Barberry Flowers for Caine

Something very special from Nightjar.

The Barberry shrub I planted last year in Caine’s memory ( is blooming right now and the bees have been visiting it. This Sunday I was finally able to take a few photos and I thought I should share.

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

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Jack’s Walk

Minion down, ©voyager, all rights reserved

This is a bit of a pensive Jack’s Walk. 2018 was a long difficult year and now that it’s over I’ll tell you that I feel winded by it all. The loss of Caine hit me hard, it hit all of us hard, and it seemed after that that things kept piling on. Personally, mother-in-law was diagnosed with kidney cancer and had her right kidney removed. Mr. V’s heart condition worsened and the swelling in his legs caused calf ulcers that won’t heal. My mother developed congestive heart failure and refused to take the medicine because she didn’t want the inconvenience of peeing out all the extra fluid (Mom can be a pip.) Jack had a big, expensive surgery and a very close friend was diagnosed with liver failure. She’s still waiting to see the specialist, but it’s likely she will need a liver transplant. Sometime during all of that (between August and December) I developed shingles. That’s not new, I get shingles a few times a year, but this time they’ve persisted. One patch clears up and another erupts. It’s enough to make you feel like the minion above. Face planted.

Time has already fixed a few things. My mother-in-law is thriving after surgery. She’s 92, lives alone and is as active as any 50-year-old. She bakes, she cleans, she irons, she walks and she even has a new beau who sends her little notes and flowers. My mother now has a catheter in place and she’s gotten rid of all the extra fluid with no peeing required. Jack is happier than ever now that Larry (the lump) is gone. His gait is as good as it was when he was young and he prances when he’s happy. Mr. V has only one small ulcer left to heal. That may take some time, but it’s definitely improving. His heart is stable and still as beautiful as ever.

And look. That minion might be down, but he isn’t out. He’s still got his wind and even more importantly he still has friends. How lucky. Me too. This past year something profound happened in my life and that is Affinity. I’ve been around since the beginning, but I lurked. I just didn’t feel confident enough to participate. Caine kept encouraging me, though, and so I finally joined the comments and even sent in a photo or two. When she became ill I was still fairly new to all of you, but I wanted to help Caine so I took the chance and stepped forward and what I found was a community who welcomed me. All of you have added to my life.

So last year brought some very good things, too. Like all years I suppose, with their measures of bad and good not always equal, but always both. I try to focus on the good because I prefer to live in gratitude. So, this seems like the proper place to end with Jack and I both looking at the pluses of life and prancing into 2019.

Looking at 2018

Since it’s the time of the year to traditionally do so, and since my colleagues have mostly done so already, I’ll do my personal account of 2018.

It’s the personal, and also some of the political, and looking at all of it it would be silly to expect one year, a unit of time whose start and end us humans decided,  to be one thing. 2018 started with fraught. My teacher training was nearing its end and it almost ended my career as a teacher (it did so for a friend of mine). I scraped by a “pass” and I passed several months in a mixture of anger and despair. My family and you, my friends, always had an open ear for me and helped me to cope with the stress. Caine always had a kind word, while she herself battled with cancer.

Meanwhile, the world descended further into fascism. The Brits kept committing the suicide called Brexit, the Trump administration locked up kids in cages, and in Germany the Bavarian conservatives made refugees the one and only “problem”, despite the fact that few are still arriving

Then summer came, and things were looking up, at least on the personal front. I found a job that I really like, with all its challenges, and Caine was nearing the end of her treatment, when the news of her death knocked the feet out from under me, and all of us. How can you love a person you have never met in the flesh so much? How can you miss somebody you have never seen so fiercely? Some days I still cannot comprehend that she’s gone.

Affinity survived, it’s community survived, because especially in these times, you need your friends.

Therefore, the best thing in 2018 was friends.

Voyager, I’m so happy to have you as a friend, across that big wide pond. Your posts make me smile and your friendship means a lot to me. And thank you for the card. Yes, I noticed the tits right away.

Rq, sometimes it seems like there’s just one script for life with kids and we both follow it. I know that 2018 wasn’t an easy year for you either, family wise. I hope things will get better. I know they can. I love your music posts and how you often discover art and share it with us.

Charly, you Jack of all trades. You have so many talents and you create so many beautiful things, from living trees to hard metal. I often envy your dedication and endurance in your projects. I hope you will have a lot of time and good health to spend on these projects in 2019.

My dear friends and readers of Affinity, I won’t try to name you all, because in the end I’d miss somebody. You make this blog what it is. You keep sending us pictures and projects, let us glimpse into your lives and cultures. To all of you I give a rose in memory of things passed.


©Giliell, all rights reserved

And a rosebud as a promise for things yet to come.


©Giliell, all rights reserved


You Don’t Like Dandelions

The year is almost at an end, and thank goodness for that, amirite? 2019 should be so… much… ummm… well, let’s enjoy the end of 2018 at least, okay?

One of the biggest events for me this year was the passing of Caine, as a(n internet) friend, as an inspiration, as a teacher, as an emotional support. Amongst all the other changes, this was huge, so it was a very emotional moment when I recently received a package from Germany, which included not only life-saving cookies, but also a very special envelope with a very special letter and a huge reminder of what we all miss so much, embodied in a perfect shiny little pendant:

Horse pendant by Giliell. Best thing ever.
©rq, all rights reserved.

And everything was blurry for a while.

Thus, before the closing of the year, I would like to say a big thank you to my fellow bloggers, my fellow readers and commenters, and most of all, to Caine (and Rick) for being the beginning and support of this whole blogging project.

©rq, all rights reserved.

Today’s song choice is one that always, always reminds me of Caine – strangely, the song is about a person who would, most likely, be the ultimate opposite. The chorus reads something like “You – don’t like [the taste of] dandelions, / You – don’t like me; / Where others have a raging rapid, / You have built an H[ydro] E[lectric] S[tation]”. It’s my favourite new song by a local artist this year (the video isn’t), and I hope at least some of you enjoy it, too.

Also, I want to apologize for sparse contribution lately. I’m never good with the end of the year, which is a long and melodramatic story, but I hate New Year’s even more than I don’t like Christmas, and things don’t seem to get better with time (except the idea of not attending peopled activities or large fireworks events), but I will improve with the new year and the lengthening of days. Thanks for reading!

Caine’s Horses

In Memory of Caine (front of card),

Over the holidays I received a very special package from Giliell. It’s one of Caine’s painted horses, in miniature on a background of silver and set in clear resin. It came with a beautiful handmade card reading In Memory of CaineThe note inside was even more beautiful. Giliell has made many resin horses and, together with the card, has sent them out to as many members of our Affinity community as she could gather addresses for.

Giliell’s gift to the Affinity community

The resin pendant is beautiful and Giliell’s artistry is obvious.   The silver shimmers and catches the light and Caine’s horse is spirited and full of running energy The pendant is also meaningful and I cherish it already. I love the thought that these wee horses now reside in places all over the world and that my horse is one link in a chain that stretches far and wide. I love the reminder of Caine’s energy and talent. I love the way such a small work of art makes me feel connected and how it reminds me of my good fortune to be a part of this community.

Resin pendant with one of Caine’s horses, made by Giliell

In memory of Caine (back of card)

I don’t want to catch Giliell unawares, but if you are part of our family and are feeling left out please drop a note to our in-box at

Giliell, I’m a bit verklempt and can’t quite find the right words, but thank you for such a thoughtful and meaningful gift. (I did get a few other goodies from Giliell which I’ll share in another post, but this gift needed a post of its own.)

The Heart of Caine

Yesterday on his blog Stderr, Marcus wrote about the creation of a very special heart in a post titled  Un-Achable, Un-breakable. This is the rest of the story, told by kestrel who used her artistry to create a unique and meaningful braiding for the heart.


Marcus sent me this amazing Damascus steel heart that he had made as a gift for Someone Special, and he asked me to put some leather braiding on it. I was happy to comply and decided a key fob would be good to braid on there. 

©kestrel, all rights reserved

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Landsknecht and Death

I was looking for inspiration for a dagger&sword project for next year, and during my web crawl I found this image. And I was immediately reminded of Caine and the “Dance with Death”series she posted this year. I think she would love it.

I would like to provide you with the translation of the german text, but I cannot read the font no matter what so I cannot even reliably transcribe the original – I understand about a half. On top of it I suspect it is poetry and that gives me trouble even in my native language, let alone in archaic German.

Strauch, Wolfgang: Landsknecht und Tod

Source -click-

Horses For Caine

(Or, When I Think About People. This is what happens.)

This share has been a long time coming, because it felt right to ask Rick’s permission to share – mostly I’m of the opinion that I’m allowed to share my own art, but I wanted to be sure this time. Thank you, Rick.

Back at the end of spring, I was finally ready to make some art for Caine, and I had it all figured out – but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do a companion piece for Rick, because while we, as readers, may not have seen much of him, he was certainly there for Caine and deserves more than general acknowledgement. I had him down as more of an Air person, but I double-checked, and Caine had no doubts – Water it is.

Caine, of course, is Fire.

Yes, the photo is bad quality, but it’s the one photo I took that makes any sense, and… I dunno, it works for me. Most of my art goes out into the wide world and I never see it again. I try to keep track, and maintain an archive, but I’m lazy like that and some of my favourite pieces have no record at all.

Both pieces are about A5 (half a Letter-sized piece of paper, for you NAmerikaners), done in acrylic, and both were inspired by incredible people. I’m glad to know that they arrived in time for Caine to see them.

They’re Rick’s horses as much as they are Caine’s horses.
©rq, all rights reserved.

And no, there will not always be time. But sometimes there will be just enough.

I miss Caine.

It’s Still Beautiful

Remember this?

It is now about four weeks later, and five shades darker:

I’ll take another photo in another couple of weeks, same time, same place.
©rq, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Also I have a small confession to make: since I received my Acceptance Ring from Lofty via Caine, I haven’t removed it for any significant amount of time. Lately, though, it was getting loose on my thumb, to the point where it would slip off (into my purse, a pocket, the floor of the car), but I have always been able to find it again. Soon after taking this photo, however, it slipped from my thumb and fell onto the tracks. I can see it, every time I wait for the train, and I’m trying to get up the guts to retrieve it (believe me, train traffic is not nearly so busy for this to be a truly life-endangering activity) – my thumb feels naked, and I’ve lost a fidget toy.

On the other hand, there’s a strange appeal to knowing the ring is just down there, a little piece of the world of Affinity, a little part of my everyday morning. So I think that, eventually, I will go after it – when the evenings get dark enough for people not to see me rooting around underneath the platform. In the meantime, a small gift from friends has melded with something larger.

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Water is Life

In memory of Caine, who taught me much about the value of our surroundings and the value of water, and to celebrate Indigenous People Day, because Indigenous People all over the world have to fight for their water, against the black snake of oil and fracking, against the industries that use it as a throw away article, against the companies that will take people’s water and then sell it back to them in bottles..

I am very privileged to life in a beautiful place where I can probably say hello to tonight’s drinking water by taking a walk in the morning. This morning I took that walk and took pictures of the water here.

Blue sign water reserve

©Giliell, all rights reserved
The sign telling you that this is a protected water reserve


Water among reeds

Small and sparkling in the sun.
©Giliell, all rights reserved


Slowly meandering between the trees
©Giliell, all rights reserved

Muddy path with water

A footpath with stakes to walk on.
I live in a swamp, that’s why I’m always bogged down.
©Giliell, all rights reserved

Water with reflection of trees

Mirror, mirror…
©Giliell, all rights reserved


Fountain with a dragonfly mosaik

And finally, should the humans get thirsty, there is a wonderful fountain. You cannot see the actual nozzle, because it’s quite deep, but the water is always fresh and delicious. ©Giliell, all rights reserved

C’s Eulogy

From Caine’s husband, Dakotagreasemonkey (Rick):

C’s Wake is Thursday evening, 5 to 7 PM at Stevenson’s Funeral Home in Dickinson, ND. There will be a display of C’s Art, and her music will be playing in the background. Friday morning at 11:00 AM, C will be interred in the Almont, ND Cemetary.

Virginia Alice Rink, Ginger, became my wife on March 11th, 1979. She was a talented artist, very opinionated, and used her art to express her ideas of the beauty of diversity and inclusion. She also used many “Noms de Plume” in her Art career, especially once she started corresponding on various forums and communities on-line. Caine, Chris, “C”, she used most, once she started blogging in earnest. Pen and Ink, watercolors, acrylics, Photography, digital art, embroidery, are just some of her favorite mediums. She lost her battle with cancer on 8/7/2018, and I do miss her terrribly. She has many international on-line friends, who are continuing to keep her blog alive, and below are comments about C from her friends.

  • 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.   Giliell                          
  • 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.   Rob Grigjanis                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
  • 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. Vale Caine. DavidinOz
  • 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.    Rob Grigjanis

  • 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.   FossilFishy
  • 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.   klatu

  • 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.   Lumipuna
  • 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.   Nightjar                                                                                                                                               
  • 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.   Oggie                                                                                              
  • 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.   Feministhomemaker                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
  • 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.   Tethys                                                               
  • 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.   Raucous Indignation                                                                                                                                            
  • 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.   StevoR                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
  • 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.   Kosznai                                              

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. Thanks, everybody for the outpouring of Love. It means the world to me. Thanks for being her friend. Caine’s 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.


The Teeth of a Lion

The dandelions are still out and about in the lawn, in various guises.


(More here, the second illustration is lovely.)

I know they were some of Caine’s favourites, so of course I stopped to take a few photos (did not see any dandy lions, though – sadly).

Bright yellow and sneaking around in the grass!


Pretending to be a star.

And on the subject of vague nostalgia, here is song I meant to share a while ago, from a new folk/fusion/? group of singers called Tautumeitas (“The Folk Girls”, although the term ‘tautumeitas’ is generally used as a collective term for unmarried women who are not kin). They have a few I will be sharing (love their stuff), I know Caine herself shared one a while ago. This song is called Sadziedāmi, and the chorus, in essence, says: Let us sing together, sisters, while we are still in one place – who knows where each of us shall be other years?


Stages of a Flower

I’ve been thinking a lot about Caine today as I tended to some admin tasks. And then I found this in my inbox. It’s from Nightjar and it’s perfect. Thanks.

I’d like to dedicate this set to the memory of Caine, it was 100% inspired by her and she was in my thoughts as I planned and took each picture. It’s the kind of photography I would probably not even think of doing if I hadn’t met her. And yes, flash at dusk, a technique I picked up from her. I wish she could know how much she’s missed.

These are Helianthus tuberosus flowers from my garden.

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved