Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Morning

Sneaking downstairs while everyone sleeps, just to see the tree alight, the packages wrapped and piled around its base, the "fireplace" we made from cardboard boxes and construction paper.

Last night I read Clement Moore's poem and the passage describing Christmas at Fezziwig's from Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" to the excited kids (and the cat) while the smiling face of their father encouraged me on.

As Peggotty, I say this every morning at Tableau, before we open the Dickens Fair proper. This morning, the words ring truer than before: "This will be the best Christmas ever!"

Yuletide blessings to all.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


After having successfully completely every NaBloPoMo since its inception (okay, three) I have to accept the fact that I have too much going on with my life right now to commit to blogging everyday this month. This is harder than it seems.

Today I am getting my hair cropped after not having done anything with it for six years. I'm nervous and excited all at once.

Here's the "before" photo (taken last June)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

If You're Tired of Tea Then You're Tired of Life

The phrase "Mama, may I have a cuppa?" as spoken by my four-year-old, makes my Cockney heart swell with pride.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Teaching cockney and dialect coaching followed by rehearsal made for a full day. I've got nothing in me bit sleep.

Friday, November 13, 2009


My head is full of Cockney cant and slang as I revamp my handouts for this weekends workshops in preparation for the Dickens Christmas Fair. No time to write, of course.

What a sorry excuse for a blog!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Talk to the Bird

It has been, I hope understandably, more than a little crazed in these parts. So here is a photo that I took back in August of a pelican on the Santa Cruz Pier. He will be your temporary host today.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I long for the mantle of fiction with which to cloak the truth.

Well, that and a good eight hours of sleep in a row.

A dish of gelato wouldn't be turned away either.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Funeral

Arrived at the church, my mother sniping, complaining and criticizing me the entire three hour drive. I kept my father's voice in my head and refused to take the succulent bait she tantalized me with, responding to everything with, "Yes, mother" or just reaching over and taking her hand.

I escorted her into the church, still clad in jeans and t-shirt and fled as quickly as she would let me to the car to retrieve my clothes.

There are three Patriot Guard Riders here, as motorcycle escort (though not flying any flags), all on Harleys. I approached one of the men and thanked him for being here and for everything they do. He smiled kindly and said this was his second most rewarding job. (I will ask him what the first was on my way back inside.)

The man looked at me, removing his dark glasses. "Are you alright?" he asked gently.

"No," I admitted. And he opened his arms and enveloped me in a hug while I sobbed openly into a stranger's arms.

He is old enough to be my father.

Why is it that we often feel most alone in the company of family?

Sunday, November 08, 2009


Two family deaths in one week and two full days of rehearsals and teaching dialect classes has resulted in one shell-shocked and brain-dead blogger. Add to that an average of four hours sleep for the last three nights. My internal censor has checked out entirely at this point.

I am leaving in six hours to drive two hundred miles to a funeral in the morning, returning tomorrow night. Right now, there is too much to write but I've not the facilities to do so.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." ~ Plato

Saturday, November 07, 2009


Mojo and I are watching an old Cosmos. Carl Sagan is talking about the Library of Alexandria and I am dreaming of what it would be like to have a library card.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Day four of NaBloPoMo and it is literally the eleventh hour.

I am sitting here in front of the computer trying to update my materials and do a class outline for the new Advanced Cockney class I am teaching to participants of the Great Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco. I am failing miserably.

Instead I think about my cousin, Punky, who I just found out tonight lost her battle with cancer. I am think about family and memory and the stories we pass on. I wonder about memory and how it becomes compromised, specifically how my memory has become compromised. The memories change when they are transmuted into story. They change with the telling. And as years pass and the tales become ingrained they are almost more vivid then the actual memory. They also become clouded with others stories, especially as they overlap.

It's day four at the eleventh hour and I am lost in memory. My daughter sleeps quietly beside me and I think about the stories I will tell her of the people she never knew. Those who came before. I wonder what stories she will tell in time and how our memories shape the future.

The best memory is that which forgets nothing but injuries. Write kindness in marble and injuries in dust. ~ Persian proverb

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Monday, November 02, 2009

Dia de los Muertos

The list grows:

Rose Rushdoony Deovlet (Grandma Rosie)
Phil Deovlet (Grandpa)
Robert H. Deovlet (Uncle Bob)
Gloria Deovlet (Auntie Gloria)
Rose (Vartoohi) Mahdesian Deovlet (Grandma Darling)
Benjamin Deovlet (Grandpa Darling)
Richard Deovlet -(Uncle Ricky)
Rose (Vartanoush) Rushdoony (Grandma Rushdoony)
Y.K. Rushdoony (Grandpa Rushdoony)
Mary Movsesian (Auntie Mim)
Spurgeon Avakian (Uncle Sparky)
Ruth Avakian (Auntie Ruthie)
Evelyn Cooper Smith (Grandma Evelyn)
Haywood Smith (Grandpa Haywood)
Joy Deane Wagner
Auntie Margie
Auntie Posie
Mullah Don Brown
Dave Coker
Fred Cone
Brian Dall'Armi
Maxina Danner (Snookie)
Jorge Luis Farias-Martinez
Ronnie Geoffrion
Mary Jo Goss
Tony Guzman
Mace Hanley
Bill Harris
Michael Hefflin
Jerry Josephs
Jennifer Lee
Patrick Lee
Ruth Leggett
Wally Lockwood
Amethyst Mariani
Evan McCaskey
Don Mills
Shelly Munge
Dan O'Brien
Theryl O'Ryan
Timur Otus
Ricky Paul
Dave Ricker
Phil Robledo
Barbara Rose
Sally Schneider
Andrew Small
Manny Suarez
Sully (Gordon Sullivan)
Bob Thomas
Marilyn Tutunjian (Punky)
Linda Underhill
Robin Wadsworth
Bob Wright
Margie Wright
Wolfie, the Maine Coon of my heart

As every year, I pause. I read the names aloud and hear the echo in my heart. I wrack my brain fearing, knowing, I left someone out. I cry. I remember. I love.

No more words of my own. Take these in their place:


by Christina Rossetti
When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain;
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

It's That Time of Year Again

I just looked back and realized that this will be my fourth NaBloPoMo. Can I get a resounding call of "Holy Crap!" from the congregation?

Of course, I contemplating ignoring the month altogether. It seems I have less time to write and/or spend on the internet. But when I have a deadline, an assignment, a task to complete, I have always managed to eke out the time to do it. So I have made the commitment and joined the blogroll.

I'll close with a quote that I have always loved. Hopefully it will prove inspirational.

It took me forever to realize that in order to write I just have to turn up at the desk every morning at 9 A.M. and do it. I can never convince kids of this. Faulkner said something wonderful about it when somebody asked him, 'Mr. Faulkner, do you write by inspiration of perspiration?' He said, 'I write by inspiration, but fortunately it arrives every morning at nine o'clock.'
--Reynolds Price

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Five Years

Maxina Danner
Born: 25 March 1987
Murdered: 27 September 2004

You are loved and missed, Snookie. You are forever in our hearts.

You are remembered.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A Conversation With My Four Year Old

"I'm a big boy."

"You're a big girl."

"No! Today I want to be a boy. I can be a girl again tomorrow. Is that okay, Mommy?"

"Yes, sweetheart. That's perfectly okay."

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fourth Birthday

Fourth Birthday Photo
Originally uploaded by Artemis Rich
I was remiss in marking the anniversary of my beloved Minion's fourth year on earth. Here we are, the morning of her birthday on the 23rd of May.

So much going on and no time to write. Soon, soon...all you dedicated readers. All will be revealed!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Armenian Martyrs Day

"If evil of this magnitude can be ignored, if our own children forget then we deserve oblivion and earn the world's scorn."

Avedis Aharonian (writer and educator, 1866-1948), English translation by Diana Der-Hovanessian

"I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose history is ended, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, whose literature is unread, whose music is unheard, whose prayers are no longer uttered. Go ahead, destroy this race. Let us say that it is again 1915. There is war in the world. Destroy Armenia. See if you can do it. Send them from their homes into the desert. Let them have neither bread nor water. Burn their houses and their churches. See if the race will not live again when two of them meet in a beer parlor, twenty years after, and laugh, and speak in their tongue. Go ahead, see if you can do anything about it. See if you can stop them from mocking the big ideas of the world, you sons of bitches, a couple of Armenians talking in the world, go ahead and try to destroy them....for when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a new Armenia!"

William Saroyan "The Armenian and the Armenian"

Bay Area Commemorations:

United Hands Across Cal (UHAC)
24 April 2009, 12 noon
UC Berkeley, Upper Sproul Steps
Berkeley, CA

This hour-long rally on the UC Berkeley brings together students from all walks of life to commemorate the Armenian Genocide as well as other genocides and human rights violations. The goal is to raise our voices and demand that the Armenian Genocide be recognized and to speak out against the politics that result in the denial and neglect of injustice all over the world. We hope to create a chain of students and community members stretching across the entire campus during this event.

Main Commemorative Event of the 94th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

24 April 2009, 7:00 PM
825 Brotherhood Way
San Francisco CA

Key Note Speaker, Khatchig Mouradian, Editor of the Armenian Weekly, Boston.
Grace Andonian, Master of Ceremonies. Guest Speakers and Special Cultural Performances. Free.

Armenian Genocide Information:

Armenian National Institute

Genocide 1915

The Zoryan Institute

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Pint-Sized Camille

I've got a sick kid who is using me as her fainting couch and casually nuzzling my arm.

"How sweet," I thought to myself. Until I realized that she had actually been wiping her nose on my sleeve and I had to go change my shirt.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tiny Victories and Broken Hearts

This morning, Arabis was dry on awakening.

"Do you want to go use the potty?" I asked her and instead of the usual adamant refusal, she agreed. Afterward, there was much jubilation and a group performance of the "Peeing in the Potty" dance.

I am cautiously hopeful that we may actually potty train before her fourth birthday.


From the other day, before I forget, Arabis was methodically conducting a search of the front area where we have our living and dining room.

"I can't find him!" she almost wailed, a bit plaintively.

"Who are you looking for?" I asked her. "Can I help?"

"I'm looking for Wolfie and I can't find him!"

I swallowed my my tears and scooped her up into my arms and tried to explain again that he was gone and not coming back. And that I missed him, too. We went and cuddled on the sofa with Izzy, his sister, for a bit. Then all was well for the time being.

Napping with Wolfie

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Punk

Courtesy of Dr Peabody's WABAC Machine, I give you "A Portrait of the Author as a Young Punk."

Taken at Tim Kingston's flat in San Francisco, October 1989. I adore my new scanner!

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Originally uploaded by Artemis Rich
My boy is gone.

Thank you all for your kind words and support.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Originally uploaded by Artemis Rich
Tomorrow is the day. Please keep your candles lit, to light him the way home.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wolfie Update

Wolfie in the Sun
Originally uploaded by Artemis Rich
Home from the vet. Mojo was able to get off work early (he works only about a mile away from the veterinary office) and I picked him up from work and he and Arabis went to the park while I took the Wolf-Cat to the doctor.

And brought him home.

We have a bit of a reprieve and a modicum of hope.

Before anything else, I'd like to say that Doctor Hack of Codornices Veterinary Clinic in Albany is wonderful, as are the staff that I interacted with. Doctor Hack was ready as soon as I arrived and spent about 45 minutes with Wolf and I, going over his past history and checking him very thoroughly. He was compassionate, gentle and genuinely concerned.

Wolfie's weight is down to 7 pounds, 5 ounces. He's always been rangy for a Maine Coon, topping out at a healthy and trim 14 pounds. Today he was an emaciated wreck. I don't know if you've ever seen a cat with sunken eyes before, but it's an alarming thing.

I had been monitoring Wolfie's hydration level since the morning, checking him periodically, and by the time we got to the vet, he was showing signs. Dr Hack agreed and Wolf was given 120ccs of subcutaneous fluid and they took blood to run a full screen and a urine sample.

Dr Hack and I will talk in the morning and decide what the next step is based on the results of the lab work. If an ultrasound is necessary, they have an in-house radiology technician on Saturday, so we can act swiftly.

Wolfie was a champ the entire time. He took to Dr Hack and allowed himself to be handled (this is the cat with "CAUTION" written on the top of all his past charts). He was not so docile with the technician, however. I supposed he decided that after the indignity of the rectal thermometer, nothing would phase him.

On the trip over, Wolfie sat calmly and quietly in the carrier, like a Chinese lion statue, occasionally licking my fingers through the bars of the door and responding with small mews whenever I would talk or sing to him. None of this is normal behavior. Car trips usually inspire him to sing the entire cannon of Klingon Opera as he knows it (my boy soprano).

In the back seat on the drive to Albany, Arabis sang two songs, the first being adapted from Dora the Explorer with the refrain changed to: "Where are we going? (clap clap clap) To Wolfie's doctor!"

And from Wonder Pets: "Wolfie is sick. Take him to the doctor. This is sewious. We have to help him. To save the Wolfie. Wheeee! Wonder Pets, Wonder Pets, we're on our way. To help the baby Wolfie and save the day. We're not too big and we're not too tough but when work together we've got the right stuff. Gooooooo, Wonder Pets!"

My daughter. I think I'll keep her.

"Shall I just make him as comfortable as possible tonight?" I asked Dr Hack as we left.

"We're not entirely at that point yet," he replied. "Let's see what the labs say tomorrow."

He ate little food when I brought him home and I'm going out to buy him some chicken later on. So we wait.

Thank you for all your candles lit and thoughts sent. I am holding them close, for both of us. As my friend Vulkie says, "(Maine Coons) are not really cats. They are super beings inhabiting feline bodies." It's true. I try to explain him to people who have never spent time with a Maine Coon and they don't believe or understand the stories. The best description I can come up with is this: you know how cats see things that people can't? Maine Coons see things that other cats can't even see.

I can't write anymore without breaking down. We're not out of the woods yet, but the forest is a bit lighter. The only member of the household unhappy with this is Isabelle, his sister, who looked disgusted that I brought him back home. She'll get over it.


Originally uploaded by Artemis Rich
I think my boy is dying. He has stopped eating today. I am taking him to a vet this afternoon, recommended by my old vets in the City. Until then, we wait.

We'll have been together 15 years this month. In just a couple of days, in fact. My heart is breaking and I have to hold it together for Arabis, who doesn't realize anything is wrong. I started crying on the phone with the vet receptionist but she was really nice.

My fuzzy love boy, the Maine Coon of my heart. Please send prayers and light candles to Bast, St Francis, whoever you have ties to. Please.

Monday, January 05, 2009


I begin to see

The haunted are
by specters of the
because they want to be

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Tony Guzman's Memorial

For those of us who knew and loved Tony and worked with him years ago.

I received a message yesterday from Sarah, Tony's niece with information about the memorial service.

WHEN: Saturday, 10 January 2009 at 3:00 PM

WHERE: Unitarian Universalitst Church, 2425 Sierra Blvd, Sacramento CA

Donations may be made to the American Diabetes Association, the Sierra Club or the SPCA.

My heart is too heavy to write more. The Sacramento Bee obituary is here.

Photo by Martin Nagle.