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Mendocino County Today: Saturday, April 5, 2014

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AS PRINT NEWSPAPERS pass into the frenetic oblivion of the internet — the Newark Star-Ledger is the latest large-circulation paper to radically downsize — the AVA is also poised to make radical changes, changes made necessary in our case by the collapse of the U.S. Post Office as a reliable delivery system, the loss of the many bookstores and news stands that we have always depended on for much of our hard copy sales and, of course, the abbreviation of the national attention span, especially in persons under the age of 60. Fewer people read 12 pages of 9-point type. Fewer people read much period, especially in print form.

THE FIRST WEEK IN MAY, out of state subscribers will be charged a hundred bucks a year. We can't help it. Postal rates continue to climb even as the Post Office fails, on a weekly basis, to deliver our newspaper in a timely manner. And, insult to major injury, for tenth-rate service we now pay more to get the paper to readers out of state than a $50 subscription covers. We're operating at an out-of-state loss, and we can't afford it.

THE PAPER EDITION of the AVA will be eight pages of Mendo-focused stuff. Online subscribers will still get the full 12 pages of content, plus additional news posted daily in the form of "Mendocino County Today." We're nowhere near death-rattle, but we can't afford to mail papers to far-flung destinations at present subscription rates, and given the vastness of our beloved Mendoland, we mail lots of papers inside the county.

OF COURSE our eight-page paper will bring you more news and interesting information in one edition than all of the area newspapers together manage in a month and will continue to be the excellent deal it is at $50 a year locally or a buck per issue at the market and those valiant news stands and book stores still hanging on against the electronic onslaught.

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COMMENT FROM THE AVA HOTLINE: “KZYX Thursday morning public affairs host sounded like Kisslinger because Kisslinger alternates with Lambert and Kisslinger was last on on March 20 and this is now two weeks later. The guest was a Roederer representative, I think it was Arnaud Weyrich, explaining why they need to have frost protection fans. The Roederer guy mostly made the same points they made in their letter to the AVA, but they added that they plan to do a map of the ‘affected areas’ in the Valley. The KZYX host said very little, asking only a few softball questions, then allowing the Roederer guy to go on and on about how they are setting up a hotline and they hope people will call them and they are going to make a map of the affected areas. I thought they could simply give them a map of Anderson Valley! They are trying to avoid directly addressing the issue. So they are going to prepare all these coverage maps and do an analysis. It was just disgusting. It was a classic PR move. The host sounded like some milquetoast. I just happened to turn it on. They went on at length about the acidity of their wines and the importance of growing in this area. It was all just crap! The host never expressed any skepticism. He threw a couple of softball questions saying basically, Oh, we are having an issue here with the noise. But they were just obvious softballs. And the Roederer guest only wanted to talk about how great wine is for the Valley and the industry. I know the wine industry gives a lot of money to KZYX. My wife commented about that while we were listening. Otherwise, why would they even put such PR on in the morning? It does at least show that there seems to be some pressure on them. But it's insulting. They seem to think that if they explain things enough we will all just stop complaining. The Roederer guy went on about how important the cool nights are to the quality of the grapes and how it makes a better pinot wine. Why don't they plant their grapes in an area where it doesn't freeze? Why are they complaining about freezing when they plant them in an area they know will freeze?  But I really love the idea that they are going to make a map of the affected population. How long is THAT going to take? Probably until the frost season is over. Why do they need to do that? Don't they know who they are bothering? All they say now is they want to analyze the problem and take as much time as it takes. They don't want to confront the problem head-on. It’s also obvious that the wine industry thinks that KZYX is a handy mouthpiece. The host was embarrassing in the softball manner he used. It was almost scary.”

THE FROST FAN PEOPLE ought to be worried because they are in direct violation of the law.

“No existing or future agricultural operation or any of its appurtenances, conducted or maintained for commercial purposes, and in a manner consistent with proper and accepted customs and standards, shall become or be a nuisance, private or public, for adjacent land uses in or about the locality thereof after the same has been in operation for more than three (3) years, when such action was not a nuisance at the time it began; provided that the provisions of this subsection shall not apply whenever a nuisance results from the negligent or improper operation of any such agricultural operation or its appurtenances.”

They have introduced a brand new nuisance, one that destroys the sleep of roughly 3,000 people, as happened for eight consecutive days two weeks ago. The Frost Fan People can and probably will be sued unless they take immediate steps to cease and desist.

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THE CURRENT ART EXHIBIT at Lauren's restaurant in Boonville features works by local artists who'll be participating in this year's Anderson Valley Open Studios Tour. Stop in to partake of Lauren's always delicious fare and view samples of creations by: Xenia King, Marvin & Colleen Schenck, Rebecca Johnson, Jan Wax & Chris Bing, Doug Johnson, Rachel Lahn, Michael Wilson & Susan Spencer, Peggy & David Dart, Nancy MacLeod & William Allen. The 12th annual Open Studios Tour will be held Memorial Day weekend, May 24 through 26.

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I'm going with this interpretation from Ms. Grimes:
"...keep in mind that you won with a little over 13-1/2% of the membership voting for you [Paul Lambert]."
In other words, 13 1/2 % is not a mandate.

----- Original Message -----

From: "Paul Lambert"
Sent: Friday, April 4, 2014 10:25:15 AM
Subject: Re: [Kzyxtalk] Election Statistics


Should you have any specific requests, idea or gripes, please contact me at, at any time.


On Friday, April 4, 2014 9:59 AM, Kelly <> wrote:

Hello people interested in the fate of KZYX,

When I was a kid, I would debate with my dad about the problems with the USA. Inevitably the discussion would end with my dad telling me that if I didn't like this country that I should look around and try to find one that is better. The point is not to find the best Country (or station) but to make OUR Country or station the best! It would be nice if some of the concerns raised by the dissidents would actually be addressed instead of these broad attacks on a supposedly radical few. Mr. Lambert, congratulations on winning the election but keep in mind that you won with a little over 13-1/2% of the membership voting for you. Mr. McKenty got 12-1/2%. Please do not distort the numbers or the reality. Transparency and factual statements are the issue. Please keep this in mind as you sit on the board representing all of us. Finally, how can you speculate that the vast majority of financial supporters want to keep the station operating as is, since the vast majority did not even care enough to vote!! Thanks for listening.

Kelly Grimes

On 4/4/2014 9:25 AM, King Collins wrote:

Dear KZYX folks and list followers,

This thread is for interpreting the results of the election.

Below are the numbers, followed by the interpretations posted to the list, so far, about those numbers:

The vote count and percentages for the contested seats:

King, Collins, 23 votes, 3%
Tom, Melcher, 145 votes, 19%
Doug, McKenty, 286 votes, 37%
Paul, Lambert, 310 votes, 41%
Patricia, Kovner, 271 votes, 37%
Jane, Futcher, 458 votes, 63%
Meg, Courtney, 611 votes, (uncontested)

Total, ballots, 793 votes

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John Sakowicz's interpretation:

The 283 members who voted for Doug McKenty, out of the 783 total members who voted, should be a good start in trying to get a handle on the number of people disaffected with the status quo at KZYX. Doing the math, that's 36.5 percent of our members -- 36.5 percent who voted for change. Adding King Collins's 25 votes to Doug McKenty's 283 votes, that's 301 votes, or 38.4 percent.  This estimate of disaffected members does not count members who voted for Tom Metcher. Melcher was the deciding factor, whoever he is. He split the vote and helped elect KZYX's company man, Paul Lambert.  Telling this 38 percent of the membership "it's our way or the highway" just won't happen

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Paul Lambert wrote:  There is another way to frame this, of course:  That over 61% of the votes went to non-dissident candidates;  That as a percentage of all members, not just voters, dissidents represent about 10%;  I speculate that the vast majority of financial supporters want to keep the station operating as is, not because they don't have a choice, KMEC & KMUD, KWINE, Internet radio etc., but because they like the balance of NPR & local programming.  However, I do not support firing any or all of the current staff or management even if it brands me as a company man, a characterization I resent, because it implies I am in lock step with management, which is not accurate.  Having said that, as your elected representative, I would like to hear your specific requests, a la King's petition. I will do my best to represent all the members.

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BOONVILLE'S CHAYA MANDLEBAUM gets big appointment.

Governor Brown's appointees to the Fair Employment and Housing Council confirmed

On April 2, 2014 the Senate Rules Committee unanimously voted to confirm Governor Brown's appointees to the Fair Employment and Housing Council.

Council confirmation.jpg
From left to right: Chaya M. Mandelbaum (chair), Patricia C. Perez, Andrew A Schneidermanm, Dale L. Brodsky, Chanee N Franklin Minor

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ACCORDING TO SPOKESPERSON Casey Rettig of the US Department of Justice, four men and one woman were arrested Thursday in Mendocino County on a DEA warrant out of Arkansas. For reasons not disclosed, all five were booked into Humboldt County jail. The arrested persons were not identified by home town. They are: Ryan Marie and Brian Hartman, Nicholas Durupt, Paul Larramendy and Keith Johnson.

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You say love is this, love is that:

Poplar tassels, willow tendrils

the wind and the rain comb,

tinkle and drip, tinkle and drip--

branches drifting apart. Hagh!

Love has not even visited this country.

— William Carlos Williams

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THAT HIS PERFORMANCE would be recorded far beyond St. John's Wood was largely due to a critical remark made more than midway in Hamlet's run. Burton's Hamlet was something like a corrida, good one night, disappointing the next. But when he had his color and gave it the full Welsh timbre, he thrilled audiences long accustomed to the tremulous Gielgud reading. He had completed about 60 performances and the box office was beginning to slide when the house manager came to his dressing room one evening and said, "Be especially good tonight. The old man's out front."

"What old man?"

"He comes once a year," said the house manager. "He stays for one act and he leaves."

"For God's sake, what old man?"


As Burton spoke his first line — "A little more than kin, and less than kind" — he was startled to hear deep identical mutterings from the front row. Churchill continued to follow him line for line, a dramaturgical beagle, his face a thunderhead when something had been cut. "I tried to shake him off," remembers Burton. "I went fast and I went slow, but he was right there." Churchill was right there to the end, in fact, when Burton took 18 curtain calls and Churchill told a reporter "it was as exciting and virile a performance of Hamlet as I can remember." Years later, when Winston Churchill — The Valiant Years was under preparation for television, its producers asked Sir Winston who he thought should do the voice of Churchill. "Get that boy for the Old Vic," said the old man.

— Richard Burton as told to John McPhee

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I think American’s inchoate understanding was that we had the will and ability to either cow or convert the Afghans. This was always pretty delusional but Americans are thick as a plank. The French warned us about Vietnam but we knew better. We watched what happened to the Soviets in Afghanistan but again, we are better than everyone else so whatever they or the British or the Persians experienced there didn’t count. I am not a big fan of Churchill but when he said America could always be counted on to do the right thing, after they’ve exhausted all other options, is pretty close to accurate. Unfortunately for us Americans, the cushion of distance, wealth, and resources that allowed the US indulge such costly activities is wearing mighty thin. Iran will, in my opinion, use up the last of that cushion if Washington is dumb enough to take on a country that can effectively fight back.

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ZAINA VINEYARD ATTORNEY Matisse Knight (of the Jared Carter Law Firm in Ukiah) gave an unfortunately accurate and useful description of what was going on with the Zaina Vineyard re-zone proposal south of Ukiah for multi-family “affordable housing.” (Board of Supervisors meeting, March 25, 2014). In the end the Board voted to remove the Zaina Vineyard from the list of proposed “affordable housing” rezones to meet the settlement agreement. Whether the Legal Services or the Court will accept the remaining properties and acreage of rezoning remains to be seen. But after reading Mr. Knight’s description of how the County got to this place (with further background from our coverage last week) it’s clear that County planning and legal staff work is not up to par (as it was similarly FAR from up to par on the Garden’s Gate project Mr. Knight refers to). As usual, the Supervisors expressed exactly zero dissatisfaction or annoyance with this poor performance so it will go on as business as usual.

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Matisse Knight: The Zaina family understands that the county is in a tight spot. You have a settlement agreement that you entered into back in 2010 or thereabouts that requires certain things.  The problem here is that what you are proposing for this property is not going to get you out of that tight spot. Maybe the Zaina family could help you because they are probably owners. But there has been no cooperation, no collaboration with the family as to how they might be able to help you get out of this. This has simply been presented as a forced rezone. Your tight spot is not the fault of the property owners here. This process as we have heard has taken a long time. Probably understandably, Legal Services of Northern California is a bit frustrated with the slow progress and they are putting the hammer down through the courts. I suggest that you go back and look -- and you may not want to go back and look and recall the 2009 proceedings when the general plan was adopted -- but the letter submitted by Legal Services of Northern California as to the problems back then are indicative of what you may see in the future here. Legal Services had a problem with the proposed rezoning and current zoning back in 2009 and 2010 not because you did not have enough properties with the two letter zoning designation on them. They had a problem with the fact that properties that were designated for multifamily development or proposed to be designated as multifamily development could not actually be developed. They did not meet the spirit of what we are trying to do and that is to provide housing. You are heading down the same road with this property and in this case. There are issues about whether this property could meet the needs of multifamily residential development. When the county adopted the general plan back in 2010 or so and redesignated the land-use designations of some of these properties to of the Zaina property, it was with a deliberate understanding that the property at that time would not be rezoned. The land-use designation was made but they were not rezoned. It was a conscious decision by the county to say that we will not proceed on these until the property owners come to us and want to be rezoned. But that's not what this proceeding is about. The Zaina family is not coming to you asking that this property be rezoned. So that's not consistent with the state putting us in this position of changing the land-use designation a few years ago without changing the zoning. Now we are in a position where the rezoning has to be forced. That picked up about a year ago. The Zaina family understood that there was a possibility of some forced rezoning. They came in and talked with the planning staff to find out what was happening. They left those meetings with the understanding that nothing was going to happen to the Zaina property. The property would not be rezoned. That changed about six weeks ago when they got a letter that just said we are going to rezone your property. No discussion. No explanation as to why or what the ramifications would be. No explanation of what it means to the property. Just a mandate saying we are going to do this. Then we met with planning staff again to find out why. What's going on? We were told essentially that this has to happen. We are under the settlement agreement and we have to rezone your property. We started asking questions about what that means. What does it mean to the property owner now that it's going to go to R-3? What does it mean for the county? The responses were essentially, Well, we don't even know the details right now. We don't need to know what the impacts are for this specific property. We don't need to get into "the weeds." But understanding the impact on the property owners, understanding whether you are providing them with property that they can now market, understanding if the property can be developed as proposed, is not getting into the weeds! It's something that needs to be understood and is not understood and it is not addressed now and it makes it not appropriate to go forward with this forced rezoning.

The staff report doesn't address any of this other than to say that what we are doing here is programmatic so we don't need to address the details. But when you know what a specific project is, and make no mistake this as a project, rezoning the property is a project. And when you know the specifics of what you are doing which is nine acres of Zaina property from suburban residential to R-3. That's a project. You know that what is being proposed that that gives as a matter of right the opportunity to develop 196 units on nine acres of vineyard property. You know that in this area on South State Street there have been other development projects that have been proposed. The Garden's Gate project is just to the north. There are 197 units on that project (not built). You are likely familiar with, and planning staff certainly is familiar with the hoops that had to be jumped through just to get that property approved. No groundbreaking has happened so far. But just to get it approved the engineering feats that had to be designed into the plan to deal with issues like sanitation and storm water — as we understand it the Garden's Gate project had to design some underground vaults that would store stormwater because of the physical limitations that the property has down there in that part of South State Street which are only going to be compounded by adding another 197 units potentially in this area of State Street. It cannot physically happen like that down there. Now you are presenting to the Zaina family a property that will have a portion of it arbitrarily designated for 197 units that they if at some point were put in a position where they had to sell that property and market it, they would now have to market with a development designation as a matter of right which provides for development that physically cannot happen. How do you market that? That's a question we presented to staff and again we were told that those are "the weeds" that we don't need to get into right now. But we do need to understand that. And that's what the Zaina family is asking for. Also, what does this proposed rezoning mean for the county? Remember that the county is under this settlement agreement. The fire has been lit to get these rezonings done in line with that settlement agreement. But what does that settlement agreement require? Under that agreement the county must rezone land that is required to be vacant or underutilized. This is a productive vineyard. Are we going to tell this family that's been farming there for 100 years that this is vacant and underutilized? Apparently that's the suggestion here. It also has to be suitable for development under the settlement agreement. Part of that settlement agreement says basically that today if you were to approve this action the probably owners need to be able to go to the Ukiah Valley Sanitation District and be provided with hookups that will serve 197 units. We know that there is a hook up basically at the health club across the street maybe 100 feet from the corner. Probably there is the smallest service line that Ukiah Valley Sanitation District has servicing the health club and the industrial complex there. But there is no discussion of how you are going to hook up 197 units to that small distribution line or if Ukiah Valley Sanitation District can even handle it. No discussion of that. But under the settlement agreement you have to be able to provide that today. That isn't there. There are also as we discussed significant drainage issues. The Garden's Gate Project had to find a way around that with some engineering feats that nobody has ever taken on to break ground with. If you're going to add a development of 197 units just to the south of that the drainage simply will not support that. Staff knows that. And because of that knowledge it needs to be addressed. If you know about issues on a particular project, you know the specifics and you know where the project is, you cannot go back and rely on the Ukiah Valley Area Plann environmental impact report which looked at the big picture. Nowhere in that EIR can you find this property discussing development potential of 197 units and the environmental impact that that will have on that particular area of South State Street. It must be fully addressed and the impacts must be looked at and they are not. The 2010 housing element specifically says that the county has sufficient property zoned for multifamily residential development to meet all of the state requirements. That's right in the housing element. It's quoted in my letter. Was that not true? Does the county actually have enough residentially R-3 zoned property, mixed-use zoned property to meet state requirements? Because that's what the housing element says. What has changed? The housing element is being presented as the basis for the need for this change but the housing element does not provide a basis because all it says is we have enough and we want to maybe provide ourselves with a little bit of a buffer so we want to rezone 24 acres or a little more. But providing a buffer is not a reason to force rezone and take property rights from property owners. Instead, if it's really necessary this should be more of a collaborative process. There should be some discussion if the county really wants to do this with the people who want to get you out of that bind. What sort of incentives can be provided? What kind of explanation of the impacts can be provided? There should be legitimate discussion and study of what this means for the property owners and the county. And that's what this family has asked for. Slow down a little bit, don't take the recommended action today, but maybe take some sort of action, maybe take some action towards the Planning Department that it's time to move on and time to get going and time to sit down with Legal Services of Northern California and have everybody understand the predicament that everyone is in and whether or not there is actually property that can be developed and rezoned and discuss whether or not we can meet the requirement of the settlement agreement and how we're going to do that. What we have not even heard, and here we are a month after the Planning Commission meeting and it is not known if Legal Services will even accept this property as satisfying the settlement agreement. How are we a month after the Planning Commission meeting and not knowing the answer to whether or not they will accept this as falling under the settlement agreement? Can you imagine where we will be if you force rezoning on this property and then the court comes back and says, Well that does not meet our requirements. Then you have more potential issues with the property owners and you have an issue with Legal Services of Northern California and the court. That's just not a path you can take right now. Slow it down a bit and ensure that these properties will meet the requirements of the settlement agreement and see if there's something you can work out to cooperate with the property owners. Don't expose the county to litigation on multiple fronts which is what this could potentially lead to."

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FOOTNOTE: SUPERVISOR DAN GJERDE offered one of the strangest reasons we’ve ever heard — and we’ve heard from doozies — on why he felt he should recuse himself from the discussion involving the affordable housing rezoning: “I’ve had a chance to talk to legal counsel. One of the property owners is co-owner of the hotel where I sometimes stay and I have negotiated to get a lower price. The County Counsel doesn’t believe — isn’t certain if that’s a legal conflict of interest but due to the appearance — the possible appearance of a legal conflict I’m going to recuse myself and not participate.”

Supervisor Pinches (after both Supervisors McCowen and Gjerde had recused themselves): “So they’re falling like flies.”

Hamburg: (Laughs) “We’ll I live near one of the properties so I’m going to — No. Just kidding.”

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by Shepherd Bliss with Assumpta Ortiz

A “Second Chance,” after 25 years of absence and silence, was recently offered Shepherd by Assumpta. Her email arrived from Europe to his farm. We met in Barcelona in l988 and have had no contact during the last quarter of a century. I answered her email within 15 minutes of its sending, without thinking, but with a deep feeling of connection.

“Where are you staying?” this cinnamon-shaded woman inquired in Spanish, after I presented at an international conference. I used to speak Spanish well, but not for about 15 years, because of war trauma in Chile during the early l970s. “You could stay at my home,” she invited. I appreciated her Catalan hospitality, but declined, not wanting to be unprofessional. “How about dinner, then?” she continued, which I did accept.

I eventually extended my stay and moved in with Assumpta for a few days. My lost Spanish, the language of my deepest love feelings, began returning. Love can stimulate recovery. Assumpta later visited me in the Boston area. She then moved to Montreal for graduate studies, where I visited her in 1989.

I wrote about those first connections in an essay entitled “Making Love in Spanish Differs,” which was published in two books. She remembers our beginning as “an irrational, intuitive, impulsive, deep experience.” She felt “an immediate affection when I saw your eyes locked on mine. I was a free woman. I felt loved and understood in my whole person. I felt alive and energetic.” Our early encounters were primal and embodied.

We discussed sharing a life together. She wanted a child, but I did not. Many things that differ can be both/and. Having a child is either/or. I was afraid. Given all my military genes--including the fort named after our Southern fighting family, Ft. Bliss, Texas--I was unwilling to take the risk. Having served in the Army during the Vietnam Era, I did not want to sire yet another Bliss boy who might go to war and kill or be killed.

Assumpta eventually had a son, though her relationship with his father dissolved. I have been careful and never gotten a woman pregnant. I am now childless in my 60’s and without a life partner.

This year Assumpta again took the initiative to connect. Then she invited me to Barcelona; I plan to go in July and she plans to come to California in January. This re-connection, which she calls a “golden opportunity,” has ignited me with energy. We email every day, usually many times. She asked me to install skype, so we speak and see each other. We exchange photos. We discuss our long-long-distant relationship with friends. Across the miles, she feels “accompanied by you,” as I feel by her.

As Assumpta, a former nurse, says. “Such dreams stimulate endorphins that positively influence the nervous system. In the midst of economic crises, senseless wars, earthquakes, and climate changes that accelerate destruction of nature, it is possible to love deeply. Love calls for reconstruction.”

We’ve already had our first conflict. She said something that bothered me. I responded promptly and took the risk of telling her that I felt hurt. It was quickly resolved and drew us closer. I want to open the door widely to Assumpta. I seem to have more boundaries than she.

I began writing this in an all-day circle among military veterans and our allies in our Veterans Writing Group, who have gathered regularly to write for over two decades. “There’s nothing new about late-life romance,” our over-80 World War II Navy vet Bill Boykin said, as he tenderly touched his long-time, beautiful wife Marg Starbuck.

A year before Assumpta’s return, I came to love another creature, who opened my heart. A 12-week-old puppy came toward me at the Sebastopol Farmer’s Market. I reached down and she jumped into my arms. I noted a litter of half a dozen dogs. “May I walk her around?” I asked. “Sure,” they responded enthusiastically. I came back later to return her. “She’s adopted you,” they said. “Oh, no, I am not looking for a dog,” I replied. “You should take her home,” they responded. So I did.

Winnie has been the love of my life for slightly over a year. Last semester one of my college students noted, “Now that Shepherd has a dog, he is a better teacher, and even a better person.” Winnie was the midwife to my relationship with Assumpta. This four-footed, to which I am a two-footed companion, helps heal me. Both Assumpta and Winnie are spontaneous and act with flair; they help connect me to the primitive.

On our one-month anniversary of re-connection, Assumpta sent me the gift of her “Love History.” It began with her mother and father; he spent time in a concentration camp, which he never talked about. My father fought during World War II and became a career military officer. He also did not talk about his war experiences. Both of our fathers were somewhat absent, though Assumpta eventually got closer to her father than I did. Fortunately, I felt very close to my mother.

Assumpta and I have some important differences in our cultures and languages. A salient similarity is that we have both been touched directly by fascism — she by the Spanish Civil War, which was before her birth, and myself by “the other 9/11,” when the military toppled the democratic government of Chilean President Salvador Allende. He initiated a reign of terror throughout Latin America’s Southern Cone, which took the lives of thousands, including my friends.

We both carry what Assumpta describes as “the suffering and cruelty of war.” We have the “genetic information of torture and isolation. I do not think that it is possible to reach the depth of feelings without the extreme experiences. The same capacity that makes us sensitive to pain can make us sensitive to love. Some dream of a deep love but live on the surface.”

Assumpta writes about the indispensable elements of love being “empathy, solidarity, communication, friendship, altruism, intimacy, respect, and reciprocity.” I have been reading the excellent book “Undefended Love,” by Jett Psari and Marlena Lyons, and sending her quotes from it. I have been pretty defended in my own giving and receiving. I now seek to be less defended.

This second time around, we are experiencing what Assumpta describes as “a direct, spontaneous, and irrational experience unhindered by the repressive mind.” She also voices her “doubts and fears” and writes that “we need to harmonize. We express our feelings continuously. We are compatible in mental, spiritual, and emotional levels. But we are on earth in a physical plane and yet have no physical contact yet.” We need to “avoid idealization,” she adds, and I agree. She writes about what she describes as “mature love,” which is what it feels that we are attempting.

Fortunately, our goals are now compatible, which they were not in l980’s. We each want what she describes as a “life partner” with whom we can “become who we are” and “express the self.” Assumpta wants a man “to support my head resting on his shoulder.” She “wants to feel a man's hand wrapped around my hand. I want to feel the gaze of a man penetrating my eyes. I yearn for sensual dancing.” That is also what I want from this woman in our “Second Chance.” We cry the tears of joy often.

My response to Assumpta’s anniversary statement of love included the following: “Yes, love ‘requires time and availability.’ I am available to you and have time for our relationship. We communicate each day with each other. You are very present in my life; I think and feel often about you. My life also feels incomplete without a woman to love and be loved by. I want us to be that person for each other. Yes, it is a risk for us to go toward each other and be together. Though many miles, different cultures, languages, and histories separate us, we are deeply connected in other ways.”

I hope that my friends and community might welcome Assumpta with open hearts when she comes to visit here. Having a village can help keep couples and families together.

(Shepherd Bliss {} teaches college, has run the organic Kokopelli Farm in Northern California for the last 20 years, and is a member of the Veterans Writing Group {})

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WELL, I'LL BE DAMNED. If he'd gone to art school and moved to Mendocino 40 years ago, the world would have been spared much carnage. I especially like G.W.Bush's depiction of his buddy, Tony Blair, as part jackal, part psycho. That's the way I read the painting anyway. The self-portrait? Way to too.

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‘AND HERE'S PUTIN’: George W. Bush Reveals His Striking New Paintings Of World Leaders As Wife Laura Reveals She Encouraged Him To Unleash His 'Inner Rembrandt'

by Lydia Warren

The new collection by the former president, who picked up the paintbrush after leaving the White House, includes Vladimir Putin, Tony Blair, Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and the Dalai Lama. The oil paintings, which were revealed on the Today show in an interview with his daughter Jenna Bush Hager, show an improvement in Bush's skills since the self portraits of him in the bath were leaked last year. 'I'm not a great artist and I don't want people to think I'm a great artist,' he said. 'But I'm a driven person and I want to get better. A whole new world has opened up.'


President-turned-painter George W. Bush has unveiled his portraits of world leaders - as his wife Laura revealed she encouraged him to unleash his inner artist after he mastered a drawing app.

The new collection by the former president, who picked up the paintbrush after leaving the White House, includes Tony Blair, Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Dalai Lama.

Most striking is a stern-looking Russian President Vladimir Putin, but Bush said his favorite was the painting of his father, George H. W. Bush.

The oil paintings, which were shared on the Today show in an interview with his daughter Jenna Bush Hager, show an improvement in Bush's skills since the self portraits of him in the bath were leaked last year.

Bush said he was inspired to pick up the paintbrush by Winston Churchill, who discovered his love for painting when he was 40.

'I wanted to make sure that the last chapters of my life were full,' he told his daughter in the interview. 'Painting would occupy not only space but open my mind.'

But he added: 'I was a little reluctant to put them out because I'm not a great artist and I don't want people to think I'm a great artist. But... I'm a driven person and I want to get better. A whole new world has opened up.'

His wife Laura, who joined him for part of the interview, said she had encouraged him to paint after he mastered a writing and drawing iPhone application, Penultimate.

'He started drawing very interesting stick figures to communicate with us,' she said.

So Bush got a few pointers from a teacher, telling her: 'There's a Rembrandt trapped in this body. It's your job to unleash him', he told the Today show.

He started drawing images of the family's pets, including their late dog Barney. And last year, a hacker leaked some of his images, including him in the bath and him looking in a mirror.

'I was annoyed,' Bush said. 'It's an invasion of one's privacy... nor do I want my paintings to get out.

'The truth of the matter is my paintings are not ready to be released. I mean, I'm still learning, and I don't know if they ever will be or not.'

Speaking to his daughter, who is a special correspondent on the Today show, he added that the most important thing he has learned so far is, 'don't paint your wife,' he said.

Of his portrait of her, wife Laura laughed: 'Yeah, it still needs some work.'

And his mother, Barbara Bush, also had some critique for her son's art.

'That's my husband?' she joked when she saw the image of George H.W. Bush for the first time on the Today show, before adding: 'I really like it.'

When asked if she thought her son captured the essence of her husband, she paused before saying: 'I think maybe he did. I like it very much... He's good.'

But she quipped that she will not allow her son to paint her because 'it might look like me'.

As his paintings of the world leaders were revealed, Bush said he hopes the leaders will like them. None of them have yet seen the images, he said.

'I hope they take it in the spirit in which these were painted in,' he said. 'That was the spirit of friendship and that I admire them as leaders and was willing to give it a shot in terms of getting people to see how I felt about them.'

Speaking about the artwork brought back images of his time with the world leaders, especially Putin. He said they had a good relationship, but that he always thought Putin saw the U.S. as an enemy.

He added that the Russian leader once took it too far when he criticized his beloved Scottish terrier, Barney, saying, 'You call that a dog?'

He explained that he later visited Putin and met his dog, whom the Russian leader noted was ‘bigger, stronger and faster than Barney'.

'I didn't react,' he said. 'I just said, "Wow. Anybody who thinks ‘my dog is bigger than your dog’ is an interesting character." And that painting kind of reflects that.'

The two-term president has led a significantly quieter life since leaving office - spending much of his time painting and going on mountain bike rides with groups of veterans like Wounded Warrior.

In an interview with the Dallas Morning News last year, Bush added that painting gives him an opportunity to 'create.' He also reflected on what others think of his work.

'People are surprised,' Bush said. 'Of course, some people are surprised I can even read.'

In March last year, an artist who taught Bush how to paint both animals and landscapes in a recent month-long course spoke out his skills as a late-in-life painter.

He had spent four weeks in private lessons alongside his sister-in-law in a home in Boca Grande, Florida where they improved their technique and expanded their artistic horizons.

'He has such a passion for painting, it's amazing,' said instructor Bonnie Flood.

'The Art of Leadership: A President's Personal Diplomacy' will be held at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.


The museum explained the exhibition 'will explore the relationships that President George W. Bush forged with world leaders to shape international policy and advance American interests abroad.'

'The exhibit will feature more than two dozen never-before-exhibited portraits painted by President Bush,' it said.

'Portraits will be accompanied by artifacts, photographs, and personal reflections to help illustrate the stories of relationships formed on the world stage.'

(Courtesy, the London Daily Mail)

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One Comment

  1. Bill Pilgrim April 5, 2014

    G.W. Bush, while leading the introductory tour of his art show: “I painted this one right after giving the order for warrantless wiretapping… This one after signing the torture memo… This one after twisting Blair’s arm to attack Iraq without UN authorization… This one after giving the order to execute the Saddam impersonator… ” etc.

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