Sunday, April 29, 2007


My friends and I went to the country fair. (That is what it amounts to, even though you can get there on a city bus.) Among the many farm animals they had were a number of goats.

I grew up with goats. It was great to see them again. I had forgotten, until I saw them do it, that goats lie down by putting their front legs on the ground first and then their back legs. They always do it this way, and when I saw it I remembered "Yes! That's how they do it!"

It's a very strange sensation, to be reminded of something that you haven't thought about in years, but is still etched into your memory. I think what makes it strange is that it happens entirely without your own volition. Your brain retrieves the memory -- your conscious mind is only a spectator.

Another interesting thing about goats is that their legs are articulated in the opposite way from human limbs. They have "knees" on their front legs and "elbows" on their back legs.

I don't know what kind of tree it is . . .

I'm not good at identifying trees. But it was welcoming the spring so exuberantly that buds were sprouting out all over its trunk, as well as on the branches where they normally belong.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, 1922 –2007

When I was in high school, I was a huge Kurt Vonnegut fan. Then I drifted away from the "white male" school of literature. Although it's amazing how much those white males actually understood. One thinks of them as being self-absorbed, indifferent to -- if not contemptuous of -- anybody who's not like them. But (even with these constraints) some of them were able to understand human nature, and many of them in fact experienced suffering. Strange, that.

Anyway, a couple Vonnegut quotes have stayed with me:
A gun is a tool for killing people with.

Like Joseph Conrad, English is my second language. Unfortunately I don't have a first one.

I read that he described himself as a pacifist, which not many people dare to do these days. One imagines that getting firebombed in Dresden had something to do with that. Although I'm a pacifist too, and I've never been firebombed. But one of the benefits of being human is the ability to learn from other people's experiences.

Kurt Vonnegut, y'all.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Turtle Rock

I can't remember if I've written about the turtle rock before.

In the river near my house there's a rock that sticks up out of the water. (When the water's low, you can see that it's actually a cement block. But it serves the purpose of a rock.) Last spring, a friend and I were walking along the river when we observed, "Those things on that rock look exactly like turtles." Shortly thereafter we observed, "They look exactly like turtles because they are turtles."

I saw them throughout the spring and summer, into fall. Then they went away. Now, today, is the first really nice day we've had. The turtles are back.

Happy spring, turtles.

Later (August 25) - Here is an illustration:

(While I was taking the pictures, the turtle lifted up its head and turned around on the rock, almost as if it were posing for me.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Early Spring

pussy willows
someday, lilacs

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Field Trip

Recently I spent a few days visiting a friend who lives in Southern California. I'm here to tell you, the weather was perfect. Then I came back here and the next day it snowed. Oh well.

My friend lives right on the beach, and we also spent a day driving out to the desert. There is so much I could write about it. But this post is going to be a list of the animals and other noteworthy items I saw.

  • Dolphins, playing in the surf outside my friend's house.
  • A hummingbird
  • A desert lizard
  • Two or three beach lizards (on the cliffs above the beach, not on the beach itself)
  • Also in the desert, a jackrabbit and a couple medium-sized desert birds, looked rather like quail.
  • Some crows and seagulls (unusual because they were familiar)
  • One gray squirrel, rather scrawny-looking, not like the muscular gray squirrels we have around here.
  • Many of the orange and blue flowers that are called "birds of paradise."
  • Some trees which my friend claimed were also birds of paradise. All I have to say is, birds that size are really scary.
  • Eucalyptus trees, palm trees, and cacti - in some places, all mixed together.
  • A surprising number of horses, in the "ranch country" between the beach and the desert. Also some cows and one batch of sheep.
  • Various citrus trees, including huge orange groves in "ranch country."
  • Some kind of tree that had lumps growing out of it. They looked exactly like green lemons but they were not.
  • One date palm, producing dates.