Wednesday, June 30, 2010

MARGARET AND I saw the Lamb's Players production of that old comedy "Harvey." Great Show. Afterwards we stopped by the Coronado Harbor, and I got this shot of San Diego... around ten o'clock in the evening. Sandburg's Chicago was coming into San Diego Harbor "on little cat's feet."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

BENEATH CRYSTAL PIER AT PACIFIC BEACHThe birds know it is a Buddhist ocean here
that surges gently among great bold pilings
to tease the imaginations of small and big boys.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Internet makes it possible for me to read morning editions of The New York Times and the Washington Post while I enjoy my first cup of coffee before breakfast, but sometimes the "news" leaves me in a funk. This morning the front pages told the world about our Supreme Court's decision that the city of Chicago could not ban hand guns because it would violate the Constitutional guarantee of the right to bear arms. The open carry and other gun rights advocates have won another round. The Tea Party and the National Rifle Association were given another reason to celebrate. The morning papers also reported a measured increase in the incidences of something called cyber bullying, especially in middle and high schools in America. The papers also carried reports of increases in violent domestic crimes in most American cities. I didn't have the heart to read about the reported deaths in our two Middle East wars. I needed a beauty fix, and I found it near the end of the day when Margaret and I came across some artichokes planted in a front yard in Hillcrest.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


El Cajon, California, has a large population of Assyrians, an ancient people caught up in a new diaspora. They are known as Chaldeans if they belong to the Chaldean-church and Syriacs if they are belong to the Syrian Orthydox Church. Chaldeans are fiercely loyal to their church, to their language, and to each other. Margaret and I had the pleasure of being included in a picnic this afternoon with Chaldeans largely from the village of Bidaro in Northwestern Iraq. Bidaro is five miles from the Turkish border and very close to the southwestern border of Iran. A couple of other people were from the village that was once the ancient city of Ninevah across the Tigris River from the modern city of Mosul on the Plain of Ninevah. The Chaldean-Syriac Christians have a long history of persecution. Some of our friends left Iraq for Lebanon in the nineteen seventies, and then the civil war there forced them out again, and they came to the United States. Some newer friends have come to the United States since the current war with Iraq began. Today I had a long conversation with a Chaldean man who is now an Australian citizen and lives in Sydney. He lost a leg in the war with Iran and suffers hearing loss from a roadside bomb explosion. What moves me most is the thankfulness and hopefulness of these people. They are amazingly resourceful and supportive of each other.

Food and fellowship are enough reason for these gatherings, but today was special because of the arrival of Father Michael from Bidaro and because this is a special saint’s day for the Chaldean Church. It’s wonderful to sit and listen to people speaking one of the world’s oldest languages and to be included in a feast that rivals anything else we’ve ever experienced in extensive world travels. To my taste Chaldeans rice dishes are the best in the world... and a roasted whole lamb was outstanding.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

TODAY I HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF GIVING THE WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS AT THE MARRIAGE OF MICHAEL LINDSAY AND MANUEL QUENTERO. I took the picture above a few days ago. Below is my "officiating" introduction, followed by a picture of Manuel and Michael after the ceremony. All celebrations of marriages should be as joyful as this one was. Guests included many children and their families. Chairs for guests were arranged in a spiral. Michael, Manuel, and I sat in the first three chairs in the center and guests spiraled out from the center. We entered the spiral through a chorus of drums. I began by asking people to visualize the scene...
Consider where you are at this very moment. Look around you. With your mind’s eye, rise up above where we are and look down on yourself... on yourself in relation to others...the friends and family of Manuel and Michael. Here we are in what the Medieval mathematician Fibonacci called a naturally occurring outwardly spiraling pattern. It is perhaps the most common arrangement of parts in nature. This outwardly spiraling arrangement of parts is all about strength. There are some ferns growing in planters around this place. Notice the fiddle head spirals. Look at a nautilus shell or a common garden snail and you find the spiral... If we could see out into the darkness of space billions and billions of light years, we would see, as the Hubble Telescope does, billions of galaxies... spiraling out billions of light years into space... arranged in exactly the same sequence of numbers, known now as the Fibonacci sequence, the same as the spiraling of the tiniest snail you might pick up at the water’s edge or clinging to a boat out there... or that you find in this arrangement of friends of Michael and Manuel.

Life is a kind of spiraling. I love the story of how you two met. That moment was the beginning of a spiraling relationship... that now includes all of us who are sitting here with you. This evening with Manuel and Michael is a celebration of the fact that they found each other... a celebration of their relationship... their marriage. A celebration of their commitment to each other... to their families... and to all of us who are their friends. In accepting the invitation to celebrate with them, we are committing to doing whatever it is we can do to make their relationship strong and their commitment to each other firm.

Michael and Manuel, let me say a couple of things just to you... with friends and family listening. You are both wise, so you aren’t fooled into thinking that because the two of you have become one family that you have completely solved for all time the problem of your aloneness, the aloneness inherent in being human... the aloneness with which each of us lives. You’ve made a great start. Of course, you must continue to work at keeping strong the arrangement of parts in your relationship.

You may have read Richard Bach’s The Bridge Across Forever. I like this part:

"A soul mate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soul mate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person. Our soul mate is the one who makes life come to life."

HERE MAY BE ANOTHER WAY OF SAYING IT... I won’t ask you to repeat these statements... but I want your friends to know that this is What I SENSE YOU ARE SAYING TO EACH OTHER when I listen and watch you two together... I think you are saying to each other...

"I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I think you are saying to each other... I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but also for what you are making of me. I love you because you have done more than any creed could have done to make me good, and more than any fate could have done to make me happy. You have done it without a touch, without a word, without a sign. You have done it by being yourself. Michael and Manual, that’s the impression I have of your relationship."

May it ever be so.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Today is Ruth's birthday. Although she isn't hiding the number, I won't say which one this is... but with this many friends gathered around, it's obviously significant. We are all glad she was born.

Normally in these matters the birthday girl would be the picture for the day, but something significant gave that spot to her grandson Garrett. When I came into his house, he shook hands with me, smiled, and with a huge grin asked me if I could tell what had happened to him. He lost his first tooth... the tooth fairy left five bucks and forgot to take away the tooth, so he is hoping for more. He's not sure how the system works. Neither am I.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Orange is the color of night... light left over
from daylight umbrellas and sweet fruit...
Goblins have stolen orange away
from its natural tenderness and joy.
Oh, I know it’s all in fun, the jack-o-lanterns
and the black cats with orange eyes...
But I want orange restored to its rightful place
beside blue and red and green and mauve.
Put it back in Mark’s sunset where it belongs.I went out to take the shots of the pool at dusk because I thought the lights would be glowing orange. It didn't happen that way, but I had written the verse already because that's the way it is in my imagination...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A TRIP TO THE NETHERLANDS CONSULATE IN LOS ANGELES...Anytime I have to go to Los Angeles is an adventure in Wonderland. The reality of Los Angeles seems always half-a-click off... Off of what?... It's hard to explain. I was about to say it's half-a-click off what I consider "normal," but that can't be it because I don't have a clear sense of what is normal... or average... or what's-to-be-expected-of-cities. Before I headed up Interstate 5 with friends, I watched the U. S. soccer team pluck a win over Algeria out of thin air with two remaining minutes in a zero-zero game. That was the good news. Then I heard that great globs of tar were washing up today on Florida beaches. I listened to a television news anchor speculate about the fate of General Stanley McCrystal. And the economy seems not to be recovering as quickly as it should.

I needed a relief... something beautiful... and I found it with my camera when I went out once to put more money in the parking meter. A woman walking up Wilshire Boulevard had wrapped herself in purple feathers. And later I saw a lily... up close... and an agapanthus blossom being born... A picture I took of Dael when she was here in December on a visit from The Netherlands was the perfect image to make today's BLOG entry beautiful.