Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Call me Kate

Call Me Kate is a great read set in the Civil War era.  Fourteen year old Kate's family lives in Pennsylvania in a mining town.  Of course, the mines were very dangerous at that time, with no compensation for injuries or death.  Kate's life is tied to the perils of the time and place where she lives. 

As the Civil War goes on, Kate takes a job at the home of a rich family.  She risks it all to help a friend in the Molly Maguires.  They play a role in protesting the draft.  Yes, you heard right - there were draft dodgers in the Civil War era. 

Buy it at Amazon, or go to Tribute Books - http://www.tribute-books.com/

*Mom's Choice Award Winner in young adult historical fiction category

*4 1/2-star rating at Amazon.com

Friday, October 15, 2010


I love where I live, in a small town a few blocks from the Nooksack River. Recently, my Dad and I went up to Mt. Baker National Forest. One of the special places there is the Nooksack Falls. The native people in this area hold this place sacred.

Beyond the beauty of this area, which is amazing, is the clear, clean water. In the last place I lived, not far from where we now live, the water comes from an underground aquifer. During the five years I lived there, there was one day that chlorine was added to the water! Otherwise the water was tested regularly and pumped straight into our taps. This is no small thing, since so many people in the world do not have access to clean water. And we humans cannot live without water.

It is hard to believe nearly 1 billion people lack access to clean water, which causes a litany of struggles, diseases and even death. African women walk over 40 billion hours each year carrying cisterns weighing up to 18 kilograms to gather water, which is usually still not safe to drink. In fact, many scholars attribute the conflict in Darfur at least in part to lack of access to water.

At the same time: it takes 24 liters of water to produce one hamburger; it takes 40 million liters to charge the 80 million active iPhones in the world; a cotton t-shirt took 1,514 liters of water to produce, and jeans require an extra 6,813 liters. And waste and pollution diminish the available clean water even further.

The good news is that we can take action: contribute to organizations like water.org and charitywater.org; correctly dispose of household wastes so they don't end up in our streamsrivers and eventually the oceans; or measure how much water it took to make your favorite foods with this app: http://virtualwater.eu

Be aware, be careful with this precious resource, and be grateful for the water that comes out of your tap.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cat Got Your Tongue

This is the title of a book I started writing in 1990! In the move last month, I found the first chapter. So today I scanned it into the computer, and I love it. I know this one will be great fun, and something I would like to have read when I was a teen, or even in my twenties. Heck, I would love to read it now!

The heroine is a teenager, and she meets two aliens on her first trip to New York. They take her home with them and they go with her to her interview for entrance into the Space Academy.

And that is all I am going to tell for now.

I will say that it's a blast, and great fun to write.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Getting Published

I have been writing since I was in second grade. I have even been published: in the grade school newspaper; and though not many people know about it, a "Note" (80 pages with lots of cites) in the Urban Law Journal, published by Washington University School of Law.

Nonetheless, I want to finish the book I have been writing, and get it published. To the end, I have been talking to people, writing, reading, and learning about agents and publishers. One of the most helpful things I have done is to read the Guide to Literary Agents Editor's Blog.

I hear about new agents, writers' conference, and how authors got their agents. I find tips about writing, and read other authors' blogs that have been posted on the Guide to Literary Agents Editor's Blog.

So . . . if you want to get published, I'd say this a good deal.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Another Vulture

The birds and bees have been blessing me lately. Recently I saw another vulture. Actually the first one was an adult Turkey buzzard, which is what we have around here. I have more than once seen a tree FULL of them! The more recent one was a young bird. For one thing, it did not have the red head. It was not an eagle, as it held its wings above its body (like any vulture would) rather than flat horizontal (as any eagle would).

This one showed up as I was in my garden, flew overhead and off to the north. Typical of a vulture, it barely flapped its wings. Yet it soared and dipped and rose again, riding on the thermals. That must be fun!

I feel so blessed by nature, and grateful!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mount Baker

My Dad's name is Dale, if you want to know. He and I went up Mount Baker, known by the natives in the area as Komo Kulshan. You can find the fascinating legend of Komo Kulshan here:

The mountain looked a bit different to me, and I realized I have never been on the mountain at this time of year. At sea level, it is summer (even though it hasn't been very warm!). But on Mt. Baker, it is spring. Snow is melting, but surely not gone. We couldn't go all the way to the top of the highway because there was deep snow. There were people snow shoeing and cross country skiing.

We did, however, go to Nooksack Falls. The native people have a legend about that too, though I cannot tell it. The falls are beautiful anytime, but this was the best experience I have had there. The river is swollen from the snow melt run-off, and the place was full of rainbows.

There is a shallow cave at the bottom of the falls and just inside it, there was a huge rainbow. It was more pronounced than the other rainbows, I suspect because of the contrast to the dark behind it. It was lovely, and a great counterpoint to the last trip my Dad and I made up the mountain.

That was in the deep winter, and the mountain had feet of snow. The trees were decorated with it - so beautiful! As we went up the mountain, a young man waved us down. He and some friends had been back-country skiing down the mountain and hitching rides back up with people headed toward skiing. By the time Dad and I were going up though, there were few to no other cars heading up. We gave him a lift, and got to see the beauty near the top. That too was lovely.

The mountains are important in the shamanic tradition of Peru, in which I have been initiated. We go to the mountain to renew our mesa - a kind of medicine bag. Because this mountain is the nearest to where I live, it is my teacher, and I give it thanks.

Monday, July 5, 2010


A few days ago, I was looking at my garden and thinking about transplanting it to our new location. There was a bee gathering nectar from one of my flowers, and then, to my surprise, I saw a hummingbird fly into my garden and sip from a flower. The hummer left as quickly as it came.

The lovely thing is this: hummingbird is one of the names I have been given by Spirit. Yes, I have several names. One is in Arabic. No I am not an Arab, at least not in this lifetime. I do, however, enjoy Sufi dancing and have a respect for the ancient Islamic tradition. The Arabic name came in the midst of a ceremony more than twenty years ago. I didn't know what language it was until a few years ago, when a friend who knows Arabic told me what it means: A friend of the Great Mystery. Part of the name is a breath.

This is based on the Hermetic tradition, that to name that which is unnameable limits it. So both Judaic and Arabic traditions have the concept of avoiding naming that which encompasses everything and more than we know.

The other name was given to me by a revered elder of the area where I live. The name is in the Coast Salish language group, and means Mountain Goat. The mountain goat is revered by the native people here because it talks directly to Great Spirit.

As I write this I have tears in my eyes. Partly that is because the one who gave me the name was so accurate in recognizing my particular gifts, and because she is no longer with us in a body. I feel quite humble about this responsibility, because that is what a name is. The native people of this area know that well, and when a person is given a name it is a sacred geas.

So.... here's the thing: hummingbird does the impossible in its annual migration, flying across areas where there is no place to stop and eat. You likely already know that hummingbirds need to eat almost constantly because they burn so much energy. How do they manage to do what they cannot do? I don't know.

There is also a South American story that hummingbird flew up to Great Spirit by riding on the back of a Condor, and then flying the rest of the way. So I was told hummingbird is a kind of translation of my names.

You might be aware that hummingbirds are fierce creatures. Reminds me of when I played the role of Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream in high school. There is a speech by one of the characters saying of Hermia: "And though she be but little, she is fierce." Fits!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Moving Pictures

As I was packing to move, I found a package of pictures my Dad took about 6 or 7 years ago when he came out to visit. There were some fine pictures of nature, a really wonderful one of my Dad, some of his sister Wanda, and one lovely one of Misty.

Each of these were precious. Wanda was close to death at the time, so these last pictures of her are special. The picture of my Dad reveals his soul in a way I had never seen before. And the picture of Misty is cherished because she died some years ago, and I have few pictures of her. She didn't like posing.

All of my animal friends are dear to me, yet Misty was the closest to my heart. She had a Pisces moon quite close to my own, for one thing. For another, she had been hit by a car and her right hind leg was smashed. She hobbled the length of a football field to get to me. Luckily, my housemate was a night owl and went out the door and found her. The vet was able to piece the leg back together, but it wasn't until years later when she was attuned to Reiki that she healed her leg. At the end she was running flat out, something she had not been able to do for most of her life.

Misty did everything flat out. She didn't know the meaning of moderation, except in her diet. She ate only what she needed, and stayed slender her whole life. At the end, she was truly thin because of a hyperthyroid condition. She did love her mice and the raw food diet I discovered in her last years.

Misty died the way she lived - on her own terms. She called in a raccoon, or maybe several. I know that partly because Misty told me and partly because she was so fiercely glad that her body provided food for another creature.

For almost two years after she died I cried every evening. Misty would come and lick my face when she was alive. After she died, she would come and ask why I was crying. She certainly wasn't traumatized by death. It was another grand adventure. She seldom comes to visit anymore. I am occupied and I suspect she is too.

However, Misty, Samantha (the cat who taught me to listen to animals) and Coco (an Aussie/Blue Heeler mix who spent her last years with me) asked to come back to me. It might just be soon!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Bee

As I said last week, I am looking for a home for my Dad and I. I was out looking for a specific home for sale - didn't find it. Frustrated, I stopped at a gas station to get directions. I reached for my bag and saw a lone bee wandering around on top of it.

Once upon a time I kept bees, and got some marvelous honey out of the deal. So I know that a lone bee is lost without its hive. I didn't know when or where this particular bee got into my car. A bee can fly at least a mile, but not a lot more than that. With no way to tell this one's home, I decided to put it out on the grass. Unfortunately, it probably died an early death (even though their lives are pretty short anyway).

Then I got to thinking. Was this another signpost for me from Nature? Bees are about community above all. They are industrious, and create sweetness. At this point I am so tired and frustrated in the search for a property my Dad and I could love that is also within our means and we can move into at the end of this month. The industrious I have already been doing, so bring on the sweetness!

Community is not foreign to me. I have lived in several intentional communities, and currently am one of the leaders in a spiritual community. My community is supporting me in a number of different ways already. Is there something more, something specific?

Perhaps I will be living in community again. Who knows? Stay tuned for the rest of the story.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Beauty of the Vulture

My Dad and I are buying a house. Dad is vigorous for 82 years on the planet. He plans on fishing and maybe getting a part-time job. I am nearly finished writing a book, and will be working on getting it published.

The process of buying a house is new to me, and yesterday I was down in the dumps. A dear friend took me for a drive in the country, which was lovely. We went some places in the county where I had never been. I learned that Lake Whatcom is HUGE! We stopped on the way at a country store - lots of different things for sale. I bought some baby brussel sprout plants. We shared some espresso chip ice cream.

And the icing on the cake was watching a gorgeous turkey vulture swooping back and forth over the large mowed grassy area across the road. It was really quite stunning and beautiful. And then the vulture flew off.

Now many people think vultures are not beautiful. Some people think they are dirty. What is real is these scavengers play an extremely valuable and necessary function, preventing the spread of disease and keeping the environment clean.

So when I got home, I checked out Ted Andrews view of vultures in “Animal Speak.”

In alchemy, the vulture was a symbol of sublimation, particularly because of its resemblance to the eagle. The vulture was considered a sign of confirmation of a new relationship between the volatile aspects of life and the fixed, the psychic energies and the cosmic forces. It was a promise that the suffering of the immediate was temporary and necessary for a higher purpose was at work, even if not understood at the time. It reflects that no matter how difficult the life conditions, rescue is as imminent in your life as was the rescue of Prometheus by Hercules.

This fit so well - I had been stressed and the beauty of the vulture in flight was restorative. Today, I spoke with the realtor, who is doing her job perfectly. I know that very soon we will have a wonderful place to live.