Monday, May 2, 2016

'Possom Wrangler

New job title: baby 'possom wrangler. I was cleaning up outside, and this little displaced nocturnal fellow took refuge in the bedroom. (I had wakened him from his nap.) Neil freaked out, and thought it was a huge rat. I carefully pulled him out from behind the desk, holding him (the 'possom, not Neil) by the scruff like a kitten.


He went limp and said: "I'm dead, Jim. Really, really dead. See? Well, maybe I'm only a teeny bit dead." He didn't quite have his "I'm really dead" schtick down. He kept peeking at us. Then he shuffled off into the undergrowth.

Yes, they really do play dead. They also open their mouths and drool and hiss when threatened, but they're extremely docile. If he hadn't been such a dirtbag, I would've tested his prehensile tail. Taken it out for a spin.


They're flea-ridden and tick magnets. Luckily they love to eat ticks, and are probably our best defense against Lyme disease. They do carry fleaborne diseases, so don't handle them if you can help it. But they never carry rabies. They just drool alarmingly when threatened.

They may look ugly (when full-grown), they can't help that, but they're good critters to have in the garden. They eat bugs, slugs and snails, rats and mice, and your compost, too, if you leave it out. The stinkier, the better.

I'm just glad he was a baby, and not a full-grown football-sized one. I might not have been so brave.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Poetry month tally

Clearly I've failed poetry month as I've only managed to write 15, maybe 17 poems, most of them, questionable, at that. Or 30 posts if you count all the prose and linked haiku individually. Curiously I didn't use any poetry prompts, though I collected them. These were all spontaneous emissions, kind of like poetic farts.


               —for Mimi Fariña

                April 30, 1945-July 20, 2001

Sweet Mimi. I once brought
her a childish bouquet of wild irises
plucked from beneath the cypress
in our lower garden, not knowing
it was her birthday—she was moved to tears,
saying she thought everyone had forgotten.

I was embarrassed, but also pleased
knowing that sense of diminishment
and loss when a birthday goes unnoted.
A small spur-of the-moment gesture
became something much larger.
Her eyes welled as she set those irises
by the photo of her long-dead husband.

Whenever I see wild irises I think of her.
I like to think she returns to us each spring,
a white dove circling the long-armed ridges
and slopes where Mt. Tamalpais sings.


Happy Birthday, Mimi Fariña.

Friday, April 29, 2016



ages and
united alliances
on the mudflats
during king tides.
The Charles
van be damned.
Forget Varda's nudes.
Juanita's was the g-spot
to be for breakfast.
Fishermen never for-
got her boob muff-

in special.


You'd have to have known Juanita, Gate 5, Alan Watts, Varda, and crew... oblique references, at best. Locke would have to have been part of that Sausalito scene. Alan was living in the pilot house atop the Charles van Damme. Varda was downstairs. He nailed his painting to the wall to defy gravity, much to my delight. My mom worked for Juanita Musson, You didn't mess with her. She was a friend of Sally Stanford's. Her special was a boobjob, a muffin sandwich draped around some unsuspecting man's ears. Few ever fully recovered from Juanita's ministrations.

Monday, April 25, 2016

California water wars: It's not about the fish, Stupid. That's a red herring.

Note bene: This post is a response to Facebook people's knee-jerk comments on an article by Jack Stewart in California Political Review. You may want to scan the article and rabid comments before you read this particular diatribe, as I begin this fishy story in medias res.
A response to Jack Stewart's opinion piece,  Well-being of Fish Valued Over CA’s Economy and Quality of Life

Smelts are a family of small fish, Osmeridae —Wiki

Let me begin this rant by pointing out the faulty logic in Jack Stewart's opening paragraph:"....all the rain falling on California will wash into the ocean, instead of being stored for the dry, hot summer to come." Even the tittle, Well-being of Fish Valued Over CA’s Economy and Quality of Life,  is a real knee-jerker. Talk about hyperbole! It's a lopsided opinion piece parading as naked news.

All the rain? Most of that rain falling in Northern California will wash into the ocean because Shasta Dam is full to capacity, and because the rain did not extend south past San Jose, where most of the reservoirs are located, it will not fill those dams.

Only a handful of reservoirs—only seven out of a total of 55 major reservoirs statewide—are nearly full to capacity. But more than 26 of the state's major reservoirs are under 40% full (and a dozen of those are under 20% full) because all the rain falling on California did not fall within their watersheds. Besides, many of those reservoirs are dependent upon snowmelt, not rain, so Stewart should've addressed global warming's impact on the shrinking Sierra snowpack instead of fish.

Lake Shasta June, 2014. It's now full, but more than 26 of the state's major reservoirs are under 40% full (and ten of those are under 20%). Only a handful of reservoirs, seven out of a total of 55 major reservoirs statewide, are nearly full to capacity.

The (rain) water that Stewart claims is being dumped into the ocean, in detriment of the farmer, in order to save, what he deems as a worthless fish, is being dumped from our northern California dams for flood control. It's overflow, Stupid.

There is literally no place to store all that water when parts of Northern California has received 200% to 300% of normal precipitation for the year. Do you remember the the great Central Valley floods of 1996? That's what happens when the flood control system (and the levees) fails.

But somehow Stewart has managed to construe a tall tale that makes a small fish responsible for all our water woes. He blames a lack of enough dams for our agricultural woes (not a lack of snowpack), he equates the decommissioning of defunct hydro-electric dams, the destruction of orchards, and the upsurge of Central Valley's fallow fields—on a fish. He blames environmentalists and smelt for a much more complex water picture than he can possibly grasp. Talk about a snowjob.

Let's take one idea: save all that water; how? Perhaps Stewart is unaware that there is no pipeline infrastructure to move the excess Shasta water to, say, The (Stanislas) New Melones Dam (which is at at 30% capacity. BTW, in 1944, Congress authorized the construction of 1979 New Melones Dam atop the old Melones damsite, to prevent flooding—from spring snowmelt).

Jack Stewart goes on to say "As for the water now filling the state’s reservoirs, billions of gallons will be flushed down rivers and out to sea in efforts to protect fish, rather than being used to irrigate food crops..."

Is he aware that most of California's dams are dependent upon Sierra snowmelt, and that 70% of northern California's water is already shipped to southern California dams? Does he know that Castaic Lake is funded by Northern California water? Or that San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara water also comes from the north? Clearly we're bogarting Northern California rainfall in favor of fish vs farmers.

Stewart is all over the place; he shifts his argument from Colusa County to San Joaquin County, and then illustrates his point with a photo of a very full Shasta Dam, when he should depict a photo of a Southern California Sierra foothill dam. Stewart opines, and conflates ideas but does not back up any of his statements with facts.

Of course, Stewart's shallow-minded wading pool readers have massive knee-jerk reactions. OMG, the sky is falling! And they curse the bad environmentalists and Governor Moonbeam. Instead, they should get off their high horses and get down on their knees and pray for more snow.

2016 rain map as of 3/30. The green band represents normal rainfall.
All that purple rain (sorry, Prince) in the north represents a deluge.
The brown, red & ochre spots are parts of the state still in drought,

Do you know where your water comes from?
Most of the Bay Area's water is from the San Joaquin delta.

Stewart writes that in recent years "trillions of gallons of water have been flushed through California rivers in recent years to protect fish." How about posting some supporting facts.

His statement is meant to inflame and enrage... Oh such waste. It's a crime. But think: is a dead riparian ecosystem better than a live one? The San Joaquin Delta is such a mess, thanks to over-allocation of water resources for upstream agriculture, that at times, it actually runs BACKWARDS, there's so little water in it. Now that's a crime against nature.

What's with the myopic thinking about diverting excess floodwater from the ocean, that's where the water is supposed to go, back into the ocean. We've already disrupted California's riverine and oceanic water systems to the point of massive fish population collapse, which in turn have triggered other massive species collapse. Nit to mention the ramifications of the acitdification of the oceans. Dead Sea ring a bell?

Smelt, salmon are not optional, nor are estuaries, which need fresh water to keep a massive ecosystem alive. Which, in turn, keeps us alive. 

I won't mention the problem of soil salt intrusion. Most of the Central Valley is at sea level. Flushing the rivers removes pooled agricultural run-off and halts salt intrusion. What's good for the smelt is good for the river. And that in turn, is good for the farmer. It keeps the soil and the water table sweet.

Has Stewart forgotten about what happens when the runoff from agriculture pools and stagnates? If the rivers aren't flushed, then the land becomes poisoned. Think toilet. Can I say Kesterson? Let me help you spell selenium poisoning.

Then, there's the downstream water table effect. A
Contra Costa County friend, Robert Lee Haycock, stated that actively pursuing the death of of our great estuaries is not the answer. Smelt, or no smelt, fresh water still needs to flow out the Golden Gate. Saltwater intrusion is already a problem for East Contra Costa County's water table—Antioch's drinking water that comes from the San Joaquin Delta system, has been compromised. 

We've pretty much killed the San Joaquin River, not to mention, the demise of the King River, the Tulare Basin, and Colorado River, which no longer even flows to the Sea of Cortez, which has led to the near extinction of myriad species. (A
nd has severely impacted the fishing industries.)

There is no longer a Mojave River, thanks to LA's Silverlake Dam (it siphons water from Northern California too). From there,
Northern California's water is shipped to Lake Perris and onto San Diego as well. 

And this unregulated water usage at the detriment of California's vast ecosystems is not just a Central Valley issue. On the back side of the Sierras, Owens Lake is no more, thanks to LA/San Fernando Valley, also responsible for Mono Lake's shrinking water surface. The Owens River is no more, LA/San Fernando Valley waterworks killed off the agriculture. Mulholland, et al, turned  the lush Owens Valley INTO a desert. Now that's ironic.

About the Damn Dams
CA has a thousand major reservoirs, many are flood control dams —Wiki

As to those few dams from the 1900s, that are being decommissioned, most are not even water storage dams, but outdated, inefficient hydroelectric dams no longer in use, and the water is not used for irrigation, etc. The dams are also silted up. Not to mention, old. As in cracked. To repair those Klamath hydro-electric dams, and add fish ladders would cost more than to tear them down. Of course, Stewart froths on about how it's a crime against humanity.

The Klamath is a mighty river, and those four hydroelectric dams should never have been constructed in the first place. The dams destroyed the massive chinook and coho salmon, steelhead (and rainbow trout) runs. Just like Klamath Falls, Oregon. Vast waterways were destroyed for "hydroelectricity." (But it was also the era of wilful destruction of native cultures. Destroy their food source. Destroy them. Don't call it genocide.)

Also, a minor detail, is Stewart even aware that all the good dam sites are taken up. Where does he suggest we put these new proposed dams? Or the crackpot suggestion to raise the height of Shasta Dam? There seem to be people living out there. Oh well...

Stewart never addresses the real problem, that we've outgrown and stripped our resources. (And the era of free federal funds for large dam projects is gone.) It's not about the evil Endangered Species Act, it's not about stupid smelt vs. the farmer.

I won't mention that we need those smaller fish to survive in order to feed the bigger fish, and that includes oceangoing salmon. And we've pretty much destroyed most of the salmon runs in California with a plethora of inefficient dams—especially those defunct hydro-electric dams slated for demolition.

Stewart states: "As a result [of the smelt?], nearly a million acres of the most fertile farmland in the world have been taken out of production, orchards are being bulldozed."

Most of those fallen orchards Stewart laments the loss of, are of recent vintage, and should never have been planted in the first place. Has he driven down I-5 lately and seen where speculative agri-farmers planting these orchards? On dry hillsides with thin soil. Are we talking of small farmers here, or agribusiness?

Pistachio and almond orchards are being planted in unprecedented numbers because they yield a much higher monetary return than, say, growing local food. (California nuts (the edible kind) are not primarily sold in California, but to the rest of the world, including Turkey, and the UAE).

Let's look at those pricey pistachios (one of California's top-ten crops): In 2012, a drought year, a record pistachio crop of over 550 million pounds (249,930 metric tons) was harvested, as compared to 1976 where 1.5 million pounds (680 tons) was gleaned. The average pistachio yield in 1982 was "1,468 pounds per acre," which ballooned to over "3,806 pounds per acre in 2010.... California comprises 99% of the total [US pistachio harvest] with over 294,000 acres planted in  22 counties."

The "annual “farm gate value” of pistachios represents more than $1.6 billion to the California economy..." That's after costs have been deducted. (American Pistachios) We grow enough pistachios to feed the entire world. And we do. And pistachios take water. Let's see, at $12 a pound,  250,000 metric tons is 551,155,655 pounds x 12 =  $6,613,867,860. It's not easy being green.

Now let's look at almonds (California's second largest agricultural commodity). "California produces 82% of the globe's almonds, harvesting 800,000 acres of the tree nut across a 400-mile stretch from northern Tehama County to southern Kern County" [read: dry desert land]. And "About 70% of California's almonds are sold overseas" [mostly to China], and "...the state will harvest its third-largest crop this year [2015] at 1.85 billion pounds" [down from 1.88 billion in 2014].

"That's more than three times what the state was producing in the late 1990s." Or  to put it into another perspective, that's "... twice as much almond acreage in California as there was two decades ago..."  (LA Times, 2015). Oh, and almonds are an extremely thirsty crop, more so than cotton. When I computed raw almonds @ $10 per pound x 1.85 billion pounds = ? Google answered with a smartass answer: what does a trillion dollars look like? No wonder almonds and pistachios are so green. And I don't mean that in a good way.

Most of the bulldozed nut orchards Stewart is referring to, were planted in the dry southern portion of the state within the past 20 years—where sagebrush, artemesia, and opuntia normally thrive. (Then there's the water-hungry alfalfa equation, hay being sold, not to our dairy industry, but to China and the UAE because of, well, for enormous profits...just like those greeny pistachios and almonds.)

According to California Agricultural Production Statistics, our number one agricultural commodity is milk? And we're selling all our hay ($1.3 billion's worth) down the Yangtzee River? What about the happy California cows?

It's a good thing that grapes are our third largest agricultural commodity. It's enough to drive you to drink. The cows, too.

I have not derailed. Yet. We were talking about smelt vs. water earlier, and something in Stewart's loose leaf argument sure is beginning to smell fishy. The center does not hold.

Much of the southern Central Valley is desert because we've already dammed and removed the major water sources. We've destroyed massive riparian ecosystems. Saving more water for crops in marginal farmlands won't reverse the desertification process once its begun.

The entire Central Valley was one vast marshy ecosystem/wetland: 16,000 square miles, one of the largest wetland ecosystem on the west coast of North America. All gone now. Twelve of the 29 native fish species are gone, smelt are endangered. Smelt are a major food source for other fish and marine animals.

What the hell is a smelt?
The Delta smelt, Hypomesus transpacificus, found in the Sacramento Delta, is a major food source for salmon, striped bass and lake trout. Like salmon, many species are anadromous, living most of their lives in the sea, but traveling into fresh water to breed. —Wiki
"The tiny delta smelt is a bigger deal than you think....
In the case of the delta, we're talking about a once-magnificent place that is in serious trouble. It is 16,000 square miles of wetland and open water -- the West Coast's largest estuary -- and the end point of about 40% of California's precipitation. When the Spanish arrived centuries ago, it was teeming with fish, crawling with bears and beavers, its skies periodically darkened with migrating birds."  (It's small, but it's a keeper - latimes, 2007

"The tiny delta smelt is one of the best indicators of environmental conditions in the San Francisco Bay-Delta, an ecologically important estuary that is a major hub for California's water system — and an ecosystem that is now rapidly unraveling." (Delta smelt - Center for Biological Diversity).

A smelt is an indicator species.

I agree that water needs to go back into the water table, and I don't mean by fracking. Agribusiness has already siphoned significant amounts of artesian water from the ground. Much of the Central Valley has sunken from 12 to 28 feet within the past five years.

"A spot near Corcoran, in the Tulare basin, sank 13 inches in an eight-month period" and "...UC Davis said farmers are pumping an additional 6 million acre-feet of groundwater this year, compared to 2011, the year before the drought started...." (SacBee, 2015, Central Valley sinking fast in drought, NASA study shows).

Garry Hayes, a professor of geology at Modesto Junior College, said, "The sucking of the water in the underground aquifers may be the worst part of all. Hard to replace, if ever, and yet running short too. There aren't a lot of good choices into the future."

Does Stewart think that we can ever undo that kind of colossal damage? Pump the compacted soil back up so it can again store water? Those collapsed aquifers will never, ever be replenished, as the ground has sunk. So the repercussions of the latest drought, in this case, are forever.

Ditto that process of over-taxing our water resources and destroyying ecosystems on the back side of the Sierras. Owens Lake, drained dry to supply LA, is an alkali sump. Ditto Mono Lake—we've diverted its fresh water supply too. When the wind blows, the air is toxic with alkali dust. Silicosis has become a chronic health issue for folks living there. (The Eternal Dustbowl, L.A. Weekly, 2006)

The amount of alkali dust billowing over Mono Lake the other day was like a vast white curtain, a death shroud that stings the eyes and irritated the nose and lungs. But I digress.

Owens Lake (10 x 17.5 miles long) held a significant amount of water until 1913, when most of the Owens River was diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Now it's the largest single source of dust pollution in the U.S. Image from the International Space StationWiki

And that rampant disregard for, and destruction of our water resources continues, with Nestlé pumping vast amounts of water out of Southern California which it sells right back to you, courtesy of the BLM. Crystal Geyser and Nestlé are siphoning off trillions gallons of Southern California water on public lands (pretty much for free), and then selling it back to us at a dollar a pint. So, do you buy bottled water? It too, is part of the problem.

"Nestlé is draining California aquifers, from Sacramento alone taking 80 million gallons annually. Nestlé then sells the people's water back to them at great profit under many dozen brand names." (Nestle Continues Stealing World's Water During Drought 2015). And in the San Bernardino National Forest (read; Mojave Desert), a similar scenario is unfolding: that's 24,820,000 gallons a year that Nestlé bottles—for free. 

Nestlé should not be allowed to remove our public water with little to no oversight from the BLM, its siphoning off 705 million gallons of water per year from California’s groundwater water supply. "If the Forest Service renews Nestlé’s San Bernardino permit, it would not just be a catastrophe for California, but for the whole country -- because it creates a precedent that even in times of scarcity, corporations have a right to profit from our most precious shared resources." Sign the petition here: (SumofUs)

And Nestlé isn't the only water czar.

Calistoga based Crystal Geyser is mining whatever little water that would otherwise replenish Owens Lake, and bottling it as well. "According to the Inyo County Planning Department, Crystal Geyser would extract water from three existing on-site wells in the shallow aquifer up to 360 acre feet per year." That's something like 117,306,515 gallons a year. (Crystal Geyser plans bottling plant expansion, 2012).

And like Nestlé, Crystal Geyser is mining more Northern California water as well, in Shasta County. "Residents whose homes and wells border the Mount Shasta plant worry that Crystal Geyser’s facility could leave them dry, and contend that some wells ran low when Coca-Cola was pumping there." It also raised an ethical question: "Should bottlers be able to pump unlimited amounts of water for sale during a drought?" (Resident group files suit over Mount Shasta water bottling plant, La TImes, 2015).

Mono Lake, alkali duststorm (due to the low lake level), Earth Day, 4/22/2016

Water conservation begins at home. It's not about farmers, or our drinking water vs. the little fish. That's a red herring. There's money to be had. And a lot of it. It ain't easy being green.

As H. L. Menken said, "Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong." Now he was one smart feller.

More links:

The Race to Buy Up the World's Water - Newsweek
Draining California - The New American
List of dams and reservoirs in California
California drought: Why doesn't California build big dams any more?
California built many of the world's most ambitious dam projects during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, but a large state- or federally-funded reservoir hasn't been built in 35 years. Experts say there are a confluence of factors, from environmental laws to funding to a lack of suitable sites. ...nearly all of the best sites are already taken. California has more than 1,400 dams. Most of its major rivers, like the Sacramento and San Joaquin, already have dams on them. and...easy money to build large projects dried up.aid Ron Stork, with Friends of the River.
"All the good dam sites are taken and the water is already diverted," he said. "Voters are being misled if they think they are going to get a meaningful amount of water out of new dams."
Indeed, California has given out legal rights to five times as much water as rain and snow produce in average years, according to a new study by UC Merced. Since 1914, the state has given out rights to 370 million acre-feet, when a typical year of precipitation only provides about 70 million acre-feet to lakes, streams and rivers.
"We're kind of in big trouble," said Joshua Viers, a UC Merced scientist.

Largest reservoirs in California by year built, with reservoir size, dam height and location:
Shasta: (1945) 4.5 million acre feet - 521 feet - Shasta County
Oroville: (1968) 3.5 million acre feet - 742 feet - Butte County
Trinity: (1962) 2.4 million acre feet - 458 feet - Trinity County
New Melones: (1979) - 2.4 million acre feet - 578 feet - Calaveras County
San Luis: (1967) 2 million acre feet - 305 feet - Merced County
Don Pedro: (1971) 2 million acre feet - 568 feet - Tuolumne County
Berryessa: (1957) 1.6 million acre feet - 255 feet - Napa County
Almanor: (1927) 1.3 million acre feet - 130 feet - Plumas County
New Exchequer: (1967) 1 million acre feet - 479 feet - Mariposa County
Folsom: (1956) 1 million acre feet - 275 feet - Sacramento County

A must-read on water wars: The New “Water Barons”: Wall Street Mega-Banks are Buying up the World’s Water (2012)

Robert Lee Haycock reminded me about Sausalito's Bay Model (we used to go there for field trips): In the late 1940s, John Reber proposed to build two large dams in the San Francisco Bay as a way to provide a more reliable water supply to residents and farms and to connect local communities. In 1953, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed a detailed study of the so-called Reber Plan. The Bay Model was constructed in 1957 to study the plan. The tests proved that the plan was not viable, and the Reber Plan was scuttled. The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta portion was added to the model in 1966-1969 to provide information for studies concerning impacts of the deepening of navigation channels, realignment of Delta channels (via a Peripheral Canal), and various flow arrangements on water quality.  —Wiki

see also my  Droughtful Musings (9/15)
Almonds or apricots are not the main water guzzlers. Alfalfa, used to feed the cows, is. So, dairy/beef is our biggest agricultural water user.

What percentage of California’s water is used by agriculture?
  • 80% based on the developed water supply 
  • 52%: based on the total water supply of a dry year 
  • 29% based on the total water supply of a wet year   
—Blaine Hanson Department of Land, Air and Water Resources University of California, Davis
  It's not an Us vs Them (agribusiness, fracking) vs (consumers) equation.

We all eat food, we drive cars, All of us here, in California, almost 40,000,000 of us—we ARE the problem. Deferring blame to the farmer (or the smelt) is not the answer. Yes, we need to kick Nestle's buttnuts, and ban fracking, and quit driving cars, but I'm rather fond of eating. Not willing to give it up. The farmer is the man.

So, I'll save every drop of water I can. Because I can.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Posting old Photos & Facebook Memories

Facebook got me on a roll with those Memory posts, I've been going back and filling in some blanks in my blog, with old Facebook posts. Most are photos, some are poems in the rough, but it is interesting to add them to the chronology.

I'm focusing on photos (and comments) that are relevant to the blog and to writing, and performances, vs random photos. Trouble is, I don't know the dates on some of those old photos. Then there's the tracking down of supporting memorabilia (posters and programs), alas, not all in one place. Some of the extra material is scattered across several hard drives, some of it still isn't scanned.

Yeah, yeah, I'm supposed to be writing poems for Poetry Month. I petered out at 15 new poems, I really need to get back on the horse. I was seeking inspiration from the Memory posts. So instead, I'm fleshing out the past. Some of the past includes poems, but they were written in the past and in the past they shall remain. Not part of this year's poetry count.

I'm still feeling weird from the virus. But I managed to clean the house. Maybe this is sort of a house-cleaning attempt as well. You know, post taxes. More interesting than collecting receipts.

And yeah, yeah, yeah, I was supposed to be mining old journals and papers for more of my old MIA work and post it as well, but I fell off the wagon. I grew weary. I grew bored. Got burnt out after documenting several years' worth of journals....then my iPad crashed (where I had those pdfs of my old journals stored—there was no way to get them OFF my iPad). I'm still hoping to resurrect it as I'm not entirely convinced that I've backups of all that archival work I did a few months ago. Rather depressing.

I need to revisit most of these new posts and add details when I find my notes, and supporting material. I got the first entries from Facebook memories on Earth Day. They still need editing (as to most of the others....but that takes time, and multiple visits,  so I don't catch all the typos the first few times around. A few of these posts were added in 2015, but I didn't think to copy links, and now I can't find them. Hard to revisit them if I can't find them. Duh. It comes down to logistics: poems need to be filed by year, offline, as well. I don't have hard copies of most of my work—especially the prose. Sometimes that makes me shudder.)

New work that needs tending to:
(I've made 2nd reading, fixed a few typos, added tags.)
Earth Day in Navajolands 
Earth Day & Squirrel 
The Last Rope Bridge
Lost Car Keys
Lá Fhéile Bealtaine shona daoibh
Osama Killed 
Maureen Hurley teaching silkpainting at Pleasanton... 
"Day of the Flowers," 34th Mill Valley Film Fest
Fundraiser for Lagunitas Montessori, Point Reyes 
Irish President Mary Robinson
Mary McAleece, Irish President in SF
SF Caledonian Club at Pleasanton
Musician's Special
Me and Dana Teen Lomax CPITS
Elemental Portraits Reading, Sebastopol Center for the Arts
Kirk Whipple, Marilyn Morales, with special guests... 
Elemental Portraits Performance, Maureen Hurley, Kirk Whipple and Marilyn Morales Cape Cod    Elemental Portraits with Kirk Whipple and Marilyn Morales, Florida  
3 Hams at a Bread & Roses Party at the Nagy's   wrong year?
Brian Thorstenson's MFA class at San Francisco State
Thespians on the Town
ODE TO MY TRUCK (2 versions)
In Wim Hofman's garden, Vlissingen
Memory: Robin Williams 
Andrei Vosnesensky, National Poetry Week
Falling to Sea Level, Aldebaran Review
Maureen Hurley & Jessamyn West, Napa Poetry Conference 
Fashion photo shoot ca . 1981 with Richard Salzman
3 FRAGMENTS, CPITS freewrites
Sonnet Form Michael Dow Workshop
Ghost trees, Michael Dow Workshop

(Titles in CAPS are poems, but not prose poems. I still haven't decided how to handle them, I probably should do the same. But I do have them indexed  prose poem (64)

I still have some woefully inadequate years to account for. WTF ever happened in:
►  2006 (12) pathetic! it was 7
►  2005 (9) better, it was 3
I have almost no work to account for. Maybe browsing my photo archives (or my art) will trigger memory.  But for these years, I'll have to seriously excavate....
►  1999 (18) better, it was 4
►  1998 (10) better, it was  4
►  1988 (10) pathetic! it was 9
►  1982 (10) pathetic (to be fair, I haven't scanned any of these journals yet. Also, I had a large file with short poems I posted in 1980, and many of those poems could be from 1981, and 1982).

(Counting the above six rather deplorable years of little work, I have something like 25 years where I don't have at least 52 poem entries per year. That's my arbitrary, random goal. That equals out to a poem, or a bit of writing a week. Is it doable? Back to mining those journals. Ugh.)  

I also need to revisit:
Trolling Old Journals  (10/12/2015)
also  Salvaging old files (again) (11/21/2015)
to see if I've made any progress. That's when the last spate of salvaging old poems and writing began.  Not listing the newly added work separately makes it almost impossible to find again.

Some progress has been made.
►  1979 ‪(5)‬ now 37!
►  1984 ‪(15)‬ now 27
►  1995 ‪(6)‬  now 37
►  1996 ‪(10)‬ now 24
►  2000 ‪(3)‬ 36 mostly schoolwork, ditto 2001

Partial list
1997  newly added to blog  10/15
VIENNA, 1939

1998  newly added to blog  10/15

2001 newly added to blog  10/15
Independence Day, Fatima, Portugal

Since I began this blog in 2007, I guess I should view anything posted pre-2007, as gravy. My goal, in 2007, was to really learn to write prose, and a blog seemed like a good idea. Adding poems came later. Once I started, I couldn't stop. So much for the idea of keeping separate art forms. Still, this electronic system is far better than the piles of old horizontal paper files that threatened to overtake me in an avalanche of paper.

Yeah, yeah, yeah yeah, as the song goes. These are future notes to myself for when, or if I get dementia, at least part of me will have remembered something.

Soon I will have 1700 blog entries. I never envisioned such a number.  A ton of writing

Friday, April 22, 2016

Outrunning the Snowstorm

We tried to outrun the storm from Bishop, the wind howled, and pummeled the rental car all the way from Long Valley to Mono Lake, where a curtain of alkali dust shrouded the shore. We stretched our legs at Lee Vining, but our eyes stung. Rain turned to curtains of snow in the hills.

I raced through Bridgeport, past the Bodie turn-off, onto Walker Canyon, Topaz Lake. I raced over a series of mountain passes, as snow was threatening to stick at 7000 feet (do you know how many passes there are on Hwy 395 that are over 7000 feet?)

We were racing the snow flurries to the junction, only to have HWY 89 close just as we got there, so then it was another mad race to Carson City (almost no rain lulled us into a state of false security), and then it was onto Reno where the rain began to pound in earnest, then it began to sleet, then hail...

We made it all the way to Hwy 80, and onto Donner Pass, but we were too late to beat the clock... the snow began to stick just as we crossed the Truckee River. We drove as far as we could before CalTrans busted us.

Chains and installation from the shell station cost a bundle. More than a C-note. We're now the proud new owners of snowchains...they've come a long way since the good old days. We were one of the lucky ones. As snow chains became a scarce commodity, the price jackknifed to $200. Of course, neither of us knew how to put them on, my skills were old school. So we got back onto Hwy 80 and crept along until we were caught again

Traffic ground to a standstill, yet another chain inspection check station. Bumper to bumper. Trucks spinning, sans traction. Where's the freakin' snow plow, and sand when you need it? We began to make off color potluck jokes, and wager bets as to how far down the snow level went. At first I thought it would be 6000', but no, it was still snowing at 5000, 4000, would you believe 3500'? Some spring weather.

Then there was the problem of no snow monkeys at the other end of the pass to take the chains off, or should I call them cables? I guess they weren't expecting snow either. Probably all on vacation. Somewhere warm. Whatever you want to call them, chains/cables, they're still a bitch to remove. You don't want to do it in the dark. Can't get the inside chain off? It'll slice your brake line. Our journey exacerbated by a rear tire threatening to go flat. Snow, sleet, hail and it's nearly May. Who ordered the weather?

Bishop to Oakland, the long way home, 12 hours on the road...

FWIW, last year, we came back the iconic southerly Route 66. It was raining so hard in the desert, that the car hydroplaned across bridges. Drivers hid out under overpasses, waiting for the storm to pass. I kept alternately hoping for flash floods and dry roads as I outran the storm across Arizona and California. We crossed the Colorado in a hailstorm. —April 25, 2015.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

395 to Bishop

April 18, Poolside at the Nugget after a long weekend at the Highland Games, virus took its toll. Still knackered.
April 19, slept the entire day. Full body slam. Think the virus caught up with me full force.
April 20, better today, still shaky. Ugh.
April 21, Still feeling wonky, ambled around Bishop like a new laid egg (after the sweats had their way with me, others seem to have this virus too. It mimics hay fever. But it's a sneaky lying bastard). Stepped outside and was gobsmacked by beauty. Twice beauty, mountain ranges on either side. I sat and simply drooled over the mountains. In a muddle in the middle of it all. The road beckons.


Eva's cat fell in love with my stewed toes,
and she polished them, every one.
Then euphorically drooled and rubbed them
like long lost kin, with head upside-down,
purring for all she was worth.
I was a stranger. And no, my feet
weren't overripe, we had soaked
at Keough Hot Springs all afternoon.
I never had such an ardent fan as that cat.
Maybe it was something I said.
The timbre of voices as we read aloud.
Or maybe it was that batch
of Billy Collins inspired poems
fresh out of the proverbial oven
that Eva was reading from.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Alabama Hills

Windblown in the Alabama Hills at sunset. I'm still pretty sick from a nasty virus, first day up & about. Determined, I am. More like two sheets to the wind. Bawdy betrayal. I'm too sick to fight the camera. Surrender,

The Alabama Hills are the tip of a very steep vertical escarpment, probably flipped on end from an earthquake; the Owens Valley is filled with about 10,000' of rubble. The weird rocks are 82- to 85-million-year-old biotite monzogranite. Got that? Good.

We're on Movie Flat Road. Dozens of old TV Westerns were filmed here, including Hopalong Cassidy, The Gene Autry Show, The Lone Ranger, Riders of the Purple Sage, and Bonanza. You can hear the Bonanza soundtrack in your head when you drive down the road. Hoss at the wagon yelling, hyahhh! to the horses.

Some 150 movies including bits of How the West Was Won, The Walking Hills, Yellow Sky, Springfield Rifle, The Violent Men, Maverick, Gladiator, and Bad Day at Black Rock were filmed here too. That scene of the Khyber Pass in the 1939 epic Gunga Din, was really set in the Alabama Hills, ditto The Lives of a Bengal Lancer,

My friend, Mark Adler said he and his friend John Rosenberg visited the Alabama Hills a few years back. His father, Frank Rosenberg, produced "King of the Khyber Rifles, also shot there. So crazy how this place has become, through the movies, a pop culture icon. But it's also its Own Place."

There's a reason the Alabama Hills seem so familiar. You've been seeing them all your life. The ultimate alien background. The last frontier. The Alabama Hills, named after the Civil war ship, the CSS Alabama, was once home to the Paiute, the native names are lost.

Location Filming in the Alabama Hills

Whitney Portal

Whitney Portal 7,851'. Hard to believe I once hiked up to the top of Mt. Whitney. My knees would strenuously object. The 99 switchbacks will live on in infamy. The trail crest is about 22 miles, roundtrip. John and I clocked in at 27 miles after hiking to the Sierra hut, and around the perimeter. There was a permanent iceberg inside the hut. Elevation: 14,505′ (it's gained some elevation since the 1980s. It used to be 14,495".) It's still growing whereas I'm shrinking in height.

Today is John's birthday. Old habits die hard, my old backpack lock is still set to that date... I said hello to Mt. Whitney for him. I can't believe we actually climbed that mountain. Yeah, another 30 turns around the sun. 

The Whitney Portal road was used in "High Sierra (1941), with Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino, and The Long, Long Trailer (1954) with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz." I think The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was filmed here too. I like to think of Bogie on the flank of the mountain.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


She stood by the fence gate
a sentinel to another world
a window to the past
but she was blind to the present
her imagination stronger
than the moment.

I am topaz, I am gold
I am the hidden lucre
made of iron and meteorite.

A galaxy of stars
the Milky Way
planets & meteors

Garnet is blood is meat is carnelian is death is stars

Obsidian darkness
the hunter
cave painting and story
The ruby thought
the mind's horizon
travelling homeward.

CPITS freewrites from Cleveland ES
chain poems and minerals

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Good Deed for the Day

Enroute to the Golden Nugget parking lot, at the crack of dawn, I saw something hopping along the gutter, thinking it was a young rat, I braced myself. After all we were in the underbelly of the world, in Las Vegas. But it was too round. A fledgling sparrow had fallen from a palm tree, and was confounded by the height of curb. And so he hopped along it, seeking safe passage. So I scooped him up and stuck him in the shrubbery, not wanting to babysit him, as we were off to Floyd Lamb State Park for the Highland Games. He practiced with his new wings, finding his way. Each attempt a little better than the last. His parents circling him, offering encouragement.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


Doing my taxes
TS Eliott was right
Let it all arise

and wash over you
and roll through you‚ tide of grief
has its surcease.

I grow old, I grow
older yet, and deeper in debt
wearing cuffed trousers.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016


     —for Neil Astley, and the cats of Sheep Cottage
          ekphrastic poem after a photo by Neil Astley

Portrait of a young tabby
nestled in an old birdhouse, 
slaked with lichen and moss,
amid catkins, pussywillows.
First forsythia bursts into bloom, 
remnants of an abandoned garden.
Church bells knelling for mass, 
and in a far field, a wether works 
the green distance down to earth
while a homeward pair of bluebirds
circle the cat—an aureole of light.


first draft:  Portrait of a young Myles nestled in an old birdhouse, first forsythia in bloom, catkins, pussywillows, church bells tolling for mass, a wether works the green distance down to earth.


On the balcony, an angry toddler
alternately screams or forlornly sobs,
begging his parents to let him back in.

All that pent-up rage waiting to grow up.


To clean the floor

Desperate for a bath, aching from a virus, or old wounds, I dragged a trash can into the shower, cleaned and filled it with hot water, and slid in, fetal position. Ah, heaven. A long soak, up to my neck in hot water—in more ways than one. I couldn't get out. The suction and the slanted walls held me close as a burial urn. I was home alone, I didn't fancy sitting for hours in cold water waiting for rescue. Gawd knows where he went off to, or when he'd be back. We were beginning to unravel at the cuffs. So I rocked the can back and forth, until it tipped over onto the cement floor. I slid out, as if born naked from a trash can. I thought to myself, Well, that's one way to clean the floor. Didn't think about the metaphor, until much later.


from another Facebook post

Monday, April 11, 2016


Today a rare snow fell on Addis Ababa,
catching everyone by surprise.
Though the citystate is at 7,500 feet
it's also near the equator, this sub-tropical
region never drops below freezing.
Addis Ababa means the field of new flowers.
The cradle of mankind, Mankind has lived there
since the beginning of time. First hominid Lucy's home.
A young man muses: it seems like Ethiopia
is becoming closer to the sky, you know,
like Canada. You know what I mean.
Closer to the North Pole. Trading places.
A man grumbles: it used to happen every rainy season.
Another nitpicks it's not snow! Its hail, frozen rain,
you don’t want to get caught under that rain.
It’s like little stones falling from the sky!
And he compares it to the wrath of God.
Sky diamonds. What's this world coming to?
But I guess the weather is a bit like theft,
an adulterous sky pummeling what's left of spring
in a parched land.


from a news report


In the Galápagos I swam
with Darwin's imps of darkness.
Marine iguanas dove into the surf
and grazed on seaweed encrusted rocks.
When they were chilled,
they hauled out to sun themselves
and bask on the hot rocks,
then they snorted the salt water
out their nostrils, spewing
like little dragons.


Sunday, April 10, 2016


Today, one of those dark, dreary days
where I am thankful for the warmth
of my laptop, purring so like a cat.



Colm Tóibín, it's come to this;
a neighbor, madly in love with
the wandering road of your writing,
rang my doorbell, asking me
how to pronounce your name,
which led to an Irish linguistics course
on aspects of hidden vowels,
slender consonants, síneadh fadas,
and diminutive endings. The reason
for the shh! in my cousin Sinéad's name.
How Hebrew and Irish, despite everything,
carry the hunger of the shark-toothed sound.
And how the final -ín in Máirín, and Tóibín
are but small endearments, like cailín.
Why say the ó and not the i, she asked.
I explained the role of the fada, the haloed ó—
she got more than she bargained for,
as we wandered from the story of Brooklyn,
on how to say Saoirse, to the The Testament 
of Mary, who, despite everything, did not believe. 
What my neighbor really wanted to know
was how the syllabic dove was nestled
within the folds of your name, and Iona's naomh.
But we are also bound by testament of cold iron,
our grandparents smuggled guns to Eniscorthy.
My neighbor got a discourse on  the uprising,
and hidden pocket vowels within bol-g and fil-um, 
as my grannie would say. The anaptyctic mediator
smuggling vowels and proverbial bullets
across borders. This béarla
we hold in common.


Hurley: Sea Tide

I'm sliding far behind on my poem a day vow. Behind by days... my laggardly love is an arse. 
In desperation, I took a Facebook post and mined it for its poetic content: 

Colm Toibin, it's come to this; a neighbor, madly in love with your writing, rang my doorbell, asking me how to pronounce your name, which led into a lively Irish linguistics course on hidden vowels, slender consonants, and diminutive endings. Much more than she bargained for. ‪#‎bearla‬
I hope Colm will forgive that indulgence, my trespass.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Between Languages

I am in love with the skeletal poetics of linguistics, not the science of words, but with the body of language. I like the shape of words in my mouth, the way my heart feels, when I speak Spanish. My mindset changes, mi corazón! Dos lenguages, tan fuerte. They say multi-lingualism keeps the brain facile, and it is said to stave off Alzheimer's. I work with the newly arrived kids, teaching them poetry. It's a gateway to learning English. I have a profound love for them, and admire their acquisition of English, and to watch them adapt and thrive in their new language is both an honor and a blessing. Poetry is the bridge. Never forget.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

On Teaching Poetry to Students

During poetry class, Katherine, a newly-arrived student in Ms. Thomas's 3rd grade, sloppily copied random words from the posters on the wall. Because I couldn't make sense of her writing, I asked her what it meant. In this way, I discovered that she spoke no English, and was attempting to write something—anything—in order to fit in. Even random words on the board.

So I brought her some poems in Spanish, and we took dictation. It was a rough process bringing her to poetry, as her skills were low. At first, she was an unwilling student. I had to remind her it was improper to sass back. Then I discovered that she couldn't read or write in Spanish either. She was trapped between languages, and unable to write in either one.

Once she saw her first poem in print, and I read it aloud to the class in Spanish, it was a breakthrough moment. The kids wanted to know what it said. As I translated her poem line by line, she beamed with pride.  And her attitude toward me, toward the class, and language radically shifted. She was aboard.

I didn't have time to take dictation from her during, every class, so on those days, she continued to practice her odd abecedario in her poetry book. But soon she became impatient, because she had a poem to tell me. And I was her only link.

The last day of class as I began to transcribe her poem in Spanish, she stopped me, and said: NO! English! English, please.

It's amazing watching her begin to grasp English via poetry. She was actually ordering me to translate and write her poems in English. Such a sweet teaching moment, as I pointed to each Spanish word and gave her the English equivalent. A long cry from where we started. She was mute, having no language to communicate. And poetry was overwhelming. But she got it! Poetry gave her a voice.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Horses in Heaven

Someone posted a meme that all your old horses will be in Heaven. I think: Oh great, I'll be stuck keeping the Little Shits, consummate escape artists, in the pasture. Pure purgatory. I spent more time chasing after them at midnight, than I care to admit....they loved to roam. Shetland-raccoon crossbreed. I used to tie them up on a long rope to graze in spring, but they'd escape. So I hobbled their forelegs, ditto their back legs. Then I hobbled both ends. Damned if they couldn't gallop fully hobbled and trussed up like turkeys. I finally resorted to double hobbling with a cross rope between the front and back end....still they'd dink down the road on moonlit nights.




When the old tank collapsed in the storm
the trees tried to comfort it with their low branches
draped conspiratorially over its shoulders.


Tired of counting syllables



If good fences made for good neighbors
then our neighbors weren't particularly good
nor were we, as the ponies and deer
dove through sagging barbed wire strands
that moonlighted as æolian harps, at random.
Such sweet music, nature of tooth and claw
unfettered by fences, we were slackers all.
Nothing fenced us in, or kept us to ourselves.




An old dirt road, and a new jeep.
She felt a wild sense of freedom
when she struck out overland
with her six-year-old son in tow.
She thought It must be right,
because the GPS said it was so.
But it's a technological illusion
that you can't get lost in the desert.
When her son died of heatstroke,
she discovered backroads led nothing
but grief & the Funeral Mountains
were well named for their darkness,
and that glimmer of distant water she saw
was merely bent light slaking the eye.


My poetry prompt was a newspaper article from 2009
Death by GPS' in desert 

Monday, April 4, 2016


Desert superbloom
siren call of empty roads
led tourists astray.

New technology
old backroads, no cell service
= death by GPS.

Death Valley lives up
to its name, tourist follow
back roads to their death.

Death by GPS
the desert lives up to its name
wrong road led them astray.


Three lines of 5-3-5 syllables, or 5-3-5 words.
(or do a haiku)

I seem to be having trouble with this prompt.
5-3-5 syllables

Heady floral scent
in the lemon tree.

Hummingbird visits
each flower
sacramental dip.

or 5-3-5 words (easier to do, but I'm locked into haiku}.

Hummingbird visits every flower twice
seeking sweet nectar
Meyer lemons in the bud.

Moths chewed on old cashmere
sweaters leaving trails
of darkness and light behind.


Death by GPS' in desert

Sunday, April 3, 2016


I could've gone to the writers' convention.
I kept thinking to myself, well maybe I should've.
I'm supposed to be a writer, and all that.
Besides, all my friends are there.
But then, this cliff, this shore
was my view yesterday, all day.
On set for Hand of God at an ungodly hour
we watched dawn's light crawl down Big Sur ridge
and the fogbank retreated to a safe distance.
A roadside chef cracked dozens of eggs
(we ate plein air omlettes right on Hwy 1,
a fencepost with a view for a table).
Such famous beauty before us,
replete with rubberneckers and cyclists,
cavorting whales and curious sea otters.
Between takes, surcease of the sea
breathing beside me. All day long.
I saw sleepy indigo wake to turquoise
and dream itself to pale robin's egg blue
to match the celestial eyes of the sky.



Pre dawn call, I was so frazzled they sent me right away to hair and makeup. A woman in curlers at the far end of the trailer was chapping a worker. My hairdresser said: Don't look, don't talk, she doesn't like it if anyone talks. We conspiratorially whispered in code as my hairdresser attempted to tame my unruly mop. The woman stalked to my end of the trailer, and sat down next to me. She looked vaguely familiar but I couldn't quite place her. She glared at me in the mirror and told me to move down a seat as I was in her line of vision. I stared at her point-blank. If looks could turn one to stone. She either needed morning coffee, or was already in character. The hairdressers took it all in stride and carried on as if there was nothing amiss with stars wobbling in rarefied orbits.


Friday, April 1, 2016


O foolish April
showers, such sweet succor fails
to baptize our heads.

Welcome Fool, jester
of spring, motley capricious
gamboler awakens.

Green in bud and sap
the trees explode with delight
and the robin choughs.

First bird of spring coughs
complaining of the weather
magnolia blossoms.

Tree's spring laundry, hangs
its smalls for the world to see
magnolia knickers.

Wanton cat grovels
at my feet, I have no cure
for her deepest ache.


April Poetry Month prompts...

Get your hot off the press red-hot poetry prompts here:

NaPoWriMo 2016

NaHaiWriMo and Haiku writing prompts  OK, I admit I'm guilty of counting syllables, I know Japanese haiku isn't syllabic. See The Discipline of Haiku

2016 April PAD Challenge

The Poetry School

Poetry Prompts

Facebook search for poetry prompt sites

If you're on Facebook, check out Molly Fisk - Poet. She often posts random prompts there on her own page, too.
Molly Fisk's ongoing poetry bootcamps require a secret handshake and small fee to join their Nicenet group.

Check out too! A poem a day will be sent to your email box and you can use that poem as a starting point.

Or cannibalize old writing prompts from previous years! I often combine prompts until I find one that juices me. I also collect prompts from other sites in a folder and let them surface in random order.

I have lots of prompts posted in my blog

NaWriPoMo 2015

It's time for April Poem a Day! 2014

APRIL POEM A DAY links 2013
November Poem a Day prompts 2013


Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Old Free Leonard sign
on a clogged road at rush hour
with measured justice.

Sign says Free Leonard
in red paint, old scab wounds
a detour of justice.

Old Free Leonard sign
nailed to a tree, cruciform
a framed reminder.

Decades of vigil
keeping memory alive
Leonard Peltier.

In the minds of few
he lives on, this tree proclaims
his freedom to all.

But who remembers
Wounded Knee, a stigmata
of blood on our hands.

Nothing says freedom
like a clogged road at rush hour
how progress is measured.

Leonard Peltier


Old man sneaks a smoke
in his car, thinks he's fooling
the emphysema.

He hides evidence
from his daughter, he lights up
his first cancer stick.

First smoke of the day
greedily he sucks it down
old habits die hard.


man verbally develops
his thesis on foot.

Hot air rises up
to the surface and stonewalls
unanswered questions.

What was the question?
Rubber band string theory, an
incredulous weir

of words leading to
nowhere in particular.
Flibusted man.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Remembering Marty Kent

Facebook is like one vast John Guare experiment. Guare wrote the play, Six Degrees of Separation. The idea that we are merely six degrees separated from everyone. Say, Kevin Bacon. Facebook periodically brings that idea home.

Someone posted on a Marin page, a book that she had found, and wanted to know more about it. I was surprised to discover that I knew the poet as I had worked for her family a long, long time ago.

I worked for Roger and Alice Kent during the early 1970s. One of my jobs was running the office for Western Star Press. I remember the name Marty Kent. Still trying to line up a face. I can almost see her.

A floodgate of faces: there was Neili, Kenny Kent's ex-wife... There was Molly Kent & Max, who had two kids. Max was an architect, and turned a squash court into a cool house. And there was Molly's baby sister, Alice, but we called her PeeWee.

So how did Marty fit in? It took a while to place Marty, but by happenstance, somebody told somebody who told somebody who told Marty's daughter about the post, who enlightened us. It turns out Marty was a cousin.

Marty's daughter, Littlest Alice and I struck up a Facebook friendship. It turns out that Alice and I both worked for Western Star Press. We began to swap stories. One thing led to another, and lo! and they've a few copies of Marty's book, and she'll mail me a copy.

How small and lovely the world, that which separates us also brings us together with few degrees of separation.

Splitting Hares and Rabbiting on

A young hare, watercolor, 1502, Albrect Dürer —Wiki
A photographer, hoping to sell prints, conflated rabbits with snowshoe hares calling them Easter Bunnies. Augh! For the record, hares are not bunny rabbits. They're not even distant cousins either. They may look alike, but it's convergent evolution. It's a great herbivore model. But they are a very separate species, even more divergent than sheep are to goats. More like gazelles and sheep. Different genus, Genius!

The Easter Bunny was a rabbit. In the Middle Ages they were called cunnys, which rhymes with bunny and hunny. Baby cunnys were called rabbits (or kits), but that word cunny was later changed to coneys, because prostitutes were called... well, you get the picture.

European cunnys/conejos (Oryctolagus cuniculus) came from Iberia, they're not even native to Europe or Britain. They were brought to Europe and Britain by the Romans. Maybe the Normans brought them to Ireland. Or not. But cunnys were easy dinner fixins'. Which led to population growth, and some weird Medieval manuscript drawings of battling hares well armed with lances and arrows.

Hares do not make good pets, they're not domesticated, and share few traits with rabbits. They're solitary creatures, prone to boxing and brawling, the term "mad as a March hare" came from observing their combatative breeding nuptials. (Don't preach to me about the "wrong" use of combatative vs combative. Just. Don't. It's in the OED.) How mad? Go ask Alice.

Lewis Carroll's Alice and the Mad March Hare (a European hare)—Wiki

There are 32 species of hares, and not one of them  can crossbreed with rabbits (they have 48 chromosomes vs. rabbits' 44 chromosomes.) Probably a good thing too, otherwise we'd have Monty Python killer hares running amok armed with swords and whatnot.

People were terrible at naming Old, and New World animals. According to H. L. Menken, "Zoologically speaking, there are no native rabbits in the United States; they are all hares." I guess he never saw a cottontail. Or fuzzy logic was involved.

Rabbits and hares from the Leporidae family (not its sub-order, Genus), which is a sub-branch of the order Lagomorpha, which includes rabbits, hares and pikas (sometimes called rock hares). Got that? It's a Kings Played Chess On Fine Grain Sand ss moment... Order, Family, Genus, Species: it goes Lagomorpha, Leporidae. And that's where the semblance ends.

North and South American cottontail rabbits Sylvilagus are the ONLY rabbit that doesn't burrow, like the hare. They're sort of a straddle-the-difference species niche. They're not Old World rabbits. They're more rabbitish than rabbity, at this point, I'm probably splitting hares. Sylvilagus xx— (13 species) are not European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus—there can be only one!), starting with its tail, and its habits. But I'm not about to list all the burrowing/ feeding differences, let alone, weird kinetic skull differences. You'll have to look them up yourself hare

Despite its name, a jackrabbit is a hare. Short for jackass-(who looks like a)-rabbit. Got that? Jacks and Jills are hares, not rabbits. A Belgian hare is not a hare, it's a true rabbit bred to look like a hare. A cottontail, on the other hand, really is a wabbit. Rabbits are social animals and make great pets. Think Peter Rabbit. Not Jack, or he'll smack the shit outta you. That goes for Jill too. Especially Jill.

Lagomorpha Order
Pika, Hare & Rabbit
Leporidae Family includes
Hare  Genus   Lepus (32 + species)

Cottontail  Genus Sylvilagus (13+ species)

Rabbit   Genus Oryctolagus   (1 species)
Plus 5 other weird genera Pronolagus and Caprolagus sometimes are called hares. Got that?

10 Medieval rabbits that hate Easter and want to kill you

The Killer Rabbit in Medieval Manuscripts