The Murder of Violet Gold

This was written in 2014. I don’t remember the context. I suspect my motivation was something like “Hey! I want to write something that rhymes!”

The Murder of Violet Gold

It all comes down to what you might believe,
If someone were to speak at the right time,
A nudge to help your stricken mind conceive
A notion which I think you’ll find sublime:
That which you thought you saw was never real.
A trick of light, at best. Madness, at worst.
Synaptic firing line shot to conceal
The truth of what you saw tonight, immersed,
As we both were, in horror as she dripped
Her ruby blood upon the kitchen floor.
In anguish as our dear, sweet friend fast-slipped,
With screams and shock, the threshold of death’s door.
It was not I who held the bloody blade!
The killer must have been our dear friend’s maid!

The killer must have been our dear friend’s maid!
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again:
She hated how our lovely friend displayed
The wealth she’d earned through labor, sweat, and pain!
While she, herself, had nothing much to show
For all the years she’s given Mrs. Gold.
She doesn’t even have a home, you know?
She has no car to drive, nor hand to hold!
It’s her, I’m sure, with whom the blame must lay.
For who else here would kill sweet Violet?
And though I’ll justify it in no way —
The mistress stabbed and killed by her own pet —
It’s not so hard to see how envy bleeds
When work alone won’t meet one’s basic needs!

When work alone won’t meet one’s basic needs!
We’ve all been there, now, haven’t we, old pal?
While every dream she dares to dream succeeds.
Hey, who could help but envy that old gal?
It isn’t disrespect! It’s said with love!
You know she’s had my heart since we were young!
And no, those are not blood drops on my glove!
You keep your peace unless you’d see me hung!
I loved her near as much as I love you!
It’s not the sort of love that money buys.
And, dearest friend, I know what we should do.
You must believe my words and not your eyes.
For when you think about the wealth we’ve got,
It’s plain to see we blame the one who’s not.

Downtown Development (Sapphic Stanza)

Ugly cars with rusted-out bodies park here,
Underneath the flowering plums and maples,
Staid beside our manicured, landscaped greenway,
Sharing the sidewalk

Maple boards with thundering wheels break peaces
Gravely spanning chasms between the burdens
Built on wine and barbecue by the fireplace,
Burning through nightfall

Iron gates with delicate motors hum here,
Gliding shut and opening when we bid them,
Boasting signs to terminate rights of passage,
Locking out friendship

Kaküno Sapphic Stanza

Pilot Kaküno fountain pen with Lewis Putnam Turco's The Book of Forms
Pilot Kaküno fountain pen with Lewis Putnam Turco’s The Book of Forms. Yes, this pen was designed for children. No, the book was not.

Last week, I treated myself1 to a copy of the revised and expanded edition of Lewis Putnam Turco’s The Book of Forms2. Yesterday, while at Mitsuwa Marketplace3 in Costa Mesa, my wife treated me to a Pilot Kaküno4 fountain pen.

These two treats go well together.

I’ve reached the part of Turco’s book which introduces the Sapphic line and the Sapphic stanza5, and because I want to actually learn the material in the book, as opposed to just digesting it, I’ll be spending at least a few days taking winky-nibbed stabs at Sapphic stanzas.

If you’re reading this, I hope you’ll forgive me.

I’m comfortable with iambs6. Trochees7 and dactyls8 feel awkward and weird. “da-DA-da-DA-da-DA-da-DA-da-DA”9 makes perfect sense to me. “DA-da-DA-da-DA-da-da-WTF-DA-da-Da-da” not so much. (That “WTF” always, always follows the dactyl. Always.) My archetypal drummer keeps dropping her sticks, and I don’t particularly like the sound of it.

But I do like that fountain pen!

And, since the pen was in my hand when I started writing…

Pilot Kaküno with handwritten sample of “Kaküno Sapphic Stanza”. If you look closely, you can see the smiley face on the nib.

Kaküno Sapphic Stanza

Fountain flows of ebony staining paper
Winking, smiling up from its steely shoulders
Lilac, white and metal in pudgy fingers
Piloting verses

Here’s to the concept that practice makes… well, at least better.


  1. Lewis Putnam Turco’s The Book of Forms. Accessed 15 May 2018.
  2. UPNE – The Book of Forms: Lewis Putnam Turco. University Press of New England. Accessed 15 May 2018.
  3. Mitsuwa. One of several Japanese markets in Orange County. Accessed 15 May 2018. c
  4. Pilot Kaküno. Accessed 15 May 2018.
  5. “Sapphic stanza”. Wikipedia. Accessed 15 May 2018.
  6. “Iamb (poetry)”. Wikipedia. Accessed 15 May 2018.
  7. “Trochee”. Wikipedia. Accessed 15 May 2018.
  8. “Dactyl (poetry)”. Wikipedia. Accessed 15 May 2018.
  9. “Iambic pentameter”. Wikipedia. Accessed 15 May 2018.

I Got Distracted

I do that a lot. It’s a big, fascinating world with lots to get distracted by. And I, myself, am a big, less-fascinating microcosm with an internal ecology to get distracted by, too.

I’ll bet you might be the same.

So, I’ve been stretching my problem solving skills and debating about how certain I should be before blogging about a questionable fix I’m employing for a no-good, frustrating, disturbing health problem for which I do not want to undergo the prescribed diagnostic procedures, never mind one particular potential treatment.

I’ve written and scrapped the post explaining the whole mess too many times. It’s amazing how something fairly simple and direct can take far too much back story to clarify, and how much anxiety doing so can provoke.

I’ve yet to reach a conclusion on how much I’m willing to share.

So, what does this have to do with illustration?

Well, that’s one of the things I’ve been distracted from. I still haven’t finished designing the iMessage sticker pack I started working on back in March1. I have a couple of potential illustrations done for the second triad (there’s something to be said for working in threes; it’s the number of signs in an element2, after all, and an easy grouping for getting to 12), but can’t quite get my head around how I want to complete that mini-set.

In the meantime, I’ve discovered Concepts by TopHatch3.

Orange squid drawn in Concepts. Work in progress, likely to never be finished. I was playing with Concepts’ shape guides and stroke smoothing at this point, and obviously using layers, but otherwise drawing like I would on actual paper.

Concepts is described as “An advanced, natural design tool for the mobile professional.”4 I’m not a professional, and no more mobile than most other homebodies I know. I actually found Concepts during a quest for a simple-to-use architecture app while I was distracted by the notion of re-designing Angel Stadium5 with a more neck-friendly layout. Alas, that ambitious bit of inspiration never came to fruition, but Concepts was love at first draw, and so, I’ve been busy learning to use, and slowly creating with, my new fave drawing app.

Concepts comes with an infinite canvas; optional, adjustable grids (including dotted and isometric grids); snapping options; shape guides; ways to measure your work; and a decent set of brushes. (My favorite of these is the fill brush. It’s totally changing the way that I work, and doing so in a good, time-saving, error-reducing way. Maybe that’s not unique to this app. Maybe it’s just the first time I’ve actually used that sort of tool with an Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro. Don’t know. Don’t care. If this app is the first to get me to effectively use a fill brush, then kudos to TopHatch for getting through my thick skull.)

In-progess dragon drawing in Concepts. I’m now uitilizing the fill brush, selection tools, duplicating and mirroring, in addition to infinite layers, stroke smoothing, snap, and shape guides.

If you like to draw, and like doing so on an iPad, I encourage you to give Concepts a trial run.

In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying drawing with it.

And, hopefully, I’ll come to a decision regarding how transparent I want to be about what I’m now referring to as “Sam’s DIY Hormone Fix” (or, “You Too Can Regulate Your Own Estrogen—But You Might Not Like How”)6.



  1. Light That Monsoon Up! Samusumi. Accessed 3 May 2018.
  2. A Brief Introduction to Astrology: The four Elements. Astrodienst. Accessed 3 May 2018.
  3. Concepts: Smarter Sketching (iOS). TopHatch. Accessed 3 May 2018.
  4. Concepts: Smarter Sketching (iOS). TopHatch. Accessed 3 May 2018.
  5. Angel Stadium. Samusumi. Accessed 3 May 2018.
  6. Psst. It has nothing to do with astrology. Evidence-based medicine FTW.

Objects in Mirror Are Bluer Than They Appear, Too

18 April 2018. Waiting in the Tribute for Linda at Anaheim Plaza. The shorter building in the background is Marie Callender’s. (Yum!) The taller building is a six-story commercial office building. It was a beautiful SoCal day, and I’m a bit annoyed that U.S. politics has made me feel weird about wearing red hats.

Miles for Marge

Hands. Me and Mom, 2012. Photo and editing by Linda A. Mah. Used with permission.

Last night, Linda and I signed up for Alzheimer’s Orange County1’s next walk at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. The 2018 Walk4ALZ Orange County event2 takes place on November 10th, and we’ve decided to get a head start on this year’s fundraising.

With that in mind, I’ve purchased a new domain——which I’ve redirected toward our walk team’s page. I’ve done this to give the page a URL that is easy to both spell and remember, primarily for people whom I talk to in real space, but who prefer to donate via internet.

When the walk is over, and/or the team page is taken down, will then be redirected to the “Miles for Marge” category at—at least until we participate in another Alzheimer’s walk, at which point the domain will resume its original purpose.

I hope to blog periodically about the lead-up to the Angel Stadium walk, ALZOC, and my own experience as a daughter of a person who struggled with dementia, right up until the walk actually happens. And I hope to cap that series of posts off with a report on this year’s successful fundraising and wildly awesome turnout!

If you’re in or around Orange County, California, and would like to come walk with Linda, me, and our adorable, 15-year-old Maltese (who will likely ignore you), click here. If you’d like to donate to our fundraising effort, click the same link.

Easy-peasy, no?



  1. Alzheimer’s Orange County. Accessed 16 April 2018.
  2. Walk4ALZ 2018. Accessed 16 April 2018.

Shohei Shopping at Angel Stadium

Albert Pujols, Mickey Mouse, and Linda at Angel Stadium. (I’m in there, too, if you look at the reflections in Linda’s shades.)

The Angels were in Kansas City, but we were at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. Linda and I haven’t been to a game yet this baseball season, and we thought our game gear could use an Ohtani refresh.

(Yes, the wife took off work so that we could go shopping.)

Albert, Mickey, me and Linda at the stadium, trying out our new Shohei Ohtani caps. Photo by Linda A. Mah, modified and used with permission.

It was a nice day out for the two of us. Much nicer than the game that followed in Kansas City. I slid a little further into Angels fandom just before the team’s defense suffered a series of hiccups in my home state. (As an aside, Kauffman Stadium is one of two stadiums that I’ve seen from the inside of a Greyhound bus, and it was one of the highlights of my decade-ago trip from Missouri to New Mexico.)

Our haul from the Angels Team Store: Ohtani hats (the one on the left is a New Era 9TWENTY; on the right is a 9FORTY), two Ohtani pins, and the Angels Topps Baseball 2018 Team Set.

I was beginning to think that my Shohei Ohtani hat—Linda wasn’t wearing hers. What the hell, Linda?—carried some bad Friday the 13th luck, but the Angels managed to tie it up, then take the lead, in the top of the 8th inning.

The cards in the Angels Topps Team Set. I used to collect baseball cards as a kid. But I wasn’t a kid by the time Albert Pujols broke into the majors. This is my first Pujols card, and I’m some odd mixture of excited and wistful about that.

We have tickets for the game vs. the Giants on the 22nd, when—if I’m counting correctly—Ohtani should be pitching. It’ll be our first time with front row seats. Hopefully, that game will go smoother than today’s game did.

But if it doesn’t, blame me.

I bought the damned hat.