Friday, December 31, 2010

Random Word matrixes

I fall for those end of year word matrixes, then wonder why I bothered. Top 10 obsessive words posted were writer, poet, poetry, novelist, gods, love, God, Irish, author, languages, 

My Year in Status is a bit more of a word salad, so I'll pick out the interesting ones.
Being a writer requires an intoxication with language.
Some people become so expert at reading between the lines, they don't read the lines.
I said neither of those lines.

The Little Shits

When I was barely a teenager, my life was held hostage by the wiles of two Shetland fillies who went where they pleased, when they pleased—dubbed the Little Shits by irate neighbors. No corral could hold them. I even tried hobbling them, but they could gallop, hobbled at both ends and with a cross tie. Shackled like prisoners, they still got out to terrorize the neighborhood. I dreaded full moons and the staccato of tiny hooves on pavement. One spring the bigger one disappeared only to return with a colt. So cute! My heart melted all over again but I realized I couldn't deal with a third hellion. Then I was joined by a 4th Shetland—who ran away from a distant neighbor. Then all manner of ungulates began to appear in our lower field. Once a miniature stud horse with his sidekick—a huge horse. I may have been horse crazy but I was overwhelmed trying to feed them all on babysitter's wages.






Other horse bits

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lunar eclipse on the Solstice

Would someone please tell the moon she's late for a very important date?
Manual for about 1.5 seconds, auto is too overblown.

 I set my weenie Nikon on manual, forgot to check the F Stop & speed....it was on F400 @ 4.6. Ironically, I blindly pointed the camera shot—and it was the best one of the moon. Of course, there was more light. Even when the eclipse was barely discernible, the amount of light drop off was hug.  

Someday I want a real DSLR camera that has a low F Stop...it kills me to be stuck at F4.5. I tried Hi ISO too, and resorted to P (Auto for the red moon shots as Manual mode completely gave up with so little light. I had to lie down on the steps and hold camera to my forehead and not breathe—the movement is the moon itself. 3-4 second exposures.

I noticed journalists have been complete spazzes in reporting the actual time/date. Not knowing the difference between Greenwich and PST, for example. I'm sitting outside with my laptop. Chilly but noice.

 
It's looking a little nibbly at 6 o clock. And we have lift off!
the little rainbow tutu is the cloud cover—it was pretty thick so I held lens open for nearly 3 seconds...then I had to breathe...phew!

  
I've lost imagery—too much cloud cover. I'm shooting at 1/30th @ 4.5 (can't lower F Stop any lower—digital weenie camera. My poor little camera could barely cope. Seriously socked in now—a mooonbow! Ring around the moon...  

This cloud cover is killing me. I've gone & lost the frickin moon... Lunar eclipse on the shortest day, first time in over 400 years and it's hidden by cloud!

  I was going to use the binoculars to enlarge the camera lens...but one eyepiece came off the binoculars and bounced down the stairs and over the wall. So Neill was rootling around in the bushes for the lens during the time the sky was clear. Very Mutt & Jeff.

I have two very weenie Nikon 8.1 megapixel Coolpix P60s (one's CCD image sensor is better than the other—I keep the other one around as Plan B), and I have an older 7.1 MP Coolpix S200 which Neil was using. The P series, you can control the Fstop and shutter speed (sort of). The Automode was a bust until totality. Then it worked (sort of), but there was so little light, half the time I was shooting blind. 

I set the aperature on Mountain mode—as that gave me the greatest depth of field (focus) but even still, there were a lot of out of focus moons. I found that the 5x optical zoom was necessary—I even used the interpolated zoom vs optical (real lens).

My cameras failed, the noise dots are stars. You can see some of them moving.

I remember once we were on our way to see Tom Stoppard at ACT in SF ca. 1999 and between the buildings, hung a red moon—my digital camera couldn't cope.  

The first total lunar eclipse like this one that I remember circa 1972 or 73, I'd stopped off at the Forest Knolls post office to get the mail and looked up and shrieked—my first thought: it was a dragon's eye, then, blood. In that moment I understood why the Chinese called it a dragon's blood moon. The Aha! And another one circa 1986. Both accidental events. I had no idea they were on the schedule. I do remember earlier eclipses when I was a child—but none where the moon turned red. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

MY GRANDMOTHER’S HANDS

My grandmother’s hands
were torn and speckled with pigment
fair northern flesh burned by the fierce California sun.
A rebellious knotted vein rose up like a stone.
Souvenir from a strand of barbed wire
strung to keep the deer out of the garden.

Her freckles were an archiplelago of islands
adrift on a moon-milk sea.
They were Brendan voyagers in curraghs
headed for the New World
with a warrior phalanx of shields
raised up against a common enemy, the sun.
But they failed to protect her children,
when the melanoma set sail for that country
from which nothing ever returns.

I remember her wide spatulate fingers
that rubbed floursack sheets against the washboard
that mended jeans, made dresses for first day of school
and how I was ashamed they were not store-bought.
I remember the way she weeded the gardens,
dug up the praties, stacked wood for coming winter.

From her, I learned the survival of hands.
No caresses were needed because her love
was as fierce as the sun that burned her skin
as she labored in the garden or at the clothesline
she kept us safe, and provided when no one else would.
As she knelt to pray in the Sunday pew,
the sun shone on that knotted vein
and it was so beautiful—the scarring and freckles,
a skin painting of faith and tenderness.

From Ellery Akers' workshop, Petaluma, CA, 8/28/10 rev. 12/12/10

Praties is from the Gaelic for potatoes, "pràtai", a loan word via the Basque fishermen who introduced the tuber to western Ireland in the 16th century, via a Spanish word that is a compound of Carib-Taino batata (sweet potato) and Quechua papa (potato). Introduced to Europe by Spain in 1536, potato was first attested in 1565.

Praties is known as the famine song—first printed in 1897. There was nothing else left to eat In Ireland as all Irish food was owned by and shipped to England—and all that was left to eat were oats and potatoes. Then the blight rotted the potatoes—even the seed potatoes for next year. And the English stood by and watched as millions died.

Is maith an t-anlann an t-ocras.
(iss mawt on tawn/lonn on tuck/russ )
Hunger is a good sauce

The Praties

Oh, the praties they grow small,
Over here, over here,
Oh the praties they grow small,
And we dig them in the Fall,
And we eat them coats and all,
Over here, over here

Oh I wish that we were geese,

Night and morn, night and morn,

Oh I wish that we were geese,

For they fly and take their ease,

And they live and die in peace,

Eatin' corn, eatin' corn.

But we're trampled in the dust,

Over here, over here,

We're trampled in the dust,

But the Lord in whom we trust

Will give us crumb for crust,

Over here, over here.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mythopoetics, or why I write


The Pleasanton Poetry Poet Laureate asked me:
Why does Maureen Hurley write poetry? 

“I grapple with the unconscious dendritic history buried within the personal mythopoetics of my writing while keeping an ear bent to the myriad voices of landscape and memory.”

My poem & photos are up at Meusa's Kitchen blog: 
I WAS BORN WITHIN SIGHT