Saturday, June 18, 2016

Father's Day notes

What I don't like about Facebook posts: the plethora of Hallmark memes harping on our collective sentimental heartstrings, asking that we please post a photo of our dearest fathers for Father's Day. The assumptions made. Not all of us had a Leave it to Beaver upbringing. I would gladly post, if I had a father who was actually a father, rather than an absentee stranger who was an ardent supporter of the bar at Mission District's 3300 Club (which burnt down last night), and kept a chilled bottle of Seagram's in the ice box for when the bars were closed. When did it all go so terribly wrong for him? Before I was born. I found these photos after he had died. A life that I knew next to nothing about. No substitute father figure either. But a story of sorts emerged from the photos.

What I dislike are the Hallmark knee-jerk memes telling us how we're supposed to feel. Someone, I don't remember who, said to distrust sentimentality (as it led to fascism.). And, on some level, it's true as it creates an illusion, not a true emotion. Edward Abbey took it a step further with "Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul."

Most of the fathers I saw growing up were also terribly flawed figures. So, I never sought out a father figure. It was a hard-drinking culture during the late 40s, early 50s. Mine left when I was four. He tried to connect a couple of times when I was 16, but by then, it was too late. His idea of taking his daughter out was to take me to bars. His usual haunts.

My father's mother did kill herself. Maybe that's where my father's wounding began... His father died soon after, of TB. He was a SF cop. They lived in Oakland, from what I can glean via birth certificates, then they moved to SF—by way of Boston, when, I don't know. I need to track that backstory down. A mysogenist uncle raised him. (Read into this, an alcoholic uncle?) It sounded like my father might have been better off as an orphan. He looks happy in the young photos.

What my mother's cousin said that he had a a terrible life, whoever was taking care of him was mean is spot on. I think my mom tried to explain his behavior with that story...meaning the uncle who raised him was a bit of a sadist. What saddens me is seeing the stories repeat themselves, generationally—certainly in my extended family.

The same holds true for my mother as well. I knew her well, but am glad she didn't raise me, it was always traumatic. She was manic-depressive. Her father was an alcoholic. All my aunts and uncles married alcoholics as well. My grannie was my salvation, she was both mother and father.

A friend made an interesting observation: "men have been massively victimized by the culture of machismo." And the "streetcorner virility-cripples club" an apt, and funny observation, that also conveys a lot of pain as well.

I found some family photos as we were cleaning out my grandmother's house. My mom's, and two of my aunt's photos (many in sad disrepair), as well as my grandmother's photos. This story emerged from the photos. I posted a memory from last year, that goes into greater depth, of the era of Big Band.

As to the stories that emerge, I am often the last to know how I feel, but by writing, I learn where I need to go. So far, I only had one pan dowdy making a comment about oversharing... I wanted to scream at him, You asshole! I am not seeking sympathy, I'm merely being a Sagge, saying it blunt, like it is... I guess that made Frank Toews uncomfortable. (I eventually unfriended him because of his constant derisive comments.)

I value everyone's stories, so often we sweep under the rug what must not be hidden. Other's stories, they enrich me, and I feel lucky to be able to share stories. Our perception and understanding of each other shifts. And empathy blossoms. we are all connected, I do feel the sadness, but I no longer dwell on it. It's like a tide that washes through me, not grief, but melancholy.
I also dislike how the world treated those of us who were parentless, sometimes as objects of pity, sometimes with derision, as if our unfortunate parental luck would rub off onto them. A shunning. When I confessed my mother was bipolar, the girls in high school literally excluded me, turned their backs on me, but they had the suburban life. They had no skills to comprehend what I was saying. This I learned much later in life."Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal." —Albert Camus

That history really doesn't run me, it's merely an old observation. But it also opens up dialogue with many people. so that's a good thing. Not catharsis, merely observation. It's really about the memes, how silly they are, and how everyone goes awwww.... What's really interesting to me is the developing dialogue in this thread. 

And believe it or not, I did get a comment that gave me more information about my father...from my mother's cousin, I had no idea she even knew him. Something that would never have happened if I didn't post this Facebook thread. And I learned some backstory of others, things that I never knew about. Since I didn't know my father, it wasn't so much about repressed emotions, as a void... and many of the fathers I saw while growing up were also fairly flawed. So I was never a fan of Father's Day. My grannie was my mother, so that was less of an issue.

In the end, art was my salvation, what I turned to. (Well, my horse, too.) And later, to writing. Poetry saved me. Poetry was my mother and father.

Who was your father poet? My Father Poet is Pablo Neruda. Possibly WS Merwin, or Galway Kinnell as well.

from a Facebook post. See original thread here.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


Around the world,
men are collectively screaming
at their TVs in unison,
yelling about the weather as well.
But not doing a damned thing about it.



Monday, June 13, 2016

On Finns and Celts

A comment from my Viking-Irish Redhead Gene Myth post turned into a long blog post of its own. So I decided to repost it here. I may or may not get around to fashioning it into a story so these are notes.
Arhi Kuittinen Finnsanity said...
Mother of European culture is Finnic culture.
Blue eyed, blonde and red haired ur-culture. Finnish language is the oldest language in Europe.
"Vikings" were originally Kvens, Kveenit, the biggest Finnish Tribe years 400-1100. Popes robber barons made unholy big crusade to the Finland 1100 and ended the oldest culture in Europe which was called by Greeks Hyberborea. Finland was the last who standed against pope and Vatican.
King word is from Finnish word Kuningas.
Queen is from Kven word, "She is Kven".
Apollo cult hwrote about nordic Hyperborea the home of Greek knowledge and religion.
20 the most old written history text about Europe speaks about Hyperborea.
Blue eyed sea people destroyed Egyptian culture in Ramses III times - Ramsesses and Seth I were red haired Finnic Pharaos.
In China oldest mummies are red haired Finnic - N1C1 genetic line.
Silk road was Finnic project by these white skinned Finnic mummies.
Moscow and every big European city were originally Finnic town and commercial place.
In England there was Finnish names and Towns like Caleva.
Druids were continuing and developing original Finnic rituals but the language changed during 10000 years.
In Stone Henge there is both Moon and Sun ritually respected - that is Finnic cult, holistic feminine cult. "Hengettäret".
In Finland you can found 35 OLDER stone henges' ruins, Jätinkirkko, 5500 years old astronomical temples.
Lord Of The Rings -book is based on Finnic tales "Kalevala", Battle of the warlocks, etc.
Now you know something about the root of the European culture.

Maureen Hurley said...

LOL, Arhi Kuittinen Finnsanity, you've certainly conflated many, many cultures—not to mention time-zones, and millennia (Neolithic Stonehenge to Medieval Vikings), to support your theory, with no sustaining facts whatsoever. But thank you for your close reading, and comments.

For what it's worth, Stonehenge predates both the Finns and Celts. It was not built by the Finns (or the Druids, for that matter). Every culture on earth worships, or has worshiped the sun and the moon. And most cultures have created celestial, or astronomical temple calendars. The Finns didn't invent the idea. Whether Stonehenge was built by blue-eyed blonds, is moot.

Lithuanian-American archaeologist, Marija Gimbutas said the pre-Indo-European Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures of "Old Europe" were the builders of Stonehenge, etc.

The Greeks were not referring to the Finns when they wrote of Hyberborea. The Hyperboreans were a mythical idyllic people who lived forever, "beyond the North Wind," in a land of eternal spring, where there was no war, or strife. That definition says more about the Greek state of affairs, than it did about Finnic culture.

Whether you read the works of Homer, Pindar, or Herodotus, the Greeks were referring to Hyberborea ,a land north of Thrace, BTW. Roman historian Plutarch connected the Hyperboreans with the Gauls. Hecataeus of Abdera further claimed that Hyperborea was Britain.

Pseudo-Scymnus wrote that the hero Boreas, for whom Hyberborea was named, dwelled at the extremity of Gaulish territory (Britain). Hyperborea was one of several terrae incognito. One of the unknown, unmapped realms.

BTW, during this timeframe there was no such thing as Finland. From the 12th c., onward, Finland was part of Sweden. When Adolf Ivar Arwidsson (1791–1858), proclaimed, "we are no-longer Swedes, we do not want to become Russians, let us therefore be Finns," the idea of Finland was born.

The term "Nordic" does not refer to Finns. As you said, Finns are another culture. Nordic means Norse. As in Norseman. It can refer to five separate countries, from Greenland to Denmark. The word Viking can mean raider or pirate, and it's not a Finnish word. There were viking raiders of many cultures, including the Irish, though the Roman term was Scotii.

The relationship between Finnish and the Indo-European Scandanavian or Celtic languages is scant, as Balto-Finnic is a completely unrelated branch of the Uralic language family. Kuningas is from Proto-Finnic *kuningas, which was borrowed from Proto-Germanic *kuningaz. Finnic, a conservative language, even preserved the Germanic normative singular case.

As to Egypt, there were Celtic mercenaries during the reign of the Ptolemys, who were Greek, not Finnic.

Nor were the Tocharians of the Taklimakan Desert Finnic. Their language, Tocharian A, was Indo-European, not Finnic, it shared many linguistic similarities with Irish, both highly inflected archaic languages.

The specific sheep wool found and the style of plaid twill weaving reflects that of N. Europe, what is now Germany, then a Celtic, or Celto-Germanic region. (We know of this because of placenames, and personal names, as recorded by Tacitus, and others.)

Since you mentioned genetics earlier, by blood, the genetic bond between Finns and Swedes is closer than, say, the Finns and Irish. Haplogroup N1c is found in northeastern Europe, Siberia, and the Far East. It's a descendant of an East Asian macro-haplogroup. Uralic N1c1 is found in Samoyedic (Nganasans, Enets, Nenets and Selkups); and Finno-Ugric (Finno-Permic: Baltic Finnic (Finnish, Karelian, Estonia, etc.); and Permic: (Komi, Udmurt). Saamic (Saami), Volgaic (Mari, Mordvin), Ugric, Hungarian, and Ob-Ugric (Khanty, Masi). The Baltic Finnic branch is related to the migration of the N1c1a1a1 (VL29) group.

As to the Tarim Basin mummies, I don't know where you got your information from. Please cite your sources. The paternal lines of male remains belongs to Y-DNA haplogroup R1a1, and a later Tocharian haplogroup genetic signature is R1b-M343.

You're right that Tolkien used Finnic sources. The Silmarillion is partially based on Finnic tales recorded in the "Kalevala" (which is a 19th c. construct from folkloric fragments from Karelian, Estonian, (Baltic), and Finnish oral folklore and mythology. But it was compiled into epic verse by Elias Lönnrot, who also coined the name, "Kalevala."

Like Scottish poet James Macpherson's Ossian Cycle, so influential in the development of the Romantic movement, the Kalevala is not an authentic, replete tale unto itself. It is a quilt, a pastiche. LOTR was also heavily based on Welsh and other cultural (read Celtic, and Anglo-Saxon) mythologies as well.

The Romantic movement emphasized emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, vs. rational, or Classicist ideals: not inclusive of history, anthropology, nor archaeology. It was the birth of the ideal of the Noble Savage, and epic folk hero—which ironically, stemmed from the ancient Greek writings. Full circle.

Merrie Monarchs madly munching on milkweed (photos)

My not-so-local red and orange milkweed, from Meadow in a Can had three fat monarch caterpillars on it. I've waited three years for this moment. Needless to say, I'm jealously  guarding it.

This fat fellow fell off his milkweed perch, then decided he liked my finger, tickle-tasting it all the way. I felt like a little kid again. Who remembers picking up woolybears, just because? I had a hard time convincing him that he couldn't stay on my finger. Most impractical.

I'm having trouble telling the front end from the back end on these guys, so I don't know whether they're coming or going. I think the short antennae are the front end. Dual suspension pipes, antennae at both ends.

Four, no make that five caterpillars are voraciously eating the milkweed down to the ground. They're huge. Soon, now. Found a new one eating a flower. Never been so happy to have caterpillars destroy my plants.

Think I'll call him Al-Hookah. These ones are only eating milkweed. They won't touch the verbena. Don't think you'd find these guys palatable, not with all that noxious milkweed inside them. 

The swallowtail caterpillar in the front yard is even more amazing, he has orange horns that deliver little poopy stinkums if you disturb him. 

That said, I used to play with woolybears, and hairy tent caterpillars, they're a type of procession caterpillar. They'd crawl up my finger, following each other like a little train. Maybe because I didn't disturb their hairs, but I never got stung. They're amazing critters. Not like the fat green bastards that leveled my kale. They had serious camo, blended right in with the stems.

Here's hoping my monarch caterpillars make it to chrysalis phase. I got mad and sprayed the orange aphids on the flowers with Spick & Span laced with alcohol. Then I discovered the little caterpillars. Oops! So I hosed the bush down and hand-squashed the rest of the bleeping aphids. What a putrid orange mess.

The caterpillars are toxic, but only if you eat them. For the most part, you might get a rash. The hairs on wooly caterpillars do spell DANGER! Avoid me. These guys are as smooth-bottomed as Alice in Wonderland's friend.

I've been staked out in the front garden with camera at the ready waiting to see if I can find any swallowtail caterpillars on my fennel bush. Mom swallowtail has been hovering a lot lately. Especially since I trimmed the fennel. I did check for eggs and critters. So far, nada. 

Hard part is to trick the camera into focusing on the right spot. Most are slightly out of focus. I wind up overshooting to compensate and throw at least half of them away.

A friend said that the milkweed I have (Asclepias curassavica) is not as good one for monarchs because it doesn't have as many toxins as native milkweeds. I got it from the California native species variety of Meadow in a Can (was supposed to be a CA species), and had no idea what it was until it flowered last year, I wasn't even sure it was a milkweed until I found the caterpillars on it. I'm wondering why it would've even been included with CA native species.

There are more than 100 different species of milkweed, and they are not all created equally.  
Asclepias curassavica, tropical milkweed, is native to the American tropics.Common names include bloodflower , cotton bush, hierba de la cucaracha, Mexican butterfly weed, redhead, scarlet milkweed, and wild ipecacuanha.
Not much I can do if it's not the right species now, other than pull it up, and it has visitors. So I'm going to leave it for now. Maybe I can find a slip of the right one for next year. If these three make it to adulthood, their colors alone will keep the birds away. The mimic queen butterfly banks on it.

I wanted to make an avant garden, but found the idea was already taken.
A Mexican poet I met in Rotterdam in the 1990s, Homero Aradjis started a foundation to save butterflies. This is an open letter call to action to President Barack Obama signed by the poets of the world, many of whom are my friends.

Shelley was right: Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world..

Resurrected and revised from a Facebook post. Lots of great links on monarchs posted there. added 6/2017.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Yet Another Migraine Day

I need to finish my final kid-book of poetry, but that blasted migraine just won't let go of me...just try reading with a migraine...Advil takes forever to kick in, and does as little as possible. Lazy sloth.

Not to malign sloths. I think they're adorable, especially when they snack on hibiscus flowers, or try and cross a road, clinging to the pavement with those long arms, like that time I got right smashed in Dougie McLean's pub, the Taybank in Dunkeld, and had to crawl down the humped bridge over the River Tay...  

Dunkeld, Dùn Chailleann means Fort of the Caledonii. They exacted a strange revenge. Or was it tribute? As we sat in the beer garden overlooking the River Tay, I also didn't factor in how long the gloaming lasted that far north. What seemed like minutes, was probably hours.

Great Birnam Wood, with its dark secrets, was to my right. People still leave flower offerings in the hole in the trunk of a massive oak reputed to be one of the last original big trees, but that would make it a thousand years old! The three witches told Macbeth he'd be safe until Birnam wood reached his castle at Dunsinane, some 13 miles away. He figured he had it covered. Across from Birnam Wood, was Beatrix Potter's beloved Eastwood House, where she was inspired to write her tales of Peter Rabbit. Odd juxtaposition of history.

Old Tree in Birnam Wood c 1880

Macbeth shall never vanquished be until
Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill
Shall come against him. —Macbeth, Act 4, scene 1

The Birnam Oak?
Och aye, I was the chicken crossing the road, and high Dunsinane Hill was upstream. Or was that the bridge? Oh puddleducks! I remember a hump in the middle. I admired the stop sign with its cryptic "Look" painted on the road pointing to Birnam Wood (were the trees on the move? Or was it an Ent crossing?), replete with white zebra zigzags that glowed like fangs— on all fours. Scottish beer seemed to be a tad stronger than American beer. I bet the next morning wasn't a pretty sight.

I'm thinking of sacking it. The Advil, that is, not the sloth, the beer, nor the puddleduck. Today I did manage to hand-calligraph 30-something Poetic Licenses for the kidlets. First names will have to do, I'm afraid. I can't focus long enough to decipher their last names.

OK, I've got a book title. Let's get on with it, shall we? Done with the final fiddly-bits, art work plugged in! Now to hobble over to the school in my stolen car that I can't clean up until the adjuster sees it, and the starter's permanently stuck in the ON position, so you can start it with just about anything. a nickel, a pen, your big toe.

When I got to school, I literally couldn't focus, all that bright light, spectacles were useless. So the teacher had to set up the copy machine for me....I banged out 40 kid-books, it looks lovely. I couldn't read my intro either, so here's hoping it'll pass muster, or my name's Grey Poupon.

Saturday, June 4, 2016


What I see,
and what the camera sees
are not necessarily the same thing.
The camera is always post aha!
An afterthought.


Friday, June 3, 2016

Tomales Bay (photo)

Tomales Bay from Inverness Park, New Year's Eve. The last gasps of a dying camera. This was the day my camera went south, the photos came out incredibly dark, and the imager had developed several black reflection spots. I was so discouraged that I didn't edit them. My skills weren't up to the rescue job.

Lightening the image up enough to see the trees turned the hill a ridiculous noisy blue. Cropping the sky close got rid of some of the splotches, and by playing with the levels, I was able to salvage some of the photos. I had to clone the black spots out of the water and sky. 

The worst sunspots eventually healed/faded on the imager, and I did a factory reset on it to partially restore light functions, but it's still shooting way too dark. And depth of field is not what it was. I can't trust it, now it only works on autofocus mode. I got a new camera in Feb. It was a long 2.5 months sans working camera.

Sadly those are also my last photos of the famous beached boat, the Point Reyes, before some asshole photographers burnt it down by using a wool spinner strobe light on it.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Wildfire on 580, photo

Astounding how fast this wildfire on Hwy 580 near Grand Ave., Oakland, exploded and leapt tree high within minutes. Despite last week's rain, the trees and bushes are already bone-dry. I did not have my camera when it erupted, by the time I ran in to grab it, and up to the overpass for a view, the firemen managed to arrive on the scene and put it out in record time. We were all glad it was white smoke. Grassfire vs. industrial fire. I was shocked to see the flames erupt like that. Very nearly an explosion. Combustion at work. And so tall, tall as those trees.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Earless Cat at San Juan Bautista Mission

At the San Juan Bautista mission, after hours, outwaiting traffic, we sneaked in through the back garden gate where I was greeted by a cat who was born without ears, and for our trespass fee, she wanted a belly rub. Pronto! She had a  nice thick coat but was in need of grooming. She doesn't get a lot of pets from what I can gather.

She was a sweetheart. Earless kitty, no scar tissue, the outer fur made a nice fat lip. Perhaps she had cancer of the ears, she is a white cat. But they didn't look malformed. And she twitched her stumps. I never realized how much I depend upon their ears to read their emotions. I didn't want to get chomped for rubbing her belly....but she really wanted a belly rub and a head scratch. So I obliged.

She's not a Scottish fold cat, as their ears are bent over. I don't know if it's a weird mutation or a new breed. She has a little igloo nest with a foam pillow and a blankie, her nest is surrounded by statues of saints... clearly she is loved. Ears, or no ears.