Caine is gone

Dear readers

Sadly we have to tell you that Caine has lost her battle with cancer and died yesterday morning.

Life threw much more at Caine than it had any right to, yet she was still and always a passionate and compassionate fighter for what is right, for human dignity and decency. Many here started our time out on Pharyngula by being whacked over the head by Caine, whose zero tolerance for people being assholes made her a fierce commenter.

But Caine was so much more than that, she was a wonderful artist, great photographer, a loving partner and a good friend, even though most of us never met her in person. She created this space and this wonderful little community.

Dear Rick, we feel your pain and our heartfelt condolences are with you.

Dear Caine, you will be missed and remembered. None of us believed in an afterlife, except for the one in the hearts and the memories of the people we touched. Dear Caine, you live on in many hearts and the tears that are cried for you.

Two feathers swimming on water


  1. Sean Boyd says

    I just can’t even…

    My deepest condolences to all who knew Caine, who struck me (from a distance) as one of the relatively few people on the globe actually WORTH knowing.

  2. Bruce Fuentes says

    Wow! Stunned right now. Even when you now something like this is going to happen it is a shock. I first followed Caine when she had absolutely amazing comments at Pharyngula. My condolences to all her family and friends. There are very few people inline that I wish I had knew. Caine was one.

  3. Rob Grigjanis says

    This is dreadful, sad news. When I started commenting at Pharyngula, she certainly whacked me, and then so generously and kindly welcomed me. I will miss her proud, brave and fierce voice. Farewell, warrior.

    My condolences to her husband and all those who loved her.

  4. Ice Swimmer says

    My thoughts are with Rick and everybody else who knew her well. My condolences. I’ll never forget her.

  5. DavidinOz says


    I feel an emptiness right now, as if my best friend had walked on. Like all of the above, I found Caine an inspiration in my own life and will miss her wit and wisdom.

    I am also shedding a slight tear for Rick and offer him (((hugs))).

    Vale Caine.

  6. steveraleigh says

    I am so sorry to hear this sad news. I love how Caine saw the beauty, the good and the bad in the world.
    She was always giving to others.
    My heart goes out to those who were lucky enough to know her personally.
    Take care.

  7. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Damn, Caine will be sorely missed. My sincere condolences to Rick.
    I’ve always wished I was smart enough to get the Redhead on-line so she and Caine would talk to each other. I always felt the arguments about design, techniques, and philosophy would go on for days.
    *Raises tankard of grog in salute to Caine*

  8. kestrel says

    My condolences to her friends and family… this is just so sad. I will miss her voice so much. My heart just grieves.

  9. John Morales says

    I shan’t forget her.

    She told me what a few times, she made me think, and I think thereby made me a bit of a better person — at least online.

    I am grateful for that.


  10. EigenSprocketUK says

    Caine was one of those very few people I fondly imagine meeting one day, even though the chances are infinitesimal.
    In that wild fantasy I think how great it would be, even though I only know them dimly through my reading of their writings on the internet. To those who know her infinitely better, I can’t even begin to imagine your sorrow.

  11. CJO says

    This hurts. And I knew her only as words on screen, and through her art. My heart goes out to those who knew her and loved her; such a force, I can’t imagine the void such a one must leave. May her fierce strength carry on in this world even if she could not.

  12. DonDueed says

    I saw the news on PZ’s blog first. I can only repeat here what I said there: this is a terrible loss.

    If any of you dear readers is due or overdue for a colonoscopy (or even just a general checkup), please get one scheduled right away. Don’t give fucking cancer any extra advantages.

  13. Rob Grigjanis says

    Si le viol, le poison, le poignard, l’incendie,
    N’ont pas encore brodé de leurs plaisants dessins
    Le canevas banal de nos piteux destins,
    C’est que notre âme, hélas! n’est pas assez hardie.

    Les Fleurs Du Mal, Baudelaire

    Her soul was bold enough, and then some.

  14. StonedRanger says

    Fucking Cancer.
    I only knew you through your words and art. My life is now a little bit less well off knowing you are gone. My condolences to those who were loved by and those who loved her. I need to cry now.

  15. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    Fuck cancer!
    I’ll miss you Caine. You took me to task more than once, and I deserved it. You pulled no punches and made all of us better for it.
    My condolences to her loved ones.

  16. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    I am at best an internet acquaintance, and I’ve been crying off and on all morning.

    Never let them tell you on-line isn’t real life.

    I respect Caine as much or more than anyone you care to name. She had a fundamental positive impact on me, both through reading her thoughts and the direct interactions we had. This is not hyperbole.

    I am a better person for having known her and the world is diminished with her passing.

    For those who knew her best and loved her most: I’m so terribly sorry.

    I can’t imagine it will help, but I promise to continue to attempt to live up to the example she set of fierce advocacy for a better world and compassion in the face of adversity that beggars the imagination.

    Fuck cancer, fuck death, fuck this hole that my tears aren’t filling. I’ve been here before and the only cure is doing some good in the world so that’s what I’m going to do.

  17. klatu says

    From PZ’s place:

    Many here started our time out on Pharyngula by being whacked over the head by Caine

    Haha! Caine once whacked me over the head about something stupid I said. I can’t even recall what it was exactly, but I will be grateful for that lesson forever!

    I rarely comment. I’m not really a part of this community… But I often read the comments. It’s easy to ignore people, but I always made it a point not to take her input for granted…

    And this really sucks. Caine was always on point. She was vicious. She was kind. She was fucking great.

    I hope everyone who knew her personally will get through this horrible loss more or less intact. My deepest condolences.

  18. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    My condolences.

    I haven’t been a part of this place for a while now, but hearing Caine is gone really hurts. She was good people.

  19. methuseus says

    My condolences.

    I didn’t always see eye to eye with Caine, but she was never actually mean to me. Sure, rude sometimes (though I don’t remember being on the receiving end of that) but only when warranted, and only truly mean to those who really deserved it and were hurting others. Something is now missing, but hopefully the void can be filled in keeping with her memory.

  20. lumipuna says

    Condolences to Rick.

    This blog has lately been the first FTBlog I check out every morning. Let’s see what happens now.

    I never had serious arguments with Caine, but as a lurker I was impressed and somewhat woken by the seriousness of her viewpoint. She was a voice of the oppressed (both personally and as an ally), of people different from me. She also showed a heartwarming interest in other cultures, notably including mine.

  21. Saad says

    I can’t believe it. I saw this news last night and was stunned and didn’t even know what to say. We didn’t know each other personally outside of a few email correspondences but I feel like I’ve lost a friend. I loved her attitude towards bigotry and I loved that she loved art. My condolences to you, Rick.

  22. Nightjar says

    I saw this last night but I couldn’t bring myself to type anything amidst the tears. She was such an inspiration for me in so many ways and I was expecting her to come back, not this. I cherish every interaction we had over the years and I will miss and remember her always. Fuck cancer.

    Rick, my condolences and thank you for taking care of her. I know she went knowing she was loved, and I hope you can take some small solace in that.

  23. johnson catman says

    I don’t have any words, just sadness. For me and for everyone whose life she touched. Affinity has been the first blog I check for a while now. Caine’s art and music and political posts all spoke deeply to me. Although I have no artistic ability, the beautiful things she did amazed and inspired thoughtful contemplation. The music she highlighted aligned well with my tastes, and even the ones that didn’t broadened my perspectives. I think, most of all, I will miss her fire and passion with regard to politics and what is happening in our country.
    My condolences to Rick and everyone else. We have lost a true gem of a friend.

  24. Oggie. says

    Fuck sums it up. Fuck cancer. Fuck a world in which profits for the few outweigh healthcare for all.

    The world has lost a passionate voice for those who survive abuse, for those who defend and support survivors, for me.

    Caine, you are no longer with us. Your writings, your passion, you words, your art, the impression you have created in this world will live on in our memories. Thank you and goodbye.

  25. KG says

    That’s terrible news – and quite unexpected, despite the cancer. I can’t think of anyone I’ve only known online who I liked and admired as much. Condolences to Rick and all her many friends.

  26. Kreator says

    I can’t say anything that hasn’t been said better before. Freethoughtblogs will now feel to me a little less free, a little less thoughtful (no offense.)

  27. consciousness razor says

    My condolences to all her friends and family. I wish I would’ve thanked her for making the world a better place, in so many ways. She certainly excelled at that. But I’ll always appreciate what I was able to learn from her, the support she offered in rough times to near-strangers like me, the laughs in better times…. I’d be proud if I could somehow live up to her example. I’ll try my best.

  28. fusilier says

    We lose the good ones, and keep … others.

    My sincere condolences.


    James 2:24

  29. feministhomemaker says

    I am so sorry to hear this. Dear Caine. You helped me so much to complete my treatment. You calmed my fears. Thank goodness you lived on this earth for a time. I am deeply pained that time here has been cut short. Deep condolences to your loved ones, to Rick especially.

  30. springa73 says

    I am very sorry to hear this. Cancer sucks. I only knew Caine through some of her posts and comments, but she stood out to me as a vivid, passionate personality. My deepest condolences to Rick and everyone who was very close to her.

  31. Hekuni Cat, Social Justice Ninja, MQG says

    Caine taught me so much. She was one of the most generous and compassionate people I have ever known. I’ve been out of touch for months because of my schedule and family matters. I was planning to send her a card this week, to reach out online too. I wish I’d done both sooner. I will miss her immensely.

    Rick, I am so sorry for your loss. I made a donation to my local abortion fund in her memory.

  32. says

    No one has had as much of an effect on my political awareness and behavior as Caine has. When I thought I knew what was going on and what was useful they showed me better. I will be eternally grateful and will miss taking in their perspective. I miss them.

  33. fledanow says

    She was a go one and Earth still needed her. Her death is a great loss and I hurt for her family and friends and even for those who, like me, only knew her from here. Also, damn it fucking hell.

  34. Friendly says

    I will miss Caine deeply. I offer my best wishes for strength, endurance, and comfort to Rick and to the rest of her family and friends. I suspect that I’ll feel her loss most keenly when the Freethoughtblogs commentariat tries to tackle issues that continue to arise that affect aboriginal Americans; there are few, if any, others among us with her heritage and her firsthand knowledge of so many such situations.

  35. dakotagreasemonkey says

    Thanks everybody for the wonderful comments.
    Jayne and I are wandering around the house feeling totally lost, the anchor to our lives broke it’s rope.
    I was a Cupcake plenty of times, and got whacked on the head too many times to count.
    I was asked by the funeral home to provide a eulogy, I think I’ll just provide this post and comments as her eulogy. It’s the right thing to do, as she was very private here, with just a very few local friends.
    One of the reasons we chose to live in Almont , ND, is this is a town where the Side Walk (paved road) Ends.
    It’s taken 4 attempts to read these posts, before I could stop crying to make this one.
    Thank you every one, for being her friend.
    Dakota Grease Monkey (Rick)

  36. lufirel says

    I’ve been lurking around here and reading her chronicles since she began posting them. She had to suffer through so much shit, but I always hope she’d make it through. Fuck cancer!!! It’s so fucking unfair. Condolences to all.

  37. Tethys says

    Rick, I am so sorry to hear this news. Know that we are all grieving right along beside you.

    Caine is the reason I started commenting at Pharyngula, and I too was a cupcake who learned many things from her. She was fierce in all she did. She was a passionate advocate, a multi-talented artist, and a loving true friend, even though we never met in person. I fondly remember when we all had virtual ratlings, which was a delightful and generous bit of whimsy. Her love for people and the natural world attracted and affected so many, she was the true heart of the horde. She definitely has made the world a better place, and will be sorely missed.

    Goodbye to our beloved Red Queen.

  38. Raucous Indignation says

    Rick, you have my deepest sympathies for your loss. And Jayne too. Caine taught me more about caring for people in the short time I knew her than I ever thought a single individual could. I think she made me a better oncologist. I hope she was comfortable when she passed. I know that she was truly and very well loved.

  39. StevoR says

    So very saddened to read this news. Caine was a truly extraordinary, good person. The world is a lot worse off for not having her in it any more and a lot better off that she has lived and left so many memories and so much work which will go on be remembered and inspiring and helping people. I already miss her blogging and comments. She was hugely and deservedly respected and loved by so many. My condolences to all her friends and family.

  40. says

    My deepest condolences to all who loved Caine, especially to Rick and Jayne.
    A light has gone out, way too soon, but her fierce love can’t be, just can’t be lost.
    Thank you for everything, Caine, I’ll keep you tightly in my heart.
    Hugs y’all, you’re not alone in this grief, I know in my bones countless lurkers like me are adding their own tears to the sea.

  41. sillybill says

    This is so sad. I really thought she would pull thru. Stay strong Rick.
    I hope this blog continues in some other incarnation.

    Fierce words still mock the wicked
    Beauty still fills hearts
    Coy-dog’s howl reaches the sky

  42. Ice Swimmer says

    My deepest sympathies as well for you Rick, and Jayne. I don’t know how to get there, but may there be a peace of mind for both of you one day.

  43. jazzlet says

    No I want to say that I had only known Caine for a very short time, I too had been corrected by her, I loved the way she showed us her finds of art, the way she encouraged others to share what they found and made, the way she encouraged the community of her blog to express themselves. I was anticpating becoming a small part of that community with great comfort.

  44. Nightjar says

    All the hugs, Rick and Jayne.

    Now that a few days have passed I have to say this affected me more than I thought the death of an online-only friend ever could. I’ve been crying on and off for the past three days. I don’t know exactly for how long I’ve known Caine, but I know that 8 years ago she was actively encouraging me to share my photos online for the first time, so for sure I’ve known her for over 8 years. Of course I got whacked on the head, at least once that I remember, and we weren’t always on the same page on everything, but we never had fight and we never had any major disagreements. She was always so kind to me, at Pharyngula, at Moblog, at her many WordPress blogs and finally here. I’m sorry I was away for two years, but I’m glad I reconnected with her in time to be here these last 6 months. Oh how I wish they hadn’t been the last…

  45. Patricia Phillips says

    I am very sad to hear this. Condolences to Rick and all of Caine’s family & friends. I will miss her art and unique voice.

  46. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Thanks for your response Rick.
    I’ve been the cupcake often enough with strong women like the Readhead and Caine, that I get mistaken for a woman on-line. More amusing than annoying.
    Funerals are for the survivors, not the dead. I led the Redhead’s atheist ceremony, whereas today I attended a Mass for one of her uncle’s which was a full Catholic Mass, and that was what the family wanted, more for their father than themselves, but that made them happy.
    The common wisdom, barring circumstances, is don’t do anything drastic for a year. So I’m still living in the same house 18 months later, but slow changes have been made. Gives me a chance to adjust before more changes are made.

  47. says

    I left a note on the thread initiated by PZ over on Pharyngula, and I could say again what I said there -- that she was instrumental in making this internet-comment-corner-thingy into a community, into a family -- and Rick, though I don’t know you, you certainly deserve all the loving, supportive messages I could type, but mostly what I want to say right now is not a message of support: it’s a message of thanks. I’m going to miss Caine like hell for a good long while, but reading all the contributions to this thread from people who mustered the strength to comment before me makes it a little better. I’m crying alone … and yet as hard as I’m crying, I’m not crying alone at all. This is what Caine gave so many of us: a penetrating soulfulness that pierced the isolation of so many of us. It is fitting that the thread remembering her includes so many comments that offer the more of this wonderful same.

  48. lumipuna says

    Just a reminder, there’s still a trickle of new comments in the never-ending community thread (link in sidebar). New comments to any older thread (like this thread too will soon be) will not show in the “recent comments” widget.

  49. dakotagreasemonkey says

    lumipuna, and CripDyke,
    Thanks for the two other links with comments. I have not been to those links, yet, but I will go to them.
    Thanks, everybody for the outpouring of Love. It means the world to me. Thanks for being her friend.
    Caines ashes are at funeral home now, and I’ve arranged for them to be interred in a vault in the Almont Cemetery. sometime soon, or not, if someone really wishes to be here for that event.
    She found this little town at the end of the sidewalk for us to live in, in her fathers native lands, so I feel it is fitting she stay here. I pick her up tomorrow, she’ll stay with me until interment.
    I have to make semi-final arrangements tomorrow. At this point, Interment will be within 3 weeks.
    Sorry about being so abrupt, Just am having a hard time dealing with the loss of the love of my life, married 39 years, 5 months.

  50. rq says

    Thinking of you (all) every day, with every fancy flower and dandelion I see. ♥
    Also there’s a package technically still on its way, it’s been 4 weeks + so I hope it gets to you.
    Thank you for checking in with the update, too.

  51. Raucous Indignation says

    I am going to plant a tree in Caine’s honor. Does anyone have any suggestions about what kind. I already planted two giant sequoia and three dawn redwoods a couple of years ago. Would she want something gigantic but out of place East of the Rockies, or something less grand but native to the Hudson Valley?

  52. jimb says

    Fuck. I’ve been way busy and have fallen behind in my blog reading. And Affinity is/was one of the first reads of the day.


    Condolences to Rick and all friends and family of Caine’s.

    Once home I will raise a glass of my avatar (Lagavulin 16) in honor of her life.

  53. dakotagreasemonkey says

    Raucous Indignation
    C would have opted for the Native tree. Preferably one that fed birds or people, like a fruit tree.
    I will rest better knowing a tree has been planted for her.

  54. says

    Yes, she loved lilacs.

    Apart from that, a hawhtorn is a tree that I will associate with her the most. It is thorny, but has plenty of blossoms in the spring for the bees, it is beautiful even in natural state and there are some even more beautiful cultivars out there, and it has a lot of small fruits for the birds to feed on in the autumn. So I would plant some native North American species of hawthorn.

  55. Nightjar says


    Thanks for checking in. You are in my thoughts. Still thinking of her with every butterfly I see.

    Last week in TNET I expressed my intentions of planting a tree or a shrub in Caine’s memory, and yesterday I stopped by the plant nursery and partially acted on those intentions. I’ve brought home a barberry shrub that I will plant over the weekend, in a corner of the garden that is already heavily visited by birds, and I think they will enjoy the barberries (and the bees will enjoy the flowers). Because I wanted to plant it this month and it is unadvisable to plant trees in August in Portugal (too dry and hot, especially in the place I had in mind as I can’t go there everyday to water it), I went with a shrub. A fruit tree may get planted anyway in that other place, but for its own good it will have to wait at least until November.

  56. Raucous Indignation says

    Rick, thank you. I’ll put in a small grove of hazel nuts. The deer and squirrels and woodchucks and birds and field mice and rats and chipmunks will enjoy that. The fox, coyotes and raptors will enjoy it too, albeit more indirectly.

    But I’ll also plant a silver maple. They are beautiful and dramatic. And big. The tree will sequester a huge amount of carbon.

    And to everyone may I recommend joining the Arbor Day Foundation? It’s part of my attempts to save the planet.

  57. Raucous Indignation says

    chigua, we already have lilacs. I didn’t know Caine loved them, thank you for the info. My favorite is the Rose of Sharon outside my bathroom window. The bees and hummingbirds keep me company when I shower in the morning.

  58. dakotagreasemonkey says

    Chigau and Charly,
    Yes, C loved Lilacs. we have two big patches of them on each side of the yard that date back to the 1950’s. Beautiful, and huge. Over 4 meters tall, spread out over 6 meters, each. Full of little birds constantly. I have pulled one cut of that shrub, in the center of the SouthEast stand, that was standing deadwood. Very rare, as this Lilac just continues to Live. I watched it for two years, to make sure it was truly deadwood, before I cut it to make a walking stick.
    I could only barely get in to the center of the patch to cut it in the dead of winter, at -40C.
    From this cut, Lilac is not a wood, as there are no rings I can discern. It is just a very dense, hard material, that Is one of the best walking sticks I have ever harvested.
    It’s bark sloughed right off, but any cutting below that, my knifes are hard pressed to even shave it.

  59. says

    Oh those ideas of planting flowers and trees, how wonderful they are.
    To live on in the memories of the wind, the bees, the birds and the flowers.

  60. dakotagreasemonkey says

    Raucous Indignation,
    Hazel nuts are a great idea. They have been my favorite nut in the mixed in-shell nuts we always had at Christmas since I was a little kid.
    Thanks for the link to the Arbor Day Nursery. I was surprised to see they are Hardy to Zone 3. Here is Zone 4, with 3 not very far away.
    C and I bought a Box Elder (a Soft Maple) shortly after we bought this house, and planted it in the front yard, with the ashes of ShandyKane, A Matriarch Cat we had that passed at 22 years old. A beautiful Silver Maple is very fitting as a Memory Tree.
    Thank you!

  61. cherbear says

    I’m so sorry. I always enjoyed her blog. I was hoping she was doing well, as I haven’t read FTB for a while during them summer, but…damn. Screw cancer hard. :(

  62. AlexanderZ says

    I’m very sorry to hear about Caine’s death.
    I’m also sorry that I stopped following this blog for a while and did not know about this.
    Since the moment I’ve met her in Pharyngula’s I’ve admired her strength of character. The world is poorer without her.

    I’m sorry. Please accept my condolences.

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