Friday, September 26, 2008

A Breach

We were having a delicious dinner Thursday night. Roger cooked. Rice pasta and lots of veggies, a little pesto and some parmesan. We were having a serious discussion about how awful this particular time in our nation's history is. We see that there is simply no good outcome here with the bailout. It's all quite rotten through and through. I was sharp-tongued as always. You know, eff this, eff that. The Democrats have let us down. The Republicans are grandstanding. Blah blah blah.

Something caught Roger's attention, as he looked out the window at the beautiful, calm Monterey Bay. He had a quizzical look. I asked, "What's up?" He said, "I don't know I just saw a wave in the middle of the bay. Weird." So I looked out past my fury to where he was pointing. At that moment a whale breached. Up out of the water, its body turning as it fell back into the sea.*

We started screaming, right there at the dinner table, yelling for it to come up again. It didn't. We watched it as it moved out to sea, following the bursts of spray it made from time to time.

Oh that breach was breathtaking. A jolting surprise. A reminder of something wild. It was a breach, but wholly unlike the breach we had just been discussing, that chasm between us and those who govern. This breach reminded us gladly that the vagaries of national politics always fall to dust. But this planet, this stunning planet will spin on long past the time of our silly, greedy human presence. We were truly glad to be reminded.

We hope you have a great weekend, friends.

*(What we saw looked a lot like this picture that I "borrowed" from the internet.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Seven hundred billion dollars

One million dollars a day

For two thousand years

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bailouts, Ducks, Puppies, and Pelicans

Lots of things bug me. I'm just that kind of person. Bristly. I expect to be frustrated, thwarted, annoyed, and pissed off on a daily basis. I don't mind admitting that. I'm no maven of positive thoughts. I'm practically cursing under my breath at all times. But, there are some things that seriously push me over the edge. Hard.

Yeah, it bugs me that we're bailing out the financial market to the tune of $700 billion dollars. It's not that we didn't expect it, we did. Not exactly this unbelievable amount of money, but this bailout was inevitable. It's what Republican administrations do. They talk god, guns, and gays while robbing the coffers and lining their own pockets. They invest and pretend it's not a gamble. Only after they have mucked it as much as it can be mucked, they cry that the market won't survive their thievery unless we give them tax dollars to prop it up. Yep, the same tax dollars that they rant and rail against paying. How do they get away with it every damned time?

But even more than their global venality, what really has been bugging me is how people treat animals.

Before we left Arcata we went downtown looking for a small shop to buy a particular item that only that small shop sells. While we were looking for the store, we heard a duck quacking. Quite clearly. A duck was quacking its head off somewhere downtown. I looked up into the sky, expecting to see a flock passing overhead. But there was nothing. Then the duck quacked again. I looked over and there on the street corner was a young guy with a big backpack and a box. Arcata street corners are always full of young people heading north and south, with backpacks and all manner of baby critters (kittens and puppies) on leashes and strings. But here was a guy with a duck in a box, and the duck was quacking some message of discomfort. So, he literally held the duck's bill closed. It was all I could do to keep from going over there and smashing him, taking his duck to the marsh and setting it free. I should have called animal protection services, but I didn't. I just added the experience to the sum of experiences that remind me why other humans and I don't get along.

I could rant at length about all the puppies and kittens we saw all summer long tethered to people who had absolutely no business caring for their tender likes. One story says it all: On a day when the temperature was pushing a hundred degrees and the pavement was hot as hell, a shirtless young man was walking the highway shoulder. He had his pack on his sweaty back, and on a leash was a puppy so young and small that it obviously was struggling to keep up. That puppy was walking on a blacktop that had to have been searing his little toes. Oh yes, I muttered every profanity I could think of and looked away. Such unbearable thoughtlessness and contempt for other living things must not be stared at for too long. Otherwise, it creeps into your heart and sours you on the whole of humanity. I know.

There is simply no end of cruelty we visit upon defenseless creatures. There are the big stories of how we are poisoning the earth, heating it beyond livability, degrading the very things we all need to survive. Yes, I think these stories merely convey our general duck and puppy disdain writ large upon the earth. Everyday there are smaller stories like this about eleven pelicans with broken wings. Someone actually snapped back the wings of eleven pelicans, and left them to die. Only one survived. What are the pelicans doing hanging out so close to humans that they can be grabbed and brutalized? Well, the warmer ocean temps have driven their food deeper into cooler water, leaving the pelicans hungry at the surface. There's even a hungry juvenile here that hangs out on the wharf looking for handouts from the tourists and locals who have come to fish. We see him everyday, sitting on the railing, waiting for food.

And yes, probably, for every horrible story like these are the stories of good works being done on behalf of these creatures. But the good works come as a response, are therapeutic interventions after the fact of our contempt, like a game of catch up that has no end.

Yeah, it really bugs me.
I think we should let the markets fail.
I should have stolen the duck and the puppy.
I should learn how to rescue this pelican, to make up for all the rest.


Barack has a much better idea:

First, there must be no blank check when American taxpayers are on the hook for this much money.

Second, taxpayers shouldn't be spending a dime to reward CEOs on Wall Street.

Third, taxpayers should be protected and should be able to recoup this investment.

Fourth, this plan has to help homeowners stay in their homes.

Fifth, this is a global crisis, and the United States must insist that other nations join us in helping secure the financial markets.

Sixth, we need to start putting in place the rules of the road I've been calling for for years to prevent this from ever happening again.

And finally, this plan can't just be a plan for Wall Street, it has to be a plan for Main Street.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Watching Roger Fly

Here's a screen grab from a flight tracking website. There goes Roger, flying back to Arcata to pick up the pick-up truck and haul one more trailer of crap... ummm... important stuff to us. What a crazy thing it is to be able to follow his airplane from right here on my little laptop. He's there over the amazing blue Pacific winging his way back. You know how wild it is up there in Humboldt; Roger posted that photo of the bridge that tries to bridge the untameable earth to some cemented tame piece that won't crumble or be crushed by mountains of falling rock. So, you won't be surprised to know that the plane he is on is a Embraer Brasilia EMB-120, just a wee bit of thing carrying only 30 passengers. It's not like they need a jet, not many people fly to this piece of the earth.
So, I am following his progress. Missing him already. Sigh.
Before we left Arcata, a wonderful flock of warblers came to feast on the insects in the backyard fruit trees. I haven't been able to completely identify them, but I think they might be Nashville Warblers. Very cute, hyperactive, flighty things. Any help in ID'ing them would be appreciated.

Other than that, the economy is in a tailspin. We absolutely knew that this was going to happen, but shit, if it doesn't knock us out when it actually does. We hope you are all safe and well, and managing to weather this crisis without too much loss.

Despite what the Republicans say, the fundamentals are not strong, and whether they understand it or not, we're all in this together.

Monday, September 15, 2008

a bridge to somewhere

we drove down highway 101 from arcata to santa cruz this past sunday. the bigger part of the way is freeway. some of the two-lane stretches are fairly straight and only moderately uphill or down. other segments are quite narrow and twisting and steep. the picture above was taken from a small turnout on a part of the road chiseled across a rock face about a hundred feet above the bottom and a hundred feet below the top. a long way to fall off the edge and a lot of rock above to fall onto the road. the bridge will replace maybe a mile and a half of narrow, twisty, steep, obviously difficult and expensive and dangerous to maintain road. there are bright orange signs for both directions warning "KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD." neither of us had ever seen a sign like that before. its need is obvious here. construction has been going on for at least a year. maybe it will be finished before the oil runs out.

i first traveled north to humboldt county in 1971. there was not so much freeway then. no spotlights at night illuminating the the rock faces where chunks of various sizes fall at random times. progress happens. now one can see the rock hurtling down to crush one's car, with no space or time to avoid it. i may have preferred a quick, unexpected death in the dark.

i fly back to arcata wednesday to drive 101 south again thursday with our fully loaded pickup truck, which is at our former house. then we are moved well and completely. then we begin looking for a home.

cat update......bonsai was nervous for several days before we traveled, what with everything packed and our rugs rolled up. he was upset and whining for almost an hour as we set out. we talked to him. robin pet him (i was driving). after a bit he climbed up into robin's lap and calmed enough to drowse. he has never been any sort of lap cat for more than 3 uncomfortable seconds. he then went to sleep on the floor in back, staying there except to eat some kibble when we stopped to feed ourselves. he was a good traveler.

Friday, September 12, 2008

In The Moment

We spent a good part of the afternoon with Indigo and her wild mustang. She wanted us to meet him before we left Humboldt. She's been working with him for a year. Three weeks ago he finally felt safe enough to let her put a halter on him. He comes now when she whistles. We watched her put the halter on, take it off, put it back, talk to him tenderly, teach him with the most minimal hand movements to come, go, step forward, step back. She taught us how much she knows this world, this language of animal. We were in awe. He had been a feral horse for five years, just two years ago. Now he takes apple from our outstretched hands. Indigo took the time to earn this trust, this moment.

Later, she came over for dinner. We had a conversation that reminded us of this Gary Snyder poem. We lamented the times we're living in, but we also regaled each other with the stories of the incredible cosmicity of the moment. We asked each other, when did you wake up and see the universe for what it is? We told the stories of our own awakenings to the biggest picture of all. How different they were, how much the same. Our eyes sparkled in the telling. In the moment on earth, wondering how we got here: in our skin, in our families, in our country, on this planet. Then we remembered now, the day and times, Ah America we could almost love you again.

So, I looked up Snyder's poem, googling American I could almost love you again. How wonderfully coincidental that Gary Snyder walked into the Maverick Bar. We have our own Maverick these days, and don't you forget it. Oh America...

I Went into the Maverick Bar
by Gary Snyder

I went into the Maverick Bar
In Farmington, New Mexico.
And drank double shots of bourbon
backed with beer.
My long hair was tucked up under a cap
I'd left the earring in the car.

Two cowboys did horseplay
by the pool tables,
A waitress asked us
where are you from?
a country-and-western band began to play
"We don't smoke Marijuana in Muskokie"
And with the next song,
a couple began to dance.

They held each other like in High School dances
in the fifties;
I recalled when I worked in the woods
and the bars of Madras, Oregon.
That short-haired joy and roughness--
America--your stupidity.
I could almost love you again.

We left--onto the freeway shoulders--
under the tough old stars--
In the shadow of bluffs
I came back to myself,
To the real work, to
"What is to be done."

(Poem borrowed without permission.)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Rocks Too Heavy To Flip

This post is dedicated to Don who passed away Saturday night. Even though we never met, you became part of our lives and our hearts. You are a brother who has walked his thousand miles. Rest in peace, friend.

Roger and I headed out on Sunday to flip a rock. No, that's not quite true. We headed out to remember someone we knew by word and heart; to walk off the stress of making yet one more move; to see a small piece of this beautiful, swirling planet. If a rock presented itself, we were fully prepared to flip it for International Rock-Flipping Day
First we saw this. No need to flip this rock. Look at that dragonfly. It fulfills all the promise that could have been hidden underneath.
Then there was this. There is no way we could have lifted this rock. Besides, we would not have wanted to disturb this little beauty enjoying the sun on a late afternoon.
And then there were these guys, four rather rambunctious river otters. They were putting a mighty big scare on Klopp Lake and coming up with fish much bigger than we ever imagined were there.
They each took a turn coming up on to this rock and peeing. What a fine little territorial trick these river otter parents were teaching their babies. Didn't flip this rock, and probably wouldn't have even if we could.

So ended International Rock-Flipping Day. We saw rocks that we did not flip, but oh were thrilled by the life teeming on top.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Bobcats in LA

We couldn't resist this story. You know how much we love bobcats. Enjoy.

Oh, and about that mountain lion walking around the charming little town of Capitola. It's still prowling the shopping areas along Soquel Creek, which is about 1/4 of a mile from the house we are moving into at the end of the month. Whee!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Give 'em Hell, Joe

Do you love this? We do. Makes us happy. We're doing our happy dance. "I'm gonna tell them the truth, and they're going to think it's hell." Oh baby.

Quite Literally

We're back in Arcata, tired as old dogs.

Holy shit the world is a freakin' mess. We've been political junkies all of our lives, but the prospect of a fellow citizenry "electrified" by Sarah Palin may have finally done us in. How could anyone in their right minds want to follow up these past eight years with this McCain/Palin ticket? We simply cannot comprehend. Perhaps we're too old or too tired, or maybe it's just that we love the constitution and its protections and can't understand what our country is without it. OMG, if we hear another word about god, we're going to have to do something reckless.

What has our country become? I swear, we don't recognize it.

When we were in the beach house on Wednesday the phone rang. I picked it up. It was a recording. It said: This is the Santa Cruz Country Sheriff's office reporting that there was a mountain lion sighted at the Capitola Mall at 3:30 am. It was last seen heading toward the Soquel mountains. If you see this lion do not approach it, but call the sheriff's office.


But wait, the call came in at 12:30 pm, a full nine hours after the sighting. How the heck are we supposed to see this creature if they gave it a nine hour head start?

Excellent reverse 9-1-1 call though. Our favorite of all time.

On the ride back to Arcata Thursday, Roger drove north between Santa Cruz to just over the Golden Gate Bridge. I took the wheel there driving through the golden rolling hills of the wine country, the gateway to the Redwood empire. Somewhere around Santa Rosa, I inadvertently cut off a driver in the passing lane who was completely in my blind spot in my rear view and side mirror. He honked his horn. I was appropriately sheepish. Then he decided he should pass me on the right and cut me off, not once, not twice but three times. Roger and I were shocked. His aggression was dangerous and scary. He was playing chicken at 70 mph.

I figured he'll probably vote the McCain/Palin ticket. If he had killed us, he could have posed triumphantly with his bounty.

We're glad to report that we made it back safely.

Somehow we still love our country despite its yahoo freakin' stupidity. We love pelicans the most. In fact, we think this year should be called the Year of the Pelican. We're certain if pelicans could vote, they'd all be Democrats.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

On The Road Again

It was much easier to be our nomadic selves when all we had to do was pack a rucksack and go. Life was really like that in the late 60s and early 70s on the road, thumb out and a hopeful smile. The journey was part of the trip (or vice versa), does that make sense? Roger could climb into the back of a van, pot smoke wafted out the open van doors, and a crew of strangers about to become friends greeted him. I traversed the coast highway between LA and San Francisco a half a dozen times the first summer my family moved to California. Camping with fellow travelers on Garrapata Beach, getting my first taste of California's high tides and a wet sleeping bag. Of course that all ended for various reasons, but it sure was easier back then to just pick up and go.

Today we're making the first of three journeys between Humboldt County and Santa Cruz. Our pick up truck is packed, and we're pulling a little trailer. We're dividing the loads, so when it comes time to pack the U-Haul, some time around the equinox, it will be a lighter trip and easier for us to do ourselves.

Yes, of course we're much too old to be such gypsies, but when we sold our house in Washington, we had no idea that we would not fall in love with Humboldt or that my mom's health would require vigilant advocacy. Life is like that you know, plans go awry. How could we have ended up in this crazy little house that gets no sunshine even on the blazing-est of days? How could we have known that these enticing hills and mountains have very little housing stock, and the land is really better suited for grazing cattle than cultivation, or is otherwise towering redwood forest beautiful dark and deep?

We keep old plans for new scenarios. The same dream unfolds for us, the one that took us to the shores of Port Townsend Bay, Humboldt Bay, and this roaring Pacific. We'll plant ourselves again, as full of promise as any seed in fertile soil. It's not magic to expect great things, it's what's in our cells. My crazy cosmic self thinks the same is true for you.

Still, it's a challenge. A U-Haul is not a rucksack and we look askance at all that we have gathered. It's a good thing we don't have to carry it all on our backs.

Monday, September 01, 2008


We are resilient. Despite all the broken dreams, we still awaken every morning fully expecting that the world has finally come around and accorded to our vision of it. We really do, don't you?

It's not like life has been all that incredibly good that it warrants such optimism, and if you really knew us, you might even suspect that we are not all that optimistic. Yet, we recognize this thing in ourselves, this strange anomaly, a feeling, a desire, a belief, a dream that is never completely extinguished no matter what. How wild it is when we actually take notice of it. There it is.


On Thursday evening when Barack Obama spoke at the Democratic Convention, we were reminded of this:

Please don't wake me, no don't shake me, leave me where I am, I'm only dreaming.