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

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.

Ode to August

August … you scumbag. You hideous rot of shit.

Choking the moon in the gas chamber created by your dragon breath.

The fog rolls in but traps some poison near the sea,
blowing the rest into the mountains
where we three breathe in gin and vodka and tequila
and dine on mother’s chocolates
but she doesn’t care.

She does, however, mind our laughing,
for it’s a party she cannot attend,
trapped as she is in a morphine maze,
a tear at one point I caused. I am sorry mother.

August, I despise the sight of my green bean plant,
chewed to the ground by those beasts you sent.
Those ugly sightless pirates tunneling through
hard dirt wrung free of moisture,
incapable of providing life …. just death.

Even the buds on the Red Squill,
close quickly after bloom,
leaving me to wonder … what next, September?
And past then … plant, will you disappear
for years and will I want you to return again?

To Annie Mckee 1926-2020. Hold yer horses, St. Pete, Annie’s on her way.


Loved this – enjoy.

tin hats

She was Dutch and I met her at a party. Holland started exploding when she left, one block of cheese at a time. My mountain boots were the perfect match for my yellow checkered suit, the one I’d bought before leaving home. All around us mouths talked and laughed. There was a song about a man being chased by the devil and how his pockmarked face was a dead giveaway.

I had a full pint of Bauer’s apricot schnapps in my pocket. I pulled it out and offered her a swig. Without speaking she took the bottle and tilted her head backward, and I watched her full profile down half the contents like she was ill or something. She looked at me sideways and I said a silent prayer. Perhaps I was not alone in the universe. Maybe the dice and the cards were really songs. Lyrics and melody delivering…

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Sunset today: 7:50

Each day for the next seven is predicted to be the same.  Slightly cooler one day; slightly warmer the next.  Every day, cloudy. Or is it smoke?

Air Quality: Unhealthy.  Chance of rain: 10% Wind: wsw 13 mph.  

I keep singing along with James Taylor:

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain,
I’ve seen lightning strikes I thought would never end,
I’ve known lonely times when I could not find my phone
but I always thought I’d see the fog again.

Been trapped inside by bad air,
checking out the weather app.
Lord knows when the hot wind blows,
it’ll turn your breath to ash.
Now there’s hours and hours on the internet,
talking of blogs to come, sour dreams and flying machines
grind wishes into dust.

Can you spot the critter in this photo?

Okay … ending on a positive note. Although we’ve been trapped inside all day, the unhealthy air has been calm. The firefighters have made some progress and reinforcements from other states have arrived. The winds, which were predicted to be erratic and deadly, so far are gentle. But sunset is at 7:50 which is when the fireworks are predicted to begin.

Packed my bags this morning,
took a picture of my plant.
Now I just can’t remember who to send it to.

(apologies to James Taylor)

Between lightning storms

It feels like the end of the world here in California. And, as if the fires burning largely unabated weren’t enough, another round of dry lightning is heading our way. I just don’t know how we’re going to make it.

Sun rising through smoke

East of us, evacuees are being allowed back to their homes (if they are lucky). However the smoke is still too hazardous to breathe.

The garden is becoming hallucinogenic, perhaps even radioactive.

When the air begins to clear, the hawks circle. Sometimes high; sometimes just over my head. And then …

The magic plant pops to life.


Thursday, August 20: As I write this we are surrounded by fire. Last night one came dangerously close to a friend’s house. The last email we got from him was:

“I’m relaxed and confident up till when the sheriff knocks on the door.”

To which another friend wrote: Just remember to say to the sheriff “I’d like to get some sleep before I travel. But if you got a warrant, I guess you’re gonna come in.” They really love that.

At least we haven’t lost the most important thing: a sense of humor.

Unfazed my mysterious plant continues to grow. The spores I noted the other day:

Have started to blossom:

Friday, August 21, 2020: The fires continue to drive people from their homes primarily north of here in the wine country and south in the beautiful Santa Cruz mountains. There are so many fires in the state, that those in remote areas are allowed to burn. We are supposed to keep our windows closed because of the poor air quality however I was raised by smokers and so far, that’s what the air is like. Stuck inside a tin-can trailer with a chain smoker. On the bright side, the temperatures have cooled. And, there is an outside chance of rain from the remnants of a passing hurricane. So, thank you all for your good wishes! They seem to be working!

Meanwhile Joel’s plant continues to grow and blossom. And we still have no idea what it is.