Five Points Of My Life: Point Number One

My computer died and while I am setting up a new one, another haunting piece from Duke.

tin hats

The boat dropped me off on a Sobat River sandbar.  The Ethiopian border was fifteen miles away and if you looked on the map, you’d find my location to be on the southern edge of the Greater Upper Nile region.  There were 600,000 displaced Sudanese on the march.  The Mengistu government had fallen and all of the safe-haven camps on the border were now closed. The Sudanese had to go home and so they left by the hundreds of thousands, crying and complaining; grieving over the lost protection of Mengistu, who happened to be one of the world’s worst dictators at the time. He’d eventually be found guilty of genocide and the death of 2,000,000 people, but due to the winds of Africa, he would avoid arrest and float down to a luxurious life in Zimbabwe.   

Poetry and music were of no help to the Sudanese fleeing Ethiopia. Thoughts…

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A Kind of Madness

tin hats

I’ve settled upon a few things about writing and reading and they are like imprints I can feel … breath and heartbeat on my walk, smooth stones in my lungs … and they take in everything that I can see and think, everything that is real

Voice is the key to writing, on the wire, in the wind as the Indian nations listen to pole and track … falling upon the ground in disbelief, dying suddenly, asleep, a great sadness, as if all the blood in the world has vanished upon some threshold unknown to me

Style is more important than content, just ask the sun in the sky, a unique style gives one the confidence to refashion birth and death with cotton candy and endless spoons

Honesty over truth, since no one knows the truth, particularly people who were there, hurt in those lost moments, so far away, dense…

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The cub is coming

I received a 2021 calendar in the mail today. It’s nice to know that someone is hopeful.

2020 lies exhausted and sends forth her fierce and determined cub. It’s an image I’ll keep in mind as we go forth into strange territory.

The strange Red Quill which bloomed so spectacularly as my mother lay dying and a million acres burnt to dust here in California, is now spent but at its roots, seems ready once again to surprise me.

I noticed a bit of green at the base of the dried stalk on Halloween day.

A few days later it was splitting. And what’s that on the other side?

Another bit a green amidst the dying leaves. You just never know.

I voted weeks ago and so tomorrow I’m making bread … from scratch. Rosemary, garlic bread. And I’ll eat it hot with plenty of butter. And I’ll try to keep in mind that fierce little cub. She’s coming.

Feeling My Body

The way I’m feeling …

tin hats

This is from something I wrote a long time ago and I had forgotten about it as I have with most of what I have written. When I read it, I was surprised. Why did I write that? I can’t recall.

We are more than just what we do and say, more than our DNA and the way we grow. We are also the way we remember. Our memories, regardless of how accurate, are like paint and brush upon skin. We become what we remember.

This is a cutting of what I recalled, and like I say, I have forgotten it, but now try to remember it once again. Life is confusing, but everything will be peaceful at the end. No more doubts and worries, no more heart attacks at night, or moans in the soft garden, only a great longing for something we cannot name.

I have updated it…

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Spent #WordlessWednesday

I took this picture early this morning just before dawn broke. I believe this plant is called a “smoke bush.”

The morning air was a nippy 57 degrees with bright blue skies and finally, finally some hope the temperatures were cooling. And they did but only slightly. Tomorrow should be a repeat of today.

Meanwhile the red quill is spent. It’s five and a half inch stalk now lies on the ground, it’s tip propped up by other plants also dying.

To Connemoira on a perfect day

Today would have been Connemoira’s birthday and she would have celebrated at that lake high in the mountains she loved so much if she hadn’t hated life just a little bit more.

Oh wait … she tells me not life. Just the machine. The clogs.

I’m not sure what she means but let’s on, shall we?

Why … has been a puzzle for a long, long time…

The machine Jan. The machine!

I continue: She was born to loving parents, the eldest of five siblings, a rollicking group prone to taking off in pirate ships (aka rubber rafts) and looting the peaceful villages along the river looking for gold.

This much is true, she says with a smile. We were best when we were wild.

Perhaps the last rosebud

September 21: As Americans wait to find out which bimbo cutie-pie judge gets tapped by our nitwit king to flounce her golden locks and confirm how pro-life she is to all those traitorous hypocrites who’d eat their own mothers to stay in office, I continue to watch this quirky plant blossom towards its tip.  

I guess I was expecting (hoping for) some kind of showy explosion at the end but there are still a few buds that refuse to blossom. Perhaps it’s the smoke still lingering.  Or  perhaps, for this particular plant, it’s not the destination but the journey that matters.  After all, it started out looking like a penis.

On this muggy, smoky day, I anxiously searched for important papers while pondering how the documents we can’t live without … the certificates, the licenses, the brokerage statement, the records, the photos, photos and more photos … are, in the end, the anchors we shed.  The only truly happy people are those without the anchors. Of course, I’m assuming one doesn’t need a certificate to be a Tibetan monk. But I’m probably wrong.

September 24

Below is perhaps the last rosebud.  Although here in California it is still hot and will be on and off for at least the next ten days.  So like the Tibetan monk thing I could be dead wrong.

Update September 27: Okay, I was wrong. Trump went against type. He selected the mother of seven, including two adopted African American kids. An attractive woman but hardly a bimbo. I watched just a few minutes of her “acceptance speech” during which she talked about how much she enjoyed being an an active participant in her children’s lives. Including driving car pools. When I organized car pools for brownies, soccer, field trips, etc., it was virtually impossible to recruit a mother with a high profile job to help out but … I guess things have changed (yeah right, wink, wink). My first thought was, if your life’s so wonderful then why are you uprooting those children you love so much and moving them to a viper’s nest like Washington DC where you will be considered by many as a justice whose legitimacy is tainted? I just don’t understand it.

And … I’m almost positive that Supreme Court Justices aren’t allowed to drive carpools.

Meanwhile the rose continues to unfold but my Red Squill is now just a stalk covered with spent blooms … except for these strange pods.

What do you think they’re planning to do?

Almost … but not quite

A low off the west coast has blown enough smoke into the mountains for the air quality here in the San Francisco Bay Area to improve. We are now in the “Moderate range.” If you must, you can work, play and exercise outside. However, today is the 30th day of Spare the Air and our Corvid numbers remain in the dreaded purple range (along with most of California), so nowhere to go. Except your garden, if you have one.

The Red Quill seemed to stop blooming in the thick of it but has now begun again. Is this a hopeful sign?

I do not know. It’s so hard to have any hope. So damn hard.

What will happen when the blooming reaches the tip? Will it remain a stalk of spent buds? We will see.

The Sun never came out today

8:30 AM

Whose earth is this, I do not know,
his house … it must be all aglow!
He will not see me stopping here
to watch the ashes fall like snow,

My little kitty’s filled with dread,
and hides all day beneath the bed.
The sun is hidden in the sky,
he is certain we all must die.

(apologies to Robert Frost)

It’s a wee bit strange outside today but I’m not complaining for two reasons: First, thousands of people in the western states are currently fleeing out-of- control wildfires.  Second, I just watched one of those movies that makes you doubt whether you could stand up against tyranny.  Especially if you stand alone and are ridiculed by everyone around you.

Around noon

The movie was A Hidden Life.  The actors in the film are all virtually unknown (at least to American audiences) but the director was Terrence Malick who is known for filming raw dramas in idyllic locations.  In this case, the mountains of Austria.  The plot is simple.  Germany is conscripting Austrian men to serve the Third Reich.  The hero refuses to comply which means death.  He believes the Nazis are evil and that God commands him to resist evil.  

Do you hear those [church] bells? They’re melting them. For bullets.

However, the real agony for the hero is being attacked by the people of his close-knit village who, out of fear or convenience, have decided not to see the truth. Their contempt for the truth-seer extends to his family who are robbed, spat at, physically attacked, and left on their own when they desperately need help. However, after he dies they suddenly awake. It’s as though the town has been cleansed by his sacrifice. This quote at the end seems to affirm that analysis:

“..for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” 

George Eliot
Sunset?

To end on a light note, on my iPhone tonight under Trending Stories: “Man stranded in a lake saved by floating Tiki bar of priests claims ‘Sign of God.'” What the hell do you think that means?

Update from the Planet Pizza Oven

Monday the 7th

The only sign that life remains
are in the moments just before dawn
somewhere down near the creek … the children playing
called quickly indoors before the smoke returns
and suffocates

I linger over apps that promise relief,
which never comes. The first day of triple digits,
I close the windows before the sun comes up,
the house stays bearable until late afternoon.
The second day, I draw the blinds,
the house stays bearable until noon.
the third day … I pray the power stays still on.

Currently it’s hovering between 108 and 110 with an air quality fluctuating between Unhealthy for Certain Groups and Unhealthy, period. The weatherman keeps promising a break but I know what’s going on.  They just don’t want to admit that California has become a pizza oven.  Guess what suckers – welcome to your new reality. 

Even my funky penis plant is suffering.  I had expected the blossoming to have climbed to the tip of the stalk. But then it stopped. 

I’ve actually come to love this funky plant. I think I’ll grow a whole garden full of them.

Jan’s Future Squill Garden

Only they prefer an arid landscape and it does rain in California.  Sometimes.  I hope.  Soon.

Tuesday, Sept. 8th 8:00 AM: The power is back on but high winds are expected. Meaning: charge your batteries and buy ice. It’s 72 and too smokey to see the sun. But, the children are playing in the driveway across the street.