Geology In Action: Ice Age Megafloods

In 1909, the Seattle teacher [Harley Bretz] visited the University of Washington to see the U.S. Geological Survey’s new topographic map of the Quincy Basin, a large area on the west side of the Columbia Plateau. He was 27, with no formal training in geology, but when he looked at the map, he noticed a striking feature: a huge cataract (much like Dry Falls) on the western edge of the basin, a place where water appeared to spill out of the basin and into the Columbia River, gouging a canyon several hundred feet deep. The falls would have been bigger than Niagara, but there was no apparent source of water for them—no signs whatsoever of a river leading to the cataract.

Bretz asked faculty in the department about the feature, called Potholes Coulee, but they had no answers for him. Nor could they explain many of the other unusual features of the region. That’s when, as legend has it, Bretz decided to become a geologist. He earned his Ph.D. in geology from the University of Chicago four years later, changed his professional name from Harley to “J Harlen” to sound more respectable, and in 1922 returned to eastern Washington to take a closer look at the plateau and its scablands. And after two seasons in the field, his conclusions shocked even himself: The only possible explanation for the all the region’s features was a massive flood, perhaps the largest in the Earth’s history—“a debacle which swept the Columbia Plateau,” ripping soil and rock from the landscape, carving canyons and cataracts in a matter of days. “All other hypotheses meet fatal objections,” he wrote in a 1923 paper.

read the rest at Natural Geographic

Four Pepper Pasta

3 bell peppers of different colors (green, yellow, red)*
1 pkg penne pasta (or mostacchioli – straight tubes is what you’re looking for)
1 onion (size depends on your fondness for onion)
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
cracked black pepper

*Green bell peppers are underripe yellow, red, or other color peppers. They will be less sweet and more tangy.

Cut the onion and peppers into chunks. Cook the onion in a little olive oil over medium heat; add peppers when you feel like it. (This is how you know this is a family recipe.) Cook to your taste; I like the vegetables crisp but you can caramelize the onions if you like.

Cook the penne according to package directions – taste test a minute or two before it says it’s done so that you don’t miss it. Drain and mix in the veggies; toss with balsamic vinegar, oregano, and cracked black pepper (the fourth pepper.)

Snow White II


Mirrors do not show the truth
or if they do, we are not equipped to hear it.
A mirror reflects only that which we expect to see,
our hopes, our fears, our vanity
reflections only of the eyes that see it.

The mirror absorbs images
Impresses them into its lack of soul.
Magazine girls, too slim,
Tweaked to absurd alien perfection,
Hollywood starlets in their eating disorders
wrinkles smoothed, curves cleaned
soft-focus lenses, one thousand tricks
that I know, subtle distortions of reality—
Stalin would be proud.

Mirrors are cold, backed with metal
and care not if their harsh reflection leaves scars
I will never be thin enough
I will never be pretty enough
The mirror is Despair’s domain with just cause.
Cold rationality for a world
for which reason has taken on too much
Much that is not its purview.

Mirrors do not show the truth. Truth
is only to be found in human eyes.

You are beautiful. Believe this.
You are so beautiful.
You are so beautiful.

July 31, 2010

History and Prophecy

For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’

These are the prophecies to inspire dread
Speaking to yesterdays and tomorrows
One generation to blessed are the dead,
Blessed are the ones not born to sorrows.

Blessed are the ones who have no need
to watch the ones they cherish torn away.
Better to not have that pain.
better to

In the old myths,
the tales of yesterdays and tomorrows,
it is always the woman
who is the agent of chaos. The man is steadfast
and somehow, the woman bumbles in
and screws it all up. Eve
precipitates the Fall.

How could she not? it is women
who bring change into the world,
one child at a time. That is chaos
when perfection is found in stagnation.

Perfection, spinning in an empty mirrored hall.

Barren is a state of mind, not of body.
The agents of stagnation,
who abhor any hint of change
in the yesterdays and tomorrows
dismiss children, the idea of children,
ideas, the children of the mind.
Blessed are the barren, whose minds have never born fruit.

One cannot get far in life
without loss. A friend
cut down by cancer,
losing the long battle.
The suddenness of the car accident,
the shock of sudden violence.

Fear of loss, of no more sharing
of yesterdays and tomorrows,
drives too many to mourn prematurely,
to shun change

“With the world as it is,
how can you bear to have children?”
“I could never bring a child into this world.”
The agents of stagnation
and fear
speaking to yesterdays
and tomorrows
say, “Blessed are the barren.”
I say, blessed are the ones
who understand
Pandora’s gift
(that agent of chaos)
the small, the quiet, the last light.

May 12, 2010

Little Red Riding Hood II

At the Door

What big teeth you have, Grandmother.
The better to tear your heart out, my dear.

Bitch, she calls her, and Slut
This is one of the good days,
when she does not recognize her at all,
but rails at this stranger who has come into her house.
Far worse are the days when the girl is mistaken
for her mother, or her aunt,
as she holds the hand of the woman with mad bright eyes,
eyes that somehow still hold flashes of gold.
Her hands tremble as she doses out the medications
(she has to hide them, these days,
lock them away in secret cupboards and hide the keys.
The mind is dimmed but the body is still agile.)
The lack of sleep is constant these days. Every night
up to put the woman back to bed
tell her the dog is fed
(Mischa died many years ago)
the furniture is where it needs to be
it is not dawn, it is not dawn
the cows do not need to be milked.
In return she gets the accusations,
the insinuations that she is a thief, a whore,
a stranger keeping the woman away from those who love her.
In vain she tries to remember the friendly voice,
the soft hands, the scent of cookies,
the laughing days at the house with the butter-yellow walls.

When the doorbell rings, she starts;
her friends, so few, rarely bother to come by any more.
Suddenly frightened, the woman proclaims,
“Don’t open the door, not the door,
There are wolves out there.
The wolves are at the door.”
As she signs for the delivery, those medications she will have to hide,
she looks over and sees in those fear-filled eyes the flash of gold and thinks, No,
the wolves are not at the door.

The wolves got you long ago.

January 27, 2010

The Little Match Girl

The Dark of the Year

Light the match.
The only way out is through.

A scrape, a flare,
the flame blue with heat along the bottom edge,
golden near the top,
its heart dark.
‘Lucifers’ would seem miraculous to those
who had to struggle with flint and tinder
when the coals went out,
though to be sure, it might have been that steel
would be harder to come by than flint.

Hope is the province of adults.
Children only know the world as it is,
whether fair or restrictive. A child
beaten for things out of her control
would, perhaps, find it only natural.
How rare for such an one to have any
to whom she could account for love.

Fire consumes, and fire changes,
adds weight to what it does not burn,
adds weight to what is left behind.
Children, so light, might flare up completely
leaving behind only the scars in our souls.

Light the match.
In its dark heart, a fascination,
a vision of the happy past,
or perhaps the future.
Impossible to draw your eyes away.

Hope is the province of adults.
The only way out is through.

December 19, 2009