Youngblood Blog

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Auspicious Beginnings to the New Decade—Written in the Stars

AUSPICIOUS BEGINNINGS TO THE NEW DECADE—WRITTEN IN THE STARS
Looking to the Future: 2020 Corner for Insecure Writers in all Dimensions

Glancing Briefly Backwards…

‘Diamond Ring’—old NASA-speak for moment solar orb reappears after annular eclipse December 26th 2019

The Sun provided the Indian sub-continent and all Southern Oceans with a dramatic solar eclipse on (British Raj) Boxing Day, December 26th, 2019, triggering a trend for skywatching with special protective glasses. Totality—which reached a maximum duration of four minutes in the “total zone”—attracted one million youthful observers, allowed out in school playgrounds across the Asian archipelago for the event. A solar eclipse occurs when the (new) moon passes in front of the sun’s disc. Lunar eclipse happens when Earth’s shadow passes over the moon. First of four lunar eclipses in 2020 will occur (visible Europe, Asia; not America) night of January 10th.

Solar Eclipses are often dramatic when they occur close to Winter Solstice and this event was spectacular in that the new moon happened so close to Christmas.

Last solar eclipse of the decade—December 26th path of visible totality

Quite charismatically, Captain James Cook, during one of his Pacific navigational/discovery voyages witnessed a famous annular eclipse on December 29th, 1777 between the Hawai’ian Island chain and present Guam.

…Glimpse of Future
Summer Solstice, June 21st, 2020 miraculously will provide another annular eclipse of the sun—again delighting India, Pakistan, Arabian continent and Southern Oceans. No hint in the northern hemisphere. And to complete the 2020 trio, December 14th 2020 brings a third (northern-invisible) eclipse.

There has to be a moral in there somewhere for us (northerly) Insecure Writers!

Jumping Time Zones and a British EarthShot for Humans
As the New Year and new Decade start to unfold—twenty-three hours ahead of time for us (northern) slug-laggards—and remembering that U.S. legislation bans public sale or explosion of fireworks, except on July 4th—it is fascinating to watch some of the fun & fireworks go off live—and virtually—in New Zealand, Thailand, Taipei, Pakistan, and Ceylon in good olde British style and tradition.

Earthshot Prize British Royal Initiative

Up the Khyber—HRH Prince William climbing in the Hindu Kush—2019 Royal tour of Pakistan cemented relations

“The earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice: either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem-solve”
HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Earthshot Founder

Prince William’s inspiration for a new decade is world-changing. Literally. Cooperating with octogenarian broadcaster-naturalist Sir David Attenborough, the 37-year-old Prince’s initiative is to heal the planet, one annual award at a time. His Foundation is shared by his eco-planting nature-loving consort, HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, who made strides last year to bring focus to human damage to our changing earth, and our duty to do something about it. Her own nature-driven remedies for mental health have been widely copied.

“The next ten years presents us with one of our greatest tests—a decade of action to repair the Earth”
HRH Prince William, Patron Earthshot Prize

Prince William’s clarion call to British, Commonwealth and international entrepreneurs, influencers, and innovators is to “remember the awe-inspiring civilizations that we (humans) have built, the life-saving technology we have created,” and that “inspired people can achieve great things.”

Clavie King & Crew hoist burning tar barrel for annual parade round Pictish fort of Burghead on Aul”Eel—old Yule 6th January—Julian calendar

He aims to build an international coalition of scientists, economists, activists, government leaders, businesspeople, philanthropists, cities, and countries worldwide.

The Prize will be run initially by The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, with first annual awards announced in 2021. Long term plan is for it to become an independent organization.

The charitable trust has already received financial commitment and logistical support from a global coalition of philanthropists and fund-raising organizations.

Earthfirst and Nature non-profits have heralded the new initiative as a brilliant coalition of the world’s best minds.

‘In just ten years we can go from fear to hope, from disaster to discovery; from inertia to inspiration’
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

So when all the Highland Reels, Roman Candles and Midnight countdowns have spun off into an alternative Universe and we emerge in the moment of now: 2020—it helps us (insecure but determined to be brilliant writers) to remember that we, too, have a part in contributing to our own healthy future; that one-word-at-a-time is like planting our own future forest.

Only the writer knows how rejuvenating it feels to ‘put a story to bed’. Shake out the red carpet. Roll on the new decade. And, with gratitude, let us put our best first-foot forward.

Let the new era begin.
©2020 Marian Youngblood

January 1, 2020 Posted by | ancient rites, astronomy, authors, belief, blogging, calendar customs, culture, festivals, fiction, Muse, nature, publishing, sun, weather, winter, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Splash of Light on Long Winter Nights—Comet joins Festive Show

SPLASH OF LIGHT ON LONG WINTER NIGHTS—COMET JOINS FESTIVE SHOW in December Skies
Winter CatchUp Corner for IWSGers, NaNoWriMos and All Writers

Comet 2I/Borisov, discovered by amateur Crimean astronomer in October, is being monitored by Hubble Space Telescope as it flits through the solar system

Firstly, most important—and also because we writers are an insecure lot—I want to say ‘well done’ to all writers, great and small, of any age and persuasion, insecure or self-assured, who completed their NaNoWriMo W.I.P., and who may now be editing! their next world-famous novel.

Next: how do we WRITERS intend to face the world through the winter, after keeping ourselves hidden from political mayhem on all continents, down in the dungeons and self-imposed depths of computer/typewriterdom?

Voilà, Comet Borisov to the rescue.


Comet for Christmas—Southern Hemisphere Style

Comet 2I Borisov is interstellar. Not one of our own Oort Cloud near-solar system (domestic) comets that take a quick dip around the sun—perihelion—and back home to the Cloud. Borisov has more hyperbolic ‘orbit’, merely grazing our solar system, scheduled for its closest solar approach in one week’s time—December 7-8th, 2019—a mere couple of AUs* distant, roughly on the inner edge of the Asteroid Belt, between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars. Its closest approach to the Earth—perigee—is 29th/30 December at a safe distance of around 2AU, just in time for Earth New Year. Sadly then only visible in Southern ocean skies.

*Astronomical unit (AU): unit of length used in astronomy equal to the mean distance of the Earth from the Sun—or about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers).

Crop Circle predictions, summer 2019 leading to December sky dynamics, graphic by Jonas Passos

“A comet with a parabolic trajectory (with an eccentricity of 1) would leave the Solar System in the direction it entered, having had its path altered by 180°. 2I/Borisov, with its higher eccentricity, has a more open trajectory and will have its path altered by only 34° as it passes through the Solar System” Gennady Borisov, comet discoverer, Black Sea.

Borisov entered the Solar System in October from the direction of Cassiopeia, near its border with Perseus. This direction indicates that it originates from the galactic plane, rather than from the (nearby) galactic halo. It will leave the Solar System in the direction of Telescopium, southern hemisphere’s Telescope constellation. In interstellar space, 2I/Borisov takes roughly 9000 years to travel one light-year, relative to our Sun.

Tree-felling in the Christian Tradition
How does this fit in with our OTT fixation on Christmas Trees? I hear you ask.

Don’t get me started on the Victorian encapsulated tradition of Tannenbaum in the English-speaking world. British Royals do it; Slavs & Lats do it; Niggas in their boats upon the Flats do it. Let’s kill another conifer for Christmas. With apologies to Cole Porter.

Oops. Just slipped out.

It’s the tree-planter in me waving an olive branch. Eventually, I hope, our 200-year-old heavily Germanic ritual of felling and decorating a live conifer for (Saxe-Coburg-Gotha) Christmas Eve festival of light may be replaced by fairy light branchlets and garden strewn sparklers. But that’s a future possible. Not an immediate likelihood. December is fairy light time, virtual or actual, worldwide.

Same old, same old: Laysan Albatross Wisdom, and her partner, sitting on the same old nest again this year, Midway Island Refuge

Thus we enter the Season of Goodwill and Peace to all Men, women, children, dogs, cats, wolves, whales and albatrosses.

I need to bring in my friend Wisdom from the Midway Island Pelagian Wildlife Refuge. She and her 64-year old mate have just flown half-way across the Pacific to return to their nest. Both veteran Laysan birds come zooming in—with their 12-foot wingspan and impressive haunting call, tidying up, preparing and then sitting on their nest for another year. It’s like two giant desks perched on top of a pillar of guano, their magnificent wings tucked in for comfort and warmth.

They already have one egg they’re taking turns hatching. Albatross monogamy is supreme in birds—64 years is a long time to be together.

Thanks for an inspiration to all of us to be faithful and true to our (writerly) selves and keep on keeping on.

Write-Edit-Publish Footprints

And if you still have energy and can’t wait to write, there’s the IWSG December W.E.P.Challenge—Write, Edit, Publish in 1000 words—and the theme is Footprints.

Footprints in the sand…Footprints in the snow—they don’t have to be human—alien, monster, unknown creatures all in 1000 words. Details here.

May I offer you my own compliments of the season.
©2019 Marian Youngblood

December 4, 2019 Posted by | ancient rites, art, astronomy, authors, blogging, calendar customs, crop circles, culture, festivals, fiction, nature, novel, popular, publishing, seasonal, sun, weather, winter, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Art of Self-Healing in a Post-Anthropocene Writing World

ART OF SELF-HEALING IN A POST-ANTHROPOCENE WRITING WORLD
First Wednesday in the Writing Cave—open to IWSGers, NaNoWriMos and Other Insecure Scribes


Age-Related Wisdom Spurned by Youthful Masses

Living in the Anthropocene Age—a world which has been changed by Man to near-unrecognizable proportions

Judging by how the #old are represented—or not represented—by the media, it’s fair to say we live in a society which likes to pretend #old people don’t exist
Richard Alpert, PhD @BabaRamDass

At this moment, amid north-Atlantic havoc wreaked by (late) hurricane Lorenzo, Climate activist marches, and *U.N. panel discussions attracting world leaders to instigate radical change, a little flurry of benefactors—unnoticed by mainstream media—have quietly continued their superlative support, as the rest of the human race races towards apparent extinction. Melinda and Bill Gates are a good example. With their Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in addition to their celebrated Asian water reclamation schemes, they are upgrading an already well-established voluntary network of assistance/donation to earth’s most vulnerable continents, strengthening capability of on-site first responders, and funding local institutions to help communities prepare for and cope with potential future disasters.
*coined by film-makers Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, in their documentary Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, shown at United Nations Climate Action Summit, end September 2019.

At current pace, we shall by 2050 have created an ocean containing more plastic than fish—Baichwal & de Pencier ‘Anthropocene: the Human Era’

News headlines may not have grasped that beneath the frisson of world leaders—yea, former enemies—reaching out to help one another in New York——q.v. Pakistan’s premier Imran Khan, 66, and his brave support for beleaguered Kashmir; Saudis lending assistance, U.A.Emirates sharing space capsules…there is another agenda emerging—solar panels in the Sahara; thousands of young trees planted in Pakistan, India, Canada, Venezuela; medical aid for East Africa. Things are beginning to change.

The cricket-fan and space fantasy-lover in me applauds such new initiatives. Besides, global darling outside the Hollywood stereotype, Prime Minister Khan communicates freely in their native tongue with Brits, Americans, Hindus and Muslims.

At this time, Hong Kong sentimentally—and crucially—decides to be British again—to assert its independence from mainland China—rejecting the 70-year old Communist celebration and its regime, and flying the Union Jack.

Oldies but Goodies—Seriously
While perhaps wielding a more ancient battle-standard in an effort to use less and give back more, Oldies from the ‘Sixties are still around, still calling some shots, playing music—at least keeping the peace-sign alive. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock in August, younger generation parties sprang up to venerate dead idols—sadly many now gone—like Hendrix, Morrison, Richie Havens. Keeping the flag flying, however, are Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Carole King and David Crosby of (you remember!) The Byrds, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Buffalo Springfield fame. Not only are these musicians still singing and playing their kind of music, but Croz with his son James Raymond played an iconic free concert at New York’s outdoor Lincoln Center on August 10/11th this summer. Release of their latest Sky Trails tour movie—Remember My Name—is imminent.

Solar-powered Yacht, Electric Hummer as Alternative Vehicles

Solar-powered yacht, commissioned by Monaco Yacht Club team Malizia & co-founder Pierre Casiraghi, grandson of Prince Rainier III to sail Ms. Thunberg across the Atlantic

In a world where we are told half the population is now in the under-35 bracket, it is heartening to hear that Oldie and assuredly Hollywood-Goodie ex-Governor turned philanthropist Arnold Schwarzenegger [‘Terminator‘] has offered to lend his priceless electric automobile—a Kreisel Hummer—to 16-year old visitor Greta Thunberg, to use on her tour of northern territories and climate-marching school-truanters in New England, parts of Canada and, if support doesn’t run out for the autistic Swedish child, possibly Greenland.

It is good to know that the child has her father, Svante, along for the ride—presumably paying for some expenses. The north Atlantic section of the trans-Atlantic solar racing yacht trip, was commissioned by Team Malizia II of Monaco Yacht Club, with Malizia’s co-founder Pierre Casiraghi, grandson of Monaco’s Prince Rainier III and Princess Grace Kelly, sailing with them as sponsor from Britain to New York.

Back in the Writing Cave…
My writing co-conspirators, with guidance from our Ninja Space Captain, Alex, may—like me—feel a little out of our depth in waters muddied by a special needs teenager on so-called ‘sabbatical’, aka striking/taking off from school, and driving around in a borrowed electric car.

I concede that the driving age in the U.S.A. is sixteen. But in Europe—in both Great Britain and Sweden—the minimum driving age is 18-years old. So I guess, that’s why Daddy’s on the road trip.

I also happen to have inside info on our writing fraternity/sorority, and know that some of us Oldies AND Goodies are truly checking in from a different time—and space—planting both trees and words in our own beloved Cave-corner, sharing and enjoying with others new frontiers in these changing times.

Thanks for being there. Keep the flame burning in the Writing Cave. It’s all going to be worth it.
©2019 Marian Youngblood

October 2, 2019 Posted by | authors, birds, blogging, consciousness, culture, earth changes, environment, nature, ocean, organic husbandry, publishing, rain, seasonal, trees, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clinging to Mother Earth or Exploding to the Stars—the Writing Option

CLINGING TO MOTHER EARTH OR EXPLODING TO THE STARS—THE WRITING OPTION
April—Busy Month for IWSGers and A-to-Z Challenge Writers

East Island French Frigate Shoals atols and seamounts in Polynesian Pacific ocean, with levels rising

One WORD after another WORD after another WORD is POWER
Margaret Atwood

Somewhere amid Pacific Ring of Fire shaking last night—two Mag.6.2pointers in Aleutians & Solomons, Mag.5s in Baja and Peru—a mother Humpback whale with last year’s calf in tandem, swims into spouting distance of the black sand surfing beaches of Big Island, Hawai’i.

No seagulls, no hummingbirds, but Big Island has Hawai’ian Green sea turtles and…

She will not be disturbed. Neither will the pool of Hawaiian Green sea turtles doing swim relay within yards of a famous surfers’ beach.

The Hawai’ian chain has no native species of terrestrial reptiles or amphibians. But loads in the ocean.

On land lizards, geckos, salamanders and Coqui frogs were introduced—in contrast to marine reptiles—green-sea turtles and sea snakes—that are native. Offshore vast schools of whales, dolphin, orca roam. The Islands are pitstop and mating grounds for hundreds of Humpbacks every winter; babies returning to visit the following year.

Indigenous to the islands is Nene, the Hawai’ian goose and national bird, along with Hawaiian Monk Seal and Hoary Bat which live nowhere else. Geographic isolation has triggered their evolution here as endemic—wildlife not seen elsewhere. The absence of hummingbirds is striking—importing them is banned—but multicolor treecreepers and honeycreepers are vivid and acrobatic.

From Whales and Turtles to Lava and Myrtles
Tragic errors were made by colonial benefactors. An example is the 1883 effort to reduce (introduced species of) rats, mice and larger rodents by allowing predation by the Indian mongoose.

…and exultant fire turtles exploding from neighboring volcanoes in active flows

Hawaiian crow, Hawaiian goose, and other endemic birds of the archipelago have been lost to this predator. Unlike hedgehogs beloved of motorists in Britain, these spiny omnivores are illegal in Hawaii—where the mongoose—not a rodent but an (Herpestes) Ichneumon akin to a shrew—has taken over the territory. Original reason for importing Mongooses to the islands is not clear. They are famed for killing large snakes in India. Kipling made sure children read and made friends with Rikki-Tikki-Tavi in Jungle Book. There are feral cats, dogs, boar, goats. Miraculously, no rabbits.

Coqui frog—Eleutheradactylus coqui—can climb trees and serenades at night

And there are no snakes in Hawai’i. No monkeys either.

Indigenous wildlife groups guard the islands from ‘invasive species’ like the (right pic) onomatopoetically-named Coqui. I find his mating nighttime frogsqueak charming, and his consumption of mosquitoes a blessing; but he is considered a ‘pest’. Mosquitoes hitched a ride from Asia.

Unlike the inhabitants of Easter Island who cut and burned their own trees to extinction, Hawai’ian tradition has cherished and nurtured successive forests of a miracle hardwood—Ohi’a—itself under threat from within. Indigenous, multi-tasking, adaptable in elevation, from sealevel, jungle to volcano peak, it has served as lumber for sacred structures, roof-tiles, fencing and fuel. Its flower is the Lehua, below.

Sacred Carving, Weaponry and Ritual
Volcano goddess Pele became jealous because she asked the handsome warrior Ohi’a to be her consort and he refused, saying he already had a lover, Lehua. In her anger Pele changed Ohi’a into a gnarled and twisted tree. Lehua was heartbroken, as she and Ohi’a were inseparable. The gods took pity on her and turned her into a flower on the tree.

Sacred Hawai’ian hardwood Ohi’a tree with red Lehua pompom blossom, unique in creating its own subsoil on fresh lava, is under threat from within

Ohi’a hardwood was used for canoe decking and seats; for house building, cooking bowls, poi/pounding boards (traditionally beaten with a volcanic basalt pestle), furniture, spears and tools. The Lehua flowers and buds are used for ritual lei-making.

Folklore has it that if you pick the sacred flower, separating her from her tree lover, it will rain.

The tree grows in crazy places—tolerating a range of soil conditions, rainfall and temperature. At sealevel, in jungle, marshes and rainforest, all the way up to the treeline at 8,200feet on Mauna Loa—the world’s highest stratovolcano—twice the height of Mile-High Denver. There it forms a straggly succulent creeping plant, beloved of bees, unique in burrowing into fresh lava, establishing its own compost, root tendrils breaking down subsoil, creating new ecosystems.

In May 2018 lava emerging from under the cinder cone of Pu’u O’o several miles east of Pele’s Mauna Loa and Kilauea, completely submerged Leilani township in fresh basalt. The human residents left. But almost twelve months later the magic myrtle Ohi’a-Lehua has found cracks, created a new existence where nothing else could.

What do these ocean creatures and spirits have to do with writing, you may ask. Our fearless starcruiser Cap’n.Alex and #AtoZ Challenge Chief Arlee Bird might be busy bloghopping, but I think they’d agree—all of us—writers or readers—are going to be affected fairly soon by ocean rise, plastic absorption, mammal and fish death and by the need for clean water. I am the first 2nd.Lieut-in-writing to applaud their tenacity in reaching for the stars. Writers Rulez forever!

Thing about crises on a planetary scale, we writers-bloggers-A-to-Zers mostly just thank our stars we’re still breathing, turn back to the keyboard and…
Write on.
©2019 Marian Youngblood

April 3, 2019 Posted by | authors, blogging, calendar customs, culture, earth changes, environment, fiction, nature, novel, ocean, popular, publishing, rain, seasonal, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Appearance or Disappearance? Loopholes in the Cetacean Matrix

APPEARANCE OR DISAPPEARANCE? Loopholes in the Cetacean Matrix
Monthly Disappearance Corner for Insecure Writers

My favorite margin edge: barnacles lining a humpback’s mouth as she blows

Birds do it; Bees do it;
Even educated fleas do it.
Let’s do it. Let’s fall in love.
Ella Fitzgerald after Cole Porter

Blowing One’s Horn
THAR SHE BLOWS is a culturally frowned-on expression these days. When Hermann Melville used it in Moby Dick, 1851, he was quoting the phrase by whalers of his day who scoured the northern seas for whale harvest. But Ahab also had revenge in his heart for the white whale he sought who had taken his knee on a previous whale hunt.

World whaling nations

Nowadays those nations who still hunt whales—e.g. Norway, South Korea, Australia, Iceland, Denmark/Greenland, Russia, get no support from world whale trusts, and public outcry to uphold a worldwide whale ban is now deafening. Unapproved or condoned, the whale has the greatest ability of all mammals alive these days to ‘blow’ her horn. Dogs do it, cats do it; even educated rats in spats do it [we’re told]. Probably the most famous human to do it—to blow his horn—was trumpet virtuoso Louis Armstrong, 1901-1971.

Cetacean Nation or Scrambled Ambergris
Constellation Cetus, which we see now in our winter northern sky, is a crossover from the southern hemisphere, a sea monster pardoned by Helios/Sun after being frozen by Perseus—with the aid of Medusa’s head which turned it to stone—and sent to shine next to Eridanus, the celestial river which connects northern and southern sky hemispheres. Poseidon created Cetus to represent the power of the deep sea, and sent the sea monster on many missions of destruction. He met his death when Poseidon punished Queen Cassiopeia for her never-ending boasting, and ordered the powerful creature to destroy the Ethiopian coast. Catalogued by astronomer Ptolemy, c.A.D.100 in his Almagest, he was the sea monster sent by Neptune to devour Andromeda, chained to a rock as a sacrifice. In Greek myth, Cetus was turned to stone but released to the Cosmos, to shine forever.

Celestial sea ‘monster’ Ketos/Cetus the Whale clambers into northern skies to remind us of our oceanic origins

Cetus is the fourth largest constellation in the night sky, occupying 1,231 square degrees. Cetus is intertwined with Aquarius, Aries, Eridanus, Fornax, Pisces, Sculptor and Taurus. The constellation has four main stars and nine deep space objects, including one Messier and three meteor showers.

Superstitious sailors believed in cetus as the bringer of a great storm or misfortune on the ship. They associated it with lost cargo, the presence of pirates, or being swept off course, and avoided any talk of it aboard ship. Cetus equated to having a woman on board. Both were considered unlucky—as the Sea was the Sailor’s only Mistress—so presence of both presaged superhuman disaster.

Ambergris forms the basis of human—female perfumes; whale oil (blubber) used for lanterns until the advent of kerosene in 1860. Theoretically no nation needs to kill for fuel any more; but ‘scientific assessment’ continues within the whaling nations, despite statistics of decline.

We IWSGers are no strangers to deadlines! ❤ Superstitious? Well, yeah, kinda. Goes with being a Writing Introvert. We like symbolism, but a gathering storm of politicos has consequences for all of us.

As our SciFi guru Alex, says, we need to grow up; let the skittles fall where they may—get on with our latest writing project—and start cherishing the special creatures in our midst.

Before it is too late.

According to world wolf/bear and whale survival statistics, the deadline has passed: it’s already later than we think.
©2018 Marian Youngblood

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Ascension, astrology, astronomy, authors, birds, blogging, culture, environment, festivals, fiction, music, novel, publishing, seasonal, traditions, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Birds of a Feather—The Cuckoo in the Nest

BIRDS OF A FEATHER—THE CUCKOO IN THE NEST
Monthly Perch for Insecure Writers & Others of that Ilk

Subterranean Samhain monster in partially submerged Oligocene strata, Antipaxos, Ionian Sea

Our current cultural vision may seem similar to that strange bird, the cuckoo—medieval cuckold comes to mind ❤ —who 'invades' a functioning bird family, usurping the nest, flinging his fellow flightless companions to their deaths and running adoptive mother (meadow pippet) ragged, while he—oversize and undernourished—tumbles overspilling—into first flight.

To divert us ISWGers from our tendency to dwell on our failings, forget that we are capable of greatness, I devised a strategy of timewarp which should please our Ninja Cap'n Alex—time travel.

Only on this occasion, we're doing it in reverse.
Let's go back. Way back. Buckle up. You might discover something new on the ancestral (animal) path.

If you’re pouncing broadly into Jurassic Park time, Jurassic World even, that’s mezozoic: 199.6million-145million years ago, a little early. Imagine beyond Tyranosaurus Rex, post-pterodactyl, after Smilodon

Jurassic Ancestors Die off after Global Cooling

The Oligocene Epoch, when our Ionian Ogre, top, appeared, came right in the middle of the Tertiary Period—at end of the Paleogene—approx. 33.9 million-23 million years ago. Although it lasted a ‘short’ 11 million years, a number of major changes happened at that time. Changes caused by global cooling include appearance of the first elephants with trunks, early horses, and an explosion of many grasses that fostered a habitat for a sudden influx of new quadrupeds.

As a result of cooling temperatures, life and habitat of many ocean organisms were directly affected. Marine eco-environments fragmented as sea creatures able to withstand cooler temperatures migrated to places further from warm equatorial current. This suddenly reduced diversity in marine plankton—foundation of the food chain.

Nocturnal raptors had an easier time in the Oligocene until daytime hawks & eagles joined in

On land, mammals like horses, deer/elk, camel, elephants, cats, dogs, rats and primates began to dominate—except in Australia.

In Western Europe there were 17 generic extinctions, 20 first appearances, and 25 mammal survivals. As the land fauna migration route between Asia and North America dispersed lineages of cattle, pig, giraffe, and camel to new continents, South American forest and pampas flourished. Apes developed both in the Amazon and in Africa simultaneously, but Africa alone created the first hominids. North America spawned the rat, his cousin the gopher and many lesser mouse companions.

Fossil Hyaenodon from White River, South Dakota, coyote ancestor found in Badlands National Park

The first feathered bird appeared with a beak that was mobile enough to catch insects—presumably our friend the pterodactyl couldn’t. The first deciduous broadleaves [oak, ash, hazel] started to infiltrate the previously dominant redwood (northern) rainforest.

Conifers were also losing ground to developing grasslands—spreading from Mongolia via the land bridge to American prairies and the Midwest—perfect habitat for newer, speedier grazing mammals. Buffalo, cattle, boar-pig—with supporting cast of voles and hamsters.

In the southern pampas, camel and giraffe diversified to become llama and alpaca. Tropical rainforest found refuge in equatorial Amazonia and Indonesia.

Primeval Beaver and Wiley Coyote

Racoon ancestral selfie

Daylight raptors, like falcons, eagles, and hawks, along with 7-10 families of rodents, first appeared proliferating new northern forests, strengthening along with the grain.

The ancestor of the American beaver built his first dam.

Burgeoning meadow grasses made for rapid and diverse genetic growth in horses, developing both in size and speed capability. Ancestor of the Mustang started here.

I liked the logic of the Aleutian land bridge being used by intelligent—and high-energy new creatures—along with their predators—in a competitive novel environment, bringing new lifeforms and muscle power to the New World. The present Kentucky racehorse may be the pinnacle of that growth curve.

Forgive my digression. I had to think laterally. The news is otherwise too distracting. For a writer, that is. NaNoWriMo is also in progress and I’m ‘resting’ this year 😉
Thanks to the Ancestors—fish and fowl, feline and four-pawed.
©2018 Marian Youngblood

November 7, 2018 Posted by | authors, birds, calendar customs, culture, festivals, fiction, history, nature, novel, publishing, trees, volcanic, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In August/Lammas Heat, our Thoughts Turn to Water

IN AUGUST/LAMMAS HEAT, OUR THOUGHTS TURN TO WATER
Finding Respite in the Hottest Summer Yet

Mother Orca carrying her dead baby for over a week, slows her progress south with the herd


Monthly Hideaway for Insecure Writers and Others in need of a Cool Corner

This August seems hotter than most.

U.S. East Coast tropical storms began early. Now, with forest fires in California barely under control, homes and businesses are being evacuated from Redding, in Shasta-Trinity Forest’s Carr Fire, with volunteer fire crews being flown in from other states to combat its ‘tornado’ effect of flares spreading. It now covers 115,000 acres, 20% contained.

That’s twice as much acreage as last month’s Yosemite fire. Mendocino continues to battle its own Complex-Elk forest fires to the south. Emergency evacuation and road closure information here.

With all the burning going on, it is natural to turn to water, both metaphorically and literally. For the heroic firemen, a reliable source—river run-off, brackish or waste water—will work, as back-up for their ‘controlled burn’. The Carr fire is nevertheless not expected to be 100% controlled until at least mid-August. Our prayers go to Shasta and Trinity Counties. And to the 4,151 firemen there now, saving lives.

Cooling Contrast with Liquid Refreshment
To cool tempers and change our perspective a little, Washington Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, WA have been tracking/caring for a small pod of the last Southern Resident Orca in the wild. Numbering just 75, the group’s first baby to be born in three years just died. Mama Orca, above, has continued to carry her child, balancing the inert body on her snout and pushing it through the water. The pod are sensitive to her grief—the Museum record them grieving with her—which slows their progress in their brief migration.

Orca—the black-and-white so-called ‘killer’ whale is not much bigger than a dolphin. Their diet is a little more carniverous than their cousin the Humpback whale—plankton preferred, hence the name. Like dolphin, they are great mimics, playful in human company, some say boat-friendly.

16-yr old Orca Wiki with her calf born in captivity in French Aquacenter can say hello, goodbye & count to 5

In contrast, researchers at a French Marine Aquacenter are stretching the Orca’s fondness for communication in teaching their whale companions how to speak.

English, mostly.
Wiki, seen left with her calf, can say ‘Hello’, ‘Amy’, ‘goodbye’ and count from one to five.

Chesterton Windmill Crop Circle formation in Warwickshire shows musical/vibrational notation

Prelude to the Heat of Summer
Among the IWSGers here who (sometimes) emerge from our beloved (writing) cave, at our Ninja Cap’n Alex‘s call, I cannot resist a partial—if exoplanetary—explanation for such summer extremes:
July assembled a full moon in total eclipse for many parts of the world (except U.S.A.) and the auspicious heliacal rising of Sirius—worshipped and calculated to the millisecond by ancient Egyptian timekeepers—occurred within days of each other.

Unlike the parched West Coast U.S.A, in ancient times, Sirius foretold the rising of the Nile, providing much-needed water to abundant crops in the Egyptian delta. Eclipses, as we know, predict change.

Crop Circling PostScript
A ‘vibrational’ crop circle—noted for sound anomalies and making people’s wifi malfunction—also appeared on July 26th 2018 near a windmill in Warwickshire, creating woven nests in the wheat like little safety/comfort zones. Past crop circles with windmills have clearly encouraged human reuse of such traditional water/wind power.

Just a reminder from our interstellar relatives.
Let’s try to enjoy the heat. Or at least let us be grateful for the H2O.
©2018 Marian Youngblood

August 1, 2018 Posted by | art, astrology, astronomy, authors, blogging, calendar customs, crop circles, energy, environment, festivals, seasonal, volcanic, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Trinidad—the Lighthouse That Got Hauled Away

Mostly Monthly Caring Corner for Insecure Writers

TRINIDAD MEMORIAL LIGHTHOUSE SONG
with apologies & gratitude for the John Prine (October 1946-) original Paradise

Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse before removal, during local annual thanksgiving ceremony to fishermen November 2017

Chorus*:
Oh, Daddy, won’t you take me
Back to Trinidad Lighthouse
Down by the Memorial where Mom’s ashes lay.
I’m sorry, my son, but you’re too late in askin’
‘Cos the Anderson Dura Crane hauled it away.

We looked north, we looked south, along East, West and View Streets:
Strawberry Rock, Patrick’s Point to Luffenholtz bay.
Searched Scenic till sunset—along Baker’s Beach, Old Home Beach.
Finally at Launcher Cove, we called it a day.

Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse before they hauled it away


That night in the moonlight
We held candlelit vigil—
Trinidad fisherfolk, Yurok, Tsurai—
Our Tribe of all colors, we held hands together
Asking Angels to help us find Truth in our Cry.

Next day, Johnny from the Seascape said:”Hey, this what yer lookin’ fer’?”
Yer Lighthouse and Bell are over State Beach way.
The Tribe that owns the Dockland are letting you guys park there.
So it looks like yer Lighthouse is down here to stay.”

o 0 o 0 o

Thank you, John Prine

—and for reference, John Prine’s chorus*:
Oh, Daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in askin’
Mister Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away

Then the coal company came with the world’s largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.

More than One Way to Skin a Cat**
Much press and local speculation surrounded a “sit-in”/occupation of the Lighthouse in the days between Christmas 2017 and Epiphany 2018, coincidentally the night of candlelight vigil on the Bluff. There had been marginal crises between some factions, averted by human common sense and greatly aided by the Rancheria of the Tsurai, Cher-Ae Heights Casino and local residents of Trinidad town.

Quietly, without fanfare, the Rancheria, aka Casino, who own the land on which the local crab fishermen dock, land and store their crab-pots—hugely important financial input for the local community—offered a stable, ocean-front location for both Lighthouse and 1898 bronze Bell. Civic Club, magistrates, city councillors and residents were appeased with one swoop. See Dana Hope, Civic Club president’s remark below, and our previous blog on this event.

**with apologies to my dear-departed Smilodon

Space Race during Government Shutdown

Tiny memorial lighthouse being ‘hauled away’ by crane, Epiphany January 2018

While some government-related areas suffered from emergency shutdown at this time—e.g. astronauts unable to access Space Shuttle Robot Arm—on television—until departments went back online, National and State Parks on restricted hours; residents and loved ones of those at sea in Trinidad behaved with decorum and with human compassion and “fixed it”—at least temporarily.

“We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Chairman Garth Sundberg of the Trinidad Rancheria and their tribal council for making this solution possible. I think the city of Trinidad, certainly the Civic Club and frankly the entire county of Humboldt owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to them. They were the ones that came in and created an option when we didn’t know that we had one.
Dana Hope, Trinidad Civic Club President, 2018”

Now we in Trinidad can all sing together—in jubilation
Chorus
“Oh, Daddy, guess what I found? —the Trinidad Lighthouse!
Along with the Bell that bongs noon every day.
It’s sittin’ in the crab-pots, with nobody watchin’
An’ nobody’s now gonna haul it away.”

With grateful thanks to my [incognita assistant] singer-songwriter, Marianne, who inspired and prompted better scanning of some of my verses. Hope you IWSGers & Alex all appreciate her work!

And for those who do, Happy CARNIVAL!
©2018 Marian Youngblood

February 7, 2018 Posted by | authors, blogging, calendar customs, culture, traditions, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Nuclear Option—Above or Below Ground?

DEALING WITH CATASTROPHE—DEATH-or-LIFE UNDERGROUND
Monthly Drawing Breath Corner for Insecure Writers

Bruno Groth’s Pelican—a remarkable bird that may survive ocean mountains of nuclear waste

It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe
Mohammed Ali

Doomsday ‘Preppers’ have been getting ready for Armageddon-aka-nuclear misfire—cultural breakdown—since the Cold War; but in Silicon Valley they have made it into an art.

One tech company C.E.O. told the New Yorker
“It’s still not at the point where industry insiders would turn to each other with a straight face and ask what their plans are for some apocalyptic event.”

But, having said that, he believes it’s logically rational and ‘appropriately conservative’ to ‘manage the risk’, i.e. plan for the eventuality.

Vulnerability of the United States was exposed by the Russian cyber-attack on the Democratic National Committee during the U.S. election, and by a large-scale hack on October 21st, 2016 which disrupted the Internet in North America and Western Europe.

World food supply is dependent on GPS, logistics, and weather forecasting, which are generally dependent on the Internet. On the Peninsula, every geek knows the Internet is dependent on D.N.S.—the system that manages domain names.

“Go risk factor by risk factor by risk factor, acknowledging that there are many you don’t even know about, and you ask, ‘What’s the chance of this breaking in the next decade?’ Or invert it: ‘What’s the chance that nothing breaks in fifty years?’”

The Final Frontier
Exactly how many wealthy Americans are really making preparations for a catastrophe is difficult to tell; a lot of people don’t like to talk about it. “Anonymity is priceless,” according to one hedge-fund manager.

Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and a prominent investor, recalls telling a friend he was thinking of visiting New Zealand. “Oh, are you going to get apocalypse insurance?” the friend asked.

In the event of civil disorder, these items can be stowed in an overnight bag or go for Dome Living

“I’ve wrestled with alligators / I’ve tussled with a whale / I done handcuffed lightning / And thrown thunder in jail.”
Mohammed Ali/Cassius Clay

New Zealand, it seems, is a favored refuge in the event of a cataclysm. According to Hoffman, saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more. Once you’ve done the Masonic handshake, they’ll be, like, ‘Oh, you know, I have a broker who sells old ICBM silos, and they’re nuclear-hardened, and they kind of look like they would be interesting to live in.’”

Dr. Robert A. Johnson, a graduate of Princeton, working on Capitol Hill, before entering finance—M.D. at Soros Fund Management—describes himself as an accidental student of civic anxiety. After the 2008 financial crisis, he became head of a financial think tank, the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

He grew up with financiers, company chairmen, hedge-fund managers in Greenwich, Connecticut.

“They all lived within fifty yards of me. From my own career, I would just talk to people. More and more were saying, ‘You’ve got to have a private plane. You have to assure that the pilot’s family will be taken care of, too. They have to be on the plane.’”
Robert A. Johnson, Ph.D.

Silver Better than Gold
Essentials in the Bug-Out Bag, along with the hatchet, have to include a parachute (from the private plane), foldable canoe (to cross that river of disaster) collapsible tent or Bucky Dome—Buckminster Fuller would approve.

One interesting fact is consensus that small is better than big when the S–t Hits the Fan—it even has its own acronym—TSHF—i.e. silver in small coins beats large pieces of gold jewelry when it comes to trading for food and other life essentials.

Not a happy scenario for a beautiful autumn day, perhaps?

But you know what they say about Silicon Valley—way beyond the Capitol Hill wall: always leading edge.

Will we Insecure writers follow? We IWSG-ers are mostly introvert—according to Myers-Briggs—that’s how we pop up after it’s all over and ask “wot hoppen?” because we’ve been so head-down in the rabbit hole.

Such a tactic could serve us well this time, or we might, like Mohammed Ali/Cassius Clay proclaim:

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
©2017 Marian Younbgblood

October 4, 2017 Posted by | art, authors, birds, blogging, culture, Doomsday, energy, fantasy, history, nature, ocean, publishing, seasonal, seismic, volcanic, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rockin’ the Boat to Save the Lighthouse

Rockin’ the Boat to Save the Lighthouse

Former coal-oil-burner Trinidad Light shone out to mariners headed for home port

PETROLIA might RATTLE
McKinleyville may prattle
But in Trinidad they battle
To save the Lighthouse dear

Eureka dredges Humboldt Bay
While Arcata rescues Market Day
Weaverville firemen clear the way
So folks can go back home dear

One-lane traffic on 299
Get your gear packed well before time
You won’t get much of a warnin’ sign
Tsunami incoming, dear
Sidereal Musing 2017

Trinidad Civic Club’s Memorial Lighthouse site is a sacred one, erected on a small piece of land donated to the club in 1948 by Earl and Neva Hallmark, who in 1946 built the redwood pier at the Harbor. It was to play an important role in the lives of commercial and sport fishermen, and supported the ocean-going life of Trinidad until its steel replacement, which handles marine traffic today.

Synchronously, the Memorial Lighthouse stands on an overlook of the Bluff down towards the sacred burial ground and Yurok village of Tsurai—home to generations of First People—on Old Home Beach. The Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse and the ancient village setting are a reminder of how preservation of sacred places can exist together. The Yurok Tribe are supportive of the Lighthouse preservation fund.

Lighting the Way for a Future of Memories

WWII Danforth anchor, 1898 decommissioned bell—which strikes every day at noon—flank the endangered Lighthouse

Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse, constructed in 1949 to house the 1912 coal oil lantern, was decommissioned by the Coast Guard when the electric light was installed at the Trinidad Head Lighthouse in 1974. The area also accommodates the two-ton 1898 bronze bell decommissioned at the same time when automation came to the Bell House on Trinidad Head, pictured below right.

Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse, a replica of the 1871 Trinidad Head Lighthouse, was built by Trinidad Civic Club on a 45ft. x 50ft. parcel of the Bluff donated by Earl and Neva Hallmark in 1948 and dedicated on June 26, 1949. The lighthouse contains a 1912 coal oil Fresnel lantern, the last one of its kind, decommissioned from use by the United States Coast Guard on the Pacific Coast. It was previously installed in the Trinidad Head Lighthouse.

Later, the World War II USS Danforth anchor, recovered from the bay, was added to the site, and a bronze plaque reading “In loving memory to those who perished at sea. They shall live forever in our hearts” was dedicated May 30, 1970.

The site on the Bluff at Edwards and Trinity Streets also holds the 1898 4,000-pound bronze fog bell moved from the fog Bell House on Trinidad Head, pictured below. It also serves as a Memorial Wall engraved with the names of 238 individuals Lost or Buried at Sea. An annual Memorial Naming ceremony is held on the last Sunday of May commemorating and honoring those named, since 1995.

Lighthouse & former Coastguard cottages on Trinidad Head—foghorn & automated light remain

TRINIDAD City leaders and Civic Club have agreed in principle to raise $40,000-$50,000 to move the Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse a few yards away, outside the threatened landslide area.

Council and Civic Club are working together with professional geologists to complete the move by October 2017, before the onset of the rainy season.

Foundation Realignment or Shoring Up?

Civic Club President Dana Hope informed the City Council that her group would accept any stopgap financing, to be secured via fundraising which included online solicitation. $40,000-$50,000 in ‘seed money’ is contingent on how much more Trinidad Council can secure in financing from California’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

OES funding is reckoned likely, but FEMA’s response is ‘pending’—an understandable statement, given their current clean-up operations in Florida and Texas after two hurricanes.

Tiny Trinidad Head Lighthouse, left distance, with functioning foghorn, foreground

The slope underpinning both the Lighthouse and Edwards Street, town thoroughfare that passes just north of the lighthouse steps, need long-term reinforcement. Construction costs range from $100,000 to $1 million, according to a recent engineering report, based on drill borings, readings from slope inclinometers and aerial and field mapping, compiled over last six months by SHN Consulting Engineers & Geologists, Eureka.

Plight of the Lighthouse has attracted national and international attention and that interest is starting to pay off.

A Preservation Fund has already been set up and gifts and donations of any size are flowing in here. U.S. taxpayers may make tax-deductible donations by check for the Lighthouse Preservation Fund to

Trinidad Civic Club
for The Lighthouse Preservation Fund
P.O. Box 295
Trinidad, CA 95570

Those wishing to add a named donation, or gift on behalf of a loved one already buried at sea may wish to use this avenue of funding.

If you want to give anonymously, or make a large (private) amount, you may email for more information to memoriallighthouse@gmail.com.

Trinidad Civic Club, in cooperation with Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Coast Guard, arranges free tours of Trinidad Head Lighthouse throughout the year—a strenuous walk around ‘The Head’, but worth it. Discussion is ongoing to find the most reasonable and cost-effective solution before the rainy season.
©2017 Marian Youngblood

September 15, 2017 Posted by | authors, blogging, culture, earth changes, environment, history, ocean, rain, seismic, traditions, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment