Saturday, April 30, 2016

Death Valley







Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bridge Layer.

Dear Builders,

The bridge is certainly a useful metaphor:  You can use it to connect ideas and concepts of all sorts.  I was thinking of metaphors that were not so useful recently, because I heard rather a lulu on the radio.  It went like this:  " an eyelash on the edge of the sink."  You may wonder just what it was that was like an eyelash on the edge of the sink, but we may never know, because that part of the sentence was said before I tuned in.  It has me thinking, though, on metaphors that obfuscate further, versus opening up horizons and shedding light.  Like the way you approach the end of a tunnel, and you see the arch of light, which then becomes the wide vista of the road and land in front of you.

I guess I woke up on the picayune side of the bed this morning, because I believe this yellow leviathan ought to be more properly referred to as a "bridge layer."  I don't think this chicken can crow, if you know what I mean, because it demands that we separate the two components of a bridge:  The supports, stanchions or piers, and the road bed or surface of the bridge, the span, the deck.  What then, is the most vital part of the bridge metaphor?  The span, or what it spans over?  The connection or the bridge itself?  And do I mean a behemoth, a gargantua, or a humdinger instead of a leviathan?

It's like a single peanut in a blender, isn't it?  Enjoy this machine, and don't despair at the early wobblings of the camera; it settles down into something watchable pretty quickly.  Note how many people are needed to keep big bridge building Bertha operating.

Until our next metonymic meeting!  If you are impatient, you might pass the time here.

Sunday, April 24, 2016






















Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Time is of the Essence

The Persistence of Memory
Salvador Dali, 1931.
Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Dear Bookshelf,
I am so very slow to get around to things, and I could just kick myself, because sometimes opportunities completely vanish and I am left with an empty void, where once there was a space filled with potential and ideas.  Yes, I do mean that people die, and our hope of meeting them, or seeing them again soon is gone in a flash.  Don't let this happen to you, run out and grab some people and tell them something good.
I read a few months ago, an article about Ursula K. Le Guin and I noted that she wrote a blog.  It is quite a nice blog, in fact, but I only just finally took a look at it.  Please don't wait as long as I did.
This post's title might be our daily mantra, except for the terrible fact that enjoying a space, a place, a time,  or a person, requires one to forget, or consciously push aside, the transient nature of the world.  A painter I once knew, said that one needed to paint both urgently, as if it was one's last painting, and as if one had all the time in the world.  



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

An Ostentation.



 Illustration to a Ragamala Series:  Gujari Ragini
by Hamid Ruknuddin
circa 1680
Bikaner, Rajasthan, India.



Dear Lonesome,

There is a peacock, still, in the bottomland,  near the willowed stream bed:  I hear it at evening time.  There were a few of them; escaped, I suppose- a couple of years ago.  The neighbor was annoyed by them- they were vocal, and they tramped around his foolish little lawn.  Well, what is a lawn for anyway?  And who are we to say who tramps on it?  Well, these are not the questions that everyone lives by, I realize.  He had some tenants of his trap and sell the females and they disposed of the male- by what I expect was gunshot.  I don't tell you this so you may be outraged, or indignant, I tell you this because there are a billion little deaths, little lives ending every instant.  I tell you this because I miss them, the little band of peacocks, and I wonder what that last lonely peahen or cock might be feeling when I hear it.

I noticed on a postage stamp that Flannery O'Connor had peacock plumes behind her, and I thought of our little muster of peafowl.  I asked the big reader in my life what he knew of Flannery O'Connor and peacocks and he found that she kept them, and that their feathers often ornamented her volumes. 

Who could resist?  We ordered a collection of essays called Mystery and Manners from the library south of us.  It commences with a piece called The King of the Birds.  If you can live without reading it, okay, you'll probably have extra time then to mow your lawn, but if you do read it, and you then find that you cannot live without peafowl, I support you in your decision.  I will drop by later with a bag of Startena and we can enjoy watching them together.
It was Hera who set the eyes of Argus Panoptes into her beloved Peacock's tail.  Here is another many-eyed pheasant you might enjoy:  The Great Argus.  


Saturday, April 16, 2016






Tuesday, April 12, 2016

It's in the plane, it's on the ecliptic, it's zodiacal light!

Dear Sky-Eyed,
I can hardly contain my newfound enthusiasm for this dark-sky spring (or fall) time visible phenomenon:  zodiacal light or false dawn.  False dawn!  Oh, the beauty of that phrase!  What might a false dawn signify?  The untrue fiancĂ©, the early miscarriage, the brilliant idea that flops?  So many allusions to consider....  Still, what is this fabulous offering from our earth's past?  Nothing but dust!  I know!  Isn't it just terrific!  Can you feel your mind gently unfurling with possibilities? 
I know, I know; just what am I babbling about?  This. 
If you haven't seen zodiacal light, you will want to make a pilgrimage to a dark place and seek it out-  You will need dark, and you will need a nearness to twilight or sunrise.  I saw it a few days ago, in a place very dear to me, The Land of the Alluvial Fans.  To be sure, I saw the night owl preferred 'false dusk,' but I find that term a little less poetically-charged, don't you?
Yes, I think a song to celebrate this new knowledge is just what we need.  Maybe just one more?  I could listen to this one over and over.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Jane's Cake.




Dear Readers,

Presently, the team at the Dodo are reading Calamity Jane's Letters to Her Daughter.  It is possibly written by Martha Jane Cannary Hickok, aka Calamity Jane.  You probably love the idea of Calamity Jane enough to burke this trifling detail, because you know that the existence of a Big Blue Ox named Babe is missing the point in reading Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill. Plus what, most of us prefer to live in a world populated by blue oxen and women of dubious authenticity. 
The book begs the question, regardless of its veracity, of what it is we leave for the future; of what to tell Jane's daughter.
The author gives a few recipes in her book, this one is for 20 Year Cake.  I reprint it here exactly as in the copy of the book I borrowed from the library, Shameless Hussy Press, 1976.
     *     *     *
25 eggs beaten separate
2 1/2 pounds sugar
2 1/2 pounds four
2 1/2 pounds butter
7 1/2 pounds seeded raisins
1 1/2 pounds citron cut very fine
5 pounds currants
pint brandy
1/4 ounces cloves
1/2 ounces cinnamon
2 ounces mace
2 ounces nutmet
2 teaspoons yeast powder or 2 teaspoons soda & 3 cream tartar
This cake is unexcelled & will keep good to the last crum 20 years.   Pour over cakes while still warm the pint of brandy.  Seal in tight crock.  This will make 3cakes 8 pound each.
     *     *     *
By now, I know you are rushing out to obtain your own copy and trying to figure out whether to cut the recipe in quarters or fifths, but to further whet your appetite for this curious little book, know that her beloved horse was named Satan. 
Calamity Jane's Letters inspired composer Libby Larson's Songs from Letters, hear some of them here.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Si mi quieres, no me quieres.





Dear April,
The lovely yellow goldfield flowers are named for Lasthenia of Mantinea.  I wonder why, though, don't you?  Here are some things that we do know about lasthenia;  I hope, with their spicy, bright scent, that they are blooming near you!