Friday, December 22, 2006

Twas a night B4 xmas

Twas a night B4 Xmas..... by Jody Kuchar
With Apologies to Clement Clarke Moore and Lewis Carroll

Twas a night around christmas and all through the town
most lights were turned on, houses dressed up like clowns;
Duke Energy rejoiced and counted killowatts
with hopes that customer checkbooks were not tied in knots;
the children were shopping online with credit cards
with visions of UPS trucks dashing through yards;
And Dad in his jockeys and I in my thong,
were careful not to spill the contents of the bong,
when out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed without my pajamer.
Away to the window I flew like a flash
tore open the curtains and threw out my stash.
Rising up in the sky a star to the east
a feeling inside, I turned into the beast;
suppressing that feeling, try as I might,
to my spouse I called out "Tonight is the night!"
We dressed in mere seconds, our attire all black,
this was no hour, to be in the sack!
With stealth and with silence we slipped out the door
down the stairs, cross the carpet, and over creaky floor;
into the moonlight we crept and we crawled
we knew it was time for a nativity to be mauled!
"On Darlin! On husband! On Wife, oh you Vixen!
Now dash it, now prance it, now on with our mission!"
Across darkened churchyard we gamboled and gyred
we stealthily made our way to the seasonal byre.
There were camels and love sheep and cows all aflutter,
there were wise men and virgins and Joseph, feeling buggered.
and there in his manger, the silent child
soon would he know how it felt being defiled.
We pushed and we pulled until he just toppled
"It won't be for long that you feel coddled!"
We placed one wise man on top of another,
the third one was positioned to bugger his brother.
The camel was made to fellate the sheep
red lipstick we placed on the cow - she looked cheap.
Our mission accomplished, the manger in tatters,
laughing so hard, we put stress on our bladders.
Across yards and lawns we headed for home
on the way, just for sport, we molested a gnome.
Inside the house we tore off our clothes
while peals of laughter from us arose,
the children long sleeping heard naught a thing
it wasn't long 'fore the phone started to ring,
t'was the Reverend Longsermon and his missus in tears
it seemed someone had stolen their christmas eve beers.
we raided the cookies, had warm tea with rum
"what a joke is this christmas and Santa's a bum
let's go back to bed, on each other start pawing!
let's go back to bed and wait until dawning
when the neighbors all shuffle on down to the church
won't they be surprised, their manger's besmirched!"
We sprang to our mattress, our sheets now all cold
our eyes were quick closed, the night was now old,
this story is long and this story is gripping
we've had lots of fun Nativity Tipping!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Elections Day is almost upon Us

I do try to stay positive and keep my cynical side on a leash. However, with elections almost upon us, I urge everyone to get out and unelect the politicians who have blatantly instituted unconstitutional measures as a means of procuring their own victories and agendas.
In March of 2005 I wrote a letter to protest Wisconsin legislature AB63, a bill that was termed "Election Protection". Wisconsin Bill AB63 was passed, and additionally was adopted and passed by most other states in the USA. The bill guaranteed protestion of "legal" elections by requiring all voters to have a photo ID in order to vote. The photo IDs that were required were to be obtained through state agencies; they could be driver licenses, work permits, or state issued IDs. The photo IDs were not given freely to all citizens; to obtain an ID, the cost (paid to each state agency) was anywhere from $2.00 to $10.00. I reprint my letter here as I felt then, and still feel now, that AB63 and its counterparts are in direct violation of our constitutional rights, as stated in the 24th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (1964):
"The rights of citizens ... shall not be denied or abridged by the United States of any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax"..

Get out and vote people! We need to take our country back and not allow ourselves to be misrepresented by an outlaw administration intent on undermining our freedom, rights and status in the world community.

March 17, 2005

Wisconsin State Senator Jeffery Plale
RE: Assembly Bill 63

I find it very disconcerting that while we send American citizens in harms way in Iraq to secure voting rights for Iraqis, we in this country are experiencing vast gulfs in the ways which voting takes place among our own citizens.
According to, the instances of voting fraud in the state of Wisconsin during the elections of November 2004 were minimal. Additionally, it would appear that there have been a paucity of poll workers to oversee and process the elections. While current procedure exists to under staff polling places, we are asking that the DOT absorb and administrate the issuing of and renewal of Photo IDs. It is estimated that the yearly cost of this could reach as much as $1 million. Bill AB63's supporters have added a provision that would allow the state to use Help America Vote Act to recoup up to $250,000. annually for costs it incurs for original issuing and renewal of Photo IDs. This seems like irresponsible book keeping.
A proposal like requiring photo IDs blames the voters for the problems rather than the election officials and makes it the voters problem to fix the system. Any
further impediments to the process must be placed on the election officials or the local governments that run the elections. In a time when we already struggle with voter participation, we must not add an unnecessary hurdle for voters to jump.
Even the hint of voting fraud should be embarrassing to Americans with family members in Iraq. But before we legislate reform, shouldn't we first actually understand the issues at hand?
Only one instance of fraud in the state of wisconsin has been proven and prosecuted in the state's history. In the September 2004 primary election, a student voted in both his home address and his school address in a different county. He had a photo ID.
AB 63 would create new problems, limiting the ability of the elderly, poor and students to exercise their right to vote. These are folks who might not have a drivers license and would have great difficulty getting a state-issued photo ID from somewhere, particularly before the election. Drivers' licenses do not state whether a person is a convicted felon or even a U.S. citizen. They often are valid even if they do not show a person's current address and if a person has moved. In short, they prove very little.
Investigations into potential voting fraud are far from complete and thus far have yielded no evidence of fraud in Milwaukee or anywhere else.
We need to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. The newly suggested legislation would make it more burdensome for voters. Why should we trade the basic democratic elements of our process for overly cumbersome requirements that do nothing but discourage minority and elderly voting?
Questionable addresses, make up less than half of one percent of the total votes cast in the city of Milwaukee. Computer and clerical error account for a very similar percentage of error in cities across the state and country.
Issues such as incorrect information being given by poll workers and election observers has not even been addressed with the introduction of AB 53, while misinformation resulted in scores of voters being turned away from polling places.
Ab 63 is an unconstitutional poll tax on those whose grasp on the franchise is currently most vulnerable: the elderly, the low-income, the homeless, and the handicapped. Individuals could lose time and wage compensation, as well as pay bus or taxi fare in order to obtain an unnecessary ID. The current cost of an original Photo ID issued by the WIDOT is $9.00. If the only reason that a person would be required to have a Photo ID is for voting, then the fee for the ID proves to be a poll tax, and is therefore unconstitutional.

24th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (1964):
"The rights of citizens ... shall not be denied or abridged by the United States of any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax".

AB 63 also likely violates the federal Voting Rights Act by imposing discrimination against minorities. Several states have unsuccessfully attempted to enact more rigorous ID requirements. The Michigan Attorney General found that the Michigan Election law requiring voter identification either by photo ID or by signing an affidavit, was unconstitutional. The Attorney General stated that this would impose economic and logistical burdens on the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and those who do not possess photo identification. Additionally, AB 63 will completely strip a homeless voter's right to vote via corroboration, simply because that person lacks an address or a photo ID and would no longer be able to use corroboration to vote.
*NOTE: Nearly one third of all homeless persons are veterans.

I would like this letter to serve as my vehement opposition to AB 63 and ask that all citizens concerned with democracy in the state of Wisconsin do the same.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Condo Cowboys

When I had decided to organize a team for the local AIDS Walk, I also addressed the difficulty that some people face when asked to fundraise. I lack no skills in this task, however, many people, especially women, have a hard time asking people for money - their own or someone else's. To assist my team in collecting pledges, I wrote up some 'talking points' for them; a variety of facts about HIV/AIDS, which they could use as a source for talking to people about HIV/AIDS. To do this properly, I needed to research some statistics for myself. What I found did not really surprise me, but I knew it would surely surprise others.

Reported new cases of AIDS have increased by 33% in the age group of 50+, and that statistic represents a span of two years, not an over all percentage. This fact alone was not just a surprise to people, but also a source of amusement. Apparently the old axiom of believing that people your parents' age don't engage in sex still exists among today's more 'enlightened' young people. Given some thought, the fact that AIDS is growing among senior citizens should not be a surprise to anyone.
In Florida and Arizona, there are six widowed or single women to every man in that age group. Today, people over 50 enjoy better health and younger looks than did their parents. With the advent and availability of Erectile Dysfunction medications, any 70 year old male can be called a "Condo Cowboy" too. Yes, senior citizens not only date, but have more opportunity to do so than do 40 year old singles. However, the once freeing state of being past menopause has given many of the dating and sexually active females of this age group a sense of safety. Where educated safe sex should be practiced, denial based risky sexual behavior is resulting in new cases of AIDS exploding into the senior communities.

The current administration in the United States has duplicitously enforced a message of monogamy and abstinence as a reliable means of disease and birth control. In doing so, it has committed a disservice not just to youth, but to all segments of the population. Furthermore, this "message" is preached to the youth of America, within the confines of public education (and government funded education). If AIDS is not discussed openly among everyone, how will segments of the population no longer attending schools become aware of the risk of HIV/AIDS?

Not to flog a dead or dying horse, the recent Foley brouhaha has brought to light something that should have been obvious: the Republican party, like any group, is just as "guilty" of sexual high jinx as were the prior occupants of the White House. But here similarities end: the holier than thou attitudes which dominate Republican politics had no place in the Clinton administration.
Turn on prime time television and what you will be assaulted with is mixed messages that seem to go hand in hand with repressive sexual politics. Prime time is full of desperate housewives, men in trees, and youth oriented advertising all using sex as the sole reason to purchase products. It is a sexy world out there with zero responsibility for safe intimate congress.

Yes, the current political climate can be directly held responsible for the lack of information, or for the extent of misinformation about HIV/AIDS and STDs. It is fully responsible for our parents, or grandparents thinking that the worse thing that could happen to them while engaging in risky, unsafe sex, might be an unexpected pregnancy. It is not only time to bring the facts about HIV/AIDS into the public eye, it is more than overdue to educate every human being in this country about HIV/AIDS and the effect that AIDS could have on not just our economy, but on our health care services, health care workers, families, communities and all humanity. Hiding ones head in the sand of Florida or Arizona will not prevent AIDS. Understanding how AIDS is spread and what constitutes high risk behavior will prevent AIDS.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Great Poundcake Fiasco

My in laws left yesterday after spending a weekend with us. Note the absolute joy in my words as I inform you of this. Actually, I am not alone with my less than ecstatic attitude; Sunkist, after having to stay confined to cages for the entire time, actually bit me on the cheek when I freed him from his imprisonment. And he drew blood. You know he wasn't happy.
Husband and I have spoke of the toll having parents around can take on grown children.
When the in laws came to visit during the summer, and the yard was open and the pool inviting, there was space to get away from each other. But with the weather cold and the yard basically closed for the impending winter, the only place to go for some solitude was the bathroom. Grab a book, pull up a bench, turn on the ventilator fan so it sounds like serious business is taking place in there, and enjoy 20 minutes of peace.

In preparation for the visit, husband was talked into baking a pumpkin poundcake by myself. This suggestion was not without personal agenda as I love pumpkin and was anticipating my first pumpkin confection of the season. Saturday morning, before the arrival of the visiting parents, husband was in the kitchen baking a cake. The house smelled fabulous! Pumpkin-y and spice and warm ... very nice on a cold day.
When it came to be time to take the anxiously awaited poundcake from the oven, it seemed to look a bit flat to me. As minutes passed, the poundcake began to settle and oddly, the butter seemed to be separating from the cake. I commented how the cake reminded me of a fallen souffle, or that perhaps it needed more flour. Husband thought that the pumpkin might not have been good. Bravely, we all stood around the center kitchen island and tasted the crunchier bits of the cake and it was sweet, but tasty. However, it soon became apparent that it was much too heavy to eat.
That evening while exploring our local Wild Oats market, husband was convinced to try another poundcake. We bought the cream cheese, more eggs, flour, pecans, and vanilla. Sunday morning husband started to bake cake number two.

Praline Pecan poundcake is amazingly sweet - normally. And everyone was looking forward to an awesome dessert after dinner. While the cake was in the oven, I began to prepare the evening meal which included egg dumplings. Now this is my recipe and I've not shared it with husband before. Since he was kind of hanging around watching the progress of cake #2, I asked him if he wanted to learn to make dumplings. He eagerly said yes.
Going to the pantry cabinet with a large bowl and a measuring cup, I began to measure out the flour for the dumplings. It was at this point that husband said, "Is that the flour? Then what is in the cabinet?" I turned to look at him and said "which cabinet?" He pointed to the spice and sugar cabinet. It was then that I understood his cake failure ....

In his eager ness to escape the immediate presence of his parents, husband invaded the kitchen with one thought in mind; to make a good cake. He didn't think about the ingredients, if he had he might have remembered that the flour is where the flour has always been and the sugar is with all of the other sugar products.

Two poundcakes and not one good enough to really eat. In fact, after tasting the crumbly bits again, I began to have a stomach ache from all of the sugar.

Of course, the poundcakes were flourless. Sans flour. Instead of flour, husband measured out two cups of powdered sugar. No wonder those fallen cakes were so sweet.
And no wonder that he thought we had run out of 'flour'.

It would have been hysterically funny except that poundcakes cost about $15 a piece to make. Well, it was funny - after I found something else to eat.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sayonara Sushi-ga

My pet fish, Sushi, committed betta-cide by jumping out of his habitat and landing on the hardwood floor.
Taken just as this sentence, it sounds pretty funny. There is a PBS commercial that airs quite often of a gold fish doing just this; jumping out of its bowl. But the goldfish has much better luck than Sushi had. It jumps from its bowl into a large water container, a puddle on the street, off a canopy and into some other wet environment, eventually to find its way to a body of freshwater. Sushi, on the other hand, landed on a dry floor and his little fancy fans stuck to the floor.
Now the really funny part of this story is still to come; Sunkist who was in his cage while this happened and who was in full view of the fish bowl, actually saw the whole thing happen.
I was on the computer (ahem) and Sunkist really said "Fish". But I ignored him. Sunkist is always saying something and generally it isn't as benign as "fish". And unless he says something really funny, or I am interacting with him, I do ignore much of it. Why I didn't key on him saying fish which he never says unless we are visiting Sushi, I do not know.
I left the studio to check on the visiting cat who was eating in the garage and when I returned I saw something on the floor that looked rather unsavory. Actually, it looked somewhat like a piece of poo.
Not knowing where random poo would come from, I got a piece of paper to pick it up when I looked to my left and realized that the fish was not in his bowl.
I looked at the poo like object and began to discern dry eyes and even a bit of movement. I picked poor Sushi up and put him back in his bowl ... he was still alive.
It was pretty awful because he was so messed up I knew he would not survive. How does one kill a fish that is/was a pet? All I could do is flush him down the toilet like ... well, a piece of poo.
It is sad.
Sushi taught me that the sport of fishing is not as cool as I once thought it was. he also taught me that fish actually crave attention even though they are in a different environment than we are.
Poor Sushi.
I won't be getting another betta for awhile.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Think twice before hiring Aaron Payne, Inc.

In the spirit of ratting on bad business practices, as well as bad business policy, I want to share a bit of information about a guy who is a programmer in Indianapolis, Indiana: Aaron Payne.
Earlier this year, Mr. Payne expressed interest and enthusiasm about working with me on the eZine ScribeSpirit. I had recently moved to Indiana and had not set up a network of people. In fact, I still have not set up much of a network.
Mr. Payne agreed to develop a web site for ScribeSpirit at a much reduced rate.
In fact, the fee that Mr. Payne charged for the work he did do was about 10% of the cost he would normally charge to a company.
Scribe Spirit is a not for profit project started in 2005 by myself and 6 other people from around the globe. In January of 2006, after a failed attempt to create a site that allowed literary and visual art work to be published bi-lingually, I disbanded the project and looked around for alternative means of keeping it alive.
After Mr. Payne generously and excitedly agreed to work in collaboration with me on a new site, I agreed and committed to investing my money in same. We began to work together to plan the site.
An IT person, or programmer is just that. A person who develops websites and maintains them. At no time did I ever agree that Mr. Payne would have access to the content manager of the website. The website is devoted to literary and visual arts; I am, and have been the sole editor. As editor, one of my jobs is to make sure that all work presented on the website is correct. Additionally, that all work has been approved, or released for electronic publication by the submitting authors and artists through legal contract. As editor I do not tell the programmer how to do his job, and as expected, the programmer does not tell the editor how to do her job.

From the beginning I might have suspected Mr. Payne's motives as he would always remind me that in the past he has submitted work to ScribeSpirit which I, as editor, had rejected. When asked about the nature of the rejection, Mr. Payne agreed that the rejection was done compassionately. He also indicated to me at the time, that his reminders of the rejection were all in good fun.
Mr. Payne may be a programmer, but he is certainly not a writer. Mr. Payne may have some talent in the art of painting, but he is no Picasso.
These facts have little to do with him accepting a job, being paid for that job and ultimately refusing to fulfill his obligations as web developer.

Mr. Payne and I began our business relationship in February of 2006. Mr. Payne refused to do any more work for ScribeSpirit in August of 2006. This makes Mr. Payne liable for fraudulent representation. It also hints at out right theft.
In addition to accepting the job of web developer, Mr. Payne was offered and accepted the position of Vice President of Unity Illuminata, Inc., the parent company (also not for profit) of ScribeSpirit. This position was not forced on him. Misrepresentation of the position never occurred. Mr. Payne was informed from the onset of his acceptance of the position of Vice President that the position was non-paying. He was also informed that the position carried with it specific duties outlined in the legal by laws of the incorporation papers.
Mr. Payne, after accepting this position for less than 30 days, has neither submitted his legal resignation, nor has he fulfilled the obligations that the position carried with it.

Aaron Payne has dishonored a trust, broken a verbal contract, and technically has undermined an international project that enjoyed a readership of upwards of 10 thousand readers per month. Mr. Payne has proved that greed and unsportsman behavior is more important than human unity and collaborative efforts.

Aaron Payne has also shown his true colors on a personal level. When presented with the legal facts of the situation, Mr. Payne could only accuse me of "getting my legal pen out", and his comments about that were "Unbelievable". Mr. Payne has been in abject denial about his role in the situation which has developed since he refused to work on the website, and since his refusal to comply with the responsibilities of the position of Vice President of Unity Illuminata, Inc. Instead of using logic to work through conflict, Mr. Payne has resorted to name calling and has refused to acknowledge his part in the inevitable dissolution of the project known as ScribeSpirit and the fledgling corporation, Unity Illuminata.

It is the purpose of this entry to advise anyone considering using the services of Aaron Payne, to consider carefully what you are entering into and with whom. It is the advise of this person to anyone considering Mr. Payne as a web developer, to make sure you have a legal contract with him before paying him for any services. Also, anyone considering working with Mr. Payne, should be sure to have said contracts witnessed by either an attorney or a public notary.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


It's been a couple of years since I last signed up to walk to raise funds for AIDS awareness. I stopped walking because in my last home state, the walk took place in Milwaukee. It was well attended, however, it was also a target for the Christian right hate groups to come out and all but assault the walkers. You might say I was 'chicken' when I stopped walking. But it was not fear of the hate groups which made me stop, it was fear of myself and my response to them that made me realize I needed to stay at home or risk either going to jail or getting the crap kicked out of me.
I became violently angry with the people who came out and stood, like a gauntlet, at the end of the walk site and jeered, pushed, screamed, sounded air horns, threw paper propaganda ... These people had been trained professionally on how to be as disruptive as possible and how to physically abuse the walkers without actually crossing the line of "Assault".
Now you might ask why I would get so angry about this and rightfully so. The truth is that many of the people who gave up their time and money to support this cause did so as families. There were children with parents who raised money and walked to fight the effects of AIDS. In the truest sense of community responsibility and of committment to a cause, these people, all of the walkers, were giving it up and doing the best they could in the name of humanity and compassion.
And there some idiot church leaders were with bus loads of 'protesters' confronting the walkers. Some of the protesters would come right into a walkers personal space and use their abdomens to push the walkers off the path. While other church people would condemn the walkers to hell or some other nastiness for supporting "Faggots and Queers". The sad thing is that many of these church members were African Americans.
And women. Two groups who are in the highest growing populations of new AIDS cases.

I did try to reason with some of them at first. This tactic did not work. These people were not there to be reasoned with. They were there to spew hatred and intolerance and express their ignorance to not only the walkers, but to the world.

By the end of that gauntlet, I was enraged. That was bad for me, physically and emotionally. I thought that I could do more by working quietly in my own community, or volunteering at Hospice. Yes, I could do that type of work, that SILENT work.
Whenever my husband and I went to serve dinners or help at hospice, we did do good work and were appreciated for it. But it was silent work - we educated no one, we did not alleviate intolerance or hatred.

This year I am walking in Indianapolis. Indianapolis is not known for its tolerance to much of anything - however, Indianapolis has found a way to exclude the type of protesters from the grounds of the AIDS Walk. For this I am profoundly thankful.

I know from friends that this vocal and violent form of protest against all things AIDS happens everywhere in the USA. It happens at memorial services for people who've died of AIDS. It happens at fund raisers.
It is a disgusting side bar to the freedom of speech that certain segments of our population can legally harrass (legally 'assault') participants in philanthropic endevors. This year I hope to complete my walk (without collapsing in an old lady heap) proudly and without having to encounter the negavity of past walks.

If you would like to support me, or to just make a donation to INDIANA AIDS FUND
I invite you to visit the links below and do just that. When the registration tent rings those bells for huge donation totals I want to be able to feel like the sound will travel around the globe. I am proud to be doing this - proud of all the people I know who have lived with AIDS, all of the people who work tirelessly to assist those whose lives have been changed by AIDS. And I am also proud of all of you who read this, are activists for AIDS education ... your hearts are big and no doubt, full.

ScribeSpirit Team page (for donations):

Monday, September 18, 2006

To forgive is divine

I am trying to forgive someone who has broken a trust. It is not always easy to do that. Sometimes things happen to us for specific reasons. The trust breaking was the last straw of a process that has been happening for about 5 months. Being practical, I understand that by having someone else break a contract with me, I do not have to shoulder the responsibility to end something I have alternately loved and hated.
Maybe the thing that bugs me most is the trust breaker is a business person - at least he calls himself that. And he took my money - cash money - and only 6 months later declined to provide the service he agreed to provide.
I would love to call him out. Name him in public. Shame him in public. I have not and will not do so.
To do so would be to drop down on my belly and crawl in the mire of the sewer that he occupies. It might also justify the charming names he has called me and the lies I know he tells of me. I prefer the higher ground. You know, that place where one can look down on the rutting human mass of misery. Also, being practical, I decline from damaging my karma (such as it is) with demeaning words about someone's inability to rise to their potential. And rise from the ashes of their damaged childhood.
People can be so small and petty when they have no reference for themselves. They can point fingers and create discord and blame others for their capricious actions. Ah, how satisfying it is to this one or that one to blame someone else for things that happen or do not go their way. But deep in their souls the bitterness grows until like bile, it comes up to choke them when they try to move on with life.
I suspect, other than taking my hard won cash, I have no reason to be angry with the small and petty person who did not honor their commitment. I do not want to continue the ScribeSpirit project. I do not want to enter into a business agreement with the federal government that may be like a marriage: easy to get into but painful and expensive to extract ones self from. Yet at the end of the day I am saddened to know that people will try to hold a good project hostage to their desire for control and a little bit of power.
I also feel that I have a responsibility to others from making the mistake of trusting this person as I did. For paying him money and making agreements that he may not keep, or from being the ruin of another interesting and successful project.
I will have to work that out with myself.
For the time being, let it be said that next time you or someone you know is looking for an IT person to work with, beware of those who can not get beyond their own problems in order to solve yours.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Conversations by eMail

I want to post the following bits from an eMail conversation I had with Richard Kearns of

The topic is not just relevant to people with HIV/AIDS, but it is relevant to every human who has ever feared committing to love because of fear of loss.

I was at a marketing focus group about an AIDs prevention campaign a
while ago. there were some straight young "kids" -- early 20's -- same
age as high-risk gays -- and they just didn't get it about safe sex.
Gay sex was what needed to be safe sex. Safe sex didn't apply to them.

I finally had to ask, "What would you do if you fell in love with
someone who had AIDs? With someone who was HIV-positive?" They blurted
out silly things like, "Well, i hope when the time comes that I might
have to make a decision about it, and I'll be prepared."

"So, in otherwords, do nothing and hope for the best. All you're going
to end up being is another infected person."

At least they had the good grace to be stymied.

But there stands the battle.

Then Richard asked me: What would you do if you fell in love with someone who had aids?

My reply:
My friend Ron has spoke of this before, about how difficult it is to find a
wonderful ("perfect") partner.
And he has wondered if it was AIDS that made them run the other way, or
some other thing - (Ageism?, etc.).
I had no good answer when the topic first came up. But I have one now:

We are promised nothing more than this day. Not ever. This moment is
what we have. And if in this moment love comes to us, does it matter
what baggage that love carries?
Whether we be gay, straight, young, old, happy or sad, we are destined
to live a limited time in this world. What the method of our demise
might be can not be foretold to potential lovers.
If I were to fall in love with someone who has cancer, or has the
genetic tendency for cancer, would it matter? Why should our future
death intrude on our present loves?
Life is too short and uncertain to deprive oneself of love because of
the fear of losing that love.
We all lose loves. Whether it be to death, or another person ... love
comes and love goes.
That we love at all is what keeps us human, connected and at peace.

Thank you for your thoughtful response. Here are my blessings. They are two secrets that go along with the post.

1. I fall in love with a new HIVer, a new person with AIDs every day.
2. It’s no different than falling in love with anyone else.



Wednesday, July 26, 2006

If it flies, it dies

Not many people are lucky enough to be able to call an employer a friend. But for a brief span of years, I was one of those lucky few.
For almost four years, I worked for two guys who owned a small specialty car dealership. They would buy used cars at auction, or from private parties, renovate the cars and resell them.
The 'two guys' had been friends from early childhood. The business principal, Bill, inherited the business from his father. Bill's partner Shawn had been close to the family, indeed lived with the family during his formative years. Shawn, a nice looking man is straight. Bill, a tall, thin blonde, was gay.
At any given time, there would be 50 plus vehicles on the property of the business. In addition to buying and reselling cars, the business also did mechanical, body and upholstery work on vehicles sent to them by outside sources. The portion of the business facilitating repairs was relatively new, but all of the sources for vehicles were associates of Bill's father who died in 1994.
The town in which Bill and Shawn lived and did business was a very small town; actually an agricultural area at least 40 minutes from the city. Everyone there knew each other and each others business. Bill spent most of his adult life trying to keep his sexuality private. At that, for the most part, he was successful.
During the time I worked with Bill and Shawn, I dealt with a number of issues pertaining to employment, including corresponding with the state about terminations and the reasons for same. Mostly, people would lose their jobs for insubordination or driving without a valid drivers license. But one instance particularly stands out in my memory.
Two new men had been hired to work as yard crew. Most of the other staff knew each other well, and most also knew that Bill was gay, but too, they did not care. They all treated Bill like he was a kid that needed protecting. And until Bill admitted to you that he was gay, it was never mentioned. It simply did not matter to those of us who cared about him.
When the two new men started working, immediately they began a campaign of hateful, discriminatory behavior. They would meanly mimic what they thought gay guys would act like; they patted each others butts and minced their walks, they spoke, when they could be heard, in lisps. They also said some pretty ugly things about homosexuality. They also were lousy workers and within a few weeks of being hired, they were fired.
It was my job to respond to the state when they applied for unemployment. And respond I did. I charged them with sexual harassment, and inappropriate behavior in the work place. I thought these charges were enough to keep them from collecting unemployment from a business that they only worked at for perhaps 15 days. I was surprised to find that the charges I made were ignored by the state and they were granted unemployment benefits based on time they had worked within that calendar year. It was my first experience with how the local governments deal with shitty behavior on the job.

I resigned from my position with the company when a family tragedy led my husband and I to the decision to sell our home and move. But I, as well as my husband, remained friends with Bill and Shawn.
Shortly after my resignation, Bill moved from the state he had lived in, to Arizona.
And on a subsequent visit and dinner at our home, he revealed to my husband and I that he didn't think he would live much longer as he was suffering from AIDS.
I am not sure when I first figured it out. I knew that Bill was sick before he came to tell us. I could tell from his appearance and his reluctance to come back to the place where he had lived. I had always known he was gay, although he never told me outright. But our conversations were not typical of a boss and administrator, nor of a man and woman who happened to be friends. We talked about interior design, color, of music and dance, Elvis (Bill loved Elvis' music), about so and so and how cute his butt was. It wasn't necessary for Bill to tell me he was gay, not that it mattered. Bill was Bill and that was good enough for me.

Bill knew that I was a bird watcher and he would tease me all of the time about wanting to shoot the hawks and owls that came on the property and pooped on his cars. He used to tell me: "If it flies, it dies". I would act offended and freaked that he would shoot birds, and he would act like the rifleman ... it was a silly game, but it was our game.

Once Bill moved to Arizona, we saw less and less of him. I would hear from Shawn about Bill's health, about how he refused to take his medications because they made him ill. I would hear about the friends he was making in Arizona, how they were kind of nasty, not of high caliber. Slowly Bill stopped staying in touch and refused to answer his phone, mail or respond to cheesecakes sent to him for birthdays (Bill loved cheesecakes).
When questioned, Shawn thought that it was the people that Bill was associating with that caused him to withdraw. I countered that Bills behavior was similar to drug users; he didn't seem interested in his old life, or friends. He just wanted to stay with the crowd he was running with. Shawn vehemently denied that Bill would be using drugs. Even when confronted with druggie behavior, he believed that it was people, not drugs, that was driving Bill to act as he did.

In December of 2005, Shawn called me to tell me he was in Arizona with Bill, who was in the hospital, in a coma. Shawn said that Bill was dying of AIDS, but that he had caught something called Valley Fever which was a result of his use of Meth, his compromised immune system and his life in hot and dusty Arizona. According to Shawn, Bill had been using meth for 18 months or so which he was getting from his associates in Arizona. Shawn was shocked that Bill was using drugs - previously Bill condemned drug use. He had to be convinced by his medical team to use Marinol for his appetite and anxiety - that is how opposed Bill was to drug use.

I, on the other hand was not surprised at Bill's use of drugs. His depression over aging, about losing his teeth, his hair, too much weight all caused him sorrow. We had briefly talked about the cruelty of the gay community when it came to appearances and ageism.
On December 6th Bill died due to complications of AIDS, valley fever, heart failure and coma. He left behind no lovers to speak for him, little family to stand for him. His life, which could have held promise and perhaps educated others to the pain and lonliness he suffered, seemed to be wasted.
A young man, a lovely man, who never believed he would live past 30, who died just after his 40th birthday, whose wings carried him around this country and the world.
Yes, Bill seemed to prophesy his own saying: "If it flies, it dies".
Bill flew, he laughed, he partied, he danced and he gave endlessly to anyone who asked. Yet the gift he could've given, which had no monetary value, he withheld.
Bill did not love himself, could not admit to the world who and what he was.
For those of us, his friends, that he left to mourn him, we will always see him soar.

Monday, June 19, 2006

AIDS is a societal problem, not a religious agenda.

I get very angry each time I see the possibility of legislative action which discriminates against anyone. Even though our society is full of offensive people who have committed very offensive crimes, even these people are protected by laws which guarantee their rights will not be violated while police investigate their actions, or while they are incarcerated, or after they have served their prison sentence. Yet our country, which also guarantees the rights of humans, is embroiled in a battle of religious agenda against free thinking people when it seeks to undermine the rights of others based on sexual preference or disease and illness.
The very framework of our constitution is in jeopardy when we are coerced into thinking that we will not voice our opinions for fear of alienating people who wish to legislate another group into oblivion.

I do not know many heterosexual people who will talk about AIDS. I do not know many heterosexuals who will admit that they know someone with AIDS or have lost a family member or friend from AIDS. Especially here in Indiana, but true in Wisconsin as well. I am finding that more and more often, it is a topic that people do not want to talk about. And I don't mean the intolerant fundamentalist types most people associate with AIDS ignorance and condemnation. I mean EVERYONE. The few tolerant humans I have met here do not talk about it and tend to give a polite cough and change the subject when it comes up. At best they contribute nothing to the topic.

A very good friend who has lived with AIDS for over 20 years, speaks eloquently of how he continues to survive somewhat well. I attribute his longevity with HIV/AIDS as having to do with 2 factors: one, he was in the absolute right place (job wise) when he was diagnosed and he had better information than many. He was fortunate to be working with a major pharmaceutical company who was in the forefront of developing AIDS medications. Two, he takes care of himself and keeps close to his medical team.
'Taking care of oneself' is a strange term. Does that mean that one is careful in action? Or that one makes certain they see their medical professionals regularly?
Health care for many people in America is a tenuous thing. People cling to jobs that degrade them, underpay them, take them away from their families all in order to maintain some form of health insurance. People who live with AIDS are compromised in their health everyday. They suffer from numerous maladies, not the least of which is tolerance to the medications they must take to survive. And what if they can not afford these medications? Or if they are too unwell to continue working? Will the USA legislate them to suffer because the religious agenda condemns people with the AIDS virus?
I do not know how my friend stands straight after seeing the devastation in the gay community. I believe that the grief of losing so many friends, lovers, acquaintances might actually cause one to be beat into the ground. Sometimes that is how I feel when I think of how many people that have been killed because of ignorance, lack of medical care, lack of will, etc. I do not know how it must feel to take so many meds each day. I do not know how it feels to have to watch each morsel of food that one eats. Frankly, I feel very fortunate to know him, hear his life stories and see his courage.

I am shocked at the people (intelligent, medical people) who are saying that HIV doesn't cause AIDS. I do not know what they are thinking. I have read some of these theories, especially lately and am really amazed that anyone in the medical field could be that irresponsible.

AIDS is growing fastest these days among the African American female population.
There are many reasons for this; little of which has to do with the sexual orientation of African American women. Yet, in the populations of African American churches, AIDS, fundraising for AIDS and people who have AIDS are not just ostracized, but they are condemned. My personal experiences with Fundamental activists have been so ugly, I point my finger at our law enforcement agencies which stand idly by while people who have obviously been trained to be disruptive and volatile all but physically assault those involved in AIDS fundraising events.

As far as fundraising or advocating, that is in an individual's heart. The amount of people (at least in the USA) who do either thing is small. The number of people who believe in and volunteer for anything is small. The number of people who care about educating themselves beyond the mandated public education system is rather small compared to the overall population.

The United States government has created a political platform based on HIV/AIDS
and those who live what has been termed "high risk" lifestyles. This platform is the gravy to a populace who increasingly prefers ignorance over education, condemnation over compassion, and fundamentalism over fiduciary concerns.
AIDS is an epidemic. It is not a passing phase in the blink of human development.
In the US alone, medical care for those with AIDS and insufficient health care could amount to staggering sums of tax dollars. But instead of education, political agenda attempts to sway the minds of the ignorant with abstinence based rhetoric rather than actions which would decrease new AIDS infections. Instead of educating the youth of this country with honest information about AIDS prevention, we stifle the young and the religious with talk about unrealistic views and 'innocent' victims. Instead of providing realistic preventative measures, we expect people, even those who are incarcerated, to be cognitive of the benefits of abstinence.

This is not a wise recourse for a country which built itself on the foundations of freedom and pioneering spirit. We can not continue to be a world leader while turning a blind eye to the source of eradication of a disease. We can not continue to be a financial giant when we ignore the consequence of letting a viral epidemic empty the coffers of the federal government while pandering to a small, but vocally intolerant segment of the population. We can not ask of other countries to do anything which we in this country aren't fully prepared to do ourselves.

In the 1950s it was taboo to talk of things that were 'not polite'. Over the last 60 years we have expanded our conversations to include even the most personal of subjects. Yet, in 2006 it is still not 'polite' or acceptable to talk of our deceased friends, our afflicted friends, lovers who have died, family members who have died of AIDS. The caveat to this is the Ryan Whites, the millionaire basketball players, or those "innocents" who got AIDS while having dentistry work done or receiving a blood transfusion. If I must be subjected to Erectile Dysfunction ads while watching a movie or checking my emails, then YOU, whoever you are, can listen while I talk of those who have been sacrificed to the politeness which this society masks itself in.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Marble

The Marble

On a recent walk through an old horse carriage roadway (now an utility easement unavailable to vehicular traffic), my husband came across a lovely antique marble. The marble isn't even round, in the way of antique marbles, it has variations to it.
It is a cat's eye green marble and what was probably once clear glass is now slightly milky. There are some scratches in it; who knows how long it may have lain in the dirt of the carriage way, or how many fierce rainstorms tumbled it through the ravine? It is a lovely reminder of times gone by, of childhood played out and transferred to the indifference of adulthood.

Much of this country can still boast places that cars can't go. Where people rarely go because their cars can't take them there. The particular easement that my husband went walking on lies at the bottom of a steep ravine, or canyon, which until recently had been full of scrub trees. In the 1940s, electricity lines were run to the community the ravine is part of, effectively shutting of the rights of horse drawn carriages to use it for transport of goods and ice delivery. And for the most part, other than the Amish people, after the 1950s the United States became a car culture. Indiana, home of the Brickyard Race Track and almost the car center of the country, claims the highest number of cars to people in the Midwest.

Within the past 3 weeks, the utility company which owns the easement rights to the old roadway, began to clear cut most of the canyon area in order to avoid falling trees from damaging their utility poles and lines. The people who live on the canyon have enjoyed a rare bit of wilderness as their private back yard for years.
Now that many of the trees have been felled, they also realize that this action may allow them to not lose their electric power next time a large storm comes through their area. They are sorry to see the trees go though and wonder if they will ever see the number of song birds that had graced their lives before the trees were taken down.

"Trees are the poems that the earth writes upon the sky". That is a line which I created and used within a watercolor painting of a tree shape that I did some 10 years ago. Before I began the painting I came to realize that as much as I loved and valued trees, I did not know much about them. I bought some books.
The favorite of my tree books is like a Roger Tory Peterson bird book. It is called "Trees of the Eastern United States" and like a bird book, it shows maps of where specific trees are more prevalent, characteristics of those trees, leaf shapes, bark texture and average height and girth for each species. I study these books on a variety of occasions, especially when a particular tree catches my eye. When preparing my sketches for the tree painting, I spent hours in the forest on the shores of Lake Michigan drawing saplings and learning how the different species of tree grew. If I thought I loved trees before, once I began to know them, I felt an entirely different kind of love for them.

Back to the marble and the trees. When we cut a tree down, we may do so for a variety of reasons; the tree may be a nuisance tree, destructive to house or person.
A tree may be diseased or infested with parasite which threatens the health of many trees. Sometimes trees are cut because they are in the way of someone's plans. I can understand cutting trees for all reasons other than the last one. I could never see that a tree was 'in the way' of a plan of mine. In fact, it seems to me that trees should be part of every plan when considering building something.

As I turn the green marble over in my hand and look for the milky essence of it, I think of how many trees may have bore the initials of perhaps the owner of the marble. I consider how many of the trees might have been climbed by boys and girls as they tried to see their canyon from a higher vantage point. I think of the green leaves and the smell of thunder and lightening on the air turning the trees to giant wooden lungs for this planet. I can not turn a tree over and over in the palm of my hand as I can turn the green marble. But I can wonder at how trees are the grace of this planet and how they dance in the breeze and bend with the winds of storms, and of change.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Trade in that Dirty mind for an Open Mind - Part 3

I was twenty when I met a gay couple, the first I had met who were openly gay. At first I was curious about their lives; as I got to know them better I began to enjoy their company. They were the most 'normal' couple I had met in three years. Conventional in their relationship, with rather strict roles, they seemed more settled and closer to a loving family than any of the hippie types who I had been associating with. Other than meeting gay or lesbians as I traveled across the USA, I had little contact with the 'alternative' lifestyle community for many years.

In 1991 I went to work at a summer stock theater. Most of the staff were gay as were the numerous actors in the show the theater was producing; 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas'. What a time that was! Each night the festivities began after the show, and often included an impromptu disco, fabulous food, lots of dressing up (for everyone) and loving time spent watching the autumn aurora borealis on the shores of Lake Michigan.
I spent three years working at the theater from beginning of May until mid October; each year brought me new friends, new fun and a fresh way to see life. In those three years, I was never looked at as being an outsider even though I was married, in a heterosexual union.
In my second year at the theater, some of the actors did not return to play in the various productions. I began to hear about their deaths from AIDS and at that time, I felt the loss of each of their lights from this planet.
Over the years I have remained friends with all of the people I met at the theater.
Some have moved on to other things; theater management, movies, producing, television. Almost all travel for their work and so I see them less than I would like to, however we still communicate and visit as often as possible.
As an artist and writer I have added many other GLBT friends along the way. Each one has become a beacon for me to measure the values and morals of a true equal society. I am not speaking about a hypocritical closed society, but a society that values the skill, talent and commitment of each individual.
Not one day has not passed when I worry about my friends and how our society has marginalized them, demonized them, demoralized them and eradicated the equal rights that every citizen is entitled to based on the constitution of the United States.

Heterosexual people often do not socialize with other people who are not like them. Actually, most people tend to stay within the realm of their own personal comfort, economic status, professional status and sadly, religion.
The past five and a half years has seen more damage done to the constitutional rights of the citizens of the United States than has been seen since before the civil war.
It is my observation that every society needs a scapegoat. The USA has begun to use GLBT people as the new scapegoat. Gender and Race are now legislated by laws granting specific rights to women and people of color. Until legislation is created and implemented in every state of the union, and in federal courts, I believe that GLBT people will continue to be the new scapegoats for America.

I must ask: why would sexual orientation eliminate an entire class of people from the same protections and rights as every other citizen? When our federal and state governments do not recognize EACH AND EVERY person in this country as having equal rights, are we not saying that a the denied group is not a citizen, is not entitled to equality?
It is consensus that this attitude springs from religious zealotry. I do not know if this is the case; it seems to me that one can have faith in their god of choice, yet not marginalize others for their lifestyle. The historic Jesus never spoke of discrimination against anyone. It seems to me that it would be a just thing if each person who practices discrimination, hatred or inequality against any person for any reason should be judged based on their own actions.

I can see why some people would feel discomfort outside of what they call their comfort zone. Some people are homophobic because they are not sure of their own sexuality or they may even fear it. Others may feel as they do because they have no connection to it, never having known a 'respectable' alternative lifestyle person. Still others feel moral outrage at something they have been told is wrong.
Whatever the reason, it is the obligation of every thinking, reasoning person to do whatever is within their power to educate those who are open enough to listen.
And for those who are too narrow minded to accept, much less care about GLBT persons, there is another tolerant human. Those of us who are self actualized and accepting of all are duty bound to lift our voices with the hopes that we are louder, we are more spiritual, we are more responsible for setting right what has gone horribly wrong.

Who are you to discriminate?
Are you better?
Are you brighter?
Are your teeth any whiter?
Ah, so you say
your sword is mightier.
Pull down your hood,
we who are free
chose not to see your face.

Let me ask:
Were YOU born a native of this land?
there are no natives
of this land.
We all had to come from somewhere
And we all came from the same
we all came
out of Africa.
Does that disturb you?

Why do you believe
that what others chose
undermines your choices?
How is your marriage
threatened by a
marriage of
he and he
she and she?

How is your life threatened by
the color of a person's skin?
The name by which they call
on god?
The place where they were born?
The food they eat?

Who are you to discriminate?
What gives you the right
to sit in judgment
of others?

Who are you to deny
of the same rights
which you feel
are yours
by virtue of
your conditioning?

Who are you to judge
how free someone is?
To control their
reproductive freedom?

Who are you to discriminate?

Where do you draw your 'power' to
You say: The Bible.
I say,
read it again -
Jesus never said
Hate your brother, hold back
your sister, keep food from
the people, keep money in
the temple, be strong - seek
You say: the Qur'an.
I say,
read it again -
Mohammed never said:
kill children and
of those who do not
believe in me.
You say: the Talmud.
I say,
read it again -
the commandments are
mind your own life,
and I will mind mine.

Who are you to discriminate?
Are you the hypocrite?
Are you god?
You answer "no".
I say live -
live again
and give others
the right to do
the same.

Poem, © L. Jody Kuchar, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Rant about Indiana

Mommy, are we there yet?
It's been 7 months ago that we moved from Wisconsin, a truly northern state. First note of grace, weather improvement. Second note of grace, health care system - which indulges it's patients with "spa hospitals".

Where oh where is the Mason Dixon line? I was led to believe that in the civil war, indiana was a "northern" state. Yankees one and all.
Yet today the preponderance of rebel flags used as window treatments in homes across the city belies that northern heritage.
In the USA, only 4 states in the union have not adopted, or put on the legislative books, an anti-hate law. Those states are (not surprisingly) North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Hey! Indiana. Whats up with that? Do the residents of Indiana enjoy being in the company of the most illiterate, er, under-educated states?

Well shocking as the last fact may be, even more shocking is that a girl like me, born and raised in Chicago, is still fighting for equal rights based on gender. I am a modern suffragette living in a backass state. Why would I make this claim? Oh let me count the ways:
Upon moving here and transferring home and auto insurance, (which in WI had been either jointly in my husabnd and my name, or individually in the case of auto insurance), all of our insurance was simply put in my husband's name. We do not have John Doe Insurance, we have a nationally recognized, long established insurance company. When the final policies were received by me in the mail, my hackles immediately raised and I called what would come to be our new local agents' office. When I asked that my auto insurance be put back in my name and not my husbands', I was asked "What difference does it make whose name it is in. You're insured aren't you?" Comments like this make a woman don her boxing gloves. It wasn't long before this problem was solved to my satisfaction, yet, it should never have come up. Each individual, regardless of gender, is entitled, HAS THE RIGHT, to hold their own, autonomous insurance policy.
Shortly after getting the insurance issues straightened out, I headed for the BMV to register my car (read: be bled to death by taxes) and get my IN drivers license.
Doing these tasks made me realize a number of things, but in the interest of not digressing, I will cover only one thing for now: it is the option of the BMV to provide voter registration to people applying for and getting new drivers licenses. This option was never mentioned to me (Gasp! Women VOTE???), yet it was not only offered to my husband, it was recommended and handled in an expedient manner. Oh no, women have to go to the County Court House (counting on MapQuest to not get a newbie lost) and present every paper known to humanity to get a humble voting card.
Being the founder, president and owner of a small not for profit organization, my next step upon moving was to register this business organization with the secretary of state. I blithely wrote a personal check from a joint banking account which has BOTH MY HUSBAND AND MY NAMES imprinted on the check face. Into the snail mail with the forms and check to the office of Todd Rokita. When the response form was returned by mail, it was not addressed to myself, the business owner and person filing the form, but it was sent to my husband as his name was on the personal check. You may ask if perhaps he had signed the check or the form. And my response would be NO. His name appeared NOWHERE on the form, or as the signatory for the check. Yet it was the MALE that the SOS office recognized. How could they do that if his name did not appear on any of the papers? It would seem that disregarding the form, some clerk in the SOS office took longer to read the face of the personal check and chose the MALE name as the principal applicant.
Maybe people in the SOS office should stop reading personal checks and pay attention to the forms that are being filed.

I'll stop ranting now about equal rights in this state. I'd like to rant more, as other things have come up, but there is a lot of ground to cover here and enough is enough. Suffice it to say, IN has 3 big strikes against it with feminists. And to think, equal rights is guaranteed to each human in this country - I guess that means we females have to fight for them every day.

You know I could get to like it here if I didn't have to deal with misogyny and intolerance. Where might these two traits come from? I hate to do this, being the non-confrontational kind of woman that I am, but I'm doing it anyways - I think it is the Moral Majority, the Christian Right, the Holier than Thou, Read the Bible, family values crap that has sadly infected the rest of this once free nation.
You know the type - they dictate to the family based on loose interpretations of a book that is grounded in myth and legend. Anything to keep the man the head of the household and the woman tied to the ox-plow.
My husband used to work with a guy who has recently quit his job and moved to a state much like IN in order to follow his minister and keep his family under control.
This is Bush-ism thinking. So the country goes, so the family follows. I can't wait for the backlash of young people who will be so disgusted with the hypocrisy and control imposed on them for so long they will break free of it with a gusto not seen since the 60s.

Ok, lets talk about culture. Indianapolis is gaining a reputation for being very arts oriented. It is all the talk in travel magazines, and rightly so. Indiana can be proud of the wonderful venues available for mainstream artists. It also is developing a nice little counter culture, a fringe element, as it likes to call itself. I simply love Mass Ave and its restaurants and galleries and theaters. All fringe-y, all good.
And Fountain Square is pretty hip with the art scene as any first friday will illustrate. Lots to see, do and talk about.
But damn people! Lets not all think we are qualifying for NASCAR or Brickyard pole positions! I thought I had never seen drivers as crappy as those in WI. That is until I lived here for a month or so.
When I applied for my drivers license, I had to take the rules of the road test, which I almost did not pass because I thought that much of the stuff on the test was so wrong. Like the two second rule for allowing space between your car and the one in front of you. TWO SECONDS!?? Like, One - Two? You have to be kidding right? Nope, not kidding. People, let me tell you this: you know why your cars look like shit and drive even worse? Because you over drive them. you drive too fast, follow too closely and are too anxious about being FIRST! First in the door of a store, first off the line at a traffic light, first at what ever it is you perceive as more important than safety. Get a clue Hoosiers, lighten up on the gas pedal. Price of fuel is going up and you keep pounding on your cars. No wonder you can't afford to go anyplace other than grocery shop. You don't know what being conservative is really about.
Being conservative is not about hating Planned Parenthood, Gays and Lesbians, people who don't go to church. No, being conservative is about using less, pushing less, fighting less, keeping an open mind.

I know you all want to be modern. You all love Chicago and the hipness and culture there. And you deserve it here too. But you'll never get it as long as your minds are narrow, your vision is shortsighted and you embrace the rebel cause.
No, you need a bit of sophistication. Maybe I'll stay here just long enough to give you all a bit of mine.
Then I'll be off to a new place with hopes that I won't have to work so hard to fit in like a normal person would in the northern states.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Taken Down a Notch

Often when I post here, I do so with prepared material in a copy/paste way. Tonight that is not the case, this is free flow thought. Look out.
At the beginning of the month, I had the misfortune to be ill with a strange affliction that seems to be my fate; an infection of the salivary gland. This may sound benign; the truth is, it is anything but. I was so ill that when I finally did get to see a physician, he immediately admitted me to hospital. And you know you must be sick when the first thing they do after getting an IV line into you is mainline morphine. Oddly enough, even morphine did not take away the pain, although it did much to make me not care. The first thing I lost feeling in was my butt. So sitting upright in a bed for 36 hours was not a problem.

One thing about Indiana that I must say, the health care system here is amazing. I was lucky enough to spend four days in what I am affectionately calling the Spa Hospital. We're talking private room with ambient lighting, a flat panel HD TV, a computer in each room with high speed internet connections. Art all over the place, including handmade headboards or glass with pampas grasses embedded in them. This was some hospital.
But it was still a hospital with someone coming into the room every two hours, presumably to make sure I still had a pulse.
Funny though, I got more rest then I normally do get at home.
Which leads me to this: I am determined to not wear myself down again. To work fewer hours on ScribeSpirit, to work less around the house - or if you like, stop being a perfectionist bitch about things. Hard to do especially when you are changing a number of habits like reduction of smoking cigarettes (I'm down to about 6 or 7 a day), no coffee (but lots of chai), eating four times a day - little bits of food AND testing 3 times a day for blood sugar levels.
No, I was never diabetic before, but after being on heavy intravenous anti-inflammatory drugs (steroids), I developed crazy blood sugar levels which led to the 3 times a day testing.

When we get taken down a notch by illness, we have to stop denying that our lifestyles may not be the healthiest. And so, at 55 I am admitting that and trying to make some changes.

My opinion of doctors has changed now that I have been treated by some who are humane.... in Wisconsin, it seemed that the doctors may have gone to veterinarian school first, they treated everyone like cattle. Here that was not the case.
So doctors beware! I may start to trust you all a bit now.
Frightening concept.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Rants & Rambling by the Pythia of Carmel

After my last dangle over the fissure, in a typically stoned mode of logic, I realized that pets are slowly taking over the world. Forget over population of humans, it's all the spare dogs and cats that will end up as masters on this planet.
Both dogs and cats have long been the staple of cartoon illustrators; useful tools who are drawn with moveable mouths which say such clever things. Yet we all know, yes, even those who have not owned canines and/or felines - they do not talk. Not one word. They do not ask for food with linguistic skill. They may practice extreme body language, like charades for pets, they have their way of letting us know that we are no more than human can openers. Yet they do not articulate anything other than what has become known as "bark-alerts".
You know bark-alerts; that annoying thing where Fluffy 5 doors down may see a squirrel out the back window, and begin barking. Soon, Spot who lives next to Fluffy sees same squirrel and takes up the cause. When Fluffy ceases to see said squirrel, Lance who lives next to Spot now envisions the grand chase and takes up where Fluffy left off. And on and on it goes until each and every dog in the neighborhood has announced the presence of the rodent with the fuzzy tail. And this is not so bad, unless of course, the dogs reside outside and begin the chorus while you are trying to examine the inside of your eyelids for light leaks.
Oh, and dog walkers are another issue. Most places there are laws about picking up your dog's feces. Dog walkers amble about sidewalks with plastic bags tucked into their clothing so they can pick up Muffy's droppings from your front lawn - but only if they think you or your neighbor might have seen Muffy leave them next to the mail box. As neighbors proudly walk their miniature Poodles, their Bichon Frise, their Yorkshire Terriers, I wonder to myself: "Oh wither the noble wolf?" Is it any wonder then that the wily coyote has taken to subterfuge, it can not abide being related to the useless and hairless Chihuahua. And no amount of clever, talking Chihuahuas will make me yearn for Taco Bell.
In San Francisco, California, the bastion of single, non parent humans, dogs are the symbol of status. There are more accommodations for dogs made in high end restaurants, boutiques and bistros than there are for the human inhabitants. Yes, you may want a Gucci frock that is costlier than a Rolls Royce and it is possible to take your pooch with you so as to make sure the matching haute couture frock you purchase for Fluffy, fits. To me, this is disgusting! I do not want to spend that kind of cash for an outfit only to find, once I have it home, that it is accessorized by canine hair. And why aren't dogs made to wear shoes and shirts as they go to that trendy bistro on the corner? Damn it, I have to wear a shirt - if they can be served without one, why shouldn't I?
On the island of Tarawa in the South Pacific, dogs are called Kang Kang. Roughly translated, kang kang means "tasty dog". And at this rate, a meal of dog might be easier to obtain than let's say, a salad. A friend of mine married a man from Kenya named Mike. Once they came to America, Mike was obsessed with the amount of space devoted to pet food, supplies, toys and accouterments that are available at every grocery store he went to. In Mikes words: "In Kenya, we only recently have gotten beyond eating stray dogs." Here in the USA, we take up the cause of doggie over population with 'Walk A Thons" that raise money to microchip and sterilize cats and dogs. Never mind those homeless folk living under the bridge, dog and cat fundraising allows one to be fashionable while the community watches these good deeds. See, no one knows, nor cares that you flipped that homeless guy at the side of the road a ten spot - other than the homeless guy who just might use it for a place to spend the night. Homeless guys living under the bridge do not lick your face when you get home at the end of the day. Well, maybe they might for a ten dollar bill - and then again, maybe you wouldn't want them to.

Don't take this the wrong way; I do not hate dogs. I have owned dogs. Dogs have served many purposes in the evolution of humanity. They have hunted with humans, guarded humans and been transportation for humans. But their day as co-hunters has passed. And in all but the remotest arctic outposts, dogs do not help humans transport from place to place. In fact, because of multi-dog households, the mighty SUV has supplanted the humble car on the streets of America. But dog ownership has passed to a new plane, one which speaks more about pedigree than security or companionship.

Now, I've barely touched on cats. People do not generally take their cats for walks. Cats are like pillows with fur, pillows that place themselves in various poses through out the house. First on the sofa and when that is covered in an inch of fur, they retreat to the bedroom, or your pillow. Double pillows ....
Cats are basically nice, pretty creatures who are credited with rodent removal (sans bark-alert) and NEVER would my cat eat an endangered songbird! No, my cat only goes out at night, when birds are asleep, therefore, it can not be a danger to anything other than mice, voles, other cats ....

On the other hand, companion bird owners are a far less numerous group than dog and cat owners. Why this would be I do not know. After all, dogs and cats can not say "Wanker" for the neighbor's children. Although both dogs and cats can be observed participating in the sport of wanking, neither of them can announce their intentions to wank. And believe me, a parrot that can say "Wanker" to the five year old next door is an asset to a person's peace and quiet. Parrot ownership is a tenuous relationship. And it has its ups and downs. First of all, a parrot is not owned by a human. The parrot owns the human. If you have a parrot, chances are you have no life outside cleaning up poop from expensive and well loved shirts.
It is the master plan of creation that insects and rodents were created to scavenge from parrots. Every morsel of food that a parrot partakes in ends up by various degrees on the floor, in the drapes, in the companion human's hair. Only to be shortly followed by insects who are drawn to it.
The up side to having a parrot in the house is that it can amuse it's human companions in a fine assortment of ways. For example it can say "Little Shit" just as your mother in law is joining you at the dinner table. And parrots are much less prone to begging for food. Just plop whatever it is you are eating into a parrot's dish and you will have an enchanted friend. And just like you and I, parrots really enjoy sitting in front of the television eating junk food! Plus they don't complain about the programming.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


My new mantra: Almost Done. Almost Done.
It's said that the older we get the more difficult it is to learn new things. I don't know how true that is. Maybe it is true if you spend down time trying to forget what you did all day along. But for those of us who like to remember everything we do with clarity, learning new things is like the air that we breathe. I do wish though, like the hard drive of my lovely laptop, I could compartmentalize all the little bits of this and bits of that into organized drawers and files, to be pulled out as needed. Mostly this kind of thing doesn't bother me, until I lay my head on pillow and find that like a calculator, my mind tabulates information and runs it back at me in speedy display.
In six weeks I have learned some basic programming techniques which programmer 'friends' who have spent huge sums of cash in university told me couldn't be done. Perhaps it is the spending of that cash that made them think education is only gotten when paid to someone who has a variety of initials after their name. Obviously nothing could be further from the truth. Of course, we need to qualify the expression "Paid for". Hahaha. We pay for things sometimes in a currency richer than green paper - like blood or time. Although other than a couple of new wrinkles under my poor traitorous eyes, I see no lasting harm from pushing the envelope.

I am happy to be so busy. It has kept me from feeling a certain depth of depression about moving here which I still haven't completely reconciled with. I have met a few very good people. And then I have met many really creepy people - people who could give me nightmares if I weren't so dog tired by nightfall. People whose words are so ugly that they make me embarrassed for them - that such ugliness could be borne by humans.
Many years ago I excised some ugly language from my life. Not just gender based language, but language that I deemed offensive to racial makeup, sexual preference, education, socio-economic background. Language is a funny thing - we use it as a high form of communication, and we humans use it to disenfranchise others. Perhaps it is more about making ourselves feel better about who we are than making others feel bad about who they are. Whatever the case, ugly language serves no purpose other than to point out to others (me) that someone is lacking in self esteem. Yes, Indiana - one of the three states in the union which refuses to pass an Anti-Hate law. A state which would create prejudice in careers, housing, social services and other human needs based on a person's sexual preference. A state which prefers polling places to be in churches than in libraries or schools. A "red" state. A conservative state. EEEEKKKK. What am I doing here? Am I being tested to see if I can find the proper language to make people who don't want to see equality do just that - see equality and why it is necessary?

Yes, I get depressed about being here. Indiana has less than 2% of it's total landmass devoted to public spaces. I have hunted for a park to go walking in and with little success. Most of the city parks in my area are located next to industrial sites. I have yet to see a space of trees that has any sense of the wild. I have yet to find solitude among trees. Or to hear the silence of snow on bare branches, the birdsong of returning robins, my boots squelching in mud on a less traveled path.
I am wilderness bereft. I long for crane song. I long for a long walk in the snow or spring rain. I long so much for the rarefied air of Lake Michigan on my face, turning my hair to ringlets, my nose red, my cheeks raw. I long for silence and space.
I miss my last, small home. Here it is endless rooms; endless, dusty rooms beckoning to be dusted or vacuumed or to have the blinds opened. I miss the small space and economy of my Wisconsin home. I miss seeing the bulbs I planted in the front garden come up. I miss the snap of prayer flags on a windy morning. I miss Thursday night 'Salons" at our house where friends would gather and we'd call each other names like "republicat" or "democan" and talk about W and his daddy, the first King George and wonder where America would be in 20 years. I miss my artist friends and drum circles and the snippy way Judes would comment about so and so's new painting. I miss Olympia Brown U.U. even if I never joined, I miss the open-ness and acceptance.
Who knew Indiana could be this far north, yet feel that far south? I do not miss the woman I met at the hair dressers last week who said in a loud voice "I am SOOOOO not a coat person". I did chuckle though as I slid on my nice Norwegian jacket and headed out into the snow showers ....

OK. Is this a rant? Not really. Like I said, I've been busy, I'm learning. I am accomplishing stuff and I don't have time to think too much or feel sorry for myself. Hey, I have a home, food, warmth, clothes, a good man, a silly bird .... but dammit! I really am a simple woman and I miss that little simplicity I built in Racine.
That being said, when this darned pool opens and I can sit out side in the sun and read something great and absorbing, maybe, just maybe I will delete this rant and think about how I don't miss winter in Wisconsin.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Poetic Acceptance

A few months ago, I was introduced to an amazing woman from North Carolina, Erin Monahan. Erin was referred to me by another friend in North Carolina, Ron Hudson
Ron has been a friend of the family here since we eMet on 1 Giant Leap's forum board, then later, met in person at his home and again in New Orleans in January 2005. Ron hooked Erin and I up as Erin was putting together a not for profit organization which supports Parents who have lost a Child. Once we exchanged notes on NPOs, Erin and I began one of the funniest online relationships I have ever had the pleasure of participating in. Erin is one of the funniest women that I know. She also happens to be one of the most courageous, tireless and empathetic human beings walking this earth. We had countless hours of fun making each other spew coffee from our collective noses with jokes, irony and personal views of everyday life.
When Erin and I met, she was pregnant. Even pregnant and weighted down by concern Erin proved to be an inspiration to me while I struggled to get fledgling ScribeSpirit off the ground. Erin started 'Poetic Acceptance' because she and her husband lost their daughter, Alexis Jade to congenital heart defect in 2001. The story of how 'Poetic Acceptance' was born is long and not mine to relate here, it is the story for Erin to tell. When Erin learned that the baby she was carrying this past autumn also would suffer from the same heart problems, I was amazed that the news did not knock her to the floor. Not only did she remain on her feet, fighting, but she had the strength, presence of mind and courage to continue on with her plans to initiate the support group as a NPO.
Sometimes when we think that our lives are difficult, that we don't have the will to continue with something, a situation or person will touch our lives and show us that our own concerns are small compared to the concerns and troubles of others.
This is how Erin has touched my life, and the lives of others.
As a poet, Erin is extremely talented. As a humorist, Erin can make stone laugh. As a human being Erin is a fine example of the strength and tenacity of women. If you are coming here to read this sorry blog, then put it aside for a time and visit the link to Poetic Acceptance. If you are not capable of doing anything material to help out or support Erin or other parents
caught in the cycle of loss and grieving, then just send positive energy - any of that will be greatly appreciated.
If you are easily touched and inspired, you will find Poetic Acceptance to be a spot that fills you with hope and vision.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

My dirty little secret

I love poetry, I really do. But I don't like writing it. Especially when it rhymes. It makes me crazy because after crafting a poem that rhymes, my brain childishly does rhymes for the rest of the day - with everything. It is internally irritating.
Never the less, I recently found myself visiting a website that is all poetry. I spent a week on the site, getting to know how it functioned, some of the writing there and lastly some of the authors. It was a good week, but I felt terribly guilty at the end of it because I know there were so many other things that needed my attention.
While there, I actually felt I needed to produce some poetry - it is difficult to say "I am an author" without proving it. So I did just that; I wrote poems on command. Really, this is hard work. Not bust your ass hard work, but hard enough so that at the end of the day, you know you had a mental workout.
Well, getting around to it, here is a poem I wrote last week in response to something another poet wrote about wanting to release a well cared for caged bird she met.

For Sensual Sorceress from Sunkist the most excellent parrot: "Rest assured, author of "Caged Bird", life indoors can be grand!"

My plumage shines so brightly
yellow, orange and green
kissed by the sun so lightly
while mama and I preen

My food cup's never empty
of vegetables and fruit
of endless sumptuous bounty
a psittacine tribute.

My baths are always taken
in a painted pasta bowl,
I flap my wings and beckon
other captive birdie souls

Brightly colored toys present
something to ponder on
hidden nuts and seeds -a pageant
of homemade bird bonbons

i've never known true freedom
my hatching was a plan
and while profit was a symptom
I was accepted in this clan.

My name is Sunkist and I'm cherished
and a companion every day
within this flock I've flourished
and play and play and play.

In the wild I'd live for five years
if I were lucky, six
but here I know and have no fear
I'll live to sixty-six!

Humans keep cats and dogs and fish
yet think I'm different than those pets
any pet unloved lives a life of anguish
yet here there's no regrets.

Just listen and I'll tell you
what it means to be a bird
in field, forest or bayou
our shrinking world is altered

The rainforests are being cut and burned
and food is getting scarce;
while within this flock I'm never spurned -
I'm loved - and happily well versed.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Hobie Hunting

In 2002, my father in law George, suffered a series of T.I.A.s which are like mini strokes. What brought his attention to the condition, other than a terrible headache, was a sudden loss of vision, which was eventually diagnosed as Macular Degeneration. Georges vision has been declining since 2002; today he is legally blind and unable to do many of the things that he once did with enthusiasm. Among those things he can no longer do is the simple and peaceful act of walking through autumn woods and hunting for mushrooms. The following essay was written for and about George in celebration of Fathers Day and in appreciation for his kind and gentle spirit as he taught me the fine art of hunting 'hobies'.

Hobie Hunting, originally published in 1997, Door County Voice, Ephraim WI

After the rains, the lake air in the fall can be so crisp that it almost burns the inside of the nose; slightly freezing minute nose hairs which thaw later only to produce raw, runny noses. The ground is covered with leaf litter so thick you can not tell if you are on the path or off it and into the woods. We find perfect sticks, not meant for walking, but for prodding. We turn the decaying leaves over in a steady pattern, not dragging the sticks or digging into the leaves, but gently getting under the leaves and flipping them over to the same side as last time; and again and again, until we find just what it is we are looking for.

My father in law George, is descended from Czechoslovakian parents. He was the youngest of three children, born 1928 in Brookfield, Illinois. George began school at the age of six and it was then that he learned to speak English and from that time on, English became the language he read in, wrote in and spoke everywhere but home. George regrets not learning to write and read in his milk tongue, and when speaking about his childhood and remembering words for certain things, he admits that he has no idea how to spell those words. So he slowly sounds out the words for me, syllable by strange syllable.

George tells me he remembers picking mushrooms with his parents at the age of four. He says that his sister tells him that he accompanied his parents on mushroom picking expeditions to Kiwanis Park in Brookfield when he was eighteen months old. Today, George teaches me the traditional way of picking and drying hobies.

It's fall and the leaves have already turned in Door County. In fact, they are littering every inch of the ground after last nights heavy downpour. Today the air is not so crisp, but it is cool and the days are shorter and there was the October harvest moon last night. We walk off what we know to be the path in Peninsula Park. It is peaceful there now, the summer crowds have gone and the majority of the campsites are empty. Deer droppings lay where a tent once stood and blackened and half burnt wood sits in fire rings now vacant until next summer. The leaves here are not the brilliant red, orange and yellow, they are brown from the soaking rains.

Flip, flip with the sticks. Just on the edge of rotting logs and usually in the deepest leaves; flip, flip. I've learned to recognize the mushrooms that are safe, although I often stop and ask George if a particular hobie is good. I will not pick or eat puff balls as I see them as deformed and alien, bloated creatures of the forest. But these winter hobies are delightful gracing a grilled steak. These mushrooms are like shitakes. I do not know the English word for them, but George has taught me to call them jeepka. This is the Czech pronunciation of the word he remembers for winter hobies he and his sister love.

"What are these called again?", I ask and George replies, "Jeepka".
"Say it again and slowly please." He does so and the 'j' sound is soft like the French name, Gigi. The emphasis is on the last syllable with a hard 'k'.
"Jeepka", I repeat as I imitate his actions and flip, flip, flip.

Down my own path; flip, flip. At the edge of log and bramble I think I see a small velvet head peeking out from under a brown crepe oak leaf. I drop to my haunches and move leaves gently with my hands until I uncover the little brown cap and many other near it. The jeepkas aren't just brown, but they are pale stemmed with a small, tight, tan head, with the hint of a dark brown center on the cap. The underside of the mushroom, the spore gills are a darker, luminous brown. And the entire mushroom is soft; softer than baby flesh. Softer than a wren's feathers. I take half of what I find and put them into a brown paper bag I carry with me. I can see George bent over in the woods a few campsites away and I know he has found jeepkas too.

That evening, at the farm, on old newspaper at the kitchen table we shake the contents from the brown paper bags. All of the mushrooms look alike, that same soft texture. As they tumble from the bags, a dark heady aroma fills the kitchen. It is as if the garden walked through the door and shook the dirt of its feet. The mushrooms are sorted, mostly for size as quality is determined as they are picked. George cleans them one by one with a small paring knife. He cuts the bottom from the stem and runs the knife gently around the edge of the cap to remove the flange like frill, then lays the mushroom on an old window screen kept specifically for this task. He uses chairs from the kitchen as props and places them in front of the wood burning stove, and sets the screen on the seats of the chairs so air can circulate around and under the mushrooms. They will remain in the screens overnight. George will turn them once, and in the morning they will be dry, then stored in old cardboard oatmeal containers with holes punched in their plastic lids. I have seen these same mushrooms in gourmet shops hung like streamers. Like strings of Czech beads, they are strung on cord and dried and sold.

The season for jeepka is short; they need rain, a full moon and cool nights. Each year, George has about one week to find, pick, dry and store enough memories of leaves and woods and crisp air in oatmeal boxes to last him until next autumn when he begins the process of hobie hunting again.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Good People

I'm done talking about Scam Artists and thieves like Scott Ransopher (couldn't resist one more shot.. haha). If anyone reading my blog has comments, don't email me with them, add them to this blog. Anything you all might have to say could be helpful to the next person who experiences this kind of abysmal behavior.
What I do want to talk about are some of the exceptional people who I eMet over the 2 days I devoted to trashing Mr. Ransopher's chick magnet techniques.

First of all, if you are a writer there is an excellent website that is devoted to writer resource. It is Todays The administrator of this site is Ms. Rose DeRocher, an overworked, but highly appreciated facilitator who spends whatever time she has leftover after being a mother, homemaker and wife, to the betterment of ePublishing. Ms. DeRocher provides through her website invaluable information and opportunities for the new writer and professional writer alike. Todays Woman posts internet and publishing scams, advice and general help for anyone interested in or embarking upon the act of getting their work into the publics reach. Additionally, she is a kind soul who has a delicious sense of humor. The URL for Todays Woman is:

My next accolade goes to Richard Irwin, the administrator for Not only does Mr. Irwin possess a sense of humor, but he also is excited about poetry, an oxymoron in todays visual media saturated world. Anyone who is looking for a responsive and friendly place to ePublish their work can not do much better than using this homey little site. Richard has an good feel for what he'd like to see Creative-Poems become and the right submissions might just be the one that gives the site and Richard a bit of inspiration. The URL for Creative Poems is:

Another good soul in my personal war with copyright infringement is in the guise of Mary Koeppel. Ms. Koeppel is a professor of English at a university in Florida (lucky Mary! thinks this winter weary woman) Her website, Write Corner, also offers legitimate contests and writing competitions. Mart also tossed her considerable copyright knowledge and internet savvy into waging war against the Plagiarist Scott Ransopher. Mary's website URL is as follows:

I want to wind this up with a special thanks to all of the individuals who worked with me as well as those who worked independently to make sure © (copyright) is a symbol that has some meaning beyond a special series of keys on each of our keyboards.
I also want to thank people like Ann Young who was the first person to alert me to the problem of Mr.Ransopher's plagiarismm. Ann too is a poet whose unique voice is a collection of words about those intangibles which can not have a value placed on them in the world of monetary worth - her poems are about her family - past and present. To Ann, her words are an expression of continuity of family. Imagine someone trying to steal and own someone else's family history ....

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Recently someone I had never heard of before emailed me with the information that a poem which I had written in the 80s and which was published in 1996, had been plagiarized by a guy named Scott Ransopher. After a bit of googling, I found Mr. Ransopher's websites which numbered about half dozen. Sure enough, my poem, and hundreds of others from various poetry anthologies were listed on his sites with Mr. Ransopher's personal copyright. At first I was kind of angry - not real angry because I don't do poetry contests and rarely doodle with poetry at all anymore. Yet, there it was, my poem on his site with his name ...
Poems are just words. You know those common things that we use everyday. We all speak them, we all semantically are similar in our use of them. Poems are just words; words arranged in the cadence of an individuals voice: from experience, loss, exploration or longing. Poems are personal expressions of deep feeling that can often not be voiced in 'polite company'.
My poetry is no different; it matters not the subject of the poem, whether it be about a long lost cat, a mother, a father, a child, a lover ... My poems are just words. Cut the poem up in pieces so each word is on a separate piece of paper, toss those pieces of paper into the air and watch them come down and land in a pile of - just words.
The plagiarizm was extensive. One entire list of poems was the full contents of a book called "American Voices, Summer 1996" and published by Sparrowgrass Poetry Forum, Inc. Sparrowgrass Poetry Forum is no longer in business. They ran competitions for poetry; many poets entered, few actually 'won'. Those that won were featured poets in the lovely hardcover book. Those that did not win were offered publication for a sum of money. All poets who had work included in the book had to pay for the book. They were also offered space for a biolgraphy and photo. Since my poem was not new, and didn't really mean much as far as value, I did not have to pay to be published as it 'won' and was publised for nothing. Not being into vanity publishing, I did not opt to included my biography or photo. Sparrowgrass Poetry Forum actually went out of business due to a variety of reasons, one being that they could not get enough people to pay for what is known as 'Vanity Publishing'. My suspicion is that they compiled another anthology which in the end they could not pay to print. If they had collected money to do the publishing, and they did not publish, they would have earned the title of scam artist.

The anthology my poem was included in contained a lot of bad poetry. It contained some very good poetry too, but most of it was amateurish and even incuded the poetry of children. Children do not write professional poetry - does this give you an idea of the over all quality of the verse?
Enter Scott Ransopher, alledgedly an adult male, who has taken the poems, one by one, and in the exact same order they were printed in, has typed them all into a document which he then uploaded to his websites and copyrighted as his own.
In the amount of time it took him to type them all out (the publication in question was not online, therefore not available to a copy/paste function), Mr. Ransopher could have written very bad poetry of his own. Instead he stole the words of children, of grieving lovers and parents and children. Of the faithful, the bereaved owners of pets, the people who stand in wonder of nature ... All of these words - which expressed the many life experiences of the authors - and he stole their words.

While this entire thing was happening, I refused to even type this pathological humans name online. I was dead set about giving him any more exposure than I was sure he would already be getting. It is a week later and in the span of 7 days, Mr. Ransopher's own thieving voice has been silenced. I must say that the response from everyone other than Too Big To Care Yahoo was amazing. The number of other poets, ePublishers, editors, professors, and others that came out in defense of copyright was astonishing. And through it all, with careful consideration, Mr. Ransopher did not glean one bit of publicity that could be deemed useful to his purpose.

Many people speak of the internet as a vast wasteland of stay at home, introverted, shy people. Yet what I have found can almost be divided into two groups. True movers and shakers and then the stay at home subterfuge people. It is difficult at first to tell who is going to fall into what category. Believe this: the internet is full of some pretty amazing people as well as some pretty petty people. And I am lucky to have met more of the former than the later.

If you are a poet, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself.
One thing is to copyright your work and register it with the Library of Congress. The easiest way to do this is to accumulate enough work to make a chapbook, which can then be registered as one item. It doesn't matter whether you are registering a book, or a piece of haiku. The cost for registering something is $10.
If you write short stories, always register them. Especially if you are going to enter them into contests and competitions.
If you are a visual artist, always mark your work with a copyright.
There are websites devoted to copyright issues for the USA. And copyright is not the same around the world. If you live in or work in another country, check with an attorney or a copyright website to find the laws regarding copyright. You can use a search engine to check for the copyright laws in your country; Google has innumerable articles listed about copyright law in the USA and around the globe.
And frequently check the internet for your work. Goggle yourself, your poem's title, the title of a story, the name of anthologies ... Goggle away until your fingers hurt.
Don't' let anyone steal your words, your experiences or the expressions of your soul