Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fallow Deer

Why does everyone assume white deer are albinos? Old Man Ottinger had a herd of fallow deer, they were leucistic, white against the moonlight. But the National Park Service came and killed them all. That was long after the murder. I was there the night the ranger was slain. I was camping illegally. I saw the poachers enter, heard the shots out near Limantour. Saw them leave. I was so afraid, I curled into the arms of the old pine. Fear was drumming a naked tattoo in my heart. A staccato of hooves on pavement. Blue Eyes is indeed beautiful. If she was albino, her eyes would be red. Maybe not so pretty then. Other images might come to mind. Then she could see between worlds when the poachers come.

An accidental prompt from June Hopper Hymass' blog
The Memory Thread,  At Dusk 
write a 10 to 12 line prose poem that tells a story and has some philosophy in it, too.

In the Pygmy Forest

Late in the season we went huckleberrying in the Pygmy Forest at Jughandle Creek. The bushes were so laden, the berries hung like grapes. In no time at all, I had 25 pounds of berries weighting me down, but it was getting late—twilight, the color of crushed berries. A false light. No real direction of home. We circled and came back to the same copse of pygmy trees. Three times. The only time I ever got us lost. The lichen encrusted cypresses were not much taller than us, and maddenly thin, like broomhandles, so you couldn't climb them to see where you were. We were trapped in a thick fairytale forest of venerable age. No glimpse of the ocean to orient myself. The temperature plummeted. We left our sweaters in the car. Think, don't follow your instinct. I found the lip of of the marine terrace, and from there, fighting against the surety of instinct, I worked my way backwards to the parking lot. Suddenly I understood how people who lose their way in the forest, always circled back to the starting point. Like gyrating dreidels. I ate humble pie. My granny never knew I had gotten us lost. I never said a word either. At Pat & Betty's cabin in Fort Bragg, we unloaded our bounty. And the pies we made afterward were made of twilight. That night our dreams were the color of midnight and studded with stars.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Death by Earwig

My grandmother used to hang the laundry out to dry. Extra clothes that didn't fit on the clothesline were draped over the bushes. I loved the odor of sage, rosemary or lavender invading my clothes. I grabbed some clothes and took off for the weekend to visit my boyfriend. It was a scorcher. I wiggled into my damp cutoffs grateful for their coolness. At a complicated 5-way stoplight in downtown San Jose, an earwig, or nipper, as my grannie called them, crawled out of the seam of my jeans and angrily began to pinch me. I screamed, and tried to rip off my shorts— while driving, running a red light in the process. Horns blaring, cars careening. I finally bashed it into my hip. And I smeared the sucker. Luckily I also didn't get smeared in the process. Death by earwig would be so very hard to explain.



I was feeding the wringer a washcloth, 
and it nipped, then latched onto my fingers, 
then it swallowed my hand, a delicate crunching,
as the rubber rollers, like the maw of a hungry python
gulped at my tender flesh. I struggled and screamed, 
in anguish, my grandmother came running 
as the wringer inexorably ground its way
up to my arm, to the elbow. The gears gnashing.
I feared for my shoulder, and my head.
Would my entire body pass through the wringer? 
Would I be wrung out flat as a pancake, 
and slide into the tub for my final rinse?
Would she hang me out on the line to dry 
with the rest of the laundry, 
or would she drape me over the rosemary bush 
like the sheets, for remembrance?


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I WAS TEN (a birthday poem of sorts)


I was ten. The meal complete.
Some two score and more of relatives
leaned back in their chairs, comatose.
The long table was cleared, 

the turkey carcass in the soup pot, 
salt and luck poured onto the spilled wine lakes  
that bled out on mended Irish linen cloths.
The cutlery and cut glass sang staccato arias
in the kitchen. Stacks of dessert plates

clattered and leaned in wild abandon. 
The teakettle screamed its siren call.
Amber whiskey sloshed into cups and mugs.
I waited in eager anticipation
for the entrance of the cake—
the cake that I surely knew was mine... 

Would it be chocolate?
Please let it be chocolate 

with chocolaty frosting.
Not mint. Real chocolate frosting.
But they brought in the pies.
No cake, no candles. Pumpkin pies.
I was ten. I combusted into tears.
My mother slapped her forehead
saying, OhmyGod, it's her birthday.
Everyone cooing, we'll make it up

at Christmas. Never happened. 
Story of my life.

Bay Area Generations #42

Dear Google, Now Blogger?

The only warning I got that Blogger was being updated. I clicked yes, and Blogger disappeared.

Dear Google,

I see that you've changed Blogger this afternoon—right as I was working on a poem post. I can't say it was an upgrade as I lost all ability to see anything other than your Confidential/ "got it." pop-up windows. Luckily, I had saved my poem in another format. But all my formatting changes were lost.

Your design teams really need to do a better job on Google products—the upgrades are supposed to improve user experience, not frustrate us. I was an early supporter of Google products, and now I'm disgruntled enough to leave Google behind. Your last revamp of Blogger also left me out in the cold for long stretches of time. So now, finally everything's mostly working again, (except the gratuitous extra drafts it saves every time I make a correction) and you had to go and upgrade?

And now Blogger, my entire dashboard and related pages are a blank white field, replete with orange feedback button in lower right corner. I've sent you many of messages today, while trying to get back online to complete my post.

All I get is a blank white page when I try to access Blogger's All Posts, and Create Page, etc. The only thing I can access is the public page. I've tried everything from changing cookies, disabling extensions. dumping, caches, resetting Safari, restarting, and nothing works. The URLs are broken.

I agree, Blogger really does need a revamp, it sure was an ugly interface (what's with all the orange anyway?),  Now, it may be that Blogger no longer supports legacy Macs/Safari. But like with Gmail, it should at least continue to support basic legacy HTML.

Speaking of Gmail, the new iOS Gmail is a warthog of an app. It's cluttered and distracting, What's with all the extraneous red stuff? Are you trying to attract bulls to the proverbial china shop? I can't even do basic functions without emails taking off to the hinterlands. The clincher, the embedded hot links are dead. I can't access URLs. I finally had to delete the app from my iPad, as it deleted some important emails with no way to retrieve them. Steep learning curve by torture? A dungeons and dragons approach to email? Oops! Steep learning curve, I mean, black hole ahead.

I won't even mention what an utter dog's breakfast the new features are. Imagine receiving a password reset, and then not being able to access the URL. Imagine getting an email with a link to reset that password. Now imagine, a Gmail app so screwed up, that you can't access the URL in order to change your password. A weird nanny feature? Yeah, that was me two days ago. And, yes, I have the latest iOS update. I combed the settings, etc., looking for a way to fix the problem. Nada.

Since I was prompted to download the Google Photos app along with my new iOS Gmail app, I was presented with another form of hell, when Google Photos accessed ALL my iOS photos and dumped them into Google Photos. I use my iPad as a diary, I take photos of receipts, checks, etc. I DO NOT want them showing up in my Google Photos folder. I deleted them from Google Photos, only to discover they were also deleted from my iOS photo folder. Luckily, I was able to retrieve all 104 deleted photos.

And now I can no longer use Blogger. What sort of fresh hell establishment are you running over at Google these days?

I dislike Google+, and its attached Google Photos (see previous post) on the Mac, as it's too in your face to be of much use when looking at hundreds of photos at a time.  I am still smarting over the loss of Picasa. I HATE Google Photos, which is a terrible replacement for Picasa. In addition, I lost all my curated notes on my Picasa sites, with no warning. Had I known, I would've copied them. The irony is that some people still have access to their Picasa sites. Bring back Picasa, or fix Google Photos.

So, I'm thinking it's the death knell for you and me, Google, I've downloaded my blog, as it looks like I may need to move it to another platform. Sadly, I think I've had enough of your broken applications.

So, Google, what's next? Please expand your R&D base before trotting out changes that affect our lives. FWIW, I was eventually able to get back onto Blogger, by using a different web browser, but I prefer using Safari to Firefox for my Google applications. It's simple, clean, elegant. Something you should strive for in all your products.

Dear Google, about those 404 errors on Blogspot
Dear Google, Using Google Photos is Painful
Dear Google, Using Blogger is a Painful Experience...

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Cut my Hair

So today, I whacked off my hair to shoulder length, I'm now 30 pounds lighter, and my head is in danger of flying off my neck. I'm looking a little poodley around the edges. All that curl weighted down by yard-long hair. Boing! It was well past my waist and I have a long back.

I warned it to behave. Repeatedly. I got tired of detangling it every morning, at best it resembled dreadlocks, or a hornet's best. As someone said, A messy kitchen.

And my hair was getting thin because of the constant tangles. No matter how careful I was combing it out. For a while, I was out of my hair product, and used commercial shampoo, which made my hair strands thin, and even more flyaway, and prone to tangling. Hair that long dated back to the first Clinton inauguration.

I'm sure I will mourn its loss, but I was so tired of it all. I reached around back to hold my hair, to comfort myself, but it wasn't there. LOL. My familiar has left me. New beginnings. I put my ponytail into a birchwood box laden with turquoise and coral. I said a small requiem to the past. I put on my pantsuit jacket, and I voted for Her.

Dear Google, Using Google Photos is Painful

Dear Google,

I use your Picasa desktop app to edit and to upload photos, for years, it worked swimmingly until I was forced to embrace Google Photos. To my horror, when I was transferring photos from one Picasa site to another Google Photos site, in an attempt to consolidate work, I found that all the Picasa app editing did not translate.

My photos look awful in Google Photos.

Now I'm stuck with either using a different desktop app, and the Google Photos online editor. Alas, your editor is not as robust, and it's slow and cumbersome. Did I mention cumbersome? Try using it with a variable DSL speed sometime. Oh, btw, we upgraded to ATT Uverse, much faster, but still boggy at times. Still your glitches persist.

When you have 1000s of photos to reprocess, Google Photos makes editing impossible. No batch edit of albums—Picasa's desktop Auto Contrast and I'm Feeling Lucky were great filters. And the Darken Sky filter was brilliant. Can't do that in Google Photos.

So disappointing. The entire Picasa app and online experience was so much better than the online Google Photos experience. I'm sure I've told you before, I started out loving all Google products, Like The Guy (Kawasaki, who got me into this blogging mess to begin with back in 2007), I was an Google-evangelista, but I've discovered the more you tinker with our online experience, the worse it gets.

Blogger is a case in point. I continue to use it, but most of the time I'm seething. nay, frothing. The revamped Blogger has been a royal pain in the ass to use for years—since its last upgrade, and now I see Google Photos has followed suit. The relatively new Gmail revision is bad enough. At least I can opt out and use the old school version for slow HTML. Bells and whistles are not necessarily a good thing. I avoid Google+ for the same reasons.

There needs to be multiple ways to do things, and there needs to be quick and dirty methods to deal with multiple blog posts, bulk images, etc. It seems you've gone the way of Microsoft—bloatware. It's fine in small quantities, but frustrating on bigger jobs.

And while we're at it, what the hell happened to all my historical album annotations when you forced my Picasa photos over to Google+ Photos? Have you ANY idea, how much work went into that process, and now it's all gone. Poof. Like with my Seamus Heany Memorial photos, I had written a curatorial pieces identifying the readers, etc.—including poets laureate, and the Consul General of Ireland. Had I known, I would've copied the comments.

I want my Picasa web albums site back. I want my album comments back.

The more I use Google Photos the more I HATE Google Photos, and I mourn the elegance and simplicity of Picasa. What were you thinking? And  yet you've let some users keep their Picasa sites, why not me? I know others are still using their Picasa sites, including Robert Lee Haycock.

I want to opt out of Google Photos, as a user, and have access to my Picasa Web Albums again. All five sites. I don't mind that viewers interface with Google Photos, but, as a user, I need something better designed for behind the scenes access. Something like Blogger-All Posts listing. But with thumbnails.

It seems the more you make things better, the worse it gets. You need to use a much wider test market before you roll out some of these design changes. You do use a real test market, right? It's not all in-house?

And while I'm ranting, do you actually ever listen to your constituents? I get it that I'm proverbially biting the hand that cyberfeeds me. Clearly I am ungrateful. But I was once one of your most ardent supporters. Once you were great, now, you're  bloatware. Cumbersome, at best. Get a new design team in, fergawdsakes. And test drive it to a wider audience. Especially to us dyslexics. I'm offering it up, here.

1. Google+ Photos needs to also have an additional thumbnail user contact page style design—like film strips—for overall ease of viewing. Not just this multi-sized format that fills the entire page that the visitor sees. The eye needs places to rest in order to comprehend, not to be bombarded with imagery.  Please take care of the user as well as the visitor. And modular organizing of images, not by exif dates.

2. Each album needs to have a discrete space to include album prose, and not just the space on each photo, but for overall curatorship. People need context as well as visual imagery.

3. On Blogger, you also need another way of organizing posts. It's cumbersome when you have 2K's worth of posts, to navigate. Perhaps a hierarchical decade index as well as a year/month index.

4. Your in-house blogger search engine is not very robust. In fact, it's tetchy. Gawd help us if we add an extra space between words, or misspel (stet) a word. It needs to be more like Google search engine, more boolean in nature. I know you have the skills. I know you can do this. And when we get the results of the blog search, just list the titles, not the entire piece—I'm long-winded, in case you can't tell. It's otherwise impossible to access the older pieces via the in-house blog search. Even with Hot Links enabled—which bogs down the loading of Blogger, BTW.

5. On the Blogger Compose page, an actual date listed up there with the toolbar. The Schedule button is not always visible. And the helpful Schedule And Label slide-out windows are a little too trigger-happy. Sometime I have a cat-and-mouse chase the window to nail it down. Nothing worse than an overly helpful  hide-and-seek window anticipating my every need, only to have it be the wrong need. Sort of like using Autocorrect. And what's with the ghost drafts of blogposts I've already corrected and reposted? Hard to track down and delete.

I'm sure I'll have more suggestions as I continue to use the site...but at least this is a start.

Thank you, I feel better now. So let's get to it, improve Google Photos and Blogger. Or at least keep those legacy pages available for the users.

Yours under the Cranky Sign,

Dear Google, Using Blogger is a Painful Experience...

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Day of the Dead, Farallones, from a photo 2015


A photo from the last day of the year, 2015: the Farallones, 20 miles out from Point Reyes, seemed so close, I could almost touch them. A last gasp from a dying camera; its swan song. Farallón means "pillar" or "sea cliff," once aka "Devil's Teeth Islands," for the treacherous shoals. Part of the Sierras, a block of rifted granitic continental crust thrusted up. A place where, as a child, I though the dead dwelled. I had no idea that the islands were the abode of spirits, called "Islands of the Dead" by the Ohlones.

The Farallones are home to 400 species of birds, many of then rare, or endangered. I once saw a tufted puffin wing his way off Point Reyes. A small clownish football of a bird winging home with a beakfull of fish.

Vizcaíno's friar, Antonio de la Ascencion called the islands los Farallónes. Probably why San Francisco Bay was never discovered by Vizcaíno or by Drake, who called them the Islands of Saint James. A place of treacherous shoals. A place of many shipwrecks.

The American whalers, and Russian explorers built sealing stations there, manned by Alaskan Kodiak Islanders, until there were no more northern fur seals left. Whether Northern, or Guadalupe fur seals, we will never know. One of the largest seabird colonies in the U.S. Then the Gold Rush—millions of seabird eggs (500,000 a month) collected, led to the San Francisco Egg Wars.

Then it was Rum Row during the Prohibition, and a nuclear waste dump during the 1940s to the 1970s; 50,000 radioactive drums, and 44,000 shipyard containers were scuttled, and are rusting away—we still don't know what is in them. But it can't be good. Stories of massive sponges growing in the littoral zones.

Yes, and here we are, still dancing on the brink of the world.

uxar-at kai pire.
On the cliff, on the edge,
on the brink of the world,
we are dancing.

Day of the Dead, All Soul's Day, The beginning and the end of the Celtic year. My grandmother, brother and mother all died right before Samhain. So, Samhain, All Souls' Day, and El Día de los Muertos is a three-fold sorrow.

Thinking of my mother who wanted her ashes scattered off the Golden Gate, to drift to the Farallones. Maybe I should give her back to the sea.

Fitting image for El Día de los Muertos. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

PAD poetry prompts 2016 (not used)

These poetry prompts were copied sans date, if you want the date and Robert' Lee Brewer's model poems, visit his website. 2016 November PAD Chapbook Challenge:

Last sunset of the year (photo)

 Last sunset of the year,2015,  the Farallones from Point Reyes

A macaw-colored sky. Last sunset of the year, 2015, floating islands of the Farallones from the tip of Point Reyes, The air was so clear, it looked like you could touch them. They're part of Point Reyes' lost siblings. Soon the Point will become an island too. Island moving north.

It was the day I killed my camera, all the photos I took on Dec. 31, 2015, came out too dark, and were loaded with sunspots. but this one, with a lot of doctoring, gaudy as it is, worked. It breaks the rules. Never divide a photo directly in half, it's too static (unless it's the Farallones). Don't shoot clichés like sunsets and islands (unless it's the Farallones). 

Don't shoot in low light sans tripod, avoid pixellation and noise. Image was loaded with burned sunspots from pointing it at the sun, burning the processor. I don't think it'll recover. I was able to clone the sunspots out of the sky. But not the pixellation. Spots before my eyes in more ways than one.

I left one sunspot in the lower left corner as a reminder. The upper left corner of the photo looked like a pong table gone mad. Who knew that reflected water off Schooner Creek after 4 PM on one of the shortest afternoon of the year, would completely fry my camera in multiple corners? 

Nothing to be done about the whacked light meter, though. Fritz is its middle name. So even if I can save some of the photos, the digital noise renders them useless. Luckily with this photo, it doesn't matter. But just look at that water. Lovely pixellation. Which made it even harder to clone the sunspots out of it. You can see several patch jobs.

I've fried other cameras before, and undoubtably will fry more cameras in the future, and since the sunspots are usually in the upper corners of the sky, I took to shooting pohotos upside down(the camera, not me) to avoid the sunspots. 

Damage control was not possible this time. I was so distressed I didn't even look at the photos until six months later—hence the late posting. Editing was a nightmare. So this is a salvage job, at best.

from a Facebook post
February 4, 2016

Johnson's Oyster Farm—aka—Drake's Bay Oyster Farm requiem

This was the place where I thoroughly fried my camera shooting a low winter sun over Schooner Creek (it was a Johnson's Oyster Farm—aka—Drake's Bay Oyster Farm homage and requiem). 

My camera lost its mind. You can see a few sunspots in this photo. But it was so outrageous, I shot several photos, each image added to the overall sunspottiness. Not only that, after these shots, the light meter also went south. Or maybe it was north. Everything was underexposed. Nearly black images. Hundreds of them. Not much to be done about it. Except cry.

It was a suck it up Buttercup kind of moment. I used to cry whenever my cameras died...Quivery-lipped, I buried the images in deep dark folders. I still haven't edited this batch...

The Farallones photo and comment were from an old Facebook post, that I rediscovered and revised. Hence the odd posting date.

Day of the Dead, All Soul's Day, The beginning and the end of the Celtic year. Halloween is always hard, my grandmother, brother and mother all died right before Samhain. So, Samhain, All Souls' Day, and El Dia de los Muertos is a three-fold sorrow.

Thinking of my mother who wanted me to scatter her ashes off the Golden Gate, to drift to the Farallones. Maybe I should get someone to sail me out there, and be done with it, give her back to the sea. Who has a boat?

See also
Tomales Bay Photo I managed to save a few photos from hundreds.