“The music was more than music- at least what we are used to hearing. The music was feeling itself. The sound connected instantly with something deep and joyous. Those powerful moments of true knowledge that we have to paper over with daily life. The music tapped the back of our terrors, too. Things we’d lived through and didn’t want to ever repeat. Shredded imaginings, unadmitted longings, fear and also surprisingly pleasures. No, we can’t live at that pitch. But every so often something shatters like ice and we are in the river of our existence. We are aware. And this realization was in the music, somehow, or in the way Shamengwa played it.”
Louise Erdrich (The Plague of Doves)

Our Mothers and Grandmothers

“And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see – or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read. ”
Alice Walker

Louise Erdrich

We have a lot of books in our house. They are our primary decorative motif-books in piles and on the coffee table, framed book covers, books sorted into stacks on every available surface, and of course books on shelves along most walls. Besides the visible books, there are books waiting in the wings, the basement books, the garage books, the storage locker books…They function as furniture, they prop up sagging fixtures and disguised by quilts function as tables…I can’t imagine a home without an overflow of books. The point of books is to have way too many but to always feel you never have enough, or the right one at the right moment, but then sometimes to find you’d longed to fall asleep reading the Aspern Papers, and there it is.

– from Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country



My Parents

Bob & Karin Leonard, 1st night pioneers in Kodiak, AK, July 1956

My parents were extraordinary.  My mother was only 19 when they married and lived in Oxnard in a tiny apartment where she worked for the telephone company while my father was at the Navy base.  Only a year later they pioneered, because of the exhortations of the Beloved Guardian, to Kodiak Island in Alaska.  He had specified many islands all over the world as goals of the 10 Year Crusade to be opened up to the Bahá’í Faith.  And they went.  Courtesy of the United States Navy, as Mom always said, and the choice being Kodiak or Japan, they chose Alaska which was still a territory in 1956.  (It actually became a state the year that I was born, but that’s jumping ahead a bit.)

Bob & Karin Leonard, Geyserville - 1950's

They were shipped up to Kodiak and placed in one of several hundred identical little box-like houses on the hill overlooking the Kodiak harbor, named Aleutian Homes.  They were pastel-sided two bedroom tract houses that all looked alike – identical one car garages – little wooden steps up to the front door.  No garden – just dirt road, dirt yard, wooden step.  I never knew why they didn’t live on the Naval Base, but it suited my Mom better to be nearer town and enabled the privacy of not having to live in the fish bowl with other Navy wives.  She got a cat named Morgan to keep her company while my Dad was on the Base working or flying in the Arctic as she knew he was doing.  Even though he was on secret reconnaissance flights over Russia and unable to tell her anything about it; she went gray by her early twenties.

Miss Holsapple

Leonora Stirling Holsapple with Mrs. Elizabeth Greenleaf, Green Acre 1923

Hudson, N.Y. January 25th, 1921

“Yes, Leonora sailed away on 15th Inst. and kept up bravely to the last – smiling and waving goodbyes to her father and sister after they had left the ship.”

No one believed she could do it. No one thought she should.  Everyone said she was crazy. Her friends said it was too far away – to go half way round the world – and unsafe.  Her father said he wouldn’t allow it!  But she went and bought the one way ticket for the ships travel to Brazil anyway!  This was not a girls’ whim, or a dare for high adventure. This was a yearning of the soul – a yearning to follow the desires for her of the Master to become a spiritual physician, to minister to people’s hearts.  She had been ministering to young minds, drilling them in Latin.  But what she really yearned for was to fulfill ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s admonition in His Tablet to her to become a spiritual physician healing mankind with the Word of God.