Thursday, November 28, 2019

I’m dreaming of a white Thanksgiving

It’s been snowing up and down the California Coast, the mountains of Sonoma County are dusted white. The Mayacamas range, where the Kincade Fire was, can use the snow (it was already hit with several deluges) because the melting snow will soak into the soil vs. mudslides. And we really need precipitation in any form, because of fire danger. We seem to be having a white Thanksgiving on every pass in CA above 1000 feet. Geyser Peak was white. As was Mt. St. Helena. Snow level was quite low. All the Bay Area peaks, including Mt. Diablo and Mt. Hamilton are covered with snow. Snow showers in the Santa Lucia Mountains in Monterey County too. The Grapevine got so much snow it closed the road, same with Tehachepe. Windsor, which is than warmer than Grafton, or Occidental, was 26º. It’s colder yet in this northeastern gulch near Occidental. It was downright frigid in Tahoe as well. Southern California got some rain too, but the fires have been so severe, they’re in danger of massive mudslides and lahars after the rains. It’s raining there now, and it’s a toasty 48ºF now. Crazy times. A white holiday season of ash and snow and mudslides. Happy Thanksgiving.

From a FB post added, rev. 11/20

ASH AND SNOW (more of a quatrain than a haiku)

Yesterday’s mountains,
covered in ash from wildfires,
today, are dressed in lacy
garments of snow.


A CHANCE OF SNOW (a quatrainish haiku)

It’s warmed up to 39° 
The forecast, a real chance of snow.
Time to put on some real shoes, wool socks,
time get my down jacket out of storage.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019


The pitter-patter of tiny feet 
on the windowsill,
children of the storm,
a petrichor bouquet! 
Update: bleedin’ell, 
it’s a dragon’s roar now.
Stomping grapes on the roof.
The power just flickered. 
There goes the Internet.
Ah, dust and beeswax candles, 
the scent of trapped summer
and the corpses of insects.
Power is back on, a garish reminder.
The WiFi gods must be crazy.
The rain is pounding on the roof,
unbelievably noisy,
like thundering hooves
settling into the storm.

From a FB post added, rev. 11/20

Monday, November 25, 2019

Linguistic racism

I just called out the senior center lunch lady for being racist. I was talking to Giselda, a volunteer, in her native language, Spanish. I am always eager to practice my Spanish, a legacy from John Oliver Simon. The Lunch lady butted in, and said she thought she was in a foreign country. At first I thought she was joking, but then she chapped me up. She said, This is America, don’t you know how to speak English? I was gobsmacked. She had known me for months, if not a couple of years, and this was the only time I had ever spoken Spanish in the kitchen. The MAGA hat should’ve clued me in. I said, For the record, I’m Irish, and I speak English most excellently. And I can write as well, too. She said Speak English, we don’t want no illegals around here. As if speaking Spanish were somehow illegal, or made me illegal. I was flummoxed. I said, My family has been here since 1904. Spanish was the first European language in California, after myriad native languages were expunged. Russian and liturgical Latin were also spoken here too. I love language. I can speak some Portuguese, Italian as well. There is no mandated, or official language in America—you can legally speak any language you prefer. I might have roped in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo too. I was on a roll. I said, I will speak any language I like. You really don’t want to take me on. Then I walked out. Think I’ll speak to her in Irish next time. Or perhaps in Quechua. Because I can.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Gale force winds tonight

So far, so good. We still have power in West County— not true for the folks just up the road. Which means we still have wifi. Lifeline. The wind is definitely sighing, the swaying pines sound just like the stormy ocean outside my window. It’s like waiting for the vikings to land on a windy night. We also had a downpour last night. So that lessens the chance of another fire. The pillage and burning part is courtesy of PG&E. Unfortunately there was not enough rain to cancel the PG&E power outage. Nothing quite like sitting in the dark, clueless, waiting for more wildfires to bloom on the horizon.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Hello, bed.

It seems my back has other plans for me today. Friday’s small shoulderblade spasm decided to blossom on both sides. Yesterday, I could barely take a breath, driving was pure hell. Sleep helped, but it’s back with a vengeance. Hello, bed.

Between grant writing bits, I  taught two days of poetry classes in Oakland, for another grant, including reading and typing up kid poems.

I also helped my cousin move stuff out of the Nicasio house over the weekend—many, many stairs, many, many boxes.

Living feral, I slept in several strange beds. Met a new pussycat named Seamus Heaney. I also care-provided for a friend for two days, shopping, cooking, cleaned house, did massive loads of laundry, etc. I even managed to write a poem.

To make matters worse, I’m trying to avoid Advil as I took so much of it when my knee was injured. I worry about my kidneys. Can’t take Tylenol. Wine, not so much, but it’s a bit early, isn’t it? I’m sure it’s wine o’clock somewhere, but I haven’t had brekkie yet. At least this time I remembered to tape my knees, so they don’t hurt.

It was a very stressful and most busy week. Every single poet did not get heir work to me in a timely manner, causing all kinds of grant traffic jams. Not to mention headaches and eye strain. At one point I was wearing two glasses so I could read the fine print. But I got that blasted grant in on time. I did.

Now, to bed.

Sunday, November 17, 2019


We dutifully lined up for latte & sticky buns
at Yurion’s old Forest Knolls Garage.
Memories collided with time at warp speed.
Don would’ve snorted and scoffed—
a fucking boutique in his garage?
Axelgrease-laced beer was more his swill.
Where gas-pumps once stood,
islands of organic produce bloom
in ecstatic gentrification. Don’s
traditional greeting, Hey Asshole,
would offend their delicate senses.

At the trailer court, someone lights up.
Some things never change.
The skunk odor takes me back.
Everyone’s looking rough around the edges,
Both young and old—there’s no escaping it.
The lattes obviously aren’t working.

Once, in front of Yurion’s Garage,
I got caught up in a swarm of bees,
my long hair became a net.
As I swept past the gas station sideways,
my red mare developed wings.
Don, with his Lucky Strikes
rolled up in a teeshirt cuff, ciggie in hand,
scratched his head as she danced sideways
right into the gas bay and out the other side
while the swarm, in an uproar,
fiercely protected their queen.
Like many, they were looking for new digs.
Such sweet dreams were on the move,
but Don’s greener pastures had turned to ash.


Friday, November 15, 2019

CAC grant to bed in record time

The CAC multi-artist grant is done and this time it is in well under deadline! Not taking any chances. Not like the last grant I wrote that missed the deadline by five minutes due to a technical failure at Poetry Flash. Everybody was online today, and the CAC site kept crashing, But I persisted. I lost data, reinventing the wheel & reposting corrections under 30 seconds was a challenge. Time for wine & chocolate. Can’t believe I’m done. Still dreaming that I’m writing it. Here’s hoping.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Writing the John Oliver Simon legacy CAC grant and the problem with late poets

I need to finish my CAC grant narrative, but I’m so tired I want to weep & then there’s the budget page still to do. The CAC website keeps crashing & then I lose data. It’s due tomorrow & poets STILL haven’t sent in materials. Feeling let down & frustrated. And now my back is threatening to spasm. That’s all I need.

If I could get the poets to send in their stuff in, that would help. I’m quite miffed by their extreme tardiness. One late poet just got his materials in. But now I can’t download anything because I need a stable WiFi connection for my laptop. So that sucks. 

I’m not about to drive down the road just to find strong WiFi. And my cell doesn’t work out in west Marin so I can’t even call Brennan. I mean I’m literally sleeping on people’ couches, and living feral, so I can meet my commitments, and get this grant in on time, and instead I’m spending most of my time herding cats. Why do I even bother?

Every single poet did not get their work to me on time, causing all kinds of havoc. I feel so betrayed. I thought Tobey and Brennan were late enough, Sophie didn’t even bother to check her email but at least she sent everything in organized, at the last minute—but Tureeda sent in nothing at all. Nothing. Susie offered to call her. I needed a letter of support from school, I was able to fabricate a bio, sample poems, kid poems, freshen up the letter of support, etc. It took some doing, but they’ll do. All this lateness means I just wasted two hours recreating her information, whereas I should be using that time to finish the grant. Everything is uploaded onto the CAC grant site. Now I polish and prune, look for loopholes.

This problem exacerbated x 4 poets means that I’ve literally squandered and wasted hours and hours trying to get the info I need from them, instead of writing the grant. Don’t they get that? Frustrated, I am. And the irony is if we get the grant, it means lovely residencies for them. Free teaching money. Tardiness to the extreme is not helpful or conducive to grant writing. 

I always knew organizing poets is like herding cats. But this time I’m really annoyed. My back hurts, I have such bad I strain that I can’t see, and I haven’t had a full nights sleep in ages. I really feel betrayed. Ok, I’m done with the uploads, some minor tinkering after my brain recovers, and in it goes. Wish it luck. Submitting a grant electronically means you can no longer kiss the envelope for luck. 

Ah, first rain, or is it merely a fizzle of a drizzle? Gawd, even the rain is late. But the acrid odor of petrichor, blood of stones rises up to greet me, and I think how writing this grant has been like squeezing blood from stones. I don’t think I ever want to have to do this again. I keep thinking what would John have done? Forge ahead. I think of all the grants that we wrote together and how much I learned from him, this is what sustains me now.

Monday, November 11, 2019


The raven who shared the chilly morning with me 
had several things to say 
but I could not understand a thing he said. 
I was thinking of T.rump.
The raven sat up and said crock!
I was thinking of that Florida woman
who espoused alt-news to defend T rump
While slinging hash on a friend’s post.
The raven said Waka-waka. Crock!
It’s all crock. And then he flew off.
Nevermore. He warbled and cheebered 
I sat there admiring his song.
He dipped one wing, as if in salute.
A veteran of the dark skies.