Yak Is Whack.

I don't know what these are, but I want one.

A wonderful friend and I visited Montgomery Woods this weekend, and as we were driving back to the coast on the Comptche - Ukiah Road, we passed these... these... What would you call these, exactly?

Whatever you call them, I bet you could shear them and make sweaters out of their wool. Presuming you could get close enough with the clippers. Considering those horns, you and the yak would first have to come to some sort of agreement or understanding...

Whatever they are, they live on the Shambhala Ranch.

When you go to the Shambhala Ranch Retreat website, they tell you everything you'd ever want to know about having a conference or wedding at the ranch but they don't say a word - not one word - about their yaks. They repeatedly make the point that the name of their establishment was picked out by the "previous owners" (who had hippie cooties, I presume), yet they don't so much as mention the gigantic, wooly, horned beasties standing right out in front of their sign.

So I'm giving them flack
For ignoring the yak.
Pick up the slack,


Something You Otter Know.

The following video has had over fourteen million hits on YouTube, so I presume that anyone looking at this post has already seen it. Nonetheless, in honor of Sea Otter Awareness Week, I give you a video so cute, it would send a basket of kittens into a jealous rage. Watch it all the way through – the last couple of seconds are worth it.

I’m glad these two have each other. Sea otters can use all of the friends they can get. California Sea Otters used to range far up and down the coast, from the Pacific Northwest to Baja California. Now they exist only in a tiny pocket just south of the San Francisco Bay.

One oil tanker disaster, and it would be curtains for these little guys.

Not that long ago, California Sea Otters were thought to have been hunted to extinction for their fur, but in 1915 a group of naturalists discovered a small raft of otters living along the mouth of Bixby Creek near Big Sur. These scientists kept their discovery a secret for decades, allowing the population of these beautiful creatures to recover a bit. Still, from the hundreds of thousands of otters that used to populate the coastline, now only a couple of thousand remain, and their numbers are constantly threatened by over-fishing and environmental pollution.

These days, sea otters need a week in their name so that humans can be reminded of their existence. But if you have any heart at all, you'll be aware of them for a lot longer.


The Wild Tide.

I’m amused by people who don’t think they’re animals. People who say things like, “They had us packed in that bus just like a bunch of animals,” or, “Quit behaving like an animal,” really give me a giggle. What is it you think you are, exactly? Just because you have been so thoroughly domesticated, you should never underestimate your capacity to revert to the more wild side of your nature.

This is a herd of rare Roosevelt Elk in Redwood National Park. Passers-by on the 101 can view them right from the road.

They look like wild animals...

And they behave like wild animals, too, in spite of the distinctly domestic setting. These are the largest subspecies of elk surviving in North America, they’re armed better than samurai, and they regularly charge intruders. There are signs everywhere for people to stay in their vehicles and not approach the elk - advice these good citizens should take more to heart.

But it’s this very thing that makes me wonder... These elk are limited in their range to just a couple of fenced prairies right off the highway, and their numbers are very small. There are signs all over this stretch of the 101 warning people to keep their speed down because these elk aren’t afraid of crossing the road to get from pasture to pasture. In fact, the human presence doesn’t seem to bother them at all. Unless you count that whole getting-hit-by-cars thing, but still... Are these animals wild or domestic?

What about this cat? She shows up at my house every other day or so. I call her “Tide” because she’s mysterious and keeps to her own schedule. Plus, she smells like laundry detergent. I have no idea why.

Here’s how Tide rolls: She cruises out of the woods, looks in my window, and meows until I let her inside of the cabin. Once inside, she takes quick stock, moving from room to room, hesitating only when she notices that something isn’t in the same place as it was the last time she was here. When she’s done, she’ll meow until I scratch her head and ears. After about a minute or two of that, she’ll go to the door and wait for me to let her outside. Once out, she’ll disappear back into the woods at a trot. These visits last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Apparently, I am at her beck and call, and these visits are entirely on Tide’s terms. How the Tide has terms... Hehe.

So. Wild? Domestic?

I promise you that Tide doesn’t think she’s domesticated. Her beautiful markings certainly say "wild," that's for sure. She wears no collar, but she’s clearly healthy and well-fed. She never begs for food when she visits me, even when I’m eating. She just wants her ears scratched. Until she doesn’t anymore, then she’s out. She’s probably owned by someone, but I guarantee that Tide doesn’t see it that way. Just like my being owned by my job or by the government or by capitalism or by my feelings or by those I love doesn’t register that way to me - it doesn’t feel like I’m owned, but I am all the same. Just like Tide.

So what does that make me, then? Am I wild or domestic?

Eating huckleberries straight off the bush makes me feel wild. Or when I swim in the surf until I’m freezing and exhausted to the point that every ounce of my energy becomes entirely focused on retrieving my next breath. I feel very wild then. On nights when I wander in the woods under the moon and stars, half-lost, half-blind, deliciously scared... Then I feel wild. And any time spent naked is wild time. Or when I smell meat grilling and it makes my stomach growl. Wild, wild, wild.

But then I sit in front of the computer, frustrated because Google won’t put information at my fingertips in two seconds instead of four, craving a latte, but not one I make myself with the fancy machine in my kitchen, but rather one made by the place in town because the baristas make them with the cute little fern designs drawn in the foam, and I’m going to want a bialy - one of the nice onion ones, too, not one of those crummy garlic ones they’re always trying to foist off on you, and there’d better be a place to sit on the couch because the seats of those wooden chairs are super splintery, and I hope that the “Datebook” section of the Chronicle will still be there although probably not because that’s one of the first sections to disappear as the day goes on...

No! Stop!!

I am not a woman! I am an animal!!

... She typed on her laptop while sipping her latte...


The End Of The Gander Meander.

I’m happy to announce that Mr. Waddles, The Kelley House Museum guard-goose, has been recovered.

He is happily resettling into his home-pond alongside Mrs. Waddles, who is both thrilled and relieved over the return of her mate.

The ganderjackers are still at large.

Police are looking for an individual covered with beak-shaped bruises.

If you have any information, please call the authorities.


Has I Got A Post For You...

Let’s unpack this image, shall we?

First, is it possible that the owners of this store have named it “Rumors” and the rest of the phrase is meant to convey that the store, “Rumors,” has everything you need for a wedding? You know:

Need a bridesmaid dress?

Rumors has it!

Want a huge selection of tiaras?

Rumors has it!

This is tough for me because I’m not always a fan of grammar. I often find the rules of grammar to be confining in terms of conveying my own creative or emotional vision, and I also don’t like the idea that there are people out there who hesitate to write down their own fascinating stories because they’re embarrassed to be caught out in a grammatical gaffe.

But I can’t help but feel that this sign gives a poor first impression to potential customers. I mean, brides aren’t going to be on board with stretching the rules of grammar when it comes to their engagement announcements or wedding invitations:

“Mr. and Mrs. Basil T. Higgenbottom is thrill to announcing the engagement of her daughters, Margaret, who are expect will be marry in June.”

Now, I like this. I think it’s poetic and raw. But if I ran a business, I would have to acknowledge that it’s not for most.

It’s a classic case of “know your audience.” Students ask me all the time why grammar is important, and many suggest that in this day and age of tweeting and instant messaging, grammar might actually be irrelevant. But the thing is, a storefront is not in the twitterverse. That sign is a real, actual message on the face of a business that speaks to a much different audience than does a tweet. People will make assumptions about these business owners - right or wrong - based on the image put forth by that sign. So, if correct use of grammar is important to your business, the correct use of grammar on the sign should communicate that value. See? Not a tweet.

All of this makes me wonder what was going on before the sign went up. I mean, aren’t there stacks of forms to fill out when you want to open a business? Wouldn’t these forms include the name of the business, right at the top of the paperwork? Wouldn’t these forms be seen by city workers, lawyers, bankers, etc? Am I to believe that the grammatical error in the name of the business never, ever came up? With anyone?

Maybe it did...

County Clerk: I think you might want to tweak the name of your business here, just a little. I’m pretty sure that the phrase you’re looking for is “rumor has it.”

Entrepreneur: No, I think it’s right the way it is.

County Clerk: Um, I’m pretty sure it’s not.

Entrepreneur: I’m pretty sure it is.

County Clerk: Okay. You has the final say.

I also wonder if this topic ever comes up with patrons of the shop. I myself thought of going in and just mentioning - you know, in passing - that the name of their establishment is a grammatical nightmare that makes a mockery of the English language.

But I didn’t because I was worried about coming off as dickish.

So instead I went with a blog post gently poking fun of their sign.

Which isn’t dickish at all.

More like passive-aggressive.

Although it occurs to me that it’s still not too late to be both...


Chainmail? More Like ChainFEMALE...

This is Chris and Shani Christenson’s Metal Body Art collection, which was featured recently in a show at NorthCoast Artist’s Gallery in Fort Bragg.

Here are the artists putting the finishing touches on their creations at Mantras Salon, where all of the amazing hairstyles for the show were created.

One of the things I really loved about the show was that artists from throughout the community donated their time and considerable skills to make Chris and Shani’s event into the spectacular fantasy extravaganza the two of them had envisioned. The end result speaks for itself.

Melinda is gorgeous all on her own, but for the show she got a little help from Jocelyn, the owner of Mantras, who put some mossy green stripes in her hair.

Backstage at the event, Liz from Mendocino Beauty finishes up some fantasy makeup on Mandela, one of the five volunteer models.

This is the stunning result.

So is this. Samantha is wearing a mint’s worth of real rubies and channeling a Celtic fire goddess. Obviously.

Incidentally, I think this bustier would look good peeking out from underneath my Carhartt overalls. Presuming I had some red Wellies to match…

Outside before the show, the Goddess of Fire cools down with the Goddess of Fire Water. For Chris and Shani’s event, MixMistressM made the successful transformation into MixMistressC - MixMistress of Ceremonies. Here she runs a flashcard app on her phone while she simultaneously rocks the noir-influenced glam.

This is Marianella putting the finishing touches on Jessica’s hair right before she hits the runway. Marianella works with Jocelyn at Mantras, and when she isn’t designing hair for fashion shows, she takes care of my blue locks. Which makes me pretty much the luckiest woman in the world, hair-wise.

Each of the models had a fantastic cape that they threw off right before they took to the runway in their spectacular armor. Jessica - Chris and Shani’s niece - gave it just the right flourish…

…Before doing a fantastic job showing off her aunt and uncle’s art to a packed house.

After the show, the models acted as living easels, visiting with gallery patrons and talking about the amazing works of art they were wearing. I love how even the babies are staring. But I especially love the intense look on the face of the little girl in this picture as she stares at Melinda and Jessica. Her camo pants make me think that she went home that night and dreamed of being a warrior goddess.

Jessica’s armor is named for Amaterasu, a Japanese sun goddess, which is reflected by the beautiful golden gems.

When I saw this piece, all I could think of was how fun it would be to wear it to Lucy’s Laundromat. I don’t know why. Maybe it has something to do with Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. Or maybe it’s because I figure that the heat generated by this smokin piece of art would save me money on the dryers. Which is a good thing because when you’re wearing an outfit like this, there’s nowhere to keep your quarters.

This is Judy Of The Adorable Whimsical Tiny Little Hats. She consulted on some of the leatherwork for the show, and she makes these chapeaux herself. I love these little hats almost as much as I love her fantastic braids.

Art dog!!

As I mentioned, Samantha is channeling a Celtic fire goddess in her armor, which is called "Kegan's Fire." Here’s the fire goddess cheering on the Fort Bragg Fire Department as they roar past the gallery on their way to a blaze. Look at the face of the person in the car. Priceless.

After the show, it was time to show off the bejeweled armor at a reception at CoBar.

Seeing the women walk around in their body art, drinks in hand, made me think that I want to save up some cash to commission Shani and Chris to do some Metal Body Art for me. I don’t have it entirely planned out yet, but I’m thinking turquoise. And local abalone shells. Mexican silver conchos for sure. Probably feathers. Lots of fringe. Definitely tooled leather. Boots, duh.

Oh! And chaps. Chaps are a MUST.

I think I could pull it off. At the very least, I would love to try. Who wouldn't?

Metal Body Art

Through September 28


NorthCoast Artist’s Gallery

Fort Bragg


Goosing Goose Pinched!

This is Mr. Waddles.

He’s the gander who lives in the pond beside the Kelley House Museum in Mendocino Village.

Or he was.

Because it was discovered Thursday morning that Mr. Waddles has been geesenapped.



Some jackass abducted Mr. Waddles and stole him from his pond.

And from his mate, too. I hope you’re happy, you fucking fiend. Way to chip away at Mendo pride, douchebag. Mrs. Waddles is beside herself with worry and grief, I’ll have you know.

I’m not only furious about this, but I’m concerned, too. Because as you can tell from these pictures, Mr. Waddles is a vicious, vicious little prick. He spends his time lurking on the other side of this fence, serrated beak at the ready, just waiting for unsuspecting tourists (and their pale, chubby legs) to wander too close. Then...


Mothers become infuriated, fathers yell, children cry...

And I laugh. And laugh. And laugh...

See? When it comes to Mendocino, Mr. Waddles represents. So who would abduct him? And how would you shanghai a goose this ferocious to begin with? Mr. Waddles is clearly capable of rendering any potential kidnapper into a bruised and bleeding pulp within mere seconds, so I’m worried that there’s no way to steal him quietly without wringing his neck.

And so help me god, if some deranged asshole has killed Mr. Waddles, I will hunt the jerk down, roll him naked in peanut butter suet, and let Mrs. Waddles have her way with him.

If you have any information concerning Mr. Waddles' abduction or whereabouts, please call the Fort Bragg Police Department at 707-961-2800, or KOZT-FM radio at 707-964-7277, or the Kelley House Museum at 707-937-5791.

Is this for reals? Oh, it’s for reals, all right.

Jendocino’s coming for you, you fucking ganderjacker.


Titty Flash!

I carefully considered whether or not to do another post about titties. But then I decided, hey, you can never have too many posts about titties.

My decision to do a follow-up started with an anonymous comment on my last post which pointed out that women in France don’t go topless everywhere - only on the beaches and not “on the sidewalks of Paris.”

I appreciate the comment, but I’m afraid that the commenter sorely underestimates the French in general - and the Parisians in particular - when it comes to their nonchalance over the public display of titties. Every summer since 2002, the French have poured patches of sand out along the banks of the Seine in order to construct a summertime attraction known as “Paris-Plage” or “Paris Beach.” However, the city of Paris had to enact a ban on topless sunbathing because “Parisians found it perfectly normal to disport themselves in the city center as if they were in St. Tropez.”

Ah, the French. They care so little about showing their titties that they have to enact laws reminding them that it’s not always the right time to show their titties.

I was further encouraged by an email I got from Jennifer over at Early Morning Fog, Partial Clearing. Jennifer not only has the world’s most awesome name, but she also has a fantastic blog, and it was she who alerted me to the latest titty controversy here in the good ol’ USA.

This controversy revolves around teenage girls wearing breast cancer-awareness bracelets to school that say, “I (heart) boobies.” The bracelets are sold through a group called Keep-A-Breast, whose goal is to raise cancer awareness among younger girls. Many people think that breast cancer is a disease that only affects older women, but breast cancer is the most deadly cancer among women under the age of forty. Keep-A-Breast takes an edgy, arty, more youth-oriented approach towards raising breast cancer awareness, and profits from the sale of these bracelets go to cancer research.

Sounds great, right? But everything comes to a screeching halt, apparently, once the word “boobies” is involved. School officials all over the nation are banning students from wearing the bracelet because of the offending word. Some school officials have said that the word “boobies” has a sexual connotation that is inappropriate for a school environment. Other school officials have said that female students wearing the bracelets leave themselves open to sexual harassment by male students.

Seriously? A boy sexually harasses a girl in school for wearing a cancer awareness bracelet, and our reaction is to tell the girl that she can’t wear the bracelet anymore? For reals? Whoa. Can you say mandatory sensitivity training?

But what about that “sexual connotation” bit? I had a conversation with a guy who said that he understood where the school officials were coming from. He said, “Breasts are sexual things. It might be tough for teenage boys to get past the fact that teenage girls are wearing bracelets that say ‘boobies’ on them, regardless of the context.”

Maybe men have a more difficult time understanding all of the complexities behind the female breast because their experience with female breasts is largely one-dimensional and revolves around sex. So while women understand that their breasts have requirements that go beyond the sexual - think breast feeding and mammograms - maybe the words “booby,” and “titty” only hit that one, sexy note for the men.

But this makes me wonder what words women are supposed to use when we want to talk about our breasts in a non-sexual, non-clinical way.

I thought a good benchmark might be whether or not you are allowed to say the word “boobies” or “titties” on television. I was somewhat surprised to learn that the FCC doesn’t have a list of words banned from the tube. George Carlin has a list of seven:

The FCC? Not so much. Their rules simply state that you can’t use words that “describe or depict sexual and excretory organs and activities.” However, if the word in question isn’t used in a sexual context, then it’s allowable. Thus, when Bono said on live TV that it was “fucking brilliant” to win a Golden Globe, the FCC didn’t fine him because the word “fuck” wasn’t meant sexually.

So by this standard, those “I (heart) boobies” bracelets should be okay, right? Because they’re talking about titties in a public health and awareness sort of way, not in a sexy sort of way.

So come on. Let those girls wear their bracelets, whydoncha?

Because I gotta say, there’s nothing very sexy about the words “booby” or “titty” anyway. These are whimsical words, not erotic ones.

But don’t take my word for it. Take the word of an expert:

Your Breast is Enough

Pablo Neruda

Your breast is enough for my heart,

and my wings for your freedom.

What was sleeping above your soul will rise

out of my mouth to heaven.

In you is the illusion of each day.

You arrive like the dew to the cupped flowers.

You undermine the horizon with your absence.

Eternally in flight like the wave.

I have said that you sang in the wind

like the pines and like the masts.

Like them you are tall and taciturn,

and you are sad, all at once, like a voyage.

You gather things to you like an old road.

You are peopled with echoes and nostalgic voices.

I awoke and at times birds fled and migrated

that had been sleeping in your soul.

Now that’s sexy.