Motley Crew and Long Dream

Up early with my wolf pillow, signs, petitions and little table I head for the farmer’s market. Last week I did the petition for Save Our Wolves on my own and gathered about forty signatures. My favorite family had two little kids that wanted photos of the famed wolf Journey I had up for display and enjoyed and pet the large wolf pillow with a bow tie on.

This week I have help. Two people eventually show up and it is a wild ride. One person is quite the outspoken petitioner with a thick British accent. She admonishes the people who keep walking in this working class Brit style. As one man goes by she says something about the kind of cap he is wearing let her know he would not like wolves and mutters a few other things about hunting. Both myself and the more demure other helper that is there with me are surprised at her audacity. She has a string of stories of experiences trying to stop the rodeo in Salinas, and the men giving her the finger as they speed off in trucks raising dust in her face and she announces how she does not care and gives them the finger back.

I begin to reel her in letting  her know that I did not want to get in a brawl with people or get thrown off of campus and she very kindly catches herself and respects the requests. She explains that she has a serious illness and things are hard right now with her body and gives us another series of disturbing but tongue in cheek stories of nearly getting wiped out by the medication she was prescribed to control some of the effects of her illness this last month. Her bravado might have the edge of someone who feels like time is running out.

We have a very lively day as the temperatures drop and a wind picks up and we are freezing while talking to people. People are nice, a couple of men want to tell us how wolves are killers and kill for the heck of it. I feel how I want to say does that remind you of anyone in defense of the wolf but do not. I find something contagious about my irreverent volunteer seeping into my attitude but keep working on her to tame her presentation, give space to the people who do come up then run them through some of the same lecture-etes. Things settle, we have a flow of people. One encounter I appreciate is with a group of kids from Lassen County, the place where all of our California wolves are missing. it is a good dialogue as well as a  sweet exchange with the teachers.

I hear one shaggy dog story from a man who met a wolf on a trail and thought his number was up as the wolf stares him dow. He goes on to explain that he finds himself in his large body and Cabella cap under his breathe say” nice wolf”. The wolf looks at him and does this circular tail spin, and lifts his head-up and walks off.

The telling of it and presentation is more like a long shaggy wolf story while I am trying to meet and greet people asking about the petition but he happily finishes his story satisfied that I can see his wolf with him since he figures people would not believe him in the forest service and then heads out. He does not sign the petition but takes a flyer.

One woman with a very sincere look on her face tells me a dream about a group of wolves letting her know that this is our last chance for humanity and believes that if they are destroyed we will all be, and begins to cry. The animals are communicating with us and we need to listen. Her husband consoles her, they do sign the petition to stop the bill to d-list the wolves as endangered and take a flyer to put up at work.

There are many friendly and sincere people who simply take an interest, take a moment and are willing to relate to even the zaniest of us in order to consider the wolf and the future of this fine animal.

Tonight I dream of my dog trainer that worked with my  dog briefly the summer before she died. I am visiting his place in Vermont and I am sharing all the ways we can help dogs with simple words and gestures within a more complex model of dog training. He is an endangered species dealing with his own serious illness and many students draw nearer to absorb and write down his work and help with his challenges.

In the dream I make him laugh and take him down a road by his house instead of his driveway on purpose, and other silly things. At the house I talk to some people about clothes. I have on a practical outfit and the complement is about how simple and nice they are. I take that all in. I wander in the house and find a little boutique of hand designed outfits, very expensive, and they are one of a kind and I would not normally wear or buy.  I look at the rack and I pick up one of the finest and rather exotic outfits that is there that is tailored pant skirt , oriental style and put them on and take off my boots and wear open shoes, and a silk royal blue top. I model them for the group and I look wonderful in the attire with my classic bone structure. It feels great I decide to do this for myself and feel myself step forward and relax.





Grand Slam and White Night

The unexpected always comes our way and when we least expect it. My husband and I walk to pick some oregano and notice the downed iron gate grown over with clover and yellow flowers. It has this quaint look to it but also it is slippery and needs to be moved. We are both feeling better after our crummy bout with food poisoning and are making more savory meals and have a flourishing bush of oregano to enjoy. My husband begins to muscle the gate up and he wants my help since the gate seems to be stuck to a metal pole. Unfortunately the pole is fastened by old wire and when I lean close it springs loose and slams me right into my mouth. It is a shock. Like a wounded animal I begin to run up the breezeway. I run back to the bathroom to flush out the wound and begin to shake  but keep washing to clear out the wound and to use some peroxide on it. The bar is rusty and important to clean it before we go to the Docs on Duty.

Both of us say nothing as we drive quickly over to the emergency. I know I need to have a tetanus shot. The doctor tells me I am lucky I could have broken teeth, and someone last week had a broken nose from the same type of accident. I laugh and tell him I am going to let others know they do lousy botox at this facility. The young woman that gives me the shot lets me know she needed Ibuprofen because she felt so sick from the shot. The nurse asks if am I allergic, I let her know I am but thanks for the heads up. More helpful information that is supposed to ease the trauma and let me know how lucky I am.

Over the days I use all the things I know to help my body move through the shot and trauma; milk thistle, Tumeric, hemp oil and this funny tube of propolis from Russia that I use for bites and throw in some Arnica all around my mouth for soreness and the welt of bruising rising higher as the day goes on. I rely my little Lumen light therapy machine and ice for swelling. My mouth is the center of attention and my body appreciates I take the time to love it.

On the weekend I go to my Inner Dance group intensive or what we call a Dive. There are ten women and we follow my teacher into a set of movements and breathing that enlivens and supports the nervous system . After our first dive we draw and write about some of what comes up. We share our drawings like live action animation following with our hand the drawing itself and sharing the words and feelings. As I write this, just now, I look out my window and see a nuthatch doing is robotic quick moves that is a search and rescue to find bugs on the fence. I feel I am on the same mission in my journey during our dive in class.

The group is sweet and tender and I get up as the last person to offer my story to the group. I am exhausted and sore but calm. I talk about being hit in the face for the first time as a child by a nun and the trickle down effect of sustaining an injury to the body that is both a shock and affront to our sense of self in the face of vulnerability.

The first impact to my face regards a memory of prayer time in class each morning at parochial school and how we must be quiet. I do mean must. I bump my desk and a pencil begins to roll down the slanted desktop. I reach for it quickly, instinctively so it will not make noise but that gesture for the nun seems to be worth a slap in the face which is a shock. My parents do not slap me.

But my mind rolls to several scenes that have happened to my face, and feel the scar below my eye from a scared dog a vet asks me to jump in and hold while she tugs out stitches. The dog is my own and like the steel bar I see this deliberate force focused in her eyes, and she is just a pup, coming at me. Unlike the steel bar my dog looks distressed after and distant and we are both unable to move towards each other for a while after this event. I have to put her in the car and my own instinct tells me to go to the ER to get a shot, and to tape the laceration just below my left eye and attend to the other punctures on the side of my nose. The receptionist at the vet office tries to make lite of it but the young vet encourages me to go. The cuts are from sharp puppy teeth and are quick and clean.  I did not move when she bite but leaned in too close to help.

There are several scars on my body and not all of them are visible but I humorously map them out with another participant at the workshop and we swap some scar stories. But that night like the dog bite, the steel bar replays over and over with this scene of fear but going to find help or caring for the injury quickly.

At night the images and feelings travel in a meditative but sleepless night as I listen to the pair of great horned howls nesting and making new life just outside the window. I wake up to see them fly off at dawn.

I move my story on my page in the workshop by moving just my hands across the lines drawn and with my eyes look at the faces around me, and feel everyone listen and empathy and the kindness of a good witness, no one fixing you just holding you in that presence. I do not need to even be responsive in the room to anyone just rest in whatever is there and I feel relieved and glad I could just tell the story out loud.

Daylight savings arrives and Monday I go to our normal class of movement and continue with the journey of expansion. We have all had our first sunny day in weeks and spirits are high.

When the class is over and I step outside and say good-night as I walk through the gate the sky is filled with freshly cleaned twinkling stars. In the distance is the deep gray blue of the ocean united in gradations of night color. I see a beautiful white form flying towards me and realize it is a barn owl flying right over my head, and passes over the top of the gate into yard while two other women are standing and talking as they look up and see the same owl passing over them.

I walk back to meet them at the gate to share in the experience together and the wonder, and tell them it is a barn owl. One woman says well that is a great omen to have as the days turn towards spring as this white winged beauty flies over us with everything shining and bright before we drive to our respective homes.

I think of a wolf video I saw of a barn owl flying over the wolf and see it chase and leap into the air as the owl dives around, and the wolf is free to run on the open meadow at  full speed probably this time of year in another place and another time. I feel the magnitude of nature when it intersects so profoundly with my life. It would be very hard to live without that in my immediate world and am lucky to have this opportunity.

I found this photos by Sharon Lisa Clarke called Woodland Wolf.

sharon lisa clarke





The president announced he is de-listing wolves as endangered species.  This is like walking backwards when you are trying to move ahead leaving the wolves with no federal protection and lousy state management. It is a cruel blow to the wolves and our future but it is not the last act. I am on a webinar tonight with those that are concerned about the implications of going in this direction and there are 550 callers that care about wolves. They also understand the science and the necessity of predators in our ecosystem and are aware of the prejudice placed on wolves as a species. The emphasis in our conversation is that it is not a wise decision for our future. They do not intend to witness a ill-considered decision roll back forty years of work with a signature.

Growing up when someone would say it is a political decision I thought it meant it was well rounded and everyone judiciously came to an understanding but now I understand otherwise. Often if something is political it is for vested interests, normally a profit that benefits a few and does benefit the larger community. It is unfortunate this is what is in front of us on so many levels

I have been drawing wolves, mostly I have drawn birds so this is an interesting task, and after my fourth attempt I have finished a small portrait of OR7 or Journey our first California wolf since 1924 and father of the Shasta pack. He has been missing. I want to capture the sad and wise and depth in his eyes. I want to evoke this wolf by drawing him over and over. Call him back to our state. He may be missing but he is not lost in the hearts of those who greeted him just a few years ago.


Journey draw


The Last Moment

On the way home from my movement group I arrive at the big intersection and stop before I head to the left off of Mission Drive and down onto to Highway One.  At the signal there is a mouse or rat I see off to the side of the road that jumps off the curb into the far lane to the right and runs across and between the traffic. The mouse goes in and out full tilt across the lanes on my side, and over the divider but just as it reaches the other side to safe ground a car turns the corner runs over the mouse and it is dead. I feel the suddenness of seeing the mouse completely alive in a night active scurry and heading out in front of me then I witness this tiny being’s last moment of  life.

As I drive home I continue to listen to a CD of bird sounds. On the section I am in I hear the voices of owls, woodpeckers, and hummers. They have a coherence in each group depicting their character of the bird as I know it, and genus but different with each other. The same but different.

I pull up to our house and there are a team of owls calling and suddenly I hear their young responding, the deep male voice, the higher call of the mother, the child I imagine. I am in the cycle of life.

This morning at dawn the silhouette of the parents appears moving in and out of a huge pine. The owls are talking more and more as the light is shifting to dawn as one flies off they become completely quiet as sky lightens into dawn.

This is a shot of the students in front IMG_2256McDonalds protesting the treatment of animals. I like the dancing girl in costume. They were gone on the way back from my errands.

Southern California

Driving south hawk after hawk appears on poles, wires, tops of trees. There are sizeable flocks of vultures migrating back into the area weaving in and our of our drive to Los Angeles. We hope to sight a condor since we are in the middle earth of California where they are just over the hill but the largest birds remain vultures.

The hills are vibrant after the deluge of rain. The sycamore trees shine up through the canyons of granite and oak. There are stretches where the oak trees individuate as self proclaimed beings with a style of their own as the hillsides slide them down the surface of the land in just the right position for their cameo appearance.

Stopping in Santa Barbara we visit my good friend’s pastel paintings in a one woman exhibit “The Crossing” of shimmering moments of a creek she claims is more of a unseen little wet tangle behind where she lives. We share a rather gut bomb lunch at a Mexican cafe and talk about art, politics and relationship as fast as we can before we take off.

The paintings wonderful to take in before our drive further south. They are complex and bear falling into like a dream. For me they are like my friend aware and capable of dense meaning and reflection of the world around her. Their content is full of life and death in motion in an effervescent beauty of shapes and forms, floating on a timeless blue carpet. They  evoke the sky, the earth’s surface, the blue that holds the dead leaves like stars in the sky, and they are maps of nature ever-changing.

When we arrive in the valley we can relax and share a meal with my husband’s sister. We have fun at a wild Italian restaurant and I opt for a salad and a taste of ravioli. We sleep hard and wake up to a walk to have coffee and then head over to my family. Both are my family now, new sister-in-law and one that is deeply embedded in my life these many years with my brother. It is like family bookends on either side of the canyon, one in the valley and one by the ocean.

My brother and his wife have so much to carry in their lives each in their own way but we share food, a silly evening watching the Oscars and sort out medical visits that have appeared in the plan but mostly savor our time.

The next day I go on my own and I meet a new caregiver who is a dancer. She shares her love of dance and her love of caring for people from an early age. She is from a large family in the south and she has to start from scratch with her credentials in a new state that will layer what she has done with more to do at a cost to basically work at what she always has done after satisfying this states licensing fees and process. It is ironic.

While I am on this trip, it turns out, one of my friends from New Mexico is taking a brief retreat in Ojai before she goes to gather the last of her mother’s belongings after having done many trips during the journey towards death. This is to be a rest for her. We plan to meet the morning she arrives and drives up past where I will be with my brother but the unexpected appointment for my brother makes it harder to arrange on her way of Highway One.

The ease of her journey is shattered  the next day by a hiking accident that leaves her thumb lacerated with a compound fracture and her images arrive late in the night of her damaged finger. We text back and forth about the experience and her visit to the ER and what resources she finds to try and help her through the injury. Luckily she finds kindness and support but it is difficult nonetheless. She works with her hands as a gifted cranial therapist and so this shifts not only the nature of her time here but her work when she returns. Her resourcefulness during this whole experience is impressive, and although we could not meet, we connected with one another.

The week before we arrive my sister-in-law had food poisoning but she is still shaky given how her body was taxed.I am glad we are there to help with what we can and visit with everyone.

My husband and I share our time with his family, mine and we do well in all of it together and even have a chance to walk all the way to the bluffs in the Palisades while waiting for Pizza to take home. I have not been on this walk in a while. The day is crystal clear and people are walking their dogs on the little trail. I am grateful that many of the old houses are on this street although dotted within them are these ugly ‘mcmansions’ that dominate the once open lot. It ruins the area with the overstated designs that empty the character of the place into a stereotype of big wealth. I am glad to see the older and well kept homes along the  road, love the old fig trees, sycamore, pine surrounding these elegant and unique estates.

We have also have our valley time with my newer sister-in-law and her newer dog and have fun sharing meals and time at her house. We walk each morning to town and see the large male husky “Aloe” in the park who seems to know us. He is bounding around and tugging at my husband eager to  play.

Another email that arrives is that my friend’s dog had to be put down in Taos. Tanto was a great dog and was my dog’s best pal. He is wolfey in many ways like Lupine but a calmer wiser wolf, and they were a great pair. We wondered what their pups may have looked like because they were both so beautiful and brave.

It is always difficult to leave my family but we head back the next morning to head home. It is raining when we arrive and we unpack before the deluge and make a simple meal. The next evening after shopping for a few things I make us a lovely salad and both still tired we go to sleep early. Both of us wake up feeling nauseated and the next two days deal with food poisoning. We kid each other about who threw up the most but it is awful and it takes us days to enjoy food or even trust it. What made us sick was organic lettuce from our local market. We did not have to go to the Doctor like my sissy did but we cab completely commiserate with her experience firsthand.

I am back to work on the wolf benefit and show. Hard put to find a place for the show but thrilled at the artists involved and working hard to bring as much to bear for it in the weeks to come.

One night I toured some of the galleries on the first friday event on March 1  around town. As look at the various shows I am aware of how much I want another content to emerge for the event that pulls the viewer into the wolves. I want the slaughter to stop, the on going bills for night hunting, trapping or bogus counts that do not equal the true need for a species to survive that is so very important. I want our “wall” of art offering a corridor that the wolves and our imagination pass through together into a future where they can survive and be in the lives of our children’s children.

I like this photo of Tanto by my friend. His affable wolf-like face and smile and soft eyes.




Got Your Back

How often I see animals, birds, insects work together to protect and feed. They are competitive for food and terrain and it is harder given our encroachment into their territory.

When someone says to another “I’ve got your back,” there is a sense of safety implied. It lets me know I am being noticed and cared about in my life. I am lucky that is the case that friendships and partnership offer that support.

I think of the dogs and cats in my life who did the same thing; one cat did that during his whole life of 21 years. He was a champion tail swatter of any large dog that entered our environment and would leap out unexpectedly and ‘bang,bang’ that tail and hide behind something. On braver days he would be on top of something and hook the tail with his paw and hold it til the dog turned around and give the dog the evil eye.

I feel myself trying to watch the back of wolves but I cannot be there to stop those that shoot them for weak reasons that I believe could be mitigated but I am trying. The benefit I am organizing “Heroes and Heroines: Wolves in Our Midst,” continues to grow with more artists interested in doing the show for public awareness. I feel they are a good sized pack helping provide safety for wolves.

I am running a fundraiser on line about the project since we need funds for rent and promo, shipping costs to cover basic costs.

These two crows were in a group of thirty but it depicts “got your back,” quite well.




Fight Downtown

My friend is here visiting from New Mexico. As I drive up the road to the Frosty Freeze parking lot at the edge of town I see her back lite in the bright evening sun as it is setting. Her curly happy hair and big eyes greet me as we hug across the seat then head for a place to have tea before my class. I have in mind this funny little tea house in town that is located down a breezeway  which used to be a rhythm store offering drumming lessons. The store is now Buddha filled along with low tea tables, banners of ancient text an a large menu of exotic teas. The people that run the tea house have this monk like reverence serving the tea.  We never make it to the tea house itself and are waylaid by a sudden shift in mood and activity.

As I drive up to turn into the parking lot next to our destination a young  Hispanic couple both dressed in darker clothes walk caddy-corner across the road in front of me chatting to one another happily. As I slow my car on my passenger side mirror I see someone speeding on a bike. There is a young women who has long wavy brown hair ,looks athletic moving her bike up along the side of the road. I hesitate to make my turn as I see her stop, throw down her bike on the street turn directly towards my windshield yelling angrily towards someone behind me. She is standing there pointing wildly at the young couple that have just crossed the street in front of me are standing. She gestures towards them as a young man on another rental bike behind me throws his bike down and runs across the street, pins the woman against the little cafe window on Cedar Street with a loud slam. I see the faces of people inside startle as he socks the girl in the face, suddenly, she is on the ground and screaming. Immediately, there is a brawl as the girl next to her bike bolts across the street, and runs into the fray,. Behind her she is being followed by an older woman with a knit cap that I have seen on the streets before flush cheeked from the cold is winching and says “hey stop this”.

My friend wants me to keep moving, and does not want to look.  I feel transfixed but there is some fear there could be a weapon. I go around the corner and we park and we end up going across the other side of the garden mall, and walk through our beloved bookstore to another cafe to have soup or tea. We are trying to find some calm.

My friend and I talk about many things but we both are feeling the tang of this terrible taste of revenge and anger that was in front of us. I go back to my car with her and cannot find the parking ticket and I can tell I am jumbled from the experience. But I search to find it to validate the card in order to drive out of the lot. While I am rattling around in my purse and the full moon glares into the complex she tells me this funny story of how her husband’s parking ticket was missing and how they looked all over and turns out it was magnetized to his cell phone.

I search around for a while in my purse, and lift things out of it and then as I pull out my cell phone there it is, the ticket plastered to the screen. We laugh but it feels a bit eerie. I pay at the booth and take my friend to her door, and tarry on to class.

When I arrive at class a woman in the group notices I am tense and asks how I am doing, and I burble out the whole event and she listens. Later in the evening after a  sumptuous class I finally cry as I share my experience as we lie there in the dark sharing the class experience. I begin speaking  about what I feel in my body from our movement work together, and how I thought about revenge during the day before this event happened, and of course the wolves and another shooting in Montana. I share the intensity of the fight I saw but feel the release in my body over the time of the class which eases me to calm. I convey how important our work together is as a balancing force with the onslaught of violence around us.

Revenge can be an act of leveling out the imbalances we have had growing up by being expressed through a noble purpose like the young girl activist from Norway has done about climate change or it can be met with just the sheer hatred I saw this evening. It is a force to be reckoned with in our lives.

As I lie there in class the moon is filtering through the shades and covers my body like a blanket before we sit up and head to our cars.

Another friend before she came to the class said that outside of her office there was a woman standing barefoot in the bitter cold who was screaming  “how she wants Daniel to understand God has told her what to do”. My friend offers to get her water but when she comes back with it the woman is gone but she can still here her screaming in the distance.

It is a full moon as I drive back home. The intensity of the light fills my car and the road but I find it reassuring and calming. I cried in the class about the sight I saw.  I was upset when I called the police, and they told me no one had reported the incident from the cafe.

The next day I call the cafe the fight was in front of and ask the young manager if they saw the fight and thought to call the police. He said that it was over before it began but I told him otherwise since my car was lingering in the road long enough to see how they dragged the fight up from his door a mere twenty feet as they kept hitting. He said he thought the people who had the fight should call and not himself, and saw no reason to bring the police into it.

I keep talking and related to him about the gang fights we had a while back and how my friend’s son was shot and murdered for wearing the wrong color sneakers and mistaken for an enemy gang member. I said how we did not want to ignore the violence on the streets and that it was important to report this kind of incident. He was quiet and listened before we said good-bye. I feel distressed that so little was attended to around this situation, and how helpless the girl may have been who was hit so violently.

The woman operator at 911 said “you would be surprised how many people think someone else would have called”. I called but it was too late to deal with the situation and so I did not step up to really respond myself and made assumptions about the people that were at the scene of the crime would do that as well.



Our First February Visitor

The last time I saw a sharp shinned hawk this close to me was years ago when one flew into my back door while  working on a performance piece called ‘One of the Bird’s Feathers.’

Drawing with pastel pencil I create a golden native dancer. A hawk dance unfolds around this tiny figure. Suddenly there is a flash in front of my eyes and a large hawk hits the bay window. I walk over and the bird is stunned on the sill and I pick it up and hold it so that the hawk regains focus. He looks at me with sharp intensely focused eyes and I fall into them with my own. He is riveted as I talk to him and let him know I am taking him out the door. I slowly walk to the door, and as soon as I reach the back porch I turn his body so he can exit easily and let him fly. For the next several days this hawk flies in front on the clothesline as I hang the laundry as if to say thank you.

Today while I am writing about this new project for the wolves, I feel some obstacle to the latest chapter I experienced with a place that offered to host the show. When I arrive at the site I meet two lovely young women busy organizing their tasks and we have a talk about when and presentation style but at some point they go from hosting a benefit to  whizzing by a large rental fee that would requiring  a fee from each of my artists.

We talk some more about other options we seem on course but I leave having questions and more thoughts. When I wake up this morning I pitch another idea but also how I heard their excitement about a benefit and the fee had never been mentioned when I proceeded to line up the artists. But when I look up from my two hour endeavor there is a hawk sitting on the fence right out side the window. The hawk reminds me of a time when art and community were in high gear for the performance and it felt then that hawk and this one keep something on track.

I do not know what will transpire but I let my artists know June may be the soonest we can set up a show so everyone has some time to prepare and for me to keep opening doors and not give up.


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