Drank whiskey and whisky in a bar called Luckeys last night. We listened to some San Diego band called 34 below with bongo drums, cymbals, two acoustic guitars and a megaphone make their sound. We got a booth with JJ & waited for Tebone to arrive & we were quite tickled because she said the music was good but Tebone wouldn't like it because it smacked of contemprorary Christian rock. And when Tebone slid into the booth and listened for a few minutes he said it was good but sounded like contemporary Christian rock.

The band had talent & the singer could sing & they get points for enthusiasm but not for jumping off the little low-rise stage. That just made people turn their backs and play pool and not even think about dancing. He even in his exuberance -and I swear he was doing flamenco cadrilles or trills or espadrilles or whatever they're called- stomped the microphone cord and POP it unplugged then POP he plugged it back in without missing a beat. The music was solid but sounded all the same except for the Cure cover. I was numb and on my second whiskey or maybe it was a whisky that time.

I was impressed with the crowd on a week night, mostly college kids wearing uncomfortable shoes and clothing that didn't quite fit the way they thought it did. Although there were some genuine hep cats in the crowd, including the Marylin Monroe looking girlie in a tattered demin skirt with fishnets and black cowboy boots I said damn & nudged S to ogle.

JJ & Tebone took the stage with their band about 11:30 and rocked the house. The whole band sounded great and they got people dancing, especially when they played their Livin in Sin song. People stopped their pool game to watch and listen to JJ belt it out like only she can.

That honey has a set of pipes and she can sound like heaven or like a badass and it's always good, it always gives me chills. Lady likes the honkytonk blues, Women be wise keep yo mouth shut don't advertise ya man. Don't sit around holdin no conversations explainin what yo good man do to you. She also tears a hole out of the earth when she sings It hurts it hurts it HURTS so bad, oooh you were the best man I ever had. Why was I so blind to see... there was no bigger fool than me?
I could listen to JJ all day.

The whole band is a musicians' band; they attracted about five hardcore looking guys to the front of the stage, interested in the guitars and the structure of the sounds. I did indeed get out there and shake it top to bottom, and three-sheets-to-the-wind S came to twirl me around faster and faster andfasterandfaster and I said Other way! and he slurred I'm sho drunk and pulled me back to the table during one of my favorites called Kittycat Friends. Then he proceeded to quote the song, What's done is done, because in a hundred years when we're all in the ground who's gonna say what really went down? and bought himself another gin and tonic.

We stayed late and got home later and when the alarm rang this morning I thought it was Saturday and then I thought oh fuck, but I'm thankfully not hangin over. Tonight we're going to go see bellydancers. I better take a nap this afternoon.

So who's gonna say what really went down?

One thing going down is May Day, also known as International Worker's Day, commemorating Hay Market. So wear red and thank the IWW for your weekend.


Twenty-seven crows exploded in cacophanous screaming caws from the walnut tree, needing no shadows, black holes punched in the fair soft blue. I watched them as they chased the red hawk high and low through the glinting sunlight, shining blue on the crows and gold on the hawk, one crow after another swooping in to tag the hawk, tumbling in the air, a twisting and turning of feathers and talons and beaks. I watched the great cloud chase through tree branches, over rooftops, through telephone wires, the hawk desperate for escape and the crows intent on destruction.

They carved spirals in the sky and fell back through, they beat their wings hard, tails fanned and twisting, caws incessant and claws extended. The hawk feinted, buckled, switched, swept and turned, and once it gained altitude in the tumultuous crowd, it tucked its wings and dove hard towards the ground. Some crows gave chase but could not match the red blur. A flick of the wings and it was gone into a shaded yard, hunting for an easier meal.

What reason. Reasoning. We reason our own beliefs into validity. We follow that hawk across the sky quick as we can and still we lose ourselves. It is great vanity to believe the answers are simple, like there's some amazing rubric or key or pattern without variables or free radicals or hawks and crows.

It comes on quick and we make it last as long as we can but impermanance is the only certainty. Entropy drags at everything, not unkind, only aloof and incomprehensible. Some energy is lost with each setting sun, with each feather plucked, but energy becomes redirected, changed. When we consider death we cannot fathom the enormous cycle that spins, we only see the absence of motion, the lack of life as we once knew it. The blood is spilt, the body lies first limp, then rigid like the middle of night. I have seen death, have felt the passing of breath into the air in one last sigh, a release, a return, some unequalled and unrecognized freedom.

Belief requires a leap of faith to fly. Sometimes it is chased and hunted, sometimes it falls. It does not always catch itself. I cannot say, nor can I reasonably explain, where it comes from or where it goes.


Delicious slide, my limbs long and reaching in the water, the motion of travel through water must be akin to dreaming. I could feel the press and push, the simplicity, the glide against my skin and swam laps while my lips formed the word "turbulence."

With a kick turn I could feel the strength of my own travel, like the rush of wind in my ears when I spin while dancing in a long skirt. The wind becomes my own, I make the water swirl. Proof of my physical body. I could feel the ripples of water rolling against my flesh and bone.

It has been years since I've gone swimming. My father taught me to swim about the same time I learned how to walk. My childhood summers were spent in pools. And I did not know how much I miss it.

I'm giving a private dance lesson this evening. Kay emailed me a very lengthy list of things she wants to learn; it made for interesting reading since there is no standard vocabulary for Middle Eastern dance. Many moves overlap, which is a key element in the dance both for music interpretation and for transitions. This is the part that remains a difficult concept for beginning students, that practice and patience are necessary to build a foundation.

The basic essential moves, which are pretty in their own right, are simple motions. Learning a classic form of dance is the same as learning to play an instrument. I played the flute for a long time, and still play when fancy winks at me. Like learning dance, when we learn an instrument we start with the basic notes. Then we combine them in simple patterns, like Mary Had a Little Lamb. Then we add more notes, a full chromatic scale, different keys, alternating rhythms and tempos, and learn many, many songs.

There is a learning curve; some are quick, others take longer. My student is at an intermediate level. She knows the basics, and I think she simply needs to practice them enough so that she can forget them. Teaching helps me learn, too. It makes me focus on exactly what muscles move, weight transfers, where I'm loose and where I balance. I love the feeling of motion through air; I love the swirl and the motion and glide, the kick, the turns. We each have a goal. Mine is to learn the dance like I know swimming.


I'm going to objectify her.

She's the sexiest satin bra, smooth lines and perfect curves, the most delicate discomfort and bittersweet straps clasps padding. The best secrets undisclosed.

She's the lioness purr, soothing the captured prey held with the barest tips of unsheathed claws.

She's the horizon's yellow crescent moon cradling a bright Venus in the western evening sky.

She's the dappled riparian shade of cottonwoods and willows.

She's the touchstone, the almost tangible memory, thoughts so close as to touch taste hear smell feel the moment.

She's the wild mane of a carousel horse, flowing with the wind from the woodcarver's fingers.

She's the bottle of a long-ago favorite perfume, a delicate scent preserved in a dusty etched crystal decanter the color of rose.

She's a wild sunflower, facing the path of the sun as it rolls overhead, drowsy honeybees droning, her face drooping to slumber in the twilight.

She's the blink of a cat's eye, cunning and charm, nonchalance.

She's the weight of pure cold stream water, the liquid impermanance, the tumble and swirl, delightful in small rivulets over rocks and treacherous in deep green churning pools.

She's the electric spark that arcs between lover's lips the split second before the kiss.

She's the clarity in dreams of flying high above the face of the world, no fear, simply the touch of wind on skin, the green and blue earth and silver scatter of buildings far below.

"I need some new nailpolish," I declared from inside the hot shower. S stood shaving at the sink. "I have two colors but I don't like either of them."
"Did you like them when you bought them?"
"Yes. But they have been... compromised."
"Well they weren't dark enough so I added black to them."
"Hee hee hee, hee hee, how old are you?"
"I'm also all out of nailpolish remover and so I just painted the lavender on over the red that had mostly worn off, and now look," I pulled the shower curtain aside and placed my foot on the tub's rim. "It turned shiny chrome green, like the color of your Dad's old Super-B."
"Hee hee, hee hee, hee hee hee."
"Super-B toes."
"Hee hee hee, hee hee hee hee."
"We got that tax refund and I want some new nail polish."
"Hee hee hee hee."

Apologies for the laziness.

Spring fever.

Been doing other thinks.


I love the way a rainy morning feels. Big warm back pressed to my back, down comforter and heavy afghan blanket nested close and warm, rise and fall like the sea breathing and the sound of water droplets hitting the window. Salty skin, gentle rumples of cloth and hair and soft mumbles and burbles collide with the low soft cat purr, felt more than heard.

The clouds were dark as dusk well into the morning, a heavy grey and indigo quilt draped heavy on the world. I started to think of all the things I needed to do, curled sleepily and warm against his back, in between the alarm and the rising in that delicious drift of "snooze," all the necessary worrisome things. And maybe it was the soft stirring of the dogs waking in the other room, possibly it was the creep of consciousness, it may have been a drowsy snuffle from my love undercovers beside me, maybe it was some undaunted bird outside singing in the rain, but suddenly, without warning, the world stopped. It all stopped.

I thought to myself the present tense is all I need. Forget the past, do not anticipate the future, the importance of now is unequaled.

Yesterday I escaped work early & took S for lunch. He had delicious pad thai, spring rolls, and beer from Denmark. His flair for successfully mixing multi-cultural treats never ceases to amaze me. We shared some lemongrass chicken coconut soup that I could eat myself sick on and I ordered a Singha, which wasn't as smooth as his Carlsberg beer, but hit the spot.

And then...
We took a two hour nap.

We got up & moving around 5, went for dinner by 7, headed to the grungy old concert hall to hear our friends JJ & Tebone in their rock and roll band open for Country Joe McDonald. I didn't know who he was but after observing the well-aged tie-dyed patchouli home-made sandals wearing crowd and mentioning my ignorance to S, I learned Country Joe was in the original Woodstock and had gotten in some big trouble with his anti-war songs and eff-yew-cee-kay the president chorus.

He did some neat songs. He was cool.
But I could have done without Do the Hokey Pokey and in fact at that point S & I made our way into the basement bar rather than have to join in with the hip-ness of it all. I thought our friends put on a better show but then I'm not partial to blanket noise stargazing fishy stuff punctuated by yodels or a shrill harmonica. The air was thick with *cough cough cough, cough cough cough* smoke and wow man everyone was happy.

But poor S; he lamented about how it never fails. He figures he must have a big sign on his forehead that says either "stand directly in front of me" or "dance like a complete drugged-out stinky freak right in front of me" because those were the choices. It was a big place and nobody else had lurkers or freak dancers right in front of them, blocking the view, accidentally knocking into them. I told him it's because his chi goes down into the ground. He'd be a master thief. Nobody notices him.

We had much fun visiting with friends and finally got home by midnight. The party will continue tonight; S has promised JJ & Tebone he'll make his incredible fried chicken.

I want to go swimming in the rain.


It's my man's birthday. I'm taking him out tonight.

He tells a story of being a young boy in Jamaica. Once for a whole week there was buzz around town that Bob Marley was coming, Bob Marley was going to be at the grocery store. It was a big deal, an important event.

The day arrived and S. said there were so many people crowded around the grocery it was impossible to get anywhere near it. Bob Marley. Everybody listen.

It wasn't Bob Marley, though. It was Bob Marley's newly released album that the shopkeeper was playing loud enough for the people in town to hear.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
Cause none of them can stop the time
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look
Yes some say it's just part of it
We've got to fulfill the Book

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom
Cause all I ever had
Redemption songs
All I ever had
Redemption songs
These songs of freedom
Songs of freedom.

A most happy birthday, my love.


Her cheeks drooped when she did not smile and I thought gravity is unkind, but then I thought no, it's not unkind. It is the force of waterfalls and the builder of birds' wings, and I cannot judge the weight the world takes on another's cheeks. Albert Einstein once said gravity cannot be held accountable for people falling in love but I must insist it turns the making of love into a wonderfully physical experience.Weight and balance, pressure, strength. Grace. It shapes the face of the world. Without gravity we would not exist. That seems such a reduced phrase for how much it means. The world rotates, turns, reels, spins. It takes us all along for a lifetime ride.

I tripped some days to San Francisco and found myself thinking much about the physical forces of travel. I watched planes touch down and roll to the terminal, others form a line on the ground for departure in a great sleek rush of steel. I watched the white egrets when the tide came in and covered the mudflats, the rise and fall of plovers diving into the shallow water, the whistling flight of terns as they flocked. Beyond the birds, the planes circled a slow amazing spiral up and up before engaging the course for their destination.

The first night in the Airport hotel ended restless and annoyed with paper-thin walls, telephones ringing, conversations echoing the hard consonants of speech in more languages than I could count. The conference ended early and we called a cab company to take us into downtown and to a different hotel.

I have been in some wild car rides and I anticipated a certain taxi driver flair, but nothing prepared me for the cab ride from the airport hotel to the place downtown. Eighty, ninety miles an hour, cutting people off, accelerating and then madly braking... It was big old black Lincoln Town Car with slate grey leather seats the same color as our cabbie's hair, shocks like jello, cheese seduction music playing over the radio. My coworker handed me her bottle of hand sanitizer. It alarmed me greatly when the driver talked on his cell phone, and then dropped it while weaving in and out of heavy traffic, reaching down between his feet, glancing at the road and then back down. I don't know if I've ever been so happy to get out of a car in my life.

San Francisco. A fair city of steep narrow streets, women in narrow steep heels trotting caprine, defying gravity with balance and quick steps. Steel grates seeped warm sewer air out from beneath towering buildings of all shapes sizes and magnitude, glass, concrete, steel. The smells of the city assailed my senses, heavenly scents of apartment balcony jasmine gardens and exquisite restaurants, hellish smells of vomit and garbage. Old sidewalks with amethyst glass providing daylight to the nether reaches of buildings, thrumming steel trolley guides set in the black streets, and wires above for the electric cars. The air is alive with noise.

Madamoiselle Fishfry, who is both sweet and hot, no doubt a fiery girl with an appetite for coffee and encyclopedic knowledge about the City where she lives, met and took us to lunch at a sweet little Italian streetside cafe. We watched people and talked of everything from school and work to tattoos and music. She also escorted us along busy streets past Chinatown, into the North Beach where she and we parted ways. It was a treat to meet.

My coworker and fellow traveller wanted to ride a street trolley and visit an aquarium, so we combined the two in an excursion to the Embarcadero. I loved the streetcar with the conductor's bell cadence, the shift of gears, the mechanical motion. The trolley to the Bay was crowded, and we ended up hanging precariously on the inside rails, automobiles and trucks and other laden trolleys rushing past us the opposite direction. It was an exciting roller-coaster of a ride, up and down the steep hills, tall buildings side by side looked like they were leaning uphill, all the California colors bleach bright in the wind and sunshine. We walked five blocks to the Pier, and found the seaside aquarium building.

The clerk at the aquarium seemed very put out when I counted my change and discovered she had shorted me by $11, but other than that, our visit was interesting and fun. We went through the big glass tunnel twice, mostly to see the many different sharks and rays in the second half of the exhibit. Without gravity there would be no water.

Twice during the day I swear the earth shifted beneath my feet, a slight shrug, a sense of vertigo despite my ground level footing. The earth moves, and sometimes shakes. I once read San Francisco and the San Andreas Fault experience something like 100 earthquakes a day. But gravity is not unkind. It is like the wind, or sun, or water, some force we can neither ignore nor do without. The design of all things is greater than we. We are small. We fall.

After returning to the hotel populated almost entirely by drop-dead gorgeous transvestites, I called an old friend and we met her for dinner in a swanky French restaurant. We all ordered the steak. It melted in my mouth, and went nicely with the mushrooms with spinach and cheese, and the glass of red wine. We went to a small grocery store and bought small portions of whiskey and rum, and rode the ancient elevator, complete with velvet on the walls and cheesy elevator music, back to the room. Our little party was a nice end to a good day.

I felt exactly when the shift in altitude took place and we began our descent through the clouds. The plane landed in the rain. I'm happy to be home again, and gravity is not unkind.


I'm flyin south. I'll return Monday.
California here I come. In big boots.

I hope to hook up with The Fish Goddess sometime.
The San Francisco weather promises rain.

I'm sharing a hotel room with a coworker and hope she doesn't snore.

I'm taking a choke chain, five pairs of hand-made gloves, and a video tape. The security guards at the airport will have fun with my bag, no doubt. Truth is I'm meeting my Mom for the weekend & she left the video and dog chain at my house last Christmas. The gloves are gifts for people who helped with my Grandma when her health failed last spring.

I'll miss the weekend with my darling. Especially Sunday morning when neither of us has to get up, and he cooks a delicious breakfast, and we plan our lazy day together.

If you haven't yet, go read Zulieka. She makes me blush.

Georgie One-note sang his tune last night and could not admit even a possibility of human fallability so I turned that dial on the radio and put on Combat Rock instead.

We are tired of the tune
"We must not relent"

He sounds like his father. "Got to... stay the course." Obviously we smashed Iraq up pretty good and can't leave until we pick up our mess but the complete confidence in the under-estimation of time and cost and number of troops seems ludicrous to me.

And what is this whole simpleton reasoning that we're fighting in Afghanistan and in Iraq because those "terrists hate freedom"? So we'll demonstrate what freedom is for them by occupying these countries? It's not even a good plot for a comic book; Captain America was able to come up with something better than, "because they're Commies and we hates them." Because they're them and we're us and we're right, damnit, that's just the way it is. Anyone who disagrees is a terrist.

...Plus they have natural resources we covet and strategic locations we can utilize and oh yeah bad guys live there.

And when our troops return from fighting with their missing legs and arms they'll stick them in unairconditioned hospitals in Georgia and say sorry we just don't seem to have the funds we promised for your education. But great job, soldier. You helped fight for freedom. We'll help you buy a big truck on credit.

What happened to the American dream? It was usurped, commercialized, commodified, fits nicely in an overpowered pickup with a monstrous white trailer headed over the mountain pass, destined for a weekend at the beach.

There is a dream here, somewhere, tucked away in our hearts. The words are at the base of the Statue of Liberty, written by Emma Lazarus:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightening, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp! cries she
With silent lips. Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

I'm not the only dreamer.

Last night I dreamt of a black and red snake inside my kitchen cupboards, and I reached in and caught it behind its head. It hissed and showed me its purple mouth and I opened the front door to toss it free. Where the neighbors house should have been stood the white cliffs of Dover, and I walked towards them with the snake writhing in my hand, curling around my wrist. I discovered the cliffs were paper mache, movie props erected with wooden beams and glue and paste and newspapers which I tried to read but couldn't get close enough, and I got there just as King Lear made his dive.

I awoke disoriented. The clock said three and a train whistled in the night.


Saturday morning met me with a pleasant surprise; the dance class I teach was completely packed, not only with registered students, but with two friends I haven't seen in months. We stretched and did our kung fu warm ups, we twist and kick and reach and raise our arms, swing punch on a diagonal, lunge side to side, stretch and roll and do sit ups and leg lifts, find our balance, awaken those sleepy cold Saturday morning muscles. The first half hour is devoted to warm up exercise; I believe muscle memory is enhanced when the muscles are loose and warm. Some of the stretches build strength, too, but I prize flexibility and good posture. Strength comes later.

I have a quick study, who likes to stand directly behind me. She says she has never taken Middle Eastern dance, and that may be true, but she seems to grasp the theory and motion immediately when I demonstrate. Most of the ladies in class have learned the few moves I've shown them; some motions are harder to grasp than others, and sometimes they'll get the basic move but their posture goes to hell while doing it. I'm an easy teacher, and although I do things by repetition and rote, and I will make them work up a sweat, I mix it up. We look at something difficult, then we do something fun.

Dancing is about motion, and the ideal for this type of dancing is to make it look effortless, to look like the body is floating above the floor, describing with the hips a figure eight here, carving a crescent there, tricking the audience into seeing the shapes of the motion rather than the dancer. A good dancer begs the audience to watch the dance, not the body. I want to be a good dancer, to find that suspension and grace. I am learning a lot by teaching the basic motions to beginning students.

But Saturday I had students who have been dancing for a few years already, ladies who come for the exercise, for the smiles, for the feeling of togetherness when we all have the same motion bending our limbs in unison. It's a beautiful thing, the flex and bow and bend, the stretch and undulation.

After class one lady approached me and requested private lessons. I am flattered; she has been dancing almost as long as I have. She is very stiff and nervous, a flighty little bird, and I believe that's her primary impediment to seeing the results of her training. She's a runner, and I want to give her a glass of wine, make her let down her wild black mane of hair, and realize she doesn't have to hold her body rigid for dancing like she does for running.

No darlin it's all about being limber and soft. The trick is making the control and balance and strength exerted look simple, easy. She keeps her balance in her upper body and I want her to drop it down to her belly button. She's coming over tonight for an hour; we'll see how much we can do. Above all it should be fun.


We rode the hilly forest road west to the coast, passing ancient barns, pastures, clear cuts, gravel driveways, little settlements with names like Noti, Austa, Walton, Mapleton. Blink and you've missed the town. Quiet places, roosters, moss, sheep and cows and horses behind stumbling fences, dark trees on the hillsides.

In the hollows between the steep mountain ridges the alders and maples grow thick, closing over the road like an emerald tunnel. Dogwood trees are blooming early this year, great splashes of white flowers adding brilliance to the dapple of sunlight and shade. Wild iris bloom purple and early, speckling the sunny green hillsides with lavender froth. Even the grass is blooming early. Creeks and rivers and small boggy lakes glimmered between the trees. The Siuslaw River's bare mudflats reflected the sunlight, plovers and sandpipers flocked across the greasy black surface, drowned logs lay exposed. The wide mouth of the river feels the salty surge of the tide. Reeds marched through the black wet soil. Children in bright jackets dug for giant razor clams.

We wended our way to the coast and turned north, out of the sunshine and into the high grey blanket of fog, passing salt marshes and sand dunes, finally climbing into the rocky promontory of the headlands. The cliffside shears away steep and treacherous, great basalt and sandstone cliffs in a jumble, buckled by some long ago tectonic shift. The stunted blunt pines cling to the rocks, nature's bonsai trees, shaped by the wind's hard unforgiving fingers and salty spray. Heceta Head juts a thousand feet straight out of the sea like a great tooth. To the south is Cape Creek and a narrow rocky cove where the waves churn and swirl against hidden barnacle-covered rocks, and at the far reach of the head stands a lighthouse. The ridge juts so steep and tall the highway runs through a tunnel, then doubles back on itself and winds as it climbs the next topsy-turvy crest. Our destination was the beach just north of the big buttressed cape that rises black from the sea.

Washburne Beach rolls seven wide miles north from Heceta Head, and we found a neap tide, the lowest of the lunar month. The waves were small and quiet, more of a hiss and a churn than a rush and a roar. This beach changes constantly. The cliffs erode, the streams rushing to the waves through the sand change course, the ocean shifts the sand from one rise to the next. Each high tide rushes and pounds the high sandstone cliffs, undercuts the bank, piles driftwood along the cliff walls.

Seven years ago the winter storms pulled all the sand from the beach, exposing a deep layer of aggregate, rounded rocks no larger than a human head, fossils, agates, petrified wood. We rockhounds found the transformation from a great sandy beach to a wide rocky shore ultimately pleasing. Bags of shiny clear agates, red and yellow and green jasper, chunks of petrified wood, fossilized shells, and fond memories of weekly beach trips came home with us. The storms also uncovered perfectly preserves stumps, twisted gnarled roots of long-extinct trees similar to Norfolk Island Pines, that had marched down to the water and felt the sea wash upon their knees. Proof that the sea had once been less salty, and the weather more mild. The stumps are massive, fifty feet across, and the base of what once were trees as big as a bus. Like giant sequoias on the oceanside. Yes the climate is changing; the climate has always and will always change. This is not a static system, this ball of water and rock.

The sand returned two years ago, or washed down from the cliffs; I find indications of constant erosion most visible at that strip of space between land and water. We prowled the windy shore at the edge of the tide, walking across the fine wet sand into the cold wind, our footsteps liquifying and disappearing behind us. We found sand dollars, some alive and fuzzy purple, some pale grey and delicate like eggshells, often with a tiny hole on the bottom of the shell. I found one the size of a dime, and slipped it into my pocket. Treasures from the sea.

Flocks of gulls feasted on sand crabs overturned by the low tide, unable to right their grey domed shells, paddle fins waving at the vibration of our boots on the sand. We spent ten minutes turning them over and patting their backs to encourage their escape into the sand. They burrow down like they're swimming.

We found a rocky creek and waded across, hunting for those elusive clear blue or orange beach agates as we sloshed through the water rushing down from the cliffs above us. We found a small handful of smooth-polished stones and continued south against the wind into the filmy fog to the rocks, host of tidepool animals. Gooseneck barnacles and numerous types of sea anemones, some with green waving tentacles, some smaller and ghostly white, all clinging to the craggy rock. Pockets in the rock hold water, and are home to the biggest anemones and purple starfish, shiny black mussels, cone-shelled snails. We looked and searched and explored until the slack tide turned and began to creep towards us with a rush and surge. We stood and watched three ravens, their iridescent feathers ruffled in the chill wind, pick at the barnacles and mussels on the rocks.

We turned our backs to the wind and headed north again, intent on a warm dinner and bottle of red wine and shared thoughts about the day.


We're all underwater in the dark, light filtering through in prisms, and if we listen we can hear the ocean breathe. The mermaids sing sweetness and treachery, entanglement, bliss and despair. We do not always hear the siren's song with our ears.

Some lovesick memories sometimes rise to the surface like bubbles, like blood, not nearly so salty as the waves, break the surface of our present tense, demand attention.

Nostalgia is bittersweet when we wish the memory had been different.

Can I reach out and catch the memory of a wild heart, bridle it, ride it? It's a big strong thing with hooves and teeth and it's not always willing to canter along like a trained pony. Sometimes suddenly without warning it bucks and twists in the air, and the memory of past love gets lost, racing away into the wind. It may return. It may turn into an unimportant unruly beast better off wild and good riddance. We glimpse it from afar, wild swans in the middle of the lake.

Can I hold onto something so fragile as a wish without shaking from the effort, trembling sweaty clumsy hands cradling an impossibly delicate bauble, a thought, a hope that won't ever coalesce? Use care when holding cocoons in early spring that the warmth and motion of your hands do not stir the butterfly inside before it is ready. It may emerge with stunted wings and a bulbous caterpillar body, a clumsy hideous half-formed could-have-been-a-dream with wings to cause monsoons half a world away.

We never know the extent of our influence. Do I haunt another's dreams? Does anyone know those same memories I hold close to my heart? Does anyone else hear as I hear the sirens singing, feel the pulse of the waves, feel the wind from the butterfly's wings?


There's a big rectangular box in a dark corner of the hallway next to the ladies bathroom here at work. Inside this box, which has been sitting here for over a year now, is a two-foot wide roll of self-adhesive clear plastic. Four hundred amazing feet of clear plastic, forgotten, abandoned, sitting in a dusty box that's beginning to sag... and I want to take it.

I am not normally like this. Once when I was a child I stole a small blue balloon from a gift shop and my Grandma made me return it, which I did, and haven't stolen anything intentionally (well okay maybe that shirt a friend loaned me but hey she should've demanded it back before she moved to Paris, right?) since then. And if it's forgotten would it really be stealing? The maintenance guy wouldn't notice it, nor would the janitor, nor would anyone in the office.

I want to take this monstrous roll of sticky plastic home with me.

What would I do with it? I don't know, the possibilities are endless. I could wrap my car up in plastic. Or make a giant plastic bubble with four hula hoops. I could go totally redneck and use it (sticky side in, of course) for the double purpose of enclosing my patio and catching any insects who manage to get inside. I could roll myself up like some giant cocoon. I could put plastic all over my floors...

Oh, wait. That's the recommended use.

"Carpet protection." Except I don't have carpet. Well maybe I could put it sticky-side up and giggle as the animals walk funny on it. I had a friend whose parents had a big damn fancy house with super thick expensive white carpet and they put these plastic runners along all the heavy traffic pathways, like from the front door to the stairs, or to the bathroom. I thought it was stupid to have white carpet in the first place, but to then stick plastic on it so all the crud forms these skid-lines at the edges of the plastic pathways was just about the highest apex of "we got five cars two boats and a rv" possible. I always pretended I didn't notice when I stepped off the "edge" into the forbidden white carpet. Evil me.

So there this magic roll sits (a sail boat sail! a hot-air balloon!), unused in its box (an immediate repair for broken windows!), and here I sits (the possibilities are endless!). This situation continues.

But if you don't hear from me tomorrow, I may have built Wonder-woman's invisible jet using 400 amazing feet of self-adhesive clear plastic.

Endless possibilities.


The day is grey and dull, no shadows and no breath of air, the river smooth and green as bottle glass. Sound carries over water when the wind blows away to the world's distant corners, and I could hear the water's purr and churn, the cars and bicycles crossing the oxide green span of bridge, the geese and ducks in the millrace pond across the river. Everything feels muted when the clouds hang low, barely skimming the treetops, the shapes distorted without sharp defining shade. The air feels chill against my cheeks and I could almost see the pollen spores drifting like pixie dust from the maples, firs, cherries, cedars and oaks that line the river path.

After crossing the wide river on the bike bridge, I turned downstream and my attention was arrested by a black shape bobbing about thirty feet out in the river. Cormorants are large black aquatic birds with teeth, and this one dove and disappeared, barely disturbing the smooth fast water's green sheen. I counted to forty-two. His sleek long head and neck broke the surface twenty feet upstream, and his body bobbed out and settled back into the water. He went gliding with the water's current downstream, and disappeared again, no trace in the swirl of water. I counted to seventeen. When he surfaced again he held a large silvery wriggling trout securely in his black barbed bill, and with an arc and thrust he spread his large black wings, then with two hard beats he was clear of the water. I watched him as he flew upstream skimming the surface, black wing tips tracing curled silver tattoos in the river's jade green skin.

I continued on my path and observed a large rhododendron in early bloom, the whole bush covered in flowers the color of clouds just before dusk. I found a sprig of flowers newly broken from its branch. The flowers are creamy white with a faint pink blush, trumpeted and frilled around the edge with nature's most appropriate excess. I find it peculiar such lush delightful flowers emit only a faint honey scent. The sprig has five big blossoms on it, each bloom the size of my fist. I kept my prizes, the soft white flowers and the vision of the hard black bird.


"Dancing" can't describe what transpired this weekend.

The word "dancing" carries connotations of joy and exuberance and fun and loud music and laughter. Yes, it is all of those, but it holds more water than that.

I feel like I swam ten miles in pounding surf.

Saturday morning the beginning Middle Eastern dance class I teach through the community college started up again, four quick young girls and four older stronger ladies, all ready to absorb everything I give to them. We stretched and listened to music and looked at each individual section of our bodies-- the head and neck, the rib cage and chest, the waist and hips, the arms, the legs. Beginning classes always focus on isolation exercises-- how to flex and move and shift only one part of the body at a time. It is a labor of love and repetition. Practice perfects the motion.

For two hours I try my best to demonstrate and repeat the base motions found throughout every part of the dance, the muscle control, the core of motion, the center of balance.

After class ended I rushed home, ate lunch, and headed back downtown for a workshop on dancing to drum solos.

In Middle Eastern dance, especially in Egyptian-style cabaret, drum solos are often considered the height of training. Each intricate beat or tap or roll or boom on the dumbec drum is indicated by tiny isolated motion of the dancer's body. It requires utmost control of muscle isolation, an awareness and interpretation of the music, and unbelievable timing to catch the sounds. Most drum solos include a constant shimmy, with moves layered on top of the shimmy.

For a cabaret shimmy stand comfortably and balanced. Move the knees back and forth, slowly at first, don't lock the knee as it moves to the back, and then increase in speed so fast that your upper body stops bouncing. The flesh on the belly and buttocks shimmies rhythmically-- let it loose, don't tighten up, don't be tense. Kind of like running in place, but don't lift the heels, and let the motion terminate in the hips. Once that shimmy is acheived (and don't be faint of heart-- it takes years to learn), slide the right hip out to the side as if carrying a sack of groceries, or a child. Now slide it back underneath your center of gravity, and then slide the left hip out the same way.

Don't stop shimmying.

It goes like a lawnmower, like an outboard motor, vroooooooom. Our drum solo instructor joked, "Ladies, start your engines!" We shimmied for two of the three hours during the workshop. The last hour we learned a drum solo choreography, which combined all the intricacies of shimmying with layered moves and memorization of a dance routine. My body and my brain were buzzing as I climbed the five flights of stairs to my car in the parking garage.

I went to bed at eight on Saturday, having danced for five hours. Sunday I met with four other ladies for our weekly two-hour session. We've been working on a choreography, and I am amazed how fast we're progressing and how simple we're keeping it. It will look great and be easy to teach to any other dancer. We stretched and danced and laughed, although I thought someone had exchanged my legs for two chunks of waterlogged wood.

But today I feel as though I were hit by a bus. A big smiling pretty shimmying spangly bus with kohl makeup around the eyes, but a bus nonetheless.


I passed a big magnolia this morning in the cold air, every branch swept and draped and ended in perfect pink-hued blossoms, the most intricate candalabra, lit from the eastern horizon and aflame with delicate light.

Trees reveal their true colors when they shield us from the light of the sun. Dawn and dusk's horizon light filters through the shape of leaves and branches, making play with forms and shade. In the dawn all the hues burst forth a wild palette of gold and green and red.

Unless we stand beneath a tree and see the dancing light dappled, noon's harsh cadmium yellow strips the foliage of depth and shadow.

Trees stretch to the sky and into the earth, fan the air, split rocks, filling similar vertical columns of space as we do. Trunk and torso, knees and limbs. Crowns.

When I was a girl my family backpacked into the giant sequoia forest in the Sierra Nevada Mountains one summer. The wind picked up in the night, stirring through the dusty duff and roaring through the gaints around us. We heard the moaning, the creak and crack, and the sigh and groan that seemed to last throughout the deep dark night. We heard the high keening screech and then the resounding crackling rumbling thud like thunder as one of the giants fell and splintered to pieces. It was terrifying in the pitch black of wilderness far beneath the sky.

People appear as themselves when they forget about their self. At that point the light shines through, glimmering and bright and unexpected, a glimpse into the heart and soul, the separation of shadow and form. At these moments of brilliance and illumination we see the colors, the truths, the tender growth. We are not so different from trees; we grow our skin thicker every year for protection, and some even have thorns. But we also sometimes catch the light, and others see our beauty.

What if I fell in the wilderness? Would the trees hear?


Last year on this day I didn't feel like writing, either.