Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ruins of Detroit

Treat yourself to this stunning peek at the ruins of Motor City by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Off to Tonganoxie

Chief Tonganoxie
When Kockatowha died as Chief of the Turkey Band in 1861, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs refused to recognize Tonganoxie as the chosen successor. Not to worry. Tonganoxie won. He has a city in Kansas named after him. I'm sure that's more than the racist commissioner got for his trouble. Not only that, Tonganoxie's old lodge/tavern still stands. Of course, at this point it's a ghost bar but is more popular than ever now that the drinks are free.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Local news at 6:45

The magpies had to fight the wind to land in the Bird Park this morning. A storm is blowing in. Mr. Lee is ecstatic but he's a ski bum. The birds are not happy. At the moment one just jumped into the middle of the yarrow bush and tucked a tasty nugget there. Hope she remembers. The wind is blowing with such force, she is having trouble navigating even on the ground. Carson Valley is famous for its wind anyway. It blasts over the Sierra with such force that, even on sunny summer days, the currents offer world class conditions for glider planes. It's not so good for cyclists, runners, riders, hikers or anyone else in it. Makes even a walk to the mailbox an uphill trek both ways.

The magpies are still busy stashing food for the upcoming storm. I have been feeding them cheap small dog kibble lately. They seem to like it okay and I like it because it's cheaper than peanuts and not messy. Peanuts are problematic. It's the shells. I go in cycles. Sometimes I shell them, sometimes the birds do. When I toss out whole peanuts these days, I do less. That way, competition remains high and the birds fly off to guard their treasure, thus shelling them, you know, elsewhere. Does that make me a horrible person?

Just got back from Tonopah. Great weekend but I didn't take many photos this trip but I will post some soon.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Behind on everything but this morning I'm off to Tonopah for the weekend. See ya from there.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cruel world but there's always NaNoWriMo if you don't feel bad enough already

I had laugh at the photo my daughter emailed me yesterday. So much for the new toy I sent Owen the dog. I guess it lasted about a day. Cruel world. The santa bear I gave him for Christmas lasted a week.

The big news around here is that the other day I finally printed out the manuscript I wrote a few years ago during NaNoWriMo. I finished it a day or two before the Nov. 30th deadline, or more accurately I belly crawled past the required 50,000 word finish line, called it good, encrypted it and emailed it to the NaNo word counter bot who counted it in about two seconds then shot back my NaNoWriMo "winner" badge, sort of like receiving a gold metal in the "special" Olympics. I then filed the manuscript and that was that. I never read it and tried not to think about it.

However, I thought I might have lost it during a recent computer upgrade so the other day, out of curiosity, I went looking. The shame over writing such total crap has kind of faded. Time heals. And there it was. It seemed harmless enough so I released it from it's digital limbo. It lives incarnate in the world as black ink on white paper. It looks impressive, especially printed out in 12 pt. Courier, double spaced with 1" margins, 197 pages of .... well ... words. I started reading it and kind of like some of it, although it is shamelessly about nothing. Uncle Monkey, Ugly Bear and Clarence are dubious.

Other than that, I'm headed up to the lake this morning. Some writer friends, also NaNoWriMo gold metalists, put together a weekend retreat. I planned on going last night but got to the base of the Sierra and was turned back by the flashing red CHAINS REQUIRED sign. I'm sure most people forged on, chains or no, but I did not. Okay. Gotta go.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday morning coming round

The magpies weren't so sure about having sesame balls for breakfast this morning. I don't blame them. Sesame balls are greasy little gut bombs that sit in the stomach like a boat's anchor, not a high energy breakfast that gets you up and going. And then I scared them off anyway fiddling with my video camera. Crap. I consider myself the friend of all wild creatures but I am the one who usually scares them off with my enthusiasm.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Breakfast in Bird Land

Until this morning, I'd never seen a bird bump into a branch mid-flight. It never occurred to me that they might do such a thing. Cross off another naive assumption. The magpies came early this morning. I wish I'd had my video camera ready. Even through my office window is desperately in need of washing, their arrival is a thrilling sight, well not for everyone I'm sure, but I think it's pretty cool and I'd like to share the scene with those who also delight in the small wonders of ordinary life. However, doing so will first require that I recharge the battery and, if I want to do it right, washing the window so don't hold your breath.

I've been putting out small dog kibbles, much easier than peanuts and cheaper. I suppose I've gotten lazy. I don't imagine cheapo dog food is as delicious as hand-shelled, bite-size peanut bits but the daily preparation got tedious. Kibbles are the backup, like mac-n-cheese when you don't feel like cooking dinner. My kids got their fair share of those kind of dinners growing up. The most egregious slop I served was my very cheesy Spanish rice. I mean cheesy. There was a glob, matey. Ker-plunk. Dense enough to sink a pirate's ship. But it calmed them down. They slid off their chairs after dinner and just disappeared. Plus it was tasty. In my defense, another default dinner was tofu and broccoli stir fry but they preferred the Spanish rice. So I don't feel too bad feeding the magpies kibble. They gobble it up.

There was a fight in the Bird Park this morning. It was short-lived but rather thrilling, what with the screaming and milling crowd. One magpie had another on his back and was drilling into the poor fellow's neck with his fearsome black beak. For a second there I thought he'd kill him. Magpies are fierce with lots of attitude on top. They even land with a certain passionate swagger. It's more like a crash landing. They hit the ground running then hop furiously toward whatever object they're after. Wouldn't want it to be me. If you happened to be down, say in the desert, they would peck out your lovely eyes before you had time to blink. Magpies are classy though in their black tuxedos and white starched shirts. Preeeety. I am surprised more of them don't wear top hats. A shiny black stovepipe top hat really sets off a formal ensemble.

The crows came late as usual. I don't know what's up with them. The cheese and peanuts bits are gone before they arrive. A hunk of cheese went bad so the birds get it and there are some loose peanuts at the bottom of the peanut box so I've been including a few of them every morning as well. They are highly prized but the crows miss out on the good stuff. Go figure. I believe, in general, crows are considered smarter than magpies. They are more cautious. I suppose that's because they are smarter. Fools rush in where crows fear to tread. At the moment, a few magpies are finishing up the leftover oatmeal. It's always the last to go.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dylan Ratigan keeps it real

Tired of the lies? MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan will cheer you up. Watch him interview "Tea Party" leader Mark Williams. It is a rare and brilliant journalist who doesn't allow himself to be a tool for lies and hate. Refreshing.