Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Circling Tehema (photos)

We drove around the entire mountain today. We circled the god Tehama. We took a gondola ride up to a ridgetop called Crystal Mountain, or, Paradise and gazed at her face for hours. Rainier was sublime, as were Adams, St. Helena, Baker, Glacier, and many other peaks in between. We found a geocache and a memorial marker for a man who fell from a great height. Because it was a clear day, I orchestrated the mountains with my walking stick. And for a moment we saw into forever. And beyond while ladybugs coated our arms and legs with their carapaces of gold.

Apparently I'm conducting the Olympic Range and Mt. Baker too, from Crystal Mountain near Mt. Rainier, WA (or surveying my kingdom; or maybe I'm fly-fishing). My wand is pointing to Glacier Peak, my arm to Mt. Baker.  Not sure what the other arm's pointing to. Grandeur was to be had, by all accounts. Not one got away.

I was driving through the forest and saw the gondola sign for Crystal Mountain Resort, so I impulsively flipped a U turn (in the midst of a lengthy traffic jam at either end) and I went up the mountain to see what I could see. Great vistas unfolded as we climbed up to the ski resort. And lo, there was a gondola with promises of even more vistas at the summit. I was ravenous for beauty. Despite Neil’s objections, we went up the mountain. It was a spot-on impulse that changed to course of our day—and our journey. I was just so glad to be back in the heart of the mountains, gimpy knee and all, while learning to use a ski pole as a third leg. I hobbled to the crest where beauty times beauty was equal to the equivalent of sublime joy, or euphoria. Perhaps it was merely a lack of oxygen. The resulting knee pain that followed was worth it.

rev 8/17

If you visit the Crystal Mountain webpage, there is a live cam, and  link for a 360º view.

Monday, July 28, 2014


A deer ambled up to the kitchen window
popped down roses as if they were potato chips.
Beautiful blood-red petals slid down her throat.
She gobbled them up not even taking time to savor them.
I rapped on the glass but she kept on munching away.
We were inches from each other. Eye to eye.
But she knew the difference between glass and roses.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Nicasio Reservoir, drought (photos)

Nicasio Reservoir, July 2014. The old Nicasio road, normally underwater until October/November, is to our right, about 20 feet above us. The water smells like cowshit. I found one dying gull. Shores are lined with feather flotsam. Meanwhile a band of white pelicans were practicing synchronized swimming/feeding in this inlet—in a perfect circle!

Other side. Panorama shot— 180°.

I'm standing at least 15 feet below the high water shore. No wide angle, straight shot. All that foreground is normally underwater, the different plants mark the evaporation trail. 

Old Nicasio Road to the left. Wonder if we'll be able to walk across it, come October? A first ever... Coyote brush in the center of the photo marks the high water shore.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Old work, new vision

Lately I've been uploading old work—mostly poems from the 1980s and 1990s. It's a bit of a surprise to revisit one's old writing all at once like that. I started at the beginning. Only work that made the electronic cut was uploaded. It's been a tedious process fraught with technical difficulty (read: incompatible formats) and more than a few poems weren't all there. As in physically not all there (no that's not a value judgement.)

And of course, I don't have hard copy for any of my old work, my big clippie-board mss binder has gone on walkabout. So I can't fill in the missing words and lines, nor date some of my old work. I'm sure there are myriad formatting typos. Long dashes (em lines) reverted to accented ós, and line breaks disappeared. I've been burning the midnight oil—nay, more like 2AM, removing those pesky ascii artifacts. But some are insidious.

See my very first entry of 1979 to read all about it. But rereading and reformatting all those poems is labor intensive. (I'm up to 1993). There are gaps because I didn't date my earlier work—incestuous nepotism? It dated me and now it's haunting me. Everything's relative.

Yeah, there was a lot of love gone wrong stuff. Rites of passage. Painful stuff. Painfully funny stuff: comparing women to pears with PTSD, imagining myself as an asparagus stalk, eating white oil paint because it reminded me of ice cream. OK, so I was four, it was my first metaphor.

Weird to review one's life for the past 35 years via poetry—shuffling the poems into the right creation date has created an interesting timeline.

Don't know how much more I'll upload during this round. My eyeballs hurt. I've moved all the orphan poems to relative dates within a 2-4 year period. Usually to Jan 1,19xx, so I can find them later. I still have a rat's nest of early poems filled in 1994—that was the latest file date saved. Need to track them down too.

Too much circular reading. Sorry for the typos, Working on them.
When This Blog Really Began—Aug 2008
Old Posts, New Posts
The Paper and the Sonoma County Stump

Poem titles are in CAPITAL LETTERS, and you can search the blog, using the word 'poem" in the search box at the top or clicking on the word "poem" on the hotlist below the dates. Other poetic categories too: haiku, ekphrastic poetry, collage, etc. Some poems also sorted by region: from the Andes to the USSR, and Zenia.


A surprise bonus:
recycling dishwater
forks in the planters.

Dumping dishwater
in thirsty planter boxes
a fork serenade.

Tossing the dishwater
a cacophony of forks
dig into the ground.

I'm giving up on
5/7/5 haiku lines
to count water drops.

When I tossed the dishwater into the garden
the plants drank in a cacophony of forks
A good tine was had by all.

The dishwater sang
tine-y bubbles whined about
a fork in the road

But the owl flew off
with a runcible spoon think-
ing it was a mouse.

When in drought save gray
water, the whales are dreaming
of rain on this plain.

Anonymous comments button turned off

So very tired of the spate of Anonymous commenters posting spammybits to my Irish Redheads post (my most popular blog post with 38,352 strikes—OK, so 5000 of those are probably Vampirestats). Like cuckoos laying their eggs in other birds' nest, these nefarious commenters sneakily embed URLs in their posts–which I can't disable. So the Anonymous comments button is turned off for now. Wish I could just turn it off for that blog post, But it's all or nothing. To leave a comment, you must now register, or have Open ID. So sorry. I hate captchas. Some of my best commentators have been Anonymous posters. (Sigh).

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Naked man in a filbert bush, and spotted dick

Did you ken what kind of nuts? It was a filbert tree—aka hazelnut. Which is a shrubby oxymoron like our former president. So when does a shrub become a tree? Or is it a trub by any other name? Corylus is in the birch family. I guess the guy should be birched for showing his nuts to the cobnuts. Or was his wattle daubbimg? Oregon is the largest US producer of hazelnuts. Get this: they use blowers to collect the nuts. A real blowjob. And I'm allergic to them. Hazelnuts, that is. Here's a fish-story for you.

In Irish mythology, the hazelnut (or coll) is the nut of knowledge that the salmon at the well of wisdom (who also the oldest being in the world) ate. The nut, that is. Each red spot (breac, or freckle) on the salmon's sides represented a hazelnut (or a bit of knowledge, like a library). And I'm allergic to them. Hazelnuts, not books. But not salmon.Well, it also means a spotted trout. A potted trout? Is that a trout in your pocket or are you glad to see me?

The OED would never admit that freckle probably came from breac (brecc). (Old Norse, my ass. Tho it probably entered into English from Old Norse. Old Irish is WAY older than Old Norse—and Old Germanic (spreckle). It's a cognate from the Indo-European *sp(h)er(e)g- 'to strew, sprinkle.' Irish usage of breac predates the arrival of the Norse: creatures from the Otherworld was breac—spotted or brindled. There's even a Medieval book called An Leabhar Breac ("Speckled Book"). Besides, we Irish are freckle factories. Proof positive that Ireland was permanently overcast for at least 10,000 years.

Speaking of freckles, you do know where this is going: spotted dick anyone? Who spotted a dick in the nut orchard in Oregon? What was the guy's name, Richard? It's a rich story. I have a photo of my friend Micaela holding a can of spotted dick—on her honeymoon, no less. No, her husband's name is not Richard. And for your just desserts, I bring you a recipe for spotted dick.

from a facebook post

Saturday, July 12, 2014


Greedy squirrel knocks
my china cup off the fence—crash!
He's looking at me so guiltily
he's beating his chest
as if to say mea culpea.
I'm so sorry.


Our waterdogs were MUCH more stocky than this fellow, more like a coastal giant salamander but they weren't spotted. For all we know, they could've been a new species. —Wiki

When I was a kid, there were giant (Pacific Coast) salamanders that lived in a creek that ran down from the slopes of Mt. Barnabe, behind the Stone's house.

Three salamanders were dressed in different shades of liver, brown and russet. And they were built like small stocky bulldogs—about a foot long. They looked much bigger to us then, and of course we thought they were Loch Ness monsters, or Sumo wrestlers. We made our first unoriginal metaphor: we called them moving poops. Unfortunately Stephanie's little brother probably killed them. You know how it is with little boys and rocks and slow moving targets.

I still feel bad when I think of those salamanders. Even then, we knew it was wrong to lob rocks at them. We were probably 7 or 8 years old. We had no idea that they were rare prehistoric creatures. When teacher said that dinosaurs were extinct, we knew better, they were alive and well and living in the gorge at the foot of the mountain.

Apparently the giant salamanders can bark too. Hence the name: water dogs. It was probably their barking that attracted our attention. Because they were so far outside our experience of the known world, not like the regular salamanders—petite, delicate creatures that came out after a heavy rain, and they barked, I was shaken.

The terror of unknown was suddenly real. We hiked up the gorge many times looking for those strange monster waterdogs, but we never saw them again. They reappeared in dreams, barking, as if beckoning me towards the unknown. Or alerting me to danger.

I chalked the memory up to a collective bout of wild unreined childhood imagination, until Trane DeVore posted a photograph of a giant Japanese salamander, and at that moment I realized that my childhood monsters were indeed real, and they were barking like wild dogs.

Friday, July 11, 2014


Once, long ago, on an unreasonably hot day
like today, while waiting for the Anacortes ferry,
I jumped off the dock to cool off in Puget Sound.
Baby flounders scattered like rusted fall leaves.
One tiny fish swam into my palm—and settled in.
His eyes hadn't yet migrated all the way to one side,
so he watched me as carefully as I watched him.
When his jewel-spots changed to blend with my hand,
his eyes retained the dreams of sea and sky.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Alan Watts, early 1970s, Everett Collection, Brain Pickings

 —The only way to make sense out of change 
         is to plunge into it, move with it, 
         and join the dance.Alan Watts

When I was a child, I swear
Alan Watts was older than dirt.
Now from a photo, he gazes out 
looking younger than I am today. 
Sausalito in the good old days, 
when Varda lived on the old ferryboat 
and nailed his paintings to the walls, 
& from the captain's cabin,
Alan danced at the helm,
with his seadog legs braced
against the raging '50s tide, 
steering the '60s into oblivion.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Honeybees and the end of the world

Speaking of daft emails and memes (this time, from a reputable social activism site) where The bee-ginning of the end is nigh.

Whereas I am all for saving the honeybees, I object to the doomsday quote being pandered about—and falsely attributed to Albert Einstein: If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. Bah! I HATE pseudo-science.

Einstein was a physicist. Not a beekeeper. He never, ever said it. Granted, about 130 kinds of fruit and nut crops that we depend upon, are pollinated by honeybees. But European honeybees (tho incredibly efficient pollenators) are NOT native to either of the Americas. It seems that many peoples survived just fine for millennia on end without them. Just sayin'. OK, so some vines, including cucumbers, and also almonds might be in trouble...but there are other critters out there.

Also, though not as efficient, there are many other pollinators out there—including wind, rain, small animals—bats, birds—hummers, butterflies, moths, bumblebees, native bees (3000 species native to the US alone), all manner of bugs, wasps and flies. And soft paintbrushes will work in a pinch too.

And some plants even self-pollinate! Self-pollination: when a flower pollinates and fertilizes itself. They don't need no stinkin' wind or bees to pollinate.

Self-pollination some plants have separate male and female flower parts: when pollen is transferred from one flower on a plant to another flower on the same plant—vine crops such as cucumbers where male flowers produce only pollen and female flowers have only the pistil. Bees are essential for cucumber pollination. I can live without cukes.

Cross-pollination—from a flower of one plant to a flower of another. Some apple trees cannot be pollinated by flowers of the same variety due to pollen incompatibility. Now this cloning thing gets a tad complicated.

Vegetatively propagated trees of the same variety are genetically the same, and the flowers are self-sterile, different varieties must be interplanted to provide compatible pollen for pollination. Need a little strange DNA in the mix.

In any pollination work, it is important to know which of these three pollination methods is involved to provide adequate pollination. Then write those silly memes based on facts instead of using Chicken Little science.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Deer browsing brush pile
red plum leaves taste good to her.
They taste good to her.

Young deer at old well
wallows in the dust. Her spots
slipped off midsummer.

An abandoned well
Young deer wallows in the dust
Look! her spots slipped off.

First summer berries
rattlesnakes lying in wait
I step carefully

My tongue sings sweet praise
to ripe berries. Snake rattles,
wants something sweet too.

Bluebird's maiden flight
grounded. Wait 'til your feathers
grow all the way in.

Birdlet, not the time
to fledge, the snake's dreaming of
feathering his nest.

Asleep on the couch,
3 AM—raccoons cleaning
the BBQ grill.

Raccoons arguing
all night cleaning the camp grill.
No point sleeping now.

Raccoons quarreling
over the grill. Either way
we'll have to clean it.

Greedy squirrel knocks
cup off of fence—crash! Guilty.
He's beating his chest.

I rushed home to catch 
a play only to have him 
cancel at curtain call.

Little girls screaming
in unison and in pitch
with the power drill.

Raiding the freezer.
Old cake with freezerburn, hey!
chocolate is chocolate.

Baby halibut
swims into my hands, looks up
with his sea-blue eyes.

Young halibut changed
his spots to hide—but not the
color of his eyes.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

baby bluebird (photos)

Today, a baby bluebird fell from his nest and landed at my feet. So much for picking raspberries.

He wasn't quite ready to leave the nest. He still had his baby down. He's got his feet wrapped around my thumb as a security blanket. I was Mom for an hour while he snuggled in the curve of my neck—expecting me to feed him.

A couple of rough flight attempts. Tough logistics. He got stuck on the ground and turned into a feathered mouse. But his parents were so distraught we had to do something. 

A ladder. A tall young man, a solution—and the little beggar was sent packing back to his nest. Not that he wanted to go back.

Any nest in a storm.

Hand as nest.

He still had his baby down. 

Ok, now feed me.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Grey water diaries

I spent the afternoon putting punky wood curbs in along the retaining wall to curb the recycled shower water I use to water the beets and future chardlets. I also found a few forks in the flower bed. Knackered. Tresseme lettuce anyone? Chard conditioner?

It's hotter than a frying pan outside.

Meanwhile, in Napa, another 1200 acres went up in smoke since yesterday. Evacuation orders are still in place. The fire is now at 4,300 acres. (As of last night it was 3,400 acres, or six square miles). That's almost 7 square miles of fire. You can see the column of smoke from Oakland. Evacuation orders are still in place as 1,067 firefighters work to contain the fire in Butts Canyon. We're not out of the woods yet. I'm thinking that we need many more firefighters or this is going to turn into another Yosemite Rim fire. All this, because some doucheguy was cutting weeds with a mower with metal blades during the drought.

And here I am with my drop in the bucket brigade saving every drop for the miniscule garden.

added, revised  7/17

Throwback Thursday, me, all squinty-eyed the Tartan Ball, 2008, Floyd Busbee photo

Tartan Day Ball, 2008. Floyd Busby photo. Partying like rock stars.  Ironic, I view the world (and read) through my left eye, take photos with my right eye (it's a lazy bugger, I have a squandering eye)—and in photos my left eye is always the squinty one, working for two. And, no I didn't even need glasses then! I did have a "lazy" eye as a kid, but didn't wear a patch. Arrr! I think it has something to do with how our brains process information. I'm right handed but left-eyed. Dyslexic trait? Also left-footed . But I can switch-hit at baseball. Right eye information processed by left brain; left eye information processed by right brain. My eye teeth are all in a tangle too.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How Writers Write Poetry

Maybe someone else will have better luck accessing these craft talks. YouTube never works for me. You will need to sign up for this free online workshop led by Iowa Writers' Workshop.

How Writers Write Poetry MOOC (Facebook link)

Talks on Craft and Commitment
The Course  http://courses.writinguniversity.org
How Writers Write Poetry, a six-week course beginning on June 28, 2014, is an interactive study of the practice of writing poetry.