Monday’s Blog; The year of the Octopus

The octopus. How long have these winsome and powerful creatures captured our attention but how little most of us really know about their history, intellect and very specialized abilities?  The last few months have produced many books and sources of research, it seems to be the Year of the Octopus. to learn more, refer to the following books on the topic;

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. Octopuses are intelligent and aware, but how much of that is centrally located in their “brain?” Is it possible that they have a “distributed mind” with each arm having a mind of its own?:

go to

Another book about the incredible Octopus;  Other Minds

The Octopus, The Sea and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith
The author is an academic philosopher and a diver. Read what he has learned about the great and fascinating species we call the Octopus. They have 3 hearts, the 8 arms each powered to special skills and so much more.
–Search for the book by title or author.

Don’t have time to read the books? Go to the candy store site about books covering everything and anything that is fascinating and sign on to receive their email messages. Because of
time, I pick some to read and delete others of diminished interest to me. 
That does not happen often.

Cutie pie Clipart special!

A thought, If you have you seen the film ARRIVALS, I truly believe that the writer(s) chose to design their aliens with some of the attributes noted in the research surrounding the Octopus. How many times do we wish we had more arms attached?

Monday’s Blog; There Came a Man

Early one sunny morning, I drove north on california HWY 79 reputed for its mountain-terrain serpentine nature. As I rounded one of the many curves and there was a man, walking, slowly, purposefully but with a male version of a Mona Lisa smile on his face, eyes in a narrow squint against the golden glare, seemingly lost in his deep thoughts.  He was somewhat slumped, hunching over a bit but not surprising as he bore the weight of a blue/green mass of fabric spread across his upper body. I would call it a bed roll, but it probably encased his worldly possessions . He moved along pensively, carefully, along the opposite edge of the road.  The encounter was brief, as I passed him by. Being curious, I tried to take notice of his features, his clothing and facial expression while staying focussed on the quirks of staying on the curving road.

I pondered his situation for awhile, how long and how far had he traveled? Did he have a destination? Is he a stranger to this area or is this area familiar to him, a hangout? Where is he from, how long has he been a “hobo” traversing pathways in remote terrain in mountains and plains, along beach shores, cities, towns, suburbs, farm lands, forests? Where does he spend most of his time. Does he find food, does he sleep anywhere he may be at dusk.  Where is he going, is he alone in the world? I soon reached my destination and became focussed on many other things, not giving him any more thought. 

Come late afternoon I drove south on HWY 79 returning home. Surprisingly, I spotted him one more time, again on the opposite side of the road, walking northward, towards the town of Temecula. He maintained the same pace and attitude, but lost the squint and glare. Hopefully he had a destination that would give him some shelter from the frigid mountain temperatures with some nourishment to keep him going. What is in that bedroll?  He reminding me of the mighty Atlas holding the world, in this case his own private wooly world. Again, upon reaching home and our rig, I became engrossed in other matters at hand, lucky to be warm, with good company, able to anticipate food in plenty, sharing talk and our day’s adventures with my husband. There was no more time to conjecture about the man that night. 

Two days later, I returned to town, for an appointment and several errands to pursue. As I turned into a large parking lot (featuring a Sprout’s Market, several restaurants, shops and a Walmart-a site for dumpster diving perhaps), I’ll be darned if I did not see him walking toward me, with his usual burden, his gentle pace and his colorful and heavy wool bedroll. This time, I could take in more of his features, get a closer look. I formed a new concept of a the man–a man with wings, an angel of sorts. What would he possibly make of that vision if he knew?  

A very rough sketch of my angel man

Would I have another sighting or are 3 sightings the magic number. Perhaps he is always on the move, never staying put, always moving on. How much of the area, the state, the country, the hemisphere has he covered? Has he climbed high mountains, through dense forests, marshy, soggy farm fields, places of danger, snake filled lands, encountered wild animals, gone places into which most of us would not venture, unknown territory.  Do people talk to him, help him, become rude, nasty or belligerent? Does he beg for food or money or just keep his eyes straight ahead does he have living family members, know anyone here or there?  

 He was clothed in well worn brown pants, plain shoes, not sneakers, not sandals, not hiking boots, but well worn, somewhat shapeless shoes, moccasin-like. The expression on his face, remained rather sweet in a way, not sour, angry and somewhat aware not a vacant stare or tuned out. Does his face truly express his thoughts, his mood?  If so, what was he thinking, feeling, hoping or expecting.  All of us have had encounters with homeless people through the years. It feels good when I can help someone with an offering of food, or occasionally buying food for them, reaching out to them, saddened by their fate, but helpless to relieve their burden. Who knows if I will ever see him again?

I have learned of a project started in some cities and towns where neighbors have built storage boxes in strategic areas to be stocked with food, clothing, shoes, blankets, toiletries and more. The homeless learn that the items are theirs for the taking to use and share with others and to spread the word. How I long to be part of that project, but we live on the move, unable to fully participate. Perhaps, someday, down the road I take, an opportunity will arise so that I can give more than an occasional take-home box of food (always stocked with utensils and napkins or apples and a couple of PBJ sandwiches carried in my tote bag), a kind word or two and a smile. I can choose to contribute to legitimate homeless programs and shelters More than that is not now in my power. 

Monday’s Blog; Applauding Diane Rehm

 Diane Rehm has been one of my highly revered heroins.  I have been her devoted fan for years tuning into the Diane Rehm NPR radio news talk show, privy to her public and private thoughts, her knowledge, wisdom and incredible talent as a thorough and persistent interviewer. How many hours were spent researching each topic or interviewee (staff aided I am sure, but Diane always in charge.) I bring up her name because I have just finished reading her autobiography, On My Own

As Diane appears on the cover of her book, Photographer Matt McClain

It is intensely written, highly personable and personal and read in a day or two, leaving the reader breathless and full of wonder and admiration at her long career, the multitude of health problems including spasmodic dysphonia, a vocal hardship for one depending so deeply upon her voice and her husband John (Scoop) and his long and difficult bout with Parkinson’s disease. She deals with the intense feelings after John’s death of disbelief, guilt, and facing grief and her long road to starting anew, facing the world and carrying on. As a result, Euthanasia as a controversial option has become a big cause in her life. 

I mourn the day she retired from the radio broadcast and can not help relating my belief that Diane had been highly educated with at least 3 Ph.D’s. Not so, she fell into the job as an NPR volunteer and slid into her valuable career thus enriching all of the lives of her large and devoted audience. 

In response to both her interviewees and her callers, she could be polite and warm, cold and swift, short and coarse but mostly open and understanding; in my mind an effective attitude when facing so many diverse opinions.  I can not possibly count the thousands of hours her voice accompanied me in my dark room, in my studio, driving in the car, returning home and running to turn on the radio so as not to miss much of the show.  I was always left with new dimensions to contemplate or research about issues and ideas. She often spoke of her travels to other places, other NPR stations, universities and the like speaking or sharing as she gathered information, experiences and wisdom to share with her audience. In her absence, there were wonderful substitutes, but I missed Diane’s voice, style and approach, waiting for her to return to the air. 

In her book, Diane talks insightfully,  fondly and whole-heartedly about how other NPR talents affected her life and as they grew into their own careers and handled their own family matters. These are names we all know and revere, Roger Mudd, Susan Stamberg, Eleanor Clift and so many more. 

One last thought before I end, I was privileged to meet Diane twice while volunteering in Rochester, NY’s wonderful NPR station, WXXI-1370. I served as a reader for Reachout Radio for years, reading newspaper articles, obits, shopping coupons, stories and such to a vision-impaired audience, hearing our voices on a special radio unit given to each listener. Now that I have been RVing on the road for so many years, I cannot volunteer in this way and I miss it tremendously. 

The first time I met Diane, I had just finished my microphone time as she walked into the studio area. I knew she was in town as she often came to Rochester to speak and share but never expected “face time” with Diane. Wonder of wonders, she spent at least a good 20 minutes with me. We crammed a lot of talk into that time, never glancing at a clock but willing to stay and chat. I will never forget that day.  I met her again 2 or 3 years later. She said she remembered me, astounded,  I certainly gave her a big hug. 

Diane Rehm I send you many hugs again as I write this from deep in my heart that is so devoted to you and your rich contributions to my life. 

Monday’s blog, off and away

Rallys (RV) are always incredibly busy, fully packed and end too fast. We took off for the Escapade (Escapees RV Membership Club event) in Pima County Fairgrounds near Tuscon then set up a day and 1/2 before the official event began..and then it was over; we had “hit the ground running” and never stopped. Then whoosh it was over and we were on the road again. 

We attended many informative seminars about computers, mapping software with Geeks on tour, RV related topics, a fun travel session covering weird, the un ordinary and over the top places to visit. We did visit one right near our desert campsite called Spiral Labyrinth, a huge, perfect stone and sand spiral done by a California artist. 

a Koh-Kapeli Figure

Not a small earthwork 

The Spiral Labyrinth

We volunteered, staffed the Jojoba Hills RV SKP park booth (proudly wearing our vests made by Nancy and two other industrious and talented sewers), line danced, shopped, met “old” friends and met new people too many wonderful people to count. We celebrated constantly with the joy of life and community, but top notch was the 90th birthday party of the founder Kay Peterson. We all miss her Joe, husband and partner in this creative RV club. She laughed and smiled and hugged all of the well wishers and took a basket full of birthday cards home to open at leisure. 
Their children have taken over and run the popular RV group with ease, love and open minds to changing times. 

Joe and Kay in 2010

Younger families, some young enough to travel with their children are a large segment of the club these days, bringing their youth, ideas and smiles to all of us older members. What is also as striking about this RV community is the caring, eagerness and joy of volunteering or just lending a hand at every chance there is. A Volunteer sign up booth for help during the Escapade always has a long line. The slots are filled easily with a “waiting list” is case subs are needed. Paul and I signed up to drive the golf cart shuttles for an evening event. We showed up at the appointed hour, but, alas, there were not enough carts to go to all on the list. 

Never fear, we helped in many other ways, unofficially and impromptu but fulfilled our sense of caring and help that way.  The same spirit is ever present among the members of our campground, Jojoba Hills RV SKP park in Southern California nestled under the Palomar Mountains. How glorious is the sense that in these times of strife and violence, good people reign. It should only last forever.