Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunami Warning

I was sound asleep and something woke me at midnight—news of a massive earthquake in Japan, followed by a tsunami. Then I saw the tsunami warning for the rest of us on the Pacific RIm. It's bearing down on Hawaii. I used to have nightmares of being caught in a tsunami. But I needs must return to sleep.

Hawaii orders evacuation of low-lying coastal areas after massive earthquake off Japan triggered a tsunami alert. A Hawaiian reporter said fish were in the Honolulu parking lot (2.3 foot tsunami left them stranded) like TILAPIA??? That must've been some big wave to strand African freshwater fish like that. They escaped from their freshwater ponds in solidarity with the saltwater fishes, or what?

Huge earthquake hit northern Japan, mostly affecting Tokyo and areas north. Felt it in Osaka, however, even though Tokyo is some 250 miles away and the epicenter was even further away than that. An extended rolling feeling, like being on a boat. The footage of the tsunami that hit Sendai is a seriously daunting.

Unimaginable damage and devastation. And now the Fukushima reactors are damaged. Is this the end of the world as we know it? Does it begin with radiation poisoning? Now my nightmares are waking dreams.

a bat flew into the classroom

Apparently I need to add a new category under my rescuer of small animals resume: a bat flew into the morning poetry classroom, like the shadow of a leaf and landed on my poetry folders. I covered him with poetry sheets, and let him out the window where he fell like a leafy shadow.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


—For Lynn DeWitt, a distant step-cousin in law, but still family, & to Howard McCord who liked my wood post on FB, which made me look at it anew.

At the dogtail end of summer, in deep August,
when the shadows grew long thin fingers
tinged with indigo verging on violet,
an unmistakable acrid odor of red clay dust 
& bleached oat hay, announced the coming fall.

We had only the enameled Wedgewood stove.
My grannie tightened the lyre-handled bucksaw;
tumped a limb into the arms of the wooden sawhorse
that bucked & groaned as the blade bit deeper.
She raised the gnarled cross-shaped sledgehammer
& a cauliflowered wedge—tools no man wanted—
to split the fresh logs to fit the firebox.
The age-old music of the smithy's hammer & tong
flung small fireflies into the deeper shadows.
There was no one else to lend a hand:
a small child and an old woman raised
their frail shoulders against the coming winter.

One time a shim worked loose from the lever. 
As I raised the hammer up against the darkening sky
it flew off, knocked me in the head. I staggered
under the crucifying blow. Oh, my aching stars!
Glad to be alive, I kept on splitting the wood, 
for she could no longer raise the iron weight.
Bay split like butter, pine fought the wedge,
oak was the most stubborn, but it burned the best.

(not sure whether this is a separate poem or a run on poem...)

I miss the yearly ritual of stacking wood, 
the hard grunt of honest labor, sweat stinging my eyes,
the sharp tang punctuated by fresh bay & pine.
Then, measuring the bright, tawny wall of wood
in so many cord feet against the length of winter.

I miss the venial ritual of fall, the sonorous whine
of chainsaws echoing through the valley,
the careful ritual of stacking wood,
carrying the burden of ages forth 
from one generation to the next.
Then, the archaic ritual laying of the first hearth, 
the careful kindling, blowing the tenuous spark
into a tremulous ribbon of smoke.

Nowadays, people merely flick a thermostat
set the temperature gauge, heat empty rooms,
with no notion of how to keep the hearth lit. 
In the city, I never turn on the heater. 
I can't abide the industrial odor of metal furnaces.
I miss the homey blue tang of woodsmoke, 
the fierce love and combustion of wet logs
hissing a song of rustling leaves and sap 
rising up from the heartwood.

See also Kindling. I seem to return to the theme again and again.

Compliment from Howard McCord on my grandmother poems

Howard McCord said: I enjoyed your post on wood and fires. Old tools-- a froe, a spokeshave, a marlinspike, as good as birds' names.

Monday, March 7, 2011


If I fits, i sitz.

We gave Cheetos the orange cat a saline drip and force-fed him—staving off the grim reaper for one more night. He was quite pissed about being forcefed (a good sign). But he was so dehydrated. Not a good sign. I gave him a cornstarch "bath" and used an old toothbrush to groom him—he liked it a lot, he lovingly stroked the brush. He purrped, attempted a purr, and seemed to feel a little better. Stuck his chin out to be scratched. Nothing like a good scratch under the chin.  

Whaddya mean I can't sleep here? It's a BOX lid.
Ginger cats are the best. Great personalities. Not always the brightest of cats, though. Goofballs. The like to sleep in odd places. Inside a laundry tub. On top of your head. Before we knew he was sick, he took to sleeping on my head, and peeing on my pillow. No cat piss odor, I should've guessed his kidneys were failing.

Got my Garfield & the heater vent. Fluff my water bowl and kibble.
As a starving kitten in the TGal parking lit in Petaluma, he devoured a bag of Cheetos, hence the moniker. My cousin rescued him. Like she needed another cat. We're glad she did, we've had 15 years' worth of kooky kitty antics. He never did catch the red spot.

A potted kitty
Not so good news: Cheetos is in the hospital. Perhaps it's a good sign? (and a big vet bill for my cousin.) We were bracing ourselves for euthanasia. But Zana's orange bruiser, Nails, was able to live to 21—with kidney issues. Ah, so sad to see a dear old friend failing, but hopeful too that he'll come around to greet his 16th birthday in April. Only the night will tell.

Nap, blankie, and my little pony. RIP Orange Man.