Sunday, February 28, 2010

A group of friends and I were in a conversation today about Harvey Cox's book, The Future of Faith, this being Sunday and all; when a particularly bright member of the group asked what we thought of Cox's having said, "Biologists say that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny," and it got me thinking first that I hadn't though about ontogenesis or phylogenesis for a very long time, probably not since a biology exam maybe sixty years ago, and then I thought Cox is onto something important given that every living thing, if I remember right, begins from a single cell. Well, not exactly... I also remember that sometimes a single cell divides and twins are born... I'll hold myself back and not go on a tangent here but will get back to the point that a mustard plant begins as a mustard seed and most human beings began as a single cell that managed to get fertilized and developed into, if I'm talking about myself, me. My Mother and Dad got together in that special way, and I am the result... a rare, one-in-a-million shot that lives now at the happy age of seventy-four-years, six months, and sixteen days plus approximately nine months. Amazing! And from a single cell that divided or multiplied (I'm an English major, not math or biology) and developed into an organism that doesn't stop developing until, until, until... well, that's another tangent. But the point is that I started out as a single entity... and I still am, regardless of what the minister said who performed the marriage ceremony which connected me happily to Margaret Elizabeth Martin, who produced, with only a little help from me, two beautiful children, and to whom I am still happily connected. I have a vague recollection that The Reverend Sheldon Russell said that we two, Margaret and I, became one when he pronounced us to be husband and wife. It's an interesting idea, and there have been times when I felt it to be so; but the fact is that in spite of however many cells that single cell developed into, the organism that I am and the organism that she is will always be two separate beings; and that, too, is probably another reason for celebration.

So back to Harvey Cox's reminder that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny: I agree that my development as an individual organism has been recapitulating and continues to recapitulate the development of my species... which prompts me toward another tangent... one that I will save for another day.

In the meantime I'll celebrate my continuing joyful relationship with Margaret Elizabeth Martin Miles. I'll also share a poem I wrote after getting an e-mail from a former student asking me if I know whether or not it's true that a person we both once knew had died... and after the poem, you'll find an image poem I made from a dead-looking plumeria shrub in my backyard that has begun once again to show signs of life and promise.

Frannie Doud Showed Up Again

Frannie Doud showed up again today.
There she was on my computer screen
asking about Amy Gatsby.
Had she died, she wanted to know.
Was it true that she had killed herself?

How is it possible to answer without wounding?
Shall I say that Amy indeed is dead
and let it go at that
or shall I come right out and say
Amy shot herself in the head
somewhere in Alaska
because, they say, the man she loved
didn’t love her anymore?

I wanted to ask Frannie what she thinks about love
but decided to say only that love’s a powerful thing,
then reminded myself she knows at least that already
so I’ll say simply
I’m sorry to report that Amy died.
And she wrote poetry...remember?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

ONE OF THOSE DAYS... and then, standing at the edge of the Great Pacific at a place where sediment has turned to rock at Ocean Beach beyond the pier where I perched waiting to see if a bigger wave than usual would come to demonstrate the "event," as newscasters call it... I glanced down to see where somebody carved his love in the rock, notice I didn't say "she carved her love," because girls don't do that; some perversities only boys do... and then I remembered the earthquake and Tsunami and suffering... and wondered how Pat Robertson will explain what the Chileans have done to offend God... and those poor souls on some lonely atoll out in the middle of the vast ocean... Are theirs sins of omission or commission? Anyway, as I waited and thought I wrote not in the hardened sediment but on very temporary paper... and then posted it here on this BLOG, which I can't explain at all, to shoot it out into cyber space, also which I don't understand. Same song, second verse...I'm trying my damnedest to find reasons to excuse the church for its silence, which as you can see, on this last Saturday in February, I've once again failed to do.


Snow capped elder shadows sing slowly.
Mute pipes rise above the choir.
The organist strides boldly from the closet
wrapped securely in the flag of Jesus
whistling Dixie in C major...
Just as I am!
No sharps!
No flats!

Rock hard silence sits in the rector’s chair.

The congregation waits,
afraid to ask the obvious question
about why truth hides itself in church.

Be silent before the Lord
may be good advice mostly;
but not now,
not now.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I walked up the backside of Cowles Mountain this morning, partly to test further the Panasonic Lumix camera and also to see if I could keep up with Ed and Stephen. The camera performed well, as you will see if you check the BLOG; and I performed well enough to get back to the car at the same time the two younger men did. I continue to be surprised and pleased with the camera, especially with it’s lens. The 12 times optical zoom is unreal. I was able to get clear shots from a great distance. Cowles Mountain rises midway between Mission Valley and El Cajon Valley. Even with some haze today, I was able to get the fairly decent image of downtown San Diego above. I also got images of the more distant mountains to the east. From the top of the mountain the little camera brought in Ed’s house almost as if I had been Across the way on a nearby hill. My hat’s off to the engineers and others at Panasonic for producing such a marvel.

Of course, I’ll haul the heavier Nikons around whenever I’m trying to get the clearest and best shots possible; but when I’m hiking up a mountain, I’ll probably leave the big cameras at home and carry the small one on my belt.

Lake Murray lies between Cowles Mountain and Interstate 8. If you Click on the image to see it bigger, you'll be able to make out the Navy's place on San Diego Bay, the Bay south of Coronado Bridge, the Silver Strand between the bay and the ocean, and in the distance one of the Coronado Islands. Although the islands appear to be due west of San Diego, they belong to Mexico.

Cowles Mountain is part of the Mission Trails Regional Park in Mission Gorge. Some of yesterday's pictures were taken from back deck of the park museum pictured here.

These shots were made facing Santee and Lakeside to the Northeast of the mountain.

Ed and Stephen at the top of the mountain.

Ed's house is midway up Windmill View Road in the center of the El Cajon street way beyond Grossmont College in the foreground.

How would you like this guy's job? He was working high up on a tower that was high up on a mountain.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


All the way up, and up, and up
until something breaks or otherwise
reaches the limit of possibilities
or the possibility of limits...

The length of time between
the appearance of the train
at the exit of the tunnel and
arrival of the lonely whistle
is something Einstein should
have talked over with a poet...

Then it’s down, down, down
to earth... where after all is said
and done is the only place love
is likely to go best with what-
ever goes in or comes out.
It doesn’t matter which is the
exit and which is the entrance.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Flowers make us forget the ugly stuff:
the storms and earthquakes that devastate,
the parents who shouldn’t have had children,
the children who don’t get enough to eat,
the people who live with endless pain,
the ungrateful folks who have everything
but are selfish, spiteful, and mean spirited.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

RIDING AROUND MISSION BAY AND ALONG THE OCEAN TODAY WITH MY BUDDY, ED JIRJIS , I stopped often to take pictures with a first generation Nikon SLR (D100, D for digital) and with the new Panasonic Lumix to see how the images compared. The little camera continues to amaze me. I bought the Nikon six years ago and paid seven times as much for just the body of that camera as I did for the Panasonic Lumix last week. I am amazed at how far the technology has come in such a short time. Check the comparisons by click on each image to see it larger.

The picture above is with the Panasonic Lumix; the one below was taken with the Nikon D100. I asked Ed to stand with the sun and Mission bay to his back so I could see how the little camera performed with back lighting. In both pictures I set the camera for fill-flash.

The picture above was taken with the Panasomic Lumix; the one below with the Nikon D199.

The Image below is from the Nikon D100; the two above were taken with the small Lumix. My biking buddy Ed was very patient today as I fooled around with both cameras so I could do the comparisons.

The image below came from the Nikon D100. I stitched three images together to make the panorama.

The photograph above was taken with the Nikon D100 and the one below with the little camera. The biggest problem with the Lumix is that it doesn't have a view finder and seeing the picture on the screen on the camera's back is difficult in bright sunlight.

THE THREE PHOTOGRAPHS below were taken with the Nikon D100.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Click on the images to see them larger.Tonight under the half moon we walked to the home of our neighbors, Bill and Ruth Derisi. The little camera continues to amaze me. Who would have thought it might be possible to get a moon shot like this with such a small device.
Part of the entertainment for the evening was watching these hummingbirds feeding on the Derisi Balcony.
Earlier in the day I went for a walk along the waterfront.

San Diego Sculptors, whom most San Diego residents don’t recognize, created one of the best known and most striking sculptures in the city. Take a close look sometime at the fine granite statue in front of the San Diego County Office Building facing the harbor on the Embarcadero. The plaque at the base of the statue reads: This fountain presented to the peopole of San Diego in honor of Helen M Towle by the Fine Arts Society in collaboration with the Federal Art Project of the Works and Progress Administration. June 10, 1939. Donal Hord Sculptor.

The Works Progress Administration was part of that other great stimulus program, the one developed by the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration that helped us rise out of the Great Depression.