Category Archives: authors

On the March

After the Women’s March, Women are Still Marching On

mandela

Some say the WOMEN’S MARCH, which took place world-wide the day after Trump’s inauguration, marked a global transition in the consciousness of women and in the men who love and respect women. The Spirit of Standing Rock woke many to this new consciousness, to the realization that  love, peace, and compassion are more powerful revolutionary forces than hatred, fear, and violence.

On the day of the march, women donned their pink pussy hats and owned those disparagingly sexist labels of “pussy” and “nasty woman” with pride. Our march was remarkable not only because of its historic numbers, but also because everyone that day, even the police, honored the Divine Feminine with beauty, grace, humor, peace and love.

But the Divine Feminine is not only a spirit of love, peace and beauty. She is Great Destroyer as well as Mother Creator. Sisters, now is the time to get in touch with all the power of our Divine Feminine. Wipe that pink juicy pussy couture off your face, slip on your warrior armor and rise. Treasonous Trump and his cronies must be stopped before they destroy all that is good, beautiful, innocent and sacred of Mother Earth and her children. Beyoncé said it, right?

Okay Ladies, now let’s get in Formation. Prove to me you got some coordination. Go hard. Go hard. . . I slay. We slay. Slay, Chick, or you get eliminated. ”

We cannot be emancipated by someone else. We must emancipate ourselves, to be truly free and equal. 

Are you WOKE yet? Can you hear me now? Connect the dots: The Women’s Movement, Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter, Sustainability, Climate Change, Banking and Capitalism, Marketing, .  .  .   It’s all connected.

Have you seen that viral Pepsi ad? http://www.vanityfair.com/…/kendall-jenner-pepsi-ad Pepsi trying to co-opt the #BlackLivesMatter movement in order to sell soft drinks. That’s evil. But corporations using marketing to co-opt liberation and justice movements is nothing new.

I think women-hating misogyny in America runs even deeper, and is older, and more virulent than racism. Around a hundred years ago Edward Bernays, Father of Modern Marketing, figured out how to promote the TOBACCO industry by using the Suffragettes (Yes, R.J. Reynolds used those women who risked their very lives to win women’s right to vote, after they’d already helped to win the Black vote – big tobacco used those women’s equal rights campaign to sell cigarettes. )

These marketing corporations have been sticking it to us ever since Bernays figured out how to manipulate us through fear, lust and greed. But not a lot of people paid attention.

Check it out: Have you noticed the way the big department stores are currently selling torn blue jeans for over $100 a pair? Yes, you and your daughter can join the proletariat and sacrifice and struggle to make the world a better place, so poor you can’t afford new blue jeans, or you can pay a lot of $$$ to just look cool – like a radical protestor – in your ripped designer  jeans.

How did this happen? Watch the amazing four-part documentary The Century of Self to understand how corporate capitalism is co-opting our authentic grass-roots movements and manipulating We the Consumers. Wait. We are NOT Consumers. WE are Citizens, and PEOPLE. We are Human. Not slaves born to lift the machine’s GDP. The Century of Self : https://youtu.be/eJ3RzGoQC4s

Here’s the Pepsi ad with hilarious commentary by Stephen Colbert. Be sure to scroll all the way down and watch Seth Meyers’ alternative ending to the ad (it’s sick). http://www.vanityfair.com/…/kendall-jenner-pepsi-ad-stephen…

Stephen Colbert Rips Kendall Jenner’s Ill-Conceived Pepsi Ad
“Luckily, Ms. Jenner, a wealthy young white woman, knows exactly how to handle police at a protest.   vanityfair.com

Until we are all free, none of us will be.

So who’s #45 GOT BY THE PUSSY now? Besides poor zombie Stepford Wife Melania, he’s got  Congressional Representatives Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming and Virginia Foxx, R-North Carolina selling out to SERVE the Master. These token women were photo op’ed at the signing of a Trump executive order rolling back hard-fought victories for women in the workplace.

Trump’s order revokes the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces legislation that protected women from sexual harassment in the workplace and guaranteed fair payroll practices. http://www.nbcnews.com/…/trump-pulls-back-obama-era-protect…

How did #45 get Liz and Gini to go along with screwing the women of this country? Maybe we should grab him by the balls and ask him. Snip snip.

170403-donald-trump-mn-1100_1f88b65e117f7acd35ad9b855b36d8eb-nbcnews-ux-2880-1000

And now, Arch-misogynist #periods-for-PENCE and the Republicans have forced the HobbyLobby anti-contraception  Supreme Court nominee Mr. Gorsuch through, with Mitch McConnell’s democracy-destroying “nuclear option” clearing the way for repeal of Roe v. Wade and a future for American women resembling the cultural/socio/political-economic landscape of The Handmaid’s Tale.

By the way, if you haven’t yet read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, now would be a good time, because we are no doubt in for some sci fi horror playing out in our real lives very soon. Read author Margaret Attwood’s recent illuminating and chilling INTERVIEW in the New York Times for more on this.

If you’re not in the mood to read, you may want to watch the new HULU original series based on the book, season premier April 26, 2017.

handmaid4RESIST!

Come on, Ladies. Let’s get in Formation. Time to March. We’re going to the Tax March. Going to the  People’s March for Science. Going to the Citizens Climate March.

We going to March for Liberty and Justice for All.

Join your local INDIVISIBLE group to find out about the next march, the next action, the next letter or phone call you need to make. DOWNLOAD THE INDIVISIBLE GUIDE. Subscribe to Andrew’s Actions.

Slay, Chick (Pussy), Slay. or you gonna get eliminated.

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”
George Orwell, 1984 

RESIST!  “Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”
George Orwell, 1984

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Organic and Sustainable Agriculture – Re-Designing the Food System

I’ve taken the last 6 months away from my novel to go back to classroom teaching in the Pajaro River Valley. My middle school classroom – a well-equipped computer lab in a state-of-the-art Google Classroom paperless school – is surrounded by agricultural fields. Many of my 7th and 8th grade students are children of freseros – strawberry workers.

I received a call to come back to Pajaro Valley School District for this one semester position because a dear colleague and old friend of mine was unable to finish the year and needed a replacement. She was stricken with a bone cancer linked to pesticides used around the school where she taught for over thirty years.

[Addendum: I wrote this post in May, 2015. I’m very sorry to say my friend and colleague Betty Geesman, died of Multiple Myeloma in June. ]

I feel as though my novel has come alive and I’ve stepped into its pages. The school where I’m teaching is at the epicenter of Fruit of the Devil. The bell of Our Lady of Help Church tolls hourly, just across the highway. And the St. Francis, the Catholic high school built upon the site of an Ohlone burial ground, which provides backstory for one of my main characters, is on the other side of the cyclone fence from my computer lab.

I’ve been shocked to find that so many of my students appear to be in a state of extreme mental and emotional chaos – more so than the average middle school adolescent. Attention deficit, hyperactivity, and Autism spectrum disorders are rampant. There are obviously many factors contributing to this, including poor nutrition and the proliferation of the cell phones, mp3 players, and the Chrome Book laptops to which every student is now constantly connected. But according to recent research findings, it is likely that much of the neurological anomalies we are seeing in the Central California schools are caused by long-term exposure to pesticide neurotoxins.

According to a soon-to-be-released California Health Report article < http://www.healthycal.org/ > Dangerous Drift by Lily Dayton:

In 1999, researchers from UC Berkeley began studying how pesticides affect the health of people living in the Salinas Valley. Researchers have studied hundreds of Latino families
who work in agriculture. Mothers in the study had higher levels of metabolites from
organophosphate pesticides in their urine than women in the general population. Related to chemicals developed during World War II for nerve gas, organophosphates are neurotoxins.
Children of mothers with the highest levels of organophosphates were more likely to have developmental problems, including abnormal reflexes, autism-related conditions, low IQ
and indicators of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, the study found.

Mixtec Immigrant Picking Strawberries

I thought that when I returned to the Pajaro Valley to teach, I’d be able to interest other teachers in the struggle to reform pesticide exposure around the schools. It’s been discouraging to find that everyone is overwhelmed by the stressful demands of the job, and few teachers want to discuss the subject of pesticide exposure or even think about it.

Nevertheless, it was a source of tremendous hope to reconnect recently with Dick Pexiote, the uncle of one of my students 20 years ago when teachers, parents and community members founded Farm without Harm to promote organic agriculture. Dick is the owner of Lakeside Organics, the largest family-owned and operated solely organic vegetable grower/shipper in the US. When I dropped by his Watsonville office one afternoon after school about a month ago, he welcomed me and told me he remembered very well the teachers’ fight to end pesticide drift. He said it was partly our efforts that first got him thinking seriously about going organic. Dick’s courageous transition, when fellow growers told him he’d “lost his marbles”, has not only been an inspiration to many others, but has also turned out to be a very profitable business decision.

In the 1990’s conventional growers were calling Organic Agriculture a “Communist Plot” and telling those of us with the dream of a model sustainable agricultural valley to, “Go back to Cuba”. Today, 30% of Santa Cruz County’s agriculture is organic. When Farm without Harm was founded in the mid 90’s, we teachers  proposed writing grants to help family farmers make the costly transition to organic. Now, there are millions of dollars in state grants available to farmers who want to transition to sustainable food production practices. Societal change can take a long time. But I  hear the voice of my favorite teacher, the late Dr. Kenneth Norris, saying, “Never give up.”

Farm without Harm no longer exists, but Pesticide Action Network, the organization that helped us file pesticide use permit challenges back in the 90’s, is now part of a broad coalition of environmental groups under the umbrella Californians for Pesticide Reform.

The CPR coalition has asked California Department of Pesticide Regulation to focus on development of a statewide policy to protect school children, staff and families from agricultural pesticide use near schools, parks and homes.

This spring and early summer the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) will conduct a series of workshops around the state to solicit public input from the communities most affected by pesticide use near public schools. 

Everyone who is concerned about childhood and community pesticide exposure should take this opportunity to attend a workshop where you can meet face to face with the state regulators. Together we can make real change! Please come out and make your voice heard. We need to fill the halls!

Workshops are scheduled for:

May 28th: Cal EPA Building, Sierra Room  
                  1001 I Street
                  SACRAMENTO, CA 95814
3:00 pm: Grower & pesticide applicator issues
5:30 pm: Community, parent, & teacher issues (with simultaneous Spanish translation)
June 2nd: Cesar Chavez Library
                  615 Williams Rd.
                  SALINAS, CA 93905
3:00 pm: Grower & pesticide applicator issues
5:30 pm: Community, parent, & teacher issues (with simultaneous Spanish translation)
 
June 3rd: Ventura County Govt. Center
                  Board of Supervisors Room
                  800 South Victoria Ave.
                  VENTURA, CA 93009
3:00 pm: Grower & pesticide applicator issues

June 3rd: Rio Mesa High School Library
                 545 Central Ave.
                 OXNARD, CA 93036
7:00 pm: Community, parent, & teacher issues (with simultaneous Spanish and Mixteco (Baja) translation)
June 4th: Kern County Library – Lamont Branch
                 8394 Segrue Rd.
                 LAMONT, CA 93241
3:00 pm: Grower & pesticide applicator issues
5:30 pm: Community, parent, & teacher issues (with simultaneous Spanish translation)

June 9th: City of Coachella Corporate Yard
                 53-462 Enterprise Way
                 COACHELLA, CA 92236
3:00 pm: Grower & pesticide applicator issues
5:30 pm: Community, parent, & teacher issues (with simultaneous Spanish translation)

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Competition Finalist at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference

Mid July, I traveled to Seattle to the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference, as a finalist in their annual writing competition. I spent four days in the Hilton, attending workshops, meeting people, and pitching my novel to agents and editors. The last evening of the conference, Joe flew up to join me at the awards banquet. After dinner, a couple of my favorite agents invited us to a private party in one of the rooms. Fun!

Mary Flodin Pacific Northwest Writers Association Finalist

Seattle Hilton Summit Ballroom Awards Dinner

Made some friends in the pitch practice sessions, where we coached one another. Some of the writers I most enjoyed interacting with were Raegyn Perry, Chantal Quincy, Lee Ann Ward, and Lisa Montali.

Pacific Northwest Writers Association friends

Chantal Quincy, left, discusses her intriguing life and her memoir with a captivating French accent. Raegyn Perry, right, will pull you into her compelling debut novel about love and time travel.

Pacific Northwest Writer Lee Ann Perry HiltonBreakfast

Alabama beauty Lee Ann Perry, published author and former editor, enjoys the Hilton’s opulent breakfast while telling us about her newest Young Adult mystery, set in New Orleans.

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Wage Slave

“Ring the bell that you can ring
forget your perfect offering
there is a crack in everything
that’s how the light gets in”
–    Anthem by Leonard Cohen

I worked on writing my story every day for three years, from 2010 to 2013. Then, last Fall, I took a full time teaching job with a “virtual academy”. This year has been agony. I feel like I gave birth and then left my infant in a trash can in some back alley to go make money whoring myself. I was a slave in my own kitchen this year, chained to the laptop at the kitchen table, where I was required to spend many hours a day (sometimes from 7 am to 2 am) filling out redundant excel and google doc spreadsheets documenting my student contacts. Little of my time was actually spent in contact with students. This is the corporate version of “charter school” education, now being funded by public educational monies. All the while I worked at those spreadsheets, I felt like my soul was bleeding out of my body. Maya Angelou wrote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” I am sick inside my skin. Itching under my flesh to hold my book in my hands, to feel others read it, and love it. I need to see my novel alive, breathing and walking on its own, out in the world.

My teaching contract ended June 13th, and I did not seek to renew it. I feel both relief and anxiety. I think without the money I earned (less than a beginning teacher’s salary), I’d be floundering financially at this point. So, without it, going forward? Will I be able to live with less, live more simply, learning to thrive in the evolving non-growth economy, the transitional economy – with more time to freely explore my creativity, my passions, my life, but less money to finance my existence, and the bringing forth of my novel?

“Nothing is harder than being a true novelist unless that is all one wants to be. In which case, although being a true novelist is hard, everything else is harder.”  John Gartner

 

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When Will Your Novel Be Published? When Can I Read It?

Thanks for your continued interest in my novel!

I had to take an online teaching job this year to make some money, so I didn’t get to work on revisions  as much as I wanted to – but, maybe it’s a good thing to let it “cool off” awhile.

I’m currently on REVISION 10. I’ve cut away a lot – whole scenes and even a character, but still need to trim more.

I worked with an excellent Mystery/Thriller writer editor this year who told me “you have a very credible, tight little mystery here, but just get rid of the rest of that stuff. No one but you mother will want to read it.”  I also worked with a SCI FI Fantasy writer/editor (who coached the author of Twilight and also the author of the great fantasy series Wheel of Time, among other notables).  He  helped me integrate the future-time disconnect/other world elements more smoothly into the story.

Since first starting to write four years ago, I’ve been to several helpful writer’s conferences, where I’ve pitched to agents. Mostly, the agents  are interested, and say they want to see it when it’s ready, but they’re concerned about the length and also don’t understand what genre to call it.

I’ve signed a contract to send the ms this month to a private editor who I originally I met at the San Francisco Writers Conference, then connected with again at the Women Writing in the Redwoods Retreat. She worked for years for one of the big New York publishers as a hot shot in-house editor. But she’s a local Monterey Bay girl, an ocean swimmer, whose husband’s relative worked in the strawberry fields! (In other words, I think she “gets” it.) She’s come home to the Monterey Bay with a new baby and is now working as an independent editor. She thinks my novel has “potential for commercial success”.  She’s HELLA expensive – I’m about to blow much of my life savings to have her edit the thing. (It has crossed my mind to try an indie-go-go or kickstarter fundraiser to pay for all this. Any suggestions?)

But come what may, I’m  OBSESSED with getting this novel completed, and out there. I’ve been worried that the story is too old, no longer of interest. But at last night’s Safe Strawberry meeting, I was astounded to discover that NONE of the issues we dealt with in the 90’s have been resolved, and the new activists are repeating our mistakes. I believe our history needs to be known so we can build on it!

Once I get back my editor’s comments and finish this round of revisions, I’m going to start looking for an agent. I’m giving myself a year to sell it. If no go, then I’m committed to self-publishing.

Your comments, likes and shares would be ENORMOUSLY helpful!

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Leaks in Space Time, Future Games, and Water

chronofact2

At Lighthouse Field in Santa Cruz, CA  last weekend, we discovered a Leak in the SpaceTime Continuum. A phone booth from another dimension materialized on the field, and we were able to listen to voicemails from the many possible future threads unwinding out of the chaos created by unfolding Climate Change. Some of the voicemails crystallized as they fell through into this reality. Identified as “chronofax”, they look like thischronoFact

Find out more about these “chronofall” phenomenon, and hear voicemails from the future at http://futurecoast.org/    A brilliant collaborative interactive game style exploration supported by the National Science Foundation through the Columbia University Climate Center Earth Institute, “FutureCoast aims to spark collaborative exploration of possible futures, including climate-changed ones, and create an open channel for sharing visions of how people and systems respond and adapt to change.”

Two of the characters in my novel, Fruit of the Devil, get pulled into an ocean vortex and sucked into an alternate dimension, where they learn that the fabric of all the worlds is unraveling, due to climate change and our abuse of planetary ecosystem life supports.

What can we do now to tow our lifeboat toward a positive liveable future?


Watch an interview with climate scientists

 

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Rain

“What is the Northwest? Anywhere the salmon can get to.” Timothy Egan. A Year Without Rain

This year, there is so little water in the streams and rivers that the Coho Salmon had to be rescued by volunteers from the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project.  San Lorenzo river cojo capture

In an area like California where water is in short supply, fracking is a terrible idea.

In an area like California where water is in short supply, fracking – an extremely water intensive fossil fuel extraction process – is a terrible idea.                                                                           Anti-Fracking demonstration in front of the Steinbeck Museum, Salinas, CA January, 2014.

Ground Hog Day. Today we had the first real rain all winter. Some say this may be our worst drought in the 155 years that records have been kept.  When people were raving about the beautiful, sunny weather in December and January, I wanted to participate in the joy and gratitude, but the weather has felt ominous to me. No rain during the rainy season, in a rainforest. I imagined I could hear the redwoods worrying. The land and plants have been looking so thirsty.

California needs water.

California needs water.

 

I remember our last drought in Central California – in the ’70’s. Everyone was aware of it, knew what it meant for our drinking water and our forests, and talked about conservation all the time. “Did you hear about our new local wine – P-no-poo-do?” No one flushed for number 1. People had buckets in their showers to catch the extra water. That awareness is strangely absent this time. But finally, the city of Santa Cruz, which is 100 percent dependent on local rainfall for its water supply, has created a drought-specific web page to build drought awareness and help city residents and businesses reduce water consumption during the ongoing drought. http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/index.aspx?page=2029

 

drought causes remarkable sunsets

Twin Lakes Beach, January, 2013.    This winter, the sunsets have been astonishingly beautiful, because of all the pollution that has accumulated in the air without winter rains to wash it away

Droughts, we’ve been told, are a cyclical occurrence in our area. But climate change is on people’s minds. Could this drought be evidence of climate change? Global weird-ing. What some scientists are now calling Climate Chaos, Climate Holocaust, Climate Armageddon. My novel, Fruit of the Devil, describes the great flood of 1999 on the Pajaro River.  It is predicted that climate change will bring unusually severe storms with increasing frequency, alternating with periods of drought. Are we ready for another “hundred year” flood?

Well, putting aside thoughts of doom, the rain this morning was beautiful. We celebrated the cozy feeling of being snug and warm in our little cottage, with the sound of rain on the skylights, by taking the time to prepare a real meal. It took us about 5 hours to go to market, prepare the food, eat, and wash up after the meal. Does real cooking take everyone that long? I guess that’s what the Slow Food movement is all about – reclaiming the personal time to nourish oneself and one’s family with real food – which requires a significant amount of time to prepare and to eat. The Straus Family Farm has a blog about the “True Time of Food Production” on their website.

We recently joined the Farm Fresh to You CSA.  (Community Supported Agriculture)  Our meal today grew out of the box of vibrant organic fruits and vegetables left at our doorstep a couple of mornings ago, plus our hens’ beautiful eggs. We had a frittata:

Organic Veggie Frittata: Preheat oven to 400. Saute in olive oil until soft and browned: onion, fresh garlic, thinly sliced baby butter creme potatoes, broccoli, leek, dinosaur kale, 1/4 fresh jalapeño, dash of sea salt, fresh spinach. Blend 8 fresh organic eggs, with 1/2 tsp sifted flour and a dollop of Straus sour creme or milk. Pour egg mixture over saute in pan. Lift from sides and slide liquid egg over until all egg is solid. Grate sharp Coastal Cheddar on top. Place pan in oven until egg has a golden brown crust, but is not dry. Serve with love, warmed salsa and jalapeños, Straus sour creme, avocado, and bacon or sausage. Take the time to fully savor the meal.

hand-made gnocchi

Foodie friends Jim and his daughter Mary take the time to prepare gnocchi by hand.

 

 

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Luis Valdez, Anne Perry and Jack London

 

I’ve been rubbing shoulders with genius. I’m a huge admirer of Luis Valdez of Teatro Campisino. His work influenced my novel. This Fall, I went to see his brilliant Valley of the Heart (Oh, you MUST see it!) in San Juan Bautista, and he graciously consented to this photo. (Swoon)  LuisValdezThe San Francisco Lit Quake was on my birthday this year – October 19th. Joe accompanied me up to the City, where we heard Anne Perry and William Gordon (noir writer and husband of Isabel Allende ) in conversation. annePerrycityLights2Last weekend, Thanksgiving Holiday, I talked Joe into going with me up to Glenn Ellen in Sonoma area (wine country). I needed to make a pilgrimage to see Jack London. He’s been calling to me. I stood by his mossy grave under the oaks and he told me I needed to see this novel through to publication. That it’s important to get this story out there.

Jack London’s Ranch is now a beautiful park! 1400 acres of trails and pristine vistas, along with historic buildings and a museum. Luckily, the park, suffering from lack of public funding like all of our parks, was recently saved from closure.  I had no idea, until I went to visit Jack, that he was more interested in sustainable agriculture than in anything else. Did you know that? On his Valley of the Moon Beauty Ranch, he was an innovator in sustainable ag practices at the beginning of the 20th century.

“I am rebuilding worn-out hillside lands that were worked out and destroyed by our wasteful California pioneer farmers…I believe the soil is our one indestructible asset.” Jack London.

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