Thursday, July 2, 2015

Hedgebrook, Day Eight

Full moon over Deer Lagoon, Whidbey Island

the devourers of books, who exhaust themselves 
only by reading, should desist as soon as they find 
their comprehension more than commonly slow, 
their sight moaty and dimmish, or their eyes hot and watery.

Samuel Tissot, from his Essay on Diseases Incident to 
Literary and Sedentary Persons (1769)

Don't think I haven't felt chagrin, even guilt. I woke this morning and peered over the railing next to my bed, a loft that you reach by ladder. The sun slanted through the small, paned window over the kitchen sink and fell on the floor in a rainbow. Each part of the Hedgebrook cottage is perfect, perfect and sufficient to each moment. My mind might wander to the future, the end of my stay, finger the sore of re-entry, but the solitude here, the birds, the wildflowers gathered from the garden and placed in a jar on the windowsill, one plate, one bowl, one fork, one spoon, one cup to hold coffee conspire to keep me here, now.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hedgebrook, Day Seven

I went to sleep last night too late, grateful to be done with A Little Life and immersed in Sally Mann's Hold Still.

I wrote for hours, filling in spots in my goddamn book (henceforth called MGDB) that called for something, anything. I remembered the early days of my life in the circus, the three-ringed one of the kids and me, Henry and Oliver and I on the trapeze, Sophie our Master of Ceremonies.

My true talent lies on the tightrope, though.

On my way back from the farmhouse last night where I'd returned after dinner to get two slices of toast for my breakfast, I made my way through the meadow (yes, farmhouse, meadow), sat on a bench and watched Mt. Rainier rise up through pink clouds, its snowy tip visible and then not. The wind blew through the grasses in front of me and was all I could hear.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hedgebrook, Day Six

Fish tacos for dinner last night


Structuring my day around food and company comes as naturally to me here in the magical queendom of Hedgebrook as it does in the big shitty.

Taking oneself seriously as a writer is directly proportionate to thinking that it's all a farce and you're boring, even yourself.

A nettle sting, even to the tip of the pinky, is powerful. Surely that was a spider bite, I thought as the pain radiated out from the base of the nail and into the tip. It tingled, pins and needles for twelve hours.

The distance between being a woman respectable in appearance and well-spoken, to being a harridan with damp hair in the woods, haranguing herself, is short.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Hedgebrook, Day Five

I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.

Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hedgebrook, Day Four

After yesterday's walk 

I am here at Hedgebrook with five other women residents, and we are mixed in age, in nationality and in race. We are both straight and lesbian.  We each have our own enchanted cottage, not far from one another but far enough to sit undisturbed to do our individual work. Every evening, promptly at 5:30 we walk down a forest path with baskets and meet in the farmhouse for dinner, cooked for us right there with vegetables and flowers and fruit from the garden. We help ourselves from bowls and platters, arrayed on the same butcher block where the chef has prepared them, and then we sit down to eat at a long pine table with a view of Useless Bay. Yes, Useless Bay -- a name worthy of a post far longer than these that I will be writing for the next three weeks. The food is remarkable, simple and full of flavor. The chef sits with us and eats, too. I believe there are three of them who rotate through, all women who cater to and nourish us yet have a place at the woman table. At the end of the meal, the chef clears the table and begins to clean the kitchen while we pack our baskets with snacks, coffee, breakfast for the next morning. We spoon homemade granola out of jars, yogurt out of tubs, and coffee into little bags. We take fresh raspberries from the garden, so sweet and ripe that they disintegrate into syrup, almost, by the next day. There are snacks in jars along shelves --  peanut butter and pretzels, nuts and dried fruit, salty Asian crackers, seaweed and chocolate-covered mangos. Our lunch for the following day is neatly packed into a tupperware container -- a slice of quiche or a frittata, a chickpea salad, mixed lettuces and fruit. When our baskets are full we say good-bye to one another and walk back through the forest to our cottages where, I imagine, we all bow our heads in one way or another to the grace of this place and to our work.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Hedgebrook, Day Three

Deer Lagoon, Whidbey Island

I worked all morning today, have reached California, 1998. I walked to Useless Bay and then back along a dyke through Deer Lagoon. I pretended not to notice when what might have been tens of thousands of miniature dragonflies swarmed me, the whir of their wings so constant in my ear that I finally waved my hands in front of my face as I walked. I saw rabbits, a deer, several herons and transparent crabs that skittered over my feet and disappeared into the sand. I trudged home in the hot sun, sticky. I collapsed on my bed and shared a glass of water with a moth who fluttered up and out as I tipped the water back.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Hedgebrook, Day 2

It's a day of love in the land we call country, an affirmation met with as much wonder in the woods as the city. It's a day, too, of amazing grace, I hear, sung by our own leader in a voice as rich as we all are to have him.

I slept last night with the window open, the sound of frogs and crickets, the dark as absolute as my nakedness. Today I read in bed for hours, walked in a meadow buzzing with dragonflies, opened my computer and a manuscript that I haven't worked on in years and began.

I am in You and 
You in me,
Mutual in 
Love Divine

William Blake

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hedgebrook, Day One

This is my little cottage in piney woods. Light slants through the pines, birds are chirping, breezes blow, there's a vegetable and flower garden with opium poppies, holly hocks and sweet peas, and the rugged beach is less than two miles down the road.

I feel like someone slipped a mind-altering hallucinogenic into my water.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


I'm off to Hedgebrook in the morning, and while I am incredibly grateful and excited, I'm also feeling a little batshit crazy.

I'm not sure what my posting schedule will look like, as I'm told it's best to immerse yourself into the magic of the place with as few distractions as possible. I will, hopefully, get lots of writing done as well as respite and the chance to meet some extraordinary women. I might take photos and perhaps post them each day with something or other to keep ya'll entertained, but there'll probably only be slim pickins at the old a moon, worn as if it had been a shell. 

In the meantime, keep abreast of that whole cannabis Big Pharma thing. It's all going down tomorrow in Washington, D.C. when the big guns meet. You know how I feel about it all, and never have I been more sure and committed about an issue. Scroll down to yesterday's post, read, share and join us if you are so inclined. Just click this link: Coalition for Access Now

I miss you already.

P.S. If you want to write me a letter, email me and I'll send you the address!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Fight the Power*

That's Sophie, and when her mind is clear and the seizures at bay, she can stare right into your soul. New readers should know that despite 22 medications and treatments, Sophie found no relief from tens of thousands of seizures over the first nineteen years of her life. When she began using Charlotte's Web in late 2013, her seizures lessened dramatically and that gaze became ever more penetrating and knowing. We're one of those families you've been hearing about, a family decimated by two decades of uncontrolled seizures, vicious side effects from powerful FDA and non-FDA approved antiepileptic drugs and then a radical reduction when cannbis oil is introduced.

Sophie is not alone. There are thousands of children like her, but they do not have access to CBD.

As her voice, I'm going to talk a little here about what's going on in Washington regarding CBD and hemp. There is a meeting on Wednesday, June 24th to determine the fate of CBD. This is the meeting of Senate members called the Caucus on International Narcotics Control. The Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control was created to monitor and encourage against drug abuse and narcotics trafficking and to monitor and promote international compliance with narcotics control treaties. 

As you can imagine, that's one scary and powerful group of senators.

How would something so benign as CBD end up in their caucus? Here's a metaphor: We're all in a giant swimming pool, swimming in our carefully marked lanes. The Stanley Brothers are just one swimmer in that pool, along with countless other people growing and making hemp products. There's lots of room. Pharmaceutical companies, namely GW Pharmaceuticals, a British behemoth, has a lane, too. They've working on Epidiolex. That's fine. They should have a lane. The really extraordinary swimmers, the lane where all the action is, though, is not this giant pharmaceutical company. The lane that literally came out of nowhere is our lane, and it's made up of hundreds of families whose lives have been changed by CBD -- whether it's Charlotte's Web or any number of strains of high CBD/low THC products. Keep that image in your head.

Here are some facts:

  1. CBD and Hemp should be regulated as dietary supplements due to the very low toxicity (LD:50 (lethal dose rating) of 1:40,000 compared to aspirin at 1:20). These products already fill our store shelves in all 50 states with known amounts of THC (less than 0.3%) and unknown quantities of CBD. 
  2. There has already been research to establish that 1500 mg of CBD daily was well tolerated in humans.
  3. 17 states have passed cannabis legislation since February 2014. That's 16 months. All but three of those are high CBD/low THC legislation. This is an example of the extreme need of this underserved population.
Who do you think is the strongest opponent of this process?

The strongest opponent of this process has been pharmaceutical companies, namely GW Pharmaceutical Company who stands to lose a large part of the market if CBD becomes a dietary supplement. In some states like Alabama and Florida, GW Pharmaceuticals is actually using state funds to pay for their expensive trials.

You do not need legislation to do a clinical trial. This could very well be a serious misappropriation of state and health department funds. Do you want your state paying the tab for a gazillion dollar company?

Here are some more facts:

  1. GW Pharmaceuticals partnered with Bayer HealthCare, a subsidiary of Bayer AG. Bayer was on the original ALEC committee that introduced the original medical marijuana legislation back in the mid-noughties.
  2. ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council, and is just one of the ways that Big Pharma lobbyists write and influence laws in their favor. 

Apparently, GW Pharmaceuticals is fine with cannabis legislation and efforts that would help them to line their pockets, but it's a stretch of the old imagination to imagine them wanting families to get access now to keep their loved one alive, especially if it cuts into their lane. 

We're talking about room for everyone, here, a lane for all swimmers. GW Pharmaceuticals wants the whole damn pool.

At risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, let me tell you something.

  1. Parents' stories are being discredited. Just think of the disparaging remarks about placebo effects that Dr. Amy Brooks Kayal made on the Dateline special. We are, evidently, a bunch of crazy parents who can't properly count seizures and evidently have voodoo powers to regulate EEGS (that's sarcastic, of course).
  2. Doctors who are supportive of CBD are discredited and frowned upon. There's a party line that is being pushed.
  3. They're using propaganda to destroy the quality of the product, throwing around the term "artisanal" with the implication that we need the pharma model (despite the fact that we've been safely using cannabis for 1000s of years without that broken model)
  4. They're attacking the safety of the product and of the compound in general.
  5. In pushing for more research, they used unknowing and inexperienced families with promises of enrolling their children in the trials to push their agenda.
  6. In pushing for more research, they're pushing the dosage of the product so high in trials that it creates negative events (so far, diarrhea). It seems to me that they need to prove that this can't exist as a dietary supplement.
Expect them to run their public relations and marketing campaigns (the pharmaceutical advertising budget is in the tens of billions) next on the basis of how wonderful their companies are, and insurance companies will follow suit, covering this "orphan drug" that will reap them untold profits.

In the proverbial nutshell, it looks like Big Pharma wants the whole shebang. It wants CBD to be a pharmaceutical. It's some scary shit.

As people who have been hurt again and again by a broken pharmaceutical system, we will not allow this to happen. You can't allow this to happen. If you think you don't care about CBD, that it's a limited component and that CBD legislation is destructive, think again. I hate to say it, but mark my words: these people will come after THC next. Can these powers be more powerful than the people? They are proving to be so.

We are Sophie's and countless other kids' voices, and we're swimming in a very big pool. We might very well get kicked out this week. Please help us fight for access. This is not about THC. That's another very worthy fight. This is about access to cannabis. It's about fighting the power. It's about doing the right thing. It's about being able to look back into your child's eyes and have them look right into your own soul.

Coalition for Access Now

*This post was co-authored by Heather Jackson, Executive Director, Realm of Caring Foundation

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Three Ring Circus

Zelda Boden, Circus Performer 1910, via Pinterest

Killjoy! they said when I told them to stop throwing rocks at the grill. Sophie tried to wiggle out of the chair, out from under Henry's insistent arm laid over her lap. Can't I bring her inside? he asked. You hold her! he said to Oliver. Oliver crouched nearby, a pile of rocks at his feet. I circled my three children with the hose, trying not to overwater.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Cubist Spiderweb

Because I don't have it, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to take the above photo. I was strolling around my estate grounds, talking on the phone when I noticed a strange spiderweb on the rungs of a beat-up old wooden chair. I must have taken twenty shots that showed nothing on my phone and then more with my regular Canon. I considered stopping and justing observing -- why must we always make a record? It took me about a half an hour experimenting before I hung a black dress behind it and snapped the shot.

Have you ever seen a spider web so ziggy zaggy? I thought it must be a Cubist spider, an eight-legged Picasso or Braque who went rogue, away from concentric circles and into a break-up of form. The web was abandoned, pieces of it hanging and stuck with tiny yellow flowers shed from the tree above. If I remember my cubism properly, that break-up of form makes what is concrete, abstract, and in so doing, changes viewpoint. Is there meaning in that? What we think is concrete can so easily be spun into the abstract. One viewpoint shifts to another. Revolution is sparked.

Just something to think about when you don't have the time.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Minds, Hearts and Sores

Santa Monica, March 2014

The mind creates the abyss, the heart crosses it.
Sri Nisargadatta

I'm sorry, I could never keep my fingers off a sore.
Maggie the Cat, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

That quote by an Indian wiseman/swami came to me over the last couple of days as I drove about the shitty, and I couldn't remember why until I realized that I had posted it along with some meandering prose prompted by the last time I'd seen a Confederate flag flying. That was March of 2014, in Santa Monica, and here's the post that went with it. Go back and read it, and be sure not to miss the comments.

I don't know what else to think about, to tell you the truth. Both my boys have asked me what I think of the whole thing that happened in Charleston. They have the swagger of the teenager, the rebellious I hate this country, don't you? need for affirmation, and I just don't know what to say.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Summer Sounds and Silence

That's late August, 2001 when our family spent our first in nearly fifteen years in Hilton Head, South Carolina. In this photo, my father was entertaining Henry and his cousin Mary by puffing up his cheeks and blowing the air out with a loud and goofy noise. I remember that Henry and Mary were hysterical, over the top amused when he made the noise and then falling silent and expectant as he worked up to doing it again. And again. All of us were beside ourselves with laughter. It's a happy, happy memory.

What you can't see in the above photo and, of course, hear is the sound of Come On Down! that ancient game show refrain that apparently remains very seductive, even in 2015. I have good memories of getting up during the summer and watching game shows on television when I wasn't at the neighborhood pool playing Marco Polo. Oliver, I'm sure, has fantasies of winning all manner of material goods and has asked me numerous times whether he can be a contestant on The Price is Right, but it was Sophie's rapt attention to it that freaked me out. Sophie generally has no interest in television or movies, but she was into this program, and I literally tiptoed back and forth so as not to distract her.

Then there's the lazy no-sounds of summer where you just lie down on your soft bedroom rug and sleep for a bit.

Reader, tell me what you hear on a typical summer day.


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