Thursday, March 6, 2014

Francis Hernandez and the Death of a Friendship

Long time, no write! I wanted to share something with you that has been troubling me.

Back in 1977, when I was 17 and lived in Long Beach, California, I was briefly acquainted with a 15 year old boy named Francis Hernandez. A mutual friend introduced me to him. The three of us went partying together at El Dorado Park in the friend's car.

In 1981, after I had moved to California's High Desert, I was watching the news on television one afternoon. The newscaster said that the bodies of two young women had been found at the junior high school and the high school I attended in Long Beach. Shortly thereafter, the friend who introduced me to Francis telephoned me and told me that Francis had been arrested for the murders. He was accused of raping, torturing and murdering Edna and Kathy. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. For many years, Francis Hernandez was the youngest man on California's Death Row.

I wrote the articles about Francis Hernandez for my blog after I learned that his death sentence had been commuted to life in prison. I was concerned because I had heard that he might be eligible for parole. Frankly, I believe that  the crimes that Francis were so horrendous that he should have to spend the rest of his life in prison. I wrote about him, hoping to encourage others to ask California's Parole Board to keep him in prison.

Shortly after I wrote the articles about Francis, I invited the mutual friend to read my blog. I wanted to invite her adult daughter too, but I thought the right thing to do was ask the mother first. The mutual friend responded by sending me an angry email written in all caps. She denied that she ever knew Francis Hernandez. I told her that she had known Fran -- when she introduced him to me, she told me he was one of the young people who hung out at her neighbor's house. At that point, she said that if I told her daughter anything, she would never speak to me again. She told me that she didn't want to be my friend any more because I "remind her of things she doesn't want to remember." She told me delete her as a Facebook friend, so I did.

This was hurtful to me. I assume that she is angry with me because I used her first name in an article about Francis Hernandez. I did not think I had done anything wrong because her first name is very common among our age group. I have tried to apologize to her, but she refuses to have anything to do with me. This is not the first time that she has become angry with me and refused to speak to me for years, but it might be the last.

To my former friend:  If I said or wrote something that offended you, I am sorry. When I wrote about Francis, it was NOT my intention to embarrass anyone, except for maybe Francis. I'm not the type of person who would deliberately say something to a friend's child that I thought would embarrass the friend.

Unlike my former friend, I am not embarrassed that I was briefly acquainted with Francis Hernandez. Many, many people in Long Beach were acquainted with him. When the three of us went partying, I had absolutely no idea that some day he would murder Edna and Kathy. If I had known that he was violent, I would not have gone. If my former friend had known, I do not think she would have partied with him either. But we could not predict the future.

Frankly, I am just happy and grateful that I survived.

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Case of Valley Fever

    During my last discussion about sin, one of my dear friends said she was sorry that I have lung disease. Don't feel sorry for me. Smoking was a bad habit that I acquired as a teen. That's why some doctors call nicotine addiction a pediatric illness. My father was a chronic smoker. When I was 23, he died of emphysema and heart disease. Plus, I was a Mormon. Smoking is against the Word of Wisdom. I knew that smoking was wrong and had been linked to lung cancer.  When I was young, I was too headstrong to quit. 

     There is another reason why I don't want people to feel sorry for me because I have lung disease. Several years ago, I went to the army hospital because I woke up twice short of breath. I couldn't understand waking up short of breath. The radiology techs did a CT lungs on me. My doctor told me I had multiple nodules (or lumps) in my lungs. He was concerned that it might be lung cancer. I thought I was going to die. I was so depressed I didn't even want to go shopping. You know things are really bad when a lady doesn't want to shop.

     After a second CT lungs, the doctor explained to me that multiple nodules on the lungs are found in certain areas of the world. He asked me where I was from. I told him that I lived in California's High Desert for 15 years. He told me that there is a disease called Valley Fever that is found in California and Arizona, especially in the desert. The disease is caused by a fungus that lives in the soil. The fungus can be stirred up by farming, construction or wind. If you inhale its spores, you can develop acute Valley Fever.

       The proper medical term for Valley Fever is about ten syllables long. I can't say it, much less spell it. The doctor said I may have caught acute Valley Fever when I was young, but not have realized it. The symptoms of acute Valley Fever can be mild. You feel like you have a cold or the flu. It may last for about two weeks. It can resolve on its own.  In my case, I don't remember being sick at all. But it could have been much worse. Chronic Valley Fever can make people very sick. Recently, 1700 prisoners had to transferred out of prisons in California's San Joaquin Valley after 62 inmates died of Valley Fever.

     To rule out lung cancer, my doctor said that I had to undergo a series of CT examinations of the lungs. If the nodules on my lungs didn't grow, I was ok -- meaning that the lumps on my lungs were probably old scars and that I probably did not have lung cancer. But if the nodules grew, I probably had lung cancer.

      Every six months I went to the hospital for a CT lungs. No growth was noted. After three examinations, the doctor ruled that the lumps were old scars. He said I didn't have to undergo any more CT lungs examinations.  That's when I knew I didn't have lung cancer. I was so relieved. That's why I don't want you to feel sorry for me. I'm grateful it was only Valley Fever. I can live with a fungus.

      Naturally, this experience was very stressful. I decided to quit smoking because I didn't want to do anything that might make the condition of my lungs worse. The army hospital was giving nicotine patches to people who wanted to quit. I got a set. I picked a date. On that date, I applied the patch to my skin. I used to be a real b**** if I ran out of cigarettes. With the patch, I didn't jones at all. A week later, I completely forgot about the patches. I forgot all about cigarettes too. 

      I gave my leftover patches to my dear friend Wilhelmina because he wanted to quit but couldn't handle nicotine fits. Two people who had been smoking for 30+ years were able to quit with one set of nicotine patches. Three years have passed, and Willie and I are still smoke-free.

      I hope my smokealogue hasn't been too dull and boring. I wanted to inspire you. We all have our vices, our weaknesses, our little sins. Mine was tobacco. I didn't think I would ever quit smoking. I thought I would die with a cigarette in my hand. But I  feel so much better since I quit. I don't cough nearly as much as I used to. I no longer have to suffer those unpleasant nicotine fits. 

      I don't have to tell you what your bad habit. You already know if you smoke, drink or eat too much. I don't want to be a nag. I want you to know that when it comes to the point that your indiscretion is ruining your health or destroying your life, you can quit. You really can. 

      Here's to your good health and happy life!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Spring Has Sprung in Portland!

On Sunday, June 9, 2013, my family and I visited the International Rose Test Garden in Portland, Oregon. The garden is one of the many attractions located in Washington Park in Portland's West Hills.

Ten thousand plantings of more than 500 species are grown in the garden. They've got just about every type of rose you can imagine. There are floribundas, hybrid tea roses, grandifloras, climbing roses, English roses, miniature roses and rose trees.

The International Rose Test Garden is one of the largest public gardens in the United States. This garden is used to test new species of roses. One or two species are chosen to be "Rose of the Year."

The variety of colors found in the garden is absolutely amazing.

Alyson, Korinna and Alex admire the miniature roses. Miniature roses are smaller than floribundas or traditional hybrid teas, but their color can be just as vibrant and exciting.

This is my eight year old grandson, Alex. All the way down to Portland, he kept whispering to his mother, "Mommy, do we have to go to the rose garden? Do we have to go there?" I suppose visiting a rose garden sounds rather dull and boring to a boy. Once he saw the field of flowers, Alex was as wild about the roses as the girls.

Just remember the old adage, "Real men grow roses."

I like this photo of Kristina standing near the fountain.

This arch of red climbing roses was breathtaking. Now you know why Portland, Oregon is called "The City of Roses."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Let's Bring Keith Bennett Home

I've had the privilege of meeting many wonderful people via the internet. I've met romance authors Virginia Henley and Nora Roberts. I've met Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center. This winter I met Alan Bennett and his partner, true crime author Carol Ann Lee.

Alan Bennett was only 9 years old when his 12 year old brother, Keith, disappeared on June 16, 1964. That evening, Keith and his siblings were supposed to spend the night at their grandmother's house in Longsight, England. Keith walked half-way there with his mother, Winnie Johnson, before she turned and headed toward a bingo game. Keith was expected to walk alone a few short blocks to his grandmother's house. Unfortunately, he never arrived.

More than twenty years after he vanished, the Bennett family learned that Keith was a victim of British serial killers Myra Hindley and Ian Brady. Between July 1963 and October 1965, Hindley and Brady abducted, sexually assaulted, tortured and killed five children from the Greater Manchester area. Other victims include Pauline Reade, John Kilbride, Lesley Ann Downey and Edward Evans. The crimes are known as the Moors murders because Hindley and Brady buried four of their victims on Saddleworth Moor.

Hindley and Brady were arrested after 17 year old David Smith and his wife, Maureen, walked to a phone booth and called the police. Dave reported that he had seen Brady murder 17 year old Edward Evans with Hindley's assistance. Myra Hindley was Ian Brady's girl friend. She was also Maureen Smith's older sister. Hindley and Brady were arrested after David Smith told the police that Evans' body was still located in the house Hindley and Brady shared with her grandmother.

David Smith was the prosecution's star witness in what many considered to be "the trial of the century" at Chester Assizes in 1966. Hindley and Brady were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Hindley died in 2002. Brady is still confined in Ashworth Hospital.

Sadly, Keith Bennett's body has never been found. Winnie Johnson spent 45 years searching for her eldest son because she wanted to give him a Christian burial. Winnie died on August 12, 2012, her wish unfulfilled.

Alan Bennett's partner, Carol Ann Lee, has written two excellent books about the Moors murders. Her first book, "One of Your Own," details the life and death of Britain's most hated woman. Her second book, "Witness," is also entitled "Evil Relations." This book examines the life of David Smith. If you like true crime stories, I highly recommend Carol Ann Lee's books.

Since Winnie Johnson's passing, Alan Bennett and Carol Ann Lee have led the campaign for another search for his brother's body. Their website is

If you are a British citizen interested signing the petition to continue searching for Keith Bennett, you may do so at:

If you are not a British citizen, please write to the British Home Secretary and ask to continue the search for Keith Bennett.

Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Home Secretary
2 Marsham Street

Thank you for your support!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Different Strokes for Different Folks

There are many different types of families in the United States.

We have the traditional nuclear family with a heterosexual mom married to a heterosexual dad and their kids. There are many, many single parents -- both single moms and single dads who might be divorced, widowed or never married. We have extended and blended (step) families living together. We have grandparents (or other relatives) raising their grandchildren. We have adoptive families and foster families. We have married couples who choose not to have children. We have gay and lesbian couples -- some who are raising children.

Whether you like it or not, there are polygamous and polyamorous families too.

Arguing that one type of family is better than the others is a waste of time. Every family is unique. Love should be the factor that defines what is a family. Love is the glue that holds a family together.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Help Put Utah's Adoption Mills Out of Business

I started this morning by sending an email to Washington's senators, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray. It went something like this:

Dear Senator:

Please sponsor a federal bill that will guarantee that biological fathers -- whether they are married or not -- have the same parental rights as birth mothers in adoptions.

I have read in the Salt Lake Tribune about several controversial adoptions that took place in Utah. Five of these cases involved unwed fathers and an adoption agency called the Adoption Center of Choice. In all five cases, Utah's Supreme Court and Utah's Court of Appeals refused to stop the adoption because the unwed father had waited too long to protect his parental rights under Utah law. Victor Johnson, Frank Osborne, Buddy Pruitt, Cody O’Dea and Bryn Ayers lost their biological children to Utah adoption.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I know that the LDS Church teaches that it is better for children to be raised by married parents than by single parents. I know the LDS Church also teaches that it is best for children to sealed in the temple to LDS couples. Many of Utah's judges belong to the LDS Church. I believe that their rulings have been influenced by the LDS Church's teachings.

It is my understanding that an attorney named Larry Jenkins helped write Utah's adoption laws. This was unfair to unwed fathers because Larry Jenkins represented the Adoption Center of Hope in the five aforementioned cases. Mr. Jenkins is currently representing Jared and Kristi Frei in their dispute with Terry Achane.

Many females temporarily move to Utah to give birth and place their babies up for adoption because the Utah courts rarely support fathers' rights. Sometimes a father does not know his child has been placed for adoption until the deadline that protects his parental rights has passed. I believe that this happened to several of the unwed fathers who lost their children to Utah adoption.

Please help put Utah's adoption mills out of business. Sponsor a federal bill that will make it against federal law for a female to deprive a father of his parental rights by moving to another state to give birth or place a baby up for adoption. Make it a federal crime for an adoption agency to assist a birth mother in depriving a father of his parental rights this way too. The state in which the biological father and birth mother normally reside should have jurisdiction over a child's adoption.

Please sponsor a federal bill that will extend the length of time a father has to protect his parental rights in adoption cases. I recommend extending the deadline to six months.

I am especially concerned about Staff Sergeant Terry Achane. Mr. Achane is an Afro-American soldier. He was married when his wife became pregnant with their child. They lived in Texas. He was transferred by the Department of the Army to Fort Jackson during his wife's pregnancy. His wife chose to remain in Texas.

His wife temporarily moved to Utah, gave birth to their child and placed their daughter up for adoption. She falsely claimed that her husband had abandoned her. The Adoption Center of Choice placed Mr. Achane's daughter with Jared and Kristi Frei, a white married couple who belong to the LDS Church. When Mr. Achane learned what his wife had done, he contacted the Adoption Center of Choice and told them he wanted his daughter back. The Freis refused to give his daughter to him. The Adoption Center of Choice permitted the adoption to take place.

My husband retired from the US Army after 21 years of service. We don't believe that our soldiers should have to worry about whether their children will be placed for adoption in Utah when they are being transferred or sent overseas. The adoption of Mr. Achane's child is currently being appealed in Utah. Please speak up for Mr. Achane. Protect our soldiers' parental rights.

Thank you for your support.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Loretta Lynn Comes Home to Washington State

I'd be lying if I said I'm a big fan of country music, but I've always liked the movie called "Coal Miner's Daughter." That's the story of Loretta Lynn's life. I wanted to see Loretta perform at the Snoqualmie Casino last year, but she had to cancel her tour due to a knee injury. I was very pleased when my daughter gave two tickets to Loretta's concert at the Emerald Queen Casino on October 26 to me as a birthday gift.

Born on April 14, 1934, the First Lady of Country Music is now 78 years old. But she looks much younger. She is still touring the country with her twin daughters, Patsy and Peggy Lynn. Loretta's show opened with the twins singing some of their favorite country songs, including "Tulsa Time."

Loretta performed all of her greatest hits. Everything from "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl" to "Your Squaw is on the Warpath" to "Don't Come Home a Drinkin with Lovin on Your Mind."

Between songs, Loretta reminded the audience that Washington State is the place where her music career began. She was born and raised in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, but she and her husband, Doolittle Lynn, moved to Washington shortly after they were married. The Lynns lived in Custer, Washington for 14 years. Loretta announced that she received her first recording contract (for "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl) from Zero Records of Vancouver, Washington in 1959. That's why she tries to come home to Washington every year.

I like Loretta Lynn, but I think some of her songs are dated. In "Fist City" and "You Ain't Woman Enough," Loretta addresses women who had affairs with her husband. I felt that she was blaming women for her husband's bad behavior rather than him. To me, the idea of two women fighting over a man who is two-timing them seems rather juvenile. I can't imagine why any woman -- especially a celebrity -- would want to be married to a cheating dog. Good husbands don't stray. Young women should know that they don't have to put up with men who do. Hopefully, a more modern country singer will address cheating with songs with titles like, "Out the Door You Go, You No Good Louse."

For the show's finale, Loretta performed a moving rendition of her song, "Coal Miner's Daughter." I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this song because everyone should be proud of their roots.