Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Afternoon At The Salon

Forget that I read from But This Is Different at the Ellouise Salon this afternoon.  Well, no.  Wait a second.  Don't forget that at all.  Hold onto that event and invite me to read again at other places.  But while you're doing that, consider this.
The Ellouise Salon in Pasadena believes in art -- music, painting, and the spoken word.  One Sunday afternoon each month the salon hosts an 'event'.  Last month the event featured music.  This month -- today in fact -- the salon featured the spoken word.  Writers came and read their stuff.  I came, read my stuff, and sold a few books.
It's a powerful way to spend a couple of hours once a month.  There's no competition.  Everyone reads, sings, or otherwise presents and all are equal, embraced and welcomed.
Once a month Sandra Cruze and colleagues transform and upscale hair salon into a salon of a different nature.  Why?  Because they believe that artists need and deserve a place to share their souls.
Thanks, Sandy.
By the way --
Ellouise Hair Salon & Gallery
55 Waverly Drive
Pasadena CA 91105
Oh, yeah.  They also cut hair.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A New Reason to Celebrate Gay Pride in NY

On June 28, 1969, the police raided the Stonewall Inn gay bar on Christopher Street in New York's Greenwich Village. This was not an uncommon event. Every so often the New York City police, like many of their compatriots across the country, enjoyed watching gay men cringe at the prospect of losing their jobs, their homes or their children by being arrested and having their names appear in the newspaper or their faces on the television, all for the crime of having a drink, a dance or some conversation in a place where men who loved other men gathered. But the night of June 28th was different. The police raid sparked a riot. First the patrons of the Stonewall and then neighbors and then gay and lesbian people from around the city threw rocks, set police cars on fire and demonstrated the unfairness of their treatment. It is considered to be the touchstone of the gay and lesbian liberation movement. There are now Gay Pride marches all over the world, but in New York the march is always held on the weekend closest to June 28, and it is named the Christopher Street Liberation parade. The parade begins at Washington Square Park, passes the Stonewall Inn and proceeds up Fifth Avenue.

This year's march will take place tomorrow, on June 26th, and there will be a new reason for pride. Last night, the legislature and governor signed into law a bill which will allows same-sex couples to marry in New York State. The bill will take effect in 30 days. The newspaper said that when news of the bill's passage was televised at the Stonewall Inn, the patrons burst into cheers, tears and marriage proposals. All those in New York who now have the right to marry, all the best to you. May we in California get that privilege back soon.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mork and other headaches

I'm in love with Mindy Black.

That's the name of the ENT specialist I saw today, about the severe headaches I've had, intermittently, for several weeks.

When I think of the name "Mindy," I think of the old TV show, "Mork and Mindy." Nanu-nanu, as Robin Williams used to say. Dr. Mindy Black isn't a situation comedy kind of person at all, though; just very serious and professional and very good.

Thank God for that.

Turns out these headaches are caused by a severe infection in my upper sinuses, which manifests itself by making it seem that an alien creature is about to burst through my forehead and go skittering off across the floor.

A CT-Scan helped pinpoint the trouble, along with the scope that Dr. Black ran up my nostrils. And then she got right to work treating it aggressively, with antibiotics, nose sprays, and even a serious painkiller for the headaches.

Did I mention that I'm in love with Mindy Black?

Dr. Black said the smoke from the Arizona wildfires that have burned over 700,000 acres in recent weeks undoubtedly contributed to my sinus problems. So knock it off, all you wildfires, and all you border crossers that Sen. John McCain says are setting the fires. You're not making any friends on this side of the border, I can tell you that.

Meanwhile, a good friend who lives in Tucson during the winter and has a summer home in Minot, N.D., is getting flooded out of her home. In fact, the entire city of Minot is being drowned by the Souris River.

It's another border-crosser kind of problem. The headwaters of the Souris are in Canada. It then flows south across the border and makes a U-turn near Minot before heading back north into Canada again. Because of heavy rains and snowmelt in Canada, the river is at historic flood levels, and most of Minot -- including my friend's house -- is underwater.

Just seems like nature hates us this year.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Special Services For The Visually Impaired

Life compelled me to visit the Glendale Social Security office.  I took my number.  It was 24 and wasn't a bad number considering the next number was twelve not counting the in between numbers such as A12H which didn't appear to come up on the board in any particular order.  I was there to ask a question.  More about that later.
Forgetting that I was waiting at a government agency providing services to millions, I brought nothing to read with me.  Not a problem.  The walls were covered with pamphlets in several different languages.
One particular pamphlet caught my eye:  Special Social Security Services For The Visually Impaired.
And elderly family member is significantly impaired visually so coming across this information while waiting to ask a question seemed providential.
I returned to my seat ready to learn all about the special social security services for the visually impaired.
After a couple of pages of information about why the visually impaired need special services the pamphlet got to the purpose of the pamphlet and described the special social security services provided for the visually impaired.
Here, in summary, are those special services.
Many printed materials can be provided in large print.
Except, apparently, the pamphlet I held in my hands.  It was provided in print almost too small for me to read.
Our tax dollars at work.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Now On Kindle

My novel, But This Is Different, is now available on Kindle.  You can get there from here by clicking the book cover on the right hand side of the witsend page.  Steel Cut Press is plugging along and the publishing industry is amazing.
Ten days is a long time to go without posting on this magazine.  On the other hand, a lot of life can happen in ten days.
Back at it now, though.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Goodbye Also To Shrek The Sheep

In a week of animal losses we must make room in our hearts to mourn the death of Shrek the Sheep.  Why?  I don't know except that Shrek did what a lot of us would like to do.  He left the farm, hid in a cave, never got a haircut or did any of the other expected sheep activities and wasn't found until 2004.  He had been on the lam for six years.  First of all, you gotta wonder how in New Zealand, where most of the living things are sheep, the disappearance of one or even of a hundred would be noticed at all let alone attract national attention.  I guess that just shows that Shrek was one amazing sheep.
At any rate and for whatever reason, he became a New Zealand celebrity.  He was flown to the national parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, to meet Prime Minister Helen Clark.  When he finally got his hair cut he immediately lost sixty pounds.  Sixty pounds of fleece.  I know how he must have felt because that's how I feel about a week before I finally get around to calling Linda Baker at CCC Hair Company for my irregular fleecing.  Except that Shrek's fleecing was televised throughout New Zealand and it's rumored that the number of people who watched it almost matched the number who, in New Zealand, watched the funeral of Princess Diana.
The wool was auctioned off at high prices for charity and pictures of the event were worth about a hundred million dollars of publicity for New Zealand.  Luckily no one seems to care about my haircuts.  Lucky for me.  Not so lucky for Linda  Baker.
And in this week of animal losses, Shrek died of old age.  His funeral will be held in Takapo, New Zealand.  The date has yet to be announced.
John Perriam, the guy who owned Shrek and from who Shrek apparently ran away, says that Shrek was just an ordinary sheep who happened to run away and hide for six years.  He does add that Shrek had an unbelievable personality, that he loved children, and that he was really good with the elderly in retirement homes.  A sheep in a retirement home.  Okay.
Josie Spillane, whose charity 'Cure Kids' benefited from the sale of Shrek's wool, said that the lives of dozens of children were better because of Shrek.
That's about all any of us can hope for -- years of doing just what we please and in the end being remembered for good.
And if a sheep can pull that off perhaps the rest of us can also.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

RIP Molly

Thank you, Dr. Ann Campbell and her assistant, Sergio, for ending the pain and suffering of our sweet dog Molly. She's with Barney, Ed, Bonnie, Matt, Oreo, She-She, Rudy, Scraps and all the other dogs and cats who've greatly enriched our lives and kept us company over the years.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A tough year for family dogs, cats and fish

Molly, the sweet old family dog of the Arizona branch of the Walker clan, is dying.

She's 12 years old, so that isn't completely unexpected. But the speed of the disease that in just a couple weeks has left her half-blind, barely able to walk and covered with malignant lumps, has left us in a state of shock.

Blood and tissue tests show that she's suffering from a combination of pancreatitis and cancer. In other words, there's no hope. All we can do is try to keep her comfortable.

This has been a terrible time for pets in our family. As you may recall, a while back, Barney, the family dog of our California branch, died along with the two family cats, Rudy and Scraps. And more recently, Moonie, our granddaughter's beta fish, passed away. What is this, some kind of vendetta against pets in our households?

It's probably best not to dwell too much on that.

What is certain is that tomorrow morning, our wonderful and compassionate veterinarian, Dr. Ann Campbell of Plaza Pet Clinic in Tucson, will come to our house. There, she'll administer the injections that will end Molly's suffering. We'll all be there with Molly, to say goodbye to a gentle, good friend.

All I can think of is what Will Rogers said: "If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went."

Goodbye, Molly. It has been a blessing, having you in our lives.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Standing In The Rubble

The lone survivor surveys the monster's total destruction.

Come on.  Where do they get that stuff?

With Dinner Dangling From Its Mouth

As the crowd looks on in terror.

Where Do They Get Those Ideas

I don't know.  Sometimes I look at those ads for monster movies and they just seem so far fetched.  I mean, how could anyone imagine creatures all jawed capable of eating entire buildings?  Huh?  Who could believe such stuff anyway.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Under The La Loma Bridge

In and around Los Angeles it's easy to find a place to park and take a hike.  You don't have to go very far on the hike before you feel like you're far away from the closest convenience market or shopping mall.  We went for a short hike today in the Arroyo Seco south of Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena.  You know the place.  It's near the casting pond where gentle folk practice, well, casting a hook-less line into water.  And then we came to a reminder that we were in a large city.  We stood under the La Loma Bridge built back in the days when streets were narrow and traffic not so heavy.  So here it is viewed from below:  The La Loma Bridge.

Next time you want to take a hike, we suggest the Arroyo Seco.  It meanders for miles.  And you never know what you might find just around that bend in the trail.
Happy hiking.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Because of Them We Can Vote

On this day in 1919 a bill originally written by Susan B. Anthony and introduced in Congress in 1878 was passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate.  The federal woman suffrage amendment (the nineteenth to the United States Constitution) gave women the right to vote. 
It took decades of struggle for this to pass.  In addition to Susan B. Anthony we owe the victory to Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone,  Henry Blackwell, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Mary Church Terrell, Anna Julia Cooper, Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, Margaret Sanger, and those whose names history has failed to mark or remember for their efforts their sacrifices.  This right to vote should not be in question in this country now but, of course, we know that the disenfranchised will have difficulty each election getting to the polls and having their votes counted.  And, of course, those who could easily get to a polling place and vote don't so still the struggle continues.
On this day, though, in 1919 women became among the counted.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dr. Death Dies

Today Dr. Death died.  Jack Kevorkian died, apparently quietly and painlessly, this morning at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan.   He was eighty-three years old.
It seems odd that the man who witnessed or assisted over one hundred thirty deaths should die in a hospital and not in his rusty, old Volkswagen van.
I certainly have no idea if, during the time he helped people who were presumably dying die, he sought publicity, believed in a cause, or was simply insane.
However,  he did make people consider the end of a life lived with a terminal illness.
The questions he raised have yet to be answered despite Oregon's laws about the end of life and the choices we have about how we die.
I can't help but wonder if, when he knew he was dying, he didn't yearn for that van and the ability to end his life or if he was thankful his earlier self was no longer capable of hastening the inevitable.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Oh, So The Food Goes On A Plate!

The food pyramid, in just another reminder of the scarcity and fragility of the job market, got laid off today. In an obvious down sizing effort, it was replaced by the food circle which presumably is cheaper to employ.
Okay.  Okay. 
I know that the circle really represents a plate. 
Apparently not enough people ate off of things shaped like triangles.  At least that's one explanation besides economic hard times for the switch.  Here's something the governmental diet folks in their exuberance to oust the pyramid didn't think about:  There's only a fork in their diagram.  Presumably, then, soup is not healthy enough to make it to the food plate thing.  And what about a napkin?  Huh?
I don't know.
Change is hard.
But really, was the pyramid so bad?
Or is it that we are no longer capable of imagine that the stuff on the pyramid actually goes on a plate?
And now must we place our food in the particular order?  I don't like fruit and vegetables on the same plate.
It is possible I'm taking this way too hard.
On the other hand, maybe not.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

AIDS At Thirty

On June 5, 1981, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first known cases of what would soon be known as AIDS.  In its report the CDC told of five men hospitalized in Los Angeles with a rare strain of pneumonia.  Two other men had already died.
The report included this statement:  "The fact that these patients were all homosexuals suggests an association between the pneumonia they developed and some aspect of a homosexual lifestyle or disease acquired through sexual contact.
And so it began.
Over thirty million people have died of AIDS related causes.   That's a million a year since the CDC issued its report.
How has HIV/AIDS changed your life?
Who was the first person you knew by name to become infected?
My friend Bob lived with AIDS for over twenty years always expecting it to kill him.  It never did but because he was convinced he was dying of AIDS he did a whole lot of other reckless things and one of those did kill him.  If he could comment on that irony he would doubtless say that he'd do it all over again to show AIDS it lost at least its battle with him.
And he definitely on this day would not sing happy birthday.