Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Old friends and dog tricks

I'm on the run. An old friend of mine, Alice Stuart, is in town. When I was first starting out, Alice was one of the first friends I made. She's a musician currently doing a short tour starting with a free concert in Minden, the neighboring town. Until a recently installed sign, not many people even knew where Gardnerville ended and Minden began. But we're not so far off the map. Bill Clinton dropped by the town hall a while ago and on Friday, Alice will be giving a free concert in the park before heading off to a paying gig in Napa. Anyway, I'm picking her and Pat up and we're off to dinner in South Lake Tahoe then I'm reading at an open mic hosted by the Tahoe Writing Club at the Valhalla Grand Hall.

And, here's a little video just in case you're looking for new ways to mess with your dog.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

From here to oblivion

Train tunnel in central Nevada
from a drive-through we did a few years ago

When I open the door to the Bird Park, birds scatter leaving the place instantly empty. Often the same thing happens when I sit down to the keyboard to commit a few thoughts to the page. Poof. I enter Oblivion.

So it was this morning. Usually about daybreak, aftereffects from the Midnight Special ... vivid, sometimes coherent, immediate thoughts and impressions ... run through my mind in a torrent of images or words like a dictation, a movie, or a train. Today it was in the form of an essay on salvation but now, sitting here with the fingers of my left hand resting lightly on asdf and the fingers of my right hand gently touching ;lkj, the words have vanished into the Tunnel of Oblivion. I know I'm an opinionated ass but I have to wrestle it out with the demon of the blank page somehow so I jotted down the drift of what was on this morning's train.

Admittedly, the idea of salvation has a tawdry "something for nothing" appeal, change without having to work for it. Just ask. The_Savior picks up the tab and, abracadabra, you are sin-free, holding a one-way ticket to heaven in your sweaty little hand. All Believers do to activate their Get Out of Hell card is agree to be mindless, obedient sheep or, for the more aggressive, "Soldiers for the Lord". Easy-peasy. Self-examination, aside from an appropriate level of guilt, is discouraged. It betrays a lack of faith.

No wonder fundamentalism is the religion of choice for politicians worldwide. Like awareness, personal accountability is unnecessary, in fact, subversive. After all, wouldn't want Believers empowering themselves. What would happen to the flock? For the same reason, salvationists despise logic and reasoning. Furthermore, religion does not require followers to be good. It requires they be good Christians, good Muslims, good Jews or good whatevers. This over compassion because, by nature, acts of compassion are promiscuous, anarchical, amoral. God forbid! They transcend religious authority.

Otherwise, after a week of unseasonably hot weather, the morning wind carried snowflakes and rain. Oh, and the Huffpo ban against me is lifted. I'm not sure what happened. I did write them a couple of letters about how I respect and observe their comments policy. I had to do that much. I was, after all, innocent. Never got a reply but yesterday I just happened to log on and found that I could post again. But now I don't care so much and all the better. I'd like to think I have better things to do than fire off comments on some damn website but boy do I get hooked. But I like the photos and headlines. It's an upscale news and gossip rag but, really, the content isn't updated that often but I'm glad to be back. Anyway, for all that it matters, I might as well be scrawling my opinions out in long hand and taping them to the window for the crows to read or hell, even posting them here.

Before I close, I have to say I am really disgusted by my neighbors. They have a nice, fenced grassy backyard but every day they lock their sweet little dog Star up in a 4x4 cage with a concrete floor, plastic roof, a bowl of water and a barrel she is supposed to crawl up into if she wants a bed. She NEVER uses it. I realize she's got it better than most animals in the world but still it's very sad because she lays on that cold, hard floor all day and cries to herself. Too bad if they don't want to pick up poop from the lawn, or whatever their damn excuse is. Her owners are so fat they are oblivious to that fact that, unless your bones are covered by layers of blubber like theirs are, lying around on concrete all day hurts!

Dogs need to ride

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Animals in the aftermath

In case, like me, you've been wondering how the critters are faring in Sichuan since the giant quake on May 12th, there are a few photos here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sorry to do this. Politics suck but it is the season and we must be informed. Our freedom depends on it. All it will require is three minutes and fifteen seconds of your time. Oh, and pass it along.

McCain's YouTube Problem Just Became a Nightmare

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Louie Louie


Went for a walk in the desert with Louie today. He's a chow/husky mix out at the shelter. Another sweetie. And then Dixie and I went for a stroll. She's an older dog and noted as shy but likes women. Does she ever. She wiggled right up onto my lap and licked my face. But I'm worried about Capt. Jack. He's terribly, terribly thin. He's a great dog but been at the shelter for a year now. I don't get it. Perhaps people think he's sick. Maybe he is. I put a note on dry erase board about it but next time I went out there it had been erased. However, a decision was recently made to up his food to two bowls a day. Two bowls? WTF?! So dogs should only get hungry once a day? Do you only eat once or twice a day? How many Americans go long enough between meals to even get hungry? Arg.

Just sayin'

Just noticed I have a clump of dirt stuck to one knee and two long blades of grass stuck to the other. Excuse me a second. There. I've been out in the garden pruning stuff. Didn't mean to but I ruined a nice, moist green forest a bunch of potato bugs were enjoying this morning. I hate it when I do that. I like to think of myself as a good guy but to the potato bugs I was a really shitty neighbor.

I came in and read Don's post about his father's illness and the dismal state of health care in America. We just went through something similar with M. Lee's dad, pneumonia, a struggle getting him out of the house and into the hospital. He's home now and doing just fine, in case you're wondering but it could have been that jumping off place. Perhaps you've been there too. Without modern medicine, I'd have died twenty years ago from a staph infection. Ugly way to go.

In nature, sick, injured, or old animals are eaten alive or, if they're lucky, walk off, curl up and die alone. Maybe even in peace. And there was that time in human history when, if you were cool, you shoved off in your little boat to die at sea or vanished into the forest before you were too much of a burden.

But here we are, in the great US of A, and most of us don't have any health care, or very good health care, what to speak of universal health coverage. And we can't even opt for the boat. If only it were a political problem with a political solution. Personally, I want everyone to live and die in comfort, surrounded by loved ones. Everyone. Including animals. And I want to close the slaughterhouses, end war, abolish poverty, stop global warming. But I don’t think those are political problems either. Or a question of the Right god. Not really. If they are, we’re screwed.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The world about us

Did you know that ants never sleep and mosquitoes have 47 teeth? I sure didn't and, I must admit, find that information slightly disturbing. But here's an interesting tidbit for people, like myself, who are fond of the lowly snail. If you don't like them ... you know who you are ... better hold on to your chair. Snails have over 25,000 teeth.

Snail teeth

Or so I read this morning over at PurpleSlinky.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Kerouac reading

Nice mix. Jack Kerouac reading from Visions of Cody with Steve Allen on the piano dubbed over the opening to the Woody Allen 1979 film, Manhattan. I like it better than Woody's version which is way too in his head for me. Jack? Jack is heart.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bad Mother's Day poem

It's Bad Mother's Day again. I had planned to do a wily post about it with another ironic video, this year even include a photo or two from the ol' family album but here it is, nearly 9 o'clock, and I'm just getting started. A good mother would have prepared the post before hand, started planning the video weeks ago, poured through the photos for just the right ones days, if not weeks, in advance. I thought about it. That's something. And I did this post before midnight. That's pretty good.

Okay. In observance of Bad Mother's Day, I will include a poem I wrote three or four years ago. It's part of a book I haven't finished yet. I'd look for something more appropriate but at nine I want to watch a movie so I'm kind of short on time and besides it is, in it's own way, about mothers or by daughters to mothers or daughters who later became mothers. Close enough. Happy Bad Mother's Day. Take heart. Your best may not be good enough but it probably could be worse.

excerpt from Book of Images, la obra inconclusa

the inky
spindly cities
are in ruins
alphabets adrift
reconstruction impossible
the land is without refuge
a diameter without dimension
echo answering echo
emptiness consoling emptiness

I am writing you
from a crumbling church
where in its thick-rooted dark
I found a few others
by their heavy breath
snorts, sighs and whispered speech
and one by the drifting refrains
of her off-key devotions

otherwise only the rain
is true to itself

it has also taken shelter here
just inside the door

where an old man
hesitates between worlds
gulping like a fish


on the brown-frocked monk
watching us both
rebar poking through
his scotch-taped hand.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Old crows and Mother's Day

An old crow with knobby knees dropped by the Bird Park this morning just after I refreshed the peanut supply. I'm partial to old birds these days and anyone else who happened to make it through the winter one more time. No matter how luxurious the mossy cushion, we all live between a rock and hard place. Stick around long enough and you'll see what I mean.

Other than that, the reading went well last night. The writers there are putting together a war protest exhibit this summer and invited us to contribute. No restrictions. No censors. My kind of thing. Maybe I will. And we are going to Oregon for Mother's Day. M. Lee is going to be the gift. Very sweet.

This year, as a Mother's Day gift, my daughter donated to Mercy Corps on my behalf, to help the cyclone survivors in Myanmar. I followed her good example and made a donation on behalf of my mom, who has been dead for many years. It never occurred to me to do that before. So Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you. I hope you know that even though I was such a terrible daughter.

Our trip to Oregon will not be a surprise but my daughter did surprise me with a visit one year. She arranged it with M. Lee. I didn't suspect a thing that morning when he told me he had to run to Reno on a "quick errand". He picked her up at the airport and they tracked me down at a secondhand store where I was browsing. I came to the end of the shelf of cooking pots and dented, one-of kitchen wares and ... there she was! Or somebody. I looked. Smile back. She kept looking and smiling a big, beatific smile. I was in shock. I didn't know who she was. My daughter could not be in Nevada. She was in Portland! I knew that so I made a shrewd assessment of the situation and concluded that either: A) I had just died and my daughter, who is actually an angel (something I have suspected since her birth), has now come to escort me to the next world, or B) this obviously transcendent being, who just happened to look a lot like my daughter, had simply decided to shine her light in the thrift shop that morning because, after all, it is well know that angels are unpredictable and enjoy doing quirky things from time to time just for the hell of it.

So, mark your calendars. Sunday is also the beginning of Bear Awareness Week. And, for those of us who, in spite of having great kids, were crummy moms, don't forget. Monday is Bad Mother's Day.

Tom Waits press conference

I love this guy. Tom waits for no one.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

WNC reading

Along with several others from Ash Canyon, I was invited to read tonight at WNC this evening so, if you're in the area and up for a night of poetry, drop on by.

Date: Wednesday, May 7

Time: 7:00 PM

Place: WNC

Marilee Swirczek’s Class “Poetry for Prose Writers”

Bristlecone Building (main building, with the flag):
Go inside, then up ramp to 3rd floor, then left, to end of hallway

Hasta la vista, Hillary

Bye-bye, Hillary. You made history as a woman. You are history as a politician.
Ps. That's what you get for using Rove's dirty play book.

I was recently banned from commenting on Huffingtonpost. NOT because I swear more. Actually, I don't. And I don't make personal attacks on other commenters. Obviously, somebody has it in for me. Perhaps the grammar police? The last comment to make it past the censors at Huffpo contained bad grammar. M. Lee? (I swear, if I left a suicide note with incorrect grammar, spelling or punctuation, he would red pencil it and send it back). He thinks it's great I got banned. That I'll stop wasting time there. But I do love the fray. Ah well. The result is that, at least until I get addicted to another website, I am going to (occasionally) post comments here. How this differs from the rants category, I can't exactly say but it is different.

N ya cain't ban meh. Take that, censors... !@#! HA!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Yay! Grumpy gets a home

I shouldn't call him Grumpy. The dude is from circumstance but that only makes this even BIGGER GOOD NEWS. This weekend Scotty, the grumpy little terrier, moved out of the shelter and in with his loving new family Ingrid, Lucifer and Mimi.

Well, Ingrid is loving. Lucifer and Mimi? Everyone knows it takes cats time to warm up to anybody, especially if that "anybody" is some fellow who decides to confiscate their bed.

This is all too, too sweet because Scotty is ... well ...was... you know, could be a bit of a grouch at the shelter but Ingrid knew that before she adopted him. The wonder of love. I'll bet that soon Scotty will be soooooo mellow even the cats will cuddle up with him.

Letter from Ingrid below:
Hello Ursula,

So far, so good. After Scotty's second walk (shortly after 7PM), he is finally napping. You'll be happy to know that the little fellow settled in quite nicely. All day he followed me around like, well, a dog (smile). He really enjoys having the run of the backyard. He's protecting me against birds and outside cats, and he also is a terrific watchdog, barking a bit when he sensed someone moving about in the yard back of the neighboring house. He stopped as soon as I said no. Good dog, eh? When I had a bite to eat, I learned that he is a little beggar. He also told Lucifer and Mouche, in no uncertain terms, that they should stay away when there's food around. He really hurt poor Lucifer's feelings, poor thing went into hiding for the rest of the afternoon. And my kitten is still camped out under the bed. I had to put Scotty outside before Lucifer and Mimi could be persuaded to come out of their hiding places. Not to worry, though, things will settle down. This is, after all, only day one. I'm afraid Mr. Scotty had a few too many treats today; he didn't eat too much of his dinner. Or, perhaps, it's because he was fed in the morning at the shelter? He is currently sound asleep on the cat bed under my computer table. I think he has tried almost every bed in the house. And you know what else he did? He jumped up on the sofa and almost got on my lap. Almost. There also has been a lot of tail wagging. I think he likes it here.

We'll have to try to take a few more photos on Thursday, yes? Everyone can relax. He is adjusting to his new surroundings amazingly fast.

Thank you and all the D.A.W.G. volunteers for having done such an excellent job of rehabilitating, nursing back to health, and socializing Scotty. I'll do my best to provide a good, safe home for him.

Tschüß, Ingrid

Sleep tight, Scotty

RIP Eight Belles

Three-year old Eight Belles, moments
before being killed after she broke her
two front ankles in the Kentucky Derby.

I don't know what Eight Belles means to her owners but according to Wikipedia, "eight bells is a way of saying that a sailor's watch is over, for instance, in his or her obituary. It's a nautical euphemism for "finished". For the three-year old filly Eight Belles, her end was yesterday's Kentucky Derby after her stunning, second place victory resulted in BOTH her front ankles breaking. She was put down where she fell and I am outraged.

After her death, her trainer Larry Jones, told the media, "They put their life on the damn line. She was glad to do it." Bullshit, Larry! You are blinded by self-centeredness.

For however much this beautiful filly might have "loved to run", she is another victim of brutal, greed driven cruelty. Horse racing is just another example of how we exploit animals for our special "entertainment." It's touted as the "sport of kings" (only because it takes a king's ransom to foot the cost) but I rank right it right along with dog racing, cock fights, horse fights (a favorite in China), bull fights, circuses, zoos, and the rest of the animal entertainment industry and so-called "sports" which depend on us ruthlessly cross-wiring the animal's talents with the most basic instinct, one we all share, fight or flight. We provoke, force, train, taunt, strain, whip, starve and beat animals into extreme reactions to extreme conditions ... for our profit and amusement, not because the animals want to sacrifice themselves for us.

We bet on their lives. They always lose. Not just the ones culled early in the game, the ones discarded like trash before they ever make it to the limelight. "Winner" or "loser", none of them end well. What's with us? Seems to me, when all our other excuses fail, we use religion to dignify our cruelty and greed. "Dominion over the animals"? My ass. I agree with Ghandi, "The greatness of a nation and its morals can be judged by the way its animals are treated". About her death, winning jockey Kent Desormeaux said, "Eight Belles showed you her life for our enjoyment today. I'm deeply sympathetic to that team for their loss." Not my pleasure, bub. Rest in peace, baby girl.

Barbaro's fatal fall

The Rescue
by Robert Creeley

The man sits in a timelessness
with the horse under him in time
to a movement of legs and hooves
upon a timeless sand.

Distance comes in from the foreground
present in the picture as time
he reads outward from
and comes from that beginning.

A wind blows in
and out and all about the man
as the horse ran
and runs to come in time.

A house is burning in the sand.
A man and horse are burning.
The wind is burning.
They are running to arrive.

The Horseracing Industry: Drugs, Deception, and Death

Friday, May 2, 2008

Between the cracks

Yesterday was the day we were supposed to leave for Central America. Lucky we postponed the trip. Good thing with my broken back. Not a good time to go backpacking. And the fracture is just part of the problem. My spine is messed up. The doctor asked me several times what in the world I did to end up in this condition. Really messed up. At the time I didn't have an answer. I have always jokingly claimed my problem came from chopping wood and carrying water after enlightenment, "after" being the joke but I don't think anyone ever got it. It never elicited more than a blank stare. But, looking at my old MRI, seems this fracture occurred sometime in the last three years. Who knows? But it's just the latest in a long list of problems. I have to do a couple more tests before we come up with a treatment plan but looks like my summer's shaping up. How about yours?

The other day, in the wee hours of the morning, before I'd even opened my eyes, I started going over the what, where and why of it. Actually, it's a bit complicated but chopping wood and carrying water did play a part. Why I chopped wood and carried water and tubs of laundry through a mud field daily played another. The where and when was during my days at Madhuvan on the Krsna commune in West Virginia. I don't have the time or energy to go into it today. I'm feeling rushed and scattered but I did google up an article on Madhuvan if you want read a bit about that. It's from the Brijabasi Spirit, the same old magazine I used to write for way back then. It's online now, like everything else. We used to mimeograph it. We even bought a letterpress to print it on, which is harder than cranking a mimeo machine and thus worth more devotional credit, but the farm hand devotees didn't like us press devotees and when they delivered it to Vahna's house, instead of lowering it carefully off the flatbed, they pushed it off and it broke into, not a million pieces, but nevertheless couldn't, or shall I say the blacksmith devotees, wouldn't put it back together again.

Then again.... maybe one of my kids have been playing hopscotch .... hhhhhummmmmmmm.......