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Wendy, Jimmy and I were talking about you (though you remain unknown to us) and salamanders, baby rats, tadpoles, lupines, and condors.
We hiked through underbrush of poison oak in redwood groves on the creek in Soberanes Canyon recounting how far we got with John and Paul.
We talked about winter rain, about (unknown) houses, (unknown) rocks, (unknown) time and the trail and (unknown) you. Talking about all the unknown things.
Dry rocky high slopes on the ridge were furred by this year’s rains, furred with invasive grasses like rattlesnake grass.
Prickly silver thistle stems bent under coronas of whitish spikes and rich violet petals, Wendy touched the wild (dense) purple delphinium. The briza maxima drooped everywhere their shiny greenish rattlesnake rattles. Winds whirled out of the sky at hand.
At the rock outcrop Jimmy said his iPhone said we were 975 feet above the sea; we ate sandwiches overlooking the broad ocean crashing on the rocky shore with a distant cloudbank obscuring the far horizon (Wendy said she heard sea lions and I listened)—turkey buzzards and redtail hawks above.
We had not stopped talking about housing foreclosures, government support for Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, AIG and the bankers who destroyed the economy, it was facilitated and nothing done to prevent it—they make the wars go on and on—the kids are told to make their lives in the devastated economy in a shrunken, withering culture.
Grass on the high slopes marked with California poppies (poison oak cannot abide the dry rocky slopes)—there’s a protein in black Western fence lizard blood that kills Lyme disease from ticks—(sunning) living and dead lizards on the trail (the ticks live off the lizards that eat millions; Wendy said she’s seen lizards with ticks on them)—they go together. We described it as we talked about your (unknown) time.
Wendy Ann Baker, 56, passed away at home surrounded by her loved ones, in Salinas, California, on Tuesday, August 18, 2015. Wendy began life in Niles, Michigan on May 24, 1959. She was the third of five girls born to Allen John Baker and Maude Ann Fahrbach. Wendy spent the next five years of her life channeling the spirit of her pioneer ancestors, who settled in southern Michigan and northern Ohio, playing in sand dunes along Lake Michigan, exploring fields and forests and canoeing with her sisters and parents. In 1964, her family moved to Hanford, California. The stay was a short one and in 1965 her family moved to the Miranda area in the giant redwoods where she started grade school and played among the ancient giants. Wendy and her family moved yet again in 1970 to a remote community on the edge of the Trinity-Siskiyou Wilderness area. Here she lived in a log cabin with intermittent electricity and attended a one-room grade school. Wendy’s family finally settled in the northern Sacramento valley in Gridley, California. In 1974, Wendy lost her mother to cancert at the young age of 14.
Wendy attended high school at Biggs High and transferred tyo Monterey Bay Academy in Watsonville. During these formative years she realized a deep sensibility for Nature. Indeed, growing up, she enjoyed every Sabbath after Church in some outdoor activity with her family. To Wendy, Nature was the Sanctuary.
Wendy went on to attend Pacific Union College where she pursued her interest in Botany. She later decided on a life of service and graduated from the Maurine Church School of Nursing and served the community as a nurse for thirty years, most recently in the outpatient surgical unit at Natividad Medical Center. Wendy had an incredible work ethic; she believed in the importance of quality care and strove to deliver a high standard of care to her patients. She met her husband of 27 years, James Lew, while working at Natividad. They were blessed with two daughters, Zoe and Zephone, to whom she was a most devoted mother.
Her passion for botany and the natural world never waned. She was an avid hiker. Many were challenged, her husband included, to keep up with her pace during many treks of whatever mountain trail she ventured. When she was first diagnosed with breast cancer, just days after her first surgery she was back out hiking, much to the surprise of her surgeon, who coincidentally ran into Wendy and her family on the trail. She lived life with passion and intensity.
One of her favorite places to hike was Soberanes Canyon in Big Sur, especially during the spring when wildflowers abound. Wendy lived life with eyes wide open, curious and aware of the world. She loved the ocean, whether it was the warm waters of Oahu or the kelp filled ocean of Carmel. The beach was a place she always enjoyed with her family.
Wendy often voiced the peace and solace she found in the outdoors and in nature’s beauty. The physical reaction and mental stillness found in the first view of a sunset or a blooming flower, or in walking along the water’s edge was something she encouraged her daughters to experience and pursue in their lives.
She also had a keen appreciation for the ridiculous and enjoyed a good laugh. AShe sent her daughters off to many a school day with a hula dance in the driveway and songs like, “4 Hugs a Day That’s the Minimum.”
Wendy was not afraid to say what she thought and stand up for what she thought was right. She inspired those around her to do the same, to be responsible and compassionate. She lived good food, music, gardening, using her body and new experiences. She derived immense joy from her family and friends, who were very, very important to her.
Donations in memory and in honor of Wendy Baker cane be made to the Natividad Medical Foundation, to help support its healthcare programs in the Salinas Valley among local citizens and farm workers—among women and children, many of whom are indigenous, for whom Spanish is a second language.
Donations can be sent to the Natividad Medical Foundation, P.O. Box 4427, Salinas, CA 93912
for more information, see: https://www.natividadfoundation.org/
For more information on the Indigenous Interpreter Program, see https://vimeo.com/121533120
A collaboration with Terry Wolverton:
- Terry Wolverton asked me to send her four ‘poetry prompts’ so I did, including one by CA Conrad.
- Terry sent me four prompts, which were basically phrases.
- I sent her these responses: https://disarticulations2015.wordpress.com/2015/08/14/august-fevered-writing-sesshu-foster/
- In response to the previous 4 prompts she sent me these: https://disarticulations2015.wordpress.com/2015/08/14/august-fevered-writing-terry-wolverton/
- Using the exchanged language, we wrote these two poems:
HELL’S ZIP CODE
by Terry Wolverton
A letter carrier in Koreatown
dreams of women, bodies dark as tobacco
dreams of resistance, of granite and flood.
The hour is apocalyptic.
Money and fire are killing us.
Union Station decaying, no train of thoughts
will leave this afternoon, no great distance will
be covered, now the terminal is burning.
We sought a damp, vacuous sleep.
We awakened to slavery.
In Mexico City, NY, LA— we’re
rolling through markets of the colonizers
surrounded by dead, Eurocentric thinkers.
Where do we exit this head space?
Where is the clock forgotten?
Across this continent females and males no
longer couple, busy themselves annexing
the lonely minutes, but there’s no where to park.
We no longer see the other
across canyons of sentiment.
Spanish broom rises over the mountains, but
we can’t drive there anymore, no vehicle,
no gas. No place not covered in black asphalt.
What is your vision worth to you,
already dispelling in clouds?
It’s the cumulus that leaves me furious.
Is this a prelude to light, or are we like
the thin dogs that wander the pitted highway?
We flit within parameters;
got a ticket but can’t take flight.
Because Phil Spector’s hairdo attacked Don King’s job Barry Gordy’s Motown Empire crashed down, kicking to death degraded women in the street, “Stop in the Name of Love” burst from my nostril in streaming rivulets of scarlet blood.
Because late model Chevy Camaros obliterated children of Dodge Chargers and flung bits of them in the teeth of Pontiac Firebirds, undercover cops were left with no other option than to firebomb financial daycare centers of Goldman Sachs and HSBC, that’s why my left arm stopped functioning.
Because a fat bag of marshmallows viciously assaulted mini-Oreos with a mop handle in the janitor closet at Thomas Jefferson Middle School while Sally Hemings High School burned to the ground under the Cloud of Suspicion, that’s how my leg swole up and the skin popped open like a newspaper rack full of meat.
Because the Boston Celtics opened fire on Tiger Woods with deadly precision and their tiny needle guns, filling his eyelids with 172,200,000 gallons of oil and billions of gallons of fracking waste that resulted in instant glaucoma-style night blindness and projectile vomiting inside of my heart.
Because the Creature from the Black Lagoon performed unlicensed colorectal procedures upon Godzilla, having reached all the way inside to extract perfectly formed Scarlet Johansson-style Tom Hanks from under the roof of the monstrous mouth like a slag heap of molten smoldering Congolese, my appetite turned to rust and disintegrated.
Because Dick Cheney flagellated Richard Nixon with an unimpeachable replica of Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s the size of a fattish malignant pancreas while everybody was watching the Hiroshima show replay over and over on somebody’s bald spot, I took a wrong turn and desecrated my arm till the bone went way, way wrong.
Because rainbow kale was permitted to engage in the foulest acts upon cowering investment portfolios of watermelon radish and regular kale, the pinto beans and black beans separated into Genocide on the left and Slavery on the right, amputating my testicles. They were my favorites.
Because the picture windows operated with wide-ranging infanticide and homicide on the door jambs and porch lights, aided by the Secretary of the Treasury Timothy KBR Halliburton who okayed the weapons sale (of toxic fluorescence, emitted from fungal pores via his muzzle), I could not control my vertigo and fell forward on my hard crusty face.
Because the cylinders of Coolness and disks of Righteousness dismembered and vituperated African and Syrian refugees inside fresh Mexican cheese even if they had died already, many times dead and thin and gray, thoroughly impeccably dead and softly cheese-like, crumbles, my teeth grew numb and shattered like ice.
Because the stench of Universities conflicted with the heat and humidity of Auto Repair at teen hangouts far above the Landfill where Motels watched TVs pop in the flickering light of small thinking, decapitating 50,000 Mexicans formidably according to the crushed little bird that I first thought was a piece of paper, which meant I was grown sick with very very sickness.
Because Death Valley took violent exception with aluminum baseball bat to the skull of the Colorado River on a failed Thursday, the Missouri infected Hacienda Heights with candy-colored pustules of iodine-131 and caesium-134/137 or bulbous hanging tumors of 10,300 millisieverts per individual (if you can call them that) in the local (U.S.) population, but who gives a piss? Certainly not me since I found myself permanently attached by my member to a catheter box.