Friday, February 25, 2011


A friend of mine died last Saturday. She went fast, one week start to finish with everything the hospital could do. Unbeknownst to her, the cancer had returned. I sat with her several times during that last week and was there when she died. She didn't complain once but was instead both accepting and gracious. Everyone who visited was touch by her spirit.

I've only experienced human death once before, my Uncle John. He died very peacefully. He also went fast. The nurse phoned in the middle of the night and said she didn't know what happened. He was fine when she went home after her last shift but that if I ever wanted to see him alive again I better come right away. I immediately set out for Portland. I sat with him all day, took a short break in the afternoon and when I returned it seemed as though things were on pause. A strange but kind old woman in the break room, who said she was only at the rest home making her rounds, told me he was waiting for me, that he need to know I'd be okay. I took her very seriously. A strange but kind old woman had visited my mother in her hospital room the morning she died.

His room was sunk in a deep dim light. The roommates were gone. He was alone behind the curtain. We sat. I made some amends, thanked him for looking after me all those years then told him he could go. That grandpa was waiting for him. I'd be okay. He whispered in my mind, "say that prayer about 'now and at the hour of our death'". I did, my forehead touching his as he sat in bed, slumped slightly forward, to all appearances unaware. But he was. We breathed together in ... out ... in ... out ... . then when I breathed in he stayed out. That was also on a Saturday.

Kathy died a little harder. A death rattle, her body heaved and pitched a couple of times then pushed or was pressed back hard and to the side as the last of her evaporated away.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nevada demonstration supporting Wisconsin protest

Photos from yesterday's demonstration in Carson City at the Nevada State Legislature in support of the Wisconsin protesters.

For more fun watch Jon Stewart's commentary Revenge of the Curds.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Take a look

"Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight." --Dr. Albert Schweitzer

Please please watch this video. It is only 11 minutes long. Yes, it is painful and inconvenient to know these things but you will be the better for it. It's time to deepen your compassion a little bit more. Do you dare? Ignorance is not bliss. It is ignorance.

"The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men." --Leonardo Da Vinci

Friday, February 18, 2011

Breakfast in the Bird Park

Some time deep in the middle of the night, after two days of fury, the wind finally stopped blowing. Just in time, I say. It was really making me crazy. I think it was the silence that woke me somewhere around five and, even though the blinds were closed, I could tell by the light in the room that the much anticipated snow had arrived at last.

This morning was like the old days in the Bird Park. The trees were stuffed with birds. Everyone came early and stayed and I made sure that they weren't disappointed. I served leftover pancakes and oatmeal along with the usual fare...peanuts, sunflower seeds, apples, kibbles and scratch.

Between bites, grackles compulsively scanned the skies. The starlings were fierce and reckless as usual. After the other magpies finished and left Seven, aka The 7 O'clock Magpie, hung out in the aspen digesting seconds waiting for thirds. Quail scratched in the snow for hidden tasties then stopped and did what they always do. Stood around. The pigeons showed up late as always but got right to work. They are the clean up detail.

Even Minerva dropped in for her share of the oatmeal. You might wonder how I know this particular crow is Minerva but why not Minerva?

After all, crows live for decades, they're smart and the Bird Park is The Place to be on a day like this so why wouldn't she come? Plus she's a founding member and enjoys her seniority status.

And with this storm the birds finally accepted the "new" tree as their new perch. They were really slow adapting to the change after Dick's widow cut down his, and their, beloved cottonwood last spring. Everybody loved that tree but her. Ol' Dick's body was barely cold in the ground when she had it whacked.

The "new" tree is actually in a better location as it stands right behind the seed tubes but on Dick's side of the fence. I couldn't have chosen a better spot for it myself. I hope she doesn't have it cut down too. Thanks to Dick, who appreciated a good tree, it got started around the same time as the cottonwood, about ten years ago when the development was new. But the "new" tree grows slowly so was ignored. You know birds. Bigger is better and they don't like change.

As for the starlings, I wasn't exactly delighted when they first showed up. They are the humans of the bird world, invasive and too damn successful. They toss babies out the nest then claim it for their own. Or they just move in and eat the whole family, the whole neighborhood. But the Bird Park exists under open skies. Everyone is welcome, well except for the cats, but they come anyway. I like to pretend they are too fat and lazy to do much other than fantasize but they try.

Not the hawks. They mean business. One fellow recently made the Bird Park his personal hunting ground and, every now and then, that ends up being a big bummer for someone else. This little quail hit my window trying to escape. M. Lee was outraged that I considered burying him instead of letting the hawk keep him. He was right.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Naked censorship

I was listening to an NPR interview this morning on FX radio. The question was what part did Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac play in the financial meltdown and whether or not the government should pull the plug on them. The opinion of the fellow being interviewed was that they were very small players in the crash. He started listing the names of our unregulated private sector... Wall Street banks and corporations that are the real culprits when suddenly his words were blotted out by about 30 seconds of mindless music. When the program resumed, without that crucial piece of information, one would be led to believe that Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac were the cause of the problem. Censorship or coincidence? Decide for yourself. I have.

And, while we're on the subject,
posted an article today that's worth checking out:
Why haven't the banksters who stole the planet been tossed in jail?

It's based on a recent article at Rolling Stone:
Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail?


Saturday, February 12, 2011


Okay, time to change the top post. As Judybluesky commented here recently, we American's suffer a shrinking social attention span so enough for now about the fact that Wall St. bankers are ass raping us in front of our own children then eating our lunch. Here are a few outtakes from recent things we've been dong here in the great state of Nevada, a world of harsh beauty and insane hopes.

View from the Peppermill casino buffet.
Casinos frown on photographers but I snuck this shot for you.

Cycling by the Sierra

My street at twilight

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Why haven't we done this?

"Imagine a parallel universe where the Great Crash of 2008 was followed by a Tea Party of a very different kind. Enraged citizens gather in every city, week after week—to demand the government finally regulate the behavior of corporations and the superrich, and force them to start paying taxes. 

In the UK, the Great Recession has inspired ordinary people to do just that—with some success. link

Monday, February 7, 2011

Abe Lincoln

"I care not for a man's religion
whose cat and dog are not the better for it."

- Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, February 6, 2011

True story

Bill, a friend of mine who lives here in the Carson Valley, is one of the nicest guys you could ever know. He helped build Tahoe’s Heavenly Ski Resort back in the day and, at 77, still roller blades with his three dogs and, in the winter, is a ski god. He also cares for his wife of many years, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. She has her lapses but Bill, with his ever ready humor and gratitude, is very savvy about keeping things on an even keel. Recently, wanting to get a measure of where she was at, he gently inquired, "Hey honey, do you remember our wedding?" She thought about it for a minute then replied, "What else did we do that day?"

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Common concern

I'm not an "atheist" but I'm concerned about these things. I hope you are too.

Via boingboing via Don't Bother Me via atheism

Friday, February 4, 2011

New ride

Well, it's not a Tesla but we bought a new car yesterday and it is sweeeeet. We had to go to Oregon to get it as there was only one dealer on the entire west coast who had what we wanted, and he only had one, a white 2011 Hyundai Elantra Touring SE with 5-speed manual transmission.

There's still a lot of life left in our little 2000 Hyundai. It's a great car, it's just that we are planning to drive to Florida in the spring so this seemed like a good time to reup. Monday we decided on the Touring. We drove to Oregon on Tuesday, bought it on Wednesday and drove home on Thursday but it wasn't an impulse buy. Naturally, M. Lee had already read and digested all the reviews and hot threads on all the vehicles on his list. I had my own short list, another Elantra, but these things must be thoroughly discussed. We had pondered the Subaru, contemplated the Audi, took the Sportage for a test drive etcetera. We weighed all the factors till our heads spun, but all roads led back to the Touring. Hyundais are great cars. End of story. And no, they did not pay me to say that.

Then, once we were certain that the Touring was the best of class, we were left with the most agonizing, most mind boggling decision of all... black or white.

Peter, the cool internet sales dude, took this photo
and posted it on the dealership's Facebook page.

We like black. Black is stealth and cool, mysterious, powerful, maybe even a little bit dangerous looking. Diplomats, royalty, heads of state and other shady characters are chauffeured around in fleets of shiny black cars. The thing is, they have people to keep their sleek black cars looking untouchable but once a black car is dirty, the magic is gone. We tried to convince ourselves that we would keep a black car menacingly clean, but we knew it was a lie. We're slobs, so we got white. Plus white is better in the desert. We'll tint the windows.

We're giving the silver Elantra to our daughter. Baby Thea and Owen the Dog need a new ride. Currently poor Owen has to hunker down on the floor in the Saturn's scrinchy backseat space which he must share with Baby Thea's wiggly feet. Now, he'll get a whole third of a car to himself. Who's yer gma?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Time to move on

Professor William Strunk Jr.

Some time ago I got tired of living under the tyranny of Strunk & White's Elements of Style and sent my copy packing to the secondhand store. In case you are unfamiliar with it, this tiny book is a terse manual long considered by many educators and writers as the final word in rules of word usage and the principles of writing style. So this morning I was interested when I found a link at ArtsJournal to this article by Adam Haslett. For starters, Haslett notes that the work is "spoken in the voice of unquestioned authority in a world where that no longer exists".

"Though never explicitly political, The Elements of Style is unmistakably a product of its time. Its calls for “vigour” and “toughness” in language, its analogy of sentences to smoothly functioning machines, its distrust of vernacular and foreign language phrases all conform to that disciplined, buttoned-down and most self-assured stretch of the American century from the armistice through the height of the cold war. A time before race riots, feminism and the collapse of the gold standard. It is a book full of sound advice addressed to a class of all-male Ivy-Leaguers wearing neckties and with neatly parted hair." source
Don't get me wrong. I believe we have all benefited by the good professor's dictates. I will be wary of adjectives to my dying day, although mostly because of their egregious misuse by bad poets, but I have an unabashed fondness for the well done run-on sentence. Perhaps this is because I am given to a perpetual adolescent rebellion. Nevertheless, I have no interest in novelty for its own sake. I just do not agree with Strunk's overarching rule: “Prefer the standard to the offbeat” although, as Haslett notes, Hemingway managed to successfully blend the two.

Still, a word about Strunk's famous dictum: "
Omit needless words".  Of course, I too am always on the lookout for flabby writing but I also agree with Haslett's conclusion that:

"This rule leads young writers to be cautious and dull; minimalist style becomes minimalist thought, and that is a problem."
How far into uncharted territory can any rule book or map take me? I realize it's tacky to quote oneself but a line from one of my own poems comes to mind... "The glass breaks and I am gone." I don't know about you but, for me, that's the point.