Shadow Work

My Version of Kali-Ma, cut paper, fabric remnants, dx martin watercolors, 12”x 12”, 2023

My favorite goddess of all time is the Hindu goddess, Kali-Ma. I said this to someone who happened to be Hindu and he looked at me funny. That’s sort-of like a Hindu saying to a Christian; I’m so intrigued by the devil! Could you tell me a little bit more about your Satan?

The origins of Kali-Ma are found in the Devi Mahatmya, a religious text dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries AD. She is a configuration born from the brow of Durga in battle, the fierce, destructive aspect, one deity in the holy triptych of Kali, Kali-Ma, and the Divine Mother. She courts destruction to manifest creation, she is the archetype who destroys ego. Unlike her voluptuous counterparts of the West, Venus, Athena, and Aphrodite, those full-figured gals mounted front and center on Greek pantheons, this goddess packs a terrifying punch. She dons the armor of severed limbs and a necklace of decapitated heads; this lady is outfitted in dismemberment. After slaughtering demons, she stands over her consort, dripping blood and maniacally beaming a frenzied grin. Ancient writings depict her as emaciated and black meant to symbolize the timeless universe, but later, she’s rendered all blue and fleshy. Kali-Ma was built to scare, and I’ll wager the scariest thing about this crone is that she wasn’t concocted to seduce anyone.

On January 13, 2020, an article was published in the Long Island Press- Long Island’s Sex Trafficking Problem Exists in the Shadows, by Maureen Rossi. The report outlines a detailed overview backed by facts and data put out by government agencies, local law enforcement, and non-profit groups dedicated to exposing how victims, many of them minors, are ushered through a system that is very much in place right now on Long Island. According to Rossi, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) dedicated an agency, the Long Island Human Trafficking Task Force, to combat the ever-increasing need to address the issue in 2013. As of September 27, 2022, a proposed project, the Suffolk County Anti-Trafficking Initiative (SCATI), would constitute a collaboration between the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) and the Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk (VIBS). The project has been awarded $750,000.00 to date in funding from the Department of Justice.

Detective John Birbiglia of the Nassau County Police Narcotics/Vice Squad represents the Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force on Long Island. Detective Birbiglia stated that there has been pushback from the public regarding the nature of these findings. In Rossi’s article, he is quoted as saying, ‘Many people don’t believe that this is going on, (that) it’s only in the movies.’ According to Rossi, prosecutors from Nassau County state the current laws don’t go far enough to keep victims safe or to hold perpetrators accountable, and ‘need to be amended to be effective’. A chilling statistic issued from The Safe Center of Long Island reported that in 2019, Long Island, New York was among the top twenty human trafficking jurisdictions in the country. Most notably, their studies claim that 83% of the victims in confirmed cases were US citizens.

The Polaris Project is a non-profit agency self-described as a ‘social justice movement to end human trafficking’, created to recognize and halt the patterns of sex and labor trafficking in the United States. Established twenty years ago, at a time when victims were typically arrested and returned to their traffickers, they offer an extensive, multimedia approach in combating trafficking head on, starting in communities most vulnerable and continuing all the way to the top, where predators mingle in aboveboard industries. Their website,, is a valuable resource, easily accessible to agency officials, victims and laypeople alike. It differs from other non-profits, as their objective is straightforward, and not working under the possible pretense of a victim-centric agenda.

Back to Kali-Ma. In eastern India, in a region known for being one of Asia’s largest red-light districts, temples are dedicated to this goddess. Generations of children have been born into slavery there, in slums monopolized by gangs who force hundreds of girls into the sex trade each year. It’s the kind of place a wrathful goddess who can’t get enough of slicing and dicing can come in handy. Sex workers and their kids are the ones truly in need of a fierce, untamable force. Kali-Ma protects women and children. And yes, it’s happening here.

Mosquito Medicine

Weather Patterns, 71/2×71/2, dx Martin watercolor, cut paper collage, 2023

‘A Memoirist starts with events and then derives meaning from them.’ I read this from Mary Karr’s, The Art of Memoir just as a sleepy mosquito landed light on the spine. Whenever I read Mary’s work, the first thing that happens is I try to write like Mary. The only way out is to read someone else’s work to cleanse my brain. I’ll mention we’re in a New York January, not a Louisiana January, so seeing a mosquito this time of year isn’t what you would expect. I’m nothing if not prone to magical thinking, so I pulled down the sleeves of my sweater, folded my knees under me to cover my ankles, and kept him in focus just in case he started edging toward my delectable flesh.

You don’t want to go around squishing a sign from the universe. The reason I know this? My well-loved resource, Medicine Cards, the revised and expanded edition written by Jamie Sams and David Carson, which include illustrations by Angela Werneke I’d like to turn into tattoos someday. This book explains the art of intuition, or, even better, the art of trusting your gut. Animal medicine asks you to figure out why they show up in the first place. What is this animal meant to bestow? What is its veiled truth?

The first thing I do is cement my thinking as to whether or not what I’m looking at is the real deal. Is it out of the ordinary? Yes, it is. A mosquito out of season landing on my book while reading a relevant passage is worth considering. Another valid question to pose- could this have been contrived? It would be an extraordinary feat in patience for somebody to train one lone mosquito how to fly into the house and sit still long enough for me to formulate its purpose, so the answer is no; in this instance, I am not being messed with.

The next thing is to find out what the characteristics of a mosquito are. I’m talking about The Everyman mosquito, not just the one I’m looking at. It’s no stretch to write that mosquitoes aren’t anyone’s champion unless you happen to be a virus or a fellow dipteran fly friend. The buzzing in your ear with the anticipation of being bitten on some delicate nether region have sealed their reputation as mini-made flying, blood-sucking torture machines. Gross. What I gleaned from Mosquito is the telltale foreboding of a New York January warm enough to keep him alive and well enough to land on my book.

Another book within reach, We Are All Greta; Be Inspired to Save The World, by Valentina Giannella and illustrated by Manuela Marazzi, delivers a whopping amount of facts in a way so as not to overwhelm, and strategies to pave a way out of this pending environmental catastrophe. Giannella refers often to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group founded by the World Meteorological Organization and the governments represented within the United Nations. These people are no slouches. Their mission; ‘to understand the scientific basis of the risk of human-induced climate change.’

According to Giannella, ‘The IPCC does not conduct research but evaluates it, cross-checking all of the variables, outcomes, and possibilities before producing a report that represents the facts as far as the facts are known.’ Giannella continues, ‘You know the famous “double-check”? The second look that is used in critical situations to avoid human error? Here it is, multiplied by 150,000. When the IPCC report comes out, we can safely consider it reliable and authoritative.’ I don’t need a weird mosquito to remind me we have too much flooding here at home. All I need to do is drive over eroding roads and through pools of water to understand that our infrastructure cannot sustain humanity’s impact on the planet. Not only that, a trip upstate this summer exposed miles and miles of forest canopy, a brittle, dying patchwork as far as the eye could see. An all too real tapestry of a climate out of balance.

Global warming is making some extreme weather events worse. Global warming can contribute to the intensity of heat waves by increasing the chances of very hot days and nights. Warming air boosts evaporation which can worsen drought. More drought creates dry fields and forests that are prone to catching fire, and increasing temperatures means a longer wildfire season. Global warming also increases water vapor in the atmosphere, which can lead to more frequent heavy rains and snowstorms.” –published by the National Academies on their website, August 5, 2019, updated August 12, 2021

**Coincidentally, Greta Thunberg refers to the IPCC in her presentations and speeches all the time.

Holy, Holy

Odd Duck Out, written and illustrated by Rob Biddulph, published by harpercollins, c 2016. Happy Hippo, Angry Duck; a book of moods by Sandra Boynton, published by little Simon Press, Simon and Schuster publishing division, c 2011, 2019. Homemade ornament made with shells collected from Puerto Penasco, MX, created by my dear friend Kate. And the whole thing staged on a vintage chair that reminds me of NM

Universal Truths. We all need food, clean water and shelter to survive. Most of us want to be seen, most want to be valued. The mass populace should not have access to assault weapons. Getting enough sleep is critical for everyone’s emotional and physical health. You can superimpose all religions, one on top of the other until it all says the same thing, because somewhere along the line the branches of humanity’s tree crossed. That should be a comfort, not a reason to get upset. It means the other tribes aren’t wrong; just pick a story. Spirit uses language we’ll understand. If you believe that, and I do, that’s fine but you don’t have to. If you’ve already got religion, don’t force it on anyone else. We all need each other to survive. We don’t all like the same things. That’s good, it would be boring if we did.

This brings me to my first book review of the month. Odd Dog Out, written and illustrated by Rob Biddulph, published by HarperCollins, 2016. A perfectly packaged, cuter than cute tale about non-conformity, penned from the perspective of a dolled-up Dachshund. Our heroine finds herself at odds in a world filled with others who are seemingly in sync. They look the same, work the same and play the same. Draped in a darling gumdrop palette knitwear ensemble, she high tails it out of town, determined to find her pack. Only by braving mountains and roaming molehills does she finally understand; it’s great to be different. Most dogs are, if only they’d let other dogs know it. Five stars, two thumbs and four paws up for this one.

As a junior high school kid, I was inspired by Sandra Boynton’s greeting cards. While hanging at the Sunrise Mall, Spencers was the store to stock up on bean bag chairs or shag rugs, and you could check out some compelling lava lamp inventory while waiting for an afternoon matinee. It was the next best thing to Sam Goody’s. We would drift in, never presuming the merchandise was meant for purchase, and leaf through greeting cards for an hour; that’s where I found her. With the wit and delicacy of William Steig or Quentin Blake applied to simple lines, she made the personification of hippos, dancing chickens, and elephants come to life in one sentence. I’ve been a fan ever since.

Happy Hippo, Angry Duck; A Book of Moods, is one in the series of Boynton Board Books published by Simon and Schuster 2011, 2019. We’re introduced to a menagerie of friends in this charmer, including a sweet pig, a contented frog, and, as the title suggests, an angry duck. My favorite in this book is the confused cow. These characters offer an emotional safety net for children (and parents) trying to navigate an ocean of feelings. What we’ve come to understand from Boyton’s art and writing is learning through exemplary kindness, and we’ve been lucky to have her.

Don’t be like this grump! Learn from the Dachshund. Embrace your pack, whomever they may be, and trust that the world will accept you if you let it in. Remember the confused cow, as she will not be confused forever. Be jolly. Stay safe. Peace on Earth. Good will to everyone.

Mail Order

She Bites, Purrrdy Girl, 2022

Marc taught me how to play chess once. I could play the game on these apps if I wanted to, but it’s just that, no joke, I am so tired of doing these things alone. I’d rather have someone in front of me. I learn better that way. I remember this part; The King is the most valuable, right? But the Queen is the most powerful. That’s how I played it. Anyway, I want to play the game again because it turns out that I’m a sucker for strategy.

If I were Vladimir Putin, or you know what? Why point fingers? Let’s just say I’m a generic, run-of-the-mill dictator- a white one. I’m interested in undermining a wealthy nation in the West that’s grown arrogant and careless, not that it doesn’t have it’s good points, but we’re talking about the trajectory of world history. Who am I kidding? If I topple this crowd, I’ve got the keys to the northern and western hemispheres. It’s exciting to think about; an experimental government that’s young in country years, not human ones. That’s why their long game is off. And because its fraught with skeletons, to put it mildly, trust me when I say that I’ve got plenty to work with.

Do you know what else is great? Social Media! My God, I could kiss it! The unbridled love I have for this invisible entity, you can’t imagine. What luck. What beautiful, Titanic-sized luck. Defunding the police? My idea! Please do! They’re the first line of defense. Some bad apples, yes, definitely enough to hatch this maniacal egg. Bonus- I get the socially conscious liberals to spread my message. Rule number one; use whatever dirty secrets they have against them. (What? Do you think they’ll start teaching it in the schools? Not with my cronies on the ground, they won’t). Can someone come over here and pat me on the back? I’ll have the coup d’etat made to order; thanks.

The brickwork has now been laid for my evil scheme (rub hands together). I’ve got lots of pots on the stove, but I’ll start by riling up disgruntled white guys over there, tantalizing them with what they want or can’t get with the promise of more. Then I’ll send it to them! Guess how? Social Media. And I’m only talking about the soft underbelly of rural places, where decades of exhaustion added to years of frustration can be spun into blinding rage with the teeniest nudge. And by nudge, I mean the right meme. Check out my bio for the perfect meme recipe! *Hint* There’s a whopping helping of AK-47s wedged between boobs swaddled in stars and stripes. Those are the fun ones, but what works like magic are the ingeniously subtle, demeaning ads meant to target anyone over thirty. Middle-aged skin care products bring in plenty of clams while diminishing hope at the same time.

The suburbanites? The ‘I-Have-But-Not-Enough’ clowns? Let me say one thing, not to let the cat out of the bag, but- Blackmail! Their egos land somewhere between real estate and home improvements. Did I mention water views? I would say invasion, but it would be redundant. We’re already there! I was KGB, remember? HA! End Game! Another thing that’s working well are all the small-minded elected officials and gun lobbyists I’ve got in my pocket. That was a sound investment. They’re greedy, scare easily and have no moral center, and that does not hurt. It helps! It helps a lot! Lest I forget to mention all the uber-cash wealthy criminals I have perched in high rises, but I wouldn’t say I like to brag.

I figured out the tragically simple psyche of the on-the-fringe zealots years ago. Hold up, let me genuflect for this photo-op. Religion is best served drizzled on a heap of steaming hot Social Media. In this way, I can turn groups against each other with delectably seasoned, well-cured foodporn-like perfection.

As long as those bozos don’t figure it out. My people are working 24-7 trying to chip away at their confidence while fanning the hate and distrust between them. It won’t get me closer to world domination if they’re all sending kumbaya floaty-floaty heart emoji flower love quotes by women artists all over the place. Weak, fearful and divided people are my specialty. Look how well that’s worked here! I’ve got near total submission, plus I poison the stragglers. Easy peasy.

If I were a dictator, that’s how I’d be thinking. Right now I’m thinking, please, freeze their assets.

This Is Why

Please Vote

My dad was a John Wayne Republican. He served in World War II. The only thing he loved more than his dogs and football was time spent as a boxer in the Navy, and it made him proud to say his nose was broken three times because of that fact. He watched golf whenever it was on and supported the military, firemen, and especially the police.

He mocked my liberal arts education with an Archie Bunkeresque routine that was not a routine at all. He was more Archie Bunker than Archie. He made stupid, insensitive, imprudent comments I’ve been dumb enough to repeat, because to write that he was politically incorrect does not begin to cover it. All The Lily Whites In This Country Are Going To Drive Us To The Poorhouse – his Mantra hurled at me and the television whenever I drove home to visit.

He read Newsday and watched News 12, complained about taxes and crime, especially crime, was from Sheepshead Bay, and got kicked out of his Catholic prep school for fighting. He would graduate from Saint John’s University thanks to financial assistance afforded in part by the GI Bill. Did you read that last part? He played football for Saint John’s University in Queens, New York. He owned a gun cabinet with lots of rifles in it. He loved everything about Texas. This was not the person you’d have asked to speak at your sensitivity training workshop or invited to the ballet.

And if he had witnessed the mob descending on our Capitol, dragging police officers into the crowd and desecrating the halls, it would have repulsed him. Destroyed him. Had he seen that blond threatening Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez through a locked door, it would have enraged him beyond all things, not that he would have aligned himself with her politics; that’s not the point. My die-hard American veteran father would have distanced himself from the rhetoric of Republicans long before the insurrection.

Keeping fossil fuel monies out of politics, bodily autonomy, abortion rights, healthcare, social security, safe and reasonable gun laws, background checks, assuring LGBTQ rights and quality of life, voting rights, immigration reform, improving our standing in the world- it’s all on the table right now. And all we have to do is vote. Please, please vote.

Book Reviews/October

Cambria Evan’s illustration of stewed eyeballs, Bone Soup, 2008

Because this is the most fantastic time of year, I’d like to offer my two cents on a few fabulous children’s books.

The first is a well-worn favorite of ours. Bone Soup, written and illustrated by Cambria Evans, is a lovingly re-interpreted tale of the original Stone Soup. Evans’ atmospheric renderings of narrow, poorly lit streets invite us to join Finnigan, a starving skeleton who is eternally in search of a delicious, home-spun meal. Finnigan manages to disarm the villagers with a warm smile and invites them out of the shadows to join him for a hearty soup conjured with the help of his suggestion and their disgusting ingredients. Toenail clippings, anyone? By not letting their fear of a stranger have the last word, the villagers enjoy a wonderful meal and time spent together. That’s a good story.

The next is a newbie, What’s Inside A Flower? And Other Questions About Nature, beautifully written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky. Ignotofsky depicts the interdependency of flora and fauna happening all around us deftly with engaging illustrations that are easy on a child’s visual palate and perfect for learning. Although written for children, this charming book is a sound investment for any bookshelf, particularly for gardeners, aspiring gardeners, and nature enthusiasts. It is also an excellent way to catch-up on all the ditties in bio class you may have forgotten, and great for people who learn visually. Lovely illustrations weaved around pertinent info make this the perfect addition for the classroom, library or home.

What’s Inside A Flower? And Other Questions About Science And Nature, Rachel Ignotofsky, 2021, Penguin Random House LLC

She Was Twenty-Two

Moon and Star, 4”x 4”, printout of Islamic design, cut paper, gesso, cardboard, glue 2022

Mahsa Amini was twenty-two years old. She died in Tehran after being detained by police representing an extremist faction of Islam. She died on September sixteenth, 2022.

Someone said they always go after the women first. The extremists always go after the women.

The world is smaller than we thought; now we can see, in real-time, how an event on one side of the planet can find its way home. She was someone’s daughter, meaning she could have been yours. We take care of our own.

Please contact your local representatives, members of Congress, and state senators. Respectfully insist they demand the United Nations hold Iran accountable for the atrocious and violent acts against Iranian women. Insist further that the Biden Administration holds Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Raisi responsible for the heinous acts of violence against the citizens of Iran.

Contact info;

DON’T FORGET THE HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Don’t Forget to Vote!!!!!!!!! Mixed media, 2022

The holidays are upon us! Remember- you can send gifts late. As long as you send it, people are happy. It’s like a little surprise. The best holiday we have to offer, in my modest opinion, HALLOWEEN, is just around the corner.

Halloween is an American-made mashup from the old country. It absorbs traditions and folklore from everyone who lives here. If you can trace your ancestry back thousands of generations, if you’ve been here awhile or recently gained citizenry, your story will be gleaned and mixed into the fold; as long as it’s scary and sexy. You know what else is incredibly sexy? The United States All-American Postal Service.

This popular holiday, galvanized into something beautiful by Charles Schultz, has some great perks. It’s all-inclusive; anyone can celebrate, and there is NO GUILT associated with this holiday and no particular way to celebrate. It’s a free-for-all. The dinner menu is completely made up, off the cuff, no traditional staples. You don’t have to fly home for two days or call anyone before sitting down to eat or open presents.

Not that it’s mandatory, but sending care packages on Halloween is strongly encouraged. Whatever you send, make sure you either make it yourself or shop local. That’s important; SHOP LOCAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pack plenty of glitter in the box and spray the entire thing down with different kinds of essential oils, because people love that.

***One last thing; don’t forget to vote on November 8th for your pro-choice, pro-bodily autonomy, environmentally conscious candidates.

The Water Protectors

Water Heart with Foliage, 4”x4”, colored paper, glue, cardboard, 2022

While vacationing in Kerhonkson, New York, we took a short hike on the Ashokan Rail Trail and drove Reservoir Rd, the causeway separating the Ashokan reservoir into two basins. According to the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, New York State has ‘nineteen reservoirs and controlled lakes in seven counties east and west of the Hudson river.’ The Ashokan Reservoir is one of the largest reservoirs owned by New York City. The dam was constructed by Italian immigrants and African Americans between 1907 and 1915, commissioned by the New York City Board of Water Supply.

Earlier this summer, I posted about Tela Troge and the women of the Shinnecock Nation. Tela and six others are the founders of the Shinnecock Kelp Farmers’ Coop. In collaboration with the Sisters of Saint Joseph, who have offered their land in Suffolk County, Long Island, to be used for farming kelp, a concerted effort has been made to develop new approaches toward land and water use. Hopefully, it will ensure clean waterways for future generations.

I would be remiss not to write about the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police Officers. According to their website, this division of law enforcement is responsible for, but not limited to, these environmental protections;

* illegal water pollution

* improper use or application of pesticides

* freshwater and saltwater wetland degradation

* almost any area that effects air, land or water quality law violations

Much heartfelt thanks to all who serve to protect our water, land and air.

You can learn more about the NYSDEC on their website,, and more about the Shinnecock Kelp Farm Cooperative;

This is us on the Ashokan Rail Trail, upstate New York, 2022

Senior Cut Day

Calypso, The Flower, 8″x8″ wood panel, cut paper, glue, gesso. 2022

My daughter wants to go to a store and then grocery shopping with me on her Senior Cut Day. When I was a senior, Senior Cut Day was spent half lit on wine coolers and vodka at the beach with drunken peers. My mother taught so she wasn’t around, but here I am, taking prescription anti-depressants first and then taking the seventeen year old to the grocery store. On this day, I’ve also taken one anti-psychotic.

She’s at once gorgeous and terrible and herds me through produce. I trail her, steering our cart while she pulls it, and we mostly drop in healthy stuff at the start. If I’m not worried about money, and I’m not as long as it’s Friday, then I’ll pick out cut flowers adorning the space between the two sets of sliding doors that usher us from the outside to the inside, the in-between part that is lined with buckets of compartmentalized plastic-wrapped arrangements.

We’ve got kerbies which are great in salads and probably great as pickles, I think. If you pick out the fruit that’s in season, like the Georgia white peaches or those fleshy ones from Jersey or the nectarines shipped up from the South as sweet as candy, the juice that pools down your arm is Manna from Heaven. I’m biased as far as Long Island corn is concerned. You can buy it conveniently husked, or there’s a self-husking station, too, and it is delectable as the kernels are small and easy and pop in your mouth when you bite down, not the leathery kind from elsewhere which are bright yellow nuggets, not as pale like ours and not as good, but probably better when grilled, actually. These are the thoughts I think at the store with my daughter, and while I’m thinking these things, she plots to hide the goods I’d say no to if I were all there. Which I’m not.

The one pill I’ve taken I don’t care for because, as I have explained to my husband in the car and to the psychiatrist who has met me just the once, it makes my eyes roll and blink like glass marbles installed into a heavy-lidded doll; first one shutters closed and then the other. The second reason is that it doesn’t stop my thoughts from reeling. The pill slows me down so I’m not as entertaining, at least not to me, and on some days chasing down this brain is my greatest form of entertainment.

By the time we’ve zigzagged the entirety of the store, our cart is stuffed. Boxes of cookies line the crevices and bags of snacks litter the top. Paper products and pre-made entrees now grace the pyre that is, at least, green and leafy toward the bottom. *Important tip- do not shop for food on an empty stomach if you can help it. It adds so much to the bill. I am right about this.

At the end of our exchange where product and packing meet, all sorted into recycled tote and box, I withdraw my debit and delicately jam the paper receipt into my bag. We walk to the car and unload our bounty with no real regard of what bag goes where. That must drive some people crazy, but not us. My daughter, satiated after eating something that could easily muck up the car, has commandeered our soundtrack for the ride home. She’s yucking it up and cradling the flowers I’ve splurged on like a pet. Stalks of irises, cornflowers, thistle and daisies are tucked into a slim bouquet, none of which would have bloomed in synch had they not been meddled with.

There is a wild orchid the size of a spoon that flanks the hiking trails of Olympic National Park in Washington State. It’s bloom is unassuming and reminiscent of a slipper, and it’s name, Calypso, is meant to infer romantic ideation, like the Greek nymph who seizes Ulysses’ purpose and vision for seven years. Seven years, I think to myself, that’s a long time to get off track. And then my brain snaps back at me, oh, sweetheart. We can do better than that.