Friday, August 30, 2013



It was our anniversary the other day (on the cusp of 40 years) and the two years since Hurricane Irene paid us a visit.
Those living near rivers are still sensitive.

We were deep in the woods that same day with a sawmill operator who brought up the hurricane anniversary way back in his tree domicile. From his bark-pissed perch he was as great a woods representative you're going to find these days in the northeast. Get yourself back out to the road and you'll see the remnants of what Irene did to his river. From the mill we took home six timbers of 4 x 4 hemlock. One was 12 feet long and juggled out of the truck after a mountain climb. It looked small out there on the lone roadway. Dirt. Rain from the morning on the gravel. Earlier in the day we had bicycled up to the village to be at the white clapboarded church where we had our wedding ceremony, once upon a time, at 7AM. Many of the people then are now long gone, including the minister who also sold us his house. My sister shouldn't be gone, but she had other plans. We awoke the oldest friend we have around here, and maybe the only one left, and she peered down from her bedroom window with old lady hair still worn in a bun and it would be long if undone and smiled with a giggle at our treat of being there and said she wasn't ready for visitors. . .what a lovely way of being, "not ready".


We'll be back.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


A Thai lotus farmer picks lotus flowers in her family's farm in Saladin village, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand.
 Photograph: Barbara Walton/EPA

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


"Traditionally it was the custom of Afghan caravan-drivers to adorn their camels with bunches of ribbon, tassels, fringes and an array of good-luck charms, before embarking on their hazardous desert pilgrimage. They intended by the liberal use of these decorative symbols both to pay homage to their camels as custodians of their journey and to place them under the protection of God. For the spirits that haunted the wilderness were reputed to be evil."

"Today this tradition has survived in the form of paintings and flowers which festoon the sides of the Afghan truck. The driver and his mate are conditioned to a hard, lonely, even painful life, but its austerity is brightened by the dazzling exterior decor of the truck. Flowers transform it into a moving oasis: with rows of tulips and bouquets of roses clinging to its sides, the Afghan truck is like a traveling art gallery wending its way through arid mountains and deserts."

"The truck uses a startling variety of pictorial themes to announce its presense: aerial battles; rockets and interstellar spacecraft; armadas of galleons and fleets of steamers; duels fought to the death between savage beasts; Rustam grappling with a lion; a telephone gently plucked by a candy-pink hand. Each scene helps to celebrate the advent of the lorry amongst the men of the high plateaux and lost valleys for whom a thousand years of isolation have come to an end. These luminous comic-strip images have become the food for daydreams and fantasies of the Afghan peasant."

Since the conquest by Alexander the Great (330 BCE–327 BCE), Afghanistan has seen its share of invaders. This book of marvel trucks was conceived and published only a few years before the Soviet (1979-1989) and US marauders (1989 (and earlier) to present time). Look at the contrast in the photograph above between the "toot-toot" and the "shoot-shoot". One is at least attempting a heavenly; the other has certainly taken us to hell.

"The Mosque rallies the faithful together; in any oasis it is the most spectacular building. The truck brings people and things together in space and time: it deserves the same kind of loving attention."

"But there is another reason for the truck's elaborate adornment. The finer the painting, the more clients the truck-owner will attract. It is in a sense a part of his advertising campaign. The road may be strewn with dangers. Breakdowns, accidents, avalanches, thieves — all may be lying in wait at every bend of the road. The careful driver must know how to protect himself.

And what merchant would entrust his goods, or what passenger entrust his life, to a vehicle whose driver so patently neglected to place his truck and his load under God's protection?"


most of the photographs
and where quoted:
Afghan Trucks
Jean-Charles Blanc

Monday, August 26, 2013

Nicolás Guillén ~

I Have

When I see and touch myself 

I, John, a Nobody only yesterday,

and today John with everything,

and today with everything.

I glance around, I look,

I see and touch myself

and I wonder how could it happen.

I have, let's see,

I have the pleasure of walking through my country,

master of all there is in it,

looking very closely at that which

I couldn't have, nor could have had before.

I can say, sugarcane crop,

I can say, mountain,

I can say, city,

I can say, army,

now mine forever, yours, ours,

and a vast splendour

of sunbeam, star, flower.

I have, let's see,

I have the pleasure of going,

I, a peasant, a worker, a simple man,

I have the pleasure of going

(just an example)

to a bank and talking to the manager,

not in English,

not as 'Sir',

but calling him 'companero' as we say in Spanish.

I have, let's see,

that being Black

no one can stop me

at the door of a dance hall or a bar.

Or even at the hotel reception

yelling at me there are no rooms

not a tiny room, not a large one

or a small room where I might rest.

I have, let's see,

there are no rural police

to seize me and lock me in jail

or uproot me from my land

and throw me in the middle of the highway.

Having the land, I have the sea,

no country club,

no high life,

no tennis and no yacht

but from beach to beach and wave on wave,

gigantic, blue, open, democratic:

in short, the sea.

I have, let's see,

I've already learnt to read

to count,

I've already learnt to write,

to think,

to laugh.

I have, now,

a place to work

and I can earn

what I have to eat.

I have, let's see,

I have, what was coming to me.


translated by Salvador Ortiz-Carboneres 


from Yoruba from Cuba 

(Peepal Tree 2005) 


Sunday, August 25, 2013



When the cat

doesn’t get

its way


it does

what none of

us have yet






goes back

to the



curls up

shuts up


Bob Arnold

"Br'er Rabbit" 
 photo © bob arnold

My first woods cat, Br'er Rabbit is, we believe, the great great and many more greatfathers to our present cat Kokomo, who has many of the Br'er mannerisms and comes from the same territory Br'er sired forty years ago. 
What comes around.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


One of several hundred pine trees flame up along the Tuolumne River too close to Yosemite National Park. By Friday afternoon, the fire was less than 5% contained, and was spreading in several directions