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Sprucing up the Rancho

With the landlord’s blessing, took a patch of grass thatch by the house and did THIS! The sad-looking lying-down ones are irises that a friend gave me. I’m hoping they’ll perk up. Everything else is doing fine, thank you, including the Queen Anne’s lace liberated from the side of the road. Please note the clematis already climbing the trellis. Now I’m sitting on the porch having a Negroni made by the house guest. (House guests at Rancho Obsesso have to work!)

 

Early morning at the Rancho

Well, not exactly at the Rancho. On the causeway nearby. Went for a sunrise walk, and can report we are rich in egrets this year. That must mean the marsh is rich in fish. Also was dive-bombed by some smaller shorebirds I can’t identify, but this also happened last year when I walked too close to their nest. (How come you nest so near the road, guys, when you have the whole marsh to choose from?) All the osprey nesting platforms are full, and a few telephone poles have been colonized with those big, sloppy nests osprey build. We have robins, redwinged blackbirds, catbirds, sparrows, cardinals, house finches, some kind of warbler I can’t identify, starlings, crows, Baltimore orioles, and woodpeckers (don’t know what kind, have heard but not seen them) in abundance but no wild turkeys, of which last year we had two broods marching around on their route from house to house, chowing down. The butterfly bushes I planted last year are just starting to bloom, so I’m expecting hummingbirds when we come back next weekend.

#resist #rememberwhatyou’refightingfor

A great idea! In fact, two.

I’m just loving this: ice stupas!

To bring water to drought-stricken areas.

Photo by Sonam Wangchuk.

And speaking of the Himalayas, come to Kathmandu!  Click the link for details. (Not the photo, the link.) See you there!

http://www.himalayanwritersworkshop.com/mystery-writing-in-kathmandu

 

Opening weekend at the Rancho

Inaugural dinner. Swordfish and onions on the grill. Jim making it happen, with kibbutzing from everyone. (“It’s done!” “It’s still raw!” “Take it off!” “No, just move it to the side!”) Summer has begun. Photo by Susan Chin.

I love New York

Meanwhile, with all the appallingness going on in the world, New York continues to come through. On the serious side, there’s now free college tuition throughout the state for kids of middle-class families, and a serious look being taken in Albany at single-payer health care. And on the who’d-a-thunk-it side, there’s this. It’s the NYPD Out and Proud Mobile, parked across the street from the Stonewall Inn, where what was then called the Gay Liberation movement really took off in 1969 in response to a, yes, NYPD raid. What you can hardly see unless you look closely is that the lights in the light bar on top are rainbow-colored. What you don’t see is that I had to wait to shoot this photo until a car pulled away — it was driven by a black-dressed Hasidic Jew who stopped beside the cops, gave them a thumbs-up, and said in a heavy Yiddish accent, “You guys are beautiful!”

I love New York

Pouring in NYC this afternoon, so  I ducked into one of those specialty coffee places. I waited behind two other wet people ordering from a barista so sprightly I could only assume he’d been hitting the product. When it was my turn I asked for a cup of tea. He pirouetted, grabbed a teabag, pulled the hot water, and said, “I can tell you how tea started. I mean, if you have time.”

“It’s raining, go ahead.”

“Well, a couple of thousand years ago the emperor of China used to drink hot water three times a day and then one day he was sitting in the garden and a leaf fell into his water and when his servants tried to take it away and give him another he said no because it was fate so he’d drink it and see what happened so they all watched and they were scared but afterwards he felt so great he wanted more of those leaves in his water the next day. And that’s how tea started.”

He grinned, gave me my tea, looked past me at the wet young man behind me and said, “What can I get you?”

I love New York.

 

Bookcamp in West Bend, Wisconsin

Actually, Bookcamp is outside West Bend, WI. That sort of qualifies as the middle of nowhere but that’s why I love it. That, and the hard work of the students and the wonderfulness of the other faculty — Lisa Lickel, Phil Martin, and Dave Rank. I spent my time teaching; meeting one-on-one with students; listening to talks by guest faculty; walking in the woods; and sitting in my little room at the Cedar Valley Retreat, the 100-acre UCC facility Bookcamp rents for the week. And eating: the cuisine is Midwestern Hearty.

Below, some photos from the week. If all this sounds and looks good to you, Bookcamp 2018 will be May 20-26. You need not be Wisconsin-related, nor even able to spell Wisconsin, to come. Put yourself on my mailing list (scroll to the bottom) and you’ll get the details for next year when they’re out.

And just in case you can’t wait until next year for a workshop, I’ll be at Art Workshop International in Assisi, this August, and at the Himlayan Writers Workshop in Kathmandu, yes Kathmandu, in September. If you’re so moved, come to all three!

And now, Wisconsin.

View from my window

 

Birch trees

 

Pond

 

View down the road

 

Pond

 

Lawn at the edge of the woods

 

Chapel windows

 

Robin who aimed for me (but he missed)

 

 

Mother’s Day

My mom, about twenty years ago at a family reunion.  Miss you, Ma.  (Don’t call me Ma!)

 

Draft letter to Congresspeople who voted YES on Trumpcare

Is your Congressperson among those lily-livered sellouts (is being lily-livered a pre-existing condition?) who voted for this bill?  Would you like to give her/him a piece of your mind but you find yourself just sputtering? At the request of a friend in a district represented by one of those hypocritical cowards (if this bill was going to be so great, why did they exempt themselves AND THEIR STAFFS from its provisions?) I’ve put together the following letter anyone is welcome, indeed encouraged, to use.

 

Dear ____________,

I am one of your constituents. I’ve read this so-called health-care bill — which, I suspect, is more than you did — and whatever nonsense you spout about coverage for pre-existing conditions, I can tell you this: if this bill becomes law, within two years I will be dead. However, you are up for re-election in less time than that.  I promise you, whether the Senate passes this travesty of a bill or not, I’m going to spend the next 18 months fighting your re-election and making sure your career is dead, too.

Sincerely,

 

Mongolian graffiti

Flatbush, Brooklyn, yesterday.  No, I have no idea.