In Motion: Bellingham, Poetry, San Juan Islands, Ted Talks

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Seagulls- 1, Crows- 0

Bellingham is an interesting place to live.  If you do not agree, I recommend an early walk around the neighborhood.  Remnants of our lively nightlife are evident in the early hours.  Left overs like a cigarette butt nest of empty beer bottles near the last step of an apartment building, and used rubbers, hint to a friendly exchange.  As a writer I wonder about a scene like that.  I mean HOW does THAT happen?  Was the cheap beer and loose conversation so titillating that it climaxed into a midnight, sidewalk escapade?  Hmmmm.... how many licks does it take to get to the center of it?  We may never know.



The Walk: Part 1
This morning I noticed some clouds were sleepy, clinging to the Earth like a warm blanket.  Ground fog rests silently in the hills around my neighborhood.  

A van full of everything someone owns, even the owner.  Slumped over, fast asleep, no blanket for him, two coats of insulation.

Dew still on the grass, and the crows and seagulls are talking to each other.  Caws versus shrieks; calls of our hilltops wrestle with the sound of the sea.  Turning the corner a large black garbage bag from the baseball stadium rips open; guts of popcorn and half eaten hot dogs spill out.  Five seagulls watch guard over it.  With those regal heads and crisp beaks, like soldiers guarding a fort.

On the next corner, a cherry tree shows off its early fruit.  Yellow, blending to orange, by fall cherry red will be visually defined.

Next block over, I tip toe by another man asleep in his car.  Blue Ford Escort Wagon is his address.  Two in one morning, and just a rock toss from a homeless tent camp a few evergreens over.

Signs For Rent.  For Rent.  For Rent.

The morning birds tweet it up above me, reminding me of the proverb to be more like them.


The Walk: Part II
At the trail head two police cars mark the entrance.  What's happened, I wonder...  but continue on.

Is this trail closed?  
Well, we believe there to be a group of people held up in one of these warehouses.  We're bringing in the dogs here in a bit.  Might be better for you to walk someplace else.
Yep-

Turning around up towards the stadium.  Trekking over a silent creek.  Full of water, the surface so still you could dance on it.  More birds tweeting, reminding me again to be happy and content.



The Walk: Part III
I continue my walk. Up hill towards home, my legs appreciate the work out, blood moves, waking me up.  There's a Bike Ride for Cancer event happening this weekend.  Arrow signs point the route, matches my own, although I suppose I am walking only for myself this morning.   

As I cross the final stretch an empty box of tomatoes is sitting in the middle of a large parking lot.  It's contents smashed up around it.  Not the first time I saw this.  It takes weeks for tomatoes to disappear from blacktop.  I imagine that a troupe of Midnight Tomato Fighters meets here for a monthly la Tomatina smashing!  Do they wear team colors or is it one for all?  So many questions.  So many issues.  
Towns are complex, fun, strange, quiet, loud and beautiful.

What a walk.  What a town.













Sunday, June 2, 2013

Poetry: Refugio's Hair

 One of my favorite poems...


Refugio's Hair

In the old days of our family,
My grandmother was a young woman
Whose hair was as long as the river.
She lived with her sisters on the ranch
La Calera-- The Land of the Lime--
And her days were happy.
But her uncle Carols lived there too,
Carlos whose soul had the edge of a knife.
One day, to teach her to ride a horse,
He made her climb on the fastest one,
Bareback, and sit there
As he held its long face in his arms.
And then he did the unspeakable deed
For which he would always be remembered:
He called for the handsome baby Pirrin
And he placed the child in her arms.
With that picture of a Madonna on horseback
He slapped the shank of the horse's rear leg.
The horse did what a horse must,
Racing full toward the bright horizon.
But first he ran under the alamo trees
To rid his back of this unfair weight:
This woman full of tears
And this baby full of love.
When they reached the trees and went under,
Her hair, which had trailed her,
Equal in its magnificence to the tail of the horse,
That hair rose up and flew into the branches
As if it were a thousand arms,
All of them trying to save her.
The horse ran off and left her,
The baby still in her arms,
The two of them hanging from her hair.
The baby looked only at her
And did not cry, so steady was her cradle.
Her sisters came running to save them.
But the hair would not let go.
From its fear it held on and had to be cut,
All of it, from her head.
From that day on, my grandmother
Wore her hair short like a scream,
But it was long like a river in her sleep.


by
Alberto Rios


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Cell Hell

Is it just me or has the whole freakin' world been duped?  
First let's define the word duped.  
Duped: A person who functions as the tool of another person or power.
Oh well, in that case the answer is a big YES!
Which one was your first?
Throughout the 1900's, appliances in the home, particularly the television, radio and phone have seen the greatest increase in new users and technological advancements.  (This I mention with a negative-nod to the U.S. auto manufacturers who, just lately, have the electrical car in production, after 100 years of gas engines.  Chumps.  Innovation and forward thinking are not their strong suits.  Also, um, adding seat-belts is not inventive, it is reactionary.  Double chump!)

Time travel with me for a bit...  

Phone bills  
During the corporate downsizing and the increase cost of goods in the 90's, I started to look at ways to save money on my monthly budget.  

My power, water, garbage, cable, gas, and phone bills were in the spotlight. Somehow I needed to find ways to cut back.  So I started to recycle my garbage, drop down to basic cable, changed the spouts in showers and sinks to use less water, used a cold/cold cycle to wash clothes, attempted to car pool a few times a week, or bus.  


Hi-Tech home entertainment center includes: video (3 flat screens) , 
music, internet and phone interface, even a record player
Don't lie-  you  know you WANT this!
For the phone I was able to bring my phone bill down to $15 a month, by turning in my cell phone, getting a long distance pre-paid calling card and an answering machine.  Fifteen dollars a month!  

2013:  I just purchased my first smart phone. 

Cell Phone usage in the US has increased from 34 million to 203 million in the last ten years.  There is an estimated two billion cell phones world-wide, which means about 4.5 billion people go without.*

Apple Iphone
Up until the 90's, most homes had only ONE phone line.  I can imagine 10-20 years ago the phone companies, billions spent on laying down land lines, were in a panic!  I can hear them screaming, "No one wants our extra features, our Phone Line Insurance, or our Call Waiting!  We're loosing money. What shall we do?"  

Cell phone companies swooped in with what people didn't know they wanted: storage on their phones, texting, a camera, video recording, on-line access, all in the palm of their hand ...AND people were willing to pay for this!  I AM willing to pay for this.  I have been duped.  

Families across America have cut back on food, clothes and entertainment to make room for ever-higher phone bills. Now, carriers are betting that they can push that bill even higher, The Wall Street Journal reports: But as more people paid up for $200 smartphones and bills that run around $100 a month, the average household's annual spending on telephone services rose to $1,226 in 2011 from $1,110 in 2007, when Apple Inc.'s iPhone first appeared.
I am a proper "dupee".  The perfect sheep.  It took my phone carrier a over a year to present me with an upgrade package that I could afford.  I took the bait. I waited impatiently during the two days it took my phone to arrive. When it did I push people aside to get at it! The rest of the world can "suck it" as I thoughtfully enter my settings.  "Oh you are even sexier in person", I thought to myself, "Your features, your storage capacity... this is the beginning of something wonderful!"

In the morning, stepping out to catch a bus for work, I noticed a copy of the Yellow Pages, dropped off by a carrier a month ago, curled up and unwanted in the door-stoop of a neighbor.  



Why?  Again I ask, "Why?"


The past is painted yellow

WSJ Article Cellphones Are Eating the Family Budget