Baffling sights, aural delights, and notable encounters of 2018

Navigating life is a daunting challenge most of the time, to say nothing of the considerable regular effort required to behave like a competent, contributory human being.

I do not have a television, having abandoned the device and the medium ten years ago in an effort to firewall my thinking, to improve my experience of a day.  Avoiding the mawkish, trite, corporate free-for-all of advertising relieves me of some anxiety.  If I feel a need to escape, I watch movies without commercials.

Without the clutter of factoids about shootings and disasters, money- or sex-related scandals, political embarrassments and rumors delivered by TV news, which is sandwiched among depressingly un-nuanced dramatic shows and unfunny comedies, I’m able, on more occasions, to be more attuned to observing and listening to the lives and life around me. It’s never boring.

Oakland, California where I live:

Plagued by a volatile racial divide. Some days it cools and softens with the balm of open relaxed conversations or random acts of humanity.

Too many people wandering across busy streets against the light and with no fear.  Suicide by random passer-by.  John George, the psychiatric facility where adults experiencing severe and disabling mental illnesses may commit themselves or be committed, has patients sleeping on mats on the floor in a dorm, unsheltered from each other, medicated but unhealed.

The upcoming Women’s March, spending an obscene amount of money on an events that is unlikely to produce any timely or tangible assistance to swelling ranks of women on the margins of our community,  where domestic violence shelters are always full, too many women have not completed high school, do not know how to use computers, and virtually stagger through their days under the burden of traumas rooted in their poverty.

The City’s infested with the cheap scooters that expose riders without helmets to head injuries and pedestrians without warning to vehicular assault.

The losing battle in West Oakland against graffiti and random trash piles. Not much sense that this is a neighborhood worth valuing. We need to change that.

On the plus side:

white unbrella fungi on tree CU
photo by David Lent

The Yuba River still flows with enormous power; a hike in the forest in the riot of furry mosses and spritely fungi and elegant ferns and nude oaks that have lain down rugged brown carpets on ochre clay – that resets a weary soul.

Women’s issues steadily are gaining traction in the public conversation, suggesting more action to correct the inequities and predations on women that are inherent in our society.


I’ve discovered the amazing music of Jessica La Rel  

ODI Dance Kenya   

Sol Development

JAX (Haiti)

WCI and I survived and rebooted after soul-busting betrayals by trusted women.  New strong allies are arriving with reassuring regularity.

Several extraordinary women I know through Oakland Women’s Center have become wonderful friends.  I cherish my connection with them. Black and white women have more than they usually realize to offer each other.

My next book is coming out in January:  Trouble Ahead:  Dangerous Missions with Desperate People

3D-coverIt’s a compilation of journals – commentary from my numerous missions in East Africa and the birth stories of Women’s Centers International.

Publication announcement to come.

After the holiday slack-off, I’ll be ready again to advance WCI in serving the women who need it most.

Sisters’ Guide to Howling – Part 3

Spend any time last two weeks practicing whimpering?  If you have, you’ve learned a few things about creating primal sounds.  Scary shit.  Also fun in a subversive way.

We’re working up to a howl –  a visceral way for women to join up in commanding public auditory space.  Why?

Well, what sort of pain are you holding on to from some belittling event(s), a rending betrayal of trust, verbal abuse, rape, ongoing harassment, unequal pay, a health system that believes you to be drug-seeking, abject trouble raising money for your organization?  You fill in the details.

Women reclaim power only when we heal, and this is one tool for the process.  The message – “change gonna come” – will live inside the wave of sounds. We’ll set a date for the first public Howl.

Onward. This week’s exercise:

STEP 1    If you’re just catching up,  review Part 1 from my blog Nov 6 on the art of whimpering

If you’ve been practicing, begin sound 2:  The whine. Whine night

A whine is serious business for dogs and wolves. It means something’s wrong.

STEP 2  As before, work up to it.   Find your range.  Get creative

Minimum 20 seconds per day. Your choice  whether or not people are close enough to hear. If you feel the need, give your significant others a heads up.

STEP 3  Continue looking for and connecting with your pack.

Here’s a bit of inspiration for your effort:  “You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weights you down.”  Toni Morrison

Till the next installment of the Full Moon Sisters’ Guide to Howling,



“You have to go on and be crazy. Craziness is like heaven.”  Jimi Hendrix