Hey, Lookit What I Found!

Crows are a great source of pleasure to me. I admire their bold, graphic good looks: wiry legs and strong beak, shining eyes, and smooth feathers accented with iridescent shine. I enjoy listening to their noisy announcements and conversations, knowing that whether one is broadcasting his name in braggadocio or informing the rest of the neighborhood of what she’s discovered, there is often more brainy expression and interaction going than in many a text-messaging flurry from a pack of attention-deficient humans.

Crows can be aggressive and mean-spirited like humans, too, as I well know from working many years on a heavily treed campus where nesting season was Open Season on certain passersby whom the crows chose to bully. But for the most part, when they’re not busy trying to defend their territory they devote a goodly amount of time and energy to exploring and problem-solving and even humorous play, that is also surprisingly easy to see through an anthropomorphic lens. If I see a crow taking a particular interest in anything, chances are pretty good that I’ll find it interesting myself, should I follow its lead.
Digital artwork from photographs: Curious Crows

Shore Enough

I am too smart for you by half; you think you’re bright? Don’t make me laugh!

You think me infantile and boisterous, but cannot crack an oyster

With no knife? Ha! Silly chums: no fingers, no opposing thumbs,

And yet, I’ve dined on oysters thrice before you’ve opened one. How nice

That you consider yourselves wise to have your thoughts and synthesize

Them into action, yet still fail to see that mine makes yours seem pale,

When you consider that you’ve got advantages that I have not,

And still I’m able, while you strive and strain to merely keep alive,

To caw this jeering little poem at you from this, my beachfront home.

Keen Eyes do Not a Keen Mind Make

For most of my life I’ve had outstanding vision. I had a little interlude in grade school and junior high school when I wore fairly weak glasses to correct my slight farsightedness, but it was indeed correctable, and after about three years I was once again glasses-free, and this state of uncorrected bliss lasted until I was a whole half-century old. During my external-lens-less heyday I could see all sorts of things with great crispness and clarity and in glorious detail. Unfortunately for you, this did not extend to my seeing the truth more clearly than others could or to my understanding anything more clearly than anyone else did.photoHaving sharp eyes doesn’t, it turns out, equal having a sharp intellect. Dang.

It’s as if the universe didn’t care whether I’m a blithering idiot, no matter how excellent my eyesight. Come to think of it, a convenient combination in a person wishing to be an artist and writer and having no particular need or wish to do so in a reality-based universe. So here I am, all of those years post-first-spectacles, once again enhanced in my ability to see things by artificial means, and yet no smarter or better able to clarify the meaning of existence or even an itty bitty little part of it than I was with no glasses near my peepers. Go figure.photoMy appreciation and admiration for genuine intelligence may have increased over the years, to be sure, but the need for such things seems, if anything, to decline steadily and in perhaps directly proportionate amounts. What this says about me I will leave to your imaginations. At the same time, I needn’t leave everything to your imaginations, because as my goofy insight into things utterly fictional remains entirely intact no matter what happens to my eyebulbs, I can assure you that I will continue to produce all sorts of whimsical, bizarre and deeply educational items for your perusal here at my blog. It’s what I do.

Inverted Vortices & Puzzling Phenomena

I realize that all of us living creatures are scientifically explainable up to a point. We are generally parts of the natural world and therefore part of what scientists study and attempt to suss out and, in some wonderful instances, they do manage to make great discoveries about just what we are and what makes us tick. But me, I don’t really get any of it.digital illustrationHow is it, for example, that I have all of the parts required for me to be athletic, and yet I have never become anything remotely like it despite any school-required or even occasionally, self-imposed, practices? I’ve seen incredible athleticism in people with far fewer obvious tools for the task, not to mention having a visibly smaller inventory of raw materials in the way of the commonly used senses—blind or hearing-impaired athletes, for example—or functional limbs: any Paralympic athlete could clearly trounce my trousers in a trice.

How come, with all of my commendable efforts at garnering a real school-based education and my various attempts as an autodidact, I’ve still got an ordinary intellect and not the mega brain I see in some who appear to have been born to create shade for my dim thoughts?

I say this not to complain but, surprisingly, because it impresses and even sometimes thrills me, this magical, miraculous existence that we have. It’s actually exciting to me to think that there is so much around me and about me that I can’t begin to explain or understand. It may drive me a little batty at times to realize, as I do increasingly with the passing of said time, how little I will or even can ever comprehend about who I am and how I fit into the universe, but then I catch one more glimpse of a star—human or celestial—and remember how fabulous, how inexplicably yet palpably rich, this life can be. And I am both humbled and exalted.digital illustration

Only a Dreamscape will Do

It’s my big sister’s birthday. Granted that she’s already gotten to have more of them than I have, I still wish her masses more birthdays, and not just so she’ll set a good example for me to follow. She’s done that all along, and though I’ve been imperfect at best in living up to her fabulosity and smartitude and funny-tations and whatnot, I’m still counting on her to continue the kindly gesture for ages to come. Having an older sister like her is like going to see a pretty view of the landscape and discovering that all the landscapes along the way are connected into an equally pretty, endlessly inviting prospect full of breezes, candy floss clouds, sunlight, streams, and sweet wildflowers. If I could give her all of this as a birthday gift, it might suffice.photo montageShe’s no billionaire, but she seems to know how to live well and build happiness around her remarkably well, so unless I come into billions myself I might have trouble finding her a gift that’ll knock her socks off properly. Guess I’ll have to settle for loving her to pieces (all of them, hopefully, remaining firmly attached to each other as they should be), admiring her immensely (and that’s not a crack about my weight, wink-wink), and giving her the same old big, shiny nothing that I give her every year (though it’s always tied up with a massive bow of plots for sisterly laughter), wrapped up in good wishes and the promise of a paltry but delicious dinner in her honor when I finally get to see her again. The requisite amount of good chocolate included, of course.

Happy Birthday! Encore, encore!

What We Can Learn from Dogs

So it’s Monday. All. Day. Long. One of those times when you can easily believe in the purported accursedness of the day; one unlucky, frustrating, impossible thing after another and not a coffee break in sight. We’ve all had ’em. Rotten, rotten Mondays, no matter what day of the week in reality, are the bane of humankind.

Dogs, however, rarely let a Monday take their essential doggy happiness away. It takes, in fact, quite a lot of horribleness to take the equanimity and enthusiastic canine capering down to a level recognizable as sad, and once cheered up again, dogs are remarkably good at forgiving and forgetting. Barring ill-treatment or illness, every day is the greatest day ever to your average dog.

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Why lie around counting the time until your human will take you walking farther, when you can back-scratch your way headfirst right down the hill?

It’s not that dogs are stupid. Far from it; some dogs I’ve known would beat some people I’ve known at any IQ test, and the average dog is a pretty clever problem solver and able to perform all sorts of magnificent deeds, accomplish numerous astounding feats. It’s more that dogs, simply, seem to have a highly developed power for living in the moment, finding the good in the small and ordinary and letting unpleasantness drift past them as quickly as the turning of the world will allow. They’re not much on sulking, self-pity, or wallowing and very rarely hold grudges–and these, as far as I’ve seen, only when pressed to it by persons or events truly deserving of their scorn.

What dogs seem to hold among their many fine and useful instincts is the one that tells one to be thrilled when a maple seed helicopters out of a tree in his path, to slurp lustily at a handy puddle of water when thirsty, and to leap into the air rather than toddling through the weeds when crossing the parking strip to get to the park for a romp. The wisdom to nuzzle the hand that pets him, to lie like a shaggy, comforting blanket on the cold feet of a human companion when he’s sad and to shoot across the house like water from a fire hose when the other human gets home from her long day at the office. All of this is noble work, and keeping as busy at it as any good dog does makes him far too busy to mope and snarl and bemoan his bad fortune. Even on a typical Monday.

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It’s a good day to be a dog!

Get Your Mower out of My Driveway

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Hang up and mow!

There are things you would think you’d never have to explain to others, but no. That old term Common Sense seems to have aged poorly, becoming a wistful irony at best, an oxymoron in general practice. Sense, yes; in abundance. Good sense? O, would that it were so!

I’m recollecting the time when our then-regular yard service crew decided it was time for a general pruning in all of their clients’ gardens. Besides the butchery of our precious rhododendrons that made me almost apoplectic when I came home that evening to their skeletal remains–a heartrending sight that on its own would have driven me to buy a cheap push mower and better pruning shears and end the ‘service’ contract–they decided to clear the gate at the north side of the house. Not having noticed, apparently, that I’d sealed that useless gate in favor of the wide open passage on the driveway side of the house, where mowers and wheelbarrows could pass with ease. So they tore out the tender seedling Garry oak by the gate, the one I’d coddled up to nearly five feet tall.

I would have assumed that a longtime yard ‘care’ business would employ people who knew the basics, if not the art, of pruning to do it; the several years of assiduous nursing it took me to save the rhodies were spent in wonder that it was so evidently not obvious to that crew. But yanking up a slow-growing native seedling tree without asking? Really? If I’d had the broom to ride, I’d’ve been skywriting that company’s performance review with the postscript, ‘RIP: Common Sense.’

No, it was not the end of the world, or even (happily) the end of those brave, scrappy rhododendrons. I suppose the only thing that suffered fatally in the event was my trust in that yard company. That, and my mower-free personal time per the end of their contract. But it certainly dealt a glancing blow, as well, to my naïveté about what is and isn’t Common Sense. Guess there’s always time to learn new things. Just keep away from my garden babies in the meantime and nobody gets hurt.

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I don’t care if it *is* growing in a crack on the driveway; if it’s in bloom, don’t mess with it.

The Price of Innocence

Wye Not

Wye was an impoverished man

Because he didn’t know

The answer to all questions was

‘Because I told you so’—

Wye was a pauper and

He lies in Potter’s Field

Because he tried to find the truth

That others kept concealed—

Wye lived in such poverty

And died alone, unmourned,

Because he kept on asking things

Well after he’d been warned—

Poor Wye was a mortal fool

Despite being a hero:

In heaven, truth makes you a saint—

On earth, it makes you zero.graphite drawing