Thursday, November 26, 2015

Home alone, sick, sick of turkey on Thanksgiving, but hey, the turkey soup is sublime, come on in

I abdicated on going out to a Thanksgiving feast this evening as I was a bit under the weather, and I didn't want to be around people, or be hacking on everyone. I was glad for the excuse. I wasn’t up for it, and couldn’t rise to the occasion. Also, I'm a bit turkey'd out from my impromptu self-thrown birthday bash on Tues. And we've another birthday party lined up for Saturday (not mine), and a huge Thanksgiving feast to attend on Sunday! Pacing myself.

See, I bought a bird for Thanksgiving, and all the trimmings, but Neil got a last-minute invite to an old friend’s party. I could see that he’d rather be with them, than staying home with me. It was pretty obvious. No loyalty toward the sick here. Not his kind of thing. Celebrating Thanksgiving at their house was his tradition, not mine. 

Truth be known, I didn’t particularly enjoy being around them—over the top Orinda suburbia is so much work, so I was glad for an excuse not to go. No forced cadaver smiles and inane chitchat for the crowd. He lives for that kind of stuff, for me it’s sheer agony on a good day. It takes up too much energy and bandwidth, of which I’m in short supply. He went on to the party alone. House to myself. Blessed peace and quiet with a little downtime for dessert.

Unfortunately, if I don't feel great, my make-happy face slapped on haphazardly for a crowd of relative strangers, is arguably the same face as my resting bitch face. I can’t fake that stuff. And there’s always the inevitable mention of my inconvenient birthday, no one wants to acknowledge they missed again, hastily swept under the carpet. Not the same as being with family. They forget my birthday too but I don’t have to put on a happy face for them. Mind your Ps & Qs and all that. (My cousins had to work, so we'll probably also have a make-up date there as well.) 

You know how sound is so visceral when you don't feel good? Almost like having synaesthesia. Flannelly, with vague popcorn overtones. Couldn't abide the hubbub of a party. Besides, I’m dozy, and gravelly-eyed with nurgling innards, and a cough, Ugh. I picked up something a while ago and I got chilled and overtired, and it came knocking back. Virus, though, not flu.  

Since Neil was away to the burbs for Thanksgiving, I needed to cook that blasted bird brining away in a beer cooler swamp in the back yard. I've never brined a turkey before. (Thank you Alton Brown!) So I threw meself a wee surprise party and cooked the turkey on Tuesday—I was surprised that it was so divine, and the brined carcass made for a great soup. Just don’t add salt.

I think I'm just peopled out too. I cleaned up after my party yesterday, made the soup straightaway, but I felt like I was in a quagmire of quicksand. And I kept thinking I'm just overtired, until about 4 AM—when it struck with a vengeance. I began feeling better by the afternoon, but I was lying down all day. I sure didn't want to face a roomful of strangers, all I could envision was curling up with a book, OK, well, so it's a warm MacBook purring on my lap, a Kindle app, and soup.

Grandma always made soup from chickens and turkey carcasses so it comes natural to me. I make a pretty good soup too. Lots of vitamins & minerals in the carcass, so it's a good ting to have. Most people don't know how to make soup, which is sad, as it was such a staple in our house. Nothing out of cans and cartons—like now. Secret is to add a lot of wine or vinegar to the broth to draw the goodies out. Don't boil it too hard either. Lots of whatever's left over in the fridge goes in the pot too. Lots of onion and garlic. The idea of soup is a longed for time, home in the distant past.

Tuesday's turkey carcass is now a lovely soup, which I made yesterday. Apparently, for today. Soop, beautiful soop. That's all that I live for... Happy Thanksgiving from the soup pot. And with a nod to Oliver, the Musical. Soon enough it will be time to gird your loins, let the Christmas season commence.

From a Facebook post, added, rev. 11.26.20

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Salvaging old files (again)

Having grown weary of scanning and transcribing old journals (from the pre-electronic era), for poems and journal entries, since mid-October I mosied on over to my MFA papers, and collections folders, where I found lots of material I'd forgotten about. A few of my missing poems from 2000-2003, for starters. The beggars!

I also found a treasure trove of folklore collections for Alan Dundes, and book synopses from my Celtic Romanticism class at UC Berkeley. Wish I had discovered them when I was prepping for my Celtic bard talk at Sacramento Poetry Center last month.

Some of those lean middle years of little writing posted on my blog, suddenly swelled to respectable numbers. But alas, there were few poems, and a few pieces I was hunting down an electronic copy of, were corrupt beyond belief. I took a few screen shots. Ugh. (See below.) The worst culprits seem to be from the Works 2, and Word 4 era; they were updated to Word 5, and beyond, but they ghosted themselves into ASCII oblivion anyway. Word 5 docs also didn't fare well.

The early pre-electronic years on this blog have gained many entries. It makes for an interesting timeline. I did that then? So while some writers are deep into NaNoWriMo, I'm spelunking the past for treasure, and revising some pieces. My NaRevWriMo.

In order to rescue corrupted files, I experimented with different applications, and discovered that sometimes those blank docs would reveal some of their secrets if I used other word processing programs (not Word, itself), and I opened them in TextEdit, RTF, etc.) Usually cracking a document open, revealed all the corrections as well as random ASCII bits. In other words, hodgepodge.

I am constantly correcting and updating my work. That's what writers do. Revise, revise, revise. Imagine every iteration you ever wrote, saved all in one doc., in fragments, like an old laundry pile. That's what lurks behind the scene on your Word.doc. (What you see is but a shell hiding the messiness of writing, rewriting, and endless saving—not to mention your printer's vital stats.) In other words, it's a word salad. Not useful. More like electronic cuneiform. In my attempt to salvage some of those docs, I've rewritten poems, so are they new poems, or old poems?

And since I've backed up all my old files onto new hard drives, I've merely copied the corrupted files there too. Yiii! I do have some old work on CDs, from 2000-2003, so that's my last hope, other than finding hard copy.

My advice to you all: don't assume your old files from the last century, are safely backed up on old hard drives and floppy disks. Open them up and air them out, then transcribe them to a new format before it's too late. Otherwise the cybergods will find them and eat them up—like moths to cashmere sweaters deep in the closet of time.

A Response to a FB Post Conflating Vikings with Bronze Age Celts

((Note bene: Because this piece begins in medias res, right in the middle of things, it doesn't have an introductory lead-in paragraph. I didn't know I was going to get so involved in it, or I would've saved the Facebook poster's statement. At one point, in her attempt to equate all things Celtic as Scottish, she conflated Vikings with Bronze Age Celts, by then, I was gnashing my teeth. Hence this bloggy bit. Of course, at this point, I'm writing into the void, as she'll never lay eyes on this post. Hopefully it will entertain you. There are some cool maps at the bottom too. This is how my Irish redheads blog evolved as well. In bits and pieces. Unlike Athena who sprung, full grown from Zeus's forehead, I have to ramble about to get to where I'm going—and I often know not where. And so, here we are, together again.)

Dear Historically-Challenged Reader,

The Vikings were LATE on the Irish cultural event horizon by nearly 2000 years. They had less influence in Ireland than what they were given credit for. Not only that, they were quickly assimilated in Ireland.

That's what happens when you marry Irish women, their children are half Irish, whose sons will who marry more Irish women, so they're now only 1/4 Viking in two generations. You see where that goes—since the Vikings brought few Viking women to Ireland.

And Viking power waned after the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 at the hands of Irish High King, Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig. If the Norsemen hadn't attempted to impose taxes in Munster, then, Irish history might have been different, then Viking influence would have had a profound impact.

Viking heritage in Ireland is but a drop in the bucket of time. Viking settlement and rule lasted roughly 200 years. And of course, those Icelandic Vikings had a lot of Irish ancestry, as the migratory brunt came from the Dublin Norse stronghold. See  the Icelandic Laxdæla saga, and Burnt Njall's saga, etc., rife with Irishmen and Irish women—most favored as slaves and feisty concubines.

Yes, the Vikings did settle permanently in Shetland, but the Celts (and pre-Celts) who lived there before the Vikings arrived, never actually went away. There's the historical misnomer. (Lots of Celtic DNA survives to this day.) Ditto with the Viking settlements in the Hebrides, and the Isle of Man. The Celts, or more technically correct, the Irish Scoti as they were called (which does NOT mean they were Scottish, but Irish), eventually drove the Vikings out. (Battle of Largs.)

Also that marrying/taking the Irish women thang, applies here too. Somerled, Lord of the Isles, was more Irish than Viking by blood (and by allegiance). The Norse-Irish culture was hybrid, not just Viking.

BTW, the word Scotland comes to us via Latin naming by way of Ireland. Scotia Major was Ireland, and because there were so many Irish living in what is now called Scotland, which was known as Scotia Minor until the 11thc. and the term was still used up to the 16th c.).

Isidore of Seville in 580 CE wrote: "Scotia and Hibernia are the same country." Adomnán, St. Columba's 3rd cousin, referred to the Gaels as Scotti.

It wasn't until the 15th c., that Pope Leo X (1475-1521) decreed that Scotland was, well, Scotland, and as such, had exclusive right over the word Scotland, which resulted in a huge landgrab as the English-Scots took over Irish monasteries on the Continent (i.e., Schottenklöster Irish Benedictine monasteries in south Germany taken over by Scots.).
Schottenklöster (meaning "Gaelic monasteries" in German, singular:Schottenkloster) is the name applied to the monastic foundations of Scottish and Irish missionaries in Continental Europe, particularly to the [Irish] Benedictine monasteries in Germany, which in the beginning of the 13th century were combined into one congregation whose abbot-general was the Abbot of the Scots monastery at RegensburgWiki
So there must've been internecine Irish/Scottish/English squabbling over who owned what, and perhaps some genuine confusion, for a pope to adjudicate as to what country owned the placename. The Irish monks got kicked out of their own monasteries; I'm sure there were some seriously irritated Irishmen. I bet full coffers were also at stake.

So, the next time you notice that Lindisfarne is referred to as an Anglo-Saxon monastery, that's propaganda, the polar opposite of historicity, at work. It was an Irish founded Hiberno-Saxon venture. But I digress. (If Blogger had a sidebar, this would be encapsulated, but I don't want to start another post.)

Where was I?

As to your note on the Viking and Irish similarities in artwork, therefore the Vikings must've taught the Irish how to utilize knotwork design, the Irish practically invented it! The La Tène culture, the source behind a lot of Irish art, equally predates the Viking era by 2000 years. A lot of native British Celtic art is erroneously attributed to Anglo-Saxons in Great Britian, who also predate the Vikings. (The Irish and the Britons shared many cultural traits, including artifacts. Then there was the British-Irish_Anglo-Saxon hybrid culture that followed.

I would venture to say that the Insular art style with Celtic spirals, curvilinear, and geometric shapes employed in the Book of Durrow were not influenced by Norse or Viking raiding artisans. This kind of complex, intricate art did not suddenly spring forth in a brand new art form, the illustrated book arts. Especially when one's homeland was being invaded by Vikings. So what came first? Chicken or egg? (See folios 1v, 85v, 125v at bottom of Wiki page.)

There's more of a correlation with Anglo-Saxon art, and even that was a hybrid art form, later called the Hiberno-Saxon style. I find no Germanic Continental evidence of this Insular art form. What each of these cultures have in common, is exposure to Insular Celts. Early medieval Celtic book treasure bindings were highly coveted by the Vikings. One can only imagine what the lost treasure cover for the Book of Kells looked like.
Various metal fragments of what were probably book-mounts have survived, usually adapted as jewellery by Vikings. —Wiki
(Also, the Bronze Age Celts, and Celtic culture dominated the Continent, so some of their artifacts could have been found by what later become the ancestors of the Vikings.) There was cultural contact. But there's scant evidence that Viking artifacts predate Irish and Celtic art styles. To make an absurd parallel, many little girls the world over love Hello Kitty, that doesn't mean they were all Japanese samurai.

Gospel of Mark, Book of Durrow, 650-700 AD. —Wiki

The Vikings were raiders, they brought back artifacts from other cultures, which in turn, influenced their art. Geometric interlace doesn't appear in Viking culture until after they had contact with Britain and Ireland. They also brought back (Irish) slaves, who were artisans....Again, keep in mind the timeline, and it was a hybrid culture].

(See mid-9th c. Oseberg ship-burial. Artifacts included the Oseberg bucket, with patterned enamel figures similar "to the Gospel books of the Insular art of the British Isles, such as the Book of Durrow, (ca.650 AD)." —Wiki, and Irish Archaeology.

Several Viking ships in Roskilde Fjord, and the Skuldelev ships were made in Ireland. So claiming who did/owned what in the past is never quite as simple as it seems from our perspective. We don't know who carved the ships, and, again, it was a hybrid culture. Also, there was no timber in Iceland, so Icelandic ships too would've been built in Ireland or wood imported to Scandinavia.)

Book of Durrow Carpet page, similar in style to the Oseberg bucket, 650-700 AD. —Wiki
Check out the timeline, The Vikings (780–1100), and this one, but keep in mind that much of what we think of as Viking art was the result of artifacts collected from other cultures during raiding.

If you get a good grasp of the pre-Classical, Classical, and post Classical Celtic cultures, and migrations, then it will all make more sense.

Unfortunately working from a knowledge base that dates to the Plantation of Ulster as a reference point, is politically biased, therefore suspect. History written in the voice of the victor, and all that. Also, the intense hatred the English harbored for the ethnic Irish has also adversely colored "history." So, most Irish connections were extirpated. The OED is a prime example.

In Scotland, a lot of so-called Scots, were actually Irish. The Industrial Revolution, and two famines meant that many Irish immigrated to Scotland—especially The Barrows in Glesga, and along Clydebank (ships).

Yes, the Romans named the Picts, Picti, after a Continental Picti tribe, who were probably from the same Gaulish tribe. Picts were probably P-Celtic vs. Q-Celtic speakers. The Picts were also in N. Ireland, they were called the Cruithne, or Cruithín (they have an asteroid named after them, LOL!) The Cruithne/Criuthín included several tuatha, including the the Dál nAraidi—who settled in Scotland. Qritani/Cruithne comes from the word *pritenī (Pretani). Q-Celtic Irish speakers hated the plosive P sound and swapped it out for a more gutteral cough sound, hard c/q/k C: Cruithne/Pritani. mac/map, etc.

Ireland had many P-Celtic speaking tribes, as well as Q-Celtic speakers (Gaels, Galicia). See Ptolemy's map of Ireland for tribal names: Briganti, Dumnoni, etc. Cruithni and Menapi were probably Gaulish. The Ganganoi were also in N. Wales. In the 5th c AD, Gwynned was an Irish enclave, so there was a lot of back and forth movement.
A rendition of Ptolemy's map (Vlaclav Hollar, ca. 1650s-70s) —Wiki
Julius Caesar, in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico, is the first to call the island Hibernia... Wiki

Galicians were not Spaniards, but Iberian Celts, one of many CeltIberian tribes. Asturias, Galicia were Celtic kingdoms that managed to survive until the Middle Ages. They probably were the original Hispania immigrants who settled in Ireland, according to the Lebor Gabala Erenn (where the name Scotia is chronicled.)

In the Song of Amergin, the first Gael to settle in Ireland, (Galician) poet-druid Amergin (mac) Mil quells the sea, after the very tall Tuatha Dé Danánn send a big wind spell, proving he was a bigger, badder druid, than they. And to really ridiculously telescope mythological time, they slunk away, shrank, went underground, and became the fairyfolk!

Here's a lovely Roman world view map of Scotland & Eire; note the use of the word Scotti in N. Ireland. Note also that Scotland was not called Scotland, but Valentia, and Caledonia. The Brigantes of Maxima Caesariensis were a buffer between Caesariens (Roman Britain) and what we now refer to as Scotland. Only Southern England, Kent, Cornwall and Devon (Cantii, Damnonii and Belgae tribes) was called Brittania.

Roman Britain —Wiki

Another old map.

Roman Britain in 410 —Wiki

And an updated 1654 map that chronicles Scotland as Scotia and Ireland as Hibernia/Ivverna. Pope Leo X (1475-1521) decreed (when?) that Scotland had exclusive rights to the term Scotland.
In early medieval times Ireland was known not only as Éire but also as Scotia, a name that the Romans used at times to refer to Ireland as well as Scotland. —Wiki

A 1654 map that notes Scotia as Scotland and Hibernia/Ivverna —Wiki

Friday, November 20, 2015

Meeting Annie Leibovitz

“The camera makes you forget you’re there. It’s not like you are hiding but you forget, you are just looking so much.” – Annie Leibovitz

Don't I know about that one. Bearing witness, so intimate, yet, one is removed from the event. Sometimes the camera renders one invisible. I met Annie once at a museum opening of her work, and the work of Hung Liu. Larger than life, Annie was hardly invisible! I was pretty chuffed, I even have a photo of her. But it's out of focus, as if the lens couldn't take all of her in.

Snow Mountain Wilderness, our Newest National Monument

Sierra Club photo, The Davis Enterprise
In winter, whenever we traveled back from the Sierras after skiing, we'd look for the sun setting in the Berryessa Gap, and then we'd look to the north, where Snow Mountain stood out like a sentinel, dusted with snow in an otherwise indistinct long, dark ridge of coastal mountains. 

I always longed to visit Snow Mountain, but we never did. Whenever we were headed east to the Sierras from the Bay Area, it was too far out of the way. Returning home, we were too tired from skiing. When we traveled north on Highway 99 (what later became I-5,) in summer, I'd look longingly at the peaks, but farther, more exotic, mountain ranges beckoned. Again, Snow Mountain was too far off the beaten path to be a convenient side trip.

That is not to say we didn't visit many of the dirt roads of the North Coast, driving from Ukiah to WIlber Hot Springs, or Orr's Springs, on isolated forest roads to the coast. (I was sure we were going to die up there one time when we got lost on one long east-west ridge).

Or a hair-raising detour to Humboldt County's Lost Coast, when it truly was lost. And a memorable drive to the southern lip of the mouth of the Klamath River in Del Norte County. But we never made it to Snow Mountain. On my bucket list.

At 7,056 feet, the east peak of Snow Mountain, one of the highest mountains in the Northern California coastal range, supports an astounding array of biodiversity.

Surrounded by deep canyons and a steep elevation gain, several ecological biomes are compressed, resulting in biological sky-islands. Added to that, the geology, with serpentine, greenstone and basalt, as well as an array of sedimentary rocks, creates unique and diverse biomes.

More than 500 species of plants including mountain mahogany, rare Sonoma manzanita, pygmy stands of Sargent's cypress and serpentine willow, as well as 122 species of wildlife, including Tule elk, threatened species, Western pond turtle, and endangered sooty grouse, not to mention nearly half of California’s 108 species of damsel- and "kamakazi" dragon-flies, call Snow Mountain Wilderness area home.

BLM photo (dead link, thanks #45.)
In spring, a dazzling display of wildflowers that rivals that of Lancaster's Antelope Valley's poppy preserve, paint the slopes in impressionist splashes of golden, and lupine hues.

Tuleyome Conservation Group photo, The Davis Enterprise 
Part of the North Coastal Mountain range, the twin summits of Snow Mountain are the result of an ancient upthrust seamount. Sort of like my favorite volcanic plug, Morro Rock, and her 12 (not 7, or 9) Oligocene epoch sisters (23-28 million years old). Both were volcanos born from tectonic faults, but it seems that Snow Mountain was a slightly younger undersea volcano from the Miocene epoch.

Snow Mountain is an interesting melange, both genetically, and geologically speaking, with serpentine; greenstone, basalt and pillow lava—submarine volcanic rocks that commuted from far west of California, courtesy of tectonic uplift, as well as a full compliment of sedimentary rocks from the North American plate. Some, laid down during the Miocene epoch, when the Central Valley was an inland sea.

The Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument —of which the Snow Mountain Wilderness is a part of, includes portions of seven counties; Glenn, Lake, Colusa, Mendocino, Yolo, Napa, and Solano counties.

The Snow Mountain Wilderness, itself, is comprised of parts of Glenn, Colusa and Lake counties. Both Lake and Colusa counties share the remote summits of Snow Mountain. The highest point, the east peak (7,056 ft.) is ithe highest point in Lake County, and the west peak (7,040 ft.) is the highest point in Colusa County. One of the largest swaths of undeveloped public lands in the middle of all this urban density, Berryessa Snow Mountain is truly California’s undiscovered country.

Now that it's our newest (and largest) national monument, there's no excuse not to visit Snow Mountain. Along with Pinnacles National Monument (the closest I've been to The Pinnacles is Cholame, where James Dean died, and yes, that was on my bucket list). Both are located in our proverbial greater back yard. Time to dust off that bucket list.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Power management engineer

My Apple wifi keyboard has been freaking out because I refuse to change the batteries, I get lots of helpful popup windows, and tutorials on how to change the batteries just in case I'm not clear on the concept.

At battery level at 10%, so far, I've managed to eke out at least three months worth of juice; it's now at 5% charge, I'm working on my 2nd month of dying batteries, and it hasn't dropped down to, say, 3%. So those dire warnings are some serious malarkey. It does cut out from time to time, but it always did.  I do, however, get odd letters and artifacts whenever I type.

If I have to use batteries at all, I'm gonna use them until the bitter end. And even when the end is nigh, they're good fr a couple of months on my wifi mouse, then the kitchen clock gets 'em. In that order.

My cameras get first battery dibs, BTW. Keyboard gets 2nd battery dibs, along with the flashlights. Anyone else eke out every available bit of energy from batteries? I get 2-4 separate life cycles out of them.

Alas, the rechargeables (or cheap/regular batteries) will not work at all in my cameras...that's how I got into this bizarre battery management system to begin with.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Red Hair, A German Trait?

This is a comment from my Viking-Irish Redhead Gene Myth blog post turned into a blogeen of its own. I've reposted it here. I wind up doing so much research in order to answer people's comments, it takes me hours to write a rebuttal. Maybe it'll turn into a full post later.
Ross Hunter said...

Red hair is actually a very German trait. I know this not only from my own family history going back several hundred years on my Mom's side of the family, but also from my personal studies on many sources. Even the book "Germania", written around the year 98AD, describes the Germans as having "rutilae comae" which is reddish hair. The Romans who came into contact with the Germans brought that trait into their own society, thus the now large number of red haired Italians. The Germans were described as very warlike in in Germania, and in idle times, they often dreamed of waging their next war. While that may seem to put them in a romantic light, it's actually not that awesome considering their attrition rate. They also were said to have practiced human sacrifice and held a lot of superstitions at the time. They were described as "indians" and wore very little clothing.

I'm actually surprised that people don't associate red hair with Germans more often than they do, it's actually pretty common, even the old bog bodies from Germany have well preserved reddish to golden red hair. Sure, things have changed a lot in the modern days, but there is a lot of historical, concrete evidence to support this. APRIL 27, 2015
Maureen Hurley said...
Dear Ross Hunter,

Sorry I never commented back I must've missed it. A few notes on Germany and redheads. What is now present day Germany now was not Germany then. Much of what is Germany now, was actually Celtic territory, not German. Especially Bavaria, and the area around Cologne.

The bog bodies were found in present day northern Germany, etc., but that doesn't make them German. We tend to use current political boundaries to define ancient peoples, and that is a false syllogism. Ahlintel Man, and others were from Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein, which was part of Jutland, so they could also be Frisian/Danish/Scandinavian/Celtic bog bodies.

However, the Nienburg (and the Jastorf) had material cultural characteristics similar to Celtic cultures.... It should, as the Nienburg culture (grave goods, and weaponry) was the northward thrust of the Hallstatt culture. Some La tene influence as well.

The thing to keep in mind here is that Hallstatt was NOT a Germanic culture. Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein were not settled by the Germans unto the 3-7th c.s AD., considerably later than the bog-folk. At any rate, there is archaeological evidence of isolated Celtic settlements as well in Jutland.

Hair color is impossible to determine on a bog body as bog water, heavy in tannins, both leaches and stains. DNA analysis would have to be done to determine if they were redheads. Blond or grey hair would stain read in bog water, so it's not a reliable indicator.

"There has also been migration from former Celtic areas into Scandinavia .... investigations at Dosenmoor, Schleswig-Holstein, and Svanemose, Jutland, Boreas " —The Germani - Haplogroup I2b1 info

There were Celts also in the Netherlands, and many bog bodies were found near Drenthe.

The Celts lived on both sides of the Rhine. Caesar, when he was thumping the war chest coffers stretched the truth a bit (a lot). Hw said that the Gauls were an awful foe, and that the "Germans" were even worse, so he could get funding. Tacitus stretched the truth even further, both did so, to meet their own political needs—which was to get more money from the senate.

Remember, victory was written in the voice of the winners, who had a political agenda. We need to read those old texts with a grain of salt. Rhetoric.

Part of the confusion lies in the fact that the word Germania is not a German tribe, just like Teutates: both are Celtic words. Germania is actually a Celtic war cry, and Teutates, was a Celtic god.

I have read Tacitus carefully, and many of the names he uses are linguistically Celtic, not Germanic, so methinks he was fabricating just a bit. They also could have been a Celto-Germanic tribe. But culturally and linguistically, many of the peoples that Tacitus described, were Celtic, not Germanic.

As to those red-haired Italians, the north of Italy was settled by the same Celts that settled in Anatolia. Especially around Ravenna, Modena, the Po Valley, and the mountains: it was called Cis-Alpine Gaul. So yes, the red-hair gene would be dominant in the north.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Revising Old Poems by Writing them Backwards

Seeking poetry prompts for November, and finding none, I decided to go to NaWriPoMo 2015 webpage and work my way backwards down last April's prompts. The very last prompt (my first prompt) is/was to write an old poem backwards. (I'm not sure if it improves them any...)

 Here's the prompt:
Start with the last line and work your way up the page to the beginning. Another way to go about this might be to take a poem you’ve already written, and flip the order of the lines and from there, edit it so the poem now works with its new order.

Something about the measuring of days
brings me closer to poetry.
I feel the lines surge through me, 
as I wind my way along backroads
to my cousin's house in Nicasio,
and I let every one of them go.

MEASURING THE DAYS (original poem)
23 Sept 1995


Your hard mouth on my body
Sweet breath on my lips
Tell me, how would you play me
If I were a harmonica?

10/11/2015AURAL FIXATION  (original poem)


With the coinage of fish
the river is silvered
and dreams crackle
under the burden of the sky.
Who sobs for untold fortunes
with silver borrowed from the dead?
Who will pay the gypsies fortune
to line the dark side of the moon?

FRAGMENTS OF THE MOON (original poem)


When the price is up,
never plant potatoes,
someone's father said.
All those eyes watching

Did the astronaut's feet
sink deep into the moondust
and did they lose their way
walking on the moon's face like that?

BANTU RHYTHMS: MOONDUST  (original poem)

—from Matisse's Goldfish
—for Roger Kent

Against the barely discernible rise
and fall of sheets, small dark pebbles
reflect a fiery sky along a dark shore.
Oxygen tanks hiss, and fish lazily fan dance
delicate fins, gape open-mouthed,
where a jungle of philodendron vines
climb skyward to a lofty ceiling.

Roger is going down for his afternoon nap.
The small dogs keep a slow 4/4 time
as he shuffles off to the bedroom
and his emphysemic breathing
is like the wheezing lift that belches
decay from the basement

into the black & white tiled hall
of the old colonial mansion,
filled with stories and long blue shadows.
& we stir baskets of dried maile leaves,
mementos of island weddings.

Near the weary rattan chair,
a luminous fog hovers
and settles on pale rocks.
Four bored tangerine-colored fish
in the glass globe, mouth their food
and spit it out again, as they rise
to the surface like birds
and gasp for air.

Philodendron, and red hibiscus,
explode in a tropical sunset
against the coral wall.
The oxygen tanks rhythmically hiss
like waves pounding on the far shore.

DARK SHORE  (original poem)


On La Avenida de Reforma,
tall hotels swayed and sloughed
off their balconies, like beaded dresses
and from those hanging gardens
an abundance of flowers danced 
and jilted to the buckled streets—
terremoto shimmied into
Teotihuacan's quaking bed.

SE ME CAYO   (original poem)
Sept 19, 1985


Mt. Rainier floats, sublime, at dawn.
Yesterday the face of the glacier 
gave way and 11 people were gone.
Evening sky, the color of salmonberries.
House finches nesting in the eaves
rearrange themselves and chatter.
Volkswagen engine valves clatter.
People make long-distance calls.
Slot machines collect change 
at the end of the line.
the Straits blend into fog,
the horizon, indistinct as this morning.
I awaken in a glass house.

Short haiku of sorts  (original poem)
July? 1981


Hunting under cover of darkness
for prehistoric prey in a literate world,
will my eyes reflect phosphor tubes,
or will I pass for a feral night animal?
If I work in total darkness 
with only a limited memory,
Is there total enlightenment 
at the end of the screen
or is the dark worse than the byte?

RANDOM ACCESS MEMORY  (original poem)


To far horizons, distant shores
her eyes wander, dark
shadows drawing her in,
but he interfered with space and time.
Our history lies with God, he said.
But her eyes wander anyway.
When the breath dies, she said,
it leaves a fingerprint on the soul
like a potter's mark in clay.
Don't draw on the windows
he said, it leaves ugly smears.
In this fogged breath, she said,
breathing on the window,
& drawing two hearts entwined,
this whole history is contained.



Tonight there's a thin promise
of rain in the air. More of a veiled threat 
of clouds hovering over parched earth, 
teasing the horizon into submission.
But her eyes gather in the storm.
As he turns to go, her image ripples
in all the ponds of the world, leaving him 
stranded behind those lichen eyes. 
By the green pond, she stands,
impenetrable as the surface, 
& conversation drifts and snags 
amid the reeds. She's still waiting for him
to make a move. One way or another.
But a storm gathers in the direction of her eyes,
& I awoke holding onto this small fragment
like a raft. 

GATHERING STORM  (original poem)
June 29, 1979


a breath of sunshine
liked a snake tasting
a slipstream of thought
carries me to where I wander
and I learn from breathing in.
What is there to conclude
if logic is deduction,
and deduction, logic?
I take my breathing slow
and wake to the dawn.

3 Poems from Michael Dow workshop (original poem)

What, no NaNoWriMo for Poets?

Expecting to see a poetic equivalent to NaNoWriMo, I waited for those writing prompts to magically appear on Facebook. Not even a peep from Molly Fisk (unless she took it offline, and I missed the announcement).

What, there's no NaNoWriMo for poets this year? After what Canada's new Le Dreamy PM said today, that the world needs more poets?

“…we need poets to change the world.” -Justin Trudeau, PM

So I decided to go to NaWriPoMo 2015 and work my way backwards down the prompts. The last (my first prompt is/was to write a poem backwards.
Start with the last line and work your way up the page to the beginning. Another way to go about this might be to take a poem you’ve already written, and flip the order of the lines and from there, edit it so the poem now works with its new order.
What tickles me about this assignment is that I've been combing old journals and posting old work to fluff out my blog timeline all month long, so this is write up my alley! (*Stet.).

It's so hard not to tear into that old work, and rewrite it. I'm thinking archivilly. Well, strangely, this gives me permission. I may not even get past this first/last prompt. (OK, so I do tweak them a bit, but I put a rev. note at the bottom, OK?).

I've been using Scannable with my iPod (eyepod?) to take a snapscan of old journal entries as the ink's migrated—especially where I used black le Pens, black ink with breakaway yellow auras, almost unreadable. Some of the lavender and green pens were fugitive colors. Dark cobalt blue ink stained right on through to the other side. Usually on the pages where i did little marginalia drawings that I'd love to have a clean copy of. Another task for Photoshop. Later.

Scannable, though quirky as all get-up, does a decent job of eliminating most of the notorious ink bleeds so I can at least read the text. But the cleanup job in Photos is mighty tedious. Then, I discovered I could send them to iBook and make a PDF. Soon I will have an online collection of my old journals from 1979 to 2000 on my iPad. To say the least, I am suffering from eyestrain, so every little bit helps.

I've got a photo system rigged up with a music stand for the iPad, a podium for my journals, and wedges of black cardboard to mask unwanted sides and portions—as the app goes wild and takes photos of plaid pillows, my hands, etc., and a light array, dampened with paper shields to cut the glare. Very ad hoc. But it works. Until it doesn't work. Then my pages look skewed and drunk.

This also means that I can rescue the journal that took a dive into the Szecheny Baths in Budapest, rendering my Austria and Hungary travel writing into a series of Rorschach inkblots. (LOL, I wrote Rorschit, my Freudian slip's showing).

Now if only I could figure out how to get those huge PDFs of my journals off the iPad, as they're ghosts in the machine, only visible in iBooks. No way to access them. And I prefer the big screen and my old Mac for reading and writing. 

Also, if I can read my texts on the big screen, blowing it up huge, so I can see it, then I can use my Dragon Dictate iPad app to turn that hen-scratching into an editable format. 

Alas, Dragon Dictate is very hard of hearing, and somewhat senile, or it daydreams of being in Herorot, so it's no marriage made in heaven. It capitalizes all common nouns, and can't understand simple words like hair, ear, sea, etc., though it records all my Oh fer fucksakes, just fine.

It's like a bad case of tin can dictaphoniitis. Alas, they're not very interesting aural mistakes, either. Most of the time I'm left puzzling over what on earth I was saying. So I make something up. Or eliminate it altogether. Needless to say, I've a lot of gibberish posts stuck in draft mode. The Blogger's version of the Twilight Zone.

Changing the world, one poem at a time, I am.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Writing Down the Bone Soup

A writer friend, Penelope la Montagne, posted on Facebook, that she was grateful for the "clean your refrigerator kind of soup." Nothing quite like homemade soup on a chilly day, made from fridge leftovers and a can of chicken broth. You can never quite replicate the exact goodness each time you made it. But it always warms the "ccckies of your heart," said Penelope. That made me giggle. What kind of cookies? Oreos?

I guess the fridge leftovers are crucial components of making decent stone soup. Sometimes it's called nail soup. But stone soup has a better ring to it than nail soup. Eww, not those kind of nail parings. Though if you had enough of hooves, I suppose it would work. Or you might wind up with a pot of glue to hang that hideous wallpaper you've been saving. 

How to make stone soup. First, you begin with a large pot, better wash it out. When's the last time you used it? I mean, really. Oh, the cat was hiding in it? Now, nearly fill it (the pot, not the cat) with some water, and then add your well-scrubbed magic rock. No, not the pet rock! Then wait for your guests to arrive bearing gifts for the pot. And maybe some pot.

I made some magic soup the other night. A poet friend was sick; but we were having a CPITS meeting at my house, so I offered to make chicken soup. 

First, I emptied the contents of my fridge into my soup pot, and then added a box of vegetable broth and another box of chicken broth. But, to my dismay, I discovered that I had no stashed chicken, not in the freezer, nor in my emergency food stash.  

And to add insult to injury, I'd used up the rest of the good garlic for the last of the summer pesto. I had garlic, but it was Chinese, and I wasn't about to use it. Never buy garlic sans roots, it's Chinese and it never sprouts, or grows, if you plant it. They do something to it, and that can't be good.

So I asked John Oliver Simon to bring me some real garlic. Then, I asked him to bring me some chicken. Then, I needed some celery, and parsley to go with it. Parsley is great for the heart.

Perhaps I should interject here that John is an ex. I never thought I'd ever see the day when John would be sitting in my kitchen waiting for the soup to boil, without my wanting to murder him. Ironically, I'm scamnning and transcribing bit of old journals so his name keeps popping up. Must be the homing pigeon return cycle.

Tobey Kaplan brought potstickers, spring rolls, and wine. Lots of wine. You know how poets are. We tossed some potstickers into the broth, drank some wine, and bowed down to the soup pot, grateful for its bounty. And we said yum. The thick chicken soup was divine, and it fed multitudes of poets. Well, it fed almost a dozen of us. The wine, not so much.

For dessert, Fred Dodsworth brought bananas and crisp persimmons that glowed like low winter suns on the horizon, no cookies, though. Speaking of cookies, nobody brought any—not even the Chinese fortune kind. No cookies or cockles to warm the heart.

(I've been obsessed with cookies lately: zapping computer cookies and obsolete deep file preferences, after I discovered a Firefox add-on I was using to watch BBC, was a disguised botnet.

All Maxine Chernoff's files were held hostage by Bitcoin malware and she had to pay a poet's ransom to get her writing back. That also happened to Eileen Malone too. I was terrified at the thought of losing all my writing. Maxine got all her files back. Eileen was not so lucky.

Sure, I've got all my files backed up on separate hard drives, but they're attached to the computer. Piece a cake for a botnet to access it via the back door port, firewall be damned. Yeah, I have a Mac, it's less likely to be attacked by botnet malware. And my friends are both are PC users. Friends don't let friends use Windows. I guess I deleted an important file, the Finder keeps crashing.)

Which led me on a circuitous path from cookies to cockles and muscles (stet), to canned soup, to a former neighbor's noisy young urban balcony-raised cockerels (no coop), whose bones probably made the best chicken soup ever.

I witnessed their demise (the chickens, not the Ethiopians) one Sunday at dawn. Well, I witnessed their shadow's demise on the wall, as the Ethiopian woman sang to the rising sun and held the unlucky fellows up to the sun before the coup de gras.

I was horrified to see an article circulating on Facebook by a young urbanite chef on how to make "bone" soup. And folks cooing: oh, I wanna learn that, or shrieking: gross! (There was even an "I know, I know," eye-rolling ewww /squee component embedded in the article.) The tin can generation is dumb and dumber. Even the phrase, tin can is lost on them. Foil-lined box generation. How do they think chicken broth is made anyway?

In our house, soup was a pilgrimage of sorts. My grannie never threw bones away. Into the pot they went. We always saved the skin, gristle and connective tissue too. Nothing wasted, except the squawk a doodle do.

Add onion skins, garlic, carrots, celery, peppercorns, bay leaves, and wine, or vinegar, and simmer slowly 1-2 hours, until the gristle falls off the rubbery bones, and skim any scum. Strain broth into a clean pot. Add fresh vegetables (see above list), orzo, or barley, bring it to a boil for 15 minutes (barley needs an hour), skim, season. If it jells when cooled, you made it right.

Well, what about the dawg bone, you might ask: fuggedaboutit. It was a case of get in line, after the stewpot. Sort of like Saturday bath night (one tub of water, and three people waiting in line). Yep, it was a stiff broth, all right, by the time my little brother got into it.

And what about warming the cockles of the heart? I always thought it had to do with spoiled mollusks, so that saying always puzzled me. Then I thought cockles were associated with Molly Malone's cockles and mussels in Dublin's fair city. Cookies and cockles, alive alive, oh. Uh-oh, the Cookie Monster....and the tart with the cart.

Then, speaking of pilgrimages of the heart, I thought maybe the cockles were a reference to St. James. Pilgrims wore cockle, or scallop shells around their necks as they walked the Camino.

So I joked, mussels is muscles, which is true, as muscle, mussel and mouse all stem from the same root word. Warms your mousy little heart muscle, doesn't it? I never associated it with ventricles, or cochlea. Some Easter egg hunt that was. 

All this to say is that writing is never a very straight line. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Mulligan

In Cape Cod, a giant alligator snapping turtle the size of a garbage can lid, zealously guarded the 18th hole. When a golfball came sailing in, he'd rise up and open his maw, the golfers chalked it up to bad luck, and forfeited the game. There was no option of putting around him. Some mulligan he was. Prehistoric. Thorny neck and a carapace that looked like steep rooftops. His eyes may have been rheumy, but he sported a sharp hooked beak that meant business, it could snap a putter in two. Maybe it was a she and she thought those golf balls were eggs. And when that snapper opened her maws wide, it was like daybreak, and everybody skedaddled like vampires at first light.

Red Tide

The summer of 1981, we traveled north to stay at a friend's trailer in Pulsbo, on the Hood Canal in Washington. It was the summer solstice. At low tide, I waded in, Hood Canal was a seafood cornucopia. I gathered armloads of shellfish bounty (mussels, cockles, clams, oysters) like a mighty hunter. I swam seal-like and collected the bounty. The sea provided.  They called me mermaid, and goddess, seaweed wrapped around my thighs. (I was also the only one who knew how to clean the shellfish. So much for the menfolk). And that night we feasted on seafood. Breaded clams. Oysters on the half shell. Mussel and scallop chowder. But as we were all gorging on shellfish, seasoned with garlic and butter, and drinking wine, a news warning flashed on the TV. Red tide this far north? Gulp! I imagined symptoms of red tide poisoning, though there was no evidence of red tide anywhere. It was a long wild night of the imagination, but they soon forgot about it. Someone rolled a doobie, everybody laughed, and carried on, but I was checking for symptoms all through the night wondering if I had poisoned us all.