Thursday, December 29, 2011


"How strange a vehicle it is, coming down unchanged from times of old romance, and so characteristically black, the way no other thing is black except a coffin—a vehicle evoking lawless adventures in the plashing stillness of night, and still more strongly evoking death itself, the bier, the dark obsequies, the last silent journey!" -Thomas Mann

M. Lee's Dad passed away two days before Christmas.
At his Mom's request we disassembled his music room.
Gig over. It was a bleak obsequy.

At twelve, Jim played bass in the Chicago Symphony.
At fifteen, and well on his way to 6'9", he played
professionally in Chicago clubs but from
behind a curtain because he was white.

In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco
and caught the end of the 50s North Beach Bebop scene.

Elvis wanted Jim to join him. So did the Jefferson Airplane.
He refused. He was a purist.

He left the Baby Grand to Nolan,
his piano player for the last forty years.

for Joe & Jim

In the evening we
carry down our dead
they leave our hands willingly
above Dog Star watches
cold, white
as on ancient evenings,
Dog Star
bringer of rain.

excerpt from Dead Reckoning by asha

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice 2011

Okay. It's nearly midnight but I don't like to see a Winter Solstice pass without wishing you a good day and new year. Of course this Solstice marks the beginning of the final countdown to the end of the Mayan Long Count Calendar (5125 ears long) and some say the end of time and life on earth. It's always something.

And tonight I learned that Al Linde, an old friend, died about a week ago. Seems he was on blood thinners following knee surgery in preparation for the new baseball season, suffered a freak accident blow to the head and just bled out. WTF, Al?!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Submissions Update,12.11

To date, of the six poems I submitted in October, two have been rejected (with comments), two remain unanswered (I'm assuming rejected) and two were accepted. After the first of the year, I'll send out more. 

'Road's Eye View', a poem I wrote in Mexico a few years ago, was recently accepted by Sein und Werden for publication in their January online issue dedicated to Futurism. Sein und Werden features work that is "experimental, non-genre, erotica, horror, philosophical, noir, crime, hard-boiled, surreal" so cool. The deep night voices from that seaside swamp found roost.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Baxter Blackwell

Not Baxter
but you get the idea.
Roy commented on a previous post that all my Bird Park lacks in complexity is a stray dog and complimentary dog catcher which brings us to the subject of one Mr. Baxter Blackwell. I take a lot of photos, some might say an insane number of photos of the passing parade, the Great Circus, the Theatre of the Absurd and Wonderful to which I say...why not? M. Lee has created what is, in practical terms, a Bottomless Pit of Storage and I have a fine camera so I take it as a personal responsibility to try and fill it. But, and I say this with much sadness and regret, I do not have one photo of the rag-a-muffin darling of our neighborhood, the fickle and fanciful, the wayward and whimsical, the ever and absolutely uncontainable hairy Houdini of scruffy little mutts, the one and only Mr. Baxter Blackwell (regrettably deceased).

I can't remember the number of times I scooped Baxter up and returned him to his home and family, who did not even realize he'd slipped out again only to see him, within the hour, trotting down the sidewalk on yet another walkabout. What mystery did he seek, this inscrutable lover of the open road? Was he driven by a mere doggie's thirst for adventure or was he under the glamour of a faerie spell? I tended toward the latter but, in any case, Baxter was a beautiful woolly gypsy soul. Whenever I saw him trotting by, whether or not I could capture him, I wished and prayed that the world were a safer place. Baxter was far too small and completely irrepressible. Unfortunately, it didn't end well. Not long after his death the couple divorced, sold the house and moved, as we say in these parts, back East. Happy trails, Baxter Blackwell, wherever you are.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fatty report

Not Fatty the Hawk but
another Fatty from last year
just before he snagged and
devoured one of the finches
enjoying breakfast
in the Bird Park.
We've had a blue sky cold week here in Nevada, just the kind of weather that drives birds to the feeders but Fatty the hawk has been hanging around so, for a couple of days, everyone stayed away. Fatty's a saucy little fellow. I invited him to go elsewhere but he was totally unimpressed. All I got for my effort was a "One step closer, girlie, and you're mine" look and an impassioned pitch from M. Lee about Predator Rights. I know. Hawks get to eat too. I'd just prefer they do it somewhere else. I don't like it when any of my bird buddies gets eaten alive. Finally Seven o'clock Magpie, the Bird Park's self-appointed magistrate, took it upon herself to make Fatty's life miserable enough that he stayed away until late yesterday afternoon and so far today he hasn't showed up at all. Now, if the damn cats would bugger off...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Common ground

Note to self: G'ville is hosting annual Festival of Lights this evening. When we go out tonight, do everything possible to avoid it.
I'm just now watching a couple of finches duke it out in the Bird Park in yet another late afternoon food fight. They get intense when seed levels drop to the bottom hole. Plus it's cold out there. And in here. I'm bundled up. Even my hair is mashed under the blanket. I am immobile as a giant winter doll, other than the freewheeling fingers typing these words. It took a few goes before they agreed to tap out "words" rather than "worlds". In the meantime, it seems to me that the repeated hard drives to the letter "L" scared the finches off. In spite of all their chest bumping, they are timid fellows.

Now, balancing along the fence top, the quail covey makes its twilight return to scratch and peck the remains of the day.* Three of them linger at the water bowl awhile then wander off to nibble the apples. Gray fat birds fading into eventide.

*All due respect to Kazuo Ishiguro.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last Day of November and Submissions Update

John & Baby Leo
Welcome to the last day of November 2011.

I am reluctant to see the month pass as it means that the very fine photo calendar of Baby Leo's first year is coming to an end. At this point Baby Leo is well into year two and goes by the moniker Mister Leo. That's all good but god it goes fast! Anyway, good morning or, as they say in Norwegian, God Morgen!

Last night we returned home from Oregon where we spent Thanksgiving. Of course the 7 o'clock Magpie was at the Bird Park bright and early for always. And, as always, the rest of the charm did not show up. It generally takes them a couple of days to figure out that I'm back. She and her mate gobbled up as much as they could and then spend the rest of the morning stashing the remaining peanuts and kibbles around the yard for later. I think of her as a magpie genius, which is quite a compliment given that magpies are already, not only one of the smartest birds, but also among the most intelligent of all animals. Among other talents, they are the first non-mammals proven to recognize themselves in the mirror. Facial recognition is a big deal, especially for birds. When we were kids, my brother's blue parakeet Chi-chi, may he rest in peace, spent an awful lot of time cooing and nibbling his tiny mirror. Clearly, the little dummy believed his girlfriend was the two-dimensional floating head in the glass. Whether or not Chi-chi's relationship in anyway resembles online obsessions will remain a discussion for another day.

In other news, I just learned that Pele, one of the poems I submitted in October to The Fine Line, was accepted and will be included in its upcoming fourth issue. It's a digital publication so unfortunately no complimentary copy but they do post a free download of each issue should anyone care to print one out. Not me but I do appreciate the recognition. And to their credit they accept reprints, which I consider god damn enlightened. So, now Pele has been published twice, once in Skidrow Penthouse, which is a print publication and does pay with copy, and now in The Fine Line.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tofurky Day

Happy Thanksgiving!

Don't worry, my love. We're having tofurky.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lily Shreds!

Pure joy in motion...

Lily is awesome.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

When Science becomes Art or 25 Ways to Tie a Scarf

I am a great fan of neck scarves but, until today, did not know the Science of the Well-Tied Scarf, then M. Lee sent me this delightful video in which Wendy turns science into art.

For more fashion wizardry check out Wendy's Lookbook and her youtube site for some and cool hair tutorials.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How to avoid meaningful work and meaningless despair

In case you happen to be doing NaNoWriMo this year, Paula over at Lite Motifs has posted a list of things you can do to avoid working on your project. Her suggestions are very useful, not only for NaNoers, but for anyone wanting to distract themselves from pressing and important work. And, as distraction is my special area of expertise, I felt compelled to add a couple of ideas to her list. They work. I myself managed to waste today's precious last hour of daylight drudging them up and writing this post.

For starters, try this zippy but soothing video of guys getting left behind when the International Space Station reboosts. Then watch and re-watch it again and again and again for, you know, as many times as you can stand it.

And if you still need more, because if you're looking for more you've already watch an ungodly number of cat videos, there are always surfer dog videos. I include them as a special homage to dear little Bella the happy dog, recently departed. Surfer dog videos are like popcorn. You mindlessly want more, even during times of deep despair when life is slipping through your fingers and you are crushed by an overwhelming sense of meaningless tedium and you are least able to remember when you last had even one fleeting second of fun.

We just got back from Southern Oregon. We were there to attend a going away party for a longtime friend who is moving to Portland which is located far far away at the other end of the state. About 150 people showed up. It was very nice. Everybody loves him. He's a sweet guy. And we saw lots of old friends. After the slideshow, whoever wanted to shared at the mic and the event took a decided turn, becoming more a memorial than farewell roast. The fact is, he is dying. Everybody knows it. Nobody mentioned it but most of us realized we will probably never see him again. Life. We are now entering the part where, one by one, we begin leaving the stage.

And I got a rejection (with comments) from The Fine Line, one of the magazines to which I recently submitted poems. In case you're wondering, a rejection with comments is preferable to getting a rejection without one. I submitted two poems to this particular magazine. The other is still "in progress".

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rest In Peace, lIttle Bella

Tarra & Bella
Remember Tarra and Bella, the elephant and dog who were inseparable friends? Bella was the flamboyant little stray who showed up at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee about eight years ago and she and Tarra, the Sanctuary's founding elephant, quickly became completely devoted to one another. Last Wednesday, as Sanctuary residents often do, Tarra and Bella spent the night in the hills. The caregivers at the Sanctuary believe that Bella must have briefly wandered away from Tarra's side and was attacked by coyotes. Of course Tarra rushed to her rescue and drove them off but, sadly, Bella died anyway. I don't hold it against the coyotes. They have to eat too but Bella, sweet sweet Bella, I mourn for her and Tarra and the purity of the love they shared.

The following day, caregivers noticed Bella was missing, she's always near Tarra so, fearing trouble, launched a search for her. They found the little dog's body by the Asian elephant barn Tarra and Bella share with a few other elephants. During the night Tarra had carried her friend home.

Happy days

More Tarra and Bella videos here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

BP Update

In case you're lying awake nights wondering if the little birds rediscovered the Bird Park, worry no more. They have and all is well again. Even the crows dropped by for breakfast the other morning. They are really quite impressive. Even the impertinent magpies show them respect.


Just so you know, the tip of my left index finger has a painful splinter blister on it which I nevertheless endured to type this report.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wonders big and small

The secret wonders of childhood
Baby Leo & Thea Bella at the Oregon coast.
Photo by Kristiana

I'd sure like to know what wonder Baby Leo is expounding on to his cousin, Thea Bella. From the looks on their faces, it's gotta be good.

Bird Park report

The magpies showed up for breakfast the morning after we got home but, though the feeders are full and waiting, the little birds still haven't caught on that we're back. :(

Friday, October 21, 2011

Jiggity jog

Home again, home again but, as I've mentioned before, it doesn't exactly feel like home. Base camp again, base camp again jiggity jog. This concludes the trip begun in May.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ridin' the Dog

This is the first post from my new Droid and my first post from a Greyhound bus. I just spent the week in Portland, first with my friend Kimberlee and her two-year old son Reid then with Thea Bella and Baby Leo who is no longer a baby but an exhuberant toddler. Reid was a doll and first class traveler. I say that after sharing a room with him and exploring Portand with him and his mom via mass transit. Thea Bella is heartbreakingly sweet, smart and beautiful and, at 14 months, Baby Leo is a story teller, soccer champion and wild man. More on them later.

I am loving my new phone but I can't quite say the same thing for the Dog.ù Well, it's not too bad, better than tolerable, an ok way to pass an afternoon, but not exactly "fun“. The quality changes with the passengers but the seat is really comfotrable. However, at the moment there's a good old girl chatter box in the front seat who hasn't drawn a breath since she boarded in Eugene. The driver doesn't mind. He's a rolling talk show host expert in the fine art of passing the miles. We learned during the Portland to Eugene leg of the journey that he's been driving for 37 years. He talked about some of the crazy things that have happened on his bus over the years, stabbings, shotings, births, heart attacks, naked people jumping of the windows. Anything and everything you can imagine has happened on his bus although he made a point of explaining these shenanigans are confined to the lower 1% but spread out over 37 years even 1% adds up hto a whole lot of crazy. A French speaking magician type, black top hat, vest and pants, white gloves barded in Eugene. So far, no rabbits.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Upper 1 Percent

"WE ARE THE 1 %"

Traders at the Chicago Board of Trade verbally mooned the rest of us, the 99 %, with this sign in the window the other day. The irony is that so many middle and lower income people still support Wall Street by voting for its lap dog Republican and Tea Party politicians.

Screw the bloody bastards.

Update, Saturday Oct. 8:
We're dog-sitting Heidi for some friends who are currently vacationing on the East Coast. They ended up attending the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in DC and, as it happened, got interviewed by a reporter from the New York Times. He is quoted in the opening of the article:

“There’s a lot of people here with different ideas and various causes,” he said, “but I think that the bottom line is that we feel we’ve surrendered our nation to a corporatocracy.” - Gary Wood, Minden NV

Well said!

Heidi says: Way to go, guys!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I tried

All the good ideas went away

Señor Pierna

Yay. I was worried about him. The one-legged magpie showed up at the Bird Park the other day. He's traveling alone. After watching for a few minutes I saw why. Two magpies still hanging around from breakfast, 7 and her friend who keep their eyes on the place all day, pounced and pummeled him. I broke it up and he came back later on his own but what a drag. Magpies are a rough crowd.

He's a persistent fellow though. In fact, he landed on the fence just now. The breakfast bunch left about 10 minutes ago. He's enjoying sunflower seeds. Oops. I spoke too soon. Heidi, who I'm dog-sitting for the next week, just wandered into the Bird Park.

Ok. Reset. Heidi's back inside. I tossed out a few more peanuts and he's back. This guy needs a name. Señor Pierna. Mr. Leg.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

7 o'clock Magpie, faithful as she ever was

Yay! The 7 o'clock Magpie just showed up. That's my girl! She's a bit late this morning but hey! Other than a few days a couple of weeks ago, I haven't been here for five months to put out her morning peanuts so that's pretty good. I may be a bit obsessive but, when she hadn't arrived by 7:05 AM, it did cross my mind that something terrible might have happened to her but, barring injury or death, I never doubted for a second that she'd be by for breakfast. She's knows I'm good for it. We've got a thing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Note to future self

The Gathering by ashabot
The Gathering a photo by ashabot on Flickr
Home. It doesn't feel like it. I've been mostly gone or coming and going since last March. Five months. We got back this afternoon from the loop to Seattle for my high school reunion then Oregon to see family and friends and now... home. It's a strange word. I filled the bird feeders, picked up the mail, watered the cactuses and now, before trundling off to bed, have checked in here.

Hello. That is all for now.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Reunions and the point of no return

Seattle. We're staying in a great basement apartment on 92nd for the next couple of nights. M. Lee found it on AirBnB, which is the place to look if you want cool, cheap lodging. I'm here to attend my high school reunion tomorrow night. I'm a bit apprehensive. I was a total outsider so it's not like I'm here to re-live a lot of happy memories but I grew up with these people and, even though they are all basically strangers, I am interested to see some of them again before, you know, we're all dead. Also, and on a coldly voyeuristic note, there is a delicious ghost-like, time-travel quality to reunions that adds a curiously attractive twist. I didn't go to the big cocktail party get together tonight though. M. Lee and I had veggie pho at a tiny pho house on Capitol Hill instead. It's been a long drive wrapping up our summer travels, Nevada to Centroamerica to Florida to Seattle with points in between and today's leg of that journey was enough for one day.

Also some of the people from my Catholic elementary school days want to meet for brunch tomorrow before the Big Event but I'm passing on that too. And after brunch a few of them are going to visit some of our teachers at the old nuns home. It would almost be worth it to see them without their habits. They were always so mysterious in their black Bride of Christ head to toe robes, stiffly starched white bonnets, collars and huge crosses with the limp body of Christ nailed to the huge crosses laying where their breasts should be... but not this time... and probably not ever. I don't believe in putting people or animals in zoos, for Christ sake. I don't have anything to say to them. I'm not Catholic anymore. I'm not even Christian any more. It was bad enough visiting the Dallas Krishna Temple. They all want to believe you still belong but you don't.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Touch down and take off

Tonapah's legendary ghost,
the Lady in Red
I just got back from my bi-annual weekend in lovely Tonopah, semi-ghost town and still and always, Queen of the Silver Camps. Once again, the guy ahead of me in the hotel check-in line won the Tonopah Station lucky roll of the dice free room. I did not, again. But the Big News from Tonopah is that somebody finally bought the Mizpah Hotel, probably for pennies on the dollar, and the place is scheduled to reopen in a couple of weeks. I hope they do better making their deadline than the Belvedere Hotel across the street. The sign announcing the Belvedere's 2008 reopening still hangs on the front of the building above the broken windows, fading into oblivion. This trip, I counted more broken windows at the ol' Belvedere but was puzzled by the lack of pigeons who normally reside there. I am not going to say foul play? No. I will not even think it.

Anyway, the Mizpah wins my Tonopah Zombie Hotels Back from the Dead Award (for the day) so my hat is off to them. I hope I get a chance to tour the place before it closes again. I have been photographing it through the windows for years. I really want to meet the Mizpah's legendary Lady in Red who tragically, in a crime of passion, was murdered on the fifth floor back in the 1920s. It's not because the new owners claim she leaves pearls under people's pillows. I dig ghosts.

Tomorrow we leave again, this time for points north. Got to have tea with Ms. Thea Bella and Baby Leo. I realize I'm pushing the limit still calling Leo a baby now that he's turned one, but come on... I've hardly spent any time with him. Once he starts walking I'll stop. It won't be long. These days it's all he wants to do. So, our odyssey Cross Country American Road Trip (Florida and back again to Washington and back again) won't be officially over until mid-October when Kimberlee, Mr. Reid (he's two) and I do our Portland meet-up.

So, what the hell am I doing fiddling around with my blog? Must. Pack. Now. See you on the road.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The 7 O'clock Magpie and Battlelines Drawn

Here's what's amazing. The 7 o'clock magpie showed up this morning at 7 o'clock. This is our first morning back after an absence of four months and she is still coming to the Bird Park at 7 am to check for peanuts. Yes, peanuts were waiting. Naturally, the first thing I did when we pulled in last night was fill the bird baths and feeders and put some peanuts on the table. Some hornets have colonized one of the empty feeders so they get to keep that one (I'll toss it when they move out this winter) but I filled the other three. That's enough for a start. Anyway, how 'bout that magpie?

That's the good news.

The bad news is that it just about took the jaws of life to jack myself back into my office this morning. The shelves are always crammed and bloated with stuff giving the room that WALLS_CLOSING_IN feel then last night I cluttered what precious little work space I do have with the things I brought in from the car... laptop, tablets, notebooks, various writing instruments, books, camera, sun glasses, phone etc. plus the different bags I carry everything in. And the tiny floor space has been reduced to a single channel connecting the door to my chair where I sit marooned in this flotsam of projects unfinished, current and yet to come. It's paralyzing. Must dig my way out. Must organize.

When we were driving across the country, anticipating this encounter and wooed by that special camaraderie born of the road, I invited M. Lee to help me gut my office and reorganize this winter. I may regret that. He is way too eager to help but I am already crushed by even the idea of tackling this. After all, the stuff is not to blame. It is my own self I must wrestle and tame, or at least cut a new deal with. As it stands, my mind has colonized my refuge from it. No one else can stand up to me but me.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Trip notes

We're in Kingman Arizona for the night. One more day and we'll be home but I'm really missing Florida. I miss Alligator Creek, the little house and the pineapple palms and I miss Frida Kahlo the squirrel and her friends. I miss all the critters who sing in the night. I miss the egrets and ibises. I miss the congregations of little plovers scurrying in and out with the waves. I miss watching the squadrons of venerable pelicans pass overhead, wings outstretched, gliding the thermals like ancient gods. I miss the Great Blue Heron who likes to people watch at the beach. I miss the friends we discovered there. I miss the gulf.

I am reading 'Love in the Time of Cholera' by Gabriel García Márque as we drive across the country.

When we were in Dallas the other day we ate dinner at Kalachandji's, the very excellent vegetarian restaurant at the Hare Krishna temple. I lived at that temple many years ago.

Must sleep now. We have to drive through rush hour in Las Vegas tomorrow morning.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Frida Kahlo the Squirrel RIP

This is a post I did not want to write. I've been putting if off for weeks as though writing it would make it so. But we're leaving Florida in the morning and heading back to Nevada so it's time to wrap things up around here.

Frida Kahlo stashing a peanut

I am very sad to report that Frida Kahlo the squirrel is MIA and almost certainly dead. And I'm feeling pretty guilty because I played a part. I've been feeding a lot of squirrels and birds all summer and, of course, the inevitable happened. A hawk noticed and started hanging around. Then Frida vanished.

Frida stashing a nut

She's gone. It's been weeks. We both really miss her and feel the great big empty place she left behind. That probably sounds odd. After all, what kind of relationship can you have with a squirrel? But we got really attached to her. Frida had moxie. I'm embarrassed to use that word, it's corny, but it fits her. Every morning, while the other squirrels were busy chasing each other around the yard arguing over who could have a peanut, Frida was busy licking then stashing all the peanuts, one by one, into separate hiding places.

Frida enjoying a morning peanut.

And when I threw peanuts down from the balcony, all the squirrels took off except Frida. She'd look me in the eye, cup her hands and wait for the toss.

Frida ascends her pineapple palm.

Then, once everything was done and tucked away, she'd scamper up into her pineapple palm to savor a peanut in peace. No one dared approach her in her tree. Frida Kahlo the squirrel was like Frida Kahlo the painter... as they say... una perra nacida... born a bitch.

Frida Kahlo savoring a peanut in her favorite pineapple palm tree

That tree was hers and hers alone, and even though she's gone, it's still empty.

Ghost of Frida Kahlo visiting us.

That is except recently one morning. M. Lee call me to come quick to the window, that the ghost of Frida Kahlo had come back to say goodbye. It looked like her. It felt like her. And no, we haven't seen her since but I get the feeling that, wherever she is, Frida Kahlo is doing just fine.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pelican's morning at the jetty

We biked to the south jetty in Venice the other day. It's about 20 miles round-trip from where we're staying.

Mother Pelican at the jetty

Lucky us! A mother pelican and her baby
also decided to spend the morning at the jetty.

Mother Pelican and her baby

She sunned herself on the rocks as Baby P.
paddled around in the water in front of her.

Pelican Baby

 He still had that fuzzy baby look and was a total darling.
This is first time I've seen a baby pelican up close...

Mother Pelican watching her baby

...and the first time I've ever had a good look at a pelican's feet.

Mother Pelican's beautiful toenails

They are huge and rubbery flippery silvery blue.
And they have toenails, amazing toenails!
I did not know that pelicans had toenails...
...and such very cool toenails at that!

 On second thought.... those "toenails are probably considered claws, bird claws, she says blushing.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Local News at 20:27 hours

Our time in Florida is running out. Everything feels different. I don't want to go but I am detaching in spite of myself. In fact, with all the travel we have been doing the last few years, detachment itself is becoming the normal mode. It's appropriate at this point in my life. I don't love less but with fewer conditions.

Mid night choral


Monday, August 15, 2011

Between worlds

Time to slap a new post on top of this wobbly pyramid of words.

Birds at the jetty

In two weeks we begin our cross-country drive back to the west coast but I am really going to miss this place..

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Jersey Shore 1904

Atlantic City, circa 1900. Swimsuits were either flannel, serge or Alpaca, went from head to toe, included vest and collar plus skirts for the women topped off with modest caps.

And in case you are wondering.... yes.
The women are wearing swimming corsets under their suits.
Source: Shorpy

Even though we saw topless women on Miami Beach the other day, and even though no one seemed to mind or, for that matter even notice, the crowd still reminded me of the subdued, modest bathers from more puritanical times. I think it was the general disconnect people seemed to have regarding the environment itself as though being in a crowd offered protection from the power and uncertainties of Nature. Like I said before, creepy.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Diorama of a Midsummer's Day

We went to Ft. Lauderdale last week to visit M. Lee's cousins and explore the area a bit. His cousins are nice fellows and basically hermits. They live in a big pleasant house in a skeevy part of town with their mother, kids, a sweet, pony-size pit bull who is not neutered and six hens they treat like children. The hens have their own place out back.

This is not their house or their boat but holy fucking god, there is a disgusting display of wealth in Southern Florida.

We saw everybody for dinner both nights and during the first day biked around Ft. Lauderdale and the second decided to check out Miami Beach.

Imagine dragging yourself shirtless across a desert of blazing hot broken glass, your back full of arrows, predator birds tearing at your flesh.

That was how Lee described driving Florida's scenic, historic coastal highway A1A to Miami Beach.

For whatever reasons, it was a grueling, unpleasant drive and then... oh joy.... we were in Miami Beach.

It was surreal but not in a good way. Every inch of ground, mangrove and shoreline in Miami is developed and has been for a long time. In spite of that it seemed to be, for the thousands laying under umbrellas or standing in the water, a lovely summer day at the beach.

To me the scene had a musty and unreal quality as though, rather than at the ocean, people were in a diorama built by a Jersey taxidermist titled Day at the Beach.

The trip left me depressed. I'm still caught in it today but it's good to be back to the small world here on the gulf.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

No ghost but a mango

No ghost. In fact, no nothing. Pelican Alley is closed on Tuesday. This is the second time the place has evaded me. The last time was last fall when I went in ordered but then, for seemingly other reasons, canceled and left. Hmmmmm....veeeeery strange, eh? Anyway, for the record, I do and do not believe in ghosts, like everything else and I did not see the pantie tweaking ghost of Pelican Alley today. I will try again later. The day ended with a mango party. We ate the last of the mangoes we got at Pine Island a couple of weeks ago. Except for the crappy Tommy Atkins, the one most often imported to the US, they were all fantastic. So, for today, no ghost but 11 mangoes down and hundreds to go.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ghost of birthdays present

Today is my birthday so we are going to Pelican Alley for lunch. I've been wanting to eat there ever since I learned that the place has a reputation for being haunted. According to legend the ghost of Pelican Alley's previous owner likes to give cute waitresses weggies as well as do all the usual ghost type stuff like float the sound of mysterious foot steps, radiate an odd presence, open and close doors and move shit around.

A group of female ghost hunters recently tried evoking the ghost so they could catch him on their lame video. They offered to let him "touch the fun bags" and pull their undies. They treated him like a demented circus clown with demands to "make it move" and "give me a photo for my wallet"..., "wuss boy"... "you must not be a man". WTF, ladies? No self-respecting ghost is going to give it up for that.

I'll let you know how it goes today. It is only lunchtime but if anything funny happens I'll have my camera.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ancients. Elephants in the Sea.

If you're ever in Florida's Venice/Sarasota area and want to try kayaking, or want to get on the water but didn't bring your boat, I highly recommend Easy Kayaking. It's run by a great guy named Terry Brawley who offers both guided eco-tours and boat rental. We did the tour first to get an idea of the area and ground rules and since have rented kayaks and gone on our own. The first time Lee went he got lucky and saw both dolphins and manatees. I went another day and only saw manatees. I say "only" but it was amazing. And I did bring the camera.

Kristiana, you asked me for a photo of a manatee. It's taken nearly a year darlin', but here they are....

Manatee spotting.

The guys in the boat (upper left) shout that manatee are coming our way. At this point, three ancient water dwelling members of the elephant family are little more than a shadowy area below the waves (upper middle of the photo).

Manatee approaching kayak.

I stop rowing and wait. In a few seconds the manatee are swirls and dark shapes in the water before me. Could I be so lucky? They seem to be heading directly my way.

Manatee and calf.

Suddenly they appear... sirenia of the sea... the ancient manatee... three graceful denizens of another world and time! Perhaps they are a family, mother, father and calf? If you look closely, you will see a little one swimming directly below the top one.

Manatees passing by.

They swam directly under my kayak. I am amazed by how innocent naive and vulnerable they are. Now I understand why the manatees are endangered.They are totally trusting.

Directly under my kayak.
Manatee and calf

These manatees are no more than a finger length away. I could easily touch her but don't. The ICW is habitat not a petting zoo. Terry tells us that nearly all the manatees in Florida have been hit and are scared from boat propellers. That just ain't right!

Before my close encounter, I did not know that manatees are the closest living relatives of the Proboscidea (elephants) and Hyracoidea (hyraxes) or that these sirens of the sea... I say mermaids... are thought to have evolved from four-legged land mammals over 60 million years ago. In other words, manatees are a treasure and because this beautiful, ancient, endangered species is by nature so trusting, defenseless and we bare all the greater responsibility to protect and watch over them.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Great Blue Heron's Day at the Beach

Great Blue Heron likes to people
watch when she goes to the beach.

The old man in the blue hat
likes to pretend she's not there.

Great Blue Heron finds this very curious.

Most people stare.

Great Blue Heron also likes watching the sunset.

It is her favorite things of all.