Friday, July 24, 2020

Driving backroads

As I drive the West County backroads to work, the actions of the person in front of me at a junction or a stop sign, often determines which backroute I will take. I will do anything to avoid complacency and erratic driving. I abhor those who drive seemingly without a care in the world, unaware that someone behind him may have a time frame and a destination in mind. I have no trouble with joyriding, or touristing, it’s just that some of us use the backroads to get from point A to point B in a timely manner. The courtesy of pulling over for someone who is driving faster than you has gone by the wayside. People seem to think they own the road in front of them no matter what, expecting those of us stuck behind their overinflated ego-driven SUVs, to follow suit. What if there was an emergency? Honking or flicking your headlights does little good. But they won’t yield the road even when five or more cars are piled up behind them. It’s against the law. If I’m driving slow, I either speed up, or pull over and let them pass. I don’t refuse to yield the road. It comes with the territory.

A lone Canada goose on Llano road

A wild Canada goose was standing by the roadside on Llano Road near the Laguna treatment plant. It stood amidst Queen Anne’s lace and blue chickory. I thought, what a strange place for a water bird to rest. Then I saw the fallen. It was morning its mate. Then I saw more fallen. One dead goose could have been an accident. But two, then three by the side of the road. Surely the work of man, and not the sewage pond. The one surviving goose stood sentinel among the fallen, a lone survivor to a tragedy that no one will ever know. I feel its grief, as it keens for its mate.The white feathers of the gooses breast luff in the breeze like small clouds on the horizon between life and death.


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Dear AutoDuctape

Dear AutoDuctape, lose the apostrophes already and the random capitalization act really has to go. You're batting 99% wrong 99% of the time. Most common nouns are not TM products. They're simple-minded nouns. You know, person, place or thing? We're talking about things here. Objects.

Ditto that for simple plurals. Sometimes an S is just an S. For reals. (Im surprised you didn't try and apostrosize that last word. You must be slipping. I mean, migawd, reals is not even a real word. Neither is apostrosize but that's above your paygrade.) But I digress.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Naked Athena vs the Feds

I never thought I’d ever be saying this, but hooray for the soccer moms, and for helicopter moms, and for the naked yoga moms. The great Shiva has been unleashed. We are revolution. We are both noun and verb. We are Lysistrata. We are the original AntiFa. And we are pissed. We have taken a stand against the staggering incompetence of the affairs and machinations of the federal government. We will rise. We will rise. ‘A masked Naked Athena’ has turned the tide. She is Godiva, unhorsed. She is Sheila-na-gig. Nudity as protest, nudity as free speech. She is the malasana in garland pose. She is Gaia giving birth to the new world. She is the primal scream. This is the official dance of these covid times. Portland is keeping it weird for us all. If you’re not pissed off by now, you should be. When George called out for his mama on his dying breath, he called out all the mamas. Yea, verrily, we will rise.  “Feds stay clear. The Moms are here.” Game on.

Sunday, July 19, 2020


What if you were to arm your chicken
would you need a permit for it to bear arms?
Would it need a a bulletproof vest? Or an alibi?
Perhaps some barbecue sauce for the extra wings?
What if it crossed the road while bare armed?
Would it be a wingman? Would it get a leg up?
Would the now rather cross road roll up and leave town?
What if it was a leghorn? Then what? Would it have an arm up?
Would it be a Rambochicken or a T-rex throwback?
Would it wear wingtips? Would you shoot the little clucker
if the cockerel percheth too long in thy ladie’s chamber?
(Medieval reference explained in the comments)
Would you read your chicken Miranda rights?
No chickens were armed in this process. Really.
But they sure were insulted. What about the bears?
Do they want to bear arms too?

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Rest in power John Lewis

Chickens are very good listeners. My friend’s chickens tend to clock me because I feed them. My car is my afternoon office, and apparently I keep office hours with a flock of chickens. They tilt their heads as if to comprehend what I’m saying, before I resort to their clucky language. The idea of John preaching to the chickens is an endearing and enduring image. Chickens are far smarter than we tend to think.

“John loved to tell the chicks the Good News. When he fed and watered them, he spoke about the value of hard work and patience. He would tell them, ‘Enjoy this day that God has given us.’” A leitmotif for us all.

"Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble."
He spilled his blood on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, served in Parchman Prison, rode with the Freedom Riders in the summer of 1961, and served in Congress for more than 30 years, so each and every single American can exercise their civic duty. —Rusty Hicks, California Democratic Party
‪“You must find a way to get in the way. ‬You must find a way to get into good trouble. Necessary trouble.‬ You have a moral obligation, a mission and a mandate to go out and seek justice for all. ‬You can do it. You must do it.”‬ ‪- John Lewis ‬
As John Lewis*, the great civil rights hero who passed away on Friday, said last month near where Trump and Attorney General William Barr had set federal police in riot gear and wielding tear gas on peaceful protesters, “Mr President, the American people … have a right to protest. You cannot stop the people with all of the forces that you may have at your command.” —Robert Reich
I’ll never forget the day he staged a sit-in on the Senate floor. This man who walked with King. Who led us all in the good fight. A man who fought for equality with his last breath. I am proud to have been a chicken in his flock. Rest in power John Lewis and thank you for all your service. Walk with the Wind.

See Brainpickings’ endearing tribute to Preaching to the Chickens, a story about a young John Lewis.


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

I never did finish Herman Berlandt’s memorial blog

Another year steamrollers by and I am reminded, with the help of Facebook Memories, that I never did write that blog tribute to Herman Berlandt who died May 15, 2017. I didn’t hear about his death until July, by chance, but I managed to get myself to his memorial service. So this month becomes an annual tribute month in my mind’s eye.

I was far too overwhelmed at the time to fully process Herman’s passing, but I did manage to create a blog for him, called Herman Berlandt, Poet on the Brink of the Mesa  from a collection of papers I had gathered from his cabin in the winter of 2018. I also always meant to scan all the photos from our time together for National Poetry Association as well (I was staff photographer)—still on the back burner of the to-do list.

I always meant to go back and add to the blog, finish the big scan job of his papers that I had begun in January, 2019, but I never found the time, my own life was in such upheaval, first, my ex, John Oliver Simon had died, then I was suddenly homeless, living on the run—a 20+ year relationship had ended badly, and now here we are, July 2020. We are all firmly entrenched at one home or another, with nowhere to go. Now I have the time to finish my task, but no material to scan. I assume Bolinas is still closed to outsiders. I hope that Patrick Flynn is OK, and still holding down the home front, and that the cabin still stands. Otherwise, now would be a perfect time to finish the job.

This is a time of closure, completing the undone tasks of one’s lifetime. Facing extinction is a hell of a motivator.

The 2019 blog (which I’m sure no one has even seen)
Herman Berlandt, Poet on the Brink of the Mesa
and my placeholder un-tribute to Herman form 2017

Thursday, July 9, 2020

True Chanterelles finally published

A shoutout to Art Goodtimes who shepherded this poem into print, he who encouraged me to go deeper into the realm of fungi, and load it up with scientific terms. Ok, so it was an exceptionally long midwifery, two years, but look who else is in this mycology issue, W. S. Merwin! I am honored indeed. And I am exceptionally glad a version of this poem found its way to the printed page. At last.

Monday, July 6, 2020

COVID Brain is a thing

It’s curious to witness how our brains overcompensate for what we cannot possibly fathom, let alone, process, during these COVID times. Need I mention the danger of an inexplicable need for sudden-onset naps—like while driving. Or forgetting where you are while driving—is like a sneak preview onto the window of dementia. Three pairs of glasses on my head has become the new norm. And yes, I’ve added a second pair of glasses atop the ones I’m using. Just call me six-eyes.

Misplaced things resurfacing in the oddest of places—car keys in the fridge, cellphone in the cabinet. I don’t even want to discuss the places I’ve stashed outgoing mail. Or another favorite, completely forgetting to do simple hard-wired tasks—like pushing the start button on the washer, and then coming back an hour later, completely baffled. Half-completed tasks while multi-tasking stack up like a madhouse litany. I’m grounding my auto-pilot’s plane and canceling his license.

Have you noticed how certain simple coping skills are dropped, or rearranged according to vicarious whims, while other tasks take on an unusual precedence to the point of stark-raving OCD mania? Keeping your eye on the prize often discombobulates into an at-home version of a low-rent Monty Python skit. That THC-free spaciness is a real thing.

My cousin and I seem to be at a loss for certain common, and rather ordinary nouns verging on plainness, on any given day which makes for hilarious, if demented, conversations—each of us supplying the MIA noun for the other in tandem, without either of us missing a beat.

When a friend marveled over how the French don’t pronounce the final continent of a word, I laughed so hard, I very nearly became incontinent, my eyes peed their pants. Becca’s friend substituted the word celibate for being content—which added a surreal twist to the conversation.

Meanwhile, our higher power is distracted while trying to fathom the concept of, or plumb the depths of mass extinction, we’ve come up with some rather amazing work-arounds and patches when the working nouns in any given sentence refuse to tow the line, or worse, flee the scene of any given conversation. I’ve been known to yell at my cousin, Hey, I need a working noun (rarely a verb) here! Our sentences are beginning to resemble autocorrect at its finest. Lately I’ve taken to handcuffing working nouns to the proverbial greased pole.

Things versus actions are becoming an endangered species. And no, we are not experiencing gaslighting, mad cow disease or Alzheimer’s, atrophy, or dementia wholesale. Grief, anxiety, depression, stress all distract our brains as we try to make sense of these trying times we live in.

The ordinary and the mundane fall by the wayside as our processors whirr night and day. Day and night. Every waking dream is post COVID-19. We are all suffering from COVID fatigue syndrome. Call it PTSD if you must name it. COVID brain is a thing. The fogbank of the fugue months is very real and taking names. As my friend said, Every day is Blurrsday. We have lost our point of reference. And every month is Blurruary.

Feel free to leave your current whack-jobs, workarounds, and cures, or at least how you keep the beast at bay, below.

Irish-American women rebel-rousers

IWW activist Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was model for Joe Hill's The Rebel Girl Wiki

Someone on Facebook posted a story about how American women were instrumental in affecting social change. I was surprised that her examples didn’t include any Irish American women—not even the fabled Mother Jones. And when I attempted to add Irish American women to her list—who were not actresses—I drew a blank after the first handful of women. I searched online in vain for a list of Irish-American women rabble-rousers who were real rebel rousers, not just pretty faces on the celluloid screen—which led to this blogpost.  

(Note bene: This is a draft.... a few of the biographies are not done. But I’m close. I just ran out of steam.)

Those foolhardy moments in time

Someone asked me what was the most foolhardy thing I’d ever done. Where to even begin? How about rappelling down inside the inner dome of a decommissioned church of atheism and religion in Leningrad, mid-winter, never having rappelled down anything before? Or working on a fresco, while dangling from a rope 40 feet above the floor on dodgy equipment while helping a Soviet artist to restore it, using razor blades to scrape away debris. 

The singlemost scariest part was climbing an ancient pre-Revolution rickety iron ladder to the roof on the outside of the building, to get to the window that led to the inner dome. Of course the artist gave us a 360* tour of the copper-clad outer dome during a snow flurry. I grabbed the handrail only to have it come up from the lip of the dome in my hand, and the lip was slick, my boot slid to the edge...

It reminds me of the time I came down Half Dome and accidentally pulled the rope rail pipe out of the granite, only to have the 2x4“ plank skittle to the side, with me holding up the loose pipe in my right hand like a cane, while admiring the steep curvature of the dome, wondering how the hell John Muir managed to come back down the dome sans any guardrail at all.

And then there was. the time John Oliver Simon and I decided we needed to climb Huyana Picchu to get to the temple of the sun and moon using a dodgy rope to pull ourselves up a slope that far surpassed the angle of declination. Made the world’s steepest stairs seem like a piece of cake. No fn way was I going to take that rope back down that peak—all this while in the middle of a forest fire, having hiked 42km in, the only way out was through.

There are more stories... it’s a wonder I ever made it out alive. and now, here we are playing hide and seek with an invisible enemy. To be felled by a virus....

Saturday, July 4, 2020

A year ago today

A year ago today my cousin Sinead Dinsmore and I were sleeping In her family home in Nicasio when at 5 AM on 4 July, 2019, an intoxicated driver ran into the house, driving his Titan Nissan truck into the living room, launching us from our beds, exposIng us to asbestos dust, leaving us homeless, and with PTSD. We have suffered from wage loss, and loss of work, bodily injury, mental stress, etc. The driver of the vehicle was under the influence, and arrested with a DUI (meth), a police report was filed. He was the manager of several gas stations in Petaluma including Valero. my cousin’s brother David Dinsmore, the owner of the house, has her listed on his home insurance policy. She had possessions and furniture destroyed. The County of Marin may also be liable, as it did not embark, nor did it clearly mark that bend in the road—though the family has repeatedly asked them to do something about it as this is not the first time a vehicle has driven into the house. Since then, the county has put in traffic warning lights. Too late for us.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Throwing myself a lifeline (photography)

For the first time in ages, I posted several albums of wildflower photos in two Facebook groups that I belong to, California Native Plant Society, and California Invasive Plants. I was feeling extraordinarily downcast the other day, to the point I was barely functional; I was so weighted with cumulative grief from my April to June fugue, I could feel the numbness in my cheekbones.

So I threw myself a lifeline, and took the long way home. The very, very long way home on the most obscure backroads I could find. It took me 4 1/2 hours. By the end of that journey, I was no longer despondent, nor was I crippled with grief. No matter that my camera no longer properly focuses, or that I desperately need a new one, I still managed to fight my way out of the descent of darkness with it in hand.

This photo says it all, between a rock and a .... a photo I very nearly missed seeing, I had my eye on other prizes—Lupinus microcarpus, var. densiflorus, AKA Chick lupine going to seed. They make me giddy with their breakout lavender hues.

This quote below is what I wrote at the end of one of the photo albums I posted. I wanted to share it with you all, as the same premise applies to all of you, and to all of our posts. This silly little habit of people liking or not liking posts means much more than we realize, in this isolated land of no more hugs. For that, I am grateful.

“Wow, instant gratification, I love the fact that you are all loving this post. Sounds silly, I know. Sometimes it feels like we’re all in the dark. Sometimes the only thing that makes me feel a little bit better is the beauty that surrounds us. On this particular day, I despaired, and could not get out of my blue funk, the grief was palpable, so I took photos, and went the long way home. Sometimes the only thing I can do is to seek out that beauty and post it here. My microcosmic world. Thank you all. ❤ We are all walking each other home.


So, my pants are punking me. Tired of my old jeans w/ shallow pockets, I bought new ones, only to discover the plus-size was no longer quite so plus due to stray surplus COVID-19 calories.

Ironic in that the Gloria Vanderbilt jeans that I swear by, except for that last pair with a shallow pockets, but they always run way too big. But I am between sizes. Story of my life. I am neither a 10 nor a 12. My pants tend to fall off my ass. Belts don’t really help. So I either buy a size 12 and take them in. Or buy a size 10 and hope it runs large enough to not give me cameltoes. Some choice, ass rack or hoo-ha crack.

I assume all Gloria Vanderbilt pants are made in China, but these are clearly post COVID-19 pants. Different style, I like the smaller waistline, and with the roomier crotch bits below. This time the size 12 fits like a 10, sans crack. No more delicate ruptured bits.

I don’t have very much by way of a butt to hold my pants up. Putting my wallet in my pocket sometimes means my pants go south like a gangstah when I least expect it. I am unused to having pants fit—to say the least. Ah, but the craic’s good when it comes to a pair of comfortable tailored pedal pushers in summer. Having two boobs at the same time precludes finding tailored shirts that will fit.