Saturday, November 17, 2018

Fire Survivors, Elections, and Awe-Inspiring Beauty

Dear friends:  

Most important first:  If you can give some money to the survivors of the disastrous Camp Fire, that would be a great thing to do.  I got this info from my cousin, who used to live in Paradise:

Dear Terry:  Here's a link to the regional NPR station, with a list of many local organizations.

I decided I also wanted to give a donation to help lesbians who were impacted, because lesbians in general have less money than others and less family support than others.  This is the Go Fund Me page of two dykes with five dogs who lost their home:

This information was sent to me by Susan, of Old Lesbians Organizing for Change.  OLOC is the place where I find the people who are most like me.   

In San Francisco, we're into our eighth day of Beijing-style air.  
Even the books are wearing facemasks!                             Hector & Me on our way to lunch 

Last year, with the Santa Rosa fire, it was "only" four days of smoke in SF. 
Face masks, cancelled events, antsy unexercised poodles -- these are all such minor inconveniences.  And yet we have a looming feeling that our lives have changed forever.  It seems that we in California are going to have to make some drastic changes.  But that takes political will!  I pray we have it.  

At least the election gives me hope.  I helped flip a Congressional seat from Republican to Democrat!  I canvassed for Josh Harder, in the Central Valley.  I've canvassed -- walking door to door, talking with folks and recording their info --- in many places, and the people in Turlock were the friendliest I've ever encountered.  Often, people are very surly to find some passionate political partisan on their doorstep.  Not the Turlockians!  Perhaps now people have a deeper understanding that it really does make a difference who is elected.  Or maybe it's just that Turlockians are super nice.  Or both.  Whatever, it was actually enjoyable.

My cousin Miriam who lives in the district and her friend Myrna
who worked VERY hard and long for Josh Harder

It took what seemed like a long time for Harder to be declared the winner.  It's always true that the early vote count skews conservative because the mail-in votes, which are counted before the polls close, skew conservative.  But gradually, as all the votes got counted, more and more Democrats have won.  Yes, it's good news.  But still I find it incomprehensible that, after two years of Trump, millions and millions (and millions) of people voted Republican.  

I have to say I've been in a bit of a numb state since the Pittsburgh synagogue killings.  I went with Miriam to her synagogue in Modesto for a special Sunday performance by an opera singer.  There was this note on the bench outside the door:

Eleven stones for eleven deaths.  I cried a little, for the first time.  It was very touching and perhaps counteracted the ominous feeling created by the fact that we weren't supposed to go into the synagogue until the off-duty policeman arrived.  This precaution was of course a response to what happened in Pittsburg.  After a bit of discussion because the policeman was late, people decided that, despite the new rule, we were safer inside the building than standing in the parking lot.  New discussions for new times. 

But then my friend Elizabeth picked me up and took me to one of those places on earth that lifts your spirits and makes you feel awe at this still-beautiful world:

There's a fawn in this picture.
I hadn't been there for 35 years.  Thank you, Elizabeth, for taking me there.  

And then I went home to smoke and my beautiful tree dahlias.

Had a lovely tea in celebration of the tree dahlias.  We weren't outside much  because of the air, but we still had a great time.  So life is changed and life is the same.  And I am particularly blessed with a home and friends and poodles and tree dahlias.  And the Democrats control the House.  Hard to embrace everything at once.  No?

Saturday, October 27, 2018


My dear friend Rosalia in Morocco  sent me this video tribute to Kashoggi from a close friend.  Kashoggi longed to build democracy in the Arab world.  We who have what he longed for are learning how much hard work we must do to strengthen our eroding democracy.

His friend remembers with loving warmth
And notes 
That his brutal death may be the impetus for
a resurgence of
The Arab Spring

Monday, September 10, 2018


Yesterday I went to the wonderful  march in San Francisco, protesting the insanity of our country's suicidal policies concerning climate change.  I ran into Jessica Tovar, who I had worked with in 2004.  We were trying to get the City to pay attention to the terrible pollution in some parts of Bayview Hunters Point.  Jessica was a paid organizer.  I was running for Congress against Nancy Pelosi.

Jessica is still working as an environmental organizer, now in the East Bay.  I told her that, when I ran for Mayor  of San Francisco in 2011, the only Green on the ballot, Clean Power SF was my absolute FIRST priority.  This is a project to build small wind and solar installations throughout the city.  It was all ready to go, but nothing was happening.

This is my leaflet with my platform when I ran for Mayor.
At first, I was the only candidate for Mayor talking about Clean Power SF. But during the campaign, a lot of the other candidates picked it up -- although not Ed Lee, who won.  Nevertheless, right after the election, Clean Power SF moved forward.  Now we have Clean Power SF in San Francisco.  Jessica told me that  other cities were sending people to San Francisco to see how it works. 

I feel that I helped make Clean Power SF happen.  I am so proud of myself.  There I was on Saturday, marching with thousands of people who deeply believe we need to change the world -- and FAST!  I had been able to do something because I was running for office, because I had a platform.

Yes, protesting is crucial.  But it's meaningless unless we  elect people who are moved by our protest.  The common wisdom says that protest demonstrations brought an end to theVietnam war.  But that's not true!  Our elected representatives in Congress actually listened to us and cut off funding for the war.  Boom!  War over, abruptly.

In contrast, we saw what happened in the run up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, when Congress didn't give a damn what the the voters thought.  All over the world, masses demonstrated against the U.S. invading Iraq.  But the people we elected to Congress paid no attention.  I'm ashamed to say my own representative, Nancy Pelosi, supported the invasion.  That's why I ran against her in 2004. 

I am so thrilled at all the wonderful people running for office.  It's just great.  This is what we need.  The right people are out there.  We just have to elect them.  But we cannot elect them if they're not running for office.

If you run for office, even if you don't win, you can effect change.  I did.  So, onward!  Work your ass off to elect someone to office who you believe in.  Or even better, decide to run for office yourself!  Yes!

This is how democracy works.  And it's a LOT of work, let me tell you.  It can also be fun. When I ran for Mayor of San Francisco in 2011, I had a lot of fun ... and did some good. 

Here are some photos from the protest:


Friday, June 29, 2018


Every year a different town in Holland is chosen for the national last-weekend-in-June Gay Pride parade -- named Roze Zaterdag (Pink Saturday).  This year:  Gouda!  (We pronouce the name of the town and its cheese completely wrong in English.)  Besides Roze Zaterdag, there is a major Gay Pride hoo-hah in Amsterdam every August which is a boat parade through the canals.  I've never seen it.  Can't figure out why.  Maybe it became big after I moved away.

My friends American Christopher and Peter, who live in Rotterdam, always attend Gay Pride in whatever town it's in.  They  invited me to meet them and their houseguest Beverly there.  I'd never been to Gouda.  It was a bit of a hassle to get there because the train tracks were being fixed, so I had to take a train AND a bus.  Got off the bus at the wrong place, either because the bus driver couldn't understand MY Dutch or I couldn't understand HER Dutch.  Probably both.  Much as I bemoan the intrusion of smart phones into our lives, I probably would have never found my friends if we both didn't have one.

It was a beautiful sunny day -- quite a treasure in Holland any time of the year.  Gouda is a lovely
 city of 70,000.   It was a BIG DEAL to the Goudenaars (that's what they call themselves) to be hosting a national event, and the town was decked out.

Waiting for my friends to find me, I encountered this adorable couple.
Actually a trio.  That is a PROUD pup!  But she could have done a bit more work on her costume.

And we marched -- not such a long time through such a small city.  I must admit, it was a great treat to be in a Gay Pride event that wasn't as massive as San Francisco's.
The pink t-shirts with the star are the Socialist Party. 
The front says "Rode voor Roze" -- Red for Pink.

It was easy for the four of us to stick together.  Peter's yellow shirt was a great help.
C&P have been together for a loong time.  Their energy toward each other
is so affectionate and playful.  Great to be around them.
Beverly is Peter's cousin from California.  I cannot believe I don't have a photo of her talking to someone.  This woman is a networker extraordinaire.  And it comes from her heart.  She is genuinely interested in people and passionately devoted to helping women, who are doing any kind of business or cultural work in the world, connect with each other.    We got luscious vegan smoothies at a little shop owned by a young woman.....

  Beverly got her business card, so that she could recommend Miss Nice Banana to other travelers.  You go, Beverly!  We need more women like you.  
Beautiful Dutch Dykes
"Meer Dan Gewents" = "More than Wished For." 
The contingent of gay parents with their children.
More Gay Parents (and coincidently beautiful Dutch dykes)

Some Dutch take the pinkness of this day VERY seriously!

"Autism is also Diversity" & a protest against Chechnya Persecution.  
This Gay Pride march was a very big tent with room for everyone.  I love that about us.

A happy, well-adjusted child of gay parents.

A Drag Queen or two... or Three....

An old man trudged grimly through the happy crowd.  
He wasn't going to let any damn Pink Saturday keep him from doing his shopping.

Our short parade ended at the town square with its magnificent City Hall, built in 1450.
When this was built, it was a powerful statement of the ascendance of secular political power over religion.  This was quite an advance over the Catholic Church making decisions. 

Then we explored the booths....
One of the few booths focused on lesbians -- this one for women of color.  If you're noticing that there are more men than women in this blog -- it's true.  There were many dykes in the crowd, but not so many women-oriented booths or women at booths that were just generally gay-oriented.  

But the Dutch army had a booth, and there WAS a nice lady soldier there.....
The bumper sticker reads "Homosexuality and Martial Power."  Not a frequently seen bumper sticker in my own country.

AND the gay tax collectors had a booth!
Can you imagine the IRS having a booth at a Gay Pride parade?  Not yet!  

Ah, here's Beverly chatting with someone --  a tax collector.  She got his phone number in case she had trouble getting her VAT taxes returned at the airport.  

Don't know what this building across from the City Hall is.  It's just so damn beautiful.

And we spent the rest of the day exploring Gouda.  Perhaps that'll be another blog.

Friday, June 22, 2018

An Amsterday

The view from my friends' apartment.  Note the flower-bedecked bicycle in the lower right corner.  
There are many scattered throughout the city.  I heard that an American does them.

I'm back in Amsterdam for the first time in nine years.  I lived here about half-time between 1986 and 1994.  I went back and forth between Amsterdam and San Francisco during that time.  Hard to believe I actually did that.  I fell in love with this city then and had many adventures and romances and happy times.

It's very strange to be back.  I've changed.  Amsterdam has changed.  The world has changed.  Do the city and I still fit together?  I'm still figuring it out.

Last night, friends Lieke and Elizabeth fixed dinner at their apartment.  Lieke and I go back to 1986.  Elizabeth has been her partner for more than 10 years.  I felt so at home in their home, both of them taking care of me.
Elizabeth pours the wine for a fabulous meal.

Today, I visited the biggest museum, the Rijksmuseum.  Got there when it opened to avoid the crowds and wandered around.

This may look like one of those gorgeous still lifes but in fact it's a POLITICAL statement.  At the time, 1670, the House of Orange was in eclipse. Their enemies had forbidden anyone to publicly support them.  But you COULD still paint a picture of fruit -- any fruit.  The title of this painting, "Viva Orange," makes the subversive meaning clear.  It took guts for Jan Davidsz de Heem to give it that title and paint not one but TWO oranges.  You go, Jan Davidsz!

I love all depictions of The Last Judgment, with fabulous demons torturing the damned.  So creative!  These small images are from a huge triptich.  On the opposite side of the frame, the good folks are entering Heaven.  BOOOOORING!

Then it was on to the very small section of modern artists.

I'm sorry, I did not record the (obviously female) artist's name.  This is hilarious and luscious, no?  It is the size of a coffin.

Then I met up with Lieke and it was on to the Stedelijk, the modern museum.  The Stedelijk is the NASA of museums, experimenting with technology like drones and weird stuff.  Much seems from outer space.  And not so easy to photograph.

  This is a mesmerizing video of concrete blocks floating slowly over the Scottish highlands.  I didn't understand if they used drones or were manipulating video.  It was magical to watch.  Ultimately all the dozens and dozens of blocks come together langorously in a huge mass.  When the last block dropped into place, it was very gratifying.  Hmmm.... I wonder if this sounds interesting to you.  Maybe not!

Then it was time for Lieke to go home and for me to wander around my dear Amsterdam.
I've never seen a Polka-Dot Bike Bell before.

Cyclists and Flowers Everywhere

A very funky, not to say strange, frame shop.  I remember it from when I lived in the neighborhood.  So few of these quirky corners are left.

It's late.  Tomorrow I'm meeting my friends in Gouda for Roze Saterdag -- Gay Pride.  Gotta go to bed.