Thursday, October 18, 2012

Night Screaming

Night Screaming
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Last night we had quite an extended misadventure.  This is true story and not a dream.  It ocurred after the opera.

Night Screaming

Last night into the wee hours
we wandered, lost,
in the rain
without umbrellas or coats
walking the streets of Detroit
until our feet bled.

It was a waking
and went on and on
and on
as we grew more and more
tired and sore.

From the high roof-tops,
birds screamed and screamed.
They chittered, hollered
and shrieked
into the rainy night.

Such fearsome cries!
So loud!

With rain
streaming down our faces
like tears,
we looked up and up
into the rain
toward the distress calls

until we realized
they were electronic,
probably to scare
the very birds they mimicked.

Those cries reflected
our own fears
at being lost
past midnight
in this dangerous city.

A merlin falcon,
no nocturnal bird,
winged grey in the street lamps
against rain-black sky.

Confused by such light,
such distress,
we circled and circled
until we found ourselves
and went home.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
for Keith, and for Jari Jarvela, who also inspired the poem with his story

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Discovery at Little Hog Island, Chapter 1, part 4

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- i i
-- ii ii
--- iii iii
--- iv. accusations

The men formed a semi-circle around Dana.
"So," said one, who was tall, thin, angular, and scruffy, "We have a spy, do we?" His voice was even lower and more gravelly than Buck's.
"I'm not a spy," Dana said, her voice high and nervous.
"Simon," Buck said. "Get our friend Dana a beer. Bring another chair, Garrett."
Two other men disappeared in opposite directions.
"Come have a seat," Buck said, pulling the chairs clustered around the table into a wider circle. "You play Black Jack?"
Dana took the seat he offered. It was the one he’d been sitting in. She shook her head.
"Well, occasionally, for fun, not profit." Dana giggled slightly, then clamped her mouth shut. She thought she sounded foolish.
Simon came back with a six-pack of beer. It trailed little pools and droplets of water onto the concrete floor. He was young, blond and sun burnt. His nose was peeling. Garrett came back with a chair. Buck took it and sat beside Dana. "Deal us a hand, Glenn," Buck said.
Glenn was the lean man who’d asked if she was a spy. He dealt out a hand, looking at Dana from under dark, bushy eyebrows that grew together over his thin nose like a long, shaggy caterpillar. He glared at her.
Buck handed around the beers. "This here is Willie," he said, indicating the last man. Willie was a stocky man, slightly pudgy around the face. He had a bland dull look and unfocused eyes. He nodded at Dana, his eyes never turning toward her.
"Don’t mind Willie," Buck said, "he’s a little under the weather." Buck opened Dana’s beer and handed it to her. Willie nodded slightly.
Glenn snorted. He popped open his beer, took a huge slug, and turned to Dana. "So," he repeated, scowling at her, "you’re a spy."
1)This is the 4th installment in my serial novel. Links to the first three (on cowbird) are at the top. Link to the next one, #5, is directly above.
2)illo is an acrylic painting by me of "Jerusalem Old Town" which I modified slightly for this piece. Sorry I forgot to add the sailboats! :-(
3)I'm trying to keep the installments short--let me know (at facebook or below) if you think the length should be different. Longer? Shorter?

Eating Wild Mushrooms

Heidi with Hen of Woods
photo by BB

I've been eating wild mushrooms all my life.
My grandmother, who was from Italy and who ate dandelions and other wild plants, taught me as a young child to eat the common field mushrooms which are like the ones in the stores--only outdoors. We also ate some kind of fairy-ring mushroom, but I no longer know which kind. Later, I learned to eat morels, puffballs, shaggy manes and Coprinus (Inky caps) and later yet, chicken of the woods and hen of the woods. At some point, many years ago, I got some mushroom books and started learning and eating other mushrooms.
I avoided white mushrooms with veils. Or any all-white mushrooms. I avoided anything I could not positively ID.
So far, so good.
I went to college at ESF (The SUNY College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry.) I remember learning that some mycology professors had DIED by collecting multiple kinds of mushrooms and cooking them up at once. We were told this by several professors several times--but the story seems odd, now that I have done more research.
These days, if you eat poisonous mushrooms, even the Destroying Angel, and get to the hospital on time, quickly, before too much damage is done to liver and kidneys, you have a reasonable chance of being saved--not everyone is saved, but some are. I won't write about that here, but you can read about it online if you're interested.
I am working on a novel that came from my cogitating about those professors who died. It is called Death Angel. I don't think posting serial novels works well on Cowbird--too hard for most people to follow. And it would only be worse, if I posted TWO at once, LOL!!! :-D.
I have friends who also collect wild mushrooms. On our recent trip to Maine, we stopped to visit friends in New Hampshire and ate wild mushrooms there. The photograph shows my friend Heidi with her husband Ken's find of hen of the woods--yum--we ate it in gumbo. Mmmm.
I have other friends who refuse to eat wild mushrooms. They will only eat mushrooms purchased at the supermarket. One friend remembers an incident where I messed up. I used to teach courses in survival and courses in wild edibles. We had collected a bunch of puffballs and other wild edibles and were making a meal for the class at the end. In all the rush and confusion of sorting everything that was collected and preparing the meal, we (I) forgot to cut all the puffballs in half to ascertain that they did not have gills.
Later, that thought occurred to me, and I mentioned it to my friend. While I felt reasonably confident that the puffballs were all puffballs and not destroying angels, I wasn't absolutely positive. I wasn't sure what to do--I didn't want to alarm 30 people unnecessarily and have them all rushing to the hospital, so I spent a nervous couple days worrying. No one got sick, but my friend has never eaten another wild mushroom since then. It's my fault.
However, that experience has not stopped me from eating wild mushrooms. I just cut every puffball in half. I did, however, stop teaching classes that involved group meals at the end. Too bad. Loved those flower fritters.

This story is sprouted from Kathy Weinberg's story, "Devil's Snuff Box"
It is also dedicated to Heidi and Ken.

Friday, October 12, 2012

by Augustus Saint-Gaudens
photo by me
Saint-Gaudens National Historical Monument
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I took this photograph at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in New Hampshire on our recent trip to Maine. It is Diana, by the famous sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. I had never heard of this place, but it was wonderful and well worth a visit.  I may post more pix from my trip later.  It will take me a while to get caught up, especially since I came home sick.

Discovery at Little Hog Island, Chapter 1, part 3

We are home from our trip to Maine and happy to be here, although we had a GREAT TIME!  Here is the next installment of my novel, if you haven't lost the thread of it:

Biker Buddy is standing in for Buck Skillin here
photoart by me

Discovery on Little Hog Island, Chapter I: The Warning
iii. Buck Skillin (Read part ii here)*

He looked her up and down. "You don’t look wet," he said.
"No, I took your advice and did not swim here." Dana heard her voice come out calmly and normally, though inside it felt squeezed with fear.
"Good choice," the man said, gruffly, his voice low and gravelly. "So what did you do, fly?"
"I paddled."
"At night? That ain't exactly safe, either," he drawled. "Why are you standing in the munitions shed? What are you doing here?"
"I was curious. I wanted to look around."
"You could see better during the day. Name's Skillin. Buck Skillin." He held out his hand. She took it gingerly. It was warm and dry. Hers was clammy with fear. "And you?"
"Dana. Dana Waznik."
"Wanna Beer?"
"A beer?" Dana heard her voice rise with surprise, almost incredulity.
"You a TEE-totaler?"
"No. I just didn't expect you to offer me beer?"
"Why not, seems like the polite thing to do when you have company. Come on, I'll introduce you to the guys."
Buck Skillin turned and walked back toward the stone building. Dana followed, feeling nervous. Beyond nervous. She didn’t know if she should bolt for the darkness, grab her kayak, and paddle madly away. But she didn’t. She followed Buck. He held the door for her.
"Boys," he said, "We have company. Four faces turned toward Dana. They all rose to their feet. They did not look happy or friendly.
* * * *
read part
i here
part iv iv