Content Charmed with Context


We Have a Tiktok Problem? 


"We have really have a tiktok problem" famous quote from leaked audio from Jonathan Greenblatt referencing how young people get information from tiktok that policitians would prefer wasn't available. 

The house/senate just passed a ban on Tiktok in the US, and Biden just signed it. If Byte dance doesn't sell to an American company it will be banned.

The people pushing for this ban and/or sale are some of the worst characters in our government which is already filled with genocidal, racist, sexist homophobic crapitalists. 

And it's a chilling assault on already endangered free speech. 

I started my very first tiktok profile on February 22 of this year. I am a very reluctant user of tiktok. At first, it because I remember when they started they suppressed fat people, old people, and gay people. Then it was because I can't stand the constant text on video thing, and also the weird auto generated voices. And also I feared becoming addicted to it as I had seen others succumb. 

But my hand was forced to finally relent and set up a profile.

A potential publisher wants every author to have a profile on tiktok with at least 4k likes and 100 organic follows in metrics.

I really didn't need to worry. I find tiktok repellent for the most part. Nothing has ever shown up in my feed that makes me eager to return to the platform even though I have tried to add things I'm in interested in. Probably this issue is because I do it from a laptop.

At first the default feed was girls with rucked butt pants, then it was makeup stuff, then talking heads. None of which interest me. I'm into music, art, progressive politics, and gardening. That's what I post. That's what I like, but the algorithm doesn't feed me these things. And so I don't really look at tiktok. 

My "reach" and being in the feed of others has been cut off twice right after I posted anti-genocide stuff both times. This is now pinned to the top of my profile

It's been interesting to interact with more younger gen Z people beyond the neurodivergent ones I generally mentor. I have hope for the future based on chatting with them. I think we share a generally progressive viewpoint and otherness nature that I don't always find in people my age or older than me.

It's super frustrating to be banned for these young ones and I relate because it happens to me. Now the government is going to ban the platform if it doesn't conform.

I get less into people's feed aka shadow banned all the time on all social media. I am very familiar with my "reach" and metrics. If I post about the genocide of Palestinians and/or I post about corporate crapitalist overlords trying to rule our lives down to the last detail it doesn't make it into the feed unless I'm clever with concealing the subject.

And really the tiktok ban is about our government which is actually run by these crapitalist overlords being able to control the message instead of the Chinese. 

I don't trust either, but I do think it's a horrifying step toward furthering our dystopian future that these platforms are controlled by terrible greedy genocidal crapitalist war machine planet destroyers.

The internet once a source of fascination and inspiration has become a craptialist hellscape in the past 10 years. I always knew this sort thing would happen but I always hoped there would be areas in the vastness of the internet that the crapitialist couldn't totally control. 

But alas now with AI I fear that time of new bright ideas and world wide information sharing are over. The message is controlled almost completely by rich war machine interests. 

I met those metrics for this potential publisher now, so I will now do the minimum it takes to maintain the account, that is unless it's bought the asshat Steve Mnunchin in which case I will likely delete the account or make all my videos about how much he's an evil turd. 

It seems like the party's just about over tiktok. It was fun while it lasted. 



My heart is broken over many things right now. 

My mind is swirling with the images of genocide happening in real time, a world away with financial support from my country. My mind screams stop killing so many people, but also it screams how that same money could be helping people all over this country instead of making Palestinian children into skeletons.

My memory keeps reminding me of friends who died in the past four years making me cry randomly at nothing sometimes ten times a day. 

My body is having another health issue caused by a lack of a dentist and reasonable, effective health care. 

In short, I'm not OK.

Yet I am trying to be. But these problems aren't solved because the obvious solutions, are not within my power to solve including my personal ones at the moment. The frustration of knowing it could be solved and anguish of knowing it won't be solved just adds to the layer of general not OK status.

There are people who could change things for me, for everyone suffering, without it taking anything away from them personally but they don't. They do nothing, just like our country "abstaining" in the UN vote for a ceasefire in Gaza

I'm supposed to be grateful these people with power and money don't choose to do even worse things. But honestly I loathe them so damn much because at least evil people are active and doing what they said they would, keeping their promises.

Just letting horrible things happen when you could change it easily, is the most disgusting thing a person or a nation could do.

A couple of big lottery jackpots one in the billion dollar range are happening this next two days in the US. My husband and I made a point to buy tickets because he knows I like to fantasize how different I would be from existing rich people. 

I only play because I like fantasizing what would happen. I would win and be able to help myself and others who are forgotten but amazing people finally have resources to do incredible good-for-the-world things.

I fantasize about getting to highlight and support these brilliant people. While the rest of the world churns away with AI, genocide, extremism and crapitalism, we'd grow sustainable food and create food forests around the country and the world. 

We'd make things, have connected communities, make art and music, write books, help people get healthy and feel worthy. 

There would be non-profit old fashioned coffee shops that were device free and charged by the cost of operation plus 20% and used the profit to pay for housing for the employees and local families.

With one of these big jackpots we could make aircrete shelters and alternative buildings for unhoused people and refugees, and people in times of tough transition. 

I'd make sure the Church of Salt had buildings of Sanctuary for art and community all over the world instead of having to end in person meetings due death threats because we want to include people and not focus on a "god" but instead community.

We could heal some of the wounds of crapitalism by at long last having the resources to do the things we already do but finally on a broader scale. 

If I won the jackpot I would make helping on a life changing scale my main hobby. 

I'd open a school centered on life-skills and artisan skills that embrace nurturing each other with nature. It would have free cob building and natural building master classes, how to rewild a yard, and how to make pigments from natural sources, somatic dance, music of all kinds, cooking with real ingredients, foraging, how to repurpose anything, effective habit building, just to name a few. 

Rather than a college degree that seeks to prepare people for the grind of a workforce held captive by the powerful people that produces crap, people could come to the school to learn things that made them able to survive and to enjoy life and enjoy learning.

I would host free concerts of musicians I found all around the world getting to play the same stage with well known names. 

I would be self-centered too, of course I would. I would get more instruments than I need, more books than I could read, and likely too much clothing. But in my lottery fantasies I am always commissioning the things I wear from local artists and makers instead of sweatshops and brand designers. I'm buying those instruments from luthiers I know. I'm finding good new indy books- I'm even helping them publish. 

I would have a vintage car and have it converted to an electric car. I would have a vardo too. A constantly available stage and performance hall for the thousands of show ideas and productions that I have would exist.

But you know what I would never spend even one cent on? I would never support war, violence, blind consumption or spend my life trying to make even more fucking money. How fucking sick and boring can you get? What in the hell is wrong with most of these rich people these billionaires always still focusing on status and power and worst of making more money? 

Having enough would be my goal even as a multi-millionaire- I would want to spend it constructively so by the time I died I wasn't crazy rich. And honestly I wouldn't want to be famous- it would make getting things done too hard.

I guess I'm just not infected with crapitalism enough to want to play those status games. It doesn't interest me in the least. And in a way that's sort of like winning a bigger jackpot. I'm happy with enough, I feel as a person I am enough, but I can create previously unimaginable great things in an instant with right resources.

So right now I'm not OK. But with what's happening all around I shouldn't be completely fine or OK. 

I'm going to try to focus on the small beautiful things in my life that make me happy while letting myself grieve and not shaming myself for imagining a better world even if I use buying lottery tickets to do it.

Happy Tulips surviving despite the slug invasion

Terrifying Leaps


This rare morning, as leap days are, I really tried to think about AI as a possible net gain for humanity but I just couldn't stop my brain from spiraling into territory that would make Black Mirror episodes seem like family fairy tales. Not because of the tool, but because of who controls the tools and robots that make up what is being collectively called "AI."

It could be fucking amazing, but it's not going to be for most of humanity.


Classism, capitalism, and hedonic adaptation.

Think in the context of medical advances made in the past 20 years and how most of them are still not generally made available for people who are not rich. 

Heck, apply this to most advances things are generally only available to a broad population when they can be controlled by whoever is selling them, usually as an inferior product. 

Electric cars for a clear example, available in the 1970s still out of reach for most people due to profiteers shelving electric cars so they could sell more earth destroying fossil fuel. And intentional planned obsolescence is standard for most consumer goods.

Yet the greatest danger of AI isn't actually crapitalism. 

It lies with human nature, specifically, human adaptation. Our success as species is partly due to adaptation either to a bad situation, but also to good situations.

We experience compassion fatigue and hedonic adaptation every damn day. And AI will make this much worse than social media is currently making things.

We adapt to the new horrific norms fairly fast, and then when someone rightly objects to horrible things and questions the injustice, the response will be:

"Oh but that's the way it's done, get on board or suffer."

Seriously, I can think of many examples in my own life of people who defend the virtues of unchecked corrupt capitalism and never acknowledge the massive injustices and crimes against humanity it causes simply because they benefit and have never thought to question it.

AI will codify racist, sexist, and classist things, allowing racist, sexist, ageist, ableist, and generally biased opinions of wealthy bosses and businesses to get away with extreme forms of discrimination. It's already been happening for a while now in the job market.

But AI is here, unchecked. So all this is going to happen. No stopping it now, so I'm going to learn what I can. But I feel a chill in my blood just thinking about it.

While Google searching the actual costs of the Chat bots, I was offered an AI tool to make women's clothes in videos disappear and an AI tool to make women do disgusting things. Leaving the original face of the human on the video.

Porn is a huge driver of innovation for profit in the tech world, always has been (look at how the VCR developed) so AI will end up making holographic fuck bots and terrible things I dare not mention. 

It will encourage and codify how a sizable percentage of men treat women- like a commodity. The blame for that original behavior treating women like property, can be laid at the feet of most religions sanctifying sexism and bias as if it were a virtue.

AI will ruin the lives of millions, especially if the people who control it now continue to do so. Billionaires, who are arguably the most disgusting examples of hedonic adaptation gone crazy, are in control of AI. 

AI will help them make life in their disturbing, corrupt, power-hungry, image, without any democracy able to challenge them. The main reason most billionaires would never run for office is because the smarter ones know there's more power in being wealthy and able to buy whatever influence they want, rather than being in office and potentially regulated and subject to governing laws. One person should never have so much power.

Makes me want to write an apology to a future that probably would never read it. To apologize for the emptiness, the pain and the violence. To apologize for the undreamed of horrors I hesitate to mention lest it give these bastards further ideas but they already have drones that can kill entire families without remorse, so my dark thoughts are probably already under development. 

Some schools won't have human teachers or in-person interactions. Social skills and strata will be based on your position as a cog in the machine rather than your value as a human being. Our brains and bodies will likely end up partly synthetic eventually. 

And true compassion may become a thing of fables and fairy tales as it is already in short supply. 

A genocide of a people is happening in Gaza and as a result, a young man, serving in our military set himself on fire screaming "Free Palestine" until the end and most people just scrolled on. Much of the media tried to change the narrative and not admit the reasons behind his tragic act. 

This is without AI as the standard.

Google, and all social media including reddit are now farms for digital evils that will manifest in the real world.

The worst will be the effects on things like tiktok which is already changing the brains of young people making them less likely to think critically and primed for propaganda of a certain style that AI will churn out endlessly.

Most people are concerned about job losses with AI since lots of jobs that pay a decent wage can be done by AI. That's not really my biggest issue with AI because we will adapt over time and not having tedious things like middle management desk jockeys could be a good thing. 

I believe we will devolve fundamentally as beings which, to me, is far more important than a "job" or access to capital. We are in an era of war and genocide again and now we will add to this AI as a tool much the way planes and tech advances in the last century changed the world during wars.

The horrifying atomic bombings of Japan wiping out hundreds of thousands in an instant, would not have existed without these advances, unthinkable only a decade before the bomb dropped. Accelerate that by factor of a million and that's what AI will be capable of doing.

AI will be as bad as a nuclear bomb. Every ethical person agrees that it is a horrible idea to have weapons that can destroy the world, yet here we are thousands of them just laying around, able to actually end our existence. And now, someday soon AI will control those too.

A terrifying leap forward has happened, and there's no going back. "The Terminator" scenario will not be possible. (I realize, of late, I sound like a low rent Linda Hamilton at times.)

Science fiction writers have been warning of this for centuries in a way. One of my favorite such books is the little known "Beggars in Spain" by Nancy Kress, first published over 30 years ago. It details how one advancement for a select group can radically change human life, and AI will be like thousands of those advancements.

I cannot express how badly I'd love to read this post in 20 years, and be very wrong.

As I said to a dear friend yesterday: Most things are a process, not an end result. AND the process is actually the fun part anyway.

AI will rob us of the process and the journey, the path, the adventure of life will be completely ruled by its programmed need for "production" of an end result, for product over process.

Art, music, writing, really all forms creativity are expressions of the human soul, or human virtues and emotional connections, if you don't believe in a soul. What can we expect from a soulless tool that copies without morals? We already suffer from a copy of a copy of a copy in music thanks to commodity ruling the world. 

And what of our actual brain's abilities fostered over centuries now not needed because the AI can think for us. It could be like people with navigation in their car- some people can't even find their house in their own town without it these days because they off loaded their brain. I have traveled world without navigation in the modern era because I fear this dumbing down happening to me. AI will off load much greater parts of our brains.

I don't have any sort of photo to add to this post. I thought of a mushroom cloud but that iconic image, due to hedonic adaptation, barely elicits a response these days.

So instead here's a copy of the cover of a book that changed my thinking forever. Seriously, never judge a book by its cover.

The Dark Days


The ten darkest weeks of winter have passed. Yet this year, I feel the darkness is hanging around.

Sure, I've noticed the vague stirring of spring here on my little edge of the world, from male frogs singing at night begging for a lover, to the purple crocus blooms contrasting all the green around. Already the robins are here, early, I believe. The humming birds are swarming the back garden and the pussywillows will soon have cats. 

All these things the signs that I have made it through another hard winter. Many did not make it.

It's been hard because I lost two more friends; one of them, it seems, died of heartbreak from the death of the first friend. And my body has had some not-so-pleasant complications from my health issues. 

Grief and pain have clung to me, though I have tried desperately to fight them off.

Importantly, I think I should mention it's been hard also because my country is helping commit an ongoing genocide against the Palestinians by supplying Israel with the weapons to kill everyone. More than 33,000 people have been killed by direct military action, including more than 13,000 children and countless others are likely going starve to death. And it could all be stopped if our government stopped supporting the war.

Yesterday, the Israeli military, dressed like doctors and nurses, went into a hospital and shot patients in the head. This being a medical facility in the West Bank since they have literally bombed nearly all the hospitals in Gaza out of existence. 

I'm pretty disgusted and I feel powerless, as do many of the people I know, to do anything. This must be how non-cooperative Germans felt when Hitler rose to power and started ruining the lives of Jews, disabled people, Roma, and gay people, eventually murdering millions. 

Yeah, did I mention dark thoughts? Those are filling up my mind this week.

It's pretty damn disturbing to have friends side with the idea of wiping out Palestinians all together in order not to appear "anti-semitic" just because the fascists in power committing genocide this time happen to be Jewish. 

Hammas may have done some horrific things but that doesn't mean genocide is justified. 

Honestly, I can't help but think that of all the people in the world who should see how wrong this is it SHOULD BE JEWISH PEOPLE. 

And they do, but those voices are being suppressed just like all the protests and coverage of people calling for a cease-fire are being suppressed or characterized in a conspiracy theory as some Russian backed group by Nancy Pelosi. 

What great leaders eh? Pelosi is basically calling anyone not supporting the party line as a traitorous Russian. What fucking year is it?

The Israeli war machine has been targeting journalist trying to cover the war too, killing a record number of them.

Seriously, it's just disgusting the narrative the western media who are not comprehensively covering the war are creating about the genocide. Refusing to fully acknowledge it at all, meanwhile thousands of Palestinian people who have survived the murderous onslaught are being injured, made homeless, and will likely starve to death if nothing changes. 

So yeah, I think there are some dark days ahead as this will likely escalate further.

I cried today working in the garden grieving for my friends, lovely creative sorts, younger than me who died last month. And I cried for all those children in Palestine, for all those families made ghosts, and for all the people suffering. My tears landed on the ground as the rain began to fall. And I felt some release, like sky was crying with me.

I'm going to spend a lot time in my garden this spring to remind myself that life returns every year. The trees may still be a black shadow on the horizon but I can see the light in the distance. Good things grow back. And I'm going to wish for the peace I experience to spread and a ceasefire to become permanent.

I Can't Get


"I can’t get no satisfaction." The grammatically challenged anthem of humanity.

A lack of satisfaction is most likely due to being rigid with your routine or creating a rut and not having enough novelty in your life or from not having good habits and never building on skill sets.

Are you doing the same things over and over and beginning to feel emptiness?

Possibly the most important thing to achieving a fulfilling life is understanding the balance between the discipline of routine and the importance of novelty.

It might seem I am speaking from personal bias but social science backs up what I’m saying. We Homo sapiens are hardwired to seek out novel new things. Good food, brilliant ideas, fantastic people, touching music, mind-blowing art, and almost any human experience can become mundane, no matter how amazing when first encountered. 

Yet we also thrive as individuals when we embrace healthy routines, disciplined eating, and regular good habits. 

The key is how to use both routine and novelty to increase SATISFACTION.

Just as you can have compassion fatigue, you can also become not easily satisfied by amazing experiences if you have the same experience many times. I speak from experience with that feeling of "awe fatigue."

We have all taken a lover or partner for granted because they are always available. We rely on the kindness of our friends but do we really appreciate the reliable ones enough? 

In short, it’s pretty easy to unintentionally become an ungrateful turd in the modern world full of algorithms designed to “please” you rather than truly engage you. 

We are highly adaptable creatures and a side effect of this adaptation is having a threshold for constants. A thirst for novelty is entirely normal, but there is often a stigma attached to wanting new things, especially when it involves romance. 

Being a society shaped by antiquated religious ideals about love, sex, and romance hasn't done us any favors as it's crashed landed right into modern ideas about love and sexuality. 

Attaching shame to the thirst for novel people and experiences is possibly the worst thing about many religious teachings. Being ashamed of something natural to our collective human nature that really doesn't harm anyone is a pretty bad starting point for achieving satisfaction in life. 

Routine, on the other hand, seems super boring but it is absolutely essential to becoming more content and better able to achieve success and satisfaction in life. I hesitate to say happiness because that is an extremely fleeting experience.

Routines, when based on healthy principles, are the best tools to build a good life with better habits, or a good rut, if you pardon the expression. We want to create these and not have to think about them; just do it automatically. 

Examples in my life of routine habits:

Daily gratitude meditation

Exercise and dancing

Eating healthy, nutrient-dense food

Taking vitamins and helpful supplements

Having attentive couple time


Time in Nature 

Tidying up, keeping organized

Prioritizing sleep

Writing everyday

Taking walks

Making music

Connecting with people in real life

Yet, even these habits still have to have a bit of switch up even after they’ve become habitual, in order for the satisfaction to be optimal. My meditation can’t be the same each day even if I’m grateful for the same things. 

I can’t dance the same way or to the exact same music. I have to add variety to my diet or boredom sets in and that leads to eating poorly. I don’t always need all the vitamins and sometimes I need different supplements as my body has cycles. Time in Nature has to be different parts of nature- you get the idea.

One super important role novelty plays is with our interactions. Connecting with people in real life should sometimes be with people you’ve never met. Sometimes great friends. Sometimes random associates. 

We gain perspective and pleasure even if the novel persons aren’t meant to be lifelong friends or lovers, even if that person doesn’t matter to us that much in the greater scheme of things. Having interactions for the sake of the interaction is sometimes the best medicine for the emptiness we all feel in life at times.

The best way to balance routine and novelty is to choose to consciously leave your comfort zones, particularly socially. We are social creatures, it’s a big part of our success as a species. 

And even though I am neurodivergent I can attest to the benefits of leaving my social comfort zone on a regular basis. 

As a great friend once said to me ages ago: 

“You don’t really hate everyone like you think. Maybe you just can’t stand those people. You actually really like people but haven’t put the effort into finding the right ones. So maybe do that instead of being a hater.” 

Oh how those words have haunted my life and guided my choices. I have searched the room for those with "otherness" or as we used to say the freaks and geeks (nerds) ever since.

I am grateful to have had a self-described mouthy, opinionated woman show up in my life at just the right time. I try to be that example for others now. She understood that the best way to combat social isolation, and social anxiety for me was to put me into more social practice not less. 

I learned to eliminate the fear of interacting by recognizing the outcome doesn't matter as much as the connection. By having so many interactions I was able to teach myself to quickly spot those worth my time. Most importantly, I learned to appreciate any decent social interaction as valuable even if it was just some random person at a bar, in the checkout line, or on the street.

There are entire groups of people that have no idea that I don't find socializing easy and that it sometimes it takes days to recover even when I had a great time. In fact, people consistently ask me to help them or become involved with big social events because of the skills I intentionally built. 

Socializing started as novelty for me and became routine so I've had to change how I engage to make it fresh.

Similar things are true with our partners, friends, lovers, and even co-workers. Letting yourself get excited over a new person is great way to be reengaged with humanity. 

Other simple novel suggestions:

Make a meal to share with others you've never tried before

Or go to eat something you haven't tried

Watch a show or movie from a foreign country, or from an era you didn't live through or a about place you've never been

Call someone rather than a text (only if you think they don't hate calls)

Go to thrift store and buy an outfit unlike anything you normally wear, then wear it out in public 

Listen to a whole album of music from someone new to you

Go to class or lecture without it being work related

Travel just about anywhere

Walk instead of drive 

Write a letter to a good friend not an email add some kind of drawing 

Plant seeds and grow a plant you've never heard of

Do a new exercise, particularly something fun like dancing, walking, swimming, sports

Spend quality time with someone in your social circle that you usually do not see one on one

Volunteer for a new activity or charity

Make a free box and/or gift random gifts to people 

Draw an emotion

Take a bath instead of a shower, get out the candles

Write your own theme song

There are thousands of novel things in the world all around us, regardless of where we live and what we do for work.

I hope in 2024 we all find novel ways of breaking our routines that don't serve us and instead replace emptiness with finding satisfaction

May you also reignite the many flames in your life.

Hidden Scores (What is ORAC?)


About seven months ago, I started researching literally every food I consume, rather than my generalist, lifelong obsession with plants and their effects. I wanted to know all the information about the things I consume daily versus what is touted for or against eating them. I have read countless blogs, several books, and too many contradicting studies at this point. However, I did find one unifying thing about the foods I eat now that is not really discussed in the way it should be in the modern media landscape: the ORAC score.

People are already framing ORAC as a "nutritional buzzword." I agree it's used constantly by proponents of a strict plant-based vegan diet to tout how much more beneficial plant-based, high-carb diets are compared to a low-carb, keto, or omnivore approaches. There is a big flaw with this idea that plant-based alone is best to get your ORAC score up. By researching my own personal diet I discovered that I eat way more antioxidants based on ORAC values than most people and I eat meat, fat, and low carb, not processed food. In fact, my diet always gets at least 500% more ORAC units than recommended.

How? I eat spices, herbs, and nuts all the time with every meal, especially meals with spiced meats and fish. The foods with the highest scores are nuts, herbs, and spices, not the veggies and beans everyone talks about. Not many in the nutritional gurus and supposed online "expert" landscape seem to mention herbs or spices often. The argument against mentioning spices along side foods is that no one eats that much of them, so their ORAC score has no impact. But that's simply not true; with most spices only need a teaspoon of spice or herb to compare to an entire serving of vegetable or fruit.

Maybe I'm just a spicy sort of lady but I almost always use about a tea spoon of herbs and spices in every meal.

The ORAC score is based on 100 grams, so when viewing it only as 100 grams, naturally no one is going to eat that much spice. However, just one teaspoon of these herbs and spices, about 4 grams will give you at least double and up to ten times the ORAC units of other more often discussed antioxidant foods like blueberries for example. Spices are way cheaper and more shelf-stable when seen as a ORAC powerhouse than fruit and veg. 

Beans are one of the only other shelf-stable foods with a mentionable ORAC score that are also inexpensive. However, you need to eat at least a small bowl of high-carb black beans just to get the same impact of even the lower-scoring spices and herbs at one teaspoon. You're best off drinking to a cup of coffee, which has a higher score than beans too.

If you are following a nutrient-dense diet with a focus on whole foods, like I am, the spices are a win. Just adding rosemary, or oregano to my meal beats the ORAC value of beans. Putting some cinnamon or turmeric, or chili powder in your food also bumps it up. And most keto-friendly vegetables have a higher ORAC score.

Eating a small handful of pecans, walnuts, or olives, is also superior to a bowl of beans and the often touted brightly colored foods. 

Not that I am speaking against brightly colored fruit and vegetables I usually eat at least eight servings of those a day when in season.  Having food as my main medicine means acknowledging the use of abundant herbs and spices added to any meal, plant-based or not, is essential to get enough ORAC-value food in your diet.

When scraping the internet for information on ORAC scores, you will find lists made by blogs claiming to be discussing high-antioxidant foods but they rarely mention spices, herbs, and nuts. There is an inherent bias  towards certain diets, and most of this bias is designed around a marketing agenda rather than up-to-date science. Expecting people to be able to afford to eat $5 worth of blueberries every day or $10 worth of organic vegetables every day just to get good amounts of antioxidants all year in a country that doesn't pay a living minimum wage is ridiculous.

My suggestion is to look up the things you eat individually. Daily consumption of high-quality coffee, herbs and spices, nuts and/or olives, and you'll be all set. Getting good amounts of these wonderful antioxidants without needing to buy or consume a huge amount of perishable expensive food is possible. 

Another cheap fun thing to do if you have a yard or window box is grow some rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, and peppermint and just eat a sprig or two to up your antioxidant intake for awesome health benefits, plus tasty too!

my typical lunch 

this meal is reasonable only in season

lovely in season figs

Men on Pause


At long last, my first indications that I might be going through "the change" have started to appear. I can't be sure, because my evidence is a bit shaky, but I had my first ever early period and a night sweat. Due to some recent random gunshot sounding fireworks combined with my PTSD I can't be sure the latter is connected to being perimenopausal, but considering my age, 51, I'm going to make some assumptions. 

I realize that most women don't look forward to going through this stage in life, reasonably so because having massive hormonal shifts, weight gain, more wrinkles, skin changes and hot flashes isn't particularly thrilling to contemplate, but I have wanted this for so long. I can remember the first time I looked forward to it. 

On my first visit to a gynecologist after my extremely painful eight days long periods had started, I was in the waiting room when I overheard two older African American ladies chatting and laughing.

“You know he’s lucky I didn’t shoot him too the way Rosy did her man.” Both ladies cackled. "I mean they say it was an accident but you know..."

“Well, you know, she’s going through the change too.” said the woman closest to me nodding in agreement.

“Don’t fuck with a woman going through the change!” said the second lady grinning widely raising her eyebrows comically.

“I know that’s right.” the first lady laughed back.

I couldn't resist asking about it. "What is the change?" I whispered toward them. "I heard my aunt say that too but she won't tell me anything."

"Girl, it's menopause." The lady answered me but I heard "Men on pause"

"Men-on-pause?" I said out loud.

They both laughed slapping their legs and breathing hard. "Girl, yeah it's that too. You won't care what men think anymore and you'll stop bleeding." The closer lady said.

"Yeah, someday if you are lucky to live long enough, the change happens to us all. Ain't nothing to be afraid of, just means you can't have babies no more and you won't really care so much about what other people think either- at least I don't these days eh?" She laughed again staring at her friend's nodding face. 

"Oh, so like no more periods?" I said hope in my eyes. "Can I go through the change now?"

They both laughed again and sighed. "No, sorry young thing you gotta have the monthly visitor for a long time to come." The woman smiled kindly, trying to comfort me. "It's just part of being a woman."

Ever since that day I have wanted menopause to happen to me. I never wanted children, and my periods have been pretty painful and uncomfortable most of my life. I feel like someone is gut punching me for the first three days of my week long visit from "Aunt Flow" and I want to punch everyone around me too. The idea that this monthly madness will stop someday if I live long enough has always been in the back of my mind.

I have been checking out what different cultures say about this stage I am transitioning toward and my favorite is "Second Spring" from China. I think it's lovely to view this time as a renewal of the self. That's certainly the phase I feel I am entering. 

I've never been one to care that much about other people's opinions about me. Lately, I feel even less attached to the world's perception of my life, which has caused me to feel better about sharing the real me online and in person, and really embracing my glam hag status. I care so much less about what other people think of my appearance too, especially men, so I guess it really is my "men on pause" phase.

I'm spending time on actual self-care (not the bullshit people think is self-care) and my health because the consequences start to get serious a lot faster now if I don't. Hopefully, the night sweats and hot flashes won't be too crazy, but even if they are, they will be welcome compared to my monthly gut punch sessions. 

I think women should start having "The Change is Coming" parties with women inviting others from around age 40 or so onward or even earlier so women are comfortable with what is normal. The parties would be something to look forward to, with lots of laughter, dressing up fancy or in even in PJs, silly lady presents, food, and advice and stories from those who have gone through it rather than the secrecy and cloak of silent suffering many ladies seem to be wearing.

A year after "Aunt Flow" makes her last visit to me I'm getting myself a present of fancy silk sheets with no trace she has ever visited. That is supposed to be when actual menopause happens. So, alas, I have a while to go before my change is complete. 

Maybe it's time to start throwing these parties! 

Me contemplating another visit with Auntie Flow.

Culture: Thy Name is Mother


In the past few days I've been reminded often of the cultural acceptance, or at least tolerance, of all sorts of beliefs and ideas- with the glaring exception of those that are primarily women led or have a historical basis in feminine ritual.

I could give hundreds of examples in my own life but I stick to basics we can all see in daily life. 

Example: The media would never attack the big three monotheist belief systems for believing in some totally not possible stuff like a big dude in the sky that loves us all (except when he doesn't) but the same media is dismissive of forms of astrology or belief in Mother goddess of the Moon, or even Sky Father and Mother etc.

An example from the opposite end but with similar functions in life to religion: versions of therapy and psychology, like couples therapy with a pastor etc which could be considered "churching" are totally acceptable. 

Even Mindfulness  from DBT which is a lot like some aspects of Buddhism, is an example of something acceptable yet not totally "proven by science" but someone reading your tarot cards, making a person present with reflection upon what is there all around you, and what you have experienced in the past, just like Mindfulness, is considered totally bonkers. 

Meditating is another great example accepted as totally valid by science and therapy—dare I say encouraged. Though much of witchcraft is similar to meditating and works better for many of the women I know, we're supposed to hide it or not call it witchcraft-related so we won't be ridiculed. 

I can't tell you the number of podcasts I've seen with guys pretty much describing witchcraft but calling it Life Coaching or transcendental meditation. 

Ritual, especially when helping to reinforce good habits, and broadening one's thinking, is a marvelous way to connect to your inner self and even connect with others. Self-determined ritual is my preference, but others chose older versions they feel culturally or spiritually connected to, which might work better for them. 

Singing or some kind of chanting in ritual magic is pretty standard. But if you don't call it a mantra or a prayer when do this practice, you'll be mocked.

Important note: I am not trying to convince anyone to believe in anything, literally ever, except perhaps believing in themselves. I write these blogs to give voice to some of what I know others experience.

I know quite a few scientist friends who hide their witchcraft practice, or non-monotheist beliefs who don't  publicly acknowledge it for fear of ridicule in the same workplace where going to a church is considered absolutely normal and would not elicit any mocking.

It would be really great if the mainstream stopped ridiculing people, particularly women, who have different spiritual ideas, as long as those ideas, or beliefs, don't actually discriminate against or harm someone. I think it's important to have an other side of the coin sort of perspective out there- like Atheists vs Theists but mocking for the sake of mocking without giving in real consideration to what those belief systems do is pretty tragic, more for those who ridicule because a narrow, not flexible, perspective isn't good regardless of your particular beliefs or lack thereof.

A lot of great advice has come my way from fortune tellers. There could be many reasons: maybe the cards are like iconoclasts in art that can help the mind visualize; maybe my own connection to the medium gives it a special significance. Maybe some people use them to communicate in a more organized way with themselves, becoming able to unlock some unconscious inner feelings. Or maybe there's something else to them...

Regardless of why, they work for me, I used to hesitate to speak publicly about them, because I knew ridicule would ensue. So that aspect of my world, for a long time, became underground and only shared with the others who didn't dismiss me.

I once had an astrologist, (Vedic) tell me about all the injuries I had suffered until that point my life (which if you only knew whoa, you'd be impressed)

I went to a pagan ritual, didn't do any drugs, danced with the group naked, and that night dreamed of my future, which I am currently living.

I've been to countless ceremonies where I learned about life and felt deeply connected to the earth and to existence. The first versions of altruistic, unconditional love came into my life from these gatherings.

I admit to seeking these things out most of my life, but that seeking comes from a perspective of things that actually enhanced and worked in my life not from blind dogma. 

The communing with nature I've done my whole life- barefoot in the garden or the woods or the beach is now being called "grounding" by the "let's not call this witchcraft" set. The herbs I've relied heavily on for health reasons introduced to me by witches, have also become accepted. Gut feelings are even being scientifically accepted via the microbiome's connection to how we think and feel. But don't ever dare connect them to the rituals we witch sorts have been doing for centuries, even millennia. 

Witch, in the context I describe, includes both the label slapped on women during the persecutions by monotheists for hundreds of years and women and men who have found their own way through nature based rituals, based in previous beliefs, as well as practitioners who embrace and celebrate the feminine aspects of existence in everyday life.

Cultural traditions connected to women and mothers are very much the basis of humanity's ability to cooperate as species which is why we are a successful species. I think it's pretty sad that modern methods of translating old feminine ideas that work feel the need to remove our Mother earth and mothers from the equation or narrative.

This modern recasting of ritual and witchcraft reminds me of when all those men on TV became super famous for making the food our mothers have made for centuries but until someone "is professional" by the Capitalist Hunta ruling the world, they aren't considered valid. Most of those dude-centric food stuff shows are diluted now, and even traditional cooking led by women is starting to get the attention it deserves but it was super annoying to watch in the early days of the "foodie" world awakening. 

I guess I'll just have to hope the same happens with all these mansplaining podcasts with dudes writing books about ideas which are essentially witchcraft and ritual magic as if they invented it.

I am sure the hippies I've known all my life are a bit annoyed by the same people taking ideas they have embraced decades ago, and selling them as self-help.

Long live flower power. Or at least the power of flowers.

Life Enhancer


I've made my feelings on the 4th of July holiday fairly clear already so today I'm going to highlight things that gave me independence on this day and helped me in forming better health and habits over the past 3 years or so. I have the pandemic to thank for much of this self focus. 

I spent a lot of my time before the pandemic focusing on everyone else and their needs as a default operating mode, as many women are socialized to do from a young age. The pandemic and the need to avoid people for an extended period changed my thinking about most aspects of life. I survived. Many people I love did not and I owe it to myself and to them to carry on in the best way I can.

So after much research and years long self experimentation I can confirm all the things below as greatly enhancing my life and that compromising on them makes my life worse. In other words these are my personal "complicated house plant" instructions:

Notice how fancy car, designer bags and clothes, fancy out to eat meals, video games and big screen tvs, and fancy phones are not on this list. None of those things enhance my life.

Panfur the local stray waiting for me on the porch

This morning's flowers plus my coffee

Deep Blue Sea


My apologies to regular readers, I've been on a blog hiatus while I finish the final drafts of my fictional memoir (fictional because fiction can be more free and honest than non-fiction sometimes). It's tough to be involved in creative writing based on my life, from my own past before the MAGA crowd had all the power, and then switch my mind and thinking to the current times to write a blog. Happy to report I'm nearly finished with the final draft. Another factor contributing to my hiatus was weather- it stopped raining here in coastal maritime Washington and that means being outside as much as possible in the garden and at the beach. Writing comes second to desperately needed sunshine in this rain dominant world I live in.

This past weekend my husband and I played music for a bit at the local Pirate fest. I danced, dressed as pirate bellydancer, for three days in a row. The amount of human interaction required for festivals is something I am just becoming accustomed to again after the past few years with almost no activity with crowds. I used to do these sort of festivals quite often, but I think I need build up my socializing muscle a bit more to do them regularly again.

It was a family friendly silly pirate festival. Many little ones came to dance with us which is why I love busking and performing more informally on the street in the day time. There is no stage or formalizing of the activity so children feel like they can participate in the music and dancing without being afraid or timid. I've busked long enough now to know adults, who have come up to me at a show, remembering how they meet me on the street as children. Some of these young adults even blame me for their interest in becoming a musician or dancer- which is exactly why I do it. 

I've played also many stages during these sort of festivals which, while still great experiences, they are less fun for me because the band stage is always near the beer garden and there's less audience interaction due in part to the roping off of said beer garden.  

So in my opinion busking is almost the perfect way to perform, but I make sure to go dance for the band stuck on stage whenever I can.

Still, at one point during these festive things I always have an overwhelmed moment where I can't continue to mask. And because there's no way to hide myself when dressed as a festooned bellydancing pirate, I walked to the ocean during one of these moments when I felt too many eyes on me and the self conscious awkward autistic self needed alone time. I've noticed over many years, living near beaches, a universal reaction to the sea-no one tries to interact with me and almost everyone is hypnotized by the water too. 

I sat there perched on a rock as the waves crashed against the shore, the salty wind blew in my face, and I connected to the ancient everlasting deep blue sea. The sea was here before us and will be here when we are a faded memory and well beyond that time too. It felt good for a moment to remember the impermanence of existence without feeling the grief of loss. 

I finally feel my life is normalizing again after the traumas, intense changes, and losses of the pandemic, despite the crazy amount of war and disaster going on affecting friends of mine around the world, and despite the anti-gay laws and anti-woman laws affecting friends and family around the US. I am settling into the new realties of modern life, which has shifted greatly for anyone really paying attention, and doing my best handle the moments of extreme grief and understandable anxiety. 

It's probably why this weekend felt a bit odd for me because this sort of festival weekend is from the before times and so many of my festival friends from over the years aren't here anymore, but I bet they would be pleased I went out to rejoin the fray. I am making new friends in my little town who I believe my chosen family who have passed on, would have considered new chosen family too. 

And I bet those treasured friends would be equally happy to see me jump in the sea in my pirate clothes which I did on Saturday despite the very cold water.

ARRRRRRG! Matey! On with summer explorations!

Video I found on social media of my dancing pirate behavior.

The booth artfully handled by the skeleton crew of one (clarinet player)

Everyone feels welcome on the street, unlike the stage

requisite pirate selfie

Photo (by Kit Decker) of me dancing in clothing I made. 

Our fearless leader, Lindy of Dancing Crow Studio

Health Myths


Lately, I find myself extremely disappointed in medicine as it stands in most of the western world, and it's not just the lack of access and the high cost, the treatment is extremely subpar, bordering on cruel.

I recently finally got to see an actual good primary care provider, so the contrast is on my mind.  

Since 2020 I've tried and failed to even get an appointment in the system. Eventually, just last month, I finally got an appointment with an inexperienced ARNP who completely ignored me, spent almost the entire time with his back to me filling out computer forms, and asked medical history questions I had already answered on the extensive intake form. Then he told me he had limited time and couldn't be bothered to check both things I needed addressed in the visit, saying I had to pick one. So I picked one, though both issues are a big deal. He dismissed my choice and didn't even examine me. I recorded the entire visit on my phone so I can have it as a record of care—even listening to a few minutes of  the recording had my husband hopping mad. He said he never experiences these things in comparison. I'm a woman of lesser means, so my entire visit with the actual provider took 12 minutes and 22 seconds. 95% of which was spent with his back to me.

I had to demand my bloods get taken (as he was leaving the room). I fasted before the visit, making the assumption that someone would at least draw blood. I had to demand a referral for something I've been told I need to do every year—a colonoscopy—after having had surgery for early stage colon cancer. I had to get pushy about seeing simple things, usual things, like a gynecologist. No referrals have come through, only a text saying how the dermatologist he referred me to is no longer accepting my insurance. This guy, this ineffectual ARNP is supposed to be my health gatekeeper; without him, nothing I need gets addressed. 

My experience in America is very common. I went on the hunt again for a medical provider and finally had a bit of luck.

A local friend recommended a naturopathic doctor who is allowed to be my primary care provider in Washington state. I had the opposite experience with her. She didn't ignore me. She is a health advocate. I wasn't an annoying visitor who shuffled out of the room. I feel I may have a chance now to restore and maintain my health fully. 

I have received bad medical advice for most of my life. In the form of misdiagnosis, a lack of being assessed or diagnosed at all almost leading to my death, and even a flat refusal to help me many times, as happened recently when I asked for a COVID test before they were available to everyone.

I have been treated like a buffoon, disrespected, told being fat was why I was sick (when actually it was the other way around), and literally just not believed. I've been prescribed crazy amounts of pills to treat my symptoms, which made my hair fall out and my body hurt more. 14 surgeries over 33 broken bones, 50 dislocations, and many acute infections have made me an expert on the mediocre response to serious health issues in America. If they can't give you a pill, or cut it out of you to make it go away, a patient is unlikely to get much help.

All of my bad medical treatment has been based on that particular doctor's opinion, but we must acknowledge a culture of misinformation or bad information in modern western medicine, particularly around diet, exercise, and lifestyle, which arguably have the greatest impact on disease.

My health journey of recent times is because I decided to finally completely ignore the advice I was getting. I have always researched (and I mean this in a JSTOR, Pub Med, etc sort of way, not just youtube) my issues. Also, most of the health gains I have made have been self directed. I read, I consult, and I go for it. 

I volunteer and share my experiences with some young people similar to me so that I can help them help themselves.This bad advice is given to all of them too.

Here are some recent examples of what many of the young ones I mentor have been told by medical doctors:

Health Myths:

•Eat right and exercise, and you’ll lose weight

•We “burn fat”

• Low-fat food helps with weight loss

•Salt causes high blood pressure

•Cholesterol is bad for you and causes heart disease


Exercise has almost no effect on weight loss. But it can help prevent weight gain (marginally).

We breathe out fat, so if you want to lose weight, good sleep is essential

Low fat food is usually high sugar and causes weight gain

Salt doesn’t cause high blood pressure

•Cholesterol is essential for health particularly brain health and the links between heart disease and cholesterol in otherwise healthy people are erroneous. However, insulin issues combined high intake of sugar plus cholesterol are dangerous for your heart. It’s the sugar, not the fat.

Most of these corrections are not new crazy science. If you are in medicine you have had access to this information at least 5 years ago if not a decade or more.

Yet, these myths are still given out as advice every day.

And for all the people out there thinking it's not such a big deal, think about the deeper issues. If you struggle with health, then are given advice that doesn't work or makes it worse, by the person who is supposed to know what to do, maybe you think there is nothing that can help. Maybe you follow it until you die, likely an early death, honestly.

The danger of health myths (for some reason people always think alternative medicine is to blame for all myths, but actually more often myths come from MDs) is the unintended consequences. A perfect example is Alzheimer's. Eating the right fats can greatly reduce the likelihood of the disease, yet patients are often still told to eat a low fat diet. 

So if your doctor(s) say to eat right, ask them to specify what they mean and scrutinize this advice. If they start off telling you to lower your sugar intake and try not to eat processed foods, then you've lucked out and have an informed clinician. If not, take your health destiny into your own hands. There are always things that can help, maybe not cure, but definitely lessen the impact of disease. 

As a chronically ill person with a whole bunch of genetically inherited diseases with a half century of experience in the system I can report that naturopaths, Chinese/Eastern doctors, and herbalists have made a bigger difference in my health than any general practicing MD ever has. 

I acknowledge that if I need a surgeon, I'm not going to a naturopath, but functional and integrative medicine should be a bigger focus in our medical culture than it is at present. People need lifestyle medicine every day and surgery, hopefully rarely. Millions of people could recover their health without ever taking one pill if we changed to a preventative approach to medicine with functional medicine as the model.

Actually Autistic


Sometime ago I "came out" about being neurodivergent a secret I hid for decades. I did so after some marvelous young people pointed out to me that if I didn't admit to being autistic and normalize neurodivergence and encourage people to embrace neurodiversity then they suffer too. 

Like many people of my generation, I kept my diagnosis a secret so I could get a job, keep a job, have autonomy, and have, in theory, friends.

When I was told I was actually autistic over three decades ago when mentioning autism, people thought immediately of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, at best, or a drooling cretin at worst. I didn't even tell my serious romantic partners or spouses that I had a diagnosis until the past decade or so. Also, it was believed women couldn't be autistic, again due to the extreme sexism that still prevades much of modern medicine. 

I was so ashamed of being a dysfunctional person. Who's going to hire Rain Man? Who's going to date him? Or marry him? So I kept the secret. I pretended to know less, to think slower, and to be ok with the constant hugging and nuanced cruel double speak and lies people told each other to feel good about something. I thought I was passing, but I suspect some people knew no matter how hard I tried.

There were obvious tells if someone understood autism I'll list them here because some people might not know these are associated:

Probably the biggest tell was my closest friends were all "fringe" or "other" types. I know now after decades of experience that neurodivergent people tend to be more comfortable with each other than with the status quo neurotypical world. Artist, musicians, scientists, queer folk, and nonconformists are to this day my main group of friends.

My diagnosis had some benefits of helping me realize I couldn't fix certain things my brain does but I could enhance the positive effects of the incredible things my brain does. My brain doesn't like things that are not accurate so it does a sort of mental hiccup when I have to smooth over the truths like everyone does when you're supposed to pretend to like stuff you couldn't give a shit about or be ok with someone lying about things. 

I learned to read micro expressions on people's mouths to help adapt to the social world. I practiced making expressions others make until they became second nature, never instinct though, more like a dancer practices body moves.

In my friend groups I was a chameleon. I was the whacky chick who talked too fast at bars, the brooding sexy goth chick in dance clubs, the nerd at school, the adventure queer when traveling, the serious medical professional at work, the loving supportive wife at home. I was completely different for each relationship, peer group, or job situation. 

I had so many masks that sometimes I would forget which one I should utilize. I read every existing thing on autism imaginable from the day I was assessed. It became my new special interest in a way adding to all my other special interests, which are basically a driving passionate obsession. 

These days I can't even keep up with the amount of information circulating about autism and related "disorders." This month is "Autism Awareness Month" which I prefer what those of us in the neurodiversity community are calling it "Autism Acceptance Month." 

There's lots of controversy about many organizations who tend to raise money for research on autism like it's a horrifying disease. While I do understand how great a burden having a differently abled or just unusual child can be, I think most of the "research" going on from organization like "Autism Speaks" are harmful and are based around trying to eliminate or prevent autism and in doing so stigmatize people who are autistic or non-neurotypical. There is a very eugenics tint to these groups. 

Evolution is playing out through neurodivergence and accepting that different ways of thinking and being may just be what betters the world is the push behind many scientists embracing the neurodiversity model. Reasonably everyone can imagine some incredible people out there in history that were not neurotypical. Whether or not they were autistic is up for debate but in my opinion half of the good science on earth is generated by non-neurotypical people. 

Every week I've been attempting a bit of prose, or poetry, or lyrics on the masks I use to wear and some masks I still wear:


You need me to fit in your grey box

You want less flare, less honesty, less focus 

I should present with acceptable cold beauty

And misplaced diminished enthusiasm

Rather than colorful glee and unrepentant joy

I must mask to make you comfortable

I keep my thoughts in prison for you

A system of whirling inspired connections desperate to escape

While you champion boring inaccurate things 

I must trap my truths inside to make you comfortable

You wonder why I am distracted

As I have had to kill my soul to interact with you

I can hear my prisoners screaming

I must become deaf to make you comfortable

You want me to move the way you move 

To touch they way you deem appropriate

So I smile while my heart screams

My body rebels from the smell of you, the sounds you make

It shouts danger, flinching from you 

I must numb my body to make you comfortable

I pretend to care about meaningless things

I let you believe that I’m on the same page

When we’re not even the same book

Even if I don’t want to look at you

I have to read your face

I must lie to keep you comfortable

You wonder why I’m so tired

Pretending to be you, all of you,

Because me being me is “just too much” 

But pretending to be you is just not enough. 

I must keep you comfortable if I want safety or your acceptance.

I am tired finally, of being safe in your world

I have embraced a radical acceptance of my actual self

But I must thank you for all the masks I can now wear 

They helped me define what I am not

And never want to be 

Happy Autism Acceptance Month everyone.

Chat Bot-aggedon. The End of the World as We Know It? 


I'm getting a vibe out there in the digital online world that it seems to be finally settling in for other people just how much this AI stuff is going change life as we know it.

From a work perspective, it's really going to be a painful experience for people who have been web developers, content writers, visual artists, and some kinds of musicians and DJs etc.

Why? Because the AI can do it faster than you, it can use your work and the work of millions of others without your knowing it, and it doesn't need to sleep, eat, or, importantly, get paid.

For some people, it will be a massive time saver, just the sort of thing they want so they don't have to use outside sources to make marketing or business related content.

For some people, it will make the despair they experience from a lack of real connection grow deeper. Something they spent their lives on now has no value.

The output of art and creative work is only one facet of its importance to human life. The process of making art is equally important to the final product.

The feeling of connection to a piece you made on your own, a song you actually wrote and performed, a story you imagined and wrote all the words and published, or an idea you brought into existence has no rival in human experience except perhaps true passionate love.

Art is emotion personified and connected in the shape of sculptures, the words of stories, the colors of paintings, the composition of photos, the flow of movement in dance, and the sound of the universe in music.

Making art and sharing it is what makes us better humans.

With AI bots the risk is in ruining original thoughts and ideas because they will lack a deep sense of connection.

Just as social media has had a somewhat ruinous effect of socializing and connecting. AI will make the whole world seem a copy of a copy that you have to compete with in every aspect of your life.

Both could be great tools, but they are controlled by people with powerful agendas to profit off you and give nothing back. The algorithm is not your friend.

If you're a performing musician who makes original music, especially without a genre, and/or you don't focus on covers, you already know how this feels.

Cover bands get paid more, often because people will pay for something familiar regardless of how wretched the copy might be.

Original music takes time to perfect, and deliver a good performance, with at least 10 times as much work going into that one original song as a whole set of covers. A cover of some instantly recognizable pop song is easy.

I like to think of all of this the way I think of travelling to a place, rather than reading about it and thinking I understand it.

You can look at this cool picture I took of Tallinn standing on top of a 12th century church tower on a breezy afternoon in June with a belly full of worthy elk soup, served by some of the most marvelous women on earth, and a mind full of possibility just after busking with my friends near the castle walls, but you can't completely feel what it is like until you do it for yourself.

Art, music, and storytelling are like that—the process is as important as the product.

And AI just isn't the same thing.

Snowed In Snowed Out


Recently my husband and I finally got to visit his family in California after a failed attempt during the ice storm debacle of Christmas 2022 when we didn't fly after being held in the airport being told we would fly for seven hours but finally cancelled due to lack of a staff. This time we made it down safely to sunny southern California for a nice visit with family. It was our return trip that was a bit harrowing.

Travel is something I can reasonably say I've done more than most people. I've lost count of how many planes,  trains, automobiles, buses, helicopters, motorbikes, boats, and even some horses and bikes I've used to get to from one place to another. I've traveled in torrential rain, ice, with a hurricane approaching, tornadoes having just hit, mountains of snow, heatwaves, and even once landed during an earthquake.

My personal record amount of time having wait inside the plane after landing is four hours six minutes. We nearly hit that this return trip our plane waiting on the runway to taxi up to the arrival for three hours. I managed to handle this cheerfully enough though many others on our plane did not. Portland doesn't often get this much snow, and certainly not so quickly, so I was just pleased we landed safely.

I didn't get discouraged until at 4:45 am four hours after being let out of the plane, our bags had still not come out to baggage claim and the snow was piling up to a point that no cabs, no public transit, no ubers, no lyfts, nothing would pick us up at PDX. Getting a hotel, even walking in the snow for a mile wasn't an option because the airline, Spirit, refused to shelter the bags saying that if they were stolen it wouldn't be their problem. In the predawn light when finally the bags arrived no hotel rooms were available. 

It is in these moments in life I find myself to be the most contemplative. What else is there to do but ponder and wait?

My husband and I slept on the baggage claim floor under the removed drop ceiling showering dust down on us. All of this because in the Portland airport to be upstairs in the warm you need a boarding pass. Don't look up I kept telling myself tucked under my travel duvet. 

One guy was actually sleeping on the baggage carousel, no doubt thinking if his bags ever came the movement would wake him up. Children were crying, ladies throwing up from stress in the bathroom, many miffed angry conversations accompanied by the smell of rotting carpet, humans wafting the stink of travel, anger, and fear all around us.

I usually travel with makeshift bedding and always extra warm hats so we were fine, if a bit annoyed and in pain. I had a nose bleed from the dust and pain from a leg injury being made worse by extra hours in a cramped plane. I'm not the sort of person who can actually sleep with strangers all around. My husband, Nate, has that magical talent I've often admired of falling asleep nearly anywhere regardless of the sounds around him. 

Many elderly people were shivering down in this baggage claim hellscape without much heat, though I am not sure why the PDX airport didn't just crank the heat with families huddled all around on the floor hoping the sun would rise and solve our problems. 

The sun did rise. A lovely Lyft driver with an unbelievably pleasant morning attitude carefully got us to a friend's house (at a much inflated price but hey I was happy we had the money to pay it) where we finally warmed up, bathed and ate some marvelous food prepared by our friends. Our friends played music for us, feed us, and made us feel at home. 

I slept that night in the comfort of shelter I knew I wouldn't have to leave until it was safe to go home. My home. Traveling always makes me appreciate the haven of our little house, regardless the duration of the trip.

However, the sun rising doesn't mean the same safety for everyone in Portland. So many don't have a haven, the sanctuary of their own home to snuggle up in. The sun rising often means these people will be kicked out of the warmth.

I couldn't stop thinking how there are people all over the city who hope they can have the amount of comfort I had on that airport floor. My painful exhausted night is likely better than their daily life. I'm referring to the large population of unhoused people which the city has seen an explosion of over the past seven years or so. 

Many people are a mere paycheck or emergency away from joining the ever growing group of people sleeping in their cars, in tents, or under bridges hoping things will get better and mostly they don't. And this last week being without a home must have been a torture beyond the usual suffering. And what's so hard to contemplate is for the most part, all this suffering is entirely preventable with some decent laws changing in how real estate works as an industry as well as property ownership with "investors" rather than individuals. 

I am extremely lucky to have landed safe, to have been abled bodied enough to endure, and then also have good friends shelter us in a time of need. We left California on Wednesday. I got home to Washington finally on Saturday. 

I hope all those who endured being snowed in as the entire city really did shut down, realize how lucky they are not to be snowed out, shivering in the freezing temperatures hoping the warming rooms have space to fit one more.

My husband, Nate, lying on the iconic PDX airport floor.

Heart Shaped


The heart shape is sacred to me. It has nothing to do with Valentine's Day but I do enjoy the 14th of February because for a month previous and a few weeks after, heart-shaped boxes and items are cheap and plentiful.

I first realized just how important the heart shape was to me as a child. In fourth grade, we had a visiting art teacher who made all the students work on one sheet of paper to do a collage together as a class. 

Many of the boy students were bullying everyone else, unchecked by any intervention from our teacher, and taking up more space on the sheet and hogging most of the art supplies. Because of this, I gave some of my crayons and paint to a small girl who I knew was too scared of the other children and invited her to be next to me.  

I was left with a small dab of red paint and a green crayon, and about 10 inches of space on a 50 foot sheet. The teacher had said we should paint or draw "something that connects us all" and gave us 15 minutes to finish. I thought about it for a few minutes, then decided with just two colors I had only one choice. I painted a very sharp heart shape coming up out of the grass, a bright red meticulous heart with very defined sharp grass. I was very proud of this drawing.

The bully boys drew rolling hills, footballs, rivers, army men, cars, and some drew houses and buildings. Other children had drawn and painted families and pets. My friend, the shy girl had painted a snake in grass heading for my heart. I liked the snake because it was smiling and our grasses connected on the page.

When coming around assessing the art work our teachers, my 4th grade teacher and the visiting art teacher, made comments and asked questions of all the kids about their work as we all sat crossed legged on the floor, waiting in front of our part of the paper. "What does it mean? How does this connect to everyone else?" They were asking.

I was ready to answer and explain about my heart. Love connects us all, I was going to say, and even if you think nobody loves you, this shape means the same all over the world so you always know love is out there. I rehearsed it in my head as he got closer. 

Instead, the art teacher asked me why I had not tried something more adventurous or detailed as the other children had, seemingly implying to me that my art was bad. "Why didn't you try to draw more things, take up more space?" 

I didn't immediately say anything. Then the teacher said, "there just isn't much going on here- you should be more like those boys" he pointed to the bully kids "and draw with more details and use your imagination"  I felt my face get very hot and anger wash over me. But I said nothing. 

Then he asked my little friend what the snake was about. She was so nervous but told him "He's the snake from Eden who first told us about how good apples were and now that we know about 'em, we can't be with God no more. But I still love apples don't you?" She looked up at him smiling. "Bianka's heart is love in the grass. And my snake in the grass loves her back so maybe he's hiding some apples behind her heart to give to the rest-" She lowered her voice "even them mean boys" she whispered smiling at me.

"Yeah my heart don't need more details" I said still fuming but touched by my friend. "everybody knows what I meant by it 'cept you." I glared at the teacher and I remember him taking a step back from us. 

"Well nice try girls" he muttered then carried on praising the boy who stole most of the art supplies. 

I had to rehearse saying things in my head I intended say out loud when I was little so I didn't say anything offensive or too weird and upset people but usually I still messed up in the delivery, so after I would always replay the situation to figure out what I should have said instead.

I must have replayed that scene in my head of what I should have said back to that art teacher hundreds of times. During this replay, I came to realize just how much I believed in the heart shape. The only symbol I could think of in the entire world that always meant the same thing. It was the only thing that really "connects us all."

Sometimes in my life, when I have felt alone and unloved, I would think about the heart shape and remind myself that for centuries, people have had this shape as universal, just like love, and therefore love was out there even if I didn't feel it. 

There are other reasons the heart shape is sacred to me but this story I haven't shared publicly before and reflecting on it makes me want to thank that art teacher for being so critical, and frankly, I thought a bit mean, because even though he may have meant to convey disappointment in me his actions made me think fiercely and protectively about love for a very long time. 

I have always started new heartfelt things, and quit bad habits on February 14th in honor of the shape, not the commercial holiday. L,ike Halloween, Valentine's day behavior is a sort of year round affair in my house. Valloween as it's called here. 

I quit smoking over two decades ago on Valentine's day. I quit consuming sugar in 2021. This year I am quitting engaging in commentary completely with negative people on the internet- which on the face of things might not seem as life changing as my other habitual changes but I suspect it will make my life and my love of life far greater. This day is charmed for me.

I hope everyone out there loves fiercely, and completely. And I hope you all realize that should also apply to loving yourself. If you find yourself single on Valentine's day (which I think being single is awesome) but you don't want to be single, take a bit of time to love on yourself. Write down the things you love about yourself. Write about love and its place in the world. Eat some treats, take yourself dancing, or to a movie, or to fancy dinner. Treat a friend you love to dinner or make plans to hangout. Call the people you love. Don't let capitalism define love with what you're supposed to do, or not do, or buy on Valentine's day. Just love people, openly without shame. 

Let your life be shaped by your heart and remember that when you see the heart shape.

Much love to you all!

Life is Sweet


My life is sweet because I stopped eating sugar.

In January 2021 I stopped eating sugar, no added sugar foods, and no cakes, no cookies etc. Then, in March of that year, I started eating a healthy ketogenic diet.

Healthy ketogenic= = nutrient-dense foods, no sugar, very low carbs, moderate protein, very high fiber from greens and veg, and high fat from high quality cheese, eggs, meats, fish, nuts, and olive/avocado oil, no trans fats at all.

Healthy keto my way= almost no processed food and absolutely no highly processed food- all this combined with intermittent fasting for at least 16 hours but usually 18 hours.

I was a person who tried calorie restriction alone and gained five pounds. Nearly two years since I started keto (which I probably wouldn't have done if calorie restriction had worked) I have lost over 60 pounds- the first 30 pounds in just a season, which certainly spurred me on to do more. Results really helped me with discipline.

I gave up sugar just before going ketogenic hoping to lose the weight I had packed on post surgery from early stage colon cancer and the mental fallout of surviving with a threat dangling over me of its potential return after moving across the country away from everyone I knew to take a chance on new things. 

No weight loss happened when I gave up sugar until I went ketogenic. Stopping sugar stopped more weight gain- I mention this because lots of people have asked me in private messages.

Giving up sugar is awesome for health outcomes generally on its own but if you don't replace it with something satiating you'll be hungry all the time. I've literally never felt hungry or deprived during this entire time because a higher fat /fiber diet makes you feel full.

Sleep is a super important element in all of this. I sleep better now because I am in less pain. Healthy weight loss will not happen if you are not getting enough restful sleep.

Mental well being plays a role. Stress drives cortisol, and as a result, your body holds onto your flab. Daily gratitude meditation and disconnection from the digital world are big factors in mental health outcomes for me.

Also important element of maintaining weight loss is healthy exercise, not because you "look" good, but because you will feel better. It does make me look better as well. Now that I have less weight on me exercise is easier, dealing with my pre-existing health problems is also less of a catastrophe.

I don't work out the way others do every day. I put in 15 minutes of intense exercise at a time. Some days just once, some days five times, depends on my energy/schedule. I find it's easier to fit it into my day without it being exhausting or a time suck. I switch up what parts of my body I'm working on to give the muscles healing time.

I always do one 15 minute session BEFORE I eat. I've read this is very good for metabolic health which is what I am trying to recover completely after too many years with issues.

Keto makes me feel more energetic even when I'm sick, like I was last week. And I don't feel as sore all the time even with my genetic illness issues. I still feel pains, but way way less than before, so dancing can be more of my day, playing fiddle, juggling, and typing in the same day even with arthritis.

Currently I'm 64 lbs of fat down, 10-15 lbs to go depends on how much muscle I can develop in my 50 year-old lady status. 

Keto isn't a diet. Diets don't work. Keto is a lifestyle approach to eating, like being a vegan or vegetarian. 

Most health based arguments against keto rely entirely on the idea people can't stick to it or are made by "experts" with outdated facts and ideas about nutrition, such as the false idea eggs contribute to heart disease via cholesterol intake, among many other false narratives spread by under informed GPs and health professionals.

Most studies on keto haven't been done with healthy clean strict keto but with dirty processed food lazy keto. Ultra processed food is poison, regardless of your eating approach.

Studies about the dangers of sugar and ultra processed foods are endless and generally well established as fact yet I've never had even one medical professional suggest quitting sugar completely as a pathway to health.

They wait until someone is diabetic because modern medicine spends almost no time on effective prevention.

My life is so much sweeter without sugar, and trust me yours will be too if greatly reduce or stop eating sugar too.

Me with lit from below intense exercise faces. 

Happy New Year(s)


While the western world has just had their drunken new year's celebration the east is still preparing. Lunar new year is early this year on January 22nd. The Year of the Rabbit is just over two weeks away. This year is a Water year, therefore babies born are water rabbit babies.

I am already ritualistically cleaning up the house wiping away bad luck and preparing luck altars and rituals before the 22nd and even indulging in a bit of song composition for my hulusi to ring in the new year. I also plan dye my hair, cut it and make or find a snazzy red outfit for the occasion.

I like the superstitions and traditions attached to Lunar New Year because really the worst case scenario of abiding by them I end up with a clean cheerful decorated house, nice hair, lovely outfit, with my debts paid off, eating good food with friends.

Despite all the talk of "the opposition to Tai Sui" for Rats (I'm a water rat) in a Rabbit year I have always had incredible times during Rabbit years and oddly very trying times during actual Rat years. 

Also I just really love rabbits.

2011 was the last rabbit year, my band formed that year, I fell in love with so many new things and people and became a whole new version of myself. 

I suspect this year I will have wholly new adventures, and another version of myself to get to know. 

From the Wolf Moon to the Lunar New Year is a great time to reflect on past 12 years and see them as an era. Indulge in your personal history and reflect on the differences between the world then and now. Next try to envision 12 years from now what marvels and changes there might be in your world.

It's nearly impossible to fully comprehend the passage of time and its inward and outward effects on us as individuals but spending time remembering and honoring the changes will go along way toward helping us embrace the future.

Think of how far you've come and where you want to go from one Rabbit year to the next one a dozen years from 2023 which is shocking for me to ponder because that will be 2035. I don't remember thinking in 2011 that 2023 seemed so distant or "in the future" but for some reason 2035 seems like science fiction future times- 35 years past the year 2000.

What would you do again? What would you avoid? Are you the same person? Would you like to be? Who do you miss seeing regularly- reach out to them if you can-renew old friendships and start new ones! 

Most of all, let your family and chosen family know you love them and care about them.

Ok, back to the prepping the house and looking for all my lucky red and gold.

Original photo from photographer Caroline Legg of a Scottish wild black rabbit. (I put a little vignette around him)

The Comfortably Numb


I often wonder how some friends in major cities just walk past the explosion of homeless camps around the country in the past seven years, especially the west coast, without being moved by it.

I wonder at the conversations I hear around this crisis. They always center on self-centered interest of property value, business, and their safety. It has been a bit of a rude awakening for me to realize there are people in my circle who think like this. People seeing homelessness as dangerous for them, not the preventable human tragedy it is. They are the comfortably numb.

I think the media has influenced these people in my life as much as Fox influences people I don't generally associate with due to what I consider the intense propaganda via the right wing.

Public radio doing "year in review" all month reminds me what a bad job they do reporting about inflation and recession and actual causes of inflation and recession and what those things actually mean for most people, not just the comfortably numb.

They report on the housing "market" without one goddamn mention of the impact it has on homelessness and poverty. The media my comfortably numb friends consume confirms their goodness when they contribute to charitable causes, and vote. That's all you need to do. Contribute and vote. 

Yeah, 'cause that's working perfectly right? 

They report on inflation and gas prices completely down playing the profiteering of corporate interests. A mention of it is always tempered with "but it's not the only cause." "Oh and the supply and transportation issues due to the pandemic."

They never connect the record profits with inflation or record home prices with homelessness which are in fact, the biggest impact on those two crises in America. Health care coverage that doesn't equal universal affordable access is the third main crisis.

Public radio talks about people's portfolios and investors interests. Yeah, I get it 55% of the US have some kind of "investment" but most people do not have enough to actually effect their real day to day life.

I am disgusted with reporting by supposed public resourced reporting which still centers on people who are higher income, with comfortable lives. It's just not most of the country, but these people in my life who walk past the homeless without being moved- that's who they are. The comfortably numb emphasis on comfortable.

Reporting should expose uncomfortable truths. Good reporting makes that exposure easy to understand and relate to while not degrading the facts of the story. That sort of reporting is rare in the world now and certainly not found on mainstream media, not even public radio and TV. Of course, there are exceptions like the show Frontline, but the average news consumer, the comfortably numb aren't hearing those truths daily.  

Many people turn to other sources instead of NPR or PBS for information not because they are morons, like so many of my comfortably numb friends like to think, but because they feel included by those Fox anchors, those shows, and by that reporting. Feeling like the news is reporting on things that actually matter to you plays a massive role in whether or not the audience will listen.

Alas, most of those other sources are terrible sources. Obviously, Fox News is right wing propaganda but they realize they have to speak to people who aren't in comfortable circumstances. The end result is horrible propaganda that leads to right wing Nazis rising to power. It is poor white people who are a major part of this extremist nationalist movement. Fox News has radicalized these people to be sure, but what alternatives do these audiences have?

I suggest the complacent exclusion of the actual issues of the poor and truly struggling people in the US from public medias like NPR and PBS is equally to blame for why people fall prey to these conspiracy hate driven narratives.

Sure, some people are doing splendidly, though public radio seems to think reporting on inflation should center on people who largely can take the hit, not actually poor or struggling people.

They occasionally have human interest reporting on people struggling but I never hear PBS or NPR ask policy makers or economics reporters or pundits if these situations are directly connected to the profiteering during this crisis in housing, or the crisis with food prices.

Hey, I get it, maybe financially stable, comfortable people are the only ones who have time to listen long form media like PBS or NPR. These public media sources don't want to offend their main audience, privileged people who are sometimes profiting off those less fortunate via rental properties, blind investments that encourage cruel business practice, and even paying their own employees less than a living wage.

Pretending like that this comfortable group of people are the majority in America is disturbing.

The anchors and show hosts on public radio referring to the listening audience as "us" when referring to topics and reporting that, in fact, has almost nothing to do with most people's lives.

In 2021 there were nearly 40 million people in the US at or below the poverty level which is far worse this year in 2022. Considering that being just above the poverty level in the US doesn't actually pay rent and utilities in a large part of this country.

Those people not able to pay the rent aren't counted in that 40 million in poverty. Some of those people are sleeping in their cars or in a tent. 

The "us" these hosts on public radio are referencing are not these people, unless somehow they imagine a lady working her two jobs but sleeping in a beater car on its last leg is shivering in her car while listening to these programs discussing investment yields nodding in agreement on how that interest rate hike will make a difference in her life.

NPR and PBS has mostly factual reporting but what they don't report on speaks as loudly to me as what they do report on. 

What is not being said? Volumes and Volumes. There is a serious disconnection to reality with journalism these days.

There is a narrative bias on American public media coverage that is so obvious it screams out status quo, moderate conservative, non-progressive interests but also an elitist bent to the narrative.

Simply put NPR and PBS are incredibly classist and elitist in how they voice the narratives in the average reporting. Even though they do good reporting about issues effecting the country they are reporting for a certain audience- the comfortably numb.

Seen through that lens of classism, it makes sense that labor reporting, poverty, and injustice reporting has a biased voice that doesn't offend the upper middle class listeners who are actually participants contributing to these crises in the US and around the world.

Oh and that lady who is sleeping in a car but officially above the poverty level, she has mental health problems, now she has addiction issues too, but guess what, the homelessness caused those problems- not the other way around as often reported by the media.

How I serve my weekly dose of bacon. 

Read the Science, Really


Brace yourselves regular readers this is a long one. 

It's my two year anniversary of this blog GenHexer. So I am celebrating myself and part of that is by examining how far I've come since we began eating ketogenic.

Lately I've been receiving some push back from two camps of people. One group are some vegans in my world, the other some plus sized friends. The complaints or even sometimes down right insulting accusations have involved my enthusiasm for the ketogenic diet.

Due to my pursuit of better health, and to grapple with odd genetics, weird auto-immunes, and multiple severe medical issues over my lifetime I'm one of those people that reads actual science journals, JSTOR etc. I've been doing this for about twenty years. The internet has made my access easier, especially with google's scholar search, bugmenot, etc. It's how I came to the conclusion that I might benefit from a healthy ketogenic diet.

In the past few years I've noticed a huge amount of reporting on health and diet by mainstream media seeks to either trash and decry any keto diet or to gush about it as the cure to all your problems- sometimes from same media source! Both of narratives aren't useful when reporting on science and health.

As a rule, I think people shouldn't experiment on themselves too often, but my overall improved health is undeniable and frankly most doctors just treat my symptoms at this point while shaking their heads in sympathy. One doctor actually cried telling me a prognosis during my visit. She cried in sympathy because she knew she couldn't help me. I have respect for her above all other doctors I've come in contact with over the years.

I am very glad I used the information I gathered from scientific research rather than the sad corporate biased reporting on health.  Do I think my outcomes would be universal, of course not. But I do think that 50% of the US population would benefit adopting a healthy locavore seasonal ketogenic style diet. 

You can be a vegan and also follow a ketogenic diet. WHAT? Yeah, you have to eat a whole bunch more nuts and oils than I am willing to indulge in but it's possible. Being a vegan you have to work a lot harder to feel full on a keto diet, but also spend a lot more money.

You can be a vegetarian and also follow a ketogenic diet. WHAT? Yeah, you eat a lot of eggs, cheese, nuts, and oils and have to work harder to feel full.

I am following a healthy ketogenic diet that has meat but not much more than before I went ketogenic- just fattier meat, more healthy oils, and more small oily fishes. I feel full, I'm never hungry, and even with inflation it's about the same costs since I switched to higher quality food and those foods haven't jumped up as high with inflation as junk foods and processed foods. I eat bacon about once a week, just like I did before I was keto. I eat high fiber nutrient dense food every day. 95% of my meals are unprocessed food, most from scratch and as organic as I can afford.

Regardless of what you read in mainstream media, the key to good health is learning about your body, eating in response to your body, improving your sleep quality, lowering stress, and exercising and limiting your intake of sugar.

Eating nutrient dense, low or no sugar, unprocessed foods and intermittent fasting are universally accepted by science to increase positive health outcomes.

Some science that is generally accepted by experts in the field as fact these days:

Yet, you will read scores of recent articles about how plant based diets are better than keto for health outcomes. 

But wait a minute- my healthy keto diet IS plant based. The oils are from plants, I eat more vegetables now than ever I have. When you look into the studies quoted in these articles the keto diet they reference is an unhealthy keto diet vs a healthy vegetable based vegan diet. 

Doesn't seem very scientific to me to compare eating only crappy poor quality meat, oil and fat with eating only vegetables. Most healthy keto diets in practice increase the fat sure, but also the vegetables and perhaps most importantly no added sugar. Most vegan diets have huge amounts of sugar and carbs simply because it is just cheaper. Sugarcane is a plant after all and technically plant based. Many vegans and vegetarians are eating more grains and sugar than vegetables.

My personal health journey has taken a snaking route to keto. I was a vegetarian for fifteen years, then I went vegan to hopefully get better outcomes. I got much more ill and I gained weight as a vegan. I went back to eating clean proteins, meat, etc but on the low side. I felt better but still plagued with issues. I tried to eat only organic wondering if that was the reason. 

I tried a low calorie diet for a year, eating only 900 calories a day most days. I gained 10 pounds felt horrible, always hungry, tired and cranky. None of this was about losing weight for me, it was about feeling better getting my diseases to go into remission.

I stopped drinking for 8 years, completely no exceptions in case that was my problem. No change in my health but I saved money. I wasn't a heavy drinker though just at social things which were every week. 

I tried exercising every day while working. My body signaled this as stress and held onto the pounds and it made my body really hurt since I have autoimmune issues. 

Those autoimmune issues got out of control when I lived in Detroit. My inflammation response was so bad I couldn't even move some days without searing pain. The allergens in the air, the sudden deep humid heat were contributing to my illnesses getting worse. I got fatter because I could not summon the energy to move. I always seem to gain weight when I am sick even if I am eating less-it's just what my body does.

As the pandemic happened, my sugar loving excellent baker of a husband was home all the time making me sweet homemade treats filled with sugar, honey and love. I got fatter still. I tried to exercise it off. I tried to garden it off. I tried. I knew getting big at this age was a very bad turn. He was gaining weight too but he has the sort of body that can hold it and he's a dozen years my junior.

In the summer 2020 we moved from Detroit to costal Washington. Immediately I felt  better within a month. I was able to move. I was jumping in the ocean. I was swimming, walking everyday, dancing etc. I could breathe and I could sleep. But the weight I had gained wasn't going anywhere. I worried about diabetes, common in my genetic hertiage. I worried about cancer, which I have already had once and survived.

I didn't want to be one of those people who slides into later middle age with no muscle tone, letting their health and body go just because it was comfortable. I decided to research every aspect of nutrition available. Eventually, I found healthy keto. Not Atkins, not the acclaimed Mediterranean diet, or the Paelo approach. Strict clean keto. At first, I was resistant because of the framing of keto as a fad diet, and the massive propaganda against it, but I decided to try it anyway because it was the only thing I had not tried.

It took less than a month for my body to begin transforming. It took only 4 months for my body to lose all the weight I had gained. And far more importantly, I actually felt good, really good for the first time in years. My inflammation response was so much less, my migriane headaches were less, my soreness manageable, even my insect bites don't turn into saucer shaped welts anymore. My joints didn't howl as loudly when I danced around. I'm almost in the same shape as I was in at 37 years old  the last time I remember feeling at least ok about my health. I'm 50 years old now and even my face looks younger, not kidding, though I've always looked less aged than many, my skin is glowing these days.

Keto worked, it's just that simple. My husband, supportive partner he is, went keto too. These days his body is like it was in his twenties and he feels much healthier too. Between us we've lost 90lbs of mostly visceral fat and become expert keto cooks along the way. 

Eating more healthy fats and NO sugar was the answer for me. 

Our blood pressures are healthy, perfect in fact, our hearts in great shape. My wings as I used to affectionally refer to my triceps are almost gone replaced with muscle.  

You'll read a bunch of articles talking about how saturated fat is linked to breast cancer and heart disease with literally nothing to back up these claims. Usually it's some popular doctor or another quoting the usual dogma of suspiciously funded correlation studies, which newer science, more detailed empirical science, has debunked.  In fact, keto has been shown to improve outcomes with breast cancer.

Being obese or extremely over weight and eating lots of sugar has, in fact, been linked to breast cancer and heart disease regardless what sort of fat you eat.

Many vegans are fond of pointing out how my diet is destroying the planet. I agree in some ways how our world has made food into commodity is contributing greatly to the destruction of the planet. ALL diets have an impact on the environment-vegan included. For evidence of this look at vegan staple foods and where they are being grown in far away places, as crops robbing the local areas of the limited water and resources. I grow much of my food or buy it from people near me who grow it, therefore lessening my carbon impact, but I don't pretend that I am saving the world. Being a seasonal locavore is about the best you can do when it comes to food systems impact on the planet. 

The problem with being vegan in winter must be addressed. Where do all those foods, especially fruit come from when it is too cold grow food up here in the global north? Those fruits and out of season veg travel more than the average American will in their life time making their way to your plate, unless you just eat greens and nuts all winter which is kind of like a vegan KETO diet.

The other people who are seemingly annoyed by my keto enthusiasm are some plus sized readers/friends, not that many readers, just enough for me to need to address this.  

I don't have body dysmorphia and I am not fat phobic. I was a bad ass striking witch when I was fatter than I am now, and I'm a badass striking witch now. I really don't understand why discussing my body openly and my perspective on my weight must be conflated with the unfair fat phobic troupes of modern life but in a world filled with overreactive social media outrage I can understand some misinterpretation. I am proud to say that many friends and readers have used my willingness openly show my progress and went healthy keto. We've lost over 700 lbs of visceral fat in the past 18 months. 

Being obese undeniably causes health outcomes to be worse than if you aren't obese. That factual information shouldn't be considered "fat phobic" regardless how others weaponize this information. Genetics, illness, mental health and poverty are the overwhelming factors in obesity but diet has a link too. There are people who have too much visceral fat but are slender in appearance they also suffer worse outcomes with health. 

I didn't put all the links studies possible to ketogenic approaches, and I did link some well written articles with links to studies on diet effects but I invite you, if you have interest, to make up your own mind using Google scholar search. READ THE SCIENCE

You should read any and all case studies with an open mind but also a critical mind. Science evolves when at its best. Studies can have a bias and usually that bias is based in sexism, racsim,  corporate funding, or even occasionally the ego of the establishment. 

After all, scientists are only just now acknowledging the clitorises of snakes, even though two of them have been on the serpent bodies all along.

I am presenting my anecdotal evidence of my life changing love affair with a ketogenic approach as just that, one person who is doing well. These past two years I learned a calorie is not a calorie, and I wish that was taught to everyone everywhere.

I will use keto as a tool for the rest of my life to guide my eating choices but I doubt I'll be "strict clean keto" forever, but I will always embrace intermittent fasting, low/no sugar consumption, exercise, getting decent sleep, and good mental health, as the key to long life and good health. My chronic illnesses are still there but with keto at least I can tolerate the pain and downturns.

Check out keto if you struggle with weight loss and obesity. In the meantime, let us all marvel at some beautiful death adder viper clit. 

The Power of Nostalgia 


I am dealing with an illness at the moment that prevents me for being active or doing much of anything at all so I've been allowing myself to be nostalgic to help feel better.

Nostalgia is an incredibly powerful tool that really does help me feel better about life even at very trying moments.

“Nostalgia makes us feel safe, loved and reminds us that others care about us,” Hepper said. One study found that waxing nostalgic can even make one feel physically warmer." Direct quote from a great article last year from the Washington Post you can find here. 

I found video from my first gig with my band Sold Only As Curio while I had to remake our entire site from scratch this week due to escaping the expensive tyranny  that is squarespace

(Side note: Never ever use them. I do my own SEO now, I only pay for a domain. I use google sites for free and I literally relaunched our site in one hour from nothing which with squarespace would have taken hours or even days dealing with their crappy system.)

It was dark waxing crest sky on Halloween 2011 nearly midnight by the time this video was taken. Nate (that's my husband but he wasn't then) and Gregory and I were dressed as 19th century era ghost Oregonians leaning up against a stable grave stone monument lit by a flashlight- I'm hovering in the dark, as always. 

My fingers were numb and fiddle refusing to stay in tune as the cold humid night progressed. We played "Cold Cold Hand" "6 Feet to Go" many spectators thought them to be tunes was from the historic era but are, in fact, originals which I take great pride in. We also played other appropriate "sad bastard songs" as I often characterize them and improvised a bunch of stuff. 

The event was to raise money to help preserve and take care of the rather unique Lone Fir cemetery in Portland.

Actors portrayed scenes all around the graveyard of the lives of famous and infamous occupants. There were trained owls and conservationists there too. I got to pet several owls!

An adorable six year old girl dressed as a pink princess told me she hoped to return as violin ghost after she died. This after she made sure I knew she was six only yesterday. It was almost still her birthday she told me as we looked in awe at the owls. I asked the princess if she had a fiddle and I said she'd need to learn violin. The princess immediately started harassing her pleased mother to get a violin as they headed toward the owls.

It was a physical chore for me wandering about the cemetery in a corset and long trailing dress, a velvet frock coat and hat made up as dead musician as scores of people took the tour on a luckily rain free night. I was sick and anxious. And though I remember this night with near perfect clarity I feel primarily positive even though in actuality I was terrified due to stage fright, sick due to autoimmune disease, worried because I felt unworthy. I felt like I let people down. 

But I got to pet an owl and a little girl wanted to play violin because she saw me and most importantly I got to support something I believe in. Here's another video I found about the event. The music in the beginning of this video is a recording someone made at the event combining my band during improv moments and the bagpiper who played at the other side of the graveyard to us during the tour. 

It's us and I just found it. So I feel even more nostalgic.  

Gratitude vs Thankfulness


Gratitude is not the same as thankfulness. It’s a peeve of mine that these two things are conflated so often. I used to think it was an intentional manipulation of religions to conflate the two things so people would be thankful for something rather than be in a state of gratitude. In religious practices if you are grateful you must thank some god or other. I say no. Gratitude does not need to involve thanking anyone or anything, though we often do. Thankful is an emotion. Gratitude is a state of being, regardless of circumstance. 

These days I don't think religions are a dark cabal pushing the practices of gratitude away. I think very few people learn how to practice gratitude in their daily lives regardless of their spiritual life.

Thankfulness usually applies to things-stuff, money, resources, temporary happenings etc. A poor person will have a very different list about what they are thankful for versus a rich person. 

True gratitude, doesn’t have an economic class experience level and it doesn’t need God or gods to come into the equation. The experience of true gratitude is universal. It applies people we love, situations we’ve lived through, family, friends, talent, pleasure or understood intense emotions, capacity, beauty, music, art, and nature. Gratitude doesn’t disappear when things are bad or just not as good. Thankful does.

Essentially, gratitude applies to things money can’t buy. Thankfulness is more self-centered and gratitude is more centered on others.

It’s on my mind, naturally, because today is American Thanksgiving. Millions of people around the country will get together and consume way too much food, watch sports, and hang out with their families (including members they don’t normally chose to be near and actually want avoid generally) and spend lots of time pretending to enjoy themselves. This is not to say no one enjoys themselves but often people have more fun at “orphan thanksgivings” without any family involved than with at their actual family gathering.

Tomorrow, dubbed Black Friday for many decades now, lots of Americans will hustle into crowded fluorescent lit box stores to consume even more. All weekend this mass festival of prescribed over consumption will abuse retail workers and service workers. The over taxed mothers and grandmothers around the country will barely be appreciated for all the cooking. Domestic abuse will rise incredibly high during this weekend- one of the worst weekends of the year for wife beating. It is also one of the deadliest times for car accidents.

Many people can’t really afford to buy all this food or the Xmas gifts particularly this year but they will because it’s what’s expected and they will go into debt to live up to this expectation.

Most people now know Thanksgiving is a colonial holiday based on a lie, a propaganda pushed by groups of religious people in cahoots with nationalists, and corporate interests to be taught in schools and revered in workplaces. 

It was created officially during the civil war as propaganda for President Lincoln to gloss over having approved the mass execution of 38 Dakota men after the Dakota Uprising. It was the largest one day mass execution in American history and it happened the day after Christmas 1862. (Merry Christmas and good will toward men eh? Well, they must have meant “men” only as white settlers) The first official “Thanksgiving” was the following year in 1863 intentionally trying to instill the idea of the brotherhood of all men as propaganda during a time of slaughter.

In fact, one of the reasons the white supremacists are so against teaching the actual history and stories of Thanksgiving is it shows the brutal nature of European ancestors who really only brought disease, destruction and genocide to the indigenous peoples of North America. Then after stealing all of their land and committing genocide, politicians wanted to create a holiday with the myth of brotherhood under their god. 

These days Thanksgiving is the American festival of over consumption. It’s something we Americans are known for around the world-over consumption. 

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are linked for good reason it’s all about consuming and has almost nothing to do with gratitude. 

I have to repeat here that being thankful applies to stuff, commodity, and reciprocity very often. And gratitude involves people and things money can’t buy. I think the entire approach of American Thanksgiving is oppositional to gratitude. Thanking someone or something like a person or a god isn’t the same as being grateful. 

I don’t think most people understand the difference between gratitude and thankfulness. I suppose many people think it’s really a semantic argument I am making but it’s really not. Being thankful is mostly a good thing but not strictly necessary but gratitude is an essential thing regardless of your status in life. 

Quite honestly some people don’t have much to be thankful for these days, just as certainly the Indigenous tribes of North America in the year “Thanksgiving” was created as a holiday didn’t have much to be thankful for either. It was some grand callous manipulative bullshit to conflate thankfulness and brotherhood of  “the nation” to meaning the same thing as gratitude. 

I am grateful for the indigenous people who lived here before me who took care of the land. I am grateful for the people who do it now and still struggle against colonial powers and corrupt corporate interests everyday like Joye Braun who recently passed away. I can be thankful for the things she did but I am grateful for her life-just as I am many of my loved ones who have passed.

Gratitude is important to practice everyday else we all slide into hedonic adaptation regardless of our situation in life. It’s being aware of what life is and recognizing it as a gift.

Imagine getting a four day work week and decent amounts of vacation and PTO you were allowed to take without worrying about losing your job. That would be something to really be thankful for! Thanksgiving is the corrupt corporate bone companies throw out to the overworked dogs that Americans have become. Thanksgiving is one of the few times Americans have time off work so naturally people get together. Thanksgiving and Xmas. That’s kind of it for the average American. If you are a retail employee or service employee you might not even get those scant days off.

Sure, some people make Thanksgiving a wonderful time for the whole family and bond and don’t go shopping. I’m sure those same people probably spend other days in the year doing similar things without a prescribed made up colonial holidays based in glossing over genocide.

I often fantasize what society would be like if families created their own traditions having absolutely nothing to do with consumption or prescribed activities. I imagine how marvelous it would be if we all just stopped being told how to celebrate our lives in a short dreary dark season of the year and instead went rogue and did it all the damn time. Smaller happier groups doing low pressure gatherings with the time off to do it. Getting to bond with the people you actually enjoy spending time with rather than your racist uncle or bigoted aunt. Spending good time in your community rather than hustling past your neighbors in a store while everyone looks at their phone and fights for items on sale.

I long for a day when people support good causes all year rather than “giving back” during the holiday season or donating because it makes people feel better about over consuming. I know some people already do that, and they give me hope which I am extremely grateful for.

So obviously, I don’t do the Thanksgiving thing. I tend to make feasts all year round when I can, not just a Thursday in November. I am usually fairly actively thankful for the things I have, it’s my default status. I probably annoy people showing off my thrift store finds and crazy clothes I gush about all the time. I love my fiddle and the fabulous sequin gowns shimmering my closet but I’d give them up in a hot second for someone I love.

I suspect my default status of being thankful for things is because I come from relative poverty. Having things I want to have is a recent development for me. People who have come from a place of real scarcity often deeply understand the difference between having something and cherishing it instead of just acquiring things to experience “retail therapy”or just buying things no one needs because they are on sale on Black Friday.

I practice proper gratitude regularly, daily if possible. I never think about items or stuff during these daily meditations. It’s about the people, always about people and once in a while a black stray cat. I think about how marvelous it is to have a talented clever person in my life who loves me that I completely trust who makes me laugh. I feel grateful for his very existence, but also the time we have already had and the time we have yet to experience. I am grateful for the hope and warmth our partnership brings into my life. 

Thinking about the people I care about and their faces smiling literally makes my angst, grief, and anger dissipate instantly. It’s the best solution for depressive thoughts.

Importantly gratitude should not about “giving back” or any form of reciprocity. Though you should definitely be giving- it’s shouldn’t be as a response to being thankful. Giving should be because someone needs your help and you are able to give it or just because you want to give rather than take.

Gratitude is about being present, centered and aware of your place in existence enough to see the wonderful people in your life and the gift that being alive in the world at this moment really is for us humans. It’s about understanding how wonderful and unlikely life is and holding on to that specialness you experience without needing to thank anyone.

Gratitude involves centering your thoughts on the people in your life that mean something to you rather than centering your thoughts on yourself. Gratitude is never self centered but thankfulness often can be. 

Center your thinking on the people you love and care about, picture them in your mind and be grateful they came into your life. That is gratitude practice simplified.

Gratitude can be about the potentials or capacity you have to draw, paint, sing, swim, dance, play music, write, laugh, play and your cleverness, your health, your body’s abilities and/or your understanding of existence. Gratitude can be about acknowledging the safety in which you live. It can be about nature and the universe. It can be about acknowledging your advantages.

But real gratitude isn’t about stuff or needing to thank anyone or anything. 

I am grateful for my friends, my partner, and my chosen family and the wonder of experiencing life.

I am truly happy for everyone who actually enjoys Thanksgiving and the activities associated with it, but also I am exceedingly grateful I don’t to deal with Thanksgiving or the bullshit associated with it. I’m grateful for the interventions of critical thinking people that came early in my life and gave the courage to go against prescribed holidays without needing to ruin anyone else’s holiday. 

However, I do have to write about it because that’s how I express dissent. Not with violence but with words which I am also grateful for having that capacity regardless of how long winded and wandering my thoughts may be on the subject.

We still have calendulas blooming on Thanksgiving!

Paradoxical Intention for an Intentional Paradoxical World


We live in a world with a system designed as an intentional paradox. Be good, be honest, be humble, work hard and you’ll be rewarded.

Be good: defined by an antiquated set of rules designed by men and passed on for thousands of years by other rich men that did not seek women for advice, or the advice of anyone who is not like them.

Be honest: However, if you are truly honest the chances you’ll do well at a job or have many friends is quite low.

Be humble: However, if you don’t market yourself you’ll never get anywhere in life

Work hard: defined by people asking you to work for them, who also want to be the people who define how much that work is worth -no other work will be valued including things like being a parent, an artist, a caregiver, or even a good citizen. 

And the reward comes after you die-explained by the people who brought you how to be good.

Often becoming successful, especially wildly successful, as defined in the modern era requires a person to do the opposite of  be good, be humble, work hard. It requires a lack of humility or being humble. It requires manipulating other people. It requires being selfish with your resources. It requires participation in a totally unjust system designed to enrich the worst people in the world. It requires the opposite of the myths taught to us in childhood.

I think about this a lot when I feel alone in the world but full of love for my fellow humans. 

Of course we’re all struggling. We’re playing generations long game of pretending everything is ok so no one will get mad at us or hurt us like abused children do in terrible families. We are a society designed by extremely abusive parents whose children are so afraid they carry on doing everything they are told like one big happy family when the truth is they are suffering beyond measure. So naturally the whole world has anxiety. 

I think about this a lot when children rebel and I feel pride toward them. I think about this a lot when my friends get fired and I rejoice just as I do when someone I know finally becomes at long last godless. I think about this when I see homeless people struggling and feel a surge of anger at the turd millionaire buying all the empty property in our area. I think about this when I see my friends who are artists, musicians, dancers and writers give up and feel a profound sadness. I think about this when I hear a friend say “I’m just a mother” or “I’m not that good” or “I think I have imposter syndrome.” 

But most of all I think about this all the time in the context of mental illness. 

Is it mental illness if you don't want to accept a world that requires such a false ideology to be accepted as fact and requires a person to fake their way through life?

I think I was gifted by my autism sometimes because it comes with an over amplified dose of daily anxiety which is connected to very serious attachment to justice and honesty. I have spent all of my life dealing with some severe forms of anxiety in addition to the general underlying amount of it that is caused by living in this fucked up world. I had to figure out how to survive the system we live in very early in life with a perspective from an early age that it really didn't apply to me that I would never be accepted or rewarded. I recognized early on that the truths I felt about life were not acknowledged by the world at large and might never be acknowledged in my lifetime.

I started expecting my own failures and decided to embrace them spectacularly many years ago as I mentioned in my very first blog on this site. It helped me lessen my fears and phobias enormously. I have extreme stage fright. Yet I've played thousands of shows in my life. I don't like large groups yet I can often be found in a large group. I have had chronic insomnia my entire life yet I am not worried sleeping enough anymore. I fear having leadership positions yet I organize groups to participate often having to lead them.

Recently I have been reading a lot about the concept of paradoxical intention as a form of therapy- actually I first read about it when I decided to look up the term “intentional paradox” since I am writing a book about my experiences.

Paradoxical intention is what I’ve instinctually done to be able to function these past 40 years of  life. Some of Viktor Frankl's logotherapy is really relevant to everyone's life in western society especially in learning to navigate the broken system in the world. 

Paradoxical intention is like a form of witchcraft much like glamour. Some people would say it's like "fake it till you make it" but actually it's more like "expect not to make it and trick your emotions and behavior rather than using willpower" till you make it.

If you find yourself unsuccessful in this modern world it’s most likely you’re a good person who is honest and works hard and wants to do the right thing. Be proud of this “lack of success" but if you want to feel successful in world designed to be an intentional paradox use the ideas of paradoxical intention to help you get through.

Pretending in life is required. I pretend life is like the Powerball- you don't buy a ticket expecting to win, you expect to lose and it doesn't destroy you or cause any really pain to lose because you expected it and prepared for failure and someone somewhere in the world did win and cheers to them. I don't have resentment for them and usually I never think about them again.

You can use the potential of winning to fantasize about big things but also to recognize what you already have in life that money can not buy namely- love, goodness, cleverness, and humbleness.

Am I saying your anxiety or fears can be cured? No, of course not- but those fears and anxiety don't have to ruin your life or even run your life. Just like you are not likely to win the Powerball, you are not likely to completely cure your anxiety or fear.

Just as I will always have intense stage fright but I can play music or dance in front of thousands of people. Am I good always? Um, no usually I am not very good but passable at best yet I do it because I get to make original music with people which is my motivation behind even trying. Do I play better alone, oh heavens yes, but I want to play music with others so I trick myself into getting on stage.

I expect to fail to deliver the performance I wish I could at most shows and sometimes I am surprised I don't fail. I have had a few precious moments in my life where I delivered a great performance and felt it at that moment. For me those moments are success in life. 

May we all be successful a tricking ourselves in to living well in this paradoxical life. And you bet I'm still getting a powerball ticket today, because crazy unbelievable things happen all the time to me, so why not that too. If I win you'll be the first to know.

Me up on stage in Detroit on a day I was sure I couldn't do it.

Not for Sale


Not everything and everyone is for sale regardless of all the messages online and in the media saying otherwise.

After a very revealing early morning discussion I have come to the conclusion that less informed people enjoy being sold something literally in every aspect of their life. Or perhaps I should be more explicit about my meaning-stupid people will buy anything. Any idea, any product, any lie as long as the person selling it to them is charismatic or entertaining. 

It explains the popularity of religion because rather than acknowledging no one knows for sure what happens to us when we die religion offers a comforting entity, a God, or savior sold to people with compelling all knowing answers about life. Religions often require a decided lack of critical thinking.

These people being less aware and stupider explains why celebrities are worshipped. It explains why capitalism rules the world. It explains why people confuse having the choice of products with actually having freedom and democracy. Having lots of things to chose from isn't so great if most of the things kind of suck. Those choices are a distraction from what is really happening in the world. It's easy to distract people who don't actual have a depth of understanding. 

Marketing and religion live in the same part of our brains. In fact, I suggest religions claiming to have the answers to everything prime people for being good little consumers who don't question what they are being sold. 

Being informed hurts. The more informed the more it can hurt especially in a world full of people who will callously ignore real suffering while crying about their problems which are almost entirely self created. The voice of people without many actual problems seem to complain the loudest. They spend their days constantly consuming while bitching about issues the system their constant consumption created is causing. 

Now after more than a dozen years of constant social media around the world with an algorithm bias toward these complainers and controversy over community, especially created unimportant controversy- the world seems a dim dark place. People are making themselves into a brand. Often their posts online are like ads. It's pretty disgusting. In the digital world the bullshit always floats to the top. 

Empty vain people enjoy selling things to everyone regardless of how wrong it might me. They like being seen as having the answers. They like the attention. But now in order to make a living many people have to craft a self image online rather than having who they actually are represented. People must do it either to get a proper job and/or to get people to buy their art, writing or music. 

And of course, the darkest turn is the branding and genrefication of actual personality for sale.

I've been advised to do this- to improve "my brand." Actual people I know in real life have said this to me. I consider brands of any kind to be attached to forms of slavery. And while the physical branding of slaves in our horrid dark history is so much worse than what I refer to in this post- branding is about ownership and often about being owned by someone else.

I can't stand ads of any kind or commercials or people behaving like commodities even if there is an unfortunate need to do it at times in the fucked up world we live in. It is disturbing to me.

Critical thinking in not really rewarded in our current society. Being a gas bag, a ridiculing clown, a violent misogynist, and being vain and empty  as long as you are beautiful are rewarded. People receiving attention often have to equivalent of a bad morning radio personality from the 90s.

I can't believe there are people who still argue about these facts:

People aren't putting drugs in candy and handing it out for Halloween.

Inflation isn't the president's fault.

The presidential election wasn't stolen.

No one is trying to replace white people. 

Climate Change is real and the biggest danger we face on our modern world.

Vaccines don't cause autism.

Some of us aren't for sale and we usually we are less susceptible to marketing. In short, we aren't as stupid as people who are susceptible. I am proud to be an authentic self and I don't feel like I need to sell that self to anyone. I deactivated my existing twitter accounts now that a billionaire butthole owns it. 

I am so sick of pretentious people online and the bleed over into real life. It doesn't matter to me how great that photo looks, or even no matter how "clever" or witty someone seems most of online life is false and feels empty. 

How much time do these people spend trying to look like something they are not? Are they kind? Are they caring? Do they believe in helping others?

The people I respect most in my life don't sell things including themselves  and they don't spend their consuming things most of the time. They are focused on critical thinking, creating, loving, and sharing.

I've been spoiled by being lucky to have most of the important people in my life being marvelously not for sale.

The only time I really enjoy being something I'm not is this week- Halloweek. Everyday I like to imagine being another creature of fantasy, a spooky dark version of myself or even a silly self.

Happy Halloween in advance. And cheers to everyone out there who can proudly say they too are


The Power of Romance and Love


I recently wrote a fictional memoir full length novel which at its core could be described as romantic yet I hesitate for this to be the label slapped upon my work. It's one of the most honest and greatest things I've written. It's the book I wish I had read as younger woman. I am proud of the work yet I feel a dark shadow in my mind at the idea it will be dismissed because it centers on romantic relationships not violence.  

I often wonder at our cultural tendency to belittle the power of romance and love. In storytelling, in art, in music, and even in our own lives we’ve been socially conditioned to be embarrassed by having an enthusiasm for romance and love. 

If you want to be taken seriously making a series, a book, art, a poem, a movie about love is the surest way in the western world to be dismissed entirely at least from the standpoint of critical acclaim. Sex and tragedy- that’s completely acceptable and deserving of high praise among serious critics- not so with the power of love and romance. Even though the motivation for transforming our lives is almost always connected to love, the art centered on the joy of love, the beauty of romance, the universal need for love is considered immature and/or not serious enough to merit time in our lives. 

Thousands of series, movies and books are critically raved about that all focus on dead bodies, war, violence, crimes and tragedy that few people genuinely experience in the ways portrayed on a screen or in hero driven stories. These tragic heroes and admiral villain characters live out dark bits of trauma in each episode or novel with very little mention of love or romance except as motivations for murder and manipulation or as a piece of weakness of character rather than the enduring strength of love. Horror, mystery, tragedy, even comedy get respect but romance and love have to work hard to win over critics or be taken seriously. 

There is a level of sexism at play, naturally, because liking, or seeking stories of romance is seen as a silly woman thing. Or at least that’s what we are taught to think. 

There is also an element of antiquated small minded religious moralism that keeps romance put in its lowered place based in religious influences. Those influences attempt to connect having a family with the main reasoning for wanting love or romance and any other motivation as being sinful or degenerate. These strict versions of acceptable romance are most often heterosexual and nearly always monogamous. In reality, having a family is just one of many romantic motivations and very often not the first. And importantly monogamy and life long love in monogamy is actually quite rare.

While endless depictions of violence, hatred and pain are portrayed on screen and in novels stories of women and men behaving as real women and men might in romantic situations, rather than hallmark moments or pornography, are hard to find.

I can’t help wondering if having few respected romantic heroes in our cultural lexicons but plenty of “solve everything by violence” characters glorifying gun violence is not only a reflection of who we are as a culture, but also who we become from not respecting the elemental power of love in our storytelling. 

To diminish the power of love in storytelling do we not diminish its power in our lives? By giving no fictional mentors showing the strength of love and compassion or the rewards of romance do we as a culture not create a world with less reasons to seek these amazing aspects of life? For surely if something so great as these incredible romances really existed people would tell those stories.

So this month in honor of great love stories in art and music I am celebrating the 21 years of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's "Amelie." At twenty one years old the film is old enough to drink now so I suggest settling down with a decent scotch or glass of wine and watching the gorgeous magical romance, one of the greatest romantic films I have had the joy to experience. 

Early on critics trashed the movie. Gilles Jacob one of the selector's at Cannes Film Festival that year described it as "uninteresting" and many people I knew passed on the film saying they had heard it wasn't as good as Jeunet's serious work "City of Lost Children" or "Delicatessen" 

This film came to me at a magical time in my life. And every time I watch it or hear Yann Tiersen's compelling soundtrack I feel an echo of that magic still. I can honestly say that very few movies have the grip on me that "Amelie" does. Yet openly speaking about how much I love the film has been used to ridicule me and many others. 

Powerful creative and compelling love is all around us. The stories I am eager to hear and create center on this sort of love. 

There are some notable modern exceptions to the rule of romantic stories being dismissed such as Phoebe Waller-Bridge's excellent "Fleabag." Yet even though Waller-Bridge's work is entirely a story about the power of love, feelings of loss, and pursuit of romance it is classified as comedy, which I can't blame anyone for avoiding the romance label as a genre or the dreaded "romcom" because it's tantamount to being called a bit of fluff in the creative critical world.  

I sincerely hope our world becomes more filled with lurid love tales and pursuits of happiness along with marvelous stories about romance in all aspects of life. I think we all need a bit more of it in our daily lives. 

Real Solidarity During War Times


Lately I've noticed a narrowing of solidarity. Solidarity of working peoples can only succeed if we all bond together. I know many of my blog posts have centered on this topic in various ways but people seem to be experiencing a disconnect between their actions and the real world, not the narrative created by market forces.

The term "call to action" has lost all meaning among the endless shouts for help in a world being consumed by desperation.

Preparation is a better call right now. Particularly, for those of us who are able to have a nice cup of coffee in the morning without worrying about what we have to eat today. Prepare and show solidarity internationally. Don't listen to the media down playing the real threats of nuclear war, disease, and climate catastrophe. 

Many of us lately have turned away from even keeping track because it overwhelms the average person. Kind passive people living in the US, Europe, Canada, and the UK are turning away from being informed. It's too painful to be actually aware. 

We are treating people who are suffering around the world like a rape victims who finally cry out for help despite the shame for from being assaulted but we don't want to believe or know about it. We don't want it to be true. So we the victimizers are not held accountable. And the victims ignored.

I personally know comfortable passive people in all these places. I love them, and I know they care- but don't know what to do or how to help.

Some of us are even buying into the narrative that all is well. I get it, it feels good to believe everything's going to be ok now that Trump isn't in power- but it's really not the best idea right now.

Think of the people in Pompeii who didn't realize what the rumbling meant, who saw the smoke but it was too late to run by then. 

We are currently in World War III. Writing that means I'm inviting ridicule but I don't care anymore.

This new world war making the world more incredibly unstable during a pandemic, a world wide famine, and climate change fueled insane weather disasters. The Oil World War that has been going on for the past 30 years is easier to deny than the bombing and death in Ukraine. Honestly, people just didn't give a damn about the killing of millions of Arabs, muslims, and non white people. The current aligning of world powers against each other is an even darker turn.

World War II wasn't called a world war for years, and neither was World War I. "World Crisis" Or "European War" was the term until well after millions were affected and 500k people had died.

The doubling down of the lunatic Putin to regain autocratic empire via violent killing and bombing in his push toward the potentially worst war in human history. It's underway regardless of how the media is framing it. 

Eventually, just like they downplayed inflation, just like they downplayed the healthcare crisis, and just like they downplayed a majority of climate change, the undeniable reality of world war will have to be faced even for Western mainstream media.

300,000 people in Russia, who for the most don't want to fight either, will be compelled to fight in this war.. Putin's got 25 million people to force this slaughter or so he says, and he doesn't get a damn if they die.

It's why many people are actually fleeing Russia today before they aren't able to escape. These Russians don't want to leave their homes anymore than I do but they realize what is happening even if our world is in denial.

With the backdrop of world war, I must mention the massive irresponsible behavior of the Fed and our government in general with this current situation. This is not the time to escalate troubles- especially financially. Desperate people will do desperate things. 

Jerome Powell pushing for more multiple interest rate increases (after the fed has behaved irresponsibly 15 years by not raising it when they should have) will make the recession we are actually in already, far worse. It's happening in the rest of the world too because of our fed's behavior.

Unemployment will rise. Poverty will rise.  $7.25 isn't worth what $5 was last year. 

Housing prices will go down with the rise of interests rates many say. 

Really that won't make a big difference because the problem in the housing market is caused by cash buying mega companies- not ordinary people who need to borrow money for a house.

Sure less people will buy now, but more cash buying companies will scoop up even more property just as they did in 2008. They will sit on the houses and property for years, sometimes decades in some places and then destroy entire town's economies. 

Families won't have houses or options to buy or even rent a home they can afford and the homeless population will grow even more than explosion of the past 7 years.

How people haven't connected the fact that Trump's empire and influence was built on shady real estate deals combined with manipulating religious extremists is beyond me. I'm glad Letitia James has. The entire country is being destroyed by his sort of businessman, really the entire world.

Denying we're already in a recession is like denying the pandemic is still killing people. Politicians keep denying facts in hope the population don't have access or to ability to translate the data.

Increasing the interest rate during a recession is a bad fucking idea. Really using all the old tricks of economy of empire of the past on an economy that doesn't actually work like that anymore is the problem.

People always use comparisons to The Great Depression and other parts of history saying how it's not that bad now. It is worse than the great depression for some people in the US right now. Over 500k people are homeless officially but many estimates have that number much higher closer to 1.5 million people.

During The Great Depression millions of people were homeless. It would only take one major event to put us there again in an instant. Hoovervilles of that age could be translated to the huge homeless camps of today. 

Yet people look at those photos from the past with sympathy and sorrow but will walk by the same thing today in their city with disdain and anger at the unhoused as if they are not the same thing.

How many tents on the sidewalk do we need to see? How many empty houses while poor people sleep in a yard or in a car do we need to see to declare this what it is?

What would you do if you could go back in time and help those sad victimized poor people back in the 30's- well guess what NOW is your chance to help the same people today.

You need to be worried about what is happening and you need to act not by becoming a doomsday prepper but by becoming reconnected with your community after the pandemic instead of staying in your comfortable bubble of life.

History can teach us many things but actual moment of now is unique. Life could be end up being far worse than the depression in the US. We don't have a Roosevelt, and there are many nuclear issues all over the world and many more troubles such as intense climate change issues that could make life far worse. 

The entire concept of a "soft landing" economically is bullshit. It's only happened once in the mid 90's and that "soft" part only applies part of the populations. 

If you're not an investor or multiple property owner it doesn't apply to you. Powell is not talking about real working class people he's talking about investors- often the people who are incentivized toss people in the street for money.

The fed is engaging in magical capitalist empire thinking in a world they no longer control.

My dear passive kind friends should not be engaging in this same false magical thinking. It won't work this time.

Be an informed realist who gives daily space for gratitude and using magical thinking in our personal lives or creative lives is perfectly lovely but magical thinking in the financial systems and world issues is not wise, it's dangerous.

Currently working people have a slight advantage- less workers exist than demand for workers. If the "economy" slows before the minimum wage is raised to a livable wage by this time next year millions more will fall into desperate poverty. Millions. 

If you are sitting there in your comfortable life thinking- "Well it's a shame but I'm doing ok I can't be thinking about that right now."

I understand! I want you to enjoy this fall weather, to be hopeful, to be happy. But also:

I am asking you to prepare for coming dark times that will effect people you know even if you make it through safely.

People in your town, in your apartment complex, in your family will not make it without your help. Reach out. Make this harvest time a time of kindness and generosity of concern and care.

Help care for those around you especially those who aren't desperate yet but will be soon and please realize you could be there in a flash and most of us don't know how to ask for help because it's been stigmatized severely.

Preventing desperation is the best way to stop disaster.

You are safe and comfortable- that's awesome! Help others get there too. I am always writing about this but I think people just input bad news and walk away from ideas to change things.

You don't need to walk the streets in protests (but do please) You should not cross a picket line EVER. You must vote, you must do "all the things" but really you should help connect people with resources and connect with real people in your daily life not online connections which are causing a disconnect in communities.

You are in a good job- help other people get one actively help reach out since asking for help is hard. I have so many low income friends who are struggling because they can't seem to even get seen by jobs they apply for because people don't really seem to refer each other anymore.

A leg up is all people need. But they don't know who ask for help and/or embarrassed to ask.

Please remember  many of the people sleeping in the streets, fleeing their countries as refugees, living through floods and fires, and getting desperately ill thought it couldn't happen to them.

Don't take what I'm saying as a call to be afraid. Take it as a call for more solidarity.

Stay informed. Help each other. Vote against conservatives.

Buy stuff from your friends' businesses, services, and support artists you know, heck even yard sales from local families, help people directly not via some charitable cause. Give things away to others directly without making them feel ashamed. Take the marketization of your compassion as the insult it is and walk away from big charity and the tax evasion of billionaire philanthrocapitalism.

Have a fire and flood bag, have stored clean water, realize no one is beyond the reach of the current troubles. Become aware of the emergency preparedness in your community. 

Winter is coming. And it might just the darkest one in generations.

Sea Change


There is a sea change happening.

Literal Nazis, on the rise in Europe winning elections in Sweden and Italy

The actual establishment of the political parties that won are literally connected to the actual Nazi party.

How did they win? The exact same way the Trumpists do- by pretending that all the problems in the world are caused by immigrants and refugees particularly brown and black people.

For everyone out there who thinks that it's drastic to call these people and indeed some of our elected officials, Nazis you really need to read more about it. 

With Viktor Orbán already an existing Nazi in power in Hungary, also a major friend to American conservatives- that's three European countries with actual full on Nazis in power or on the way there. 

Russia is being led by a fascist, Putin too, and he's pretending to be "fighting nazis." while jailing and torturing people and killing people for his push to empire. 

China has been committing genocide on the Uyghurs population for years now.

Modi is a Hindu fascist.

Brazil is being led by a fascist also, Bolsonaro.

What they all have in common is propaganda based around religious extremism or extremist ideology of another sort but really it's about empire. 

Ultimately the label doesn't matter Nazi, fascist, Republican, Neoliberal, Christian Nationalist, Hindu fascist, Lehava, Taliban-not a fully inclusive list of extremists.

It's all the same thing.

The playbook for these people is make poor people desperate so they can enslave them, make women property, demonize people who are different, instill racism and the ideas of colonial empire, and accuse others of what they are actually doing- destroying the lives of everyone around them.

These terrible people exist in every country. In your town, in your neighborhood. But those who care and would do good for each other out number them a hundredfold. 

History does repeat itself but usually it's worse the second time around, and multiplies with each replaying of tragic consequences.

Most of the truly tragic things that have happened in human history happened because good comfortable people didn't think it could happen and they allowed it to get to a breaking point and then catastrophe, disaster, war, and holocaust follow.

I know it's hard to keep track, be informed and to know what to do without feeling hopeless. 

There is a sea change happening. 

Right now we're hovering on the brink. 

Just remember the autocrats and extremists are trying so hard to gain more power again because they feel the rise of the freed working person, the rise of the free thinker, of the freed mind, the freed woman.

They've been trying to destroy us for so long.

They know we can defeat them. So they are hoping to dissuade us all from even realizing there is a battle.

But these days everyone feels it. It's just a matter of deciding how to act on these feelings. It's really time to pick a side. Are you actively going to resist? Or are you going to be part of the problem either by being passive or by supporting fascism? 

Working people and people who are not defined by the rules of prescribed religion, and people who just want to be allowed to make their own choices in their life are gaining momentum.

It's why they are trying to knock us down. 

We need to stand together against them, regardless of our differences. Often called marginalized groups if all of us banded together we would out number them.

Then if the people who are just not assholes but who aren't considered marginalized groups stood with us- we would easily defeat fascism. 

There's an ocean of us. We need to make more waves.

The sea change is happening but who will drown in it?

It's the comfortable people I'm trying to talk to- to beg to get involved. You need to do more than just vote or chat about stuff. Poor and desperate people who can't do more- they need YOU to be more active. 

The literal world is at stake.

Voting against fascism is just one thing you must do. Don't give any of your energy or time to these types people anymore. Shun them. 

Don't patronize their businesses and tell them why. I don't care if it's a local business. If you have money use it wisely. 

STOP bitching about your taxes- just make sure they are directed toward the right things.

QUIT blaming the homeless for all the problems in the city-learn what you can do help these people quit worrying about your fucking property values in comparison with someone who needs to sleep in the street. 

HELP those who are struggling whenever you can in little ways everyday. Encouraging someone doesn't cost anything. Do it everyday. Do it online, do it in person. Support other people's creative output, other people's courage and kindness. 

STOP being shy with your compliments and your enthusiasm for love and kindness. Use the energy you would to use refute or get angry instead to lift up someone.

STOP blindly participating in consumer culture.

START actively connecting with those people who need us to be more involved. 

Spread the message of what is at stake but also more importantly of what those who are doing goods things need to help in this fight. 

Talk about policies and ideas that are good ones not just the terrible things being done. Things that make our lives better based in love and creativity. Most problems have existing solutions.

Too much of modern life is reactive fear based behavior which propels us all further into the thinking that leaves us susceptible to the horrid propaganda of extremists.

Too many of our lives are governed like a stupid social media algorithm designed to elevate controversy and fear but not solutions or love.

This morning I feel the sea change. 

I just hope we're all heading the right direction.

50 Years Young


I’m turning 50 years old this month. Well, at least, I hope I do. So this post is what turning the big 50 is making me think and feel. It's a rambler but I will indulge myself and allow the longwinded essay since I'm officially old now:

Lots of people dread getting older, but I couldn’t be more thrilled to have made it this far. My anticipation for turning fifty at long last is, I am sure, a bit annoying to those near to me because I talk about it so often. I have been informed by every women's magazine and internet source I should dread being fifty because it means I'm really considered old now, like undeniably old. I say- marvelous! At long last I am an Elder.

What most people don’t understand about my excitement comes from the iron clad belief I had about dying young. I never really believed I would live this long, as in truly I was sure I would die. It wasn't just the usual thing a twenty-something year old thinks when they are self destructive. I believed my death due to illness, homicide, or unhappy accident was far more than likely long before I made it to this milestone. I had plenty of evidence to come to that doomed conclusion. And to be fair to my assumptions and my paranoia I have flatlined several times, been told I wouldn’t live this long by multiple doctors, four attempts have been made on my life, and I’ve been in three car accidents. 

I'm glossing over the crazier stuff because Death has hovered by me many times but this post isn't about him.

And now just over a fortnight from the big milestone I have covid. And so rather than planning to celebrate my upcoming birthday my paranoia about dying is there, a familiar friend darkly waiting in the corner to jump out on my moments of happiness and comfort to remind me that being comfortable is for other people.

I had a rough start physically in life as well as a troubled extremely abusive family life that caused many years of my life to be spent unlearning the terrible things instilled in me by my parents as well as many of the adults around me. I came from one of the most toxic cultures humankind has ever created. I come from “God and Gun Country” land in rural mountain North Carolina. 

I could very easily write an entire book about how I overcame trauma and unlearned abusive tactics meant to destroy me. Perhaps someday I will, but this post is my first addressing the poison of my early life directly. It's personal to me and therefore so much harder to write about for an audience unfamiliar with my background. I'm so used to not being listened to or believed I have admittedly internalized the message "no one cares about or believes you" more than I would like to admit. 

I’ve always been afraid to write about the abuses that happened to me in my youth because those abusers would feel compelled to defend their actions, to call me a liar, or to make my life more difficult again as they enjoyed doing when I was young. Or even worse some people would get off on the descriptions of violence and rape and reenact those things on someone else.

Luckily, no one really reads blogs and if they do it's because the writer spends far too much time promoting the blog, which as my readers know isn't my inclination. I'm thankful for the feedback I get from readers but it plays almost no role in why I write. It’s been a long time since I have had contact with any of these destructive people from my past but I know some of them keep tabs on me and are invested in the truth not being told publicly. Hopefully this flies under their hateful radar because I am no longer continuing the silence. I am, in fact, working on that book because I decided it was selfish of me to keep how I survived all the challenges I have survived and the adventures I've had to myself when others could benefit from my experience or at least be entertained by my perspective.

As a child I was regularly beaten with slaps, with long stinging hickory switches, and lashed with leather belts. Even though emotional abuse was far worse than the beatings it has taken me until this year of my life to be able to actually wear a belt of my own or see a belt on someone and not immediately be transported back to being a small child seeing a belt from below hearing the clink and swish sound of its removal and becoming sweaty with fear and anxiety while bracing for the pain. 

Our school had corporal punishment too. Paddling they called it back then. I used to actually laugh off paddlings since it didn’t compare to the pain of the beatings I got at home. My paddlings were usually for acting out the very same behavior I saw in adults or for questioning things concerning End Times Christian world doctrine I was being taught. 

“Why if we are already saved do we need to be good?” I’d asked, because I was told once your “saved” your “saved.” “If the end of time is coming and God already knows who is going to heaven why do we have missionaries?” I asked. “Who was Cain’s wife?” “Why didn’t God mention dinosaurs?” as well as many other annoying curious questions about contradictions. I was regularly told my faith was not strong enough or I wouldn’t have such questions. 

Questioning God was a sure sign I was not “right with God”and a sinner. I was told I needed to stop reading so much. It was toxic to my emotional development that I actually believed something about me was not “right with God." Men looked at my young body because I was evil temptation I was told. Perhaps even worse than the abuse I received at home was being told I deserved those beatings and the abuse too for being so wicked when I told a preacher about the troubles I had. The poison of self loathing flowed in my veins from a young age because I simply could not stop being curious or asking questions and was reliably informed that I deserved to be tortured because of this. I still apologize sometimes for being curious.

That toxic cultural influence of not questioning and blindly following an extremist Christian doctrine has managed to seep like PFAS, the forever chemical, into every aspect of American life. It rains down on us all whether or not we want to participate in the delusions of Christofascists. It has been my enemy since the first day I was able to make independent decisions regarding my own life. It has been very disturbing to me over the past decade or so to see such a rise in power of these cruel assholes.

Other friends from my youth who also managed to escape our terrible upbringing often wonder why everyone else is so surprised by the lunatic end times Christians doing exactly the horrible things they advocate for everyday in American politics. 

We are not surprised by the existence of elected nut jobs like Marjorie Taylor Greene or the idiot Lauren Boebert. Most of us expected things to get worse after Trump actually won because the Democrats didn’t run someone people could actually believe in and vote for rather than vote against something- but instead chose Hillary Clinton. We knew this would lead to the rise of this world of science deniers and delusional followers. We, my fellow survivors and I, have been trying to tell our liberal friends and extended families we've married into about this for decades.

I think we understand these End Times Christian Republicans from a perspective that perhaps most of the country does not. They were our earliest oppressors. They were our abusers. Even if some of my friends from my childhood had loving parents they also recognize the poison, hateful status quo of the culture where we grew up. The worst part for most of us is that now, still after all this time, it is exactly the same there as when we were young impressionable children. 

I see evidence of the captives stuck in this culture everyday in my facebook feed. Young people, especially women submitting to stupidity and senseless violence against their own souls. Begging God for help by praying while actively voting against their own rights. Watching them accept or even embrace this madness causes a deep sadness in me and a reminder. 

That could have been you- that would have been you- a voice murmurs in the back of my mind.

I was raised to believe I was less valuable as a human being because I was female. That my value would only exist as an obedient daughter, as a wife, and most importantly as a mother. The church I was forced to go to pushed these beliefs hard. The public school I attended had teachers who often reminded me “I was only a girl.” 

I was raised to believe gay people were "of the devil." I was taught that black people were the “mud people," that Jews had betrayed God, and that women who wanted sex were whores. 

The minister at our church would often use the word “nigger” at social functions when referring to one of the local women who had married a black fellow. The entire existence of women was to be a “helpmate” to men but that apparently didn’t extend to black men.

I remember my brother, age five, shouting happily because the power meter reading guy was black “There’s a nigger in the yard. Nigger!” And my mother pulled him away from the window and apologized to the guy. He just carried on doing his job, but I saw the look on his face. I hope no one ever looks at me like that.

My mother smacked my brother hard across his face and told him to never say that to someone in public or she would "smack the shit out of him." He was so confused because he had heard her use the word "nigger" countless times and even when she referred to a candy he loved- little chocolate drops with white nougat inside as “nigger toes.” I think he was just amazed to see his first black person and of course, he didn’t realize my mother was a racist using slurs and bad words to refer to an entire group of people. My brother thought he was seeing a magical creature. That was the day I realized my mother was a racist and that the “n” word was as terrible as my second grade teacher had told us it was the year before. 

That teacher is why I am such a vocal supporter of the 1619 project being taught in schools. If she had not given the class a lesson on slavery when I was in the second grade maybe I too would be a full on racist hate monger these days. It’s also why these Christian groups all over America are putting money and energy into banning books about accurate history as well as condemning anyone teaching anything that doesn’t paint colonialism as good and gay as bad. Their attack on teaching history is so they can continue to instill racism, sexism and bigotry into young children. If they don’t their congregation will continue to shrink. Their entire belief system relies on white supremacy and bigotry. They are state sanctioned terror groups in places like North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Texas and many other bible belt states.

I also learned very quickly the public face my mother and the face church people showed the world was very different than the private behind closed doors conversations with sexist, racists and bigoted commentary they had daily when they thought no one who would be offended was there. This taught me they knew some people believed they were wrong. I decided wanted to know those people. What else did those people know?

Over the years I paid close attention to how defenders of girls in school, and the people who defended black people, Mexicans, and gays in our community were attacked by people like my mother- herself an immigrant. Often people in power- those who held office, cops, or people who had bigger businesses would target them or exclude them from opportunity. It wasn’t only people of color who were targeted but that was a big focus of the cops. 

Those cops targeted artists, punks and goths too, but they really liked to torture the “spicks, niggers and queers” as I was once told by a local cop- gay or gay presenting men were not to be trusted because “God says it’s wrong and it’s just disgusting. It's important to beat some manhood back into them."

These days people do this sort of disturbing commenting on social media with seemingly little shame or fear of reprisal. They post videos of themselves harassing people in Target for buying rainbow Pride T-shirts and tell everyone they are going to hell and becoming satanic and someone else turns it into "content." They are just out there proudly being total nasty hate filled bigots proud of their ability to hinder other people's access to love and a healthy life with choices and freedom.

As a young person I knew something about me was different. I thought these “queer” men were interesting and kind. They were clean for one thing- a big plus to my obsessive young mind. These odd fellows had lots of interesting conversations I overheard. They seemed to be secret mystery group that everyone one knew but no one talked about. They laughed more than the normal men too. Importantly, they never tried to touch me in weird ways like all the men at the church who stared at my young breasts and grabbed me or rubbed themselves against me when hugging me. I loathed hugging because of these men- and I still do. My family didn't hug me for the most part so the first types of hugs I had were creepy sexual ones. 

I knew people often considered my strangeness to be demon based- they told me so in Sunday school more than once. I liked unique things and dark things. I liked science. I liked “queer” things. 

I had a dark painful life. I know I was only trying to find beauty while deeply in pain in childhood but it definitely sealed my fate as having “otherness” something I cherish now but was strongly impressed upon to hide, to suppress and even stamp out utterly by well meaning but misguided teachers.

I asked questions, too many questions. If something wasn’t logical I protested. If someone was lying about something they said previously I was too socially inept to realize I should stay quiet. I cared more about the truth than the pain of losing friends over lies. My autism was on display all along, but as a girl, well, that just wasn’t possible. Girls didn't have autism then. Girls weren't smart either. I learned to pretend to be much less intelligent to get along at jobs and in school.

I thought black people and the migrants that worked the orchards and fields in our county were absolutely beautiful and fascinating. I thought women were also more interesting to look at compared to men. I didn’t realize it was a sexuality because when I later found men appealing too I assumed I was straight-until my first sexual encounter with a woman.

I left North Carolina and never returned because I felt it would be like visiting the grave of my childhood if I did. I wanted to severe any connection to that painful story. I wanted to know everything that wasn’t my world so I travelled the world. I fell in love a few times too but those relationships were my first without abuse as the basis of connection so they were practice for all concerned and essentially doomed to fail. 

I wanted freedom from the judgmental eyes and darkly hateful sort of people who had ruled my life. 

And I found it. I found love and caring for the first time. I found cultures that seemed to respect my intelligence and even encourage curiosity. I had respectful loving friends in North Carolina but I don’t think I understood how to love them back then or make trusted connections. I am still not sure my ability to love someone is fully realized as it should be in a healthy person but I try my hardest all the time while recognizing that never having received ample unconditional love makes it harder to express to others. 

At nearly fifty years old I am thankful to have had so many positive relationships with good men and women, as well as genuine adventures over the years. Without my desperate need to flee the confines of the small minded Christians I was raised with I doubt I ever would have seen so much of the world, so I suppose I can thank them for something.

Considering my painful background, these days I am more comfortable allowing myself to be proud of the emotional work I put into making these human connections and having healthy outcomes rather than constantly berating myself for not being good enough for anyone to love. Those doubts will always be there but I know who planted those terrible thoughts and they can fuck right off.

I mention these connections between the milestone age of fifty and the poisonous hatred of my upbringing and the culture that spawned it in this post because there is much discussion about how hatefulness ages a person lately. 

The piece of trash known as Alex Jones has been visibly compared to Wil Wheaton who is a kind and openhearted fellow as well as two years older than Jones and looks undeniably better because he doesn't look angry or mean. I am two years older too, and I definitely look undeniably better than Alex Jones. I'd say a broad portion of the population looks better and kinder than Alex Jones. I look better than most of the people I grew up around who have drank the hate filled cup of Christianity as it expresses itself in our hometown too.

Despite have many genetic illnesses, having had many set backs in life, being poor, having no “backup” plan or family to rely on I’ve never turned to hatefulness and resentment. I don't let fear real or imagined totally rule my life like those people wanted me to do. I have actively become less hateful over my lifetime. Despite the seductiveness and comfort of the “nothing can be done-it’s too late to change anything so why bother" thinking of many in my generation I’ve also never become dismissive of solutions or ideas that come from those younger than me. Despite the constant instilling of how little I matter, and how I shouldn’t be proud of myself from those who should have cared for me and done the opposite, I am proud of this lack of hatefulness. I am proud of being me and not in the least bit ashamed of my joy or my loves.

It takes daily active effort to not be bitter, hateful, or even righteously angry all the time. It’s what I do rather than pray to a non-existent god. I spend hours contemplating how to make the world I inhabit better for those who will inherit it from me, even though I have no children. I think of what things will make those I love happier. I spend time being grateful for the love I have in my life, for the safety to be my true self without having to fear what someone will do to me for being honest. I want that for everyone whether I know them or not.

I was told so often as young person “Oh you’ll understand when you get older” when I questioned conservative attitudes and ideas. And they were right. I do completely understand them now that I am older. Those people were bitter, hateful, old, selfish assholes intent on making me feel small and powerless just like them. They spent their life living by someone else's delusional relationship with a non-existent god rather than learning who they are inside. 

I never want to be like them. I want to become more flexible in my mind as I age, not rigid or conservative. I want to focus on love and understanding. I want to listen to new ideas and people because I have the privilege of being able to live long enough to see new things and meet new people. I have my own cherished traditions and rituals and they are not challenged or degraded in the slightest by new information or other ideas unlike the godbotherers who felt the need to diminish me even as a child and many other small innocent children. 

If I really do make it to fifty this month I will indeed be over the moon about it. Yeah, I’m wrinkled and a bit pudgy but I get to be here. I’m alive despite all the organized opposition. I understand who and what I am in the world. I have an unshakeable tenacity for goodness in the face of stupidity and cruelty.

I’ve worked hard these past few years dislodging myself from my comfort zones to find better health and be in a better location than we were when the pandemic started. I wanted to be in the best position I could be when I finally caught covid so if it managed to take me out at least I would know I tried everything I could to prevent my death. If I had listened to the End Times Christians and Republicans I am sure I would have died as have 33 people I know in the past few years of the pandemic.

I know it is more challenging to stay healthy from here on out. I plan to do all I can to stay alive and be well- even if just to outlast those assholes who damned me. Living well is said to be the "best revenge" but I think living well is just the point of life really not as a reaction to terrible people- still I admit having a happy life compared to those shitty people does feel pretty good.

I am proud to have lived this long in a hostile world regardless of what age I am when I die. My life is my life not theirs or their stupid vengeful god. I hope I'm never "Right with God" because that is a sure sign of living life wrong. 

So bring it on 50 years old I wait with breathless exuberance for what you can teach me. 50 years young here we come!

PFAS: What You Can Do to Limit Your Exposure to Forever Toxins in Your Daily Life 


Another study published yesterday has again confirmed and expanded the effects of so called "forever chemicals" known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS. 

PFAS has been linked strongly to "low birth weight, childhood obesity, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, and hypothyroidism" PFAS was also previously linked to autoimmune diseases

Researchers from  NYU Grossman School of Medicine have shown that thirteen diseases may result from PFAS exposure including diabetes and endometriosis.

Almost everyone is exposed to PFAS in the modern world. There are nearly 5000 chemicals that make up the "forever chemical" group almost none existed in commercial production before the 1940's.  PFAS is in our drinking water these days too. Some places have dangerously unregulated amounts in the US and around the world.

Other things with PFAS

Since it's in drinking water almost universally PFAS will be impossible to fully avoid. In fact, it's estimated that 95% of the population has PFAS in their body right now!

What can we all do to help limit further exposure?

Most importantly in our personal lives we should all stop using the products above especially non stick pans. Avoid any cosmetic or personal care product with "fluoro" in words in the ingredient list. 

Cleaning products especially spray cans increase exposure. Use alternative cleaning supplies with organic ingredients or make your own and hepa filters when vacuuming.

Get a reverse osmosis water filter if you can afford it- removing up to 90% of PFAS in drinking water would greatly improve most people's daily exposure.

Be careful with thrift purchases of furniture and clothing particularly predating 2015 as many of these items have high levels of PFAS.

Luckily, the list of PFAS free products and stores is growing everyday. Pushing your state government and the federal government to actually totally ban PFAS as Canada did would greatly reduce exposure over time as well. 

The Environmental Working Group is a great resource if you need more information on chemical dangers and how to limit them.

Looking for something specific from my blog? Look here on the archive page.

Land of "the Free"


In Illinois, today a gunman killed six people and injured thirty-one more in a parade for Independence Day, some were children as young as eight years old. Possibly the most American thing that could happen on July 4th is a mass shooting at a parade. The number one cause of death for children in America is death by fire arms, by the way- maybe I should yell that so the proud flag wavers can hear me.


July 4th is supposed to be the day we celebrate America. But like many of my civic minded and kind hearted friends and family I just can't. Admitting that publicly, of course, leads to being called a traitor or not patriotic, usually the same sort saying those things to me think the attempted coup on Jan. 6th was a good idea and that the election shouldn't have been certified.

Independence Day in America is at best an example of misplaced pride in your country involving a BBQ and some damned annoying fireworks that potentially burn down houses and start forest fires-and at worst, an excuse for destructive nationalist displays usually by white Christofascists to rally around the idea of “God and Country” meaning their God, and only they get to experience any freedom in their country.

It's always those same people too setting off fireworks all day and night for weeks sometimes with no regard to the mental health of the millions traumatized by gun violence and war in our country. Every time I hear one of those random loud booms my body responds with a surge of adrenaline and puts me in a state of hypervigilance regardless how I try to calm myself. 

Their idea of  being “proud to be an American” is truly disgusting to me. They feel pride to be a racist, sexist, a violent land stealing colonial power. I feel shame at dead children around the world thrown on the altar of violence we’ve created with our weapons and domestically too with our refusal to regulate the bullets and the weapons of war.

They feel pride thinking about repressing those “queers” and making supposed "baby murderers" seek medical asylum in another state. Soon they will be proud of making bodily autonomy for potentially pregnant people a crime. I feel the deepest shame imaginable that a ten year old rape victim has to seek medical asylum in another state and that if these extremists get even more control in the USA they would have made her live with the trauma of carrying that fetus. These forced birthers' ancestors did that during slavery to black women, and indigenous women for hundreds of years-just as they did to any girl child they wanted to marry before the 1950s. 

I feel shame living in a country where an AR-15 assault rifle carried on the back of an unstable teenager has more freedom to travel across state lines and faces less scrutiny than a young woman who had her birth control fail. 

Death cult Christians have finally managed to chip away and deny the right an abortion to millions around the country and with the intentional weak response from the Democrats (it's a great way to raise money for their upcoming elections rather than actually doing anything to stop this horrifying slow motion take over by End Times lunatics) we'll see things get worse, and possibly not actually get better for a really long time in America.

Becoming pregnant in in America is pretty dangerous and not just because the ridiculous price of health care or even the potential of complications from pregnancy. The number one cause of death of pregnant women in America is homicide. And that was before the recent abortion decision. Maybe I should shout that one too for the flag wavers too.


They feel pride at denying climate change and the impact of over consumption on the planet and celebrate a lack of regulation to at least mitigate the effects of worsening pollution while driving around gas guzzling vehicles only complaining about the price at the pump, not the millions of people around the world air pollution from emissions kills each year which is the real price. I feel shame that I too have participated in disgusting consumer culture and I too must drive to survive. 

I haven’t believed in America’s promise or being American was much to be proud of for a very long time but this year in particular there is a sharp contrast between persons who celebrate our culture from those who want to fix the terrible things happening because of our culture. 

I really hope everyone did get to spend some time with their friends and family on this national holiday because we are an overworked culture too. But I refuse to be proud to be an American today and everyday until these things change. I will do all I can to make those changes too. It is my greatest wish that those who see the impact of cultural illness of nationalism and white supremacy and the madness that has hold of 25% of our population indoctrinated by hate, will rise up before it’s too late and change it for the better.

And I send my heartfelt commiserations to everyone who has had to play the traumatizing PTSD game for the past month of "is it a fire work or a gunshot" especially everyone feeling extreme hypervigilance and lots of trauma triggering sounds. May this "celebration" be over soon.

Life Budget Potluck


As my husband heads back to work after his usual three days off my Monday morning thoughts are always about what's been deemed "life balance" in recent years rather than what I think of our cultural struggle between "toil, grind, and blindly consume" until you die of the poison of modern society versus "being a parent, and/or partner, connect with nature, make art, just be a human being at rest with your friends and family." But I suppose "life balance" is easier to say on NPR and at business meetings for self assured capitalist because it's got that marketing term zing to it. It can be sold as an idea to aspire to rather than something we all should already have as an alienable right. Plus calling it "life/work balance" implies there are no other approaches and that it is on you to "find the balance."

Really a more accurate "capitalist" perspective term would be "life budget." How much of your actual limited time alive are you willing to give to particular things like working doing something you wouldn't normally want to ever do, chores, errands vs parenting, creative pursuits, resting, relaxing, sports, fun activities, and indulging in pleasures.

In most of the western world for many decades any pursuits outside working cost money too. People socialize by going out. Traveling to the true forest -not a way too manicured park, costs gas money, and often costly "park passes" which have always bothered me since they should be free to poor people at least but mostly they are not. Our state parks in Washington have two weekends a year for free- which is pathetic. 

Most Americans have only two days off and hardly any "vacation" so the "life budget" is spent working all the time doing something given a choice they would not. It's why so many people attach their entire identity to what they do for a living. "What do you do?" in most circles means "What do you do for money when you'd rather be doing something else."


Days off are spent catching up on chores, and if they are lucky seeing a friend or relaxing with family. Only about 32 hours of the 48 hours of "days off" are spent doing these things, 16 hours are sleeping (hopefully) and that doesn't even factor in bathing or exercising. So 40+hours a week working, plus 8 preparing for work, 3 hours traveling to and from work and often 10 or more hours recovering from work enough to move.That mean 61 hours of life a every week at least for the average American are spent on what your boss wants and 32 hours a week at most on what you want. Seems pretty unbalanced to me. This math is if you have a relatively good job or stable employment. Is it any wonder many people want to stay in the work from home scenario? At least you cut down on the hours in the car, and the gas costs.

Most of us need a wind down day and social day too during our "days off" (Parents don't have those, alas.) My husband and I usually drive to the beach or the true forest but that is lots of gas even though we live pretty close.

Usually most people I know, who can afford it, go to a pub, a restaurant, or go shopping/thrifting etc when they need to stay about town. Eating out, thrifting, even going to a local pub or bar is a bit much for many people on a budget these days.

But they shouldn't have to forgo a social life just because they can't drop fifty bucks every week. The entire capitalization of social activities is one of the most isolating things in modern life.

What to do?

Pretend there are no bars or restaurants or even cars. What would you do then? You'd have what I call "Particular Peculiar Potluck."

"While there exists some disagreement as to the origin of the English term, two principal theories exist: that it is the deliberate combination of the English words pot and luck, or that it is an eggcorn of the North American indigenous communal meal known as a potlatch (meaning "to give away").[citation needed]

The word pot-luck appears in the 16th century English work of Thomas Nashe, and used to mean "food provided for an unexpected or uninvited guest, the luck of the pot".[4] The modern execution of a "communal meal, where guests bring their own food", most likely originated in the 1930s during the Depression" -wikipedia on the etymology of the term "potluck"

I find it very revealing that origin of what most of us think of as a "potluck" came from the era of the Great Depression. I think many "middle class" Americans are finally feeling the financial squeeze of the economic world depression that has been going on for decades for working class and poor people.

A very good social event that cost almost no money is hosting a little gathering of people you already like. People who live near you, or are already going to be in town. If you do it correctly.

Host a potluck with a feature of giving stuff away is also a great way to have a clear out. I call it "come and get it parties." Give each other stuff like things you'd sell in a yard sale. Step one: bring something you think someone else might want that you don't give two shits about anymore. Step two: eat together and bring your own booze if you are so inclined- it's that simple. 

But people make it hard. They want make an image of a gathering like they see on Pinterest or in movies with beautiful elaborate tablescapes, and well dressed people faux laughing- when actually the best times in our lives are often in our lounge pants laughing at each other while filing our bellies with good food looking at each other's crap or even watching a trashy film.

I'm not talking about hosting a pressure filled fancy do. Particular Peculiar Potlucks are way better than parties. Potlucks are not a "let's get wasted and trash someone's house" party. Not a BBQ- because someone always has to take on the expense of the set up and often the meat cost. And also good potlucks are not usually extended family coming over because that's too stressful for many of us. Sure have those sort of gatherings but that is way more work than the potluck I am suggesting. 

Have a potluck for yourself, really think about what you like to do, what you like to eat, and talk about or do. Invite those people you think are similar. Encourage people to come without their partners too- unless you are happy to visit with both of them. Couples often need a break from each other as well.

A good potluck has each person only making one thing. Not a "bring a bag of chips and some beer" like in high school or college- no people actually bring real food something they are proud to share- sometimes that is booze or beer. We all have that one friend who is like a secret alchemist of mead or brews enough beer they should open a brewery. Booze would be their one thing. However, I have found usually the booze/beer makers still bring treats because people who are proud of what they make to share, make lots of kinds of things to share. Trust me someone always brings chips anyway, so encourage them to bring an actual homemade dip. 

I used to do these friend only peculiar potlucks and gatherings with themes like everyone wearing PJs, or everyone brought the ugliest figurine they we willing to give away. Sometimes people just brought a candle, or art supplies. My favorite were in the pre-internet days when everyone brought a record or CD. My most successful potlucks were my bacon parties, and candy parties. The theme doesn't matter it's just a bit of fun but it helps give people something to remember the event by as well as help find a tidbit of creativity the work week likely sucked out of them. 

Here are some great past themes I've used

It doesn't actually take much planning and it doesn't need to be a big thing just a few people is sometimes better. Don't exhaust yourself doing it. Make it fun for you. Don't spend countless hours preparing or cleaning the house, or making things perfect. Just do a quick tidy, hide the sex toys and drugs and things best not explored by the public. 

I used spend far too much time tidying and cleaning but honestly most people don't care. If someone is coming to your house to a potluck and they talk trash about your housekeeping it's probably someone you could do without in your life.

Pick people you think would actually come and won't be an asshole and text at the last minute they were "too tired" or similar shit people think is ok to say these days when they are being lame. I hate the modern acceptance of behavior like this. Just don't say you are coming to begin with- then if you change your mind text to ask if you can come after all. Think how much happier it would make someone, rather than being lame and cancelling if you surprise came through. Importantly, I am referring to people who are being lame, not people who actually might need to cancel due to health or unexpected stuffs.

My only sadness about living in a new place is I don't know enough people close to us yet to host a "naked lady party" (just women trading clothes), or a real potluck with many locals bringing just one thing, or a real music jam. It's mostly because we moved here in 2020- and it's been hard to meet new people which isn't normal for me.

But I am working on it.

"But I thought you liked being a hermit and alone Bianka?" I hear you question in distant echoey judgmental tone.

Yeah, I do relish solitude but I also know that the answer to many of the problems in the world is strongly connected communities who give a damn about each other and world. Most people need to socialize at least occasionally to be mentally well. And really for me it's a needed contrast-similar to what happens when I travel. I am happy visiting great places and adventuring but after a long trip I am deeply grateful for my home comforts when I return. Visiting with people is like this too. I am happy to encounter new people and see old friends too, but I am filled with gratitude the following week of ordinary solitude. 

To live a life of gratitude you need the contrast of being out of your comfort zone regularly or else it is too easy to slip into a resentful mind set of thinking everything should always be comfortable.

Sitting down having a good meal with your friends old and new, and neighbors is the best way to bond- especially when no "public" place (usually means business) is involved. No big restaurant bill, no disappointing conversations because being in an actual "public" place makes people hold back their real thoughts and character.

If you live close to good people in your life- now is the time to rely on each other for company and entertainment. Be creative. Have a theme, trust me it's fun.

No money needs to change hands, just a bit of time and creativity. Or if you live near the places where people vacation but the gas now costs more than the rental or the camping- host your friends who are stretched financially. If you are a city dweller, host too, and go adventuring together. 

Be the community member you would be if there were no money and no jobs controlling most of your life.

I'm trying for it this weekend. Wish me luck that the weather holds. 

Someday I'll have a Sand Dollar party where everyone trades for things I'm giving away with sand dollars they found on the beach near me- that's as close to default capitalist in my thinking I ever want to be.

My friend, bandmate, model and co-conspirator Gregory just after the alien fountain spit on him, wrapped in my scarf blanket



For 25 years since 1997 I have been a devoted fan of the NW Folklife Festival. Folklife was the first truly amazing music experience I had after moving to the PNW from Virginia all those years ago, followed by many more. During my time living in Detroit I always felt homesick on Memorial Day weekend because I knew many of my friends would be having a fantastic time performing, dancing, or sometimes simply taking in all the shows they could for 4 days in row. 

Typically, the festival is featured music, dance, and art from all over the world. Also typically buskers line the through fares in spots all around the paved walkway of Seattle center luring patrons with their performance to slow down and even forget they were headed elsewhere. This is how Folklife seduced me- the busking. It is actually not possible to see all the music on offer no matter how hard you try and with the buskers you'll also have unexpected moments beyond your expectation. 

For many years NW Folklife had the greatest hospitality/participant only "tent" (half indoor- half outdoor under a tent) of any festival I've ever participated in. A place to safely check in your instrument was only a small part of it. Socializing with other performers and jamming was a major factor in my love of Folklife some years, even if "Sally Ann" was being played by an ever changing group of old time fiddle players for, as friend recently said, "seventy two hours straight" in sessions- it had its own charm, right along with hearing the rhythmic clang of skate boards landing in the park directly adjacent. Pleasantly sipping discounted decent beer away from the crowd, or sharing a flask/food, or dancing and laughing with festooned ladies after being in the fray of the general festival was wonderful. The tent is how I could find out who all the other musicians were excited to see perform,  if they too were going to busk, and if there would be after parties or events. All performers were made welcome, including the buskers.

My favorite form of performance is busking. I actually enjoy playing for people on the street level with my hat out far more than being on a stage. Busking is a perfect antidote to my many years of gig hounding (not to be confused with gig whoring or slutting) and the endless hassles of being a musician interacting as a professional when most of the business interactions with bars, venues, and even festivals are with unprofessional and often disrespectful people who have the power to ruin your performance. 

Street performance is freedom. No venue to book. No endless messages back and forth basically to just arrange a show that one message could have achieved. No sound check or frequently substandard sound guy making the band sound off, no room full of drunks more interested in hearing a cover than original tunes-"Get that fiddler to play some Charlie Daniels! Hey you've got a good banjo player there don't you guys play the Deliverance theme?" No promotion to do, no cover to charge, no door person or merch table to staff, no wrangling bandmates to be there at a rigid certain time- just show up and start playing, and leave when you want.

When I busk I can move and more importantly dance. I don't trip over a cords snaking their way around my feet or knock over a microphone by swirling around. Just me, my bandmates and the people who are there because they wanted to stop and watch us play.  Busking isn't transactional like stage shows.

Dancing while playing is so magical to me because I'm a hack musician at best but a fairly decent dancer so any opportunity to dance is pure joy for me. Probably why I've met so many splendid people at Folklife is because I can just join them dancing in the moment at any performance including my own.

Dancers of all sorts are always at NW Folklife from eager adorable standard folk dancer geeks quickly shuffling from one group dance to the next traditional dance often in sensible shoes, over stuffed hip belts, and some bit whacky fashion with 10 folklife buttons like badges of honor- to the cape wearing seventy year old man in a pink leotard and Tevas spinning endlessly between the drum circle and sculptural water fountain resting in a concrete crater. That thing looks like an alien ship landed in Seattle to bring the one gift no one needed- more water falling from the sky. People dance under it too but as my best friend discovered this weekend the aliens like to spit on you.

Yet Folklife isn't just a dance or musical experience.  It's cultural one that transcends festival norms. Devoted Folklifers, "Folkies" have their own culture. Importantly part of that culture- it's a free festival. Of course, there is a recommended donation, and generally Folklifers pay it willingly proudly displaying their buttons. It feels so much less classist than literally every other musical experience in the US. Volunteers are large part of the experience or it really wouldn't take place and this includes musicians. 50 years of gatherings qualifies this as a type of culture as much as Goths, punks, gamers, sports fans. 

Folkies are their own thing. Sometimes rigid in thinking and behavior when it comes to what sort of dancing should be done to a certain type of music and sometimes supremely welcoming to a newcomer who wants to join in. They will buy the music, the merch and support the music generally. They go to other shows by the performers. Folkies really are what keeps the whole thing going.

This year's Folklife experience was more brief for me than usual because I have to be gentle with my body more than 25 year old me did. I still came festively dressed, danced, and importantly saw great performances with good friends. I ran into many people I've haven't seen in years and met some new people. But it was subdued, partly because I wasn't performing at all and because the first year back during the pandemic, which isn't over. 

Also I was remembering friends of mine who died of the virus who I will never dance with again. There were complete strangers who within moments of meeting fell into discussing the grief of lost loved ones with me, one lady simply because I reminded her of a dancer she had known. I wonder how they knew I'd understand? Maybe I have a sad magnetism now. 

It rained most of the day so alas busking was sparse as well. I felt a bit like a museum piece though as I kept being asked by passersby if they could "take a photo" (meaning with me) and my response was always "As long as I don't have to stop what I'm doing you can take any photo you want." I really miss the days before instagram. Seemed like lots of people used to wear whatever they wanted to Folklife without fear of undue attention or the need to document it for some posing experience. These days, not so much- too many "let's take a photo with the whacky lady" types to prove on social media they left the house. I can proudly say not one actual "Folkie" asked to take a photo, they just smiled and carried on. 

Happily, I was reunited with former house mate and good friend I had not seen in years and was able to hear about her life and introduce her to NW Folklife by meeting us there. So all in all the risk taken going to a place with lots and lots of people for the first time since 2020 was worth it. 

This fellow's beard was stunning

Brass band busker

Brent Geary fiddler for Trio Tsuica

This photo is an exact metaphor for the political and religious situation in America today. This wonderful woman followed the "god botherer" around all day at the festival while he spouted hate she waved a flag of love and acceptance. 



This week in the USA

Many children shot to death by an assault rifle

Nine and ten year olds excited because it was almost the last day of school

Summer vacation will never come

Their teachers trying to protect them were slaughtered too

This week in the USA

(Commenters: "Who is the shooter, don't say his name!")

DNA was used to identify the children 

their faces and bodies so riddled with bullets 

as to be unrecognizable.

This week in the USA

(Commenters: “Thoughts and prayers” and more of the same)

Many people shot to death by an assault rifle 

In a grocery store going about their business

Getting foods to share with family, friends 

Murdered never to share a meal again

White supremacists applauded this

I wish the "great replacement" conspiracy theory were true

Refugees neighbors over hateful killers is an easy choice

(Commenters: “Thoughts and prayers, that’s a real shame”)

This week in the USA

People shot in a church one died, five more wounded

A doctor slain protecting others or more would be dead

He's a hero. A dead hero. Like all the other bodies

Throw on the altar of gun worshippers

(Commenters: “This is Asian on Asian crime right? This gun violence is not the same”)

This week in the USA

The longest list I’ve ever scrolled through 

My heart ached as I read

Named the schools shootings in the USA

And lists of kids and teachers who are now dead

(Commenters: “Thoughts and prayers” and more of the same)

Then I scroll and see another list which needs a spreadsheet to handle the data

My computer has trouble downloading this horrific file

All the mass shootings in the USA 

From only a few decades

(Commenters: Do something- who is to blame?)

Republicans are going to rally with NRA 

This week in the USA

Democrats backed an anti-abortion pro-gun candidate against a progressive in an election 

This week the USA

The Supreme Court is going to overturn sensible gun laws in New York making it easier to get weapons to cause mass shootings

This week in the USA

(Commenters: "Death is an endless game")

"Everyone will forget after a few days, until the next one"

Next week in the USA.

Thurston High School.

Columbine High School.

Heritage High School.

Deming Middle School.

Fort Gibson Middle School.

Buell Elementary School.

Lake Worth Middle School.

University of Arkansas.

Junipero Serra High School.

Santana High School.

Bishop Neumann High School.

Pacific Lutheran University.

Granite Hills High School.

Lew Wallace High School.

Martin Luther King, Jr. High School.

Appalachian School of Law.

Washington High School.

Conception Abbey.

Benjamin Tasker Middle School.

University of Arizona.

Lincoln High School.

John McDonogh High School.

Red Lion Area Junior High School.

Case Western Reserve University.

Rocori High School.

Ballou High School.

Randallstown High School.

Bowen High School.

Red Lake Senior High School.

Harlan Community Academy High School.

Campbell County High School.

Milwee Middle School.

Roseburg High School.

Pine Middle School.

Essex Elementary School.

Duquesne University.

Platte Canyon High School.

Weston High School.

West Nickel Mines School.

Joplin Memorial Middle School.

Henry Foss High School.

Compton Centennial High School.

Virginia Tech.

Success Tech Academy.

Miami Carol City Senior High School.

Hamilton High School.

Louisiana Technical College.

Mitchell High School.

E.O. Green Junior High School.

Northern Illinois University.

Lakota Middle School.

Knoxville Central High School.

Willoughby South High School.

Henry Ford High School.

University of Central Arkansas.

Dillard High School.

Dunbar High School.

Hampton University.

Harvard College.

Larose-Cut Off Middle School.

International Studies Academy.

Skyline College.

Discovery Middle School.

University of Alabama.

DeKalb School.

Deer Creek Middle School.

Ohio State University.

Mumford High School.

University of Texas.

Kelly Elementary School.

Marinette High School.

Aurora Central High School.

Millard South High School.

Martinsville West Middle School.

Worthing High School.

Millard South High School.

Highlands Intermediate School.

Cape Fear High School.

Chardon High School.

Episcopal School of Jacksonville.

Oikos University.

Hamilton High School.

Perry Hall School.

Normal Community High School.

University of South Alabama.

Banner Academy South.

University of Southern California.

Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Apostolic Revival Center Christian School.

Taft Union High School.

Osborn High School.

Stevens Institute of Business and Arts.

Hazard Community and Technical College.

Chicago State University.

Lone Star College-North.

Cesar Chavez High School.

Price Middle School.

University of Central Florida.

New River Community College.

Grambling State University.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ossie Ware Mitchell Middle School.

Ronald E. McNair Discovery Academy.

North Panola High School.

Carver High School.

Agape Christian Academy.

Sparks Middle School.

North Carolina A&T State University.

Stephenson High School.

Brashear High School.

West Orange High School.

Arapahoe High School.

Edison High School.

Liberty Technology Magnet High School.

Hillhouse High School.

Berrendo Middle School.

Purdue University.

South Carolina State University.

Los Angeles Valley College.

Charles F. Brush High School.

University of Southern California.

Georgia Regents University.

Academy of Knowledge Preschool.

Benjamin Banneker High School.

D. H. Conley High School.

East English Village Preparatory Academy.

Paine College.

Georgia Gwinnett College.

John F. Kennedy High School.

Seattle Pacific University.

Reynolds High School.

Indiana State University.

Albemarle High School.

Fern Creek Traditional High School.

Langston Hughes High School.

Marysville Pilchuck High School.

Florida State University.

Miami Carol City High School.

Rogers State University.

Rosemary Anderson High School.

Wisconsin Lutheran High School.

Frederick High School.

Tenaya Middle School.

Bethune-Cookman University.

Pershing Elementary School.

Wayne Community College.

J.B. Martin Middle School.

Southwestern Classical Academy.

Savannah State University.

Harrisburg High School.

Umpqua Community College.

Northern Arizona University.

Texas Southern University.

Tennessee State University.

Winston-Salem State University.

Mojave High School.

Lawrence Central High School.

Franklin High School.

Muskegon Heights High School.

Independence High School.

Madison High School.

Antigo High School.

University of California-Los Angeles.

Jeremiah Burke High School.

Alpine High School.

Townville Elementary School.

Vigor High School.

Linden McKinley STEM Academy.

June Jordan High School for Equity.

Union Middle School.

Mueller Park Junior High School.

West Liberty-Salem High School.

University of Washington.

King City High School.

North Park Elementary School.

North Lake College.

Freeman High School.

Mattoon High School.

Rancho Tehama Elementary School.

Aztec High School.

Wake Forest University.

Italy High School.

NET Charter High School.

Marshall County High School.

Sal Castro Middle School.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Great Mills High School

Central Michigan University

Huffman High School

Frederick Douglass High School

Forest High School

Highland High School

Dixon High School

Santa Fe High School

Noblesville West Middle School

University of North Carolina Charlotte

STEM School Highlands Ranch

Edgewood High School

Palm Beach Central High School

Providence Career & Technical Academy

Fairley High School (school bus)

Canyon Springs High School

Dennis Intermediate School

Florida International University

Central Elementary School

Cascade Middle School

Davidson High School

Prairie View A & M University

Altascocita High School

Central Academy of Excellence

Cleveland High School

Robert E. Lee High School

Cheyenne South High School

Grambling State University

Blountsville Elementary School

Holmes County, Mississippi (school bus)

Prescott High School

College of the Mainland

Wynbrooke Elementary School

UNC Charlotte

Riverview Florida (school bus)

Second Chance High School

Carman-Ainsworth High School

Williwaw Elementary School

Monroe Clark Middle School

Central Catholic High School

Jeanette High School

Eastern Hills High School

DeAnza High School

Ridgway High School

Reginald F. Lewis High School

Saugus High School

Pleasantville High School

Waukesha South High School

Oshkosh High School

Catholic Academy of New Haven

Bellaire High School

North Crowley High School

McAuliffe Elementary School

South Oak Cliff High School

Texas A&M University-Commerce

Sonora High School

Western Illinois University

Oxford High School

Robb Elementary School

Red Wolf


Photo from the Red Wolf Recovery program.

When I was a small girl I saw a red wolf standing still on a leaf covered path in the woods staring at me. Less than 3 feet lay between us. I could hear it breathing. It was cold enough to see its breath and mine as they mingled in the light. I didn't feel the fear I was supposed to feel.  I wanted reach out to the wolf but instead I just stared back and quietly watched our breaths mix together over and over. 

It seemed to me like the wolf was trying to tell me something telepathically.

And it's taken all my life to follow her advice.

I was told it was rare to see wolves anymore by some visiting summer camp guides- so I must have been wrong they said. It had to be a coyote or coywolf they said. 

"Red wolves are officially extinct in the wild" they told me. In fact, that was the day I learned what the word "extinct" actually meant. I remember feeling my first feeling of what I now call "black hole dread" upon learning something living just like me could even be "extinct" and not be a dinosaur.

I know what I saw. It was a red wolf.

Some local men at the cafe where my mother worked asked where I saw it- they intended to hunt her, this wolf of mine they didn't really believe in. I refused to say regardless of their trying to convince me of the dangers of some "wild dog."

"She didn't hurt me, she won't hurt anyone." I told them. And forever after I viewed those men with suspicion. What kind of monsters would seek to kill something that could be the dreaded "extinct."

I read all the encyclopedia entries I could about extinction from our school library that week. I poured over pictures of so many beautiful creatures gone forever. When I learned about the Tasmanian tiger wolf I felt the "black hole of dread" open in me once again. If it could become extinct so could my lady wolf in the woods. 

Six year old me had decided the wolf was a lady because I felt a male wolf would have eaten me just like in Little Red Riding Hood. Also I wanted to believe she was carrying babies and not alone. Even as a first grader I wanted that "black hole of dread" to go away. I wanted her to live. She would be tougher than the Tasmanian I thought. 

"She will live." I wished and whispered to myself.

Years later when I found out my disease translates to "red wolf" I instantly remembered that encounter with the wolf in the woods. I thought what would she do to stay alive? Hide away from suspicious men. Go deep into the woods. Change paths. Learn to understand captivity. 

Often I have wondered if creatures make an impression at just the right time to show you what you need to learn. Every time I am in nature it seems to sing to a song to me if I slow down long enough to listen like I did as a child. 

Recently a wild litter was reported in North Carolina and is being tracked and hopefully protected. I am pleased to hear the red wolf may not go extinct after all. The red wolf family is in the wild again not just captivity. Maybe there is hope for me too.

Shitty Shitty Bang Bang


In the same week that three mass shooting happened the Governor of Georgia thinks "hey let's make it totally legal to walk around with an unlicensed handgun" which will trigger PTSD so many people who experienced what I did as a child, again as a teenager, and also twice as an adult.

To this day seeing the glint of a handgun in a crowd makes me experience PTSD that lasts for weeks. Hearing shots fired does the same.

The many online discussions of trauma lately haven't seemed to include the trauma, the life long trauma, of witnessing or having person who is close to you experience gun violence. 

Democracy Now was interviewing Jumaane Williams this morning. He mentioned the trauma of this continuous happening immediately:

"And, of course, on the ground, you know, people are concerned. People are a little stunned. You also have to remember there were schools nearby, one almost directly across the street, maybe a block away, on lockdown, because kids were on their way to school. So, the one thing we have to remember is that shots were fired and people were physically hit — thank god, no lives were taken; it’s just a miracle — but the compounding trauma that happens for people who witnessed it, people who got away, people who were in the car with that smoke, and children who couldn’t get out when they wanted to, is long-lasting. And that’s one of the things we have to continue to talk about, the compounding trauma that happens when there’s gun violence."

The gun violence trauma all those people experience is a metaphor for what's happening all over the world right now with these wars and violence waged by madmen like Putin in Ukraine (but also wars in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and many others but since the world is for the moment paying attention to Ukraine I'll stick to that) Putin is just like an active mass shooter combined NRA gun nut type of angry pathetic white dude who has a group of similarly deluded men along side him.

The side effects of the violence are felt by us all. Rising prices, especially on food will lead to literal starvation for some people. 4 million being displaced in Europe will deepen issues with the pandemic, tension over inflation, homelessness, and and fear of someone who is different will lead to more violence.

Putin holds the world's most dangerous loaded gun and simply because he has the weapon he is holding the world hostage.  

As a young woman I tried to go "all in" on guns to see if having my own gun would make me less afraid or traumatized. I bought and trained weekly with 9mm handguns and pistols of various sorts. It didn't help at all but I've learned almost all there is to know about guns and the people who love them. 

Also I've spent the past 20 years learning about gun violence since then mostly because I've found that the more I know about almost anything the easier it is for me to talk myself back to a state of calm.

People who love guns always argue on the pro-gun side of political spectrum that the problem with guns is a "few crazy people" not the guns. Mental health is the issue they cry while cutting the funding for mental health outreach out of every possible tax budget. They block every attempt at having sensible gun regulations while claiming the problem is mental health issues. 

They're right! The problem is mental health issues- wanting to have a gun at all is a symptom of mental illness, especially a hand gun or an assault rifle. We should regulate free therapy for anyone who possesses or has ever possessed a weapon whose sole purpose killing others. Make gun makers pay for it as a mental health gun tax. Hunters would get free pass (at least the ones using actual hunting rifles not an MR-15) or maybe clever hunters would buy a handgun just to get much needed mental healthcare provided. 

Any sensible assessment of the problem with guns comes to the same conclusion: access to the loaded weapon is the problem not the mental state of the shooter. 

It is in the nature of us all to lose our grip on our healthy mental state, not respect boundaries we would usually, and act on impulse at some point in life. Anyone could commit violence- it's just a matter of scale and that scale is determined by the type of weapon an individual has at hand.