Archive for January, 2010

Circumnavigation

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Sailing around the world had once been a dream of mine and now I can do it, although vicariously with Abby Sunderland. How fun. Stand at the wheel as I once did on a barefoot cruise in the Virgin Islands and hold to a steady route. Tough when there is very little wind. Can I do it? Not likely on my own but with Abby I have computers and onshore assistance. What a trip! Both personally and psychologically. Well it is the only way I can go – so watch me love every minute of it.

Coooo

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Differences between birds  – feather color, size – are quite obvious at first sight. I can identify those which fly across the sky while I enjoy coffee on a California patio. An airplane droned through the otherwise morning silence and I separated that mechanical noise from others that somehow sounded mechanical but with a different sequence – bird calls. The starlings gave a sharp sort of whistle but only when they perched. Gulls gave out an emotional mew but only while they were in flight. While perched one would think they were mute.

Not so with the common ravens. They caw caw when in flight and fluff up to push out raspy caws when standing upon a pole or tree top. Knowing that, it is possible for people with limited sight to identify those birds. Rock doves – pigeons – emit the cooing we associate when a pair put heads together to share a secret. Ornithologists insist that most bird calls indicate a declaring of territory. Maybe so but is it so impossible to expect those vertebrates to be sharing their thoughts? How was your day, dear? Did you get the crumbs off the window sill left by that little human? I detected some cinnamon today. Didn’t you like that? Why are you sad? Don’t despair, junior will one day find his destiny.

Are those thoughts so far-fetched? Birds may be continuously evolving dinosaurs but they are only on a path suddenly switched in the genome from our own – a vertebrate with feathers. Most distinctive.

Seeing Reds

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Vacation should be full of fun – and mine is. I read stuff I like. Exercise enough to prove I have a movable body in all dimensions. Laugh enough to erase worry lines from my cheeks. Eating a little extra pads the skin. Then go for the really frivolous – painting toenails. The color was only the crowning touch. Soaking feet in very warm water. Trimming cuticle carefully off every toe. Sanding the thickened skin from the bottoms. Messaging feet, ankles, and calves – thoroughly. Then the red. Oh how bright! Carefully slip on flip flops to avoid scuffing the polish. Good thing I bought new sandals to show off my new toes. You know how one thing leads to another.

Denialism – a book

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

The book requires a full fledged article but a short paragraph ought to entice others to read it. The subtitle : How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives. How easily it seems to convince parents that vaccinations are harmful – even cause autism, or that the science of genetics will produce monsters, or that organically grown food is more healthful than foods grown with the use of pesticides, or that people need vitamin pills to be healthy, or the practice of alternative health. Denial of one thing or another seems to feed on itself, like the memes fetish that swept into thinking processes some decades past. Can science solve problems that nature can’t? Think about technology and all the benefits the planet reaps because of it. Oh some technology destroys nature but humans make the decisions for its use so can decisions be reversed. What is science but thoughts and actions by human minds?

O ‘m Gosh

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Mice all over the place. On the cupboard, on the counter, on the buffet. Need a major trapping? No these are not live pesky animals. These range from cloth dolls to china cookie jars and cute figurines. All part of a long-time collection of a person who recognized mice as cute, cuddly little things – never having had her food or favorite picture albums violated by rodent dentures. These critters will not bring disease nor leave messy dung behind. There is never a doubt when searching for a gift, just find something that represents a mouse and you’ll win her heart.

Gentle drops

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

The clouds decided to release bits of water, thus the gentle rain that seems like no rain at all – just a mist. The drought conditions of the past years warrants rainfall every day to catch up. I promised to bring sunshine so it must be at least for a day or two so I can sunbathe in my new tees and shorts. On the patio the direct sunshine feels warmer than the thermometer registers the temperature but coming from the colder north I can handle it. Goosepimples add to the skin surface so does that mean I will get more tan per inch? Hope so.

Sprinkle In

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

There is only so much fascination in watching raindrops spotting the cement of the patio. Wet furniture leaves no fascination for sitting in the local precipitation, neither from the extreme top or the folded bottom so I am content to look out upon the progress from time to time.  The thick lily leaves are wintering over, reminding me of the Lily of the Nile flowers that shown in blue ball-like configuration when last I looked upon them some months past. Plants never look dead here in Oxnard, only in a patient state of waiting for the cycle when blooms burst forth to color the border along the cedar fence.  In the meantime reading a chapter in “Denialism” (Michael Specter, The Penguin Press, New York, 2009) is an enlightening and educating diversion. Perhaps before sundown a real rain will fall. Forecasters with the inside scoop of weather fronts tell me so.

Three Levels

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Clouds drift at the whim of the turning earth
while over, through, and around the crystals
an airplane drones on its appointed route.
In southern California

Gulls soar in the sky
crows flap close by
sparrows zoom past my eye.
In southern California

An ambulance wails its siren
making haste to emergency
to save someone from pain.
In southern California

A big dog howls its sympathy
and not to be outdone
every dog adds its voice.
In southern California

I squint at my laptop screen
think, wonder, contemplating
what else might be seen.
In southern California

The temperature could rise a bit
bring me absorbing sun rays
but not through oncoming clouds.
In southern California

The gas barbecue is heating
hamburgers we’ll soon be eating
starvation now defeating.
In southern California

What pleasures on this patio
dog, son, and family
indulge in carnal tissue.
In southern California

First Sunday

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

What a day this has been. Ashton had a class assignment to observe an area of her choice of beach for fifteen minutes. I wanted to see the ocean to watch the breakers come rolling in. Off we went to Ventura beach. Gulls squawked over the anchored sailboats. Small flocks of starlings swirled around the buildings. Crows grabbed tidbits left at restaurant tables. English sparrows chattered in the bushes. Ashton watched for crabs and other things in her fifteen minute required assignment. The variety observed was quite interesting. Yes, there were crabs. I saw two and have pictures to prove it. On the rocks I saw a green backed heron. Squat little bird, but a fisher. That’s what they eat.

A cormorant popped up from under the pier – a black bird easy to identify from its silhouette but the species not the same as those that fish and sun on McNary Pond. Later I watched a cormorant walk across, yes, walk, across the road like a stiff person in a morning coat and manage to pull itself over a wooden fence and the sand dunes toward the ocean. As we walked over the dunes brown pelicans skimmed the breakers. In search of food? Looked more like they were enjoying the salt water spray. There were several sail boats way out on the water. Oil platforms were visible in the distance. As were the channel islands.

Then it was time for shopping. I wanted tank tops, shorts and sandals. The day ended with me getting two pair of shorts, four thin strapped tops and two pair of cute sandals. I downloaded my chip of pictures of the Oxnard area and downsized some for the www. Dan and I shared a pound of shrimp for dinner and then a highball. All in all, quite an accomplishment for one day.

Solstice is passed and longer days return

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

No recorded history is available to trace the development of social behavior of humans but sociologists and archaeologists make suggestions that cover a wide range of possibilities. Current cartoons of early mankind favor the image of a brute dragging a woman by the hair into his cave. Now people visualize dirty savages hovering in fear of predators, fire, and storms.

Considering that those early peoples – and at first they must have been very few – had the capability to think, remember and plan. Years went by – perhaps decades – before the realization that after short days the sun would return. But that did not happen for the eons our ancestors lived in “Eden”. The solstices are not celebrated in the tropics. Why not?

In the tropics where humans likely evolved the days are almost equal in length to the nights. That is true now and would have been no different a few million years ago as long as the axis and rotation of the earth was as it is now. So the understanding that the sun changed the length of days was not relevant until clans or individuals went northward. The farther north humans went the more challenging the conditions they found. Probably even the weather in the Mediterranean area was not harsh enough to concern people about length of daylight hours. Clans gathered around safe ports and created villages fed by fishermen while the home-bound learned to plant and harvest on the hillsides. Some individuals observed and thought.

Farther north people shivered with the first cold winds that swept down from the arctic. They hunkered inside caves with fire for warmth and light. They processed hides for clothing and blankets, painted pictures on the walls, counted time until daylight lengthened and the sun once again welcomed them outdoors.

Solstices were celebrated when villagers found time on their hands and in their days. Time spent outdoors at work or leisure allowed more than one insightful individual to notice the annual positions of the sun. Each year those familiar positions were anticipated with relish, if for no other reason than to verify past observations. Excitement is as contagious as the measles so the next step is to be happy and dance and sing to celebrate a natural occurrence when it comes.