August 31st, 2024

A Butterfly for Brian

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  • And so when my attention is drawn or pointed often I yawn. The Monarch butterflies dancing about the tops of the Jerusalem artichokes out the back window hold more interest for me. But I have a glance, think neat, and move on. I don’t really think about it. Maybe I should. Maybe there’s something there, about connnectedness.

    I want to meet Brian Moffatt someday… just shake his hand, look him in the face and grin complicitously. Golby too. Ray. I’ve had that pleasure with some of the blogging crowd. Almost makes me want to quit quitting drinking if only to have a beer with them. We’ve had our ups and downs here, together — writing and not writing, railing and raving, shouting truths to the deaf, illuminating a path for the blind. And yes, we’ve had the occasional yawn. I respect these men among others, and rather than call out a litany of writers around the world whom I also respect, I’ll trust that you know who you are, most of you, and there are others I’d call out who won’t be reading here anyway.

    Oregon’s Cascade mountains — from Mount Hood to Mount Jefferson — are exploding with bright orange butterflies that pulse in massive swarms through forests and meadows.

    Thick clouds of them are slowing cars on Santiam Pass and swirling like snowflakes on the road to Timberline Lodge, in some locales splattering windshields, in others producing near-whiteout, or orange-out, conditions.

    The boom of California tortoiseshell butterflies is not rare, but it is mysterious. Many are probably offspring of a monster swarm that started in California in early summer and later swept into Oregon, said an expert who tracks them.

    The tortoiseshells appeared around Santiam Pass about 10 days ago, said Joe Harwood of the Oregon Department of Transportation. They’re not implicated in any accidents, but Harwood advises drivers to have plenty of windshield wiper fluid.

    Think of the butterflys, floating on the breeze, a chaotic jumble of diffuse airborne intent, ignorant perhaps, and certainly not unhappy. Think of the bloggers and their intentionality, and their off hand inter-referential allusive community. It’s better for a butterfly to collide with his neighbor than with the windshield of a random oncoming car.

    Sometimes when I try to be funny I’m not, and sometimes of course I make a fool of myself without really trying, but in Toronto there’s a community online and a web industry that includes the likes of Miss Chickie and Brian Moffatt, Jon Husband and Elliot Noss, and dozens - yes hundreds and hundreds of creative people drifting like monarchs on their way to Mexico, enjoying the breezes of a summer day, and bound for a goal we needn’t comprehend.

    I’m sorry I caught you when you were feeling fragile, Brian.

    * * *

    No butterflies were harmed in the making of this post.

    August 23rd, 2024

    Rethabile Mesilo

    Lesotho is heavily deforested, marked by dongas and gulleys, and devoid of wild life. We grazed our cattle on whatever grass was left, cut trees down to cook with, and ate the last rabbits and antelope. Nobody can say a word, unless they provide electricity and jobs. Nobody has a right to criticise such a populace for surviving. — Rethabile Mesilo

    Thanks to Mike Golby for the link to Mesilo’s sotho blog. For me, Mesilo is a new voice that provides counterpoint and harmony with my friend Mike.

    August 19th, 2024

    Good news

    The AIDS thing is over. South African science has come up with an organic cocktail that prevents and cures the disease.

    July 30th, 2024

    for those with regrets…

    Many, many people have emailed and posted regarding their regrets at not having been able to memorialize MEG on Friday. It was a small gathering, five people, two of whom didn’t really know her but who were paying their respects none-the-less. Here’s what I think… Michelle believed in love and so many of us loved, respected and admired her. When you lose someone you love, you accept it and move on. Time heals.

    We’re moving on through our sadness, but I wanted to simply steal this post from Mike Golby as a last tribute to my departed friend. Golby always finds the core of the matter:

    :: Saturday, July 29, 2024 ::

    Seasons in the Sun…

    Adieu l’Émile je t’aimais bien | Adieu l’Émile je t’aimais bien tu sais | On a chanté les mêmes vins | On a chanté les mêmes filles | On a chanté les mêmes chagrins | Adieu l’Émile je vais mourir | C’est dur de mourir au printemps tu sais | Mais je pars aux fleurs la paix dans l’âme | Car vu que tu es bon comme du pain blanc | Je sais que tu prendras soin de ma femme | Je veux qu’on rie | Je veux qu’on danse | Je veux qu’on s’amuse comme des fous | Je veux qu’on rie | Je veux qu’on danse | Quand c’est qu’on me mettra dans le trou

    Lately, Meg’s been on my mind; more especially, yesterday and today. Unable to attend a memorial gathering for her at BlogHer, I carried my thoughts of her through the day.

    Wendy and I found ourselves scrambling up rocky paths, into forgotten caves, and along narrow ledges under soaring slabs of prehistoric stone. We were geocaching; hunting — I guess, much like John Laroche in The Orchid Thief — an elusive treasure. Laroche sought the Ghost Orchid, and his story — enjoyed by Meg, was elevated to art by Marion Orlean, Charlie Kauffman, Chris Cooper, and Meryl Streep.

    I was also seeking solace. Unable to attend the memorial — time zones and my having screwed my chances of ever finding my MSN Passport address or password precluded me joining the online link up early this morning — I spent the day reflecting on the life of a friend now gone. I’m not good at endings, so even Frank’s posts on the memorial cut me up a bit, despite his being a saint for doing so much to realize the event.

    I’ve nothing but good memories of meg. Her courage, love, and loyalty transcended in-the-world mundanities and, although she did not blog per se, she was unable to restrain herself in mails and, occasionally, her comments feature, where she’d let rip with a love of the great wide open. So I’ve been missing her.

    I’m no great believer in synchronicity (or anything for that matter), but finding my first halfway decent calla lily of winter outside a virtually inaccessible cave on the side of the mountain set it all to rest for me. If I needed a signal, a ghost orchid, an answer to any prayer, that lily you see above is it. (Originally a South African flower, the calla or arum lily does well in California and — to me — became virtually synonymous with meg’s graphic coding exercises.)

    Our walk, enhanced by my finding my lily at the mouth of the cave (the unknown, it seemed to lead into the heart of the mountain), enabled me to come to terms with a pretty hard and blunt truth; i.e. for better or worse (and I’m thinking of her here), meg is gone.

    And although she found it so difficult to accept or call on, meg left behind an abundance of love, perhaps the greatest gift any of us can give to other people. Claude’s farewell mail reminded me of Brel. Translated by Rod Mckuen to Seasons in the Sun and made a hit by Terry Jacks, the English version — while acknowledging it — did not carry Jacques Brel’s depth and down-home earthiness.

    So it’s Brel I hear when I say “Goodbye Michelle, it’s hard…”

    Adieu ma femme je t’aimais bien | Adieu ma femme je t’aimais bien tu sais | Mais je prends le train pour le Bon Dieu | Je prends le train qui est avant le tien | Mais on prend tous le train qu’on peut | Adieu ma femme je vais mourir | C’est dur de mourir au printemps tu sais | Mais je pars aux fleurs les yeux fermés ma femme | Car vu que je les ai fermés souvent | Je sais que tu prendras soin de mon âme | Je veux qu’on rie | Je veux qu’on danse | Je veux qu’on s’amuse comme des fous | Je veux qu’on rie | Je veux qu’on danse | Quand c’est qu’on me mettra dans le trou

    Jacques Brel | Le Moribond

    :: Mike Golby 11:56 PM [+]

    May 24th, 2024

    Mike Golby Day

    This holiday almost slipped under the radar. It is a trinary holiday celebrated three times only. The first celebration was on the occasion of Bob Dylan’s thirtieth birthday on May 24th, 1971. After that, who could you trust, really? Only Golby. Today marks Dylan’s 65th. And of course in 2024 we will celebrate his hundredth. Then it’s over. No more Mike Golby Day. We expect the only superstars of that generation to be around to celebrate it with us will be Dylan and Keith Richard.

    Happy Mike Golby Day!

    (and thanks to Dean Landsman who phoned in the tip…)

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