Thursday, July 30, 2015

Arielle and me the morning after a raucous gig at Johnny Fox’s, Vancouver, BC

Another morning after Johnnie Fox's. Arielle and Maureen at mine and Kevin’s little Hobbit Hole dwelling in east Vancouver. Good times with grand souls. Elegwen Ó Maoileóin photo 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

Headed to Vancouver (music video, photos)

Hey, Elegwen Ó Maoileóin, we're in Enumclaw (Scottish Games are over) and we're headed north, any cheap places/couches to stay in Vancouver? Gigs to visit/ tomorrow, etc? Neil O'Neill wants to go to the Jimi Hendrix Museum this afternoon, then we're more or less open after that for gigs and whatnot.

Jammin at Elegwen’s

Thursday, July 23, 2015



I am lost, and without words.
The family transports 6 million pieces 
of angst into every room. Harbors grudges.
I cannot cope with their collective trauma, 
but I am not bitter, perhaps bittersweet.
Only the iron tracks of the train
will beg to defer to derailment. 
Last night I watched a constellation
dazzle the horizon with light.
The silver center of the Milky Way
was a talisman. My sorrow, forgotten.
I was a lone candle by the river,
flickering in the summer breeze.
The ears of the night were listening
to coyotes under a full moon. I dreamt
there were rivers of singing stones.
The Apurimac's Andean tears
wept in glaciers, creating pigment
with the tumbled rhythm of stones.

July 23, 2015
rev. 11/19/15

Something found on my iPad. I don't remember writing it. So I rewrote it.


If I were a container
a source of light
I'd be a constellation
Take yourself back to your first house
Slither to the center
If you were an object what would you be?
If I was a color, an animal,
an auto, musical instrument
Things that speak to you
Starter lines:
I am I am not
I remember
I forgot
My heart says
My soul, mind, hair...

I am without words
The family transports
6 million pieces of angst in every room
I am not bittersweet
Only the iron tracks of the train
A stunning constellation
The silver center
My happiness,
Alone candle
By the river
The ears of the night listening
Blue pianos
Rivers of singing stones
The Apurimac of Andean tears
The glaciers?
Rhythm paints the creator of rock.

July 23, 2015

I must've been practicing with my iPad. I don't even remember this...found in discarded Gmail drafts....

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

To Read or to E-Read a Book Question

I've a memoir of traveling across the USSR in Writing the Rails.

I love books. I love owning and holding books. I trill my fingers along their spines in bookstores. I have so many books, I no longer buy them. I pornographically stroke them, but I don't look under their hoods, or rather, I don't read them. Well. My eyes no longer work well. That's the real problem. Since my eyes refuse to cooperate with normal-size text, let alone, small text, even with glasses, I like having e-readers about. I can backlight and enlarge the text size, and escape into pure fiction. When I can't find a digital version of a book, then I resort to my hard-copy books. But I can't read them, especially those pesky 10-point footnotes, so I use my eye-Pad camera to enlarge the text and say, "Take that, you four-eyed suckers." Truth be known, even 12-point type, the industry standard, eludes my eyes. So I'm an e-reading anachronism with my iPad at the ready to enlarge the printed page.

Friday, July 17, 2015

A Retro Rant on Reaganomics

A self-appointed Facebook troll began posting multiple FOX News style comments under my old photo a friend had reposted. He managed to construe an entire political right-wing agenda from a photo comment.
Who remembers when Sir Francis Drake High School took away our school buses so we had no way to get to school? Most people in The Valley didn't have cars, and it was one of the most economically disadvantaged regions of Marin. We found that it was a long walk to Drake. Then home again. How I learned to hitchhike. Ca 1969.
(In February I posted a blog: Shank's Mare and Reaganomics if you want to read more about it).

My high school friend Zana, who said she was proud of what I had done, commented on my photo: "Ah, the early Reagan as Governor years. School funding cutbacks. Read Maureen Hurley's Facebook comment. All the others as well for that matter." 

And it was off to the races for Mr. M. Round one!
"You do know that even today districts do not have to provide bussing to their students... right? If you do it just has be done consistently. AND the great state of CA still doesn't provide all the money that it cost to operate those buses. So it's not just Reagan and buses, its Democrat Jerry Brown and buses.... need to know your really don't want to play this game with me."
I said to Mr. M: Take your axe elsewhere. Dull blades are not of much use. Did he really say that? And on my page too? Game on.

Zana responded:
"Reagan's disciple has cut funding so much that it is passed locally. Yes, STATE property taxes are down but local, municiple and local school taxes are way up. Poorer rural areas are getting the shaft. More and more of what the state does have for schools goes to private and religious schools through the voucher system. Wealthy kids who never have been to schools receive money for their private education drawing money from public schools."
I was glad that Zana took Mr. M on, replete with facts. People like Mr. M make me angry, I can't talk to them because they're so hostile. Don't get mad, get even seems to be the best approach! I told Zana to keep on posting rebuttals to Mr. M's myopia. He's a revisionist, and his ill-construed rant is unfortunately sitting dead square on my Facebook page.... It's like having my own personal FOX News spewing cherry-picked "facts." 

Mr. M, who admires, nay claims he LOVES Wisconsin Republican governor (and presidential candidate), Scott Walker about as much as Walker has professed to love Ronald Reagan, is sadly misinformed. Mr. M posted:  "When we had republican govs we were the envy of every state."  (stet.)

Um, Mr. M, that was under Democrat leadership when higher education was free. Reagan destroyed that. (See my rant below). And that other bad Republican actor, the Governator was named one of 11 "worst governors" in the United States over ethics issues; he left office with a record low 23% rating.

Does anyone see the irony in Mr. M's statement: "People literally use to move to California just to enroll their kids in our schools." use to??? Really? Clearly the school system didn't work for Mr. M. Score one for the Grammar Police. There are more points to be had. Easy pickings. But I'm being catty.

And Mr. M continued to rant ad nauseum in several more comment boxes: 

 "Scott Walker has freed your schools from the insurance stranglehold that unions had on your schools. He's freed your universities from tenure rules that kept incompetent professors."   
And "I would party for a week if just one of those happened in CA. Freed your schools and broke the unions straggling of public tax money.... you guys need to stop worshipping at the feet of the socialist unions."
I wrote: "Wow, Mr. M, most highly qualified professors I know are already living at poverty level, because they can't get full time work, and have no benefits. And it's not because a tenured professor is hogging the slot. (Universities and businesses can get away with part-time hiring because the unions went bust.) And those in the front lines of education, public school teachers are grossly underpaid. You should target middle management, Mr. M. Principals and superintendents and school board members. Cut the fat." 

Apparently Mr. M's a rather smug California school board member. He yowped:
"No accountability!!!! B.S. Public schools and unions are the most unaccountability syayems anywhere. With a private school the customer picks and chooses... in public school there is no market... you're just screwed. Liberals don't like vouchers because poor kids would get a great education and become capitalists....if I could move my business to Texas I'd save $136,000 just on Workman's Compensation Insurance a year."

Well, first, Dear Reader, I must mention a caveat. I woke at 3 AM, on the wrong side of a one-sided bed, and after reading Mr. M's diatribes, I was irate as a rhinoceros. Cranky as a bear. I broke my vow of silence. Don't feed the troll. Or if you do, hose 'em with facts. So my comment to Mr. M morphed into an itchy trigger-fingered rant on Reaganomics.

I don't like politics, I dislike writing about politics even more. There are far more interesting things to write about. But as I researched Mr. M's claims, I realized that I did need to address them, as it was part of a much larger picture of an era that I had witnessed, and its consequences had shaped my life. Talk about a stroll down memory lane.

Open Letter to Mr. M:

Ronald Reagan began his political career as a Democrat, until he decided they were commie sympathizers and socialists. He was hired by General Electric, and influenced by an anti-union conservative GE CEO, he switched teams and the Gipper became a Republican. A switch hitter who played for the other team.

Reagan was the 33rd Governor of California from 1967 to1975. When Medicare legislation was introduced in 1961, Reagan made an ad for the American Medical Association warning that the legislation would mean the end of freedom in America. "We will awake to find that we have socialism." In 1965, he said that Medicaid recipients were "...a faceless mass, waiting for handouts."

Reagan's controversial Barry Goldwater speech led him to seek the CA governorship. The Great Communicator's scorched-earth campaign ticket was "to send the welfare bums back to work,” thus targeting single mothers, and children. As governor, he closed the doors to the state mental institutions, and single-handedly created a massive homeless population. Said he, they were "homeless by choice." My mother was one of them. And some of our classmates. And not by choice.

Reagan implemented major cuts in Medicaid, food stamps, aid to families with dependent children, and to school lunch programs. Under both his state and national watch, the number of families living below the poverty line increased by a third. This is the same president who also cut survivor benefits for families of the disabled.

Before Reagan took office, California had the nation's finest public college system. Reagan launched his political career by slashing state funding for higher education. He led an assault on UC Berkeley. And his voting ticket was "to clean up the mess at Berkeley" in order to suppress the free speech movement—by any means possible.

Reagan cut the UC budget, and proposed that UC should charge tuition, saying that dissenting students "don't deserve the education they are getting. They don't have a right to take advantage of our system of education." Make them pay for it, he said. Before Reagan took office, higher education was free. He suggested that Berkeley should sell off its collections of rare books in the Bancroft Library to make up for the budgetary shortfall.

Reagan was responsible for the People's Park riots, and the "Bloody Thursday" peremptory strike brought in 2000 National Guard troops to violently occupy the city of Berkeley, thus inflaming the situation. With that, he turned California into a police state. Someone noted that behind every university fee hike, there's a new line of riot cops. Reagan's draconian policies shepherded in a death knell for public higher education in the United States.

As the 40th President of the United States (1981- 1989), Reagan vigorously campaigned to restore prayer to the schools, thus mixing church and state, he also awarded vouchers to segregated schools. He fired 11,345 air traffic controllers, and brought the military in, thus busting government unions. The labor movement never recovered. He slashed federal grants for poor students.The schools are still praying for recovery.

During Reagan's tenure, we saw a 40% increase in defense spending. The Teflon President raised taxes ELEVEN times during his presidency. The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA), was the "largest peacetime tax increase in American history." Reaganomics ushered in massive tax cuts for big business, and lowered the taxes of the wealthy.

His "trickle-down economics" theory—the belief that tax policies that benefited the wealthy would create a "trickle-down" effect to the poor, didn't exactly work. They kept it all for themselves. It was pissy logic, at best. A major tax cut was followed by a long recession and unemployment hit ten percent. "Unemployment insurance is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders,” said Reagan in 1966.

Reagan also froze the minimum wage at $3.35 an hour. He eliminated the antipoverty Community Development Block Grant program, slashed the budgets for Medicaid, food stamps, federal education programs and the EPA. He purged people with disabilities from the Social Security disability rosters. We see them living on the streets today.

Then there's the the greatest financial scandal in American history: the savings and loan crisis, largely responsible for the stock market crash of '87. Under Reagan's lax watch, the S&L industry gambled, invested money recklessly; the cleanup cost the public over $150 billion. Under Reagan's watch, deregulated lending became a wildcat enterprise. Fannie Mae did right well indeed. The Reagan administration was one of the most corrupt in American history. Some 31 of his cabinet members were indited for criminal activity for the Iran-Contra, and the Department of Housing & Urban Development scandals.

Meanwhile the national debt soared from $997 billion to $2.85 trillion. TRILLION. How many zeroes is that? His tax cuts reduced revenue and his unbalanced redline budgets created a perfect storm. He managed to triple the federal debt in less than eight years, Reagan's policies pretty much ushered in today's fiscal hot mess when he undermined Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1930s regulatory programs aimed to promote transparency and fairness in economic competition—bank insurance and the FDIC. Said Reagan, "Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal." The New Deal gave us Social Security too.

Reagan also ended price controls on domestic oil. Big Oil's been laughing its way all the way to the bank ever since.

The Reagan administration was responsible for the massacres in El Salvador and the war and embargo against Nicaragua. US government officials planned for a possible military/civilian coup. His uninformed political decisions sent 241 Marines to their death in Beirut, Lebanon, and his absurd invasion of Grenada, oh my. Noriega much? Then there's Lybia. He thought the Contras and the Taliban were "... the moral equal of our Founding Fathers." Reagan wasn't a president, he was only an acting president. Take the Star Wars FEMA plan. "Facts are stupid things," said Reagan, who authorized $640 Pentagon toilet seats—no shit!

As president, about the only thing Reagan ever did right was to end the Cold War, and the claim that he won the Cold War is outright propaganda. This was the man who said trees cause pollution. Yeah, the CIA lied.

And I haven't even gotten to the part where Reagan destroyed and gutted public schools in California... there was so much else to choose from. When Reagan was governor, he actually raised taxes. Proposition 13, the antitax measure, destroyed Califronia's public infrastructure, including school funding. I won't mention how he tried to cut school lunch milk rations and declared ketchup "a vegetable" in order to save some money on mandatory hot lunches for low income students. Wow.
Reaganomics: "Throughout his tenure as governor Mr. Reagan consistently and effectively opposed additional funding for basic education. This led to painful increases in local taxes and the deterioration of California's public schools. Los Angeles voters got so fed up picking up the slack that on five separate occasions they refused to support any further increases in local school taxes. The consequent under-funding resulted in overcrowded classrooms, ancient worn-out textbooks, crumbling buildings and badly demoralized teachers. Ultimately half of the Los Angeles Unified School District's teachers walked off the job to protest conditions in their schools.[5] Mr. Reagan was unmoved.
Ronald Reagan left California public education worse than he found it. A system that had been the envy of the nation when he was elected was in decline when he left. Nevertheless, Mr. Reagan's actions had political appeal, particularly to his core conservative constituency, many of whom had no time for public education. In campaigning for the Presidency, Mr. Reagan called for the total elimination the US Department of Education, severe curtailment of bilingual education, and massive cutbacks in the Federal role in education. Upon his election he tried to do that and more. Significantly, President Reagan also took steps to increase state power over education at the expense of local school districts. Federal funds that had flowed directly to local districts were redirected to state government. Moreover, federal monies were provided to beef up education staffing at the state level. The result was to seriously erode the power of local school districts.[6] As in California, Mr. Reagan also made drastic cuts in the federal education budget. Over his eight years in office he diminished it by half. When he was elected the federal share of total education spending was 12%. When he left office it stood at just 6%." —The Educational Legacy of Ronald Reagan 

Good old Reaganomics. Back in high school, we were the first to feel the ramifications of it, as few families had cars, the San Geronimo Valley was poor. Yeah, I walked to school, 8 miles each way. No car, no transport. No transport also meant that there were also no extra curricular activities after school because the hitch-hiking ride pool to West Marin dried up after dark. Too hard to get home via shank's mare. Terrifying after dark. And that newly imposed tuition meant that I couldn't afford to go to the university. Reagan's skewed political shenanigans were a lasting gift that kept on hurting the economically disadvantaged  to this day. Win one for the Gipper. Yeah.

Maybe you should move to Texas, Mr. M. We'll even start up a collection.

This post was restructured from a Facebook thread. Yep.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Updating Old Poems

I thought I had lost my big black 3-inch manuscript clip binder with all my poems, notes, publications, awards, from last century, etc., in it. It was my master copy, my hard file, so to speak. The other day, while I was sorting papers, I found it in a crate in the back of the closet.

Last summer, I decided to put all my poems up online via my blog, not because I think they're particularly wonderful or have literary merit, but because all my old electronic files are slowly going senile. Some are disappearing as well. It's not like there's a reader stampede to my blog either, some of those poems have been posted for ages and they've not been read once. This is my safe deposit box.

I have had a very hard time accessing the files from the 1980s, SimpleText, AppleWorks (the original version), and MicrosoftWorks, are no longer supported on any platform. OS X can't access most of those files.

Some electronic files were lost forever. Some turned into grey Unix bricks. Most, I could force open with TextEdit, but they were an ASCII clean-up nightmare, with all kinds of artifacts embedded in the dense prose block that looks like it's simultaneously swearing and sneezing while constipated and groaning.

Then there were the files that were only half there. I kid you not. Some had chunks missing in the middle, most had the lower end lopped off. And then I didn't have valid creation dates. Not to mention what poem was published where, or won awards...So I was pretty jazzed to find that binder.

I spent the day going through each hard copy of poem, and adding creation dates, publications dates, and other versions. Seventeen (17) hours later, I'm still at it, I'm up to W in my MS book. Nearly there. My eyes no longer work after that many hours of proofreading, so I used my iPad to magnify my faded pencil notes. Fancy magnifying glass. Brilliant! But I'm flagging. So, i can report most of my typed poems are up in the cloud, well on Blogger.

Blogger, yeah. I'd like to shoot it. What a buggy program. even with faster internet, it constantly hangs, and tells me in red banners that an error has occurred while trying to save  or publish my post.  Please try again. Ad infinitem. Try & get out of that loophole and not lose all your work. Yeah. Like this post, right now. I can't update it.

Notable disaster areas were poems from the 1980s, especially 1989. I had hard copy of several poems and no electronic file. None. POOF! Where did it go? Not good at all. Also, the early 1980s poems are also MIA. I think I have hard copies somewhere—hand calligraphed, as I didn't have a typewriter in those days.

As to the 1989 MIA poems files, in desperation, I began taking photos of my fileless hard copy poems and posting the jpg up as a placeholder, poems to be transcribed and typed up at a later date. I wish I had OCR software, but it usually is more trouble than it's worth by the time you've corrected the typo. Almost as bad as the ASCII bricks.

Still to do: prose. But tomorrow is already here, so I needs must sleep. But, oh, the memories unleashed by a poetry retrospective timeline. There'll be wicked dreams tonight, I'm sure.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

MacCamelot: Stealing King Arthur, or Musing on Pseudo Histories

Oops! I made a grave mistake of responding to a link posted on someone's Facebook page. It was a poorly written pseudo-history article on King Arthur. I noted that it was an argument full of holes, and posted a comment (below), expecting a lively exchange. Instead I was unfriended for my candor. So very sad for the loss of friendship, I clearly misjudged her. I'm also flummoxed. Was I barking up the wrong tree? Perhaps I should have checked my allegory at the door.

Maybe it's because I've read so much pre-medieval and medieval scholarship, that I can't engage in reading pop-culture articles without a response. I thought the article was very poorly thought out, and said so. But it got me interested in researching the so-called "Scottish connection posed by Edinburgh author Adam Ardrey, (apparently he has an axe to grind with the English and Christianity). I was also curious to see if there were any interesting rebuttals posted on the internet.

I couldn't access the original link to the article in question as my friend had unfriended me. Then I remembered my browser's History menu. Yes! So here it is:

Was King Arthur actually Scottish? New research assesses the evidence

(More to come once I process it... or you can take a gander over to the Celebrate Scotland site. What follows below are roughshod notes—as I try and sort out my thoughts on the page. Or try and write my way out of a paper bag. So consider this a draft in progress.)

What I wrote on my former friend's Facebook page: 
"Augh, these dim-witted articles drive me crazy. Wasn't a myth of English-speaking people, as no one was really speaking much by way of English yet. Briton, maybe, Cumbric. Welsh was still differentiating itself from Cumbric at the time. Nennius was a bit of a fabulator. Geoffrey of Monmouth was much worse. If so, Arthur would have to be king of the Dalriadic Scotti, not the modern Scots. And it would be spelled Artio(s) or Artiaus (the bear). The entire west of Britain was Cumbric-speaking after the 5th c., with pockets of Erse speakers, significantly in Eboricum, along the Clyde, the Hebrides, and to north.
The place-names mentioned in the article are, in essence, Welsh words. it's really hard to get Avalon/ Welsh Afallon; Breton Avallenn from Hinba, or Iona.
Then there's the problem that both the Bretons and the Irish also have Arthurian tale, not to mention that the oldest Arthurian tale, Culhwch and Olwen is in Welsh.
Must be some sort of sugar rush from swilling too much Irn Bru affecting their brains."
So, was that above post harsh enough to merit my banishment from the kingdom of Facebook Friendships?

OK, so what little we do know is that King Arthur of myth and legend, was busy fighting against the Anglo-Saxon foe, so he couldn't be English as the Angles become Anglish. The Kingdom of Scotland wasn't founded until ca. 839, or 850 AD, so Arthur also couldn't be Scottish, as there was no such thing as Scotland yet. Caledonia was populated with Pictish natives and Irish settlers.

The Irish Scotti of Ulster migrated en masse to the edge of the Pictish lands (in what is now western Scotland), and founded the Kingdom of Dalriada (Dál Riata) in Caledonia at the end of the 5th c., so, if King Arthur was Scottish, as the article claimed, by this same insane reasoning, wouldn't that make Arthur Irish, and not Scottish?? LOL.

Pictland eventually fell to the Irish Scotti in 839 AD., Certainly Arthur was a Celtic, maybe Cumbrian, or proto-Welsh, or Cornish, or possibly a Romano-British, war leader, but Scottish? But not Anglish. What would Bede say?

This article, from the Scotsman, offers a more balanced rendition (if only they didn't use the word "Scottish"; my goat dander is all up in a fluff:

Author Adam Ardrey claims that Arthur was actually Arthur Mac Aedan, the sixth-century son of an ancient King of Scotland. Ardrey claims that instead of the romantic English king of legend who lived at Camelot – which is often said to be Tintagel in Cornwall or in Wales – Arthur was actually Arthur Mac Aedan, the sixth-century son of an ancient King of Scotland, whose Camelot was a marsh in Argyll. Ardrey, an amateur historian who works as an advocate in Edinburgh and previously wrote a book claiming Merlin the wizard was actually a politician from Glasgow, spent years investigating his theories and says that they can be proved “beyond reasonable doubt”. The assertions in his book Finding Arthur: The True Origins Of The Once And Future King are strengthened by the discovery in 2011—what some experts believe is King Arthur’s round table at Stirling Castle. Read more here: The Scotsman

Arthur was an English king? Where did that memo come from? In the 6th c, there was no Scotland. Certainly not a Scottish king. Pictish, maybe. And Merlin was a Weegie politician? 'Splains a lot. Must've been a Tory. Ardrey's theories can be proved “beyond reasonable doubt”? Amateur historian, indeed.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Pillars of Creation

The composite photo of the Pillars, taken on April 1st, 1995, was composed of 32 images from four cameras, and the update (with a new wide field camera) is a tribute to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Hubble launch. Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)/J. Hester, P. Scowen (Arizona State U.) —Discover

When we view images of stars, galaxies and space clouds, we're seeing images of THEN. Not NOW. Past tense, as in from the backabeyond of time. In this case, 6-7000 light years ago, what we view now as the serenely beautiful columns of interstellar gas and dust, dubbed The Pillars of Creation, within the Eagle Nebula, existed then. But not now. We don't know what they look like now. It's a time-space continuum thing.

When we see photos of distant galaxies and star clusters, we're looking back into time. Literally. We only know what they looked like then.

Solar winds and exploding light waves of young hoodlum stars in the Eagle Nebula have crashed into hydrogen clouds that comprise The Pillars of Creation, some 6000 light years ago, and continue to do so. A star tantrum, a supernova explosion, disrupted the pillars in the blink of an eye, long ago. And we're just now getting the news.

The refracted light of myriad star nursery collisions some 6000 light years ago will reach us in about a thousand earth years hence. In this way, we see everything in the past tense. Only our brains are in the present tense of right now. What we see in theses photos right now may no longer exist. No longer exists. Existed.

The tallest pillar of The Pillars of Creation was—and I do mean was—four light years long, give or take a few miles. And we're just now seeing how it looked eons ago, in time present. We can't fathom what it looks like now. Even though we are looking at the latest updated Hubble images. Talk about time warp.

The original Pillars of Creation photo was taken April 1, 1995. Apparently the joke's on us.  And what about all those old Jackie Gleason TV shows that are headed toward the Andromeda Galaxy? Have they reached it yet? And what about Star Trek, for that matter? Happy 25th anniversary Hubble Telescope. You've boldly gone...
You can see the Pillars in the lower left quadrant of The Eagle Nebula —Wiki

I think the NASA image is so big, it broke Blogger, try again.
From Wiki

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Recipe for Bone Broth

Jaysus, so it's finally come to this, we now need tutorial recipes to make soup from bones? How/when did that happen? A nation of eejits. My cousins' children were making fun of my aunt for making bone soup, sawing eww and gross. I was flummoxed. That's how my grannie always made soup, with bones. Not out of a can. How do they think broth is made? How did it get into that Imagine carton? There's a great medieval cookbook, To the King's Taste (TTKT), and my Celtic Studies professor, the abfab Daniel F. Melia once queried us as to why the cookbook was created. Because people were beginning to forget how to cook, he said. I once put on an entire Chaucerian banquet using that cookbook. Smyting chicken and  beef into gobbets. OK, so the salmon head/skin soup was a little gross, but everything else was good, but it was a lot of work. And so it goes, a recipe for bone broth. TTKT. Stet.

Real rain in July

Excuse me, I needs must leave you all  for a short while to dance and twirl in the rain. Rain in July. Real rain. The wet kind. Big fat drops. Ah, the odor of petrichor in deep summer. We've had rain in June and in August, but July rain is rare. Shall I take a photo of the wet pavement to prove the existence of summer rain? I hung all my laundry on the clothesline this afternoon. They're wetter now than when I first hung them out to dry. All year long I've been leaving pillows out on the daybed to attract the rain. Maybe I should try salting the daybed with electronics to break the burden of this drought.

added, rev. 7/17

Oakland rainfall by year:
2015> 15, 10, 13, 15;
non drought years 2010> 20: 23, 21, 14, 14, 14, 28;

2005> 27, 6.5!!!, 20, 7!!!, (graph stops at 2001,
(I rounded down.up, did not include the .4s, etc,.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Shetland foal, H.M.S. Salt

My furbaby, Summer of 1971. I named the foal H.M.S. Salt because he loved salt, licking our hand clean. And he was like a little ship in the night. I should've named him Holiday, as he was probably born on Memorial Day weekend. Gusty brought him home, after having disappeared for over a month. I thought I had lost her for good. I was devastated. Her sister, Little One, who never quite got a proper name. At first we called her Dusty, but then name didn’t stick, everyone always referred to her as the little one. She was inconsolate with grief. She was a follower. Then she was an auntie pony.

I had no inkling that Gusty the Hussy had found Flash, a little silver dapple stud pony who lived down the road at the Hendrickson place, the year before... let alone, managed to get into his corral. Or vice versa. They were always escaping. Corrals? We don't need no stinkin' corrals. I spent many a moonlit night chasing my ponies up and down Arroyo Road.

I bought them from Bear Valley Stables for $25 each, as a surprise Christmas gift for my brother Guy (who didn't want them). Little One was supposed to be Guy’s pony but by then he had moved onto bicycles. 

I had tied a long string to a big Christmas card under the Christmas tree, that led out of the house to the basement to where they were munching hay. He looked pained and said that he didn’t want them, and handed the card back to me. I was crushed. I thought I was doing a good thing. It took me forever to save up for them. The price was $50 for one pony, or $25 each if I took both. A bargain. Two for one. Besides, they were so little, and so attached to each other. 

I blame the passage of time for the epic gift fail. When he said he wanted a pony for his birthday, it was in deep summer. It took me forever to save up for them. The price was $50 for one pony, or $25 each if I took both. A bargain. Two for one. Besides, they were so little, and so attached to each other. I don’t know if they were twins, or if Gusty was a year older, or if they had different mothers—but they were definitely orphaned sisters.

I stuck them both in the back seat of my Volvo van (you can see a corner of it in the photo), they were tiny and fearless together. When I sold them in 1972, as I was going off to Europe to work for the summer in Switzerland, they wound up back in Bear Valley, my vet, Doc Daniels bought them. They lived out their days in lush saltgrass pastures, tenderly administered to by little girls who loved them. The stud colt, and another feral pony who had adopted me, went north to Petaluma. I never saw any of them again. I was letting go of the albatross of the past so I could set sail to new islands. A bittersweet moment.


I was always at a loss as to what color to call my soot-faced ponies, they were not palominos, no cream or dilution gene—or the usual light-skinned/eyed colors; not chestnuts, no red in their coats, but they were closer to pale liver chestnuts with silver dapple gene (flaxen manes & tails, a completely different gene than palomino); they were not duns (no black points, mane, tail); and they were far too dark skinned/eyed for dusty, or chocolate palominos; note the dorsal stripe on the baby, who will turn dark like his mother. They were winter, or seasonal palominos, but their gray brown summer coats had pale dapples, their hooves striped, so silver dapple gene it is. A common Shetland color, as it turns out. 

My veterinarian, Dr. Daniels bought my ponies for his little girls and they lived not far from where I bought them, at Bear Valley Stables. Little One grew up and was renamed Musty. Finally she got a real name. Kim Daniels said that they rode her in the Point Reyes parade. They turned out to be real beauties. They gave so much joy to other little girls who rode them too (last photo). 

This was expanded revised 2020, 2021, when the last two photos magically appeared on Facebook, gifts giving me closure to a story of loss and grief that never quite healed itself.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

New Clothes for School

Me and Micaela Wall, August/September, 1965.

Throwback Thursday, end of summer, 1965. Me & my best friend, Micaela, getting ready for our first day of school. We were about to become big, bad 8th graders. Of course it was hotter than Hades...and I was modeling my new wool duds.

I was so excited to have real new clothes, a rarity, that despite triple-digit heat (Indian Summer), I'd persist in wearing them the first day of school though they were winter clothes. We're talking lined heavy wool skirts and mock turtleneck sweaters more suitable for East Coast winters, than autumn in California.

I'm wearing an itchy green mohair sweater and an acetate rayon-lined pleated green and white wool hounds-tooth checked skirt, both at least two sizes too big, so I could grow into them. I never did. Nor did I ever grow into the size 8.5 white shoes—I took a few tumbles running in those floppy clown-sized shoes. I took to sliding down our hill in them like skatefboards. I was so glad when they finally wore out. Of, course, I got in trouble for wearing them out so quickly.

This particular winter outfit was from a fancy department store, I.Magnin in San Francisco. It was a big once-in-a-lifetime fairy godmother gift shopping spree from a neighbor, for being a big girl. Rites of passage.

Poor Micaela didn't have a fairy godmother. So her red velvet dress with the black velvet ribbon, was a prized possession. Truth be known, I would've traded her dress for what I was wearing. Already I'm wilting in the heat while Micaela looks relatively cool in her cotton velvet number. 

We rarely got new clothes (my grannie's annual Christmas gift was quaint white cotton underwear sets from Macy's), so my extended family sometimes bought me winter clothing, as if preparing me for life's extreme challenges. No fair weather clothing, ever. Or sailing.

My new duds were gleaned from rummage sales and church bazaars, or my grannie made them. Every so often, there'd be a cock-up where a girl would recognize her old clothes on me, and cruelty ensued. I felt so shamed when the Tomasini girl from Nicasio sliced my ego to ribbons, sullying my favorite new dress.

I'm holding a peacock feather long before Marin was associated with them. Note the white shoes. Winter 62?, or 1963.
Micaela's father refused to buy her anything. Even used. So we had to make do. I sometimes gave her my old clothes, already old to begin with, but she soon outgrew me. So, that didn't work. I could sew, I had learned at an early age to make doll clothing on my grandmother's ornate black and gold 1928 Singer sewing machine. I also sewed my fingers up a few times too. I taught Micaela to sew on the ridiculous toy sewing machine her father bought her.

Our white shoes have taken on the patina of dust, last year's long jeans, now summer cutofffs. Summer of 64?

We couldn't afford new material or patterns, so we were inventive. Micaela and I re-made most of our own clothes repurposed from other people's old clothes. Late night sewing fests with that toy sewing machine revving like a race car, was our idea of a fun sleepover.

Shopping was not like today where you can go to any mall,  anywhere in the world, and get the same name brand clothes. Terra Linda's Northgate Mall hadn't yet been built, and the flagship Corte Madera shopping center (1958) had a Monkey Wards, a JC Penny's, a tux shop, a Cala supermarket (a new concept), and not much else. One of the first post-war modern suburban malls, built in Seattle, in 1950, also a Northgate, followed by Stonestown in San Francisco, 1952, ushered in the concept of modern shopping as we know it.

I can't remember if Micaela bought this red velvet A-line dress or if it was something she made from another old dress. But it was a score. Probably a gift from her stepsisters: Tina or Sonia. The only ready money we had was from doing errands for neighbors, or babysitting at 25 cents an hour. And we were far too young to get very many jobs. I'm sure there's a story behind her dress. There were stories behind all our clothing. 

I suspect Micaela's pin was liberated from the Sausalito Trade Fair or the Village Fair. When it came to high fashion, we made do with smoke and mirrors and creative makeovers. It helped that my absentee mother was a costume designer, so there were always bags of interesting clothing scraps stashed in our basement.

We were the teenybopper queens of repurposed clothing. Perhaps the most extreme clothing makeover, was when we took a conservative 50s style, long green corduroy pencil skirt, and split it in two along the seams lengthwise, to make two mini skirts (sideways). It was Micaela's score so I got stuck with the back half of the skirt, and had to work a kick-pleat and zipper hole into my design. A strategically placed pocket came to the rescue. 

Clearly, that top photo with the wool skirt that I was so proud of, was from the pre- miniskirt phase. When we wore our new twin mini skirts to high school (in 1966-67), we both got into trouble, turned into the office by different teachers, even though we had tights on, and were covered up to our necks. Busted. With the brevity of our skirts, we'd triggered an unknown indecency rule. No matter that Mary Quandt had pioneered the look in 1964. And Twiggy was the rage.

I think we were both sent home from school that day for testing the limits on how short a mini skirt could be.

My grandmother made my 8th Grade graduation dress trimmed with Irish lace. It had a purple empire ribbon decked with real bluebells of Ireland (campanula) under my non-existent bust, ca. 1966-67.