayne and I were a fixture at the Talent Evening Market, where I spun the paints and Wayne hung them up to dry.
I built my rig using a plastic tub I bought at Lowe’s, and a modified table fan. I used sparkly metallic paints and offered a choice of black or white cardstock paper. The paint, you see, which I kept in ketchup-type bottles, gets dribbled over the spinning paper creating, well, spun art. My favorite part was watching the focus and concentration of the kids (and adults!) with paint bottles suspended over the tub, and their reactions when the spinner stopped.
People we knew stopped by, and we had a lot of repeat customers. There was only one smoky night, but most of us vendors showed up anyway, and some of us wore masks. There was live music each week (except the smoky one).
Another interesting part was that the artwork wasn't about me – it was about having a good time helping other people make cool-looking pictures.
It was the deal of the ages, as I charged only $1. We didn’t make a whole lot of money, but it was a fun activity on warm Friday nights. We brought a picnic dinner, set up the booth and there was a steady stream of customers. (How to attract customers: attempt to take a break and eat a snack. For best results, may I suggest the delicious Hawaiian Shaved Ice.)
Here are a few that some kids forgot to pick up on their way out. I’ll be holding onto them, should the young artists return next summer to spin again!
In the Medford Mail Tribune Letters to the Editor, Sept. 17:
Happy to agree
Thank you, Carl F. Worden, for your letter of Sept. 8 regarding open carry. I’m so happy we agree on something! Nothing screams “I’m compensating” louder than a guy packing heat in a grocery store or a restaurant. Plus, my dad taught me how to shoot a .22 when I was 10, so not all us liberals want to overturn the 2nd Amendment — it’s the assault rifle thing that’s a bit extreme.
I bet our factions might agree on other things, too. Perhaps we could put our heads together to set term limits for Congress, or work to end their lifetime salaries and Cadillac healthcare once they leave office.
It’s worth a try.
Ever since I could talk, I've used my Mom's colloquialism of "us kids," or in this case, "us liberals." People have corrected me, but like the expression "you guys," I can't seem to shake it. I have, however, stopped calling our refrigerator the "icebox."
This marks the 5-year anniversary of The Great Fall of 2014.
Long story short, today I picked up my newly sharpened chains from Crater Chain Saw (which I refer to as “The Toy Store”) before heading to the gym for a fast and furious workout. ’Nuff said. Physically, I’m over it in a big way.
But karma can be so opportunistic. My accident prompted a much-needed, deep cleanse of things about my life that weren’t really working, although I tried to remain painfully loyal for as long as I could. Do I appreciate it? Sure, I guess. Parts of it were really ugly. Made me feel a bit like Dorothy in Oz while strong opinions, armchair psychology and “You Need Tos” swirled around me like litter on a windy day. I was incapacitated. Wayne was apparently too compromised mentally, to care for me in a way others felt best (even though he cheerfully put on my compression stocking every morning, pushed my then-hefty body up the walkway after doctors’ visits, and assisted with the various contractors). Our kitchen was down to its studs.
“Meh,” I shrugged, attaching insulation in the kitchen from my wheelchair. The paint job I completed from the wheelchair could use a few touch-ups, but it still holds up. I actually had fun doing these things while listening to The Moth Radio Hour and playing movie favorites like Contact and Trading Places. Back then our house was in more trouble than I was. I wouldn’t be deserting it, or my husband.
Sometimes working through tragedy with a headstrong attitude helps, although it may just be a Taurean thing. Or having toughed out many storms on a boat in my youth. Or, if you’re into the Enneagram, a 6 thing. I've dabbled in this art for years and always identified as a 6 (the Loyalist).
Five years later, all things considered, I've decided to shift myself from a 6 with a strong 7 wing to a 7 (enthusiastic, epicurean) with a strong 6 wing. Not sure if this would pass muster in actual Enneagram circles, but hey, it's my life. I can still be loyal on a case-by-case basis, but I’ve got too many fun projects in the works these days to make it a full time thing.
I celebrated the new millennium aboard the Conception. Leapt over the side of the boat into pitch black water off the Channel Islands at midnight on January 1, 2000, along with eleven other scuba divers. With multi-colored glow lights clipped to our gear, and underwater flashlights, we looked like a slowly descending Christmas tree as we followed the boat’s anchor line to the bottom, about 55 feet down. There was a round, white light mounted in the bottom of Conception’s hull to find our way back. We wouldn’t be going far. All I could see was what appeared in the path of my flashlight and the lights of the other divers. I swam close to my dive buddy, careful not to lose sight of the soft glow from the bottom of the boat. Spiny California lobsters snoozed in small caves, and Nudibranchs fluttered on nearby rocks. A bright orange Garibaldi loomed out of the darkness, startling me as it peered into my mask with its characteristic furrowed brow. A Soupfin shark slept on the sea bottom like a 1950s Cadillac parked by a rock. We swam past kelp beds, careful not to get caught in the swaying fronds. We eventually circled back and gathered at the anchor, shielding our flashlights and waving our arms to make the tiny bioluminescent plankton swirl in glittering underwater clouds.
We made our way up the anchor line slowly, listening to the soft hum of the Conception’s generator as we took our decompression stops. Reaching the surface, we climbed onto the dive platform and the crew, all dive masters themselves, took our fins and helped us up the ladder, asking, “Have a nice dive?”
The following morning some of the crew would cook us tasty breakfasts made to order as we scanned the shores across the channel and checked our cell phones for signs of the Y2K upheaval that never happened. They cheerfully filled our tanks after each dive and kept the boat neat and tidy. When we saw a school of Barracuda, they made sure the Heart song, “Barracuda,” was playing on the sound system when we came back up.
We would eventually make our way down the stairs to the warm, dry sleeping quarters at night – curtained bunk beds with comfy mattresses, pillows, blankets, and reading lights. I fell asleep each night listening to waves lapping gently against the hull.
I can barely wrap my mind around this unimaginable tragedy.
My only consoling thought is that those lost aboard the Conception experienced the pure joy and beauty of scuba diving during their final days on Earth, and I'm praying that their terror and confusion faded quickly as they moved on to other realms.
I offer my deepest condolences to their families and friends.
My latest Letter to the Editor:
On a recent trip north, we encountered what appeared to be a Trump supporter in the breakfast room of our hotel. The morning news was on, carrying the president’s “teleprompter” response to the El Paso and Dayton shootings.
The woman at the table next to us turned and chortled, “He sure is stirring the pot, isn’t he?” We looked at her blankly and went on eating. We’ve accepted that we’re no match for those buying into the ideologies spewed by Fox, Russian-influenced affiliates on social media, and Ol’ Dead-Eyes presidential advisor Stephen Miller.
“It looks like he’s lost a little weight, too,” the woman added, somewhat proudly.
A number of sharp responses sprang to mind, from “Adderall does that,” to “Good grief, lady, don’t you know a crime family when you see one?” And my personal favorite, “You know what floats to the top when you stir a swamp, right?”
But I kept quiet, we half-smiled politely, and she eventually left. Some things just aren’t worth it. Not in a hotel breakfast room.
To clarify further, when this woman spoke up in the breakfast room, I could almost hear my late mother whisper in my ear, “Be careful – she might be trying to start a fight.”
When the woman stood up and sidled past our table, the crucifix she wore swung broadly in my face, bringing to mind a Sunday school teacher who once told me that God counted every hair on my head. “Does He come back and count again after I’ve brushed my hair?” I’d asked innocently.
A scolding finger wagged in my face and I was reprimanded for “asking stupid questions.”
As an adult, I occasionally wonder if God were that busy counting everyone’s hair, then it stands to reason that He might not have had time to protect us from the likes of despots and terrorists. If He weren’t so busy counting hairs He might even have the time to keep us from endlessly fighting over religion.
These Trump supporters, whom we lovingly refer to as “Trumpanzees,” seem so adamant about their position that they’re willing to throw just about everything we value under a bus to keep this guy in office.
“Is it okay with you that he’s replaced his cabinet with lobbyists from the Oil and Gas industry and rolled back regulations for clean water and air?”
“The economy is doing so well!” they answer.
“Does it bother you that he’s a sexual predator and a cheat who's told more than 10,000 documented lies?” we ask.
Now here’s where their responses vary a bit. Most often, the men begin cursing, calling me things like “Classless bitch,” and “Crazy Cat Lady,” (which is patently false, as we only have five and the unofficial count for CCLs begins at six).
The women, at this point, usually morph into Sunday School teacher mode, which involves the old finger-wagging, “make you wrong” mentality. When pressed further with actual facts, they invariably throw their arms in the air and sputter, “I don’t have time for this!” or “I don’t discuss politics!”
So really, who needs this in a hotel breakfast room, especially the morning after a great concert with Berlin, OMD and The B-52s?
This just in!
Barely 20 minutes after posting this I saw a late model Honda edging slowly up our driveway. They parked and three women got out. One was carrying a Bible. "Hit the decks!" I cried, dropping to the floor in the bedroom. "Jehovah's Witnesses are afoot!" They came up the front walk and knocked a few times before giving up, pressing a small pamphlet in the crack of the door entitled, "Who Really Runs The World?"
The party who ran away
Way to go, Republicans, now that you’ve clearly shown yourselves to be the party of shootin’, pollutin’ and Putin.
State legislators can add one more feather to your caps, and a legacy you can share with your children and grandchildren when they ask why you couldn’t uphold one of the most deeply cherished tenets of democracy: The Party Who Ran Away and Hid.
"Ya know, in the world of freelance writing where rejection is a way of life, it's always nice to be printed.
Here's where I expound on whatever I'm passionate about at the time. I welcome your comments, as long as you're not hateful, a terrorist, or attempting to pedal work-at-home offers.