Saturday, March 31, 2012

It's the lily season...

I'm not even going to try to write about why I am intrigued by these lily seed pods left over from last year's flowers...

Friday, March 30, 2012

These shoes are made for...
...and the trees in our neighborhood have signatures.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Orange yells louder than red
just add a little bit of yellow
What you do with green depends
soft, soft, softer
Blue is everywhere
Butterflies know the difference
Snails don't care

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

O.K., one more time... I’m going to think this all the way through. I must be missing something. Let me review what I think I’m hearing:

Three of the four candidates for the Republican slot on the presidential election ballot in November are aiming their strongest appeals to American Christians... assuming, I presume, that the ideas and practices they endorse are consistent with the ideas and practices which define Christianity and are most consistent with the Christian Gospel. Perhaps it’s time for a review.

The Gospel according to the Republican Party compels righteous Christians to try to persuade the Supreme Court to undo the Affordable Care Act... a program with a goal of making sure 31 million people who don’t have health care can get it. This redefinition of moral righteousness requires deliberate sabotage of programs that help the poor. Bringing more suffering on the already suffering poor indicates an obvious disconnect with the Gospel, which I’ve always understood places high priority, even a requirement, to care for the poor. Christians are asked to believe in the moral righteousness of candidates who say that contraception and abortion under any circumstances should not be allowed. For good measure they attempt to prove their moral righteousness by saying they will never approve of extending to homosexuals the same civil rights that are guaranteed to heterosexuals.

The House Budget Committee Chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan has proposed a budget for the nation which he calls “Path to Prosperity." The first priority of the Chairman’s budget is a dramatic increase in defense spending, and the second priority is preserving massive tax cuts for the wealthy, both of which can be accomplished by cutting away the social safety net which makes it possible for the poor who use medicaid to get medicine and medical treatment for their families and by drastically cutting food stamp programs.

The Republican Party has supported legislation to allow corporations with large sums of money to play a much bigger role in the political system than was previously allowed. Rather than have Congress set the terms of debate on issues critical to the welfare of the American people, lobbyists are employed by corporations to decide which issues should be addressed and how elected officials should go about addressing them. The activities of corporations are encouraged and protected by stripping away regulations even if it means ignoring warnings from the scientific community that an environmental crisis indicated by climate change is looming and is almost certain to spin out of control.

The presidential candidates and Republican politicians all across the country are running on a promise to address the moral crisis in America. What they don’t acknowledge is that the gay community, healthcare advocates, women who demand the right to decide what their health-care needs are, environmentalists, the poor, and hard-working middle class citizens are not the problem.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Today I was reading a favorite poem, The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot, and I went out and found some images that fit the mood in which it left me. With the photographs are five bits, one from each of the four sections of the poem, which seem to fit. It's important to try to get things to fit as often as possible...

Shape without form, shade without color,
    Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
Sunlight on a broken column
    There, is a tree swinging
    And voices are
    In the wind's singing
The supplication of a dead man's hand
    Under the twinkle of a fading star.
The eyes are not here
    There are no eyes here
Between the desire
    And the spasm
    Between the potency
    And the existence
    Between the essence
    And the descent
    Falls the Shadow

Monday, March 26, 2012

O.K., O.K., I’m giving in... Until now I’ve resisted weighing in with a response to the tragic death of Trayvon Martin.

One of my peculiar ways of handling matters that sadden and grieve me is just to clam up...perhaps because I don’t have a good way to process a reality that exposes embarrassing truths about me or my family or my homeland, my country. For a long time I have wanted to believe we are getting close to a time when bigotry coupled with our national romance with guns is disappearing in our culture. The Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman tragedy is a reminder that we aren’t getting even close.

I guess I’ve wanted somebody to rush up and reassure me that the alleged facts of George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin were all wrongly stated, that it was a tragic accident, that maybe the careless man dropped the weapon he shouldn’t have have been carrying in the first place and that the boy carrying nothing more dangerous than a can of iced tea was standing nearby and was killed when the gun fired as it hit the sidewalk. As much as I long for a simple explanation, of course, that isn’t what happened. There is no way to put a better face on the tragedy. There is also apparently no way to keep the killing from being politicized. Fox News is reporting one way, and MSNBC is telling the story another way. When the President spoke a few days ago about his sadness and his sense of attachment to the tragedy by staying that if he had a son that son would look a lot like Trayvon Martin, I reacted to his wistful spoken thought by hearing in it grief at knowing a young boy in our country, the country for which he is acutely responsible, came to the end of his life tragically; and I heard in his remark empathy for Trayvon’s parents. But, of course, I like Barack Obama very much; so I expect the best from him, and most of the time I think I get it, we all get it. I am grateful that we have such an intelligent, empathic person as president of our country. Newt Gingrich scoffed and said the President was shameless and pandering and trying to make political mileage out of the event. Geraldo Rivera said Trayvon shouldn’t have been wearing a hoodie... and that Paragon of virtue and Christian rightness, Michelle Bachmann, reminded us that she is a mother with five biological sons and twenty-three foster children and what everybody should do is just cool their jets and wait for the truth. She went on to say that Newt Gingrich was merely saying that it wasn’t about race, that race had nothing to do with it, that race-talk interferes with the truth. Wow! It’s easy to imagine that it’s especially hard for Trayvon’s parents to adopt Michelle Bachmann’s dispassionate, calm attitude about the tragedy.

So now that I’ve stepped in to give my two-cents worth, let me say plainly what’s on my mind. When I was a working man before retirement, I was a teacher and administrator, a school person; and the focus of my life was caring for young people... for doing everything I could to help them grow up strong and able to cope with the hope and joy and pain and confusion of living, of being. I liked doing what I did when I was a working person. Now “in retirement” (an interesting label for my current state of being), I can’t shake off my sense of responsibility for young people... not just the ones I know, but for all young people. Growing up at any time and in any place is hard. When growing up happens in conditions of poverty and deprivation and absence of family support and familial encouragement, he can be hell. When a community fails to provide appropriate public schools and other public resources that nurture growth, the young people growing up there, especially those who aren’t part of an emotionally healthy family, are at great risk of being unprepared for adulthood. As a nation, as a people, it is becoming more and more apparent that we aren’t doing “right by” all our children. We are reminded constantly that support for pubic schools is being relentlessly eroded. We are steadily cutting back funding for public colleges and universities. When older adolescents commit crimes in many of our communities, our emphasis is on retribution and punishment rather than on rehabilitation. The Internet and digital media, which I use and celebrate, dominate the lives of many children; but virtual experience is no guarantee of success in a real world.

Of course, I don’t know the details of what happened between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Trayvon is dead. His parents have lost their son forever. His friends won’t ever see him again. Some young person Trayvon’s age who would have one day become his life’s partner if he had lived, will never know him... and that saddens me. George Zimmerman is also a tragic human being. His life is over. Whatever nighttime game he was playing out there with his gun and pick-up, he will never ever play again. I can imagine that his grief is large... and I’d like to think his grief is for Trayvon and the young man’s family more than for himself. I’d like to think his grief is for the shame and disgrace he has brought to his own family.
I don’t know for sure what happened that night in Sanford, Florida. What I do know for sure is that we can take better care of the children in our country. We are the wealthiest nation on earth. We can afford to meet the health care needs of absolutely every child. We can provide extraordinary schooling, comprehensive and compassionate education free from bullying, for ALL our children. Our churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and clubs can be places where there is no bigotry and exclusion. Our communities, even the gated ones, can be welcoming to ALL people. We can address and solve social justice problems in our culture. Sí, podemos...Да, мы можем...Oui, nous pouvons...Ja können wir...はい、私達はできる...그렇습니다, 우리는 할 수 있다...Ja, kunnen wij...是,我们能...Sì, possiamo...Sim, nós podemos...نعم, كنا يستطيع...Ναι, είναι δυνατό

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ein Deutsches Requiem by Johannes Brahms
Norman Rockwell would have had more fun painting the rehearsal, but he would probably be the first to acknowledge that, while the rehearsal was fun to watch and hear, the performance tonight was sublime. Congratulations to Stan Wicks, Robert Plimpton, the choir and the orchestra!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I went over to First United Methodist Church today with my camera to sit in on the rehearsal of the Lenten Choral Concert with the Chancel Choir, Masterwork Chorale, and members of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. I'll hear the formal concert tomorrow night, but today was definitely a Norman Rockwell kind of experience, an American day. Photographs from the rehearsal are very different from anything I can get at a performance. You'll see what I mean. In homage to Norman Rockwell, I photoshopped a couple of the photographs to make them look like his paintings. They are the last two in this post. Be sure to click on those to see them larger.

The concert tomorrow night is dedicated to the memory of my friend Bill Root... a friend to most of the people in these photographs. The Brahms German Reuiem is appropriate.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Glass building at Friar’s Road across the way from a small mall with an unlikely name... The Hazard Center. Hazard is a name known by everybody in San Diego. Hazard isn’t a condition. The name belongs to a family with roots going all the way back to the early days of San Diego. I’ve thrown in the other two photographs just for the heck of it. They remind me that being near any kind of well-traveled path in San Diego is a hazard for a tree, especially for ficus with beautiful, fair skin.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ordinary people in
extraordinary places
extraordinary people in
ordinary places
Whichever it is, they are
maybe even often
more impressive
in black and white.