Sunday, October 27, 2013

Under Sea Adventures at the Aquarium

  I love going to aquariums because usually what happens under water is illusive... full of visions unattainable to an oxygen-breathing land lubber. At the Monterey Bay Aquarium, my favorite exhibits were the jellyfish and sea otters. Also, there was this amazing room that had a gigantic tank full of big fish and little sharks. I could have stayed in that room for hours! Another great exhibit was the penguin tank. The penguins were so adorable and they all had arm bands with their names. I remember that one of the penguins was named Vera... or maybe it was Velma.

   One thing interesting I have learned about jellyfish (not from the aquarium, but later from the internet, more specifically a site called Jelly Watch) is that jellyfish have been on earth for millions of years. If you had a time machine and went back in time to before there were even dinosaurs, you may still see jellyfish because they were here before the first dino! In Seattle, we have jellyfish in the Puget Sound. During summer, sometimes there are hundreds of them, bobbing peacefully through the water. In the Seattle waters there is also a type of starfish called Sunflower Sea Star that are dying of a mysterious disease. When I was listening to a story about these starfish on the radio, the scientists described them as looking as if they are melting. He also said that their legs sometimes fall off and then crawl away on their own. Sometimes when certain types of starfish lose their legs, a whole new starfish can grow from the separated leg. Some one needs to make a comic book super hero series called 'Adventures Of Starfish Women!' about a superhero who has the superpower of growing new selves if she loses a limb. This could lead to some gruesome story plots in which Starfish Women cuts off her own leg when in a bind so she can have the assistance of another her. In the comic she could also have a bunch of little suctions all over her hands and feet, like starfish. This could assist her in crawling up buildings when she needs to rescue people being held hostage on the top floor of a sky scrapper. Also, she would have to have the power of underwater breathing since a real starfish is most at home in the water. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Chain Link Fences, Yellow Flowered Weeds, and the Smell of the Sea

Here are some pictures of Cannery Row in Monterey, California. Cannery row use to be the site of several sardine canning companies. Now it is a tourist destination full of knick-knack shops and also a wax museum.

The seagull makes a friend.

A knowing grin.

Tea and Cinnamon Roll- perfect breakfast by the sea

   When I was little, I use to love the movie 'The Fantastic Adventures of Unico.' This is a animated movie about a big headed unicorn who goes on adventures with his devil friend and cat friend. Yesterday I happened upon the information that Unico stars in three other movies! I am a bit sad that I didn't know about these movies when I was a kid. I know if I watch them today, they won't charm me in the way they would have if I was still little. But, if the internet had existed when I was a kid, I probably would have found out about these movies. Back in the day, we were really just dependent on the whims of the local video store proprietor. I am very glad to have the internet now! I wonder about all the movies, books and music I would not have found out about if the internet didn't exist. Not to mention the podcasts and blogs that wouldn't exist at all with out the internet. But of course the internet does have it's disadvantages. I just saw the new 'Carrie' movie this weekend. The movie begins with something quite embarrassing happening to poor Carrie while one of her mean classmates films it and then later uploads it to the internet. The new 'Carrie' was a fun Halloween watch, but not a film making masterpiece. It was a little bit cheesy, but sometimes cheesy is a good thing in a scary movie. I saw the original 'Carrie' so long ago that I can't fairly compare the two but the three friends I went to the movie with were all adamant that the original was far better. Afterwards, one of the friends told me that after Stephen King wrote 'Carrie,' he was dissatisfied with it and ended up throwing it away! But his wife dug out of the trash can and saved it. It makes you wonder what authors with less intuitive spouses have thrown out. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bats in the Attic

I wrote this ghost story-poem about a year or two ago, but I am sharing it now because  it is the spookiest time of the year and therefore, the perfect time to tell ghost stories. Also, I made some illustrations to go along with it!

The Bats in the Attic

Part One: The Bats

Miriam lived
in a sturdy but shabby house-
an ancient tortoise shell
a castle in the shape of a farmhouse.

In the attic
were hundreds of bats
and hanging from roof beams
their wings clenched
against their murmuring chests

“It’s a health hazard.” the neighbor said
her flushed face
sunken with a scowl.
Miriam's only response was to
place her hand on her heart
and close her eyes.

When they flapped their gauzy wings
against the attic walls
Miriam imagined she heard
the merry patter of dancers
tapping across the floor.
Sometimes during her afternoon tea
she set an extra cup or two
almost believing
the dancers would come downstairs
thirsty and glistening with sweat.

Part Two: The Salesman

The traveling salesman
drove across the country
from dusty town to dusty town

In Miriam’s town
he didn't know where he was except
another nowhere in a vast country of nowheres.

Miriam was in her garden
watering the rose bushes
which were only leaves and thorns.

The salesman sauntered up her walkway
in his arms he cradled a stack of books-
J through N of an encyclopedia set.

“Ma’am, I’m here to offer you the world!”
he said, smiling his well oiled grin
and tapping his swollen finger tips
on top of the stack of books.

Inside the house, the traveling salesman
sat with his books in front of him.
“Now ma’m, What is something
you have always wondered about?”

Miriam thought
about all the things
she’d ever wondered about.
“Llamas.” Miriam said,
remembering the blanket
she felt at the country fair
it was knit from yarn
spun from llamas fur
the blanket was so soft against her palm
that she picked it up
and pressed it against her cheek.

She’d never heard of a llama before
so she tried to imagine what the llama looked like
based only on the feeling of the blanket
and the musty smell of the yarn.

Round and stout and covered with long fur
straight peg legs and a circular face
with an expression, calm but sullen
that belonged on a human's worn face.

The llama pictured in the book
looked nothing like she imagined
but she liked the odd creature
with it’s bulged knees
and delicate, round lipped face

she wanted to bring the llama home
she would feed it clover blossoms
and cups of steamy tea
that the llama would lap up
with it’s long purple tongue

At night, the llama could sleep next to her
it’s soft fur radiating with warmth,
the beat of it’s heart
sounding exactly like bat wings.

Part Three: The Attic

In the attic, the bats grew restless
they flew back and forth
between the shadowed corners

The salesman heard the sound
and imagined it was the stir
of someone else in the house
another unseen husband, out of work and
hiding shamefaced upstairs.

But the sounds transformed from a gentle rustle
to a clatter and bang
as the bat wings pounded against the walls

The salesman realized the noise was something else
“The ghosts.”
he thought and swallowed back the rumble in his throat
They followed him everywhere he went
their presence taunting him
with everything he wanted to forget

The ghosts were quiet before-
watching and reaching
their withered fingers toward him
the tips only brushing against his flesh

There were three of them
and in their silence he could hear it all

While driving down country roads
windows rolled down and wind  in his hair,
he’d glance in his rear view mirror
and see the three ghosts
sitting in his backseat
thin and wispy forms
except for their eyes, which were solid,
shaped like empty worlds
and watering from the sting of moving air.

Now they’d arrived at this woman’s house
before he even knew he would
the ghosts were tired of shadows and backseats
and made a commotion only he could hear
finally insisting on the confrontation.

And with a mumbled excuse
the salesman left Miriam
who was still absorbed in learning about the llama.

The salesman followed the sound to the attic
and pressed his ear against the attic door
Inside he heard the flutter and crash
of the angry ghosts

He pushed the door open
the hinges creaked like a rusty violin.
The bats stirred
and blinked their wet eyes.

The bats were unfamiliar with light
and when they saw it streaming
through the open door
their hearts pulsated stronger,
their wings ached to move toward the glow

The salesman’s eyes were closed
his arms out stretched
The bats flew all around him
basking in the strange feel of the new air.

They landed on his shoulders
their wings scratched against his skin
when the salesman opened his eyes
he thought he saw the ghost's faces stretching around him
the shadows between the bats
looked like hollow eyes
the moving bat wings
looked like hungry mouths
he opened his own mouth
and said something
but his voice was swallowed
in the swish of flapping wings.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Wharf for Fishermen; and A Monkey that Sneezes

  Here are pictures I took while at the Fishermen's Wharf in Monterey. I love wharfs. They are cheerful places. In my book, wharfs are in the same category as summer fairs and carnivals.

      I know I have been talking about animals more then usual in my posts lately, and that trend is going to continue because I happened to learn about another interesting animal today! This animal was discovered by science in 2012 and it is called the Sneezing (Snub-Nosed) Monkey. The Sneezing Monkey lives in the forested mountains of Myanmar. Whenever it rains, the monkeys cannot help but to sneeze. Can you imagine walking through the forest during a rain storm, listening to the soft sound of pattering rain mingling with a chorus of monkey sneezes? The article I read does not describe the sneezes, but I imagine these monkeys have cute, lady-like sneezes. The reason the monkeys sneeze is because of their odd, flat noses. Their noses really don't have much of a shape, but look like to long nostrils in their face. The rain very easily drips into the Sneezing Monkeys noses and this is why they sneeze. The monkeys try to avoid this inconvenience by sitting with their head between their knees when it rains. But this also seems inconvenient. I would not like to stop what I was doing every time it started to rain in order to sit in an awkward and probably uncomfortable position. I feel a little bit bad for these monkeys. But I guess we all have our struggles. ( I found the information about the Sneezing Monkey at the ASU International Institute for Species Exploration website.)