Saturday, April 30, 2011

This MOTHBALL FLEET has been rusting away for decades in on the Delta side of The Benicia Bridges.

CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION in Sacramento:  The most impressive thing about the convention this year is the predominance of young, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed leaders of the party.  Gavin Newsom, the speaker when I took this photograph is a rising star.  I am encouraged.

Friday, April 29, 2011

THE HILLS OF HOME:  When I was young, I didn't know how beautiful these hills were. Then, I wouldn't have thought of them as "organic." Now I can see that they are beautiful... and definitely organic... and alive.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Click on these photographs to see them larger.

PROGRESS REPORT: Our resident Mother Dove showed me her two eggs, the usual number for mourning doves. Twenty-seven days from today or yesterday they should hatch.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


It scurried across the bike path,
a beetle with hard black shell...

I didn’t know this squiggly creature.
We hadn’t met before today
and our encounter was brief...
won’t ever happen again.

It narrowly missed being swished
because I had enough time
to lean just a fraction to the right...
godlike, imperial, and grant it reprieve...

Somewhere out there in the weeds
perhaps under a rock or piece of bark
The bug lives tonight unaware of me.

If you look closely at this picture, you'll see a new plant, a pup, snuggledand just barely visible behind the "mother" agave. This plant lives to flower once. After the stalk blooms, the plant will die. But life goes on. The little pup will grow and replace the one that blooming this summer.

Monday, April 25, 2011

After a Bicycle Ride along the River to the Ocean

Clouds must be listed among the phenomena
That are not what they appear to be.
Brightening sometimes,
Threatening sometimes,
Delighting spectators with races across the sky...
Terrifying other more timid creatures cowering.

Who was it discovered that all things change eventually
From one thing to something else against the backdrop of reality...
Or at least from what they appear to be to something else
Quite different depending on the color of experience?
Is that dark cloud bank on the far edge of the sky
Just an innocent white cloud deprived of light, or what?

What a trip it would be
To take off running from the top of that high hill
And leap into the air at the last minute
Before rushing over the edge of the cliff
And fly out over the river and green valley
To get in line behind pelicans and glide with hawks.

Old Indian men and perhaps even women
Can tell before clouds appear
If they will entertain with dancing
Or punish the earth with water and fire.
Perhaps it is those circling hawks
that speak to them, or the wind.

To break out from the glide
And head off toward the towering thunderhead
Waiting on the western horizon
And slide into the soft shoulder of high fog
And then turn straight up in the middle
Through the storm to the topmost billow...

The little sparrows know when to duck
Under the heavy leather leaves of the oak
And the fox streaks toward shelter
Ignoring the lumbering cows making their way
To the barn or the shelter of that line of trees
Before the storm crashes down on them.

What a joyful ride it would be
To streak wet and glistening
Through the driving rainshower
Just above the tips of the willows
Tossing their feather branches in the wind
To land feet first running through the meadow.

You prefer the storm to blank skies
And long for thunder on the plain
Rolling along toward the mountain.
You choose to take your chances flying
Among the screaming lightening bolts
Rather than sit unthreatened in dead calm.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


The first three photographs are Jeremy's... He knows how to make a grandpa proud... even when he's clowning with binoculars.  He has definitely got a photographer's eye.

The "grandpa" photographs below are mine; the ones above are Jeremy's...

Saturday, April 23, 2011


The story of the Baby Krishna, like the story of the Baby Jesus, is an expression of hope and faith that things can be better in a world that sometimes seems to be overwhelmed by chaos and confusion.  Krishna’s birth was mysterious... miraculous. There was an awful rainstorm with frightening lightening and thunder on the night he was born. His Mother Devaki was imprisoned in a dungeon with her husband Vasudeva.  The baby is thought to have been “God born of a woman in our human world.”  It is only natural for millions of people in India to love and worship Sri Krishna.

Is That Why Babies Smile?

Remembering, the best or worst of human abilities,
Allows any embellishments or exaggerations
That suit the fancy of the rememberer.
Sutter Buttes must always be remembered as springtime mountains,
not hills, which is what they really are, but mountains
And always in a day with drifting clouds and warm.

You remember cows and pigs and chickens
Without their shit and smell and bother
And babies with no trace of fever or crying
And snow through a window piling deeper
Than the wagon hitches on Shaker road
And lilacs open full and fragrant...

And my Father sober and smiling and warm
Before the time of cancer and death
And Oregon in June with cherries and green apples
And apricots sweet and golden and warm
And Singapore’s people clean and kind
And Margaret and my children.

The Feather River north of the bridge to Marysville
And ducks on Ellis Lake on the Fourth of July;
The Chinese temple at the end of D Street
And school children waiting to get onto the yellow bus
And the time just before dark on an Arkansas road
And ancient oaks in the fields around Live Oak.

Remembering my Father’s laugh is as good
As any sound of falling water or birds singing.
The waterfall near Portland with ferns and trees,
And Mount Hood reflected in Lost Lake,
And the sunrise from Mount Kinabalu,
And the pitcher plants growing in the rain forest.

What about all those students you taught
Over the years in Yuba City, Singapore, Rockville,
Mclean, Braithwaite, New Lebanon and San Diego?
All their laughter... and amazement and wonder
At the beauty of poetry and plays and stories
They were discovering in their delicious youth.

Seeing David in Charlottsville was good
And the memory of it is comforting.
Thinking of Nancy working with Louisiana people
in summer is something that warms my heart.
Watching Margaret cook and set the table
For the four of us... a crisp image in my memory bank.

When the brain cells grow dim and cold and lifeless,
Is it like having the power go out in a storm
And the computer screen go blank and dead?
Is there a tiny battery somewhere in there
That preserves at least a bit of the beauty
For some later reincarnation? Is that why babies smile?

Friday, April 22, 2011


Marla's Lilac and her backyard...
Sunset, Mission Beach

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I reported two days ago that my friend the mourning dove had come back to our hill. When we replaced a window in my study a couple of weeks ago, I removed the hanging plant where she made her nest last year and the year before. She was obviously looking for the plant; so hoping she would agree to the change, I hung a basket in the place where the plant had been. Yesterday morning she was in the basket; and throughout the day, she and the male spent most of the day fetching material for the nest. (He is apparently a new guy. Mourning doves are monogamous, and unless something happens to one of them, they stay together, both participating in incubating and raising the chicks (called squab). When I didn’t see her mate after the first few days last years, I worried that he had been caught by one of the red-tailed hawks that circle our hill looking for prey.) Doves are notoriously sloppy nest builders. They bring a loose collection of twigs and feathers and string and plot it down willy-nilly without weaving any of it together. Apparently, they need nothing more than a few twigs to keep eggs from rolling away from the center.

Now they are settled in. I’m guessing the female will lay her eggs (usually two) in the next few days, and then they’ll spent the next month hatching them. Incubation is 27 days. I feel comforted by the presence of these doves outside my window. When I sit in front of my computer, she sits facing me. When I leave, she sometimes turns and sits the other way facing the walkway outside. When the male comes to the nest, he ignores me altogether. With a long lens I managed to get today’s photograph of the female sitting on the nest.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

PREFACE: Self-portrait
AUTOBIOGRAPHY...A Poem in Twelve Verses.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My dove is back.
She’d been gone six months,
half a year, to where?
I don’t know.
Won’t ever know.

She seemed quite shy
at first when she sat
and looked around me
then straight into my eyes.
No apology though.

She still likes me.
She’s glad to be back,
Wherever she went,
Whatever she did
is forgotten now.