Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sunny California: Flight To A Baptism

The flight to California was awesome. I would rather say that it was aweful (you know, like careful, wonderful, etc.) but that doesn't sound so good. I flew my friend, Summer, to Visalia. We headed out over the beach, turned right, and in less than an hour and a half we were over Eureka. Yes, I found it. But with GPS technology, it was easy. This is the plane sitting out on the ramp of the completely neglected Turlock Air Park.

Every single one of these pictures was taken with the cell phone.

Looking south at the mouth of the Alsea (Al-see, like Uncle Al) River. The headland is Cape Perpetua.

This is looking back at the Newport Airport and Yaquina (yuh-KWIN-uh)Bay. The old airplane did not have a rear window. Now I have something in common with Jimmy Stewart. Even though this particular photo was taken through the front passenger window, and you can see a corner of the rear passenger window, the plane DOES have a rear window.

This is Summer.

This is what I found an hour and a half into the flight.

After dropping Summer off at the Visalia airport, I launched north again for Turlock and tried to climb out of the 95 degree heat to no avail. But all was well

Mr. Gawpo, Sr. shared my astonishment when my stopwatch revealed that the entire 580 mile flight took only 3hrs and 40 minutes, a 161 mph average.

When I stepped from the car, I saw this very interesting ant phenomenon: Same colony, two different sands and small wood-like shavings between the two hills.

Mr. Gawpo, Sr's newest crop. A year ago, Jack my clamming buddy gave me some cloves of garlic that are multi-generational offspring of some Michigan garlic. I brought some to Mr. Gawpo, Sr. and the braid on the right is the result:

At nine months of age, and not yet baptized, my newest niece already has her California driver's license:

Mr. Gawpo, Sr's Sicilian sausage:

Cominciamo il nostro pranzo con la salsiccia ed il pollo ed i favas. Rifiniamo con l'insalata...

I love this picture of my younger sister, K. This is at the post baptismal reception. I think we should call her Gawpa...

Gawpo, Gawpa and her hubby, Rich-ERT! at the baptism. Yes, cameras in church are acceptable pre-liturgy:

The ever-on-the-edge, counter-everything, hyper-hip Nephew #1 and, to our (but certainly not HIS!) right, the beautiful and formerly youngest niece. Each is awe-ful:

One of the last known photographs of the newest niece while still in a state of original sin. I wanted to paint a big, black "O" on her forehead so that it would wash off when the priest did the pouring of the holy water. But my idea was summarily rejected by the Council of Parental Control. Can you believe that! Mrs. Gawpo, Sr in the background where she almost always is (i.e., in the cocina)...

Sunset just south of Mt. Diablo...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ok, This Time Strawberries And Lime

I didn't have time to go with what I had intended when I put that last post together. I got so caught up in putting all the clamming stuff up that I totally forgot to take down the promise in the title of strawberries and Lime. I had a full day. And since I like to leave behind the traces of my forgetfulness, I thought I'd just leave the Strawberries and Lime part in the title of the post.

After clamming, I drove to the south end of the bridge to get more salt water for my 55 gallon cold water aquarium. The aquarium is really cool. I have set the chiller to 54 degrees. Now, that's cool. But the aquarium is another post.

After hitting the beach for the razor clams, and driving to the south end of the bridge for the water, I then drove out to the Valley and picked strawberries. While there, Lime and I had a wild time exchanging camera phone pictures of what we were doing on our respective coasts. She will tell you that she lives on the "right" coast. That means, by that definition, that I either live at the left coast or perhaps, at the wrong coast. I didn't push her for clarification.

So, in the course of our conversating (got that from some movie), I ask Lime if her phone can receive photos. She "thinks" it can. Right. So then she says that it can. Yes, it can. It can receive pictures, but she has no idea how to take pictures and even less of an idea about how to send them. She suggests that I teach her. Well, it didn't take Little Girl Limers half a second to reveal her eavesdropping when she shouted that SHE would teach her mother all about it. A kid? Picture phone savvy? What's HUD spelled backwards? It wasn't long before I had received on my phone the very first phone pic Lime has ever sent. Ladies and Geltlemen, I give you......SPARTACUS!

This is where you want to go to pick the sweetest, most flavorful strawberries this side of heaven:

We talked for about a half hour. In that time, I had filled (single-handedly) about half this box with berries. I was bluetooth enabled, but had to hold the phone out of my pocket to keep the reception in good order.

This is a scale. It measures in in pounds, not kilograms (Blue and Sheila!). The price per POUND is depicted on the right. Not bad...EH?

On the phone to Limers, I described the YOOOOGE field of mint that I saw on the out to the strawberry fields (but not forever). She reminded me that when she was out here on the "left" coast, she saw mint and parsley fields. I haven't seen the latter yet. But this field was over 100 acres and it smelled divine.

Here is a closeup:

The bridge behind me spans the Yaquina (yuh-KWIN-uh) River and Bay. The rocks are visible because of the minus tide. They are not visible even on a regular low tide. Lots of critters for the aquarium out here. This was taken right after the razor clamming venture.

This sea star is doing great in the tank, eating the little mussels I picked for meals in the new home. If you look closely, you will see that it is regenerating a leg.

Aquarium teasers:

Happy in the new digs...

The fish is found in tide pools. It is called, aptly, a tide pool fish. The interesting thing about these fish is that they will feed up and down the beach, along the rocks, throughout the high tide, but will always find their way back to the very same tidepool they started out from. How do we know this? They done studies, that's how we know. (SORRY, LOGO!!! Did that make your ears eyes bleed? HA!) The clam is a cockle. There is a California mussel in there, too. Found in Oregon, though. And my favorite of all, a monkeyface prickleback eel, poised just off the top of the fish. You can see the eel's head if you enlarge the picture. Be sure to go to the link and click on the picture to see how big these fellas can get.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Siliqua Patula, Strawberries, Lime

The summer minus tide series are the most extreme for the year. The median tide line is set (somehow) as zero. Anything above median is a plus tide; anything below is a minus tide. Simple logic, that.

In the winter we have our highest plus tides, exceeding 10 feet above median. Add a storm behind that and you get what they call a surge. Add torrential rains to the surge on a 10 foot flood tide, pushed by a storm and you get just that: a flood.

In 1996 we received over 20 inches of rain in the month of December. There was a 10 foot (or better) high tide and fierce storm winds helping the sea, shoving it into the mouth of the river. "Take it all, bitch" took on rare, but not unseen implications for those who live in the lower tidal plains. It flooded. It flooded people out. What couldn't move, or be moved, to higher ground was lost. Animals perished, lives were saved---both sides of that tide flowed.

But in the summer there is little rain, seldom a storm and the greatest recessions of the surf reveal opportunities both pleasant and productive. I went clamming this week.

An interesting thing about tides is that their extremes increase as you go north. In California it was a big deal if we got a 1.5 foot minus tide. Here on the coast of Oregon, we annually see tides reaching minus 2.5 feet. In Clam Gulch, Alaska they got a 5.4 foot minus tide on May 17th. Nova Scotia, I have heard tell, has the lowest minus tides on the planet, exceeding 10 feet. Wow. You could just about walk to Portugal if you could do it in an hour.

The difference between the lowest and highest points of a tide cycle is called the exchange. This month we got a 7 foot high tide followed by a 2.5 foot minus. The exchange was nine and a half feet. In Nova Scotia the exchange is 33 feet. When the tide changes from low to high, there is a wave called "the tidal bore." It sometimes exceedes a meter in height. The bore sounds the alarm that, if you are on low ground, it's time to begin thinking about making like The Jeffersons and start movin' up.

Ebbs do not tarry. Low slacks last little longer than the time it takes to make a good act of contrition. I have been fishing on the rocks and wound up getting wet when having to swim the renewed lagoons. Our ocean temperatures are somewhere around 52 degrees F.

In this video, my friend Jack taught me what to look for in order to see the clam "necking." There really isn't much neck to see. The "show" is very subtle. The clams will just ever so slightly breach the surface of the sand, revealing the rosette pattern of the larger of their two valves (hence the name, bivalve) and then disappear. Jack showed me this clam and we waited for it to reappear to no avail. After we got tired of waiting, he thumped the sand to startle the clam into action. Hopefully, you can see the perfectly round hole containing the whirling sand as it retracts its neck for an escape. The show appears just before a wave obscures it. Sorry. It's quick. I was told early on that razor clams are the only clam that can dig almost as fast as you can. You will see Jack doing battle with this notion, but prevailing in the end. Jack was a bit disappointed that the clam was not very big. I thrill to see any size. And the smaller ones, as they say, eat better.

See, Annie? It's true. Turlock is not only famous for its turkeys, but it is the home of Medic Alert:

This is Dan, the reason I came to the beach. I threw pots for Dan in 1981. He is the person who took me razor clamming for the very first time. He doesn't remember it. But I do.

This is Linda (on the left) and Connie. I met them at the beach. They didn't know how to dig clams. They were so cute with their brand, new shovels with the stickers still on them. I told them that I am the clam whisperer. After each had their first clam I said, "My work is done here, ladies. You're on your own." Every time I go, I meet someone new. I give them some good Gawpo to take home with them, sometimes in the form of getting clams, sometimes just in the form of a friendly contact. These gals got both.

I liked the reflection of that person holding the two buckets. There were about 80 clammers on the beach. On this minus tide it was a long walk to the first wave. About a quarter of a mile.

In front of the sand dollar is a ghost shrimp. I got about ten yesterday. Fried in peanut oil they are DELICIOUS! No one eats them. Except Gawpo, that is. They don't call them razor clams for nothing. Those shells are thin and sharp. I cut my finger on one and forgot about the cut until I saw a bright, red orb in the water. It caught my eye. That is the job of the color of blood. All of a sudden it burst into tendrils not unlike the grand finale at the fireworks display on the Fourth of July. I immediately began my vigil against great whites. The limit is 15 clams. I am learning not to break the shell.

It's rare to find a whole sand dollar. This is the second one I found.

On this and a prayer...

These are cool.

This is Keli, the ODFW (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) checker. As I was walking off the beach, I saw her checking two people headed for the parking lot. She didn't see me before she noticed three other clammers headed to another parking lot. She bolted across the sand on a dead run to catch up with them. I stepped up my pace, knowing that when she was done with them she would see me. I slowed to a walk as she turned away from her last check and when I was sure that she saw me, she started to walk faster. I stopped in my tracks, then lowered my body as though I was going to run. I started running as if I was trying to avoid her. She began running really fast. I then stopped and laughed and yelled, "That was pretty funny." She yelled back, "What---me running or you?" I yelled back, "I made you flinch." She was a good sport. The checkers ask two questions: How many and how long. My answer was: Fifteen in 27 minutes. Naughty Gawpo...

Linda and Connie again, this time with the lighthouse in the background. Look familiar, Nana-g?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Okay, this is sort of an emergency meeting that I am now moving to call to order.

Any seconds to the motion?

(in high, squeaky voice: "I say we let him go...")

Thank you, Pee Wee. The motion carries.

But first this: I tried to do something to change something by adding something to my sidebar and guess what happened? Well, let me put it this way: I LOST MY ENTIRE BLOGROLL! Grrrrrrr......

I did not (thank you so much for pointing this out to me LIME!!!) copy and save my template. So, let me give you a little advice: Before you try to change anything, you should copy and save your template.

Nuff 'bout dat.

Now that the meeting is called to order, you should do yourself a favor and go check out my friend, Nana-g's new blog. It has been resubmitted to my sidebar, along with the others that took me until nearly midnight last night to restore.

Nana-g is way deep and way funny and way cool. I love her. She loves me. You too will come to love her. This will be instant and persistent.

Read on, my brothers and sisters. And enjoy the love.

This meeting is now adjourned. (Gavel smacking thrice upon two scoops of Tillamook vanilla bean ice cream cone for splendorous effect.)


Saturday, June 09, 2007


I have a wonderful friend who sent me Pink Martini's "Hey, Eugene." Hadn't heard of the song, but she did introduce me to Pink Martini a couple years ago. (If you're reading this, Jaimie---HELLO!)

Anyway, apart from Portland (our biggest city), there are only an even two dozen cities over 20,000 in population in the entire state. And ten of those are suburbs of Portland, itself clocking in at only a little over half a million. Second to Portland is Eugene, Oregon where 143,910 people on this planet have decided to live and move and have their being. There is little doubt that the minority were born in Eugene, but I am fairly certain that very few of them realize that the name of their city is all about birth.

Sorry, Limers---they are only counting incorporated towns and, as you could probably guess, Wagontire didn't make the cut with their two person population.

You know who used to live in Eugene? Ken Kesey, that's who. You know who else used to live in Eugene? Johnny Prefontaine, that's who.

So I got to thinking about the name, Eugene. Yes, it's Greek. But first, a few words about words.

Anytime you see the "eu" prefix, you can just go ahead and translate it as "good." Other words that come with the territory are "nice," "easy," "pleasant." Anything in that realm works. Like "eucalyptus,"---nice covering; "euthanasia,"---easy death; "eulogy,"---good word; "euphoria,"---pleasant bearing (phero means to carry or to bear, as in the weight of something), "eucharist,"---good grace (gift), "eutectics,"---good melting (potters know the eutectics of various glaze materials and often flux the glaze recipe such that things will melt at a higher or lower temperature in the kiln).

From the word, "eucharist" comes the word for thanks in Greek. If you want to say "thank you," you say: "Eucharisto." But it is not pronounced "you-kuh-rist-o." It is pronounced, ev-khat-ees-TOE." When you get to the "kha" part of the word, you want to sound like you are about to hock a loogie. It's a sort of throat-clearing from way back on the tongue that produces that "kha" sound (as well as loogies). The "u" in Greek is given a "v" sound, therefore the "eu" is pronounced "ev." And from that, you can pretty much figure out how "euangelios" becomes "evangelist" in our own tongue. The Good News---the Gospel---is "evangelion." Literally, a good message.

So in comes Eugene. Easy now, huh? You are betting that the "gene" portion has something to do with our word for "genetics." And you're correct. So knowing what the "eu" part of Eugene means, you can guess what Eugene really means. But first a few words about the words "genestheto" and "thelema."

The word for "will" (as in, To Will something to be) is "thelema." No, not Thelma. But it does sound a lot like it and so, who knows? In Greek you lengthen all the "O"s. In the Lord's Prayer, "genestheto to thelema sou" is: Thy will be done. Literally, "may it be born out [of] the will of you." It is in the genitive---"OF you." But it is not a reflexive verb, so don't worry. That would complicate things greatly.

Here are some Eugene related words: Generate, generation, genetics, genes, genealogy (and by the way, it's gene-AL-ogy, not gene-OL-ogy---one of the most mispronounced words in the language!), general---it's all about giving birth, making happen, bearing out, bodying forth, issuing from the womb of whatever.

Eugene. Nice birth. Easy birth. Well-born. You name it---if it's about coming about in a good and a positive way, then you've got a Eugene event.

In Russian, the name is pronounced "yevgenny" (hard "g" as in "Gawpo.") There is a poet named Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Some of you, no doubt, have heard of him. I came to his poems via his book "Stolen Apples." I liked the title because I stole some oranges from Sophie Rhorer's tree across the street once and went to confession for it when I had attained the age of reason: 7. Gotta love being Catholic. I generated ten Our Fathers and ten Hail Marys for my kakagenic idea.

When Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, he lays on them the notion that they need to resign themselves to what we, nowadays, refer to as the driving principle of: shit happens. Or, as I posted once, "Mierda Pasa." What does a General do except "make shit happen." Whatever that phrase "God's will" might mean, it sure doesn't mean anything that can be planned by us. "Genestheto to thelema sou" is not only in the dative case, it is in the subjunctive, thus rendering the whole thing: "That it might come about the will of you." There's this sense that, whatever does come about, might not be what we want to come about. It's a matter of thy, not my. And I hate that sometimes. This doesn't mean that whatever comes about, comes about as the will of God, either. But how we deal with whatever comes about---now that's what that part of the Lord's prayer is all about. You know: "God grant me the serenity, etcetera"? Does any of that ring a bell?

So, if good and caring people (such as you and me) discern what might happen to be the opposite of Eugene, namely, Kakagene (literally: Shitgene), then we need to fight to make it right; we need to take what comes and give birth to good by how we handle it. Whatever might come about, it is all we can do to pray that we will accept it as best we can and treat it as---Eugene.

Now for the entertainment portion of our program. I love this song. Crank it up. It has been viewed by nearly as many people as live in Corvallis, Oregon, just slightly north of....Eugene.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Gifts From A Friend

06/07/07*****NOTE: Blogger wiped out the two pictures. Now does this post make ANY more sense with them replaced? Well? Or is it all just so much Urdo? (Whatever the heck that is, Sheila.)*****

Today I was presented with two wonderful gifts from my good friend, Deputy K. He had gone to Seattle to watch the Mariners lose to the Texas Rangers by a single, undeserved run. I am touched that he could still even think of me in his time of sorrowful mourning. Yet he did. And for that, I am eternally (in a plastic sort of way) grateful.

I have always wanted a plastic Jesus to have riding on the dashboard of my car. And now I have one. Now, finally, I truly can throw caution to the wind and not care if it rains or if it freezes. All of you who are old enough, know why. Thank you, Jason. Thank you so much.

And no, Candace, it does not say on the box whether these are left or right handed nunchucks. Believe me, I humored MuNKi and looked all over the box. What you will notice, however, are the little baby ammunition nuns at the bottom. I didn't catch it at first, but I see that the manufacturers took pains to include a Dominican (white), a Benedictine (black), a Carmelite (dark with light gray scapular) and that blue one. I don't know what that blue one could be. Maybe that's an S.N.J.M., also known as a Holy Names nun. Maybe she's that nun on the label of that sweet German virgin's milk wine that they drink over there. I've said it before on my and others' blogs, and I'll say it again right here: I am chronically beset with a strong urge to boil a kid in its mother's milk. Contrary to the Jewish dietary proscriptions of Deuteronomy 14:21, I struggle with this every day. Why do you think I took the easy route? Otherwise I'd be sporting the plastic Moses. Now I am finding myself wanting to boil a virgin in her own milk. I wonder if that is even possible. And this is just another fine example of why I should stay away from visiting Fab's blog.

At 82 years old, the performer of this next song announced the other day that he is retiring from acting. In this role, he is singing this song upon learning of the death of his mother.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Donkey That Didn't Get A Callback For Shrek

Ever had one of these days? You know, like a bad dream? Apparently, the man just wanted to use the field for nature's call. And, boy howdy, did nature ever answer.

Guess we'll never know how it turns out for the man. But I'm thinkin' it can't be good.

I hope this helps put things in perspective for you if you are having a hard day. Did I just say that? Okay, I mean a difficult day. That's better. But in any event, I do hope this brings a smile.

Yes, you do have permission to cringe.