New Insight on Irony

Last Sunday.  At Mass.  Having a panic attack during the recitation of the 23rd Psalm. 

"Beside restful waters He leads me..."

Can't breathe. Pulse racing. Can't breathe. Palms sweaty.

"He refreshes my soul."

Aaack!  Hyperventilating now.  Hold your breath.  Hold your breath. 

"Surely goodness and mercy... "


"And I will dwell in the house of the Lord..."

Wow.  Well.  That was exciting. 


Afternoon run in the hills

If you keep visiting the same places, you see things.  The same place is not the same day to day, month to month, year to year. 

Seasons change. 

Migratory birds come and go.

And sometimes, you just see something you've never seen before.

That is a very bad photo.  But it shows two white pelicans on the left, a turkey vulture in the center, and two red-tail hawks -- all riding the same air current about 400 feet above the trail.  Pelicans, clockwise; hawks counter-clockwise.

So what else did I see? 

I don't know who is the cause of this sign.  In a good wet year (not this year!) I think the California Newt (Taricha torosa) is out crossing roads to get to vernal pools and streams in September.  So for one thing, this is the wrong time of year for newt crossings (I think?).  For another thing, this spot is on an outside curve of the road, not at the inside curve of the arroyo where (if there were water) there would be a concentration of newts (at whatever the newts think is the right time to go all amphibian).  So:  strange naturalist/environmentalist behavior here. 

We may have seen this hillside before in these pages.  Adobe clay sliding and crumbling (depending on season and wet year / dry year) over the sandstone cliff supports blue dicks, poppies, grasses -- and later on, a variety of thorny, thistley things.

It was a lovely post-equinoctial day with little wind and lots of sunshine.  6.4 "Long, Slow" miles.  Sunday is the end of my "running week".  (I'm a Monday-start sort of guy really.  Theology aside, the weekend is the Week End.)  So it was a nice end to the Running Week as well. 

The Genocidal Duck Whisperers of the Post-Human Left

The Genocidal Duck Whisperers of the Post-Human Left


There are things to see -- if you only look

Like lichens.

Sometimes you have to look at the small things.

Such color, such texture!


Pray for the USS Truxtun, DDG-103

A lone guided missile destroyer, United States Navy's USS Truxtun (DDG-103), was long ago scheduled for a routine trip across the Black Sea. 

In spite of "tensions" in the Crimean peninsula area due to Russia's invasion of Crimea/Ukraine, the Truxtun left port in Greece on Thursday 6 March 2014 to conduct training and "theater security" engagements. 

Though not exactly alone -- we can count on (?) backup from Bulgarian and Romanian navy ships conducting joint operations -- the Truxtun is the only operable U.S. ship in the Black Sea at this time. 

Interesting times.


Something in the air

I hate running on streets.  The drivers are crazy; the sidewalks, where present, are uneven and interrupted by parked cars or overgrown shrubbery; nasty dogs who know their humans encourage such behavior will charge and yap and try to nip.  So this evening when it turned out that the high school track was crowded with the kind of people who looked like they owned those nasty dogs, and who had parked their fat posteriors upon their camp chairs on the track (On! The! Track!) to watch their precious overachievers play a game that involves getting a ball in a thing (but which is not Quidditch), I executed a hasty retreat and headed to get my running miles in at Venue Plan B,  the marina park. 

The sun was behind the hills but the sky was still bright as I headed away from the car.  The tide was slack, and the air calm and warm and moist.  The first half mile of my route was an out-and-back past the baseball fields.  The grass there was freshly mown.  That scent is deeply evocative of my childhood, of being out still playing in the dusk until Dad whistled for us to come home.  Not only was there a scent, but a taste.  The air was that laden with essence of a kind of lawn tea.

Then away from the athletic fields, running past the bocce pits and the playground, across the road and out onto the wetlands trails of the park, I am facing west, and can admire the pink and gold of high cirrus clouds above the sunset.  Heading out along the edge of the bay, another scent reaches me: the tang of healthy salt water.  Here is a clean ocean smell, although many miles up the bay almost to where the delta is becoming fresh water.  And again, the taste.  Ions.  How therapeutic to breathe, almost to drink, that ocean air!

In the few minutes it takes to reach my turnaround point, the sky has lost most of its glow.  Away from the water now, the path turns past the railroad tracks.  The air is full of scent here too.  Creosote from railroad ties.  A hint of laurel coming down the arroyo across the way.  The heavy note of diesel exhaust from the idling train yard locomotive.  Eucalyptus nearby.

Just before the turn that would take me back to the water of the bay, a sweet perfume causes me to halt on the darkening trail.  That scent.  My eyes scan the dim scene and -- ah! -- there is the source of the sweet:  a volunteer almond tree in full blossom.  Again, the smell is working on my memories somehow.  What does that remind me of?  I couldn't quite pin it down until I was home, after shower and dinner and several chapters of War and Peace

Show of hands!  Who remembers those pink and white frosted animal cookies with the little colored dot sprinkles on them?  Anybody?  That was the smell.  Or at least the taste of the air that carried that smell was remarkably similar to the taste I remember of those cookies.  At least, what those cookies tasted like about fifty years ago.

The olfactory can call up powerful reminiscences. 


Maybe I should read "The Fault In Our Stars"?

Most days for the past several weeks, it happens. 

More than once a day.

Something triggers it.

A memory, a news story, a song...

And my eyes want to fill up with tears.

But I don't have time.

I realize I haven't had time since some time before 2005. 

Maybe one of these days I should make an appointment with sadness.  I heard that in Japan they have meetings where the main event is a group cry: ruikatsu it's called ("tears activity").  They even have bars where crying is not only tolerated but encouraged. 

Or I could read a sad book.  (War and Peace just isn't doing it.)