Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Taking the Kitty Cure

Fed up with the Huff Po's latest coverage of the Clinton-Obama awkwardness at Dubya's (thankfully!) last State of the Onion speech last night, I went from my little office to my spouse's, don't ask me why. I turned on her computer (my own soiled by such political nonsense) and found a new folder marked "kitties."

I've been a little envious of my friend Zippie's happy news that she is about to adopt a new kitten into her household, Jake, and I was curious as to what the Kitties folder contained on the spousal desktop.

Imagine my delight and surprise when I found this little honeybaby among many others!

Major Awwwwww!

I have less and less to blog about these days. Something of the Neglected Novel guilt.

It's not a good time for our own kitties. As they age, they are more and more Disinclined to venture out into the ice and snow, though my own Rudy does insist on walking with Maddie and me about once a day.

With all the ugliness in the (nonetheless beautiful) world, it's nice to pause and behold kitties.

Now I'm getting the hell out of the house to pay a little attention to the aforementioned NN.

Wish me luck. Better yet, whoosh me luck.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


In the Land of As-Good-As-It-Gets

It's been nearly 18 years since I forsook the sweet life of the Monterey Bay to seek my life's partner in the Green Mountain State. Mine were the crossroads at the time, so I made the move.

I've never stopped loving the Monterey Bay, however. We've had indecently splendid weather these past few days, and everywhere I have gone I have been surrounded by reminders of why I dubbed the place The Land of As Good As It Gets.

We've walked down fisherman's wharves and
found harbor seals loafing in the water, their dear little flippers raised like so many solar collectors. Ahhhh! This is livin'!

As numerous as groovin' seals are thrashin' surfers. I have a special place in my heart for these folks, since surfing was my sport of choice in my youth. Now with arthritic knees that make getting up on land a chore, never mind the water on a fast-moving board, I still find myself watching these water-based acrobats and
thinking, go to it. You have the right idea.This is what life should be! I'd be with them if I could. There's nothing like the wonderful drop in your stomach as you catch the wave and realize that you are still standing. Nothing!

Of the pleasures left, long walks are a staple. In these temps, what's not to like? As I write this it's all of 14 degrees at home. We've walked beaches and redwoods here, down to tee shirts because we've gotten so warm. One of the treats of New Brighton Beach is a collection of
rock sculptures, balancing acts by one or more of the locals making use of raw materials and burnished imagination.

I found myself thinking of the day after the Loma Prieta earthquake. Everyone was on bicycles because the quake had knocked out the power--no gas
available-- and I pedaled downtown to see what was left of it. (Brick buildings that have been built on a flood plain don't do too well in an earthquake). There, amid the rubble on Front Street stood a little bubble machine, powered by its own small generator. In Santa Cruz, beauty and whimsy will always trump destruction and depression.

When we headed for Natural Bridges State Beach, I realized that in January the monarch butterflies should still be in the trees. Long chains of millions of them usually hang from the eucalyptus groves, their members lazily drifting in the sun when temperatures rise above 60 degrees. We should have had perfect weather; however a huge storm two weeks ago sent trees crashing and monarchs fleeing, exiled to God know where. So no butterflies this visit.

I cap off this post with an enduring image of Santa Cruz: a
sand artist, aflame with the mix of sun, sand, and salt water, still reminding us that in 2008 we must work for peace.

I will always miss the Monterey Bay, the real estate boom here having dashed any hopes I might ever hold for a return to the area. All it lacked was the love of my life. But that was enough to turn me eastward. She has been worth the trip, and someday we will migrate together to the property I bought on the more affordable Oregon coast, just up from here.

Tomorrow: I interview my bro' on life under the Guvernator!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Praising the Household Gods

Santa Cruz, CA--I don’t know what it Says About Me, but my closest friends live at significant distances. Therefore seeing them is something of a project.

I’m sure glad I came, though. The years had piled up into eight without any effort on either of our parts, and now I sit in the house of my precious pal, tapping away on my laptop and sharing guffaws at close range. Happiness! I won’t wait so long to jump on a plane henceforth.

My pal and her husband, who is my adopted bro, have a supremely happy marriage. They share interests, respect each other’s differences, and give each other lots of affection and support. They’re a joy to be around, individually and together.

What they have developed is a relationship free of blame. You won’t hear them bitch about each other at all. This is not glassy eyed cultism. This is thoughtfully working things out on the principles of love rather than in the deadly cocktails of fear and ego.

Of course, in many households there is a Supreme Being who guides such seeking couples toward the light. In this domicile there is Raoul.

Yes, Raoul.

I want to dub him St. Raoul, for the many boons he has granted these lovers of 33 years.

He has dispensed wisdom. He has absorbed blame for day-to-day shortcomings. (Oh, dear, Raoul forgot to take out the garbage today…) He even owned a car for a while that he lent to me on some of my other visits. When my pal locked her keys in the car yesterday, Raoul took some of the heat for fogging her mind, (though she was full of self blame, at least initially, till she remembered herself and her Spiritual Values.) Thank God Raoul has kept up the auto club membership all these years.

Once I was helping a friend move out of a faithless, sexist boyfriend’s house. He had a raccoon who looked just like Raoul. I had a very hard time not stealing him. If I hadn’t seen him as a truly unreliable responder (he once stole half of my phone—the handset!), I’d have made off with him and set up a shrine in my own home. Ever mindful of the laws of karma, I regretfully left him behind.

My esteemed colleague Sister Nancy Beth Eczema might see Raoul as a pagan idol, perhaps the embodiment of the AntiChrist, but to me he is a symbol of sanity and wisdom in the bidness of intimacy.

Praise Him!

Friday, January 18, 2008


From the Air

Good evening. This is your Captain.
We are about to attempt a crash landing.

Please extinguish all cigarettes.
Place your tray tables in their upright, locked position.
Your Captain says: Put your head on your knees.

Your Captain says: Put your head in your hands.

Put your hands on your hips. Heh heh.

This is your Captain--and we are going down.
We are all going down, together.

And I said: Uh oh. This is gonna be Some Day.
Stand by. This is the time.

And this is the record of the time.

This is the time. And this is the record of the time.

Uh--this is your Captain again.
You know, I've got a funny feeling I've seen this all before.
Why? Cause I'm a caveman.
Why? Cause I've got eyes in the back of my head.
Why? It's the heat. Stand by.
This is the time. And this is the record of the time.
This is the time. And this is the record of the time.

Put your hands over your eyes. Jump out of the plane.
There is not pilot. You are not alone. Stand by.
This is the time. And this is the record of the time.
This is the time. And this is the record of the time.

--Laurie Anderson

Monday, January 14, 2008



I have been a little surprised at my lack of impulse to post as of late. I guess it happens.

After the serial deceptions and abuses of the Bush Administration, I'm more than a little chagrined at my lack of interest in the Democratic primaries. I have been at a distance from the candidates, even as they worked the corridors of the state next door. Obama, Edwards, both Clintons have been right next door. Everybody assembled at Dartmouth for one of the debates, though I had to work that night. I didn't attend a single rally, not for anyone.

We don't have TV, and for me that's a blessing 99 per cent of the time. We're spared the campaign ads, which always manage to disgust me. I could have caught the debates on the radio, I know.

I became turned off to debates a while ago when no less than Al Gore debated Ross Perot on NAFTA. I had a long drive that night and listened to the whole shootin' match, and let me tell you, it wasn't pretty. It wasn't even much about NAFTA. It was mostly about weaseling around whatever point and then stepping back with a big aha! Subsequent debates have usually been similarly lacking in substance.

To compensate, I've been listening to Obama's The Audacity of Hope on CD, where I learn that Obama's take on history is pretty much like my own, although he appreciates free markets more than I do. I'm only halfway through, but listening to him puts me a little more in contact with what's going on out there.

Vermont's primary isn't till March, and we send our bitty proportion of delegates to conventions, followed by our three, count 'em three, electoral votes to the Big Show. I miss the big block of votes, and the involvement and the clout, of my former, Golden, state. Something about our tininess is great on the local level, but strips me of zeal for the larger contests.

This week I travel to California to see a most treasured pal, the better to keep the friendship alive and well while catching some negative ions in the ocean air and catching up on what the locals are thinking about the current state of things. I was long gone when Hollywood invaded the state capital once again and plunked Arnold in the governor's chair. She and I will probably hike and talk, one of our two best ways of bonding (the other being cruising around in her car, doing our California chicks with attitude thing), and I'm sure looking forward to the conversations.

So more from California, from Santa Cruz, my long-lost adopted home town. The Land-of-as-Good-as-It-Gets.

I wonder if zeal can be borrowed, checked out like a library book, through November of 2008.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Democratic Doo-Wop

Ooh-wah, ooh-wah, cool, cool kitty
Talk about the boy from New York City...

We're all weary from those snarky debate cross talk and campaign ads, but here we see the potential for Democrats to pull it together, making Democratic Doo-wop:

The Penguins.. the Moonglows..
the Oreos.. and Five Satins...

We've got to hold on to some harmony, some sense of shared values. Gotta watch them egos!

Tuesday should be interesting.

Friday, January 04, 2008


Giuliani Mulls Adopting Cheney

Fed up with what he calls his "highly ungrateful children," Rudy Giuliani hinted yesterday that he might consider adopting Vice President Dick Cheney if he is selected as the Republican nominee.

Pressed to clarify, Giuliani acknowledged that he might like to select Cheney as his running mate. "It's a type of adoption. Actually, Cheney would be adopting me. He would guide me and flatter me and tear up the Constitution, just as he has for the current President."

Giuiliani said that he hopes to develop a familial relationship with the Vice President. "That's just the way I am. You get close to me, and we're family. You piss me off, and I dump you, just like I do my family."

Giuliani's children said only "Good riddance" when asked about their father's upcoming family planning.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Getting Those Resolutions Squared (Packed?) Away

It's only January 1, and already I'm thinking so much for any resolutions.

Not that I'd made any, formally, but I had wanted this first day of the year to contain certain... er... patterns, certain behaviors, ahem.. choices that would bode well for the year to come. No time like the present, right?

So I got out the vacuum this morning and sucked up the dust and the wood chips of the last couple of weeks. Clean sheets for the bed. I took the Maddie-dog on a fine walk up the Monument Trail in the Hurricane Wildlife Refuge. We strode through the falling snow and reveled in the hush, the freshness of it all.

Then I returned to lunch and the pursuit of literary goals. That's where it all began to hit the skids.

The novel and I are near-strangers. Once in a fit of divergent inspiration, I took off and started a new short story that didn't need all the plotting out that the novel did and does. The novel had come to feel like a pain-in-the-ass chore, a narrative-turned-term paper that hung over my days. I'd hoped to elbow that attitude aside today, but no luck. Even working more on the story looked like trouble.

Two cups of coffee, too much sugar. Nothin'.

So I finally opted for a snowy day nap and alternating books: Philip Yancey's The Jesus I Never Knew and A.J. Jacobs' The Year of Living Biblically--the first, a sincere effort to make sense of some of the more cryptic of Jesus' teachings, the second, an attempt by a stunt journalist to live literally by the Bible for a year.
Jacobs is the stunt journalist whose last project was to read the entire encyclopedia and to document the experience in Know-It-All. What a contrast, but for every ounce of gravitas, take one of giddiness. Both books are worthwhile. Good material for avoidance! Winter is a great gateway into lots of reading. I wish I could turn it into one for writing.

I'm feeling a bit desperate about getting back to the writing, but Yancey defines the poor in spirit to whom Jesus refers as blessed in the Beatitudes as basically desperate, so according to those lights, I am indeed fortunate. I will probably head over to Anne Lamott, my favorite Christian, a great writing advisor, for a little light on the mangled fictional mess I have made. Perhaps dipping into her wonderful Bird by Bird will help me get going again.

So it's a good thing I don't do resolutions. I can't even handle patterns, behaviors, and especially choices.


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