Saturday, August 27, 2016

Baths 5 Cents

Baths Five Cents

Water off last night

River drys up, you crave more.
No cheese for Lent, dream of cream.

Fortunately the weather is cooler.
Fog in the morning for the rodeo.

Jackie is pregnant, again...
Promise puppy photograph

Hadn't heard from him a month
text arrives plans made and fail

Am I better off not missing  
tub soaks to drain cares away?
je crains la rivière
nettoie votre chanson

Caroline Gerardo  Baths Five Cents Poem Copyright August 27, 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016

San Juan Midwife

Crucifix belonged to Polonia Montanez

San Juan Capistrano Midwife

The blister on her left hand bleeds on the slath. Rods and weavers form the crucifix constructed from willow and native grass. Doña Polonia Guiterrez Montanez (Canedo and Simard) waits for labor of the girl on the cot to hasten. Doña puts the cross in progress on the night table.
"I'm adding oak to the stove outside, I'll be right back."
"Hurry before the next pain comes, or I will die." 
"He watches over us, pray to his mother Mary."
Doña trims sprigs of black and blue cohosh from hemp string bunches of herbs. Flowers and leaves smash in a mortar. Herbs turn to malachite green mush. Then she carries the ball of moss to the fire outside. Add a log, and place the herbs into a iron pot hanging over the fire. Water bubbles over the iron. It spits as the tincture dunks. Aroma of smoking sage fills the air. Doña allows the medicine to steep. She returns to the girl.
Inside the girl's legs prop on the hammock. In the darkness her limbs are the color of roasted chestnut.
"Sit forward, I'll massage your back."
As the girl  leans forward, Doña times stimulation of energy pathways with the return of the spasms. Doña hums. Her hands sand the sharpness of pain.

She sings the responsorial psalm, "Cuenten las Maravillas del Señor."

The girl screams.
"Don't waste energy. Let me see if it's time to push."
The midwife pulls up the girl's gown. She holds the legs wide. The opening is the size of a silver dollar.
"Next contraction we push. Breathe now."
The girl inhales with a whistling sound  through the gap in her front teeth. Doña brings the clean towels closer. She mops the brow of the Indian girl.
"Will the Padre take my baby?" Tears are in her eyes.
"No. We know what the soldier did." 
The wave of contraction returns. Doña props the girl upright to use gravity. 
"Make long good pushes. Don't yell or speak. Bear down."
The girl's face reddens. She grunts.

"A breath. Now push more. Almost."
The girl leans back. She rests. In a minute the urge to push out the pain returns. The girl lifts up. With Doña's coaching, the head comes out from the womb. Doña holds the neck of the baby as the girl relaxes before the next contraction. Cramps return with force to push the shoulders, and a wet child is born. Doña cleans the infant's mouth and eyes. 
The girl, a child herself reaches out  to hold the infant. Doña places the cooing baby on her chest.
"Let me put your son in a clean blanket. Let us pray in thanksgiving for a healthy child."
As the two rest, Doña finishes creating the straw and willow crucifix. She hangs Christ upon the wall above and blesses herself.

(The cross remains in her humble house in Old Towne San Juan.)

Caroline Gerardo
copyright August 20, 2016

Polonia was one of a few midwives at the San Juan Capistrano Mission. It is said she created rain from prayer during the drought. Oh how we could find such a talent today.  She taught the native children at the mission. This woman out lived four husbands (Simard - the last was a Medical Doctor who lived to the age of 103) She practiced healing arts with native herbs. If you have any artifacts or information about her family the Heritage Society, and myself would be proud to record more facts.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Message to Bears



Clothes pin
old thing fifty worth a penny
why repair it?
Pinch wire, line up splintered curves
and bring back spring uses far too many.

Light house
obsolete tower, narrow my dear
will pelicans nest?
Rebuild carbon arc lamp
can't find at Amazon, hire optical engineer

Poem and images copyright Caroline Gerardo on a hot August morning 16, 2016

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Squirrel War

Shared first tomato from the ranch today.
Piggish to slice it into a salad.
Co-workers enjoy the peppery
heavenly joy of organic produce.
I did not work this hard to feed ingrates.

Included here are pretty photographs but the remains of this
post chronicles my war on squirrels who killed my baby chickens. If you're squeamish, or you love fuzzy tails, or
want the second amendment appealed, don't read. This is war on a nasty pest.
Almost eighty days in my new home
Compost piles cook, 17 tons of oak mulch disappears as I wheelbarrow it in place,
hugelkultur shrinks peppers climb on top.
Invested weeks of physical labor.
Don't mind the birds stealing half
the seeds I plant but these are murderous
critters that kill for sport (they don't eat the
chickens just bite them multiple punctures.)

What God created grey ground squirrels?
I'm losing a war with rodents.
I'm not in Aleppo without food or water;
but it's harder than planned.

I purchased these "solutions":
Haveaheart- zero results
what was I going to do with live angry pests?
After reading the instructions about drowning
them I gave the trap to my neighbor (3 miles down
the gravel road). He smiled about the battle.

Squirrelinator -the  male with striped panels
is able to open the door for his friends so they
can enter, enjoy a snack, relax in the shade, and exit.

Rat traps- 3 versions X 9 = no catches but one
empty jar of Skippy peanut butter

Wildlife Control Tube trap-
have reset the trigger nine times, last
time I didn't refill with peanuts as I think I
am feeding the offspring. Zero catches.

Airsoft gun, a Winchester one
I am able to hit a marshmallow on top of a can
at 90 yards BUT the creatures see the gun.
For hours I sat with a camo scarf over my head.
A cardboard wall in front hides my body.
Dark sweet Slemit cherries and peanuts wait in the
meadow.  Dam squirrels see me.

I upgraded my rifle to a better 12 gauge with
bird shot. Neighbor ranchers chuckle when I
hike up the mountain with the gun slung
on my back.
After practicing and becoming expert, I'm ready.
Buggers hide from the sound when I open the locked case.

The squirrels seem to rise at 11:00 AM then saunter home.
Rats with mink tails now work on more nests and get into
my attic.  They are asleep at 5:00 P.M.. It's a leisurely life.
There are plenty of tomatoes, okra, eggplant and squash
to gobble up and bury for later.
This morning I leave the ranch early for the office.
There one the hood of my car. A fat bushy tailed girl
stands upright eating a ripe tomato. I swear she flipped me off.

Don't suggest poison. Everyone says they are too smart, and
it will be the Great Pyrenees dogs that eat vile second hand.

How do I encourage Coopers Hawks and Red Tailed Hawks
to visit and stay?

See vase squirrels broke

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Up-cycled Recovery

bird bath upcycled


Bird Bath got holes
name of the use gone
Time for chrysalis.
Woodpeckers hunt worms.
Sparrows steal sunflower seeds.
Add sand and compost to
iron antique up-cycled 
succulent planter sprouts.
Get back on your search
stretch those chicken wings
and fly sister.

Ivory Billed Woodpecker is Endangered there are a few out of range here
where I live. 
Phil the water truck gentleman rescued one with a broken wing. 
Phil's a cowboy who looks like he played football.  He found
a vet who coached him online how to care for this wild creature. 
The bird was released yesterday - never looked back.  
We thought the bird would not make it to fly again.
I contacted two endangered species birding groups without response. 
Wish I had taken pictures of Connie (we assumed female) 
Phil had her wrapped in newspaper and a cardboard box in the 
cab of his big yellow water rig truck. 
Bloody and in shock Connie had crazy eyes
I found grubs in my garden. We fed her meal worms, baby chicken feed 
and chicken electrolyte water. 
The bugs wriggled in wet paper towels inside Kerr jars to give him to bring home. 
She didn't eat or drink for two days. 
Recovery was slow but she got stronger.
The day we released Connie someone from this rehabilitation center called me back.

Copyright August 9 2016 Caroline Gerardo
poem and images 

Saturday, August 6, 2016


Saudade missing ~ echoes of your footsteps gone ~ bees humming in heart. #haiku
Saudade a Portuguese and Galician word for longing for someone or some past event that I was fond of which is now lost. It has closure. The object of missing may never return. The love that remains, and the love that stays after someone is gone. In love relationships we nurture and the other may leave out of balance. Our children we care for must go to find their destiny. When a dear one passes away the feeling as if they were calling us in the hour before we wake. 

Hold fragile shells for me.
Caroline Gerardo
copyright August 6 2016