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Hits from Updike’s RABBIT QUINTET. Plus NYC Photos.

November 4th, 2021

I just spent a couple of weeks rereading John Updike’s Rabbit Qunitet, that is the four novees Rabbit Run, Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit is Rest, plus a final novelette, “Rabbit Remembered.” The five works appeared, approcimitely, in 1960, 1970,1980, 1990, and 2000.

Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom is the hero. A one-time high-school basketball star, aging through the decades. Marriage problems, family problems, puzzling about the meaning of life, taking joy from the world’s details. Viewed from 2020, Rabbit’s thoughts about women are occasionally questionable. But one keeps in mind that he’s a character of his times, and is not necessarily Updike himself.

I read the quintet on Kindle, and highlighted passages that I liked, so for today’s post, I’m interleaving the quotes with some photos, mostly froum our recent trip to New York City, mostly taken with my new camera.

I think (but don’t gurantee) that the numbers by the excerpts match the page numbers in the printed book. And as always, the images have no calculated connetions with the texts, but the universal quantum wave function called Surrealism will ensure harmonies.

One more thing, mostly the main character is referred to as “Rabbit,” but often Updike uses his given name “Harry.”

—–Begin excerpts from Rabbit Run by John Updike—–

10. Priest: “God gives to each one of us a special talent.”
Janice and Rabbit become unnaturally still; both are Christians. God’s name makes them feel guilty.

16. At the corner, where Wilbur Street meets Potter Avenue, a mailbox stands leaning in twilight on its concrete post. Tall two-petaled street sign, the cleat-gouged trunk of the telephone pole holding its insulators against the sky, fire hydrant like a golden bush: a grove. He used to love to climb the poles. To shinny up from a friend’s shoulders until the ladder of spikes came to your hands, to get up to where you could hear the wires sing. Their song was a terrifying motionless whisper. It always tempted you to fall. The insulators giant blue eggs in a windy nest.

60. (Meeting is soon-to-be-mistress Ruth.) Rabbit sits down too and feels her rustle beside him, settling in, the way women do, fussily, as if making a nest. … He pulls his head back and slumps slightly, to look down past the table edge, into the submarine twilight where her foreshortened calves hang like tan fish. They dart back under the seat. … He stands up and takes her little soft coat and holds it for her, and like a great green fish, his prize, she heaves across and up out of the booth and coldly lets herself be fitted into it.

76. (Rabbit overhears the punchline to an unknown joke.) “But man, mine was helium!”

93. As if to seek the entrance to another dream he reaches for her naked body across the little distance and wanders up and down broad slopes, warm like freshly baked cake

.

95. (Rabbit presses Ruth.)

“Why don’t you believe anything?”

“You’re kidding.”
“No. Doesn’t it ever, at least for a second, seem obvious to you?”
“God, you mean? No. It seems obvious just the other way. All the time.”
“Well now if God doesn’t exist, why does anything?”
“Why? There’s no why to it. Things just are.”

114. She is tepid and solid in his embrace, not friendly, not not.

133. You know how it is with fathers, you never escape the idea that maybe after all they’re right.

142. (Rabbit takes a job as a gardener.)
Sun and moon, sun and moon, time goes. In Mrs. Smith’s acres, crocuses break the crust. Daffodils and narcissi unpack their trumpets. … He loves folding the hoed ridge of crumbs of soil over the seeds. Sealed, they cease to be his. The simplicity. Getting rid of something by giving it to itself. God Himself folded into the tiny adamant structure, Self-destined to a succession of explosions, the great slow gathering out of water and air and silicon: this is felt without words in the turn of the round hoe-handle in his palms.

149. (Rabbit at the pool with Ruth.)
Her bottom of its own buoyance floated up and broke the surface, a round black island glistening there, a clear image suddenly in the water wavering like a blooey television set: the solid sight swelled his heart with pride, made him harden all over with a chill clench of ownership.

171. She yanks powerfully at the lever of the ice-cube tray and with a brilliant multiple crunch that sends chips sparkling the cubes come loose.

176. He drives past a corner where someone is practicing on a trumpet behind an open upstairs window. Du du do do da da dee. Dee dee da da do do du.

237. The fullness ends when we give Nature her ransom, when we make children for her. Then she is through with us, and we become, first inside, and then outside, junk. Flower stalks.

238. Your wife’s parents can’t get at you the way your own can. They remain on the outside, no matter how hard they knock, and there’s something relaxing and even comic about them.

—–Begin excerpts from Rabbit Redux by John Updike—–

57. A car moves on the curved road outside. Rugs of light are hurled across the ceiling.

75. Sex ages us. Priests are boyish, spinsters stay black-haired until after fifty. We others, the demon rots us out.


[My agent, John Silbersack.]

124. (Radical Black guy Skeeter who will settle in at Rabbit’s house after Janice leaves. From his first, self-introductory rant.)
“All these Charlies is heartbreakers, right? Just cause they don’t know how to shake their butterball asses don’t mean they don’t get Number One in, they gets it in real mean, right? The reason they so mean, they has so much religion, right? That big white God go tells ’em, Screw that Black chick, and they really wangs away ’cause God’s right there slappin’ away at their butterball asses. Cracker spelled backwards is f*cker, right?”
Rabbit wonders if this is how the young man really talks, wonders if there is a real way. He does not move, does not even bring back his hand from the woman’s inspection, her touches chill as teeth. He is among panthers.

131. As Babe plays she takes on swaying and leaning backwards; at her arms’ ends the standards go root back into ragtime. Rabbit sees circus tents and fireworks and farmers’ wagons and an empty sandy river running so slow the sole motion is catfish sleeping beneath the golden skin.
…Rabbit’s inside space expands to include beyond Jimbo’s the whole world with its arrowing wars and polychrome races, its continents shaped like ceiling stains, its strings of gravitational attraction attaching it to every star, its glory in space as of a blue marble swirled with clouds; everything is warm, wet, still coming to birth but himself and his home, which remains a strange dry place, dry and cold and emptily spinning in the void of Penn Villas like a cast-off space capsule.

171. “The mountain was really quite deserted.”
“Except for hawks, Dad. They sit on all these pine trees waiting for the guys to put out whole carcasses of cows and things. It’s really grungy.”

178. “Anyway, Dad, in a society where power was all to the people money wouldn’t exist anyway, you’d just be given what you need.”
“Well hell, that’s the way your life is now.”
“Yeah, but I have to beg for everything, don’t I? And I never did get a mini-bike.”

210. “Harry, it just came over the radio, engraving had it on. Kennedy’s been shot. They think in the head.” Both charmers [JFK and (remembered) FDR] dead of violent headaches. Their smiles fade in the field of stars. We grope on, under bullies and accountants.

218. “I love you,” he says, and the fact that he doesn’t makes it true.

244. It frightens him, as museums used to frighten him, when it was part of school to take trips there and to see the mummy rotting in his casket of gold,

335. She is gumdrops everywhere, yet stately as a statue, planetary in her breadth, a contour map of some snowy land where he has never been;

339. The universe is unsleeping, neither ants nor stars sleep, to die will be to be forever wide awake.

376. (Rabbit’s sister Mim’s) marvellously masked eyes force upon her pale mouth all expressiveness; each fractional smile, sardonic crimping, attentive pout, and abrupt broad laugh follows its predecessor so swiftly Harry imagines a coded tape is being fed into her head and producing, rapid as electronic images, this alphabet of expressions.

379. (Looking at his childhood home with Mim.)
Rabbit can’t remember it, he just remembers them being here together, in this house season after season, for grade after grade of school, setting off down Jackson Road in the aura of one holiday after another, Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, in the odors and feel of one sports season succeeding another, football, basketball, track; and then him being out and Mim shrunk to a word in his mother’s letters; and then him coming back from the Army and finding her grown up, standing in front of the mirror, ready for boys, maybe having had a few, tinting her hair and wearing hoop earrings; and then Janice took him off; and then both of them were off and the house empty of young life; and now both of them are here again.

387. [Rabbit’s aging mother’s] laughter reminds Rabbit of the laughter of a child who laughs not with the joke but to join the laughter of others, to catch up and be human among others.

400. Time is our element, not a mistaken invader. How stupid, it has taken him thirty-six years to begin to believe that.

430.(Reunited with Janice, Rabbit and her check into a motel. The clerk calls him young.)
“I’m not so young.”
“You’re yungg,” the man absentmindedly insists, and this is so nice of him, this and handing over the key, people are so nice generally, that Janice asks Harry as he gets back into the car what he’s grinning about.

—–Begin excerpts from Rabbit is Rich by John Updike—–,

71. “(Phillies baseball player) Bowa’s being out has hurt them quite a lot,” Webb says judiciously, and pokes another cigarette into his creased face, lifting his rubbery upper lip automatically like a camel.

77. Cindy’s towel hangs on her empty chair. To be Cindy’s towel and to be sat upon by her: the thought dries Rabbit’s mouth.

84. Faces and bodies rise from the aluminum and nylon furniture (by the country club swimming pool) like the cloud of an explosion with the sound turned down on TV. More and more in middle age the world comes upon him like images on a set with one thing wrong with it, like those images the mind entertains before we go to sleep, that make sense until we look at them closely, which wakes us up with a shock.

100. The world keeps ending but new people too dumb to know it keep showing up as if the fun’s just started.

142. “I would have taken a bath,” Janice says, but she smells great, deep jungle smell, of precious rotting mulch going down and down beneath the ferns.

142. Lying spent and adrift he listens again to the rain’s sound, which now and then quickens to a metallic rhythm on the window glass, quicker than the throbbing in the iron gutter, where ropes of water twist. … Murmurously beyond their windows, yet so close they might be in the cloud of it, the beech accepts, leaf upon leaf, shelves and stairs of continuous dripping, the rain. … Rain, the last proof left to him that God exists.

203. The earth is hollow, the dead roam through caverns beneath its thin green skin.


[With my Swarthmore College friends Don Marritz and Roger Shatzkin at our hotel.]

230. Before reaching into the breast pocket of the seersucker coat, (Reverend) Campbell taps out the bowl of his pipe with a finicky calm that conveys to Harry the advantages of being queer: the world is just a gag to this guy. He walks on water; the mud of women and making babies never dirties his shoes. You got to take off your hat: nothing touches him.

263. Harry has always been curious about what it would feel like to be the Dalai Lama. A ball at the top of its arc, a leaf on the skin of a pond. A water strider in a way is what the mind is like, those dimples at the end of their legs where they don’t break the skin of the water quite.

285. (Rabbit talking to the mother of Pru, who’s about to marry his son Nelson.)
“Well, your daughter does you proud,” he tells her. “We love her already.” He sounds to himself, saying this, like an impersonator; life, just as we first thought, is playing grownup.

313. The thing about those Rotarians, if you knew them as kids you can’t stop seeing the kid in them, dressed up in fat and baldness and money like a cardboard tuxedo in a play for high-school assembly. How can you respect the world when you see it’s being run by a bunch of kids turned old? That’s the joke Rabbit always enjoys at Rotary.

327. It’s fascinating to Rabbit how long those strands of hair are [that childhood enemy Ronnie Harrison] is combing over his bald spot these days, if you pulled one the other way it would go below his ear. In this day and age why fight it? There’s a bald look, go for it. Blank and pink and curved, like an ass.

366. In these neighborhoods health-food stores have sprung up, … and little shops heavy on macramé and batik and Mexican wedding shirts and Indian silk and those drifter hats that make everybody look like the part of his head with the brain in it has been cut off.

399. At the church the people in holiday clothes are still filing in, beneath the canopy of bells calling with their iron tongues, beneath the wind-torn gray clouds of this November sky with its scattered silver.

444. Where the sea impinges on the white sand a frill of surf slowly waves, a lacy snake pinned in place. Then this flight heads over the Atlantic at an altitude from which no whitecaps can be detected in the bluish hemisphere below, and immensity becomes nothingness.
… The plane, its earnest droning without and its party mutter and tinkle within, becomes all of the world there is. … God, having shrunk in Harry’s middle years to the size of a raisin lost under the car seat, is suddenly great again, everywhere like a radiant wind. Free: the dead and the living alike have been left five miles below in the haze that has annulled the earth like breath on a mirror.

447. For years nothing happens; then everything happens. Water boils, the cactus blooms, cancer declares itself.

471. (Rabbit starting an affair with Ronnie Harrison’s wife Thelma.)
Her whole body, into her forties, has kept that trim neutral serviceability nurses and grade-school teachers surprise you with, beneath their straight faces. She laughs, and holds out her arms like a fan dancer.
“Here I am. You look shocked. You’re such a sweet prude, Harry—that’s one of the things I adore.

485. Harry suddenly hates people who seem to know; they would keep us blind to the fact that there is nothing to know. We are each of us filled with a perfect blackness.

525. Uncurtained winter light bouncing off the bare floors and blank walls turns her underwear to silver and gives her shoulders and arms a quick life as of darting fish before they disappear into an old shirt of his and a moth-eaten sweater.

533. (Rabbit’s daughter-in-law Pru) comes softly down the one step into his den and deposits into his lap what he has been waiting for. Oblong cocooned little visitor, the baby shows her profile blindly in the shuddering flashes of color jerking from the Sony, the tiny stitchless seam of the closed eyelid aslant, lips bubbled forward beneath the whorled nose as if in delicate disdain, she knows she’s good. You can feel in the curve of the cranium she’s feminine, that shows from the first day. Through all this she has pushed to be here, in his lap, his hands, a real presence hardly weighing anything but alive. Fortune’s hostage, heart’s desire, a granddaughter. His. Another nail in his coffin. His.

—–Begin excerpts from Rabbit at Restby John Updike,

100. Janice sleeps on her stomach turned away from him, and if the night is cool pulls the covers off him onto herself, and if hot dumps them on top of him, all this supposedly in her sleep.

116. There is something hot and disastrous about Nelson and Pru that scares the rest of them. Young couples give off this heat; they’re still at the heart of the world’s business, making babies. Old couples like him and Janice give off the musty smell of dead flower stalks, rotting in the vase.

128. Your children’s losing battle with time seems even sadder than your own.

133. Rabbit feels as if the human race is a vast colorful jostling bristling parade in which he is limping and falling behind.

162. (Rabbit is felled by a heart attack in the presence of his daughter-in-law Pru.)
He lies down on the sand at Pru’s feet, her long bare feet with chipped scarlet nails and their pink toe-joints like his mother’s knuckles from doing the dishes too many times. He lies face up, looking up at her white spandex crotch.

196. Maybe Nelson is right, Toyota is a dull company. Its commercials show people jumping into the air because they’re saving a nickel.

209. The magnolias and quince are in bloom, and the forsythia is out, its glad cool yellow calling from every yard like a sudden declaration of the secret sap that runs through everybody’s lives.

210. Every other house in this homely borough holds the ghost of someone he once knew who now is gone. Empty to him as seashells in a collector’s cabinet,

260. Rabbit: “Thelma? We never see her anymore, we ought to have the Harrisons over sometime.”
Janice: “Pfaa!” She spits this refusal, he has to admire her fury, the animal way it fluffs out her hair. “Over my dead body.”
Rabbit: “Just a thought.” This is not a good topic.

268. Rabbit has never gotten over the idea that the [daily] news is going to mean something to him.

304. He leans down and kisses [his nine-year-old granddaughter’s] warm dry forehead. “Don’t you worry about anything, Judy. Grandma and I will take good care of your daddy and all of you.”
“I know,” she says after a pause, letting go.
We are each of us like our little blue planet, hung in black space, upheld by nothing but our mutual reassurances, our loving lies.

310. Harry has trouble believing how his life is tied to all this mechanics—that the me that talks inside him all the time scuttles like a water-striding bug above this pond of body fluids and their slippery conduits. How could the flame of him ever have ignited out of such wet straw?

324. “Mim.” Just the syllable makes him smile. His sister. The one other survivor of that house on Jackson Road, where Mom and Pop set up their friction, their heat, their comedy, their parade of days.

350. “Harry, you’re not going to pop off,” she tells him urgently, afraid for him. That strange way women have, of really caring about somebody beyond themselves.

379. It is not night, it is late afternoon. The children, home from school, have been instructed to be quiet because Grandpa is sleeping; but they are unable to resist the spurts of squalling and of glee that come over them. Life is noise.

381. His eyelids feel heavy again; a fog within is rising up to swallow his brain. When you are sleepy an inner world smaller than a seed in sunlight expands and becomes irresistible, breaking the shell of consciousness. It is so strange; there must be some other way of being alive than all this eating and sleeping, this burning and freezing, this sun and moon. Day and night blend into each other but still are nothing the same.

398. (Rabbit unexpectedly sleeps with another woman.) Her tall pale wide-hipped nakedness in the dimmed room is lovely much as those pear trees in blossom along that block in Brewer last month were lovely, all his it had seemed, a piece of Paradise blundered upon, incredible.

436. (At the funeral of Ronnie’s wife Thelma, with whom Rabbit had that years-long affair, and Ronnie berates Rabbit.)
“I don’t give a f*ck you banged her, what kills me is you did it without giving a sh*t. She was crazy for you and you just lapped it up. You narcissistic c*cksucker. She wasted herself on you. She went against everything she wanted to believe in and you didn’t even appreciate it, you didn’t love her and she knew it, she told me herself. She told me in the hospital asking my forgiveness.” Ronnie takes breath to go on, but tears block his throat.
Rabbit’s own throat aches, thinking of Thelma and Ronnie at the last, her betraying her lover when her body had no more love left in it. “Ronnie,” he whispers. “I did appreciate her. I did. She was a fantastic lay.”
“You c*cksucker” is all Ronnie can get out, repetitively, and then they both turn to face the mourners waiting to pay their respects

457. [Rabbit], having to arise at least once and sometimes, if there’s been more than one beer with television, twice, has learned to touch his way across the bedroom in the pitch dark, touching the glass top of the bedside table and then with an outreached arm after a few blind steps the slick varnished edge of the high bureau and from there to the knob of the bathroom door. Each touch, it occurs to him every night, leaves a little deposit of sweat and oil from the skin of his fingertips; eventually it will darken the varnished bureau edge as the hems of his golf-pants pockets have been rendered grimy by his reaching in and out for tees and ball markers, round after round, over the years; and that accumulated deposit of his groping touch, he sometimes thinks when the safety of the bathroom and its luminescent light switch has been attained, will still be there, a shadow on the varnish, a microscopic cloud of his body oils, when he is gone.

467. (Nelson was hooked on coke, and he bankrupted the family car dealership. And now he’s sober.)
Nelson tells [Rabbit], in that aggravating tranquillized nothing-can-touch-me tone, “You get too excited, Dad, about what really isn’t, in this day and age, an awful lot of money. You have this Depression thing about the dollar. There’s nothing holy about the dollar, it’s just a unit of measurement.”
“Oh. Thanks for explaining that. What a relief.”

472. Expansively [Rabbit] says to Ronnie as they ride the cart to the eighteenth tee, “How about that Voyager Two? To my mind that’s more of an achievement than putting a man on the moon. In the Standard yesterday I was reading where some scientist says it’s like sinking a putt from New York to Los Angeles.” Ronnie grunts, sunk in a losing golfer’s self-loathing. “Clouds on Neptune,” Rabbit says, “and volcanos on Triton. What do you think it means?”
One of his Jewish partners down in Florida might have come up with some angle on the facts, but up here in Dutch country Ronnie gives him a dull suspicious look.
“Why would it mean anything? Your honor.”
Rabbit feels rubbed the wrong way. You try to be nice to this guy and he snubs you. He is an ugly prick and always was. You offer him the outer solar system to think about and he brushes it aside. He crushes it in his coarse brain.

519. They did do some fun things, [Rabbit] and Jan. The thing about a wife, though, and he supposes a husband for that matter, is that almost anybody would do, inside broad limits. Yet you’re supposed to adore them till death do you part. Till the end of time.

531. So when the system just upped one summer and decided to close Kroll’s down, just because shoppers had stopped coming in because the downtown had become frightening to white people, Rabbit realized the world was not solid and benign, it was a shabby set of temporary arrangements rigged up for the time being, all for the sake of the money.

590. [Rabbit’s dying words.] “Well, Nelson,” he says, “all I can tell you is, it isn’t so bad.” Rabbit thinks he should maybe say more, the kid looks wildly expectant, but enough. Maybe. Enough.

—–Begin excerpts from “Rabbit Remembered” by John Updike—–

199. A slender dark-browed girl of startling beauty waits on Janice, such beauty among the middle-aged and pudgy pimpled teen-age other waitresses that Janice’s eyes sting [with a vision of the girl’s] sad future: the marriage, the pregnancies, the heavy meals, the lost looks. The blazing beauty dwindled to a shrill spark, a needle of angry discontent lost in these streets lined with row houses and aluminum awnings and little front porches where the patient inhabitants sit and soak in the evening heat and wonder where it all went.

232. When Nelson tries to picture what a schizophrenic sees he remembers [doctor] Howie Wu telling him, Their sense of distance has broken down. Things up close look far away, is how Nelson has framed this—there is no clear depth in which to locate yourself. The gears that notch us one into another fail to mesh, maddeningly, meltingly. Trying to think his way into [patient] Michael’s head plants a sliding knife inside Nelson, a flat cold queasy sensation below his ribs.

266. [Nelson] is afraid getting back into circulation might get him back into coke, or Ecstasy if that’s the thing, or the ever-cheaper heroin; it’s so easy to slip back when you don’t feel you have much to lose. Talking to the substance abusers at Fresh Start, he can’t much argue when they argue for it. Happiness is feeling happy. Maybe it shortens your life but when you’re dead what’s the diff? Living to the next hit, the next scrounged blow-out, gives their lives a point. Being clean exposes you to life’s having no point.


[With my publicist Patty Garcia, who told me about meeting Updike.]

274. Mim: “Vegas is dead, the way it was—a sporting town. The people used to come here had a little class—the gangsters, the starlets. A little whiff of danger, glamour, you name it. Class. The guys used to pay cash for everything, off a big roll of fifties. Now it’s herds. Herds and herds of Joe Nobodies. Bozos. The hoi polloi, running up credit-card debt. Gambling is legal in half the states so they’ve built these huge moron-catchers along the Strip, all the way to the airport. A Pyramid, the Eiffel Tower, Venice—it’s all here, Nelson, all for the morons. It’s depressing as hell.”

306. She [Janice] and Ronnie left alone tended to each other’s needs, one of which, never stated, was getting ready for death, which could start any time now. A pain in the night, a sour number on the doctor’s lab tests,

311. (Pru telling her estranged husband Nelson about their geeky son Roy)
“He’s is scary, of course, spending so much time at the computer, but a lot of his friends are like that too. Where you and I see a screen full of more or less the same old crap, they see a magic space, full of tunnels and passageways and pots of gold. He’s grown up with it.”
Nelson is being invited, he realizes, to talk as a parent, a collaborator in this immense accidental enterprise of bringing another human being into the world. “Yeah, well, there’s always something. TV, cars, movies, baseball. Lore. People have to have lore. Anyway, Roy has always been kind of a space man.”

323. Seeing [childhood friend Billy Fasnacht], Nelson cannot but warm: here is a partner in his childish dreams, the conspiracy of imagined speed and triumphant violence that boys erect around themselves like a tent in the back yard under the scary stars.

325. Billy: I’m going to die, I can’t get it out of my head.
Nelson: By our age, Billy, we should have come to terms with this stuff.”
Billy: “Have you?”
Nelson: “I think so. It’s like a nap, only you don’t wake up and have to find your shoes.”

Juicy Ghosts is Live

October 19th, 2021

Juicy Ghosts is live.  I sent all the reward copies out to my Kickstarter backers.  It was a lot of work, but well worth it, to know the books are the hands of those who love them.

You, of course, can get your own copies in any format you like at the Juicy Ghosts page.

I celebrated by buying myself a new camera, a Leica Q2, and it kicks ass.  Some non-camera-nut friends were asking me why I’d even use a heavy old camera when I have such a great camera in my cell phone.

“More photons,” I tell them.  “All that glass. It brings in more photons.”

One of my first shots with the Q2. My stash of toys and icons and mementoes on my desk beside my screen. Pig’s Hoard.

And I can grab a pretty good phto right out of the window of my car.  The lens is kind of wide-angle, so I’m free to crop down to an image that I like.

I was in North Beach walking around…we were up there to see the Blue Angels air show, something Sylvia loves.  There’s a cool sculpture of hovering books right near City Lights Books.

And here’s the holy source itself.  I’m proud that a bunch of my SF novels are in there, downstairs.  I always wanted to be a Beat SF writer, and that’s what I am. Juicy Ghosts is maybe my heaviest countercultural statement yet.  I hope people read it.

Something so Forties about big display clocks. And that now-small TransAmerica tower.  I’ve always wondered about the pyramid room at the top…like is there one?  Does anyone ever get to go in there?

I have a great fondness for gnarly knots of wires and fuses and connectors and insulators.  Images of my mind?

And the lovely warm shades of paint in the sun.

I like this image because it looks like the sign is warped or distorted or crushed by sliding space.  Always loved that notion of warped space.  And infinite dimesional Hilbert space, which comes into play in Juicy Ghosts, where I call it teepspace.

Managed to catch a shot of a Blue Angel with a street light behind it, which is good, as it sets the plane into space and gives it scale.  Right before this shot, a similar plane few right over us, banking a turn, not more than 200 feet in the air above us, a moving wall of roaring machinery.  What a trip. You wouldn’t really stand a chance if those planes were after you.

But for the show, theyr’e demure and playful.  Dig the furrow of sky smoke next to the Vic cornice.

“Birth” acrylic on canvas, October, 2021, 40” x 30”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

With the books printed and mailed out, I’ve gone back to painting. For this one, called simply Birth, I started with a group of more or less grotesque heads, like in a James Ensor painting. And I put in a cartoon baby, who’s an icon I’ve been drawing for fifty years. Another factor is that we’d just been to see a big Judy Chicago show in the De Young museum in San Francisco, and she had a whole room of very dramatic birth paintings. So I put in a woman who’s given birth, although I didn’t go as far as Judy does. Who are the other people? I’d say the little guy at the bottom is Dad, and on the left, that’s Sis, and at the top we have Aunt Bea, Grandma, and a 50s Grandpa. Love his hairdo.

When we came out of the De Young, we noticed that a statue was missing…I’d forgetten who it was of, but someone told me it had been Francis Scott Key, author of The Star-Spangled Banner, and he’d been a slave owner, so last year a crowd of demonstrators tore the statue down. Kind of like with Robert E. Lee in Richmond, VA. And then the city put up a ring of “slave” statues around where Key had been. Weird, the changes you see over a long lifetime.

We rode on a big ferris wheel right there. I like the ideogram of the kid’s legs.

I dig this spider-like bench in a meeting room in the De Young.

Colorful feet!

I mentioned that I like photographing wires and meters. Here’s some in Santa Cruz. I tend to crop all the cars out of my photos whenver I can, even if it means tilting the image. Something about generic cars so so boring.

Nice when object look alive. Mop face!

We also hit the good old Rosicrucian World Headquarters in San Jose once again. Always a good place to take a guest. This item here is a classic trop of fantasy fiction: The Door In The Wall. Usually leads to somewhere very cool…and when you back, the door disappears.

I call this photo, “I read the news today, oh boy.

Home-grown heiroglyph of railing-shadows on a hose.

What, another hose picture?  Well, we’ve got the contrast with that lounge-chair wheel, so it’s different.

Awesome shadow on the De Young museum wall.

We went to a game at the SF Giants’ stadium in SF.  I was shooting a lot, and cropping images down later for a zoom effect.  I like these three people.

The huge stadium a titled bowl of fellow humans.

Shooting photos with the Giants’ mascot! I forget what he is.  A rat? A seal?

This cotton candy hawker in back is kind of classic.  Working hard.

“High Five” acrylic on canvas, September, 2021, 30” x 24”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

This was one of those paintings I started by smearing leftover paint onto the canvas and looking for patterns. I saw the woman, and a caveman-like guy. Maybe he’s a lifeguard. The woman like him; they’re exchanging a high five. What about the crocodile? Well, I needed something on that side of the canvas. The croc the woman’s ally.

As you know, if you follow my blog, I love gnarly roots. I’ve photographed these guys before, but the Q2 pops them out really well.

Philodendron with a little sculpture we got from Sylvia’s father.  Made of alabaster and marble.

The endless fascination of mirrors.  I’ve been thinking about how the sea surface looks like a mirror from underneath…like to a fish, it’s an unduating mirror.  And then sometimes … a pelican bursts through! Snappy beak.  This is kind of a SF/fantasty trope.  The monsters from higher dimensions who enter your room through a mirror.

Another shot I’ve done before, but once more with feeling.  Sunrise shadoes on the wall.  Domestic Stonehenge.  That’s a silhouette of a Deco sculpture by my friend Vernon Head on the left.

And I’ve photographed this birch for before.  This shot is acutally not with the new Q2 but with an old R-series Leica lens adapted to sit on my Canon 5D.  In case you care.  It’s a very kludge setup, though that Leica glass is gorgeous…and this experiment in fact drove me to the Q2.

Broomsticks? Happy Halloween.

And don’t forget to read Juicy Ghosts!  Universal ebook buy link.

Jump Cuts

September 11th, 2021

This post is mainly made of excerpts from my novel Juicy Ghosts, now available in paperback and ebook. Check the Juicy Ghosts page for details. What a long, strange trip it’s been — two years in the writing.

I have a lot of nice photos around; I’ve been using some new techniques of late, shooting in higher resolution with larger cameras, and processing the images with some Leica-style presets.

Before starting on the the Juicy Ghosts excerpts, here’s my latest painting. I was standing in Lake Tahoe—before the fires—looking down at the bright curves made by the sunlight passing through the surface waves.

Mathematicians call those lines “caustics,” from Latin for “burning,” because the lines are a bit warm, due to the focus of the sun. (No connection with the fires.)

There weren’t actually any minnows, but I put them in. I like to have critters in my stories and in my paintings. More info on my Paintings page.


“Minnows and Caustic Curves” acrylic on canvas, August, 2021, 30” x 24”. Click for a larger version of the painting.

The Excerpts.

The way I organized today’s blocks of text was to search through Juicy Ghosts for all occurrences of the phrase “jump cut,” which I’ll format as bold monotype so you can easily notice it. It’s a phrase that relates to the experience of switching your free-floating digital soul (or lifebox, as I call it) from an old body to a new body, or to a new peripheral. I label each of the extended excerpts with the point-of-view character. Mostly it’s Maurice, who thinks about jump cuts a lot.

And by the way, Jilljill is Marice’s “lifebox”, a small slug-like kritter that contains the code for Maurice’s soul.

Note that, because I have so many pictures to show you, most of the excerpts are interrupted in the middle by an extra image or two.

Maurice 1.

Leeta and Gee keep saying my lifebox will give me immortality. At the very least, my lifebox will be able to imitate me, and to act like an online chatbot. It’ll be an interactive Meet-the-Black-Liberator thing. Maurice Winch, martyred hero of the second American Revolution.

I like this scenario, I have to admit. I keep running it in my head. “Tell us what it was like to take down Ross Treadle,” the admiring users will say to my memorial chatbot. They’ll be in tears. “Oh thank you, Maurice,” they’ll sob. “You’re my greatest hero!”

But will having a lifebox make up for my body being dead? Gee and Leeta hint that it will, but I don’t believe them. It’s a pipedream. A con. Like telling a loyal congregation that they’ll live in heaven. From what I’ve seen, dying is like a jump cut in a video, but with nothing on the other side of the jump. Bang, you’re dead.

Maurice 2.

My vision grows dark. I’m an empty husk, a ruptured piñata—poisoned and bleeding. And, ah yes, there’s the matter of the Secret Service. They’re good shots. Maybe Carson Pflug and the Top Party paid them off, but right now the agents have got to do their thing. For the sake of appearances. For an orderly transition.

I go down in a hail of bullets, limbs flailing, flesh torn. A fitting end.

Last thought? I hope the wasps sting Treadle. And then I’m dead.

At this point my narrative has a glitch. Remember the jump cut thing I was talking about? Well, it turns out that, for me, there is some action on the other side of the jump. Granted, the all-meat Maurice Winch is terminally inoperative. But—

I wake, confused. I look down into myself. I seem to have my same old white-light soul—and that triple-loop sense of me watching me watching the world.

So, fine, I’m alive, but I seem to be hallucinating. I feel like I’m in a crumbling old Victorian mansion with junk in the rooms, and with paintings leaning on the walls, and doors that don’t properly close. There aren’t any windows. Somebody’s in here with me. A jittery silhouette against a glowing Tiffany lamp. Gee Willikers. This is a teepspace version of the cave where Gee lives.

“See, Maurice?” says Gee. “It works. Play it right, and you’ll keep going for centuries.” A compulsive snicker. “Def cool, Mr. Guinea Pig.”

I try to form words. “Where…”

“You’re a parasite, dude. Roll with it. A lifebox with a psidot connected to a wasp. You need that live host so you have some mind glow, right? Huffing that mysto life-force steam.”

I’m having trouble keeping up. “Wasp?”

“Duh? The one you stuck Jilljill on?” Gee makes a trumpeting sound with his lips, then speaks again. “Juicy ghost! You hopped onto a host! The wasp is your peripheral!”

Maurice 3.

My compound eyes are hypervigilant, watching for hungry birds, but there’s none around. I make my way into a residential neighborhood northeast of the Capitol. I fly until it shades from gentrified to tumble-down. I spy a mutt on a cushion in a back porch. A collie-beagle mix, mostly cream-colored, with an orange ear and a big orange spot on his back like a saddle.

There’s noise all over the neighborhood, and people are running around cheering. The news is out. But that dog looks like he’s sound asleep.

Gently, gently I land beside his head. Mustn’t wake him or he’ll start snapping at me. Hell, I’m a two-inch wasp! Moving with an insect’s robotic deliberation I stilt-walk along the dirty sofa cushion into the shadow of his floppy orange ear. I spot a waxy patch of bare skin within.

“Hop,” I tell Jilljill.

Another jump cut. And then, yes, my mind is percolating into the dog’s nervous system. I’m in.

I stand, shake my body, and bark.

Joyful. Free.

I’m still linked to my lifebox code on Gee’s server—gotta be, because that’s my mind. And I’m linked to dog’s nervous system too—he’s my body, my nose, my eyes, my juice. And, if I understand the situation correctly, my lifebox generates virtual neurochemicals to emulate the moods that flicker in the dog.

[Home made “Superballs,” made with a Bill Gosper recipe, using Momentive RTV-88 Silicone Rubber Compound (with hardener) from skygeek.com. Very expensive, about $200 for two cans, but exciting to make (using sliced-open tennis balls as molds).]

Maurice 4.

But—wait—all at once someone grabs my collar. It’s not Loranda, it’s some random brother. Jilljill flashes me the news that the man is an underground agent too, a Black man working for the Citadel Club, sent in at the same time as the maroon thudhumper.

I’m going ki-yi-yi as loud as I can. Loranda’s Mom is hollering at the underground agent. Loranda shoves the man. Mom punches him in the gut. The agent’s grip weakens. I twist free. And here comes my terrier prof, right on me, nuzzling my ear.

“Hop!” I tell Jilljill.

She’s ready for the move, out on the edge of Woofer’s ear.

jump cut!

Jilljill has fastened herself to the terrier’s tongue. I’m in.

Maurice 5.

My name is Cuthbert. Keeping my psidotted tongue in my mouth, I trot over to my owner, a lean, dapper brother with horn-rimmed glasses and a drop-dead-elegant light-weight tweed suit. He’s sitting on a bench, enjoying the sqwonks of an impromptu jazz band. I take shelter under the bench, behind his fine leather shoes, looking around. I know the satellite’s still watching. They will think of the terrier. I need to hop some more.

Here comes a poodle, peering under the bench, sniffing me. I lick her nose.

jump cut.

I’m Fifi now. My mistress walks me off. Madame pauses so her Fifi can greet a passing stray.

jump cut.

The stray takes me into some dense bushes where homeless mutts with no collars are eating garbage, digging holes, growling, napping, and fitfully trying to mount each other. These dogs are unseen by the eye in the sky. Just to keep moving, I hop over to one of them, with Jilljill landing on the bare skin inside his ear.

I urge my latest host into a culvert beneath the railroad tracks and pause to look things over. I’m a glossy, medium-size, short-haired, warm-colored hound with a tail that I hold shamelessly high. I’m what people call a yellow dog.

I’ve never much liked yellow dogs, but I try not to communicate this to my host. He doesn’t have a formal title, so I name him after certain sound that he makes. Shrill Yelp. I check back in with Gee.

Maurice 6.

I hear yipping and the jingling of collar tags. Friedl! Body low, I skulk to the hole in the fence and peer through. There’s Friedl, shiny in that greasy, dachshund kind of way. She’s a nice chestnut color, with fine features and golden highlights. She’s in the middle of the lawn, slightly hunkered to take a pee.

“Get ready,” I teep to Jilljill. She creeps out to the edge of my ear.

I wriggle most of the way through the hole in the fence, then pause, flat on my belly. Friedl goes on the defense. She barks staccato-style, her voice high. She makes a run at me, coming to a stop three feet away. She braces her legs, and lowers her head. Her barking grows more furious. The housekeeper’s not bothering to come out. Probably Friedl has a fit like this every time she goes outside.

I tense my muscles and spring. Friedl doesn’t expect this. She’s surprised how large I am. She squeals and turns to flee, but I’m on her. I knock her onto her side. I rub my head against hers. Ear to ear.

jump cut.

Jilljill is in Friedl’s ear, and my mind is in Friedl. I trot quietly toward the house. I sense that the cat is still watching me, but I can’t quite see where she is. Never mind. My dachshund body language is, like, What barking? Me? Nothing going on here. For his part, Shrill Yelp decides this a bad scene. He’s goes out through the hole and trots off down the alley.

At first I can’t get up the back porch steps, but then I relax and let Friedl do it. She knows how. She moves like an old-time Slinky toy in reverse. At the top, Friedl scratches the door. And here’s the housekeeper, a sister in jeans and a turtleneck. Candace.

She gives me a nice smile and hands me a dog treat—a little baked biscuit in the shape of a bone. I savor the sensations of Friedl crunching it up.

Maurice 7.

I stretch my neck as far as I can. Lucy Popham giggles. I angle my elegant snoot and give the back of Treadle’s neck a quick, wet lick, during which Jilljill detaches herself from me.

jump cut.

I’m in a zone of chaos—experiencing the world from Jilljill’s point of view. She and Wladimir are in a micro Sumo wrestling match on the nape of the neck of the clone of the assissnated President Ross Treadle—the psidots squeezing each other and pulsing energies back and forth: brainwaves, electrical sparks, and quantum fields.

In my teepspace lifebox-mind, I visualize the fight as a 3D abstract painting with collaged-in scenes from my life and from Treadle’s life, with a thunderstorm all around, and random dachshund emotions mixed in. I hear the keening of a whirlwind. A narrow Kansas-style twister amid swirling debris. I go toward it.

Something crude and stupid tries to get in my way. Wladimir. I see him as a boxy tank with a cannon. But Jilljill—Jilljill is like a sea anemone. She wraps her tendrils around Wladimir, squashes him against her soft mouth, and assimilates his ID.

Mary 1.

Mary takes a running jump toward Gee’s square hole—stretches out her arms and straightens her body as if for a racing dive. Lanky Gee scoots to one side so she can freely arrow through. Then Gee brings himself back into view so he can yell at Carson and, yes, give him the finger.

“We’re gone.”

The square, green portal shrinks and disappears, with Mary and Gee inside.

And in this instant, the full code of Mary’s lifebox is ported from the giant baguette in the Skyhive blimp hanger to—the verdant computational tissues at the core of Gee’s giant redwood server tree. Mary barely feels it happening. It’s one of those jump cut things.

She and Gee float companionably in pleasant green light. Faint gurgles. A sense of turgid plant cells, of phloem, of ribosomes and mitochondria, of root hairs and fragrant bark. Faint writhing tendrils all around. A jungle of light.

“Welcome to my redwood server,” goes Gee.

Mary 2.

Gee gives her a penetrating look. “Can you grasp that you’re behaving like a soulless AI?” He pauses, thinking. “I bet this is because your halo isn’t emulating the emotions that live in your clone. Your body has normal human feelings, and its gossip molecules are sending the mood templates to your lifebox. But you’re not processing the templates. My fault. I forgot to put emotion-emulation code into your halo.”

“Clear as mud,” goes Mary.

“Hold still. I’ll fix you.”

Gee stares at Mary, mentally reaching through her eyes to the halo disk above her head. He’s using the full force of his considerable teep. To Mary it feels like a mechanic is poking around in her mind. A quantum mechanic.

And then—oops—she fucking dies for a second. That is, the whole scene blinks off. A surprise jump cut. Don’t worry, folks! She boots back up—feeling way mellower than before. More humane. More truly juicy.

“What is love?” Mary warbles. “Five feet of heaven in a ponytail!” She’s quoting from a song in the seemingly endless archives that her ionic quantum-wireless-equipped halo can access in the cloud.

“This is good,” says Gee. “The old Mary.”

“I’m not old,” says Mary. “I’m me.”

Kayla 1.

I’m still seeing through Phil’s night-vision eyes via teep. We’re staring at the flappy. It’s a glowing magenta buzzard, gliding down and clutching a golden egg in its claws. A bomb like the one that killed Carson.

I scream, and Phil yells even louder—which is maybe the response Maurice has been waiting for. And now, finally, at the very last possible nanosecond, our unseen partner Molly delivers another Metatron lightning bolt and—

Fa-tooom!

Charred fat-crinklings from the annihilated flappy drift by. Maurice turns our thudhumper dark again, speeds on up the hill at a hundred and twenty miles per hour, and switches his communications to a fully-cloaked dazzle mode that, among other things, breaks my teep connection.

jump cut.

My heart is pounding. I’m on my couch in my tame and well-appointed San Lorenzo home.

I go look in on Daia and she’s sleeping on her back with her arms stretched up—like a little letter Y. My romantic meal for two is intact on the stove, if a bit tired-looking by now. I flop back onto the couch, slowing coming down from the staccato, frantic chase-scenes with Maurice. Phil is still out there, in it for real. I count the minutes till he arrives. If he arrives.

Molly 1.

The crowd’s noise continues rising. They’re united by a single purpose—to burn Gee’s server tree. They cheer the flames as if hailing the Golden Calf.

Maurice drops to his knees and clasps his upraised hands, supplicating Kayla. “You know. Don’t hold out on Maurice. If you don’t help, I’m done for. Final jump cut.”

Maurice flings himself onto his back and lies there, motionless, arms and legs askew. I’m enjoying the show. I’ve never met anyone who can lay it on as thick as Maurice. And—as I mentioned—I’m not super uptight about the outcome, what with me having a server-free halo for my lifebox. But I do have a heart. Even after a year and a half of distributed storage in teepspace. Even after a sextillion-fold brain amplification. I’m still human, in a way.

Finale (No jump cut).

Back in Gee’s grove, it’s time for high tea. We graze on another big spread in the clearing, bopping around and chatting and splashing in the creek, the ten of us.

Me and Liv. Gee and Mary. Kayla, Daia and Phil. Maurice. Anselm. Leeta. All of us but Daia have halos.

“What about us?” parps Miss Max. “What about Glory, Bunter, and me?”

“Yes,” says Gee. He fetches two spare psidots and slaps them onto the ball walkers—till now, they’d been getting along with old-time uvvies. And Gee’s Bunter already has a psidot. But none of them have halos.

Mary waves, whistles, and teeps to get the attention of the last three unattached halos who are in the grove. They skim over and—link with Miss Max, Glory, and Bunter. The kritters chortle and do flips, even Bunter.

And now the only halos in the grove are the dozen linked to our party.

Mary and Kayla find a fiddle and a mandolin in Gee’s cave, and they begin to play. We dance in rounds beneath the trees, sidling along, with Mary and Kayla weaving their harmonies, me carrying Daia, the ball walkers handling percussion, and all of us stepping to the beat.

I lose myself in the dance. Timeless joy. No more Top Party to worry about. No more Treadle legacy. No more enslaved souls. None of that is coming back.

We’re on a better path.

“Onward Foo the Throg!”

August 21st, 2021

Kind of at loose ends this August.  I’m doing a lot of work to get my Juicy Ghosts books out.  I had a great Kickstarter campaign for the novel, and lined up about 300 backers.  I’m doing final edits on the novel and on the accompanying volume of notes.  And I printed some preliminary proof copies. I’m hoping to send the print and ebook editions out to my backers at start of October…and the books and ebooks will be on sale then as well.

Correcting manuscripts is kind of strange.  It’s like a fractal that you just zoom into deeper and deeper forever.  Like, I’ll think the novel is perfect, and then I set it aside for a month or two, and I decide, well, why not reread it one more time, and, wow, I find so many things to fix.

For the latest edit, I read the book backwards, that is, read the last chapter, then the second-to-last chapter and so on.  Somehow that made me more aware of the prefigurings, and info-dumps, and flashbacks—reminding me to adjust them.

Also, there’s the thing that if you always copy edit your novel from the first page to the last, then the early pages end up getting more attention and focus on your part. I think it was Borges who wrote about a medieval scholar who wanted to write an ecyclopedia of all human knowledge, and it came out to two volumes: the first for the letter A, and the second for the letters B through Z.

Dig this cool picture of my shadow in the basement, with the far-out trihedron of bright 3d-space axes.  Years ago, I had an unassuming philosophy professor friend in Virginia, and we liked to talk about Zen, and about enlightnment, and he said he’d had a moment of satori once,  sitting in his living room, looking up at a corner of the room, with the two walls meeting the ceiling, and he’d had this powerful flash concerning the three lines where the walls and the ceiling met.

That is, he had a vision of the axes extending outward through endless intergalactic space, into the far reaches of the universe, these distanced touched by the three humble lines anchored right here in his living room with him. And at the time I was dismissive of my modest friend’s enlightenment, but over the years I’ve come back to it over and over, and now I think it’s very heavy and cool.  I was thinking about my friend when I took this photo.

Sylvia and I went up to Lake Tahoe for three nights and daughter Isabel and son Rudy Jr showed up as well.  I always forget how really beautiful Tahoe is.  The water is  unbelievably clear, even now. And you’ve got the range of the Sierras right across the lake, so imposing.  A lot of the boats look kind of the same right now, they have this skunk-stripe on their sides, making them look very speedy.

Here’s one of my habitual rectangular-composition shots, this one of a pair of doors in Los Gatos.  Finally the cafes are open, more or less, and I can sit outside them at least, although inside not so much.  I used to do a lot of my writing in cafes, and I’ve missed that.  I’m in the process of trying to get a new laptop, as the old laptop’s keyboard is falling apart from me writing two or three novels on it. But the laptops I’m getting via mail-order keep needing to be send back to fix factory defects. At least my old one still works a little.

Fellow SF writer Marc Laidlaw braved the COVID and came to visit.  Our last collaboration was on a really great story called “Surfers at the End of Time.” It appeared in Asimov’s in 2019, and you can read it online on my Complete Stories page.

We went to visit Isabel up on Fort Bragg, CA, where she now lives. Lovely misty morning here, on cliffs by the beach by the raging sea.  The sound of the surf is endlessly soothing.

Also somewhat exotic, though closer to home, are the palms the front of  Los Gatos High School, as viewed while lying on my back.

I recently sold a 2016 acrylic painting of mine to man in Brooklyn via my Paintings page.  The painting is called “Attack of the Giant Saucers,” and it’s inspired by a scene in my novel Million Mile Road Trip, where giant saucers come and attack during the graduation at dear old Los Gatos High…where we saw our three children graduate over the years.  Believe it or not, this is the 78th painting I’ve sold. Kind of  incredible.  Even so, thanks to my perennial imposter syndrome on all fronts, I still feel like I’m not a real painter.

Speaking of art relating to my writing, my SF fan and ubergeek Chuck Shotton used a 3D printer to make me an articulated slug with linked segments.  The kritter makes a nice rattling sound when I move him around. I had a lot of “skugs” like him in my curiously neglected masterpiece Turing & Burroughs.

Driving back from Fort Bragg, we stopped at a state park whose name I naturally don’t remember…it’s just south of the bridge in Route 1 where the road from Booneville intersects.  This beach was so huge and utterly deserted, kind of spooky almost, and with that wild natural bridge out at the horizon, too far to walk to across the sand, at least too far for us.

Another high point of this drifty August was going to get my haircut by Alicia, who’s been cutting my hair and Sylvia’s for ten or more years.  She’s a very energetic woman, and has decorated her studio to a fare-the-well. It was my first haircut in well over a year. Nice to get away from the bowl look.

Futuristic blob vehicles on a grass-blade highway.  Or morning dew at Pudding Creek Beach behind the great Beachcomber motel just north of Fort Bragg.

Another random shot at the L. G. High School, of the evening sun slanting through an oak onto the lawn.  Ah, California. Each leaf a tiny stained glass window.  I wish I could “disappear” the car.  I don’t like having cars in my photos.

We get down to Santa Cruz every week or two, trying not go on weekends, when there’s traffic, also trying to go before the inrushing wind rises to brutal gale-force in-your-face levels in the afternoon.  This means there’s often a slot for having lunch at good old Aldo’s near the  marina.  I love naturally-occuring curves, as they’re more complicated than mathematical curves, that is, they have bends in them and deviations from infinitely differentiable smoothness.

I have a huge thing about the patterns light makes when passing through water. Like the nonstandard lens warping shown above. And, shown below, the reticulated bright lines are called caustic curves, where “caustic” relates to “burning,” and the focused light makes slightly hot (if not actually burning) spots.

I think I’ll try to copy this for my next painting.  And then, if I can’t stop myself, I’ll add a few kritters.

The sensual, dark, mermaid rock bathing in the clear water.

We were lucky at Lake Tahoe in that we were there during a four-day window when there weren’t nearby forest fires, and the sky was clear.

I’m a sucker for “me and my shadow” shots.  Nice to get my feet in here. And good to have the shadow go off at a slight angle.  In some children’s books, shadows come unstuck from their owners.  Like maybe you use special scissors to snip them loose.

Back on the theme of wildfires, the sun (and the moon) are getting pretty orange these days, espeically at rise and set.  I saw in the paper that before people settled in California, about a million acres burned in wildfires every year.  A natural cycle.

And now we’re so uptight about the fires, and the TV is yelling at us about them.  But they’re natural, and they’re never going to go away, so I’m beginning to just think, “Well, it’s fire season again.”  Not that I lack sympathy for those who lose homes or even lives.  And not that I don’t worry about  my own house, and I do take some brush-cutting measures.

But I’d like to avoid desperation and hysteria and frantic worrying about the future. So many quicksands and vortices of terror to avoid.  So important to continue to live one’s own life.

But what do I know.  Sylvia took a nice photo of me with her new iPhone 12 this morning.  We lighten the load of the pandemic with little outings and treats.

Let’s wrap it up with this salutary Pacific Islands sculpture of a horse at the Cantor Museum in Stanford which was, blessedly open last month.

Onward foo the throg!


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