Monday, June 25, 2012

Himayalan Cafe and Fowler Museum

On Sunday I went with a couple of friends on a day trip into L.A. First stop, Pasadena, where after a brief shopping-related errand we had lunch at the Himalayan Cafe. And wow, what a lunch!

The aroma when we walked in was heavenly. We ordered a plate of vegetable mo-mos (pot-sticker-like appetizers) and followed it up with the lunch buffet--all you can eat for $9.99. The buffet included a couple of vegetarian choices--an eggplant/potato dish and a kidney bean dish, swimming in delicious sauce--a tofu entree, two chicken choices, and goat. First time I'd ever tried goat--it was very tender and also swimming in sauce. To me, it tasted pretty much like lamb. There were abundant condiments and the naan was thin, crisp, and light as a feather. Five stars!!

Next stop: the Fowler Museum at UCLA to see two exhibits. The first was "Second Skins: Painted Barkcloth from New Guinea and Central Africa." Above: an example from the Congo. Below: an example from New Guinea, where the designs all come from things in nature--in this case, a climbing vine with thorns and tendrils.

The second exhibit was an interesting look at the Derge printing house in Tibet--a facility that is hundreds of years old and maintains historic woodblock printing traditions. Above: two men standing in front of stored woodblocks. Below, a man carrying paper to be printed. A short video detailed the process, and the exhibit included many examples of religious-based images.

Note: the Fowler does not allow photography inside the museum. These images are reproduced from the publication "Fowler Now."

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Who's Out There

Here's one of our local bobcats walking down our front sidewalk. Bill got this shot through the window of his office. The bobcat didn't seem to see him--not that it would have mattered one way or the other. They seem to have no fear of people.

It's baby quail season! We love it when the whole family comes to the water dish.

We've seen the rosy boa several times in the past few weeks. They are gentle and slow-moving snakes. It can take a couple of hours for the rosy boa to travel halfway around our house, then disappear into a hole in the rock wall.

This is a Western tanager--not a rare bird, but one we've never seen in our yard before. It was a very windy day and even just sitting on this rock was not so easy.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"An Accessible and Riveting Collection"

Good news for A Bird Black As the Sun! This week the Los Angeles Review posted a review of the anthology online. The direct link is here; the full text of the review also appears below. Thanks to Joe Ponepinto, Book Review Editor, for his support and to Doug Ramspeck for his insightful and supportive review.

The anthology is available on and, and can be ordered from any bookstore. Some bookstores carrying it include Vroman's in Pasadena; Kepler's in Menlo Park; Books Inc. in San Francisco; Chaucer's in Santa Barbara; Lyon Books in Chico; and Rainbow Stew in Yucca Valley.

A Bird Black as the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens
Poetry, Edited by Enid Osborn and Cynthia Anderson
ISBN-13: 978-061553632-3
Green Poet Press, 2011
$15.00, 161pp.
Reviewed by Doug Ramspeck

Crows and ravens appear often as the trickster in aboriginal myths. Indeed, Native American tribes have historically associated the birds not only with the mischievous and the sacred, but with shape-shifting. It is no surprise, then, that the diverse poems in A Bird Black as the Sun run through shapes ranging from the playful, through the ominous, to the spiritual. This is not to say, of course, that the collection does not begin to coalesce around identifiable themes and motifs. The final poem, for example, “What the Crow Said,” by Michael Hannon, addresses, in three brief lines, one of the primary concerns of the book:

Though friendly to magic
I am not a man disguised as a crow.

I am night eating the sun.

Although a certain portion of the poems in this collection personify crows and ravens, reading into their existence our own human shape, more often these birds are represented as the “other,” or, perhaps more precisely, represented as the other that resides inside us, that part of our own nature that is primitive, often unnerving, and inaccessible. For example, in “Giving Birth to Ravens,” by ellen, the “woman” in the poem is described as existing in a “pre-natural state.” In “Bird of Paradox,” by Glenna Luschei, we read the line, “I understood now why Raven / stole the sun”; and in “Lasswade, Midlothian: Dusk,” by Cecilia Woloch, we learn that “Here is a world / that is just as the world was world / before we named it world.”

In the Haida creation myth, the Raven persuaded the first people to emerge from a great clam shell. In A Bird Black as the Sun—an accessible and riveting collection—crows and ravens coax from the page the human story and landscape, while still maintaining their own elemental mystery.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

St. Circularius

St. Circularius. Photo and story © 2012, Robert Morris

If you've heard rumors of an actual canonized saint living in Joshua Tree, you're not alone. Behold: St. Circularius lives! He bears a remarkable resemblance to our friend Robert Morris, the noted high-desert photographer (to visit Robert's website, click here).

Here is the story that the world has been clamoring for:

According to tradition, St. Circularius was born in Trebizond in the 14th century. Being desirous of seeing more of the world, he set out one day to explore Asia Minor and the regions beyond. He first made his way to Konya, where he visited the famous whirling dervishes of the Mevlana order. As they whirled round and round, Circularius (who at that time bore the name Bob) was struck by a sudden realization that the circle was the key to the secrets of existence.

He then prevailed upon the metalworkers of Anatolia to fashion for him his distinctive golden hat and his Holy Wheel of Wisdom, which he affixed to his staff. Wherever he went he preached to the multitudes upon the evils of rectangularism, and when he reached Constantinople he was canonized, given the name Circularius, and presented with the golden orb of sainthood.

Eventually, however, he grew weary of preaching to the rectangular heathen and yearned for a quiet life of contemplation and pleasure. His supplications were heard, and one day (known thereafter among his followers as The Day of the Great Transportation) he was miraculously transported in time to the beginning of the 21st century, and in space to the southern Mojave desert of California, where he established a hermitage, stocked it with food and wine, and attempted to retire from sainthood.

Much to his astonishment, however, his cult continues to flourish amongst a small circle of devotees called "The Rounders," who dedicate themselves to good works, intellectual study, artistic endeavor, and the consumption of tasty food and strong drink. In honor of their leader and his teachings, they greet each other with the mystical formula "Be not a square, daddy-o" and communally partake of the Sacred Circular Pizza and flagons of wine on his feast day. This solemn supper is followed by raucous revels in which they cavort unclad in their hallowed groves of Joshua Trees.