Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Friday, May 29, 2020

Spectacular Lakes

I just saw a picture of the tri-color lakes on top of Mount Kelimutu on Flores Island in Indonesia and had to run them to ground as I'd never heard of them before.

Flores Island sits near the northern coast of Australia and features the only volcanic peak in the world with a lake system like these. Two of them (Tiwu Nua Muri Koo Fai or lake of Young Men and Maidens, and Tiwu Ata Mbupu or Lake of Elders) share a wall of a couple of meters in breadth and the other (Tiwa Ata Polo or Enchanted Lake) is about a mile to the west.

The native peoples believe that Tiwa Ata Polo, which is often dark red or black, is the home of evil spirits. Tiwu Nua Muri Koo Fai, which ranges from greens to blues of all ranges, is thought to be the final resting place for the spirits of those who die young. Tiwu Ata Mbupu is thought to be the place where the spirits of those who died of old age reside, and its colors range all over the spectrum, from a brilliant emerald to blues to mucky browns or deep red and beyond.

I wanted to know if these fascinating lakes are safe to swim in. Turns out if you do so, you are in a goodly amount of danger. The mountain is actually a volcano and the lakes all sport underwater fumeroles. These openings in the earth's crust spew steam rich in high mineral content gases such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, sulfides, sulfur dioxide (which needs only another oxygen molecule to be sulfuric acid), and  hydrogen chloride or hydrochloric acid. As these gases rise, they often bring with them blooms of various nutrients. The lakes are unlivable to plant and animal life, so have nothing to consume the nutrients except bacteria. The corrosive vapors have a distinctly irritating stench to them and can irritate your eyes and nose.

So if you visit these lakes, you're going to want to take your own water to drink, maybe some nose plugs, and your camera. The scenery is spectacular.

Lake of the Young Men and Maidens and Lake of the Elders
 Image credit :  by unknown via www.placestoseeinyourlifetime.com

Further reading:
Gregory B. Paternack and Johan C. Varekamp. Geochemical Journal, 28, 1994.
Hikmahtullah, H. Subagyo and B. H. Prasetyo. Indonesian Jour. of Agricultural Science, 4(1), 2003, pp. 1-11.
Enchanted Lake

Thursday, April 30, 2020

National Poetry Month--Day 30--5 Senses--Poem in Your Pocket

This cliff was much taller than it looks, and pretty stinking scary to hang out over. Certain death if the wind won. Mom started back at this point, saying, "I just can't watch you anymore." Poor Mom. It was such a rush! Taken by Ju with her telephoto lens.

 Today is both the last day of National Poetry Month and Poem-in-Your-Pocket day. To find out more on both of these subjects, go here. And it's been a pleasure to stretch to meet these challenges every day. Thank you, Stephanie Abney, for orchestrating the challenge each year. My hat's off to you.
And now, I give you....Five Senses Poem:

The Milky Way--a great place to spend some time, don't you think?

Before my closed eyes, I see the universe arrayed in diademic splendor, each star a gem, each galaxy dazzling in its glittering perfection. When I open my eyes, the faded familiarity of my dusty bookcases.
I close my eyes once more and the scent of searing chiles and the odors of leather and wool, sweat and rich fragrance of flowers greet my nose, as if I crouched in an Argentine marketplace.
A marketplace in Argentina.

The cries of the hawkers greet my ears. Diario! Diario! A newsboy with his dusty bag full of papers and a winning smile saunters past. The parrot on his shoulder caws, "Diario!" in its owner's voice. The cries fade to the thunder of crashing waves.
The monkey went everywhere. It was a game to tuck it somewhere on a person without them knowing it. Amazingly it still came home with me.

The salt spray peppers my skin, and I know I'm once again on a rocky outcropping in Ireland, along the Cliffs of Moher. I clamber up the scattering of rocks and boulders to lie prone on the cliff-top, the gravel digging into my front as I hold myself out beyond the cliff. The wind tries to snatch me from my perch.
Tea at the castle. Very proper and delicious. Afterwards the shenanigans resulted, but that's another story.

I am pulled back to Dromoland castle, to a tea party shared by my mother and sisters and I. Pinkies out, ladies. The scones with delicate clotted cream and tart currant jam play about my lips, drawing out a sumptuous smile. The little cakes and watercress sandwiches tasted of opulence and a happiness shared.
Two of the sisters NOT involved in shenanigans enjoying their chamomile.

Thank goodness for making memories, for filling the imagination with points of light. I pity those who live only in the machines of other people's manufacturing.

©2020 by H. Linn Murphy

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

National Poetry Month--Day 29--Cinquain

On this second to the last day of the poetry challenge, we're doing cinquains. Go here if you want to know what they are. Otherwise, kom hier jetzt:

Plunging downward
Steals breath, lights eyes, exhausts
I miss jumping, wind in my hair
(Ski steep and deep!)
©2020 by H. Linn Murphy

Good books
Delicious Fare
Luring, teasing, teaching
I can't leave you alone at all
Best friends 
©2020 by H. Linn Murphy

Soft and fuzzy
Leaping, cavorting, nibb'ling
You remind me of my childhood
©2020 by H. Linn Murphy

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

National Poetry Month--Day 28--Hero Poems

Today is Hero Poem day. If you want to know more about Hero Poems, go here. And my poems:

Lon-who doesn't 
believe in green ties

I know I don't often tell you
So that you'll know it's true
How much I've come to value
The myriad things you do

There's not another person
Who works both day and night
To make our life here better
Make weighty problems light.

You're gentle with small children
Every wounded little thing
You care about your people
You dance around and sing.

You've quite a fearsome intellect
You can fix most anything
You're sensitive and funny
Responsibility you bring

There were so many aspects
I wanted for my man
You sure as heck don't fit them all
But most of them you span

There's not another person
I'd want standing next to me
When the bad things hit the fan
It's you, Lon, happily.

©2020 by H. Linn Murphy
Grand builder of God's universe
Who spent his life's blood for our sin
Whose kind eyes see everything
On surface and deep within

You who set the planets spinning
Who built man from the dust
Who filled the world with varied life
Exemplar of the just

You who with your every act
Who spent life's every day
In perfect service to all mankind
In all You think and do and say 

You are the hero of my soul
You are the pathway sure
Raising the lantern of Your light
Your matchless life so pure

If I can but hope to serve
As best as I know how
To love Your siblings faithfully
I gladly to thee bow.

©2020 by H. Linn Murphy

 My Mom
From when I was tiny 
You were my mirror
And my lantern,
Holding aloft an example
Of what it means to become
A woman of God. 
You were the woman on her knees,
Twice the missionary
You were the most patient,
The kindest, the busiest, 
The most creative,
Curious about nature,
And about the world around us.
Mom the trouble shield
Though supportive wife
The go-getter-est, most intrepid
Person I know.
More than that,
You were always SERVICE.
You were there when
You wished to be anywhere else,
Making it work for the rest of us.
Because  it was what you do.
You build 'HOME'.
You build the future out of
Snips and smidges
And things others left behind.
You believed in a clumsy ballerina
And a squeaky violinist
And a writer of books
You, the ebullient,
Player of Scrabble 
With a twinkle in your eye,
Who hopes to win, 
But gladly acclaims others' wins. 
The creator of art and life,
The cork who rises to the top,
The water off a duck's back,
The 'This-too-will-pass' person.
You taught in spite of not knowing
The language where you lived.
You the globe-spanning teacher,
Cleanser of hospitals, bedrooms,
Mistakes and hearts,
You bloom where planted.
You, a fearsome warrior
For the righteous.
You who take meals to the sick,
Bake bread for the hungry,
Make dolls for the world,
You, the erstwhile debutante
Give clothing to children IN Africa,
You who work in hospitals
And orphanages,
Who walk though lame,
Who dug up the past,
You who hunt relatives
Like a coursing hawk.
You who care fiercely
For her young, 
Who taught us hard work didn't hurt,
My mother who remembers
The little things,
And gives them back
As big things.
You the sentinel of the broken,
Who dragged me around the world
When I was too young to appreciate
All you sacrificed for me
And for our family and 
Everyone you know
You, Mom, are my

©2020 by H. Linn Murphy

Monday, April 27, 2020

National Poetry Month--Day 27--Quinzaine Poems--

Quinzaines today! To seek out this esoteric poetry form, go here. And voil (spoken in my purposefully bad French accent) my poem, Mesdames et Miseurs:

Snake ate all the baby wrens
Will wrens ever nest
There again? 

©2020 by H. Linn Murphy

Something furry just ran past
Will Lon finally
Clean his den?

©2020 by H. Linn Murphy

Furry creature in the den
Should I let the black
Racer in?

©2020 by H. Linn Murphy

Heat begins hibernation
What other creatures
Will come in? 

©2020 by H. Linn Murphy

You've probably noticed a commonality here. We had a rather traumatizing day yesterday. Instead of a restful Sunday, I came running at my husband's insistent call to find that our normally impregnable birdhouse had been horribly invaded by a big black racer snake. While it is not poisonous, it delivers a painful bit and is incredibly fast. It was twined about the birdhouse with its head through the door and coming out through a crack in the 'roof.' The parents were diving in cheeping frantically and trying to peck it. The snake just hung there, probably sort of caught, too full of baby cactus wrens to extricate itself readily. 

While I took pictures, my husband caught up a handful of gravel and began pelting the thing to make it leave. It took several stinging pelts before it yanked itself out and dropped to the pile of gardening tools below. I could hear the distraught parents crying to their friends in the orange trees in the front yard. Heartbreaking to hear those cute little birds.
Somehow I managed not to get any pictures with the parents in. My husband did, though. They left when he started throwing rocks.
Of course the implements are going to move. We don't want any more babies to die because we don't have a dang garden shed. Tough lesson to learn.
It's going to be an even more hellaciously scorching summer than normal this year. That could be why I just saw something brown and furry scamper into my husband's messy den. He won't let me clean it, since it's HIS domain. Maybe having unwanted visitors will urge him to finally clean it up. Boy do I hope so!!!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

National Poetry Month--Day 26--Monorhyme--Song of Day

It's Monorhyme day today. Yup. I was clueless before too. Stephanie does a great job explaining it here. First I'm doing a free verse one, then I'll get to the Monorhyme. I don't usually write on Sunday. But today I'm introducing (yes, I know I'm WAY late) my mother to this site. Maybe she'll carry on for a while into May.

And on to my free verse poem (because I'm a rebel):

As morning sun paints delicate shell the cobalt sky
My friend whispers, "I am here."
"I know," I say.  "I've got a busy morning."
He smiles and answers a few million prayers.
"Too busy to talk to me?" He says,
The sadness tingeing His voice.
"We're talking now. Please bless my food."
He turns the sun up a notch to make
Sure more snow melts in North Dakota.
"Can we talk after breakfast?" He gently asks.
"Well I've got these urgent things to do.
But we'll talk soon. Maybe at lunch.
Hey, before I go, can you protect me from
This virus thing? It's really bugging me.
And bless all the poor people and take care
Of my friends while you're at it?"
"Do what the Prophet asks and you'll do fine."
At least we've talked. Kind of.
"Thanks. Bye." And I hit the ground running.
The talk at lunch is a few rote words
I toss at him before flying back to work.
As I run, I see His hand outstretched to me.
"Wait," He says. But I'm already gone, intent.
"I was trying to bless you like you asked.
Read the directions and do what they say."
"Just bless me," I yell as I race back to
What I was doing, ignorant of the hurt I'd caused.
He sighs, and walks back down the road,
A little dejected at the treatment of his "friend."
"She won't slow down and pay attention
Until I send her problems she can't ignore.
Then she's right there with her hand out,
Expecting Me to solve it all."
Another sigh, and He turns up the heat
In Arizona.

What kind of friend am I?

©2020 by H. Linn Murphy

Okay. Now for something completely different. Monorhyme:

Morning draws night's cobalt curtain onto grey
Extinguishing stars across wide expanse of Milky Way
Rise majestic monarch with its nourishing ray
O'er the vast cerulean vaults of milky May
Fill now with stitching birds in flights of fey
Til light illuminates all flower gardens gay
Making magic with wind, rain in rich display
And fills the whispering fields with crops and hay
Causes young fillies to leap and prance and neigh 
Up they rise, the humans who must for their livelihood pay
Busy as the bee, the ant, or periwinkle-feathered jay
Fashioning their world of steel and wood and clay 
Making choices for all Earth they hardly weigh
Fill the world with all importance they have need to say
Until at last the work grinds down to finish all essay
Home they go wending at dying of play
Sometimes in thankfulness and love they pray
Birds seek their nests, beasts their holdings affray
Dolphins leap and gambol to their home fold bay
Owl and bat begin their nighttime hunting prey
When night light stars replace the sunlight down they lay
To await the heralding of another incandescent day
©2020 by H. Linn Murphy

Saturday, April 25, 2020

National Poetry Month--Day 25--Acrostic Poem--Punting Penguins and Other Problems

It's Acrostic Poem day. It's also Red-hat Day, Save the Frogs Day, Plumber Day, Dancing Day, and International Penguin Day. For me it's Hardware Store Day.

How about Save the Red-hatted Dancing Plumber Frogs Day?

Ronald the Peeper looked for his heart's dream
Endeav'ring to find her, make her part of his team
Daring to do what a froggy must do

He puffed out his chest like a bubble in blue
At last someone heard his great basso profundo
Thund'ring out there across the great mundo.
"There never was such a deep voice," he boasted.
Evalina the Poison Arrow frog wanted him roasted
"Dead he must be, for I can't stand his croakin'.

Decidedly dead," was the thought but not spoken
And why is that, Miss Green-Skinned perfection?
"Never mind," says she. "I don't like his diction.
Could somebody please put him out of my madness
I can't hear myself think--it cuts into my sadness."
"Now what could the terribly sad problem be?"
Groused Ronny Peeper, the ebullient "He."

"Pray keep your voice down, for it's better than mine,"
Lied Evalina the PA frog, testing the line.
"Unless you can call in a less strident timber
My ears are just bleeding and it makes me less limber."
But Ronny just knew his song would make sense
Evelina must just hear it, then she wouldn't be tense
Ronald then sang his frog lungs to a frazzle

For Evalina he would belt it, for her he would dazzle
Right down to the minute when Ronny passed out
Oh poor little frog, his wee heart was not stout
Grieving then filled Evalina's small heart
Saddness claimed her as she sought from the start. 

Suddenly up jumped Ronny, his heart back to normal
A much-chastened frog was he, and much less formal
Very strong feelings for Evalina the Poison Arrow
Eked away down the dark river narrow
Rosy the Peeper was calling his name
Somewhere she waited 'cause they felt the same.

Moral of the story? Sometimes it's better to go for the less high maintenance frog. 

©2020 by H. Linn Murphy

(Please understand that this poem is born of a frustration with all this social distancing crap. I'm SO over it all, especially since I believe it to be a massive social experiment that is unconscionable and dreadful and a bunch more words that fill my head but I won't let gush forth. So there's this):

Please understand, I like penguins. They're cute little birds with a dedication I admire.
Understand too, that I'm sick of people telling me what I have to care about.
Not your job to tell me I must care about the global warming myth
That's my job if I wish it. If I want to get all misty about sea birds, I will.
I'm a big girl. I have hopes and dreams and agendas all my own.
Needing you to tell me what to do isn't a thing.
Go get someone else to boss around. As for me, I'll gladly go pick up trash in the park. On my own.

People seem to think they can order others to do their bidding because it's "correct."
End the idiocy! If you want to change that aspect of the world, do it yourself!
Natter on about saving the sea urchins on your own. I'll be the one out there doing it.
Go pay your own money to clean up streams and save weasels. I'm already there on my own.
Understand that it's not your job to be my adult nursemaid.
I know I'm not politically correct (another phrase for "I can say what I want to but you can't.")

Nope. But I do try to GOVERN MYSELF.
Sometimes I just envision drop-kicking a penguin into the water. It just makes me giggle.

©2020 by H. Linn Murphy