Archive for the ‘musings’ Category

Going to where half the land is mine (and yours)

More than half, actually. According to National Geographic, 52% of the land in Oregon is managed by the federal government. Of course we all know that just means they want first crack at logging the shit out of it, but since I don’t own a 3000-acre cattle ranch in Texas, it’ll have to do. Besides, who wants to go camping in a field full of cow dung anyway?

Photo from a postcard via here.


The Year of Bugs and Mosses


Thanks to all who helped me ring in the thirty-second, whether by presence, words, presents, or thoughts. I couldn’t have made it this far without you.

I’m dedicating this year to all the little live things that go so often overlooked. The canaries in coal mines, the ancient unchanged organisms, the green things and crawly things and fluttery things we walk past without noticing … until they are gone, covered over by pavement or pesticides. The good bugs and the bad bugs, the bed bugs and true bugs and pretty bugs and ugly bugs. The ferns, the mosses, the lichens and fungi, the algae and the trillion trillion cyanobacteria. Frog homes and lizard homes, pond scums and epiphytes. The creatures just big enough to swat with a newspaper and those too small to see without a loupe or a macro lens or a microscope. I’m no biologist, but I’m certainly not gonna let them have all the fun. I’ll keep a journal, I’ll write a blog, I’ll take notes and make pictures and put them in all in a book just to make sure nobody forgets.

This year’s for you, Jean-Henri.

Genesis 1:11, Now With Neodarwinian Stylings!


“You see, kids, the Calla lily, or Zantedeschia aethopica, isn’t really a lily at all! In fact, Brianna, the white part you are touching — which you so innocently call the “flower” — is actually just a leaf, or bract, that has been modified by natural selection to attract insect pollinators to the inflorescence inside of it. Thousands of tiny orange male flowers sit atop hundreds of tiny female flowers on a long column called a spadix, in an arrangement similar to that utilized by the genus Arum. The genus Zantedeschia is native to Africa, which is where we humans probably started evolving away from the common ancestor we share with apes and chimpanzees. Modern humans have only been around for a few hundred thousand years, and ever since then we have looked to the heavens and our favorite bedtime stories to explain the things we don’t understand or refuse to learn about.”

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The Art of the Layoff


I’m trying to do some art and maybe I’ll be in a one-day show. I’m done applying to grad schools and am waiting on pins and needles. I went to the outplacement career advising seminar thingie and soon I will have a monster attack resume. I’m applying to substitute teach again, at least until I find out whether the ivory towers want me. I’m training to lead nature hikes at Wild Basin. I’m shooting the neighbor cat with harmless plastic BBs when she sneaks into my house to steal Pete’s food. I’m about to unplug the cable from my TV so as to cease the leakage from my soul’s reservoir. I’m continuing in my quest to cook the perfect egg (the trick is to wait until the butter starts to brown slightly). I’m teaching myself the art of braising. I’m making regular trips to the dumpster to haul off some of the bullcrap I’d been accumulating. I’m lamenting the single life but enjoying the sunny weather that all of you suckers in cubeland are missing. I’m running ten miles a week. I’m trying to gain weight by eating delicious banana and peanut-butter smoothies. I’m doing research for my book about naturalists. I’m hosting a Contact party for Erik and Jen next Saturday. I’m learning how to operate my new Dremel Mototool. I’m eyeing my mountain bike with a knowing smirk. I’m trying to figure out how to distinguish the call of the Tufted Titmouse from some of the other birds in the area. I’m teaching myself how to draw a praying mantis. I’m reading about Charles Bonnet Syndrome and thinking about going to see that Diving Bell Butterfly movie. I’m glad I’m not blind, or paralyzed, or unemployable, or as poor as I will probably be in a couple months. Life is good, and Friday works for me. I could use some Indian food, or some Pho.



In the future, the hip green children of the First World will fight over high-fashion grocery bags ostensibly designed to reduce our reliance on environmentally damaging plastic bags. Though made of cotton, these bags will also be disposable, but only because their seasonal stylishness will cause them to naturally degrade. I feel a great war brewing between capitalism and ecology, and these are just the warning shots.

We are not plastic bags

The Logic of Reincarnation


Where do all of the extra souls come from? Is there an infinite well out there somewhere, a Strega Nona pot of spirits from which an endless stream of new lives is poured? Or perhaps all of the species we have rendered extinct can be thanked for the sparks in our hearts: Vast flocks of Carolina parakeets reborn as spoiled suburban iPodders, Golden toads brought back to the Earth as indie bands and punk-rock guerrilla knitters? How does a reincarnation theology deal with overpopulation and resource depletion?

Religion has been ignoring public inquiry for far too long, and now the creationists and mujahadeen alike are going to have to look to hydrogen cells and solar energy for their Salvation. Funny, no matter how abstract we want God to be, how untouchable by human hands and well-protected by Book-wielding kneelers in megachurches — he’s always just there, outside, pushing windmills and making the waves crash. We can’t privatize divinity like we can gasoline production, despite our best efforts at encrypting the message and entrusting a select few with the task of distributing it in tiny bite-sized chunks.

Can humans fall in love with ideas, abstractions that might protect and nourish us? Of course we can. It’s just a trick of memory: memories which may have evolved to help us avoid injury and locate sustenance, and which continue to serve us well, even if the food smells like a yellowing photograph and the pain is from telling someone goodbye.

Recipe for Disappointment


Lentil & rice dish, ayurvedic: yellow lentils, coriander, misc. spices

Winter salad: raspberry vinaigrette (rasp. preserves, balsamic vinegar, white vinegar, salt/pepper to taste, whisk in olive oil); fresh salad greens; candied walnuts (shell walnuts, whip one egg white, blend in 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, fold in walnuts, bake 350 deg 10 minutes in single layer, cool); mushrooms; carrots; crumbled goat cheese; pears (oregon best)

Appetizers: asst. pitted olives, wheat crackers, artisan cheese, monofloral honeys (tupelo, chestnut), peasant loaf bread

Wine: Pinot Black (Chile), Garnacha (Spain), Cab Sav/Merlot blend (Patagonia)

Dessert: Ginger Rosewater ice cream, fresh raspberries, orange biscuits dipped in 60% cacao

Sunday 8p, reservation for two three.*

*Ridiculously cute ukulele-playing women should know better than to show up for dinner with news about who they like better than you. It hurt, but I have a memory of a Popeye song that outshines any hard feelings … thanks for being real, Lacey.

Developmental Psycholinguistics

“Baby doesn’t know what I just said
Baby doesn’t know the words that I just used
Babies haven’t learned any words yet
Babies haven’t been used by any words yet
People only think, people only talk
People only think in words they already know
The babies haven’t learned any words yet (no)
They only know what the people feel
They don’t really care what the people think
They only care what the people feel
Music only knows what the people feel
Babies only care and hear what the people feel, feel”

Barstools and Dreamers
Widespread Panic 1991



This morning, after reading the very kind sympathy card my vet sent me in the mail yesterday, I saw a single wind turbine propeller being hauled northbound up the 183. It was so big it was hanging off the back of a flatbed and had one of those “oversize load” entourages. I wanted to drop it from the sky to see if it would spin like the samara from a maple tree.

Vygotsky on Art


“It is asserted that the psychological processes of the perception and creation of a work of art coincide with the identical processes of perception and creation of a word. “The same elemental forces,” says Potebnia, “are also found in a work of art, and we can recognize them if we reason the following way: ‘There is a marble statue (outer form) of a woman with sword and scales (inner form) representing justice (content).’ We will find that in a work of art the image refers to the content, as in a word the concept refers to the sensory image or idea. Instead of the ‘content’ of a work of art we may use a more common term, the ‘idea”. Continue reading