All aboard. People I very much appreciate:

Saturday, May 20, 2017

1968 A True Story Of The Infinite Negative

You came by. Troubled. It was 1968 and I lived with 3 other guys at Palomar Apartments. There was a party going on .  I suggested we repair to the little kitchen and sit at the table. We sat across from one another. You admired the tablecloth.

"It's Indian," I said. "Got it at Pier 1."


Of course it was cheap. None of us had much money in 1968. The name of it got me spending more than I should have: Floral Kavita.

"What's Kavita?
"Hindi for 'poem'."

"Where is the poem?"

At this point people staggered and barged into the kitchen, looking for libations and smelling of  cannabis. I suggested we clear the table.

"Then what?" She asked.

"Then we drape the tablecloth over our heads and go outside to find the poem."

We did so, felt a sudden privacy under the fabric, left by the kitchen back door and found a lawn that gave onto 14th Avenue. I led us to a bench. We sat.

"Tell me what's on your mind." I said. We could see the lights of cars and porches, but no details through the cotton. We heard only each other.

"I've been thinking about Harry. He wants to get married."

"Congratulations.  How do you feel about that?"

"Like an ornament."

"We need a poem, eh? No? What then?"

"All I can think of is an old song, Geo."


"We couldn't carry Harry to the ferry.
 We couldn't carry Harry to the shore.
 Reason that we couldn't carry Harry
 Is we couldn't carry Harry anymore."

I was charmed and astonished. "Where did you learn that song?"

"From my parents when I was little. They would sing it and laugh."

"It goes beyond syntactic double negatives into the grammatically infinite. I'll try to remember." We then did a synchronized somersault off the bench and the table-cloth stayed with us.

5 years later, I was working downtown and encountered her and her sister in the alley where my shop was. They were on their way back to the legal office they worked. We were happy to see each other. I was emboldened and asked, "Did you ever marry Harry?"

They both rolled their eyes and said, "Nooooo!"

Through peripheral sources, I've learned she became an elementary school teacher and married someone she is truly happy  with. Happy retirement, dear friend, wherever you are.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dragons And Details, What Dots Can Be

Let's begin with a couple of Normaphotos, as I often love to do. In the first, she heads out into the peripheral garden and notices something overhead --a herd of clouds  moving east into the Sierras.
They will pile up against mountains and rain  to refill our reservoirs. She had to get closer.
Yes, I believe she levitated. Norma has never let me watch her do that but I can't think of another explanation. If we allow our childhood imaginations to examine the central-to-right image, we see a version of Lisa's Dragon  , unretouched, breathing cool mist ahead, but there are --to the keenest-eyed observers-- a pair of dots in the upper left exhalation. Let's close in.
There appears a magpie and, further off, a heron flying east in parallel on business of their own.

No further enlargements are possible. We have learned all we can here. They all go into the mountains. It defies complication: When we learn how simple some things can be, it's surprising there's  even as many as one way of looking at them.

Sincere thanks to Lisa, yet again, for her "Oak Dragon" (please click) .

Friday, May 12, 2017

Garden Interview And Shakespeare

"Gosh, what're you?"
"I'm the same Carpenter Bee Normaphotoed  in your previous post."

"Yes, I remember...

                                        ...but you're all yellow up top now."

"True. Weather's heating up, Geo. What you see is sunscreen."

"You use pollen for sunscreen?"

"We use pollen for everything,  like in Shakespeare."

"Hamlet? 'To bee or not to bee?'(act3,scene1)"

"Don't get silly, Geo. It's 'to thine own self bee true' --Pollenius's line (act1,scene3)."

"I believe that's 'Polonius'. "

"Well don't tell anybody or the whole ecology could crash. Go and visit the other leaf and petal workers instead. I'm sure you'll see the need for discretion."

"'Most humbly (not bumblebee) do I take my leave, my lord.(act1, scene3)'"

"That's better, Geo. Now go see how your other friends are getting along. Go see Ladybug on the roses."
"Ah, there she is. Hello!"

"Hello yourself, human. Stop staring at my butt."

"Then, turn around. I can't get into the roses for another angle."

"Too busy eating aphids --who are you anyway?"

"I'm Geo. I write a blog.

"Geo.? I've heard of you. You're the clumsy idiot who stepped on his college counselor in 1970.  Get out of here."

"Well, that was an accident. I notice you have no wing-markings, does that mean...?"

"I am a Ladybug of spotless reputation. Now please move on so I can eat these blameless  screaming aphids. I believe an old friend of yours is sitting on a sage leaf. Goodbye! "

"'I shall in all my best obey you, Madam.(act1,scene2).'...Darwin? Darwin Doorbooger? is it really you? "
"But yes, it is I. Hello old friend! You look the same,Geo., but --alas!-- I am turning all sorts of impossible colors."

"Yes, that happened to me after a pacemaker change-out. Are you all right?"

"I feel ok, but am concerned about all this talk of Hamlet."

"You are turning a lovely green, Darwin. How would Shakespeare trouble you?"

"He also wrote Two Gentlemen Of Verona, Geo. What if I should turn black and be mistaken for a castanet?"

"You could be clicked to rhythmic ruin in a Tarantella!"

"Exactly! Can you help?"

"Don't worry, Darwin, I know where we can get yellow sunscreen and unwanted wing-spots that will prevent such calamity. Hop into my palm, there's a bee and a ladybug I'd like you to meet.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Wordlist #18 (or thereabouts)

My powers are under a cloud. It is Monday and the weekend has made an imbecile of me. When this happens, I resort to wordlists (samples clickable here) because thoughts sometimes lose adhesion to one another --in fact, this suggests the first entry:

1. Efeitos-colaterais: This a Portuguese phrase that means Side-effects. A change in medicine has caused me to utter things like this: This weekend's topographical studies have convinced me it is possible to travel from Spain to Portugal by zipline --which leads to word #2.

2. Cacoethes: This is an English (but yes, really) word defined as a sudden urge to do something inadvisable. Clearly, international travel by cable and gravity is inadvisable, yet, among a world population of 7 billion and a law of averages that produces remarkable events, someone is doubtless planning to do it. This calamity might be averted by safety-minded Spanish philologists who hear the phrase, "Sostenga mi cerveza", or "hold my beer", and intervene.

A more pleasant example (and exception) is here:
Norma got within inches of a California Carpenter Bee the other day to get his picture. I wouldn't have thought it advisable but I was in the house being an imbecile. This constitutes the exception to cacoethes. If one is innocently photographing sweet-pea petals and the law of averages inserts a great big bee into the picture, neither photographer nor indoor imbecile can be held responsible. Besides, I am better now and calculating to see if a zipline from the Marin Headlands to the Presidio might relieve morning traffic into San Francisco.

Wish me luck, wheeeeeeee!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Is Everything We Thought We Knew About Bridges Also About Dragonflies?

Over this essay is the longest title I've ever used. Titles here are usually short, but lately readership has fallen off and I thought maybe a long title...well, silly really, but the need to DO something about it is compelling --sometimes even I need a false sense of security. Enough said, let's proceed. The other day, Norma came in with a Normaphoto of a dragonfly. As elsewhere mentioned, wild creatures allow her within inches of themselves --she has no telephoto equipment, only an Ipad. She is a quiet, gentle girl who has no harm in her and wild things sense it. Here:
I was struck by the structural integrity of its wings. You see it at the top margin of each of its four transparent spans. I have seen such lateral bracing before, not on insects but on bridges that span the rivers that flow through this valley. We mostly have Bailey Bridges and Lift Bridges like these:

Lateral bracing is used to support forces of compression and tension. But one bridge leapt to the forefront of concern. I drew a doodle of the Jibboom Street Bridge, my favorite bridge at the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers:
This isn't the whole bridge, just the part that makes it unique. The support you see mid-span contains a trunnion bearing, on which the balanced  truss can be turned 90 degrees to let tall vessels come through. So I asked her, "Could you get in closer?"

She said, "I did."
This is not a photographic enlargement; Norma really got within an inch of the creature --close enough to see its works before it flew away. We can see a system of braces and supports converging upon ten bearings that permit its machineries of flight to run smoothly. Solid and sturdy as these trusses appear, I believe they also, by curious corbeling, allow air to flow efficiently along wingspans. Before seeing these Normaphotos I had only ever imagined transparent inefficiencies--
--but now I see there is much to be learned from dragonfly wings. They are in advance of us and our big brains. Good thing too. If our bridges copied them too closely, they would fly away! But, with artistic and architectural restraint --knowing where to draw the line-- we can consider them enigmatic wonders of identical construction.