Wednesday, March 22, 2017



Fire blossoms and rages
Under the eaves of a sheltering sky
Embraces the storm with
Golden arms, cradling the shards of 
Olden dreams and new promises.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Translating "Chun" from the Irish: a triad of sorts

Yesterday, a stranger sent me an Irish saying:
Chun go léir na laethanta anseo agus ina dhiaidh
Is féidir iad a líonadh le cuimhní cinn
Fond, sonas, agus gáire.
I couldn't find it on the internet, so I turned to Google Translate to see if I could glean more information from it. Google translated it as:
For all the days here and beyond
They can be filled with memories
Fond, happiness, and laughter.
Dissatisfied with the translation, using Google, I broke it down word-for-word.

Chun go léir 
na laethanta
agus ina dhiaidh 

Is féidir iad
a líonadh 
le cuimhní cinn 

Fond?  is this a typo???
sonas, agus gáire. 

And then I made a rough interlinear translation:

For/to all/entire days
here (in this place) and before (after) (to come??)

afterwards can, be able, They can 
fill memories/recollections/, pain, or an ache in the head, fond/ahead/accumulate
(why fond again??? and in English?); good luck, good fortune, happiness, and laughter. 

I thought of how "chun" or "in order to" (in the direction of, or arriving at, to/towards), an elusive preposition, was always the bane of my existence during Irish class... It was like a rusty gate hinge in the language. And here I was without the blasted WD-40.

And then I remembered that the preposition "go" or that, which can also mean until, also becomes something which never comes (a shapeshifter), a verbal particle when hitched to a verb or noun. Like "go leor" (galore—or plenty, and enough—which is also a kind of magic, or right enough, as my granny would say).

I translated it as:
To all the days now and to come
may they be filled with fond memories
of (fond) happiness, and laughter.
And then I did another Google search. Damned if I didn't find it under Irish Toasts & Quotes, translated almost exactly the same as my version.
To all the days here and after
May they be filled with fond memories, happiness, and laughter.
The original translator went for the rhyme-scheme with "after" and 'laughter." But he broke the pattern of the triad in the process. 

Then using Google Translate, I back-translated it to the Irish to see what it would come up with. I got:
Chun go léir na laethanta anseo agus tar éis
Is féidir iad a líonadh le cuimhní cinn
Fond, sonas, agus gáire.
Here's the original again to compare them: 
Chun go léir na laethanta anseo agus ina dhiaidh
Is féidir iad a líonadh le cuimhní cinn
Fond, sonas, agus gáire.
So the only difference was "ina dhiaidh" vs. "tar éis" which was "before/afterwards/later" and "back/following/the past/after. "So, it seems my choice of "to come" was closest to the original Irish, despite the fact there are no infinitive forms of Irish verbs. (Also, in order to be able to (chun!) use an Irish dictionary, you have to be able to unpack, and strip the word back to its original form. Easier said, than done. This is where Google Translate comes in handy. It's not picky.)

The only fly in the ointment was the word in the last line, "fond," which wasn't translated into an Irish word in the original copy I received, and even with Google, and with back-translation, I couldn't find the original word. Fond is not on the Irish dictionary I used, and I don't think it's an odd form, perhaps, old. And if it really was fond, why was it written in English? Puzzling.

To be able to say that one is fond, of something requires a different word and sentence construction cinn: from Old Irish cin (“love, affection; esteem, respect”). Tá cion agam air. Him, fond (at ag (preposition, 1st person), on/upon it/him (air /preposition). Or cinn could merely mean advancement, or accumulate.

Using MacBain's Scottish
etymological dictionary, I stumbled upon the word fonn, or land, Irish fonn, Early Irish fond; so, if I'm right, then fondness has little to do with the correct translation in that last line, but the idea of land, or homeland does. It deepens the aphorism considerably.
To all the days now and to come
may they be filled with fond memories
of homeland, happiness, and laughter.
But, the idea of fondness is already embedded with the word cinn. Why would it be used twice? Besides, if it was a modern variant of an Old Irish triad (which begin with the word, "Three"), it would need the setup of three nouns, or ideas, not two things. Still not quite satisfied, I again trolled MacBain's etymological dictionary, and found another archaic definition of fonn—a tune, Irish fonn, melody/tune, desire, delight...

Sadly, I am not a very good student of Irish, and my sense of Irish grammar, noun declension, base forms, and sentence structure, is shaky, at best. But without adding more articles and particles, this translation rings truest—even though in modern Irish, the word would be foinn. My reasoning?  because clann was originally spelled cland in Old Irish, a borrowing from Old Welsh plant, from Latin planta.... Note the -d ending: d/t are sounds-twins.

I'm not quite up to cracking open my Rudolf Thurneysen's Old Irish Grammar (one of the most expensive books I ever bought, and least used). But it's now online. Sort of. Not the right word, but note that the word fond does exist in Old Irish. From him I learned that Medieval Irish scribes refrained from doubling consonants in unlenited words as it wasted precious parchment space.

In Irish Word database, I found the modern Irish word for fond is ceanuil, among 20 other suggestions. That doesn't help much, other than to also verify that the Irish word fond exists. It is not a typo. The concept of fondness, in Irish, depends upon the exact usage, whether  you're planning on loving, or drinking it.

The fact that I can't find fond in modern Irish suggests that this saying is an Old, or Medieval  Irish aphorism, not a modern one. But I can't find it online. Inconclusive. A pity that I am too shy to ask my Irish teacher Dan Melia  if this is correct interpretation. But I think it is very close to the original (if I could find it...) Here's hoping my use of fond wasn't a faux ami.

I am also resisting the urge to make the first and last lines rhyme, as it doesn't rhyme in the (original) Irish. To come vs beyond, or after. There are no infinitive verbs in Irish. So, to come is technically wrong as well.
To all the days now and to come (or, after/beyond/following)
may they be filled with fond memories:
tunes, happiness, and laughter.
I guess the word "chun" wasn't the bane of my existence, after all, as it merrily led me down the tangled path of translation. "In order to," one foot in front of the other. The grating sound of a rusty gate hinge, was merely the tarnished metal of a dying language polishing itself anew again.

An Irish Blessing
Clan vs Clann

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Dear Google, about those 404 errors on Blogspot

Dear Google Search Console Team,
aka sc-noreply @

Thank you for writing to me to inform me that here are so many problems with my blogpage. And that 404s seem to be on the rise. I must admit, I thought your email was a phishing email. So, I sent it to the Spam folder. But then I did a little research, and your letter seems authentic. Though there are numerous hacks listed, this does not seem to be one of them. I may be wrong. If, so then this is a record.

To: Webmaster of,
"Googlebot identified a significant increase in the number of URLs on that return a 404 (not found) error. This can be a sign of an outage or misconfiguration, which would be a bad user experience. This will result in Google dropping those URLs from the search results. If these URLs don't exist at all, no action is necessary."
First, I had no idea I was a webmaster of my own bloggy kingdom. Does it involve whips and chains, cane-back chairs, kinky black and red leather and lace? Help! I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with this information. I click on most of the links and nothing happens.

Some of the blogposts I could access from your provided links, and remove the dead links. But most were dead links, with no redirect, and because they were a jumble of letters, I have no way to even guess what blog post they're referring to. Alpha-numeric word salad.

In the process of trying to make it all work, I discovered a feature on Blogger, to hide bits of blogs. A spacer that creates a divider, for further reading: "Read more...". I'm in hog heaven, as I tend to heavily footnote my writing—(I suspect those excessive links are part of the process that you've taken umbrage to. But now I can hide them from the main article. And those first drafts of poems I tend to save at the bottom, can now be hidden from the finished poem. Fraloo-fralay! But I digress....

Some hot links provided year, month, title, so I was able to access those posts and fix the dead links. Thanks a lot Santa Rosa Press Democrat for revamping your archives and leaving me with a plethora of dead links...

Speaking of "bad user experience," when I "fixed" my Atacama Civilizations piece for you, Blogspot created yet another null page. Scared the crap out of me, as I thought it was forever deleted...

You, dear Google, automatically created that 404 page, not me, when I hit the "fix" URL link. Oops! Luckily I did a search and discovered it was still there. But now I will have to hunt down all my cross-referenced post leading back to that URL and fix them. Talk about cross....

This was the original working URL

When I 'fixed" the URL, it changed, creating yet another dead link.

I had to hunt down the piece, fix cross-referenced posts with a new URL.

And while we're at it, when I upload an URL link for a photo, it should not say "Upload a URL" but Upload an URL. You can't have two unaccompanied vowels snuggling together like that. It leads to the fambly tree going straight up. Besides, it's easier to say an URL versus A (uh) URL, URL, URL, Duke of URL.

Second, several of the old pages you listed as having something wrong with them, were blogposts that I had written, and YOU, dear Google, stalled on the Publish upload, and then wiped my posts clean. As in void. The blank white page.

I was able to recreate most of the lost posts from scratch, but I still mourn for my lost post on Medieval Irish calligraphy and writing—as a lot of deep research went into that post—only to have it disappear. Poof!

Ditto that with my Boschka Layton memorial piece... Have you any idea what it's like to have to recreate a very long and detailed blogpost (2 to 5K words) from scratch?

Ditto that with my Viking Redhead post (my most popular post, pushing 80,000 hits). I'm terrified to even open it to correct the dead URLs, let alone "fix"anything. You've erased it no less than three times during the upload (Publish/Update button) process after I made corrections.

Mar 23, 2009, 52 comments

I finally got wise and made a backup copy in TextEdit, before I hit that Update button. So, you can see why I'm not willing to open that particular post to fix corrections. I might lose it and all the comments its garnered.

Speaking of "bad user experience," you, Google, have not been very good to me over the years as a creator of unique blogger content...Blame it on my slow DSL, or some odd configuration at your end. But it's not been s smooth, or effortless sail. And yes, I have written to you many times. Sometimes I even see my suggestions implemented... But mostly I yowl into the void of cyberspace.

Then there's this:
Search Console
Increase in “404” pages on
It looks like the majority of those 125 null pages were when I moved posts to their correct creation dates in Blogspot. I don't see any way to add a redirect, but won't this eventually fix itself?

It seems silly to go to a non-existent page (that I can't even access) and add another redirect page when the page is merely moved to a different date within Blogspot. Won't the web crawlers eventually catch up? Besides, it's poetry. Who even reads poetry?

And yes, I do see that this email is a No Reply @ Google. But I had to get it off my chest. It will probably wind up as a blog post. You know how that goes. Squeaky wheel and all that. Thank you. I do feel better now.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Getting your Kip

 Someone posted a list on how to get a good night's sleep. At best it's a hodgepodge list of cobbled-together quasi-science. It's also making a lot of cultural assumptions. Which got my goat. Or my rhetorical flycatcher.

Here's the list.
Tips for good sleep include:
Eliminate caffeine.
Avoid naps.
Don’t drink alcohol.
Don’t eat a large meal near bedtime.
Try to go to bed and get up at the same times every day.
Reserve your bedroom for sleep – no TV, piles of laundry to sort or even books. If you can’t sleep, get up after 20 minutes.
Go into another room and read or listen to music until you’re sleepy.
Avoid bright lights and electronic screens before bedtime.

At first glance the list looks good, and some of it's fairly sound advice, except that napping is good for you, unless you're an insomniac.  (We do love our lists. They make us feel so organized...)

I would move Exercise to the very top of the list. Exercise during the day (not in the evenings after work). It releases endorphins. Exercise at night will certainly rile you up. 

Eliminate caffeine. Or just don't have any after after 2 PM. That includes chocolate. Yes. (Gasp!).

Avoid naps. You decide. Some people thrive on naps. Depends on the culture too. Me, I can't nap and I don't like falling asleep too early because I will wake up at 2 AM raring to go. I sometimes get my best work in during the middle of the night. 

Don’t drink alcohol—let's amend that one: after dinner. Why cut alcohol out completely unless you have a problem with it? Seems silly. I can see getting blottoed before bedtime could be a problem, but a glass of wine with dinner is good for the heart. It releases endorphins. Just like exercise. And chocolate. What should be on that list is no sugar (in the evening) because sugar, like caffeine, interferes with sleep. As does chocolate. Yes, chocolate.

Don’t eat a large meal near bedtime. Well, duh. Digestion and sleep don't mix well. Eat your dinner at dinnertime. Unless you're in Spain, or anywhere in the Mediterranean, then eat your dinner during the day and your supper late. But then, take long afternoon naps, call them siestas.... Oh wait, you're still sleeping after a big meal...

Move this list to another culture and the paradigm falls apart. How we divide our day with food and sleep is entirely cultural. There is no one correct method.

I did some research on sleep patterns since the Middle Ages It turns out this eight hours of solid sleep a night is a post Industrial Revolution thing. And all kinds of myths have arisen around the concept of what constitutes sound sleep patterns. Most of them are bogus. (See my reading list below.)

The point on that list that rankled me most was: Reserve your otherwise empty bedroom for sleep and have nothing in your bedroom, including laundry, or books...that is so post 20th c., and a first world notion. For whom is this sleep list meant for? It strikes me as very Northern European Anglo-centric. Waspish even, with a Puritanical hangover. Laundry causes sleeplessness? Oh my. There's an embedded judgement in there.

If clutter were a factor causing sleeplessness, then no one would be able to sleep in their bedrooms—since at least the Middle Ages. In fact, during the Middle Ages, most people didn't even have bedrooms. Or beds. Besides, you can't see those clothes hanging on hooks and book avalanche invading your sleep space when the lights are turned off—unless you have very good night vision.

I've lived on other countries, and slept in some odd places. My bedroom in Leningrad was also a well-stocked famine pantry. I slept on large vats of canned foods, the cupboard above my head was stacked with dried bread, dried garlic and onions hung from the walls. (I won't mention what it was like sleeping in the Indios' best company beds in Andean huts.) Most people in the USSR didn't even have separate bedrooms, the living room couches converted into beds. I doubt that it's changed much.

Ditto that in Japan where the communal living space converts to sleeping space. Where everything is beautifully austere and clutter-free. I could go on...

And what about we artists in our live/work spaces? Clearly clutter has little to do with getting a good night's sleep. Messy rooms, messy desks, equals a fertile imagination. No books? What's with that? My old poetry professor David Bromige propped his bed up with books. (Don't ask how I know, and no, it wasn't me).

I get the idea—remove anything from your room that you might be stressing on. But that sounds like a case of evoking sympathetic magic as Prof. Dundes might have said.

The idea of an empty bedroom equals a good night's sleep, also evokes the austerity of a nun's or monk's cell. For the record, they didn't sleep well. Or even through the night. There were novenas to be said, water clocks to be reset in the middle of the night. And that instruction: Go into another room to we repeat the past. That's exactly what the monks did. They said their prayers then crawled back into bed for their second kip.

And the current pseudo-science notion that anything electronic (blue light) including a Kindle, an iPad, your computer screen (or TV), disrupts or interferes with sleep patterns is unsupported "science." The whole "blue light spectrum" theory is one person's hunch, no scientific studies have actually been done on it, and it keeps getting repeated as a fact...until it becomes "fact." Personally, I think she had a grudge against K-Mart's Blue Light Special.

Now I love incandescent light, it's comfy, reminiscent of hearth fires and candlelight. I'm no fan of LED or florescent light, and I don't like the blue color range. So you'd think I'd jump on the electronic blue light bandwagon. But I don't think it disrupts one's circadian rhythm to the point of creating insomnia.

I'm still toying with how it ties in with the idea of light boxes and SAD. Or if that's its origin. Besides, by now, almost everyone uses those energy saver light bulbs, right? Hello? Blue light? Yep. So having that table lamp on is emitting the same color spectrum as my iPad or laptop?

Someone at Apple read that same theory and now since the installment of iOS 10, my blasted iPad starts glowing like an orange pumpkin with indigestion at sunset because of the so-called blue light theory. First few times it happened I thought I was losing my mind...Why is the screen glowing orange? No, I'm not getting sleepy. Is there something wrong with my eyes? TG I found the app that caused my iPad to glow so strangely....

That said, TVs and electronics can keep you overstimulated at night when you're trying to doze off...but they seem to have the opposite effect on me....zzzz.

What probably messes with our sleep patterns more than anything is our fear of not getting a good night's rest. We've been told that we need eight hours of uninterrupted sleep—or else. Just like we've been told that we need to drink eight glasses of water a day—or else. There's not science behind either notion. There is no magic formula.

While we do need at least eight hours of down time, how we get that sleep, as long as we get both REM and lighter sleep (or deep rest), and we're not tired, then all is good. Unless you're Margaret Thatcher operating on four hours of sleep a night while running a country, That's not good. (I don't want to know the sleep habits of the Orange One.) But there is such a thing as sleep deficit. Hey-ho, hey-ho, it's off to work we go probably messes with our sleep patterns more than we care to admit.

Snyx? Did I miss something? I wasn't asleep, really...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Lemon Meringue Marengue

Though down for the count with a headcold, yesterday I decided to make lemon meringue pie for my beloved, a birthday and Valentine's Day tradition that had fallen by the wayside. But in an uncharacteristic pique  of cabinet cleaning frenzy, I had thrown out the old yellow box of Kingsford cornstarch with the recipe on the back, and the not as elderly Albertsons's box only had glazed chicken recipes printed on the back and sides, was not useful.

So I cracked open food-encrusted (sign of a good cookbook, is the resident food patina) Silver Palate Cookbook, so lovingly inscribed to Neil from Ingrid Gerstmann so many decades ago. A housewarming present from 1991—when he moved to this cottage. I thought of Ingrid in NY, how she knew Neil from the theatre, dahlingk, how I went to school with her, and how small the world really is.

The scalloped pie crust baked (if only I had kept my grannie's spare dentures, the scalloping process would have gone much faster). Thanks to Jim Henin's old poem, my mind wandered far afield.

I gathered Meyer lemons from the tree. Because of the recent rains they had doubled in size, they looked like schools of yellow pufferfish trapped in a green net made of leaves. Meyer monsters the size of oranges. Forget canary-sized.Or pamplemousse. More like Pamelona. The running of the bulls.

I peeled the rinds of three large lemons off in small wormy slivers (forget the 1/2 teaspoon of grated lemon zest—we were going for the full Diet of Worms with the lemon zester to make up for lost time.) I juiced them, but because of the rains, they weren't very sour. So I added another lemon or two until I had a large cereal bowlful of juice and rind.

I threw in 3 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch into the bowl of juice and rind to let it soak. And then looked for little swimmers—TG it was weevil-free. Nothing much likes cornstarch except maybe blankmange pudding and chicken glaze. That was way more juice than what the recipe (recollected in memory) called for, by a factor of three, maybe four.

I pulled the crust from the oven and began assembly.

I washed the French copper bowl down with salt and white vinegar until it glowed like a new penny (and thought of Neil Cook with his small army of salvaged copper pots), I scrubbed the equally country French huge balloon whisk (it looked more like bailing wire than a cooking utensil—no stinkin' stainless steel here!) with a large wooden handle—which hadn't been used for a year, maybe longer (both gifts from my Aunt Jane when she was at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris).

I set up the double boiler (also unused for at least a year—there was a time when I baked early and often), and I got down to it.

But when I read The Silver Palate recipe, it was all wrong. Two cups of milk in that much lemon juice. A real curdler. Not what I remembered. My grandmother and Aunt Jane had been adapting their variation of the Kingsford recipe since the middle of the last century.

So I went online, and found Alice Waters' Chez Panisse recipe from 1987, courtesy of the New York Times. I tossed in two eggs, three yolks, sugar and juice, and stirred the mixture in the double boiler, running back and forth from the computer screen to kitchen, oops! Not two whole eggs....then saw how much butter... A cup? I wasn't making lemon butter FFS. WWJC say? (Julia Childs).

So, I flipped back to the Williams-Sonoma recipe. Closer to what I was looking for. But by that time I was so far off the recipe reservation, I was winging it. More sugar, more eggs. OK. Hey, what about that Limoncello in the back of the cubboard? Vanilla bean sugar? Why not?

Not that much butter. Are you kidding me? A cardiac arrest feature built right in, for Valentine's Day, so I tossed in another yolk to compensate instead. So much for watching the cholesterol. So I tossed back a capful of Limoncello for good measure.

I whisked the whites, added cream of tartar, noting that it too was from the middle of the last century—as was I, for that matter), that balloon whisked whipped the whites until they resembled glistening clouds in the bright copper bowl the color of a sunrisen sky.

I whisked the lemon curd which had thickened to the texture of fresh cement (maybe a bit too much cornstarch and egg yolks? So that's why all the butter—a loob job). I needed 2, maybe 3 more arms—make it a shiva's dozen arms. I was wearing lemon curd on my newly washed red cashmere sweater (which I can probably never wash again, as it's desperately trying to shrink its way back to doll-sized despite my best efforts of washing it in creme rinse to relax it and stretching it with s steam iron—but it's red. Crimson red, I tell you.)

By this point, I had lemon goo in my hair, and no free arms to speak of. Where's that bottle of Limoncello? And by this point, the lemon curd was so stiff it couldn't boil if it wanted to.

Lightbulb. I'll chiffon it with some meringue. Or was it bouffont? So I tossed in another yolk into the curd mix, added more whites for more meringue madness. Or was int merengue madness? I whipped them some more until my arms ached. Luckily the meringue held its air, from this rather unorthodox treatment—and didn't collapse on me.

Limoncello? Wherefore art thou? Forget Romeo. Give me Limoncello, or give me death. By this point, I really wanted to die, I was so tired, And when the meringue resembled the texture of angel wings, I carefully folded in half the whisked whites into the concrete curd until it resembled pie filling. Or a yellow cello sponge.

Then I dressed the pie crust in raspberry jam knickers to keep it from getting a soggy bottom, added the filling, with a meringue chapeau (next time make sure the meringue can clear the height of the broiler shelf). And hoped for the best. Luckily the oven did the trick. Me, I went back to bed to recover from the ordeal. Best pie ever. He has no idea, of course.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Reading: Maureen Hurley & John Oliver Simon, Feb. 27, Bay Area Generations, Edition #42, The Bellevue Club, Oakland

Maureen Hurley emerged in 1952 from the ravine that trickles from the bloody green wordstreams of Eire out of the poverty creeks on the backside of Tamalpais where her mother hung out for a thousand years in the No Name Bar with Jack Kerouac and Bob Kaufman. Schooled in her craft with California Poets in the Schools, she has carried her lyre from Chernobyl to Lake Titicaca. She holds an MA in creative writing from San Francisco State and has been awarded eight California Arts Council artist in residence grants. She lives in Oakland.

—John Oliver Simon

John Oliver Simon began his worldly travels in 1942, from the red diaper bullpen of New York City, to scribing poem-broadsides to sell on Telegraph Avenue. While at Cal, he was active in the Free Speech Movement; he read with Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, Lew Welch and Kenneth Rexroth. Since 1971, he has taught poetry to kids, with California Poets in the Schools, where he has passed the poetry baton onto his granddaughter. In the 1980s, he began translating poets from Mexico to the farthest corners of Latin America. He picked up an NEA translation fellowship along the way. And the City of Berkeley honored him for his 50-year-contribution to arts and culture, proclaiming January 20, 2015, as "John Oliver Simon Day."

—Maureen Hurley

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Transliterating the names of drugs

My friend Jorge Luján, a poet from Mexico, developed a poetry lesson for kids called Imaginary Translations. My favorite: Dragons—stoves on the run.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered my old UC Berkeley professor former Jeopardy champ (he got married on set!), Dan Melia's been having a good run with his own version of Imaginary Transliterations using drug names:
Drug names: Repatha: prize-winning Bollywood film.
Taltz sounds like something you can get a bad case of.
Trintellix: a low-cost cell phone service or Trinidad and Tobago's equivalent of the CIA. Trulicity: online university or Christian matchmaking app. Namzaric: master of the pan flute, or latest Sasha Baron Cohen character. (Or both.)
Viberzi: Italian cheese or one of those annoying horns they blow at soccer matches? (Someone quipped: All drug names are Dungeons and Dragons character. This one was a gnomish illusionist.) Victoza: right wing Spanish political party or Miami Dolphins running back.—Dan Milia

So, I decided to have a go at it.

OK, I'll bite.  Omeprazole: it's all about me, oh, me, oh my—self praise, I'm a fiesta screaming ¡Ole! while sticking in your craw. 

Omeprazole (alternate definition): an orange acid-reflux twittering Cheeto with smol hands, that causes, not cures, widespread indigestion upon contact. Approach with caution. And carry a big stick.

AKA Prilosec: Someone who stoops pretty low to hurl an insult, but doesn't take the time to properly masticate it and so it comes back up to haunt him.

AKA Losec: A harried SNL phone operator trying to swallow lunch and talk at the same time.

PeptoBismol: A pretty-in-pink pepOmint-flavored gullet unguent that tastes abysmal butt also has a dark side.

An Apostrophe too far

The Case of the Missing Apostrophe, or an Apostrophe too far.

I read an eoook where a clueless author got her apostrophes wrong EVERY SINGLE TIME! You'd think there'd be a 50% chance of her getting it right, but, no. Simple plurals were well beyond her intellectual grasp. She even wedged apostrophes into words that naturally ended with -s—which made for some very surreal reading pleasure. Not. I was swearing a bluestreak by the time I finished that book. She did not get a very good book review.

You see, I take this stuff seriously. I have dyslexia, and an apostrophe can make or break the meaning in a sentence. So, why are teachers wildly successful with teaching the rampant and errant use of apostrophes every time an S appears on the tail of a word? Clearly no one has a clue as to why they're using them. Other than they must use an apostrophe if there's an S. Hiss. His's? Hiss's?Cats and snakes have better grammar skills than said author.

OK, I looked it up. An apostrophe is a bridge that replaces missing letters or words! Blame it on Chaucer. Like German, olde English nouns in the genitive case picked up an -es to show possession. Mine! Take the genitive forms of Boyes, Mannes, Knyghtes, Kynges and Goddes. Drop the -e, enter the possessive apostrophe. The Kynges speech becomes the King's speech. Quit swearing! Hisses (oh, look, it retained the plural -es stem).

OK, so why did vegetable, and apple get to keep that final -e? Shouldn't it be vegetabl, and appl? Children? Come back! Ms. deVos, please do sit down. Quit polishing that apple. It won't do you any good.

Towhee in the Kitchen

Yesterday we had an orange-ass'd towhee sneak past the kitchen door which was open a crack, looking for crumbs, but then she couldn't get back out. She had a lot to say with her plaintive one-note call, as she tried every window looking for the way out.

My grandmother said that when birds enter the house it meant someone would die soon. She said this, as the towhees gathered morning crumbs at her feet like small chickens. The cats ignored them. Death wasn't on the menu.

Today she was back in the kitchen again, eating crumbs off the floor. (The towhee, not my granny.) In this case, it's all about the free lunch. Or a place to nest. Not death. This time she also knew where the door was. She only swore at me once on the way out. We're making progress, that towhee and I. 

See, last year, I tried to save her baby who fell out of the nest too soon, before it could fly. I perched it in the lemon tree—and I think she remembers something of it. Who knows the reasoning capacity of towhees? She has no fear of me. That's for sure.

She's baaack! This time she ventured down the hall to collect some fluff-n-stuff. I really should vacuum more often.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

New swearword of the day: fascist, loofa-faced s***-gibbon

New swearword of the day: fascist, loofa-faced s***-gibbon.

Thank you Senator Leach for a gut-wrenching belly-laugh.

Score a 10 for sheer creativity. Shakespeare would be proud. Not the first time oor wee manny's been called a s***-gibbon, for aa' that. A right guid Scots epithet that made headlines when he mistakenly claimed Scotland voted to leave the European Union last June, (not to mention those ill-fated golf courses) which kicked their ire up a notch. The Scots loaded both barrels because wee nyaff just wouldn't do.

My friend Mark Adler quipped: I can't unsee it. I'll never look at a loofa-sponge the same way again. Yeah. Shades of the Bill O'Reilly loofah escapade. Scrub-a-dub-ya-dub. There's a new Dubya in town. So hysterical I'll even forgive the loofah typo. But it's so not fair to slander and malign the poor gibbons with the Orange One.

Think I'll file this one under linguistics. Ya can't make this shit up.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Happy Birthday Dougie Jarret,

Dougie Jarret, last night I dreamed we were still young, you were driving your hotrod. Revving a turquoise two-tone Chevy in front of your house in Forest Knolls. I was banging on the passenger window of a car from this century, just as we were slowing down to turn up Arroyo Road, toward home. I was trying to get your attention, screaming Happy Birthday Dougie! But you couldn't hear me from across the ages. So, I rolled down the window, entered your world, and you smiled that James Dean smile that left the girls giddy and breathless. And still you couldn't hear me. I awoke to find that today is your birthday. Like, Dude! Happy Birthday and now, get out of my dreams already!

Sunday, February 5, 2017


Tempestuous night
rain hammers a thirsty land
mountains become prone.

She didn't expect
runaway nightmares, sleeping
on the horse-sleigh bed.

Staccato of rain
cats racing to the front door
to outwit the storm.

His words are windows
streaked with the grime and decay
of alternate facts.

Sing America
while the enemy within strikes
down justice and truth.

Preserving the past: Centrum in the early 1980s (photo)

In the process of using old Facebook Memories to flush out the gaps in my blog, I discovered that I had met Meridel LeSueur, not in 1981, but according to the Centrum site, it was 1980. I will need to readjust many (undated) poem dates...

Not only that, as I attempted to fill in the gaps on this timeline, I discovered that I've been misspelling Meridel's last name for decades. It's LeSueur, not LeSeuer!!! Got that. Awg, egg on face. Blame it on dyslexia. (True—I had a hard time unraveling it—even now, when I knew it was wrong and I had to resort to a snapshot of her name to keep it right in my head.)

As to fluffing out this blog, the trouble is, my Facebook Memories only date back to 2007. So it doesn't help flush out those impoverished writing years. I'm still sorting old papers, so more work is coming, but the bulk of the poetry has been scanned and posted (a huge task). Now it's come down to transcribing old journal entries. (Not the highest on my priorities list, of sorting all my old papers, filing them, and eventually dispatching them.)

The year 1980 is particularly dicey in that I didn't seem to keep a proper journal. Napkins, paper place-mats and menus were pressed into service, along with carbon paper separator tissue, as well as the backs of old posters and poem revisions—an odd sleuthy way to date my many undated old poems.
So, I must've gone to Centrum three times. I know we were personae non gratae for crashing the gates of the kingdom when Meridel was there. Mary Jane Bangs in particular had it out for me. She actually chased me out of a reading, screaming bloody murder, the only thing missing in that lunatic chase, was a cleaver in her hand. No matter that it was free and open to the public. Luckily she never knew my name. The nerve. Crashing  a poetry reading/reception like that. I was an alley cat, hungry for poetry. Perhaps the free wine and hors d'oeuvres were involved as well. 

Jim Heynen, one of the other Centrum coordinators, apologized to me later. He didn't mind that I was there as a freeloader. Jim read a screamer of a poem about someone using false teeth to make the scallops on a pie crust, and David Lee read from The Porcine Legacy. Worth the gate crashing entrance fee.

Preserving the Past: scanning old family photos (at what cost)

I've been preoccupied with the process of creating order out of orphaned papers since November, 2014, when we had to clean out my grandmother's house (which not only contained her memorabilia, her husband's memorabilia, but also that of her three daughters, as well).

And when I suddenly had to move all my stuff from my old cabin, which in danger of falling down, during the summer of 2015, I was left with mountains of my own paper, photos, etc., that had accumulated during a 35-year-career of being an artist and writer. The penny dropped. Get it together now. Don't leave all that crap behind for those who will survive you. Because it will all wind up in the county dump.

In 2015, I rescued and scanned thousands of family photos—after catching my uncle pitching my aunt Jane's France photos in the trash—Jane had lived with my grannie until her death in 1987, then moved down to Santa Cruz with my aunt Toddy ca. 2002, when she had breast cancer.

My aunt Canice, who lived in my grandmother's house too, until her death from colon cancer in 2012, also left mountains of memorabilia behind. And my mother's stuff from 1994, not to mention her hashes, was still in the house as well. None of the three sisters particularly got along, and each one of them was a hostile hoarder.

In the summer of 2015 I created an online photo archive. By 2016, I finished scanning most of the family photos. Except for the ones in Santa Cruz. Then my aunt Jane, who was living in Santa Cruz, with her sister, my aunt Toddy (Kathleen), died a month after her birthday.

I had made order out of most of Jane's old photos, scanned them, and had returned them all to her in Santa Cruz in June, on her birthday—when we found out that Jane's cancer had metastacised as melanoma and uterine cancer.

My cousin Katie saw me looking though a box of Jane's photos, accused me of stealing Jane's photos as I was returning the last batch.The irony is that most of them were salvaged from the basement trash cans. I was merely taking the final batch of photos north to be scanned, and Jane had given me permission.

But Katie, misread the situation, not knowing that Jane had given me permission to take more photos, thought I was stealing them. It just doesn't make sense, but Katie was under a lot of stress at the time. My explanations fell on deaf ears. And the "problem" escalated.

For some reason, all three of my Santa Cruz cousins completely lost their minds because I was continuing to scan family photos. Maybe they thought I'd stop if they got angry enough? I don't know. It's useless to speculate on irrational behavior. The next time I went down to see Toddy, in October,  all kinds of accusations of theft and epithets were hurled at me—for preserving family history.

I was devastated, in that I loved my cousins, and had devoted thousands of hours to the process of preserving our family history. As my cousin Barney verbally abused me, with his brother Myles joining in, I realized that I'd never set foot in that house again, that I'd never see their mother, my aunt Toddy, alive again. I hugged my aunt, made my final goodbyes, walked out their front door into the night, and waited for the death announcement to come.

Meanwhile during the summer of 2016, I began scanning my own photos—I had lots of travel photos. I still need to process them and put them online, which I do, from time to time, in random fits and starts. I still need to tackle the black and white photos of the 1980s and 1990s when I worked for The Paper, etc. Mostly photos of famous poets, etc. But for that I need a negative scanner. On the TO DO list. A massive task.

When my aunt Toddy died last month, we were able to go into the family archives and share the wealth of our family history. Toddy's daughter Katie and I made up at the memorial last weekend, but Barney and Myles are still heavily barricaded behind their irrational anger and misdirected hostility towards me for scanning (not stealing) family photos,so they  kept their distance.

They needed a scapegoat. I was a convenient target. I doubt they'll ever get over it. Dickheads who were raised better than that. But I remind myself, searching for a small grain of compassion in my heart, by not fueling my own anger towards them, I reminded myself that they're survivors of a dysfunctional family.

Their older brother (mine too, as Toddy adopted Sean) was a drug addict, and a convicted felon for possession, who killed himself on October 16, 2007, rather than go back to prison (for assault), on the Third Strike program. And their father was a functional alcoholic for most of his life. In recollection, Toddy always had a can of beer in her hand, as did her husband.

Toddy, who was a two-times cancer survivor, later admitted that she had a problem with drinking too during the early years, but when she became a mother, all that changed. She held the family together as John spiraled out of control, losing jobs.

Toddy held the family together, against all odds, raising Sean's children as her own, and once her faculties began to fail, her granddaughter Tiffany took care of her, every single day for seven long years, as an unpaid laborer. No time off. No vacations. Once I was part of that family matrix, spending every Easter, and summers in Santa Cruz, going to the Feather River with Toddy and the gang. Halcyon days.

It all changed when I began to scan the family photos. To cope, everyone opted to live in a continuous fucked-up time present, where the relics of the past stayed firmly entrenched in the past, and the future was undefined. And here I was, disturbing carefully reconstructed timelines, uncovering the angry ghosts of the past.

With Toddy's death, my ties to that family are severed, except that Sean's children are my blood nieces—not that anyone's ever acknowledged it. What I didn't know is that the family hatred and rage wasn't limited to just me, some of it was directed toward Tiffany, and it continues to stain the unblemished days of the future present.  I'm not big on prayer, if I were the praying kinds, I'd pray for them. All I can do is offer compassionate thoughts, and keep my distance. And hope that they begin to heal themselves.

Meanwhile, I've got some more scanning to tackle. That's what we do best. Carry on. Even in the face of adversity.

Declining coho run on Lagunitas Creek: It's the damned dams, Stoopid!

An Open Letter to Alastair Bland:

Who, in an article, Big Rains Bring Both Good and Bad News for Salmon, for of, wrote that: "Lagunitas Creek and its lower tributaries, have been lined with bank fortifications and berms that confine the streams to their main channels..." are the real problem for failing coho salmon runs ... Not.

Hmm, that's MY creek you're talking about, Mr. Bland, and there are no berms on Lagunitas Creek. NONE! Unless you're referring to the dams on upper Lagunitas Creek, they are called, you know, flat-out dams, not berms.

As to your reference to the damage to the lower tributaries, you're way off mark (have you ever heard of primary investigation vs using Wiki as a reference, bolstered by a Marin Municipal Water District quotes. Nice touch, BTW. Lends a real air of authenticity.

Has it also ever occurred to you that MMWD just MIGHT be part of the main problem? Not exactly an unbiased source. Think about a a moment. I'll wait. Five dams. Has the penny dropped?) Oh, right. Dams! MMWD's bread and butter. Ka-ching!

One main tributary to Lagunitas Creek (other than Olema Creek), the San Geronimo/Creamery Creek does not have extensive berms, and certainly not any new channeling, and the fish runs were huge when I was a kid.

I know damned near every bend of these creeks. (And most of the tributaries). And I have swum in, or ridden most of the streambeds. On Lagunitas Creek, south of Kent Lake Dam, Devil's Gulch Creek, another main tributary, has NO berms whatsoever... never had them, so this is bogus info. Total bullshit. Olema Creek, ditto. Cowshit might contribute to the problem in Point Reyes. But I have seen silver salmon runs where the water was roiling with fish in cowshitted water.

There was a fish ladder (at Roy's Dam) on the San Geronimo Creek in San Geronimo. Unless the fish ladder was later removed, SPAWN's claim to fame is somewhat hyperbolic. The fact, that in 1997, the fish were still navigating San Geronimo Creek suggests it wasn't a problem. I distinctly remember going to the ladders to watch the coho navigate the steps in the 1970s.

It is possible that the SGV Golf Course changed the structure of the ladder ca. the late 1980s, early 1990s, and I wouldn't have witnessed it. (From what I can gather, upon further sleuthing, the fish ladder was in disrepair, and fixed in 1999 and Roy's Dam—if you can call it a dam— was removed).

Maybe Andy Giddings has more specific info on the SGV creek fishladder as his father was Fish & Game Warden for the San Geronimo Valley during the 1950s-1980s?

BTW, Fish also made it all the way up to our tertiary creeks, Barranca and Arroyo during the 1960s.

On San Geronimo Creek, where it meet Lagunitas Creek, Shafter's Pool was dammed during the summer, but that practice stopped in the late 50s, early 60s. It was a seasonal dam, a summer swimming hole for kids. It had zero impact on coho runs. And the salmon were still plentiful. No other dams on the creek. So what exactly are you talking about?

The silver salmon and the coho runs declined in the 80s-90s, there's something else at work: like over-fishing. Oh, and the biggest "berm" of all, Kent Lake Dam—is probably the biggest reason of all why critical fish habitat was destroyed. (The other dams date back to the 'teens" so they didn't have a huge recent impact on failing coho runs of the 1990s.

Lake Lagunitas dam was built 1872, Alpine Dam 1917, Bon Tempe 1948, Kent Lake (Peter's) Dam, the largest reservoir, in 1954—it was still filling up in the late 50s. The dam was raised 45 feet in 1982, after the drought of the 70s. Nicasio Dam was added in 1962.) And then there was the drought. Did I mention drought. As in several back-to-back long-term drought cycles?

So, to be clear, Lagunitas Creek (and its three forks) is dammed at Lake Lagunitas, which drains into Bon Tempe Lake, then to Alpine Dam, then to Kent Lake Dam, then to Lagunitas Creek at the confluence of San Geronimo Creek. Note: they are full blown DAMS not berms.

And then there's Nicasio Creek, which flows from the Nicasio Reservoir (1962), to Platform Bridge, where it joins Lagunitas Creek— another damned dam, to the mix. That's the source of the problem. All the damned dams.

FYI: From Kent Lake to the sea, Lagunitas Creek is a wild creek through Samuel P.Taylor Park, through Jewel, around the bend, past Devil's Gulch, past McIsaac's Ranch, my cousin's Gallagher Ranch at Elephant/Black Mountain, to Point Reyes Station, to the Point Reyes bridge....still NO channels or berms, on to White House Pool, that I can recall—then it empties into Tomales Bay... Even Olema Creek is not bermed. So, what are you talking about?

Seriously, this makes me steaming mad. Self-serving SPAWN (litigious Todd Steiner's Salmon Protection and Watershed Network) began its alternative truth campaign in 1997, which has been wildly successful at obfuscation and litigation...probably leading to some of the factoids in your article, a case in point. It's the damned dams that are the problem. And droughts. DI I mention the droughts???

Otherwise, a good article...

Google Maps screenshot of San Geronimo Creek headwaters. Roy's Dam was at the golf course, where SGV Rd turns up to Nicasio road.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Fluffing out the blog timeline (home stretch)

Lately I've been adding a few Facebook Memories to my blog. The past few months, I've been scanning adding variations, revisions of old poems and generally fluffing out the blog timeline (home stretch). My goal is 52 posts per year (poetry, prose, journal, or art).

The weak-kneed anemic years:, but 40 posts per year is doable; hell, I'll even settle for 35 posts per year, which means I have 10 9 8 abysmal years to fluff out... In which case, I need to focus on 1986; 91, 92, 96, 98, 99;  2004, 05, 06. The rest is pure gravy. 

The 1990s I was traveling a lot and never got around to transcribing my travel journals. Truth be known, I'm resistant to typing up stuff, so searching for typed work is a higher priority than cracking open old journals. There is some resistance. This is my carrot, this is my stick. Flagellate! Flagellate! Avanti!)

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Regrettable Rise of Arturo Ui: a foretelling

Lately I have been thinking of Bertolt Brecht's 1941 Chicago gangster play, the Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. The iconic Berliner Ensemble produced the parable play at Cal during the summer of 1999. It was the company's swansong, their final curtain call before they disbanded forever.

Brecht never staged, nor saw "Arturo Ui" performed. He wrote the allegorical satire while living in exile. It languished in a drawer for decades. Brecht is better known for The Threepenny Opera, Mother Courage and Her Children and The Caucasian Chalk Circle.

Arturo Ui was so riveting, I went back twice to see it. My partner was non-plussed, whereas I had chickenskin—as if it were a foretelling. Alas, the play fits T.rump to a T. The regrettable rise of a gangster where all the world's a stage. And now we are in exile in our own country.

“Therefore learn how to see and not to gape.
To act instead of talking all day long.
The world was almost won by such an ape!
The nations put him where his kind belong.
But don't rejoice too soon at your escape -
The womb he crawled from is still going strong.”

"Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men.
For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again."

Oh, how history repeats itself. The play's the thing.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Man with the Van

I went in to Amazing Grace Music on Miracle Mile in San Anselmo for some guitar strings and a smartly dressed older woman with brassy permed hair and long red nails greeted me. She said she was minding the shop for a friend, they had their own music store in Fairfax.

We got to talking and she gave me tea and bikkies —Walker's shortbreads. Then she sat me down for a good natter, while her husband dressed in tweeds from another century, reclined in a chair reading the paper, holding his pipe reverently. 

She asked what I liked to play, I said Irish music. She was quick to tell me that she was Irish too. From the north, she said. I remember being shocked to learn she was from Northern Ireland, as our family was about as southern Irish as you can get, without falling int the Atlantic Ocean. 

I looked for horns, and found only the kindness of her blue-violet eyes, Violet Morrison was well named, I could see that she was once a beauty, with her red lacquered nails. She said she was once a cabaret singer in Belfast. I told her of my grandmother who raised me, from Bantry, and how she taught me the old Irish rebel songs.

When Violet found out that I had walked all the way from Drake High School to the store to buy strings for my precious Martin, and had no way home, she called up her son to give me a ride out to Forest Knolls as he was living in Inverness. 

I climbed into the battered white van hugging my precious guitar to my chest. I had no idea who he was, this man who was sullen and refused to speak to me the entire way home. Made me feel obliged. Like I was a real bother. I never spoke to him again. 

Later I found out it was Van Morrison. Though I very much like his music, I'm not a fan of Van the Man with the van.

Monday, January 16, 2017

What albums from my teenage years?

The latest silly meme that everyone seems to be indulging in is listing the top ten albums of your teenage years.

Albums from my teenage years? What albums? I didn't collect albums, I was way too poor (my horse's feed and vet bills got first babysitting money dibs—at 25 cents an hour), but Dobie Gray once gave me his 45 hit, "The In-Crowd." My mom shared a flat with him next to the SF Art Institute on Chestnut. I was pretty young. I didn't even own a record player.

When I was ten I liked The Purple People Eater, The Monster Mash. The mashed potatoes song, and that song about the rings of Saturn? Wait, malapropism: White on white, lace on satin... no wonder I was alternatively abled. 

What can I say? I was ten and I had to sneak listen to my grannie didn't approve of rock and roll music. My aunts, uncles, and parents' collections were mostly jazz and Big Band. Johnny Mathis too because one of them went to school with Johnny, and his brother, who was the toll taker on the Golden Gate Bridge. Chances are...

I did buy two albums when I was a teenager, The Monkees, it cost $3.50 at a record store next to Ali Akhbar College of Music in Fairfax (where Ravi Shankar used to visit).

Meanwhile, Peter Tork of The Monkees was often seen staggering down the streets of Fairfax, drunk out of his mind... Cheeky monkey.

And I did buy a KFRC collection with Van the Man Morrison's "G-L-O-R-I-A" recording and The Rolling Stones' "Can't Get No Satisfaction." Van Morrison's parents ran the Caledonia music store in Fairfax.

Otherwise, it was usually live music, listening to Jefferson Starship/Airplane, Grateful Dead, Quicksilver, Sons of Champlin, Janis Joplin, Big Brother and The Holding Company, etc., rehearsing.

I witnessed most live music in the San Geronimo Valley from the back of my horse, where I could escape... One time the Greatful Dead and co. played in a Creamery Creek gulch under the bridge across from the Papermill Creek Bar in Forest Knolls...

We had to hitchike home from Sir Francis Drake High School—so we got to know all the musicians. They were the only ones who'd stop and give us a lift. But Jesse Colin Young drove a VW van so it was often a crowded bus. Van the man drove a white van. And Carlos Santana drove a Mercedes with leather seats. Janis had a two-seater Porsche so she'd usually shrug and smile. Flash us a peace symbol.

Lots of live bands in high school too: Clover, Moby Grape, The Tubes.... Terry Bozzio (Frank Zappa) was a classmate. Why would I even want to buy albums? We were living in the epicenter of live music.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Ankle biter

I went to the doc to sign up for general massive body invasion types of testing, probing at both ends, and squashing maintenance that one is supposed to routinely do, that I've managed to put off, or avoid, for a decade or two—all this, before my medical coverage dries up under the new political regime.

She asked if there was anything else. So I showed her my ankle that I did a right angle stair-stand on mid-Dec., (trying to protect my knee), she slapped a bandage on, and said keep it elevated above your heart! I giggled at the thought of driving home with my ankle elevated above my heart... I drive a clutch.

And here I thought it was healing nicely. I did all the RICE stuff religiously for two weeks (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation ) but apparently it takes longer than a few weeks to heal soft tissue danage. I thought you were supposed to use a sprained body part ASAP... I thought I WAS healed, now I'm merely unheeled. I guess that's better than being unhinged. It only hurts vaguely. Tingly, more than anything else. I chalked it up to chatty veins.

In the GoDays, I would've used horse liniment... I lean toward the stiff (quivering) upper lip thing. I was the kid that broke her arm and never said a word because I was afraid to tell my granny. Donkey tossed me into a fence. A ditch. Many trees. 

And here I've been stomping around all over town with it, gimping like a pirate, yelling ARRRR, ARRR. And craving plunder, booty, and Advil. But it throbs like a gnarly session with an ankle-biter. Wine is an excellent anti-inflamatory agent. Maybe I should switch to rum? I guess I should be grateful that I got off so light as several other friends are sporting full ankle boots from their holiday misadventures with stairs and trampolines.

The doc didn't like my fake clogs either... She told me to wear proper shoes, with laces— not flip-flops either. Apparently because you curl your toes up to walk, that puts strain on the ankles. But I've a fat ankle with a bandage that won't fit into a shoe. And the boots with the split soles that made me fall in the first place, are the only shoes I can slip on. Sigh. When I injured my knee, I couldn't get down there to even put a shoe on, let alone, tie it, so I wore flip-flops exclusively.

For the record, I hate shoes. I have narrow heels, and not quite so narrow fronts. Short toes, long arch, so I hate anything touching my arch. My grannie made me go barefoot in summer, and pick up marbles with my toes so I wouldn't get bunions. I have prehensile toes with fine motor skills.

I guess going barefoot's out of the question mid-winter. Maybe I should get some lace up boots. I'm thinking my flamenco boots with their hobnails won't work. I'll just skid on those nails and fall down again. Time to buy new shoes. Or maybe an irate chihuahua.

If the shoe fits....

Stairways to hell


 — With thanks to Danny Lynch who overate his Hagen Daas welcome

Give me Chocolate or give me death,
give me Cappuccino, or plain old Coffee.

Make it sweet as Dulce de Leche, 
or give me that new swirly Hagen Daas number
with all three flavors rolled into one heavenly pint,
call it Sweet Cream Coffee Caramel,
with vanilla reining supreme as a beneficent godlet.
Not Strawberry Cheesecake or Blueberry Crumble, 
or some other absurd fruity concoction
like Pineapple Coconut, that non-alcoholic impostor
with a tiny invisible parasol complex on the side,
that leaves you desperate and wanting at the bar.
Not Vanilla Swiss Almond studded with land mines,
nor that raw Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
or Midnight Cookies and Cream, with other odd chunks 
and frozen detritus lying in wait to break my teeth.
And you can forget about that frozen yogurt shit. 
I want full fatted flavors frolicking on my tongue 
until my fillings ache, my tongue goes numb, 
and my brain freezes in kalideoscopic moiréd patterns.
Give me gelato or give me death. 
Make it with chocolate or coffee or caramel.
Make it in a double-wide carton,
make the spoon bigger than my eyes,
and I will certainly scream for more ice cream.
Let me wear it proudly on my hips and thighs.
And may the late-night movie be doubly good too.
Make it so.

rev. 1/16/17

Thursday, January 12, 2017



Cloudburst and thunder,
a leonine wind roars with hunger,
followed by a tattoo of hard rain
falling in biblical proportions,
followed by a full Magi moon
and a fierce king tide determined
to reach the Sea of Tranquility.
Soon, we'll be able to deep sea
fish from the Oakland hills.
What would the cormorants say,
those fisher kings with their mad eyes
full of summer promises?

rev 1/17/2017

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

All-out Eye Exam

Eyeball exam. Check. Cataract/glaucoma test. Clear. Check. Healthy eyes. Check. Prescription for glasses. Nope. Come back next week. Your eyes were caught cheating on the eye exam. They don't play well together. Right eye is a freeloader. A lazybones. A shirker. Gives the world the stinkeye.

Left eye wants to be on top. King of the mountain... Has eagle vision 20/15. Doesn't want to share. Is a loner (vs. a loaner!) I knew a woman with a glass eye...

Apparently I don't fit the patient profile. And my "guess" was right on. I need 150 readers for my left eye, and 175 readers for my right eye. But it's a lazy SOB, and it's probably a brain thing vs ocular.... I had a lazy eye as a kid. It's positively lethargic now.

Binocular specialist it is. Good luck with that, my eyes have never played well together. I can't even use binoculars. Monocular vision times two. Marty Feldman and gOogly eyed. Or maybe gecko-eyed. Think I'll stick with my Dollar Store readers which surprisingly close to the right prescription, more or less. 

My left eye rocks. It makes up for my lazy eye. But then, eye dominance is switched. Left eye/right brain. I wonder if it's related to dyslexia. You know those silly pilot tests, matching color/ shades, or seeing the embedded figure. I always score 100% (unheard of for the color chart). 

So they strapped on both red/green and 3D glasses on me. Apparently I'm using periphery vision to get by. Cheating on an eye test! Imagine. Maybe I need John Lennon glasses. Somehow I don't think prism lenses will work. Like, oh wow....

Driving home in the dark, in the rain, with dilated eyes, was like a bad acid trip. What do they put in those drops? LSD? Atropine is made from deadly nightshade and datura. Then we watched Arrival. OMG! Talk about tweaking out.

Groovy, man.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017



So I abdicate
the hammer and tong striking
my forehead and pate.


Blue-footed boobie 
waved one foot, then the other. 
I had to dance back.


Thunder on the right
Cloudburst, a hard rain falling
Lion wind roaring.

Stump Spellcheck early and often

You know you're doing something right when you can stump spellcheck twice in one post.

A geology post on the malfic peripheries of the Mammoth Caldera was particularly dry reading, but because there was an interactive map, I explored the caldera, and then got lost in the dendritic patterns of rivers (spellcheck does not like dendritic, let alone, malfic).

Which led me to a random comment on a friend's Facebook page, which led to my Facebook post, which led to a blogeen on watersheds—none of which would've happened if I had not read that rather dry post on Mammoth....

The only reason whey I was even interested in the Mammoth article was because I was awakened by a series of earthquakes that originated in Hawthorne, NV, near Mono Lake. Which is a munitions dump on the periphery of the Mammoth malfic periphery.

You see where this is going.....

Rain, rain everywhere...

Before the long-term California drought, about 90% of East Bay's water historically came from the Mokelumne watershed in the Sierras.

The Camanche and Pardee Reservoirs, northeast of Stockton, are the primary source of water for the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) where it's piped across the Central Valley via the triple steel pipe Mokelumne Aqueduct to storage reservoirs in the East Bay hills, including the San Pablo Reservoir.

During the drought, EBMUD also siphoned a lot of water from the Central Valley Project) (Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed). In May, 2015, EBMUD declared an end to the drought emergency. BUT...

The New Melones Dam, one river south of the Mokelumne River (Stanislaus River watershed), in Sonora, is the last reservoir to receive water from the Lake Shasta-Central Calley Water Project. For the first time in over six years, the water level is rising ever so slightly in the New Melones Dam.

As of July, the New Melones Reservoir, the fourth largest reservoir in the state, was almost a quarter full. Then it lost about  2000 acre-feet a day during August-October, due to evaporation. 

By comparison Mokelumne watershed reservoirs, Camanche and Pardee Reservoirs are at 70% and 91% (still not 100%), but as of today, the beleaguered New Melones Dam is still only at 26 percent capacity (up from 24%).

Maybe someday soon we will no longer need to save the shower water for the toilet? However, saving water is a good habit, even during the storm. Bail and scoop. Bail and scoop.

Addendum: Some of Alameda County does get its water from the Tuolumne River watershed: the Hetch-Hetchy Reservoir (and by extension, the Don Pedro Dam). There's a water temple in Sunol.

Some history of our Northern California dams and the towns that were drowned to create them.
Underwater towns of Northern California