Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cheers

Today I checked all the links in the sidebar and updated or deleted wherever needed doing. New year's cleanup. My office is still in shambles and I haven't unpacked my suitcase yet since getting home on Tuesday but I do feel a wee bit better. There are so many things on my To Do list at the moment but at least I am picking at if from the edges. It's a start. I can't think about it too much or I will sag back into inertia so here's to baby steps and re-beginnings. Cheers.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lost, one mind


I can't get going. The only thing I did today was cruise the thrift shops for a new old low to the ground plastic lawn chair for my office, for morning offline writing sessions. Oh and buy some apples for the birds. My head is still out on the road somewhere between Florida's gulf coast, Costa Rica, Montana, San Francisco, Southern Oregon and Portland. Probably it's in Portland. In spite of the rain and Baby Thea dominating the landscape as she dashes headlong on her new Christmas bright red trike into the Terrible Twos with all the drama and aplomb of a natural born vaudevillian trooper, I am comfortable and very much at home in Portland.



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Local news at 10:33


Today marks the end a three month period during which we've been gone more than we've been home. At the moment I don't feel like I live anywhere in particular but the 7 o'clock magpie will be happy to find the peanuts I scattered around the Bird Park this evening. She is faithful. It will take the others a few days to catch on. Until then, she will have them all to herself.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

2010 Dec 25 7:58 UTC
Christmas eve

Hello from the shadow.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Winter Solstice


And if you live in the Western Hemisphere, don't miss tomorrow's winter solstice (7:22 p.m. EST ) full moon eclipse which will reach totality at (2:41 a.m. EST - 11:41 p.m. PST). It's a very rare event. The last time these three events occurred simultaneously was over four centuries ago.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

See You on the Moon


Winter solstice - full moon - full lunar eclipse
- Monday, Dec. 21, 2010. Lucky us! The last time this happened was nearly four centuries ago, on December 21, 1638.

Lunar eclipse over Budapest, 2008.

The eclipse will be visible in the Western Hemisphere. The first definitive change in the moon's appearance will come on the moon's upper left edge. At 1:33 a.m. EST (10:33 p.m. PST), the partial phase of the eclipse will begin as the Earth's dark shadow – called the umbra – starts to slowly creep over the face of the full moon.


At 2:41 a.m. EST (11:41 p.m. PST) the eclipse will reach totality, but sunlight bent by our atmosphere around the curvature of the Earth should produce a coppery glow on the moon.


At this time, the moon, if viewed with binoculars or a small telescope, will present the illusion of seemingly glowing from within by its own light.


At 3:18 a.m. EST (12:18 a.m. PST), the sun, Earth and moon will be almost exactly in line and the light of the moon – assuming clear skies – will appear at its dimmest.


Totality ends at 3:53 a.m. EST (12:53 a.m. PST) and the moon will completely emerge from the umbra at 5:01 a.m. EST (2:01 a.m. PST). About 15 or 20 minutes later, the last vestige of the fainter penumbral shadow will disappear from the moon's upper right edge and it will return to its normal brilliance.

Source

And this excerpt from an email on the solstice that I got this morning from a friend, more chatter about 2012, the Mayan calendar, harmonic convergence and all that for your entertainment.

It seems that some interesting astrological things are happening on the Winter's Solstice and also something else. The Sirius is sending a "test pulse" on that day, as a forerunner to the 2012 harmonic completion on the Winter's Solstice of that year. It should be something gentle and a fairly usual day, entering through the crown chakra, more easily felt if we are receptive at 3rd eye and heart. It is to help the Earth move into more balance so that the latter date will have smoother transition. Depending on what ripples happen on Earth, other test pulses may be happening at key astrological junctures. It is to help balance the five elements. Nothing to worry about.


Naturally all this fits into my personal cosmology but that's a subject for a different time. For now, suffice it to say...

Happy upcoming Solstice!

Exact moment of solstice (sun stop):
7:22 p.m. EST - December 21
.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Baby Gaga



What was I thinking? Here I am picking out youtube videos of kittens, puppies, elephants and giraffes for Baby Thea but she likes to watch Lady Gaga concerts. Silly me.



Friday, December 10, 2010

Morning walk




I've been in Portland for the last week, hanging out with the indomitable Ms. Thea Bella and family. Man oh man... toddlers.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Prostitute Mickey 3


It has come to my attention that a friend at the other end of the rainfuckingbow is having a bad day. Cheer up. It just got worse. Shuffle on over to the morgue and see why...


(Note: If you haven't met Prostitute Mickey, it's better to watch parts 1 & 2 first.)

Prostitute Mickey 3



Local news at 11:49



Got home last week and leaving again on Monday. I am totally dazed but no matter. I must do it. Must get to Portland to visit Baby T before she leaves for college which, at the rate she's growing, is coming up waaaaaaaaaaaay too fast.

But the birds in the Bird Park are none to happy about my travels. I've been gone most of the time since September but the 7 o'clock Magpie faithfully continued checking in. She's been doing it for years now. The gulp of magpies only figure out that I am home several days after my return. Until then, she pretty much has the place to herself although no one seems to be suffering without me. Even the one legged magpie is fat. They all have stomachs somewhere between the size of a large navel orange and a small (okay very small) grapefruit.


The latest Bird Park sensation has been blobs of sugar free cherry jam. Yum. And leftover oatmeal. Not so yum but gone by noon. Oh and apples. Everyone likes the apples. Magpies hog them so I have to put several out to keep everyone happy. As is their fashion, the quail share. Seems the Bird Park has settled into being their wintering ground and spring hook-up scene, the quail version of Maui at spring break. The evil neighborhood fat cats make it a less than hospitable place to bring the family, at least when the kids are still the size of golf balls. The cats eat them like popcorn. I should put a sign on the fence like the ones you see at carnivals. You know the kind only it would read... YOU MUST BE AS TALL AS AN APPLE TO ENTER.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

And so

Hexagram 58
THE IMAGE

Lakes resting one on the other:
The image of THE JOYOUS.
Thus the superior man joins with his friends
For discussion and practice.


Along came a spider


Little Miss Muffet got it all wrong.



The spider was just a happy little dude checking out the world.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Prostitute Mickey


Prostitute Mickey 1

OMFG...a part of me just died but I can't stop laughing. WTF?

And, as though I'm not already curled up in a ball weeping, I immediately watched


Saturday, November 27, 2010

My tree


I spent most of the day in Ashland today, my old home town and place I raised my children. It rained and even the melancholy of the rain was comforting. After lunch with a friend, I got coffee at Bloomsbury Books and waited until it was time to pick up another friend and take him to Fight Night at my in-laws... pizza, cake, ice cream and boxing. It's a tradition, Fight Night.

My tree today

I also visited my tree today. To some degree I measure my life by this tree, or at least my life since that Easter Sunday some 25 years ago when I sat under it and and experienced a "moment of truth". My tree lives in Lithia Park and, at the time, was just big enough to sit under and shelter me from the passing world from which I felt so estranged. Ever since that day, and even though we moved to Nevada, I visit it occasionally to see how it's doing. At this point, it is one of my oldest friends.

Unfortunately, my tree stands at the edge of a playground so its early years were especially hard. Kids can be brutal to young trees, grabbing and breaking branches but, in spite of all that, it is a lucky tree. It also grows close to Lithia Creek and the sloping bank has, for the most part, protected it from the children. Otherwise, I think they would have mauled it to death by now or at least mutilated and dwarfed it.

For several years it looked so sickly I was afraid it would die. Perhaps it took awhile for the roots to reach the creek. And one year I discovered that the top of its trunk had somehow broken over and died. It hung down black and bare into the lower branches. That was a desperate time. I was afraid the gardeners might cut the tree down but, like I said, it is a very lucky tree. Instead they have pruned it back to health. These days, it is looking really good, even with the new forked top. It seems shorter and bushier than normal but it is still growing upward. That's the important thing. Today I saw that the gardeners have pruned away some of its lower branches, the ones facing the playground. I am guessing that is so people can more easily sit in its shelter. It is a very accommodating tree.

(That's my tree on the left peeking through
the autumn leaves
from the other side of the bridge.)

And my tree was there when I released the remains of my uncle, John Chance, into the snow melt rage of Lithia Creek. The shocking wild flash of ashes turned the creek suddenly white, lingered a moment in the flow as though they didn't want to go, then vanished. My tree holds the memory for me. It's what friends do.

From Beatitude Magazine


Midnight notes along the way


Blue lantern on San Pablo Ave.

After the memorial last Sunday we stayed in the Bay Area a couple more days so Monday night I read poetry at an open mic in Berkeley. It's a weekly event hosted by Poetry Express at the Priya restaurant. I read there last spring. They are a good bunch of friendly, open-minded dedicated writers and it was nice to be back even though I didn't talk to anyone, just read and when it was over, left. I dedicated my reading to Philip. We're in Oregon now. We were going to return to Nevada in the morning but a new storm changed our plans. Looks like we'll be here until at least Sunday.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Philip John Chance, RIP


He died on Halloween and his memorial was on a blue moon and that seems about right.


We went to my cousin Philip's memorial in Lafayette today. He was recuperating from a cycling accident in August then died from a blunt force trauma to the head in the nursing home. He was 53. Police are investigating.

The program from the memorial reads...

"Thank you for coming to remember Philip, the good, the living on the edge, and that he had the courage to even survive as long as he did. We ask that you awaken and practice moments of kindness."

He was brilliant, alcoholic, often homeless (unless you accept the fact that the forest was his home) and apparently lost (unless you understand that he followed his drummer through the Arizona mountains for last 30 years of his life on his bicycle because wanting to and having to were the same thing). I just don't believe it has to cost you your life.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

When words slip away


In the course of dying from a rare affliction which will first rob him of language, art critic and artist Tom Lubbock recently published excerpts from his memoir of the experience in the Guardian. It is well worth reading and, especially, I think, if you are a writer. Over the course of his disease he reverts to pure poetry, the first and last link, the voice of the soul.

Postscript:
Tom Lubbock died 9 January 2011. His obituary was published in the Guardian UK. If you do nothing else, read the end, Tom's final words.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Navel Gazing and Rambling at 8:38


Okay. I don't really want to be doing this but water has to go somewhere and we know it seeks the lowest level which, at this moment, translates into me slouched in my chair staring at the monitor, palms of my hands resting on keyboard, typing whatever comes into my head, the sounds of the house in background ... the squeaking of Mr. Lee's chair in the next room, the tapping of his keyboard, the whir of the fans in the laptop to my right and the quieter fans in the tower under my desk. There is also a low level hum in the walls. I don't know what it is. The heat's not on. Just a hum. Can you hear electricity in the walls? I sometimes think I can. Maybe it's just the tower. And then there's the infernal ringing in my right ear. When we were in Costa Rica recently, I realized that the ringing in my ears sounds exactly like the high pitched toneless buzzing of insects in the jungle. I don't know which insect, maybe some kind of jungle cricket, but the sounds are identical. That is some comfort actually because I like the sound of insects in the jungle and really don't like the ringing in my ear. I do my best to not obsess about it. Obsessing about it is definitely not a good thing so when I discovered the similarity between the buzzing in the jungle and the ringing in my ear, it was a relief. But enough about the ringing. Like I say, I don't want to obsess about it. I have that tendency. I am listening to the buzzing jungle.

Gustavo didn't seem to mind

So on to better things. What else grabs my attention this evening? I am too full, too hot and tired but it's too early early to sleep. I am too hot because the house is too cold so I have too many clothes on to stay warm. But now I'm hot. Which brings me to the thought that there must be a lot of people in the world who, in spite of the ringing in my ears, would be grateful to change places with me. People who are starving or cold or both. God. Life is fucked up. And this brings me to Catholic Guilt. I'm not a catholic anymore but seems most of us Xs never get free of the damn guilt. Which reminds me of my patron saint.

You might wonder why I have a patron saint being an X catholic. Aren't saints basically a catholic thing? Actually, I'm an X everything. These days I don't trust any dogma. However, when we were in Oaxaca a few years ago I found a saint I can do business with. My son was in the military at the time and overseas on a peace keeping mission. The entire time he was gone I lived in an undertow of deep unrest but sitting with Gustavo in the corner of that old stone church gave me some comfort. I didn't use the kneeler. Gustavo isn't that kind a saint. I sat in the chair.

Gustavo helped me sit with it

Actually, I'm not sure his name is Gustavo. There was a tombstone looking slab set into the floor or wall, I can't remember which, with the name Gustavo Santa Ana caved into it so I call him Gustavo. I spent a lot of time there. I even wrote a couple of poem based on the place and named them both Contact Language although one is subtitled letter 611. I've been thinking about Gustavo on and off these last few days. I wish in were in Oaxaca. I feel like sitting in the gloom with him.

I googled Gustavo Santa Ana just now and, although I found nothing on my Gustavo, I came across an article in the Orange County Weekly Navel Gazing section by Gustavo Arellano announcing that Jesus Christ Himself will be at the Santa Ana Artists' Village tomorrow to join the protest against the God Hates Fags protest Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church are waging against the Artists' Village because the theater is staging The Laramie Project, a gay-rights themed play. Just sayin.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tampa grass


Florida grass


Okay. Time to change the top post. I don't have the inclination to write something at the moment so here's a new photo for you instead. The red stayed true. I am please about that. I took it in Tampa.

I am still organizing the thousands of photos from the trip and will post more soon. I think I like photography because it's more about seeing than thinking. But either way, it's work.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My reply






tiredofthesameoldstuff:


Huffpo moderators censored my reply so, in answer to your question, here are my sources beginning with...



the comment you responded to:
“Here's a start. Go v3getarian. A recent United Nations report concluded that the meat industry causes almost 40% more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s transportation systems — that means all of the globe’s cars, trucks, planes and ships combined.”

Here is the page I am quoting from:
PlanetSave.com

Here is the 2010 UNEP report:

Here is a breakdown from that report:
"Agriculture, particularly meat and dairy products, accounts for 70% of global freshwater consumption, 38% of the total land use and 19% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, says the report, which has been launched to coincide with UN World Environment day on Saturday."
guardian.co.uk

Here is a quote from Dr Rajendra Pachauri elaborating on that report. He is chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which last year earned a joint share of the Nobel Peace Prize. He recommends that people have one meat-free day a week to help tackle climate change and added that they should reduce their meat consumption even further.
guardian.co.uk


Love it or leave it




Sunday, November 7, 2010

One dog's journey


Help the Humane Society win this cash grant and help fund their fight against dog fighting.



Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sloth poo time


Potty training at the sloth orphanage in Costa Rica.


Aviarios del Caribe is in Cahuita. We passed the place a number of times when we were there but didn't visit. The Sanctuary doesn't release many back into the wild and, as I don't like zoos or prisons, plus the fact that we thought we be tripping over sloths in the jungle, we didn't go. You know how that turned out. We never laid eyes on one although I'm sure a lot of sloth eyes were on us in a dreamy sort of way. Monkey's are easy. They make lots of noise leaping around in the trees. But sloths? They don't do much of anything except look cute. Why would I want to see them?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Local news at 10:22 PM

I can't believe we are finally home. We've been bouncing around since the 18th when we left Puerto Viejo.... Florida, Nevada, Montana, Oregon, California, Oregon but tonight, finally, we are back in Nevada. Good to be home although that idea is pretty abstract at the moment.

Photo from the bus.
Lovely Costa Rica.

It looks idyllic but it's not.

In Montana we finally got to meet, cuddle and coo Baby Leo. He's now two months old but still young enough to be a real baby. They grow so fast I was worried I'd miss this part. He's a total sweetheart, very strong and cute as hell. Photos to follow of him and more of Costa Rica but not tonight. I have to sort though everything first.

Monday, October 25, 2010

China Fur Trade Exposed in 60 seconds


If you're still juggling
the ethics vs. luxury of fur watch this
.




Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What's so funny...

...about peace, love and understanding?



Saturday, October 16, 2010


In case you are wondering, we have been in Puerto Viejo the last four days staying at Pagalu, a hostel that does not offer wifi, just internet. This translates to mean there is access to a couple of shitty house computers which are being used most of the time but no internet for personal computers. At the moment we are using the wifi at Veronica's Place, a super excellent vegetarian restaurant and our current home away from home. I highly recommend the veggie (seitan) "steak", mashed potatoes and gravy. Perfect comfort food when you've got the rainy season blues.

So far, although we hiked through some pretty real looking jungle, we continue to avoid a run-in with a sloth. At this point, one more day and we're safe. We rented really shitty bikes the day we got here and rode the hell of them, including beating it back to town through a pounding tropical rain storm at dusk along a pot holed jungle road dodging trucks, cars, pedestrians and other bikes. As with all our travels, this trip has not been a lovely excursion to controlled, prefab environments where we enjoy invigorating yet soothing memory making downtime. They are more like some kind of quasi-spiritual boot camp trek designed to purge the fantasy that life is a safe garden in which I can order up my private version of happiness. Everything is real, pressing, fragile, terrible, beautiful, necessary and inescapable. Dogs standing in the street, nowhere to go but where they are. I cannot forget them. Throw in love and hope and stir.

We leave on the bus in the morning and, if all goes as planned, arrive in Nevada on Tuesday around midnight. Well, my battery is nearly gone. Hasta luego.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

No sloth. Lucky us.


Okay. Okay. So we haven't seen a sloth. I don't even care. Who wants to see one anyway? They're just big slow-motion show offs. Here in Costa Rica, they're a damn cliche. Everyone has seen a sloth. Lucky for us we haven't see one, especially on our big jungle walkabout yesterday. Eight hours squinting up into the canopy, camera ready, stumbling over roots, soaking with sweat but not one sloth. Whew! Close call.

Photo by Pauline

One sauntered through the cafe when the Brits were having tea. Our German friend Marion saw one on her one and only two hour dash through the preserve and poor Ricardo and Marco had to brush a sloth off their car with a damn broom!

Photo by Pauline

I don't know how we escaped their shenanigans. We are the only people here who haven't seen a sloth. Sometimes you just get lucky. As for the "sloth" I photographed the other day, it was monkey. Pauline and Olaf said maybe it was but they were being "kind". Nice people but clearly the sloth won them over with his little game. But not us! Ha!

Photo by Pauline

Then this little clown insisted our Dutch friend Pauline take his photo. Talk about a poser. I mean, really. With her kind permission, I include Pauline's photos here so that you'll know who to avoid should to find yourself in the neighborhood. As they say, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Monkeys and sloths


Woken up this morning before dawn by a band of Howler monkeys howling in the trees directly above our cabin. They went on for until after sunrise. Seems they were exchanging the morning gossip and news with another band in the distance. Of course, I made several videos in an attempt to capture the sound. None of the turned out very good but I will post one anyway, but later. Right now, must sleep. I hear shuffling and rattling leaves in the canopy.

Is this a sloth?

At this point, everyone here at Alby's as seen a sloth but us. I took this photo on a beach walk this afternoon. Is it a sloth? Maybe it's a sloth. We have just under two weeks left in Costa Rica. Must see a sloth before we go. If all else fails, I'll go to the restaurant a wait for them to show up there. I hear they're regulars but that just seems too easy.


Monkey or sloth?


Friday, October 8, 2010

Pathways and crossroads


There are paths running through the trees at Alby's Lodge in Cahuite. Eight Capuchins passed right over our cabin this morning and this evening a large family of Howler monkeys made their way along a line of palms while we all watched. There are four cabins at Alby's. One is occupied by an incredible couple from the UK who are currently traveling the world for 15 months and home schooling their two young, extremely bright, well-behaved children along the way. They are like the storybook family you know do not, can not, actually exist because they are so nice and so kind and so loving even though you secretly want to believe they do exist somewhere because, deep down, you need to believe that pure, simple goodness really can make it in this world.

Protect the sloths

Another of the cabins is occupied by a young couple from Holland who were stayingat Casa Marbella in Tortuguero at the same time we were. The four of us did the guided tour of the canals together so ee were delighted when, to our surprise, they arrived here this morning. Cool people. They told us that this afternoon, while they were having lunch, a sloth came into the restaurant. As is common here, the place has no walls so she came in along the open rafters. The owner gave her some lettuce, she hung around a bit (literally) then went on through, crossed the dirt road, joined a fellow sloth and they headed for the beach.

Mr. Lee buying bread from the Italian breadman

The fourth cabin is occupied by a couple from Spain. She is a dunce and he is a total asshole who won't acknowledge that the rest of us exist. When the Howlers were sitting in palm trees looking down at all of us looking up at them, he shook the fronds and shouted to get the monkeys moving because he wanted more action in his damnvideo. None of us like him, not even the storybook people.

Marion, our German friend from Tortuguero, got here the day before we did. In that one day she hiked in the National Park where she saw a sloth, took the bus to Puerto Viejo, saw it, rented a bike, rode to Manzanillo, had dinner with us when we arrived last evening and left for Mexico City this morning where she will live with an Hispanic family for the next six weeks while she does a Spanish immersion program. She already speaks it fluently but has plans to teach it when she returns home. She was baffled that we would want to stay in the tiny town of Cahuite for the next six days and then do five more in Puerto Viejo. Not everyone is ready for the philosophy of One Thing of the Day.

Marion leaving for Mexico City


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tortuguero comings and goings


This little Capuchin monkey tried jumping, spitting (0:12), barking, shaking and throwing things to drive us away. Naturally, we obliged. I don't blame him a bit. I wouldn't want us in my jungle either.


The fuzziness is from raindrops.

It is such a treat being in a place where there are no cars, trucks, SUVs, buses, trains, campers, trailers, motorcycles or homes. And I have seen only one ATV during our time here. Of course, there are lots of motorboats on the river however many of them have four-stroke engines which are quieter than regular outboards so they are not so bad. Tortuguero really is at the end of the road. No. It's beyond the end of the road. And the path. The community website does mention that you can try hiking to Tortuguera but adds that you'll probably die trying.

Can you spot Raymond? He is looking at you.

When we first got here we took a guided river tour through some of the jungle water ways then went back another day in a canoe with a German woman we met enroute to Tortuguero. She was great fun to hang out with. Meeting cool people along the way is one of the best parts of traveling like this.

Marion

In the last four days we have seen all kinds of wildlife, including Capuchin, Spider and Howler monkeys, Raymond the Caiman, tons of lizards, a few toucans, frigates, lots of vultures, grackles, herons and other fisher birds. I found an unearthed turtle egg on the beach and reburied it in the sand and lent a helping hand to a couple of dazed and confused stragglers still paddling around in the sand after dawn. Good luck, little guys. And two nights ago we did the guided beach walk in hopes of seeing a mother turtle come up from the sea.

Turtle tracks to the sea

Watching a giant sea turtle lay her eggs in the sand, seeing a mother in a species so ancient that her ancestors watched the dinosaurs rise from the flux then fade back into it, seeing her repeat the birth ritual alone at night, as it has been done for 150 million years, then slip back quietly into the sea was an amazing and truly humbling experience.

We leave in an hour for Cahuita via boat, bus, bus and hopefully taxi. Hasta entonces.



Monday, October 4, 2010

Tortuguero outtakes


The only way to Tortuguero
is by boat or plane.

We went by boat.


View from Casa Marbella.


This little Capuchin had a pretty good view of us from her tree.

Mr. Lee spotted this
little turtle on the forest path.

Don't worry. She isn't dead!

She looked dead. She was pretty far from the shore and she was covered with horrible stinging red ants but she moved her head when I photographed her. I immediately scooped her up with a leaf and rushed her towards the beach. The damn ants started swarming up my arms. The little bastard's really bite. I think they inject some kind of acid. Anyway, I had to put her down a couple of times along the way to brush them off. But we made it to the water, I released her to the sea and, as far as we could tell, she swam away but at least we know one thing for certain... the fucking ants didn't get her.

M. Lee also found this beautiful sand dollar on the beach. It was too fragile to consider trying to get it back to Nevada and, even if I managed to get it there intact, it would be in Nevada... a damn desert .... so I photographed it and left it on its beach.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Hello again


The trip to the Caribbean is on again. According to the Tico Times, while the rest of Costa Rica is getting pummeled by torrential rains and devastating mudslides, the Caribbean is experiencing the "longest dry season in more than a decade" and is "perfect for swimming for kilometers over bright sand and psychedelic reef". According to the article, the bottlenose dolphins and manatees are doing just that so, Kristiana, perhaps I will get that photo of a manatee for you yet.

Tomorrow we will do bus bus boat to Tortuguero... (San Jose to Cariari to Pavona to Tortueguero). Price, under $9 each. We'll stay in Tortuguero for four nights then we'll take a boat and bus to Cahuita for another six nights then on to Puerto Viejo for four nights. Then home. Unless, by my luck, storms drive us out early. Rain is predicted everyday next week so we shall see.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Best laid plans


Good-bye baby turtles running to the sea. Good-by glassy blue water that is but a rumor to me. Good-bye Capuchin and Howler monkeys. Good-bye frogs, coati and boas. Maybe another time? We are not sure where we will go, maybe home, but Costa Rica is a mess, roads washed out, mudslides, swollen rivers. And, as in all of Centroamerica, you are on your own. Traffic continues to move over roads that have been undercut by slides and already beginning to drop into burgeoning sinkholes. Mr. Lee blames me. Every time we get near the Caribbean the place is ravaged by rain and hurricanes. Last time we tried was during Hurricane Wilma. Not that we wanted to go there but even Cancun was shut down. We managed to camp on a wild beach though and I got a good poem out of it but ultimately the storms won, chasing us out early, leaving behind the two starving beach dogs we had befriended. It was so sad watching them in the rear view mirror as they ran down the mud puddle road after us.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Merry-go-round


The trip to the dentist went well. I may be done by Friday after all, which means we can still go to the coast, provided the road hasn't washed out. It is raining just about non-stop at this point. We went to our favorite soda (tiny cafe) for lunch, two people... rice, beans, plantains, fish, salad and tea... 4450 colones. We were home by three and saw no corpses along the way. There were lots of cops on the pedestrian mall today. Maybe it was their routine crackdown on vendors selling pirated music from plastic tarps on the sidewalk. I don't know. In any case, today the presence of the policia was as conspicuous as their absence yesterday.

Being home early, I am enjoying the company of little Dublin, one of two resident dogs here at Casa Feliz. She is very very sweet, extremely tiny and is, at the moment, cuddled beside me in the orange chair in the upstairs sitting room. As usual, Casa Feliz is one big dysfunctional family in which everyone gossips about everyone else. Currently, the most screwed up character is a 60 something Brit who recently married a much younger Tica woman who barely speaks English. He simultaneously suffers the ecstasy and despair of this insanity.

As I hear it, after a brief acquaintance they married earlier this year. After a brief honeymoon, she beat him up and he returned to the UK. They then reconciled via email. He returned to Costa Rica and they have been on and off ever since. Our host is of the opinion that she is trying to provoke him to violence (she hit him again recently) so she can divorce him and get his money though Mr. Lee tells me she would not be entitled to property he had before the marriage. Anyway, a couple of nights ago, while he was waiting for her to maybe come over at nine and maybe spend the night, he and I chatted about where they could live happily ever after. Not Costa Rica. Not the UK. Not the US or Mexico. I suggested Panama. He like that and decided that's where they would go. She showed up sometime after 10, left the next morning and he stayed in his room for the next 30 hours. People did call through the door a couple of times to see if he was alive. Tonight he and Lewis, a 23 year old UPER and graduate from a high school class of 15, went drinking.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Outtakes, San Jose


Hello pandemonium of parrots. Hello Costa Rica rainy season. Hello all day at the dentist. I go back again tomorrow. I am having some crowns redone and we are stuck here until the work is finished.

Sorry. No photos for now. The camera I have with me this trip is too conspicuous plus, at the moment, the rain is nearly endless and I don't want to risk ruining it. I should have kept my phone. I could have taken stealth pictures with it but that didn't occur to me until this afternoon. The day before we left Florida we mailed our phones, GPS, some clothes and a bunch of sea shells etc. back to Nevada to lighten our load as we are traveling only with carry on luggage. But I could have used the phone. Oh well. Writers write, right?

We took a cab from the dentist's office to the bus terminal tonight. Generally we'd walk but after six most shops are shuttered and locked turning colorful streets into grim alleyways after dark. Through the window of the cab I saw people wrapped in plastic and cardboard lying on the street in the rain and on a side street a dead guy lying on his back, hand palm down on the asphalt, a white plastic bag covering his body from the waist up, a yellow police tape stretched over the entrance to the parking lot and one cop car, lights flashing parked in the middle of the otherwise deserted street.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Crack in the world



Good-bye gopher tortoises. Good-by dolphins. Good-bye manatee. Good-bye herons, pelicans, ibises, dunlins, cranes, coots, terns, egrets, gulls, plovers, cormorants, skimmers, frigates, sandpipers, ducks and loons. Good-bye love bird vultures. Good-bye scary hawk. Good-bye pigeons and crows. Good-bye needle fish, jelly fish, off shore fish and clams. Good-bye crazy little cicada. I love your music. Good-bye baby turtles I did not see. Good luck to you all. Bon voyage, little lizard as you float away in the sea. Better luck next time, my friend.

We are sitting at the Orlando airport waiting for our flight to Costa Rica. Not much more to say about that. We will be in CR three weeks, part of that time on it's east coast. Maybe we'll get lucky there and see some baby turtles making their mad dash to the sea. It is still the season.


Good-bye, Florida. Maybe see you again someday.


About the photo of the jetty and sailboat. It is strangely otherworldly but I swear I did not shop it. I think what happened is that, as I waved the camera around as I do, I aimed it at a crack in the world and by chance, in that lucky fraction of a second, photographed it.

As for the crow, she is holding a sea grape that she won from a gull... not an eye.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Florida update



I have so many photos, videos and antidotes about Florida from the last few weeks that I have once again overwhelmed myself and posted next to nothing. It's a habit of mine. The short of it is that we have biked at lot, generally 15 to 20 miles nearly everyday, walked for miles on the beach and bobbed mindlessly in the sea until the dirt and confusion of the world washed away. Don't hate me. It comes back.

According to local rumor, Oprah's cottage on Casey Key

We have also spent a fair amount of time biking and driving around in an effort to get an overview of the area. Florida is amazing but I wouldn't be saying that if we were spending much time in the cities. When I say Florida I mean the beaches. They are amazing. Florida has over 8000 miles of shoreline. And the wildlife is beyond amazing, although humans have paved over most of their habitat, leaving them to fend like hobos rummaging for leftovers. Will we learn before it all goes away?

Lizard enjoying the morning. Do you see the lizard?

This morning I rode to the little coffee shack on the jetty at the south end of Casey Key. In case you're wondering, a key is a skinny barrier island. Got lots of photos of pelicans sitting in a tree airing their wings and a lizard enjoying the morning. After breakfast M. Lee and I went for what amounted to about an eight mile walk on the beach although we gave ourselves credit for 10 given that we were walking on sand. We wanted to see if we could walk all the way to Oprah's shack but we didn't get that far (this time). It is cleverly situated in the exact middle of the key, and being that the filthy rich do not allow public access to the public beach, it is a long walk from the public beach in the hot sun. However, we did see Stephen King's house the other day. It's on the north end of the key, which is much easier to reach. It looks like a huge warehouse. I suppose the hurricane shutters were down. Anyway, I got this photo of Oprah's place during a bike ride on the key. It sprawls out of the photo on both sides and is far more grand than it looks. Use your imagination. Go wild. It would be hard to over estimate.

Most amazing house on the key.

This is about the time when baby turtles begin hatching from deep within the sand and scampering into the sea. There are several carefully marked nests long the shore but we haven't seen any of the little darlings make their famous short but perilous journey but we did find part of a turtle egg shell on the beach the other day. It was rubbery like a swim cap and, of course, I took about 40 photos of it. However, the big event today, as well as one of the big events of the whole trip, was spotting a manatee slipping through the gulf. A manatee! Sorry, Kristiana. I know you ordered a photo of a manatee but she was moving too fast. Still, a cavorting manatee happily nibbling sea grass in the sea? How cool is that? I still owe you a photo but, until then, use your priceless imagination and you will see her with your mind's eye. Isn't she lovely?



And the other day, while hiking in a wilderness reserve on a different key, we met this charming little gopher tortoise with sand on her lips. She was a beauty too. We were all stunned, Mr. Lee, the tortoise and I. Gopher tortoises are endangered and extremely shy so the three of us just stood there looking at each other not knowing what to do. Unfortunately, we did freak her out a bit but, in general, I think we did okay. We took a couple of photos and went on our way.



Tuesday, September 21, 2010

News travels fast in Bird Land



Everyone knows that birds of a feather flock together but not many people realize what huge gossips birds are. I am over 2000 miles from home and the Bird Park but these guys had my number the minute I hit the beach. What? I should carry a bag of treats wherever I go?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Evening on the jetty


Florida


I had no idea the place was so beautiful.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Alligator Alley Cloud Alligator


I met
my first


wild alligator yesterday.


She was panhandling


at a rest stop


along Florida's infamous


Alligator Alley.


She was such a willing and


lovely subject that I felt bad


not sharing my lunch with her.


She was clearly disappointed


but feeding wildlife snacks


isn't good for them or us


so I managed to resist

her mesmerizing charm.
She had incredible hands.
Larger photos here.