Friday, April 30, 2010

"Art Alive" is the San Diego Museum of Art’s big blow-out celebration every year. People come and Ooo and Ahhh over floral arrangements made mostly by professional arrangers to represent important works of art in the museum's collection. I have to confess that I mostly don't get it. I am so blown away by the paintings themselves that I have a hard time appreciating the attempts to make flowers and other plants look like the paintings. However, I do agree that it's a great occasion because it calls attention to the outstanding Museum that is the center piece for Balboa Park.The photograph of the Museum of Man tower below is actually a reflection in the reflecting pool at the museum of art cafe.

I took this picture of Margaret and using Photo Shop software I turned it into a dry-brush painting.This photograph could have been my "picture for the day" because I actually set the timer on my little Panasonic, pushed the button, and stepped over to be in the picture with Irene, Bill, Ruth, Margaret and Jim. Rules are important, and one of my rules for the photo du jour is that I have to actually press the shutter release or it doesn't count. The sign over the door to one of the galleries reads, "Old Masters in a New Light." It seemed appropriate for the old guys resting while wives strolled the galleries.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

David Miles met his old Dad (me) for breakfast this morning,* and as usual we talked about a wide range of topics from the outrageous new anti-immigration law in Arizona to problems of aging as people in the baby boomer bubble approach retirement. I am seventy-five-years-old this year, and at fifty-two David is now old enough to join AARP and enjoy the benefits and disadvantages of retirement; so we have more in common now than a disparate (Please note, kinfolk, that the word I use is NOT desperate) bunch of relatives. Because of the work he is doing with the Human Dignity Foundation, David is particularly interested in understanding and finding solutions for GLBT persons who are approaching old age. I was reminded of my good fortune to be personally in good health, to be surrounded by a cluster of fine close friends, and to be part of a supportive, loving family. We reminded each other of people we know who are not so fortunate and pledged to be part of the solution for those in trouble rather than part of their problem. That’s an issue for BLOG writing another day.

Today, however, I am still very concerned about the implications of the new Arizona anti-immigration law. When I got back home from breakfast with David, I read a piece in the Huffington Post today by Bob Cesca, a political writer and blogger.
“Last week, shortly before the Republican governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, signed the state's new anti-immigration law, an Hispanic truck driver was stopped at a weigh station along Rt. 202 by a patrol officer.

“The commercial truck driver, ‘Abdon,’ is a natural born citizen of the United States. He’s obviously employed. He speaks English. He pays taxes. His wife, Jackie, is a natural born citizen of the United States. She, too, is employed. She speaks English. She pays taxes.

“And yet ‘Adbon’ was handcuffed by the police and detained by the Phoenix Immigration and Customs Enforcement office.


“Because when the officer demanded his papers, Abdon could only produce a driver’s license and his Social Security number. Not good enough. At that roadside weigh station in the middle of an otherwise ordinary weekday, Abdon made the mistake of not carrying his birth certificate with him. His birth certificate!

“Put another way, Abdon was handcuffed and detained and detained because he is Hispanic.

“And now this is the law of the state of Arizona -- arresting people, citizen or not, simply for appearing Hispanic.
Solutions for immigration problems must come from federal government, not state governments, because issues of citizenship are basically national issues. SB 1070 is certainly not the answer. It contorts the basic problems without solving any of them. It infringes on rights of free citizens. It is morally repugnant. It curses the darkness instead of lighting a candle.

Obviously, not everybody in Arizona is complicit in this outrage. My friend Taylor Hill in Florida told me about his concern for his friend John Fife who lives in Tucson. Check the Wikipedia piece on John Fife, a Presbyterian minister for 35 years, now retired, who is one of the sponsors of “No More Deaths,” an organization dedicated to helping refugees who cross the border and find sanctuary in the U.S.

*Babbo Grande, a small restaurant at 1727 University Avenue, is participating with other select restaurants in a “Dining Out for Life” day. Twenty percent of these restaurants’ revenues for today will go the support The Center’s HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I am waiting with great anticipation to see what leaders in my church will say publicly about the Arizona anti-immigration law. If I understand it right, SB 1070 makes it a felony for citizens to offer simple humanitarian aid to undocumented persons in Arizona. I don’t know very many people in Arizona, but I remember seeing churches all over the place when I have visited there. Presumably many of those churches have made food available to destitute people. The law is written (and will take effect in August) in such a way that giving aid of any kind to an undocumented person is a felony offense. Presumably, the church’s soup kitchen will now have to see proof that hungry people have appropriate papers before they can offer food, and if people in need are without documents churches are required by law to turn them away. If they feed someone or offer aid in any way to undocumented people, they break the law. I remember stopping in Phoenix one summer evening when the temperature was 98 degrees at ten o’clock at night. Arizona gets hot. When the heat rises this summer it will be a felony offense to give water to an undocumented thirsty person. Even giving aid to the children of undocumented people will be a felony when the law goes into effect.

Through many years of being to some extent in a lover’s quarrel with the church, I never imagined that churches or synagogues or mosques or temples in any state in America would be required by law to decline to offer aid or shelter to people in need. Of course, I don’t think it was the intent of the writers of the bill in Arizona to require people in any religion to retreat from their commitment to being compassionate and kind. It is an unsophisticated piece of legislation formulated and agreed to by frustrated people who didn’t think about what their new law will require people to do. They did not think through the implications of their law, but that doesn’t excuse them. They have created a legal situation which is in opposition to the basic examples and teachings of the founders of all of the world's great religions. We are told by Jesus to love one another. He told us that when we give water to a thirsty person, we give it to him. The thought that we would be required to check the thirsty person’s immigration status is absurd.

Nothing is more basic to my faith than simple human kindness. What recourse would I have if I were a citizen of Arizona and my state could punish me for following the basic teachings of Jesus. I hope I should have the courage to follow the Golden Rule even if the law requires me to violate it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Such bad news has come out of Arizona this week that I feel compelled to publish something good that has the name Arizona in it. Neighbors Jim and Irene Fudge came last week from a wedding in Scottsdale, and they brought with them the following recipe for a most wonderful pie. Margaret and Irene say you may want to cut the sugar back to one cup to let the lemon really do its thing. Try it...
Arizona Sunshine Lemon Pie

1 large lemon
4 eggs
1 stick (8 tablespoons) melted butter
1teaspoon pure vanilla
1 ½ cups sugar
1 unbaked piecrust

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut lemon in small chunks leaving rind on. Remove seeds. In a blender or food processor, blend together lemon chunks, eggs, butter, vanilla and sugar until mixture is smooth and creamy. (It should be fairly runny.) Pour into unbaked piecrust. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.
If crust becomes too brown, cover gently with foil and finish baking. Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

Monday, April 26, 2010

In the middle of our bike ride around Mission Bay today, Ed, Amanda and I stopped for coffee in Pacific Beach... and I remembered the words of a famous genius...
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” --Albert Einstein

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Consider the Lilies...Take no thought...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

On a bright, beautiful day in San Diego, why should I be concerned about malaria? The answer is easy. Every thirty seconds somewhere in the world a child dies of malaria. That’s the reason a group of people from First United Methodist Church in San Diego got together for a ride to call attention to the problem. Each person contributed $20 to send to the world-wide effort to eradicate malaria from the earth. It may seem a tiny drop in a very big bucket, but the total amount actually buys enough mosquito nets to save the lives of quite a few children. Not bad. Not bad. Thanks to all who participated... and if you'd like to buy some mosquito nets, send your money to Reverend Molly Vetter at First United Methodist Church, 2111 Camino Del Rio South, San Diego, California, 92108... Be sure to say it goes to the Malaria Project.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Yellow is my favorite color... today.
Perhaps tomorrow I may favor blue.
I remember that yesterday was all brightness...
Maybe magenta or soft pink in the sunset
or deep red like the rose beside my garden gate.

A small glass marble no bigger than a dime...
yellow swirls around deep red nearly black
I have saved in my memory to recall
when I am close to death and need help
crossing over into what comes next.

But not yet, not yet while yellow daisies
dance beneath the blue white canopy
of April sky and clouds with all the world
alive and I am in it listening to bright colors
...looking at the songs of mocking birds.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


“What I need and what I want,” she said,
“are two different things. I shall decide
which I will go out to get for myself
and which I expect you to get for me,
don’t think for a minute that you are
necessary for either today or later.”

He stared straight ahead motionless
all the way to the next trolley stop
where he got off and walked away
without once looking back to see
if she was sorry he was leaving
of course, she didn’t seem even to know
or care that he was actually gone.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Remember Timothy McVeigh? You know... the guy who blew the front off the Murray Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995? Remember? He’s the guy who got really confused about his anger at government and his patriotism. He obviously didn’t know the difference... and the consequence of his confusion was disastrous for the nation... catastrophic for the one-hundred-sixty-eight people he killed and the eight-hundred he wounded in what he believed was an act of patriotism.

Tim McVeigh’s cognitive disconnect is not unusual. We sometimes see it in our neighbors and relatives, and I confess that at times catch a glimpse of it in myself. As a retired person who no longer goes out to work every morning, I have more time to think about what I believe and why I believe it. Some other people who do a lot of talking for a living apparently don’t have enough time to think about what they are saying before they say it. My guess is that Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, and Sarah Palin do know that hating a country’s government is not a patriotic response. They are making too much money and enjoying their celebrity too much to give up their media roles out of any fear they may inspire domestic terrorists to do what Timothy McVeigh did. I am also guessing that their faithful followers are most often people who are satisfied to have others do their critical thinking for them. When I was doing my work as a teacher, I was constantly reminded that in any group of people there are several, sometimes many, who would rather have someone tell them the answers, what to believe, without having to bother with the “whys” and “therefores.” Among the Tea Party and Open Carry folks are obviously some genuinely patriotic folks, but just as obviously there are among them some seriously disturbed citizens who are pathologically damaged to the extent that they could be inspired by the steady streams of vitriolic rhetoric coming out of media sources like Fox News to repeat the kind of thing McVeigh did.

A good, if disturbing, example of cognitive disconnect is the ease with which some people view as heroic the putatively conservative president George W. Bush, whose administration expanded federal government and federal entitlement programs and who, with his vice-president and secretary of defense began a costly war of choice based on unfounded rumors, and turned a comfortable surplus handed down by the previous administration into alarming deficit almost overnight. (That last sentence is overly long, but because I am a retired guy who can do just about anything legal that he wants to do, I’m going to leave it.) Limbaugh, Beck, Coulter, and Palin (Well, maybe she really doesn’t know.) are aware that many of their fans are folks living in disconnected fear of and longing for an apocalypse. Look at the causes that frighten and excite them, and listen to the rhetoric: global warming (What global warming?)... equal rights for GLBT folks (reprobates and willful sinners)... illegal immigration (giving a break to people who are not like “us” who sneak into our good country to get something we have worked for that they want for nothing)... white supremacists (God made US not them in HIS image)... conspiracy theorists (Somebody out there somewhere is out to get us) and militia enthusiasts (I can’t begin even to guess why anybody past the age of fourteen would want to carry empty (?) guns or to wear gunless holsters).

The United States of America is a realized, beautiful idea, not just a hypothetical dream. It could be spoiled by the very people who claim to love it. This morning I went down to a trolley station behind a small shopping area called, of all things, The Hazard Center; and as I waited for my train, I looked at that tiny piece of America and wondered how it would change if the right wing spoilers could have their way with the country. Would our country become a real hazard center if the people who insist that they should be allowed to carry guns openly in America could actually do it? Last week a rather large contingent of "open carry" people walked along a boardwalk at the beach not far from here and people were alarmed to see eighty men and women walking together carrying weapons.

The flag that I can see from my hill flies briskly above the Hazard Center; beautiful flowers bloom all around it; a lazy river runs through the valley behind the center; peaceful people come and go on the trolley; things look good in the America that I see every day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

These flowers are FOR NETTIE... They were a little while ago in my back yard and are now in the vase on the book shelf where I went looking for a special quote from a special book that I was reminded of after reading an e-mail from Nettie... She, for sure, will know what I mean.
You will remember, of course, the last chapter of that very important literary work by A. A. Milne where we leave Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh in an enchanted forest... walking:
“Where are we going?” said Pooh, hurrying after him, and wondering whether it was to be an Explore or a What-shall-I-do-about-you-know-what.

“Nowhere,” said Christopher Robin.

So they began going there, and after they had walked a little way Christopher Robin said:

“What do you like doing best in the world, Pooh?”

(And you know that part of the story where Pooh says, of course, what he liked doing best was going to Christopher Robin’s house and eating, but since you know that, I won’t quote it.)

“I like that too,” said Christopher Robin, “but what I like doing best is Nothing.”

“How do you do Nothing?” asked Pooh, after he had wondered for a long time.

“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it. What are you going to do, Christopher Robin, and you say, Oh, nothing, and then you go and do it.”

“Oh, I see,” said Pooh.

“This is a nothing sort of thing that we’re doing now.”

“Oh, I see,” said Pooh again.

“It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
They walked on, thinking of This and That, and by-and-by they came to an enchanted place on the very top of the Forest called Galleons Lap, which is sixty-something trees in a circle; and Christopher Robin knew that it was enchanted because nobody had ever been able to count whether it was sixty-three or sixty-four, not even when he tied a piece of string round each tree after he had counted it. Being enchanted, its floor was not like the floor of the forest, gorse and bracken and heather, but close-set grass, quiet and smooth and green. . . Sitting there they could see the whole world spread out until it reached the sky, and whatever there was all the world over was with them in Galleons Lap.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Click on these images to see them larger.

Over the pale blue gray mountains to the east
unimaginably vast streams of ubiquitous glory
escaping from behind a fragile space light dam
somewhere eons away in a corner of the universe
where my mind even on its keenest day cannot go
search out the small window I keep open still to life
finding there my sleeping soul to at least once more
tickle awake ever so subtly my temporary existence.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

ON THE EIGHTH OF APRIL I POSTED A LITTLE POEM THAT HAD BEEN ABOUT THREE DAYS IN THE HOPPER... and after a third friend asked what it is about, I automatically switched into my old English (different from Old English) teacher gear and began to gin up an explanation:

Etymology: “ennui” and “annoy” both started from the same Latin idiomatic phrase, mihi in odio est “I hate or dislike” (literally, “for me it is in odiousness." The phrase was reduced to a single verb, inordaire “to make odious” which served as the source of the Old French verb inodiare “to make odious” which served as the source of the Old French verb anoier “to annoy, bore.” This verb was borrowed into English around the time of the Norman Invasion as anoier, our “annoy” today. Later the Old French verb developed into ennuyer from which arose the noun “ennui” in modern French. This noun acquired the sense “boredom” and was then borrowed again, this time in a new form, probably in the 18th century to distinguish the complex apathy of the upper class from the simple boredom of the lower.


hangs over
the early morning
coffee shop crowd.

Is it loneliness or
ennui or plain
not giving a damn?

The robin’s egg blue guy
is going to or coming from
a hospital operating room.

Is it something he has seen
or doesn’t want to see
pinches his full face?

The leather jacket swaggers
deep green aviator glasses
above a Hollywood smile.

Is it for selling or buying
the smiles and good mornings
pass between patrons?

Stolid body rising from transparent pumps,
stiletto heels out of place
click-clacking under faded Barbie skirt.

Is the bold coffee relevant
on the way maybe to a stripper pole
somewhere anywhere?

And then I saw it...
an American flag pin
at the very tip
of her collar
just below
the blue butterfly
and her lips,
and hips
and undulating
other parts
moved on out
into the morning.

The first friend, whose questions I always respect, asked about the title of the poem after he had already found background information, i.e. the Latin idiom... How does the phrase fit a coffee shop crowd or my reaction to the coffee shop crowd? Remember... I call my BLOG of photographs and writings “The Way I See It.”

About the poem:  Obviously I could have made a simpler title like “Ennui” or “The Coffee Shop.” The idea came “off the top of my head” followed by three days of stewing about what I wanted to say... about what I “see” in the coffee shop I visit at least once a week at seven o’clock in the morning... about the class system at work even at a local coffee shop. I like watching people... and the change in people from the time when they first come into the coffee shop obviously sleepy, bored, hurried and harried and even annoyed at having to go out into the world in the morning... until they leave five or ten minutes later having stood in line with everybody... every kind of body... pushed by the coffee shop line into interaction of maybe just the smallest sort... and they go out more engaged, less under a cloud of ennui, less annoyed, . Some of what I saw as I sat in a corner alone on a Wednesday: an almost certainly homeless raggedy man going repeatedly to the trash barrel just outside the door to find paper cups with little bits of coffee left in them, always lifting the cups, neck back, to drain whatever was in them; a tired guy in clean but wrinkled blue scrubs; a midnight cowboy kind of guy with sunglasses even before the sun was up and brightness was a problem and his very deliberate smile for anybody he could get to look at him seemed an immense sadness; a man in woefully unsuccessful physical transition from having a male body to having a female  one; a forty-something, maybe even fifty-something woman in the highest stiletto transparent heels I have ever seen, short-short tight-tight skirt, blouse with collar and on the right-side tip of the collar the kind of flag pin that pink-haired ladies on their way to a D.A.R. meeting and fundamentalists think politicians are supposed to wear to demonstrate their love for America.  Anyway, that's where it came from... right out of Starbucks at the trolley stop in Mission Valley.
------------------------------------EARTHFAIR in Balboa Park happened again this year on a perfect day. The predicted rain came after fairgoers had gone home. I was there to help register people to vote.A Hari Krishna group celebrated their spiritual enlightment while just down the road glum Christians warned that judgment is coming soon.It might be interesting to know... or not... what these people are all about. The man who calls himself a street preacher wearing a sandwich board of absurd messages says he is giving the world a chance to be saved. It would be interesting to know what in the life experience of these grown men led them to their dismal belief in an angry, vengeful god who is out to get hapless "masturbators, fake Christians, revelers," and "liars."
FROM THE RIDICULOUS to the sublime... a matter of opinion.