The Waning Moon on Samhain

The Waning Moon on SamhainThe Waning Moon on Samhain

The wheel turns and the year rolls
The moon is waning like the world
In majesty the Goddess passes
The crone’s crown with its silver horns
Above her pale and unseen face
Her night black star spangled hair
Veiled in the wispy smoke of Autumn
Flows unbound and trails across the world
She has left the Sky King’s oaken bed
Where they lay together in the golden light of summer
She has risen up and robed herself in darkness
Now She passes through the Samhain fire
Trailing darkness like a train behind her
Bound now for the Sky King’s bed of holly
To lie with him at the brink of the year
As She makes her stately passage through the land
Her pale white belly is already swelling
With the green child growing in her womb
As the year rolls and the wheel turns


Poem © 2013 The Owl Underground

The Mixed Blessing of Tabbed Browsing

When I’m doing a blog post, reading a blog I follow, or making a comment, it’s so convenient to open  a new tab, hop over to it and look up a word or reference, and then hop back to the tab where I was reading or writing whatever it was.  On the other hand, when I’m reading a blog and somebody mentions a book, or something else neat that they have gotten, it’s dangerously simple to open a new tab and go to  Especially dangerous when I’m on the website, whose blog I follow, reading about new books coming out.  Every rose has it’s thorn.

When I posted the blog post before this one, I saw that it was my 399th post.  However, that’s counting the 39 posts on my WOL’s River of Stones blog, otherwise I’d have made more of a brouhaha about this being my 400th blogpost.

2013_01_20-2There is that beautiful phenomenon that occurs right before sunset or right after sunrise where even though you are in shadow, tall things like trees are limned with a golden light. It’s a kind of magical thing.  Wondrous. This picture is from last winter at sunset, when I attempted to photograph the effect on the tall Siberian elm next door.  I saw it again the other morning lighting the chinaberry tree next door on the other side.  There’s bound to be a name for the effect, but I don’t know what it is.  (That makes a total of four times in these last two paragraphs I’ve jumped to a new tab — to look up words, “brouhaha” and “limn,” to be sure they mean what I thought they meant, to get a Wikipedia link for “chinaberry tree,” and, apparently, “wondrous” doesn’t have an “e” like you’d think it would . . .)

Just now, and just to prove I am the Google Queen, in case there are any doubters, I hopped over to a new tab to google: “sunlight golden glow sunset,” and actually found what you call it:  The Golden Hour — the last hour of sunlight before sunset and the first hour of sunlight after sunrise.  God, I love the internet!


Raiders, Horned Frogs and a Fox

Apparently, foxes go for football.  This past September, one was spotted on national television attending the football game between my alma mater, Texas Tech University (Red Raiders) and Texas Christian University (Horned Frogs) which was played in Lubbock, Texas’ Jones AT&T Stadium on September 12, 2013..  This video appeared in the “Sports Day” section of the on line Dallas Morning News

8441-south-american-grey-fox The foxes in question are grey foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus scottii).  Among canids, the gray fox’s ability to climb trees is shared only with the Asian raccoon dog.  They climb fences, too.  They’ve climbed my parents’ back yard fence to drink out of their bird bath.

“Horny Toad”

Just a note about the local football fauna.  The TCU “Horned Frogs” derive their name from the Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum), which is what we called “horny toads” growing up.  They eat ants, especially the big red ones, like bit me on the toe.  The neighbor lady we stayed with while my mom was at work put bluing on the bite, which actually helped.

UT mascot Bevo XIV

The Texas Tech mascot is the Masked Rider, who is only allowed to take the field during home games as there is a rule that live animal mascots may not be taken to away games.  Probably a good thing when Tech plays the University of Texas.  At away games, their mascot is Raider Red.

Tech's 52nd Masked Rider (2013-2014), Corey Waggoner riding Fearless Champion.
Tech’s 52nd Masked Rider (2013-2014), Corey Waggoner riding Fearless Champion.

Just a clue.  Football of any kind — junior high, high school, college or pro — is a big deal in Texas and is taken very seriously. The film Friday Night Lights doesn’t exaggerate.  My high school football team plays Odessa Permian and would have played the football team on which the movie is based.

That said, I have to confess.  I am an atypical Texan in that I don’t much care for sports.  The only reason I ever used to read the sports pages of our local paper was for the sports cartoons of Dirk West, a local cartoonist.

Back then, Tech was in the Southwest Conference and Dirk West’s cartoons featured the SWC schools’ mascots, with dialog consisting of comments about the games upcoming and/or recently played.

Seeing as how Halloween is the day after tomorrow, I thought I’d show you this Dirk West cartoon from September 27, 1974 which cast the A&M Aggie as “Fraggiestein.” Pictured left to right is the Baylor Bear, the TUC Horn Frog, the University of Arkansas Razorback (the “Hogs“), the Texas A&M Aggie, the University of Texas Longhorn, and Raider Red.

Dirk West cartoon from September 1974
Dirk West cartoon from September 1974

You may notice the resemblance between “Raider Red” as drawn by Dirk West, and a certain Yosemite Sam . . .


Sad and Mad

Watching the SealCam again, although it’s after 9 pm there. Apparently, the SealCam has a light of sorts, or else it has a night-vision mode. I took a screenshot of it just now. I think you’ll see what makes me sad and mad. If you look just below the baby seal, you’ll see an all too familiar shape.

Screen shot from SealCam 2013-10-29, 21:15 Local

I have the SealCam open on another tab in my browser and have been hopping over to take a look now and then.  When I first started watching this afternoon (it’s 4:30 pm here) it was showing a cow seal who looked to be in labor.  Now the camera (guided by the local Ranger) has zeroed in on this little pup.

And Now For Something Completely Different . . .

After those last couple of posts, which were kind of dire and down, here’s this.

I cannot even get my head around the concept of a marching band doing stuff like this. Frankly, the idea of playing an instrument and walking at the same time seems pretty complicated to me. But this stuff just blows my mind. How do they know where to go? How do they know where to stand? How do they do it all and keep in step? Pretty amazing stuff.

Grim and Grimmer


Spit out by the sea
Like a bit of gristle
On this bald, forsaken pile of rocks
Battered, bruised,
And brine soaked to the bone
With nothing
But the sodden clothes I stand in
And the lead grey, lead cold sea.

The birds are all too fast for me.
But there are seals
Down on that little scrap of beach.
I could corner one
Against the rocks somehow
And brain it with a cobble.

I’d have to eat it raw.
There’s not a single stick of drift wood
Nor even splinters from a mangled hull
To make a fire with
Even if I could perform a miracle
And get one started
In this rough-shod, unrelenting wind.

No knife.
I’d have to bash the hide
Between two rocks
Batter it apart
To get through to the blubber
Gnaw it with my teeth,
But I’m that hungry.

Yes, and thirst-tormented, too,
With a sardonic wave-roiled
Ocean full of water all round me
And not a single thing
To catch the icy cruel rain in
But my cupped hands and my open mouth.

But there it is.
When hunger’s gnawing at your bones and growling,
You do the best you can
With what you’ve got
Even if you’ve nothing left
But bare hands,
Bare wits,
And grim contrariness.

My mind’s made up.
I will not lay me down and die.
Oh, no.
The sea will have to murder me.

Best get to it, then.
Try that bull seal’s what I’ll do
While I’ve still got the strength.
Even though the bulls are bigger, fiercer,
Stronger than the doe-eyed cows
Suckling their pussy-willow pups
I still have a tiny crumb of scruples left.

Poem © 2013 The Owl Underground

What Comes of Watching SealCams

Image © 2010 Celtic Haven










The killers have taken my mother.

And I
Am a white seal pup
Bedraggled by the surf,
On the rock-crumbed beach
Where the sea bit off a chunk of land.
Huddled in the wet cold cobbles
On a wrack of seaweed.
I wait
And wait
For the mother who doesn’t come
And doesn’t come.

Some other grey speckled mother
Bereft of her own white darling
Might hear my wailing, weakening cry
That grows less frequent by the hour
Fool herself
Come a-caterpillaring
Out of the wave lace
and claim me.

But what are the odds?

Poem © 2013 The Owl Underground

Woke up with this thing rattling around in my head like a pebble in a shoe.  This is what comes of watching sealcams at three in the morning. The camera was trained on a beach that had about seven or eight seals sleeping on it. Then it moved over to the smaller, rockier beach on the other side that had nothing on it but a single white seal pup. It was lying on a wrack of seaweed with its head pillowed on a stone. It was motionless for so long I was worried it was dead, but then finally it moved. After a while, the tide started coming in and it had to move further up the beach to keep from getting drenched by the surf. The camera would zoom in on it periodically, and at one point, when it was trying to figure out how to get further up the beach, you could see it was calling out. I watched the feed off and on for about half an hour. The mother hadn’t come back when I shut the ‘puter off and went to bed. When I checked it just now, the camera was off line. It’s after midnight there anyway, and they’re supposed to be having a storm.


Photo ©2012 Sanday Development Trust, Orkney Islands

A blog friend has posted a link to a website sponsored by the Sanday Development Trust.  Sanday is one of the north isles of Orkney, located off Scotland’s north coast.  Following up on the success of last year’s project a remotely operated, solar powered camera has again been set up overlooking two small Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus) breeding beaches.  You might want to check out the website and give a look at the live video feed from the SealCam. 

Sanday Orkneys
Photo ©2012 Sanday Development Trust, Orkney Islands

Unfortunately, you’ll need a broad band connection and you’ll need to remember to take into account that the Orkneys are on GMT (0 UTC) which is, depending on your time zone, 4 (EST = -4 UTC)) to 7 (PST = -7 UTC) hours ahead of the US (e.g., midnight in New York is 4 a.m in the Orkneys).  Also take into account that Britain went off daylight saving time this weekend, and the US doesn’t go back to real time until next weekend. Oh, and Britain  is supposed to get hit by a whalloping storm early Monday, with gale-force winds and heavy rain forecast. .

If there’s nothing visible or interesting on the live SealCam feed, there are also short videos from last year’s SealCam available on the website, as well as several blog posts by the Ranger and many photos taken of the area.