blog description

Old women talk about old things: history, myth, magic and their
checkered pasts, about what changes and what does not.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

~~Science Fiction Madonna~~

Hubble, thank-you! 
Oh Dreamer, green beside
A quiet sea,
Child cradled
Close, flesh to flesh,
Haloed by the infrared
Of your star,
You hug a possible future.
One, together,
Mother and child.
Though shapes, colors,
Genders infinite,
Your essence
On a million worlds,
Out toward

~~ Juliet Waldron

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

On Being Deaf Almost ~~ by Joy Olmstead

I am staying with my daughter , visiting, while I gather my things together to spend my winter in Mexico.

> Since she had moved from my neck of the woods.. To the south, this gives me some family time.
> While it used to be frequent short visits when we lived in the same area, now, it is one long visit twice a year.

> Apparently, I can and do easily stress my daughter out.

> Much as I try to fly under her radar screen, I cause these blips to occur on her screen in the control tower, and she feels the need to pay attention and because otherwise, I'll crash.

> My hearing is not that great  these days. I consider hearing aids, then wonder: Why?

> While I can't understand what someone is mumbling at me in another room... Face to face, paying attention. I can hear just fine. Guess my practical mind is avoiding a few thousand dollars to hear mumbles in another room, when I can walk in and say What? For free!

> So this morning , in the midst of the kitchen breakfast school, work rush. My daughter appears all sleep frozzy and fuzzy robed... And starts putting together her sons lunch.

> She turns to me and says in a very loud clear and slowly spoken manner.
Fine. You?
Ohhhh that's gotta hurt; I am sorry. She asks her son DO YOU WANT TO DRIVE IN WITH US TO TAKE NONNIE TO THE AIRPORT?
Her husband and sons visibly lean away from the loudness. A short discussion ensues...

> I had already planned to be driven in by my son in law , in my car so I could smoke all the way to the airport. I mentioned this to my daughter. Now, I was busy re arranging my plan of action to accommodate everyone.


> I say yes, mentally, I am hearing you say that we are going to leave later than I want, in a rush and my anxiety level will be on high...

> Meanwhile, my grandson says: Why are you talking so loud?
She whispers next to his ear.
Because Nonie can 't hear well. Trying to spare my feelings, I assume. I hear every word. 
> So, back to the car issue.

> I tell her I still,want to be at the airport a few hours before the flight.
> Why, yes, I can , my concern is being at the airport in time.

> I find my voice getting louder and my speech slowing down, perhaps, someone else is being was a natural reaction... I catch myself... Rein it in...
> Alright...

> We are now leaning on the counter chatting. When I bring up my hearing, she mentions that it seems I don't hear what she is saying, so perhaps LOUD and SLOWLY will make it better.

> She and I, although we both use the English language, do talk in a manner which neither of us comprehends.

> I point this out.. And, I can see from the look on her face; she almost wants to agree.

> She tries so hard. I feel bad. Tell her so. I do drive her crazy. She got blessed with a mother who doesn't fit in the peg board no matter which place she tries.

> I am reasonably comfortable with my shape. Mean no harm. And see the torture she goes through.
> Wishing we could both acknowledge the fact the the color blue is two or fourteen different colors in each of our minds, and not struggle with that.

~~Joy Olmstead

Friday, November 6, 2015


In a time when hatred, ignorance, and bigotry are all regularly promoted by major candidates as "patriotic," this letter to the Editor is worth reposting.


              A local paper in my little beach town recently printed a letter from a reader who extolled the virtues of Senator Joseph McCarthy and his extraordinary Americanism, devoted to ridding the free world (or all of it, for that matter) from the Red Peril of Communism.  And since The Donald has also devoted his campaign to ridding the United States of immigrants, legal or not, here’s a story that bears telling.    

               In the early 1950s I was a young child, concerned more with learning to ride my first bicycle than with the state of the Nation, or Senator McCarthy’s campaign to eradicate anyone he believed to be “subversive” and more specifically, allied with the Communist Party in America.  My grandfather, Spero Evanoff, was an immigrant from the old Yugoslavia, and his wife Anna, was from the Ukraine.  He came here at a young age, along with his elder brother, and carried all his worldly belongings in a rye market basket.  (I still have that basket to this day.)  He went to barber school in Western Pennsylvania where he met and married Anna, and became a barber for the rest of his life.  He left the Homestead, PA area soon after his graduation and, green card in hand, with his young family (daughter Eleanor, daughter Margaret, son Harry) moved back to Eastern Pennsylvania to the Harrisburg area.  He had, I believe, cousins and fellow immigrants in Steelton, PA, which had a large population of folks from the Balkans in Central Europe.  After the death of Eleanor from a burst appendix at age 10, and the subsequent total mental breakdown of his wife Anna, and her institutionalization in the State Hospital in Harrisburg, he moved with his two remaining children to Palmyra, a small town East of Harrisburg.  He had friends there, a married couple who ran a tailoring business, as they had in Europe.  Life, as it does, moved on.


              When Senator McCarthy began seeing pink things under his bed and began sweeping with his vicious broom, the good people of Palmyra, fundamentalist Christians of Brethren and Mennonite ancestry, decided that they didn’t want a man with a strange accent from an even stranger country cutting their hair.  His business evaporated, and he was virtually driven out of town.  His son, Harry, could not deal with being ostracized and left home.  His daughter Margaret (my mother) married a local boy and began a lifetime of denial regarding her father. To me, he was my grandpa, and I loved him, and he loved me.


              My grandfather relocated further West and closer to Steelton to another small town, Hummelstown, where there was a greater mix of immigrants and where, frankly, people did not care so much about Senator McCarthy.  They just wanted good haircuts and my grandfather, being one of two barbers, was the only other game in town. 


              So, my grandfather had lost his business, his wife, and all three of his children because he was “a foreigner” from a suspected Communist-affiliated country and highly suspect.  But it didn’t stop there.  He saw friends deported for no clear reason other than the Government saw fit to do it.  He saw other friends lose businesses.  He saw other children alienated from their families.  And through it all, he paid his taxes, and pledged allegiance to this country, the same country who would never grant him citizenship because of his “suspicious” colleagues.  The tailor from Austria.  The Italian businessman.  My grandfather died when I was fourteen, on the Fourth of July, freedom for all, fairness to none. 

              When I was 19, I applied for a position at the former Olmsted Air Force Base in nearby Middletown, PA.  The position required a “Secret” clearance, which usually took 4 to 6 weeks to complete.  Eighteen weeks into the clearance process, I was called by an officer of the OSI (Office of Special Investigation) of the Air Force, who told me that a car would be sent for me at 8:00 the following morning and that I would be “interviewed” regarding my job application.  The “interview” was, in fact, an interrogation, and the only people present in that hot, unvented room on that summer day were a stenographer, three men in dark suits, and me.  The “interview” took over 7 hours, and I was given a bathroom break and a drink of water.  The questions were all regarding my grandfather and his suspected affiliation with an organization called the IWO, or International Workers Order, a Communist Party-affiliated insurance, mutual benefit and fraternal organization.  I had no knowledge of whether or not he was a member, but he had apparently taken out an insurance policy to protect me, his only grandchild, from accident and/or illness.  Not only did they not believe my testimony, they caused my clearance to be “suspended” which is, in actuality, worse than a denial.  So I lost the job before I got it.  Some 20 years later, in Dayton, OH, I was a temporary worker in a very large chemical plant with massive government contracts.  When I was offered permanent employment, I was told I would have to have an AEC (Atomic Energy Clearance) check run.  I told the head of security that I would never get the clearance, and told him why.  They proceeded anyway, and for the second time I had a clearance suspended.  I didn’t get that job, either.  I’ve done a lot of waitressing and barmaid jobs, because no one in those industries cared who my grandfather was.  Now I am a very old lady, on borrowed time, and I cannot let Mr. Foertsch’s letter stand without a rebuttal. 

               I would like to address one other matter, that being so-called security risks in higher government. 

Even after McCarthy’s “cleansing,” we were subjected to Richard Nixon, Robert McNamara, George H. W. and George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and perhaps the worst of all, Richard Cheney, who invented a war which bankrupted our nation and killed and maimed our soldiers in order to profit from it.  So much for security risks. 
The defense rests.

~~~ Orb Weaver

Friday, October 23, 2015

How I met Alexander Hamilton


In a dim bookshop,

Where a huge, bad-tempered charcoal

Cat with yellow eyes glared in the sepia shadow

Of a fly specked window,

I found you.


A worn olive drab

A bold gold title

Antique spine, dated 1902.

Mother must have bought you,

The cost a whole $2.

Black and White

Trumbull in front--and

There you were!


You—ecstatic, thin, red head thrown back,

Face shining, 1776 on fire!

No wonder your new friends,

Fellow aides-de-camp to the great

George Washington, nicknamed

You “The Little Lion.”


Accustomed to escape like this,

I read and read, oddly compelled to

Struggle through a dense jungle of

Edwardian prose,

The work of a once lauded,

Now forgotten

Lady Novelist.


Oh, how well she knew you!

Baby-faced orphan who withstood the scorn of

A world where you were “baseborn,”

Who held on, somehow,

To the God Inside.


I started sleeping with you

When I was eleven.

We were both alone and anguished,

Threatened by mean drunks

Who round the clock

Figured chaos.


Outside, in tropical night, the

Rum-soaked party, grown-ups braying,

Men fighting, pawing the women,

A grand finale of blows and vomit.
We hugged each other about the neck,

Knobby knees to knees,

Breathed in each other’s breath—

Yours sharp, redheaded.

We tried instead to hear the

Tree-frogs chorus, to drowse at last to

The rattle of palm and

Whispers of Casurina, to let

Lady of the Night bloom

Inside our nostrils instead of



Together we crept from the hot room,

And stared at the sky, until

Our eyes spilled at

Venus blazing over jet-black surf,

A mirrored path

Across a living,

Phosphorescent sea. 


With that old book,

I traveled on prop airplanes,

On ocean liners, and

When the money ran out, on

Tramp freighters redolent

With diesel,

The rounded corners

My creature comfort

In a sinkhole of

Squandered love,

And money.

Across time, we held hands,

Brother and sister.


We hid from blows,

From nightmarish demands,

From double binds tougher

Than the Gordian knot,

Hid from the

Stink of last night’s whiskey,

Trays of butts,

Hiding, fingers in our ears,

From assaults which might

Include us,

From the harsh slap and roar

Of violent sex,

From the Beauty

With a black eye, who is

Our mother.


Tropic rain,

Sloshing cow’s piss

Splashing the palms, the beach,

Turning Caribbean streets  into an

Odorous garbage-strewn river.

Hurricane weather, gray dragon clouds

Sprawl above snarling surf.

White horses stampede and

Boom, manes tossing on the reef.

We grow up anyway,

Children in peril.


We find more books—

Mine in the trash can

Behind the bacchanalian

Bajan bar from whose stools

Inebriated Brits leap into the sea.


He finds his in the musty,

Cockroach haunted libraries of

Planters, lordly gentlemen

He fetches and carries for,

Merchants for whom he copies,

Dawn to dusk,

Accounts balanced,

Doors he jumps to open so

They can step right through,

He is just another a cheap

Commodity, this brilliant charity child.


We part company.

He goes his never-was-a-kid

Capricorn way, ponders

Philosophy and Law,

Studies Blackstone, Hobbes and Hume,

And the new science,


While I, backed behind the bar,

Sit on the floor and imagine,

Along with ETA Hoffmann,

That an aria can

Kill you.


Alone now, on the beach,

I watch whales court

In neon water, while at my feet, 

Sea foam dwindles into sand.


I am lost

Along with Odysseus,

Groping in the bedrooms of

Murderous Plantagenets.

We grow up separately,

Different centuries,

Opposite sex,

Different books in hand.


His ambition seeks

“War and Preference”

A Gentleman’s Honor,

While I roam the brown-sugar

Strand, talking to myself as he did,

Oblivious to the unblinking stares of

Wrinkled old men,

A tan teen-ager

In a yellow French bikini.



~ Juliet Waldron


Thursday, September 17, 2015

One of Those Days by Joy Gagliano

From my Friend Joy, who lives in the country and enjoys contemplation

Today, the sun is out, forest and gardens freshened and damp.
A rare, late heat snap gripped our area for the last week or so.
So, last nights steady rainfall and fifteen degree drop in temperature were gifts bestowed from the nature gods. Greedily accepted.
I sit on the porch, enjoying the air, color and sunshine. As I soak in the day, I realize it it the first  day. Weather wise, of the start of fall. A semi sweet realization.
Harvest has begun, farmers, gardeners and chipmunks are gathering the summers fruits.
The smells in the air are earthy and full, leaves, some, giving up their green for gold and brown..
Others falling to decorate the mosses.
It is like early evening in the scope of the year of seasons.
On a good day, looking back  on our hours,  to see the fruits we have gathered is rewarding. Comforting.
We shall sleep well.
Yet, in the early evening, we know night is coming. The end of a glorious day, and at times, hard to leave such  a satiating day, but we have no choice, no control..which, for me, is oddly comforting.
Hoping the morrow will give us the same.. Yet knowing, the march is toward the dark night.
And must be gone thru to wake to the mornings.
I love sitting on my porch.
  ~~ Joy


And here's another porch, in another season--the one that's coming. 
Take a moment to appreciate these golden September mornings!   ~~ Juliet

Friday, July 10, 2015


~When the stars align correctly, Cronehenge receives a message from OrB Weaver.~


              It was a very long winter in Southern Delaware.  So, its early summer and I finally get out for a drive early one morning with no specific destination in mind: just to relish in the cool morning air after days of wet heat.  I leave the house at a relatively early (for me) hour, around 7 a.m. to beat the heat.  And oh, it’s Sunday.
              This is rural Southern Delaware in an area commonly known as Long Neck.  It is half way between Millsboro to the West, and Lewes to the East.  Now, I very rarely have the need (nor the temper for the tourists, those morons) to go to Lewes, and so my primary route of travel is on the same road, but in the opposite direction.  State Route 24 runs from Lewes to Millsboro, where it crosses Route 113 and becomes something else on the other side at some point.  Three years and I have not quite figured out the country roads.  Anyway, I run the miles mostly between Long Neck and Millsboro to 113 for doctors, my library, Lowes, Fulton Bank and lots of family restaurants.  It’s the best way to get from one side of the state to the other, but ... it’s two lanes, mostly passing restricted (which stops no one), but with quite a few areas that allow passing for brief sections.  As a result, it has the highest fatality rate of any Delaware state road.  That’s quite an accomplishment.  Misplaced, but notable.    
              On this particular morning there was quite a bit of fairy fog lying in the low field areas and in low-lying woodland.  The sun was shining, reflecting off the mist, and everything was covered in soft sparkles of light.  Just as I move into a curve into an area of woods, on the side of the road I see something ...  no, two things ... lying there, obviously discarded from a vehicle, two platform high heel satin strap pumps in what the ‘50s used
 to be called “Titty Pink,” and omigod, it was a note from the Cosmos.

First and foremost, now I know there is at least one other person as totally spontaneous and psychotic as I am.  Hooray for my side.  Bless you sister, I wish I knew who you are.  But it will have to be enough to know that at least one time, in an absolute fury of independence, I can see  you in my  mind’s eye, a word, a look, a ‘tsk’ pointed towards you, you took OFF those ComeFuckMe shoes and heaved’em out a car window, because you had come to the end of the line of ridicule, abuse, torture, hypocrisy, or because the wedding was such a flop, you  actually felt some blame, so you tossed them to restore some balance in your universe.  I threw my shoes out the car window at 70 miles per hour, bright forest green satin, the guy behind me in the semi was surely waiting for the body.  But that was my freedom gesture.  And shoes make a statement.  Shoes are like ... “I’d rather go barefoot than walk one more foot in these shoes that I wouldn’t wear if it weren’t for you ...”

              So to say I had an immediate kinship with the former owner of those magnificent shoes (think Joan Crawford, think early Bette Davis, or Lana Turner), because shoes say it all.  And she was certainly giving some man a big  FUCK YOU.  The only reason we wear those tortuous designs is because it is part of female DNA, programmed to believe that shoes actually sell sex.  And, yes.  They do.  And we allow it to continue, because even if we accept it’s bad for us, it’s always been fun to be bad.

              You go, girl, you of the pink platforms.  I almost went back and retrieved them, but I thought, no, that’s none of my business and I shouldn’t interfere in what was so obviously a very strong signal to someone.  So I left them there in the hope that everyone will wonder and everyone will have a story, but you have sent a clear message of being just plain fed up.  You get mad enough, anything’s possible.  Even something good.

              Or, of course, you might have just hated the shoes. 


Orb Weaver

July 8, 2015