"The stars are threshed, and the souls are threshed from their husks."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Should, Should Not

A man should not love the moon.
An ax should not lose weight in his hand.
His garden should smell of rotting apples
And grow a fair amount of nettles.
Aman when he talks should not us words that are dear to him,
Or split open a seed to find out what is inside it.
He should not drop a crumb of bread, or spit in the fire
(So at least I was taught in Lithuania).
When he climbs marble steps
He may, that boor, try to chip them with with his boot
As a reminder that the steps will not last forever.

C. Milosz

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Red Lung

Red Lung (n) A lung condition most commonly found in Indian, Thai, and Latin American kitchens caused by the prolonged inhalations of the gas released by hot peppers when cooked. Symptoms include shortness of breath and spicy expectoration.

In other news, does anyone have a Balderdash game? That's a good time.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Blessing of the Animals

The opossums are not killing the tom cats at the farm, despite my mother's theories. Owls. Bobcats. Coyotes. Motherfucking mountain lions. But not opossums.

These opossums are changed, she says, remember that they killed the chickens.

There were no witnesss to this crime, but mom is convinced it happened. It might have. It's almost a crime not to kill chickens, really. They are asking for it.

In other news, Mom took Billy Bad-Ass, our stray goat, to the Epsicopal Church she attends along with a lop rabbit named Bouncy Butt on the day reserved for the blessings of the animals. She just put his front feet onto the back of the Durango and then pushed him in and closed the hatch. He's a very bright goat.

An old woman was observing the line of dogs ready to receive the blessing with holy water (cats, somehow, aren't nearly as common) in which Billy was included. She tottled over to Billy, came within two feet of him, and then said:

"That's not a dog at all, is it?"

I haven't left California yet, but I really don't miss it at all.

The Egret Palace

Scott got out of the car and waded into the tomatoes with his camera. I lounged in the shade with my notebook and pondered the scene. It took me nearly a minute to discern the wave of cacophonous jungle sounds coming from the trees behind me, to awaken to the world around me. I walked down the road to be nearer the sound, my steps instinctively careful and quiet. The solid windbreak broke, and I tucked my head into the gap. Tall eucalyptus trees were widely spaced throughout the clearing, providing an almost unbroken canopy of thin leaves. The noise increased. I took one step into the glen and set off an tornado of small white dragons. Six dozen egrets resettled at the very top tufts of the trees and pretended not to look at me. I retreated.

I was a little giddy when Scott returned, squatted by the open trunk of my car, and began to change his film.

“You ready for some fast shooting?” I asked him.

We approached the clearing. The birds were less nervous now. The whirlwind I saw failed to form, but the sky was filled with criss-crossing streaks of white. Further into the grounds, the earth was white and powdery from the effluent excretions of the avian court. We noticed the litter of eggshells among the shit-caked eucalyptus leaves and the general cacophony became more targeted and personal. Egrets flew towards us, their wings slicing the air near our heads. We looked more closely at the trees and saw a host of rough nests in low branches. Clumsy half-fledged egrets ran from us.

“This is a special place,” Scott said, “We shouldn't be here.”

“I think that there is a body of water further on,” I said, “Maybe we can skirt around to the left.”

Along the left side of the citadel an alfalfa field endured the gossamer attentions of a butterfly horde. They flew like pieces of burnt paper. Half were the color of egg shell, the other half were yellow as an egg yoke. A deeply rutted farm road wound around the trees. Firewood and brush were piled separately along side the road at regular intervals. We found another gap in the ring of eucalyptus and climbed a brief acclivity. A lagoon covered in green moss and crowded with trees waited there for us. We crept on our hands and knees closer to the water. A quick-eyed pair of ducks spotted us and flew low and fat across our vision, resettling with some noise not far away.. A downy feather fell onto the water and the wind helped it walk across the moss towards us. It crossed the entire pond in this manner. The branches of the trees were all stained white and shook with the restlessness of the egrets. The birds relieved themselves into the water with loud plops. I don't know how long we sat there. What are watches to wilderness?

We left our perch and continued to follow the ring of trees. Around the bend the familiar site of a working farm yard jarred strangely with the nearby jungle. Prefabricated tin sheds and large tractors sat outside a barely visible single-story house. A huge metal pipe crawled out of the water and into the yard. A small dock became visible along the far edge of the pond, and the path we followed led to wooden bridge overgrown with some kind of flowering vine. The bridge led to a small island. Posted at the foot of the bridge was a sign.

No Fishing from Bridge
$3.00 Fine

--From EOB, obviously

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Like Sharks on Bloody Meat

"The bees have what's called a honey gut. That's where they store the nectar they get from flowers, and it causes an enzymatic change, turning it into honey." While saying this, Harold casually plucked one of the now ubiquitous bees out of the air with one hand and ripped it partially in half. Suspended between both halves of the bee hung a small jewel of honey. "That's the honey gut. That's pure honey in there." And then Harold grabbed the gut with one finger, discarded the rest of the bee, and scooped it into his mouth. "Mmm."

Scott was changing film and didn't quite see the extraordinary event clearly.

"Did Harold just catch a bee out of the air?" He asked, hurrying over to where we stood.

"Yes, and pulled it apart to show us the honey gut."

"Can you do that again, Harold?"

"Sure." And with equal ease, he snatched another bee from its innocent flight and, as if he was untying a knot, pulled both ends of the bee away from one another until the honey gut hung full and fat as a tick between them, catching the sun, burning with light. This one found its way into Scott's mouth.

"Mmm. That's honey," he said.

What is the life of a bee worth? I wondered. The management of the a hive and the health of the queen—the only necessary personality—depends on sheer numbers. One bee, or two bees, or three bees, is of no value. The hive requires hundreds of workers and drones to ensure that enough honey is stored to last the long, cold, virginal winter, and that the queen is nourished long enough to produce an heir. Every action taken by a beekeeper is communal, save for adding a queen to an abandoned or infertile colony. Centuries away and thousands of miles distant from any monarchy, I was suddenly swept up into a Homeric drama, where a hundred thousand nameless souls could and would perish in defense or attack of Helen's bedroom whimsy. And who was this standing next to me- Harold no longer, but Zeus, looming over each buzzing city-state with total, if benevolent, power. The singular defense of the bee is an instrument its undoing. She may sting once, then die. The beehive, a civilization of dizzy grandeur, an archive of eternal spring, is constructed piecemeal of endless tragedy. Here they are, I thought, breaking though the invisible trade-lines between many hives and the barbaric, floral beyond, here are the Greeks.

From "Like Sharks on Bloody Meat" from EOB