Thursday, March 31, 2022

A Label With A Story

 I see a lot of things lying on the ground when I walk in Paris.

I frequently take pictures of them.

When I examine them later, some of them seem to tell a story.

This one tells a complete three act play.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Mechanics Of The New Jim Crow

In a previous post I mentioned having read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.

I just saw a Jon Stewart discussion with a friend about racism in America.

It just set me off.

A sort of curious confluence between Jon and Michelle occurred.

And I feel compelled to document it.

The way the new Jim Crow works is that you pass federal laws making cocaine use a crime tantamount to genocide (actually worse; nobody ever gets convicted of genocide) and make massive multi-year sentences mandatory for being within miles of anything to do with cocaine - really that should be refined to say crack cocaine - that's what the law says; it conveniently entraps black people in its web because black people can't afford powder and don't have 20 dollar bills with which to snort it.

Once the law is in effect you send your police into predominantly black residential areas - sometimes called ghettos - and use some other cockamamy law that allows the cops to stop and search black people to search every young black man that the police encounter.

(It's bad cop stuff to stop and search young women - even black ones.)

And inevitably, some of those young black men end up having cocaine.

The cops, being resource constrained, they say, can't mount similar reigns of terror in predominantly white neighborhoods - and white rage at such an intrusion is bad politics - so the demographics of cocaine use in America are conveniently confined to the ghetto.

That's what the cops say; that's their story, and they are sticking to it.

Once in downtown cop-land most of the hapless young black Americans ensnared are offered a choice: "we're going to charge you with a violation that has a mandatory minimum sentence of 50 years, or you can plead guilty to possession and get 10 years".

Since the hostages offered this bargain have no way to hire a lawyer, they take 10 years.


Voila - we have a new slave population, and it is the same color as the one before emancipation.

And white American residential areas are totally free from the police state that their black fellow citizens have to endure.


It's amusing, to some of us, that the cops don't go into Appalachian communities decimated by opioid abuse, mayhem and death.

They just wring their sweaty little cop hands, weep a little and say "how awful".

But then, they are all members of the Jackal Cult of Whiteness Uber Alles.

And god bless 'Merica.

Monday, March 28, 2022

A Rose From Promenade Plantee

 When I mount the steps back up behind the new Paris Opera at la Bastille, I am always amazed that a totally urban place in a very large modern city can transform into a magical ecological niche.

But, once up the steps, I am in that magical place,

Two things of the many that I have seen there are especially unique.

Unique is a commonly misused word: but the white rose in the picture here is a rose that I have only seen on la Promenade.

In all my walks in Paris.

And I have walked from rue Guénégaud to Metro Pont de Neuilly more than once.

That's a long walk.

There is an island, les Ile des Cygnes, that can be accessed from a staircase down to the Island from the Nueilly and has a rose garden; there are no roses as white at those on la Promenade.

Also, on la Promenade, I usually see some female merles noirs.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

No Longer There

 There are so many things that have gone away from my Paris neighborhood during the last 22 years.

This is one of them.

Not a favorite of mine, but, nonetheless, a landmark.

I miss it deeply.

It's Been All Downhill Since 1492

 We have all been told, ad nauseum, that Europeans brought Civilization to the New World.

I have read a book called 1491 a couple of times.

That book tells a rather different tale.

A couple of the most startling assertions from 1491 are that the tropical forests of South America were really human designed and controlled orchards and that in North America our native predecessors used fire to control undergrowth and overgrowth and create the vast grasslands that supported the buffalo which fed North America before Europeans; what looked to the invaders to be wasted unplowed ground was really an almost transcontinental pasture.

European invaders just couldn't see a really big picture, a failing that dogs us, their descendants, to the current moment.

Oh, also, there were an awful lot of people here before the Europeans introduced smallpox: when London was still a shanty town village there was a huge city on the site of what is today known as Oklahoma City.

At Least Let's Get Something For The Money

 Russia spent 61 billion dollars on defense in 2021.

The United States spent 740 billion dollars on defense in 2022.

Looks like Russia is getting way more bang for the buck.

At least, however, our Senate practices fiscal restraint when it comes to spending money on absurd frolics like improving the lot of the American People; that is unaffordable.

Le Grand Palais Through The Trees

 Mysti and I went there one to see a Hopper exhibition.

It was a nighthawk event.

Ayesha Got It !!!

 Weekend Edition Sunday.


She is so real, and so smart, that it is comforting to know that we can now expect decades of her bringing us through our coffee and bloody marys on our Sunday mornings.

I think she might have even added perspective to trumpian Sundays, not long forgotten, and imbedded in our mutual national PSD.

If only she had been there then. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Long Ago And Far Away

 My father and I once took my first boat, drove down Interstate 80 to a turnoff with a boat ramp on the John Day River, put the boat in the water and went up John Day Arm, a drowned portion of the John Day River where it dumps into the Columbia.

We caught some fish and pitched a tent above the shore, and, after dark built a fire on the shore where we sat and drank cans of Blitz-Weinhard

Coincidentally, that was the name of the dog that shared my life for so many years and so many hunting trips.

I have never lived with another dog.

A lot of cats, though.

And I switched from beer to Bells Up rosé.

Night Scenes In Paris


Friday, March 25, 2022

I Understand Ginny Thomas

 My last duty station in my Air force interlude was at HQ SAC in Omaha.

Because I was an 02 when I got there, and an 03 when I departed to return to civilian life, I was too low in rank to live on the base.

So we lived in Omaha.

Not far from Creighton.

Where Ginny got whatever education she got.

God, I hated Omaha.

Ugly is all I can remember of it.

I was so lucky to get out for four of the twelve months of my life that could have been wasted there: I got to go to Japan for Combat Fox.

If that hadn't happened I think I would be more unbalanced than I am.

But Ginny was stuck in Omaha, apparently.

No wonder she wants to destroy the United States and has no concept of, or respect for, its Constitution.

Mr. Putin, I Knew Adolph Hitler, And You Are No Adolph Hitler

 A friend recently referred me to a link to some guy who had just been defrocked by Twitter who was interviewing some guy named Scott Ritter.

The defrocked guy spent the first five minutes of the video decrying his heinous de-frockment.

That was boring.

Then Scott came on.

Then it got really boring.

It also got strange.

Imagine hearing Mike Lindell trying to quote real statistics or facts.

The delivery method of Q loses its piquancy when purveyed by someone masquerading as not being a nut.

Scott Ritter says he is not a nut.

 One of Scott's recurring themes was that the Russian army has been amazing in its surgical use of force: nobody killed, lots of important military targets destroyed and the Ukrainian People in the streets welcoming the Russians.

He pointed out that the comparison to Putin's Ukrainian onslaught and Hitler's blitzkrieg was an invidious one: the Russians had taken over Ukraine in way less time than it had taken Hitler to take Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg.

Putin, asserted Ol' Scott, had taken Ukraine before the Moscow Evening News of day one of his special military operation,

A quick web search revealed that Hitler had taken Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg in 18 days; when I heard Scott, the Russian army had been stalled in Ukraine for 20 days; they were nowhere near taking anything.; they were licking their wounds and hoping to raid Ukrainian root cellars for food.

And just for fun, they were bombing hospitals, old folks' homes, train stations, agreed-to humanitarian corridors and anything else that could be destroyed without endangering the fragile little Russian youths that had been sent to kill all their Slavic brethren,

"I think it has been a long 20 days and counting, not evening news time in day one", I said to myself on day 20.

"Thirty-one now" I thought I heard someone say, as I finished this sentence.

So, Scott Ritter and his hook-nosed, "I am a victim of crimes against humanity" accomplice notwithstanding, "Mr. Putin, I Knew Adolph Hitler, And You Are No Adolph Hitler".

And that is a good thing.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Le Coq De France - I Guess

The formal entrance to the Élysée Palace, the residence of France's elected king, the President, is on rue du Faubourg St-Honoré.

Or as near as I have ever been able to tell from wandering around that quartier, that is true.

It's fairly forbidding.

Sometimes caravans of cars - black Mercedes limousines - frantically turn in and enter.

I guess those are representatives of other countries going to talk to the French President.

A lot of times though I wander around on the Champs Elysées.

There is a wooded boulevard skirting parc just north of the Champs Elysées.

If you go into that wooded strip at just the right place you will come to a street.

If you walk along the street - or are lucky enough to have intercepted it at just the right place you will see a kingdom-like iron fence with a gate with a chicken.

I think its the back way into the Palace.

Or maybe it's an upscale KFC.


Wednesday, March 23, 2022

That Flint Thing

 In a recent post, The Spine Of The Tuileries , I wrote about magic properties that I feel in my deepest being to be inherent to that ancient water turned to stone; we call it flint in English.

That post contains a quote from Screen Saver a memoir I wrote once.

This post has a quote from A Curious Confluence, a novel that I wrote once.

"It was the skeleton of a hand.

"And in the hand was a piece of something.  Closer examination showed it to be a piece of flint. The shore upon which I had been walking was strewn with them.  They were the only things more numerous than the shells of long gone clams.  But this one was in the grip of the skeleton of a hand.  

"The hand had the flint held in it.  The fingers of the skeleton were wrapped around it in a manner in which the fingers and the thumb were all vertically aligned rather than clenched in a fist.  The flint protruded just slightly above the finger tips and the tip of the thumb. The glint had been that protruding flint.

"For no reason that I could have given if I had been asked, I had an overwhelming desire to take possession of that piece of flint.

"I took hold of the longest of the skeletal fingers and tried to bend it out to release the flint from the hand’s grip.  

"It did not yield.

"I had an almost beyond bearable pain in the middle finger of my left hand".

What's It With Ted Cruz?

 He's really big on child pornography.

He seems to be using the Judge Jackson hearings as cover for his pathological fascination for it.

And he has been pretty incessantly and consistently graphic in the content of his questions for Judge Jackson.

Kinda reminds me of Clarence Thomas and his reputed frolic with Anita Hill.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Ketanji Brown Jackson V Lindsey Graham: What I Would Have Done

 A little while ago I was listening to the Lindsey Graham Show.

It was a half hour monologue recounting all the abuse and chicanery heaped upon him and his Jackal Party Colleagues by a sinister, unnamed, CABAL during the Jackals' recent theft of a seat on the Supreme Court.

Occasionally he interrupted his monologue to ask questions of his guest panelist, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

He would preface his question with a short summary of some recent ill uses experienced by him and his fellow Jackals, and, without stopping for a breath, he would segue to the obvious question implied by his prologue and then, finally, out of breath, would stop to breathe at which time Judge Jackson would start to answer the question.

Not so fast, Judge Jackson.

Lindsey once again fully puffed up with oxygen (among other things) would interrupt and provide his answer.

This went on for the half hour allotted to him for questions.

Judge Jackson endured it with humility.

I wish, I wish, I wish in vain that she would have knocked off the humility about the time of question two.

I wish she had said the following:

"Senator, you obviously prefer your answers to mine; I know that because you keep interrupting me and providing the answer to your question.

"That being the case I am ceding both sides of this interview to you: you ask the questions, then, without interruption by me, you answer the questions.

"I'm going to take a little nap.

"Wake me when you're done".

Monday, March 21, 2022

Fish Seen From A Bridge In Quimper

 Back a number of years my wife and I spent a little over a month in in Bretagne - Brittany - in English.

It's also called Petite Bretagne.

Grande Bretagne - we Americans usually call it England or "the UK" - was where one of Bretagne's native sons migrated to -Lancelot - and where all of the Arthurian legend took place.

At the end of our sojourn - rental car, no reservations (it was late September and all of October, so we had ocean front hotel rooms whenever we stopped for the night on some place on the coast of that magical place) we ended up somewhere in the inland middle of Bretagne in late October.

We were in the vestiges of Merlin's forest - that's where the legend had started and we were in some kind of what would have been called in another century an inn, and we were in the bar of the inn.

Almost immediately after entering the place, (it REALLY, looked like a Shakey's Pizza restaurant in 1957 in Northeast Portland, on Foster Boulevard) big, long tables - not as long as Putin's table, but long - and benches of a size to allow lots of people to sit at each table, the word got around that we were Americans.

Apparently that was a rarity in Merlin's Forest; we immediately became objects of interest and proffered conversations.

My wife speaks French so she was off on her own frolic.

I speak a variety of French that allows me to order a glass of wine, ask how much something costs, and apologize when my vendor is offended by my having asked how much something costs.

So I was pleased to note that the guy next to me on my bench at the table spoke American English.

It was interesting: I got so excited by his English that I started speaking at a normal American cadence; he almost immediately said "lentement sil vous plais"; I couldn't tell him the irony of that phrase that I had uttered so many times in France in my various French sojourns.

But we went on with me speaking slowly.

After an apparently mutually satisfactory period of exchange he looked at me deeply and said "what the fuck is it with this Boooosh"?

I said "je suis desolé"

We shook hands.


Prior to the end of October we had spent a couple of days in Paris and then taken the train to Rennes where we picked up a car and went to Auvranch for the night and stayed in the Hotel Patton; it was at centre ville and there was a round memorial in the street in front of the hotel.

In the memorial were a couple of tanks and several American flags.

The proprietors of the hotel thanked us for the Normandy invasion.

That was in the Twenty First Century.

When they discovered that we were launching into Bretagne they said that they needed to make reservations for us in Morlais - our next overnight - because we were still at the edges of the "season" in France, that time when all the city dwellers go to the country.

So we had a place to stay in Morlais, and that was good.

The next day we drove to Quimper.

Which is the point to this long story.


I was standing on a bridge over some waterway in the center of Quimper.

Looking down I saw a bunch of fish.

I asked a guy who was close to me on the bridge what they were.

"Bar" he said "bass in English".

"We don't catch them here, we catch them in the ocean, so they know that they are safe here.

"We call then bar here on the Atlantic; on the Mediterranean we call them "loupe" (wolf); they are the same fish, but I think the loupe is the better".

I have had both, and they both, properly prepared, are sublime, but I prefer the the wolf aussi.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Racism Potpourri: First Round - There May Be More At Some Other Time

 I can't identify a time in my life, no matter how hard I exercise my memory muscle, and no matter how far back I make it flex and delve when I didn't think that my black fellow citizens had had a rough and unjust time of it.

Equally true, I can't remember a time when I didn't think that that state of affairs must be in an imminent state of change for the better - much, much better.

The first time I heard the word "Jim Crow" was when I was in my late teenage years and had become fanatically interested in folk music and learning to play a guitar and joining with some, at that time, unidentified kindred spirits in the endeavor of pursuing a career in entertainment and music; in the midst of that frenzy, I started borrowing Folkways records from the downtown Multnomah County library; one of those records was a compilation of songs sung by Josh White, someone I had never heard of; one of the songs was Jim Crow, a phenomenon that I had never heard of;  it is alluded to in the song, but not described, so I was able to mimic the song - it is a compelling piece of music - but not learn anything from it, certainly not what Jim Crow might be.

 I did don a raiment of moral outrage, nonetheless; not bad for a white teenager who knew nothing about why he was outraged.

I knew enough to be outraged about the fact that black people didn't seem to be able, with any consistency, to earn a decent living.

I didn't know enough to realize that the issue was not a decent living (important, but not the issue) but instead the fact that black people, after 400 or more years in America had no wealth.

I never heard of the Tulsa Massacre until a few years ago - I was over seventy years of age, and I had never heard of how a white community in Oklahoma had, in a few hours, surgically removed a significant accumulation of black wealth.

Time had to pass after that late-in-life revelation to allow me to think enough about Tulsa to realize that it had been nothing less than a violent eruption into the daily news - quickly silenced - and a prime example of how black people had been living a life of one step forward, five steps back for over four hundred years.

I have always hated cops, so, early on in life it was easy for me to realize that the cops seemed to kill a lot of young black men for no apparent reason and always got away with it.

But it wasn't until I had read Ron Chernow's Grant - 2018 - that I found out that there had been a brief period (yeah they taught Reconstruction in school, but Chernow had some real stuff to talk about) when black people had been given access to that mythical thing called the level playing field and had prospered; and that the white majority, many of whom for their own personal reasons were not prospering, shut that all down with white robes and - you got it - Jim Crow.

But, I thought I heard somebody say, "the Civil Rights Act put an end to Jim Crow".

It wasn't until I read Michelle Alexander - which was last year - that I learned that the War on Drugs was, and is, nothing more and nothing less than a surgically (notice how "surgical" is a recurring theme) precise application of laws and policing to the black community of America with the objective of putting as many young black men as possible into prison - de facto slavery - The New Jim Crow.

Back in 2020 somebody kicked the top off the anthill, and nobody has been able to put all us ants - black, white, red yellow and other - back in the hill; George Floyd was just one too many murders.

All but the most oblivious, or most indebted to latter day apartheid among us, have been unwilling to unremember the lesson of seeing a grinning cop kill a black man in front of a crowd.


I designed the preceding words to be a staccato burst of information about ignorance - mostly mine, but also America's

I designed it to allow a rational being to draw some conclusions: that it is time for a new age to be dawning should be among those conclusions: America is going to finally assume its obvious place as the largest multi-everything democracy in the world.


Legislatures country wide are passing laws that make it illegal to teach truth in our classrooms because such teaching might cause little fragile white children to become upset.

I would like to know how I got 16 years of education with the requisite associated certificates and degrees and didn't know anything about racism until I was late in life.

That's an indictment of either me, or of the system.

I think it's both.

We must reform and improve that system to finally educate the myriad copies of me that are out there.

And to educate them from grade school on.

But instead of that reform, that improvement, now many among us are worried about upsetting fragile little white children?

For teaching the truth about America?

Instead of the largest multi-everything democracy in the world, are we a fragile little white country?

I guess.

Two Movies

 Like a lot of people, I suppose, in remembrance of William Hurt we watched Broadcast News the other night.

Also, I would assume, like a lot of people that made us remember Network.

I remembered seeing Network in a theatre in 1976, and remembered that I liked it a lot, but couldn't remember why I liked it, or anything about it other than that William Holden threw open a window and shouted out into the void "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore".

It turns out that never happened.

So much for the quality of my memories.

I know that that never happened because we watched Network last night.

What a spectacular movie.

It was made in 1976; it seems as if it were made by Netflix last month.

It's unnervingly prophetic on a number of levels.

A Few Hummingbirds

 I mentioned in a recent post that I have always been interested in nature and its things, especially birds; here are a few of them.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Great Commentary By David Brooks

 I have been trying to organize my thoughts such that I might be able to post some comments about the invidious use of the word Conservative when describing the jackal-like rabble that keen and yelp in the wake of the big scavenger - d. j. trump - but I just haven't had the energy, and don't know enough about Conservatism to be credible - so the project has languished.

And that has turned out to be a good thing.

In a recent article in The Atlantic David Brooks has said all that needs to be said.

Roses In Various States Of Existence


Thursday, March 17, 2022

The Kiev Address

 Last night I had the strangest dream

 I'd ever dreamed before 

I dreamed I saw a mighty room Filled with women and with men 

After some time, I saw that there was a podium with the logo of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization attached to it.

All was silent.

I saw a person walking to the podium.

After he had taken the speaker's position and had begun to speak, I recognized him.

It was Joe Biden.

He spoke briefly.

"Now that this meeting is about to be concluded I need to make an announcement.

"We have filed a flight plan for Kiev.

"Jill and I are going to meet with President Zelensky and the Ukrainian Parliament in special session.

"Since we can't, or won't, stop Putin and his murderous war, the least that the Leader of the Free World, and his wife can do, we believe is to show our faces in the murder zone.

"This is probably foolhardy; for sure it is dangerous; by announcing the visit in advance complete with public flight plan we are making it certain that if some errant surface to air missile or some unknown sniper bullets kill us, they will be instantly identified as having come at the orders of Vladimir the Butcher; and we would expect appropriate action to be taken.

"But we hope and pray for the better angels to prevail.

"We expect to make our visit and to leave at its completion unharmed.

"But we will not be restrained from joining out brothers and sisters in Ukraine. 

I guess a collective gasp would be the best description of the reaction of the room.

The dream wobbled, wiggled, faded and focused as dreams are wont to do.

But things became clear again.

The Bidens were standing with President Zelensky.

Joe was in the middle, Jill was on his right and Zelensky was on his left.

Joe began to speak.

"Thirty One years ago the Ukrainian People revived on this continent, an old and noble nation, newly conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal.

"Now you are engaged in a great war of survival, testing whether your nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. You are met on a great battle-field – all of your great land - and survive from day to day, no more, no less. 

"Some day you will come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who already have given their lives that that nation might live. When, in God’s plan for things that happen, this war ends, and you have prevailed, it will be altogether fitting and proper that you – and all of us everywhere - should do this: should so dedicate.

"But, in a larger sense, you will not be able to dedicate – you will not be able to consecrate – you will not be able to hallow -- that ground. 

"The brave men and women, living and dead, who have already struggled there, will have already consecrated it, far above any poor power of the living to add or detract to the achievements of the dead.

"The world will little note, nor long remember what we have said here today, but it will never forget what our brave dead – for we are now, all of us one - did here. 

"It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who are fighting here have thus far so nobly advanced. 

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from those honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they have given and are giving the last full measure of their devotion -- that we here resolve that these dead and those that follow shall not have died in vain -- that your nation, under God, shall have a new life born in freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth".

The room was eerily silent.

Then all faded to white.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Lessons - Apparently - Forgotten

 Putin has unleashed unfathomable horror on a sovereign nation and its people.

Because those people didn't all give up and immediately accept an illegitimate overlord, he has unleashed all the forms of mass destruction available for modern warfare on hospitals, churches, apartments and residential subdivisions, killing and maiming untold numbers.

And the worst is yet to come.

Because Ukraine is not going to give up.

They know Groszy is their imminent fate; but they don't care; they are going to fight.

The EU, NATO, the United States and Japan have been surprisingly united and have unleashed sanctions of a type that have brought Russia to an economic standstill: its puny economy is punier today than it was ninety days ago.

And that has Putin in a corner.

So he has made vague nuclear threats based on the same justification he has used to get him in this mess in the first place.


For some reason I became curious: has Israel joined the rest of the civilized world in the sanctions.

So, I Binged that question,

Here is what I found:

I guess, after seeing the mayhem and havoc that the Israelis have wrought on the Palestinians for 74 years, that shouldn't surprise me.

Holocausts, after all, are uniquely Jewish.

I guess. 

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Coup du Monde?

 Putin has unleashed unfathomable horror on a sovereign nation and its people.

Because those people didn't all give up and immediately accept an illegitimate overlord, he has unleashed all the forms of mass destruction available for modern warfare on hospitals, churches, apartments and residential subdivisions, killing and maiming untold numbers.

And the worst is yet to come.

Because Ukraine is not going to give up.

They know Groszy is their imminent fate; but they don't care; they are going to fight.

The EU, NATO, the United States and Japan have been surprisingly united and have unleashed sanctions of a type that have brought Russia to an economic standstill: it's puny economy is punier today than it was ninety days ago.

And that has Putin in a corner.

So he has made vague nuclear threats based on the same justification he has used to get him in this mess in the first place.

But making Russia a 9th Century furs and shiny things barter economy can't hide the fact that Russia has immense numbers of nuclear delivery systems on alert for moments notice release.

So the EU and the United States and all the other members of the civilized world pussy foot around about any real - physical - action to stop Putin from doing to Kiev what he did to Grozny.

All he needs to do is growl about nuclear weapons and we don't do anything.

He isn't going to stop unless he is stopped.

Hitler didn't stop until we had gotten to Berlin and leveled it and the Soviet Army was prowling what was left of the streets looking for him; he shot himself in his bunker, was immolated with gasoline and all that's left is a jawbone in a cigar box.

Putin's doing a lot better.

He's calling all the shots.

And Ukraine is only the beginning.

I don't know what to do, but I know this aint it.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

The Spine Of The Tuileries

 This is from Screen Saver:

"The spine of the Tuileries was a flint gravel path connecting two reflecting ponds with fountains and leading into the maw of the Louvre. 

"If there had been a rain the flint was mixed with a kind of clay-like mud.  

"If the weather was dry the mud was sandy dust.  

"In either case, there was something about the dust, mud and flint that made me feel as if I were at the entrance to a time portal which would let me see Napoleon’s carriage careening by on the night someone had tried to assassinate him. 

"Or that I would get caught up in the crowd of red-hatted rioters on their way to Louis’s and Marie Antoinette’s quarters to make them declare for the Revolution.  

"I frequently picked up a piece of flint that looked as if it had a story to be told.  

"The mud, sand, dust and flint of the Tuileries were always a source of unexplainable magical joy to me."

This is a picture I once took in the Tuileries.

Musings About My Father And The Pacific Northwest Woods And Its Creatures

 In a recent post I mentioned that I had always thought that foxgloves were native to the PNW.

That got me remembering.

Almost everything I have ever known about that magical place I learned from my father and my grandmother - his mother.

That caused me to remember the introduction I wrote a few years back to a Lopez Island bird book that I published.

That caused me to decide to post it here.

Here it is.


My father loved nature.

He was fascinated by it from the time he was a small boy and spent his summers in the woods north of Seattle.

Those woods are now all subdivided and built upon and named Lake Forest Park.

But when my father was a little boy, those woods were just woods.  They had no name.  They were expansive and un-subdivided.

Those woods were full of plants and creatures that were so interesting they made the three month summers pass as if they were only a few days long.

My father told me that when I was a little boy. 

Those creatures were hidden from all but the most dedicated eyes and ears.

My father was an enthusiastic and dedicated observer.  So he had many things to tell that he saw during those summers.

The red huckleberries when they appeared shone like Christmas lights in the forest gloom. Normally those huckleberries were the most nondescript of forest floor shrubbery.  They were things that no one would ever notice.  

The sudden appearance of dark coral berries changed that briefly.  

When the berries appeared those nondescript bushes changed into glorious light green laceworks spattered with countless specks of red.

Then the birds descended upon them.

And then the berries disappeared.

And then the bushes receded from sight into their former anonymity.

But my father knew they were still there.

He told me about them when I was a little boy.

Clusters of gelatinous material laced with tiny spheres appeared every spring in the swamps that oozed out of the little creek that wandered through the woods.

And those spheres always did the same thing.

They always disappeared.  

In their place there were instead large numbers of tadpoles.

And before long the tadpoles disappeared.  

In their place there were instead large numbers of little thumbnail sized frogs.

The tiny spheres disappeared and then the tadpoles disappeared leaving only little frogs because they were all three one and the same.

The gelatin encased spheres turned into tadpoles and the tadpoles turned into frogs.

My father knew that.

He told me about that when I was a little boy.

Underwater in the little creek were things that looked like bundles of fir needles.  And there were bigger things that looked like tubes made of sand grains.

Both of those things were insects.

Rather, they were the larvae of insects yet to become.

“Larvae” was a word my father taught me.

Those larvae lived in the creek bottom until one day they all disappeared.

When they disappeared the air was filled with flying insects.

The larvae disappeared when the flying insects appeared because they were one and the same.

The larvae had turned into flying bugs.

My father knew that.

He told me about that when I was a little boy.

Of all the wild things my father loved, birds were the most loved.

He had books and books of them.

The biggest of the books was the Audubon Bird Book.

When I was a little boy I spent hours and days turning the pages of that gigantic book.

Even now I can often guess at what sort of bird I am looking at aided by flashes of memory from that great Audubon Folio.

I inherited my father’s love of wild things. 

And like him, I put birds at the top of the list.

This little collection is the result of several years of wandering Lopez Island.

The beautiful creatures pictured here all did me the honor of sitting still long enough to allow me to capture their images.

I have too many for a little book like this one.

But here are a few of them.

Each bird speaks for itself.

They are not identified.

I leave that enjoyable task to anyone who looks at this book.

If they want to. 


 I always think of these as being a native plant of the Pacific Northwest woods.

I have seen them there all my life.

But they came from somewhere else.

They are native to Europe.

These were in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris.