2019 marks the fourth Christmas for Nazanin Radcliffe to languish in an Iranian prison caught in a power struggle between Britain and Iran. This week her husband, Richard, and five-year-old daughter, Gabriella, help vigil outside the British Prime Minister’s residence on Downing Street.
Read the Daily Mail report here.
Nazanin and baby Gabriella were detained at the Tehran International Airport three and a half years ago after a visit with Nazanin’s parents. Though accused of plotting against the Iranian regime, it appears Nazanin is a pawn in a dispute over an old debt from Britain to the Iranian government. Until recently Gabriella lived with her grandparents and visited her mother, when allowed, in prison. Bittersweet moments with Gabriella and occasional long distance phone conversations with Richard have punctuated Nazanin’s months, days, and years of incarceration. Gabriella is now with her father in London. Her mum’s imprisonment will no doubt be a defining theme of her life.
I’ve been praying for Nazanin through the ordeal, hoping for her freedom, and consciously joining others in prayers to mitigate and improve the circumstances of her days. Read and sign the Free Nazanin Ratcliffe Petition at Change.org.
Below is a poem Nazanin transmitted through Richard. “A Yard of Sky” so poignantly expresses her pain and hope for better days.
You remain in our hearts, Nazanin…..
A Yard of Sky
by Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Sometimes days can pass
Without me seeing the sky
Except that small piece with the lonely cloud
Brooding over the prison yard
Our view in this far off place
While elsewhere the trees bloom
And the sun dazzles
And the leaves fall
And the snows come again
In our yard of sky
Days do not differ
They do not pass, but repeat
As a mother alone
These days I am a lonely mother:
I bathed my baby in my tears of goodbye
My arms full of cuddles now ended,
With kisses of hope
For her return
On an adventure to be with her hero
Who she could only imagined for more than half her life
A reality now to mend.
I was left behind
With my repeating
While outside passes by and on
Tears my food, fears filling my mind
Solitude too often my friend, and doubt my relentless foe
What if they never let me go?
Laughter become my past, sorrow only my present
And hope on a horizon hard to see
Yesterday we sat in the yard
We welcomed the newcomers from solitary
And baked scones for breakfast
Which we ate with pistachio peel jam
Willing it to taste sweet
We showed them the yard of winter sun
Wishing it to be warm
I talked of the almond tree
In my grandparents’ village up in the hills.
It survives the wind and cold and storm
Then bears the most beautiful blossoms
And almonds so sweet in May
I talked of the almond tree we have at home
Now far away
I talked of being strong
To myself as well as to those listening
For when the seasons move again.
Freedom needs its faiths
That faith is our survival
Within these walls of recurring days
Across the swirling storms of Iran
That lonely days of separation will pass,
That the walls will fall
That beyond the pale sun
Injustice will become a shadow
And our trees of solitude will blossom again
In the sky beyond the yard.
One day we will sit on our own balcony
And see the sky open wide
Watching the seals in their sunbathing
A new breakfast of scones and jam
Understanding their sweetness anew
With the happiness in arms so long out stretching
And cuddles no longer missed
Now to fill a new life.
Evin Prison, Winter 2019
Mrs. Claus is so over cold weather ~~~
Twas a chilly night at the North Pole,
Santa snoozed by a fire in a warm, woolen stole.
A bang of the door ruined his sleep.
Mrs. Claus stomped in with soggy, wet feet.
“That’s it,” she said. “I’m sick of this cold place,
the ice, wind, and snow always stinging my face.
What’s worse, I get chased by a big polar bear,
and Santa, I think that you don’t even care!”
It’s my great pleasure to announce the publication of ALOHA SANTA. Two years ago I wrote the verse to perform in my Sweet Adeline chorus Christmas show. My singing sisters encouraged me to turn the fanciful rhyme of Santa and Mrs. Claus moving Hawaii into a children’s book. Illustrator Jaana Baker brings the story to life with her clever and charming pictures.
ALOHA SANTA is now available in paperback at Amazon. Delight the youngsters in your life with this bright, fun holiday tale. Makes a delightful gift.
Order at Amazon today! ALOHA SANTA
by Dana Taylor
Magical Maui beckoned last weekend with an invitation to visit a new AirBnB cottage set up by a friend (Christine) of a friend (Patti). Before dawn on Saturday morning Patti and I took the 40 minute jet ride from Honolulu to Maui, rented a car, and set off for adventure.
We began the day at the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm where we toured their garden, filled with unique tropical plants and flowers. With lookouts over the valleys and across the ocean, it is truly an enchanting experience. I sat on a bench and meditated while mild breezes ruffled my clothes.
On the recommendation from the friendly gals in the gift shop, we enjoyed a quality sandwich at Grandma’s Cafe for lunch. Afterwards we visited the Maui Winery and purchased a bottle of their unique pineapple wine.
It was only a few minutes from there to the main event– Kula Cottontail Cottage. The cottage is tucked into the hills on property owned by Christine and Sam Heidema, who live in another house on the grounds. This energetic young couple have turned a tired rental property into a cozy cottage on their small upcountry natural fiber farm. With a career in constructural engineering, Sam designed and remodeled the cottage with comfort and practicality in mind. Christine’s creative artistry added the touches of welcoming charm. A living room, a bedroom with a comfy kingsize bed, one bath, washer and dryer, make a it an affordable two-person getaway.
While the view between the trees from the porch across the sea is lovely, it’s the unique critters in the backyard that provide the “wow” moment. Christine creates natural yarn from the animals on her property. Pictured here are her two pregnant alpacas, Faith and Hope. Their serene gazes are food for the soul. Each spring the animals are shorn. Christine uses age old techniques to wash, comb, and spin yarn from their fleece. She also keeps an assortment of angora rabbits and laboriously combs and spins together strands of their fur into skeins of yarn. Each Saturday she sells her yarns at the local Farmer’s Market. Most weekends her stock is gone by the end of the morning.
The elegant outdoor seating area provides a fireplace to warm the surprisingly chilly Maui nights. Faith and Hope are just on the other side of the fence, providing a storybook ambiance. As the sun set, Patti and I sipped our pineapple wine (delicious) at the outdoor table, surrounded by alpacas, bunnies, and the occasional free roaming chicken.
After a good meal at the Kula Bistro, we slept under comforters to ward off cold night air. After living in the perpetual summer of Honolulu, cool air was a real treat. The next morning I roused before Patti and performed my daily yoga and meditations as the sun rose and the neighboring roosters provided a crowing symphony to greet the day. After a simple breakfast and a short visit with Christine and Sam, we packed up our belongings and bid the Cottontail Cottage goodbye to continue our adventure.
Cottontail Cottage is the perfect jumping off spot to visit the majestic Haleakala, the East Maui Volcano. Designated as a National Park, the dormant volcano rises 28,000 feet from the sea floor, making it the third highest mountain on the planet. The drive is a twisty, well paved road, up, up, up through amazing changing habitats. Areas of brush, eucalyptus, and pines ultimately give way to a moonscape of reddish lava boulders. Clouds dance across ridges and peaks. Artists strive to capture all the hues of earthen tones created by Mother Nature. Endangered and unique birds live in various areas. We spotted a few with great enthusiasm.
Volcano gazing can really build an appetite, so we wove down the mountain and cruised over to the Grand Wailea Waldorf Astoria for an elegant lunch. Tourists enjoyed their waterpark pools while the ocean rippled close by. The well appointed grounds display a dolphin fountain and a collection of world famous pudgy statues crafted by Fernando Botero. We finished out the afternoon in high style before we caught a plane home.
Would I recommend a stay at Kula Cottontail Cottage? Absolutely. Experience magical Maui away from the usual tourist meccas. You will love meeting Faith and Hope.
Find Kula Cottontail Cottage listed as “Upcountry Alpaca and Rabbit Working Fiber Farm” on Airbnb
For more information contact Christine Heidema at KulaCottontailCottage@gmail.com
Here are two videos of took of the interior and exterior of the property.