A young woman. A calculated act. The close knit bond of extraordinary women leading ordinary lives. True is a stunning tale, which beautifully weaves these dynamic characters and their pristine wild environment, their families and the animals they love, into what undoubtedly becomes a story one will never forget. “A lesson in healing, strength and courage, and above all, the magnificence of true friendship."

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wild Autumn

     It was a wild summer here in the high mountains of Northern California. We had over sixteen wildfires..homes were lost, thousands of acres burned, some that will not revive in mine or my children's lifetime. Life is tenuous to say the least and the animals have lost much of their habitat. Our property has become a refuge for deer families, raccoons, skunks, bears and even mountain lions. The fact that we don't have a dog is also a draw, but not as much as the luscious apples in the orchard and the water we provide in this time of extreme drought. I absolutely love the fact that I live in such a wild place. In my regional novel True, animals and the their connections to people play a most important part. I was inspired to write about a human/mountain lion encounter after I had crossed paths with one on a hike near my home. Here is an excerpt from True where a woman is taken by a lion.

            She moved along the path, breathing in the pure air. Arrow was still far ahead, darting in and out of sight. After scanning the sky, she decided there was enough light left to stay a little longer. She turned up the mountain, weaving between giant manzanitas, stopping to stroke the smooth burgundy skin of a twisted trunk. Her small, muscular body climbed the steep incline without much effort. She knew that the dog would find her. As she moved up into a treed cleft, she felt her strong calf muscles flexing inside her blue jeans. She reached the plateau and paused. This was a favorite place. Light slanted through the grove of trees in pale silver bars. She could hear Arrow crashing through the brush. A gray squirrel sprinted, levitating to the top of a pine, while the dog flew in quivering pursuit. They sang to each other; Arrow’s yelping and the squirrel’s raucous scolding reached a pitch so frantic that she laughed out loud. After a few minutes, the dog lost interest and began nosing the ground.
            The circle of oaks was perfectly placed, as if by a landscape architect. She sat down, her back against a tree. The deep quiet and fading light lulled her. Arrow lay nearby in his nest of leaves, taking her in with quiet dog calm. The air was still and cool. Finally, knowing her time here was up, she stood and zipped her sweatshirt, then bent over to tie the undone lace of her boot.
            It hit her from behind. The powerful force of its streamlined body knocked the wind out of her, ramming her face hard into the ground. Her knee shattered in pain; she scrambled on all fours like a crab. Arrow was barking and whimpering. Turning her head in panic, she caught a flash of tawny fur. She screamed as the cat lunged again, its claws slicing, cleaving into the skin of her lower back, while its teeth simultaneously hooked the fanny pack strap and one belt loop of her jeans.
            The lion bounded through the oak circle in a graceful lope, then paused and raised his head. Clare dangled in mid-air, limp and unconscious. Engulfed in the lavender glow of twilight, he moved slowly up the mountain.
            The lion patiently made his way up through the steep cliffs. Night had fallen; above him arced a filigree of stars and an almost-full moon. Sometimes in his exhaustion he dragged her over brush and boulders. The top of the mountain was in sight, but the closer he was to the ledge, the weaker he became. It was midnight by the time he dropped her into his lair. He struggled, loosening the fanny pack strap and belt from his teeth. He didn’t bother to inspect the motionless prey. His legs crumpled under him, and he surrendered to sleep. 
          Clare woke at first light, wondering if she had died. The landscape was eerily unfamiliar. She lay on a rock ledge that jutted out over a small canyon. Above her was an overhanging stone that seemed like the opening of a cave but only provided a small shallow shelter. The lion was nowhere in sight. She could not move. She had never known such extreme pain. Even in childbirth there were moments of reprieve. This was a tight, hot cocoon of constant pain. Besides the crushed knee and clawed back, she was covered with wounds, scratches, bruises and welts. Her clothes were torn, her hair tangled. She wore only one hiking boot. Infection bloomed pinkly in her body, and the oncoming fever made her eyes sting.
            She heard a distant rustling across the canyon, then saw the lion weaving his way back to the ledge. She felt her bladder let go, and a stream of tears slid down her face, landing in soft puffs of dirt. Her heart pounded inside her small chest. She could not slow down her breathing. She managed to move herself, curling inward to protect the soft inner part of her body, even though she knew she was going to die. Instinct and adrenaline running deep in her brain bent her into a
womblike position, waiting.
           The lion moved towards the ledge, lingering at a stream. He paused, enjoying the sun on his back.  More and more, his old bones needed warmth. He drank the clear, cold water and stretched. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Spring 2014~ It Happens Every Minute...

   A very important part of the story of TRUE involves a brutal high school gang rape, the sad fact that the boys get off without a trial and the consequences the victim, Cat, will face for the rest of her life. Luckily, Cat finds a support system that consists of a group of eccentric, authentic women. Perhaps not so for the women and girls who become a statistic in the global rape epidemic. These thoughts were triggered recently by an ad that appeared in social media. I was warned by friends and editors not to write about rape as a blog post, as it might be, negative, hopeless and controversial or worse that angry men might harass me online far into the next century. CHALLENGE MET! Especially since
 Saturday, March 8th is International Women's Day.
   Rape happens every minute around the world. It happens in cities, small towns, in rural and urban areas. It happens to children, teens, women of all ages, even grandmothers. Why?  Basically females are considered lesser and weaker and therefore fair game. Researching the statistics was shocking. In England and Wales 69,000 women were rape victims last year. In S. Africa 66,000 women were raped. In the U.S. it was 89,246 cases that were reported. These statistics should be doubled or tripled as rape is grossly under reported.

   An ad for Anti Rape Wear..Wearable Protection for When Things Go Wrong...popped up on one of my pages. AR Wear is the brainchild of two women from New York who supposedly received $50,000 for developing and marketing their line on a popular crowd funding site. The ad shows models wearing cute boy cut, colorful underwear. The blurb goes something like "Worried  about your daughter jogging after dark? Are you a woman traveling alone in a foreign country? Staying in a big city on business?" These underwear are made of a material that can't be cut..they will not slip off easily and have a small lock at the waist band..The very fact that this product is being offered is such a pathetic reminder of the global sexual assault epidemic yet it all seems so very casual..  "Are you a woman or girl, Protect yourself now." There are other inventions. A medical worker in S. Africa (the rape capital of the world) has designed a female condom with teeth. The contraption bites down on the abductor's penis and then must be surgically removed. A group of engineering students in India have marketed a chastity type belt that gives off a hard shock, is equipped with a GPS device and dials the victim's home phone number. Want to be unattractive to potential male attackers? You can buy "hairy legs" panty hose that might turn off a would be rapist. And maybe the most outrageous, The Republican Party's new ploy, Rape Insurance..in case a woman conceives after an assault.

    These concepts that are meant to protect women, fail miserably and put the total responsibility for safety on women. Yes, we need to be careful, informed, have studied some martial arts etc. but what is at the root of rape culture? The belief that it is alright to sexually assault women and girls. This primitive idea has existed since the beginning of time and must change Now! We need to educate our young people...father's need to talk to their sons..of course mother's should educate their daughters..and the fear of death or retaliation for reporting must stop. Our male dominated cultures need strong women to stand up in numbers...we deserve political representatives to back us, not take our rights away and attempt to protect the perpetrators. It happens every minute, in cities, small towns, urban areas, in the military and in families. Do what you can in your sphere of influence to change this consciousness. Stand up, speak out, even risk your level of comfort to make this planet a safe place for women now and in the future. Our children are counting on it...