Photos for January Stones and April PAD 2012 property of M J Dills (exception 1/16)

Monday, November 12, 2018

Go Ahead, Call Me Pocahontas

I don’t see the issue with Elizabeth Warren's DNA much different than Trump’s birther movement against President Obama. Trump, and people of his ilk, made such brouhaha that Barack Obama finally had his long form birth certificate made public in 2011, because he considered it was causing a distraction, of which he thought to put an end. Did it make any difference? No, birthers claimed it was a forgery and, to this day, maintain their position.

It wasn’t enough for Elizabeth Warren to say she had empathy for Native Americans because she grew up being told she had Indian blood. Conservative talk show hosts went berserk, grasping any small item they can blow into an outrage. Trump publicly stated he would donate $1 million to a charity of her choice if Warren took a DNA test to prove her heritage. When she acquiesced, he didn’t donate. Surprise.

I grew up with a father who always told us he was part Indian (Native American was not a part of our vernacular at the time.) My mom told me that when she brought him home to introduce him to my grandparents, they referred to him at a half-breed, though he was only 1/16th

My grandparents, like Warren’s grandparents, were not all too happy when my mother showed up with an older black-haired man, whom she’d met three weeks prior, and declared their engagement. Props to my grandparents; they accepted my dad and grew to love him. 

My mother was religious, went to church on Sundays and dragged us children with her, though Dad rarely attended, only when it was a whole family affair, like a baptism, wedding, or funeral. He told me his church was the woods and he worshiped the mountain (Rainier), the stars, sun and moon. He didn’t believe you could easily find God within four walls. 

We knew my great-great-grandmother was Pocahontas. Not the real Pocahontas, my dad would tell us, and that was not her real name, he insisted. Years later, I discovered that women were called Pocahontas during censuses and on marriage certificates, when they couldn’t spell their name, speak English, their husband spoke for them, or they simply didn’t speak up. It was common practice, as calling an Indian woman squaw was completely acceptable, though there is much debate about the use and meaning of squaw. I was called papoose from my earliest memories. It was never said with malice or negativity.

For Elizabeth Warren to be taking heat for claiming her own DNA seems to me just another media circus; I don’t care which side makes claims against her. It has Trump rubbing his hands together with more broken promises and unmitigated glee. Another thing to distract us from real issues, such as 50 white male students of the graduating class of 2019 of Baraboo High School in Wisconsin standing on the Sauk County Courthouse steps with the majority  giving a Nazi sieg heil salute. Comments on the incident have been made by many, from the Democratic Governor-elect of Wisconsin, to the photographer who regretfully took the photo, but the fact remains. Trump has unleashed hatred and malevolence in our country and it’s beyond bullying and pussy grabbing.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018


Happy Halloween! 

My blog slowed down to a frightening deathly pace these past few months. I’ve got good cred though for being so ghostly. Along with regular assignments, that help put food on the barbeque, my main focus has been getting SPARROW ready to send. This novel has been through a lot: dropped a character; tossed the first several pages and completely changed the beginning; changed the title three times; found a focus so I could know how to relate to agents and publishers what this books is about; did a lot of line editing; decreased the word count from 121,000 to 110,000; found someone to put melodies to the lyrics of Robin’s songs. In the process I’ve cried, laughed, wept, chuckled, sobbed, and giggled. I’ve also learned the difference of all those emotive actions. It’s part of what writing is about, isn’t it?

I’ve attended some wonderful workshops over the past year and am so grateful for suggestions, recommendations, corrections, and support I’ve received. I feel like I took my newborn baby from birth to high school and she learned gobs in the process. My life was also enhanced this past couple years, thanks to some very good self help books and my association with Arbonne, a nutrition and skin care line wrapped up in a personal growth program.

This is a sneak peek for anyone who loves good fiction. I’ve included the first chapter of SPARROW in my blog and excited for comments, as well as anyone who would like to volunteer to read the entire manuscript and answer some questions. It’s a huge commitment, I know, but my appreciation could quite possibly put your name in print!

Robin’s family is completely unsupportive of her goals in life; as a matter of fact, they think she’s delusional. All she really wants is a college degree and to be a songwriter, a not too lofty aspiration but it’s not going to happen in her small Northwest town. After a nasty fight with her mother, Robin packs a small bag, her guitar and hitchhikes to Los Angeles, in search of the ‘60’s California Canyon music she listens to every day in the sanctity of her bedroom. She finds musicians but they aren’t the ones she’s looking for, which detours her on a path of self discovery, love, parenthood and eventually success. Rich with well-developed characters, whom you will fall in love with, hate, pity and embrace.

Suitable for mid-teens, due to some explicit sex, birth scenes
and language. Adult fiction. 

“How can you catch the sparrow?”
Stephen Stills
Suite: Judy Blue Eyes

"The reason birds can fly and we can't
 is simply because they have perfect faith, 
for to have faith is to have wings."
J. M. Barrie
The Little White Bird

By Margo Jodyne Dills

Part One

My mother hovered over her ironing board like a miner panning some precious metal; her shoulders hunched, laboring. She turned each wrinkle into finely honed folds in my father’s boxer shorts. Her cotton housecoat was worn at the short cuffs and her lacy slip peeked out from under the hem. She shook water out of a bottle onto crumpled cotton and picked up her iron, pressing steam that filled the air with a scent that annoyed yet comforted me. My mother’s ironing took precedence over many things.
“Did you hear me, Mama?” I stood behind her, willing her to listen. “Reed College has accepted me! I can start in a couple months.” I gripped the envelope in my fisted hand.
She wagged her head and precisely placed the underwear into a growing stack on the kitchen counter and patted it with her fingertips.
No words.
I moved to the end of the faded flowery board with its scorch stains and water marks. “Why are you shaking your head?” I said, “I am going.”
She shoved a wicker basket with her foot and I watched my mother carefully space hankies, t-shirts, pillowcases, sheets in methodical order. She moved the pillowcases three times to make room for the small tower of my dad’s underwear, which she would carry into the next room and put in drawers equally as organized. I once listened while she explained to my aunt that my dad deserved to wear his undershorts in the exact same way they came out of the package. She stitched all the flaps shut because they were not only unnecessary, but made pressing difficult.
“Robin Margaret,” she spoke with her back to me, “you talk like a man with a paper head. What on God’s earth makes you think we can afford to send you to a fancy school in another state? You have no idea what it takes to pay the household bills.”
“Mama, look at me…” I moved around the ironing board and leaned down to peer up into her face but she focused on her task. “Why are you ignoring me?”
“Robin Margaret, if you don’t stop, I’m going to get mad.” My mother had a way with her face; she could take on the look of a rain-soaked pile of newspapers.
“Mad about what? What am I doing to make you mad? I just got accepted into the school I’ve always wanted to go! I’m lucky they even looked at my application, considering how late it was. Why would you be mad?”
“You are the most unreasonable child!” She slammed the iron down on the board, making it slide into the kitchen table; hot drops of water flew and hit her arms. She swiped them away like mosquitoes and looked me straight in the eye. “There is no room in your father’s wallet for this nonsense! We told you that last spring when you started this concocted idea.”
“It’s not concocted, Mama. I’m going to college to get a degree. My grades are perfect. My SAT score was almost 2400. It was higher than anyone in my class, by a long shot.”
“Don’t you get lippy with me, missy. A degree in what? How to keep your legs together? How to lure every boy in town to our back door like a dog in heat? How to roll your skirt up so anyone can see all the way to China? Is that what you need a degree for?”
“I don’t need to listen to this shit,” I said.
My mother chased me halfway up the stairs to my bedroom, whipping me with her damp pressing cloth. It marked the backs of my legs and arms with stinging red welts.
I nursed my mental wounds with a cigarette and blew the smoke out a crack in my bedroom window. My two numbskull brothers tossed a football in the field behind our house and I hated them in that moment; I hated their shitty grades, their piggish table manners, their ugly buzz-cuts, and their stinky farts.
My guitar was a source of solace for me and if I strummed quietly, no one would holler at me. I adjusted the capo and played around with some chord progressions. My head got going and I jotted down thoughts in my binder. Songs were born from jumbled words. I was a good musician and better lyricist; I needed to tell myself this.
My small sorrow is always next day, next day, You tell me you know the best way, best way. I try to watch you, I don’t want to cause you, you think you may be on to, It’s going to be your best day, when I go way away way.
My bed caught me as I flopped onto my back and stared at the walls. I loved my room. I hated it, too. How could the same place feel like a trap and yet bring so much freedom? Here was where I replaced photos of John Lennon with Paul McCartney, then back to Lennon, bordered by Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Eric Burdon, the three Joans… Collins, Baez and Mitchell.  Cramped under the pitched ceiling, I sometimes wondered if I could take a hatchet and carve out a heaven for myself; wasn’t there an attic up there, wasted space? Behind my bedroom door, I’d do as I pleased, but like a prisoner, I knew that the other side held different thoughts, opposite opinions, venomous unspoken words, all dangers to my wandering and wondering mind.
I snuck into the bathroom and scrubbed my hands so they didn’t smell like ashtray. I brushed my teeth and rubbed Listerine around my mouth. Even that was chancy; my mother would suspect me of hiding something and she was right. I was hiding something.
My sister sat at the bottom of the stairs on the phone with her boy friend, Karl, and I left the bathroom door barely cracked so I could eavesdrop.
“You won’t go there. You won’t go to Viet Nam,” Holly said. “I just know you won’t.” There was a pause but I didn’t think Karl was talking. “I just want a ring,” she said. “That’s your promise to me.” Girls didn’t normally need to ask for a ring. The boy was supposed to think up that part. “Oh, Karl…” Holly giggled in a way that made me want to puke. My mother passed Holly and twirled her fingers, meaning my sister was supposed to wind up the discussion. “I have to get off the phone, Karl. I love you.” She wiggled around. “Karl, when you say ‘me, too,’ it doesn’t sound like you really mean it. Just say it. Please?” My mother reappeared and I backed away in case she might see me. She stood in front of Holly with her arms crossed. “Karl, I’ll be waiting for you to come and get me. I’m hanging up now and getting ready. I’ll be waiting for you, Karl, okay? I’m hanging up now. I love you, Karl.”
Holly raced up the stairs and into the bathroom; she ran right into me.
“What’re you doing? You listening in on my private conversation?”
I ignored her.
“Mind your own fucking business!” she hissed so our mother might not hear. “Skank. Twat.” She closed the bathroom door hard behind me.
My mother yelled from somewhere below. “Stop slamming doors!”
Saturday night crept up while I listened to my sister preparing for her date with Karl, her plastic rollers clunking in the bathroom sink as she pulled them out of her hair one at a time. I sat on my bed and counted all the money from my stupid waitress job. There was a total of $346.28. Yep, some people left pennies. We had special names for those folks, most who came from Seattle, which was only an hour to the north, though seemed like a million miles right now. I spent a lot of my own money that summer on dumb things. My boyfriend and I drove all the way to Ocean Shores a couple times and stayed in a motel. We didn’t see much of the ocean. My mom thought I was staying with my friend Pym. That was a lie.
The coast was clear, my mom in the living room watching The Jackie Gleason Show. I snuck downstairs, out the back door through the dark yard, and found my dad in his shop.
My father wasn’t the chatty type. He said what he needed to and then shut up. Daddy went to church on Sundays and the rest of the time he worked. He was an electrician by trade but did all kinds of other stuff, too. People liked him, but you didn’t see him socializing much, unless it was a wedding or funeral. The most we usually heard from him was a mumbled grace at dinnertime.
“Hi, Daddy.” I closed the door behind me and hugged myself against the cold. A potbelly stove in the corner put out enough heat for the corner and that was all. The garage door had a breach in the bottom large enough for every cat, dog, and raccoon in the neighborhood to gain access and create all kinds of racket in the middle of the night without being able to find their way out.
“Robbie?” He raised his eyebrows.
“Can I talk to you?”
“Sure, but if it’s about this school nonsense, find another topic, because you know it’s not going to happen. We aren’t those kind of people. We told you that in April.”
My mother had obviously beat me to it. I cranked a vice on his workbench open all the way. I wanted to put my head in, but it was too small.
“I can help pay,” I said.
“Oh, how’s that?”
I felt a flicker of optimism.
“I can work and go to school. I can take fewer credits and get a job in Portland.”
My dad put down the wires and cables he was working on; he sat on a sawhorse he used to lean on when he was tired. I lost my sense of confidence in his deep sigh. I would’ve had better results if I’d been able to stick my skull in that old vice.
A quick look around might have been depressing had it not been amusing. My old bike from ninth grade sat against the wall, its deflated tires sunk half an inch in the dirt. It was host to so many cobwebs, it could have stood up on its own, the bright red enamel paint faded to a pinkish gray. I waited too long for Daddy to make a priority of fixing the wheel rims; Richard showed up in my life and my need for a bicycle to get to work and school disappeared in one fatal lingering look.
My father liked me; I knew that, but I didn’t think it should make a whole lot of difference if I wasn’t around. I didn’t have a boyfriend anymore. I hated waiting on tables at Mattie’s.  Men patted my butt; high-schoolers laughed at me and asked what happened to Miss Most-likely-to-succeed from last spring’s graduating class; women placed their orders like they were at the Hilton and I was their personal servant.
There were few streetlamps in our neighborhood so no one would see me walking around in the dark, smoking my last two Salems. I climbed onto the big rock at the corner; Mr. Ross had tried to move it over a decade ago but the deeper he dug, the bigger it got. We all watched the progress every night after he came home from work at Boeing Field. My father said an engineer should have been able to figure a way to unearth the rock, but confessed it might have tumbled down from its mother, Mount Rainier, and somehow was still attached. When Mr. Ross made the fateful decision to give up and leave it, The Rock became the corner for every kid within a half mile.
I stood at the top where I could view the stoplight on the edge of town, its tiny blinking light going from red to green to red. I tossed my half-smoked cigarette butt, jumped down at green, and ran all the way back home. The oncoming winter set deep into a person’s marrow and I felt cold to the core.

It was early the next morning, November, chilly with the scent of snow in the air. My mother stayed up waiting for Holly to get home and they got into it, right after I fell asleep, with my sister crying and pleading with our mother about how she would never do something that I didn’t care enough to find out about what it was. I never went back to sleep after that.
When the house was finally quiet and the dark was darkest before the dawn, I let myself out the back door. Things looked different than they had the night before when I’d walked down the same street, my little town that I’d lived my whole tiresome life. I don’t know what it was about the air that morning but I’d breathed it along enough. There were stars to follow, on sidewalks and in the sky. It was 1968.
The sun was still buried behind the foothills and crunchy gravel stuck together with bits of ice as I walked out of my neighborhood and to the end of Main Street. My guitar case was stuffed with extras like t-shirts and skirts, rolled up in small spaces, and my knapsack was bulging with an extra pair of jeans, underwear, and flip-flops, plus my toothbrush, comb, and two little bottles of shampoo I’d kept from when Richard and I had stayed in the motel on the coast. I stayed low off the side of the road and waited for trucks, half hid in the ditch, turning my face from anyone who'd cheerfully report they'd seen me loitering.
A semi braked long and hard; I was shocked and gleeful with the realization I had a ride. It was that easy. I climbed rungs into the cab and burned my hand when I grabbed an exhaust pipe next to the door. For a long time after, every time I gripped the neck of a guitar, I pictured that exact spot in the road, the last street out of my humble northwestern birthplace.
I tossed my gear in and hugged the door, the luckiest eighteen-year-old idiot on the planet. The burly, bearded driver asked where I wanted to go and took me all the way to the freeway, no questions asked. I rode with my jaws clamped shut, afraid to give anything away. I shook with shivers and giggles when I piled out with my belongings at an onramp; I shouted gratitude over the rumble of the departing engine. Not a soul heard me, cars whizzing past like I was no longer visible.
I thought my thumb would fall off until I got my next ride, but it took me all the way to Portland, Oregon with two wizened country musicians on their way to a fiddle contest. I sat in the back and listened to them argue about their performance.
“We only picked you up cuz of your axe there, girl,” the driver said. “You should carry a tire iron in that case.”
“A tire iron? What for?” I asked. I could hardly imagine something so tough and clunky nestled next to my guitar.
“Case someone takes you on, you know, thinks he can have his way,” said the passenger.
“I’ll be fine,” I said, with the first suggestion of doubt entering my mind since I started out that morning. “I can take care of myself.” I sat up taller.
“You ain’t that big,” the passenger said. “You better be prepared to defend yourself.”
He fumbled around in a canvas bag at his feet. Considering we were going seventy per on the interstate, there was no way out.
“This here is what you need.” He scared the bejesus out of me, reaching into the back seat with a black can that said MACE and had a picture of a yellow dog baring teeth. “I’ll let you have that one. I get the stuff from an army friend so it’s free. Be real careful with it; you have it turned the wrong way and you spray yourself in the face, it’ll likely knock you right outa your socks.”
The can landed on the back seat between me and my guitar; there was no way I was going to touch it.
The rest of the way was music; he pulled out his violin and though there wasn’t a lot of room, he practiced for their show while his friend drove and sang. I watched him pluck and slide his finger up and down the string, which inspired me to pull out my guitar.
“Well it ain’t the Cotton Eyed Joe,” he said when they stopped, “but it’s a goodun. I think we’ve got a chance.”
I thought it was a winner, for sure.
“Did you have a lot of lessons?” I asked.
“Some,” he said. “You’re pretty quick on that axe, young lady. How many lessons have you had?”
“None,” I said,” I just get books from the library.”
“You’re a smart gal, alright. You keep practicing that pizzicato glissando and you’ll have something there.”
“That what?”
“That picking style. That’s what it’s called. You don’t need no lessons. Just keep playing, chickadee, every day.”
They had a ways to go off the freeway so they dumped me at an onramp. I left the can of spray in the car, but I took away some lessons from those fiddlers.
I had a series of short rides until I got to Roseburg, just north of the California state line. One was a Christian family who preached to me the whole time about what a sinner I was. Another was an old man with pigs in the back of his pick-up. They were all tied in and made a lot of racket. He said they were crying because they knew they were going to the slaughterhouse. He was the ride that took me to the truck stop.
“You need to find someone going all the way to your destination,” the farmer said. We walked along a line of huge rumbling trucks. I stood behind him while he talked to drivers to find out where they were going and asked questions. I was a helpless kid, tagging after this old man around a huge parking lot while he carried out mini-interrogations.
First question he asked every one of them was “What’s your CB handle?” The guy who answered Virgin Surgeon was immediately eliminated.
“You got kids?” “You married?” “Love your wife?” “Are you a Christian fellow?”
My own father didn’t seem to have this much concern about my existence.
After being given the third degree, a lucky trucker was chosen to have the pleasure of my company, for free, all the way to Los Angeles. I climbed up with my blistered hand, made worse by playing guitar with the hillbillies. I bid farewell to a stranger who cared for me maybe more than I did myself.
Truckers don’t talk much unless they’re having a conversation with someone on their CB radio. This guy’s handle was unimaginative and boring…Road Roller. I listened for awhile to him joking in CB language, which I didn’t understand except maybe the goal of Tinseltown. I slept for hours.
When I opened my eyes, it was dawn and we were in the city. We drove through a flat area with low-slung buildings, large lots with huge empty spaces, and writing on walls in Spanish.
“I’m letting you off on Olympic Boulevard, little lady,” the truck driver said. It was the most he spoke to me the whole trip. “I don’t got time to take you where you want to go.”
“That’s okay,” I said. “I don’t really know where I want to go.”
“You meeting someone?”
“No, I don’t know a soul here,” I said.
“Well, be careful,” he said. “Don’t get mixed up with them Jesus freaks, okay?”
“Sure,” I said.
I got out at an intersection, climbed down to the pavement, and reached up to swing the door shut, just as the light turned green.
I felt like a young émigré who doesn't know the language, wearing culturally objectionable clothing, and doesn't have two local coins to rub together. One thing I did know: the meager funds tucked under my cleavage wouldn't last forever. The small wad of cash in a cloth bag sat against my breastbone like a little bird nest. In 1968, a few hundred dollars could go a long way, but I knew from my brief hitchhiking journey how fast a ten-dollar-bill can turn into a handful of change.
I had to pee bad and headed to the 7-11 on the corner. A baloney sandwich on white bread and a bag of Fritos was my first meal in California. I sat on a bench at a bus stop and looked up. Palm trees, tall and slender, reached up to the sky in an unnatural way. I was used to trees that were thick, with gigantic feathery boughs, sturdy and full.
I had no idea what direction to go; I started walking.



Monday, January 1, 2018

One Year

Summertime 2017 in the McLeod Garden

A lot can happen in a fraction of a second. So I’ve learned. Oh boy, your whole life can change. Boom. Just. Like. That.
Then again, a whole lot more can happen in a year.

A year can be a short amount of time, especially in hindsight; but if you’re a kid waiting for school to be out, a handful a minutes can seem like an eternity. I've found lately, in the past couple decades or so, years seemed to be bunched up together and October always came way before I’ve been ready to put the flip-flops in the back of the closet. Then it’s Christmas and before you know it, you wake up one morning and it’s a New Year. For me, the years were rolling by, non-stop, no change. Same old shit, different day. 

In the first week of December 2016, I was unhappy, overweight, hated my job, in debt, and intensely disliked my home. (That’s a story for another time but it wasn’t a place I’d chosen to live, and even though others thought it felt homey, I was never content or comfortable there.) I tried to get ahead but I was in a rut, working my butt off for literally nothing, with no appreciation or acknowledgement. I shared a lot of that sob story with any poor soul who’d listen. Most preferred not to.

Because of Arbonne, in one year I’m living a different life.

My first step forward was doing a 30-Day Cleanse. I got a few sideways glances, making a decision to start a healthy eating regime at the most tempting time of year. I did cheat, on Christmas Day, and then went right back to it on December 26th. By mid January, I'd lost 12 pounds. I felt lighter, plus I stopped taking afternoon naps and had energy that took me all the way through the day, rising early. 

Me, September 2016
Around February 2017, I joined Arbonne online meetings and discussions, Arbonne Facebook pages, participated in a monthly gathering in Bellevue, Wa, where women and men of all backgrounds spoke and shared their successes. These were people who were making major changes in their own lives. Some had been rewarded with Mercedes Benz's, others were supporting their favorite causes, like saving wild horses or building houses for the homeless. I’ve become friends with a woman who used to have a nice life selling life insurance (a good job with security) and because of five years in Arbonne she’s living in her dream home on the beach in Southern California and working limited hours, spending time doing what she wants to do, as opposed to what she needs to do. 

Because of Arbonne, I've developed some wonderful new friendships. It’s like church, but it’s not church, and these are folks from all walks of life, colors, races, religions, affiliations, and income levels.

I shrug when I get feedback about MLM’s. This is Direct Marketing, and it’s what many are looking for in a gig economy, where Uber,, Doterra, Airbnb and many other second incomes are helping people live better lives.

Me, in Mexico, May 2017

For me, it goes beyond that. I’m making money, yes... and my income from Arbonne is certainly making a difference in my life but what I love is helping people change their lives.

This is what people are looking for: health, living well, and for some, a step into a possible lucrative future. Because Arbonne is vegan, kosher, and developed for people with diabetes, there are few people who can't make major changes with these nutrition and skin products. It’s pure, safe and beneficial.

April 2017 with my pal Waneta 
at the Arbonne Global Training Conference 
in Las Vegas
Because of Arbonne, I began reading inspirational books. As I applied some of the steps suggested in books like "The Flip Flop CEO" (Muirhead/Roberts/Finney); "Take the Stairs" (Rory Haden); “You Are a Badass” (Jen Sincero), things began to pop and snap in my life. 

I didn’t realize the changes at first. I kept doing these steps because I remembered what someone had said to me about what difference would it make? I could keep doing what I was doing or try something else and see where I ended up at the end of a year. This was not rocket science.
I made a Vision Board; I posted little notes on my mirror, fridge, and around my house. Reminders about what I want; who I am; what I can get in life, belief in myself. Goals, dreams, hopes. I spoke my affirmations out loud and when someone inadvertently heard me, I learned to smile and carry on. 

                                   Me, in Las Vegas in April 2017 - Inspired

At monthly meetings, I listened to people talk about how Arbonne had changed their lives and I wanted to BE one of those people, in front of the crowd, telling what I had done to get there. 

In June I came upon Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod and every morning I got up and did the six recommendations for changing my life. I kept telling people I met about Arbonne.

In July, I was in front of the room, telling a little bit of my story, and receiving recognition for reaching the level of District Manager.

I no longer live in that place I hated. I learned to be grateful for being there at all and aspired to something better! I love the home I’m in now. I'm super happy with my new job; started in November, right after I got back from a Writer’s Conference in Mexico that lit my fire. My house in Mexico is rented, kicking a little extra income my way. I even got a raise in my Social Security (I know, it’s a bit of a joke but even small amounts add up.) The writing I get paid for isn’t breaking the bank…not yet, but that will also change. Watch out, 2018, I’ve got plans. I've found that dreams really do come true. But it really is up to you. Because of Arbonne, I've accomplished more in the past year than the entire last decade. I did the work.

Me and some of the girls. Love these girls! It's kind of amazing to be "one of the girls" again, at 68.

I've lost a total of 40 pounds. I’m getting compliments galore on my skin. I love buying clothes again. My living situation is great. My job is…well, it’s just swell. I haven’t enjoyed working for someone else in a really long time. My debts are getting paid off. I have ENERGY!  I love waking up in the morning and starting my day healthy! I sleep like an old bear. My high blood pressure is a thing of the past and I’m off medications, under doctor’s supervision. My relationships are stronger, happier, sounder. I’m helping me, helping others, and helping the earth. I’m able to be generous again. I’m positive and I’m unstoppable.

                                               Me, now. And I'm not done yet. 

You don’t have to join me. You can continue doing what you’re doing. I can tell you though, I’m glad I gave this bit 30 days, and then, when things seemed to be working quite well, I gave it one year. A lot can happen in a year.
Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

August Poetry Postcards 2017

August Poetry Postcards 2017

This year I've used a book of postcards that I found in a box of my mother's things. She passed away seven years ago and there are some papers I've still not had a chance to read through. I can't simply chuck them without knowing what they are, and believe I gave this little treasure book to her many years ago. We shared a love of dolls and these types of pictures. 
I imagine this being a small tribute to my parents and decided to write each postcard, as inspired, about my childhood. These words were given no forethought; I sometimes used the illustration for inspiration, or memories flowed onto the thin cardboard and flew off to their destinations around the world. There has been some slight editing. 

Hurricane Harvey happened in the midst of this so there are some contributions there and randomly placed. 

These are the works of fifteen excellent English illustrators; all images reproduced from The Blue Lantern Studio. 

The title of the book is first and then the artist’s name and birth and death dates. These cards were so old that many dates of death aren’t recorded here since they were still alive at the time.

      From The Rosie Posie Book 
      by Anne Anderson (1874-1930)

My mother could not stand 
the idea of 
“sleeping in,” 
for herself 
or anyone else. She dragged me,
out of my bed on Saturday mornings
so I could get my chores done 
in time for my cartoons 
to come on TV. As an adult, 
she would phone me, and when I’d answer at 7 am, she would say 
To be able to sleep in 
was always 
a lifetime goal. I wish 
she could call me now 
wake me up in the mornings. 
I still here.
I still want to sleep in.

From The Little Busy Bee Book 
by Anne Anderson(1874-1930) 

I was my mother’s 
little butterfly. A least – until 
I could walk, or 
perhaps run, which soon followed. Then 
I became more my mother’s 
little bulldog 
and she had to keep me on a leash.  
I would run away 
given the slightest opportunity. I spent my life 
trying to please her and I was overjoyed
when I knew I’d made the grade. 
For the most part, I was a disappointment.
I kept trying. 
As did she.

From The All Sorts of Stories Book 1911 
by H.J. Ford (1860 – 1941) 

Sometimes I had creepy dreams. 
So sleeping wasn’t always what I did at night. 
As a child, my ordinary day was filled with schemes; 
And how I might get those ideas to ignite. 
Bedtime I kept my thoughts alive, on fire; 
Warding off the darkness that lurked in my mind. 
Though it was rest my body desperately desired, 
That wasn’t how my psyche was designed. 
The boogeyman slept under my small corner bed; 
A ghost in the closet who hid in the day; 
The monsters that grew out of my head. 
It took 60 years to make them go away.

From The Orange Fairy Book 1906 
by H.J. Ford 

I collected an odd assortment of friends as a child.
My parents embraced them, every one.
Some were “brains” like me and some were completely wild.
Judgment wasn’t allowed in my home. Childhood was meant to be fun.

It wasn’t until Grade 7 when a somewhat clingy girl was exiled.
It seemed there was evidence incontrovertible
That made my mother uncomfortable with what appeared to be

Bed bugs.......

it seemed had most likely caused the red spots on the girls face

And though she was liked, 
the insects didn’t belong 

          From The Story of the Rebellious Dolls c 1910 
by E. Stuart Hardy (Born 1870) 

Uncle Howard came to stay with my mother and father, (this was long before I was born) 
in their apartment on Boren Avenue. It was a one bedroom 
and there was little space for 
three people, two of them being honeymooners.... 
And my mother was a fastidious woman. 
Hard on her to accept this giant of a man who had been injured in the war that was still raging 
all over the world. 
“But he’s my uncle,” my father pleaded, yet reluctantly let the veteran leave. 
I grew up hearing about CRAZY UNCLE HOWARD, but my father loved him. 
I never forgot that.

From The Twilight of the Gods 1911 
by Arthur Rackham 

When my cousin would 
come to stay with us, 
she flirted with all the boys in the 
neighborhood. I didn’t get it. I was 9 
when she was 12 and boys 
were not a priority 
in my life. She was 
I was a “little sister” and my older brother, 
who was her age, had more 
in common with her, so 
I was ignored. She almost married
one of those boys and there 
were things that happened that I didn’t 
know about but 
really – I didn’t care. I found them to be 
just as annoying as 
they found me.

From The Stories of the Three Baby Bears Told c 1910 
by E. Stuart Hardy (Born 1870)

One time when I was about 6, we were huckleberry picking up in an area that was wooded but had natural meadows. My grandma, who never wore pants her entire life, had her skirt tied between her knees. Her two daughters (my mother and my aunt) were picking in a group and we children were down the hill. There were others picking, too; Betty was there, my mother’s best friend. I remember as if it was yesterday when they came tearing down the hill, their legs like cartoons, scissoring the air, my grandma holding hands between her girls, leaping. We thought it was bees but it was a bear.

From House Fairies 1925 
by Margaret W. Tarrant (1888 – 1959) 

I had my suspicions about 
the tooth fairy. 
I lost my first tooth while 
on vacation in S. Dakota. It was 
a hot July morning and 
I was hungry and wanted to bite 
into my large piece of toast, oozing 
with white butter, 
dripping with blood red jam. 
I was fussy and acting 
like a 6 year old. 
My mother’s cousin Inga 
turned me to her and asked 
to have a look in my mouth. She had dry flour 
on her fingertips; 
it was all a plan. She grabbed 
my tooth and yanked. 
I cried and 
she laughed and
I laughed, too. 
The tooth fairy found me halfway across the nation.

From The Child’s Book of Verse 1918 
by Margaret W. Tarrant (1888 – 1959) 

I said my “Now I lay me
 down to sleep” prayers
every night and always ended
with “God bless” – a long list of
people. Whoever heard
my prayers before tucking me in,
kissing me goodnight and
turning out the light, would
inevitably cut me short as I blessed the
pastor, his wife and children,
all the neighbors,
my father’s friends,
the car,
the kitty-kat,
the president.
I often lay awake far too long, staring out the window,
blessing the moon and the stars;
blades of grass;
my father’s garden
and the breakfast I would eat in the morning.

From Mrs. Mary Blaze 1885 
by Randolph Caldecott (1846 – 1886) 

I taught myself how to read.
My brother brought home his books, tossed them, and I picked them up.
I was 4; and he was 7, but only in 1st Grade, since he was held back for two years in Kindergarten.
I poured over the illustrations of Dick, Jane, and Sally; Spot, the dog; Puff, the cat; and Tim, the teddy bear (I had a particular fondness for Tim.) I would sit on the linoleum floor in our kitchen, while my mother prepared dinner.
I never learned to read phonetically.
was the first word I was able to memorize, relate to, and READ!
After that, they came in a flood and I graduated out of primers before I entered school.
I loved the library from a young age.
On the other hand, I was insanely bored in school and hated it,
my entire life.

From Jackanapes 1883 

by Randolph Caldecott (1846 - 1886) 

I was bullied. It began in kindergarten when big boys got to ride the trikes at recess and I never got a turn.
I never did get a turn. All year. By high school I had developed a personality that was molded by a decade of being made to feel inferior.
I wasn’t stupid. It turned out I had a very high IQ and
I considered suicide when the entire 7th grade found this out. I was mortified that something must have been innately wrong with me that could never be fixed.
I was smashed up against my locker by one girl who threatened to kill me.

From The Adventures of Borbee and the Wisp 1905 
by Florence K Upton (1873 – 1922)

 From the time I was about 2 
or 3 years old, I had 
a constant companion. My parents 
tolerated the presence 
of Timmy, 
my Imaginary Friend (now referred to as IF in the field of psychology). 
I went everywhere with Timmy. Sometimes 
I led and other times I followed. 
Timmy had a place at the table during meals, 
my parents sometimes sat on him, 
and once my father slammed Timmy’s hand in the car door, of which 
I became hysterical. “Jesus Christ,” 
my father said and opened the door 
to let Timmy in and grumbled that 
he needed to keep up. My parents were 
ordinary people. What made them 
so open-minded is a mystery. As an adult 
I asked my mother and 
she made it very clear 
that as a parent one must choose their battles, 
lest they lose all the time.

From The Vege-Man’s Revenge 1897 
by Florence K Upton (1873 – 1922) 

Daddy always had a garden. 
I never appreciated it 
until I asked him 
to come till and plant my first real garden 
with me.  I loved 
to be with him 
in his garden as a child, and 
would roll around in the 
dust and dirt 
between the rows, 
while he weeded and hoed. 
I picked peas while they were too young, 
pulled up baby carrots and 
washed them with the hose, 
eating their sweet earthy youth 
before it was ready. Sweet peas 
were strung at the end of each row 
and my father would pick a small bouquet 
and have me take them in to my mom, 
where she would put them 
in water and their fragrance 
filled our small kitchen.

From The Story of Snips c 1910 
by Anqusine MacGregor (1905 - )

School was dreadful.
I was always in trouble
and so often confused
as to the reason why.
My mother was exasperated.
My father was apathetic.
My teachers beat me.
I took swats in the principal’s office,
holding my skirt up so Mr. O’Dell
could smack my panties with his paddle.
I cried
and snot ran down my face
with nothing to clean it up with.
I ran home and was
marched back to school.

I want to go back and
find that little girl and
hold her in my arms and
not let any more hurt her.

From Nonsense Nonsense! 
1902 by Charles Robinson (1870 – 1939)  

I learned my first swear word from David T.
I went home saying FFFFF
and thought
it was something people
would find amusing.
David T
used to come to my house
and we’d paint our nails
wear my mother’s hats.
For some people it was confusing.
In 1964,
David T, my friend,
was found hanging
in his grandfather’s garage.
He could no longer
face the world.
He was 17 and
he was dead.
I still mourn
the loss of David T,
who was relentlessly teased
by people I have not forgotten.
I truly understood his pitiful dread.

From Marigold Garden 1885 
by Kate Greenaway (1846 – 1901) 

I adored my mother.
She was beautiful.
I loved to go to Nordstrom with her
while she shopped for shoes.
(They sold only shoes then; I think the store was on 4th or 5th Avenue).)
They would bring her a standard ashtray
and place it in front of her. She would
tap out a cigarette and the clerk lit it for her,
as she pointed to the different styles of shoes
she’d like to try on.
Her favorites were De Liso heels.
The boxes would pile up
and be scattered everywhere.
Until her death at 89,
my mother kept her shoes in original boxes;
dozens and dozens and dozens of them.

From The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle 1905 
Beatrix Potter (1866 -1943)

I thought I would grow up and be famous and rich,
as all children do. For quite some time
I imagined Hayley Mills was a friend of mine
and we wrote letters to one another. I,
of course,
wrote all the letters
and pretended they were send from England
and Disneyland
and NY. For a long time
I kept this secret imaginary relationship
to myself but then,
one day,
so convinced it was real,
I blurted it out in a boastful moment. I already
considered myself special enough to do so.
It was a big mistake.

From Rumbo Rhymes 1911
by Walter Crane (1845 – 1915) 

I went through a very short period of time when I refused to eat meat.
I considered animals sentient beings (and I do believe they are)
but it so vexed my mother that she could not get me to eat.
I didn’t go about it properly because in the early 60’s there were few
who thought that carnivores were unacceptable and vile.
My father advised me to study Darwin and the Food Chain
and do my best to eat my mother’s cooking because
I was stuck with it for awhile. He told me I could
make those kinds of decisions s an adult.

From Undine 1909 
by Arthur Rackham (1867 – 1939)

I had no fear as a child and I didn’t know it was wrong for others to touch. Alarm was a feeling I became familiar with but somehow, somehow I blocked fear. My boldness was often my downfall. I was afraid of all the wrong things. Shame is a terrible thing for a child to bear and so hiding becomes the remedy. Disguise. Diversion. Distraction. If you don’t think about it yourself, then perhaps no one will know. No one will guess and you can keep the charade going for years. And years. And years.

From Flora’s Feast A Masque of Flowers 1889 
by Walter Crane (1845 – 1915)

Once I began reading,
the stream of consciousness began
with a vengeance. My parents read,
so a library was available
once I’d moved on
from Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey twins.
Two books stand out in my mind
as making as impression that was
indelible and undeniable.
by Somerset Maugham
took me on a thrilling ride
and opened my eyes
and ears
Even though
“Captain Horatio Hornblower”
didn’t have quite the impact,
it did have lots of lessons and
was an easy read. My mother hesitated
allowing me to read this book at 13
due to the “N” word but I overlooked that
and it was a few more years
before I grasped the
depth and the hollowness
of this word.

From The Tale of Peter Rabbit 1901 
by Beatrix Potter (1866 – 1943)

I was never a big fan of
Beatrix Potter as a child.
I loved the illustrations
but the stories all seemed
Peter always held me
in his naughty thrall and
I was intrigued by
his boldness. His sisters,
on the other hand, were wimps
and probably didn’t have nearly
as much fun as Peter. As a child
I was probably a
mix of both – a very typical kid – nice
and troublesome. I know for certain
there were people
who thought I was an angel, and
others who considered me a
hellish little brat who
should be neither seen nor heard.
I named my first born Peter.
He is a Gemini;
born in June –
complete split of personality,
depending on company.

From The April Baby’s Book of Tunes 1900 
by Kate Greenaway (1846 – 1901)

When I was born in the small town 
of Enumclaw, Washington, the hospital 
was new and I was the 2nd baby born there. 
My grandfather came to the hospital and 
handed my mother a bouquet of 
September flowers, dahlias and roses, 
through an open window. A nurse took them a
nd told him he couldn’t come in with his cigar. 
He came in anyway, through the front door, 
which was just around the corner from the window. 
It was a small hospital. 
A nurse put the flowers in water 
and scolded him. 
He laughed and told her, in his Danish accent 
that she was a good woman. 
That was when I was born. 
My favorite photo of 
my grandpa and me is me on his knee, 
me holding my little African skinned doll, 

From The Black Cat Book 
by Charles Robinson (1870 – 1937)

The first cat I had in my life was
“Mittens” – we fondly called
her “Mitts” and she loved
my dad, even though she was
my cat.
I’m sure she loved my mother
as that was more often than
not, the hand that fed her.
I was 4 years old when we went to
John and Tess Howells’ farm
and I got to pick out this
tiny wee kitten,
out in the barn, from a couple of litters. All black,
she had 4 white feet.
She was too little yet to be weaned
so I didn’t get her until we came back from a trip to
Montana and S. Dakota.
I can still see her running to me
that day.
I picked her up and cuddled her
as I would for many years to come.
She lived until I was
22 years old.

This is not a postcard from the series.
29 August 2017 
2nd Day of Houston’s Hurricane Harvey.

Perhaps we shouldn’t have built all these levies and dams on Mother Earth. Maybe all this concrete that holds up streams of exhaust-spewing automobiles will someday collapse. Boom. Down. Gone. We have reconfigured the surface of our planet and now she is reacting. Dead dinosaurs providing compounds for greenhouses gas with the aid of combustion and mechanics.. We have created dustbowls and floods and melting glaciers and the extinction of hoards of animals. What will stop us?

From The Three Little Pigs 
by Frank Adams  (Active 1903 – 1944)

There was one neighbor we all disliked. Even my dad didn’t like her too much, though he was always kind to her. Mrs. Baum was not a happy person, my dad  told us and her husband was a jerk.  I think it was “First-Class Jerk.” But we could not help ourselves and she was the one whose doorbell we always rang and then ran away. She looked like an old pig to me but I got in a LOT of trouble for saying that. I remember once feeling bad for her when she came out on her porch and stood with her hands on her hips. We didn’t really have a reason to hate her.

26 From Peggy and Joan by Honor C. Appleton (1879 – 1951)
I watched my mother painstakingly hang wallpaper in my bedroom. I was about 4 years old. I recall the colorful little people holding hands and the darling little blue and pink cottages. I wasn’t sure why she was doing this and I guess most kids don’t really care what a room looks like, as long as they’re fed, loved, and get to eat popcorn with their dad and watch TV. Those were the things that mattered to me so when the babysitter let me have crayons at naptime and I colored all over the walls, I never really knew what all the fuss was about. My mother’s anger at the babysitter was beyond my comprehension.

From Josephine Goes Shopping 1926 
by Honor C. Appleton (1879 – 1951)

I had a happy childhood, as far as childhoods go.
I hated school and was taunted and bullied
 all the way from kindergarten until 12th grade.
But I had lovely times, too.
I had a great collection of dolls that I played with
 until I was probably 13 years old. I wrote poetry
and little stories, which my parents encouraged.
I was a terror on my bike and rode for miles.
I adored Brownies and Girl Scouts and my Dad
helped me earn a lot of my badges.
I performed and sang and danced.
I loved music and was surrounded by it.
I was a voracious reader and loved the library.
I enjoyed skiing and swimming and was allowed to go into the city (Seattle) when I was quite young.
I’m grateful for it all.

From Bobbity Flop 1912 
by Augustine MacGregor (1905 -)

My mother had an idea of what a little girl should look like and it was largely based on her favorite little girl.
Shirley Temple.
Besides ballet and dance classes, held above the bakery, where all I would think of was donuts and maple bars, my mother molded me by styling my hair.
Her first permanent solution was applied to my tender scalp when I was still sleeping in a baby crib. Curls. Galore. Until they fell out the next day and my mother claimed "it didn't take."
I believe I was one year old at the time.
My hair was tortured through the years until I took control of it myself and didn’t cut it from the age of 14 until I was about 25.

From the Pelican Chorus 
by L. Leslie Brooke (1862 – 1940)

I was a great singer. 
I always loved “I’m a little Teapot” best 
and my mother had me perform it 
for all who were 
willing to listen. 
By 3, I had a repertoire of songs, 
a couple in Danish, 
which I proudly belted out. 
The passion for singing never went away 
and although I was forced to play piano, 
I don’t regret that, and 
wish my mother had made me 
stick with it instead of 
taking up guitar. I was never really 
good at that but 
I faked it well enough to 
ave people tell me 
I was a great singer.

30 From Johnny Crow’s New Garden 1935 
by L. Leslie Brooke (1862 – 1940)

In the midst of our Poetry Fest was Harvey. This is my offering to Trilla in Houston:
Trilla, I received your card today and hope you are safe. I’m so sorry for what has happened to your beautiful city. I’m not even sure you’ll get this card. I certainly hope you do. The good that has come from this flood, this horrible frightening devastation, is the community coming together and most people recognizing we are all one people, we must know it is okay to lean on another and be pleased to carry our sisters and brothers on our backs. My hope for Houston comes to you, with healing and love.