This is the time of year when Orion begins to rise up out of the west and rule the night sky.

I have always gazed at stars, even in the city where you can hardly see them at all for the glare of streetlights and such.

And as such, as a stargazer, however amateur I may be – and I am – stargazer and amateur – Orion is one of the most important landmarks in the heavens. For me, and for many others, too.

Orion rules the autumn and the winter skies. His most sublime moment must be on the evening of the Epiphany, January 5th, when the three stars of his belt – Alnilam, Alnitak, Mintaka – are celebrated as the three kings, bringing gifts to the Christ child, and through him, to all the children of the world.

Frankincense, Myrrh, Gold.

Three, and three.


Mona’s death yesterday

Saturday 15 October 2016.

I am not sure why, but I have some ideas why, I mean, that is, why it is so much harder today, than it was yesterday.

Today was the first day I began to miss her regular routine, the little details, those many and separate events which used to measure every day of life, here at home, in recent years: feeding her breakfast, making sure she can go out when she needs to, giving her dog cookies and praise, taking her out myself, feeding her dinner – all these things that used to measure every day, day after day, now they are no more.

We came home from a drive today, Mom and I, and she was not there to greet us, to be happy to see us, to wag her tail and smile and say I love you.


Today is the first day I noticed how much there is an empty space where she used to live, how much I miss those little chores and details, how much I miss her.

Today it seems somehow harder than it did yesterday. Today I had nothing left from her routine. Yesterday I was all bound up in closing the immediate wound of her death. Calling the vet to ask for a recommendation. Calling the pet mortuary to arrange for them to come pick her up a little later, asking them to wait an hour and a half until I could wake Mom and tell her and she could say goodbye. Then telling Mom. That was hard. Going out with her to see her. Saying goodbye to her. Waiting for the pet mortician to come and pick her up. Helping them. Saying goodbye to the body that had once been alive and full of dog love and personality. Saying goodbye to our animal friend.

Yesterday I had too much to do to, I could not just sit back and realize how much I miss all those little details of everyday life with a dog. Today she is not here.

Today I miss her more than I did yesterday.

Yesterday. Yesterday I was in some kind of shock. Yesterday I found  her dead, in the morning, lying in her favorite spot next to the gate by the side of the house.

That was where I last saw her alive, night before last, Thursday night. Inside the gate, resting in her favorite spot. I went out and bent down, that night, around eleven, and pet her neck and shoulders and chest and asked her if she did not want to come in. Maybe have something to eat?

I confess I was a little worried. She had not asked for dinner. That should have been enough to warn me, and it was, but I thought no, she will get over it. She has gotten over such stomach discomforts before. Before.

Before. But this was not before. This was a thirteen year old dog, under treatment for an ulcerated cornea, scheduled to visit the vet the next day to see how she was doing – already having taken too long to recover from such a wound – and I should have understood, should have known, that maybe her immune system was gravely damaged, maybe she would not recover from whatever it was that took away her usually robust appetite… no, I turned away, convinced that she would recover, and well, we were going to see the vet tomorrow anyway, that should be… enough. Well enough. Good enough.

But it was not.

And now she is gone.

Making coffee .

11 October 2016

I am making coffee this afternoon. I did not have any in the morning. I drank a cup of tea, however. Earl Grey, with honey. I shall, God willing and I live for the next few minutes and the coffee percolates well and safe, I shall take honey in my coffee. In just a few minutes from now. God willing and the creek don’t rise, as the saying goes. Yes. As. The saying. Goes.

13:20 daylight savings time in Southern California.


13:22. The perking has started. I get up to turn down the heat on the gas stove. The gas range. The cook top. Only a hundred and some years ago and my great grandmother was cooking on a wood burning stove. That is an art I would like to learn some day.

For many years I have day-dreamed of cooking on a big wood-burning stove. Like the ones I saw for sale in those old Sears Roebuck catalogues that were so fashionable thirty years ago, when I was younger and still day dreaming every bit as much as I am nowadays. Now. A. Days.


Percolate for six minutes. I understand now why everyone switched over to drip and filter coffee makers thirty years ago. Mr. Coffee and all the rest have conquered the home-brewing world. I understand. It is so much easier. Just fill it up and push the button. No need to watch the clock to make sure it does not perk – or percolate – too long. No worries about the coffee getting over-done, and taste rotten burnt ugh no no no no worries about that.

But I like the old ways. I do not have a wood-burning stove, but when it came time to buy another “coffee maker” I decided to get an old-style percolator, like my parents had in the 1950s, before Mr. Coffee conquered the world with his filter-drip ease-of-lifestyle.

Well, you can even pre-set the coffee makers with a built-in digital clock and go to bed at night knowing that when you wake up tomorrow at X-hundred hours, your coffee will be ready and waiting for you.

But no.

13:32. I sip my first cup. Dark and sweet.

Like my soul.


Katharsis – Catharsis – κάθαρση

5 October 2017

Katharsis – Catharsis – κάθαρση

It is now a few minutes past 11:30 p.m., at night, Wednesday, shortly before midnight.

I went to bed early this evening, before eight. Slept a bit, woke, slept again. Then, just before I woke up, a few minutes before eleven thirty, I had a dream. A vivid dream, full of music and emotion.

I was performing in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Specifically, we were singing the lyrics leading up to the crucifiction.

I cannot tell you exactly what scene, what words, what moment it was in the text of that famous rock opera, but I knew what it was while we – several other people and I – were singing and performing and acting. It was those last hours of the day before he was killed.

In my dream I saw words written before me in the air, words that were like they were being briefly spelled by small twigs and sticks forming letters that floated and then vanished, like titles in a movie, words that hung in the air before me, while we were singing. Along with the sound of our singing and the simple instrumental music behind us, there was also a voice in my mind, that said, follow the words. Just follow the words.

Half an hour later, now, awake in these minutes before midnight, I cannot remember exactly what the words were that we were singing, but I remember seeing them and singing them and experiencing the rising current of emotion as we performed and as we realized what was happening, as we re-lived, like actors do, the events and movements we were re-creating. As we interpreted that story and song. The passion play, in its post-modern, 20th century, incarnation.

Transfigured into a simple dream before midnight.

I awoke with the immediate understanding that this has so much, everything, to do with my struggle to write the words of Nikos.

I also believe, now, as I write these words, my diary words, down on my little qwerty keyboard, that I was singing the role of Judas. I woke up just before –

. .  .   .

Change of route/road/way

At some point, or year, rather, we – my parents and brother and I – stopped driving up and down highway 101 – El Camino Real – whenever we drove once or twice a year between San Diego and San Francisco bay, and we switched over to highway 99 over the “Grapevine” and up the Central Valley through Bakersfield, Fresno, and Merced, before turning west toward Oakland and Alameda.

I can vaguely recall my father and mother discussing it with someone – my aunt Virginia and uncle Lester, perhaps, or with my grandmother Nell or her brother Robert – talking about how it was actually faster to go straight up the great valley and then cut over toward the bay.

“Going up to Alameda this summer?”

“Probably. Maybe for Easter, too.”

“When they finish the new freeway from L.A., it will be even faster.”

“Yes. Part of it is done, already in place, there.”


“Yes. They call it the Golden State Freeway.”

“Well, what do you know.”

Jorak . . . (another beginning draft)




The town has not changed.


That’s a new store on the corner. Used to be a restaurant.

Wonder if anyone remembers.


School is out. The kids walk through the square, some of them running.

Then they see me. Don’t know who I am. The face is familiar. But…

He sits there on the bench like he owns the place. But…

Careful now. Don’t let them know you can read them thinking.



“Yes, daughter?”

“Are you from around here?”

“Yes. But I have been gone for a long time.”

Five hundred years. Don’t tell her that.

She looks right at you. No. Do not touch her mind.

She looks like my niece. She…

The girl looks away. Ten? Eleven? Her face glances toward the town hall, two doors down from the restaurant on… no, the store on the corner, now.


“Yes? But… how do you know my name?”

“It’s on your book bag, child.”

“Oh, yes, of course.” The note of disappointment hangs in the air. Did she actually think you might have read her mind? She might be the one. Maybe.

You hold out your hand – your right hand – with a single copper coin between your thumb and index finger.

“Miss Amelia?”

“Yes, Mister?”

“Would you do me a favor? Take this penny to the prefect in the town hall. Please. Tell him I am waiting in the square, here.”

She accepts the coin, nods. “Yes, sir.” Slowly turns away, then runs off quickly.

You reflect on something you did not notice at first. She was alone.

Yes. She might be the one.

Careful now. They might be watching.



yesterday afternoon and today in the morning

27 August 2016

69 Summer .  26 Moon .  59 SpaceAge .


We went to a funeral today. The woman who would have been my aunt. Who was, in fact, my step-aunt. My mother’s sister-in-law. AND old school friend and roomate for a year at Berkeley, where my aunt met her husband, married him, and dropped out of the university.

Later she went back and got several degrees.

After giving birth to eleven children.

It’s a long story. Part of me wants to tell it, or the small fragments I have heard, and another part says be quiet and listen.



28 August 2016

70 Summer. 27 Moon. 59 SpaceAge.

The church was lovely. Yesterday. Churches almost always are lovely. It was, and I suppose it still is, a Roman church. Today, a day later, as I continue writing this notice.

Not that much changes overnight. Does it? No. Usually not.

I went there once before, back in the 1980s, when I was studying and the university and fell in with a fascinating art graduate student. Actually I met her because she was the T.A. (teaching assistant, if you must know, is the official title abbreviated) for a very large lecture class I was taking as part of my visual art curriculum. There is another long story. Both the professor and the TA seemed a bit taken with me. Remember, I was older, thirty four or thirty-five that year or another, and I must have stood out from most of the other students who were almost all ten or twelve years younger than I. The professor, a fascinating woman in her fifties or thereabouts – I wish I could remember her name – looked me in the eye one day and said I was very intelligent.

Well, I suppose I am above average. I believe I am. But…

Where was I? Oh yes, going once before to the church were the funeral was held for my aunt. Big family. Children, grandchildren, great grandchildren. As I was saying, I had visited that parish sanctuary once before, thirty years ago, with Cindy Z.

In the slow moving sense of the Roman church, it might have been yesterday. I wonder now if my aunt and uncle were there that day. I suppose I will never know. Just one of those mysteries. They might not have been, I think, because my mother told me at supper, later, that they had suffered a disagreement with the parish and for a while went to mass at another parish, out in Ocean Beach. That was where my uncle’s funeral was. Eight or nine years ago now. We also went to that one.

For many years, I have had a secret admiration for the Roman church, even though I disagree with many of  the basic teachings… I suppose I should just be quiet here, but I cannot. There is so much in our human world that I disagree with, and one .  .   .     .

One learns, often too late in life, to keep one’s mouth shut and listen to the wind blowing wherever it goes. One goes.

A leaf grows, and then withers.

Just like a flower.