Bird Park East - update

August - The highly rhythmic pomba (pigeon) chant was the first sound I heard this morning. It's a great way to start the day. I highly recommend it. I'm now on the balcony with my morning coffee, listening and watching pombas crisscross between trees and apartment buildings. It's nice being out here again. Earlier in the summer, I did my best to leave the area to the mother sparrow. She raise two separate batches of babies in the roof tiles and was fond of resting on the railing between feedings. She was very determined to keep their location secret. Even a look her way was enough to drive her off. The Waning Gibbous moon is visible in the windy morning soft blue sky. Swallows zig zag by. Chickens are clucking in the grass below. Roosters are hard at their usual crowing competition or whatever it is. It goes throughout day and is my preferred alternative to the now-noisy-again-world surrounding us. The friendly neighborhood fellow and his two white dogs are just now coming down the sidewalk on their morning stroll. The younger dog, as always, is on a loose leash and the ancient one, held together only by love, saunters behind sniffing the morning news. A couple of squawking parakeets just dashed by, a flash of green only. They are always off to somewhere else in the greatest hurry. And, most notably of all, Barkie the Dog barely barked at all last night. I remind myself it's not the new normal but it was damn nice.


Hands up. Please don't shoot me

How many have died with these words on their lips? Portland's Black Lives Matter's eerily beautiful protest chant evokes a haunting, and devastating question.

.Hands up - Please don't shoot me - Hands up - Please don't shoot me.

.Hands up - Please don't shoot me - Hands up - Please don't shoot me.


Happy 4th of July, America - Mask up!

Republican Pres. Donald J. Trump
Flag humper
For the past 50 years, Republicans have chosen either oil men or actors for Presidents and mostly elected Senators and Representatives who are racist and/or evangelicals dedicated to shoring up the crumbling legacy of the King/Priest rulerships of yore. As a result, America is now isolated from all it's traditional Democratic allies, as it slides into a corporate dictatorship run by men indifferent to the millions of Americans ravaged by COVID-19 while the President gallivants around the country at the taxpayer’s expense doing photo ops to feed his insatiable vanity.

Yesterday, America had the world's largest daily increase of pandemic victims, 55,000 reported in all, with 10,000 new cases in Florida alone.

Happy Fourth of July. Be sure to wear your mask and keep your distance.


Note to self - Stop playing Divide and Conquer

#1: Stop arguing.
#2: Silence is compliance.
#3: Blend these and change the narrative.


Was it a mistake?

Gen. Mark A. Milley, was it a mistake or, now that you've given Trump his photo op, is this just camouflage? You fucking hell looked like the tool of a repressive, fascist government to me.


Silly questions

There's a lesson here . . .



I'm currently sharing my work space with a spider. I've explained to him that it's not a safe place for such a little fellow but he insists. He's spun a line from the main table to the tip of a pallet knife in a jar of pallet knives on a different table and has been coming and going all morning. I'm trying to be a good neighbor but am worried  this won't go well for him. I'm not sure he can see me, or if he does, what makes of me but he did stop and look at me as I explained the dangers of hanging out in such a cluttered, always getting shuffled around place. I offered to move him out with Plantie on the balcony but he doesn't seem inclined.

is now
making his way
out from under the glass
Worlds beyond the glass


Blue Period

It's not done but I'm now far enough along on the project that this morning, Swami, Juan Carlos, Molly, and I are having coffee and viewing the four panel I've been working on for that last few weeks, illustrations for a poem I wrote called Blue Period. M. has not been invited to the showing yet as he must finish his morning porridge before, in his own words, he is fully human.


Gary's good-bye

"Same. Smaller. Quieter."

That's how my daughter described her dad when I inquired how he was doing yesterday then, this afternoon, to the same question she wrote, "He died this morning. About an hour ago."  I wish he'd lived a happier life but his death was not as lonely as it might have been—she was sitting beside him—had been all morning—nor was it particularly sad, coming as it did after a long illness, cancer not covid.

So . . . yesterday afternoon as the nest full of baby birds under the roof tiles chirped away at the top of their shrill little voices, and I was painting an illustration for one of my poems while listening to music with headphones on, Gary dropped in from America to say good-bye. He was wispy and floating and mostly transparent (imagine something between a whitish horizontal veil-like form with flagella and a thin floating, mostly transparent sea creature) and kind of stand-offish as always, but he was there.¹ My eyes got blurry for a bit but I saw him clearly in my mind's eye . . . he in thin air, me in afternoon light, us remembering what our dreams had been back then (did he chortle?) and who we'd been for each other. We forgave each other. He lingered a few moments more then said good-bye.

Portugal . . . about an hour ago . . .

¹· No. I wasn't stoned or drunk nor do I claim this moment to be a "Fact". Just sharing my subjective experience.


One world

Believe it or not, care or not, own up to it or not—we are making this planet uninhabitable, not only for us, but for life as we know it. If we don't quickly and radically change the way we eat, live, do business etcetcetc— the environment upon which we all depend will collapse beyond repair. This pandemic can be a preview of coming events or a lesson we learn from. Which is it?


No events scheduled except the moon

Lovely moon last night. According to NASA, it was the Flower Moon and marked the fourth and final supermoon of 2020. It hit its peak this morning at 06:45 EDT but, like all full moons, also appears full the night before and after.

Image credit: NASA/Bill Dunford

Lovely day today. Lots going on here at the hermitage, aka apartment. I'm working on an illustration, based on Blue Period, a poem I wrote some years ago. It's written as four scenarios. I am currently doing the first one. It's tempura on cardboard and, at this point, it's become a conversation the paint and I are having. Yesterday was especially interesting. At one point, I realized I was just standing there watching the brush move across the page, leaving a new sky in its wake.

No events scheduled today

Bird Park East in general has been the happening place this spring. There are a couple of noisy nests nearby, one right above our balcony, one across the alley. It's great fun listening and watching the comings and goings. Also interesting, if not a bit shocking, I also saw about 10 roosters chase and jump one of the young hens the other day. Holy cow! Those guys are brutal as ducks. Poor girl. She was terrified. Not so, the seagulls I saw later that day. They were quite tender towards one another mating on the flat chimney top. Afterwards, they hung out together for about a half hour, nestling each other, nuzzling with their beaks, yawning, and looking around obviously relishing the quiet end of the day.


Higher Ground | Playing For Change

Change or die

Strange as this public service announcement is, people are cooperating and Portugal is crushing the curve.

Today's dystopian public announcement
during the COVID-19 pandemic

Chris Hadfield's
 astronaut's guide to self isolation


Thanks for saving my life

We began isolating on March 14. Before that, we half-assed it for a couple of weeks but on the 18th it got real. That's when the Portuguese President declared a countrywide state of emergency and asked everyone to stay at home except for necessary trips to places like the grocery, bank, doctor, and pharmacy. The whole country cooperated. I so appreciate that. As a result, Portugal has been very successful in blocking the spread of the virus and tomorrow we begin the first stage of loosening restrictions. Some, like social distancing, will still apply but certain types of small businesses will reopen. 

I've really appreciated this time. I'm a hermit by nature but have never been terribly good at disciplining myself. During these last seven weeks, I've been able to recalibrate, begin painting again albeit slowly, write and organize my work, see a little deeper, a little more clearly, focus, renew, identify. It's been enough time for new ways to present themselves, hidden things to surface, resolve, finish unfinished business, heal. Today, for example, an event in the distant past suddenly came into sharp focus and I realized I had an amend to make.

My ex-husband is dying of cancer. We haven't been on good terms for years but it wasn't until today I saw, no matter how he might take it, I had a long overdue amends to make. It wasn't the length of time that clarified my thinking. It is this extraordinary suspension of ordinary life that gave the waters time to clear. Today I asked my daughter to pass along a long overdue recognition. "Thanks for saving my life". The details don't matter. The fact that I never thanked him does.


In defense of pigeons

Picasso and a pigeon friend.

Dogs became part of our extended human family over 15,000 years ago and, in geological time, pigeons are a close second becoming part of our tribe a mere 5,000 years later. They are, in fact, the world's old domesticated bird. I think of them as the dogs of birds.

Research suggests the domestication of pigeons began during the Pleistocene era, some 10,000 years ago. They are memorialized in Egyptian hieroglyphs and mentioned in Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets 5000 years ago. They are very helpful folks. They were  humanity's first airmail service during times of war and peace. They are pets as well as mid-air aerialist able to fly upside-down and backwards. Some played ping-pong with behavioral scientist B.F. Skinner, others are doctor's assistants helping to point out cancer in medical imaging. Besides their other contributions to a better quality of human life, pigeons are sometimes muses for artists, poets, and musicians. Picasso did a delightful series of pigeon paintings near the end of his life which are on display at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. An interesting side note about pigeons and art is that, with a little education, they've proven able to between the work of Picasso and Monet though I'm not sure anyone had a preference. 

Henri Matisse and pigeon pal
Pigeons didn't live in my neighborhood when I was a kid. I only came to appreciate them when I began traveling. They are everywhere I've been, whether Africa, Europe, Asia, S.E. Asia, the Americas. Now I consider it a good start to any day when the first thing I hear is their gentle cooing. What other bird does that? I'll tell you. No other.

From the beginning of the third millennium BCE, these "flying rats" as Woody Allen stupidly called them, have been humanity's symbol of love, peace, the soul, numerous religions as well the chosen representatives of various military, sports, and pacifist groups. The fact that pigeons are common in grungy human habitats like our polluted cities is not because they are dirty. It's because we are dirty. They clean up after us now just as they've been doing for the last 10,000 years.

In praise of the remarkable pigeon


Did I mention

when we first visited this place.

I am now an official resident of Portugal and actually for about a month already. I forgot to mention it but it is something of a milestone. It took over a year, a lot of paperwork, getting health insurance, renting a place, etc but it's official. And it actually does, or did, feel a little different at first. The idea has since settled into its mundane context but I'm glad it's done. The next step is that I must now start learning Portuguese. It will have to be, as a friend in Florida used to say, "little by slowly".


Good-bye John Prine. I never knew ya.

Singer/songwriter John Prine died of the corornavirus a few days ago.

I never heard of him until now. His debut album was released a year after I "renounced the world" and for the next 12 years. Yeah. That's pompous, and it didn't end well, but it's what I did.

I missed him till he died. My loss.


One-sided coin

Day and night have become a one-sided coin as we begin our fourth week in isolation. It matters less and less which it is. The neighborhood birds keep me more connected to the changing hours than the clock. I'm not complaining. I've lived on earth before, I prefer it, on earth meaning I've been tactually connected to nature before, as a child and as an adult including . . . once living for awhile in a one room mud hut with no electricity, or running water, a wood stove for heat, and corner with a hole in the floor for a shower . . . with my then-husband and our two children.

Being isolated like we are now is a great reminder of how we are always at the mercy of artless nature. All day I listened to a strong on shore wind battered the building where we live. Sometimes it hit then crashed over us the way storm waves hit then crash up over rocks. Other times it rattled, and banged things as it tore by. It's still blowing now. I imagine the roof tiles are quivering as I sit in bed writing this in the dark, waiting for sleep.


Pigeon Cafe

"Today is today, the only day there is,
this day, today, so live it and love it"!
- Juan Carlos
It's been open for a long time, five or ten thousand years, give or take a few thousand but, most importantly it is open this morning. In the words of Juan Carlos, "Today is today, the only day there is, this day, today, so live it and love it"!

I can think of no better place than here at the Pigeon Cafe and I use that word "here" lightly because pigeons are everywhere.  In fact, the way I see it, it's their world. I just live in it. So, I'm having coffee this morning at the Pigeon Cafe and what better place to start the day?


The world

The world was crashing
around our ears—
or was it the Anthropocene
beginning to

photo credit: asha
like the century plant
in its time—
petals of a new
the age of man.


RIP Takaya

Photograph: Cheryl Alexander/Wild Awake Images

Takaya, Canada's eccentric and legendary lone wolf dug wells in summer to find water, was known to sit three feet from a person and look them directly in the eye, but though he sometimes sought out the company of humans he also cleverly evaded all attempts people made to capture him in order to protect him from what would be a sure and tragic encounter with humans at some point in his journeys,

Now that we humans have caused what biologists refer to as the Sixth Mass Extinction since our planet's beginning some 4.543 billion years ago, we will have to invent new words to describe the people who kill animals, cut down our last remaining forests, and continue polluting our dying oceans, land, sky and all life that walks, flies, swims, wiggles, burrows, and breathes in this world upon which all our lives depend. And we will need to create words for those people who kill the last remaining members of a species and other words yet for people who kill those iconic members of other species who inspire us to remember to love and save what's left of this world.

On 24 March, Takaya was shot and killed by hunters.


Bird Park East

The three kinds of dawn and dusk
This morning during civil dawn,  the time before the sun peeks over the horizon, as we humans while away in contagion . . . humankind's second oldest friends after dogs, the pombos (poem-boos) aka pigeons, resumed their cooing. Today they chose to begin the day with an old favorite doot DOOOO doot 
. . . doot-DOOOO-doot / doot-DOOOO-doot / doot-DOOOO-doot here . . . do-do DOOT / do-do-DOOT / do-do-DOOT/ do-do-DOOT there  . . . doo-DOOT / doo-DOOT/ doo-DOOT over there . . . and DOOT-doo-doo / DOOT-doo-doo / DOOT-doo-doo from across the way.

And, during civil dawn, the peacocks, roosters, and hens resumed crowing and clucking. Once the sun was fully above the horizon, a couple of parakeets zoomed past flashing their bright green wings, seagulls glided by, and little birds of various descriptions twittered songs in the trees.

After dawn, Blacky the cat made an appearance and Barkie the dog added her comment. Bird Park East, the place I call home these days.


Note to self

Got some of the stitches out today. The rest come out next Wednesday. And yes. The biopsy was positive for Myoepithelial carcinoma again. This time they increased the margins by a lot. I'll have a CAT scan in a few months to see if there's anything left. That's it.


Harbor watch for the predominately inattentive

It looks like a small city at sea, 17 smoke gray stacks against the flat horizon, and the deep voice of a fog horn taunting me with intriguing blasts. This particular freighter has been parked at the mouth of the Tagus since I got up this morning. It must be waiting for a dock to open. Generally the ships just chug by.

I keep binoculars nearby, always hoping for a glimpse of arrivals and departures. I don't have a camera these days otherwise maybe I might catch an interesting photo now and then. As you see, at this distance, my poor phone can't make much sense of things.

M.'s position is that I've never learned any of the cameras I've had so why waste the money. Ok. He's partly right. I haven't studied the technical side of photography but I do have a decent eye, plus it's something of a meditation for me and, as someone with acute ADHD-PI (PI being "predominately inattentive") I can use all the help I can use and I can use photography because it shows me how to focus exactly on what's in front of me then rewards me with a photo to see if, in fact, I did. If you're not ADHD that probably doesn't make much sense.