Thursday, May 31, 2012


 In the several days of my absence from this blog, the weather has accomplished a late spring tour de force. While I tapped away at the computer, it has rained, snowed, hailed, fogged, un-fogged, clouded, un-clouded, been sunny and cold, sunny and cool and sunny and warm. Mercifully, it has not done sunny and hot, yet, which is generally my least favorite and tends to fill my head with oatmeal.

Meanwhile, the oak trees around the house have completed their cycle of pollen and granular stuff deluge, to be replaced by a steady pelting of green pinecone parts, hurled by hungry squirrels. My car is spiny with these pitchy things, that can’t even be dislodged with a hose but must be picked off by hand.

In the garden, the irises have faded, while the roses are coming on, full tilt boogey. The bees are plying the fountain for water. The nicotiana alata is hanging in starburst clusters, like vegetal fireworks, and honeysuckle is filling the wind with ravishing sweetness. And of course, armies of weeds are making proud statements of their invincibility.

Meanwhile, as this astonishing atmospheric and vegetal drama has unfolded, I’ve had my nose to the computer screen, ferreting out those tiny gray dots the size of pin holes that indicate proper spacing between words. I’ve been deleting, cutting and pasting maximally. Using the spell check and Thesaurus frequently. Googling errant facts. And even writing two completely new scenes to fill in little voids in the plot.

I suppose this could be seen as a kind of flowering, in its own right. From the rough seed of an idea, almost thirty years ago, Fiesta of Smoke has grown ever so slowly but surely into a full-blown novel. In all that time this book has never lost its fascination for me. It’s been a story that insisted on being told, in the same way that a rose has to unfurl its petals or an oak tree has to toss clouds of golden pollen onto the wind.

Now, it’s time for me to shift my cycle, too. The oak trees are now making acorns and the dying roses are making rose hips and this weary writer is going to turn into a gardener. At least for today.

All the joy of this gorgeous spring day be yours!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

My apologies for being absent from the space for a time. I'm still working on the revisions and editing for Fiesta of Smoke. Plus, there have been two funeral/potlucks to attend this week. I'll write more about that, when I've got this manuscript finished (for this round, anyway), because funerals on this mountain are a very special experience.

In the meantime, I'll share some photos of my garden with you, starting with fennel, above, and lamb's ear, below. The garden is so beautiful at this time of year, and so ephemeral. The blossoms come and go in a matter of days, so I'm glad for photography as a means to extend this miraulous May.

Wishing you a wonderfully rich and productive day!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

After the Worms Stop Dangling

The air around our home is filled with aerialists, these days. They fly through the air with the greatest of ease. They shimmy up and down slender threads of silk. They swing in the breeze. They also plop into our drinks, end up in our dinner salads and ride our hair and shoulders into the house.

They are tiny green caterpillars that descend from our oak trees every spring, along with a shower of golden pollen that coats everything and tiny black balls that become gritty underfoot. These latter two are part of the reproductive cycle of the oak. With every gust of wind, clouds of golden pollen fill the air, wafting off to pollinate surrounding oaks. I assume, but don’t know for sure, that the little black balls are immature acorns that have failed to germinate and thus are cast from the tree.

The little green caterpillars are a mystery. I have no idea what kind of moth or butterfly they become. They bring mobs of songbirds to our trees to gorge on their succulent little bodies, like a kind of bird hotdog. But mostly they seem to just hang around. Quite literally. David and I keep an eye out for their sudden appearance during dinner on the deck, since we are not as fond of ingesting them as are the birds. We call them simply the worms, knowing full well that they are not worms, at all.

On my birthday in March, David bought me a chaise longue, an outdoor comfort that I have long coveted. However, due to a combination of factors that include cool weather and the hours spent on the Fiesta of Smoke manuscript, I’ve yet to unfurl this delight and accomplish any actual lounging. Just yesterday, however, I began to have fantasies of doing exactly that and of positioning myself in an oak grove just south of the house. There is a combination of live and black oaks there, in a marvelous canopy of coolth, shifting greens and dappled shade. My fantasy included long dreaming hours staring up at that rustling green ceiling, deeply involved in absolutely nothing.

However, as David pointed out, it’s still a little early for that. A volley of gold and black sexual parts would bombard me. And then there would be The Invasion of the Worms, swinging down from above like little green ninjas. To which I replied, in what may become our new metaphor for delayed gratification of something profoundly to be wished for but often despaired of (the way the Jews say "Next Year in Jerusalem," at the conclusion of the Yom Kippur service and the Passover Seder), “I’ll just have to wait until after the worms stop dangling.”

Monday, May 21, 2012

Spangled in Crescents

 I hope you got to see some part of yesterday’s solar eclipse, even if only on television. It was truly magical!

In our part of northern California, we were able to see 92% of the eclipse. Further north, near Mount Shasta, the eclipse was total. David and I were lucky that our neighbor, John, created a Rube Goldberg camera obscura from 2 lengths of pipe duct taped together and inserted into a cardboard box. The image was surprisingly clear, as you can see, above.

 Most delightful were the myriad silvery-gold crescents that swarmed in the shade of the trees. Apparently, the apertures among the leaves create an infinitude of camera obscurae. The image of the fiery edge of the Sun swam across the ground, wrapped in minnow-like schools around the trunks of trees and flitted across the walls of the house. We took turns having our photos taken with our bodies bathed in the Sun’s signature.

  Another amazing part of the whole experience was the quality of light and the deepening of color. The natural world took on a heightened beauty as greens and blues intensified, shadows deepened and highlights glowed with an other-worldly beauty. The sky became a deep lavender blue, with a velvety texture caused by a visible rain of photons, purple and white-gold. 

 According to an announcement from Harmony Healing House, sent to me by my astrologer friend, Marianne, the amazing Grand Pleiadian Eclipse Alignment happens only once in approximately 26,000 years. This alignment of the Sun, the Moon and the Pleiades also puts us into a direct line to Alcyone, the Central Sun of this part of the galaxy around which our little solar system rotates.

This is highly charged solar energy and you can infuse your commitment with this solar energy, which represents the masculine. The quality is fiery and explosive and will be fueled by the winds of change. So use it well!” the announcement states. If you happened to miss the event yesterday, be assured that its powerful influence will last for months, so it’s still a good time to set new intentions and to watch for negative thoughts creeping in. You surely wouldn’t want to use this profound energy to create something icky in your life. Instead, use it as a portal to renewal, on all fronts.

 For our part, we spent in entire time in a kind of reverent joy and childlike awe, enjoying the spangling of our bodies in fiery crescents and the ever-moving image in the camera obscura. And given that such an eclipse won’t happen again for another 19 years, by some calculations, or for another 26,000, by others, it’s a good thing we enjoyed it while we could!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Magic in the Sky

There’s magic in the air, today! Or, more aptly, in the sky. The big news is the solar eclipse in Gemini, happening this afternoon at 4:48 PDT. Eclipses bring in very powerful transformative energies, inaugurating major endings and beginnings of life cycles. And this eclipse squares the dreamy planet Neptune, opening the imagination in a heightened way and creating endless possibilities. This is a big opportunity to release the old in order to create space for new beginnings.

According to astrologer Stephanie Austin:

Light encodes information. Twice a year, the multi-megawatt flows of ultraviolet, infrared, X-ray, and radio waves from our Sun are momentarily blocked by the Moon, affecting the magneto-receptors in our DNA and facilitating the reconfiguration of consciousness. Old programs and pathways dissolve; new templates and archetypes emerge.

Solar eclipses occur close to the same degree every 19 years. The last one in Gemini was on May 21, 1993 and the theory is that something you started that year is cycling to completion now, or possibly spiraling up or down to a new level. To test this theory, I hauled out my journal from 1993. Although the eclipse wasn’t mentioned in it, I had the following dream, just 2 days before the eclipse:

With my friend Mary, I have just completed cleaning out an old house where we are living. It has been stripped to the sub-floor and the plywood covering the walls. Someone asks when we are going to move out, obviously thinking that the place is too barren and austere to be a real home. We, however, are committed to staying there and rebuilding the place and are, in fact, quite excited by the prospect. I have a clear view of the interior: how scrubbed and clean it is; how the corners meet at neat right angles without a trace of dust or debris. We have done our preparations for rebuilding well, and I am pleased.

This dream clearly indicates a readiness for a new cycle of things to begin and, boy howdy! as my friend Howardine used to say, did it ever! In the following 19 years, I left my practice as a certified massage therapist, began teaching creative writing at the prison; went back to school to earn first my masters in art and writing, then my doctorate in depth psychology; began teaching at CSU Stanislaus in the art department, where I created several classes wedding depth psychology with art; saw both my parents through their dying and then settled their estate; wrote 4 complete books--my master’s thesis, doctoral dissertation and 2 novels; painted an entire flat file of large paintings and began selling them; sculpted in both bronze and marble; began running dream groups; traveled in Europe and Mexico several times; got married; underwent a stunningly thorough and surprisingly uncomfortable Kundalini awakening; and survived a wildly difficult second Saturn return. To hit the high spots. Of course, life went niggling on, as well, with its daily demands from mundane details: taking out the garbage, maintaining the car, paying the bills, etc, etc, etc.

Looking back on those 19 years, I wonder if I have the energy or the courage to undertake the next cycle! The last one was a doozy!  Gemini the Twins symbolizes the experience gained through exploring duality. While I’m quite sure there’s plenty of duality still to be explored, I think I’ve got a pretty clear picture, after the last go-around.

I suggest you take some time, today, to contemplate your last 19 year cycle. I hope you’ll allow yourself to be amazed with the amount of support you’ve given, the twistings and turnings you’ve navigated and the advances you’ve made, possibly in the face of true adversity. I’m sure you’ll find that you’ve expended enormous life energy. And if you’re not happy with your summation of the last cycle, then set to work imagining the new one! Life is opening a portal to us all, today, and all that’s required is our willingness to step through.

So, who knows what will transpire during the next round? With Neptune in the mix, we’re all being challenged to imagine and then create the reality that best suits us. If we create with the best and highest good for all concerned uppermost in our minds and hearts, we just might manifest the world we’ve been longing to experience! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bosnian Pyramids

I received this fascinating article from my friend Ralph Squire, whose Subtle Energy Research Institute (SERI) is doing wonderful work in enlarging our knowledge of this planet and of our human purpose here. You can read more about SERI at The article below is mind-boggling, and I haven’t had time yet to check out the veracity of Dr. Osmanagic’s claims. But I pass it along to you as a mind-expander for today and in honor of the full solar eclipse that will happen here in northern California on Sunday afternoon, inaugurating a new cycle of things in our personal lives and possibly on the planet, as well. What better way to start a new cycle of things than to contemplate unknown wonders and the possibility that our history is far deeper and more mysterious than we have ever guessed?

Happy reading! Happy day! Happy new cycle!                 

By Dr. Semir "Sam" Osmanagic

Almost everything they teach us about the ancient history is wrong: the origin of men, civilizations, and pyramids. Homo sapiens are not a result of evolution, and biologists will never find a "missing link", because the intelligent man is a product of genetic engineering.

Sumerians were not the beginning of the civilized men, but rather the beginning of another cycle of humanity.

And finally, original pyramids, most superior and oldest, were made by advanced builders who knew energy, astronomy and construction better than we do.

In order to understand the ancient monuments, we need to view them through three realms: physical, energy and spiritual. Our scientific instruments are simply not enough to explain the purpose of the oldest pyramids, for example.

Mainstream scientists, archaeologists, historians and anthropologists are often main obstacle for scientific progress.  A gap between physical and spiritual science is to be bridged, if we want to get a full understanding of the past.

The twelve hundred ton stone block in Baalbeck (Lebanon) needs explanation. Who was able to shape, move and install four times bigger blocks than our, 21st century, capabilities? Yonaguni megalithic monuments (Japan) do belong to the previous cycle of humanity. They are undeniable proof, on the bottom of the Pacific floor, 80 meters below the ocean level, that advanced culture lived in the area more than 12,000 years ago, before huge quantities of ice melted and caused Pacific level to rise for 80 meters. Machu Picchu (Peru) tells the story of four distinctive civilizations and different construction styles, the first civilization being the most advanced. At the same time, all the history books make up a story of Inkas being the builders of "royal retreat" in the recent times. New dating of Peruvian, Mexican, Chinese and Egyptian pyramids will take us back much before recognized history and known rulers.

The oldest Chinese and Egyptian pyramids are much superior to those made later, as unsuccessful replicas. The older are built from granite and sandstone blocks, more recent ones are much smaller, built from bricks and mud. Traces of more advanced beings are everywhere around us. In the meantime, mainstream scientists try to fit those monuments into their time coordinates, falsifying the truth.

Two hundred Cahokia pyramids show astronomical knowledge of the builders who moved several million tons of construction materials and who knew the difference between cosmic and magnetic north. Mayan world is an example of the knowledge of the Universe. Our Solar system circles Milky Way and that 26-thousand years cycle ("long count calendar") affect all living life on our Planet. Anasazies, ancestors of Pueblo Indians, didn't need alphabet or physical communication means to recognize danger in different dimensions coming from the depth of the Universe.

As long as they stay within the box, mainstream archaeologists will never be able to explain tooling and logistic needed to build stone heads on Easter Islands, shape granite blocks of Akapana pyramid complex in Bolivia or create chambers of Giza pyramids.

Stone spheres of western Mexico, southern Costa Rica, Easter Island or twenty locations in remote Bosnia-Herzegovina, are obvious proof of understanding and manipulating of shapes and energy in the distant past.

On top of all that, discovery of the Bosnian Valley of the Pyramids is telling us that we don't know our Planet. We might go to the Moon (temporarily, until threaten), but we still need to explore our Mother Earth. More secrets wait to be uncovered and, with the ancient knowledge, help us reach our balance back.
In April 2005, I first traveled to the town of Visoko, 20 miles northwest from Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina. My attention was caught by two regularly shaped hills, which I later named the Bosnian Pyramids of the Sun and Moon.

For thousands of years locals have considered those hills to be natural phenomena because they were covered by soil and vegetation. However, when I first saw their triangular faces, obvious corners and orientation toward the cardinal points, I knew that they had to be constructed by a force other than nature. Since I had been investigating pyramids for decades, I knew that the pyramids found in China, Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador had the same type of soil and vegetation coverage.

In 2005, work has begun on this project and construction companies and geologists were paid (out of my pocket) to do core drilling and geomorphological analysis. We then announced to the world, at the press conference, that the first pyramids in Europe had been discovered.

Shortly thereafter we established the non-profit Archaeological Park: Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun Foundation and since that time the pyramid investigations in Bosnia have become the world's largest interdisciplinary archaeological project.

We have spent over 340,000 man-hours in archaeological excavation, sample testing and radiocarbon dating in the period from 2005 to 2011. We determined that the Bosnian Valley of the Pyramids consists of five pyramids discovered to date which I named: The Bosnian Pyramids of the Sun, Moon, Dragon, Mother Earth and Love. The site also includes a tumulus complex and a huge underground labyrinth.

This discovery is historic and changes the knowledge of the early history of Europe for several reasons:

§  These are the first pyramids discovered in Europe

§  The site includes the largest pyramid structure in the world-The Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun with its height of over 220 meters is much higher than the Great Pyramid of Egypt (147 meters). §  The Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun has, according to the Bosnian Institute for Geodesy, the most precise orientation towards cosmic north with the error of 0 degrees, 0 minutes and 12 seconds.

§  The Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun is completely covered by rectangular concrete blocks. The properties of the concrete, including extreme hardness (up to 133 MPs) and low water absorption (around 1%), are, according to the scientific institutions in Bosnia, Italy and France, far superior to modern concrete materials.

§  The pyramids are covered by soil which is, according to the State Institute for Agro-pedology, approx. 12,000 years old.

Radiocarbon dating from the paved terrace on Bosnian Pyramid of the Moon, performed by Institute of Physics of Silesian Institute of Technology from Gliwice (Poland) confirmed that terrace was built 10,350 years ago (+/- 50 years). These finding confirm that the Bosnian pyramids are also the oldest known pyramids on the planet.

§  Beneath the Bosnian Valley of the Pyramids there is an extensive underground tunnel and chamber network which runs for a total of more than ten miles.

§  Ceramic sculptures have been discovered in the underground labyrinth with a mass of up to 20,000 pounds which makes them the largest found so far from the ancient world.

The list of the wonders in Bosnian archaeology does not end here. In the vicinity, we discovered the tallest tumulus in the World: 61 meter high. Its nearest competitor, Sillbury Hill in England is 60 meters high. The Bosnian tumulus consists of two-layer megalithic terraces, clay layers and artificial concrete layers.

A team of physicists detected an energy beam coming through the top of the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun. The radius of the beam is 4.5 meters with a frequency of 28 kHz. The beam is continuous and its strength grows as it moves up and away from the pyramid. This phenomenon contradicts the known laws of physics and technology. This is the first proof of non-herzian technology on the Planet. It seems that the pyramid builders created a perpetual motion machine a long time ago and this "energy machine" is still working.

In the underground labyrinth, in 2010, we discovered three chambers and a small blue lake. Energy screening shows that the ionization level is 43 times higher than the average concentration outside which makes the underground chambers into "healing rooms".

Further electromagnetic detection in 2011 confirmed that levels of negative radiation through the Hartman, Curry and Schneider grids are equal to zero in the tunnels. There was no technical radiation (from power lines and/or other technology) found in the tunnels and no cosmic radioactivity. Ceramic sculptures are positioned over the underground water flows and the negative energy is transformed into positive. All of these experiments point to the underground labyrinth as one of the most secure underground constructions in the world and this makes it an ideal place for the body's rejuvenation and regeneration.

Two hundred years of Egyptology has not produced a satisfactory answer to the question of what the real purpose was for the oldest and most superior pyramids.

In only six years, our research in Bosnia has applied interdisciplinary scientific methods, to look at this complex through the physical, energetic and spiritual dimensions. We have had pioneering results which affects the entire sphere of knowledge and Pyramid Science. Our history is changing with each new discovery. Perhaps by changing our beginnings or learning to better understand our beginnings we can also change our present and our future for the better.

. . . .

For further information:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

AMGEN Tour of California, Stage 4, Sonora

The big news in Sonora today is the start of Stage 4 of the AMGEN Tour of California. I’m trying to imagine what it might be like to ride 130 miles on a bicycle through this mountainous area, surrounded by a pack of murderously competitive, sweaty men, all going too fast for road conditions. I mean, there are stretches of the road that they will take today that I navigate with genuine respect, even in a car. There are steep downgrades, engine-overheating upgrades and hair-raising turns, one of which is a blind hairpin with a cliff dropping off to the west and a bulging wall of bedrock protruding into the east lane. Even my lead foot eases off, in that neck of the woods.

Despite the thrill and bloodlust of such a macho spectacle, this event has failed to arouse my interest, however. International bicycle racing is a fallen god to me and I’ll tell you why.

On July 19th, 1981, I was in Paris and, on a whim, decided to walk to the Eiffel Tower from my hotel, a matter of probably three miles. Walking in Paris is my favorite activity. Every block reveals something either curious or heart-stoppingly beautiful. Usually, I try to get myself lost but that day, with the Tower as a landmark visible above any given point in the city, I didn’t succeed.

I arrived at the base of the Eiffel Tower in early afternoon, as I recall, and was suddenly engulfed in a herd of small, sweaty men in very short shorts. They were huffing and puffing and runnels of sweat were springing like freshets all over their mostly exposed bodies. I assumed I had happened onto the finish line of a foot race through Paris, until I saw the bikes; and then, the big sign declaring TOUR DE FRANCE.

There was a podium set up under the girdered legs of the Eiffel Tower, like a nest under a vast steel chicken. On it, if my memory serves me, stood the recently-elected Président de la République and ex-officio Co-Prince of Andorra, François Mitterrand. Beside him, as Master of Ceremony, was Olympic ski racer Jean-Claude Killy, who later became Président de la Société du Tour de France, from 1992 to 2001.

I stood there amazed. These were the vaunted he-men of the Tour de France? They barely cleared my shoulders. I stood among them like one of the architectural features of the Tower itself. Why, I could have picked up two of them, one under each arm, and carried them away, possibly to a nearby bistro for a cool drink.

I have nothing against short men, mind you, but my image was shattered. Despite the fact that I could not, on my best day, accomplish one one-hundredth of their route in ten times the time, I realized that a chasm had forever emerged between me and international bike racing. (A similar disenchantment happened to my friend Linda, who encountered Sylvester Stalone and described him as “four-foot-ten,” or just slightly taller than the giant guns he lugs around, on-screen.)

I have no idea if the athletes of these races have changed over the years. Certainly their racing uniforms have. Silk shorts have been replaced by Spandex leggings, which is too bad because those racers of 1981 had powerfully muscular, sun-bronzed legs, from the hair of which depended droplets of sweat, like raindrops on twigs. It was definitely their best feature. Maybe today’s herd of racers is long and lean or tall and blocky. I have no idea. And I’m not about to push my way through the expected 10,000 spectators to find out.

Long, short, broad-shouldered or thin, I wish them all Godspeed and a safe arrival at their destination, somewhere down in the San Joaquin Valley near Fresno. No  matter what their builds, they’ve all got one feature in common: huge hearts!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fiesta of Smoke: Hill’s Teenage Sex Life

Today’s post is an excerpt from my recently completed novel, Fiesta of Smoke. In this snippet, Hill is musing about Calypso and recalls the opening salvos of his life as a sexual being. First, there was Janna, a redhead with porcelain skin, whose elbow he admired in class. And then came Ellen . . .

Presently, I’m involved in Round 2 of editing and revising the manuscript of Fiesta of Smoke. I hope to have the revised copy in the publisher’s hands sometime next week.

For those who may have missed them, a synopsis of Fiesta of Smoke can be found on the January 5, 2012 post; the Prologue, on January 8; an introduction to the protagonists Calypso, on February 3, Javier, on February 20 and Hill on March 2; Calypso and Hill Dine was posted on March 14; More of Calypso and Hill, on March 30; More of Calypso and Hill–2, on April 10; and Calypso’s Apartment, Place des Vosges, on April 19.

. . . .

He turned 15 in December, when black ice was on the roads and cattle were blown into fence corners and frozen to the barbed wire. Janna’s elbow, he was sure, was all that sustained him through that bleak season, with his hormones all dressed up with nowhere to go.

When spring finally came and new grass started to drive through the ground like nails, he was a prime candidate for testosterone poisoning, if such an affliction existed. It wasn’t that Janna’s elbow wasn’t sublime in every respect, but it just wasn’t enough anymore.

Enter Ellen, with her ruddy skin, straight brown hair pulled back into an askew ponytail and pimples peppering her chin, who contrasted with Janna’s porcelain delicacy like a heifer beside a racing filly.

Ellen’s father had moved West from New York because of a bronchial condition, to operate a small appliance fix-it shop downtown. They moved into the house next door, recently vacated by the death of Mrs. Conchlin, who finally cashed it in at 97.

Ellen was an only child and a precocious one. She spoke of New York as if God lived there and of Boulder as if it were the 8th level of Hell. She was worldly, raucous and, it turned out, as hormonally harassed as Hill.

He had known her for exactly one week when she fired her opening salvo. They were in his room and she was reviling Boulder and talking about Christmas windows on Fifth Avenue, when she suddenly said (amazing how the words could still be etched in his mind, more than thirty years later), “Wanna see my pussy?”

Hill remembered experiencing a sensation of lightness, of suspension of time, as if his mind had suddenly been sucked into a space warp. About three months later, he managed to stammer, “What? What did you say?”

Ellen looked him straight in the eye, clearly aware of her effect, and said again, “You heard me. Ya wanna see my pussy?”

Hill was sure that in later years he had been more coolly collected when he went to interview Fidel Castro, whose pearl-handled .45 lay ominously beside him on his desk, than he was beneath Ellen’s relentless stare.

“What do you mean? Here? Now?” Hill could see in retrospect that he had not been an exact model of suavity.

Ellen grinned. “Sure,” she said.

Hill’s mind had cleared, finally, and he was very, very certain of two things: he did most definitely want to see Ellen’s pussy; and, he didn’t want to see it here, in his room.

Looking back on it, Hill could see that this was really an interesting revelation of his own character. It wasn’t so much that he was afraid of being caught, although that of course would have been mortifying beyond belief. It was that he didn’t want to worry about being caught.

He didn’t want to divide his attention, one ear cocked for his mother’s footsteps on the stairs, bringing freshly-laundered socks to his drawer or calling him to bring Ellen down for cookies. If he was going to see Ellen’s pussy--and now he was determined that God Himself would not stop him from seeing it--then he wanted quiet and privacy.
Hill took a swig of coffee, the last one and cold, and chuckled. One should worship at any temple in peace and concentration.

He instantly knew just the place to take her. It was a little hollow beside a creek where he sometimes went fishing and to masturbate over Janna’s elbow. It was about a mile from the house, an easy walk, and the place was solitude itself--overhung by alder trees, surrounded by berry bushes and padded with a small but thick patch of grass.

He was ready to grab her hand and drag her out the door that very minute, but it was almost dinner time and he knew they were about to be called away to their respective tables.

In an agony of uncertainty--what if, later, she had changed her mind?--he said shakily, “What about tomorrow? I know a good place.”

Ellen looked at him with real disgust. He could only guess, these many years later, that her hormones must have been in even more of a rage to live than his. She pulled down the corner of her mouth, wrinkled her nose, jabbed the rug with her toe and said listlessly, “Okay.”

. . . .

Monday, May 14, 2012

Grooming the Thyme Lawn and Other Dalliances

 Is there a more gentlewomanly pursuit that plucking pine needles from a thyme lawn? That’s how I spent part of Mother’s Day morning. The thyme lawn that makes a carpet under the birdbath is thick and wooly and the winter wind drives the needles into it, like nails into a board. Raking is destructive: it pulls up the plants, with needles still embedded. All means of mass extraction, in fact, are ineffective. And thus, I lingered out in the soft morning breeze, yesterday, drawing pine needles, one by one, from the matted thyme, drenched in its heady scent.

Later in the day, I found myself snipping chives with scissors and cutting julienne strips of French sorrel, while making French sorrel soup. This, too, struck me as a rather effete activity, especially the part where I was disappointed that we were out of crème fraiche and had to settle for sour cream.

Watering the bees by filling the fountain, cutting gorgeous white roses for a bouquet, pruning the rock roses, snapping photos of flowers, hand watering the gardens, deadheading flowers, plucking dried fronds from the Boston fern and consulting with David on where to plant the wisteria vine, the Clary and Jerusalem sages and the miniature rosebush occupied a bit more of the day. That part came after a leisurely nap during which I slept off the rigors of the morning when, in addition to grooming the thyme lawn, I also groomed my friend Linda’s Persian and Scottish Fold cats, watched while David and my friend Carol sawed a huge, root-bound horseradish plant in two with a bread knife, and read an article on a must-see exhibit of Siamese art, in a seven-year old Veranda magazine.

 In fact, the entire day was made up of activities that, in the long run of things, or with an eye to the Bottom Line, could be considered mostly useless. Which, I suppose, is partly what makes them so ravishingly delicious. I spent an entire day in useless pursuits. Toward evening, I donned a sarong, earrings and lipstick in a bid to achieve a new height: ornamental uselessness. In all, it was a tour de force of dalliance; one, I think, that comes close to being a personal best. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Wishing you a happy and blessed Mother's Day, whether you have human children, fur children, or are a steward of your neighborhood, society or the earth. Mothers come in all sizes and descriptions, all distinguished by their love and sense of service. Blessings of the day, to all!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Swarmy Weather

I stepped out onto the deck, yesterday, just in time to hear a swarm ascending from our bee hives. It took me a moment to spot it, as it circled up into the blue sky. I didn’t want to believe that I knew what I knew. I wanted to pretend that it was just a training flight of new bees or an aerial combat between two hives. But the sound of a swarm is distinctive; there’s no mistaking its deep, mysterious drone. We definitely had a swarm and that means . . . ACTION!

I called David, who came running. We watched as the swarm spiraled through the air, an expansive, swirling, spiraling ball of bees that slowly coalesced around an oak branch and, within minutes, formed the distinctive melon-shaped mass of a quiescent swarm. The only problem was, the mass hung over twenty feet off the ground, surrounded by densely protective leaves and branches. David made his pronouncement: too high; too hard to get; have to let them go.

At that very moment, our neighbor to the south, Mark, arrived and David pointed out the swarm to him, telling some old war stores of other swarm captures, in the process. Something in those tellings must have galvanized his will because, suddenly, David was heading to the shed for his 25-foot extension ladder and was jabbing it into the branches of the swarm tree, looking for firm anchorage.

Now, David’s mother, Frances, God rest her soul, once told me “never stifle a noble impulse,” and this seemed apt advice for this apparent suicide mission. So I raced to get the bee box out of the trunk of my car, where it’s lived ever since the last ill-fated swarm capture (see blog post “To Bee or Not to Bee,” April 2, 2012) and to collect our hats with bee veils and other protective gear and, most important, a roll of duct tape.

A couple of years ago, we had a swarm in this same tree, at about the same height. On that occasion, too, David used the extension ladder to get within range of the bees, who cleverly depend themselves near the ends of branches, where no ladder can be leaned. Using loppers, that time and this, he began clearing the field of action.

Meanwhile, I set about constructing, with neighbor Mark’s help, a repeat of the device we invented on that first occasion, which I christened the Chinese bee box. This consists of four 8-foot bamboo poles, duct taped to the corners of the cardboard box. Hoisted on these shaky extensions, the box can be placed directly under the swarm. David then shakes the branch, the bees fall into the box, et voilá! The swarm is captured.

Yesterday’s mission required that I ascend the extension ladder, too, as, even with extensions on the box it was impossible to reach the swarm without mounting at least four steps. As I was now wearing the bee veil, which is roughly similar to wearing dark glasses in a movie theater, and had duct taped my gloves to the cuffs of my coat, and my pants hems to the tops of my shoes, I was moving with somewhat less than fluid grace, and performed this maneuver, shaky apparatus in hand, with some difficulty.

So there David and I were, lined up on the ladder, the swarm mass tantalizingly out of reach to our left. I held the box up and out, positioning it as closely as possible under the bees. David gave the branch a mighty jerk. The bees obligingly fell into the box, en masse. And all seemed right with the world, except for my little part of it.

This requires your imagination: you’re about four feet above the ground – uneven ground that makes the ladder slightly shaky, to begin with; you’re half-blind, and bound in duct tape like a hostage; you’re holding up this ridiculous contraption that threatens to fall apart just from being hoisted; and SUDDENLY, about ten pounds of bees land smack dab on top of the whole outrageous contrivance, with a few hundred left over to cascade all over yourself. Even under your imaginary bee veil you can clearly see that this is a recipe for disaster!

Since I was holding the box out to my left, gravity was having its way with it,  and the box’s trajectory continued southward until, as my mother, God rest her soul, used to say, it was “listing towards Fisher’s.” Radically. The entire box was a hair’s breadth from going smash when I got my four sticks collected against my stomach, steeled my muscles and – as it hung wavering, minutely above the point of no return – slowly, by main strength, brought the box upright, again.

David was able to grab its top edge and stabilize it and down we came: me, sticks, box, bees and David, one perilous step at a time until all of us were on terra firma. We put the top on the box, took the bees immediately to the bee yard, and dumped them into a nice new hive. Then waited, on edge, while the bees decided if they would accept their new lodgings or not. And that, of course, depended upon whether or not we had captured the queen, because whither goeth the queen, thereunto goeth the workers, also.

It appears that we did get the queen. The bees who were outside the hive began docilely sauntering into the hive opening. Bees remaining in the box bottom and top eventually followed suit. And, through the combined efforts of bees and humans, a new bee colony was born.

Of course, this is not without consequences. Both David and I are limping a bit from the exertion. Southern neighbor Mark declared the entire event “complete madness,” and went home and invented and then manufactured a swarm catching device, consisting of a  5-gallon bucket on a pole, that far exceeds in utility the Chinese bee box (but may lack somewhat the latter’s louche charm). Some bees lost their lives in the melee, but not many. David was stung on the thumb, right through his glove. And we went through about 6 dollars worth of duct tape.

We sat on the deck and admired our new hive over glasses of ice water. My hair was plastered, soaked with sweat, to my head, as were David’s and my shirts to our torsos. Swarmy weather is hot weather. We were as moist and resistless as boiled potatoes. When you’re imagining yourself up on that ladder with the sun beating down, wearing a jacket and gloves, Chinese bee box in hand, add copious sweat, especially in the eyes, to your imaginings. You’ll get the picture.

"Well, that was kind of fun," David ventured. "It was fun! Better than a night on the town," I responded. " "Good, because I just got a call that there's a swarm up in the clock tower, at the courthouse . . ." 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Simple Routine

Exhale daily effluence;
Inhale  life's  affluence.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Postmodern May

        May is bustin’ out all over! Lilacs are going strong. Daffodils are being replaced by lilies. The flowering quince has yielded to clematis. The apple trees are lacy and white as spring brides, and droning with bees.

       Last May I posted this poem, ‘Postmodern May,” and I hope it bears repeating. And I hope it gives you as much fun, reading it, as it gave me, writing it.

Postmodern May

Ms. Nature shuns her millennial personhood
         Rejecting minimalism, Spandex and faded denim
She flaunts her opulence—full-breasted,
         Riotously flower-printed, budding, engorged.
Anorexia is not her style—
         She’s plump and full-hipped.
No cold-eyed stare, no blackened lips—
         She’s tarted up, red and rosy
Showing her sex in every blossom
         Wanton, strumpet-colored, perfumed
Like a slut; still wallowing deep
         In muddy ruts, she powders herself
Lavishly in drifts of pollen.
         She gives cellular and laptop
A different twist, and her blue
         Larkspurs know nothing of S or M.
She’s an old-fashioned kind of a gal
         Who’s abjured car alarms for
The creaking creely-creely of hummingbirds,
         And the chitter of squirrels.
Nothing whited-out or matte-finished
         About her--she’s shiny patent leather
Green, all gleam and glisten and
         Oils on the surface.  She’s given up
Briskness for slow-moving
         Moist, voluptuous airs,
A snip of Queen Anne’s Lace in her bosom,
         A deep moss-green velvet stole about her trunk,
Her head scarved in wind-stretched opalescence,
         And her feet deep in frog-studded standing pools.
She’s a vision; an embarrassment of feminine charms,
         Like some old burlesque queen’s dream
Of youth and beauty. Hear her humming
         Her small songs in the trees, her soft breath
Sighing in little, excited gasps, exhaling
         Essence of a million blooms,
Sweet and rapturous.  Don’t you wish
         You could skip the gym,
Stand up your skinny girlfriend, and roll
         With May on her lush, tassled bosom of grasses?
She’s a phenomenon you can’t deconstruct.
         She’s wet with juices. And she’s beckoning

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Invoke the Spring

 Just two weeks ago, snow covered this mountain and the manzanitas were laden with frozen flowers. Two days later, the snow was gone, the manzanitas were still blooming, and bees, both domestic and wild, were droning in the branches. And the black oaks, bare limbed and snow-covered, leafed out after two days of sun.

Life is like that, I’ve found. One day, the clouds roll in, the cold torrent falls and everything seems bleak. In due course, though, the sun comes out, the thaw sends trickles of water chuckling down the ruts and there’s a sweet fragrance in the air. I try to remember this, on my more pessimistic days. Everything cycles. Stasis is an affront to the natural rhythm of things. 

So I’m supposing that this is true for the larger cycles, too. I’m thinking of those historic patterns of repression, war, famine and benighted ignorance; of corruption, greed, and  social inequality. Surely, this long, cold night of human suffering will yield to a dawn. The thaw will come; the flowers will give their honey. If it were not so, I don’t know why any one of us would want to continue on, into the maelstrom that we see and sense is brewing all around us. So hold the cyclic nature of things close to your heart. Invoke the spring, in all its glory. Everything cycles. Stasis is an affront to the natural rhythm of things. The darkness cannot last forever.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Winds of Change

 The wind blew all night, last night, and is still blowing, this morning. When I went to bed, it was coming from the east. When I got up, it was blowing from the southwest. All night long air surged through the pines, sighing, and the wind chimes dinged endlessly. The still-almost-full moon illuminated a silvery world of flouncing branches and far, platinum hills. I imagine the great vortices of the sky, turning in the night just like the stars; massive volumes of air twirling in a mysterious dance. These are the winds of change that blow away the cool weather of early spring and usher in the heat. The little tomato starts in the garden must be dancing with joy!

Yesterday I finished the first major round of revision and editing of Fiesta of Smoke, a day ahead of schedule--another cause for dancing with joy! It’s almost ten pages shorter, as a result, and a whole lot smoother. I realized in the process that some of the details of the plot, while historically accurate, may seem like fantasy to readers, so I’m going to have to write an epilogue explaining that things like the Albigensian and Children’s Crusades; the Ammonite religion that claims direct, unbroken lineage to Egypt’s pharaohs, and their Sau Tahuti, who never dies; and the current affairs of Mexico, including the fantastic profits of the drug cartels, are all factual. Three myths retold in the book, Egyptian, French and Rarámuri, are accurate, as well.

As soon as I had sent the manuscript for Fiesta of Smoke off to the publisher, yesterday, I went out to the garden and began weeding. My friend in Kentucky, Tammy Horn, author of Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation and Beeconomy: What Women and Bees Can Teach Us about Local Trade and the Global Market, wrote me this morning, saying,

Editing and weeding are equally satisfying, I've discovered.  I had always told myself that I didn't have time for a garden when writing the two bee books, but now that I have a back garden and a front garden, I *love* helps me the same way that editing for about 15 minutes can "jump start" me into writing.  I worked on my garden all day yesterday and it was just a divine experience to turn off the phone, walk away from the computer and be in the sun.”

To which I responded:

“Tammy, you're a woman after my own heart! After so many months in my head, eyes glued to the screen, being in the garden pulling weeds was like heaven, and so grounding! Things are just leafing and budding out, at our elevation, a reminder that the book is in the same phase. No need to panic. Everything ripens at its own pace.”

To which she sent back the rejoinder: 

“And a good reminder that so much development happens in the ground first, before the greening takes place.”

What would we do without Mother Earth, to keep us mindful of the cycling of things? How would we keep ourselves from panic, when life sinks into earthy darkness and seeming inactivity; or when we look at its bare sticks and despair of our lives ever greening, leafing out, budding, blooming and bearing fruit? What would keep down the fear when the strong winds of life blow, if we forgot that they are bringing in the warming trend that makes fruits and vegetables swell and ripen?

Let’s all take the time, today, to step into the sun, to breathe deeply of spring’s scented air and to spread our arms to the winds of change. They’re blowing, whether we like it or not. We may as well welcome them with open arms!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Faster, Faster!

My apologies for being absent from this blog for a few days. I'm in the editing and revision phase of Fiesta of Smoke, with a May 7th deadline looming. Yesterday I finished editing and revising the hard copy, by working at it 8 to 10 hours a day.  A friend told me that it took three editors a year to edit James Mitchner's Hawaii. I've gone through 1011 pages in a week! There are myriad things to check: Spanish and French spelling, punctuation and syntax; historical veracity; the time line of the plot; spelling; internal agreement of the facts; not to mention my own sometimes arcane sentence structure, word choice and verbosity. My desk is cleared except for my laptop, the manuscript box with its two plus reams of paper, a Spanish and a French dictionary, a Thesaurus and a foot-high stack of books on Mexican, particularly Chiapan, history. Now, for the long and intense process of imputing all the changes into the computer.

The cap of my red pen developed a tiny crack, at the beginning of this process. Every time I throw the pen down on the desk and start to rise for a break, the cap flies off and leaps across the desk like a cricket. No amount of careful handling will subvert this pen's will to be capless and ready for action. I say I need a break; it says, No, no! Keep working! It's a small synchronicity but, as I have never in my life had a pen act this way, one that I must heed. Even though my brain feels like it's on fire; despite the crick in my back and the sensation that my fingers are handicapped with lead weights, Fiesta of Smoke is inching its way toward the moment when it leaves my desk, wings its way through cyberspace and lands in the hands of my publisher.

Thank you for your patience with this process. I promise to be back to daily posts, after May 7th. Until then, I hope some passion is calling you with equal ferocity, demanding your focused attention, your creativity and your sense of your own power. After all, isn't dreaming a dream, setting a course toward it, and enduring all storms along the way a big part of what it is to be fully human? So,  hurray for you! Hurray for me! Hurray for our side! And full speed ahead!