Monthly Archives: May 2015


Whenever I change shoes, I endure a period of time when my feet have to press themselves into the insoles and teach my new chassures their ways. The friction and the emptiness between them leads the balls of my feet to fill with fluid which grow large and painful. Then they pop. An annoying flap of skin hangs in their place.

My mother used to tell me about how Calvin Coolidge’s son died because he popped his own blister with a needle. I have since learned that this isn’t bad if you have a clean needle, but recently I did something very stupid: I stripped the loose skin where the blister had been and paid for it in soreness and risked infection.

Only after I performed my little surgery did I learn that one shouldn’t do that. The skin forms a natural bandage and eventually reconnects with the foot to form a callous. I had to rub the exposed spot with antibiotic ointment and cover it with a bandage. When a large blister formed on the other foot, I left the skin in place, covered the area in ointment, and held it in place with a bandage. Oh, what a difference it made!

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Rude Photographers in the Parks

The outdoor world has been astir over the actions of vandals who — in the name of art — deface national parks. I want to speak of a different creature you find in the parks, the heedless photographer.

An article in ephotozine relates the whiny tale of one Jason Lanier who was stopped by a pair of National Park rangers for setting up a professional kit on the shores of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. A video shows Jason being rather rude to a pair of rangers in the performance of their duties.

The ranger’s problem was that Jason had a fancy flash set up on a beach with a particularly splendid view of the Golden Gate. Jason is one of those photographers who isn’t satisfied with using a normal camera flash. He wants to bring in the big guns. So he drags all his gear down to the beach, sets himself up in the best spot, and takes over the scenery.

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I stand on top
of our back steps and breathe the rich air—
a mother skunk with her column of kittens swills the garbage pail.
She jabs her wedge-head in a cup
of sour cream, drops her ostrich tail,
and will not scare.

Robert Lowell, Skunk Hour

One night when I went out to the dumpster, I rounded the corner and saw a large black tail perched atop a white striped body ripping open a plastic bag. It took me less than a second to back out and run over to another dumpster. The garbage raider missed my presence and did not take aim.

We have plenty of skunks about in the summer. Sometimes I smell the rotten, nutty scent on a summer night or when I am driving down a highway. Mephitis mephitis roams the neighborhoods and country roads looking for fresh trash or road kill. Though I do my best to make sure that the trash bag gets into the dumpster, neighbor kids who are too short to reach the lid or too scared to stay long in the dark sometimes drop their loads on the concrete pavement inside the enclosure. This is where the hazard comes.

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