Saturday, April 30, 2016


During the last half of the 20th century, now and again I had the opportunity to take a motorboat ride or a ride on a little sailboat out into the Gulf of Mexico. Many times, we happened to see this narrow ribbon of debris floating parallel to the coast some distance out. It looked like foam and bits of human litter riding a wave poised between rolling in one direction or the other. Our dad told us that this line marked the tide, as it either approached the shore or was moving out again.

This ribbon is a visible marker of the turning point of the tides. As the earth spins one full rotation each calendar day, the pattern of the sun's and moon's gravitational pulls on earth shifts. There are high tides and low tides each day, daily patterns.

The biggest high tides come when the sun and moon are in alignment on one side of earth. That occurs at new moon. The lowest tides come when the sun and moon are most separate in the sky from the perspective of the earth. At full moon, the moon rises as sun sets - they are tugging at earth from opposite directions. These are monthly shifts in the tides.

The gravity of the sun and moon as the earth rotates on its (invisible) 'spindle' affects the wax and wane of seas and lakes. The tides thus are also a significant factor in weather fluctuations. The rhythm of life and the activities of many species on the planet are intermeshed with tidal activity. The tides could metaphorically be described as the breathing pattern of the earth.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

I like browsing through dictionaries, especially the very big dictionaries on pulpit-like wood tables in libraries. I like the little illustrations that accompany a few words on each page. Sometimes, the definitions of a few words wake up something in the mind. Here are four words I found today - as is - in Webster's Third New International Dictionary - Unabridged, copyright 2002. 

deer oak n: a small shrubby oak (Quereus sadleriana) of dry uplands of western U.S. that produces abundant acorns relished by deer, bear and cattle

basi: a fermented beverage prepared by natives of the Philippines


2 kindling n: an act of giving birth - used chiefly of a rabbit

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016

Bits of wisdom have come my way from family and friends, teachers and strangers, across the years. Sometimes, the memories of most of our interactions are shed, and I hold tight to the morsel that still shines bright.

Sometimes, I don't think to include the animals and trees and different forms of wildlife as bearers of wisdom, but they are. I could list quite a few, but our small family cat, Ashley, comes to mind at this time. She had a habit, especially when my husband was away, of bringing treasures into our house through the cat door to my attention. There was a small bat who clung to our ceiling fan, a cottontail bunny who darted behind the bookcase, a quite large iguana-type lizard that she set in my husband's closet atop his shoes. There was a Carolina wren. She was very gentle in how she carried them - they were not injured, and we returned each to their outdoor habitat.

It was a bit of a challenge to carry a foot-and-a-quarter long reptile back outside. At the time, she worried me - was she a danger to the outdoor animals? But she did not seem to be exhibiting an instinct to kill.

I can't put into words exactly what I learned. Sometimes I wonder if the visitors she carried into the house somehow permitted her to do this. I mean - how could she capture a bat and that big of a lizard? It was as though she was sharing something about the outdoors with us people in front of our TV indoors.

Friday, April 22, 2016

video games

Video games surfaced during the era
when it became accepted and common
for both parents to work away from the home.

As with books,
one can spend time
immersed in invented fanatsy worlds
of video games.

Unlike with books,
many of the journeys, plots, and details of video games,
on screens, however tiny or large,
can be shaped by the player.

One can choose a cartoon figure on the screen,
change the character's eye color, clothing preferences,
haircut, and other aspects of appearance to please the player.
The player decides at the start of the game:
This shall be me.

Then the player guides the cartoon figure like a video puppet,
along pixelated roads, forests, castles, and stairways,
(squares of data dots -
zeros and ones)
meeting up with treasures and dangers along the way.

Kids who have grown up spending long hours
of reduced supervision inside their homes
found entertainment and discovery,
developed complex skills through such games.
This has resulted in tremendous effects
on the minds of the players,
and on the physical world around us all.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Imagine you are an only child with a mom and a dad. How much do they hover regarding what you eat, what you wear, and what you are to be when you grow up? How often and how much must you share the things in your room with others?

Imagine you are one of 14 children - say, number 10 of 14. How much do your parents worry about you in particular, about what and how much you eat? Do you ever have a room to yourself? Do you stand out in your family, or do you pick and choose, hide and seek, without anybody noticing?

Imagine you are the youngest of three. You follow your sibs everywhere because they are like gods. Your older siblings are always smarter than you - they can already read and add when you can just count to ten. They can ride a bike without falling over. Are you smart too?

Imagine you are the oldest of the three, and you always have to watch that the younger don't get into trouble. Maybe the younger are very precious to you, maybe they're nuisances that tear your favorite book or color on top of your homework. Maybe they're both, your precious nuisances.

Maybe you're in the middle, and feel neither the first to achieve, nor the beloved baby of the family.

So many early circumstances shape our lives and our beliefs about ourselves. Family size, parental presence or absence, and birth order are fundamental, deeply imbedded factors in who we become.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

mint & watercress

Mint flourishes so abundantly. One little plant tucked into the soil near a drippy outdoor faucet grows quickly and so fragrantly.

A children's book of the past, 'The Bobbsey Twins Go to the Country', refers to watercress growing near a pond on a farm. Bert, Nan, Flossie and Freddie gather watercress leaves and eat watercress sandwiches for lunch. When I read the story, I wondered how that would taste. Half a century has passed, and I have yet to find a watercress sandwich.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

picket fence

Mark Twain's fictional character Tom Sawyer was given the job of whitewashing a picket fence. The weather was mild and he was just a kid and he got tired or bored after painting a foot or two of fence. As pals came by to see what he was doing, they visited and Tom became aware of a way that he could get the fence painted with almost no effort on his part, and maybe a bit of gain. Before you know it, his friends were almost fighting for a turn at painting the fence.

It's been many many years since I read Tom Sawyer, but as I recall, the fence was whitewashed in record time - maybe with two or three coats.

Monday, April 18, 2016

'Saint Bernard is a large, intelligent dog that became famous for rescuing lost travelers. The dog was developed during the 1600s by a group of monks in the monastery of St. Bernard, in the Alps of Switzerland. At that time, many people traveled in the Alps on foot. Some lost their way or became buried in sudden snowdrifts or snowstorms. The St. Bernard was trained to rescue such people. With its keen sense of smell, the dog could find people who were buried in the snow. After it had found the lost traveler, it called for help by barking.'

Quoted from The World Book Encyclopedia
copyright 2015
S-Sn Volume 17

Thursday, April 14, 2016


it's not just that you
are dozing off here and there
comfy in your big chair
in front of the TV screen
what happened, you ask,
did i miss the end of the show?
reality does take leaps now and then
like a skipping stone -
or the wrist watch with a second hand
that ticks only on even numbers
leaping over the odds -
a town you miss
driving down the road
you ask,
did i blink?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

apple trees and Oz

The movie 'The Wizard of Oz' was broadcast once a year on television when I was a kid in the 1960s. It was a big event for children and grown-ups. Judy Garland plays the role of Dorothy, the little girl who, with her dog Toto, gets caught and injured in a tornado. The dream world she discovers while unconscious is colorful, and sometimes quite scary.

One scene has Dorothy and her new companions, the Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow, trekking through the woods on a journey to find the wizard who might help Dorothy and Toto return home to Kansas. They pick some apples in the woods, but the trees have mean faces and throw apples at the travelers who run away to keep from getting pelted.

I found that scene a little scary. But sometimes, now I'm grown-up, I think about how big and ancient those trees looked. Were they modeled after real apple trees? I wonder how those apples tasted.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I like watching bees. I like watching squirrels and grackles, dogs and flies. I also like to watch golfers. Pairs, singles, clusters of three or four. They walk and they pause among the trees and upon the swaths and mounds of green, and across the little creek. They walk and they pause. Sometimes, they take a stick out of their bags. One by one, they swing and whack at a tiny ball. They send it rolling, or they send it flying through the air. From a distance, a grackle and a squirrel are watching one golfer. The golfer looks frustrated and pretends to break his stick over his knee. A dog is watching me. I watch the clusters of golfers walk and pause, walk and pause, like game pieces on a great game board.

Monday, April 11, 2016

the tufts of white
could not be snow
drifting on a gentle breath
of April air

beyond, near the creek bank
stood an aged trunk
a mighty tree 
the cottonwood
shedding its white debris

i reached and caught
a bit of fluff
a faint-weight nest
of faint-weight seeds

carrying the hopes
of the cottonwood tree

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Friday, April 8, 2016

I can't find it any more. There was something otherworldly about it - the few minutes of video on from film from a small town Idaho television broadcast circa 1959. It was one of those Saturday-afternoon type shows, where locals got a little air time. (Most programs at night and weekday mornings back then were from national broadcasting companies.)

This youtube clip had about a dozen high school kids doing the walk, a kind of dance or promenade that actually has ancient roots, to a popular slow-rhythm radio melody. The boys were on the right side, the girls on the left. One by one, they paired up, and kind of boogy-walked slowly down the middle of the lines. They looked camera shy - all of Idaho was pretty rural - and earnest, dressed in their best, stepping away from childhood into adulthood.

Thursday, April 7, 2016


Sunshine for birds and bugs and primates such as the human toddler in a buggy yesterday...

some people count and study and isolate specifics about the various vitamins and minerals that nourish most species of life on earth. Is it possible one can sum up the vitamins as sunshine? perhaps not the minerals, which come to us dissolved in water - from the rivers and from limestone-lined aquifers...but vitamins may come from our bodies absorbing sunlight (Vitamin D being one we associate with sun), and embracing foods - oranges, grapes, vegetables - that take shape in the sun. We drink milk and eat cheese, yogurt, pudding, and other milk products from cows who graze in the sunshine and eat grasses that reach toward the sun, grasses that are reliant on sunlight for growth. As are we.

Most life on the planet has evolved under the sun, and very likely is dependent on, intricately interlaced with, sunlight. Sunlight may not provide vitamins, but be the vitamins.

I do not 100 percent know that this is true, but I ponder at times.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Sometimes you receive a little gift that you never would have thought to ask for, but that grows big over time in meaning and value. As a kid, I received a necklace - a thin chain - with a  very small pendant - a sphere of water with a seed in it. In the box was a bit of paper with a quote something like this: If you have faith as in a mustard seed, nothing will befall you.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Some time around the turn of the century, there was a news article about the largest living thing on earth. Scientists had decided it was a fungus - was it in the Minnesota area? - that stretched for many miles beneath the surface of the soils, and from which mushrooms erupted here and there.

I blogged a little blurb about that, and have also blogged a couple of times about about the Redwood trees and Sequoia, how new trees spring from their roots, a circle of new trees around the oldest tree.

Perhaps there have been trees interconnected via the roots across large masses of land - where acres of a certain species of tree, a whole forest, are actually one living entity. Of course, if we open this door a little wider, we might understand that all life is networked in some way; trees and possums and Cajuns and barnacles that are individuals are yet all connected, one life.

Monday, April 4, 2016


When I was perhaps five years old, my family and I visited a friend who had a swimming pool. The most shallow part of the pool was close to four feet deep - I spent much of my time in the strongly chlorinated water clinging to the edge of the pool, afraid of letting go and breathing water up my nose.

My dad taught me two things I remember still. One was that if someone was ever drowning, you could save them by pulling them through the water by their hair to a safe spot out of the water. You have to be careful their face is upward so they are not breathing water. That sounded crazy, and like it would hurt, but he pulled me around the pool by my hair, floating on my back and it didn't hurt. It was fun.

The other thing he taught me was the 'dead man's float', which is a way to stay alive if you're in deep water and too tired to swim. He said you don't even have to know how to swim to do this.

Unlike when being rescued by one's hair, this is face down. You float in a calm relaxed way, without fighting the water. Your arms and legs are limp and motionless. You hold your breath long as you can, then turn your head up, out of the water to catch another breath, and relax again, face down. He said you can survive for many hours this way if necessary.

Over the years, I learned to love swimming. There are a few times in the Gulf of Mexico I've been pulled by an undertow, and become afraid. The dead man's float kept me calm until I could swim back to shore again.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

and today came the wild onions
and the one-eyed bears

As psychologists in training, we were taught to pay attention to the details of dreams, our own dreams as well as those of clients. If something was vivid, an orange citrine, or a tiger in a taxi cab, we didn't have to know what it meant, but we could give it a nod in some way during the waking day.

As the years have flowed forward, I've come to see that the details of the waking day, such as wild onions showing up in different settings in a single day, can be just as vivid, and just as worthy of respectful attention as the images in dreams. Such encounters are sometimes the source of what I share on this blog each day.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Chimney swifts and gorillas
came my way today.