I forgot to hibernate, but would like to do so now.

I haven’t written anything for a while because I’ve been exhausted. I wrestled a goat in the hallway of my friend Mary’s house last week. Mary had been very sick, so I was over there putting a mint on her pillow and fluffing up her bathrobe when the neighbor’s goats broke in. I trapped the ringleader before she got to the kitchen, where she would have had far too much room to maneuver. I pinned her against the wall – it’s amazing what rage can accomplish – and dragged her out the door again, where her two sisters were having a battle on the porch. It really is lucky that I knew them all (I used to milk their mother), because they outweigh me now. It wasn’t especially tiring, just symptomatic of the complications that surround everything I do right now.

I could just go hide at home, which is becoming increasingly difficult to access. There’s a medieval looking trap at the end of the driveway (see above), and a spring has erupted in the middle of the curve. It’s not just a damp patch; bubbling has been observed. I drive around it, up into the weeds. It is not, thank God, blackberry season. I have no doubt that our local blackberry bushes can catch and hold a Volvo station wagon. The fatalism acquired from a family full of refugees from Ukraine is serving me well. True, the branch might fall on my car, or my driveway might become impassable, but again, they might not, and there’s not much I can do about either possibility, since I don’t have a backhoe or a bucket truck. My daughter will, in any case, be fine, because she’s like that. I could at least blame my landlord for not dealing with the tree, but he’s elderly, his handyman has disappeared into the woods (not a joke), and the one time he tried to replace something up here (the stove), I pitched a fit because I’d just cleaned it with toothpicks and some PineSol. (I don’t actually cook with the stove – I use it for storage.) I’m pretty much left to my own devices now.

There’s a sound track to all this, because a library patron came in and gave me the collected works of Richard Thompson; I hadn’t listened to him for a long time, although I remember seeing him open for Elvis Costello, who brought him out and then genuflected his way off the stage. Elvis Costello was rather disappointing, afterwards.

Here are sample lyrics from Richard’s early days with Fairport Convention: “It was all I could do to keep myself from taking vengeance in blood….”followed by a wailing chorus of “Oh, helpless and slow, and you don’t have anywhere to go.”

He perked up a bit, later on; try When the Spell is Broken, and Walking on a Wire, featuring the lovely voice of Linda Thompson. Never Again is gorgeous, unless you’re feeling sad, in which case it’s lethal.


The vanishing world of ice


“Vanishing Ice,” the exhibit at the Whatcom History Museum, has been extended until March 16. I saw it on Friday, because I love looking at things that people classify as art and had a mournful feeling that I should learn more about climate change. I was a little sad that many of the paintings are reproductions, but as soon as I got there I was so overwhelmed by the images of the ice that I barely paid attention to anything else. Two of my favorite children’s books are The Golden Compass and East (a novel based on the Norwegian story East of the Sun and West of the Moon), and I loved the evil snow queen in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. All my fantasy landscapes are encrusted with snow, ornamented with fur and reindeer bone, and infested with wolves.

Here is the beautiful ice: I loved Len Jenshel’s Narsaq Sound, Greenland, and Grand Pinnacle Iceberg, East Greenland, by Camille Seaman. I also liked Beechey’s illustration of the HMS Hecla in Baffin Bay, and Paraselene an illustration from Scott’s last 1912 expedition. The illustrator, Dr. Edward Wilson, died on that expedition along with Robert Scott. Ice Lens, by Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey, is also lovely, although I hope they at least send a Christmas card or something to Andy Goldsworthy).

Tiina Itkonen photographed Uummannaq, the village I would like to live in, proving that I am completely mad.

I did, however, find Chris Linder’s photograph of the melting Siberian permafrost at Duvannyi Yar pretty distressing. Frank Hurley’s photograph of Shackleton’s boat trapped in the ice at night is awesome, in the oldest sense of the word – it’s the livid ghost of a tragedy. And Chris Jordan’s Denali Denial is both witty and despairing, the picture that pulled me out of my icy dream.

The icy dream at the top of the post is not from the exhibition; it’s a photograph provided by dmdzine under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license. Thank you.

My favorite log

My favorite beach logs, my favorite beach pebbles…my favorite beach. I’m not giving directions, though :)


Cormorants and a seagull
My daughter took this picture of Pelagic cormorants while we were sitting on the ferry. I love cormorants. They’re peculiar little things; their bones are solid instead of hollow, and unlike most water birds, they have no oil in their feathers, which is why they spend a lot of time with their wings in the air, frantically drying off.

I’m not the only one who thinks they’re strange. According to www.triposo.com, “Cormorants seem tо be а very ancient group, wіth similar ancestors reaching аll the wаy bаck tо the tіme оf the dinosaurs. Іn fact, the very earliest known modern bird, Gansus yumenensis, hаd essentially the same structure.” I was also very taken by the title of this article: The Cormorant: the Devil Undisguised? . It only makes me love them more :)

Winter Solstice


For the winter solstice, which is tomorrow at 9:11 in the morning (PST), I give you Carl Larssen‘s portrait of his daughter, Brita. She is dressed as the Norse goddess Iduna in her traditional role: taunting peasants gnawing on lye-soaked codfish with the memory of fresh fruit.

The Ursid meteor showers are one of the happy features of this solstice. They began yesterday, and should peak on the 21st or 22nd. I’d love to get my child out of bed before dawn on the 22nd to watch the sky, but I don’t think it will happen unless I can drag her and her mattress out on the porch.