Wednesday, May 29, 2013

It's a Crock

Recently while diving into the freezer looking for something to cook for dinner, I rediscovered some apple juice down in the bottom of the freezer. Now, this was local Tehachapi apple juice that came from a friend's orchard. Last fall, we'd spent a morning in the bitter cold prepping apples for the press. It was a big affair with some folks coming in from miles around to help out.

Which was good since there was a lot of apples to press. And once they had the number of bottles that could be fit into their freezer, the rest went to those of us that had helped. And we made it home with a few gallons.

We drank some right away, but most went into the depths of the freezer. And at the beginning of this year I made a gallon of apple wine. Well, it was meant to be apple wine. I prefer wine that is a little sweet, so attempted to add some sweetness to to the wine. And did not take sufficient care to make sure that fermentation didn't restart.

Yeast busily at work turning apple juice into wine.
So when the bottles were stashed away in March the yeast became active again. I was in my closet (yes, the wine was storied in the closet) looking for something and noticed that in one of the bottles one of the cork was pushed halfway out. I picked it up and noticed that there were bubbles coming up in the wine. Well that meant we would be having apple champagne with dinner. But while I was cooking dinner, the wine uncorked itself loudly. It was later that evening that the cork was found in the living room.

A second bottle uncorked itself in the closet, startling both me and the dog. And of course making a bit of a mess. The remaining bottles are waiting for a special occasion when apple champagne might be appropriate. And oddly those don't come up as often as you might expect.

So why bring this up now? Well, the recently rediscovered apple juice is now being made into wine. It's started fermenting in the crock. And hopefully I learned something last time. No more champagne. But only time will tell.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


This post will also be found in Tehachapi's The Loop Newspaper.

 I really like portmanteaus. This is where a new word is born by combining parts of other words. Like the word “brunch” coming from breakfast plus lunch. Or “smog” coming from smoke plus fog. The word portmanteau isn't a portmanteau, which is a shame, but instead came about from Lewis Carroll explaining that the word slithy was like a portmanteau, which was a two compartmented piece of luggage. That is to say the word held meaning from two different words, in his case “lithe” and “slimy” (the word appears in “Jabberwocky”, which is filled with portmanteaus).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

False Accusation

The following is a haibun. A haibun is a combination of typically prose and a haiku. (Modern haiku does not require a specific syllable count.)

The Brown Recluse isn't a common spider. Though its deadly reputation strikes fear into vast numbers of people that have never seen one and are unlikely to ever actually see one. Their range is limited to areas around Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas, where I grew up. And even in their home range, they are rare enough. But outside their range, like here in California, people scurry from any spider which is unfortunate enough to be brown. Especially if it has anything looking like a marking on its back, since the "fiddleback" is one of the identifying marks of the Brown Recluse. But there have been only a handful of sightings of Brown Recluses in California. And these were all associated with people or things having come in from out of state. From back in Oklahoma, Texas or Arkansas. So many spiders, falsely accused of being a deadly Brown Recluse, are killed, merely for the crime of being brown.

little spiders
no innocence project saving
the falsely accused

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Basket Case

Bill is a basket case.
Bill the Cat (a.k.a Billy, Hurley, Mean Old Kitty*) is an undocumented resident of the house. Now I'm normally the only one that calls him Bill, but I was shaped by my exposure to Bloom County when I was in college, so just about every cat that has spent time with me has exposed their inner Bill at some point or another. So I have decided that T. S. Elliot's secret cat name was "Bill".

So Bill has lived here off and on over the past couple years. But not continuously. He has often been extradited back to a previous jurisdiction. But this time he is living here in exile, due to not getting along with the other inmates of his previous establishment. He doesn't get along with the other four-legged resident in this establishment either, but Moonpi is learning be tolerant (and quick).

Now when Bill lived here before he was an indoor cat. But this time he quickly learned to use Moonpi's dog door to slip out and terrorize the small creatures that visit the backyard. He has also slowed down how fast Moonpi would go through the door. Previously Moonpi
Fuzzy Gray Writer's Block.

would take the door at a running leap and not have his feet touch the ground for several feet on either side of the door. But now, never knowing if that gray ball of meanness will be waiting on the other side, Moonpi traverses the doorway much more cautiously.  Which is safer for the two legged residents.

So now that I have my desk chair back I guess I need to get to work writing. Now what was it today? Oh yeah, "The Hound of the Basket Cases".

* Mean Old Kitty is Moonpi's name for him.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Moonpi and the Morning Routine

Moonpi is a dog. He's a dog that moved in here several months ago, and is here at this house legally. He's got papers to prove it. And over the past several months he has trained me for his preferred morning routine. Here's a typical morning for him.
  • To begin, make sure and start jingling the collar tags at least ten minutes before the alarm is supposed to go off (more is better). This is extra important on weekends when, for some reason, the alarm doesn't go off.
  • Next when the man sits down to put on his shoes, make sure and get in the way as much as possible. If not, he might forget that you're there.
  • Remind him where the cookies are kept. Eat cookies.
  • Sit with man on sofa while weather is being watched. If he seems about to find out what the weather is going to be for the day, roll over and start kicking legs wildly to knock remote from his hand.
  • When man gets up, make sure he remembers that you're supposed to get a treat before he gets on the treadmill. Make sure he remembers where cookies are kept.
  • Stare through window at the man as he walks on treadmill. Make sure to give him the look that says, you know this walk is wasted. There's no sniffing.
  • Once the treadmill stops make sure and greet the man, and remind him that neither of you have had breakfast yet.
  • Show him where the cookies are kept.
  • Stare at the man while breakfast is being eaten to remind him how good eggs are for dogs. Mmmm. Eggs.
  • After breakfast, remind him that he's supposed to go into that room and stare blankly at that screen and make little clicking noises.
  • If he stares at the screen for more than a few minutes, go get tugging towel and make sure he doesn't have any reason to type "All work and no play..."
Oh well. Maybe I'll get more writing done tomorrow morning. Come here Moonpi, let's play.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Little Help

This post will also be found in Tehachapi's The Loop Newspaper.

 I recently had a reading of my fairy tale play that I mentioned here a while back. Now when a playwright talks about having a reading that's more than folks just getting together and reading the play. Unlike most writing, a play is something that will (hopefully) be spoken by a group of people in front of another group of people. The play is something that is performed. So you have to get people to portray the characters and hopefully do it in front of an audience.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Just Awesome

On Saturday (May 11th) I'm going to be headed for Taft. This will be the first event held to showcase the release of the third volume of Taft College's Sharp Piece of Awesome. This year they selected three of my poems to be included. The event will be held at the Black Gold Coffee House in Taft at 5:00 PM.

Being a college magazine/journal, the editorial staff consists mostly of college students. And each of the past two years have seemed enthusiastic and to have really enjoyed the project. Many of them are also contributors to the journal. The variety of what they chose has been really interesting from haunting short stories and memoirs, to some very good poetry. And this year they seem to have picked some of my weirder stuff. Which I appreciate greatly. Sometimes the weird stuff takes more time to write than the more normal fare. I'm looking forward to going and meeting this year's editors and the other poets and writers. Some of our works will be read and faces will be put to the names and writing.

And this year they've added a second reading at Russo's on Saturday the 18th from 1 to 3 pm. And the book will be on sale there.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

First Friday

Some of the crowd at Tehachapi Treasure Trove.
The first Friday of each month the artist community in Tehachapi gets together and wanders around from gallery to studio to museum and so on. There are several locations where the artists (usually) bring in snacks and share them with other artists and patrons of the arts. Many locations will also have live music. While at the galleries and shops there is the hope of additional sales, the museum and downtown church use the occasion to showcase new exhibits and events.

Tehachapi Museum

And when there's a show at the downtown BeeKay Theatre on a first Friday, you might run into costumed characters wandering the streets before the show. And afterwards (unless they happen to have a show that weekend) folks can head over to the local live music venue, Fiddler's Crossing, for an after art walk music and poetry jam.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


I have a certain amount of fame here in the small town of Tehachapi. Even though, up until recently, I wasn't getting many comments on this blog, I would get comments in person, since most of my entries were copies of my column in Tehachapi's Loop newspaper. Others had seen me read some of my poetry at various open mics around town. (Brighthouse might have some available on their On Demand channel that were taped at Fiddler's Crossing.) And others have seen and enjoyed plays that I have written that were performed at our Playwright's Festival.