Monthly Archives: January 2015


Here are two photos from the walk we took yesterday. No editing; these are the raw images.

walking three trees1

How did I spend the past two weekends? Grubbing out old brambles, digging up posts, spreading between forty and fifty wheelbarrows-worth of manure from the horse stables across the way, then cheering as my husband wrestled the roto-tiller across our garden four times to churn it in. Next? We spread out the water lines and ran them to check for leaks to mend, then laid black felt garden cloth over which we set the wooden slatted walkways. I have just set out a collection of Swiss chard, some parsley, a new Victoria rhubarb, and a fine row of broccoli. Will do the next set this afternoon. Marathon and Packman broccoli varieties for those of you who want to know. I learned from my father that you don’t just harvest the big apical bud head from a broccoli plant, you continue to harvest side shoots for as many weeks or months as you can keep the plants happy. It’s a remarkable production rate, and Packman is good at persisting. Marathon’s new to me, so we shall see.

The other main occupation has been pruning. Massive pruning, making up for the sins of the past– the year I spent taking care of my parents is a long time ago now, but I never caught up until now with the branches I should have trimmed back then. The job’s not done, but it’s well-started, and I discuss the major cuts with my memory of my father who was the real plantsman of us all. We’re working well together.

Yes, I’m getting older and my joints remind me that I come from a bloodline of arthritic distinction. But I have a garden set up and ready to plant, and I carry the fine scent of manure like a perfume in the folds of my clothes. The cats love it.

I’ve just been reading about the brutal weather system headed into the Northeast with snow and blizzard conditions. Unreal to me here in California looking at a forecast that might, if we are very lucky, contain a bit of rain– less than an inch at best, they say.

I post here another photo taken on last night’s walk. I have not photo-shopped it one bit, no enhancement of hues, not even any cropping, so I can show you as close to what I saw as I may. Go well, stay warm, be safe, my friends.

look to the ocean



Filed under gardening

Why it’s so hard to keep Nigeria in focus

A discussion on Facebook pointed out the lack of sufficient coverage and emphasis on the tragedy of Nigeria’s struggle with the Boko Haram group, and I have to weigh in. The reasons for our poor information and erratic, ever-corrected “facts” are not, I believe, based in racism. Having lived in Nigeria for many years, I’d like to suggest that communication is a major issue–probably the core.

We had no telephone, though the people down the street did, and when it was operative was anyone’s guess. Cell phones? You need cell phone relays. So expensive too– though I believe the cell phone is the best bet for future reportage. Put up some telephone poles? Termites eat them. Concrete poles? Let’s hope you have a good formula– roads are dangerous and pitted, getting a truck loaded with heavy materials to take the raw materials where you need them and then finding the water to do the mixing is a terrible daunting task. That the Nigerians have done as much as they have, is so much to their credit.

Huge country, some vast areas barely populated, others crowded to the point of suffocation. Radio? Sometimes controlled by the government, and electricity is always expensive and erratic, if it is available where you happen to live. The North of Nigeria is sere and vast and very poor in resources. Even in the relatively wealthy south we’d have the planned blackouts and the unplanned blackouts. So for reportage you essentially have to rely on word of mouth, and when you look into the issues of human recollection and how the mind edits and alters story lines and visual memory as time passes, this is a nightmare. We grow tired when we read reports that are subsequently audited and corrected and we keep getting jerked back to what we thought we understood only to find that someone says that the report wasn’t correct. Please fight your own weariness, and read on, because the blood is real and lives both innocent and not, are lost in this land. I see the young girls abducted, sold, forced into ‘marriages’ as lost lives for now. There’s no going back, there might be some way to go through and past such an experience, but I cannot say.


The above image comes from:

Have a look at all of those fascinating maps that depict the relative size of Africa to North America or other countries and you will gain a better sense of the scale of the problem. We all want to pay attention to what is happening in Nigeria, we cannot turn away, we must not forget. But gaining the data to understand it, is going to require a struggle too.

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Filed under education, social and anti

the next book

watch cmyk S


Here’s the cover of my next book, a thriller/science fiction yarn set in the university town of Isla Vista, California. Imagine a strong smart young woman in Southern California planning to become a scientist, who notices the gradual disappearance of the local homeless, and a sequence of strange events concerning ducks– which mount to a personally threatening point. Call it science fiction with aliens, in a place where no one is ever supposed to grow old.

I just finished poring through the advance reader copy hunting down typos….My publisher tells me we have a due date of April 2015!


Filed under education, science, writing

a warm painting for a season of shadows

Flow of Shadows

Flow of Shadows



Filed under Uncategorized