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Silver has a background in Hinduism (Vedanta) and Buddhism, culminating in her adoption of Catholicism. She has spent most of her adult life as a monastic, in one form or another. When health and finances permit, she advocates for the poor, disabled and elderly, through her blogs and through her personal service projects. The foundation of her artistic expressions are found in her spiritual life. Since childhood, she has been producing sketches and paintings in oils, watercolors and acrylics. In her 20's she was a clothes designer and had her own shop in Hollywood, where she designed and made her own creations. She also worked in the motion picture industry as a freelance writer, selling 9 stories to the episodic television show, Charlie's Angels. For some years she worked in ceramics, making primitive boxes from slab worked clay, as well as more finished pieces in the raku firing technique. For fun, she makes and sells jewelry and crochets items for sale and for donation to local charities. She is also an expert genealogist, worked with Ancestry.com as one of their online Experts, and has traced her family lines back through kings, colonials, saints and pioneers to several Holy Roman Emperors.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


"Yucca at the Hermitage"
Copyright (c) 2012, Silver S. Parnell
All rights reserved.
"All things have their season, and in their times all things pass under heaven."
Ecclesiastes 3:1
(Douay-Rheims Bible)

In this blog, i have attempted to address issues much bigger than myself, and somewhat outside my ken; political orientations, for one.  i tried to educate others by providing facts, but eventually came to realize that i was meant for something else.

In the process of researching and studying various topics, my focus was taken away from God, to a certain degree.  Meditating on the sins of the world is not what i was meant to do, and i have reaffirmed my primary mission as a contemplative.

i am spending more time with God, and i will write about that: spending time with God in my ordinary days, here in my accidental hermitage, where i have been conscripted, but where i serve willingly.

i invite you to visit the new blog:  DIARY OF AN ACCIDENTAL HERMIT at http://www.diaryofanaccidentalhermit.blogspot.com/

Please note:  The links on this page are still active.  All donations are gratefully accepted.

In the meantime, i pray for all of you as i hope you pray for me.

God bless you,

Silver S. Parnell
Copyright (c) 2012
All rights reserved.


Saturday, September 29, 2012


"The Agony of da Feet"
Copyright (c) 2012, Silver S. Parnell
All rights reserved.

When I was a little girl of about 7, my mother started telling me that I did not deserve to have any clothes because I was fat and that she wasn’t going to buy me any until I lost weight.  I probably mentioned this before.


I was a stocky athletic girl more interested in science than in dolls.  I started out as a tomboy.  My mother didn’t like it.  She did not like much of anything about me, but we have already covered that.


When I went to bed at night, I used to pray that God would make me thin overnight.  I certainly did not know how to do it myself.  I ate what my mother fed me.  What does one DO to become “thin?” I wondered?

I would gaze longingly at the one dress hanging in my closet. I called it my “Alice in Wonderland dress” because it bore a faint resemblance to the picture in the old book I had; blue plaid with a white pinafore thingy in front and a white “Peter Pan collar.”  Even if I got “thin” I couldn’t have worn it, though.  The dress was 2 years old and I’d grown much taller in the intervening years.  But I loved that dress.


To add to the dilemma, I had irregular feet.  That’s the nicest word I can use for them.  One was long and a little wide.  The other was short and very very very wiiiiiiide. 


The two sides of my body do not match very well, you see.  One leg is shorter than the other.  My left side is deficient.  My left eye is noticeably smaller than my right.  It is as if God was putting two people together at once and got the halves mixed up.  Somebody out there is walking around with my proper right side.  I have arbitrarily decided that they have my right side because THAT’s the side with the widest foot.  I’ll take the small eyes of the left side over the wide feet of the right side ANY day.


It took me forever to learn to walk without tripping over those irregular feet and toppling to the ground, breaking something in the process


I broke my elbow like that once.  One day I was standing in the backyard of a friend’s house, and then I wasn’t.  I was on the ground.  God knows how.  I have no recollection.  Oh, I did forget to mention that all my joints are hyper-extended, including some around the ankles, so I was always falling and breaking something.  By the time I was 11, I’d had 5 casts on my left foot and/or leg.  Mostly I broke the bones in my feet.  That really helped the trauma of countless failed shoe buying expeditions.


I didn’t stop breaking things in my childhood.  Nooooo indeed.  I broke part of my kneecap during an aerobics class in my early twenties.  The instructor said, “If you cannot keep up with the class, you should leave.”  I made a huge effort to keep up with this woman’s frenetic pace and somehow broke off a piece of my kneecap.  It was excruciating.  When I went to the emergency room, the doctor casually told me that I would have arthritis in that knee in my later years.  He was a somewhat cold fish with an awful “bedside manner” and I was more taken aback by it than the news I would have arthritis.  When you’re 23 years old, you don’t know about arthritis.  It is just an abstract name, divorced of any meaning.  Now I get the meaning.


Two automobile accidents in my late 20’s in which I was hit by drunk drivers traveling at ungodly speeds added more data to the definition of arthritis.


Breaking my tailbone when I fell in the kitchen of the Hindu convent where I was living in my 30’s confirmed the frightening trend.  It was made more disconcerting by the fact that I had to be pushed around in a wheelchair by disgusted nuns who resented my illness, one of whom went to the Swami and told him I was “faking it.”


In my early 40’s I put the cherry on top of the orthopedic cake when I stepped into a hole in the backyard that had been made by my gargantuan great Dane/Rhodesian ridgeback mix.  My ankle was crushed and, to this date, it is still purple from all the broken blood vessels from the injury.


When I was in my teens and twenties, before I found God and some peace of heart and mind, I was always trying to fit my unique feet into HIGH HEELS of all things.  Every night I would come home practically crippled by wearing those instruments of torture.  I wanted to fit into society, and the way that women do that is by looking a certain way, usually, at least that’s the message I was continually given by family and strangers alike.  “You would be so pretty if you lost some weight,” was an all too familiar refrain.  Then I lost 80 pounds and got so skinny that my clavicles became deadly weapons.  My date showed up and announced to me that I would be really pretty if I lost 40 pounds.  I showed him the door.


I have given up the dieting yo yo and have resigned myself to be myself just as I am.  I accept my fat.  I accept my feet.  I accept the fact that someone is walking around with my proper right half of my body and I will probably never get it back.


What has not been rehabilitated is the yearning for that “Alice in Wonderland dress” hanging as the only garment in the closet of that 7-year old.  I didn’t have clothes as a kid and, consequently, clothes seem to be very important to me as an adult.  Even though I am an ersatz nun and I am disabled and homebound, I want clothes that match and are both modest and feminine, despite my clodhopper feet.


I haven’t gone overboard, mind you.  Most of my clothes are threadbare with many repairs and are at least 5 years old, with the exception of a few dresses that a friend recently bought for me.  I have a small closet, only a third of which is occupied by actual CLOTHES.  The rest is filled with storage, mostly art supplies and the tools of modern life.  Still, I sometimes wonder, "are my clothes SUBDUED enough?"  I should look drab, not glamorous.  Nuns are not glamorous.


For several years now I have had a conflict between my monastic need for frugality and simplicity, and my emotional/artistic need to have a decent wardrobe.  Clothes are fun.  I can’t help myself.  Is it a sin?  I have wrestled with this and needn’t have.


Today I made a wish list, mostly for shoes and "church dresses" on Amazon.com (which sells just about everything these days) and my psyche went into turmoil.


I had to tell myself:  I need clothes to cover my body and shoes to support my feet.  I do my best to buy on sale, when I DO buy, which is infrequently, and it is not a sin to enjoy the process.  On the one hand, a "wish list" is something tentative, and the enjoyment may be in looking at the items occasionally without actually having to HAVE them. I found myself wondering, "do I need more than one COLOR of shoe, i.e. black?"  What if I want to have blue Crocs to match a blue dress?  Am I being frivolous?


In the middle of my inner dialogue, I thought about my 28th great grandmother, Saint Margaret of Scotland.  She had a sensitive, artistic temperament.  She loved pretty clothes and brought new fashions to Scotland.  I read recently that she had something to do with the production of tartans, or at least improving the weaving process.
Saint Margaret of Scotland Tartan


An English princess before she married King Malcolm, she was accustomed to the sumptuousness of court life.  She was also very devout.  In fact, she intended to become a nun, but King Malcolm fell in love with her and convinced her to marry him.  Together, they had a good life.  She bore him 8 children but her holy intentions did not get lost in family or the vanities of the court.  Every morning before she had her own breakfast, for instance, she would go and feed the poor with her own hands.  She is also credited with insisting on a day of rest for the workers.  No wonder her people loved her so much!  Her image is often shown with the Bible in one hand and alms for the poor in the other.  In others, she is shown holding a cross and her sceptre.


The point is that Saint Margaret did not lose an ounce of her holiness by her immersion in power, fame, court life or luxuries.  She accepted her state of life but did not get lost in it.  I am certainly no Saint Margaret.  I am disabled, with no power and no money to speak of, but she inspires me.  I have realized that whatever state in which we find ourselves, whether we have a closetful of designer clothes, or a third of a closet in a small apartment, one can become holy.  One can become a saint.  It is all a matter of orientation and priority.  We are not required to shun all joy, and it probably doesn't really matter if you have more than one pair of shoes.


In imitation of Saint Margaret and others, I feed the poor, sometimes to my own detriment.  Even though I have few clothes, I DO give many things away when they don’t match or do not fit well.  Right now, I have three bags of clothes ready to give to the poor: things that are too small for me but are still in good condition.  I am often the recipient of objects other people do not want but which I cannot use.  I take them to the Good Will or another agency.  I write a blog and defend the poor from untrue slurs I hear on the news.  I pray for the world….AND I want shoes that will keep me from slipping on the ice in winter.  Since my body is already mangled, I am not an enthusiastic acetic like Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who sifted through the donated shoes and picked out the worst pair of the bunch that would subsequently mangle her feet.  I think God’s okay with that.  I told him all about that Alice in Wonderland dress when I was 7, he’s seen what I’ve been through, and he ‘gets it.”


Copyright © 2012, Silver S. Parnell

All rights reserved.


Monday, September 24, 2012


Hat Rack - Copyright (c) 2012
Silver S. Parnell
All rights reserved.
"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge just judgment."
Douay Rheims bible - John 7:24

In the 1970’s when I was working as a writer by night and production assistant by day, I lived in a marvelous old Mediterranean style building in Hollywood called The Villa Carlotta.  I suppose it had been built in the 1920’s or 30’s.  Louella Parsons had been married in the lobby, near the huge fireplace.  It used to be a chic hotel for long-term guests, complete with small kitchen, an ice box that really WAS an ICE box built into the cabinets – painted wood on the outside, an aluminum box on the inside with a small shelf for the blocks of ice that used to be kept there. 


The apartments used to come furnished, complete with Murphy beds that had been removed long ago.  Remnants of the furniture scantily furnished some of the units.  The rest had been stolen.  In my apartment, there was one lone mission style table that had been thickly painted white.  There even used to be phone service.  The counter and phone board were hidden behind a dirty old curtain in the lobby.  The highly decorated dark beams that were exposed in the ceilings throughout the place attested to its previous glory.


I lived in an apartment across the hall from a woman named “Miss DeMet.”  She had been a silent film star, I was told, and had been living at the Villa Carlotta since the 1930’s.  I imagine she was about 80 years old when I moved into the building.  I used to see her ghosting down the hallway, wearing a short red patterned kimono, a big black picture hat over long white ringlets and large black sunglasses, only to take up her position outside the (barred) window, waiting for signs of the postman.  Her mail was the highlight of her day.


I used to think that Miss DeMet was a charming old bat, a little “off” and eccentric.  Later, she did turn out to be suffering from some kind of dementia, which I realized when she appeared at my door one day and asked me to drive her home.  She lived directly across the hall from me.  Gently, I turned her around while I spoke to her, telling her I didn’t mind driving her at all.


“See?” I told her, “We’re home!”

“Oh, thank you so much, dear!” she exclaimed, “That was so fast.  Let me pay you for your trouble.”  Of course I didn’t let her pay me, poor thing!  I started looking in on her and helping her now and then. 


I chalked up the odd outfit to her dementia.


Fast forward 30 some odd years.  The other day I walked out to the mailbox wearing a big floppy hat over my long braided hair, huge “Jackie O” style sunglasses, a garishly printed caftan, a pair of pants with multiple repaired holes in the fabric, a worn-out pair of huge plastic clogs, and hobbling on a wooden cane I bought at the tourist shop of a nearby truck stop.  What a picture.


The hat and the sunglasses were recommended by my doctor to combat an emerging cataract in my left eye.  The long hair is the natural result of refusing to spend money on hairdressers instead of survival.  The garish caftans were a misguided purchase meant to combat the summer heat and cover the many repairs in my pants that need to be replaced.  I wear clogs one size too big because I have deformed feet of irregular sizes and I can’t afford the shoes I need to have made for me.

Thinking back to Miss DeMet, I realized that I had made some assumptions about her based solely on her appearance.  Like me, she probably had problems with cataracts and wore sunglasses and a big hat to keep the sun out.  Her hair was long because she was old and frail, had no one to help get her to the hairdressers and perhaps did not have the money to pay for it.  I pray for Miss DeMet now, and pray for her to forgive me for not being a little more sensitive.


Oh…and getting the mail is the highlight of my day…because I live alone, like she did.


Copyright © 2012, Silver S. Parnell

All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Prom Night - 1971
Copyright (c) Silver S. Parnell
All rights reserved.

A few months after the above picture was taken, I escaped from a lifetime of violent physical and mental abuse and left home, barely 17 years old, with nothing but the clothes on my back.  My mother, a sadistic, malignant narcissist, called after me, “you’ll be back in two weeks, crawling on your hands and knees, begging me to take you back!”  It would be 12 years before I would see her again, briefly, out of pity for her weakened condition due to multiple sclerosis.
She looked at me during that last, short visit, made a derogatory comment about my weight and then said, “I will never be fat again!”  She was vain to her last moment, even as her disease crippled her prematurely aging body.  I never saw her again.

Despite being homeless, on and off, for several years, I resolutely pursued independence and managed to keep myself employed.  I was proudly self-supporting for more than 30 years.  Over time, my body gradually broke down as a result of chronic, inherited illnesses and two automobile accidents in which drunk drivers hit my car at high speed.  The post traumatic stress disorder that I got as a result of a brutal childhood also became more intense, despite years of therapy.  By the time I was 50 years old, I was completely unable to work and had to apply for social security disability.

Even though I am disabled, I have continually attempted to engage in various types of work that I could do at home on my ‘good’ days.  So far, I have not been successful, but I am still trying to drum up genealogy research business.  Why?  I like being independent.  I like supporting myself, paying my own way, and not being a drain on anyone.  I am on disability because I have no other choice.  I simply cannot meet the demands of the modern workplace.

You can imagine my surprise when I learned today that I think of myself as a victim, that I believe the government has a responsibility to care for me, that I do not take personal responsibility for the care of my life, and that I believe I am “entitled to health care, to food, to you name it.”  This is what Mitt Romney said about me during a fund raiser at financier Marc Leder’s house in May of this year.  That one dinner cost each attendee a minimum of $50,000.  The cost of one dinner at that man’s house amounted to about 3 years of my disability income.  A videotape of Mr. Romney making those comments has recently been released.

Those who know me would be quick to say that Mr. Romney is not talking about ME or people LIKE me, but what many people do not realize is that the 47% of people who do not pay federal taxes in America are just like me.  They are too poor to pay federal taxes.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities [February 2012] "more than 90 percent of the benefit dollars that entitlement and other mandatory programs spend go to assist people who are elderly, seriously disabled, or members of working households — not to able-bodied, working-age Americans who choose not to work.  This figure has changed little in the past few years."

"Federal budget and Census data show that, in 2010, 91 percent of the benefit dollars from entitlement and other mandatory programs went to the elderly (people 65 and over), the seriously disabled, and members of working households.  People who are neither elderly nor disabled — and do not live in a working household — received only 9 percent of the benefits. 
"Moreover, the vast bulk of that 9 percent goes for medical care, unemployment insurance benefits (which individuals must have a significant work history to receive), Social Security survivor benefits for the children and spouses of deceased workers, and Social Security benefits for retirees between ages 62 and 64.  Seven out of the 9 percentage points go for one of these four purposes."  [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

Since 1973, wages have only increased 26%, while CEO salaries have increased 435%, and corporate profits have increased 250%. [Dept. of Consumer Affairs]  During those years, the wealth of America was gradually shoved up to the top of the socio-economic ladder.  

Today, thanks to the redistribution of wealth that has been going on since 1973, we have a disparity of income that rivals almost every other country of the world.  Here is a map that shows countries with lower and higher rates of income disparity between it and the United States.  This map shows red countries with GREATER inequality and blue countries with LESS inequality.  [Map created from CIA data.]

"Income inequality is more severe in the U.S. than it is in nearly all of West Africa, North Africa, Europe, and Asia. We're on par with some of the world's most troubled countries, and not far from the perpetual conflict zones of Latin American and Sub-Saharan Africa. Our income gap is also getting worse, having widened both in absolute and relative terms since the 1980s. It's not a problem that the "Buffett rule" would solve on its own, but at least the U.S. political system is starting to acknowledge how serious things have become."  [The Atlantic, September 19, 2011]

Mitt Romney is one of a group of wealthy individuals who benefited from the redistribution of wealth to the top, the widening of the disparity of income in America and the thinning of the middle class.  Now he is saying unflattering and untrue things about the people whose poverty he helped create.

It doesn’t seem right, does it?

In the Bible, Jesus tells us to do good to those that harm us and to pray for them.  I will be praying for Mr. Romney.

Copyright © 2012, Silver S. Parnell
All rights reserved.