First, I want to say happy Memorial Day.

My deepest gratitude goes out to all who have served their country.

I haven’t served my country in the military. It’s one of my big regrets. Instead, I was a Peace Corps volunteer, and let me just say that every time a US Marine showed up in my vicinity, it was because things were getting sketchy. (The country I served in was going through a period of political turmoil that sometimes turned violent.) One Marine told me that he thought I had guts to go out into the jungle alone and without any way to defend myself. Guts? Handing out mosquito netting and digging latrines takes guts? Yeah. No. I don’t think so. Coming in to fish my hippie ass out when things get gnarly? That’s what takes guts.

So thank you again to all of our soldiers, past and present. I couldn’t be a hippie without you.

I’m currently in the final stages of writing a novel loosely based on my experiences in Peace Corps. I’ve written around 400 pages, and I think I have around a hundred pages left to write.

I’ve never written a novel before...

… And I’m starting to feel a lot like this Pacific Giant Salamander. **

Sometimes, I don’t know whether I’m getting the better of the writing, or if the writing is getting the better of me.

Have I bitten off more than I can chew?

Upon first glance, my novel project looked like a big, juicy, promising feast. But now that I’m in it, there are days when I feel like I’m bogged down with trying to chew my way through a slime-riddled pile of muck.

I’m stuck now, though.

I can’t go backwards…

…But going forwards seems impossible, too.

I’m suffocating, and now lines are getting blurred. Is the novel a part of me, or am I part of the novel?

There’s nothing for it. I go onward because I must. Slowly, ploddingly, excruciatingly, I fight.

And if I fight, I will gain. One step at a time.

One banana, two banana, three banana, four...

** I didn’t think ANYTHING ate banana slugs. If you’ve ever handled a banana slug, you’ll know why I (previously) thought they were inedible. When threatened, these slugs emit a viscous slime so sticky and thick, it makes slicing okra seem like a clean and tidy endeavor. I mean, banana slug mucus is REALLY gross, and it DOES NOT come off easily. If you get it on your hands, boots, clothes, whatever, you’d better hope you have some strong solvent on hand, because short of turpentine, you’re gonna be stuck with that slime. Literally. So when I saw this Pacific Giant Salamander devouring a banana slug around that thick coating of phlegm, I was truly impressed. Some people theorize that the salamander has high-salinity saliva which allows them to bite the banana slug’s head and hold on until the salt in their saliva dissolves the slug - this before the slug is able to secrete too much of its slug sludge. I’ve also heard that raccoons and possums will roll banana slugs in dirt to deactivate the mucus in order to make the slugs edible. All I can say about that is that there must be some really desperate raccoons and possums out there.


I Have Not Ascended.

I have not ascended.

The flames engulf me

And in my burning

I am not raptured;

I am enraptured.


Jendocino Grove.

It all started last week...

Last week, the landlord came out and took down a big tan oak, and a little fir tree. To tell you the truth, when he first called to schedule the work, I was pretty excited about it.

Two guys with harnesses, tree-climbing spurs, and chainsaws?

That is so me!!

Plus, the tan oak was threatening a power line and the little fir was such an itty bitty thing... Besides, there are hundreds of trees out here at the hippie cabin - I couldn’t imagine that the removal of these two trees would have too much of an impact on the overall surroundings.

Boy was I wrong.

Here’s the thing about taking out trees. It’s hard to take out a tree without taking out the whole understory of the forest along with it. So not only does the removal of a tree leave a big, gaping hole in the upper canopy, but it also leaves a gigantic gap on the forest floor. And it's not just pretty flowers like these that suffer...

Don’t even get me started on all of the pine cones and acorns and huckleberries that are no longer around for the birds and animals to eat.

So when the landlord called this week and said he wanted to take out three GIGANTIC trees out back so that his apple trees could get more sunlight, the first thing I thought of was the regret I felt over the removal of the two trees the week before.

Then I thought, he couldn’t seriously be considering removing three big old native trees for a couple of apple trees that already look like they’re on their last legs…

Could he?

Not that his apple trees aren’t beautiful; they are. And they produce fantastic apples.

I mean, the raccoons seem to like them anyway.

And look at this gorgeously charming view from my back door down to my chicken coop - framed nicely by one of the landlord’s apple trees. In fact, when this particular tree is in full blossom, it’s hard to imagine a prettier sight.

Unless it’s this.

Two Doug Firs and one California Redwood tucked away in their own misty little grove. I’m no tree expert, but I’d guess that these trees are seventy-five years old, easy. Babies in redwood terms; great-grandfathers in human terms.

But the landlord was determined that they had to go. Unless he could be persuaded otherwise, these three trees were gonna wind up cut, corded, and piled.

But don’t worry, trees. I will forget-you-not.

You either, little redwood snail. I won’t forget you. Or your redwood home. Or your brother. Who I stepped on out on the trail shortly after snapping this picture. How ironic. Ironic and gross.

So although I apparently have a gift for destroying redwood snails, I wasn’t going to stand idly by while those three trees came down.

I came up with lots of plans.

One involved convincing the landlord to dig up and transplant the apple trees to sunnier locations on the property.

This was a good plan.

The other plan was to just go out with my hacksaw and chop down the apple trees. The apple trees that my septuagenarian landlord planted when he lived out here as a young buck of a hippie with all of his endless hippie dreams and possibilities stretched out in front of him.

This was not such a good plan.

If you can't guess which plan I went with, then you don't know Jendo.

Out I went, hacksaw in hand and smile on my face, glad that the problem would soon be resolved - and with a resolution that wouldn’t have me living on a platform, chained to a tree, unable to check my email or shave my armpits.

Everyone wins!!

But I couldn’t chop down those apple trees any more than I could let the landlord chop down those Doug Firs or that Redwood. So when he showed up to do the deed, chainsaw in hand, spurs and harnesses at the ready, I did what any self-respecting tree hugger would do.

I begged.

Turns out, the landlord was easy to convince. He didn’t REALLY want to take those trees out. Once a hippie, always a hippie, after all. But he didn’t want his beloved apple trees to die, either. So, one cup of tea later, a compromise was reached. The trees were vigorously limbed and thinned. One small redwood came down because the landlord demanded sacrifice - you cannot draw a chainsaw without it tasting bark - but the three bigger trees still stand. And my landlord made some slick benches for me out of the little redwood he felled.

Plus, now I have my own grove.

I also got a nifty lesson in being a badass.

Beginning badassery...

(Between you and me, I could probably have moved up to the intermediate class.)

And yes, the redwood I’m climbing is the very same redwood I saved. I have high hopes for that redwood. High hopes. Heh...

3011? That’s gonna be a good year in Jendocino Grove...


I Touch The Place.

I touch the place

Where you once lived.

Before you, that place

Held beauty;

After you, that place

Holds beauty.

But now I have had you

And not had you.

I have forgotten you

In my presence,

And now miss you

In your absence.

It is the lack of you

That now touches me.


Drawn To Destruction.

But then you

Already knew

That moths

Are Buddhists.

I'm happy that Osama Bin Laden is dead.

If I were as spiritually enlightened as this moth, I would understand the folly of these feelings.

But I'm not a moth. I'm a monkey. When I fight, I go for the face and the fingers.

So I'm glad that fucker is dead.

I'm really, really, really glad.