Archive for the People I Love Category

Noel “Inayat” Anderson

Posted in Mid Life, People I Love on July 29, 2009 by Desert Leslie

Tomorrow, I fly to Japan and will start the daily Japan blog. Louie called yesterday. The excitement is building. This will be my last random blog until I return.

This has been a year of losses. Loss does seem to pervade middle age and I am no exception.  On August 11th, 2008, I lost my friend Inayat Anderson.  This anniversary is coming up soon. I am not through the grief.

Inayat’s wife and I have been friends since the 9th grade.  She is my best friend. We haven’t always been best friends, we’ve woven in and out of close relationship especially during the early years. But friends we’ve stayed, and as we’ve become older, I think we both value that friendship even more. We aren’t exactly alike. We both have the same eclectic decorating style, we both love thrift stores, we like to travel, we both read a lot and love poetry, we are both artists and writers, we both love cats.  Peggy is a great cook and I’m not, although I enjoy the benefits of her foodieism. Peggy is an accomplished poet, I write for a hobby. Peggy is a cradle Catholic turned Theosophist, I’m a cradle Methodist turned Catholic. Although we don’t share all the same viewpoints and lifestyle preferences, we are both tolerant of differences. We both have the same values about the essential parts of life and decent behavior.  Peggy doesn’t have children, I have three. However, I’m quite sure that Mariah is genetically linked to her somehow because they have the same fashion gene. Any sense of fashion I’ve gained, I’ve gained from studying the two of them.

My “primary” relationships haven’t been so good. I don’t have a good picker as someone once said. Two failed marriages and a third very important love affair also failed.  I wasn’t so fond of Peggy’s relationships when we were younger. There was Greg, the great cook but total slob, and some other guys whose names I can’t remember. Then she met Inayat.

Inayat was an oncology nurse who also worked with AIDS patients. This was when AIDS was an automatic death sentence. He was strong, funny, sweet and caring. He was also a styler like Peggy. They cut a dashing path as they walked down the streets of San Francisco. Inayat was movie star handsome and got more so as he aged. He did not think so, despite the fact that people used to stop them and ask for his autograph but say they couldn’t place his name.  My fondest memories are us all going out to dinner and having great funny conversations and laughing for hours straight.

Then there was Spa Man. Inayat knew every alternative healing therapy in the book and he practiced on grateful us. We had massages, treatments, ionic cleanses, and a host of new methods he was trying out. I always felt better after all this, probably more due to Inayat’s loving spirit than the machines. We named him Spa Man and thought he should have a cape.

I also remember us walking three abreast in all kinds of City weather talking and laughing all the way. Laughing is what I remember about Inayat. Until the last few years.

And then there were mornings with Inayat, where he’d try to get up before Peggy and I and would deliver us coffee in bed with his big Inayat smile. Peggy gave me Inayat’s coffee cup after he died. Its sitting next to me as write this piece. I treasure it. It has a big smiling cat on it.  On work mornings, he ironed his shirts. I remember him padding around the house in his PJs, ironing the shirts in the kitchen and getting ready for work. I miss you Inayat.

Inayat in his beloved Sedona, AZ

Inayat in his beloved Sedona, AZ

Two years ago, I lived at Peggy and Inayat’s flat part time through the school year while I attended Theology school. Because Peggy travels a lot in her job, I got to spend a lot of time alone with Inayat talking. He had become depressed. I urged him to seek help. He was resistant or had ideas to help himself that I didn’t think would work.  We continued to talk. Several times I was afraid that he’d take it too far.

On August 11th, it was a Monday, I got a call from Peggy at 4 in the afternoon. With the first word out of her mouth, I knew. Ansel helped me throw everything in the car and 15 minutes later I was on the road, over the Sierras where I would arrive at the flats six hours later. Inayat’s sister was there. Inayat had killed himself. He let a note saying he thought he had Alzheimer’s. He did it in a way that was loving and caring of Peggy, so she wouldn’t be the one who found him. That was so like Inayat.

At first I was angry. We had tried to intervene. How could he do this? Then as we talked, we did recall things that weren’t quite like Inayat over the last couple of years. One was that he had lost his sense of humor.

I miss him so much. Recently, Peggy sent me these pictures. They are hard for me to look at. They are so full of Inayat. I want him back.   This is life, so many gifts, and then ones that mean the most go away and we are left to go on. The task is to keep appreciating the gifts we have. Mine is that Inayat was in my life for over 20 years.

noel_nopeople (2)

Goodbye Inayat. I love you.


Preparation for the Journey

Posted in Crossing the Desert, First Post, Journey of Repentance, Mid Life, More about my wonderful Children - Devin, Ansel and Mariah, Move to Tucson, People I Love, Signs of Life on July 21, 2009 by Desert Leslie

Well, it’s happened. God kicked my butt and I’m soon to be moving in the direction I’ve wanted to go in for 30 years.  I am ‘surprised by joy’ (C.S. Lewis). John Heid and I have plans to start a Catholic Worker House in what the US Border Patrol calls the southeast Tucson Sector, in layman’s terms – the southeast corner of Arizona. We’ve been generously offered use of a home in Tucson until we can figure out what we will do next.  At some point, we’ll establish a long-term home base. We hope to attract other community members and host interns, etc.  Our focus will be works of mercy to those crossing the US/Mexico border into the US.  I plan to continue to pursue chaplain certification – it will make it easier for me to work in hospitals and dentention centers in the US. Over the weekend the local hospital serving migrants let me know they’d work with me. More doors open….

Check out these websites for more info about folks doing similar work:

No More Deaths


Kino Initiative

Frontera de Christo

Humane Borders

Annunciation House

Do I speak Spanish? Those of you who’ve known me for a long time know that new languages are difficult for me. I got kicked out of Spanish in 9th grade because I couldn’t roll my r’s. I took French for 3 years and can read it a bit. Structure is hard. I’ve taken no less than 8 Spanish 1 classes. I finally asked my teacher in Colorado why I couldn’t get it. She said I needed to be around Spanish speakers for 6 months and it would come. So I’ve ordered software and will take that advice over the next year.

I’ll write more about that later. I’m off to Japan as a transitional pilgrimage.

On July 30, I leave with Fr. Louie Vitale, o.f.m.  and Fr. Bill “Bix” Bishel, S.J. and others to Japan where we will travel to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Mayors for Peace will be meeting in Nagasaki while we are there and there are several events planned religious and secular.  The official trip website is and its blogspot is: .

Here we are at our pre-trip retreat:

Fellow Wayfarers

Fellow Wayfarers

Louie has been a friend for over 25 years (that’s right Louie, it’s true).  He is a founder of Nevada Desert Experience and a nomad for peace. This year’s Easter Sunday Los Angeles Times featured a story about Louie on the front page with a picture of he and my amazing daughter Mariah. I feel very lucky to have a whole two weeks with Louie uninterupted by his comings and goings.

Louie and Mariah

Louie and Mariah

And that daughter of mine, she is my inspiration. Mariah Day Klusmire (named after Dorthy Day – Founder of the Catholic Worker movement and a candidate for Sainthood) is a member of the Trinity Catholic Worker House in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mariah and Chelsea Cologne have started a new religious order, Radical Followers of Francis – or the “Fun Clares.” I hope to join as soon as I’m eligible.

Senior Prom 2007 - Mariah Rocks the Dress

Senior Prom 2007 - Mariah Rocks the Dress

Mariah and Me at Trinity House with Dorthy

Mariah and Me at Trinity House with Dorthy

Ansel Francis Klusmire (named after Saint Francis of Assisi) will watch all this from his new apartment in Ithaca. He is a 3rd year student at Cornell in economics and is studying Manderin.

The Fabulous Klusmire Family in Bishop - Ansel, Mom, Mariah and Devin

The Fabulous Klusmire Family in Bishop - Ansel, Mom, Mariah and Devin

Number one son Devin Muir Wilkinson (named after John Muir)  is finishing up at the University of Washington where he will receive his BS in Biology this summer.. He’s been too busy to talk about my big change. Hi Devin! Now you can read about it online.

All said children are glad I’m moving closer to my three sisters and their myriad of cousins and hope to spend more Christmases and Thanksgiving with said cousins.  Secret Life of Painters – look for a bigger audience soon…