Archive | July, 2008

Rite of Passage

19 Jul

Rite of Passage

Many cultures have
a rite of passage for girls
Pierced ears mark her age


Poetry – the point where ekphrasis and fibonacci collide!

18 Jul

fibonacci, artist: Rick Mobbs

of light,
the spiral,
the hand of a child,
numbers spin and reveal a world.

Ekphrasis is a type of poetry wherein the author describes another work of art — think Keats’ Ode to a Grecian Urn.  The poem I wrote is a Fib poem which was inspired by the subject matter of the poem.  Thank you to Rick Mobbs for sharing his artwork as inspiration.
More ekphrasis poems at read write poem.
All content written by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2008, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License

Mooning over the moon – a ghazal

17 Jul


Sun’s opposite, ruler of the night
Control the seas, hope in the dark,  sliver moon

Moon over Pismo State Beach

Shares the sky with the sun
Delicate white light, half moon

Moon over Santa Cruz

Full, round, lush, sky-filling light
Pregnant with power, full moon

Moon over Boulder Creek

Mysterious glow, elusive light
Sparkles through tree leaves, harvest moon

Ghazal is an Arabic form of poetry.  When the form is translated into English, it becomes a series of couplets that share an ending word or phrase.
My attempt at Ghazal is far from traditional or typical.  Learn more about this form by visiting The Ghazal Page and reading some really good ones.
More Ghazal poems at Totally Optional Prompts.
All content written by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2008, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License

Mish-Mash – Caring for Birds

17 Jul

So, it turns out that I’m not alone in caring about birds — but you probably knew that, didn’t you?  Here are a couple of pieces that show how others care about birds, too.  Yes, it’s a bit of a cop out — my mother is visiting.  She brought my son home — he’s been staying with them for a week and a half.  So, just now, my focus is elsewhere.  You understand!


Duckling XCU

Wordless Wednesday with birds and words!

16 Jul

Bewick's Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)

Poor little Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii) got into a tussle with another bird — perhaps a house finch, I’m not sure.  In escaping, it ran into a window at my mother-in-law’s house.  Rebounding from that, it ran into a net that keeps the plum trees (see trees behind) from dumping all their leaves into her pool.  I worried about this net when they put it up but it’s been more than a year and we’ve never had a bird get caught in it.  I think they can see it just fine (it’s the same kind used to keep birds off fruit trees) but this one was in a panic.  Repeating silently in my head, “Tom can do this, so can I!  Tom can do this, so can I!  Tom can do this, so can I!“, I gently extracted the bird from the netting.  I held it carefully while checking to see if it had any blood or other obvious signs of injury.

Bewick's Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)

In a moment, it wanted to sit on my hand (and poop, clearly) so I let it.  As I held it, I quietly asked Ruth to get my camera and she took these first two pictures.  I figured it was a House Wren but I’m pretty sure it’s actually a Bewick’s Wren (Lifer! Nope, not a lifer — saw one at Elkhorn Slough before!) That strong white eye stripe is pretty telling.

Bewick's Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)

Ruthie gave the camera to Greg who captured what happened next.  The little darling didn’t want my hand anymore but must have felt safely camoflauged on my shirt — how clever of me to dress like a Wren that day).  It stayed on my shirt for a few minutes.  I actually walked over and sat in my chair — we were having appetizers and cocktails by the pool when all this happened.  It stayed with me for a few minutes and then flew off — it was still a little dazed and managed to flounder back into the net — I got up and went over but it slipped through the net (clever bird) and flew into the plum tree to rest some more.  We let it be — clearly it had recovered.

I felt so lucky to hold this delicate creature — it was like holding air — and that it trusted me enough to let me give it the time it needed for recovery.  I’m so grateful that my daughter got to see it — although she didn’t get touch it as she wanted to.  An encounter like that with nature will stick with a child (and a grown woman) forever.  Thank you, little wren!

The Secret of the Super Secret Meadow

15 Jul

I know it’s supposed to be Ruby Tuesday but Ruby is giving up the floor so that I can keep my promise to share the secret of the Super Secret Meadow . . . you’ll see a tiny bit of Ruby at the end, no fears!

Come back with me to the Super Secret Meadow.  If you remember, we saw lots of wildflowers here but there were two wildflowers that I saved to share with you in a special way.  First of all, many of us read Julie Zickefoose’s blog and there is something Julie is well known for . . . no not her wealth of knowledge on birds and birding, no, not her phenomenal ability to paint birds, no, not the incomparable Chet Baker, no, not her naughty parrot, no, not her nearly unbelievable bird rehabilitation stories, no, not her fantastic kids or lovely garden or . . . yes, that’s right, orchids!  Julie has the most amazing orchids and has encouraged many of us to try growing orchids for ourselves.

Well, the real secret of the Super Secret Meadow is that there are two different kinds of wild orchids growing in this super secret place.  The Super Secret Meadow is somewhere near June Lake, California.  June Lake sits at around 7500 feet above sea level on the easter side of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  This is high desert but clearly not all of it is desert.  There is a fresh water spring up here as well as a mineral water seep.  These conditions encouraged the super secret meadow to form and form it did.  And, these conditions allow orchids to thrive too.

Super-Secret Meadow

Look closely at this picture and you’ll see white or pale green spires sticking up all over the place.  That is our first and most abundant orchid in the Super Secret Meadow. It is the White Rein Orchid which is also known as a Sierra Bog Orchid.   It’s scientific name is Platanthera dilatata or Habenaria dilatata (evidently it’s undergoing a taxon change — well, we birders understand that one, don’t we?  Ask me how my Blue Grouse became a Dusky Grouse that was really a Sooty Grouse).

White Rein Orchid

White Rein Orchid

White Rein Orchid

Isn’t it lovely?

The other orchid found in and near the Super Secret Meadow is the Stream Orchid.  We actually saw these along the trail to the Super Secret Meadow.  The Stream Orchid’s scientific name is Epipactis gigantea.

Stream Orchid

Stream Orchid

Look at those gorgeous colors.

I absolutely fell in love with these beautiful orchids.  They are so, so beautiful.  I was so happy to see them wild and thriving.  I desperately wanted to take them all home with me — and they both do grow in Santa Cruz county — but that would have been so wrong.  And if I collected them and they didn’t survive.  Well, I don’t think I could live with that.  Better to collect photographs and know they are there, thriving, wild, and in a Super Secret Meadow.

Ruby in Super Secret Meadow

Ruby hopes you liked the Super Secret Meadow as much as she did!

Temperature Temper Tantrum

14 Jul

hot, sticky, temper
the temperature goes up
the heat annoys me

I have read about people who enjoy the heat, who sink into it, and fully relax.  I am not one of those people.  I cannot cope well in hot weather.  Small decisions are beyond me.  Little details slip away from me.  The heat annoys me.

hot, languid, lifeless
each leaf wilts before the heat
the water is hot

My favorite time of each day is when I water the garden.  When temperatures sore to over 100, the black coil of hose becomes an efficient solar water heater.  If I were washing my dishes, I’d be pleased but scalding my plants will not help them to recover from the heat.  The heat annoys me.

smoke clogs the clear sky
brown, ash-filled air clogs my lungs
I long for cool fog

I live near the coast.  Soon, the weather will change and the cool, damp fog will reclaim its right to march up into these mountains bringing fog needed by redwood trees, my garden, and the fire-fighters alike.  We wait for that.  Some wait calmly.  I wait with growing impatience.  The heat annoys me.


Haibun is an ancient type of poetry combining haiku and prose.  This haibun was written in answer to a prompt from read write poem.
More heat-induced tantrums poems can be found at read write poem.
All content written by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2008, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License

Visit the Super Secret Meadow!

13 Jul

Igor, my wonderful stepfather, took me to the Super Secret Meadow.  I can’t tell you exactly where it is because then I’d have to kill you — it’s Super Secret!  I will tell you that it is where I saw the Red-breasted Sapsucker and heard the Sooty Grouse. The intrepid hikers for this adventure were me (behind the camera, as always), Gage (super hiker but tends to whine when near his mother), and the aforementioned, Igor (that’s really his name and no, his hump doesn’t move–although he will answer to Eye-gor!).

Gage Igor

The trail to the Super Secret Meadow (SSM) is steep, very steep.  For me, a short, difficult hike with a reward at the end, is way, way better than a long, easy hike from point A to point B.  No thank you.  Work, destination with reward, and home.  Thank you much!  And the SSM is definitely a reward!

Super-Secret Meadow

Isn’t it lovely?  We passed lots of loveliness on the way up, too.  At the SSM, we also saw signs of mammalian life.  Bear poop, coyote poop, and a big ol’ deer wallow with deer hair in it.  Gage, who came on the hike too, encouraged Igor to examine the coyote poop and see what he’d been eating.  Of course he did.  They found some sort of bone — Igor thought it might be a scapula off some creature.  I post these pictures because I know how Susan loves all things poop-related.  (My husband really can’t believe that I took a picture of bear poop!  You’d think he understood me better than that!)

Deer fur at wallow Coyote Poop
Deer hair in wallow; Coyote poop
Coyote poop being examined Bear Poop!
Coyote poop being examined; Bear poop

Okay, enough with the fauna.  On with the flora . . .


Wild Iris.  Don’t know exactly which one.


Crimson columbine (Aquilegia formosa)

Blue Eye

California Blue-Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium idahoense)

Sneeze Weed

Bigelow’s Sneezeweed (Helenium bigelovii)

Shooting Star

Shooting Star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi)

Tiger Lily

Leopard Lily (Lilium pardalinum)

some sort of daisy

Aster of some sort.  Love it’s intrepid “I’ll grow out of a sheer face of granite if I want to” nature.


Sierra Stonecrop (Sedum obtusatum)

Dog's Bane

Dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium)

So, did you enjoy your visit to the Super Secret Meadow?  I know I did.  It was worth the steep hike.  It was worth the bloodthirsty mosquitos (who, no exaggeration, were an inch long and left welts all over my body!).  It was worth the fall I took when I was literally 5 steps from the flats again (just bruises and scrapes, no worries!).  It was worth my son whining at me that the flowers were boring!  🙂

But, the best part is that I still have a secret.  I’m not sharing the best part of the Super Secret Meadow with you.


It’s a surprise that will have to wait a bit.  Stay tuned.  It’s worth it.  Promise!

Myth or . . .

12 Jul


A flutter catches my eye
Could it be a fairy far from home?
Or just a simple lost moth?

More Myth poems at One Single Impression.
All content written by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2008, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License

Happy Birthday, Bunny!

12 Jul


I just want to go to sleep and wake up in the morning and it’ll be like five seconds.  I can’t wait to be ten.  I’m tired of being a little kid.

Happy Birthday, Bunny Girl.  I am beyond proud of you, beyond loving you, nearly beyond words as I look at you and all you have accomplished in your ten short, blazingly fast years.  Ten years.  It just isn’t possible.  But, when I do the math (2008-1998=10), I know it must be.  You have grown and changed so much and yet you are still my little girl.  You are kind and funny and thoughtful and smart and very talented.  Yesterday, I heard you play flute music you composed and tonight I watched you dazzle me on stage in a play.  I ache with pride in you.  The years ahead will fly for me (and drag for you, I know) and my pride and love will only grow.  Your future’s so bright, you need to wear shades.