Saturday, September 30, 2006

New day

Old-looking skies, though, gray, rumpled, cold, which seem to be having an effect on our walking motivation. Best to get whatever airing one can.
Had a great time watching the Ohio State v. Iowa game with beloved spouse and other Buckeye fans. After a lapse of quite some time, found I could remember what was important, and what should happen when. Not sure I will become a sports fan, but I did enjoy it.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday - stick a fork in it

Gleaning some warmth out of the afternoon, my mom savors every sunny moment. She liked visiting with some new friends, as well as with more familiar ones we meet along our way.
No wonder people turn to images of puppies and kittens for distraction; it takes one's mind off the thought of pederasts in the US Congress. Of course the GOP will spin it as a homosexual crime, that slime Foley from Florida, but hitting on 16 year old boys is quite different than contact between adults. Once again, it's an abuse of power, by an older powerful male, on a vulnerable male child. Like the former mayor of Spokane, WA, Jim West, another smug self-righteous Republican who got caught in cybersex contact with teenaged boys. Watch out, Log Cabin Republicans. They'll throw you away if you're inconvenient for them, like they're starting to do to African American Republican candidates in close races.
Kitties - must view more baby kitties...

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sublime surroundings

Amazing late summer, early fall, perfect for end of the season projects, and last ditch outings; we need more of the latter.
Finished the Robert Penn Warren Reader, and found some lines of poetry in his latter works that stirred memories. In a poem called FAR WEST ONCE, the narrator is trying to fix an experience in his memory, in case he never makes it back to the spot again. He describes getting back after a day on the trail, going to dinner and to bed...

"And to sleep - and even in sleep to feel
The nag and pretensions of day dissolve
And flow away in that musical murmur
Of waters; then to wake in dark with some strange
Heart-hope, undefinable, verging to tears
Of happiness and the soul's calm."

I'm re-reading Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg, Ohio". The last time I read it was back in Detroit in 1978, as I sat in the downtown precinct of the Detroit Police, trying to report a hit and run I'd just experienced out on the freeway, when a trailer truck veered about a foot out of its lane as it passed me, crunching in the driver's side door. I was reminded of this because I wrote down salient details of the accident on the inside back cover of the little Anderson volume. There was considerable dissonance between the atmosphere of the stories and that of the police station, which was a hive of screaming arrestees, drunks, hookers, crooks, and pimpy-looking guys of all colors and stripes, the parde of which I watched from a bench which was kind of like an over-sized wooden church pew.
I've been thinking the stories seem odd, quaint, dated, but then I come upon passages such as this, in a story called "Godliness": "The beginning of the most materialistic age in the history of the world, when wars would be fought without patriotism, when men would forget God and only pay attention to moral standards, when the will to power would replace the will to serve and beatuy would be well-nigh forgotten in the terrible headlong rush of mankind toward the acquiring of possessions, was telling its story to Jesse the man of God as it was to the men about him."
An observation from a character's mouth; Anderson isn't around thses days to see self-purported "men of God" ramp up the acquisition to an insane degree. And the "men of Allah" jones after the same addictive substance.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Humping along

Too much aggrevation in the air today. This country is doomed. At least we can battle the pillagers locally.
Nice weather we've been having...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Carboniferous, carbonivorous

Such heat so late in the season. You expect to see giant dragonflies hovering around, giant plants to sprout. Another period of geology to start. That may be so, particularly with the stagnant air building up. The smutsy haze can be seen over the Olympic Mountains. We shall be composted into another layer of fossil fuel...our bones gleaming among the rusting hulks of Hummers...
Nice walks regardless. We made it to the haunt of the rudbeckias and gaura, or "whirling butterflies flower." Sunset is coming too soon these evenings.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Over the past three or four days, something has been jogging my mother's glitchy memory. She's wondered aloud, several times, if we were getting close to the date back in 1948 when she and Dad were married. Now, I couldn't remember the date for sure; it was always a private celebration to them, and they never demanded or really wanted anyone to fete them. I did send her flowers a couple of times, which she did like, but they truly didn't expect the big family hoo has. Miraculously, yesterday she came to the firm conclusion that it was on September 25, 1948, back in Toledo, Ohio, she and my father were hitched. This would have been their 58th, were he alive. We shall see what surfaces today as we take our walks.
Euphoric climbing workout with friends. Basket of button mums for my mom. Balmy night.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Hen herding

Once again we were involved in relocating a wandering chicken. Moving her back up the driveway and into her backyard required a strange zigzagging dance, with much arm waving. One of our our neighbor's three year old daughter found my movements quite amusing.
Late afternoon walk, and a beverage and appetizers before sunset; we skipped the Octoberfest event in Fremont, not really being too enthusiastic about using the miniature stein they dispensed for twenty bucks a head for the beer tasting and music. It's a shame to have missed the chainsaw pumpkin carving competition, though.
Swell evening.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Mean green

Whoa. Now we are being told that deer shitting in the fields are the origin of the e coli in the bad spinach. Well, since this information is coming to us via the big corporations like Dole who sells the spinach, I think it's PR lies. If it's the deer, this will give them license to slaughter the animals, and scapegoat - or scapedeer - them, and retool themselves as protectors of the Public, covering their spinach to keep making their spinach.
When one of the brand names of the bagged spinach was first revealed, "Natural Selection", I observed how appropriate and tragically ironic it was. The Dark Wraith replied that it was preferable to labeling it "Culling the Herd" Baby Spinach. Now the big growers can not only continue to cull the human herd for profit by not following through with safety precautions as they were warned to do, they can cull wild animals and blame them at the same time. So much culling satisfaction, and taking on the natural world and all therein!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Da equinox

Sunny and luscious. Record-breaking walking around here, for the old broad in the house. No, the truly old one, not me!
An acquaintance commented that she wondered if the bad spinach crop had been the work of terrorists...lordy lordy. think the Rove Machine is effective?!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Trying to shine

Last day of summer, and it finally managed to clear by early evening. My mom got her hair do day, a short walk, and a letter from her son, my brother, so that made for a pretty good afternoon.
Had to chuckle at Chavez's dissing of Bush, but the Venezuelan leader surely isn't much ahead of our guys in terms of ... oh, sanity, perhaps? Is there a world leader who deserves respect anywhere? The best I've heard about is New Zealand's PM, Helen Clark. Unfortunately, I doubt she will exert much influence over the rest of the playground thugs and bullies.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wintery warning shot, maggots and methheads

Walking to an appointment this afternoon, I found I was...cold. And wet. Rain blowing sideways. Great day for a haircut. Usually I just kind of tolerate the noisy salon, but today it seemed cozy and quiet. The young woman who has pruned my hair for the past several years is 6+ months pregnant with her first son, and was cheerful and mellow. She related a ghastly tale of raw chicken used for bait on a fishing trip that somehow got left in a cooler by her husband, who eventually found it and put it in the garbage container outside; by that time, forces were in motion beyond her wildest nightmares. A neighbor guy came to her door and told her he had noticed that the garbage can was "moving." She went out to check, and found the can entirely covered, inside and out, with maggots. She started spraying it with bleach solution, and another fellow neighbor appeared, loudly telling her that he'd caught some "methheads" stealing something from his yard in the middle of the night, and was doing his citizen's duty to inform everyone in the area. At that point, being more than six months pregnant, in her slippers and comfortable lounging clothes, she declared she had had enough. Her partner got maggot duty when he got home that evening. We had to laugh at the horror.
The showers had eased by the time I got home, so my mother was able to get out for a walk. The farmers' market had its next-to-last session, and fewer vendors were present, but plenty of Wallingfordians were picking up corn, apples, and the rest of the cornecopia.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Votin' day

Besides being able to vote absentee, I was presented with the choice this morning at my polling place of either electronic or paper. Paper it was, and it may be the last time I get to vote the old-fashioned way. I heard something yesterday about Washington State going all mail next year.
Off for a walk, to catch up with our pals, the progressives.

Monday, September 18, 2006

What hour is it?

Dark this morning, everyone seemed to take time getting out of bed. it rained all night, so probably too damp for the painters to work.
Until later, when it became beautiful. There was a convention of chicken watchers, including a toddler who was only about twice the height of the birds. We figured it must be like having half-grown ostriches coming at you. She was cautious, yet intensely curious.
Tuesday is our primary. I do hope the "property rights" crooks haven't bought their way into the process, but they are Roveian operators, utterly unscrupulous.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Yet warm enough to conduct our usual activities. The least hint of a cooler breeze, however, makes my mother want to cut short her walks. She's got to get tough, I tell her, or she's going to need a hazmat suit pretty soon.
From a Robert Penn Warren poem called "READING LATE AT NIGHT, THERMOMETER FALLING", published in the 1970's:
And the seasons,
Nerve-tingling heat or premonitory chill, swung
Through the year, the years swung,
and the past, great
Eater of dreams, secrets, and random data, and
Refrigerator of truth, moved
Down what green valley at a glacier's
Massive pace,

At a pace not to be calculated by the trivial sun, but by
A clock more unforgiving that, at
Its distance of mathematical nightmare,
Glows forever. The ice-mass, scabbed
By earth, boulders, and some strange vegetation, moves
So imperceptively that it seems
Only more landscape.

In late-leveling light, some lunkhead clodhopper,
The clodhopper me,
The days' work done, now trudging home,
And there it is.
It looms.

The bulk of the unnamable and de-timed beast is now visible,
Erect, in the thinly glimmering shadow of now sun-thinned ice.
Somehow yet alive.
The lunkhead

The beast,
From his preternatural height, unaware of
The cringe and jaw-dropped awe crouching there below, suddenly,
As if that shimmer of ice-screen had not even been there, lifts,

Into distance,
the magisterial gaze.

The mercury falls. Tonight snow is predicted. This,
However, is another country. Found in a common atlas.


Falling out of summer around here; chilly mornings, sunny later in the day. We wonder why the chickens take so many naps; is molting that draining? Good exercise for all; long walk and talk with the offspring, spouse off on a kayak paddle.
Penn Warren's poetry is still not reaching me, so I am distracted and intrigued by book reviews.
And nature shows depicting beautiful landscapes in jeopardy.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Perfect weather for painting

Painting guys made progress today. This cooler air must be better to work in than the very hot times we had earlier this summer. We had the weekly hairdo-a-thon this morning, and the salon was hoppin'. It was a force four stylist whirl, with loud advisory talk about getting some kind of medical procedure done, the details of which I mercifully could not hear over the blowdryers. My mother, cheerful as always, remarked as we left that she had found it quite diverting to listen to all the talk. She said she really couldn't hear what they were saying, but enjoyed the hubbub. She gets her money's worth in just about any situation.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wee hours deluge

Around two ayem, some steady kind of roaring sound roused me from sleep; there was a Camelot quality downpour going on, so astounding in its volume that I had to get out of bed to see what was the matter. A forward downspout was in full flow right outside my mother's window, but it hadn't wakened her. Despite the consequences for our house painting project, it was wonderful to hear this sound.
Most of the daylight hours were bent towards clearing skies. The evening was spent in a walk and lovely dinner. The night skies were showing signs of clearing.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Well, painting had to pause today, as it was drizzling, chilly and windy. Unless the polar ice melts even faster, the job will be finished.
Sorry to see that Ann Richards, former governor of Texas and delightful antidote to things Bushian, died. Only 73, says my mom. Just a kid. When you regularly hear from the octogenarians' perspective, you begin to understand many things much more clearly.
Now into the poetry selections of Robert Penn Warren. Thus far, I'm having mixed reactions to it. Perhaps his selection as the USA's first Poet Laureate was based on later, more mature work. Time will tell.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Secondary colors

The housepainting proceeds apace. Hues have been chosen.
Hues were highly visible this evening during a fabulous Pink Floyd concert special shown on our local public television stations. Both were featuring the "Pulse" concert, which took place in 1994 at RFK stadium in D.C. We are old fans of Pink Floyd, but never saw them live. This show was a tingler. The DVD set must be had. My 88+ years old mother was astounded by the light show, liked the music, thought the lead singer, David Gilmour, was "cute." She and I enjoyed the Cream reunion concert a while ago. "I've never heard this music before," she marveled.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Big ugly monster slavering in the room

At least one. Don't think about it. Get a good night's sleep. Tomorrow, think of ways to build the opposition.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Unrestful sabbath

We had to take down a grape arbor to accommodate house painters. Wanted to put up a new one eventually anyway, but it's very sad to see that lovely green room gone. Having seen the vigor with which these vines grew in the past couple of years, however, I'm hopeful they will clamber up the new supports as wildly as they did the old ones.
Paint chips reveal little about a big picture; they don't give you much of an idea of what a larger swath will look like, on wood and in full sun. We will probably be surprised.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Not folding on this ginned up bunch of self-centered fake nostalgia over the attack on NYC five years ago; people should be able to realize, say, that they need to spend more time with their families and/or friends, without using 9/11 to claim a suddenly acquired sensitivity. Nor should the attack be used to justify showing their true prejudices against any other skin tone than white. 9/11 increasingly seems to be a blanket alibi for all kinds of behaviors, mostly selfish. Reading people's stories about "how 9/11 changed everything", from people who weren't in NYC or didn't have people they cared about affected by it, I am getting a repeatedly fake bounce off the claims, which range all the way along the continuum from crocodile tears to the trumped-up warmongering by the US administration. Of course it was a traumatic event, but it's being milked. If people truly are changed, truly become more considerate of others, putting someone else first besides themselves, wonderful, human nature might be evolving; but somehow I don't think they are the same ones who are trumpeting about their "transformations" in these smarmy newspaper pieces.
Good night and good grief.

Friday, September 08, 2006

swept away

Sun, moon, stars, and warm air; winds blew in rain late at night. When we haven't had any for weeks on end, it's comforting to hear it hitting the leaves outside the window. That novelty will fade later this year.
So there's a cabal within ABC responsible for this two part 9/11 propanganda being foisted on us via the tee vee. Group of conservatives headed by that Horowitz feller. Looks like Hilary may have been right after all. This is just one little slimy tendril on the invasive biomass of the right, but it is infesting a powerful element, mass communications. I have listened to people say blithely, oh, the networks don't care about politics, only the bottom line; I disagree. This is a glimpse into a possible nightmare of our future.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Skim of fog

This morning's gauzy atmosphere represented the inside of my head, owing to a near full moon, strange loud noises in the wee hours, dogs baying and yipping early, sleep brutally slain. Still, the contrast by late morning is so dramatic you can't help but pull a Lazarus. Our friend across the street gave us leave to harvest a bunch of multi-colored sunflowers, which we put in a vase where my mom sits to read. She commented that Van Gogh would have loved them.
Got distracted from Mr. Penn Warren by a number of tempting reviews in this month's New York Review of Books. The next stretch of reading is shaping up.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sweet treats

To market for more beets, some candied walnut bits and a terrific chocolate chip oatmeal cookie which I shared when I got home.
Read a review of a book in the New York Review of Books which appealed to me. It's called Temptations of the West: How to Be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet, and Beyond, written by Pankaj Mishra, whose debut novel in 1999 was called The Romantics. He had an earlier work, Butter Chicken in Ludhiana: Travels in Small Town India, published in 1995, an exploration of nineteen small Indian towns. The review describes his newest work:"This is a book written for the West, by a man with a stake in two worlds, who moves through languages - a skill of which Mishra makes little - and who travels uneasily, so that most of us can stay home. For the West it makes bitter reading. it explores a legacy of bungling and bad faith, of cultural incomprehension and pragmatic exploitation, and the export of two ideas - the idea of the nation-state and the idea of democracy - which have arrived in the East in a deteriorated and contaminating condition." This sounds most engaging, although perhaps like the scene of an enormous disaster.
Another quote from the reivew, which is by Hilary Mantel:
"One aspect of modernism he [Mishra] notices is the rapid rewriting of history, the formulation of a past which is useful to the power brokers of the present - a past which ratifies their sense of themselves, or can be marketed to tourists. A book like this can't be updated with every news item, but it can lay down markers, and it can take a stance: this is who I am, this is where I was, this is what I saw. Honest and thoughtful, it can claim the expertise of immediacy and the authority of the long view."
I am going to look for it, and give it a test read.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Too late a night, up too early. Got us out for our exercise, chored around the house. Perfect evening for a short walk.
Got to an essay in the Penn Warren reader entitled, "Segregation - The Inner Conflict in the South," published in 1956. Mr. Penn Warren traveled all over the South, interviewing people representing all different views of the issue, black and white. Fifty years ago this was, and he reported about the concerns of the whites, how they feared "the power state," meaning the Federal government's ruling, which wasn't THEIR law. On the men who told him that they thought the desegregation law was a "precedent for government by sociology, not law." One man, a lawyer, told Penn Warren,"We'll elect our own President. Our organization isn't just Southern. We're going national. Plenty of people in Chicago and other places feel like we do. And afraid of a big central government, too. We'll elect our own President and see how Chief Justice Warren's decision comes out." They've sure as hell gotten part of that accomplished, and are fixin' to lynch the rest of our bits of decency right now. Fifty years since Penn Warren wrote about this, and we're being dragged back into an antebellum atmosphere.
And reading about yet another bunch of twisted justification of the Iraq debacle from Condi Rice, wherein she compared this enormous fuckup in Iraq to the American Civil War, it was beyond irony to think how much she sounded like the good ole boys in the South. Uncle Tommin' it to the utmost. She's a poster child for "separate but equal."
After reading this piece, I had a sense of how the people in the South feared change, just as people everywhere in this country did and still do. They kept tying it to some kind of, to me, irrational need to honor their grandpappies, but even without a Civil War to cling to for tradition, many Americans are as fearful of changes as any group of Middle Eastern people. The world's changing rapidly, and it's frightening to have to keep figuring out who the predators are, how to keep apace or try to moderate the pace.
The predators to watch are denned up in D.C. Not in a cave in Pakistan. If you pay attention to their howls, you can tell what's coming. And they'll eat their own if they have to.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Quiet day

Till I got my man back late this afternoon, fresh from the hinterlands of Ohio. Actually the whole state might qualify as a hinterland, along with a handful of other benighted ones. The Benighted States of America...
Swell evening to grill halibut and salmon outside; we steamed the beets from the farmers' market, and discovered they were the "candy cane" variety, striped dark and light inside. All they needed was a dribble or so of soy sauce.
Night time walk, balmy and calm.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sorta sunny day

Just heard a group playing live from Bumbershoot, on one of our local purportedly public radio stations, KEXP: Mackelmore. Hip hop, and kind of moody; interesting sound.
Usual wanderings this afternoon, with thunder clouds threatening everywhere around us. We watched a Nova program on "supertwisters," and note how similar the storms look to the ones lining up along the mountains here. So far, we don't seem to have whatever the still unknown final element is that triggers the funnels. Breathless muggy heat is my bet.
From a Robert Penn Warren essay on William Faulkner, circa 1946:
"If respect for the human is the central fact of Faulkner's work, what makes that fact significant is that he realizes and dramatizes the difficulty of respecting the human. Everything is against it, the savage egotism, the blank appetite, stupidity and arrogance, even virtues sometimes, the misreading of our history and tradition, our education, out twisted loyalties. That is the great drama, however, the constant story. His hatred of 'modernism' - and we must quote the word to give it his special meaning - arises because he sees it as the enemy of the human, as abstraction, as mechanism, as irresponsible power, as the cipher on the ledger or the curve on a graph."
While re-reading his novel "All the King's Men" not long ago, I was repeatedly struck by the timeless truth in his words. The same resonance hit with some of the words above, only they seem to apply to the people destroying the US right now; and it isn't a edifying "great drama" when you're actually living through it.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


The day went that way. Impossible for even the haltest among us to stay inside. The town feels kind of empty, other than at nodes like the zoo or Seattle Center, which is teeming with people attending Bumbershoot. Hardly anyone seems to be out walking. The Olympics were barely visible behind a haze. Fire smoke and exhaust fumes, lousy air makes colorful sunsets.

Friday, September 01, 2006

August, adieu

But hello again feverishly wonderful temperatures. Passing through a nearby playfield on my way back from errands in the afternoon, I saw a man dressed in thick tattered layers of dark clothing sitting at a picnic table, attending to his very battered feet. He had a hooded top, and from a distance appeared to have no face; a jarring image in the midst of all the grass and old burgeoning apple trees. Lake Union drew me out of the house later with the promise of natural air conditioning down by the shore. The streets were quiet, houses looked closed up as I walked down the hill, and the park wasn't crowded. Stood on the big hill, mesmerised by sparkling water. Going back up towards home, I encountered a young couple with a boom box, playing sexy-sounding hip hop and practicing dance steps on a brightly colored tiled terrace. They smiled and carried on as I watched in appreciation of their summery youth.