Saturday, October 31, 2015

greetings, young skunk!

greetings, young skunk!
and how do you do?
what a handsome coat you have

with the white stripe
running through.
everyone says
(and the doggies say)
you can make a Big Stink
if you're scared 

or harassed -
is that true?
we hear little else 

of what you do -
please tell us more,
cheerful young skunk -
who are you?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

a single hornet
sits on the window glass
in my room.
his 2/3 inch body is black
intricately designed
thin transparent wings
two antennae from the center of his head.
his eyes are dark globes;
they must see everything.
does he ponder as he sits?
where is my tribe?
why am i here?
what beautiful daylight
through the crepe myrtle outside.
he is meditating.
the days pass.
the shallow china dish
glimmers with water,
remains untouched.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Regarding yesterday's post: another tasty, nutritious baby food to consider would be canned, pureed pumpkin. A bit of sugar added might make it even more appealing to a baby.

I hear there is some difficulty, given the dryness of the fields, keeping horses well-fed. They like apples and carrots - I wonder if pumpkins, which are big and abundant in the fall, might work as a supplemental food for horses. To me, pumpkins, zucchini, and blackberries are a kind of manna from heaven, the way they grow so bountifully during the poorest of conditions.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

baby food

Babies usually are slowly transitioned from mother's milk and/or baby formula to solid foods. Many parents introduce their infants to solid food (using a tiny, soft spoon, and itty-bitty bites) between 6 weeks and 3 months old depending on the infant's readiness. In addition to the many foods prepared exclusively for babies, and stored in small jars, there are inexpensive, nutritious options when there is little access to foods labeled for babies, or when there is a need to be frugal. Here are some examples:

Rice cereal for infants
mashed potatoes
pureed beans (such as canned refried beans)
ice cream
cream of wheat cereal
pudding (for example rice pudding, tapioca pudding, vanilla pudding)
mashed bananas
cooked cornmeal mash

Monday, October 26, 2015

a Viking ship

we thought we'd build
a Viking ship
in summers now long past
big enough for mice to row
across the clear deep water
it would move so slow
with dignity
atop the shining lake
its reflection flaring
with brilliant light
and love not fade away

Saturday, October 24, 2015

a sudden wind

the wind gusts.
everything and everybody is scattered.
a rat, a crab,
a man in a top hat
a couple of ghosts
and a shrub of sage in bloom
land in the same parking lot.
why them -
why have their paths crossed?
what's their story - ?

Friday, October 23, 2015

the rehearsed
and clever talk
is not the same
as the soaring candor of their song
the frankness of their furious sketch
the truth in their weeping eyes

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Zed was the greatest kid in all the school!

Only nobody knew it.

He was shy. During class he stood behind the desks as though they were his fortress, safe away from the other students. At recess, the kids ran around yelling, playing chase, throwing disks and balls, or playing hopscotch or jump rope, or discussing important issues like last night's TV episode or how to build a tree house. Zed stood behind a bench near the playground fence. He watched the other kids with interest, but did not wish to join in.

Instead, he counted how many kids were wearing brown, and how many red. He made maps in his mind about who played where. 'Here is the hopscotch section. Here is the kickball square. Three girls here. Two guys there. Five or six at the basketball hoop.' He was not bored at all.

Frank and Paul were always discussing. Zed liked to watch that. There was a girl, Marcie, who kept glancing toward Zed. He did not like that.

Today was the first cool day of fall, and the playground was happy. Faces were bright and cheerful. Zed found his spot behind the bench, and noted among the kids there were three green sweaters and four pairs of shoes with a Zebra emblem. Leaves were racing in the breeze in circles. Marcie looked at Zed. Zed turned away. His face grew hot. When he looked up, her back was to him, and he sighed with relief. She went up, and stood near Frank and Paul while they chatted. Frank was showing Paul how to soften his new baseball mitt. Marcie watched too.  She backed up a little when some of the younger kids ran past them.  They were all closer to the bench. Zed now could hear their discussion.

The next day, the same thing happened, only there was just one green sweater. There were two black sweatshirts and one girl was still in sandals, though the weather was even cooler.

Marcie had her back to him. Zed didn't mind that. She was a little closer today, and Frank and Paul came over to chat, ignoring her, but keeping her in their circle. Frank examined Paul's mitt with approval. 'It's getting there,' he said. 'Let me see,' said Marcie, and she examined the mitt with interest. She turned toward Zed, and he turned away.

The next day was similar and then there was a weekend. Zed was nervous and he was a little happy. He was looking forward to Monday, looking forward to recess. But Marcie was not there on Monday nor on Tuesday. Frank and Paul shot hoops for a change. Zed counted the feet that had boots on them, ten, but he wasn't very happy.

Wednesday, Marcie was back. Her eyes were a little puffy. She sneezed. She said to Frank and Paul, 'I'm feeling better.' Her back was facing Zed again. She was wearing boots. She said, 'I'm going to sit down.' She backed all the way to the bench. Plop!

Zed, behind the bench, turned this way, then that. There was no easy escape. Frank and Paul followed Marcie, manfully discussing the lunch menu for the week.

'There's Jello today.' Zed's voice piped up. He studied the menu every week, and knew it by heart.

Frank, Paul, and Marcie looked at him. Zed couldn't believe it was himself that had said something.

'I like Jello. Red's my favorite,' said Paul. There was quiet.

'I like any kind,' said Marcie. 'It'll be good for my throat.'

'Grape is good,' said Frank. They looked at Zed. He smiled a little, and looked down.

'Recess is almost over,' said Frank. Frank, Paul and Marcie turned toward the building. 'You coming with us, Zed?'

'Um. Ahh,'  he said. 'Maybe later!'



They walked on. Zed turned away and looked down at his shoes, hiding a big smile.

The end.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

blackberies, birds, and bears

Blackberries have so many seeds! Sometimes a seed gets caught between two teeth and the person eating the biscuit and blackberry jam will complain, but mostly we eat our sweet berries and don't worry about the slight inconvenience.

Blackberry bushes when I was a kid grew in our rural spot in south Louisiana like wildfire. We picked berries in the field next door, and we picked berries along the country roads near our house. After the road expansions and more intensive maintenance of the roadside, the blackberries in our area pretty much disappeared.

Years after leaving Louisiana, we had opportunities to pick berries while visiting Bellingham, Washington. There were lengths of undisturbed land along the fences bordering the railroad tracks, area open to the public. Berries glowed in the sunshine, plump, juicy and sweet. We filled our buckets in the morning, and dined on blackberry pie in the evening.

The seeds - they are tiny and plentiful. A bird or bear dines on a ripe berry, and the juicy flesh nourishes the body. The seeds pass through, carried in the creatures' wastes that serve as fertilizer.  In uncultivated areas with low human interference, these gardening geniuses' crops grow fast and plentiful.

Given rain and sunshine and fertile (living) soil, berries propagate plentifully, there to nourish and pleasure us humans and the many creatures who share the planet on which we live.

I know a little about raspberries in the wild, something about blueberries and strawberries, but nothing about gooseberries and huckleberries except their names. Salmon berries grew wild along the Washington/Canadian border north of Bellingham. They looked like raspberries, but had a fainter flavor and paler color. We were told bears along the Pacific coast up there enjoyed these. Bears eat a range of foods -berries, fruit, fish, insects, and grubs, to name a few. The last bears I've seen were at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon around 1999. A mother and two cubs gazed at us as we drove along a forest road west of the park.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

words and shiny things

In yesterday's post, I referred to Orpheus with a flute. However, it is the lyre that he is usually associated with - enchanting sounds with a stringed, harp-like instrument.

Is it magpies or ravens who are known for their attraction to shiny things? Some subset of the corvid birds ... they find a foil gum wrapper here, a bit of glass there, a rock pocked with flecks of mica. Some keep hidden caches of their treasured bright things in tree limbs or in niches of a rooftop.

Some people feel that way about words - we experience them like colorful trinkets and gems. We find a page of an Oxford dictionary to be quite entertaining and peruse it with relish. We tuck shiny words in hidden corners of our minds, and display them here and there with great panache.

We humans and corvids, both plucky and vulnerable, have humorous, sometimes touching, habits.

Monday, October 19, 2015

There are two similar tales from the past that I think of now and then. Lot is a figure in the Old Testament of the Bible. He and his wife are escaping a city that is burning. They are not supposed to look back, but his wife can't resist turning for one last glance as they depart. Woof! She freezes and turns into a pillar of salt. Her family must go on without her.

The other is an ancient Greek story about Orpheus, a fellow known for the music he plays on his flute. The melodies entrance the creatures of the forests; friends and strangers; gods and mortals. His beloved wife ends up in the land of Hades (the Greek version of hell). He misses her so much he tries again and again to retrieve her. Finally, he strikes a deal with Hades, who rules the domain below. She may follow her husband out of her prison, but he must not help her along the way or look back at her as ahe follows. Much relieved, the two exit the infernal gates and start along the rugged trail back home. Orpheus leads the way. His wife becomes winded, and it takes more and more effort for her to follow him. When she stumbles on rocks and cries out, he reflexively whirls around to help. Their eyes meet, and at that instant, she shrinks away into a breath of air and disappears.

Neither story is happy with such cruel outcomes, but both cling to mind.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

shadows of the pigeons in flight
of the toddler with her cup in hand
the hose makes a puddle at the edge of the street
the black birds splash and fan their wings
oh happy day

Friday, October 16, 2015

TV was still young in the early 1960s - there were only three major broadcasting companies in the country: CBS, NBC, and ABC. Looking back, an interesting characteristic of television programs at that time was a lot of focus on guns. There were shows with names like 'Gunsmoke', and 'The Rifleman'. Roy Roger's horse was called 'Trigger' and his dog, 'Bullet'. Some shows' introductions had gunfire in action or gunslingers whirling their pistols. For better or worse, we kids knew how to count out ten steps for a duel, draw our play pistols, and aim. Our training in diplomacy was minimal.

Below is a list of programs I remember from that time:

Wild Wild West
Wagon Train
Davy Crockett
Daniel Boone
The Virginian
Roy Rogers Show - with Dale Evans
The Lone Ranger - and Tonto
Wanted: Dead or Alive
Colt 45?
'F' Troop

a few that were contemporary at that time:
Magnum, P.I.
Get Smart
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

and one set in the future:
Star Trek

Thursday, October 15, 2015

I Don't Know

Who decided to divide the day into 24 sections?

Whose foot was the length of today's standard ruler?

How long is a lunar month (one full moon to the next)?

Was Orion ever a summer constellation?

Does anyone still play marbles? Jacks? Ping-pong? Does anyone spin tops, or walk-the-dog with a yo-yo?

Does anyone still play Atari's Frogger? Did the frog ever win?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

all the way to China

There has long been a popular, colorful bit of North American humor where a character takes a shovel and digs and digs all the way to China. There have been cartoons and comics and literary references to this unlikely way of travel. When I was about five years old, a neighbor kid and I found a shovel one afternoon and decided to go to China. Even though we didn't make it all the way there, there was something satisfying about the trip - and there was an impressive indentation in the yard to mark our efforts.

Monday, October 12, 2015

pre-fab city

his feet search the heated backways
of the flimsy pre-fab city
wandering wondering
at the truth
in a dog's eyes
the live-for-today
of the squirrels,
the cheerful reliability
of the varied corvids,
the art of the canvas
rain-free sky

Saturday, October 10, 2015

TV voices

I hear Bullwinkle's voice, 'Nothing up my sleeve!'

I see Homer Simpson slap his own brow. 'Doh!'

Lucy goes, 'Waaah!' and Ricky goes, 'Ai yi yi!'

Bugs Bunny arrives with a leafy carrot, 'Eh, what's up, doc?'

Jerry says, 'Hello, Newman!'

Newman says, 'Hello, Jerry!'

Elaine says, 'Get outta here!'

Link says, 'Solid!'

and John Denver, 'Far out!'

Captain Jean-Luc Picard says, 'Make it so.'

Porky Pig stutters, 'th, th, th, th, th, th, th, That's All, Folks!'

Red Skelton, 'God bless!'

Friday, October 9, 2015

intentions blocked
by folly focused figments of the mind
and by those outer forces so great so rich so powerful so present everywhere
they cannot be seen
i wander

detached from seeking
who and what i would seek
morsels of success come my way
i stumble upon my watch
at the start of the day
by searching for the broom

Thursday, October 8, 2015

monarch butterflies
dabs of color
points of light
high in the sky
so small
so full of life in flight
glide down at sunset
rest through the night
clinging to twigs and boughs
quiet, dark.
damp with dew
they perch in the morning sun
while wings of black
and orange-gold
unfurl and flutter
till dry and weightless.
once more the monarchs rise
in the autumn sky
up and up
on norther currents
they ride the wind
beauty in flight
to winter south
where warm hills
are flowered
and blooms bear
sweet nectar.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Some of my favorite snake encounters I've already shared in my blogs. The five snakes that showed up in the creek bed here in central Texas in 2011 were quite wondrous, as was the huge black snake sunning in the garage in south Louisiana in 2007 or 8. That snake was a sublime presence.

There are lots of scare stories about snakes.  The movie about snakes in the hold of a jet plane escaping into the passenger cabin was quite melodramatic, I understand. Most people are startled and somewhat anxious near snakes, myself included. As a kid, we found some snake eggs in a friend's yard - small, white, and rubbery. We were fascinated and yet a little unnerved, even though the eggs presented no risks to our well being.

Once I learned that according to Asian tradition, my birth year's mascot is the snake, I tried to let go of my fear. Snakes are normally reclusive. Perhaps it isn't danger, but the natural power that emanates from them that keeps us at a respectful distance.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

fish & grubs

What fish are to the waters
grubs are to the lands.

Would this be accurate?

Monday, October 5, 2015

my fingers drum
my face grows damp
the white rectangle
stares right back
the empty page

Saturday, October 3, 2015

I've been thinking lately, not so much about ballet, but about the imagery of ballerinas twirling in the traditional uniform of ballerinas: the tutu. This is not only an image from ballet, but in skating, particularly ice skating - the twirling dancer on ice. I think about ballet and tops and martial arts - how the sharp spinning edge of the tutu cuts through the tension of the air.

I don't have much to say, really. This morning, I was drawing. Yesterday, I drew a toad stool. Today, using the back of that page, I traced some of the lines that bled through the paper.  This was something different from the recent flowers and windsocks and rabbits and jellyfish and squares and triangles and suns and moons. A pink tutu filled the page. I've never worn a tutu - and really don't know a whole lot about ballet - but there it was - a lot of pink on white.

I'm at the library right now, and when I got here, I pulled three children's books off a shelf, kind of randomly as I usually do, without looking at the fronts of the covers. The illustrations and the stories help clear my mind before my own work. I used to write children's stories many years back, and I'm curious about what is currently popular.

One of the books today is about a robot kid who moves to a new town and meets up with an alien kid at the new school. Another is in Spanish - it's about feelings - los sentimientos. The third is called 'Todos Los Tutus: deberian ser rosas'. I don't know much Spanish, but I think this means something like 'All the (something something) pink tutus'. The cover art is of two funny kids in pink tutus.

Friday, October 2, 2015

sauerkraut and pickles

Sauerkraut and pickles are canned foods that have a long history. Sauerkraut is a cabbage dish pickled in vinegar, salt, and other seasonings. Pickles in the United States are most commonly cucumbers, but there are also pickled green beans, carrots, okra, onions, beets,and other vegetables. In Korea, kimchee, like sauerkraut, is made of cabbage and other vegetables, but kimchee is pickled and fermented in large casks, and tends to be quite spicy.

Fresh cucumbers, cabbages, and carrots are part of a summer diet. In summers past, humans ate foods from the fields and gardens, and also prepared some of the excess for storage. Such stored foods saved lives during harsh winters or during droughts.  

In the winters, cold weather dominated many parts of the world. The land might be icy and white with snow. People went to their sheds and cellars, and retrieved the pickles, sauerkraut and other foods canned, salted, or sugared during the summers.  These foods kept folks happy and well-nourished until winter faded and spring sunshine and rains crept back in, when edible dandelion leaves, mushrooms, wild berries, and other delicacies started to return, when farmers tilled their fields, and families planted their own favorites in back-yard gardens.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Dance can be a kind of geometric art in motion. Square dancing is a good example. Traditionally, each square includes eight dancers. The four sides of the square are sometimes called North, South, East, and West. Each side has two people, traditionally, a guy and a gal. They are called partners. Outside of the square is a caller, who sings out the moves. 'Swing your partner' is a basic move where the guy and the gal link arms at the elbows and skip a circle in place on their side of the square. All four sets of partners do this at once. Other moves direct each dancer to their 'corner'. The corner is the person closest to the dancer along the adjacent side of the square. Another simple call is 'Dosie-Do your corner; now Dosie-Do your own.' Each dancer folds his or her arms almost at shoulder level. First they meet up with their corners and circle each other, then return to their partners and circle each other. More sophisticated moves involve weaving back and forth in a ring.

We spent a few weeks in PE at school ('physical education') learning square dancing. This was during the era of the twist, the watusi, the frug, and the mashed potato, so we acted like the old-fashioned square dancing was kind of - well - square. But it was a lot of fun - and a bit of a challenge. Sometimes we crashed into a funny pile-up when we confused left and right, or didn't have the move down yet. Some friends and I some time back spent a part of an evening watching square dancers via The dancers in country-style costumes moved in synchrony, creating kaleidoscope-like images when watched from above. At the corners, and along the lines of the square, there arose twirling colorful circles. Each dancer was separate, yet they moved as a whole, as though invisibly connected.  We hadn't meant to watch video after video of square dancers, but it was visually fascinating.