Unexpected events

On Friday, I took a dawn hot tub steam curling tranquilly around the sweet peas, heading towards the bay just visible between oak branches. Then I noticed that the electric fence, which guards my chickens from predators, was not blinking, which meant it was shorted out somewhere. I dressed and went down to find a sizable oak limb had split off and crashed through the chicken run, rupturing the bird net and the fence.

Luckily both the tree guy and the handyman were able to come right away, and by noon the fence was secured and the confused chickens all in place.

Then my grandson and I decided to try to trap the cheeky squirrel who has been pilfering the chicken and bird food despite lacing it with hot pepper. We got out my old trap, set it with peanut butter, and scattered a trail of sunflower seeds up to and into it. By evening, the sunflower seeds leading right up to the trap were gone, but no squirrel.

“Maybe he’s too smart for us,” I told my grandson. We decided to leave the trap baited overnight, and this morning I woke to find a skunk in it.  I’ve had a lot of experience with skunks from the time our house backed onto a large open space in Lafayette. The county used to drop off traps and then pick up trapped skunks. Those traps were very narrow, so once caught the skunks couldn’t raise their tail to spray. My trap has plenty of room for the skunk to spray, so it was a problem. I got an old towel and held it in front of me as I approached the trap. The skunk sprayed and sprayed until his little spray reservoir was depleted. Then I covered him with another old towel, put the cage on a rubber mat in the back seat and drove the trap to Tilden Park, where I propped the trap open and let him flee.  The car smells only a tiny bit skunky, as does my right arm.  The towels and cage are out in the sun, waiting for time to reduce the smell. Continue reading “Unexpected events”

Reading Saturday in Oakland

I’m excited to be reading with the amazing Amanda Moore tomorrow at 2 pm at Gearbox Gallery on West Grand. We’ve woven together a reading about birth, childhood, adolescence, marriage and death, based on a reading I heard at the Community of Writers.  I think it’s really going to be fun.

Here’s a sample poem.

Jung on Dying

Is the psyche bound to the body?
Jung thinks not.
In dreams
the psyche travels
unconstrained by matter.
As for death, the unconscious
rejects it.

Those who live as if
the rich cloth of time
were unrolling endlessly before them
are better off.
It’s not a question of belief.

We need salt, he says,
does it matter why?
Food tastes better with it.

Artist talks

Tuesday night I heard a terrific artist talk at Arion Press. Ashwini Bhatt’s ceramic sculpture is compelling, but even more so when she relates it to her history in dance, to the body, and to Indian temple art.  Here are a few photos from her talk:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wish I’d thought to record it.  And here is a recording of another, very different artist, Xylor Jane, explaining how she works.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/fy16mnp4670hikn/XYLOR_JANE_FINAL_032919.mp4?dl=0

I was lucky to see her show in New York at Canada, a gallery in Tribeca.

Vija Celmins and spiders

I have been wanting to see Louise Bourgeois’ massive bronze spiders at the remodeled San Francisco Modern Museum of Art, and finally got there this week. They were as wonderful as I expected, muscular, dynamic, fun.

The bonus was the Vija Celmins retrospective. Her work starts as representations of single objects (very moving, somehow, painted with love on gray backgrounds) and moves into meticulous graphite representations of the ocean, the desert floor, the night sky. All very tenderly, lovingly done.

Continue reading “Vija Celmins and spiders”

Thanksgiving misgivings?

 

Talking around the table about the mixed message of Thanksgiving–my discomfort with the often phony-feeling professions of gratitude, and of course, what we did and do to native populations. A friend suggested that there should be a Jewish holiday– if there isn’t one already–called “Misgiving.”

But someone asked me what sincere gratitude would sound like. I think something like this:

Perhaps the World Ends Here

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers. Continue reading “Thanksgiving misgivings?”

Words don’t come quickly to me

Yesterday I listened as my favorite spiritual leader, Margaret Holub, struggled for words of consolation after the Pittsburg shooting. She said that words didn’t come quickly to her, and I reflected that anyone to whom words came in facile way after a such a rift in the social fabric would be a charlatan. That online meeting we were a part of was faltering, baffled.

It’s hard to get in touch with grief when the fabric that binds us is stretched so taut that random attacks against schoolchildren, worshipers, politicians who don’t agree with you becomes routine. After all, the unrelenting business of life goes on; you still have to floss your teeth, eat, be somewhere on time.

I think what consoles in these moments is touch, candlelight, song—the primitive ways we come together as human animals in a world that contains darkness beyond words. Taking an extra moment to hold those you love close.

So here’s a song by Aly Halpert:

And last night, thinking about what poem might help, I came up with this:

And Death Shall Have No Dominion

Continue reading “Words don’t come quickly to me”

Egon Schiele

In New York I went to see an exhibit of drawings by Picasso, Klimt, and Schiele. Schiele, who died at 28, saw Klimt as a mentor, but took his erotic drawing further, I think. These certainly seemed like the best of the show to me. I wonder what it is that makes a line on paper come to life?

Continue reading “Egon Schiele”

Santiago and a few miscellaneous photos

We’ve enjoyed Santiago a great deal, especially the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombiano where we went twice. The bottom floor is called “Chile before Chile” and as you walk in, you are greeted by these grand wooden grave markers at the end of a long hallway, some lit, some in shadow:

They are supposed to reflect the spirit of the departed, and provide a very eerie introduction to the pots and fabrics and other ancient artifacts.

Continue reading “Santiago and a few miscellaneous photos”

More street stuff

One of the features of Valparaiso is the Funiculars, called simply elevators. Apparently there used to be 15 of them, but only 5 still work. One, Ascensor El Peral, was right by our apartment.

It’s motorized, of course, but the two cars are also counterweights to each other, with a cable that rolls over a giant wheel at the top.

Riding it was only a little scary, and one time when we went up, one of the stray dogs joined us.

No one seemed to think it unusual that he just came along for the ride.

At the top, he hopped off and went on his way.

 

After my posts about wiring, which seems pretty much the same through both Argentina and Chile, you might think I’d be nervous riding a motorized tram up the steep hillside.

I was somewhat reassured when I saw that the wiring for the tram for once was all in a conduit. That is until I looked a little more closely at the conduit…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “More street stuff”