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Aug 09
Scene and Heard
Up Since Dark Lighting Candles

A Warrior Tribute by Nora King in honor of the passing of Los Angeles sangha member Annita Fry.

Photo courtesy of Mary Philips

Trying to honor the mystery of passage. Set up a little alter on a round glass table held up by brass roses. The roses were once gold dipped, perhaps in the forties some time, but the gold was flaking away. My older daughter Emily painted the roses red years ago, a thrift-store art moment that Annita particularly liked. We were in the backyard at Echo-Park, sun was shining, birds singing their afternoon song, my engulfing honeysuckle vine shading Annita. Hummingbirds were actually sitting and chillin’. She set down a coffee and a joint on the table, carefully looking down through the glass at the roses. Joking that if I had to go down the rabbit hole, at least there was someone painting the roses red to let me know I was in the right place.

On the table today lies a scarab Annita gave me for my birthday in 2010. In Annita fashion, she said she got it for me for my 09 birthday and we both laughed. It was in a little tie-dyed turquoise box with a magical clasp on it. It sits in the gaze of a small statue of Green Tara made from Ganges river clay. Candles flicker, one in a sumptuous glass cat, the other a golden glob-swirl of glass by a student artist. Annita loved the raw energy of student art.

A neighbor’s tough male cat has refused to leave me alone, swirling and comforting under the table, providing sound effects. He seems to like the lotus incense burning on a little glass art-deco leaf ashtray. I set out some dried cedar from the tree near by, dried Tibetan cedar, growing healthy in its fat pot and stuck under a circle of redwoods. There is a succulent cutting in a glass, and a peach.

Annita found comfort in the teachings of Pema Chodron for many years. She kept suggesting I read her, but in my battle to change California juvenile sex abuse law, I could not read much of spiritual contemplation. But that just changed in an Annita way. The day following her passing, I went to the Bookshop Santa Cruz, where my daughter Hannah worked in college, and low-and-behold there is nothing on the top display shelf by the register but two copies of a little yellow pocket book of short meditations by the very chill nun Pema Chodron. They were in the process of changing the display…so on the glass table is a tiny yellow book, next to a rock that looks like a bird in flight.

This is that day most Americans have no real ritual for, when flesh becomes ash. I am trying to sit with you, outside the airforce lookout shack I rent in the redwoods, honoring your day and your love.

Annita Fry was a quiet but effective part of the alternative music scene in Los Angeles. Working for pennies in the clubs that supported artists of conscience since the 1960’s, she supported her enthusiasm for music working as a movie industry ‘bean counter’ in later life. Pema Chodron made a huge difference in her life. She was born on October 13, 1942 and passed on June 17, 2011.

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