Tuesday, November 1, 2005

SECRET HEARTBEAT


From the earth comes love
Trees, beast and bird
From the sky above
Stones fall at your feet
Secret heartbeat
Desert skin, mountain
valley, green meadow.


2005 November?
found on the back of a receipt from Office Depot, hence the date.
I think it was from my writers' group.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Huckleberrying

SUE: How’s it over there?

BOB: Pretty good.

DAVE: I found a really good patch. Handfuls of berries.

SUE: Really? Where are you?

DAVE: To your right. More.

SUE: Keep on talking. I still. can’t see you.

DAVE: I’ll rattle the bushes, OK?

BOY: Aooooo!

LORA: What was that?

SUE: It’s just the boy.

LORA: Are there any bears here?

DAVE: Naw, not yet


Not bad, kid Scared the shit outa me, they’re working their way down. Already got ‘em in Sonoma.

SUE: I still can’t see any of you. Rattle the bush again. Thanks.

BOY:Aooooo!

DAVE: Wait. I didn’t rattle any bush. Did you?, would you? Sweet too. I’m coming over. playing around.Won’t be long now. Grrrr!Where are you?

BOY: Grrrr!

SUE: Over here. Are you moving around. How come you rattled it
from a different place? You trying to get me lost?


DAVE: But I didn’t move. And bushes. Can you see them? Do it again looking DAVE: Hey, Italking. I still Do it again Da I missed it. Man this wood’s thick. A fire waiting to haappen. the coa


hick. A fire waiting to happen like Inverness Ridge.

LORA: THink he wa guilty?

DAVE: Who?

LORA: OJ Simpson of course.

DAVE: What brought that on?

LORA: The fire. It was during the trial. We were stuck a week in this camp and the only news we got was the fire and the trial.

whole at Camp Mendocino Woodlands on Not bad.

hey, has anyone hear Bob lately?

BOB: I can’t get through. The brush is way too thick. I gotta go around. Dang! I lost my watch. You gotta watch out for sinkholes too. Next time bring a machete.

on yetYeah I do. We gotts head back, it’s nearly sunset. Hfrom Everyone move west, towards the light. Stay in pairs. 

 Bob?

Friday, August 26, 2005

INDIAN SUMMER



Fall slaps us surely
in the face, shaping us up
for coming winter.

Summer's End Galore


Plenty, and good enough, my grannie would always say. I grew up tin-eared to so many of her odd turns of phrase. I was too easily tortured by schoolmates because my English was lilted. Pure Bantry Bay it was, and I fought my tongue's inclination.  I ruthlessly stripped those phrases from my speech the way a gardener tackles spring weeds in a no-nonsense sort of way while I became mute, lacking for words, between languages, I was. English to English. The ancestral tongue structuring a bearla and nearly a half a century later, I can still hear the Irish word go leor (galore), that meant plenty and enough.  My grannie was keeping the old tongue alive in a transplanted language. How many centuries were those words passed down, an unconscious act, a weed in the garden. English flourishing, despite England's best effort to strip Ireland of its Gaelic. She always said that the Irish beat the English at their own game when they took to writing. Revenge is the best sword. Drop the s and the word becomes the last word. there was nothing left for me to do but pick up the pen, a gauntlet thrown down in the grass. Ten paces at dawn. Summer's end, the end of innocence. Galore. Good enough, she'd say.

This was from my Writers' Group. I wrote little poetry but the prose went deep enough.

Roadside Weeds


Deep summer. Weeds by the side of the road, fallen pieces of the sky. Won't do any good to pluck them. All that periwinkle blue going to waste. A blue blur I acknowledge at 70 mph, as I careen north, crossing the Russian River, muddy, churning. Late rains have confused the flowers. First, the yellow flowers, then the poppies, followed by lupine and chickory. There's an order to the blooming of flowers. As if there was a grand scheme of color opposites at work. Yellow / blue. Orange / purple. The mallows and clarkia have little competition, it's magenta all the way, baby. No complement of color, unless you count the grass, but it's gone tawny as a lion, despite the late rains. All next year's seeds will germinate, only to sizzle under August's hot anvil. Dog days of summer. In my Elderwriting memoir group, Catherine says it's because the dogs always go a little crazy for lack of water. People too. The discussion circles the phrase, hackles raised, a low growl at the back of the throat. What does it mean: end of summer? The threat of disease. Lael says Rabies. A farmer's daughter would think of that. A neighbor lost his cattle when an august dog hankered after a shank of beef. Afraid to drink at the trough, bright green algae curls amid fish and cress. In a fit of domesticity, and brandishing a green thumb, when the mesclun lettuce had roots, I planted a few seeds in the herb box: arugula, and raduccio, not knowing its ancestry. But the lettuce bolted in the heat, reaching for that shiny patch of sky, it flowered and opened its blue hands. Chickory weed by any other name, by the roadside, a weed in my salad bowl, I garnish with sun-ripened tomatoes and basil. I am rabid with desire, all that red and blue and green and purple in my bowl. A bouquet for the dog days, and for what is to come. Sharp tang of fall in the air, knocking on the door of the sky.

This was from my Writers' Group.




More on chickory

DROUGHT

CHICKORY backstory

CHICKORY, ii  7/87


Thursday, June 2, 2005

Goodbye God, Gone to Bodie (Monologue)

Jim Cain's house, Bodie used by permission @Allen Saywer 2016




James "Jim" Caine and Joe Maguire got themselves a nice little grubstake saved up after shipping all that lumber up to Bodie, and they became partners. Imagine a Scotsman and a Mick pairing up like that.

Stranger bedfellows have been made. But in Ireland the Catholic & Proddies are oil and water with a little fire and brimstone all mixed together in a strange baptism. Now, that was a long-standing taste of hell if ever I saw it. See, they had to come to the New World to put aside their differences.

At nearly 8200 feet straight up from the bosom of the sea, it was damned cold at night. Bodie had the worst climate out of doors, save Alaska. Up on the plateau, it was exposed as an ass in the outhouse, and cold as a witches' tit. Shaving water froze in the cup. And when the winds blew at 100 miles-per-hour off the mountains, it was the banshees straight from hell singing a funeral dirge with your name on it.

Joe Maguire said Potato Peak was wearin' a snow jacket again. And here it was, mid-August. He missed the sweet taste of new potatoes roasted in their jackets in the embers, all slathered with butter and salt, he missed it more than the Emerald Isle itself. About the only other thing that would willfully grow in Bodie was the hops plant in front of the Donnelly house. Handy for making beer.

All this brown and dust and sage, sometimes if you didn’t look at the long narrow valley head on, and sort of blur your side- vision, it does look a bit like Ireland with all that green growing in the crevices and the wild irises nodding their dainty purple heads.

A pity about old Waterman (William) Bodey dying in that freak blizzard in '59 and all, he never even saw his namesake town. He would've been real proud. Just look at it now. That's B-O-D-E-Y, not I-E; some illiterate sign-painter got it wrong. Said it looked more refined that way.

They say Bill Bodey got caught short in an unexpected storm while making a supply trip to Monoville. November. Shoulda been fine. Some say it was the Bodie Curse, he took some ore with him. Bodie's mighty protective of its sugar quartz, there's always the risk. 

Bill was the first one to find the placer gold, you see. Sparked off the biggest gold rush in the west, he did.  Would you believe that 20 years later, they dug his body up and reburied it again just to celebrate him with a big bash. We were waking the dead twice.

Joe Maguire came up from 'Frisco with Johnny and Tom Parr. Joe was Bill Irwin's foreman at Standard, and Johnny was foreman of the Syndicate Mill. Irwin put a donkey hoist on one of the shafts and did right well, indeed. That's when they called themselves the Standard Mine and built a 20-stamp mill. That's what kick-started the town of Bodie.

They say in '77, the boomtown's population swelled from 20 lost souls, to 7,000, then by '79, to 10,000 headless, bedless, and souless grubbers and claim jumpers that kept streaming in from all four corners of the globe—and hell and highwater all that summer long in search of gold. The dividends alone sent a thrill throughout the world.

Bodie has better climate than Rhyolite or Furnace Creek, a lot prettier too. Funny, how some folks believed that hell was hot when Joe knew firsthand that hell was cold as a frigid hoor on a Bodie winter's night.

Well, then, when the news got out in '77, all the boarding houses were busting at the seams. Men bunking down with their mules and hunkering down with all forms of whatnot for warmth. Every imaginable shed & sty & stable turned into bunks...a whole lot of housing was needed—and pronto.  

It was the worst winter on record, to boot—20 below zero and thousands were dying of pneumonia. Why they stayed on through the winter was foolish. No food, no place to sleep, but still they trudged up the mountain to Bodie. With stardust in their eyes. Only the town Madam, Rosa May, braved the cold to minister to the sick and dying. Lord knows how many she saved, and later, the church wouldn't even give her a Christian burial when her time came.

No wood was to be had for miles around, see? Bodie was above the treeline. That's where Jim came in, he transported timber for the mines, and the steam engines. Then he had so much gold, he opened up a bank, and well, the rest is history. He built himself an empire, he did.

What few newspaper to be had were pressed into service insulating thin walls against the cold, if it was rescued from the outhouses in time. The valley was filled with 10,000 illiterate asses up to no good. Couldn't read a newspaper sideways and certainly not with their backsides. Staking and jumping claims like rabbits, they were. And we had two rival newspapers, we did. 

And we had a lawyer too. Patrick Reddy was his name, and boy was he was ready for anything. Maybe for a piece of the pie as bail for the "guests" was $5. As Johnny Parr said, It was dangerous to run a bluff on a gun play in Bodie. There was an open season on killing but it didn't last long. Eventually law and order prevailed. But we ran Sheriff Davis out of town when he got too trigger happy. We took care of bidniss ourselves.

Imagine milling all that wood and barging it across that hellish alkalai sea, what do they call it? Mono Lake, yeah—hauling timber 2000 feet straight up Coyote Creek Canyon. That's just what Jim and Joe did. Sweet smell of Jeffrey pine, like vanilla shortbread cakes. And sweat of salt mixed with success. Eventually they got some track laid out for a train, but most supplies arrived by stage.

They made plans to lease out the old Bunker Hill Mine claim, I mean, the Standard Mine. At the time, it wasn't paying out much, hardly worth keeping it open. But as luck would have it, danged if they didn’t have a cave in (they didn't properly shore up the roof—wood was so scarce) and uncovered a rich quartz ledge right before the lease went through: they hit paydirt indeed! 

Some $90,000 worth of gold in 90 days! That was over $1000 a day between them. They went wild with joy. Luck of the Irish haltered to the business wagon of the Scots and several fortunes were in the making. Not just theirs.

Luck must've rubbed off on the neighboring hills too because suddenly there were claims everywhere: in one month, the Syndicate Mill and Mine produced more gold that most of the claims in California and Nevada combined. The engine and boiler were said to have come 'round Cape Horn.

Here was Joe, at 25, filthy rich beyond his wildest dreams. Jim already had a taste of the fine life. It was all imported cigars and quail in aspic every night at the Hotel Maison Doree. A rich, fine ash, indeed. He began to buy up the town.

No more ready-made sandwiches from the Philly Bar Depot for Joe, though he had to admit it was right handy, with its pool table and roulette being open 24 hours and all. Someone was always willing to lose a little goldust over a bad hand of cards. Like Wild Bill Walsh. Sold his own wagon in Ione for a good hand of cards and a barrel of whiskey. Joe was no stranger at the poker table. No siree!

Big Black Bill's cook crew still made the best grub. Bodie attracted men from far and wide. Uncle Bill was a South African, with an Irish name—O'Hara. Figure that one out. He must've come from the Cape with the mining equipment. Everybody called him Uncle in reverence.

Fortunes were routinely traded every night in the 65 saloons lining Main Street. You could drink in a different saloon every week and still have a baker's dozen extra to spare for emergencies in case you needed to double up your drinking routine. That’s where the real money was to be had, in the transaction process.  Not the town bank. The straw bosses knew that much. 

It kept the mortuary in business too. Not that it needed help where murder was a daily event. Caskets had spring-loaded false bottoms to keep up with the burial demands. Stagecoach robberies, to shootouts, Bodie was one wild and lawless boomtown, second-to-none in wickedness and sin. 

Jim began to dream about his future. A man need a family. He was a Stuart. Substance. Put down some roots. A son and a daughter. A mail-order bride, say, a sweetbud of age 14, not like the bloozy "Ladies" on Maiden Lane at the north end of town—that was the ticket. 

No more riding into Carson City or Aurora, no more Lottie Johl or Madame Mushtache with the wooden leg for him! He'd dance with his pure flower of a bride at the Fireman's Ball in the Miners' Union Hall, he would.

He'd move his new bride into his new house sporting the only glassed-in front porch in Bodie. Glass was damned hard to get up the mountain in one piece. Hardly worth the bother seeing as it would crack in the cold, come winter, if the transport mules didn't get to it first. But she’d keep him warm. Yesiree indeed!

He'd put some real kimberly glass on her finger, he would. Get married in Carson City. No churches in Bodie, see. Saloons was our religion. Sweet little Martha. So young. So trusting. He'd change his evil ways, he would. Yep. No more Rosa May with the wild eyes and windblown hair for him either. No sirree! 

Would the little mite come up the mountain? But if you were sick, or got the lung disease, or having a baby, you sure wanted Rosa May on your side, she had the healer's touch. She did.

I can't help but think of that little girl who wrote the last entry in her diary, "Goodbye God. I'm going to Bodie," she probably wound up working the pox-infected cribs as Cain pondered popping the question. 

Lottie Johl gave up her wicked ways and took up painting, she was purty good at it too. Never knew whatever happened to Joe. Some say he went to San Francisco, some say he went back to Ireland, but I think it was the mountain that called him home with a good hand of cards, and a six-gun.


© Maureen Hurley
6/2005, 2008, 2009

Bodie, Jon Sullivan photo—Wikipedia
Note bene: this is a work of fiction, based on my visits to Bodie in the 1970s and in 2005. When I was there in 2005, I began to hear a monologue forming in my head and jotted it down. I was sitting in the sun below James Cain's house when I began to hear the monologue. at first I assumed it was Sweet Martha's story, but as I began to revise, and rewrite it, another story, or character emerged. Later research began to flesh out the story—as James Cain's. I have no idea who is speaking, who the narrator/ observer is, but Bodie certainly has more than its fair share of ghosts. And so you have it.


Note bene 2: thank you Allen Sawyer for letting me use your photo of Jim Cain's place. I've been wanting a replacement photo for ages. It's much truer to my vision, where I first began to hear the story, or monologue, than the Wiki photo.



Earlier draft. Still looking for the first draft, Sweet Martha.


GOODBYE GOD, GONE TO BODIE

After Jim Caine and Joe Maguire got a nice little grubstake saved up after shipping all that lumber to Bodie, they became partners. Imagine a Scotsman and a Mick pairing up like that. Stranger bedfellows have been made. But in Ireland the Catholic & Proddies are oil and water and fire all mixed together. Now that was a long standing taste of hell.

At nearly 9000 feet, it was damned cold at night. Shaving water froze in the cup. Joe said Potato Peak was wearin' a snow jacket again. He missed the sweet taste of new potatoes roasted in their jackets in the embers, all slathered with butter and salt, he missed it more than home itself. All this brown and dust, sometimes if you didn’t look at the long narrow valley head on, and sort of blurred your side vision, it did look a bit like Ireland with all that green growing in the crevices and the wild irises nodding their dainty heads.

A pity about old W.S. Bodey dying in that blizzard in '56 and all, he never even saw his namesake town. Just look at it. They say in '77, the boomtown's population swelled from 20 lost souls, to 7,000 bedless and souless grubbers that kept streaming in from all four corners of the globe all that summer long in search of gold. Better climate than Rhyolite or Furnace Creek too. Funny how some folks believed that hell was hot when he knew firsthand that hell was cold as a frigid hoor on a Bodie night

All the boarding houses were busting at the seams. Men bunking down with their mules and hunkering down with all forms of whatnot for warmth. Every imaginable shed & sty turned into bunks...a whole lot of housing was needed—pronto. Imagine milling all that wood and barging it across Mono Lake, 2000 feet straight up Coyote Creek Canyon? That's just what they did. Sweet smell of Jeffrey pine, like vanilla cakes. And sweat of salt mixed with success.

They made plans to lease out the old Standard Mine, it wasn't paying out much, hardly worth keeping it open. But as luck would have it, danged if they didn’t hit a quartz ledge right before the lease went through: paydirt indeed! Some $90,000 worth of gold in 90 days! That was over $1000 a day between them. They went wild with joy.

Here he was, at 25, filthy rich beyond his wildest dreams. It was imported cigars and quail in aspic every night at the Hotel Maison Doree. No more sandwiches from the Philly Bar Depot, though it was handy, with its pool table and roulette being open 24 hours and all, someone was always willing to lose some goldust over a bad hand of cards. Fortunes were routinely traded every night. That’s where the real money was to be had, in the transaction process. The straw bosses knew that much.

Joe began to dream about his future. A man need a family. A mail order bride, say, age 14, not like the bloozy "Ladies" on Maiden Lane--that was the ticket. No more riding into Carson City or Aurora, no more Madame Mushtache for him! Move his new little bride into his new house sporting the only glassed in porch in Bodie. Glass was damned hard to get up the mountain in one piece. Hardly worth the bother seeing as it would crack in the cold, come winter. But she’d keep him warm.

He'd put some real glass on her finger, he would. Sweet little Martha. So young. So trusting. He'd change his evil ways, he would. No more Rosa May for him either. No siree! But would she come? The little girl who wrote the last entry in her diary, "Goodbye God. I'm going to Bodie," was probably working the pox infected cribs as he pondered the question.

6/2005

Sunday, May 1, 2005

MAYDAY: HOLDING VIGIL FOR SINEAD

The sun is shining,
and the sky is that incredible cerulean
I stare straight up at infinite blueness,
and forget everything for a moment
only to have an egret enroute to the lake
cross my trajectory and I remember
we're in the city after all:
that distant pounding of surf:
really cars on the freeway
I hold vigil for my cousin in NICU,
a victim of that same stretch of road.
Hit and run. who could do that to another?
With shaking hands, I paint three silk scarves,
the gutta, forgiving. I painted beauty:
Roses, egrets, orchids,
and the sky emerges from void.
We wait for a pattern to emerge from the catscan.
Any sign of recognition will do.

5/2005






Where the sun is shining, and the sky is that incredible cerulean when you stare straight up at its infinite blueness, and you forget everything only to have an egret enroute to the lake cross your trajectory and you remember it's in the city after all: the distant pounding of surf, the cars on the freeway while I hold vigil for my cousin in hospital, a victim of that same stretch of road. With shaking hands, I made three silk scarves, the gutta forgiving. Roses, egrets, orchids, sky emerge from the void.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Confessions of an iPod Roadie


CONFESSIONS OF AN IPOD ROADIE:
FROM CLASSIC LEGACY TO THE OS X GENERATION


Our peculiar form of iPod madness began last June in conjunction with my partner Neil’s Big Five-Oh birthday. For months, I’d been fretting over what to get him. Something special, something interactive that would involve all his friends for such a momentous occasion, but what?

I needed a happening, but I kept drawing a blank. Zip, zilch, nada. Neil had just been laid off his teaching job and he was not going gentle toward the half-century milestone. More like kicking and screaming. Fifty body blows to the psyche. The bases were loaded. No way to ease his pain as the dreaded birthdate inexorably drew nearer.

Pondering that notion, I found the answer at the bottom of a bright yellow MacWorld Expo bag, a poster. I unrolled it. I was gazing at Apple’s 20th anniversary “Think Different” commemorative poster of that amazing 1984 TV commercial of the woman runner—who so famously interrupted half-time and changed computing history as we know it.

For the 20th anniversary poster, the jogger is updated with an iPod. Very cool. Synchronicity struck with the force of a sledge hammer. Give him an iPod to ease his pain!

We decided to update Neil O’Neill (who is a musician, actor and teacher) with an iPod for his 50th birthday. He was constantly losing CDs and his CD player was acting strange. Via clandestine emails, I tapped some 50 friends to fork over some music and dough for an iPod and accessories galore.

When I had collected enough moolah to buy a plane ticket to Tahiti, I ordered an iPod, an iTunes music store gift certificate and chotchkies from Apple’s red tag store and it arrived the next day!

Now, I had a an elderly cobbled together Mac PPC 9600—someone’s obsolescent technology was my ticket to paradise (alas, no firewire; OS 8.6), so I couldn’t upload music onto the iPod even if I knew how to do it, which I didn’t.

I smuggled the iPod off with a bunch of Neil’s favorite CDs (Beatles, Van Morrison, the Corries, Bob Dylan—Neil shook Bob’s hand, and wouldn’t wash it for a week! But that’s another story). I took the iPod to a friend with an iBook to DJ it up. (Friends also gave him a favorite CD to download special songs into the iPod.)

During the party, while Neil, now officially 50 and loaded, was jamming with Mike Husser on the base guitar, I ushered everyone into the back room where they signed the 20th anniversary “Think Different” poster. It was a cool sacrilege.

Neil was pretty blown away when the iPod was presented to him hidden inside the poster—after he blew out all 50 candles that melted the frosting, singed his hair and nearly set the deck afire. We all ate cake with wax, jammed on, and a good time was had by all. A real 49er send-off. Hello 50, the last good decade to be middle-aged. Time to hit the road, Jack. Have to pack our things and go.

We took off on vacation and shared earbuds as the new iPod sweetly serenaded us with a little Ray(ban) Charles at 40,000 feet, on a series of rather hellish plane rides with far too many layovers (and 12 hours of no food) from Oakland to Florida. Most fellow travelers will whip out pictures of their kids faster than pistols at the OK Corral, so we retaliated, we drew out our iPod and fired back a tune or two.

The iPod did famously at Miami’s “unconservatory“ school of music; most folks we met had never seen an iPod in the flesh—er—chrome and Lucite. The musicians loved it. Everyone oohed and ahhed—especially over the accessories. It had a stereo adapter? a FM and a car cassette converter? a microphone? Hook it up to MIDI and digitally record with it? Use it as a jump drive? You could see their (click) wheels spinning.

The iPod was such a cross-cultural smash success, even our friends’ Cubans relatives all wanted an iPod too. No translation needed. I think I must’ve “sold” a few dozen virtual iPods while in Miami.

I didn’t know a thing about downloading music into iPods or how to use iTunes, neither did anyone else. Hot Miami nights, no AC in the practice studio, plenty mosquitoes and geckoes galore. While the musicians jammed on Calle Ocho (a kilted Neil in a Cuban guayabera playing “Those Were the Days” to a frenzied Cuban audience is another wild cojone story), While a former Californian, composer and world class pianist, Kirk Whipple, and Neil were in the studio talking shop, I was figuring out how to use iTunes, and the iPod on a borrowed iBook with OS X. Baptism by fire.

I was a classic OS 8.6 California girl mesmerized by an OS X world. Luckily, MacWorld’s Mac 911 guru, Christopher Breen, graciously came to my virtual rescue; he was my sweet email roadie guide; he told me how to upload tunes (you need to be online to get the titles? I’d typed in about 50 titles), and how to make playlists. I uploaded a little Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffet), Gypsy Kings, Celia Cruz, and Kirk Whipple & Marilyn Morales’ nocturnes, “Elemental Portraits,” (for which I’d written a suite of poems in collaboration) and we were good to go on a little road trip of our own.

After our unconservatory gigs were over, we took off for a little snorkel trip down to the Florida Keys and the Dry Tortugas—until three whopping hurricanes chased us home. We shared the iPod with musicians in Key Largo, we listened to the iPod as we drove across the Seven Mile Bridge to the old bridge at Pigeon Key—that’s Flagler’s Folly, Key West railroad bridge for the Havana-bound gamblers during the Depression. The bridge was featured in “Key Largo” with Bogie and Bacall, and again in “True Lies” with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis.

We put our lips together and blew a few sultry tunes to the iPod as we kayaked and snorkeled (it stayed on the boat, alas no wetsuit, but Chris Breen assured me even that was possible) we saw manatees in the mangroves, swam with sea turtles, and dolphins. We even took our iPod on those famous Key West sunset cruises (their music seriously sucked.)

It’s a long way to the Dry Tortugas, a civil war fortress a tiny coral atoll in the middle of the Caribbean, several hours from Cuba, Cancun or Key West by fast boat. You have to want to go there. Samuel Mudd (John Wilkes Booth’s doctor) was incarcerated there, and Ernest Hemingway was shipwrecked there after a hurricane engulfed the atoll.

When the coffee and booze ran out, Hemingway fashioned a raft and made for Key West, 70 miles back to civilization to write “For Whom the Bell Tolls” before Cuba beckoned for good.

Our boat ride back to Key West was hellish, with pitching indigo-black seas, frothed with 10-15 foot swells, lightning striking the water. The first of four storms, Hurricane Bonnie, was brewing. Oblivious to the storm, Neil was in the cabin happily iPodding it with a little Led Zepplin while I rode shotgun outside to avoid mal de mer. I was distracted by dolphins and flying fish off the bow, a wayward barracuda miscalculated a wave and nearly jumped into my arms. Finding or losing Nemo?

Everything was going swimmingly until we got home and decided to upload more songs. We were getting a little tired of what was on the iPod and wanted a sea change. Change is good. But we had very little spare change and an elder Mac, a PPC/9600/200MHz. No USB, no firewire.

So I snagged a beige G3 mini-tower off of Craigslist. Dangerous learning curves ahead. I learned to swap parts, I put in USB and firewire PCI cards, rearranged a few ATA and SCSI hard drives, haphazardly flipped SCSI ID switches until I got everything to load.

I replaced the wonky modem, loaded OS 9.2.2 so we could use iTunes and download music from the iTunes music store. (The USB card is not OS 9.2.2 friendly; it only works under OS 8.6; I’ve tried various combos of USB drivers. No luck, To use my jump drive or download pictures, I have to load OS 8.6).

I added more memory, a 500 MHz Sonnet chip to speed the Gossamer G3 up, but we still couldn’t use the danged iPod, other than as a hard drive. I was able to load an old version of iTunes under OS 9.2.2. But it didn’t recognize the iPod. We’ve got great playlists, with some PC speakers, our G3 is a really great juke box. Neil rarely uses the analog stereo or the PC anymore. Well, I gutted the PC, so he couldn't use it anyway—even if I wanted to get it up and running again.

Back to the drawing board. It turns out, this particular iPod needs OS X. Well, I found out that first generation G3s (ROM v.1) are not happy with OS X, especially with a 500 MHz Sonnet card.

(I won’t mention the Superdrive (v. 105) I installed, that needed serious convoluted software patches under OS 9.2.2 because Apple doesn’t have a DVD Player driver in classic mode (not an issue under OS X. No media/video card meant the Superdrive was merely a hood ornament/CD -R burner. DVD files show up but DVD Player won’t load. Alas, no Nemo screensaver for us. But at least we could burn CDs of our growing iTunes collection).

I loaded OS X (10.1.3) onto an auxiliary hard drive, and it worked for a while. I loaded iTunes 4.6 needed for this third generation iPod, only to find out that it in turn, needed OS 10.1.5. ARGHHHH! It actually worked for a while. The IPod showed up in iTunes! We were good to go. Not.

Meanwhile, all manner of strange things happened, mainly Siberian-sized freezes; I was eventually able to jumpstart the G3 off an OS 9 formatted hard drive after hitting every panic button I could think of, but the OS X christened hard drive became a shy truant, it quit showing up to work on the desktop altogether. So we’re back to using OS 9.2.2, and using friends’ Macs to load new music.

I am at present cobbling together yet another beige G3 (ROM v.2) with OS X (10.2.8) to tide me over the next few weeks (or months) until I cobble together a blue and white G3, or maybe even a G4 (but I can’t use my Sonnet card in a G4-and all the G4s at 300 MHz are slower than molasses: 500 MHz is bare minimum requirement). I need a Mac with SCSI PCI card slots & serial adapters so I can still use my legacy SCSI & serial stuff.

If money were no issue, horses were wishes and pigs could fly, I would’ve bought an iMac last summer, and a Mac Mini, last Fall. But hey, I wouldn’t have learned all this obsolete Mac technology. I can now rebuild damn near any PPC you put my way.

The lucky recipients of my rebuilt PPCs are the public schools where I work as an artist in residence through non-profits, Young Audiences and California Poets in the Schools. A Title 1 (poor) school, Golden Gate Academy, in the Western Edition got a carload of  my 75xx series PPCs.

I believe in the Apple credo to think differently empowers us, it changes people’s lives. It changed my life. As a practicing dyslexic, I could not use computers, it was their way or the highway. With Mac, I can problem solve in any manner of ways. If one way doesn’t work, at least I can fix it. I discovered too, along the way, that I could strip & rebuild a PC too if needs be...I ripped wires and hard drive out of our dead PC to fix up the G3—Neil was once a confirmed PC junkie but he's since seen the light.

As soon as I get a new Mac, I’m fixing up all the old G3s I have lying around (3) for Cabrillo School in Fremont. Meanwhile I’m waiting for my ship to come in, onboard is a Mac Mini and a Powerbook. And maybe an iMac with Airport Extreme while we’re at it. It looks nice coordinated with the iPod. maybe a buddy, an iPod Photo would be nice too so a California girl can dream big. Maybe take a few pictures, play a few tunes of her own.

Friday, April 1, 2005

Enough Rain


California has enough water – after years of rain, after years of drought, there's plenty more rain where that came from. Call it El Niño. Laden skies—even the Central Coast is still green, no tawny cat hills slumbering before the fire, yet. Lupines painting the hills with deft strokes. Monet, Pissarro in the rain, in muted greens, shapeshifting into dark trees, keeping the best secrets, counting their ages within each ring, diligently measuring times of rain and drought. General Sherman, a redwood dating back to the migrations that spurred the rise of the Roman Empire against the Barbarians, faithfully recorded each season—wet or dry—until some numbskull who couldn't stand the idea of something so old, cut it down with one of those big push/pull saws. They began counting the rings, never expecting to work past the birth of Christ, but count back they did. They were preoccupied with European data, the Magna Carta, the birth of Christ, Hannibal crossing the Alps, the burning of Carthage. But the trees recorded another kind of history, of weather, and drought, and rain. We are so newly come to this place, we speak of variables as if they were constants. California has enough, or not enough rain, depending on the need—but the redwood that framed this coast have measured time in eons—this last fragile ring of green we follow from the Ice Age to time-present. This time, this rain, this abundance, where everything is rainbow rainbow rainbow —to borrow a line from Elizabeth Bishop's silvered fish carrying God's flooded promise forth unto greener pastures.

Tsunami Dreams


After the first blush, dreams invade the psyche, but I can't remember them any more, or I don't want to remember them, but sometimes one slips through to haunt my waking hours and I am trapped between worlds, neither fully in either realm. It's times like this I worry about my driving, afraid of continental drift, merging into someone else as we barrel down asphalt ribbons hell-bent on destination with little thought to those dotted white lines—place holders, your space, my space. We fleetingly occupy a revolving ribbon of turf, calling it our own for a breathless second or two, before we move onto the next bit of road. Hopefully the guy next to me in the oversized truck isn't too preoccupied with his cellular dream, that he won't merge to my little red crackerjack of a car built during a time when we lived in a kinder, gentler nation, and we actually had the time to dream. In those days, I awoke each morning in a small cabin under a vast live oak tree and dutifully recorded my dreams. Some were prophetic, some were erotic, most were laden with metaphor—the stuff of poetry, and I filled journal after journal. My dream life was as active and rich as my waking hours, but I left that cabin in the meadow for Oakland's identity crisis; there is no there here, as Gertrude Stein penned, and I and discovered there was also little here for my dreams too. Just a longing for a home, for a nonexistent place, my dream cabin having grown many rooms, stairwells, balconies, porches, until it resembled the Winchester Mystery House—the old lady kept building building building to keep death at bay. I know that one all to well.