Friday

Three window shots

San Francisco Bay
from the plane

Five days ago we began our return slog to Portugal with a one week layover in London, where we are at the moment.


Molly in the sky
Molly came with me this time, in my backpack. About 10 hours into the flight, the steward noticed her—gasp—then said, Oh my god! I thought it was a real dog! I assured him, she is.

London
from the bus last night
with reflections

We're creatures of habit so we're staying in a tiny flat near Finsbury Park again. There are grocery stores plus Turkish and Thai hole-in-the-wall restaurants near by, so we're set. Monday we head back to Portugal.

Tuesday

Good news

After writing such a grim New Years day and decade post I felt obliged to end by promising good news next. Within a few hours Roy, one of the two people who read this blog with any regularity, demanded I deliver. Damn. Thanks, Roy—but— fair is fair. I did promise.

Ok. Here's one thing. I wrote a poem yesterday and plan to submit it to Rattle before their mid-month deadline. I will report on how that goes.

Please post your good news in the comment section, if you have any. Now that Trumpty Dumpty has started a war with Iran I'd appreciate all the good news I can get.


Wednesday

Greetings from the first day of the 2020s

Happy new year and first day of the 2020s. One hundred years ago today, the notorious decade known as the Roaring Twenties began. Ten years later, beginning with the crash of the American stock market, the world economy began its collapse. This century we are facing the eminent collapse of our planet's entire ecosystem by the end of the decade.

New Year Cafe
2020.01.01

And by the way, don't blame bats, rats and rest of the animal kingdoms. The blame for climate collapse rests squarely the leaders of the developed countries—America, China, Europe, and Russia. These governments, controlled in the background by billionaire businessmen, pointblank refuse to make the changes necessary to stave off the the worst of it. If they don't change, we are doomed to the worst case scenario. And I throw the both-sides corporate media into the mix for refusing to report the scientific facts head on—with the possible exception of the UK's BBC. At least they have publicly made a strong commitment to tell the truth.

Grim? Yeah. But there is still a lot to love and celebrate as we spiral around the event horizon and we must. Next up . . . some good news.

Tuesday

Rewinding time

Happy New Year. That is all.




Saturday

Portland

Foggy morning
Crow conversations
I try to join in
But end up coughing


Midwinter's eve

Sunday, December 22 at 04:19 UTC, is the exact moment of winter solstice this year in the Northern Hemisphere. Adjusted to my local time this means the winter solstice is tonight, Saturday night, at 20:19 UTC (8:19 PM PST). This longest night of the year is my favorite winter celebration. I see this moment of suspension before the North Pole begins turning again towards the sun, is a moment of quiet amidst the ever-grinding gears of time. It is a time to rest, reflect and re-calibrate before beginning the next cycle.

But already it is past time. This solstice offers a stark view of where we are and where we're doing to the planet we live on. Now, either we change or be changed forever.

Tuesday

Street art in Rome and counsel from the I Ching

"Gentle words are worthless if spoken with trepidation."

Street art in Rome
Street art in Rome
2018
"This is a time of connection with another or others -- not just an alliance, but a melding of parts into a new whole."

These are excerpts from the I Ching reading I did this morning. I shall do my best to keep them in mind today.

The photo I took last December. I'm not sure of the meaning of the hand gesture. It may be the classic Greek orator's call for silence. In any case, I do think this odd, hooded fellow emerging from a pool of water in the sidewalk and today's counsel go well together. I also like they both came to me in December a year apart.

This detail is from huge wall panel of street art in this style is a mere 0.43 km from the Lupercale Shrine. According to legend, the Lupercale Shrine is the sacred place where "a she-wolf nursed Romulus and Remus, the twin founders of Rome and where the city itself was born".

Sailors take warning
then on with the morning


Sunday

Granada check-in

I'm writing this from Granada (Spain) and can see the Alhambra (castle complex) from where I'm sitting. Like nearly all the historic sites in Europe, it was built, rebuilt, deconstructed, reconstructed, destroyed, remodeled, updated and expanded upon for centuries, then abandoned.

The Moors ruled from the Alhambra for 500 years and Spanish kings another several centuries after that but the site itself is much older, dating back to Roman times. It's the Moorish influence I find most interesting. Today it's a tourist trap that is, yes, worth seeing anyway.

Friday

Poor Barkie

She lives behind walls. Does she ever leave the compound? Does she ever see her own kind or does she only hear them passing or from afar? During the day she is mostly quiet but when night comes she begins barking at the dark. They are inside and oblivious ... eating and socializing. Do they ever glance down at her through the window? Are they are all deaf, even the children, or is her voice and her life nothing to them, no more than background movement like wind in the trees or passing cars ... something to be ignored?

About 20:00 hours she starts barking in her oddly deep voice. By 22:00 she is barking in earnest. Every night without exception she looks into the hedge wall, which is about 14 feet or 4 meters high, and barkbarkbarkbarkbarks then, still barking, walks to the other side of the compound and barkbarkbarkbarkbarks into the hedge wall there then back barkbarkbarkbarkbarking and forth barkbarkbarkbarkbarking, sometimes stopping to barkbarkbarkbarkbark in the middle facing our bedroom window, barkbarkbarkbarkbark...barkbarkbarkbarkbarking back and forth barkbarkbark...barkbarkbarking...barely pausing until at least 02:00 hours and then gradually barkbarkbark slows bark bark down bark ... bark until early dawn.

I don't hate her. I feel very sorry for her. It's her indifferent humans I resent. She is prisoner of their selfishness ... their twisted sense of what ... security, prestige, paranoia? He conducts some kind of isolation therapy in his pool in the summer. People come. He gives them an inflatable wet suit complete with isolation head gear and a breathing apparatus then, as they float on their backs in the middle of his pool, he stands beside them probably crooning some kind of relaxation meditation but, at night, his freaked out, lonely, desperate little dog barkbarkbarks and he offers no comfort at all. He's an asshole and his wife is an asshole and their children will likely grow up to be heartless assholes just like them.

When I complain to my Portuguese friends they just laugh. "Ah Portugal. This is just that way it is." Fuck that. It's animal abuse. It's anti-social. It's fucking stupid. When we first got here I thought I'd never sleep again. Now even I sleep but, for me, it will never be "ah Portugal". I don't see animals as tools and food. I respect them as sentient beings, non-human persons as so many do today. My friends tell me I can report the noise that, if enough people complain, perhaps the town will do something about it. I haven't done that yet but this story is not over.


Monday

History Lesson - Welcome to the Anthropocene


I just added a new poem to AnnaSadhorse, my poetry blog. It's called History Lesson. It was recently published in a bi-lingual (French/English) anthology called, "300K - A Poetry Anthology about the Human Race".  The editor, Walter Ruhlmann, writes that he wanted to publish something, "as a mark, a sign, a trace of our - yours and mine - passage on this planet". Monsieur Ruhlmann describes himself as a pessimist. It's a view I don't entirely share however, History Lesson, being a reflection on the Anthropocene, fits right in.




You can purchase 300K here.

Sunday

Rainy night, Portugal

The view from my office window tonight.

Had a hell of a time focusing on writing today. My end goal is to get a few more things submitted for publication but I tend to get lost in the details. The last batch of poems I sent out was rejected but with a personal letter from the editor inviting me to submit something again for their following issue. I probably will. In the meantime, I'm looking for other journals that sound interesting but what usually happens, and it did again today, is that I end up muddling around with edits instead. At least today it lead me to finally making peace with a poem I wrote some years ago and have been arguing with ever since. It was always my idea to squeeze it into a haiku but it was never right. Finally, today, I surrendered to the fact that it is just not willing to cooperate. Words have a mind of their own.

Wednesday

Dear Signore Robot,

01000100 01100101 01100001 01110010 00100000 01010011 01101001 01100111 01101110 01101111 01110010 01100101 00100000 01100100 01100001 00100000 01010110 01101001 01101110 01100011 01101001 00101100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100001 01101110 01101011 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01110110 01100101 01110010 01111001 00100000 01101101 01110101 01100011 01101000 00100000 01100110 01101111 01110010 00100000 01101101 01100001 01101011 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01101101 01111001 00100000 01100100 01100101 01101100 01101001 01100011 01100001 01110100 01100101 00100000 01110011 01110101 01110010 01100111 01100101 01110010 01111001 00100000 01110000 01101111 01110011 01110011 01101001 01100010 01101100 01100101 00101110 00100000 01001001 00100000 01100001 01101101 00100000 01100100 01101111 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01110110 01100101 01110010 01111001 00100000 01110111 01100101 01101100 01101100 00101110 00100000 01011001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01100001 01110010 01100101 00100000 01100001 00100000 01110100 01110010 01110101 01100101 00100000 01101101 01100001 01100101 01110011 01110100 01110010 01101111 00101110 00100000 01000010 01100101 01110011 01110100 00101100 00100000 01100001 01110011 01101000 01100001

Translate here

Thursday

Halloween with Henri, Le Chat Noir

Halloween and I'm celebrating by watching Henri 4, L'Haunting.

Wednesday

Timeline


For my future reference, what follows is the timeline regarding
my diagnosis and treatment for Myoepithelial Carcinoma

----------------------------------


On 25 Jan. 2019, during a yearly physical in Nevada, I mentioned it felt like I had a sea serpent in my belly. Ok, it was a wild exaggeration, but in the US most doctor's attention span is controlled by insurance companies, not people's concerns. My old doctor spent about five minutes per patient. After the allotted time, if I had a question, I had to physically plant myself in front of the door to block his exit. This was a new doctor so I wasn't sure she'd listen but she did and was very gracious about it.

Yes, gracious as in "pleasantly kind, benevolent, courteous". Dr. Nguyen was seven when she came to America from Vietnam. "We were boat people", she said in an interview for Carson Now. Her father was a doctor but, with the fall of Saigon, her parents had to leave the maternity hospital behind they'd opened together and were able to do so because of the sponsorship of a gracious church in Michigan.

Anyway, Dr. Nguyen scheduled an ultrasound for Feb. 15. I got the results on Feb. 27. They indicated a mass on my kidney so she scheduled further tests. On the 7th of March I had a second ultrasound followed by a CT scan with dye. Those tests clearly showed an 8 cm mass on my kidney. I met with a Nevada urologist on March 18. He wanted to do a biopsy.

However, at the same time, we were nearly done sorting through, tossing, donating, giving away or selling most of our possessions, selling our house, and relocating near family and friends in Oregon. Furthermore, we had plans brewing well over a year to move to Europe part time. We had to go.

The Nevada doctor gave me a referral to one in Oregon. I met with him on 8 April. Our flight to London was on 14 April. He tried to schedule the procedure before that but couldn't until 17 April. M. Lee and I decided he should still leave as planned. The plane fare and lodging was already paid. I had the biopsy on 17 April and two days later left for Europe.

I was told I'd get the results in five to seven days. After a week, I called them but they could tell me nothing. Another week went by but still no word so I called again. The receptionist didn't know anything and seemed irritated by my question. A third week passed and still no report—so I called again. This time she said the Oregon lab couldn't identify the mass and sent it to a lab in Indiana which hadn't finished their analysis yet. On 9 May, the Oregon doctor called me in Portugal with results, myoepithelial carcinoma, a very rare form of cancer generally occurring in a salivary gland. We discussed me returning to the US for surgery as it is currently the only known treatment for this form of cancer.

On 10 May, as we were in Portugal, M. Lee emailed the Champalimaud Center for the Unknown, a private biomedical research foundation here in Lisbon. They immediately assigned us a personal representative we could contact at anytime and made an appointment with Dr. Miguel Almeida for 13 May. On that day, Dr. Almeida scheduled five tests, all completed the following week.

Not wanting to do a second biopsy, Dr. Almeida wanted the slides from Indiana. In Europe your body parts belong to you. You want them, no problem. In America, no. I called the lab several times, signed and sent various requests to no avail. Even Dr. Almeida personally called and spoke to the head of the lab and sent signed forms requesting samples. By the time he finally received the biopsy we had returned to the US to apply for a Portuguese visa.

The process of applying for Portuguese citizenship is many stages, very backed up, and incredibly tedious. We had an appointment in San Francisco on 10 June. It required delivering a massive amount of paperwork, including an FBI background check, Portuguese tax number, bank account, and residence address in person. We had to go.



July 1 we returned to Portugal. While we were gone, Dr. Almeida put together a "dream team" including Dr. Christophe Assenmacher who flew in from Brussels. The surgery was 12 July and was done using Champalimaud's da Vinci robot which the surgeon controls from a console. This is a minimally invasive form of surgery, capable of greater accuracy and, if all goes well, reduces recovery time. The da Vinci made six small incisions in my abdomen for its "hands". One held the kidney while another carefully cut off the infected part and, before removing it from my body, still others slipped the tumor into a plastic bag, sealed and compressed it and yet another hand pulled the bag out through the largest incision which was about an inch and a half or some 4 cm long. They also removed a second tumor from the back of my neck which appeared last year. I remained in ICU for three days as bleeding can be a problem. It wasn't. I was discharged on the fourth day and have been feeling fine.

Oct. 8 I had a follow up CT scan of my entire body and tomorrow, Oct. 24, I will find out if I am, at this time, cancer free or not.

Oct 24 met with Dr. Almeida. The CT scan did not detect any cancer at this time. I didn't get elated when he told me. I felt grateful and have had moments of well-being and belonging, rare anytime for me and very welcome.


Tuesday

Cnoc a' Cairn

Dingle, Ireland - Irish Grass in the famine graveyard
Last October we visited a few of Ireland's famine graveyards. The first was in the town of Dingle. Our host encouraged us to visit the town's famine graveyard, Cnoc a' Cairn (Carin Hill). It's one of several such cemeteries in the country. A million to a million and a half people died in Ireland between 1845 and 1852 during what I grew up hearing was the Great Potato Famine. I have since learned it wasn't the loss of the potato crops that killed them. It was England's colonial indifference and greed.

Even in a small town like Dingle, so many people died in a day that there was no time or room to make coffins or dig individual graves. Over 3,000 men, women, and children are buried on Cnoc a' Cairn. There are no tombstones, no names—bodies were laid one on top of another in long trenches and covered with dirt. Only an occasional unmarked stone stands watch along the way. It is an incredibly lonely place.

That evening I wrote a poem about the place. It was published, with little editing, in Dingle's hometown magazine, the West & Mid Kerry Live (pg. 24).