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Podcast 2019
Middle Kingdom Podcasts (2005-2017)

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Entries in community (15)


Mekong Blue

I visited Mekong Blue, the Stung Treng Women’s Development Center in NE Cambodia.

Fifty women are trained in a six-month silk weaving course. They plant mulberry, harvest, dye and create silk textiles. It is a UNESCO award winner known for superior quality, creativity and originality.

Mulberry leaves everything behind. Worms eat the leaves. Their saliva makes yellow cocoons. Saliva becomes a protein and stronger than steel. They boil silkworm cocoons to extract raw yellow silk. One thread is 300 meters long.

It is separated into soft and fine threads.

Women dye the threads using natural materials:

banana (yellow)

bougainvillea (yellow)

almond leaves (black)

lac insect nests (red and purple)

prohut wood (yellow and green)

lychee wood (black and gray)

indigo (blue) and coconut (brown and pink).

Women also weave Ikat, a technique creating patterns on silk threads prior to dyeing and weaving. It is called HOL with 200 motifs.

The center improves the women’s quality of life. It breaks the cycle of poverty through vocational training and educational programs.

They have a primary school with thirty-five kids and two teachers. Everyone receives lunch. It is the single biggest employer in town after the government.

That’s so cool, said Rita. Need some ice?

Mekong Blue

Published in:

Grow Your Soul


Literary Agent Orange

Rip my heart out. Build the tension with cinematic pace. Then en masse in a dramatic climax they escape the clutches of the evil manipulators. In the falling action they join a safe community women’s shelter based on healing, recovery, regaining personal strength, dignity, self-respect, empowerment.

         They learn new job skills like cutting and selling ice.

         They learn how to weave. They discover their life needle leads a story thread. They take control of their life.

         They form love killer groups and hunt down men and women who betrayed them. The women kill them with love and compassion. The denouement is their brutal REVENGE. Best served cold. Calm, detached and honest. Short fast and deadly.


         BUT, said agent alliterated, I’m pretty. I’m pretty busy reading obscure vague query letters and synopses filled with vowels, consonants, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, tough love, mysteries and dime store romance, not to mention salacious graphic comics.

         Get to the verb. Get to the action. Establish a scene. Paint a voice. Develop characters, narrative, structure, plot, thematic unity, setting and multiple marketing platforms from recycled manuscripts. Pulp. Keep me turning the page.

Make the characters want something even if it’s a drink of water in the middle of the Gobi. Everyone needs water. Leo can tell you about the value of water in the Gobi.

         You mean, said Ice Girl, writing is like standing on the edge staring into an abyss called civilizationwith Leo, a courageous noble savage cannibal wearing an alarm clock around their neck committing sewer side with absolute free will above shimmering blue pools of incandescent liquid molecular frozen particles with brave stone cold clarity immobilized at heights of illusionary immaculate freedom seeing their immortality, their deepest fear in ROOM 101 alongside brave OTHERS unflinching in their love, compassion and goodness, this infinite potential?

Destiny in eternity? Where all points end at infinity? Where eternity plays with time? Before jumping they yell, People think art is easy. Tell them it’s like jumping off a 12 story building every day. JUMP!

         Yes, said the agent. I know it can be heart breaking. You develop your wings after jumping.

         You don’t know the meaning of heartbreak said Ice Girl. I’ve buried more people than you’ve published. Once I witnessed an old man wearing a rainbow knit cap write Eternity on a paper napkin in Planet Paradise, a coffee joint in Eugene, Oregon.

He torched Eternity with a match. His tired traveling blazing eyes watched Eternity burn to a cinder. Black and white ash and dust fluttered from his fingers. He mumbled incoherent incantations about fate’s joke, meaningless life, existential choices, irony and consequences. Something like that, said the agent with vague ineptness. Life is a chess game of experiences we get to play.

         The burning seer burned his inner light. He walked into a world trailing ash, feeling wind in his heart. Sun burned his retinas. Tides of time in the long now ebbed and receded where the event horizon blurred his cognitive facilities.

He lapsed into a stream-of-consciousness run-on sentence talking to shadows, ghosts and shamans. He approached the point of universal consciousness with mind-at-large where fiction memory dream and imagination are the same thing. He confronted the endless abyss. He jumped. He saved himself, said Ice Girl.

         Go on, said agent. The publishing world is a crapshoot. A casino. After expanding the narrative angle give me mythical evil, cold blooded sadistic mega maniacs, corrupt politicians, civil servants, millions of poorly paid laconic Asian teachers, nurses, doctors and financially motivated international bankers and politicians practicing fraud, sexual harassment and NGO graft under the auspices of organized crime.


world is a village

Red clouds on a soft day. Japanese kamikaze snappers.

Rivers and sensation perception. Small people big voice. Orange monks. Women oranges.  Street love.

Serenity of sitting one afternoon in Boua Mon's village. Paper village.

The world is a village.

In this real zone dust dances with laughter. Women gossip, cook, swaddle infants. Joy and connections away from Disneyland myopia circus.

How it works in Laos. Unspoken. Men make the rules. Women take care of the home.

Below the surface. Subtitles.

Women worship in temples, men sit around drinking beer.

A village maintains the other world.

Morality, ethics, behavior.

You don't leave the village.

Everything I need is here.

Symbiotic symbolic relationships.

Meditation awareness.

Gentle undying nature.

Once upon a dream there was (is) present.

Ink said, hello now a few words in simple English hilarious. 


move like a river

Move like a river, rest like a mirror and respond like an echo.

Create like a God, order like a King and work like a Slave.

Laughter and Orphan and characters are dazzled by the embroidery.

Help others be more human.

Clean ears of years, tears and fears after four months of hearing V road grime.

Clear hearing channels. Auditory clarity.

Silent orange robed monks pass through.

Roll along a mist river before dawn. Silver surface is quiet.

Nails trim voices, blue cotton fabric discusses threads.

A girl with bamboo baskets of sun oranges balances her long walk from a truck near boats as women pray for sustenance in fog light. Her destiny is uphill past rising smoke, villages, cooking fires, warmth, hot noodles, steaming steps in rhythmic fashion she continues...

The road is made by walking.

The void of substance.

Boua Mon - weaver, 32, once eclipsed since we met at her village loom. Absorb her illuminated smile, grace, centered way.

In her absence everything possible or improbable happened. Ghost-self dreamed her into being as Anita butterfly skimmed the joy of exile. A man on his yellow bike waved, smiled, and rode away. Afternoon sun decorated green mountains.

Shuttle music and hospitality with Boua just sitting as she weaves, aligning threads, sharing food, incomprehensible women conversations. Her smile is radiant.



friday the 13th

The village of Sa near Sapa.

Small steps going down. Steep trails, dirt. She identifies wild plants on the hillside used for indigo colors in their clothing.

The wild terrain. Rising rice terraces where people harvest. People cut, thresh, stack of stalks and burn them. Isolated puffs of smoke dot the valley below rising green forests and mountains.

It’s a long simple home with a dirt floor, and bamboo walls. There are some wooden walls but wood is expensive. The home is divided into a kitchen on the left, main room and bedroom. The main room has a TV and DVD machine. Under the roof is a storage area.

Outside is a faucet for water, water buffalo pen, pig pen and writing pen. 

Indigo cloth dyed in a large vat hangs to dry along a wooden wall. Stacks of straw for winter feed wait. Twenty-five kilogram bags of rice in blue, white and orange plastic bags made in Indonesia are piled in a corner.

Sa's father returns with water buffalo. Her mother smiles.

We share a simple lunch prepared by one Sa’s three daughters. She is 19, a mother, a trek leader and speaks excellent English. Rice, tofu, and greens.