Thursday, May 31, 2007


Give it to me straight,
no distortion please.
Give me one good reason
why I should wear rose colored glasses
fixed between me and reality,
changing the colors of perfect clouds and sky,
subduing and sterilizing the sharp green mountains
and blue blue blue green of ocean and lake.

Of course, emotions are another matter.
Be careful what you do with promises
made when the ecstasy is still smoldering.
Conditions change.
Someone else comes along with more to offer,
even if only for a year or a week
or an afternoon of what promises to be bliss
but turns all too soon into excess baggage
like old suitcases that are too good to throw away
but are never what you want or need again,
so they stay in the closet collecting dust.
It’s interesting how each seemed the right size once,
the first time you saw it,
gleaming, sparkling there in the store.
It would be the one to use forever,
the one that would replace all others.

Is there ever a bird that sings as beautifully on the tenth day
as it did that first afternoon when it perched in the jacaranda tree?
What a song that was the first time note followed note
drifting in through the window to dance across the bed.

...and that one butterfly until
it got lost among so many.

Monday, May 28, 2007

ONE OF THE JOYS OF FRIENDSHIP for me is being introduced or reintroduced to things that I may have sometimes noticed but hadn't looked at closely. Several friends of Kathy Ellis are being gifted with information about hummingbirds. I am fortunate to be one of those friends, so now I'm constantly on the lookout for hummingbirds. The little bird in these photographs and a partner built a nest near the entrance to the social hall at First United Methodist Church in San Diego. One of the best sermons in San Diego this week was this birds demonstration of faithfulness and dependability. A fire in the basement of the church early in the week did more than a million dollars worth of damage. Smoke billowed and firemen swarmed all over the campus. On Sunday hundreds of people passed just a couple of feet below her. She didn't leave the nest until the smoke and firemen and all the people left. I saw her/him (Kathy will tell me which) sitting on the nest when there was confusion everywhere. Later when the coast was clear, I slipped back with my camera and she was gone. I waited. She came back, settled on the nest, and didn't move while I stood on a chair and got close to take the photographs.THE HUMMINGBIRD FEEDING at the bougainvillaea is not the Methodist bird. I took these flying photos in Balboa Park near The Spanish Village Art Center. St. Paul's Cathedral is a short flight across the park, so this one is probably Episcopalian.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Explain God with flowers and mountains
deserts and creatures in the deep blue sea,
not words and theology
especially to children
or old women and men
waiting on the outer edge of living.

God is God,
the withered little man said,
and I ain’t even certain sure of that.
But I can tell you, he said,
something touches me now and then
like a feather moved by a baby’s breath.
That’s as much evidence as I’ve got
except the world,
the stars and moon and universe.

God is God

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Thursday, May 17, 2007


You can’s say
for sure and
I simply don’t
know which
memories are
intact unchanged
over time and
space being
relative s are the hardest
to remember
exactly be

Monday, May 14, 2007

From Niland, California, a short trip off the main road in the direction of the Chocolate Mountains, Leonard Knight’s Salvation Mountain is a pleasant surprise in an otherwise fairly ordinary stretch of desert. I had heard about Mr. Knight’s creation and had expected not to be impressed. I expected to meet a desert kook who would quiz me on the condition of my soul. Wrong! Mr. Knight is a gentle folk artist committed to creating a huge sculptural happening in an out-of-the-way wasteland that very few people will take the time to visit. Midmorning on the day of my visit, I found him asleep on an old piece of foam. He had begun painting early and had grown tired.

Mr. Knight’s glaring message is simply that God is Love. He obviously believes God loves everybody. Nobody is left out.
At the end of a brown ridge northeast of town, Salvation Mountain rises out of a stark landscape, and in spite of the vast difference in setting from urban Barcelona, I thought immediately of the work of Antonio Gaudi. It also makes me think of Grandma Moses. Picasso would have been fascinated, and maybe even a little jealous. Leonard Knight’s medium is mud and straw, adobe baked in the sun, and house paint. He says he has probably used over a hundred thousand gallons of paint since he began in the mid-1980s. Most of the paint was donated. There are other donated objects as well, all of them painted by Mr. Knight. A truck where he lives is covered with the messages of love.

I expected an admission cost. Wrong again...not even a “suggested donation” box. And he didn’t ask for money.I’ll confess that I had put a five-dollar-bill in my front pocket so I could pretend it was what I had and could easily get to it without having to go to my wallet. I went to my wallet for a twenty.

Mr. Knight on the left is explaining his work to my friend Richard.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Generally, vision is a powerful factor in human enterprise. The Hebrew text, Proverbs 18:29, reminds us that “where there is no vision, the people perish.” Vision can be formed around faulty reason; sometimes vision grows out of an idea that is contrary to nature. A few years after the formation of the Salton Sea, that big lake in the Southern California desert, several people shared a dream of lush oasis in the dry land. They laid out plans for seaside communities complete with streets and lights and the beginnings of country club amenities.A few lots were sold and even a few homes were built. But the dream soured. Vision wasn’t enough. The sun beat down. Following unusual tropical storms in 1976 and 1977, great surges of angry water flooded the shoreline inundating homes. However, the storms failed to provide enough fresh water to replenish the sea. Run-off from Imperial Valley farms increased salinity, and the water turned to brine saltier than earth’s great oceans. Dreams died. Trees withered. All but a very few hardy souls departed the shore communities.

The little town of Bombay Beach on the eastern shore struggles on. In late afternoon light, the unforgiving landscape and seascape can turn starkly beautiful.


You should have known your Father
when he was a young man, she said...
A fine head of jet black hair
and handsome, oh, he was handsome.
I was only sixteen, her eyes glowed.
we were playing a card game called Pitch.
He looked at me across the table
and something happened.

Your Father could have done anything
if he’d had an education, she said.
The brightest man I’d ever met...
and wise, even when he was young.
I was just a girl, her hand fluttered.
We were walking along a dirt road after dark.
He took my hand and brought it to his heart
and something happened.

Your Father was a man of integrity
and his word was as sure as daylight, she said.
A soft heart that ached for other people...
and gentle as a tender girl, yet he was tough.
I was the one he loved, her breath caught.
We were raising our children and living our lives
and something happened.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


bays boats bikes
bells bells bells balls
bonds bongs bangs
Bens blonds
buns butts bums
blows bruise
bands bins blogs bouts
bids blinds brands blends
bronze bears brawls bones
broads bucks beds
bills bats
bugs bites brutes
buds bogs
blues bolts bombs
boars blips burrs bowls
bags bales breads brains
bets bits bells
bells bells bells bells

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Ramble #7

After the big one
picking through
the rubble
and almost certainly archaeologists
god knows maybe even
want to know
why body parts
out of cougar opaque
envelope boxes
in Mama’s Kitchen