Fox News Update.

Shortly after the last time I posted about the vixen and her fox kits living under my porch, the entire family became mobile enough for the vixen to move them. Considering how destructive the five kits had become, I imagine she probably wanted a den better-suited for her family - not to mention less human-y smelling.

Here's a video to refresh your memory:

As you can see from this video, these little kits are quite invested in chewing on anything they are curious about. That means the garden hose, my rosebush, tools, any shoes left outside - the list goes on and on. Clearly they had been getting too rambunctious and accustomed to the world of humans, and the vixen made the wise choice to move the family further away from the cabin.

(The fact that I like to listen to a lot of Cream might also have contributed to the move. Foxes don't seem to share my love of Clapton.)

The last time I spotted the family of foxes, it was in the distance, and the mother was leading away four of her kits. Only four. I have no idea what happened to the fifth one, but not seeing it take off with its family made me fear the worst.

I was also sad because I thought the family had gone for good. Days went by after that last sighting, and I didn’t see or hear any sign of the foxes.

Then last Saturday, I spotted this little one lounging on the deck in the sun, as if he or she had never left.

This kit hung around all weekend - but no sign of its mother or siblings.

And now I haven't seen this one, either, for a week.

I don’t want to believe the worst. Instead, I tell myself that it’s possible that this single fox is the fifth kit. The runt of the litter who wasn’t strong enough to range away from under the deck along with its mother and four siblings, and who has been sustained all of this time by the vixen. I picture her returning quietly, night after night, with a mouse or a mole for this little straggler. I’ve even managed to convince myself that, after dark, I can hear critters on the porch making a fox-like rumpus.

But while I don’t want to believe the worst, I fear it. Is the simpler, more horrible explanation the likelier truth? Top predators are my neighbors (not to mention large, unfriendly dogs), and a little fox kit is a trifle for any one of them. So I must face the likelier possibility that this fox the only one in the litter to survive. If it has survived at all.

And having to face that fact is pretty damn awful.

But owls, hawks, bobcats and cougars have to eat, too.

Besides, I've said it once, and I'll say it again: Nature isn't cruel; just indifferent.


Look who just showed up outside of my window as I was preparing to post this missive to my blog...

This little one just popped out from under the deck for a drink of water from a bowl I had left out and kept full - even as my hopes had dimmed that any of the fox kits still survived.

The moral of this story? Well, there are a few...

1. The world of foxes is a mysterious one.

2. When you have no way of knowing what is going on, assuming the worst rather than the best is a bad strategy. After all, if you have no way of knowing the answer, then assuming the best is just as valid as assuming the worst. So, if both assumptions are equally-valid, then why not smile over thoughts of a positive outcome - rather than obsess over an outcome that makes you anxious and sad?

3. Embrace with gratitude moments of real happiness. My heart sang when this little one reappeared.

I want to live in this moment forever.



The warming Golden State
Is not at Liberty
To celebrate Independence
With sulfur.

The eternally blazing sun
Independent by Nature
Celebrates nothing
By setting.

Happy Independence Day.


Foxes For Bloomsday.

From James Joyce's Ulysses

The cock crew

The sky was blue:

The bells in heaven

Were striking eleven.

Tis time for this poor soul

To go to heaven.

-- What is that?

-- What, sir?

-- Again, sir. We didn't hear.

Their eyes grew bigger as the lines were repeated. After a silence Cochrane said:

-- What is it, sir? We give it up.

Stephen, his throat itching, answered:

--- The fox burying his grandmother under a hollybush.

One Bloomsday, roses bloomed on a bush in my yard that hadn't had flowers for many years. Another Bloomsday, it was a mountain flower riot of rhododendrons

This year, it’s a skulk of foxes.

Not under a hollybush - under my front porch, right next to my door.



A Bad Woman Is Hard To Miss.

I’ve written here before about my friend, Melinda

In addition to working as a counselor for the children of sex workers in impoverished areas of India, she also directs, choreographs, and dances in Les Filles Rouge - an amazing local burlesque troupe.

I’m a recent addition to this troupe.

“Why would you agree to dance in front of the entire town in your underwear?” you might be asking.

And I might reply, “Because all of the proceeds go to charity.”

Or maybe, “Because Melinda’s my friend and it was a way to spend time with her doing something she loves.”

Or perhaps this: “To try something outside of my comfort zone.”

All of these things would be true. But there’s really more to it than that.

The truth is, I want to be a “bad” woman.

There. I said it. Now it’s out there, and I’m glad.

Because here’s the sad reality. In our culture, the Madonna / Whore-Complex is alive and well. You know. The whole “Ginger or Mary Ann” debate. There are lots of examples of this powerful cultural dichotomy, but a recent one is the Sandra Fluke incident in which a female law student was called a “slut” by a radio personality because she spoke publically about birth control. You can also see the effect in those organized events where fathers make pledges with their teenage daughters - complete with the symbolic exchange of rings - that the teenage daughters will abstain from sex until they marry. Yet another powerful demonstration of this dichotomy can be seen in our society’s tendency to blame the victim in a sexual assault if the victim was dressed “promiscuously.”

And when I look at all of these examples, I reach the same conclusion time and time again. If I have to choose between the camp of the Madonnas or the camp of the whores, then I pick the whores.

(Note to self: “Whore Camp” is an amazing name for a ‘B’ movie.)

It’s kind of like how I feel about NOT wanting to go to “heaven.” I don’t want to go to heaven because the people who insist that they’re going to be in heaven seem like people I wouldn’t get along with. Further, all of the people who are supposedly going to “hell” are people I kinda like and agree with. So, hell it is, as far as I’m concerned.

Hell and whores.

I bet there will be champagne, at least.

Because when I look at all of the women throughout history who have led thoroughly interesting lives, very few of them followed conventional doctrine, or did the things that society told them a “good woman” should be doing. When I think about Joan of Ark or Aphra Behn or Hillary Clinton, the phrase “well-behaved” isn’t the first thing that leaps to my mind.    

So for these reasons, I’ve decided that I have no interest in being a “good” woman. I don’t want to behave myself. I don’t want to talk quietly or sneeze daintily or giggle coyly. I don’t want to avoid talking about thoughtful topics because someone might be offended by my opinions.

I want to misbehave.

So. Burlesque.

I don’t know if Les Filles Rouge is unique, as far as burlesque troupes go - I’ve never belonged to a burlesque troupe before. However, my instinct tells me that it is. The women in the troupe cover a range of ages and body-types, but one thing we all share is an enjoyment of living within the skin we are in. And by enjoyment, I mean loving and respecting our bodies, but also treating our bodies with a sense of humor.

We are normal women who have to squeeze in rehearsal time in between day jobs and families, so a sense of humor is pretty much essential. Our dance steps aren’t perfect. Our “stripteases” contain a wide range of nakedness combined with silliness. We stop in the middle of a song to laugh outrageously at one another, or at something someone offstage has done, or at a person in the audience who’s giggling has infected us all.

As Melinda puts it: “What is titillating about burlesque is only partially the skin; most of the allure comes from the slightly scandalous feeling one gets from watching women have way too much fun.  The promise of nudity helps to draw the crowd, undoubtedly, but the ebullient, infectious enjoyment we get from dancing around in our underwear is what keeps the crowd in their seats.”

And I say if dancing around in my underwear with a bunch of other beautiful, hilarious, smart ladies makes me a “bad” woman…

Well then…


Our last show is Saturday, June 9, at the Gualala Arts Center. 

Proceeds go to an education fund for Melinda's girls in India. 

If you’re going to be in the wilds of Northern California, click here for tickets!

Les Filles Rouge photographs by © CYoung Photography.


Blinding Enlightenment.

When they tell you not to look directly at the eclipse without solar glasses, it’s probably wise to listen.

I tried to look at the eclipse, but I couldn’t. Turns out, the sun’s pretty bright. I thought maybe once the moon was over the top of the sun, enough of the sun would be covered so that looking at the ring of fire wouldn’t sear my eyeballs.

But no.

No lasting damage or anything like that. Just short-term flash blindness. Still, I would have liked to have seen the eclipse. 

And as cool as the shadows and the pin cards are, it’s just not the same.

I thought if I saw the eclipse, things would be revealed to me. That viewing this cosmic event would make me look at things in my own life from a different perspective.

But no.

I suppose that the fact that my attempt at enlightenment only made me MORE blind is, in itself, pretty revealing.

I feel wound-up.

I need to unfurl.


Naked With A Book.

Naked with a book

Primitive and enlightened

Disciplined and wild.

That’s it. The last one.

I’ve been writing a haiku a day during the entire month of April because April is National Poetry Month, and that haiku up there is the last one. It’s a dedication to the book that inspired my  haiku-a-day art project (more on that in a bit).

It's also an ode to my  naked-outdoor-haiku-reading-to-the-redwoods art project.

You didn’t know about the naked-outdoor-haiku-reading-to-the-redwoods art project, did you? That’s the thing with me. I’m full of surprises.

Let me explain.

Recently, I became interested in the rise of groups promoting social justice through nudity. Their strategy is to turn the human desire to objectify one another towards noble ends, and I began wondering if this strategy would likewise be effective in encouraging people to read and be thoughtful.

But the genesis of my naked-outdoor-haiku-reading-to-the-redwoods art project actually came to me much earlier. It came when I moved from Los Angeles to my hippie cabin in the redwoods, and soon realized that the neighbors couldn’t see me if I ran around outside naked. I went from living in an apartment where I could reach out my bathroom window and touch the wall of the apartment building next door, to living in a place where I couldn’t see anyone from my yard - and no one could see me.

Transitioning from an urban landscape to the wilderness of Northern California in such an abrupt way was intentional. I wanted to “pull a Thoreau.” I wanted to see how transferring my ape mind from the over-stimulation of the city to an environment structured by natural rhythms would impact my thinking.

I have a theory that humans share a primal urge to see the stars and feel a wood fire and touch water as it runs in a creek. We feel these actions deeply and profoundly because evolution has wired our brain to have an abiding love for such “pleasures” - precisely because they enhance our ability to survive.

I’ve written about these theories on occasion here - in both poetry and prose - in order to challenge my own perceptions and to hone my abilities as a writer. With this in mind, as April rolled around, I made the decision to write a haiku a day in celebration of National Poetry Month - and as a simple exercise in self-discipline.

I thought that writing seventeen syllables a day would be a piece of cake. However, I ran into problems almost immediately.

For starters, on April 1, I hiked for the first time to the Russian Gulch waterfall. By the time I got home, I was exhausted and high on nature, and writing a haiku was the last thing I wanted to do.

But I did, and the haiku was kind of crappy, and I felt discouraged starting the month out on such a disappointing note.

Until I got to day two, and the haiku was even crappier.

Day three wasn’t much better, nor was day four. I couldn’t believe it. Here I was, less than a week in, and about to fail at my self-imposed exercise of writing seventeen measly syllables a day.

But the Russian Gulch hike reminded me of something else. While at the waterfall, I sat there soaking in the beauty of a gorgeous veil of water tumbling into a magical green pool, and I tried to remember last time I had gone skinny dipping. I’m ashamed to admit it, but it took me a minute or two to come up with the memory.

And I can’t tell you how sad that made me.

Because being in the buff in the wilds of nature should be something we all do eagerly and often. It ranks right up there with the bit I said earlier about the stars and fire and creeks and stuff.

We are meant to be naked, so it makes us happy to be naked. If you don’t believe me, look at any naked baby. I rest my case.

So, in addition to WRITING a haiku a day, it seemed perfectly normal to add on the task of READING a page of haiku a day to the redwoods in the forest out back.


You heard me.

To celebrate National Poetry Month, I decided to read outside, naked, daily, from one of the most beautiful books I own - a 1969 first-edition of Australian author Harold Stewart’s A Chime of Windbells.

(All of the book photos here are of this volume - Stewart translates Japanese haiku by famous authors like Basho and Buson into rhyming couplets, which he then pairs with beautiful illustrations modeled on traditional Japanese silk paintings.)

So starting at mid-month, every day, I stripped down to the buff, stepped out onto my deck with my book, and read haiku out loud to the redwood trees.

I felt like a complete idiot.

At least, at first. It’s not that I didn’t think the redwoods were listening - because they TOTALLY were - it’s that being in the all-natural in nature felt completely...  Unnatural.

But, as with the daily haiku writing, I stuck with it, and two things happened. First, I started allowing myself to enjoy the outside naked time. I relaxed, I laughed, and I gave those redwoods the best naked haiku slam they’ve ever seen. And that’s saying something, too, because those trees have been around a very, very long time.

And second…

My own haiku writing got better.

There was no denying it. Once I had embraced the outdoor naked poetry reading, the haiku writing improved.



Just because I had already gotten into the swing of haiku writing based on the previous two weeks of failure, and just because reading haiku aloud will invariably improve one’s own writing, that doesn’t mean that the outside naked time didn’t play a big part in the overall improvement of my haikus.

Anyway, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

As a result of my April project, I’m thinking of making it my mission to remove the stigma associated with naked reading. After all, whether it’s in bed or in the tub, we’ve all done it. It’s completely natural. Nothing to be ashamed of. Heh.

In fact, maybe I’ll start a nude reading trend. It can be like planking, only naked and with a book.

Happy National Poetry Month.

I hope yours was as naked as mine.


A Trail Of Footprints.

A trail of footprints

Leads to a destination

I will never know.

Second-to-last haiku for April - National Poetry Month.

The journey hasn't always been easy, but now that it's at an end, I see its purpose.

So it goes with journeys.


Misplaced Camera.

Misplaced camera -

Just driftwood in my pocket

To conjure the day.

I took a lovely hike on Big River today, but I accidentally left my camera at home. I was devastated, naturally - until I became completely distracted by the tactile pleasures of collecting driftwood and rocks and shells and seaglass...

I don't remember the last time I felt so entirely absorbed with examining nature and holding it in my hand. In fact, I think I'm going to bring nature to the camera more often...

A haiku a day for April - National Poetry Month.


She Finds The Center.

She finds the center

And snares what light she can catch

Before it escapes.

A haiku a day for April - National Poetry Month.


A Fish On A Hook.

Two bits for a book?

I'm compelled to stop and look -

A fish on a hook.

Could you pass without stopping?

Didn't think so.

A haiku a day for April - National Poetry Month.