Sunday, January 30, 2005

Paperwhite Gallery

My beautiful daughter gave me paper white bulbs for Christmas and I planted them just after the new year. They are now in full bloom and extremely fragrant and lovely. Sorry I can't share their perfume, but you can enjoy their delicate beauty.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Goldie and the mustangs

I can't stand seeing Bush's smiling mug at the top of the page so I'm posting this nice photo of Goldie before I run out the door. She has been staying with us this week because her humans are out of town. As you can see, Goldie is a sweetheart. Also, she would make a much better president that George Bush who recently approved a bill rider making it legal to sell wild horses and burros to slaughterhouses. Until now, the BLM gave lip service to protecting them via their so-called adoption program. It looked great in the public information brochure but they "adopted" many of the animals out to slaughterhouses. Now, Bush has made slaughterhouse sales legal. He works the down home bit every chance he gets, but when it comes to actually protecting this country's wild lands and wild life, he shows his true nature...dirty, rotten poacher in a business suit. Please email Nevada Senator Harry Reid and ask him to see that this damn law gets repealed.

Nevada Mustangs, further victims of the Bush Administration's greed and neglect.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Cult of the Dollar

It's not really about the oil. It's about which currency the world does business in, the dollar or the euro. When the European Union launched its currency, Saddam contemplated switching to that standard. Insiders in the Bush Administration responded by manipulating the US into invading Iraq, their desperate attempt to keep oil tied to the dollar, at any cost.

In his obsession to grab power and buy time, Bush tosses words around like play money. He continues to preach that the ongoing loss of life is the unavoidable "cost of freedom". He is equally adamant that the astronomical debt he has plunged this country in is also for the general good, i.e. the acceptable "cost of doing business". We've all head the spiel.

Among the few mainstream journalists who speak up against this insanity, Seymour Hersh is perhaps my favorite. In case you don't know, he's the reporter who broke the story about the torture at Abu Ghraib. Last month he spoke at a gathering in New York and again displayed his keen grasp of a fact that eludes most Americans, "we have been taken over by a cult". By cult, Hersh doesn't mean the evangelicals. He's not referring to the Republican party and he definitely doesn't mean the compassionate conservatives. Hersh is talking about a very exclusive, inner circle who call themselves the neconservatives; or neocons. Somehow, this cadre of mostly obscure extremists took over the White House and the Pentagon and people either didn't notice or were powerless to stop them. I'd love to know the whole story, but I doubt it will work its way out in my lifetime.

Read the transcript. It's 9 paragraphs. Or watch it online, if you prefer. It takes 20 minutes. Or print it out and read it on the subway, the bus or over lunch. What do you have to lose?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Florida Review

"The Florida Review" is accepting entries for its 2005 Editor's Prize in three categories: fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Winners in each category receive a $1,000 award and publication.

Entries must be postmarked by February 15, 2005. All submissions will be considered for publication and all entrants will receive a year's subscription to the journal. For more information, visit them here.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Slow motion adventures

One morning, we drove to a tiny village

on Mexico's west coast. Just behind us

a mother pig and her baby came sauntering down the hill.

It was a good day for a walk, a little snooze

and some exploring

but not too much.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Zacatacas, MX


view of the street

along the street

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Great Divide

533 Russian sable coats: 40 mil
26,000 Kevlar vests: 40 mil
One Bush lame duck inauguration: 60 mil
One life: ?

The lavish, second inauguration of George Walker Bush cost over $60 million dollars, when you count the $20,000 for yellow roses and the $20 million or so that taxpayers had to pony up to protect our War(monger) President. Wait. Not president. That's too twentieth century. Bush and company like to think of themselves as leaders of the New Empire.

Besides being ostentatious, the event was the height of irony. To people waiting hours in the snow to see him, our Kevlar-poster boy-Leader of the Free World, was nothing more than a distant dot, gliding by in a bomb-proof limo or waving from behind a rocket-proof shield. Once he got that out of the way, he and his cronies enjoyed the most expensive inauguration in American history. Beyond being another example of the guy's colossal ego and incredible bad judgment, the event offered a candid peak at his true values: power and prestige.

As many have already said, it should have been a simple event. But no. Apparently nothing is too good for Bush who, in his beaver fur cowboy hat, and accompanied by his glittering, fur-swaddled wife, flitted through the string of coronation style parties like pampered royalty. His tip of the Stetson to American soldiers rummaging in Iraqi garbage pits for makeshift body armor was a "Military Ball", topped off, of course, with a few prayers. Praise the Lord and pass tin cans. Naturally, Bush himself, is very fond of his Kevlar underwear, but I say forget about getting some for the troops. Just bring them home, NOW! We never had any business in Iraq in the first place. Be a man, Mr. President. Admit and correct your tragic mistake.

Having had enough of the brain drain, we tossed our TV out a few years ago. These days, I get my news almost exclusively from the internet, but here's a rare clip from the FOX PROPAGANDA CHANNEL (of all places) that is actually worth watching. Judy Bachrach from Vanity Fair gets in a few, very refreshing words about the pompous sham before being cut off by the interviewer. Unless you have a subscription, you have to watch a quick ad but, if you haven't seen it, it's worth a watch. But if you don't want to bother with a that, there's a transcript here. We all know what King George and his smirking toadies have to say about all this grumbling. Get over it. Right!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Humming bird in Oaxaca

This picture will eventually be included in my photofiles with other ones I took in Mexico last spring but tonight I'm just experimenting with Picasa2. Wow! Does it ever make things easy. I highly recommend you try it, if you haven't already.

Juniper Creek Writer's Conference '05

The second annual Juniper Creek Writer's Conference scheduled for the weekend of July 15th is going to be terrific. So far, thanks to the efforts of Ellen Hopkins and Bill Cowee, we have two outstanding writers lined up to lead the faculty. Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry Magazine will keynote, conduct workshops and judge the national poetry contest. Gayle Brandeis, novelist (The Book of Dead Birds) short story writer, poet, community and environmental activist, will do workshops and judge the national short story contest. Richard Eloyan, songwriter and poet, will do a workshop on songwriting, plus, we're expecting an editor from Simon and Schuster New York, a children's book editor, an agent, a screenwriter and many literary magazine editors to commit soon. It is going to be fun!

We're holding the conference at the Western Nevada Community College campus in Carson City. The cost for the weekend will be $150 although we'll be giving a scholarship to some student at each high school in Northern Nevada. The event will include a poetry reading on Friday night, a Western BBQ and musical performance on Saturday night (it looks like I may be in charge of the vegetarian part), and a literary magazine editors roundtable.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Inauguration Day protests

This Thursday is Bush's gala Inauguration Day and he is treating himself and his corporate buddies to 4 days of parties, including Texas State Society's "Black Tie and Boots" ball, at which he'll serve up tons of beef, oceans of booze, and mountains of bullshit. All in all, the gaudy event will cost over 60 million dollars, about twice the amount of aide money he sent to help tsunami victims.

It doesn't matter that the corporations he gave huge tax breaks to are picking up the tab. It's obscenely insensitivite. Some "moral leader". It's a Texas size event for a Texas size asshole. As he dances the night away, soldiers in Iraq are scrounging in garbage heaps for scrap metal for makeshift armor to protect themselves and their vehicles. Bush rejected criticism of his ostentatious celebration by claiming his Victory War Dance is his way of paying tribute to the men and women he has put on the line. A formal salute to troops is part of the inaugural program. What a hollow man.

Protests for every mood and mentality are planned around the country. Call me a slactivist, but probably the most I'll do is wear all black, observe the economic boycott suggested by Not One Damn Dime Day and bitch on my blog. Of course, I'll shop on Wednesday and Friday so what's the point? I don't know. But elsewhere there will street demonstrations like the silent Turn your back on Bush event planned in Washington DC. When Bush's bullet-proof limousine glides by, people will turn their backs on him. That could be visually interesting, especially if they are all wearing black. We love our photo opportunities. And there will be plenty of political theatre, a few counter-inaugural balls like the one being tossed by Billionaires for Bush, and elsewhere buffet feasts and free drinks for all. All fun, in true American style, but....

Eyes Wide Open is one of the groups getting down to the facts, something Bush and his followers are incapable of doing. His Oil Wars are not only costing the lives of young Americans dragged into this thing through his back door draft, it is genocide on a nation of innocent citizens caught in the cross-fire. Nothing to celebrate.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Bush's "accountability moment"?

President George W. Bush, who mocks what he calls the "reality-based community", thumbed critics today asking him to be accountable for the mess he's made of things. In an interview with the Washington Post he said he already had his "accountability moment, the 2004 election". What hubris! He has never been accountable for his extravagant and bloody policies. All we get is smoke and mirrors, and his bullshit attitude. When asked by the reporter why he thought bin Laden had not been found, Bush replied, "Because he's hiding." What a pathetic idiot! And he is our leader. I am ashamed that, with however small a margin, my country elected this boob. Bush's minions love to tell disgruntled critics, "get over it". Unfortunately, these geniuses don't have a clue how long that will take the millions of people worldwide appalled by our "choice".

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Joanie McGowan, hometown sweetheart

If you lived in Ashland Oregon anytime in the last several years, you probably knew Joanie McGowan, at least enough to smile and say hi, the way people do in small towns. Joanie was one of the people from whom the town took some of its identity; beautiful, talented, charming. She was the artist who painted the murals at Geppettos (a long time local restaurant), a writer, performer, a fund-raiser for the campus NPR station, a high-spirited beauty, a social and political activist, an actress who did everything from comedy to one-woman shows to founding a political troope she called Superhero Theatre. Joanie was a local celebrity out to Save the World Now, with a manner she called "reminiscent of Mort Saul channeling Joan of Arc."

Joanie moved to Seattle for a while a few years back, working the day stalls at the Pike Place Market, doing theatre at night. Six years later she returned to Ashland, happy to be away from big city jive. Then, last June, Joanie was assaulted by a college student as she returned home on her bike from a party at 2am. Her face was smashed and required eleven hour, reconstructive surgery but people rallied, raising money to help with costs. And an event was held, with Joanie participating, to address the problems of violence against women. True to form, she advocated therapy and forgiveness for her attacker and violent or sex offenders in general.

After the assault.

Joanie (in blue) at workshop
2004 was a mixed year. She recovered quickly from the assault, blessed as she put it; took her show back on the road, and was one of the two delegates from Jackson County to attend the DNC but by the end of the year she cut short her 30 city tour due to financial difficulties and, in December, checked herself into an addiction recovery center. Joanie also suffered from bipolar disorder. In January of this year, she spent some time in the Rogue Valley Medical Health Center's Two North facility for depression.

On the evening of January 6th, Joanie killed herself, according to the sheriff's office. On the 11th, a homeless person found her body off the path in a hollowed out space along the Greenway, an area she had helped raise funds to establish. She died from the effects of a drug overdose and hypothermia. A memorial will be held this Sunday at the SOSC campus. She was 48.

Like everyone else, I'm stunned by the news and rethinking the last time we talked. It was the only real conversation we ever had. It took place just after she got back from Seattle. It was one of those locker room talks. We sat and caught up on the changes. We never spoke again but ever since, on and off, I've wondered how she's doing. She was so restlessness that day. I'm really sad she slipped through the cracks but not entirely surprised. She was a commanding actress.

Lyrics from the Eagle's song, "Desperado" keep running through my head tonight. They certainly don't seem to fit Joanie's outgoing, sunny personality. Everybody loved her. But they came to mind that day at the gym and they've been weaving in and out of my thoughts since this afternoon, when I heard she committed suicide.
"Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, open the gate
It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you,
You better let somebody love you,
You better let somebody love you,
before it’s too late".

More photos

Sunset on the Sierra

So, after bragging yesterday about our ever-blue Nevada skies, the clouds return. I post this photo to keep myself honest. It's pretty much a daily job.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Nevada blue

Well, it's Wednesday and we are back to blue skies. And the mountains are full of fresh powder. Not to rub it in or anything.

Bush Unfazed by Reality

"And I believe firmly that I'm doing the right thing for our country by promoting an active foreign policy that makes the world more peaceful and more free." - President George Bush
"Active foreign policy" as in starting wars, flaunting the Geneva Convention, plundering the environment wherever possible, so on and so forth, and "peaceful and more free" as in inspiring hatred of the United States world wide and inspiring, new legions of amateur terrorists everywhere. What an asshole!

Hopeless as it may be, I find it hard to resist ranting against this guy. He lies. Anyone with any sense knows that, even if they can't admit it. What's worse, we expect it. It's a sick little game we play with him. This must be the way it's always been for George. Charm over substance. Must have driven his parents crazy when he was a kid and I can't begin to imagine what kind of private, shame filled hell they live in now.

George has rendered the concept of leadership meaningless. And he has made the term "moral leader" a cruel joke. He can pose in his cowboy hat and boots all he likes. He's not a leader. He's just another macho idiot, incapable of admitting when he makes a mistake. He's a hit and run artist. A flim-flam man. A fail upwards born loser. Forget the guts. He's strictly in it the glory. His personal motto should be "Go for the gold at anybody else's cost". Command performance, maestro. And now he will spend more dough on his inauguration, over 40 million, than he pledged to the survivors of the tsunami 35 million (which I hear he cut later), as his chorus of smirking minions snigger, "get over it".

The world is a much more dangerous place since you invaded Iraq, Mr. Bush.
And now, because Bush decided he is above the mandates of the Geneva Convention, we have to watch his toady "officials" toss up a Kangaroo Court and sacrifice some little guys to cover his sorry ass. The articles of the Geneva Convention protect the underpinnings of civilization! Too bad you don't read, Mr. President. Since we won't follow it, why should our soldiers be given these protections. Too bad you don't think, Mr. President.

(And for the record, no matter how "successfully" your team hid the fact, I am 100% convinced you were a playboy deserter with extremely powerful parents who managed to cover the scandal up. What irony. A deserter is Commander and Chief of the United States Military. )
"Geneva Convention, Article 3

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

Friday, January 7, 2005

Snowday party

It's snowing like crazy today and there's a lot of action at the bird park.

Snowday party at the Bird Park!

Hey! You uh... gonna be done any time soon?


Some party goers.

Party for the little birds too.


Tsunami "wave"

Its a phony image but not far from what I thought The Big One would look like. I never gave a swell this kind of power. Nevertheless, LA and San out! We humans are definitely not the baddest things around. At any rate, if you're looking for a comprehensive overview of current relief efforts, check out SEA-EAT.

An interesting bright spot in all this is that there were far less animal casualties than you might expect. Some people have long recognized that animals have an ability to sense things like earth quakes and approaching tsunamis. I wonder if, as a species, we'll prove smart enough to learn from them?

Not One Damn Dime Day / training or slactivism?

Snopes calls the boycott Not One Damn Dime Day slacktivism. They have a point, but I'll do it anyway. At least I won't give any money to the big corporations like Walmart, KMart and Target on that day, otherwise known as Bush's Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20th, 2005. If nothing else, we can practice our collective NO.

Saturday, January 1, 2005

Happy New Year

May your memes be honorable and true. And fun. After all, one of the first steps toward enlightenment is lightening up.