Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Where were you when J.F.K. was shot?
In school wondering who he was and why all the kids around me were crying.

Where were you when Nixon died?
Is he dead?

L.B.J. ?
Is he dead too?

Uh, I have no clue but my aunt gave me a book about Mrs. Reagan once for Christmas.

Gerald Ford?
Here in this chair considering what to post to blogger.

Presidential assassination attempts?

Of assassination attempts I remember very little. A vague memory of Jodi Foster being stalked by someone and then was it that same someone, Mark Shepard? or Mark Chapman? perhaps who tried killing off one of the presidents, I'd have to look that one up.
MSNBC is showing an interview with Gerald Ford on his assassination attempts by Squeaky Fromme and Sara Jane Moore. I remember the Manson family but have no clue who Sara Jane Moore is; nor when either attempt happened.
I remember hearing that James Brady (a senator? Arkansas? Alabama?) got shot and paralyzed and his work for gun control afterward but no clue as to when or where or why or who.

I seem to have a good memory for programs I see on the history channel and for historical bits explained to me by my husband in conversation. I think I will have to seek out more info on these events that I lived through but have forgotten. An easy thing to do these days with any proficiency in skating the net.

sapphoq on life

Saturday, December 23, 2006


My Aunt Aggie always made lasagna for any holiday, along with tons of other food. She always put mozzarella on top and baked it until it had melted into a golden pale brown.

The dining room was very long and L-shaped into her living room. Aunt Aggie and Uncle Tony had a "blonde" dining room table set, and a buffet along the wall. There was plenty of room to walk around, unlike many dining rooms which do not allow for enough space between the chairs and the walls.

One door led out into the kitchen. The everyday kitchen table was considered to be "the childrens' table," the providence of cousins. When I was young, I wanted nothing to do with that scene. Adults were far more fascinating. My dad let me sit next to him in the dining room. I was polite and well-behaved. Thanks to his tutoring, I knew how to eat properly and was willing to taste all new foods twice. I sat with the adults and absorbed hints of their fascinating world.

I moved to the childrens' table as a pre-teen. By that time, I was old enough to appreciate the privacy of our own world. The move was aided by the presence of my cousins Billy and Judy who had moved to Jersey from down South. The adults let us be, confident that the older kids would help the younger ones.

The other neat thing about Aunt Aggie and Uncle Tony's is that they would not insist that I be social. I read through their magazines and some of their books, studied their four huge fishtanks, and watched teevee. One year, they gave me "Black Beauty" but I was far more interested in the spread about "The Boys in the Band" that was in their Life magazine.

"I thought she was reading 'Black Beauty' and here she is reading a magazine," my Aunt Aggie said. She never looked to see exactly what I was reading and I suppose that was just as well.

Aunt Aggie and Uncle Tony also had a pool, which was closed during the wintertime naturally. They did have a redwood fence around their backyard. I remember their backyard even in the winter. The living room downstairs [there seemed to be the one upstairs which ran into the dining room; and one downstairs] had sliding doors which led to a cement deck and then to shrubbery and the pool.

One time around Christmas time, my Uncle Tony took my dad and I to the local bowling alley. Uncle Tony was quite the bowler. He had the shoes and bowled in a league. I remember eating there at the bowling alley and someone ordered the roasted duck. The duck came, stomach side up on the platter, with two sinewy ropes attaching his bill to the rest of him. Dark brown he was, and swimming in a puddle of grease. Dad said, "See the grease, it wasn't cooked correctly." I gave the duck the proverbial two-bites test and promptly put it into the category of foods I didn't like. This proved to still be true years later when I tasted a baked duck at a restaurant and I found even though the restaurant duck wasn't swimming in grease, it didn't taste any better than the first duck with the bill still attached.

sapphoq on life

Friday, December 22, 2006


I was raised a roman catholic. In second grade, I was placed in a religion class in order to prepare for my first un-holy communion. I absorbed the lessons as well as anyone else. I even remembered what I was supposed to say to the priest during my first confession.

Into the confessional I went:

Bless me father, for I have sinned and this is my first confession. My sins are:

oh crap, no one told me what sins. I grabbed at the first thing that came to my frozen brain. I took a breath and continued,

robbing a river bank---

Are you lieing to father?
Yes father.

He let me off with a couple of prayers and that was that.
I guess I was absent the day the class learned what sins were.

sapphoq on life

Thursday, December 14, 2006

HOLIDAZE 12/14/06

Around Christmas time, my dad would always gather up what he could to give to the local orphanage. He also supported Boystown U.S.A. Maybe it was that he grew up during the Depression I don't really know. During the Depression, my dad's family moved to a farm in central Jersey. They were pretty poor then and had a sweet potato plant growing on the mantel-- that sweet potato plant was the only houseplant. To this day, Dad detests overalls. It was cuz of the Depression I guess. In any case, I don't wear overalls around him out of respect for whatever they remind him of.

My parents were nominally Roman Catholics. When he could, my dad took me to Midnight Mass. His repertoire of songs that he was given to burst into at any time also included a vast array of Christmas and winter tunes. I began the process of leaving the Roman Catholic Church when I was a teen. Dad accepted that but he didn't necessarily approve.

Dad had a long-term relationship with one woman who became his common-law wife. I remember visiting her sister's family. Her sister had a husband and two boys just a couple of years younger than I was. We treated each other as cousins and had many adventures in the woods surrounding the school playground up the street from where they lived. Glenn and Ricky were pretty cool boys with blondish hair. We also played touch football in a nearby park. Being Jewish, they didn't celebrate Christmas. They celebrated Chanukah.

Dad's second wife ["common-law"] was a very beautiful woman. After more than ten years together, she moved to Chicago where she got work as a model. She took her cat Tuffy with her. When she left my dad, he was heartbroken. He could not talk about it. He told me that she was in a sanitarium having a rest. I asked him, "Where's Tuffy?" He hesitated before telling me that Tuffy went with her to the sanitarium. During that hesitation, I realized that he was lying to me but I let it go. We spent a winter of Sundays watching football-- including O.J. Simpson. At Christmastime that year, he dragged himself [and me] to the round of relatives but then we went right back to Sunday afternoon football. I think the Dolphins won the Series-- or whatever it is that football teams fight for-- that year. Finally, after football was over he told me he had lied to me, that she had left him. "I know," I said. I told him I didn't think any sanitarium would allow a cat to come too.

Dad's third wife [current] is also Jewish. When they got married, she had to promise to raise any resulting kids as Roman Catholic. She wanted kids but my dad didn't because he thought he was "too old." She finally told him that he wasn't getting any younger. My half-sister from that union was raised Roman Catholic but was also educated in Jewish matters. She managed to navigate her dual-faith household fairly well and never exhibited any of the confusion that some kids in her identical situation talk about. Every year the Christmas tree goes up in the living room and the Chanukah candles also are blessed and lit.

sapphoq on life

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

JIM AND ANN 12/13/06

I had these two drinking buddies named Jim and Ann. I don't remember where I met them. In spite of the fact that we were all drunks, they did care. One time when I came down with mono, they came over with a cot for me to use to sleep on. I had just moved and there was no furniture. Prior to coming down with mono, the dog and I were sleeping on the front porch. It was warmish outside yet. The front porch was rather convenient too I must admit. After a night of drunken revelry, I would just sorta stumble in and pass out. Later on, not wishing me and the dog to be alone, Jim and Ann brought me a pregnant cat. The cat wound up having six kittens so the dog and I definately had plenty of company.

sapphoq on life

Monday, December 11, 2006


As I sail my lovely boat,
across the ocean I will float.
As the waves swish high and low,
we will have a storm I know.

The thunder crashes
and the lightening flashes.
As I sail toward shore
it begins to pour.

The trees sway.
What a terrible day!

As it pours
I close the door
and think about
the shore no more.

All of the great heros and heras are dead. A fundamentalist acquaintance mulls over the lack of Christmas concerts in the schools. By the year 2020, Islam will be the most popular religion, I tell her. Do they celebrate Christmas? What will we do then? My questions fly over her brain into the atmosphere lost in time which is not time and space not space. Both Cranberry Lake and the Great Sacandaga involved flooding without first removing some trees. Their bloated husks remain a blight upon clear navigation. I weep for Sam Stratton, the last great democratic hawk. Limpets-- accountants and politicians all. Truth and lies, both difficult to bear. The snooty man at the bookstore complains about his Earl Grey tea. After he absconds with his prize, I give the clerk an extra dollar for putting up with him. We have put up with far too much. Those who applaud H.M.O.s after all will not be ascending to the heaven which I deny the existence of. What then? Alas I retreat back into corners with the richness of cognition but no knives.

sapphoq on life

Friday, December 08, 2006


You might have a trust problem if....

You answer the phone with, "What do you want now?" instead of saying hello.

You don't vote because it's a losing proposition either way.

You leave the battery warmer on the car overnight in the summer.

You tell the new hires at work not to trust anyone there-- except you.

You bring a lawyer to your annual evaluation at work and to your annual physical.

You dig a moat around your property and import alligators to fill it.

You don't answer the door unless you are expecting company. The U.P.S. guy doesn't even bother ringing the bell anymore. Come to think of it, no one rings your doorbell anymore.
You have the first retinal eye scanner installed instead of a doorbell on your block.

Your best friend doesn't know what color eyes you have because you wear those mirror sunglasses all the time.

You talk back to the television commercials. Your telephone is right next to your easy chair in the teevee room.The Better Business Bureau is on speed-dial on your telephone. You have your own private mailbox to leave messages there in.

Every time your dog or cat come in from roaming round the neighborhood, you're waiting at the door with horse's urine. Double points if it's your daughter.

Got any to add to this list?

sapphoq n friends

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

OF THIEVERY 12/06/06

I went to an all-girls high school. I'd wanted to goto the co-ed public school but that didn't happen. Consequently, there were about fifty girls in each class. Each class was split into two sections. We shared homeroom together. After that, half of the homeroom went one way and half the other. During my time in that school, I got to know kids in both sections as well as those in the other grades. One of the teachers objected to me hanging out with the older kids when I was a sophomore but I was not to be deterred. It wasn't the older upperclassgirls who were the bad influence.

Some of the girls in my class were shoplifters. I had tried it, but having a nervous temperament I never had much success at it. My most expensive haul was a twelve dollar paperweight, my heaviest haul was a large package of chocolate m&ms, my prettiest and most daring was a pair of mittens. I gave up after my triad of attempts since I wasn't good at it anyways.

There was one girl in my section who used to save tags from the clothing her parents bought her and then she would "bring something back" whenever she got low on the dough. That was also stealing and one which I was familiar with. My mother used to switch price tags right in the department store in front of me, telling me to shut up when I protested. Another one stole a pair of overalls on a trip to Quebec City. We'd been told not to bring jeans. The teacher who came along was all angry over that. What she didn't know was that the overalls in question weren't paid for.

The queen of shop-lifting though came from a family of thieves. Her whole family shop-lifted. Her six year old kid brother came home with a bubble gum machine once and their mother said, "Well, just be careful." The shoplifting queen saved her family quite a bit of money on clothes. She stole them. She would walk into a large department store without a jacket and come out wearing a snazzy coat. We all knew that she was a talented shop-lifter. I don't know what happened to her or how the rest of her life went.

None of the shop-lifting activity was out of physical need. I didn't absolutely need to have that paperweight or the m&ms or the mittens. None of us had a lack of material things. It was something else, something more basic and intrinsic that was missing. Whatever it was, my much strongly entrenched anxiety very probably saved me from a shop-lifting career and arrest. At the time, I was a bit pissed off about it. Now, I think it is just as well. Being a nervous thief certainly has saved me from the pain that comes with arrest.

sapphoq on life

Monday, December 04, 2006

sapphoq grieves for new orleans 12/4/06

New Orleans is under water
and I grieve
for the lost.

I grieve for my sisters and brothers
whose candles were snuffed out
as the rains came
and came again.

I grieve for the children,
the parents,
the grands,
the familiars and the pets,
who had to leave their lives behind
or who themselves were left.

This then is the true meaning of grief--
an ache that does not go away.
It's been years
since I've been there,
but my heart has never left.


Author's Notes: I used to live in Baton Rouge back in 1978.
Gas was cheaper then.
New Orleans was part of my stomping grounds--
which extended from eastern Texas
Alabama, Mississippi,
and Tennessee.

I look forward to being able to return
for a visit. And I wish the people of
New Orleans the best.

I hope that the communities in New Orleans
have been able to pull together rather
than waiting for the government
to do it.

May there never be another Katrina.

-sapphoq on life

Saturday, December 02, 2006

CARS 12/1/06

The other day, I found to my disgust that replacing a failed part in my car would cost 1K. I elected to do without as the car would still run and pass inspection without it. That evening, I talked to my dad who told me that because my old car has more than 100,000 miles on it, any large-ticket fixing is just not worth it.

Later that evening, a young woman from the car place called advising that her manager has authorized her to offer me 1K trade-in for my car. I was lured into making an appointment by her offer.

At the car place, I looked at several cars and test-drove two of them. Because there were no sticker prices on any of the cars in the lot, I left without consummating a deal. During the test-drive, I did remember some car campaigns of the past.

My dad had been in cars for many years when I was growing up. He started off as a salesman and worked six days a week. If it snowed on Saturday nights, on Sundays he would operate the plow to clear the car lot. When the dealership got a guard dog, my dad was the one who volunteered to feed the dog every night [including Sundays]. My dad worked hard and it paid off. In short order he was made a general manager. Later on, he bought into a dealership as a vp and a couple of years later owned two dealerships. After retirement, he went back to work part-time as a loan officer for a dealership.

Chryslers, Plymouths, and Dodges. [And briefly, Fiats]. Those were the cars that filled our conversations, that we rode around in. When I was a real little kid, my dad asked me what kind of car I wanted. "A Volkswagon Beetle," I told him. Herbie the Love-bug figured prominently in my dreams of driving. "No," he explained to me. And thus was the beginning of my education in cars.

I remember a couple of the campaigns. One was for Rusty Jones which was some glop that the dealerships wanted to coat cars with to the tune of 2 or 3 hundred bucks extra. My dad told me about the old man he had sold a car to and was carefully explaining all of the Rusty Jones stuff to.
At the end of the explanation, the old man said, "I don't want any of that crap on my car!"

There was also a campaign involving white pressed styrofoam hats with red-white-and-blue paper bands around them. And the Calm Down campaign. The voice on the radio would come one and say, "Calm down. Calm down. Calm down." There was a big white button with electric blue letters that said, "Calm down" that went with that campaign and I did indeed own one.

My high school drivers ed teacher with the computer-like voice was inept at teaching me any driving skills. I remember driving around a snowy block at her direction three times and getting stuck in the same sewer grating each time. [Being stoned did not help the matter]. She would tell me to rock the car back and forth and several minutes later, I was off only to get stuck in the same grating again. My dad came to the rescue, putting me in various sizes of cars and exposing me to various road driving conditions. It is because of his careful patient instruction that I was able to get a driver's license. The computer-voice instructor had just caused my natural state of anxiety to heighten. The first driving lesson with my dad took place in a mall parking lot where I had to avoid the parking spaces lines. Every time I hit some lines, my dad would tell me how many "cars" I had just wiped out. I learned how to judge distances, how to drive on little streets and highways, how to keep up with traffic, how to parallel park, how to use a larger car to bump a smaller car that had squeezed me into a parking space. He was a great teacher.

My first car was a shiny red Dodge with a sunroof. Driving it was a blast. Dad declined to have a turbo-engine installed though. That was probably a wise decision. I'd been to the Pocono Raceway with him and I'd been enamored of the whole speeding crashing car thing.

Dad loved Lee Iacocca and gave me a copy of his autobiography. It was not the greatest written book nor the most objective. But Lee Iacocca was my dad's hero. I read it out of respect for him more than any other reason. One of the things that my dad had failed to mention [and from my recollection the book failed to mention] was that the Chrysler Corporation was saved by a government bail-out. I don't much care for the idea of government bail-outs now but I digress.

Eventually my dad retired and then went back to work part-time for a dealership as a loan officer. Only recently did he re-retire.

Odd how after all these years, I can still hear car commercials playing in my head-- both of the cars my dad sold and of the rival ones. Off I go now with "Wouldn't you really want to have a Buick...this year" playing in mad juxtaposition against the decending cresendo of "Calm down" and the theme song to Herbie the Love Bug in stereo.

As for me, I am still very much a Chrysler-Dodge-Plymouth sort of driver. Those were the cars I grew up with and what I still drive today.

sapphoq on life

Friday, December 01, 2006

GROWING UP 12/1/06

Gingerly I creep through your land mines,
marking each one for later destruction.
Fluorescent with need, you reach for me.

I am an ocean of desire.
I dance away from that which holds empty promises.
Free. Swirling, I burst into space a glittering of stars.

"I want to be loved." That is the stance of infants. And of grown-ups who refused to grow up. Or somehow weren't able to. I don't know which it was. Perhaps I never will know. That one particular incomprehensible family member in my memory, a dark bottomless pit of need. And I, the child expected to fulfill those needs. I should not have been placed under that burden. Yet, I was. Through no fault of my own. The only thing I had to do with that drama-- I got born. No, it is not something for my list of sins or omissions or self-inventory. It is not my shame any longer.

I remember more and more as days continue their countdown towards some nameless eternity or endless cycle. The more I participate in my existence, the more I remember. I am remembering. I am in a state of remembrance. There is a feeling I call pleasant that I associate with being able to use my renewed sense of recall regarding my life. I cannot as yet tell you who I was before my traumatic brain injury. But I can recount the little events in my life which helped to shape who I was.

I knew a girl who lived around the corner. I lived on Fourth Avenue. She lived on Springdale. Her name was CoraJean. Though with our accents, it got muffled into "Gor-Jean." It mustn't have mattered to her because she never corrected any of the neighborhood kids.

My mother hired Gor-Jean to walk me to church on Sundays. That ended when Gor-Jean made the senseless admission that she wished my mother was hers. My mother promptly fired her. "No girl should love someone else's mother more than their own," was her explanation to me. It went over my head. Gor-Jean did not make any profession of love.

Did that make my mother narcissistic? I don't know. Her insistence that I love her, devote myself to her, make her proud, make her happy, do the laundry, do the grocery shopping, be a perfect happy child was all-consuming. No matter what I did, it was never good enough. Report card day was always a trial. I should have gotten all As. I was stupid. Lazy. Tests, exams, papers-- the same. No grade was good enough. I was not good enough. I would forget the eggplant at the supermarket or pick out unripe fruit or purchase the wrong kind of cheese. I learned to ask the produce guy at Foodtown or some nice older lady to pick out the good apples, the nice pears, the broccoli. I was too young. Somehow, she forgot that when sending me off at a young age to do the shopping for the week for the whole family. She was always forgetting and going into rages.

She screamed at me over the telephone the day of the high school fair. She screamed that I had forgotten to tell her, she was worried sick about me. [A clever variation of, "You make me sick!" from younger days.] Hoping to placate her, I bought her a cheap Christmas ornament or some trinket. And it did placate her for the moment at least. That was not the last time. I remember bringing her two slices of pizza one Sunday evening after being out with friends for the same reason. She forgot. She was worried sick. I "made" her sick. What the hell did she think she was doing to me???

I escaped from her clutches when I left that place. It took years before I was able to breathe. It was years before I learned how to be enough. Years before I shook my mother out of my head and became truly free.

sapphoq on life

Sunday, November 19, 2006

NAOMI S. 11/19/06

On one of my e-groups, a friend sent in a quote from someone who lived in Jersey and that got me to thinking about Naomi S.

In high school it was either drugs or Jesus but never both and never neither. I went to a little aggie church [Assemblies of God] during one of my Jesus phases and one night we were treated to a really cool speaker. Her name was Naomi and she was there to tell her story, to witness. She had come out of slums and drug addiction a murderer and gone to prison for it. They transported her around to talk to different groups I guess cuz there she was one night talking to us.

What happened is that she had killed her boyfriend and then after her conviction for that, she somehow managed to kill the judge. I wrote to her for awhile and she wrote back to me. I think she was a lifer or something but my dad didn't care much for the idea. "What is this 'Drawer E?'" he asked one morning and when I told him, he pitched a fit. That was the end of me writing to Naomi.

Later on in my recovery I was writing to prisoners in various states and to one fellow in recovery that was in prison for something he did when he wasn't. All the prisoners I wrote to at that time said, "I didn't do it." The dude in recovery, he had a variation on it. He said, "I did it but I don't 'member it. I was in a black-out." To his credit, he didn't begrudge his time as so many others woulda or did. He figured that he was responsible for what he done and he paid his price to society and then he got out and stayed in recovery too.

Sometime after that, an acquaintance went to prison and she did time in shock camp. It done her good I guess but I haven't seen her for quite awhile so I don't know what happened to her. A good friend and neighbor went to a fed pen for a couple years for something he done. He got out on parole. He's been done with parole now for a long time and he is doing good. So some people do learn they "shouldn't do that again."

Another guy I used to know who was from the neighborhood come to my house one night to talk. Later on he raped an old lady and went to prison. He wrote me a letter and said, "Oh if only I coulda told you that night I was in trouble." I didn't write back to him cuz I couldn't deal with him raping an old lady. She wound up in the nursing home that I worked at and she had lost her mind and she was a complete nervous wreck.

Now we got drug court and everyone got chances and if they screw up, jail and prison are in their consequences. We got halfway houses too and some of the folks in them got legal hanging over their heads as well. Unfortunately, in a small town everyone talks. Being in a halfway house or in drug court is like living in a fishbowl. The alternative is worser. Though sometimes I think people have gotten a bit spoilt round the edges.

I have some hostility when I hear about things like someone with a gazillion dwis is given back a driver's license and stuff like that. Cuz now supposedly dwis cannot be plea bargained anymore yet it seems like to break the law and not get any time away from society is pretty messed up.

sapphoq on life


We lived on top of the bakery that my dad owned. We used to feed the squirrels in the backyard. We had a wooded paint-peeling open-air porch that led to the yard, some grass, and trees. One squirrel in particular used to come right up to us to get the acorn and nuts we had for him.

sapphoq on life

Thursday, November 09, 2006


We lived in a three-floor house which had been hastily chopped up into flats. My mother, step-father, and I [and later on, a half-sister] lived on the first floor, my step-father's parents [and sometimes a younger brother of his] on the second floor, and another brother of his and wife on the third floor.

The house was robbed and after that, my mother lobbied to get a burgular alarm. It was big and bulky and had a main control on the small back porch. If the alarm went off, after checking that the house was not being entered by a burgular, one had to use a key to access the box to turn it off. The alarm was shrill and sounded like a school fire alarm. It went off often. Not because of burgulars. But because of things like wind, vibrations of cars driving down the street, and heavy breathing.

I still remember my mother waking up and announcing, "We've been robbed!" She was careful to describe to me what a 'cat burgular' was. The image of a masked man hiding behind curtains for hours and hours until a family went to sleep stayed with me for years.

The police came. They dutifully took down statements from the adults. I was ignored and perhaps that was just as well. I had woken up to someone lighting a match and looking in the closet. I thought it was my mother but it musta been the 'cat' burgular. I do remember a voice telling me, "Go back to sleep." And so I did.

The big german shepard dog in the hallway upstairs slept through the whole robbery. The robber had succeeded only in grabbing some [a significant amount of] money from my step-grands bedroom. Teevees, stereos, jewelry-- all lay untouched. My step-grandfather moped for a few weeks. The dog remained but was not trusted again. And we lived with that bumbling alarm which pierced our routines at the most inconvenient times.

That alarm was still there when I moved out. I did look back but that was one of the things that I didn't miss.

sapphoq on life

Monday, November 06, 2006


I remember the singing on the radio.  Sung to the tune of "Bob-bob-bob.  Bob-bob-a-ram" the words had been changed to "Bomb-bomb-bomb.  Bomb-bomb-Iran."  The year was 1979.  Or somewhere between November 4, 1979 and January 20, 1980 at any rate.  I had a poster hanging on my side of the hallway depicting an American cartoon soldier crushing Ayatollah Khomeini. A neighbor took it down when I wasn't looking.  The catchy tune with the changed lyrics got banned from the radio.  The hostages remained in Iran for 444 days.  I kept wondering why Jimmy Carter was even trying to negotiate with the Ayatollah.  I figured in my youthful zeal that if the nine hostages were to be sacrificed in the mass bombing of Iran, that would have been better than doing nothing. Reagan won the election the next year.  I guess some other people mighta thought so too.

When I was in sixth grade, the first Woodstock happened.  I wanted to go and hang out with the hippies.  I was a flower child waiting to happen.  I remember the macabre body counts on the radio every afternoon.  "One-two-three.  What ar'we fighin' for?  Don't ask me I don't give a damn.  Next stop is Vietnam."  I was born too late.  As I got older, I would sometimes think I got born too early.

Bob Dylan during my first couple of years clean.  "If God's on our side then he'll stop the next war."  But God didn't stop the next war nor the one after that.

Operation Desert Storm and the resurrected chanting in the streets: Hell No.  We won't go.  Hell No.  We won't go.  

There is no Bob Dylan today.  No Woody Guthrie.  No Arlo Guthrie.  No Joan Baez crooning, "I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night."  No little boxes full of tickie tackie looking all the same on the hillside.  Where have all the flowers gone?  Peter, Paul, and Mary ignore my question.

sapphoq on life

Saturday, October 28, 2006

FOOTBALL 10/28/06

I was reading my friend Jeremy's blog entry about football
and I had some memories come back. So here they are:

Having grown up as a girl-child in New Jersey, I did indeed attend one football game with my dad. It was on a Sunday and it was the New York Giants. Two guys drinking beer in front of us started a fight and my dad said the teevee cameras probably caught our faces as well as theirs.

Later on, my dad and I spent a winter of Sundays watching football. We watched OJ play before he had become a killer and I believe that the Miami Dolphins won the playoffs that year, or at least had been in them. We always stopped at a small gift shop called Rosendale's first [where I'd been introduced to "The Gospel According to Peanuts" by Charles Schultz really young] and then off to the local Foodtown where we bought two kinds of snacks and soda. Then it was off to the den to watch whatever game was on that week. We had played touch football too with some cousins.

That is not to say that I was athletic. As I was not sports-minded in the least. I bike rode all over my county and liked to walk and horse-back ride alright, and I was a danger on skis, but any sort of physical competition was out for me. I did take tennis lessons one summer and had a good backhand but lacked the speed to really be able to do anything with that. And the gym teacher in my senior year of highschool finally found something to compliment me on-- she said I was a natural at badminton! That was only because I had perfected my "smash" when serving the birdie.

Over at exit 26, I've a friend who likes the Pittsburgh Steelers and around the time that the "Men in Tights" Robin Hood movie came out, she used to talk about watching the men in yellow tights win the championship or the playoffs or whatever it is that football teams do. She seemed to have a genuine affection for them. Her affection for the men in yellow tights was somewhat like my affectation for Don Mattingly in his younger days. I decided to like Don Mattingly cuz a few others in my crew did and that is why I phrased it just now the way I did. He'd been a good all-around baseball player and he was slowing down just before he went to Japan. I had learned to pick up various sports phrases and repeat them back to others in different conversations rather well.

Jer likes the New England Patriots as any decent New Englander would. I know nothing about them except that maybe they are from Boston or someplace like that. I did read some book about being a winner by some football coach and it did inspire me in a bland sort of way-- again, it was a book that someone [an old boss in this case] had suggested that I read. It was about teams and winning and work and stuff and so therefore it was destined to become part of the "management" section of my personal library. Since I've stopped working after my tbi, those books are steadily collecting dust.

Being a team player was never really one of my strong points. I'm not really a maverick either. I suspect that I am a hermit deep down inside my heart of hearts as mostly I do prefer my own company. The world is far too loud, bright, and fast for my liking these days.

I will admit to a certain curiosity about what some of those men might be carrying along in their tights-- especially when I am at the gym [no women-only gyms for me thankyou] watching them on the big-screen teevee-- but I suspect that is beyond the scope of this blog.

sapphoq on life

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


My first job away from the nest of parental-owned business was at a certain fast-food restaurant noted for their hot dogs. This particular place was located at the Livingston Mall with headquarters in Coney Island or New York City. I was hired almost instantly. That should have told me something but didn't. We were allowed to eat what we wanted during breaks. I soon found out why.

The manager was a stubby little guy with a bad Brooklyn accent who looked the part of a gangster albeit in miniature. The assistant manager had beautiful long hair and she was somewhat of a pothead, as I was at that time. Upon punching in, she would immediately inform us minions what was safe and not safe for us to eat that day. The Pothead would groan as she would tell us, "Don't eat the hotdogs today" or "Don't eat the french fries." Stubby had implemented some money-saving practices in the area of purchasing foodstuff and it showed. The various foods he bought at bargain-basement discounts would have been rejected by the starving children in Biafra. Colorful is not always pretty.

I remember coming in one morning and spying Stubby vigorously washing the green slime off of some hot dogs he had purchased on the cheap. I also remember the black mold running through the potatoes-- also purchased on the cheap-- being cut up for fries. About the only thing that was consistently safe to eat was the ice cream. The pizza was also a questionable proposition.

Shirley and I were usually put on pizza together. We would freeze yesterday's leftovers to serve in the early part of today. Frozen pizza re-nuked loses in flavor. Add the stoned hippy factor and well, ya just never knew. We were young enough and lacked enough developed conscience not to care that sprinkling "herb" on pizza was very wrong. It was a matter of pride for both of us when some old lady would come back for more, telling us it was the best pizza she ever had. I regret that now but I can't fix that part of my past. Being as the statue of limitations ran out on that particular criminal behavior more than a quarter of century ago, the legal system can't fix it either.

I lasted there three months and then I went on to pastures which even if not greener were less laden with bacterial masses. Even now, it is difficult for me to eat at any fast-food place where the help is underloved and underpaid. I am quite sure that there is a Stubby in the backroom somewhere looking to decrease the overhead on his little piece of the franchised scene in any way that he can.

~sapphoq on life

Sunday, October 22, 2006

SAM HAIN 10/22/06

When I was a kid, hallowe'en was a big deal. I don't know why that should have been cuz my grands owned a small grocery store with an old-fashioned candy cabinet. The cabinet was black with glass windows. The customers had to point to what they wanted and one of us would get it for them.

Halloween costumes, well I don't really remember too many. Actually, I can only recall two clearly. I had a red and white cowgirl costume complete with boots and hat when I was little. Later on, my stepdad made me a pilgrim costume on his sewing machine and I wore that one for several years.

Churches back then weren't all that hip on history or origins yet. Guitars were a revolutionary addition to some church services back then, the roman catholic church had just conceded to speaking the mass in english rather than latin, and the christian churches of various denominations had yet to get political. Halloween was non-controversial in my childhood.

My mother always insisted on inspecting my loot before I ate it. Stories were surfacing about kids eating embedded laxative squares or razor blades in their begged-for chocolates. And I think I was only supposed to go to the houses of people we knew. I went with my friend Gracie and her mother. When I was too old to go begging, I was commissioned to hand out the individually wrapped little chocolate bars and pennies to the little beggars coming up behind me.

"Mischief night" was an annual source of terror for me. I don't know why. We had a driveway so it wasn't our cars getting egged upon. Even so, I wasn't driving back then. I suppose having lived through the riots one summer and a house robbery during which I'd woken up could partially explain my fear.

The other part of my fear was my own sense of self-preservation. I'd never been in a fair fight in my life. The kids in my grammar school just didn't do that. By time I'd gotten to high school, my chicken status was well-established. I didn't have the guts for fighting with my fists. I learned to fight with my words and with my ever-present adolescent sullen attitude.

Throughout tenth, eleventh, and twelve grades for me life was either religious obsessions or drugging. I never thought there could be life without either. It wasn't until many years later with significant time in recovery from my addictions that I learned that there could be life with neither.

I came into recovery believing, or at least attempting to believe in the religious ideology I had discovered while surfing between drug runs. It no longer worked for me. After several frustrating years of intellectual and emotional dishonesty, I hooked into the Star Wars craze and "The Force" became my higher power. When that stopped working for me, I used my dog. I told people that my dog was utilizing his common sense in his life far more than I'd been able to in mine. I re-discovered paganism and some new age oddities, spiritualism, and then briefly a group of people who self-identified as "wiccans."

I knew I was no "wiccan." A witch I was through and through. I discovered through reading the various creation myths and linguistic studies that I no longer believed in any god at all. Not the polytheism of my fantasy life, not the duo-theism of many wiccans [Lord and Lady, one god and one goddess with many faces....], not the monotheism of my youth.

Shortly, the wiccan group had to go. I re-affirmed my own identity as a solitaire and that is where I am today. An eclectic solitaire with no deities to muddle things up. Believing in the sanctity of life, in the sacred within, in the divinity within every living being has freed me to make my own decisions and forced me to seek out the rational, logical, and scientific.

Today, I celebrate the seasons. The four seasons are my major holy days. In my schemata, Sam Hain is a celebration of my ancestors-- both biological and spiritual-- and the legacy they have left. As I keep what I know of the old ways, I remember who I am and I tap into my roots for nourishment.

Sam Hain is the Witches' New Year. It is also my new year-- a time of remembering. It is a time when the veil between the worlds [of the living and the dead] is said to be at its' thinnest. Since I don't go in for a yearly seance or calling in of the ancestors as some witches do, I had to find another way to acknowledge Sam Hain.

I have an ancestors' altar which has mementos of some of the folks I hold near and dear to me who have passed on. It is there I go to remember those who have come before me. In remembering where I came from, I am better able to live today.

~sapphoq life

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Freddy Fender lost his battle with lung cancer yesterday. He lived in Corpus Christi, Texas. He counted the guitarist of ZZ Top as one of his many friends.

I had forgotten Freddy Fender crooning "Don't Be Cruel" and "Before the Next Teardrop Falls." It turns out he also had an active drug addiction in his younger years, thus acquiring Hepatitis C. He was the recipient of both a kidney and a liver transplant.

Back in 1978 when I was running wild in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I informed my work supervisor that I was going to Texas with my friend Irene whom I had brought to the office to meet her. Johnnie said, "Oh that's nice, sapphoq. When are you leaving?" "Right now," I replied. Johnnie was an older woman, a true southern belle. She was fairly old back then. She must be dead by now. She had taught me well, as she was also in the habit of suddenly announcing funerals of some best friend or other in order to go skiing in Colorado for a week.

Irene and I made our way down the east coast of Texas, stopping to see the two aunts of one of my party buddies. They lived in Freeport, Texas. For washing the dishes in their small Mexican restaurant, I and whoever was with me were given all we could eat and all the cervesa we could drink and a bed for the night on their beautiful screened in porch. We also spent a night in Corpus Christi at the Holiday Inn-- sleeping in the car in the parking lot. We were the last of the hippies-- so we thought-- and broke as the the real hippies had been.

From there, we made our way to South Padre Island. We slept on the beach there with all the other tourists. Cars and Winnebagos were allowed to be driven onto the white sands. We met some snow bunnies there from Minnesota who were baking themselves a brilliant red atop of their rented Bago. We also drove along the bay and met a guy who lived out there among the reeds in a tent. He was the rugged type. He showed us where he had stitched a huge wound on his leg himself. He may not have been a nice man. When the car balked at driving off the damp bay sand, he suggested that we let some air out of the tires. "That would help," he told us. Irene snorted and went back to pushing the car as I rocked it back and forth to free it.

We then went calling on the parents of one of her roommates in Brownsville Texas. They had a beautiful home. The next day, we left the car [reeking of pot and covered with the evidence of a lifestyle] at the shoe store parking lot in Pharr or McAllen for fear of being busted on the border. Clad in corduoroys in the Texas heat, we walked across the pedestrian bridge to Reynosa, Mexico to drink Tecate and buy fresh veggies for our host.

Reynosa was a different world. The taxi cab drivers were far more reckless than those I'd left behind in New York City. There were beggar children and smokey little storefront bars, haphazard streets, noise, a butcher shop, squat concrete buildings, and not too many tourists. Reynosa was a different world.

All of it was different then. It is hard to say what tricks memory plays on us unassuming humans. Those memories trickled back into my brain along with the memory of seeing ZZTop play at the New Orleans Blues Festival that August. That year I spent down south in Baton Rouge traveling around Texas and Tennessee and Mississippi and Alabama seems wrapped in a haze of drugs. Drugged I was-- a chemist, mixing and matching all sorts of street drugs and the drug alcohol with abandon.

But I didn't find the "Better Living through Chemistry" as the old Dupont slogan promised. I found the throes of addiction, lonlieness drilling downward to a cellular level, the emptiness that drifting can bring to those who have not embraced their shadow-selves.

I don't regret moving to Baton Rouge and the adventures I'd had there. What I do regret in odd moments is my inability back then to make a go of it while living in health. Those who say that drugging oneself into oblivion is the way to freedom are among the most deceived on the face of this earth. I didn't know that back then. With the wisdom that comes from getting clean and staying clean for more than half my life, I certainly know that now.

~sapphoq on life

Sunday, October 08, 2006


A friend and I have returned to Bennington Vermont from a weekend trip to Wellfleet Massachusetts-- two towns west of Provincetown, for any of you not in the know. Her lover is returning Saturday. Meanwhile, I will probably stay here until Wednesday or so.

This is "Women's Week" at P-town. Friend has to work tomorrow so she was not able to stay. Friend rented a whole house in Wellfleet. The house itself was really pretty. I stayed in the loft where I had my own private deck looking out past the woods to some salt flats. After an excellent home-cooked meal, we went to the beach in P-town on Saturday evening where I took some cool pics and witnessed how difficult it is to walk in sand on crutches. I also yielded to the temptation and finally took off my sopping wet shoes and socks so I could wade in the low tide. That was boss!

Today my five lesbian friends, one straight woman friend, and I set out for the Wellfleet Flea Market. It was a pretty warm day as it turned out. I spent nine dollars for: one enamel bowl-- excellent for using as a kitty litter pan, one little souvenir plate from Valley Forge Pa. so I don't have to buy souvenirs during my probably trip there in June of '07, one sweet Chinese-looking blue and white medallion sort-of-thing {an artistic interpretation of peacocks?} on a blue string tied with a fancy knot which I am wearing around my neck right now {the only one like it that I have ever seen}, and one old "tea towel"-- that's what my gram always called them and she used them to keep rising bread warm-- with blue letters that say "Pullman Company" woven in.

I took a nap when we got back. At three-thirty, we all sat down to an early Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey with all of the trimmings. And football. I don't know who won the game as friend and I left at four-thirty with hopes of beating the traffic letting out from Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.

The soil on the cape is rather sandy as to be expected in a beach environment. I saw two pelicans setting on old tiers on the ride in along Route Six. I remembered the two weeks every summer I spent in Lavalette NJ with my mother, step-father, and [after she arrived] little half-sister.

Lavalette lacks the artsy feel of Provincetown but by its' own right remains fond in my memories for other reasons. The houses were mostly cement. We usually got to rent one of them though one miserable summer we had to stay in one room in Freda's Motel. I remember some vague reason given along the lines of the rentals all being gone or not having gotten to make arrangements soon enough. It was probably more associated with the rather active drinking that the semi-parentals were doing at that time.

The smell of the ocean air and the sound of the waves at the New Jersey shore I did not find this weekend. I did find the familiar scrub pines, sand, sailboats, and water. Lavalette also boasted a general store, a boardwalk [one without rides or attractions but possessing gazebos where we kids hung out and did things at night like smoke cherry cigars or ran to after the seance held under the lifeguard boat to try to call back JFK], a church with Bingo Night, and a nice restaurant. And kids. Folks round here might go to the Cape. Kids in Lavalette hailed primarily from other parts of New Jersey or from as far away as Poughkeepsie NY.

I wondered at all of it as I was sifting memories through my brain...and I think that probably the sea will claim me as her own. At some juncture, I will probably wind up living on an island that one has to take a ferry to or perhaps near a sandy little beach-- hopefully someplace warmer than Chebeague Island Maine and a bit more rugged, less commercialized than the Cape.

~sapphoq life

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


When I was a kid, one of my greatest pleasures was to go to the library on Saturdays. The library was a solid couple of miles away from my house. Although the option of taking a bus existed, I preferred to walk. Sometimes a friend would come with me and we would get into tiny misadventures along the way.

My younger friend Richard and I walked to the library one Saturday. We had bought ice cream cones-- the kind that sat in the freezer with bright wrapping on them, vanilla icecream with a hard chocolate topping-- for a quarter a-piece, and we became engaged in throwing them off the bridge on Bloomfield Avenue overlooking Branch Brook Park. My aim was true and my cone flew into the open window of a car below. We ran away in our excitement conjuring up one very shaken driver and police patrols out looking for who did that despicable crime.

I was content with my own company also. Often on the way home from the library, I would buy a bag of fresh cherries from the fruitman. I enjoyed the sweetness of the cherries, the blazing New Jersey sun, the whirl of traffic heading towards downtown Newark, other occasional walkers passing by.

The library itself was two floors. Downstairs was the childrens' section. I read pretty near every book on its' shelves. I usually came home with the maximum number of books allowed-- I think it was four at a time. Eagerly, I waited for the time when I would be old enough to go upstairs to the adult room. Years flew by as I devoured words. On the proper birthday, I did go upstairs only to find disappointment. There was no excitement to be had. I never was able to talk my way into the stacks which I knew held the more interesting "restricted" books.
I returned to the childrens' room downstairs, telling the librarian that the adult section was "boring."

It is years later and I can still see the library in my mind's eye. I weave my way through the shelves locating favorites and bringing them to the long desk for check-out. I pass the water fountain on the way out the door and stop at the fruitman's stand for cherries. I walk up Bloomfield Avenue, past the bridge where Richard and I dropped our 25 cent ice cream cones, past the sidestreet leading to Ting-a-Ling's pizza, past the church, the football station, and Celentano's.

The neighborhood has changed but the skeleton layout remains. Bookstores have replaced my youthful fascination with the library. My love of words remains with me even now and I hope forever.

~sapphoq on life

Sunday, September 24, 2006

BILLY 9/24/06

There was a small apartment building next door to our house. Billy lived there with his parents and his chihuahua. I found an image of a chihuahua skull to tube and that got me thinking about Billy.

One time, some of the neighborhood kids and I were picking on Billy. This was usual for us, a routine. Although we didn't beat on him with our fists, we were hell-bent on keeping Billy on outsider status. He ran home crying.

I was the ringleader of what happened next. We picked some berries and put them in a tin pie plate. Then we covered the mess with whipped cream. I rang up Billy and told him that we were sorry for teasing him. And that we had ice cream for him to make up for it. He bought that story. His hair was still wet from the bath he had just taken. I remember that. He had changed into tan pants and a white tee-shirt. I remember that too. He came willingly with me.

Once in the backyard, my accomplices brought out the pie plate. "Eat it! Billy!" I mocked him. "Eat it!" He began to cry and look for a way out. I dumped the whole mess on his head. Again, he ran home crying.

His mother called my mother that evening. My mother's response was [always] to deny that I would ever do such a thing. Consequently, nothing happened. I had only my own conscience to tell me that what I did was wrong. I covered it up with a false bravado.

Eventually, I forgot about Billy. Life went on for both of us I suppose. I don't know if I will ever find Billy to be able to offer my amends to him.

Billy, if you are out there still, I hope that you found true friends who are able to accept you for who you are.

~sapphoq on life

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Illegal Drug Use Patterns Important to Adolescents When Selecting Friends

sapphoq life says: It's official folks! Some researchers have begun to figure out that teens hang out with other teens who use drugs [including the drug alcohol] at the same level that they do. I could have told them that when I was in high school finding my way into addiction.

Article was pasted from:

Illegal Drug Use Patterns Important to Adolescents When Selecting Friends

New York (MedscapeWire) Mar 30 — The findings of a new study suggest that among American teenagers, birds of a feather do flock together, especially in the area of illegal drug use patterns of their peers. The study in the March issue of Developmental Psychology, found that African American, Asian American, and European American adolescents and their nominated friends shared highly similar levels of illegal drug use. Similarity was greatest among teenagers and their friends who reported lower levels of illegal drug use and when cross-ethnic rather than same-ethnic friends were selected.

Study author and psychologist Jill V. Hamm, PhD, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says similarity may be pronounced with respect to illegal drug use because of the potentially significant consequences associated with this behavior.

The study involved 6500 ninth- through 12th-grade students attending 7 ethnically diverse high schools in California and Wisconsin. The students in the study were African American, Asian American, and European American adolescents who could be matched to a best friend. Similarity in friendship was examined based on substance use, academic orientation, and ethnic identity.

African American, Asian American, and European American adolescents and their nominated friends shared highly similar levels of illegal drug use and moderately similar academic orientations. For both illegal drug use and academic orientations, the degree of similarity was significantly lower among African American adolescents and their nominated friends compared with Asian American or European American adolescents and their nominated friends. Although predicted to be important to friendship selection in ethnically diverse contexts, Dr. Hamm says shared levels of ethnic identity did not appear to be a major selection criterion for adolescents of any ethnic group in the study.

Dr. Hamm says these results add to a growing body of research indicating that adolescents from various ethnic groups differ in their selection of similar friends. Although no research directly addresses why ethnic groups vary with respect to similarity as a selection criterion, Dr. Hamm says it may be the case that "historical and cultural circumstances unique to each ethnic group lead youth to attend to different dimensions when selecting friends. An alternative explanation is that ethnic-group differences reflect different antecedents of African American, Asian American and European American participants' friendship selection."

The results of the study also show that adolescents do not appear to seek friends who are identical to themselves. Dr. Hamm says this finding has important implications for adolescents' adjustment. "Locating friends who are relatively similar yet not identical," she says, "may satisfy the need to find commonality with others and at the same time establish a unique sense of self." This may also allow adolescents room to negotiate views and explore values within the security of compatible relationships.

Dev Psychol 2000;36(2):209-219

Thursday, September 14, 2006


The people living in a small island community in Maine had the courage to dream a dream of having a place of their own. Chebeague Island used to be considered a part of the township of Cumberland. Today, Chebeague Island is separate from Cumberland. The Islanders are now free to pursue their own destiny.

It takes courage to dream new dreams...
and even more courage to pursue them.

sapphoq life
*pic taken by sapphoq of 4th of July parade on Chebeague Island*

Monday, August 28, 2006


Both of my grandfathers kept birds down their cellars. I have no independent recollections of it. I did not know until family members told me so.

I do remember that my maternal grandfather kept catfish in a tank in the house, had a large goldfish in a small "pond" he dug outback, and watched Gunsmoke on television. Later on in years, I discovered that he really liked John Wayne and Johnny Cash.

I didn't know my paternal grandfather. He died when I was very young. I know that he came from Italy, that he wore overalls, that there was a family farm, and that he kept birds in his cellar.

I am allergic to birds and that keeps me from having my own. I especially admire African Greys and Macaws and Conures. I remember learning about carrier pigeons as a child. In petshops, I whistle and talk to the birds to see which ones respond.

I feed the birds in my yard and in return have been dazzled by little miracles hatching from their nests in trees and birdboxes. I've been buzzed by chickadees and hummingbirds, sung to by rose-breasted grosbeaks, and awed by pileated woodpeckers. I have birds all around me like my grandfathers did. The birds just don't live in my cellar!

~life sapphoq

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Once, I decided that I wanted to sell kool-aid and brownies at my own stand in my driveway.
My mother took me to the store to buy the necessary stuff, supervised in the kitchen, and provided me with the necessary stuff to set up. I sold everything.

When we added up the cost of the materials, I found that my enterprise was not profitable. In fact, the ingredients for my short-lived business had cost more than I made without factoring in my time. I didn't do it again.

How often do we invest our time into something or someone and find the results are disappointing?

~life with sapphoq

Saturday, August 12, 2006

FERAL CATS 8/12/06

Yeah, we had 'em in our city when I was growing up. Only they weren't called "feral." Well, at least I didn't know the word. We called them "strays." Or "alleycats." I began feeding one cat on our open-air front porch. Wisely, though I didn't think so at the time, my mother found out and put a stop to it.

One of my old cats [he is dead now: brain tumor] was an abandoned pet. Not quite a feral cat. He moved in under a friend's porch after his owner moved and left him out in the street to fend for himself.
My friend's two daughters were feeding him tuna fish. He was getting beat up by the other strays in the neighborhood. And that is how Chopper came to live with me and my [then] three dogs. Chopper fit in very quickly. And once he found the couch and the bed were acceptable places to lounge upon, he was content. He never wanted to go outside. I think his three days in the wild cured him of that. My cats these days are all indoor cats whether they like it or not. My home is not a democracy.

Speaking of 'not a democracy," husband sort of agreed to come with me to a garage sale this morning. Only the garage sale was a village-wide sale. We stopped at one place where there were seven or so kittens. The woman there was trying to give away the kittens. She didn not want them to goto a friend's barn where "they would become feral" is what she told us. Having reached our own limit of three cats with a kitten adopting up on a walk last week, we respectfully declined.

My grandparents had barn cats. The barn cats never came into the house. They didn't seem to wander in that direction. For a bowl of fresh mild at every milking, the cats patrolled the barn and hayloft-- keeping the place relatively vermin-free. The cats never got fixed or went for shots. But they certainly were tame enough to like us and to know that we liked them. Perhaps it would have been better for them if they had the opportunity to get spayed or neutered. My grands didn't have the money. And we didn't have a feral cat program in the county back then that could have helped. Instead, the cats lived relatively healthy lives for many years. I don't remember them ever getting sick although I suspect that they could not have all been worm-free or flea-free.

There is a rest home up the street where the staff people were feeding cats who genuinely were feral. The folks living in nearby apartments used to complain mightily. The cats seemed to enjoy hanging out in the complex. And sometimes there was that musty odor about that betrays the hormonal wish of a tom looking for a female in heat. One time, a cat climbed up into a friend's truck engine. She didn't know it and neither did I. I was there when she started her engine. We both heard a loud "THWACK." An orange tom fell out and convulsed to death. Shortly thereafter, some caring folks from a feral program came around, trapped the cats, and had them fixed.

The link above and below is from a chat I thought was interesting. The topic of feral cats comes up briefly at the end of a discussion about "how many are too many."


Wednesday, August 09, 2006



I dreamed that I was walking down the beach with the Goddess.
And I looked back and saw footprints in the sand.
But sometimes there were two pairs of footprints, and sometimes there was only one.
And the times when there was only one pair of footprints, those were my times of greatest trouble.
So I asked the Goddess, "Why, in my greatest need, did you abandon me?"
She replied, "I never left you. Those were the times when we both hopped on one foot."
And lo, I was really embarrassed for bothering Her with such a stupid question.

I grew up in a family that prided itself on its' religion and yet there was drunkness and severe verbal abuse. In my roman catholic high school, I was expected to take religion classes. After the first year, the priest asked us what we had learned. I told him I had learned that I didn't want to be a roman catholic anymore. That didn't go over real well, needless to say.

I began skipping church, choosing instead to visit several of the more exotic churches in my neighborhood or to visit the italian bakery. My mother caught on after a bit so then I would stop in at the roman catholic church first and grab a "Sunday Bulletin" to bring home. Soon as I was old enough to drive and got wheels, I went through several years of pentecostalism vs. partying. I perceived myself as having to have one or the other in my life.

Eventually, I ditched religion and partying both. As I grew in my recovery from addiction, I found that I no longer believed in a male god. To my own discomfort, I found that I didn't believe in a goddess either. Or in a bunch of them. Ultimately I decided to be what I truly am-- a solitary witch with animistic beliefs.

~life with sapphoq

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Group-dynamic game - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I remember taking a required Group Dynamics class in college and H A T I N G it. The professor was very knowledgeable about her area of expertise. I wasn't. I studied enough and participated enough to do well in the class. Actually learning anything was another matter entirely. I didn't.

I proceeded my merry way blundering through team-building exercises at a variety of jobs. Again, although the facilitators of the sessions were skilled, I wasn't.

That hasn't changed much through the years and it hasn't changed with the onslaught of my tbi either.

I am essentially a loner at heart. I prefer people in small doses. I don't like groups. I don't like to work in a team. I enjoy my own company.

~life with sapphoq

For those who wish to read some un-biased material on group dynamics a.k.a. team-building, I humbly and solitarily offer an excerpt from a Wikipedia article below:

Group-dynamic game - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Group-dynamic game"
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Group-dynamic games are experiential education exercises which help people to learn about themselves, interpersonal relationships, and how groups function from a group dynamics or social psychological point of view.
Group dynamics can be understood as complex from an interpersonal relationships point of view because it involves:
relationships between two people
relationships between a person and a group
relationships between groups
Group-dynamic games are usually designed for the specific purpose of furthering personal development, character building, and teamwork via a Group-dynamic milieu. The group leader may sometimes also be the game leader, or between peers, the leadership and game-rules can change.
Some games require large spaces, special objects and tools, quietness or many before-game and after-game needs. When aged, frail or disabled people ('special needs') are involved, existing games may need modification to be used.
The use of group dynamic activities has a history of application in conflict resolution, anger management and team building and many other areas such as drug rehabilitation and drama therapy."

Saturday, July 15, 2006


I love roadtrips!
So far this summer I have been to Tom's River New Jersey [to attend an uncle's wake-- but it still counts],
State College Pennsylvania [to attend a conference; and my computer art was in an art show],
Chebeague Island Maine [July 4th getaway],
several day trips through Vermont [with a friend who also loves road trips].

When I was a kid, my mother and step-father took us to Lavalette New Jersey every summer for two weeks.
And we also roadtripped out to Montreal for Expo '67 [when my half-sister wasn't even a year old!]

My dad's road trips were more expansive.
He took me to Lake George New York, every place where George Washington slept in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Washington DC, to see my cousins in Greenville South Carolina, Manhattan in New York City, Lancaster Pennsylvania, and various little lakes, zoos, and other areas of interest.
My mother didn't care for airplanes but my dad did.
We also had various plane trips to places like: Montreal back in '68, Bermuda [pink sand!], Aruba and Curacao.

When my maternal grandparents acquired their dairy farm in their retirement and pre-driving,
I used to road-trip there on the Continential Trailways bus.
My mother would pack me a sack of lunch and snacks.
I'd pack my clothes up.
And off I would go for two weeks.

Later, though I drove,
I went to Valdosta Georgia on a bus to see a good friend
who had just had a baby.
My dad wanted to send me on the airplane
but I decided that I would rather take the bus.

That was when I was young before
the days when I learned about swollen ankles.

Where've you been on a road trip?


Friday, July 07, 2006


In the entirely too recent past, I had the occasion to spend some time with a certain four-legged family member which-- fortunately for both of us-- does not share my customary domicile. The daemon dawg is a mottled terrier who has perfected terrorist acts to the utmost. Said dawg did succeed in biting me once, for which I immediately beat her. She did not bite me ever again. She bit husband once and since he did not respond with flogging, she lived to bite him again. In the recent past, I witnessed her constant yapping AND growling at her human companion.

The daemon dawg is not my personal nickname for the beastie. Rather, those who are her human neighbors came up with the moniker. It does indeed fit. At the risk of raising the ire of a certain organization which believes that wolves at wildlife tourism attractions should have dog houses, I shall state unequivocally that the daemon dog needs the yanking of both vocal cords and fangs.

I myself am keeper of dogs, cats, fish, and frogs. Lover of canines that I am, I do not tolerate such behavior from any of my charges. If an animal becomes unmanageable for any reason, that animal needs to be corrected and trained with vigor. Neither vigor nor love is capable of fixing those genetic flaws which do display themselves from time to time in the canine population. I had loved such a dog once.

Herbie was part catahoula and part aussie shepard. He was highly intelligent, nailed obedience lessons with a quickness, and loved me. He had a fatal flaw. He was a fear biter. Once I realized the nature of his malady, Herbie had to go. I arranged for Herbie to be put to death after he bit a terrified four year old in the back of his knees, drawing blood. Herbie saw the four year old as a flash. Because he did not expect the four year old to be "there," he attacked. After it was over, Herbie returned to his usual self as if nothing happened.

The local animal shelter told me that the law of the land provided that Herbie could bite two more times drawing blood before I would be forced to put him down. I waited the necessary ten days of obligatory confinement and then Herbie was relieved permanently of his fear.

I mourned Herbie. The mourning was mixed with a curious relief-- relief that I was able to give Herbie the gift of death. Fear-biting is not something that could be trained out of a dog. Nor is it the result of environment. It just is. Herbie had it. I did the best I could for him. I did go on to give other dogs a good home and a good life.

In peace,

Thursday, June 01, 2006

FROGS! 6/1/06

I love frogs. I have a bunch of live frogs in tanks in the frog room at home.
Spring has sprung and some of my male frogs have taken to screaming their little lungs out
in order to seduce the female frogs living with them into having sex.

Frogs really got it going on. Some frogs who do not care for other frogs will eat them. A very simple cost-effective solution to a potentially explosive problem.

Oh if we humans could be as smart and as cunning as the average frog.


thanks ischade for sending me the flowered frog.

Monday, May 22, 2006

UNCLE RAY 5/22/06

My Uncle Ray died this weekend. He was old and a stroke took him. His wife my Aunt Mary died before him and my cousin Cindy died before her. Two other cousins and their families are still around.

Uncle Ray dressed up as Santa Claus one christmas delighting me as a child. My Aunt Mary let me eat Lucky Charms one afternoon. She didn't think that the rule about breakfast foods being only for breakfast was one she should enforce.

Aunt Mary was a stay-at-home mom and Uncle Ray was a bus driver. He used to take the old people on chartered tours. Cindy lived in Sri Lanka and on a reservation. Later in life, she became a doctor.

I miss them. When people die, we lose one person. The dead person loses everyone.

I don't care much for waiting "to be united" in a christian heaven that I don't believe in. Nor to I take to talking to dead people, channeling them, or calling them back in seances. Life is for the living.

One thing I can say about Death-- Death is ALWAYS inconvenient.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Try on this perspective of the world around us!

If we could shrink the earth's
Population to a village of precisely
100 people, with all the existing
human ratios remaining the same,
it would look something like
the following:

57 asians,
21 europeans,
14 from the west--
including both
northern and southern hemispheres,
8 Africans.

52 females,
48 males;

70 non-whites,
30 whites;

70 non-christians (not the same 70),
30 christians (not the same 30);

89 [assumed] heterosexuals,
11 [assumed] homosexuals,
[n.b. the bisexuals are
left out of this count];

6 people possess
59% of the entire world's wealth--
all 6 are from the United States;

1 (yes, only 1) has a college education,
70 cannot read,
1 owns a computer.

80 live in substandard housing,
50 suffer from malnutrition;

1 is near death,
1 is near birth.
[hmmm--or is it
more than one
nearing birth?]

When one considers our world
from such a compressed perspective,
the needs for acceptance,
celebrating diversity,
and education
become glaringly apparent.

If you woke up this morning
with more health than illness, you are
more blessed than the million
who will not survive this week.

If you have never experienced the
danger of battle,
the loneliness
of [false] imprisonment,
the agony of
torture, or the pangs of
starvation then
you are ahead of 500 million
people in the world.

If you can [choose to] attend
[or choose to not attend]
a temple,
church or other religious
meeting without
fear of harassment, arrest,
torture, or death..
.you are more free
than three billion people in the world.

If you have food in the
refrigerator, clothes on
your back, a roof overhead
and a place to sleep then
you are richer than 75% of this

If you have money in the bank,
in your wallet, and spare
change in a dish someplace,
then you are
among the top 8% of
the world's wealthy.

If your parents are still
alive, you are very rare,
even in the
United States and Canada.

If you can read this post,
you are more
fortunate than over two
billion people in the
world that cannot read at all.

thanks to jennifer for passing this on. ~sapphoq

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

CUSSING 5/2/06

*sign made at the sign generator site on the web*

After my car accident, I spent almost two months sleeping twenty hours a day, drinking a lot of coffee when I was awake, argueing with some bitch from the office at Running Sores over the telephone about forms she wanted me to fill out and which I could not make any sense of [sample question: What could you have done to avoid the accident? answer: Kill the bastard who decided he could smoke one joint before driving my car into a house. The lawyer suggested that I could please send the forms to him to fill out from then on], telling my 86 year old mother-in-law some rather filthy vile jokes-- none of which regrettably I remember now-- and cursing my head off.

I am not suggesting that pre-tbi my mouth was pure as the driven snow. It wasn't and neither was I. Post-tbi though, my cursing accelerated into a frenzy. I became total talking trash. Hubby would cringe every time I opened my mouth in public. Inserting the word "fuck" and variants at random-- several times in each sentence-- did not do a whole lot for my image or relationships with any medical personnel. It didn't do anything to endear me to the public around me either during the four hours or so that I was awake every day.

As a child, I didn't curse very much at all. I didn't talk much either. I was a quiet child. I came into my own with language as a teen. One time, my friend Peggy and I were walking the streets of Newark, New Jersey when some guys in a car made a rather crude suggestion to us. I screamed out the viliest epitath of my vocabulary at that time. "FUCK OFF!" The guys left real fast.

Peggy decided that perhaps I would enjoy seeing the play Grease after all. I did. At the show, several nuns in front of us went hysterical with laughter when one actor used the words "fucking A!"

My fuck memories pale in comparison to my vocabulary for the first two months after my tbi. Finally, one physical therapist told me that I could learn to control the cursing. Cursing is a universal problem for the recent brain-injured. I had read that somewhere but no one ever suggested that it could be self-remediated. I immediately set out on a course of language modification. That involved thinking long enough and hard enough for different words to show up in my damaged brain. [I have a form of mild expressive aphasia, though no one had told me that at the time]. I found that endeavoring not to curse was far easier than picking and choosing which social situations called for a mild showing of the four lettered words I know.

After about a year and a half of almost no cursing, I became healed enough to consciously follow simple rules. Eileen or Nancy = yes. Family dinners = no. Court appearances = no [with the attorney quietly cueing in the judge that my self-regulation was perilous at best under stress]. Sandi = yes. Most doctors and hospitals = no. While driving = yes. While driving with husband as passenger = yes with a cavaet: Be prepared for him to claim that I had become the potty-mouthed driver.

~grumbly sapphoq

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


My husband's family has a small 2 and 1/2 season cottage on Chebeague Island in Maine. My mother-in-law stays there most of the summer. She has many social contacts there. My husband and his two sisters grew up spending summer vacations at the cottage.

The island has changed throughout the years. Maine beaches are usually smaller and rockier than the ones I grew up visiting in New Jersey. The water is colder but the environment is certainly cleaner. My husband says that some of the beaches on Chebeague have more sand than when he was a kid and some have less. Since I have been acquainted with Chebeague, some changes have also occurred. One still has to park their car in a large parking lot and then take a bus and a boat to get there. And the cars on the island are still not required to have license plates. And elementary school kids still attend school on the island while high school kids take the "schoolboat" over to the mainland. There are subtle and not so subtle changes happening to the island. Some of those changes sadden me.

The very rich people have discovered Chebeague Island. They came in and arranged to have large sprawling second homes built wherever they could buy up property. These almost-mansion sized structures take away from the charm of the island. Sure, the tax base will go up. At the same time though, the locals--who are impoverished-- see their taxes increase and it is anticipated that some of them will be forced to leave the island life handed down to them for generations.

There is one hotel on the island and a couple of golf courses and a grocery store and a gift shop and an antique store. There is a flea market once a week in the summer. There is one church, a community hall, and a library. There are two docks and a cemetary. The islanders have recently built a recreation center. A few bed and breakfast inns have sprung up. A restaurant has closed. The island has a visiting doctor and a visiting veterinarian. There are barbeques and fundraisers and bingo games and a chamber music concert, plays put on by the locals, a historical society, tennis courts, and occasional boat trips to other islands in the Casco Bay. There is an older gentleman who leaves bicycles out on his lawn for anyone to ride--for free. There is a lobster shanty that sells lobsters caught by island folk. There is Little Chebeague Island that one can walk over to via a sandbar twice a day. On Little Chebeague at waters' edge, one can see comarants and puffins. In the woods, one can view piles of old lumber and signs denoting what building those piles of old lumber were.

Chebeague Island is about one mile wide and five miles long. It is a pleasant quiet place. There are things to do. I like to go there to enjoy the quiet solitude of island life.


Monday, April 24, 2006


4/6/2006 the original can be viewed at a very thought-provoking blog! Kudos to the writer of the essay below.

Giving a Taste of True Patriotism

Ok, for all of you sheep out there who feel that true patriotism is nodding your head and agreeing with everything the government says... here is what true patriotism is.

Patriotism is supporting the best interests of your country, even if (or possibly more accurately, especially if) those interests conflict with the way the government is being run.

Take a look at the United States of America.

At the moment, our government is spending billions of dollars each year, has a deficit of over 8 trillion dollars and climbing (this is not including the over 300 billion dollars in interest per year being paid on this deficit), and is taxing many people nearly into poverty. And yet our public schools are suffering, our military is not the best it can or should be, there are many people on welfare who do not need it, and many others who could use it and have no access to it, our rights are being taken away in an effort to make our country "more secure", etcetera, etcetera , etcetera. And that is just because of how poorly our government is spending the taxes it generates each year.

Our military is suffering the effects of bad politics. Many of those in Iraq and Afghanistan do not have appropriate body armor. They are not trained to handle some of the incidents which they face on a daily basis, such as bombings, insurgents, and basically guerrilla warfare. There are those in the government who insist that we set a timetable, and publicize it, which would give our enemies access to t, thus creating an opportunity for them to bide their time until we move out, get themselves gradually back into power, and create the same problem we had before, only with an even better reason to attack us.

One right that sticks out in my head that has been continuously limited, and been coming closer to being taken away each time, is that of the right to keep and bear arms. Now this right is given in the constitution, to enable the average ordinary person to protect themselves, their town, their state, and their country. Think of it this way, if the hijackers from 9/11/2001 had known there was a possibility that even one person on one of those planes may have been carrying a gun, would they have been stupid enough to even try it? I honestly don't think so. Why not? Well, their purpose was to cause mass destruction, loss of life, and terror. If they would have been the only ones dead, and/or would have had the possibility of being taken alive, they would not have been able to accomplish those goals... right?

Another good example of this is the limits set on who can own a gun. More homes would be protected if there were not such harsh laws against gun ownership. Why? Well, the average citizen goes to a gun shop, tries to get a gun to be able to protect their family, they go through two or more weeks of waiting, then finally are able to get some piddling little creation, which may possibly break the skin... if you're close enough to the person. However, the criminal element will go to a black market dealer and get a gun instantly, which can kill an elephant at fifty yards. Now, which one would be dead first, you, or the one trying to get into your house and rape your wife, shoot your kids, and steal your valuables. Now, if the average ordinary person, could do the same as that criminal, legally, don't you think there might be a little better of a chance for your family to live through any such ordeal, muggings would decrease, break-ins would decrease, most violent, and nonviolent crimes would decrease, simply because those who would commit them would know that there was a distinct possibility that the proposed victim had a better weapon than theirs, and possibly better training, more accuracy, etc.

What of the public schools? Teachers do not know how to teach. It is almost that simple. They are taught only one method of teaching, and instead of being able to create curriculum which is geared toward their students, they create a curriculum geared toward "national averages". These national averages cannot work on any given individual child, nor on any given group of students, simply because of the fact that this "average Joe, Jr." is just as nonexistent as his parent "average Joe". No two children are exactly alike, each child is an individual, needing different methods of learning, sometimes for different subjects, as well as different lengths of time to be able to learn things. By using this "average Joe, Jr." as the basis for teaching curriculum, we leave out those children who learn faster, those who learn slower, and those who simply learn differently. Children get frustrated thinking that it is their fault that they cannot learn the material, parents get frustrated because their children are not learning the material, and teachers sit there raking in their average of 40000 dollars a year plus benefits plus retirement plus 16 weeks per year of vacation plus 2 months per year of unemployment benefits, and not giving a damn whether or not the kids are actually learning.

I realize that that is a bit harsh, but when you consider the drastic increase in the number of learning deficiencies, learning disabilities, and mental diseases diagnosed in children each year, combined with the fact that the average public school teacher makes not only more than the average non teacher, but also more than the average private school or catholic school teacher, it kind of makes you wonder. And apparently some states think that the teachers really do not know how to teach, such as New York, which has recently mandated a six year term of college for public school teachers, instead of the four they used to have to attend, this is not including the mandatory continued learning they must undergo. Why raise the minimum number of years of college, if the teachers knew how to teach in the first place? Well, it is because they didn't, and i do not believe that this will help them. If public school teachers earned the average income for the area they were teaching in, or at most slightly more than that average (say ten percent more), then there would be a sharp increase in educational standards, because only those who truly wished to teach, not just get the nice money, and the great benefits, would be doing it in the first place. The school systems are seriously lacking as well, but I think I will save that for a later date.

Welfare is another huge problem. Our national budget is taken up more with "social programs" than any other form of spending. I cannot say that they are not a great thing, for those who need them. But there are many on them who do not need to be on them, and refusing to come away from them, because they are given no reason to. There are also many who really need them, and are denied access to them. There very few people in this country who absolutely cannot do anything to earn money. Even those who are truly retarded, can and do have jobs. Even as a stay at home parent, there are jobs one can do, using the internet, making and selling crafts, at fairs, and flea markets, and through mail order, there are many opportunities, one just has to look for them.

On to our prisons. I really have no clue how much money is put into the prisons each year, but even without that figure, I can tell you it is way too much. Consider this, the average American citizen may have access to a computer and to internet, may be able to find a library with current up to date research-able information, including laws, and other topics of interest, they may have access to cable television, they may have enough food on the table to feed their family, they may be able to keep a roof over their heads, power and heat in their homes, etc, but then again they may not.

Inmates in our prisons have cable television, computers with internet, more extensive libraries than some colleges, they have three meals a day plus snacks, they do not go without a roof over their heads, electricity, or heat, at any time while incarcerated, they get free medical care, free psychiatric counselling, and basically anything most of us pay hundreds and thousands of dollars each month for.... They get all of this for free, without being required to work for any of it, in most cases.

wonder, could it be possible that better housing conditions, more "fun" activities (did i forget about weight rooms, and sports fields and equipment, and the like), and better food than they could possibly afford out of jail, might tempt some of these people to commit crimes, just to get in there so they can live damn near in the lap of luxury, for free. Oh yeah, i forgot, there are people that will actually tell you that that is exactly why they commit their crimes.

Overall, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more areas which need to be reformed, and as I figure out exactly how each would probably best be done, i will let you know. Until then this is your friendly neighborhood pagan, signing off.

THOUGHTS OF sapphoq:
Great blog here tho' I wonder about a few of the issues.

Masters' level teachers already are making a bit less than what ppl with Masters' degrees can earn in other fields. I have heard the opposite arguement of the one you present here-- that if we pay teachers MORE in addition to raising the base of knowledge that teachers must have, then the education field will attract brighter people. The truth is sometimes in between these sorts of arguements and I think there may be more factors here than salary and teacher prep.

Public school teachers usually earn more money than their private school and religious school counterparts because they have state mandates that they must meet. It is a common practice-- in this neck of the woods anyways, upstate New York-- for religious schools and private schools to hire teachers that are actually less qualified than the teachers in public schools.. New York State has had a requirement that teachers earn their Master's degrees within five years of beginning to teach here since at least 1985 and probably some years before then. Has that requirement changed recently?

Some? Many? public schools certainly leave much to be desired in terms of atmosphere and preparation for the modern world. Throwing money at charter schools, religious schools [which are then allowed to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religious beliefs with MY pagan tax money], and private schools is not "the answer." I know you didn't specifically address this particular issue however I do think it is an important point to raise. Throwing money at any school system in order to "fix it" and "teaching to the test" are two practices which plainly do not work. I would propose that allowing school vouchers to be used for [major denominational only] religious schools IS a violation of the separation of church and state which our deist founders worked hard to craft into our constitution.

The president openly admitted during his campaign that he does not concern himself with the votes of american citizens who are atheist or non-theist. He went on to state that american citizens who do not have a [major denomination?] religion are not patriotic or even real citizens in his view. More info about this can be found at and at . As you have probably guessed by now, I am no lover of our current president and his bias for the churched, the straights, and the rich.

What absolutely terrifies me is the thought that the president may yet order the bombing of Iran with nuclear weapons. Now we have "the war against terror." I am beginning to believe that perhaps the Untied States may yet prove out to be one of the largest terrorists thanks to our government in Washington D.C. which is approaching fascism. We also have "the war against sex, non-heterosexual orientations, and drugs." Before these wars, there was McCarthyism in the fifties and the "war against communism."

I worked in a prison briefly and I have known several corrections officers as friends. Each one of them has told me the same thing-- the guards do not want cable television taken away from the prisoners because it helps to keep order! I have eaten the prison food. It was not good. Dental care in a prison is usually such that it is better to allow one's teeth to rot and fall out than to be subjected to the drill. Medical care is a bit better in quality however surgery is equivalent to being subjected to a hacksaw. Again, many prisoners avoid prison dentistry and surgery if at all possible to do so.

The mental health care in many prisons is also pathetic. The "solution" in some places is to house the mentally ill in the SHU; or the Special Housing Unit. Twenty-three hours a day in a cell. A psychiatrist must check on each mentally ill prisoner in solitary confinement [those who are in call it "the Hole"] once a day. That "check" is usually a bit of conversation lasting five minutes or less. The exchange occurs with the state's psychiatrist standing in the hallway and the prisoner behind a celldoor shouting through a flap.

Only recently is this picture changing. Some prisons now have transitional housing units. Mentally ill prisoners who agree to take their anti-psychotics and show other evidence of possibly benefiting from a day program type treatment may be moved to a transitional housing unit. There the prisoners work on achieving levels and the goal is increased interaction with the general population until they are able to withstand the pressures of ordinary prison life. Some of the prisoners are not able to do it and so day programs for the chronically mentally ill become part of the treatment plan when their sentences are up.

Some of the "fun activities" that abound in prisons include brutal gang rapes and violence directed towards prisoners who are perceived to be more vulnerable or weaker. The stereotype about prison showers being dangerous places due to the possibility of gang rape has a large measure of truth to it.

Prisoner abuse is not limited to prisoners beating upon each other. I have seen with my own eyes the results when male prison guards impregnate women prisoners. Not all of those women traded sex for cigarettes. It is highly illegal for any prison guard to engage in any sexual activity with prisoners-- "consentual" or for trade or outright rape.

I am no bleeding-heart liberal. Prisons are necessary and probably always will be. While I recognize that prisons do fall short of the ideal of rehabilitation of the prisoners back into society as productive and law-abiding citizens, I also know that society itself demands retribution for crime. Retribution does include removal from the society where prisoners have proven that their behavior treads on the rights of their fellows.

I myself am currently not working due to complications from a brain injury which I received at the hands of a pot-smoking driver who felt compelled to run my vehicle into a house, leaving a hole in the foundation. I have some years behind me of working with people who are considered by society to be developmentally delayed [the newer term for "retarded" but which also includes folks with autism, aspergers', cerebral palsy, and brain injuries received before the age of 18 or 21 depending upon which state one happens to abide in, and a few other disability labels]. I am not picking on your use of an "older" word. When I went to school, people who are severely retarded or severely developmentally delayed were called "imbecile."

Folks who are labeled as developmentally disabled or retarded along with some other unfortunates are pushed into "working" at sheltered workshops. The most common "work" available at sheltered workshops is piece-rate and that means that many of the "consumers" or "trainees" [they are not technically considered to be "employees"] are "working" at FAR BELOW THE MINIMUM WAGE. And it is legal. Some of the folks who are taken advantage of by sheltered workshops bring home checks amounting to one or two dollars. If one is extremely lucky, one is able to "earn" twenty-five, fifty, or [very rarely] seventy-five bucks for a week's "work." My acquaintance Dan Wilkins who is associated with the organization ADAPT has much to say about some of the issues confronting us as disabled people. His internet store is called thenthdegree and his url is He writes essays for his site. They are worth checking out. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at a conference once on disability culture.

The "jobs" that many people with disabilities are forced to "work at" by state agencies such as VESID here in New York State [OVR or BVR in other states] are not jobs as we know it. Unfortunately, VESID is very polished at dealing with consumers who conform. VESID's forte does not lay in dealing with people who have their own ideas and who are self-directed. Those who speak up for what they want and need are labeled as non-compliant.

It takes imagination and commitment to locate meaningful employment within the community for disabled people. It takes effort to coach disabled people in their places of employment, to teach self-advocacy, to demonstrate how to use natural supports at work instead of relying upon the professionals. It takes time to educate a society that is xenophobic.
So let us both make a beginning with each other at some honest dialogue. Write to me if you like. I'm willing to bet that what unites us will be far stronger than what tears us apart.