Sunday, August 24, 2014


I was just north of Pt. Reyes Station
sleeping over in a friend's living room,
I got up for some water, I was feeling woozy
and then I fell back to sleep.

But the trees were whispering and shimmying.
The land around me moaned and roared
like a freight train through Tortilla Flats.
And I was nearly tossed off the couch.

I couldn't figure out someplace safe to go,
I was in a strange house, So I screamed.
Brian came running out and we shivered
on the front porch in our underwear
as the earth hissed and shook and the stars jigged.

I was positive it was San Andreas' fault
which is only a few feet away, and runs
the length of Tomales Bay, lapping, lapping.
Thought I was gonna be on a floating island,
drifting out to sea on this slippery raft of a couch.

I must've been wakened by an earlier tremor. 
In my dreams the earth was roaring so loud,
the hum seemed to be coming from inside my head,
then I realized it's the earth, deep inside, groaning.
Singing a primal earthquake song.

Next time I sleep over, I'm bringing a seatbelt.

rev 10/16


Quake, rattle and roll. Was nearly tossed off the couch in Pt Reyes Sta. Apparently I needed a seatbelt. Who knew? I leaped up but didn't know where to go—I was at a friend's house, Tomasini Canyon on the Marshall Road. You know how it is when you finally fall asleep in a strange house, all the creaks and groans are new, and surprisingly disturbing, and you never slip all the way under. You could hear the redwood tree swaying like a fierce wind storm. An owl lives at the top of that tree. Kept thinking he might fall out of his nest. Helluv an alarm clock. And for once it's not San Andreas' fault. Go home Hayward Fault, you're drunk. (Or Rogers' Creek, or Calaveras' fault) or whoever's fault it was. LOL—it was Napa's fault! I think some of the earlier quakes must've woken me up. Sleeping square. I needs must sleep. The earth is Rockin' me Baby. Went back to sleep at 5:30 AM.

Lots of aftershocks according to Quakebot SF. I think this one woke me up. So I could be ready for the Big One. SF QuakeBot @earthquakesSF 7m

A 1.8 magnitude earthquake occurred 4.97mi NW of American Canyon, California. Details: Map:

6.0 #earthquake centered 8 mi. N/NW of Vallejo, Napa County. Shallow quake says #usgs.

The epicenter party was in Napa, it seems the earth decided it needed a little drinkie-poo. Now this is a first. Napa, of all places, is the epicenter. Didn’t even know there was a faultline in Napa. Napa’s brick buildings didn’t fare so well. OMG, all that wine LOL, people standing ankle deep in really good wine. Quite a few folks lost their entire wine collections. Thinking of custodian/janitor/sommelier as new job description! Clean up on isle 4. Quick! Get me a straw. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014


While we climbed to the summit
of the tallest mountain in the Sierras,
a salt-seeking marmot munched a hole 
right in the middle of my foam mat
stashed in the scree at our base camp.
Sleeping on bare rock that night was no picnic.
My bruised sacrum and hips found no solace
from muller and quern grinding basalt into flour.
I can't imagine the marmot survived the night
after eating that ensolite. Clearly, it tasted
good to him, seasoned with chocolate,
sweat, and the yeast of new love under stars.
I didn't think to cut my holy pad in half 
and marry the two uneaten ends together. 
If only duct tape had been invented, 
if only I'd thought to bring a roll with me. 
But the view from the crest of Mt. Whitney
was a feast for the eyes that nourished
me long after he lost his appetite—
when climbing the tallest mountain
wasn't fodder enough.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Celtic Aedui oppidum (from a Facebook thread)

I usually don't repost Archaeology Magazine articles as they're barely more than teasers with photos, but this oppidum dig was about a Celtic tribe, the Aedui—a tribe that left an impact—as Caesar practiced genocide and scorched earth politics. The Celtic oppidum (hillfort) was founded in the third or second c. BC. The (Burgundian) settlement was abandoned after the Romans defeated a coalition of Celtic tribes including the Aedui and Arverni in 52 BC, at the the Battle of Alesia. The oppidum fell after Gaulish leader, Vercingetorix, who unified the Gallic tribes against the Romans -(no mean feat in, and of itself), was defeated—he was held prisoner for 5 years, then paraded through the streets of Rome and then brutally executed. That was, in effect, the end of Gaulish resistance. They cowped.

And the Vikings stole it from...? They are not "Viking artifacts." Sloppy, misleading writing, An snameled 9th c. silver Celtic cross? Not bloody Viking. Galloway was settled by the Irish 1200 years ago.

Nik Saulter If it helps paint a clearer picture of Viking raiding/travel history, I don't see what your problem is.

Maureen Hurley The problem is that Irish artifacts suddenly become "Viking art" when found in a Viking hoard. Much of what we think of as "Viking" art is not. The Gundestrup Cauldron is a good example. Only recently has that been corrected. Bot there's lots more in Scandinavian museums that is identified as as Viking art—when it really came from Viking raids.

Martin Mcsweeney As someone who was there and witnessed this all being found and excavated I totally agree with your statement, many of the silver items are what we call viking but many items such as this bird, the pot, etc are not in fact of viking origin but booty collected or traded or even passed down along the way so yes this doesn't appear to be viking origin but it was labelled viking due to it being found in a viking hoard, stupid media lol

Maureen Hurley Drives me fecking crazy! So many Irish artifacts were labeled as "Viking" during the Romantic Era—the beginnings of modern archaeology—that it's now impossible to untangle the mess. This merely promulgates it... You'd think the Vikings had invented La Tène art before they even existed! (Thesis-worthy...)

Karalea Hirneisen The vikings did indeed pillage and plunder but they also established vast trade networks that ranged from present day North America North into what is now Russia and East into the Baltic regions and South into the Mediterranean regions. The horde isn't necessarily stolen goods. It could very well be made up of trade goods and or Viking made ornaments. Vikings were a very well traveled people and they saw flora and fauna from many different geographical locations, including flamingos from the Mediterranean area. This is a fact as it has been confirmed. At one time there was even a contingent of Vikings who were employed as the personal bodyguard for a Roman Emperor.

Maureen Hurley Not necessarily, but probably stolen goods during the 9th c. Much of what is labeled as as "Viking art" is actually art styles borrowed from (or executed from) the conquered tribes. In Northern Europe. the Vikings borrowed heavily from the Celts, and probably kept Irish and Pictish artisans as well. Interesting to note that the Irish art style (or so-called Viking art style) did not travel east with the Vikings to the Eurasian Steppe—which leaves the definition of what is "Viking" art suspect. Hmm—only from the British Isles, but not in Russia? If it was Viking art to begin with, you'd see Celtic art turning up in the Ukraine and beyond. But you don't. However, a reverse tide introduced Eurasian art styles to Scandinavian Romanesque art. It would be great to see more comparative analysis in some of these papers—the myopist view is so limited.

Please boycott bottled water—most of it comes from California

Please boycott bottled water—most of it comes from California: Calistoga, Crystal Geyser, Arrowhead, Aquafin, Dasani, etc. Every drop counts. And for every litre, it takes an additional 1.65 litres just to bottle it. Besides, Niagra, Paradise, Aquafina and Dasani are just plain TAP WATER!!! Really, really.

Nestle's and Coca-Cola drill wells and steal take our free unregulated groundwater from towns and to sell it back in designer bottles. Nestle had plans to drain the town of McCloud's water supply—they fought and won. Now it's moved to Sacramento (unregulated water). 

Nestle sells 70 different brand names including Arrowhead, Calistoga, Deer Park, Perrier and Poland Spring. The average American consumes 30 + gallons (200 bottles) of water a year. Bottled water (5.2 billion gallons last year), is an inefficient use of water with excess packaging. Consumers are paying a thousand times mark-up for tapwater.

And if you're still not convinced, this is Lake Shasta—tiny white dot is two houseboats sans marina which is up the hill, high and dry. Mt. Lassen (in the distance) and Shasta have NO SNOW AT ALL! Most of our reservoirs depend upon snowmelt. Not this year. Next snow season is November, if we're lucky. Could be as late as January or February, and then, very little.

Montague is just about put of water—no snow on Stasta. No sowmelt coming into Lake Shastina which holds 30,000 acre-feet of water. This year, the lake started well below 10,000 acre feet, and it's dropping... More than 80% of California is now in a state of extreme exceptional drought. These top ten cities are almost out of water: Bakersfield, Fresno, Visalia, Madera, Merced, Santa Cruz, Santa Maria, Gilroy–Morgan Hill, Salinas, Hanford. And that's not counting all the little towns lie Weed, Montague, Healdsburg, etc.

Nevada too is suffering—Lake Mead is at a historic low. That's a three-story ferryboat. The old shoreline (white) is way more than 30 feet above the current lake level. This historic low water level was taken in April. Lake Mead's in much worse shape now.

What is "lawn"? In California, it should be an alien concept. We're saving every drop of greywater (especially dishes and showers) to water our plants. I try & save the cleaner water for the vegetables. Two dishpans and a sawed off gallon milk container as a catchall and scoop. Actually I do have a postage-stamp sized lawn—part of Candlestick Park. I save my greywater to keep it alive.

The drought that is devastating California and much of the West has dried the region so much that 240 gigatons worth of surface and groundwater have been lost, roughly the equivalent to a 3.9-inch layer of water over the entire West, or the annual loss of mass from the Greenland Ice Sheet, according to the study. 

So, I reiterate, don't buy bottled water. You're part of the problem.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Closing the 'Stick with Paul McCartney

We're closing down the 'Stick tonight with Sir Paul where The Beatles performed their final concert nearly 50 years ago, this month. Epic event. Ironic also, in  that the last night at Candlestick will also be my first time there. I will wear all my clothes as if it was Moscow on the Hudson. I will wear my sleeping bag too.
"Hey, Paul McCartney here. Listen, I'm gonna be coming to Candlestick Park on the 14th of August. Now, it's actually gonna be the last night, we're closin' it down. It's gonna be a very emotional night, gonna be a great night, we're gonna rock. I have some very special memories, as you know, of Candlestick Park, so come along, be a part of it, 14th of August, Candlestick Park, let's do it!" —from a video 
The concert began more than an hour later than scheduled, because the biggest San Francisco traffic jam in history literally prevented thousands of fans from arriving from the north to even reach the park. Like, the entire North Bay and East Bay.

Paul held up the show as long as he could in the hopes that some of the fans could at least make the show. Even with an hour's delay, some 6000 fans still didn't make the show. Officially, 49,000 to 50,000 did arrive. Unofficially, who knows? The show sold out with blinding speed, within two hours. It was reported that scalpers were selling tickets to the sold-out event for more than a thousand dollars, I wonder how many fans who paid a king's ransom didn't make the show?

There was a lot of last-minute rearranging of banks of chairs in front of the stage to accommodate more last-minute fans on the green. Meanwhile, the bleachers to the south remained empty until intermission. It was a visual aid for all the fans who couldn't get in. And the Candlestick parking lot kept receiving a steady stream of cars—people paying homage—even as we were still leaving at 2 AM.

We got to the concert on time because we went across the San Mateo Bridge, literally a last minute snap-descision, a fluke, otherwise we too would have been stuck in traffic. The long way around turned out to be the quickest way there. The real traffic jam was trying to leave Candlestick Park. It didn't let us go easily: it held us hostage for two plus hours, a foul cloud of smog with thousands of cars idling in the parking lot. Apparently Uber & Lyft drivers made a killing.

I wore a long-sleeve shirt, (longjohns), two sweaters, a vest and a coat, topped with a neckscarf, and hat. About as much clothing as I wore when I was in Leningrad one winter. I felt like the Micheline Man. We were still cold. Hot town, summer in the City, San Francisco is not. Paul did sing Back in the USSR. Burrrr. Then, the wind quit blowing in off the bay, it became balmy right in time for Live and Let Die! Spectacular light show.
Paul's set last night went heavy on Beatles and Wings cuts – plunging deep from "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Maybe I'm Amazed" down to "Lovely Rita" and "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five." Songs doubled as exhibits: He played "Paperback Writer" on the same guitar he'd used to record the song. Between-song banter doubled as a docent's monologue: He told a story about Jimi Hendrix covering "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" at a 1967 concert, days after the record came out, and asking Eric Clapton, who was in the crowd, to come up and help him tune his guitar. McCartney prefaced "Blackbird" with a few words about the "civil rights troubles, particularly in the South," that inspired the song and attended the Beatles' 1966 tour. McCartney didn't need to focus his gaze southward, of course, to find injustice:
McCartney arranged his schedule to send the stadium off, with a pre-demolition show that few in attendance will forget. The key word there is "in attendance." Some of the worst Bay Area event traffic in recent memory forced thousands of concertgoers to say goodbye to Candlestick from an idling car outside the stadium. McCartney did his best to accommodate the stragglers, starting at 9 p.m. and playing a nearly 2 1/2 hour show with more than 30 songs... —Candlestick Farewell
It was a night of homages. Paul wore the maroon undertaker's jacket (or facsimile) that he wore at the final US concert at Candlestick Park, August 29, 1966. And he opened with Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally," the final song performed at the 'Stick in '66. Though laden with nostalgic Yesterdays, the concert was very much set in the present. 

Paul looked tired, he was battling a long tern virus in May, but then, he's 71 years old! He played more than 30 songs during the three-hour set, plus encore. I'm not going to cover the innuendos of the concert here, as everybody else has already done that ad nauseum. Here's a great review from Rolling StonePaul McCartney at Candlestick Park: 'We're Going to Close It Down in Style!'  Let's just say we were Out There!

But I will say is whadda night that was. Paul blew the proverbial roof off the amphitheater. I'm not a mondo concert fan, but it was spectacular. I was also still in mourning over the death of Robin Williams. But for a few hours, grief was transformed by music, the entire crowd, 50,000 of us singing through the night. We watched the moon rise over the park and fireworks lit the night sky as we said goodbye....

Then, at the end, as we were leaving, we paid homage to the park itself, we gathered sod from the infield, and took it home as a souvenir, and planted our own little 'Stick park in the circle of bricks in the middle of our driveway. I kept it alive all through the drought watering it with greywater from the bath.

People taking the turf home with them.
You know the party's really over, 

one lone yellow suede shoe in the sandpit.
I guess the woman limped home.

My photos on Facebook are probably more eloquent than I am at this point: 
Paul McCartney's Farewell to Candlestick Park

Preparty, strangers shared food with us.

I was shooting with a 2ox zoom on a Panasonic Lumex (Leica) camera, wide open lens at a low shutter speed aperature (as low as 4 to 30th sec) with my depth of field wide open, set  on mountain scenery, etc. Most of the shots of Paul are from the Jumbotron. You can see the dots. The ones of the stage are pretty blurry. They're not great, but they'll do. If you want to see great shots, check out some of the links below. The pros with stage access and good cameras. We were really in the bleachers, the boondocks.

A fan with a fantastic tophat

Another big fan, Neil & Paul share the same birthdate
The program came with 3-D lenses

Paul paid homage to the first gig at the "Stick
with the same maroon undertaker's jacket

He played the same guitars used to record the songs.

And he played for us. One of the few photos I took that was more or less in focus

He wove in backstories from the past

with historical references with  unreleased  photos from the 1966 concert never before seen

We had a moment of silence for Robin Williams a vigil, people lit lighters and candles.

We knew all the words to all the songs, we were a collective, hive mind singing well into the night

Sir Paul played well past the official closing time,
more than making up for the concert's hour delay,
and then too soon it was time to say:
And it's Goodbye Candlestick Park,
we (really don't) hate to see you go....
But hey, we put the Candle out in style.

#OutThere #Candlestick #PaulMcCartney #Candlestick #FarewelltoCandlestick 

Robin Williams' Magic Mirror

The truth is, if anything, I'm probably addicted to laughter. —Robin Williams 1951-2014
It's really been upsetting reading the news with myriad gossip-mongers having a field day at Robin Williams' expense. Folks have been busy blaming Robin's turbulent drug-ridden past and/or a lack of money for his suicide.

According to his financial advisor, despite two divorces, Robin was not on shaky financial ground. He was solid. Royalties were coming in. He has three new movies about to be released. Income (or a lack thereof) wasn't the reason for his death.

Nor was vice the cause. His vices: he was clean from drugs having gone cold turkey since the day John Belushi died in 1982, and he was also sober for 20 years. Yes, Robin fell off the wagon in 2003 while on a movie set in Alaska, and when he began to fall off the barstool, with family intervention, he got back on the wagon in 2006—so he was eight years sober on round two.).

His vices didn't kill him; being bipolar is not a vice, it's an illness. Profound depression was the real enemy. I've seen what it did to my mother, the failed suicide attempts. When slitting his wrists failed, Robin hanged himself with his own belt, wedged over the top of the closet door. He could've saved himself, but death was the only escape route. The toxicology report is still out but I'm willing to bet it will come back clean.

Robin was also recovering from massive open heart surgery (2009), an operation that often leaves survivors profoundly depressed and suicidal. As if his plate wasn't full enough, we come to find out that he also suffered from early onset Parkinson's Disease, a neuro-degenerative disorder that affects balance, movement, and cadence; other symptoms include tremors, and facial paralysis.

One million Americans have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s; it affects as many as 10 million people worldwide. Men are more likely to get it than women. There is no cure. I wonder if Robin Williams had gotten a chance to talk to Michael J. Fox about his symptoms, if it would've made a difference? Or was being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease the final straw? With that prognosis hanging over his head, his future must have seemed like a bleak Godot.

Robin was a very prolific man, he's left behind a prodigious body of work with nearly 50 movies to his credit, and almost as many TV shows, not to mention comedy shows, and charitable work. In 1986 he helped found Comic Relief USA, raising $80 million for the homeless. He's won two Oscars Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Emmys, four Golden Globes, and five Grammy Awards.

His work literally defined who he was. Robin's very identity was wrapped up in his ability to mime and to mimic others. A man of a thousand voices and thousands of  characters. The magic mirror itself was shattered. And no amount of drugs or superglue could fix that.

RIP, Robin. You had the courage to dream big. You made your life spectacular. And we are all the better for it.

Oh, Captain, my Captain. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Spotting

Robin Williams at Redwood High School ca. 1969.
I met Robin at College of Marin in 1970. Even then, he was mesmerizing. I used to follow him everywhere around campus. Especially when he did silly walks while wearing a swimming cap and not much more than skimpy green gym shorts. He was the pied piper. I was just seventeen.

Imagine Robin wearing a women's swim cap with strap dangling. (Redwood HS ca 1969)
To my mother's delight (she was an actress at the Gate Playhouse in Sausalito), I joined the College of Marin theater department so I got to see Robin in all his zany roles. He did an incredible yellow-stockinged cross-gartered Malvolio that absolutely stole the show. He also stole my heart way back then and never gave it back. I was too frightened to audition for roles but I did costume design and ushered shows.

Robin was a brilliant actor. The comedy angle, he just couldn't help himself. It was always bubbling over. Robin would spontaneously riff on Shakespeare solliloques until we wet ourselves laughing. He drove director James Dunn nuts but we all loved Robin. College of Marin was like an extended childhood—we both attended CoM for three years. 

Offstage, Robin was just about as shy as I was, so at cast parties we'd sort of sit there looking down at our feet kicking rocks and go au-um. I absolutely adored him. I think he knew it too because he once invited me to a party at his house in Tiburon. I hopped into in my old Volvo panel truck (at least it started), and followed his VW Bug to Strawberry. We gassed up at the station, he dropped a rolled-up dollar bill and took off. The wind fluttered it to my feet. I picked it up. Portent of things to come.

I remember going over to the Trident restaurant on the Sausalito wharf just to watch Robin who was working as a busboy/waiter. He'd juggle plates, knives and glasses, do cartwheels, and a side dish of stand-up comedy while bussing dishes. It was always hilariously entertaining until the owner shooed us out.

I was no stranger to the Trident. In the mid-60s, my actress-mother was once a famous Trident waitress wearing little more than a bustier and fishnet stockings—she knocked 'em dead nightly with those showgirl legs—Bing Crosby autographed a napkin for her. Even in the 70s, Trident glitterati included: Grace Slick, Carlos Santana, David Crosby, Bill Graham, Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, and Bill Cosby.

Another favorite Robin-spotting pastime was watching Robin-the-mime greet perplexed shivering tourists at the end of the trolly car line in San Francisco's Ghirardelli Square. Or watch him improv at the Old Spaghetti Factory. I saw him once at The Boarding House, but by then his fame was growing, and it was crazy jammed, so I left without saying hello or goodbye.

Robin took the LA comedy clubs by storm, and in 1973, he was accepted to Juilliard along with other classmates of mine, Mark Rasmussen, and Joel Blum (a 2-times Tony winner), but Robin always kept up his west coast connections. Marin was home.

Robin Williams & Joel Blum in the wild west version of Taming of the Shrew, directed by James Dunn,  1971, went on to win the Best of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that summer. Many of us helped raise funds (car washes) for the tour, but didn't go with the cast. Harvey Susser was also my drama teacher. It's his photo. Don't know why the Daily Mail is claiming it.  Great interview with James Dunn, though. 
I only saw Robin once again in 1981 at a concert after he got famous. Backstage, after a Bread & Roses show at The Greek Theater (I was the resident calligrapher for Mimi Fariña), I ran into Robin later with Michael Pritchard, and Eric Idle. Robin did a wild ribald set with Michael Pritchard that had the audience rolling in the aisles.

Robin Williams & Michael Pritchard at the Other Cafe reunion in SF (photoNathan Nayan)
I watched the show from the wings. Robin came offstage and recognized me...which shocked me. He gathered me up in his arms saying, I know you! I know you!!! and kissed me soundly. I said: Eww! Gross. Stop. Sweaty! swatting him off...

I got to hang out backstage with Robin, Mike and Eric Idle and watch them crack each other up. I don't remember what was said, one-upmanship was involved, and I had laughed myself senseless. Somewhere I have photos of the show.

Robin said he'd keep in touch. Never happened. 

I always thought I'd see him one more time again.

So long, old friend.... Robin Williams

My friend Molly Fisk posted a photo of Robin on my Facebook page and said, such sad news this afternoon. thinking of you. intensely sad. i'm unfriending people right and left on FB who don't seem to understand depression or how people soothe themselves.

Thanks for the photo post Molly. Jim Carmin said: Robin William joins more than 105 Americans each day in such a sad fraternity... Back in the day, Molly and I sat next to each other in costume class at College of Marin. She once said, We used to dress Robin. It’s true. Malvolio’s crossed garters and all.

When I first heard the news, it was a visceral sucker-punch to the gut. I nearly threw up in the parking lot at the Redwood Credit Union in Petaluma. I was stealing their wifi while waiting for my cousin when I saw the news. I was devastated, then angry. I always thought he had the demons under control—or at least under the barstool.

Someone said Robin just had open heart surgery—and a lot of people commit suicide afterwards. A friend, Richard Beebee, couldn't bear the depression oand pain—nothing worked and so he hung himself. Robin's been on my mind a lot lately.

A friend saw him at Olney Hall, and said there was a heckler in the audience. Robin took out an invisible fishing pole, cast the line out over the audience and simply stated "Fishing for assholes." It brought the house down. Sometimes you gotta do a catch and release on some of those Facebook “friends” who are being assholes.

Robin would have understood.

O Captain! My Captain!

Squirrel Bath

The red squirrel left three green acorns at the bottom of the half-full glass on the fence so I filled it up with fresh water. They no longer have a potable water source, so my pint beer glass wedged in the fence is their only wellspring. They run up the fence from the street trees for their daily drink. Next morning, the glass was half-empty again and the water was filthy. The acorns were gone. The squirrel went snorkeling to get them back. I guess the bottom of the glass wasn't such a good place to hide his nuts after all. But he's now one very clean squirrel.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Last waltz

Last waltz. People leaving Rancho Nicasio in droves. The turquettes, young turkeys, are lined up and gobbling on the fence, straddling pullet "feed-me" peeps and teenage angst or maybe they're the backup singers for the band. Mama deer  parades her twin fawns, their spots like constellations in the grass. They watch, amused by all this Sunday hubbub. The turkeys risk crossing the road: they have a lot to say while holding up traffic at the 2nd base outfield.


Half a Hole

Math puzzle: If it takes 6 men 6 days to dig 6 holes, how long will it take 3 men to dig half a hole?

How can you possibly dig a half a hole? That's sort of like being half-pregnant. Or like running a half-distance race (where you never, ever, ever get to point B).

A hole is a whole hole no matter how misshapen or shallow it might be. Some holes are holier than others, but they're also in the dark. They don't see the light. No! No! Don't go toward the light!

I have some questions: Were the 6 men digging for 24 hours each? Or are we talking 8-hour days here? Did they get time off for lunch and two ten-minute breaks? Union? Non-union? Were they US citizens? Were they assholes? Did they dig all the way to China? What about doughnut holes?

You can probably tell I never did well on the verbal math tests—too many variables and then there's the conundrum to consider. I'll take that doughnut hole now, I prefer the chocolate glazed ones, TYVM. But I'd be happy to share half my doughnut hole with half of those three men digging those half-holes. How many pieces would that be, if half-eaten over a three-day period?


One AM phone call: a man slurred: 
"You'd better come get me. 
I can't make it." And hung up. 
Wonder if he ever made it home?

Bum Steer

Sometimes our neighbor Les Stone would put us up on Ralf, the Jersey milk cow and she'd buck and lunge like a champion rodeo bull. My friend Stephanie named her after the sound she made when she attempted to moo. Ralf had a big knotted abscess on her cheek and a lisp, so her I'm so lonely song came out RALF! RALF! RALF! 

Ralf was also a consummate escape artist. Her middle name should've been Cowdini. So my neighbors resorted to electric fences to keep the cow in. But come morning, there was Ralf straddling the electric fence, udderly devastated by the height of the fence and the fact that her full udder, in need of milking, wouldn't clear the hurdle—facts colluded. She'd stand there, with back hunched up to lift her udder off the electric fence, waiting patiently to be rescued, muttering ralf, ralf, ralf under her breath. 

Come spring, she'd charge right through that fence to find Old Grandad the Herfie bull in Nuneses' upper pasture on Mt. Barnabe. And she'd bust out again to have her calf in the woods. She'd hide out and blend in with the trees. I swear that cow could tiptoe. We'd have to go hunt her down hidden in the oaks with her newborn calf. We'd follow the calf's yellow fresh milk spoor. Busted!

Poor Ralf loved freedom and we couldn't explain to her why wandering the backroads was not a good idea for a fawn colored cow and calf—especially during deer hunting season.


The last afternoon waltz is over.
Revelers leave the Rancho Nicasio in droves
and gun their pricey cars lining the square. 
The wild turkey chicks straddling the fence, 
chime in with pullet-sized "feed-me" peeps 
and squawk with teenaged angst at passers-by,
or maybe they 're hoping to audition 
as backup singers for the band. 
Mama deer parades her twin fawns, 
their spots—like constellations in the dry grass 
as they head down to the creek for their evening drink.
They watch, amused by all this Sunday hubbub. 
The turkeys risk crossing the road: 
they have a lot to say while holding up traffic 
at the 2nd base outfield.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Math Whiz, Not

My personal strength is visual acumen. I can remember faces and images. I score high on those kinds of equations. As long as it doesn't involve numbers. I had to take the CBEST test and failed the SIMPLE math portion. SIMPLE...yes? I scored @ 60%, so I got a math tutor studying for her (she, not he—very important) PhD. She was fascinated by how I solved the problems. She said I was bored with simple math, but had somehow taught myself algebra & geometry—that my reasoning was sound. But I did odd things like add figures in the subtraction columns, I flipped numbers (6/9, and 4/7), etc., a classic case of dyslexia. But I passed the blasted test. Tears were involved. And the spectre of Coach Harry Roche lobbing chalk and erasers at Johnny Kaufman and Mike Frank, didn't boost morale, of course. My grandfather had an eidetic memory. He could speed-read any book and had perfect recall. I have it too, but only partial recall. However, when it comes to math, I reverse numbers....and get all jumbled up. No matter that I've been clocked with an IQ of 138-40, math is my Achilles heel. And I have math whizzes on both sides of the family. The gene's there, but it's all damseled about. Even the late, great Olympic runner Archie Williams who broke track records with Jesse Owens, couldn't teach me a lick of math. And my mother's cousin was a mathematician on the Manhattan Project. So it runs in the family. It just ran away with me. Or more like from me.