Friday, May 24, 2013

Commander Chris Hadfield sings David Bowie's "Space Oddity" in space.

Commander Chris Hadfield said that after nearly five months of floating, his feet had lost all cushioning and calluses, so on these, his first days back, "I was walking around like I was walking on hot coals."

"I could feel the weight of my lips and tongue and had to change how I was talking. I didn't realize I had learned to talk with a weightless tongue."

To see his stunning photographs every day, almost every hour, was to be reminded that sunrise and sunset are part of the same grand master plan. It made my day to view earth from space along with Chris.

"It's part of our humanity to be in space," he wrote in Russian, and just before plunging back into Earth's atmosphere, he said, in French and English, "I came here on behalf of so many people — thank you."

Chris also tweeted something in as gaelige which rocked my boat, floated my spaceship. Who knew he spoke Irish. His daughter lives in Dublin.

I rarely am into hero worship, but Chris is my hero. Rocketman! You are my wings. (I'm bedridden these days with a bad knee injury so seeing Chris float effortlessly in space is awe-inspiring.)

Monday, May 20, 2013


I dreamed of birds
conversing in the distance
we were talking of feathers
come undone under a full moon
their soft words spoke
with no sound
but I understood
this is the way of dreams.

Alexander Valley School

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Partridge Sighting

I once nearly stepped on a male pheasant in an abandoned bit of apple orchard behind my cabin in Forestville. He exploded into the air, and I nearly shat myself. I was there to steal fall apples, wild golden delicious. But as I watched that feral bird tear into the sky with its ridiculous tail that defied the laws of aerodynamics, I was reminded of those old Chinese paintings. I never saw a partridge before. They look like quail. I had a similar experience with a grouse in BC. I was hiking in the piney woods, feeling sorry for myself, when I nearly stepped on a startled mama grouse who was taking her last stand, protecting her clutch of chicks. All those babies made a run for it, trying to hide around my ankles, like quail babies seeking shelter. I was surrounded by small balls of striped fluff. Hard to take yourself seriously under those circumstances.

Never seen a partridge before. They really do look like quail. (or chickens). I once nearly stepped on a male pheasant in an old orchard in Forestville. Nearly shat myself. But as I watched that feral bird explode into the sky with its ridiculous tail, I was reminded of old Chinese paintings. Had a similar experience with a startled mama grouse in BC, the babies trying to hide around my ankles, looked like quail babies.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

On bended knee

I can't do much these days with bum knee (got an MRI yesterday!) but I've been gardening—sort of. Still a lot I can't do without hurting my knee. But I now have flowers (snapdragons & geraniums—anything I can transplant—or, rather, shove in the ground) that was formerly a no-man's land where icky ivy once grew in a thin strip between concrete prisons along our back alley fence.

So I'm watching the sun patterns and will try a tomato or two next.

But the ground has gotten too far away. I have to invent ways to get close enough to it—even with the retaining wall. On bended knee is not an option. What I've learned: It's harder to get back up. Especially with one knee out of commission. Now the other one's talking back.

Monday, May 13, 2013


—Oh, what a tangled web we weave
Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, 1808

This morning I awoke with dreadlocks.
My granny would've dubbed it a mare's nest.
What was I doing last night,
dream-cruising with the Hells Angels?

I contemplate the massive tangle
strand by matted strand, or rather, twig by twig—
the catalyst from yesterday's losing battle
with an overgrown crepe myrtle slowly dying for years—
falls out around me like a deconstructed nest
at an archaeological dig.

As I crashed about in the underbrush,
a hummingbird watched with vested interest.
Patrolled and scolded me. Form follows form.
I was flocked with a wreath of crepe myrtle
wings, stained the color of dying royalty, or sorrow.

I spray my nest with Neat's Foot oil,
bottled with enough patience to tame
a horse's tail or the industrial-sized "kitchen"
nesting at the back of my neck.

Born with an abundance of impatience,
I once whacked my matted hair off at the nape.
I was Samson, I was Delilah. Shorn
of my long locks, I was defrocked.
I yanked on my hair to make it grow.

My mane is my Familiar, curled on my shoulder
like a ship's cat, or a feathered serpent
hissing protectively down the curve of my spine
to the trinity of sacrum, ischium and Ilium.

There was so much duff trapped in my hair,
I had to sweep it out the door.
Soon, the birds will follow like gleaners
to scoop up my hair to line their nests.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

'Tween Worlds

You know the Robin Williams line—even if he didn't say it: if you remember the 60s, you weren't really there. But we were really there. Meanwhile Gertrude Stein said: There is no there there. And there you have it as my grannie would say. What Robin should have said: Remembering it is tricky, at best.

SFchronicle_vault Dec. 9, 1987: Robin Williams hangs out with comedian Will Durst (left) after Durst lost a mayoral run. We're thinking that's Vera Carp of "Greater Tuna" on the right. đź“·: Chronicle Archive

I follow a couple of Facebook groups and we've posted collective memory threads from multiple perspectives. Some of my recent blog posts are outtakes from those threads. Sometimes the outtakes gel, sometimes. they're merely placeholders of an idea I might revisit later.

We were reminiscing what it was like growing up between times during those turbulent years. Part of the backstory was the anniversary of the May 4, 1970 Kent State Massacre (which I didn't include). These outtakes are from random fragments that drifted in and out of that series of dialogues.

For some reason, though we lived in the epicenter of this sociological turmoil, it's hard to write about it so, from time to time, I whittle away at it, in search of the through line. Memory's always a work in progress.

I told Colorado poet, Art Goodtimes, a mushroom aficionado, that I had a wild mother who claimed I was an amanita child. As if that explained things. We laughed and blamed the drugs.

However, I was pretty straight, I was also very young. I was 14—a mere 'tweenie at the original 1967 "A Gathering of the Tribes Human Be In" in Golden Gate Park. It was a protest gathering to counter a new California law to make LSD illegal.

Timothy Leary famously said from the stage, "Turn on, tune in, drop out" and then came tripping out through the audience to give my mom a hug.

A Beatnik and a Project Artaud painter, my mom was one of the first artists to embrace the hippie movement. She was also one of the first artists to transform and live inside the Hamms Brewery vats—but that's an '80s story of punk rockers & hippie wars. Mom dragged me through the Haight early and often. Sometimes our worlds intersected. I was a wide-eyed kid trying to take it all in.

(I'm leaping ahead in my story here. The problem with a run-on memory fragment is that it's a challenge to force it to toe the timeline of congruity. Not an easy thing when the 60s' are invoked.) My mom knew Kush of Cloud House. She got around. She was featured in Whitman McGowan's poem-video, White Folks Was Once Wild Too. That's her dancing around the bonfire.
sfchronicle_vault June 1959: Allen Ginsberg flips through a Jack Kerouac book at a San Francisco bookstore. The Beatniks, as named by Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, had a positive influence on visual arts, performing arts and music. They challenged the values of a conservative city. And they built a foundation for a progressive future. đź“·: Joe Rosenthal

I didn't know it at the time, but I was meeting future mentors of our generation: Richard Alpert "Ram Dass"), Allen Ginsberg, who chanted mantrasGary SnyderLenore KandelLawrence Ferlinghetti, and Jerry Rubin. Most of the bands who played were near neighbors: Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Quicksilver Messenger Service.

I grew up between worlds and times in the San Geronimo Valley, a rural enclave which was rapidly becoming an alternative lifestyle destination. A lot of interesting folks shunned the cities and suburbs wound up in The Valley, as it was called. It was an uneasy marriage of radically different worlds.

I attended Lagunitas School District—LSD ('splains a lot). I was straddling the old redneck ranchers' world (living with my Irish Victorian grannie), and the Flower Children dancing in the dawn of a New Age—and me, trying to toe the mutable line. Not an easy task. 

During the late 60s, I attended Sir Francis Drake High School—the only high school (emphasis on the word high) in the nation to shut down a local draft board. 

We were a pretty radicalized group of kids. Our class president was Jared Rossman from Fairfax. That last name shoulld ring a bell—as in his older brother, Michael Rossman, a key figure in the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley in 1964. When we shut down the San Rafael Draft Board, we made the cover of Time Magazine and the 6 O'Clock news. And gave the FBI a new client list.

When the school district took away our buses, I was the kid hitching home from school. How I met most of the rock musicians of that era, Ken Kesey and his cast of Merry Pranksters, and boarded Further, etc.

I was living out in rural West Marin and commuting into the suburbs to go to school, holding onto a dual life between worlds while most of my friends were defecting, tuning in and dropping out, and running off with bands or the circus. It was some crazy times. Somehow we grew up between the Be-in, The Summer of Love, and the Kent State Massacre. This was our legacy.

Yes, we were really there. And we do remember. Robert Frost wrote: The best way out is always through. We survived the 'tween years—we could see no other way out but through. What a long, strange trip it's been.

My related blog post

Ken Kesey

Hitching in Marin during late 60s, early 70s

Note bene: for some reason someone, who posted a comment as "Anonymous" took umbrage to this post and wrote "b.s." Of course I didn't publish it—as they didn't bother to sign their name, nor did they say why they thought it was b.s. It's my past I'm writing about, so how is it b.s.? Maybe he thought it was made up. Who knows? Clearly he was full of b.s. for posting it. And so it goes. I invite comment and dialogue, but not b.s.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Pissy Fridge

It's been so hot the past few days, that if I open my refrigerator door too long, it eeks revenge by peeing on the floor.

Yes, eeks. My fridge is a big sissy. Sometimes, it squeaks like a mouse for no real reason. Other times it ekes out a chortle or randomly sighs. Sometimes in the middle of the night it creaks and clacks, like a thief at the door. Shares the shit right outta me.

You'd never know it was a relatively new refrigerator. It piddles. It moans. I mean, how on earth do you house-train a large, awkward white, rather vocal tweenie fridge? There's no drainage bunghole in the back to be unplugged. Can't blame that.

You see, it's one of these newer never-defrost miracle fridges. All the no defrost frost turns into —or more like a squall pounding the lower south 40 section. And here we are, edging into drought season. It's a no-frills fridge, with no discernible water spigot.

My modern no-defrost fridge has some bladder issues. I clean the gaskets, it piddles. I wipe the ceiling and walls down, it dribbles. If I poke under it with a foreign object—say, a broom, it hisses like a snake.

Some days are worse than others. So it has its own dedicated washcloth diaper. The mold has its own life cycle issues. We're not mentioning that one.

I personally think the fridge enjoys wetting the floor—especially after I've just mopped it. Then the fridge sighs and moans. Reminds me of Steve Martin pissing his pants in that movie.

All I can say is that the fridge had better not take up the banjo—or I'll play Deliverance to it all right. Right out the door.

Today, it wet the just-mopped floor as I was standing next to it. All over my foot. I swear it chuckled. But it is a very selective piddler. What drives me nuts is there's no discernible pattern. I think it has control issues.

A friend said It sounds passive aggressive. Or maybe it has some fear issues. She suggested vacuuming under it. Dust bunnies were to blame. Thundering hordes of mice have taken refuge under it—no room for the dust bunnies. Vacuum? Vacuum? Nature abhors a….

What about the freezer, you might ask. It's feckin brilliant. It's the first freezer that doesn't develop glaciers around a dichotomy of thawed ice cream. You need a chainsaw to cut the manly ice cream, it's hard as rock. Wish I could find a man like that. So much hoarfrost forms inside the cartons, I'm thinking of opening a brothel.

Most of the time the fridge sounds like a cross between a gentle wind, a raging sea, or the freeway at rush hour. I think it's hammered on the ammonia-freon mix. As long as I don't have to burp the fridge, or feel it aspirin, I can live with it.

Of course, Neil freaks when he sees water on the floor. You'd think the Hoover Dam had burst. Or that I did it. Me, I mop up after it with a washcloth—I don't want to encourage it.

Knee Woes

Argh, I'm under strict doctor's orders to keep all weight off the knee and to rest it in the elevated position above my heart. It's driving me bonkers—if it weren't for the great nostalgia threads on FB to distract me, I wouldn't have such a great time to be collecting bits here & there and filling in tidbits on some of my older blog entries... RICE. Icing the knee—I'm shaken, but not stirred.

MRI finally approved. Yay! I can't believe it took so long.

Proof positive that pain raises the blood pressure—mine was 135/80 both visits this week. My normal:120/70.  It's been normal for the past 2 months—but I've had more intense pain the past week. I think that's what made it spike. (I'm only on Advil. Can't stomach the pain meds, literally. Gack.)

I told the new nurse to take my pulse again and it dropped down to 128 /80. Better. She was very confused. Blamed it on a technological malfunction. Not that I willed it down. Too voodo doodoo. To be fair, she cranked down the armband so tight the first time, right on my detached biceps, an old injury, that it hurt like crazy. What was she, a masochist?

Also, I think I caught a virus—it peaked last night with sore throat. Add that to the mix.

added and revised for sentence clarity 4/3/2016 FB memory

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Beltaine Chickens?

Today's SF Gate headlines blazed: Chickens go up in flames.

A little egg-cessive Beltaine celebrating gone awry in Palo Alto—or an otherwise slow day for the news?

Believe it or not, the Irish Word a Day is SicĂ­n - Chicken.
Ba mhaith liom sicĂ­n a ithe.

None dare call it WickerHen.

Owner says hens were probably smoking in the henhouse.

I think the Colonel did it.

Ok, so I just can't help myself—either it's the Monty Python tea that's given me the giggles or the fires raging in SoNapa counties are burning an early bumper crop of something green.

They say it's going to be another drought year.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


We had a Maypole at school and I remember being very excited by both Easter and Mayday. I loved making woven paper baskets and delivering flowers to neighbors. I think I was a little confused by the proximity of both festivities. But I distinctly remember preferring Mayday over Easter (alors!)—despite the siren call of Easter egg hunts, bunnies, and chocolate.

It was that bedecked Maypole that was mesmerizing. I remember holding the ribbon and watching how it wove around the pole. The penny dropped. The baskets we wove, and now the Maypole. Folk customs in the making.

My story on
Lá Fhéile Bealtaine shona daoibh