Monday, October 8, 2018


 Saturday, October 5, 2018
Last January at the Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey made a speech about women revolting against sexual violence.
In response, Steve Bannon, right wing professional poisoner of cultural wells, responded, “The anti-patriarchy movement is going to undo 10,000 years of recorded history. You watch. The time has come. Women are gonna take charge of society …”
I thought, jeepers, he’s saying that like it’s a bad thing.
He was saying it as a booga-booga thing. Be very scared: women want power and control. They want respect. They want to be the ones who record history. They don’t want to be raped anymore. They don’t want to be lied to or laughed at, or about, anymore. They don’t want to be afraid anymore.
There are a lot of other things women want (pockets) and don’t want (mansplaining), but I only have 800 words here. Apparently, the thought of women overthrowing the patriarchy makes some men’s testicles retreat ‘way up into their bodies.
Bannon and his ilk don’t have to worry about the women taking over any time soon. Today the Senate confirmed the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, against the will of most of the American people.
Important: this is not the end of the world. It’s not good, but it’s not the end.
The last few weeks have been tough. Many women and men, including me, have been triggered by the testimony of the women who came forward to testify that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted them. Our sexual abuse and assault stories have come to life again. Some people have been talking about what happened for the first time. Some people have been sobbing. Some people have been outright throwing up.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court has confirmed that in the USA it’s okay to sexually assault women, insult women, laugh at women, and not believe women. Also boys. All children, all women.
Years ago, when Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing propagandists came on the scene, I could not see how anyone could take them seriously. They were irrational. They were mean and vindictive. They claimed to support our troops but were vicious to any vet who opposed any part of our wars. They whined and claimed to be victimized by people on Medicare and Food Stamps. They lied, made stuff up, and stoked fear, and people believed them. I could not see why – what they said was so transparently bull pucky. All emotion and no reason. How could anyone swallow that tripe?
But people did swallow that tripe, raw and whole. Even people I thought were intelligent. And look where we are now.
Now, I was raised in a conservative Republican family, so I tend to be comfortable around conservative people. I have Republican relatives with whom I have agreed that relationships are more important than politics.
I had a friend from way back who became a radical right winger. I know a Navy vet with whom I have something in common, the concern for the needs of blue water sailors, Navy vets like my husband Rick, who were exposed to Agent Orange, but who don’t get pensions.
I’ve had to block a couple of these people from my Facebook page. They don’t seem to be able to control the impulse to attack my political views or stop themselves from being rude to my friends. When they come onto my timeline and fire off some nasty insults or racist remarks, I consider that the equivalent of coming into my house and taking a dump on the rug. So I think, didn’t your mother raise you better than that? Then I go to settings and block them. Peace. It’s wonderful.
I assure you that when the women take over we will not eradicate recorded history. We might give the record a more honest, inclusive take, so there will be fewer of those reveal articles that are always coming up: “Did you know that so-and-so was (black) (gay) (Native American) (a woman) (other)?” or “Did you know that we made it into space because of black woman mathematicians?” for example. Somehow recorded history has neglected to record a lot of that history.
If women ran the world, maybe they’d screw things up as badly as men have. Or maybe they wouldn’t. Who knows?
I only wish I could live to see the day when women have the chance to de-throne the patriarchy.
I wish I could live to see the day when human beings realize that we are all in this together.
The election is the sixth of November. Our ballots come in the mail, and the return envelopes are now postage paid. There is also a secure drop box at the Vashon library. *VOTE!

Deer Hunting and Shameless Promotion

This is a deer hunting story. I’ve told it before, but I can’t find the original version, so I’m going to tell it again.
Vegans and vegetarians: deer hunting. You have been warned.
Long, long ago, in a state and county far away, Rick and his friends Chris and Bill had fallen on hard times. Rick and Chris were recently returned from Vietnam. They and Bill had teamed up and rented a place together. The three of them picked up what work they could, but the rent was due, and they didn’t have much money or any food in the larder.
They decided to go deer hunting, but they did not have any firearms. Bill, a resourceful young fellow, took a length of pipe, cut a diagonal off the end, and sharpened the pipe to a point. Rick and Chris looked at him with new respect and a little fear.
Chris, the electrician of the crew, fixed up a spotlight that would run on the battery of Rick’s car, Wreckage, so they could spot their prey.
Wreckage, the deer-hunting VW, ca. April 1972, on Maury Island
(Wreckage was a VW beetle the Tuels shipped home from Germany when Rick’s dad, Mark, retired from the Army. Mark handed the car down to Rick, and Rick painted it cop car blue and white, with eagle decals on the doors. He got stopped by real cops regularly.) Back to the story:
They planned that when they went hunting, Rick would be the driver, Chris would be the deer spotter, and Bill would throw the spear.
But where do you go hunting for deer in the (mostly) genteel suburbs where they lived? They figured: a golf course. So after the sun set, they went to see what provender they could forage on the links.
Rick was driving Wreckage with the headlights off and Chris was holding the spotlight out the window from the back seat.
After a while cruising around the various greens and fairways, they spotted a deer. Rick hit the accelerator. Chris shined the spotlight in the deer’s eyes. The deer froze. Bill leaned out the passenger window and hurled the pipe-spear.
Unfortunately, Bill’s arm caught the wire that ran from the spotlight to the car battery, so the light went out, the car died, and there they sat in perfect still darkness.
Chris did as quick a re-attachment of the wires to the battery as he could in the dark, and soon they had light again. A scan of the area with the spotlight showed that Bill had hit the deer with the spear, and it was down. Rick administered the coup de grace with his hunting knife, and they loaded the carcass into Wreckage and went home.
When they arrived home, they realized that the power was out in the neighborhood, so they carried the deer into their apartment in the dark – which was probably for the best.
Most apartments do not come with a facility for butchering game, so they lit a lot of candles, hung the deer up in the shower and went to work.
At this point, their landlord came knocking at their door. And there they were, surrounded by candles, carving away at a bloody carcass hanging in the shower.
The landlord was somewhat taken aback.
The guys explained to him that they were dressing out a deer they had killed and managed to talk him into accepting a deer haunch in lieu of rent. He went off with his fresh venison, and they carried on with their work of parceling out the deer and putting a lot of it in the freezer for their own consumption over the coming days and weeks. They ate well that night. All in all, a successful night’s hunting for three broke hippies.
Bill and Chris could correct me on a lot of the details, but that’s how I remember Rick telling it.
SHAMELESS PROMOTION: I will be playing at the O Space on Saturday Night, September 29, from 7:20 p.m. to 7:50 p.m. I will be singing and playing some of my original songs.
Seven acts will be performing that evening. This is part of a series Pete Welch is calling Catch Us While You Can –  musicians who have played on the island for thirty years or more. The implication being that we will die soon. Thanks, Pete. Always nice to be reminded I haven’t got long.
This shindig kicks off at 5:00 pm the O Space with The Spotlights; Bob Kueker at 5:50; High and Lonesome (bluegrass) at 6:30; Mary Litchfield Tuel 7:20; Subconscious Population at 8:00; Chuck Roehm at 8:50; and Sinner and the Saints at 9:30.
MORE SHAMELESS PROMOTION: On October 5, 6:30 p.m., Listen in the Kitchen will perform at the Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union for First Friday. You should come hear us. Really.

Prayer and Coffee

The day begins with a woozy shuffle down the hall to the kitchen, where I put water in the kettle and turn it on. Place a filter in the one cup cone, coffee in the filter, and the cone on a mug, and pour the boiled water over the coffee.
Now we’re getting somewhere.
Mug full of coffee in hand, I sit at the kitchen table and open my Book of Common Prayer to page 137: “Open my lips, oh Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.” (from Psalm 51)
It’s not a bad way to start the day. Do I do it every day? Alas, no. I would be awfully pious if I did, but I often wake up late and dash out the door or am otherwise distracted. So not so pious. I would have made a lousy nun, and not only for my lax rule of life. Obedience would have tripped me up.
Still, I have started my day many mornings the last thirty-one years or so with that routine, and I pray every day, quick prayers, what my friend Julie called arrow prayers, firing them off in the moment.
The morning prayer ritual has become a touchstone and a quiet place when the world around me is noisy and chaotic, which is nearly always. I have a list I keep in my Book of Common Prayer with the names of the people for whom I pray every day, plus people for whom there are emergent needs. I pray for healing, peace, and relief from pain; safe travel, grace, or whatever is asked.
I give thanks.
Now, I am aware that many of you think prayer is a lot of hooey. These days there is a sharp knee-jerk reaction to the use of the expression “thoughts and prayers” by insincere people who could do something about, for example, gun control, but won’t. That’s the sort of hypocrisy that gives prayer a bad name.
If you don’t trust people who are all talk and no walk, at least you know your instincts are sound.
Does prayer work? Yes, it does, but it’s not magic. God is not an online Amazon catalogue. You pray with intention, but you do not know what will happen.
I think this is one of the gripes some people have with faith: What’s the point if faith and prayer don’t FIX everything? What kind of a God …? Etc.
If the God you don’t believe exists has disappointed you because he should have put an end to war, quietly deposed all the lunatic dictators and tyrants, fed all the hungry, housed all the homeless, and put the Mariners in the World Series, then you are right. That God does not exist.
God is not magic. We cannot control everything with prayer.
It is our job to make peace, depose the lunatics and tyrants and then not become lunatics and tyrants ourselves, feed the hungry, and house the homeless. You don’t have to be a Christian to do this work.
Working on fixing the world often seems futile, but most of us keep getting up every day and doing the best we can. Sometimes praying is all we can do. There was that time I was in the car wreck and stuck in bed for a couple of months.
Miracles do happen. Usually not the specific miracles you pray for. There have been miracles in my life that I did not recognize until I looked back years later.
The first time I drove off the ferry onto Vashon Island, as I passed the Episcopal Church I had a sudden strong feeling of being At Home. A few minutes later, at the main intersection, the friend I had come to visit introduced me to the first person I met on Vashon Island: Rick Tuel. I did not know that day that I would end up marrying Rick and living on Vashon Island the rest of my life. Well, so far.
You know, we’re always petitioning God for things, and sometimes God tells us things with big red capital letters, or points toward things with flashing neon signs, and we don’t see them. So maybe you could say we don’t answer God’s prayers. We don’t have the understanding. And yet, sometimes, things come right.
At the end of morning prayer comes the Collect: “… in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
The hardest part of prayer for me: being quiet and listening for God’s purpose. You must be careful. It is insane to get cocky about thinking you know God’s purpose. I think it’s good to lead with kindness, though.
Blessings on you, dear readers. We live in interesting times. May we encourage one another. Amen.