OZ Cancer Report 5/29/09
Sorry not to have written sooner, but I’ve been incredibly
busy (as usual) since my last blog entry. So now I’ll try and catch you
all up on my progress. I’ll start with an update on my cancer stuff:
My last Chemotherapy treatment was April 10, so I’ve been
working on recovering ever since. I finally can taste food again, and I
no longer have a continual runny bloody nose, but my fingers and toes
are still numb with neuropathy, and of course my hair will take a long
time to grow back. But otherwise, I’m feeling great! On June 2 I’ll be
meeting with Dr. Bozdech again for a 5-week evaluation. Hopefully I’ll
check out as good as I feel.
So, what have I been doing since my last report? Well, mostly,
I’ve been working like mad on the current book project—an autobiography
of Morning Glory and I, supplemented with numerous interviews with
friends and family over the years if our lives. This must all be
completed and sent in to Llewellyn by July 30, so I’m working on it
every day. The working title is “The Witch and the Wizard OZ.”
May 1-3 was our Beltane at Annwfn, but the weather was so cold
and rainy that MG and I simply could not go up. The following Saturday
(May 9) was Pagan Pride in Berkeley, and the weather was lovely. So
Julie, Arek, and I went down and set up our booth for Mythic Images.
Morning Glory joined us later in the afternoon, and afterwards we all
went out to dinner at a nearby Hindu restaurant.
On May 17, Morning Glory made a presentation at the Sonoma
County Pagan Network (SCPN) meeting, bringing a number of statues from
her enormous (nearly 300 pieces!) collection of Goddess figurines. The
theme was “Springtime Maidens,” and this was an introduction to a series
of four weekend Goddess Retreats that she’s offering at our home over
the next few months.
I continue to do several radio interviews a month, where I get
to talk about my books, the Grey School, Unicorns, and anything else
that comes up. I always enjoy these, as they help me reach larger
audiences as well as provide practice in public speaking and thinking on
Last weekend, May 21-25, Julie and I were off in Kansas City
for ConQuest 40, the Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society’s
40th annual convention, where I was Guest Artist of Honor. I had
provided cover art and interior illos for the program book, and my
black-and-white cover design was also made into a full-color T-shirt.
The theme was “Shore Leave,” so Julie came up with a great idea—a sci-fi
version of that famous 1945 photo of the serviceman kissing the nurse.
Only I replaced the serviceman with the Metaluna Mutant from the movie
This Island Earth, and did a futuristic city background. Everybody loved
it, but the synchronicities that coalesced around it were downright
eerie! First, the same scene appeared in the brilliant movie The
Watchmen, which we saw just before we left. Then my old CAW High
Priestess from St Louis, Carolyn Clark, showed up at the con and
informed me that the serviceman in that photo had been her Uncle Bill!
And finally, a few nights ago, MG and I went to see the new Night at the
Museum movie, in which that photo plays a prominent part! That’s three!
I can’t help but feel that This Means Something.
As Guest Artist of Honor, I was kept incredibly busy at the
con, while Julie had to spend most of her time manning (womanning?) our
table. I had to be at the opening and closing ceremonies, was on four
panels, and had a special Guest of Honor speech to make. Since I was in
my Wizardly regalia, I also got recruited into LARP
(Live-Action-Role-Playing) games. And Julie and I entered the Masquerade
Contest with the Mother Gaia and Rising Phoenix costumes we’d created
for our CAW Pantheacon ritual. We won “Best of Competition,” and got a
nifty certificate—with, however, the word “Phoenix” misspelled as
Yesterday was Morning Glory’s 51st birthday, so we spent it
down in The City with our 2_-year-old granddaughter, Alessa. We spent
the afternoon at the recently-remodeled Academy of Sciences, which we
hadn’t seen before. Although I missed the unique and amazing “Fish
Roundabout,” what they’ve done with the Steinhart Aquarium part was
mostly pretty nice—adding a whole rain forest tower and major
subterranean tanks (such as a huge “coral reef” that didn’t have any
actual hard corals at all).
But MG and I were deeply traumatized by what they’d done to
the natural history museum, which we used to love so much. The place has
been gutted, and all of our favorite exhibits are completely gone. Of
the two battling dinosaur skeletons that used to dominate the entry
hall, only the poor lonely T-rex remains, relegated to a back corner off
behind the rain forest, where he guards the entrance to the cafeteria
(which closes at 4:00, as we discovered to our disappointment).
that remains of the rest of the old natural history museum are a
handful of taxidermied African animal dioramas—“the dead zoo,” as young
Aidan used to call it. But the large and beautiful open African
waterhole scene, with the light changing to show the speeded-up passage
of day and night, and the songs of savannah birds, is all gone, to be
replaced with a live penguin enclosure that’s much smaller and less
interesting than the old one. The sea lion aquarium is also gone, as are
the taxidermy dioramas of North American animals (as well as those of
other continents), and all the stuffed birds. The remainder of the
so-called “museum” is just a single large echoing room with a few
free-standing photo and video displays on the evolutionary diversity of
Madagascar and the Galapagos Islands—along with a section of video floor
where little kids can try and stomp on computer-generated animated
bugs. Alessa loved it, but then, she’s only 2_. If you’re older than
that, it’s pretty lame.
too is our very favorite exhibit, the wonderful Hall of Evolution, with
its “Life Through Time” pathway, in which you could walk through a
full-size diorama of a Carboniferous swamp (with bulldog-sized
tarantulas and an 11-foot giant centipede); encounter a pack of
attacking Deinonycus (human-sized velociraptors of the kind seen in the
Jurassic Park movies); come face-to-face with a ferocious Diatryma (an
8-foot-tall “Terror Bird”) defending its nest of chicks against a pair
of Oxyaenas (leopard-like predators); look up to see a Quetzalcoatlus (a
pterosaur with a 40-foot wingspan) soaring overhead; and walk through
an undersea gallery with life-size Ichthyosaurs, Plesiosaurs, and
Mosasaurs hunting giant coiled Nautiloids in the Niobrara Sea.
Gone is the preserved Coelocanth (the 5-foot-long prehistoric
lobe-finned fish discovered still living in the depths off the coast of
Africa) that used to be at the entrance to the gallery, with a live
modern lungfish in an aquarium for comparison. Gone is the great
floor-to-ceiling bas relief of the evolutionary Tree of Life which
inspired the design of the hair on the back of my Millennial Gaia
statue. Gone are all the fossils and skeletons (with the exception of
the aforementioned T-rex and the skeleton of a Blue Whale hanging from
the ceiling above him). For Morning Glory and I, dinophiles that we are,
the loss of all this was emotionally devastating.
Gone too was the entire gallery on the NorCalifia Coast, with
the life-size dioramas of native critters in their natural
environments—including a free-standing central rocky outcropping with a
family of enormous Elephant Seals. One of my favorite parts of that hall
had been the greatly-magnified mess of sea wrack, with sand fleas as
big as cats. And the actual preserved specimen of a small giant squid
(Architeuthis) that had been found washed up on a beach.
In the old museum, there had been a really nice Gem &
Mineral Hall, a section on Earthquakes, and a hilarious Gary Larson
cartoon exhibit, with a collection of “Cabinet of Curiosity” oddities.
There was also an entire “Hall of Man,” with life-size dioramas
depicting various native peoples with their homes, clothing, tools and
other artifacts. And a special section on human evolution, with casts of
key specimens. There had been a large section devoted to rotating
special exhibits—such as the amazing collection of animal skulls we’d
seen on our last visit before the museum had been closed for these
renovations. All this was gone, except for a lonely cast of Lucy’s
remains (but no reconstruction of what she’d looked like, or
Also gone was all the cool stuff in the Astronomy and Earth
Sciences wing—including large models of the planets hanging from the
ceiling that actually revolved around the central sun, and an enormous
rotating relief globe of the Earth, which must have been over 10-feet
tall. Of all this, only a much-reduced Foucault Pendulum remains,
swinging back and forth with no explanation, as if hoping for a pit to
give it some meaning.
When I went up to the information desk in shock to complain
about all the missing exhibits, and inquire as to where they’d gone,
another woman came up beside me asking the same questions, and saying
that her uncle had sculpted the gorgeous fountain with a pair of leaping
Humpback Whales that had formerly graced the central courtyard. It too
was gone. What had become of it? she asked. She was told that it had
been shipped off to some university. Now the central court was just a
vast empty space with nothing in it but ugly metal tables and chairs.
According to the guy at the information desk, all the wonderful exhibits
that we used to come back time and time again to see had been crated
and dispersed, or placed into storage.
And then there was the architecture. The beautiful San
Francisco Gold Rush Victorian-style Exposition Architecture, with all
its exquisite carvings and elaborations, had been replaced with some of
the ugliest walls of grey concrete, glass, and steel I have ever seen.
All that’s left is a bit of the seahorse railing around the pathetic
remnants of the alligator pit—with one bored white alligator sunning
himself on a rock a full story below the viewing area, and a few
snapping turtles. The live reptile collection is also gone, with only a
lone anaconda in the “Amazonian flooded rainforest” and a few geckos in a
terrarium (fortunately, they didn’t try to sell me car insurance).
Mostly the whole interior looks like scaffolding waiting to have an
actual building erected within it. There are no murals, sculptures, or
other art on the walls; no maps, charts, or diagrams; and nothing hangs
from the 50-foot-high ceilings. What’s not ugly grey prison walls are
vast expanses of glass—as if we come to a museum just to look at the
world outside, rather than all the cool stuff inside. However, since all
the cool stuff had been taken out, I suppose that the view out was
better than the view inside.
Even the once-extensive museum store, which used to be the
only place I could find the latest dinosaur figurines for my
ever-growing collection, now has only tourist gee-gaws and gimcrackery,
hardly any books, and no dino figures at all.
I have no intention of ever going back. But what was
particularly eerie about the entire experience was that just the night
before, MG and I had gone to see the new Night at the Museum movie,
which is entirely based on the premise that the Director of New York’s
Museum of Natural History has crated up and shipped away to storage (at
the Smithsonian) all the really cool exhibits seen in the first movie,
to replace them with holograms or other lame stuff. Since, in fact, the
original movie gave the NY Museum a terrific boost, and they now have
special “Night at the Museum” tours and campouts (with cots set up in
the Ocean Life Gallery under the full-size Blue Whale), we figgered,
“That could never happen!” But it did—and to our own beloved Museum,
which is no more. If I wanna show Alessa a real museum someday, I’ll
have to take her to Chicago or New York. But I mourn this loss.
After the Academy of Sciences closed at 5:00, we went over to
Haight-Ashbury and checked out a few toy stores, where Alessa had a good
time playing with things. Then we met Jessica (who shares the same
birthday with MG), her parents, and some of our Pyrate friends for a
fancy birthday dinner at the Park Chalet. The restaurant is upstairs,
and the downstairs walls are all painted with superb examples of the old
WPA murals from the late 1930s—with explanations and little cases of
period artifacts, etc.