Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Bufflehead Wednesday

From a distance, we saw this lone bufflehead in the reservoir.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Solstice Sun

I just wanted to post this photo from yesterday morning. It's about an hour after solstice sunrise. The sun is barely clearing our tall cedars and pines these days. Still, we've been having an amazingly sunny and bright December. The local newspaper said if we don't get any more rain by the first of the year, it will be the 4th driest December on record. Interesting since last year was one of the wettest. Of course I don't want to leap to any conclusions about climate change. But it sure is hard to plan for things when the weather doesn't cooperate based on averages.
I'm still enjoying learning about clouds and photographing them. Found there's even a Cloud Appreciation Society in England. Clouds are listed by species there. These may be altocumulus undulatus. Interesting stuff.
I was going through my iPhoto folder, looking through 6000 photos to see which ones I could delete. As I was paging down, I noticed this page of Swallowtails pics, I shot on May 11th. I loved it, so I did a screen grab of the image.

Life is good as the sun begins its return, hope the same is true for you.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Another Year Goes By

This is my father. He would have been 93 years old today. My father wasn't a very social man (I am so much my father's daughter!), so it is particularly good to see him at a party. This photo was taken at his sister's house in New Jersey. I don't know exactly when, but I'm pretty sure it was during one of my parent's visits back east after we had moved to California. That would put it in the early 1970s. The thing about a life is that there can only ever be a finite number of photographs of any one of us. There comes a time when not a single additional one can be clicked through the lens of any camera. That's when the conjuring becomes the work of loved ones' hearts. But here I hold in my hands the photo that captures my father's very sweet smile. A moment in the lifetime of a much-loved man. Happy birthday, Dad.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

I Write Letters

I write letters. Always have. If I read about someone or something that moves me, and there's a way to drop a note, I do. I don't do it often, and that's probably because it takes a lot to motivate me, but when I am really moved, I am really motivated.

When I was a teenager I read in the local newspaper that a young boy had set himself on fire in protest of the Vietnam war. I had already started marching in protest of that war. I could easily identify with that boy's passion and the serious clouding of judgment that filters through a young person's heart. So, I wrote his grieving parents a letter. I wish I could remember what I said. They wrote me back a short note with soft gratitude and sadness. That note is long gone.

I write letters to people whose life's work has enlightened me in some way. There's a long list of people I wish I had finally jotted down the note I had been composing in my head for days or years. Old regrets. But once when I was in my 20s, I did write Bill Moyers after one of his brilliant TV shows. I don't know what I wanted to tell him, but I think I must have rambled on about the joys of finding someone who understood the political world the way he does. He wrote me a short note back. He was the first person who ever used the expression "six degrees of separation" to me, when he suggested that there are some who believe we are all related in some way. I loved that letter. It is long gone.

When I was an adviser to students who published the campus newspapers and poetry journals at UC Santa Cruz, Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and beheaded in Pakistan. He was a journalist for the Wall Street Journal, a newspaper I don't read. But I felt something about that horrific murder that stirred me. Some of the students I advised were planning on careers in journalism, as did Daniel Pearl when he was a student their age. Any one of my students could end up in the midst of conflicts and wind up in the very wrong place at the very worst time. So, I wrote Daniel Pearl's parents a letter. They sent me a card with some very uplifting words about life's journeys. That card may be in a box somewhere, or not.

The other day I read that George McGovern had fallen and hit his head dangerously hard. My heart panged a bit over that news. Oh, George McGovern was a hero to me. Back in 1971 the voting age was lowered to 18, and in 1972 when I was 20, I cast my very first vote in a general election for him. I had registered to vote in southern California, when the right became mine, but by the time the elections rolled around, I had just moved to Portland, Oregon. If I remember correctly, my twin brother and I set out to hitchhike home so we could vote, but several hours on Interstate 5 with our thumbs out proved fruitless, so we headed back to the rental and made arrangements to fly home the day of the election, which we did. A thousand miles for a vote. It was worth it. So, I saw in the news article which hospital Senator McGovern was in, and I went to their website, hoping there was a way to send an electronic note, and there was. I wrote Senator McGovern this story and told him I'd go any distance to vote for him again in a heartbeat. There's been no response, but in my heart I believe he got the message.

I write letters.

But here's the reason for this recounting: Roger and I watched the documentary "If a Tree Falls" the other evening. Such an incredibly moving story about radical environmentalists making very big and dangerous mistakes in pursuit of what they ardently believe is the defense of our earth. The documentary follows one young man named Daniel McGowan. His story is very compelling, as are all stories of passions, ideas, dreams, and bad judgment. Daniel McGowan has a kind face and a loving family. He loved the forests of the Pacific Northwest. His crimes were committed in 2001, when he participated in two arson attacks in Oregon. No human beings or animals were ever physically hurt by the actions the Earth Liberation Front took. They were meticulous about that detail, but they did destroy a considerable amount of property in a six year campaign against the monied interests that destroy our forests. Well, sadly for Daniel his crimes coincided with the terrorist attacks in our country and George Bush's zealous pursuit of terrorists. Daniel was ultimately turned in by a fellow ELF member in 2005. He plead guilty and received a seven-year sentence with terrorist enhancement, which means he is in a high-security prison in Terra Haute, Indiana with excruciatingly limited outside communication. This story haunts me. I did some research and found a support page for Daniel. I joined his Facebook Supporters page. I bought a very cool teeshirt from his supporters website (maybe you'd like to buy one, as well). The website says Daniel likes to receive letters. His address is there.

You know me: I write letters.

I want to write Daniel McGowan a letter, but I am afraid. What list might I end up on, or who may come knocking on our door?

This is our world.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

fungus with dinner

in situ
mushrooms in the wild. under the trees along our driveway. i spotted these as we were leaving to go walking. amazingly enough i remembered them when we returned and picked them.
in bowl
these are boletes, a family of mushrooms easily identified by the sponge-like under side. probably slippery jack (Suillus brevipes). the slimy skin on the cap is removed before cooking. how do i dare eat mushrooms right out of the ground? you will notice that the underside does not look like a mushroom from the store, which has thin radiating membranes called gills. all boletes have a sponge underside and only the ones with red sponge are poisonous. some of the non-poisonous boletes are better than others for eating, but the worst is only bad tasting, not dangerous. so i dare.

in another bowl
i peeled the slimy skin off the caps, leaving a nice white fleshed cap with pale yellow sponge which i sliced into quarter inch thick pieces. i sauteed them in butter, olive oil, and garlic. they gave off quite a bit of liquid, visible in the bowl above. it was full when served but i forgot to take a picture till after i had eaten some directly and put some in my bowl of chicken soup. they had a very nice mild mushroom taste but were a bit too squishy. next time i'll cook all the liquid out, as recommended by my main mushroom reference.

All That the Rain Promises and More David Arora