All aboard. People I very much appreciate:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ampliative Induction

One of my favorite poets is Masaoka Shiki. Here is a doodle of him in my current journal:
He wrote this poem, translated by San Francisco Poet, Kenneth Rexroth, with guidance from Morita Yasuyo and Kodama Sanhide, for the 1976 book, One Hundred More Poems From The Japanese:
A little over 10 years later, we had a big winter and the Sierra snowline dropped to about 1600 feet above sea-level. We built two little sleds and the kids painted them blue.  We packed them into the VW Bus and drove to the lower slopes. After sledding, we hiked into the trees and there it was. I took a photo and wish I could find it, but can't. It was a maple leaf embedded in the snow. I composed a poem in my mind and included it in a group of submissions to a magazine --it was not among those selected. I post it here:
Yes, I felt a jostle over a span of 100 years!
What is this all leading up to? I'm not sure, but along the way --entering the century's closing decade, we had two more cold winters --both of which caused creeks to freeze in this valley. I opened another journal and found this:
For those, like me, who have trouble deciphering my script, I will describe it as an ice-bound rock. The poem, as I recall, was an  effort to use the tremendous operations of nature --the language of the universe-- as a metaphor. William Blake opined, "To see a World in a Grain of Sand. And a Heaven in a Wild Flower." You see? Ampliative induction: A glimpse of immensity from a detail. He was a poet. So was Masaoka Shiki.

I am a gardener, but still I try. April is National Poetry Month.

You try too.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

How The Weather Is

Among the most perplexing enigmas is how the weather is. In this valley, gardeners, ranchers, farmers and city departments of public works have been plagued by drought, not 3 or 4 years of drought as California has conservatively complained to the world --in fear of inciting panic-- but 8 or 9 years. I don't know why we did that.

I don't know so many things.

But I do know the drought is over. In evidence, here is a photo Norma took yesterday on our way home from the market --a distance of four miles from our house on a road nobody much knew about 10 years ago. The tall grass was typical of springtime back then, and contained all sorts of little grazing animals one couldn't see until they ate their ways out --mice, bunnies, cattle, giraffes, dinosaurs. It has returned, but the animals have moved on.
Will they return? Perhaps not. Another mile brings us to a new sign.
This is the survival bellow of the California range. Pastures are being sold for housing tracts and industrial parks. Understandable after protracted drought, even if the grass is green again, the damage has been done. Party balloons have, for 9 years, had to be trucked pre-inflated from factories, and sky-divers were flown out-of-state to jump where there was enough air to open a parachute. But I have seen encouraging signs of reconstruction along with  zoning changes. Tomorrow, I shall take Norma to photo a gardeners' supply that sells decoys to lure the prairie animals back to this region. It's only a few miles away and quite promising.

Now it is tomorrow, and we set off our quest:
Our search led through several new housing tracts, then into fields again. We emerged onto a main road and found the place, got out and approached a well-secured fence, heard heavy footfalls running toward us from within. I was not entirely surprised.
"Help me with the gate," said T.Rex. "We can't seem to manage it alone. But jump back into your car or I might eat you. No offense."

"I understand, Instinct and all problem. Here, I think that's got it."
"Yay! Thanks so much! Now, if you'll give me some help with directions, I'll lead the other animals home."

"Of course, follow the realtors' signs and arrows on the fence and look both ways before crossing the road."

I have no idea how my post about weather has run to setting the dinosaurs free, but we have the rest of the day ahead to consider it in the privacy of our thoughts and tomorrow is Easter. Your regular pastor will return after finding a pest control company equal to fortifying the manse against thunderous infestations. Hope everyone had a meaningful Good Friday and, so far, an equally meaningful Not Bad Saturday.  Go in peace.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Miss Dickinson And The Paper Chase

I have written and read poems, analyzed them, parsed them out for meter and meaning long enough to know when I am in one. Emily Dickinson was 16 years old in this tintype --I believe it is the only photo ever taken of her. In 1846, a photoportrait exposure consumed several minutes, yet, some measure of her mischief comes through.
This brings us to the paper chase. During her lifetime, Emily Dickinson wrote thousands of poems, many hundreds of which she sewed into booklets and tucked under her bed. If you wish to see how she really punctuated --mainly with dashes for stops combined with continuities and capitalizations suggesting topical allusions-- you must find a book like this one.
It is 770 pages long. 

That's a lot of paper. When I was 18, a couple years older than Miss Dickinson was in her tintype, I bought a record of two songs written by the admirable Jimmy Webb. Side A was a popular puzzle, sung by the incomparable Richard Harris, but it was side B that got me going on the enigma of Emily Dickinson. A paper chase is a game of hide and seek conducted with paper scraps left as markers  by the "fox" for the "hounds".  I learned that from a lovely friend from New Zealand that same year, 1968. Here is the song, sung and declaimed by a true dramatic artist: Harris,Paper Chase;
It begins and ends with an harpsichord, but the chase continues even now --all these years later. I hope, yes the thing with feathers, that this chase has no foreseeable end.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Backyard Evolution

Geo.: Well, hello. What have we here?
Voice from overhead: A field cat perfecting his skulk.

Geo.: Who said that, and how do you know?

Voice: Look up here in the plum tree. I am a dove and doves know everything.

Geo.:  Everything?

Dove.: Everything.
Geo.: What then, is the object of Fieldcat perfecting its skulk? What is the perfect skulk?

Dove: Invisibility, of course.  Other creatures pursue it by different disciplines. Take our friend, Shed-cat, for instance...

Geo.: Shedcat? Where?

Dove: Precisely:
Dove: Shed-cat renders himself invisible by falling perfectly asleep on top of the shed. He is a great artist and ranks among the least conspicuous things in the universe.

Geo.: But what of you, Dove? How do you compare with other birds?

Dove: Consider Bluejay in the crepe myrtle...
Dove: His colors, stance and voice are are assertive --he is conspicuous. We doves have muted voices, calm colors and very good posture. On those points alone, we cannot be compared --and, of course, unlike other birds, we doves know everything.

Geo.: And humans?

Dove: Oh, good point! You humans know everything else. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Enigma of Youth

Let's begin with the premise that youth, while definitely enigmatic, is not a puzzle to be solved but a mystery to be experienced. Norma has taken a photo of the graduating dandelion class of 2017. They are in their youth and have accomplished their curriculum --a few even have their heads still on. This reminds me of my own 12th grade commencement.

Winds blew hard in my youth and many of us, like dandelions, were left without any heads, but we were resilient --as youths should be-- and our heads mostly grew back.

In youth we are clumsy and limber. I wore glasses and once accidentally stepped on them while they were still on my head. Here is a typical youth:

As Norma's camera gets closer, you can see its thoughts. Here are the thoughts of youth:
These thoughts come loose easily and spread by anemochory. This happens because of wind. Wind arrives and all thoughts fly away. Youth's friends point and laugh.

"Wind!", they say. Youth must grow a whole new head.

During this process of routine recapitation, youths are not so much driven to adulthood as confused into it. They might shout things like this:
   "The only substitute for good manners is a large and ruthless military!"
   "How dare you imply my candidate's lies are not true!"
   "I'm going to sea and dive for luffas!"

Then the storm subsides by and by and they remark, "There are many enigmas, many unknowns, and something  really ought to be done about them."

That is when a cooler head prevails and she lists the contents of the coming garden.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Signs and Portents

Here's a quotation I've never used before:
"...what portent can be greater than a pious notary?"

No idea what it means.

It comes from the novel, Romola, by Geo. Eliot --whose real name was Mary, a name I have always been fond of since I knew Mary the horse who never stepped on my head.  Geo. is my name too, so I get to use the quote. Portents weren't strictly considered warnings of calamity when the book was written --as they are now. They could mean a sign of anything wonderous. I will comply with modern usage and look for a wonderful sign.

Here, I will show you wonderful. Norma went out this morning between spring showers and photographed raindrops in her garden. Here is the first, a study of  refraction and reflection on a broccoli  leaf:
It consist of liquid jewels contrived to attract our attention. In fact, you can see a spot of dark in the upper leftmost drop. That is Norma and her lens. It comprised a promise, a portent she pursued to the brussel sprouts, which have rounder, more deeply contoured leaves.  Raindrops ran together there into a sign. A heart.
Nature is the language of the universe. In this instance, it left a sign we associate with love. The heart means the universe wants us to grow, thrive, treat each other --and ourselves-- with compassion.

If you wish to find out what else Eliot wrote on page 16 of  Romola,  her next sentence was "Balaam's ass was nothing to it." This a reference to the Old Testament Book of Numbers (22:21-39), where the ass got to talking coherently but was interrupted by humans who drummed themselves dopey with portentous political paradiddle.

Best to seek subtler signs --even if you don't like brussel sprouts because they look like little heads, and they do, you know.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Modern Problems

My posts have been sparse this past month because of enigmatic modern problems. This essay will address two of them.  I opened up our bathroom medicine cabinet recently and decided it could use some updating.
Ok, this picture isn't of the medicine cabinet  --it's a tool drawer in the barn-- but it's what Norma had and it's close enough. What I wanted was an oxygen concentrator so I could take trips to higher elevations. An oxygen concentrator is a machine that draws ambient air and expels nearly pure oxygen for aging wheezers like me. Ambient air consists generally of 20% oxygen, 70% nitrogen. Remaining 10% is mainly gasses produced by decaying uraninites and, in election years, blatherskites. Problem is, I've been called back into the doctor's office three times because they hadn't given me the full test this device requires for insurance coverage --sheer repetition has made me jumpy. Each time, there is some new part of the test that I haven't studied for, or they haven't. But I digress.

Point is, as we all sometimes must, I bowed to absurdity and, as I shut the mirrored medicine cabinet door, found my reflection had disappeared. 

"Not again!" I moaned.

Identity theft is a horrible thing.Same thing happened to me exactly four years ago and I recognized the symptoms. I returned home from my doctor's 3rd exam on Friday to receive a letter from Verizon thanking me for opening a cell phone account in Modesto --a city 75 miles south of here-- which I had not done.  I called Verizon first, established myself, and they cancelled the account even though they lost a cell phone --yes they do have a fraud dept. because it's that common.  That left my problem.

Oh lordy, I thought, I got Modern Problems!

Somebody made the purchase with my SSN and name AND address. I contacted my credit card co., all three credit monitoring agencies, visited the Sheriff's  Office to start a case file, then added passwords to any accounts that didn't already have them from my previous frolic with this outrage.

My reflection in the mirror is returning, which is promising.  I have so far narrowly escaped the ailment of lost identity known, in medical parlance, as Draculitis -- a brainal dysfunction and absence of mirrored reflection that causes sufferers to roam the night asking, "Is my hair all right?" I'd hate to have to go back to my doctor this week with that.

From what I learned at the Sheriff's Office, Medicare might have to cover it by and by.

This has been a public service announcement.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Subnivean Sermon

It is a brassy, woody sound between  ringing and rattling that rarely occurs, but when it does, it means the oldest telephone in the back porch has been called.

"Hello, have I reached the future?"

"Speaking.  How are you, Poppy?"

"Aging, but still in the game."

"And Santa?"

"Jolly, he's jolly. I need your help with something else."

"At your service, ma'am."

"All right. According to future history --where I was born but only visit on holidays now-- your new administration succeeded in confusing Sweden, of all places, this weekend. It won't stop there because 'alternative truth' has become part of the vulgate."

"Yes, Poppy, that was this weekend. How can I help?"

"You can help by resurrecting a counter-phrase from your youth in North America. Something "Job" and "Snow"? Am I making sense?"

"Snowjob? Sure, like when I used to make up phony quotes in high school essays and attribute them to non-existent authors. But I haven't heard the term in ages."

"Do your best then, Geo., even if you have to doodle and, if you can, suggest a solution to its threat of temporal enigma.  The confusion won't stop at Sweden. Bye!"

Hence my doodle:
Observe its four layers: the sky does a snowjob; tree metabolism and residual ground temperature create a relatively comfortable hollow under the packed snow.  Under the snowpack is better protected from predators than above it --and warmer. The hollow is called the subnivean zone. It contains the little creatures who seek shelter from the cold upper air when there are no attics available --or when attics are claimed by larger creatures like bison or low-flying aircraft.  In the doodle, you may notice the weathermouse reporting down a snow-tunnel to the twig-ladder-holding mouse --who relays meteorological information to squirrels, bugs, reptiles and other refugees in the subnivean zone.

Lesson is, we must learn from our little forest friends how to survive in subnivean security when inundated with incessant snowjobs. Your regular pastor will return next Sunday, or whenever weathermouse says it's safe to dig out.

Go in peace.
Addendum: To readers who wish a background to our time-traveling friend, Poppy, please click here.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Invisibility And The Meaning Of Life

I had not considered the enigma of invisibility until this week, while we patrolled the garden looking for rain-damage to our drought. I came upon this creature --Norma took a photo:
I: Well, hello there! Get through the rainy night all right?

It: Yes, thank you...I mean, uh, why are you asking?

I: I thought it only polite.

It: I mean, why are you talking to me?

I: Because you're a living creature.

It: Nonsense! I am some punctuation. One of those Roman things.

I: Roman thing?

It: Yes, Et , in Latin cursive, O and t were contracted to write And as &.

I: You're an ampersand?

It: Well, obviously. Trouble with you humans is no imagination. Think about it!
I: Ah, I see. Wonder why it hadn't struck me before.

It: It's because you jumpy humans spend so much time thinking up unpleasant things to do. Other animals accept our camouflage because their calmer imaginations are capable of it --and they'd rather not attack mighty forest beasts like us squirrels. When threatened, we keep perfectly still and the illusion is complete.

I: How do you remain still?

It: We meditate. We ponder the meaning of life. Think about where you have seen me.

I: Well, when you were growing up last summer, I saw you a lot atop our almond tree.
It: And now you see me carrying the almonds I buried off to my shelter in the laurel bough. I also socked a lot of walnuts away from under your neighbor's tree. That's the meaning of life.

I: You mean...

It: Yes, life is nuts!

I: You'll get no argument from me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Aisle 15 Again: Wheat Or Reality?

You may be wondering why I called you all here today to my favorite Mexican restaurant (I sure am). There was a good reason, having something to do with how flimsy reality has got lately and the best place to sort that out is lunch in a really good Mexican restaurant. With whatever you order, I recommend a bottle of Corona cerveza --one of the most cheerful beers in the world. For those conscientiously disinclined, ask for a pilsner glass --you will be brought a different  drink from the one in this bottle, that is equally cheerful (because it is Corona cerveza too). 
Let me begin by discussing an aspect of 'flimsy reality' that concerns the Muse. We write here, you and I. We found this medium because we wanted a place where we could say what we want and write as we wish. Surely you have all considered the nearly unthinkable importance of that license. The Muse's job is to negotiate between divine impulse and human consciousness.

What happens to the Muse's job when all her gods retire among metaphors in English 1-B classes? Gets harder, that's what. Reality suffers. We suffer. Writers suffer --of course you all know that. But I am not a writer. I am a gardener. I reluctantly consent to reality but expecting everybody to approve of it is a bit much. That's why we're going on a field trip after lunch. Now settle down, it's just to the market next door. Orderly line (and remember where the train's parked!).
Now, here we are in the cracker and cereal aisle, take note. I am pointing at a product of woven wheat. Those of you who insisted upon corn tortillas at lunch wouldn't know about wheat being called THE STAFF OF LIFE for 10,000 years, only that it has gluten in it --our concern is elsewhere. 

When we first tried shredded wheat cereal in the 1950s,  my brother theorized it was baled straw from some sort of miniaturized field operation. I disagreed, said if it looked like wicker and squeaked under pressure like wicker and...well, I thought it was wicker. Then came woven crackers and I imagined wheat woven on tiny looms by tiny slaves in tiny countries and, if I ever became a writer, I'd write about it --but the Muses never brought any divine impulses to encourage or contradict me, so I avoided the subject (and the whole occupation) because the reality wasn't anything I could always consciously consent to. 

As a human being, as a gardener, I consent to the basis of free expression, of true civilization, that is, I consent to compassion --and, if we're done here, another Corona.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Tracking The Longbilled Barkbird

When not tracking the wily turm (governments and other corporate irritants prize their oil and pay good bounties on big ones) I like to scan Normaphotos for other enigmatic wildlife.  Resulting essay will examine this commentitous aspect of zoology.  

Deep in the Great Amaryllis Veldt far to the south of here --about 200 feet-- there may be found, by the keen observer of nature, a curious creature that has not to my knowledge been photographed before. To all who have never seen or heard of this remarkable bird (and those who dubiously claim otherwise) my reference to the Longbilled Barkbird is obvious. This creature, known for its bright green eyes, protective coloring and planar physique, peels itself from eucalyptus trees to unfold in search of food.  

While our Barkbird pecks up whatever it finds under itself (usually the wriggling turm), let us turn our attention farther south, to the Amazon or Rio Grande or perhaps this nameless creek another 200 feet away. It is swollen now. Yes, we have had rain but there is a legend among natives that high water indicates Freds. Freds is a giant two-headed frog produced by Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant --which has been decommissioning for 40 years and counting. Freds dams up the creek downstream where he sits in it. Whenever the creek dwindles to a trickle, California Weather Service declares a drought, but locals nod knowingly and say, "Well well, Freds has got out again."

Whenever the creek goes dry, we print up posters to get people alert for Freds. Posters are instructive and cautionary. They say, "Attention,  should you encounter a giant two-headed frog that answers to 'Freds', be advised that he is intelligent. Find a ladder immediately and hold a map up where his heads can see it. He will thunder his own way home."

200 feet beyond the creek, you can make out an olive orchard --if you squint-- which will someday produce olive oil. We are hoping operation begins before an intended refit of Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant --200 feet even further south-- as a turmoil refinery, intended to produce fuel for this country's new experiment in driverless cars and government.

It is the purpose of this essay to describe the Longbilled Barkbird and I have done so within the limitations of my research. That the subject gives on to oil sources, mutant frogs, politics and the strange enthusiasms of a brash new century only serves to demonstrate that one enigma leads to another and another --and we must keep track of them to seek the truth, despite the stubborn illusion that it's already been found.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Where The Past Is

In recent weeks, there have been several inquiries about my reticence to restore Anonymous access to the comments section of my three blogs.  Five years ago, I wrote a little poem about being a grampa. Its title is Where The Future Is.  This has been a very rainy day, a good one for very rainy day activities such as going back in time to locate the temporal coordinates of that decision. I have done so.  Here is a post from "Gardening With Geo."  that illustrates the need for such boundaries. It is transported whole and includes the comments it got --strange as they are.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Where The Future Is

(Norma photos)
I will tell you
Where the future is.
I step beyond my
Shadow on the green
Back door to
Where she put a
Hat on him

And grandmothered dreams
Into memories.
The future roams our
Work in short steps
Under boughs and birds,
Seeing all, startled
At wind-eddies, awed
At assemblies of
Ants and daffodils.
I am paid in pebbles.


  1. This the ARYAN BLOG with GEOLOGIE HURE?
    You with DARLENE- PLO?

  2. No, Anonymous, this is the blog about quantum horticulture. I believe you want the blog down the road.

  3. Новинка сезона - мазь для о*****а. Из инструкции: "...1 сантиметр пасты выдавить на ладонь и втирать в ч**н до наступления о*****а...
    Устали сидеть и флудить на форуме? Предлагаю сделать перерыв и п*******ь!
    Эротическая фотогалерея от Mr.Wobbly

  4. Thank you, Anonymous,  for offering such a creative, if confusing, use for pasta. Best of luck with "Mister Wobbly".
    I trust this post offers some insight into the reasons for my comment adjustment.  To those who have requested I allow Anonymous access, I hope this helps ease the discomfort of commenting via Google I.D.s that have been disused but are still functional. I have installed your current blog links in the sidebar blogrolls at my sites so that you may be reached at other hosts and private domains that don't support Google Friend Connect and wish you every success in your new frontiers. As for me, I am trying to update my understanding of this new system --still confused about what Google+ is (help?!)-- but for now, it fumbles around where the past is. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Over-And-Under Enigma Retangled In Time

Having lately found myself in an awfully busy state --I'd ask for help if I knew what I was doing-- I decided to have fun, this New Year's Week, with some distracting matters that have no particular relation to worldly demands (or each other besides my affection for them) and am content to be guided by photos that have not yet figured in this blog. Let's start with one end of the top dining room shelf:

These are books I keep overhead. When I want one, I make a long arm and tease it out of its stack or however it leans into its neighbors. It is a friendly shelf because the books all like each other and arrange themselves accordingly, without troubling any alphabets or Dewey Decimals for order, so I like them right back.

Another overhead thing I like is doorway inscriptions. Here comes one now:
This is an entrance to the Fine Arts Building on S. Michigan Street in Chicago. Overhead is a line paraphrased from a poem (Ars Victrix) by Henry Dobson, "All passes. Art alone Enduring, stays with us.", which Henry Dobson in turn paraphrased from a poem (L'Art) byThéophile Gautier: "Tout passe. L’art robuste / Seul a l’éternite'."

Skywritten, overhead, on high shelves, stone, marmoreal clouds. Time emits an image in my mind: 1964--I watched Lyndon Johnson deliver his speech in a Valley Forge dingle. I was high above on a forward slope, but higher even than I, a Piper Cub pulled a banner around the sky. It read, "Goldwater, 64!"

My camera was back at the campsite, but the mind takes a good print --sometimes. Today, I found a print from 1977 in my email. It's from from Wendy, who has been a sister to Norma and me since the 1960s. I don't remember this photo being taken, but am pretty sure I'm holding my nephew who is enjoying eye-contact with Norma Over my left shoulder --still a very pleasant pastime-- while I seek out his owners with my infra-red-x-ray vision --or maybe that's just '70s-camera red eye.
Point is, it's not so much what happens over things --heads, presidential lectures, doorways, shelves and shoulders-- that owns all the thunder. Over gets a lot of credit it doesn't entirely deserve. What happens Under is a big show too. And sometimes what goes on behind our backs is quite lovely, even if it takes us 40 years to get the picture.