Friday, August 18, 2017

Cannonades

Tonight I heard them, the cannonades. Not sure that's a word, maybe just made it.

But it's a fitting description of late night San Simeon sound when, with windows open, I  hear violent surf crashing against the inlet.


The ocean once presided over much of the world. It seems intent tonight on taking it back.

Breaker after breaker.
Often sounding only 30 yards from my back deck, sometimes it echoing back from the hills behind us.

Nelson's victory at Trafalgar, Odysseus conquers the Aegean.
Nice reading.

But
ultimately, the ocean wins.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Desert Solitaire


Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire was very much on my mind tonight and my aimless mind composed yet another ignorable blog entry…

Leaving San Simeon in a few weeks and my beach friends will soon be asking me what I see in the deserts of Arizona.

Well, try to consider...

Life, Death, and Coexistence on a grand and immediate scale.

I’ve recently spent three days with a friend in the California high country and managed to drag my sorry butt to the higher 9000 foot lakes. 

We saw two deer, one or two squirrels. And a lot of dead trees.

In a month or so I will return to the city of Tucson and a backyard filled with roadrunners, doves, quail, multiple squirrel species, and the occasional snake, tarantula, coyote and a possible gila monster.

And so from Edward Abbey’s, Desert Solitaire:

The desert is a vast world, an oceanic world, as deep in its way and complex and various as the sea.

But a better passage was provided by my brother Mark, a near- native Tucsonan:

The Desert:  Its brilliant colors, its diverse wildlife, its vast empty places and all its veiled beauty--grows on you.  No one comes here expecting to stay; the landscape is just too harsh, too barren and too unforgiving, not at all what we are used to or even what we imagine we would like.

 But the air, the silence, and the seductive encore of a thousand crimson sunsets, slowly and imperceptibly pulls us in, wins us over and holds us captive, to this steadfast celebration of life, in the most austere and inhospitable of surroundings.  If even the dry and dusty desert can bloom, then so can we.

You nailed it Mark.
Thanks.

 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Dinosaurs

This is what happens when you forget to spray insecticide around your house:



The lizards get big and fat and growl when you walk by.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Haiku for Tribune
 7/14/17

1:45 am

I don't want to live
In a big city place where
Coyotes don't sing.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

User Guide Warning: Aging Humans

If you are over sixty, consider the harmful effects of taking up artistic pursuits, i.e. painting, drawing, or water colors.
     1. It will rewire your brain in unpredictable ways.
     2. Your experience of reality might drastically change.
     3. Whereas you saw shapes and colors, you will now
          perceive the added dimension of depth, shadow,
          light--its absence and presence.
     4. Drawing a simple and boring pine cone, after forty
          years of not drawing nothing/anything,
          is now a herculean task.

 


     5. You might discover little talent. Much worse, a
         modicum of it. Either way, you're screwed and
        decades late.

But you can at least get closer to the destination.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sunday, Evil Sunday

I walked downhill for a Sunday paper from the corner store.
Passing our auxiliary parking lot of three much coveted units, I saw an elderly lady standing by an open-hooded car.
Her appearance and sweet demeanor reminded me of a Warner Brother's cartoon, the grandma owner of Tweedy-Pie, you know, the bird that always says, "I taught I saw a pussycat"?

Smiling my best Dexter smile I said "Hello" and walked on.

After purchasing a newspaper, a chance meeting with a neighbor, Eddie, found us both walking back up the hill. When we reached the sweet old lady, still standing beside her open-hooded grey car,  Eddie gallantly asked, "Do you need help?"
"Oh no," she said, "I'm waiting for Triple A to bring me a new battery."

Eddie and I parted company and I was two sections into my paper when a tow truck passed by my living room window.

A mere two minutes later, Satan HIMSELF appeared outside that same window!
He was disguised as my next-door neighbor Bill.
"Hey, John..."
I opened my window, but only part way (mindful never to grant evil forces a full run of your household)
"What?"
"There's a parking space available down there," he said in a smooth and seductive voice. "Why don't you take it?"
"I don't know," I replied to Bill/Satan and after a long moment, "It seems kind of mean..."
Eventually the evil apparition drifted away from my window.

My wife, sitting beside me and a full spectator to my temptation, was appalled.
"What, you're not going to take it? That car has sat there unmoved for at least four months! I'd take our car down there myself if I wasn't in my robe."

I said nothing, sin of omission.

In a flash, my wife threw off her ritual flowered muu-muu and appeared instantly in street clothes. Car keys in hand, she flew out the front door. I glimpsed a head shaking in disgust as she charged our car down the street.

She returned.
Feeling a bit queasy, I sought fresh air on our back deck.

A grey car was circling the park, like a mother bird searching for a nest.

A raven stood in outrage.
I wanted a shower then--and absolution.


 
 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

It's Hot Here

How hot is it?

Yesterday 116, but today is a cooler 115--both record breakers for this region of Hell.
Possibly 118 tomorrow.

When I arrived at my wildlife observation platform (deck) at 7:30 am yesterday, it was 90 degrees. I sat and drank iced coffee until 8 am, just 30 minutes, but had to go inside then because it had already reached 100.

I got a bird feeder for my birthday, and it's a really popular site until the nuclear sun explodes over the mountains at 5 am. Then squirrels, rabbits, cardinals, dove and quail suddenly blend back into cactus shadows until sundown.

The animals are on edge when they return. I saw two curved billed thrashers trying to thrash each other. Two male quail had a dust-up. And squirrels bully the birds for control of the feeder.

City workers are wearing special shoes because the asphalt is 150 degrees and melting their soles.

Commercial flights have been cancelled at local airports because hot air doesn't have enough loft.

I no longer visit the oven my shed has become to polish rocks. Really need to pack them up and prepare for our Sunday departure.  The thing is, I just can't stay outside more than 5 minutes even with the aid of cold water--or beer!

Homeless people in this city are looking for shelter--even thinking about buying homes.

Nobody visits any of the three pools in our park. Fear of scalding.

We bought a fixer-upper house down the street and have to keep the AC on because we're afraid it might burst into flames before we get to live in it.



It has a nice view of the mountains, but you can't see them now.



Multiple wildfires in the foothills.  I guess when it gets hot enough, even dirt can burn.

The sad thing is, most of this is lacks my usual exaggerations.
 
California here we come!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Too Many Bloody Birthdays

Blood is illuminating.

And it was running down my left hand and over my wedding ring.

The ring glowed a sparkling red. Pretty sight, really, as I considered Shakespeare's Macbeth and his blood-drenched crown...

Thankfully my mind (what is left of it) whiplashed me back to the real stuff. I stood behind a shopping cart in our local rip-off coastal market, a wife written grocery list in one hand and the other hand bleeding profusely.

I had scuffed my hands rappelling down a cliff. Yes, some worthy rocks were found during that foray, but the incurred arm and hand injuries led me to suspect that my skill set for that particular activity had atrophied (a very wordy way to admit "I am too old for this shit").

Now I was paying the price.
Let's be real here. I was bleeding like a mofo.

What to do?

Well, the smart thing would be to cruise down the medical aisle, open a package of way too expensive band aids, and clamp that bloody leak down.

But this was not one of my smarter moments.

So the blood dripped over the handle of my shopping cart, and I did what any manly man would do. I utilized resources at hand like my old hero, MacGyver. 

I outsourced the blank half of my wife's shopping list and ripped the paper in half, applying pressure to the wound.

Honestly, I'm not a hemophiliac and don't gobble blood thinners. But growing older (and not too much wiser), I've discovered my skin has taken on the qualities of tissue paper, easily ripped--and so eager to bleed.

So there I was, pressing a piece of lined notebook paper against my wound, pretending to contemplate the beer section. Corona or Sam Adams, equally expensive twelve packs. What to do?

And a geezer comes up behind me. By "geezer" I mean someone at least 5 years beyond my 64. He admires the bloody piece of paper plastered against my hand, and giving a smug smile, passes on. I think dark thoughts, "Hey, I may be old but I can still coagulate!"

So I finish off my wife's list (the part not drenched to obscurity by blood running down my hand).
 
Time to check out.

It went well.
I'm about to "slide de card" when the same old man, who has doggedly followed me to the cashier, announces to the whole damn store:

"EXCUSE ME, DO YOU KNOW YOU ARE BLEEDING?'
Time stands still.
 
"You bet your wrinkled ass, I do." But I just think it and try hard to ignore the old bird behind me.

Meanwhile, checker folks to the left and right stop checking. Everyone looks--not at me--but at my hand and the bloody handle of my shopping cart. I decide to reject my shame.

"It's nothing," I announce, "must have brushed against a sharp part of the cart."

The oldest cashier swivels her grey locks and a shriveled head toward me, "This happened while you were here, in our store?".

"Maybe, not sure, but it's okay. Hey, when can I press the debit button?"

And it WAS okay for a while. Then my apparently contemporary cashier says,
"There are sanitary wipes two aisles down by the exit," using a tone that emphatically said, "Get The Hell Out you AIDS-ridden, BLEEDING OLD MAN!"

"Yes, I know where the wipes are and I will certainly take care of this cart before I leave."
I depart now accompanied by the sweetest and cutest, most chirpy high school girl I could ever have imagined in my prurient past.

"Don't worry about it. I'll take care of it," she tells me. I'm so grateful that I want to squeeze her non-titties.

And as we approach the wipe down station I tell her, "No, I'll take care of it. I made this mess," and proceed to wipe down the bloody handle, smiling back at her teeth, brighter than those on my first birthday.


"Everybody is so worried about AIDS these days," I tell her, as if this is normal small talk with Bambi supermarket girls, "No reason you should have do this."

I continue mopping up the morbid mess and vow henceforth to eliminate the morning aspirin, a blood thinner supposedly preventing strokes and keep me from becoming more the feeb I already am.

I allow Miss USA teenager to roll my cart to the back of my car. But before she could escape, it got worse. 

The concerned geezer at the check stand had tailed me to the parking lot. As my teen helper was unloading the groceries, he came up to my face.
"What part of the cart caused your bleeding?"


Was this guy a retired accident lawyer?

I recoiled from his prehistoric breath and replied with utmost wit, "What?"

 
(What I wanted to do right then was swivel him around and inflict two death-dealing blows to his ancient kidneys).

Instead I answered with my best version of de truth, whatever that is.


"Well you know how it is when you're old, right? Just a small touch on our non-elastic skin and we start bleeding like a fire hydrant, right?"

After a moment he says "Oh yeah!" and treats me to a view of his bruised, hemorrhaged arm.

Nice, I think, being old just doesn't get any better than this.
 
I try hard to remember how to open my car door and watch an obviously traumatized teen retreating back to the store.


I really do love my wife and at that moment wanted nothing so much as to return to her and rejoin our polite ability to ignore the effects of aging. 

And I resolve henceforth to always carry Band-Aids in my wallet--a place once hopefully reserved for condoms.


But it is what it is.

And, you know what?  I like it.

Tucson, Arizona, June 18th 2017.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Nesting Behavior


7 am.

My morning vigil reveals doves in their attempt to set up house in the palm tree outside my patio.
Good luck.


We are eye level, 10 feet from each other. The female paces back and forth, unsure, appraising the sharply serrated limbs.

Is this really a neighborhood where she wants to raise her chicks?

Meanwhile the male flits between various limbs and the roof top above her, cluelessly holding a thick twig.

"Is this what we need, Honey?"



Eventually she takes the twig and flutters to the pavers below. After much chewing and grinding she takes a suitable half piece back to her would-be nest.
"Males!"

Where to put the now correctly sized twig?

First time home buyers I think: apprehensive and wishing they had paid more attention when their parents went through the same process.

And then panic. My neighbor opens his back door to take his dog for a walk. Both birds leave in an explosion of feathers.
 
Doves are the only birds I know that actually squeak during flight...

Deciding on a house is scary.
I squeak, too.


Several days later, 9 am.

No doves, no nest.
Guess they decided to "go in another direction."
Good luck.



Unit available, maybe.

 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Desert Wind

Like a ghostly prop
On a WW2 bomber
My patio fan cranks to life

If  only it could blow
Life into
souls
Lost in distant wars.

I enjoy the wind
Appreciate their sacrifice
And know it will never be enough.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Stripes

We saw one of these on our walk yesterday. It runs like hell, stops, then wags a curved tail back and forth, perhaps emulating a scorpion.

Image result for zebra lizard

ZEBRA-TAILED LIZARD  Callisaurus draconoides

         Seems like there are striped animals wherever we live.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Wrong Turn

The Loma Verde trail in the Saguaro National Park. Specific destination, a defunct copper mine, one mile from the trail head. But I misread a sign and ended up at Pink Hill Lookout.


Not a bad view, actually.

Just as far to push on as go back. I found the mine and some copper ore on my way back. The day was cool but dry.




A four mile loop. Glad I brought plenty of water.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Desert Blooms and Desperate Allergies

Winter storms have produced an exceptionally beautiful bloom.
 
Unfortunately they produce pounds of pollen. 
Yesterday, Deb and I were enjoying a snack on our patio. I sneezed so many times that my eyeballs popped out. I heard them splat against the glass table between us.
 
Deb shoved them back in. But I can't see very well and my eyes hurt.
 
We were enjoying deviled eggs at the time.
I wonder if she put two in... and I ate my eyeballs!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Listen

One night, many years ago I was angry with a family member. So I drove into the mountains as far as I could until I had to stop.  Road blocked, snow ahead.

A U-turn and several downhill miles, brought me to a pull out adjacent to a trickling creek. I unrolled my sleeping bag in the bed of the truck and regarded the stars. A moment later I felt sunlight beyond my eyelids.

I was not ready to wake up.

I heard a sound. Not the usual one under the circumstances: A twenty some year old seasonal ranger asking "Sir, you realize you are camping out-of- bounds?"  I'd talked my way out that situation numerous times.

No, no.
This was a different sound, one that I've spent nearly 30 years trying to describe.
My eyes snapped open to the broad undulating wings of a hawk passing overhead. It receded over the road, out into the canyon below.

Still I hear that repeated sound...

Using mere words, the best I've come up with is "waft" or the indicative" wafting".
Employing a more mechanical approach: an umbrella slamming full in a strong breeze, the sound of a parachute blissfully opening after throwing oneself out of an airplane (something I've not yet done).

But everything falls short. There is no way to describe what I heard that morning, let alone my attendant emotions.

All the more reason to talk little, write less, and experience more.