China and Me: An Intimate Review

The review below was written by John “Rusty” Huddleston, a Vietnam vet I first met in Dak Ho, South Vietnam some 52 years ago. John lives in Sydney, Australia today. He became an expat after being spat upon and scorned when he returned home.

China and Me is available on Amazon.

“Animals are a window to your soul and a doorway to your spiritual destiny. If you let them into your life and allow them to teach you, you will be better for it.”

                                                                          Kim Shotola,

The power in your book is your openness and inherent honesty.

Your story of your odyssey with China is both simple and complex at the same time. It is also subtle.

You do not use the word ‘love’, but it is on almost every page in your book. That’s what makes it so moving.

I know I have read a good book when I get to the end and I am sad. I write ‘I am sad’ because I wanted more. I didn’t want it to end.

Your tenderness is on every page. It is evident when you were going to return China to Parrot Mountain and when you got there you couldn’t do it. It was present when you saw China after he had flown away. It was there when you gave him a mate. 

Each page had both tenderness and love.

The story of you and China was not about a glamorous movie star, but about a woman who formed a loving relationship with a wild animal. That’s what made it so moving.

Your epilogue was honest and moving. You referred to Joanie Olander and Mamie Van Doren was there, but it was written by the wise Raindrop that is here today.

Through your book the reader gets to know you better. I got to know you better.

The epilogue was written by your true self, but your true self also stands out on every page.

The story begins with Joanie Olander loving farm animals. Mamie Van Doren loved animals too and Raindrop provided the wisdom that age, and a life well lived, endows.

And so this is my last email of the year. It is appropriate that it is for you.

I have learned so much this year and the profound benefit of knowing you intimately.

I know if Raindrop writes Secrets of the Goddess, it will be a east seller.

Please tell China Happy New Year for me.








Proud Texans

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas picked Christmas Eve to bus more than a hundred immigrants to Vice President Harris’s home in Washington. It was 23 degrees when these men, women & children got off the bus. The white Christian state of TX did this. Gov. Abbott, you among all the pistol-toting population of white supremacists down there should ask yourself, what would Jesus do? There’s no limit to the Lone Star hypocrisy. And don’t they seem proud of it? mvd

December 7, 1941

Eighty-one years ago today my life changed. On December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. It was the beginning of World War II. SHOCKINGLY THERE HAS BEEN NO MENTION ON TV OF THIS PIVOTAL EVENT IN WORLD HISTORY. It changed the world and my life. My dad immediately left for California to find work in a defense plant. By spring my mother and I joined him, I fell in love with movies, and the rest is history. Remember Pearl Harbor today and the many lives lost there and in WWII.



By Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go followed obediently by the title, the plot, the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of, as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain, to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag, and even now as you memorize the order of the planets, something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps, the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember, it is not poised on the tip of your tongue, not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen. It has floated away down a dark mythological river whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall, well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

High Water High

Though the Blue Tsunami I predicted didn’t quite happen, there’s comfort in knowing that many handpicked Trumpazoid candidates lost. There still may be enough voters who care about America to hold back the gathering darkness of GOP neo-fascism. [Crossing fingers] My next prediction is Atty. Gen. Garland will soon indict Trump for espionage and obstruction. Get out that 4 XXXX orange jumpsuit, Fluffy. Donny’s gonna need it. mvd


The letter below is printed with permission. John is a Vietnam vet who lives in Australia. He and his friend Rick saw me perform in Vietnam.

Dear Mamie,

If I helped you to get a good nights sleep I am pleased.

I know what it is like to not be able to sleep and to be haunted by things I saw and experienced in Vietnam. I learned to live with them, but they are always in the background.

I think one way to comfort yourself when you feel those things in the night is to recognize that you feel them because you actually have a kind, compassionate heart.

When you toured in Vietnam, all those years ago, you saw suffering and put your life on the line as well. You could have died there and you knew it. BUT you went anyway. At that point in your life your heart told you that you needed to go and your head got you there.

Mamie, you and I have grown old. The memories are even more vivid now than twenty years ago. Be kind to yourself when you feel down.

You asked about Rick. Rick was an ordinary guy from Idaho. He grew up in a small town, never had a girlfriend and died never having had sex. That was Rick. He was funny, blue-eyed, open souled and faced the world with a shrug.

Rick was happy that day when he and I saw you. After he died and I returned to the States, before coming to Australia, I visited his parents. They wanted to know how he died. All I said was “When he died he had people around him who loved him”. For them that was enough.

The world is strange and we don’t know what to believe anymore.

I had been a member of a Vietnam Veterans’ group on Facebook for 3 years, but never posted anything. One day I was reading all these heroic war stories, that I didn’t believe, and decided to post something of my own that was true.

Here it is:

“After I was shot in 1968 I was taken to a military hospital in Saigon. While I was there I slipped in and out of consciousness. At one stage I heard a nurse saying to another nurse, about me, “It’s really bad!” I remember I opened my eyes, looked at her and said, “You think this is bad? I got a letter last week that told me my dog had died”.

Sometimes our feelings seem in-congruent with what’s happening. That can happen in a war, after a war and late at night when we can’t sleep.

Remember Mamie, in your life you have made many more people happy than you have made sad. You made Rick happy, even if only for those few moments.

When I am depressed about my life and past I remember what Buddha said, “You came upon a raindrop and called it your life.”

Until the next time,

Your friend,


The Buddha’s raindrop analogy is part of a teaching on death he often gave to his students. Simply put, our journey as raindrops begins when we leave the raincloud, and continues until we rejoin other droplets in oceans and rivers. Our death then is not the end of life, but merely our consciousness rejoining our fellow raindrops in the ocean of cosmic consciousness, waiting to take rebirth in the next rain shower.


China and Me:

Wing Flapping, Feather Pulling, and Love on the Wing

It’s a pleasure to announce the release on Amazon of my new book, China and Me: Wing Flapping, Feather Pulling, and Love on the Wing. Happily, word of the book has begun to spread through the Associated Press and many other entertainment outlets like Google News, Book Publishing News, ABC, KTLA 5, Daily Bookshelf, and Bookstore Newswire.

The book is a memoir of my relationship with my beloved China, a Moluccan cockatoo who has been part of my life for nearly 50 years. You’ll find it full of love, kindness, and compassion on the part of humans and animals. And scads of pictures by my favorite photographers and watercolor illustrations galore by the talented Tom Grogg. I’ll keep you up to date on what people are saying about my book, so watch this space for more news as China and Me gains in popularity. mvd

This week’s Clueless Douche Bag Award is shared by Louisiana State Representative, Danny McCormick, and by Baptist pastor, Brian Gunter, who teamed up to introduce legislation that would mandate prison time for a woman who receives an abortion. This breathtaking totalitarianism is sure to satisfy the streak of murderous misogyny sweeping the ranks of the Qanon Trumpazoids, while terrifying sensible folks everywhere. If you need to be told that McCormick and Gunter are evil rightwing women haters, then you might want buy yourself a new MAGA hat. Here’s the deal, kids: control of women’s bodies—pregnancy, birth control, health care—is job one for the rightwing fundamentalists. Creation of a real Gilead, with women subservient to the State and to men as vessels to receive cum and to produce children, is their ultimate goal. So a round of applause for McCormick and Gunter. Enjoy the Douche Bag Award, boys. Margaret Atwood foresaw the likes of you when she wrote The Handmaid’s Tale—ignorant little piss-ants lusting after power. But watch out, douches. You don’t like it, but women can still vote.

Labor Day 2022

Labor Day for me was always the red-headed step child of the summer holidays. It marked the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. And when you can’t get enough of the boys at muscle beach, you’re not focused on the labor movement in then U.S. I grew up to be a member of Screen Actors Guild, the powerful union protecting the rights performers in the movie industry. As President Biden is fond of reminding us, the labor movement is responsible for the growth and prosperity of the middle class in America. As such it has been reviled by the GOP, because the growing wages of union workers represents money taken out of the pockets of their corporate masters. Trump despised the unions and wanted destroy them. Biden correctly identifies unions as the still powerful ally of the middle class and a the life blood of the nation’s economy. So celebrate Labor Day today with a long nap and cold beer. We still have miles to go to strengthen the movement.


Another roadside attraction

Trump has turned Ivana into a roadside attraction, made Mar-a-lago into a treasure hunt, and wished his generals were loyal like Hitler’s. There’s a tiny fake flower arrangement surrounded by brown grass to mark Ivana’s grave. And People still like this lump of rancid lard. If you’re that dumb, stay the fuck off my sites. I don’t want you here. We’ve seen the racist cluster fuck of a Trump administration. No more. No Trumpazoid zone. Strictly enforced.