A Memory Braid for Caine

From Avalus,

I do have something to share, but it requires a bit of a back story. In June 2018 (has it really been that long?), Caine posted about hair braiding styles. (https://freethoughtblogs.com/affinity/2018/06/14/sure-macrame-your-hair-why-not/) 

I commented that I have a friend who likes to play with my hair, and I would post pictures of her handiwork.
Sadly, due to several sicknesses, we did not get together until earlier this week again for her birthday. And of course, she did something cool with my hair, which I now want to share.

I do feel very sad that I could not make good on my promise for Caine.

Have a good holiday season, stay safe and Fuck Cancer!

©Avalus, all rights reserved

©Avalus, all rights reserved

Ripples for Caine- Water is Life

I have something very special from Nightjar for this Monday morning.

We had a rainy November, in fact I can’t remember a month in the recent past when it rained so much. The rain completely flooded the fields behind our house and again, I can’t remember when this last happened. I’m told by older people that this is what November used to be like and how the fields used to look like this time of the year. Makes sense. Before “normal” and “drought” became synonymous. Today we had a bit of sun and I had to go for a walk with my camera. While taking these photos all I could think of was Caine, for reasons I don’t think I have to explain. Hopefully the photos speak for themselves. Came back home with tears in my eyes and had to share this with you all. Water is Life. ♥

Your photos are beautiful, and they also make me think about Caine. She enjoyed photographing water in its many forms. I know she would love these pictures. Thank you so much for sharing them, Nightjar.

©Nightjar,all rights reserved

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A Fire Maple for Caine

Caine’s birthday was a week ago today and this just arrived in my inbox. It’s from Raucous Indignation and I think it’s special – So special, in fact, that I decided not to hold it back until Tree Tuesday next week.

I have had a lengthy absence from the blog, but the tree was planted this Spring. It is a fire maple/silver maple hybrid. Very hardy with dramatic colors. The tree is doing well and dropped it leaves a few weeks ago. It’s at the end of the line of cherry, maple and oaks bordering the driveway. It’s to my left every night I come home.

Next, the puppy!

Fire Maple for Caine ©Raucous Indignation, all rights reserved

Fire Maple for Caine ©Raucous Indignation, all rights reserved

Happy Birthday, Caine

Robert, Desert Son OM kindly reminded us that today is Caine’s birthday. I am rubbish at dates, but I always prefer birthdays to death days, as they speak of life and quite often, of happy memories.

How to better celebrate Caine’s birthday than with a bird, so here’s a duck on a sea of gold. Happy Birthday, Caine!

©Giliell, all rights reserved


The Art of Book Design: Flowers of Evil

Charles Beaudelaire. Flowers of Evil. Translated by C. Bower Alcock. Illustrated by Beresford Egan. New York, Sylvan Press, 1947.

Flowers of Evil, illustrated by Beresford Egan, Title Page

Flowers of Evil, Illustrations by Beresford Egan, Page 35

Flowers of Evil, Illustrations by Beresford Egan, Page 45

The Flowers of Evil (Les Fleurs de Mal) by Beaudelaire was one of Caine’s favourite books and a special edition of it was gifted to her by Marcus. (stderr) The edition that she received was printed in limited quantities in 1947 with artwork by Beresford Egan and that’s Marcus in the first picture holding a copy of the same book he sent to Caine. The next 2 photos are Marcus displaying 2 of the interior plates to the book. Caine published several illustrations from the book on the blog and always noted how much she enjoyed the exaggerated forms and dark, macabre style of Egan. I’ve included the rest of the illustrations in the book below the fold.

Illustrations via: Retro Sixty, Modern British Art

There are several other editions of this book available to read at The Internet Archive. If you desire to read this edition by Beresford Egan you will need to open an (free) account at The Internet Archive and formally borrow the book.

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Mni Wiconi- Water is Life: In Memory of Caine

A year ago today our community was devastated by the death of our beloved Caine. The team here at Affinity struggled with how to honor Caine on this day and we finally decided to carry forward her message to love and honor the planet. Caine stood with the tribe at Standing Rock in their struggle against the DAPL and today we’re passing on a few stories about the continuing struggle of Indigenous communities to protect the land and water. We are in no way qualified to speak about Indigenous culture or history, but we do so today with great respect.

First, a few reminders of the meaning of Mni Wiconi – Water is Life.

Mni Wiconi – The Stand at Standing Rock

Mni Wiconi – Water is Life

Hear the message of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Honor tribal sovereignty and the Earth we inhabit by telling President Obama to deny the easement by calling 202-456-1111. We need every person to call Obama this week before Dec. 5th. Please share. For more information visit standwithstandingrock.net#NoDAPL#StandwithStandingRock#standingrock#bankexit

Posted by Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on Tuesday, November 15, 2016


In an article on Indian Country Today, Woonspe—Education Gives Meaning to Mni Wiconi—Water Is Life they tell of the origin story behind the meaning of Mni Wiconi.

An origin story of the Oceti Sakowin, the Seven Council Fires, which make up the Lakota, Nakoda, and Dakota people, tells us that the blood of First Creation, Inyan, covers Unci Maka, our grandmother earth, and this blood, which is blue is mni, water, and mahpiya, the sky. Mni Wiconi, water is life.

The entire article is worth reading and the above link will take you right there.



Many Standing Rocks: Three Years and Still Fighting, by Tracy L. Barnett – The Esperanza Project)

LaDonna Allard, center, and Cheryl Angel at a march led by the women of Sacred Stone to the backwater bridge one week after a brutal attack there by law enforcement. (Photo from social media) – The Esperanza Project


So water is in danger, globally. Right now Indigenous communities are still at risk, and they are standing up, because they have to stand up.  When you finally realize — WATER IS LIFE — you understand why you can’t sit back down.

People keep saying “after” Standing Rock – but I’m still of the same state of mind, I still have the same passion for the water,  it has to be protected. It was when I was at Sicangu Wicoti Iyuksa that I learned about the aquifers that were in danger and when I was at Standing Rock I learned about the rivers that were in danger.

We encourage you to read the article. Cheryl Angel passes on wisdom from a lifetime spent in activism for the planet. Her reflections on the movement at Standing Rock are insightful, as is her take on the ongoing struggle to protect water and land resources.


Next, we’re providing links to 2 reports on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s website.

SRST – No DAPL Remand Report Final, from February 5, 2019.

This first story is a damning and infuriating report on the deficient Corps of Engineers Analysis of the environmental impacts of the DAPL. The courts finally sided with the Standing Rock Tribe, but then decided that since the pipeline is already built they will let the oil flow.

Impacts of an Oil Spill from the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe from February 21, 2018, so that you can see just how much is at stake.
Both stories connect you to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s website and we encourage you to have a look around. The About Us section contains lots of information about the history of the tribe and the reservation, as does the section about environmental issues.
Next, we’re going to point you toward the Indigenous Environmental Network.
IEN is an alliance of Indigenous peoples whose mission it is to protect the sacredness of Earth Mother from contamination and exploitation by strengthening, maintaining and respecting Indigenous teachings and natural laws. Adopted in 1994 by the IEN National Council, Denver, Colorado
The IEN website has a broad focus and they carry a variety of interesting stories about the ongoing fight to protect the land and water. It isn’t all just talk, though. The IEN runs several important environmental campaigns including the Keep It In The Ground Campaign run by Dallas Goldtooth. Dallas was born into an activist family and stood as a water protector at Standing Rock. He’s an accomplished activist, teacher, writer, poet and comedian who uses story and humor to tackle difficult subjects.
Here he is with his comedy troupe, The 1491’s, at Vasser College in 2018. His message is full of hope.

And finally, we leave you with a clip found on Twitter 2 days ago by rq. It’s a true message of hope from The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the it’s the perfect way to end this post.


The Art of Book Design: Salome

Oscar Wilde. Salome. Illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley. London : John Lane, the Bodley Head ; New York : John Lane Co., 1907.

Aubrey Beardsley was one of Caine’s favourite artists from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. Beardsley was commissioned directly by Oscar Wilde for this edition of Salome. Wilde felt that Beardsley’s modern, dark and macabre style captured the true spirit of the book.

I’ve included all the interior plates below the fold and they are deliciously grim and gruesome. The entire book can be viewed at The Internet Archive.

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The Art of Book Design: The Miroir

This week I’ll be featuring books with art that Caine would enjoy. This first book is in homage to Caine’s mastery and love of needlework.

The Miroir or Glasse of the Synneful Soul, copied in her own hand by Princess Elizabeth when just 11 years old (1544) and Presented to her stepmother Katherine Parr. Featured in English Embroidered Book-bindings (1899) – source


via:The Public Domain Review

H is for Heliotrope

From Nightjar,

H is for Heliotrope ©Nightjar, all rights reserved


A pink-purple tint that represents the color of the garden heliotrope flower. I couldn’t find the flower, but I found the tone on an African Daisy. I wish I could have shared this photo with Caine, she loved daisies and I know she would have loved that curled petal.


Link to previous alphabet post

Barberry Flowers for Caine

Something very special from Nightjar.

The Barberry shrub I planted last year in Caine’s memory (https://freethoughtblogs.com/affinity/2018/08/22/a-living-remembrance/) 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!