Love Is Thicker Than the Smoke

Coffey Park photo by Jason Baldwin

I live in Sonoma County.

Yes — The one that was on fire for nearly two weeks. The fire that made thousands homeless in an instant.

So many stories have arisen from the ashes that need to be heard. So many heroic rescues, stories of strength and courage, of redemption, love and hope. They cannot be forgotten as soon as the fire trucks return to their respective counties and states.

Cry of the Nightbird: Writers Against Domestic Violence was born because I couldn’t bear that these beautiful, gut-wrenching stories, which DV survivors had gathered the courage to tell, would be lost after  just a few readings to very small audiences. What Michelle Wing did through Writers Speak Out Against Domestic Violence was phenomenal.  I had to help her bring those stories to a wider audience. And did, together with her and our mutual friend, Kate Farrell.

It’s time to do it again.

Help me to do it again. And no, it is not too soon. We must act while details are fresh, and while the telling will bring some much-needed healing. Carol Hightshoe of Wolfsinger Publications has agreed to publish the book. The Love Is Thicker Than the Smoke (working title) will benefit those directly affected by the firestorm that devastated our county. No one needs to be a writer to be included. I will gather the stories from first responders, witnesses and survivors, and write them with the utmost care and respect, working closely with all those involved and enlisting others to help with editing and art.

If you or someone you know has a story to tell, contact me soon here. #StrongerTogether #SonomaStrong

Lastly, my profound thanks to all the first responders who came from near and far and worked tirelessly to keep us and our homes from harm. We can never repay you.


Rose-petal rain in the morning sun

Rose-petal rain in the morning sun

by Ann Hutchinson 5/2/2017

Rose petals rain down in the morning sun

Does the mother bird know…
What a sweet-smelling home she builds in the tree?
Does the 12-foot rose tree know…
It is supposed to be a bush?

We have endured a week of rain for such a day

The bird is one of those pesky jays.
But now it is just an expectant mother.
She wove her bowl of twigs high
Among soft flowers, guarded by large thorns.

A train whistles, stirring memories, clearing its path

Did mama bird intentionally choose that side…
That stretches over the silky lambs’ ear?
Was she planning ahead,
Imagining her child’s first flight?

A dove’s plaintive coo is cut off by a crow’s caw

Mother Jay flies to the peak of a nearby roof
And surveys backyards, looking for threats,
For food sources near enough, but not too near
She flaps her wings, shaking off forebodings.

A warm wind brings a shower of pink petals

Mother Jay tilts her head, seems to look at me
Does she know we are one?
Two mothers surveying the surroundings
Giving thanks for the sun?

Dealing with the grief

I am experiencing disbelief and grief – every stage of grief.

I feel betrayed, abandoned, frightened, sad, helpless and mad.

Everywhere I turn I am confronted with this madness, this threat, the weight of this new reality, that feels like a science fiction novel. The source of all this misery is in my face every day. He means to hurt my family, my friends, and people I don’t know. He means to hurt people he doesn’t know. It’s not personal.

But it is.

Who let him do this? Why is no one stopping him? The people and rules that should have prevented this have failed us. And still many people think he is on their side. That he is not out to rape and pillage. I was reminded last night of the Jonestown tragedy. People are once again drinking the cool-aide. This time, it’s an erosion of freedoms, an atmosphere of hate, a slow-acting poison.

I am beginning to see a parallel here with domestic violence and incest. The people who are supposed to keep us safe are causing us harm. The people who are supposed to keep us safe are allowing another family member to violate us. It’s no wonder so many of us are stressed, not sleeping, crying, snapping at one another and feeling a sense of dread.

I can’t forget the feelings. While I move against him with letters and phone calls, I will remember to love wherever I can. Including myself. Rather than reminding my fellow wounded to act, reminding them of what’s at stake, I wish to provide respite from the deluge of bad news and SHOULDS. I need a break from my vigilance now and then to gather my strength and remember why I am standing up against him, writing letters, making calls, volunteering and marching.

We need each other, now, more than ever. We may not all realize it, but we are all at risk. Except those who are a 1% WASP male. Even still, it will effect someone they know.

So, if this resonates with you, join me in making time just to spread the love. I used to get sick of all those cute animal posts and pictures of food on Facebook. Now I could use more of that. We have turned Facebook into a support group, where we’re always talking about the problem and commiserating. We need relief. I know I do. Let’s flood Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with things the he can’t threaten.

I will not give away my serenity to the likes of him. I will place my trust in the LOVE we share as humans. LOVE will win.

Bring on the babies, the kittens and the messages of hope and victory.


photo of Camano Island, WA by Jeffrey Lemkin