Archive for 2011

Another note from the undulating kelp

Monday, September 5th, 2011

[IMAGE]  under the sea

[IMAGE] undulating kelp

…click to listen:

…about the music

Sonata for the sea. And, the B-flat.

I woke up this morning, opened my eyes, and it struck me:
The first thing I see every day from my pillow, is in constant motion.
Okay, after I put my glasses on.

These hypnotic, undulating kelp beds probably help to keep me in some sort of trance state, as I make the transition from sleep to a [barely, sometimes] functional level of consciousness. Or more accurately, as I attempt not to cross that cerebral threshold while I throw on old jeans, make my coffee, and ponder the creative work I’d like to accomplish in the coming hours. Work that relies upon inspiration which ebbs and floods just as the tide nudges these plants. And upon initiative that must always flood, regardless. Hey, deadlines wait for no deadbeat composers. I gaze out the kitchen window at the day’s possibilities, watching a Great Blue Heron balance awkwardly on its skinny legs as the current shifts the bull kelp on which he’s gingerly perched.
Life is unpredictable.

[IMAGE] Great Blue Heron
Everyone around here waits patiently for inspiration. Or, the next meal.

Yesterday was bright bright bright sunshine all day long. And very hot. And windless. The sun blazed into this largely-glass house, making it a challenge for me to see my computer monitors. I draped a reflective cloth over one of my Macs, and donned a ball cap to avoid sunburn at my desk. Seriously. Over a hundred small sport fishing boats and ten more commercial trawlers packed the view from my deck. The diesel-scented rumble of engines filled the air, turning this normally isolated and silent batch of sea into a makeshift marina. Rods, downriggers, gill nets and purse seines were all after one common goal: salmon, which are running in large numbers right now. My daily amusement has been seeing the occasional fish jump right out of the water. And, back in again. Until his next leap lands him on someone’s grill.

And the whales? They wisely avoided the traffic congestion, and hung out elsewhere for the time being.

[IMAGE] boats
As all the boats follow the fish, it’s like watching a very slow-motion regatta.

[IMAGE] trawlers
I’ve learned to make sure I’ve got clothes on.

This Labor Day morning was a different picture altogether: the fog had been thick, the air was perfect with a slight, sunless-yet salty-warm breeze, and just three intrepid little fishing boats bobbed on the wind-topped saltwater, unable to see past their own bow. It was perfect.

That’s my favorite weather. I don’t enjoy the bright sunshine nearly as much as an overcast sky. The sun gives me a headache. The grey gives me energy and clears my thoughts. No wonder I gleefully fled Los Angeles. I think I’ve always been a Pacific Northwesterner at heart. I’m still waiting on the clear thoughts, but hey, all things in due time.

[IMAGE] bull kelp bed

By 1pm the pea soup had made way for a kinder, gentler sort of bright blue sunshine, less piercing than the previous day’s. For whatever reason, the throng of boats was absent, with just a handful of hopeful fisherpeople seeing what they might come home with for dinner.
Balance had returned.
And by the end of the day, so had the whales.

[IMAGE] orca blow

And the heron? He did okay in the neighborhood today, and came back to watch the pink sunset with me. We’re both balancing, ever hope-filled, on the kelp.

[IMAGE] heron at sunset

Floating along

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

[IMAGE] gulls on a log

…click to listen:

…about the music

Nothin’ but time.

There are few things I dislike. But I will tell you right now that the final day of August is one of them.
Hate it, hate it, hate it.
If I were Queen I would declare that summer is to last one more month. While I was at it, I’d also institute three-day weekends and clocks that make time stand still when so desired, so y’all may begin the civil revolution right now to get me on the throne as soon as possible, for everyone’s sake. Did I mention that every Wednesday would be free ice cream day?

By the end of each August in recent memory, I’m finally primed and ready for that precious stillness between the flow of summer’s socialness, and the push of the other three seasons’ urgency. It’s August, usually somewhere woefully late, like the final day of the second week, in which I stumble upon a certain, calm sweet spot: a slack tide in my work-intensive year that’s filled with promise, but untouched by stress. Such delight, yet so fleeting. Sigh.

So here I am, like one of these nicely balanced log-surfing birds, lining up my gulls in a row for the coming autumn, placing concerts and residencies and speaking gigs and meetings and travel travel travel indications in my calendar’s little white boxes, and wishing I were a lot farther down my naively giddy June list of “things to accomplish in this faaaaabulous gaping block of time I have in my studio this summer” than I actually am. Notes have somehow sneaked onto the page without me looking, but oh, if only I owned that clock! I’d use it. Maybe you would, too.

Well, at least I can go to the freezer for some ice cream. It’s Wednesday!

[IMAGE] Seagull
I’ll take two scoops of the chocolate herring flavor, please.


Sunday, August 28th, 2011

[IMAGE] house sparrow

…click to listen:

…about the music

Music for bird brains?

Well, this gives new meaning to the name, “house sparrow.”

I’ve had to rescue an over-eager bird who ended up inside my bird feeder a while back, but that’s a piece of cake compared with coaxing one off of a 29 foot-high window sill and out the door.
Any door.

It happened like this, the little avian drama moment du jour:

1. I lovingly sprinkled birdseed on the deck railing (it can get really windy on this part of the island, so I’ve given up using hanging feeders that turn into seed torpedoes).
2. I opened my door wide to let the warm sea air in while I worked. Or, procrastinated from working. It matters not which.
3. Cute little birdies descended toward the railing for the free buffet. Awwww.
4. After a little while, so did an eagle.

[IMAGE] bald eagle

5. All the cute little, potential birdie crudités instantly, chaotically scattered.
6. One went the wrong way.

[IMAGE] jailbird
“Uh, bake me a cake with a nail file in it, okay guys?…”

And so, it became a waiting game. Lacking any 30-foot long objects that just happen to be lying around, I briefly considered gently lobbing rolled-up socks at the poor fella with my good pitching arm. Of course, I’m a musician nerd and I don’t have a good pitching arm, but why should that stop me? Anyhow, before I could get upstairs to my lingerie closet (let’s see, would he prefer lace, or just a simple tube sock?), the birdie took off on a self-guided tour of my interior decorating. Every door and window that I could swing wide for his easy escape from prison had been opened, and yet this guy managed to wildly flap around in circles while I just prayed he didn’t leave droppings on my gear. There’s nothing in my insurance policy that covers repairs due to bird poop. Although if anyone were to comment that the piece I’m working on sounds like crap, I’d be able to smile broadly and proclaim, “Why, as a matter of fact, yes it does. Thank you!”.

His aerial tour went on for quite some time. We were both getting dizzy.
Then suddenly, a terrible thing happened: after making yet another full-speed lap inside the house, he bonked himself right into a window. Yikes.
I watched as he plummeted in slow motion, hoping that he was just stunned.
Which thankfully, he was.
Which thankfully, gave me a momentary advantage.
With his tiny feet clinging to a sofa pillow, I carefully maneuvered him toward an open door.
He fluttered, paused, fluttered some more, and then whoosh! Out the door he went, to settle on a rock two feet away. I brought him seed and a little water while he collected himself (my mothering instinct kicks in at times like this, and only at times like this), lectured him on the use of turn signals (see? I shoulda been a mother), advised him to get his Global Positioning Sparrow unit fixed (okay, if not a mother, then maybe a mechanic), and went back to work (or procrastinating, whatever I was doing before all this activity).

A few minutes later he was gone. My jailbird flew the coop, and I’m hoping his recidivism rate is very, very low.
Because my ceiling is very, very high!

Back on the farm

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

[IMAGE] Sea horse

…click to listen:

…about the music

Yee ha, hee haw; thank gawd I’m a country grrrrrl.

Welcome to the San Juan County Fair! The lead photo of this post truly sums up island life. The only thing missing on this horse is a snap-on dorsal fin.

Having flogged you, dear Kelpville readers, with endless pix of orcas, foxes, eagles, raccoons, alpacas, squishy sea creatures, and furry critters, I thought it would be a nice change to show you some basic farm animals from last week’s rural roundup, since the San Juan Islands have a significant agricultural community. And, one helluva lot of hay this time of year. Come with me on a guided tour…

[IMAGE] goat
Got milk??

[IMAGE] pigs
Next time your kids are driving you bonkers, think of this momma of ten. Unless you happen to have ten kids, in which case, my condolences.

[IMAGE] chicken
This one apparently was jailed due to a drinking problem.

[IMAGE] eggs
Now we know which came first. The chicken, above. At least on THIS blog.

[IMAGE] cow
Having a bad hair day? This gives new meaning to “cow lick.”

[IMAGE] cow and sign
I strongly advised this cow not to look up and read the sign.

[IMAGE] sign
Yup, THIS sign. Hey, don’t look at me: I don’t eat meat.

[IMAGE] ducks
Or, birds.

[IMAGE] cow rumps
And that’s what they have to say on the matter.

[IMAGE] sheep
Halo, Dolly! I’ve never before seen such an angelic sheep.

[IMAGE] jailed ducks
More jailbirds. Doesn’t look like these duckies are rovin’ anywhere anytime soon.

[IMAGE] cavy
I’m a city girl. I’d never even heard of a “cavy” before. This fair is fun AND educational!

That about sums up this (and every) year’s collection. The only other tame farm animal exhibit that failed to make the photo essay was me, slurping up a sno-cone as I wandered around the warm, dusty stalls. Ok: TWO sno-cones, because I had to have one each day I went to the fair, because 1. I love them; 2. it’s part of my patriotic duty, and 3. nothing says “county fair” like shaved ice in three colors and a bunch of unidentifiable sugar-glop at the bottom of the cup as it melts. Well, “corn dog” says “county fair” just as effectively, but since I don’t eat meat, rather than assault my body with grease, I choose instead to flirt with keeling over from a diabetic coma. I can see it now: as I fainted, I’d be smiling broadly all the way down, no doubt keeping my sno-cone from hitting the ground much like a shortstop protects a precious fly ball. OUT! But, happy.

Under the rainbow, over the moon

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

[IMAGE] rainbow over the cove

…click to listen:

…about the music

Under, over, and through.

This has been a particularly restorative summer for me. I’ve had the joy of staying put here in Kelpville, and being entertained by the endless parade of wild creatures you see in these blog pixels, plus many [slightly less wild, in most cases] friends who have joined me week after week exploring this magical little spot on the planet. Music has been made, laugh lines have been deepened, and a few wine bottles have been emptied (ok, more than a few). A general sense of well-being (and where I live, whale-being) due to a high dose of introspection and calm and not taking myself too seriously, has landed me in a damn good mood, renewed for the work year ahead.

With the exception of a three-day jaunt to a small neighboring island lacking plumbing and electricity to visit a dear, exceptionally talented friend, my body remained solidly planted on San Juan Island for two and a half beautiful months until now. After several years of seemingly continual travel, I’m becoming a bit more circumspect in my choices about when to leave this asylum of personal joy.

This past weekend offered a worthy reason to jump the rock. I traveled back to a place that in retrospect, turned out to be what more-than-obliquely inspired my move to San Juan Island 4.5 years ago: a historic artist retreat called The MacDowell Colony, in Peterborough, New Hampshire. I was a fellow there in 2003 (a state of residency, not gender reassignment, although my name is awfully convenient), and my fruitful weeks in a wooded cabin amidst wild turkeys (the birds, not shots of the bourbon in this case) were life-changing. Of course, Wild Turkey has been life-changing for plenty of folks, in both good and less than ideal ways, but I’m more of a Woodford Reserve or Maker’s Mark kinda gal, and if feeling particularly flush, I prefer to temporarily change my life, or at least my immediate take on it, with a glass of Blanton’s. But I digress.

Anyway, since last year I’ve had the honor of serving on the organization’s board, which convened there this weekend (for the record, the Board is quite separate from the admissions panels). It was giddily wonderful to return to the former scene of my artistic crime against innocent notes (the Colony’s incessant cicadas that summer had a bizarre influence on the flute quartet I penned there. Fortunately for my police record, the statute of limitations has passed). The board meeting was set to coincide with “Medal Day,” an annual tradition during which the normally über-private (darkly mysterious to some, even) grounds are opened to the public, and a distinguished creator is honored. This year playwright Edward Albee was the guest, and the speech he offered was both hilarious and very touching. Who knew that had it not been for a chance encounter on the Colony grounds with Thornton Wilder, Albee might well have remained a poet and never penned a single play?

[IMAGE] the cabin
My composing cabin at MacDowell: bucolic, to say the least. Turkeys were around the other side, making funny sounds at me. Everyone’s a critic.

I remember very well the new perspective that followed me home from Peterborough to Los Angeles that September eight years ago. Taking stock of the noisy, neurotic, 73 MPH environment that encroached upon my speck of slow-motion sanity on the Malibu shore, I became possessed by the idea that since I had been so happy and productive living in a rural, fairly isolated natural area, then perhaps my life should look and feel like that: every single day.

I’m the kind of person who, if I ever actually had “good china” that I really loved, would use it constantly until each piece was chipped beyond hope. I don’t believe in saving things for special occasions. “Life is short, eat dessert first” is a workable description of my less than pithy religious philosophy, and since 1993, I’ve chosen to live in places others covet for their vacations. Malibu. Santa Barbara. The San Juans. I will omit the ten years I spent in my 20’s living in the San Fernando Valley. Trust me, no one vacations there if they have other options. Although, I did admire the endless row of gi-normous palm trees on the boulevard where I lived, leading the way to tacky fast food restaurants and garishly painted gas stations weighing down all four corners of every intersection. But I digress.

Anyway, with the advent of the internet, and a composing career that found itself well supported by that technology, it dawned on me that I could live anywhere in the world that had electricity and DSL (I wouldn’t do well on my pal’s island). After all, I’m not a gigging performer (I prefer to make all the other musicians who play my stuff do the hard work). It matters not where I am, as long as I can hit the send button. In fact, I’m certain that lots of players would prefer I stay put, kept at a safe distance by my seawater moat, and not bother them.

[IMAGE] Chipmunk and bicycle
When I was at MacDowell in 2003, they loaned me a bike, and a chipmunk.

Four years after my residency, having finally had enough of the crazed mania that redundantly describes southern California, I moved 1500 miles north to this remote floating paradise. The experience in New Hampshire had turned out to be deeply significant to my future, in a way that I could not have foreseen at the time. The MacDowell Colony offered me a distraction-free glimpse not only into my art, but into my life. I ran with that ball of internal observation, and ended up creating a personal, year-round artist retreat for myself (and the occasional, GPS-challenged sparrow who flies into the house when I keep the door open too wide). I’ve never been happier. What I lack in lunch baskets thoughtfully delivered to my doorstep, and engaging discourse with other creators over after-dinner ping-pong, is made up for in all you see––and hear––on these blog pages. The gift of time at an artist colony is precious. What has resonated long since I gathered up those cicada-inspired note-filled score pads and brought them back home, has been profound.

When I left L.A. for this funny little place that few had ever heard of, I warned my other composer friends that hey, if my career suddenly takes a nose dive, don’t do what I did. Amazingly, the opposite has been the case. So now I tell my friends to trust their gut instincts, and to be aware that sometimes we have more choice and more power over the look and feel of our lives than we may have previously realized.

Eat dessert first. Have some more, a little later. Do the work that compels you, obey your heart, smile a lot, and just maybe, the Universe will give you some unexpected rewards: turkeys, chipmunks, whales, and joy.

[IMAGE] June moon rising
June’s rising full moon over the sea, from my island doorstep.

For the birds

Monday, August 8th, 2011

[IMAGE] gulls

[IMAGE] gulls

[IMAGE] gulls

…click to listen:

…about the music

Blues veena to preen by.

Morning. Strong coffee at hand. A good counterpoint to the even stronger red wine the night before. Both beverages are helping me with the counterpoint I need to be composing shortly. I sit and inhale the kelpy/salty/invigorating/warming air, watching artfully contorted gulls as they preen and groom themselves for the new day.

Me? Maybe I won’t even get to the shower today, and just scramble around these rocks like a tomboy until my muses are pleased with the notes that fly around my head. Unpreened, ungroomed. The muses, the notes, and me.
But not these gulls!

[IMAGE] gull on roof

Interpretative center

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

[IMAGE] roadside

…click to listen:

…about the music

Sly? No, just sleepy.

Driving by this modest roadside interpretative sign about Senator Henry M. Jackson and his conservationist efforts, a person might have been so stunned by the expansive view out to Vancouver Island and the Olympics, that she could easily have missed a small detail.

But not my friend in the passenger seat today, who spotted something that didn’t appear to have been installed with the signpost.
“Stop! Look!”
There was urgency in her voice.
She’s a great friend, so heck, I obeyed. I stopped the car. In fact, I stopped, and then I backed up a few yards and pulled off the road.
We opened our doors and walked toward the sign.

[IMAGE] fox nap

Adorable. And not the least bit disturbed from its nap, as we cooed and took photos.

[IMAGE] fox

One quick, bleary-eyed check of the surroundings…

[IMAGE] fox nap

And back to sleep, holding down a shadow exactly the right size.

Over my head

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

[IMAGE] soaring vulture

…click to listen:

…about the music

Dinner time?

I truly wanted to believe that the three of them didn’t know something I don’t about my health.
By which I mean, my impending demise.
Was it pending sooner than I planned?

The trio of turkey vultures continued to circle. Again, and again.
Directly over me.
For an intimidatingly long time.
I didn’t just hear the diaphanous sound of their broad wingspans flapping.
I actually felt the slight movement in the air that the flapping generated on this very windless day.

They flew low.

[IMAGE] soaring vulture

Looking like an FAA holding pattern on a crammed afternoon at JFK, these enormous scavengers spent longer than I personally thought they needed to, sizing up whether I’d be keeling over soon enough to make the main course for lunch, or if they’d have to bide their time with vole and field mouse hors d’oeuvres (sooooo boring) until I could be served warm for a late supper.

Gazing straight up to the beautiful, full spread of feathers and talons, I realized that I was viewing the same, very last image, as has many a hapless rodent.

[IMAGE] soaring vulture

It’s still light out as I type this. All bets are off.

Orcatectural digest

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

[IMAGE] Orcas at sunset

[IMAGE] spy-hopping

…click to listen:

…about the music

What’s beneath, and above.

Company while I work? Okay.
Company that’s color-coordinated to match my piano? Priceless.

This time of year, orca (“killer”) whales rule up here, and I have the dumb luck of living on the shoulder of their highway as they commute from one feeding area to the next. While my former neighbors throughout Los Angeles prepare for a weekend ominously dubbed Carmageddon and steel themselves for the mother of all gridlocks due to a main freeway closure this weekend, I exhale and observe a different kind of high volume traffic.

I listen to it, as much as watch it.
You see, the most beautiful thing about these creatures is that you often hear them before you see them. A mysterious, other-wordly “whooooshhhh” suddenly comes from around the rocks. I raise my head. I see nothing. Another “whuusszzzh” flies across the sound-conducting water from half a mile away. I look up. I can make out the top of a black 6-foot tall dorsal fin in the distance, just before it ducks back into the sea.

[IMAGE] orca

Another “woooossscccchhhh.” This time, I’m greeted with three whales lumbering toward me on the other side of the bull kelp that hugs the rocky shoreline here. That’s often just about 40 yards away. But yesterday was very special: the pod came right up to the rocks, gliding through the kelp beds, with one of the fellas showing, as you may notice among these photos, some rather amorous behavior. And he didn’t even take me out to dinner first.

On this particular day, the animals were maybe 7 yards from my toes. I was speechless. I could almost reach out and pet them. Objects in photos are much, much larger than they appear, folks. My limited camera skills don’t represent the incredible moment, but they at least offer an idea.

[IMAGE] orcas
Yesterday’s view from my desk chair.

[IMAGE] in the cove

[IMAGE] spy-hopping
Getting a better look at the neighborhood…

[IMAGE] two orcas

[IMAGE] happy to see me
What’s under the chassis.

The sound of their breathing is utterly magical. During the day, it’s also often accompanied by the incessant hum of idling boat engines, as whale watch tours and day sailors follow the pods like an amusing-looking slow-motion escort service. Friday Harbor’s charming annual Fourth of July parade– something out of a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical– always represents for the orcas, since they never seem to get up early enough in the morning to make it:

[IMAGE] July 4 parade
Yes, doggies with dorsal fins. What more can I say.

Just like me, the whales are after salmon. In particular, Chinook salmon, like this:

[IMAGE] July 4 parade

Which swim around these parts, along with other sea creatures. Someone should tell the orcas that if they’re looking for lunch, they need to come into town.

[IMAGE] July 4 parade

It’s fun to watch them dive for a meal…

[IMAGE] orcas

And “spy hop” as they surface…

[IMAGE] orcas

But the best, best, best thing of all, is when early evening arrives. The boats have all gone back to the harbor. And it’s just me, the whales, and the whoooooshes.


[IMAGE] orca and seagull

[IMAGE] orca at sunset

Let sleeping rocks lie

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

[IMAGE] sleeping

…click to listen:

…about the music


As I passed this rock the other day, one I’ve passed many times, the corner of my eye caught something a little different.
I turned, and noticed what at first glance looked like a darker rock atop this larger one.
It didn’t move. Um, like a rock. Well behaved. Stable. Steady as a… rock.
I looked a little closer.

[IMAGE] sleeping

Oh. Not a rock. I didn’t want to get any closer, since I agree with Chaucer: “It is nought good a slepyng hound to wake.”
Nor, a slepyng fox!

Web presence

Monday, June 27th, 2011

[IMAGE] web music

…click to listen:

…about the music

Slowly, searching for the right note.

Music makers and spiders each deal with webs. I spin endless pages of mine, five lines wide, designed to catch little black specks of sound-inspiring instructions to be interpreted by others. My notes fly onto the page, get stuck in those lines, and are summarily digested.

The other day the specks hanging from the web on my monitor screen must have looked so enticing, that they attracted the little spider you see above. With a vengeance, she glombed on to the downbeat of a bar I was fleshing out in a computer notation program. In fact, I think she was trying to edit me. I’d written a D-flat there. But she defiantly tapped on the pitches above, taunting me for my poor choice and doing her best to save me from composerly embarrassment. The D-flat remained. She glared at me.

As you can see in a subsequent pic, by bar 71, beat 3, she was in such a tizzy about my note choices that she’d given up entirely on me, and slammed her little body against the volume control icon, desperately hoping to silence the madness. She was unsuccessful. I finished the piece. But perhaps she rallied the ghosts of her family to continue to harass me.

Later that evening, I was sitting very still. I was working at my desk on things related to my somewhat expansive internet presence: updating my website, posting on my Facebook page, looking at my ReverbNation and YouTube pages, checking my tweets, and of course, responding to emails. I am, after all Web Grrl: Version: eComposer.

The corner of my eye kept catching something odd. Something moving. Falling. On me.

I looked sideways, and saw nothing. I returned my focus to my work. Again, something almost indiscernible drifted within close range.

This time, I gazed up to the heavens from which each elusive UFO descended: the top beam of the high, cathedral cedar ceiling here in the living room. At first I saw nothing, but as my eyes adjusted, I began to notice old remnants of grey cobweb lace, laden with the lint of time. As I watched, small, occasional, dusty pieces gently made their slow motion plunge toward my shoulder. The light glanced each floating traveler as it passed through the air between me and its imminent resting place. It almost looked as though it was snowing lightly inside my home. It was oddly beautiful.

But what was causing this? Why was I suddenly being bombarded, albeit quite gracefully, with the detritus of spiders past? I’ve always made a deal with the creatures who pay no rent but squat in my abodes: you stay where you are, and I’ll stay where I am. Suddenly I was presented with evidence of a formerly magnificent, now fallen empire, crumbling to pieces around me. Very slowly. Almost imperceptibly.

[IMAGE] web music
Notice how the spider is squatting on the volume button. Is this a hint?

Perplexed but lacking a solution for changing this indoor weather pattern, I resumed my work. A minute later, I became aware of the loud, persistent buzzing of a bumble bee that had slipped past my velvet rope and gained entrance to this exclusive club during any of the numerous times I’ve opened the door wide to capture the smell of summer. The sound was coming from directly above me.

I looked up, and smiled. I witnessed a house cleaning service far more affordable and effortless than any I could have mustered: the bee was buzzing a path parallel to the top beam. As he made a…uh, bee line, from one end to the other, he cut directly through the old dangling pieces of web, thus setting them free to waft downward, finally released from their role as a prop for my depressing Miss Havisham moments.

Busy as a bee was he, reaching spots nearly 30 feet high that eluded my merely human-length arms. Wings are such an advantage. I note this daily as the gulls and eagles soar past me, reminding me of my earthbound limitations without the help of Boeing.

Later that evening, the house had grown silent. The buzzing and its accompanying weather system of lintfall had ceased. Before getting into my bed, located under the beam at the highest indoor elevation, I actually thought to check for a small fuzzy corpse.

The next morning as I reached down for my shoe, there he was. Still. My industrious worker bee had died in the line of duty. I picked him up and admired the soft fur, the transparent wings, and nature’s intricate design of jagged hooks and pollen-collecting mechanisms lining each little leg. I thanked him for his labor, and apologized for not having been able to return him to the outdoors, as I have so many of his within-reach brethren who’ve entered my living spaces. And I placed him for a while on a very special piece of quartz, where he was watched over and blessed by my favorite plastic Buddha. Everyone needs a little plastic Buddha for life’s transitions.

[IMAGE] bee and buddha /><br />
<span style=

So, all my mysteries of the day and night were solved. And, were I more entrepreneurial, a new business was formed: renting out large bees to people with cobwebs that need clearing! Surely there’s a market for this!
I’ll advertise on the web.

A fur coat in summer

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

[IMAGE] fur on the hoof

…click to listen:

…about the music

Furry music.

Summer is here, and I welcomed the Solstice by spending noontime dangling my legs over the jagged, igneous rocks in front of where I keep my pencils and scorepads. And most importantly, my erasers. Okay, I welcome most any warmish day this way, and along with a mug of coffee, I’m usually toting two cameras (wide and zoom lens) and a Kleenex. Always prepared.

As I greeted summer, it greeted me with yet another San Juan Island Personal First: this fuzzy spirit, scrambling effortlessly across the [hundreds of] feet of shoreline [twelve feet] below my [merely two] feet. Initially I thought this was a sea otter– rare up here; instead, we get lots of river otters. Even though we’re on the sea and have no rivers. Go figure. Curious, I emailed the pix over to Monika for her expert I.D. services. “That’s a mink!” she wrote back. I was thrilled.

A couple of generations ago, a woman of any means might have a prized fur coat by her mid-twenties. Here I am, months from a happy fiftieth, and I’m just now getting my first one. And in a far more delightful and acceptable form. This is the only fur I’ve ever had, and will ever want. Lucky for him!

[IMAGE] fur on the hoof