Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Henna designs made with leaves from the Mignonette (Lawsonia inermis) tree. Grinding the leaves produces an olive-green paste which is mixed with lemon juice and other liquids to produce a workable medium. These designs are applied, in one instance, at the Mendhi ceremony in India prior to the wedding as an enhancement for the bride. Wonderful designs are applied with a conical-container device, or with wooden implements. After drying the paste is removed with, in one description , a cotton bud dipped in olive or avacado oil. The traditional color derived from this is orange on the skin but other colors are done with different additives.

As an addition to the lipstick, blush , eye shadow, powders, nail polish, manicure, pedicure, perfume, shave, haircut, perm, cornrows, braids, curls, tats and piercings now utilized to make us pretty, this may be the oldest form of body enhancement dating at least back to 2100 BC in NW Syria (see history).
And it comes off within one to three weeks depending on how many times it is washed.

I really like these designs many of which I am sure derive from family tradition and history.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Hot Water

A fountain- statue of Hernando DeSoto being given hot spring water by a Caddo indian maiden. This is in the mens' bath hall at the Fordyce Bathhouse in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
I suspect that this engagement didn't actually happen since, when DeSoto and his band of 600 Spanish invaders sailed north into what is now Tampa Bay, Florida in 1541 and wandered the now southeast US seeking gold and riches, a previous Spanish explorer called Narvaez had already made a bad impression on the natives with his violent dealings with them. In fact there were many bad experiences with the natives, not unexpected since DeSoto set out apparently ready for trouble ; their stores included "chains for captives, and bloodhounds as auxiliaries against the natives". Look for trouble and you may find it, I always say. DeSoto died of malignant fever at age 46 on this trip; he was secretely buried in the Mississippi River because the natives regarded him as possessing supernatural powers and his death would have given them more power over their invaders. His wife died in Havana three days after hearing. His explorations did take him through what is now the hot springs area in central Arkansas however; probably wasn't greeted with hot water from a maiden though.
This stained-glass window is above the sculpture and depicts Neptune's Daughter and an unnamed fellow swimming about.
This bath house was built about 1915 by Sam Fordyce for about $213,000. The floors are all tiled as are many of the walls and bath areas. It is one of eight bathhouses still existing, only two of which are available for bathing.
This was quite the place to go back in the twenties with many doctors prescribing the hot baths and steam rooms for patient maladies. (Al Capone was a visitor and reserved the entire fourth floor of the Arlington Hotel when he came.)
Good luck getting your health insurance to cover that procedure now!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fall Treats

Rhus glabra

Smooth sumac here nestled amongst the pine. These berries can be collected now to make a drink known as "indian lemonade" which is a bit sour and must be sweetened. I have found it best to wash the berry clusters then soak them in a bowl of water, mashing on occasion. This will create a pink liquid which can then be strained through cheesecloth, or a cotton dish towel.
Add sugar to taste and refrigerate. We use it in small quantities to give iced tea an added tang.

This plant is widespread from Florida to British Columbia. My reference claims that some in Appalachia rolled and smoked the leaves as a treatment for asthma; this seems odd. It has been in cultivation since 1620 and the leaves and roots contain tannin used for staining and dyeing.
And it tastes good; whats better than that?

Elaeagnus umbellata

(Greek elaia for "olive", agnus for sacred ; umbellatus refers to the flowers)

These berries on the Autumn olive bush are a bit tangy depending on time of season and where the bush occurs in the landscape. They get sweeter as time nears first frost and it is best to keep testing before picking, for maximum sweetness. They make a wonderful jelly and can be processed as you would grapes--to make jelly of them. They have a subtle flavor so if you are used to mouth explosions in your jelly, forget it!

The bush has been in cultivation since 1830 according to my reference and originally comes from areas below 9000 ft from Afghanistan to China, Korea and Japan. It was introduced to US in 1917 and (of course) quickly spread to invade the indigenous ecosystems and establish itself amongst the plants.
(a pet peeve of mine: introducing non-native plants and animals, for one reason or another, by alleged-intelligent people, into an established ecosystem with no regard for future developments and "escape from cultivation". In southern US, welcome kudzu and killer bees; I fight the multiflora rose introduced by University Extension braniacs as a hedge bush around pastures and fields. (and yes, it has thorns))
But I guess that some escapees are welcome if they can provide a tasty drink or jelly.

What is in your area to eat or drink?

Ref:Shrubs and Woody Vines of Missouri by Kurz, 1997

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


The Song

The small, high wailing
that envelops us here,
distant, indistinct,

yet, too, immediate,
we take to be only
the utterances of loose fan

belts in the refrigerating
system, or the shocked hum
that issues from the darkness

of telephone receivers;
but it speaks to us
so deeply we think it

may well be the beseeching
of the stars, the shameless
weeping of coyotes

out on the Mohave
Please, stop listening

to this sound, which
is actually the terrible
keening of the ones

whose hearts have been broken
by lives spent in search
of its source,

by our lives of failure,
spent looking everywhere
for someone to say these words.


Poem by Denis Johnson
from The Incognito Lounge (1994)

The painting, Solar music, is by Remidios Varo Spanish surrealist (1908-1963) -- Oil on masonite --
Characters she painted have been described as: "These dream-like people, personified psychic fragments possessing purpose but not consciousness."

She died young, at 55, of "excessive tension" , a holistic diagnosis described as:
Tension on these (eyeball) muscles, called the Rectus muscles, creates a condition of farsightedness, and is experienced emotionally as tension in the consciousness, as coming out of one's Self, focusing on Image. It may be experienced as suppressed anger, or anger at one's self (guilt), or a feeling that in some way, the individual is not as important as other Beings.

I am not sure how this condition could do you in ?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Over There

A road to the mountains over there . . .

Kept from the garden for being self -- once one, now each
off to seek a god

A place high above the ridges to see bright ice cut by sharp-black arete

Patterns shifting like stormy rain on quiet water

Fore to front, front to fore -- pulsing
Not words exactly but a message

Black to white, void to life, time and now


An easy koan

Thanks Polona for the wonderful

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Building the New

I wondered what was becoming of all the petrodollars we are so willingly contributing as we encase ourselves in two tons of steel and glass to pick up those consumer goods and move about. . . buildings in the desert!!
This is just one being built in Dubai (on the Persian Gulf) and has rotating floors each containing 12 modules (suites). There will be 80 floors, the top 10 of which will be villas with parking for your car on that floor; a retracting heliport exists in case you need to fly into your abode. The structure will be energy self sufficient with solar panels and wind turbines between floors to provide electric on a "third rail" system to each rotating floor. Efficient plumbing and electrical connections seem iffy to me but will no doubt be worked out during construction along with many other unforseen problems, I suspect.
Design is by David Fisher's Dynamic Architecture firm in Florence, Italy as he contributes to the city of Dubai known as the "playpen for architects" because of the extreme designs being offered by architects from around the world. Each room (suite) is constructed elsewhere as a finished module to be attached at the tower during assembly.
A better description: Is here

Wind turbines for power
(replacing a bearing will be fun!)

This looks like a module graphically being lifted into place.

I would like to believe that great advances in medicine, agriculture, contributions to art literature and learning are in the offing but it is sparse finding so far!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


A nasturtium flower (tropaeolum majus) First discovered in the jungles of Peru and Mexico.
Described as having showy edible flowers and pungent seeds

The Bridge at Nasiriya

For a pulsing moment
he cannot remember
whether he came from Georgia
or some place further inward,
a recruiting office,
Captain Tilly congratulating him,
painting murals inside his head,
promises of a noble heart to be saved
for heaven, a good spot there.

They rushed across the bridge like savages,
dark-skinned small enemies, wide-eyed
with fear or hate --
like a suicide bomber.
Captain Tilly hadn't told him
the sound a child makes when she dies,
broken, on a bridge, irrevocably,
like a small turtle, stepped on.

The little girl is maybe five,
in a gold and orange dress,
colors for something special,
for running at a soldier, for lying in a ditch,
a bit of her chest missing,
like his sister's lost earring,
like the missing lid of a coke bottle.
His gun has melted into his fingertips.

A dead girl in a bright dress...
He came here then to kill a child.
A girl rushing across the bridge
running from the sound of helicopters,
running the way danger slams through a paper wall
and he had never shot a bear,
even a rabbit, he who was
promised a proud heart to save for heaven,
and a good spot there.

An hour is made of a thousand crazy instances --
An instance has a life of its own,
tells epics until you fall asleep from boredom.

He had never shot a sick dog
or a rabid skunk
but the child had run toward him,
a crazy instance,
like the frantic urge to tear out his own heart,
slash open the child and give her his,
still beating.

He will not remember this,
will not tell his cousin Billy,
who told him to go kick ass --
He will not remember this,
will not tell his mother who has put up
yellow ribbons --
He will not remember this,
his crazy instant of terror
as a child ran at him.
He will not remember this,
the sound of a soul brushing across one arm.
He will not remember this,
that he, in God's ledger, is the victim.

He who never shot a rabbit
will not remember
which of them soared upward from life,
which of them stayed behind.

Words by Lisa Walsh Thomas

Poets against War

I came across this in seeking others' experience of this war.
My experience is limited by the lack of news and reportage of our national corporate media who have more mundane things to report.
I would suppose a soldier walking through a city of Iraq scared shitless that someone will appear out of nowhere to do him harm would be edgy and react to any fast movement. I know that I would be. This is an urban war; over 600,000 civilians killed, by some accounts now.

I just read that the Polish army (such as it was, part of the "Coalition of the Willing") camped on the site where the city of Babylon once stood, south of Baghdad, east of the Euphrates. At least three thousands of years of history trod upon by yet another conquering army. When will it ever end?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Persian Perspective

This be a depiction of the Shayad Monument comissioned by Farah, the wife of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (Shah of Iran) about 1971, in Teheran. Renamed Azadi (freedom) Tower after the 1979 revolution which sent the Shah into exile. It is clad in white marble and inset under with tile mosaic. The arch appears to be a Lamella truss. A diamond pattern also used for the astrodome in Houston.

This fellow ruled as monarch from '41 to '79 and was in later years considered by his people to be a corrupt dictator and a tool of the US and the British. In 1953 after the duly elected Prime Minister named Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh nationalized the Iranian oil companies, which previously the British had controlled, the US and Britain engineered a coup d'etat to get rid of him and restore the Shah and his crony to power thus keeping oil out of the hands of the pesky Iranian companies.
At least his wife had good taste judging by her approval of this structure. There is a museum at the base and an elevator to the top where one can peer out over the city and the 15 hectare (about 38 acres) park with fountains surrounding.

This creation is from an art festival on the island of Hormoz in the Persian Gulf last January.

More to be seen at this link.
Iran lost 500,000 "martyrs" to the war with Iraq and Saddam Hussein's weapons of individual destruction provided mostly by US, in the 80's.

You wonder if it is more noble to kill for a country or to kill for a god. You wonder if it makes any difference to the long run.

I wondered what a 13th century prophet had to say:

The Silent Articulation of a Face

Love comes with a knife,
not some shy question,
and not with fears
for its reputation!

I say these things disinterestedly.
Accept them in kind.

Love is a madman, working his wild schemes, tearing off his clothes,
running through the mountains, drinking poison,
and now quietly choosing annihilation.

A tiny spider tries to wrap an enormous wasp.
Think of the spiderweb woven across the cave
where Muhammad slept!

There are love stories
and there is obliteration into love.

You've been walking the ocean's edge,
holding up your robes to keep them dry.
You must dive naked under and deeper under,
a thousand times deeper!

Love flows down!!
The ground submits to the sky and suffers
what comes.
Tell me, is the earth worse for giving in like that?
Don't put blankets over the drum!
Open completely.
Let your spirit-ear listen to the green dome's passionate murmur.

Let the cords of your robe be untied.
Shiver in this new love beyond all above and below.

The sun rises, but which way
does the night go?

I have no more words. Let soul speak with the silent
articulation of a face.


. . . oh, right

thanks naj

Friday, April 18, 2008


Our ducks: sprig on the right with bully boy, roxy, and spotts adjacent; we got them through the winter intact, now they can rest.
Canadian goose watching over while his mate sits on eggs nearby. The geese flew in a month or so ago seeking quiet solace and apparently finding it. Roxy is on eggs also when she feels like it . . . not much hope for a hatching there . . . domestication seems to rouen them, as it does us all.

Sprig with a particularly attractive tiara today; Spotts in back. Something got into the goose's eggs and they are gone but Roxie is being diligent with her eggs which are in the duck house inside the pen with only lake access, so we may have little Rouens soon to add to the four.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Lost and Abandoned

One of many empty old houses in the neighborhood. Not many would put up with the bugs, drafty winters or upkeep in this old structure anymore. I think that the Clarks' were the first occupants as evidenced by their graves nearby (many homesteads had family graveyards added to over the years by successive owners of the property.) The earliest stone was for William Clark put up in 1853. Then Sarah Knox, 1863; Mary Quick, daughter of Stephen and Isabel, 1878 (4 yrs Old); up to the Grahams: daughter 1876 (18 yrs old), and the father in 1892. Thats the last one. I guess the more recent belonged to churches or moved on before the question came up as to where to finally rest.
I am told that just down the road was a family who survived on 40 acres with 4 kids;
that would have been in more recent times, 30's say. Their house is also abandoned with the occupants having moved away or "passed on", as they say.

In a back hallway leading to a pantry the walls are covered with old newspapers. Arranged to be read-- care was taken.
The right pic is dated 1904 and tells of the Japanese in some sort of to-do with the Chinese. (left-click to gain detail--- sorry about the flash-glare) Also, not pictured was a description of a new airship. This was to be the "airship of the future".
Left pic is dated 1942 and shows an interesting shot of German soldiers hiding in reeds or cornstalks or something. I wouldn't believe all I saw with this photo. Looks like a setup to me, with propaganda and all.
The house was probably built at the turn of the century. The earlier denizens of the property probably living in log-cabin type structures (some of which exist too in this area.)

The last piece of furniture left: the ubiquitous school desk. No left-handers' though I am told.

Monday, March 10, 2008


hey a door . . . lets go through

looks scary over there

but theres flowers

just remember the last time

wasnt that bad, we only died once!

true, but I didnt like it

but here we are safe and sound once again

lets keep it that way

im goin in


Wild Garden Gate
by Ginger Cook
A Houston artist who uses stucco
and other media for a nice depth-effect

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Bend I will if bend I can
said the sapling tree
to the asking man

But once arched
beyond a yield point
permanent distortion remembered
the reasons forgotten:

seeking the light
faded hopes
broken friends
pointless deaths
missed chances

weight of endless time

Entropy is taken
dissipated like skittering leaves in the spreading wind

a permanent tell

Friday, January 18, 2008


Something warmer is called for: Mortlake Terrace oil by JMW Turner (1775-1851)
Mortlake is a London suburb on the Thames river and looked to be a peaceful place back in 1827.
Those are lime trees along the walkway with what I believe is ivy growing up the trunk for the wrapped effect. I always think of the colors being muted yellows in the olden days because you rarely see a bright blue sky in the old depictions. I just read that he pasted the dog cutout into the scene since it added interest and he was rushed to get the painting to a showing. Those could be people in the background? May have to visit the National Museum in DC to be sure.

Thanks rdg

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Icy Fracture

What you don't like to see the morning after the power goes

out during an ice storm. A corner pole in back of this one
also was broken off near the ground.
14,000 houses were affected in the county, we for four days. Fortunately we had heat with a Canadian fireplace insert which uses outside air for combustion and inside logs for heat; of course the fan didn't work and heat was mostly by convection. Cooked on a coleman stove with window cracked for a little ventilation (these stoves are still not ready for prime time, in my opinion!). Light by candle in every room (carry matches), reading with kerosene lamp (keep fresh kerosene) and a coleman lamp hanging outside the window from the deck roof. Enough for some scrabble with light shining through the dining room window.
Note to self: get one of those 1.6 gallon flush toilets---carrying water from the lake in 5 gallon buckets to flush the john gets real old.
The main survival problem was keeping the tropical-fish warm. A normal 75°F water temperature quickly fell to 60° and would have continued down had I not added warm water and heated the tank front with the campstove. Still, 62° is chilly if you are a fish and used to waters off the coast of malaysia. Thus: three fish (lost one through PTSD I suspect), four ducks, five pigeons, two dogs, one cat, and two souls, depending on how you define "souls", survived for another day.
So now its cleanup time with nary a tree unaffected. Broken branches everywhere including still up in the trees. Natural pruning; we'll see what results.
Nearby local town of 14,000 decides to burn its branches rather than the logical solution of chipping the stuff up for mulch and recycling. Well: we never claimed to be ahead of the curve environmentally here in midwest U.S. . . . In fact we don't claim to be ahead of the curve environmentally here in U.S. , for the most part. What canya do?