Gullible’s Travels

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Riding high, Alki Beach

Hi.  My name is Gil.  I am a seagull who wised up to the world and this is the story of my travels.

First, a little background.   While still a hatchling in the nest, I used to tap on Mom’s beak for feedings.  The menu?  Vomit.  Seagull regurgitation.  Not exactly the variety my dumpster-diving siblings brought home:   chunks of pizza, French fries, Cheetos.  Once, my sibs even brought home parts of a deer leg.   They fought over it.  Screamed morning till night while I, the little hatchling, was still on a diet of Mom’s vomit.  I adapted, became used to these behaviors.  When Dad hung a shingle on our nest that said Safe Place, I believed it.

Still, after a few months I wanted to stretch my wings.  There was a great big world out there I wanted to explore.

As I soared in the clouds above my oceanic watering hole, I felt a rush from the tickling breeze and believed that the world was my oyster.  Forests, mountains, sea — it was all mine.

Suddenly a disciplined white air force of fellow gulls screeched and swarmed around me.  We were being dive-bombed by an eagle.   Shit bombs explode.  Danger, Danger, my amigos called out.  The raptor snatched a fellow-gull and carried him to the top of an evergreen.  I had evaded the eagle’s hungry eyes.

It was my first lesson in communication and cooperation.  Though we scream at each other — and at you human beings — we know there is safety in numbers.

Since I’ve mentioned humans, why do you folks act like we are snarky when we scream or go after the litter you drop?  Why do we have reputations as walking garbage dumps – we’ll eat anything that moves and a lot that doesn’t —  when you’re the ones tossing that hunk of beef jerky on the pier?

Did you ever stop and think that maybe you are the snarky ones?  To survive in the wild, yes I will even go after Styrofoam cups and cheese wrappers.

I need to come clean about that beef jerky.  I snatched it away from Peg Leg.  Peg Leg is a one-legged gull.  That’s right.  One leg.  I did not ask him how it happened.  No.   TMI.   All I know is that he was hobbling over to the beef jerky and I snatched it from him.   The peeps back home in the nest trained me well.  That’s the thing about sibling rivalry – it teaches you how to be bad-ass.   Man that beef jerky was good.

So with my fill of protein that day, I was flying high.  Maybe too high.  For suddenly, an amigo is cruising along with me in the fluffy clouds babbling to me about foreign object debris.  He points his beak at one of those proud birds with the golden tails.  You know – one of your human contraptions – a jet airplane.  He warns me about colliding with a plane’s windscreen, getting sucked into engines.  Really?

But hey, knowledge is power.  My trust in fellow gulls increases.  I dip away from the airplane, land on the beach to rest.  After a decent sleep, I spot a clam saying “Eat Me.”  I down it, but five minutes later puke it up.

A bummer, you say?  No.  A hidden talent that I would not have learned about if I hadn’t left the nest.  We gulls have superpowers:  we can sense paralytic shellfish poisoning before it’s too late.  Bet you can’t do that!

The brush with the toxic clam leaves me thirsty.  And so I fly over to my favorite watering hole:  the Pacific Ocean.  How many creatures do you know who can drink salt water and live to tell about it?  Sharks, crocodiles, maybe.  That’s gangsta, son.  Another instance of Gull Super Power.

I strut my stuff on the shore, fly over to some beach grass where I find a discarded lamb chop.   Thanks to your beach litter, I am learning your chops.

Sated and content, I fly to a tree limb to rest.  But as I tuck my bill into my feathers, I hear cries from a neighboring tree.  To my horror I witness a mature, fellow gull with a chick egg in his beak.  He just robbed a nearby nest of its newly hatched Gull.  I hear the delicate eggshell crack, and watch the mature one feast on its victim.

What? 

I thought I was gangsta, but this?

No.  This was just too much.  I suddenly felt yearnings for Mom.  And so I flew back that very night to the parental unit.  Is it true, I asked Mom.  Do we eat our own?

To me, this was a simple Yes/No question.  But not to Mom.  She would not give me a direct answer.  Instead, she regurgitated some of the same old pablum for me to gobble up.

 “Oh, Gull, just eat your food,” she said.

“The name’s Gil, Mom.”

“No.  From this day forward I call you Gull.” 

“Huh?”

“C’mon.  Mangia, mangia.”

As for my siblings?  They stared at me with the hungriest eyes I have ever seen.

How The Rain Feels To The Leaves

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Like a velveteen hand smoothing fronds with April tears.

Like paint splatters on canvas dripping summer suns, autumn rusts, winter oxblood, spring pinks.

Like the blade of an ice skate slashing its veins in winter wind.

Like the lead weight of a mirror reflecting physical beauty which ends.

Like the sparkle of crystals from an overturned sugar bowl.

The rain chuckles and asks:  “Did Leif Erickson turn over a new leaf?”

Then the rain goes psycho, pals with the wind and blows leaves hither and non.

Leaves twist and turn in the rain, shout to each other:  “Is this the winter of our discontent?”

Leaves cling fierce but lose family members.

Do leaves mourn?

I hear leaves waltz with the rain at night, patter a child to sleep,

fragrance dreams with velveteen prayer.

Like a gentle hand April rains return to soothe.

 

 

 

 

Love’s Labor

 

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Sculptor had this mounted on car roof in Soho District.

 

For hubby’s 50th, we took a trip to the Big Apple.  Ya gotta admire the  Love and Labor this sculptor poured into his depiction of  1930’s Iron Workers at lunch on scaffolds high in the sky.

Hats off to the laborers who braved heights to build some of  NY’s magnificent skyscrapers.

Confessions of a Mer-Crone

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Mermaid family

We show up regularly to water aquatics class. Mostly women — a few gents too — shaking our booties at 8:00 a.m.  The heavily tatted instructor shouts out the movements:

“Run-in-place:  take it up to a 3!”

Then:  “Now pick it up!  Take it to a 4!!!”

Jeesh.  I was happy at 3.  Why doesn’t she factor in the resistance from the water as we run?   3 could be the new 4.  I need protein.  Why didn’t I eat that egg before I came here?

“Take it to a 6!!!!!.”

Then relief comes — the cross-country ski stride.  Long, luxurious, and slow.

But not for long.

Now it’s “Raise your knees high and wide.  We’re doing tire pumps.”

Next, it’s the bicep-busting Maytag wash machines with water weights, kick-backs for rocking horse which ache my sacroiliac, and finally “the Marilyns.”   This is a set of 100 jumps where we press our foam weights between our thighs.  The instructor named them after Marilyn Monroe.

Don’t ask me why.

And show me a woman in the class who could live up to the Blonde Bombshell’s standard.

No.  We are the Mer-Crones.

Our hair may be gray or dyed or hiding under flowered bathing caps, but we perk up in the water, wear glorious smiles as our float belts carry our spotted, wrinkled, sagging  flesh around the pool.

And we are wise.   Bikinis?  Gauche.   Much more comfy to sport a 1940’s-style Esther Williams swimsuit. You know the kind — the halter one-piece with a bit of drape to cover the tum?  Nice, tight spandex to tuck the bum?

I applaud you, Lands End, for providing quality and variety in women’s swimwear.

Until I discovered LE, finding a good swimsuit was  a search for the Holy Grail.

But back to aquatics class.

I have a hard time keeping up with Mary.   Mary is 75 years old and jabs her water weights like Rocky Graziano.

If I live to be her age, will I have such stamina?

(Confession: back when I was a smirking mermaid, I used to swim laps adjacent to what I deemed The Codgers Aquatics Class.)

How times change😊.

I am in awe of the peeps in class who show up with battle scars.

Take, for instance, one of the men in the class.  “Foghorn Brad” (so named by the instructor for his bellowing interruptions) returned to the pool only three weeks after melanoma surgery.  Though he habitually annoyed the instructor with his thundering disruptions of our foot circles (shouting out REVERSE and causing the water to ripple with his booming voice), I noted that the instructor smiled, glad to see that he had returned.

And me? I shall defend being a mer-crone, whatever the cost may be.  I shall never surrender.

 

Venetian Fairy Tale

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Felt inspired to make a collage.  I call this Venetian Fairy Tale.  Hand-painted paper background. 

The trip to Venice still lingers in memory.  Luckily, we were not flooded.  La Serenissima floods 1/3 of the year.  It is a regular practice for them to set up ramps and you are advised to bring tall boots. 

Here’s one of my unearthed poems:

Venezia leans and lists,
an ornamented, lacey, Byzantine eccentric
caught in the lagoons.

She is a jilted bride –
Miss Havisham in a yellowed wedding dress,
her Adriatic stanchions
rotting away
as rats nibble at the cake.

But Venezia refuses to stop the clock.
Her Bell Tower rings – cracked but hopeful.

In a café, the Italian slurps his zuppe di cozze,
downs another grappa,
sets fire to his brain as a musical strain
echoes from canals,
the boats of gondoliers.

I imagine the fire of his dream:
Venetian maids of yore
lie supine on the shore,
tresses fanning out in hues of gold, orange, blue.

Their siren songs set him aflame.

Until he returns to the 21st century,
spots a woman flocked by pigeons
at St. Mark’s Square.

And here’s YT, being flocked:

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Bootcamp

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Memory’s Vault is just off the main trail in Fort Worden.  Once housing coastal defense bunkers, it  is now a place of contemplation.   7-foot high metal monoliths with porcelain enamel plaques contain poems by Sam Hamill. The artwork references gun battles and military function of the Fort.

During writing bootcamp in Port Townsend, it was hard to stay focused.  Nature  and U.S. military history is Writ Large there.  I went far afield on hikes.  The Memory Vault trail is off the beaten path.   The area was originally built as a United States Army installation for the protection of Puget Sound.  Now it’s a place for contemplation.

I was up at the crack of dawn hiking along Admiralty Inlet.   The birds and lighthouse were a 5-minute walk from dormitory:

FortWorden_PortTownsend_Poulsbo_0174      AdmiraltyInletLighthouse

I did manage to focus on writing eventually.  Here’s a 10-minute quick-write for  a Fairy Tale craft lecture.  The prompt?  Re-frame Red Riding Hood  to POV of my choice.  In this case, the  Voice is Red’s hood:

I advised the kid not to wear me on the way to Granny’s cottage.  But she’s known around the village as “Red Cap” and lives up to the name and I am her favorite color.  So I lost that battle.

Other than not listening to me, Red’s a good kid.  She did not sass her Mom when she gave Red a loaf of bread, jug of milk to take to Granny.   (But you should get a load of Red’s sister, Drusilla.  Poster child for misbehavior.  She used to blow smoke in Red’s face when Red was just a babe in the cradle).

So Red and I venture out.  We find ourselves in a field of flowers.  A Monarch butterfly alights on my peak.  I twitch it off.  The kid gathers daisies, Queen Ann’s Lace, bachelor buttons. She puts them in the basket with the loaf of bread, jug of milk. 

We’re almost near Granny’s.  But then the Wolf spots me.   I know he wants to devour the kid so I shake from the peak of my cap to the hem of my cloak.  My magic ripples down the garment, causing Red to drop the bread, milk, flowers.

“What’s going on?” she says.

“I have made us invisible.”

It works.  The wolf darts at the bread and milk instead of us.

“Told you not to wear me in the deep, dark forest,” I say to the kid.  “Red is eye candy for wolves.”

By the time we reach Granny’s door, we are out of breath.  We ring the bell.  She locks us in and the Wolf is left behind chomping away.

 

Do I Contradict Myself?

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Spotted on bike ride in our neighborhood. Message feels global.

 

I have umpteen self-help books on meditation and mindfulness.

Do I practice what they teach?

A bit of background:  As a young lass in the cro-Magnon, pre-digital era, I  signed up for a mantra.  (Partly influenced by the fact that George Harrison was playing sitar and following the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at that time).

I even recall my mantra.  But today it goes something like Om…Om…OMG I forgot I have a dental appointment at 3:00.

How do I know this?  My smart-ass phone just beeped.

OK.  I realize this is a 1st world problem, but though I am thankful for the modern conveniences of our digital age, these days I crave mindfulness.

Am I contradicting myself by being on the blogosphere?  Is this yet another distraction?  If so, I am in company with the Good Gray Poet, Walt Whitman:  “Do I contradict myself?  Very well, then I contradict myself,  I am large, I contain multitudes.”

At any rate, I left Chicago in the 1990’s and moved to Seattle.  Mt. Rainier, the Pacific Ocean, the Hoh Rain Forest — all eye candy for me and my husband.

And something else called out that was new and exciting:  the Internet.  When we arrived to this high-tech city, the Internet was just a dirt road, not yet a superhighway, nor had it become The Cloud.

The Internet was cool; I enjoyed scootering on the dirt road.   I created a health and safety intranet site for the organization I worked for.  But then, during a walk on the beach, I spotted a young man wearing a t-shirt that said “Rage Against The Machine.”

The t-shirt was disconcerting enough, but at the time I was also reading a book titled I Live In The Future and Here’s How It Works:  Why Your World, Work and Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted: 

“There needs to be a way to opt out of the constant retrieval of images, audio, and information. What do we do when the Internet or computers refuse to forget?”

And “The Internet is changing our concept of location, trust, space, time and connections.”

The dark web is undeniably out there today.  But I like blogging.

Walt Whitman, will you please travel to the future and help me deal with these contradictions?

 

 

 

Dandelion

Dandelion

Cumulus clouds drifting dusty seedheads –
as if a yearning ancestor carried them from skeletal beginnings,
they dance on the wind
germinating and growing and weaving chains of childhood memories.

Up close to my nose, the butter-mustard tang of the dandy
reminiscent of crazy salads prepared by Italian aunts,
lion’s greens dressed and tossed at picnics, splashed and anointed with chianti,
spilling from bowls on the oilcloth beneath a summer sky.

Knowing no bias for neighborhoods, they poke from city sidewalks,
cow pastures,
from the cracks of suburban cul-de-sacs.

There is something uncommonly common
about the dandelion.