Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A September Scene
-- A little writing practice as September comes to an end.

            It was the last day of September. The door had been shut on summer and autumn was making a presence. At the window, Emily stood, gazing at the sky as it began to lighten. Grey and charcoal clouds, swirling in intricate patterns, shrouded the sunrise. She was mesmerized by the display, a touch of anger in the churning beauty there. Would it rain? She hoped it would for the land had been parched for long days by an unforgiving, ruthless summer sun. The earth was thirsty. She knew that to be so, for on her walks alone to Riley River an inch of fine dust, in wide swathes, had supplanted the grass. The patches that stubbornly remained were sparse and tinder dry. A pall of anxious sadness gripped the place, mirroring Emily’s own feelings of late, for Will had left her, disappearing at dawn without a word. It had been two months now.
Her fingers touched a pane of glass, so startlingly cool that she shivered. The chill caught her by surprise but she welcomed it as she had the fall. Change is good, isn’t it? Although confused thoughts threatened to torment her this day as they had for weeks, she pushed them away. With the change of the seasons a modicum of hope had begun to tug at her. Time to move on.

And what will become of Emily?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Invention of a Character

            I do this often, simply for practice. I begin with one line and go from there, never knowing for sure where my writing will take me.

It was the first day of autumn and Casey knew it was time. She had been preparing for this change all summer. It had taken her only seconds to make the decision, but she knew the timing had to be perfect. She was leaving her home, if one could consider it that, on her own, with no clear destination. Casey was sixteen.
Home . . . what a ridiculous concept that was, at least in Casey’s world. Home, for most people, conjured images of warmth, security, and love. Home evoked the impressions of kitchens filled with the smell of freshly baked, chocolate chip cookies or crisp, clean linens, smelling of soap, and folded with perfection; home was lacey, Valentine hearts pasted onto doilies, Easter eggs died in rainbow colors, Halloween jack-o-lanterns glowing on a wide, front porch, and Christmas trees laden with tinsel and filling a parlor with a rich, evergreen scent. Home was Mother, Father, and a baby brother. Home was the perfect place to be.
Wishful thinking. For Casey such an existence was a fantasy, a make-believe world created by novelists. It was not her reality. She had lived her entire life in the Elmwood Meadow Children’s Facility sixty miles west of Philadelphia, in the heart of nowhere. From the moment she had arrived, an infant swaddled in a plastic trashcan liner, she had been alone, a tiny baby who grew into adolescence existing in a cold and loveless environment. This day, she would change all that. She would, for she was Casey, a mirror to the seasons.

And where will Casey go? She might slip into a novel some day and I’ll find out.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sometimes A Diversion Doesn’t Work
The creek in the neighborhood  

Saturday afternoon baseball is calling. I fear, however, that my Giants are stalled in a locked elevator and unless someone can reach the panic button, the door will remain closed and players will have to wait until next season to see the sunshine. With that rather depressing thought rattling my brain, I will move on to another issue.

Rape. Here’s why. Yesterday morning in a lovely, quiet, upper class neighborhood adjacent to mine, a senseless attack was committed. According to reports, a young mother, only thirty-two years old, had taken her two children to school, and then returned home. Unbeknownst to her a man had entered her house while she was gone. She had no idea anyone was there until he - a six foot, plus, white man with a potbelly - was upon her. A knit cap had been pulled over his head so she was unable to give any facial description, and that’s a shame. The monster bound her, raped her, and cowardly fled away to God only knows where.

Everyone in our part of town is aghast by news of the attack. “It’s horrible. Can you believe it?” they ask, their faces skewed with shock and worry.

“Things like this don’t happen here,” they say. And that’s true, of course, until something like this does occur.

It happened, right here, in close proximity to a park where children, flanked by their mom, grandpa, or nanny play on the swings or dig in the sand; where men and women jog or stroll; where people walk their dogs; where neighbors dig furrows in the community garden. It happened where the dog walker makes her rounds; where teenagers zip around on skateboards and bicycles; where little ones fish the creek for crawdads; where would-be superstars play hoops in the street. In this quiet neighborhood it happened.

I believe rape should be a capital offense. The act clearly is not about sex; it is about power and control, and it is indescribably violent. My heart aches for the young woman who was raped, in a brutal act, destructive beyond words. Her own trauma is paramount, but she does not bear the burden of the assault alone. Her husband, her children, her family, her friends will be burdened as well, likely for a long time. Even folks such as my husband and I, distant neighbors who do not know her at all have been affected by news of this atrocity. We, along with so many others, have to wonder, why? Why? What kind of fiend takes it upon himself to destroy a woman’s sense of security, dignity, and privacy? What kind of lowlife feels it his right to terrorize an innocent human being, altering her life forever? I know, this is not the first rape in history, but this one has come too close to home.

This thug needs to be found and arrested. If he has a criminal record perhaps DNA evidence will help. If not, maybe he will “spill the beans”, brag to his buddies, or slip the truth to a person who can’t keep a secret. Law enforcement officials are investigating, no doubt about it, but we neighbors will be on the lookout too. And as for the woman, I hope she can retain her self-worth and find peace.
At the end of the day, seek peace.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What Makes Some People Tick?

People confound me! What are they thinking? Or are they not? Don’t get me wrong. I do like people, although I am an introvert and enjoy my alone time. Sometimes, however, people are simply asinine and misguided. In the last few days, the behavior of a few has made me ponder. What makes some people tick?  
Before getting to the main point about those few misguided fools, I must say that I have been amazed and delighted to see the outpouring of support recently for victims of the fires in Lake County and Butte County in Northern California. I am in awe of folks who have contributed supplies and money, and others who actively are rescuing pets, serving meals, and sorting through donations. Strangers have offered space in their homes and on their ranches for displaced fire victims and their animals. Law enforcement officials, PG&E workers, Humane Society staff, myriad volunteers, and, of course, hundreds of valiant fire fighters, and fire service members at every level have been working tirelessly.
On the other hand, at the same time, scammers and thieves have reared their ugly heads. Some seedy motel managers have jacked up their prices, callously overcharging fire victims whose homes have burned to the ground. What’s with that? Delinquent jerks have posed as media personnel in attempts to procure addresses with one objective in mind – to steal from those who have been evacuated from their homes or have lost everything. Crooks have been caught carrying charred home safes away in their vehicles. How slimy is that? One was arrested for sneaking burglary tools into the fire-ravished area. It is disgusting behavior. Why, in the midst of tragedy, do looters make it their heyday? I simply do not understand the mindset, so I would love to know what makes these individuals tick. Clearly I cannot answer my own question. Such callous conduct is a shame though, and I felt the need to turn my blathering about the issue this morning into a blog. So here it is.
Maybe someone else can explain.

Monday, September 14, 2015


I couldn't help myself today! After reading an article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat (Sunday, September 13, 2015) I was compelled to respond. The letter is longer than the Press Democrat generally accepts, so they may not print it, but I hope they will. I am putting it on my blog today just in case.

Dear Editor,

For the last few days, the horrendous Valley Fire in Lake County has been on the minds of every Northern California resident who has a heartbeat, I would expect. Before this current disaster two other devastating fires occurred: the Jerusalem Fire and the Rocky Fire. The populace of Lake County clearly needs a break. They need our donations, our prayers, and our good will. That should be easy for most of us; the difficult work must come from the firefighters who have been on the frontlines from the first alarm.

The folks in the line of fire need our firefighters and the many employees behind the scenes who support their exhausting, dirty, and dangerous work. CAL FIRE, in particular, once again has answered the call, of that, I am certain, for my son was a CAL FIRE Fire Apparatus Engineer and Inspector for CAL FIRE. He died in the line of duty, so this letter is not about him; it is about the others, his brothers and sisters, the brave souls who, in the current catastrophe, have not hesitated for one second to do whatever is necessary to save lives first, property second, and our precious land resources third.

A firefighter does not don turnouts, boots, helmet, and breathing apparatus to look cool. He or she marches instead into frightening, hazardous, and unpredictable situations to save lives and property. They do not think twice. Without a doubt, I have the deepest respect for the firefighting community. I know many firefighters on a personal level; I understand their passion and commitment for their jobs. It is perhaps not surprising then that I felt compelled to voice my outrage when I read the article, entitled Too Many Firefighters? by Fred S. McChesney on Sunday, September 13, 2015, incongruously printed for all to see only two days after the anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York.

McChesney’s clearly biased article, filled with statistics that may or may not be accurate, is one thing. To see it printed so boldly in the Press Democrat, in the midst of the worst fire season in recent history, was absolutely appalling. Mr. McChesney scoffs at the high salaries firefighters earn, implying that they live lives in luxury. Absurd. Luxury for them is likely a bottle of cold water when they stumble into basecamp after brutal hours fighting flames. McChesney infers that firefighters are lazy, lounging at the station, with too many days off. The CAL FIRE firefighters I know have given up their days of summer away from their families, working overtime harder than most of us could imagine, in order to answer the call of service. Instead of denigrating the firefighting community, as Mr. McChesney has done in his offensive article, perhaps he needs to take a closer look. Lake County residents, and those in other ravished areas of California, are quite apt to agree.


Judith DeChesere-Boyle
Author, Retired Teacher
Alex with his niece and nephew at Boggs.