Monday, June 30, 2014

HOBBY LOBBY is an easy name to remember.  I spent some time riding along the riverside thinking about how I could avoid affiliating in any way with a company by that name.


Hobby Lobby, a chain of crafts stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, which makes wood cabinets is on my official list of companies to avoid in every way possible and to encourage everybody with a conscience valuing social justice to do so.  

Our Supreme Court has ruled in favor of allowing Christians who own corporations to deny complete health coverage to their employees if the coverage allows health benefits which do not meet the family’s approval because of religious considerations.  The Hobby Lobby Christian family evidently considers contraception to be offensive to their god.  

The question of what other benefits to American citizens will be allowed or disallowed because of religious considerations has not been settled.  The Supreme Court ruled in a 5 to 4 decision to allow the religion of corporation owners/business owners to be the primary guide in deciding which benefits will be allowed for their workers.

Does this mean that the Supreme Court  recognizes legitimacy of the Christian law in the same sense that a Caliphate recognizes Sharia Law?  Has the Supreme Court decided in 2014 that America is indeed a Christian nation, contrary to the clear intent of the Constitution, and that the laws of all other religions shall not be considered in deciding what shall be allowed and shall not be allowed for American citizens?  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A horse is a horse is a horse is sometimes a piece of jade I got in China a long time ago...

I listened in church this morning... and tried once again to figure out how to tell what was real and made good sense... and what was more or less wishful thinking.

Pass the Vinegar

Ask any child.
The Yellow Brick Road theory of life
falls apart all too quickly with the death of a favorite fish
or a dog
who isn't a dog at all
but is Maggie or Molly or Rex
or my god how do you stand it
death of Grandmother or Daddy
or the baby who doesn't have a name yet.
The child knows.

Dr. Pangloss was a fool
and so is the Sunday School teacher
who insists that the way to avoid pain is to trust god
with a capital CHRIST.
He knew better up there on the cross...
Pass the vinegar.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

My intention a little while ago was to make a poem about cherries
because I had cherries, 
but nothing came of it...


Fishing for a poem is tricky business,
not unlike trying to catch trout.
The bait is important
but isn’t everything.
Find the right place,
drop in the line

and wait.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Every now and then I take out a book into which I have written over many years words, words, words… not all of the words became poetry, but on a day in June more than thirty years ago, I put down a page full of words in a certain order that expressed then what I still now want to happen to me… what I go out looking for when I get on my bicycle and head out with no specific destination in mind.


If I could be any instrument in the orchestra
I would choose the oboe for mellow, earthy tones
Or the clarinet to ride the roller coaster
Of notes and scales up and around
Or the flute like a tropical bird
Unless the trumpet called
Before or after playing down below
With cello or bass
Or violin crying and wailing
Or French horn singing
Through the thunder of timpani
Or tap dancing and marching
Through drums and marimba.

Making only one kind of music
May be enough for some people,
But not for me.
Let all the melodies of earth
And all the contramelodies, too,
Be played through me at least once.
I want to be everything.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rainbow Eucalyptus in back of the Museum of Photographic Arts Today...

The observable universe began 13.8 billion years ago. 

Whether or not there were other big bangs…whether or not we live in a multiverse…
whether or not the universe is flat, a sphere, a saddle, or some other shape caused by gravity…  We don’t know how, when, or if it will end.

According to reputable polls Forty-six percent of Americans believe the earth and indeed the whole of everything including all of the universe was created in under 10,000 years.  It’s an offensive idea to a surprisingly large group of people who believe nothing is more than 6000 years old.  If you want to get worked up by the reality that a huge chunk of folks in America are dangerously ignorant, visit The Museum of Creation and Earth History in Santee, California.

AGAIN TODAY... THE PHOTOS AREN'T TRYING TO PROVE ANYTHING... By the way, my little hummingbirds flew away yesterday. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Don't get me wrong... but I've thinking and wondering...

You know how it is when somewhat idle thinking turns serious when it comes to a reality that cannot be denied. Today the reality is that religion has been and continues to be one of the major causes of war… perhaps the major cause of war. The phenomenon has been such a factor in the history of wars that the Latin term bellum sacrum (Holy War) is used to represent the idea of war that is caused by or justified by differences in religion.  In a short list of ten of the ongoing conflicts in the world today, only one is not specifically about religious differences:

War in Afghanistan since 1978 with as many as 2,084,468 fatalities;
in Somali… a civil war since 1991 with more than half a million fatalities;
in Nigeria since 2001 with almost 11,000 fatalities;
in North-West Pakistan since 2004 with more than 52,000 fatalities;
in Mexican drug war since 2006 with more than 150,000+ fatalities;
in Egypt crisis since 1911 resulting in 4300+ fatalities;
in Syrian civil war since 1911… 162,411+ fatalities;
in Iraqi since 2011… 19,598+ fatalities;
in Central African Republic (CAR) since 2012… 2,000+ fatalities;
in South Sudan Civil War since 2013… 10,000+ fatalities

…and the easy-to-find-on-the-Internet list goes on with familiar names of countries and broader regions of the world… and especially discouraging numbers of fatalities.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Thoughts on waiting for my hummingbird chicks to fly...


I lost a poem today.

Actually, it never really took wing
and flew
but sat there on the ground
having fallen from the nest too soon,
too weak to fly,
to become something on its own.

I don’t know what happened.
I didn’t see it die.
It’s as if it was just never there
except as a faint, faint memory
somewhere back in my mind
too far away to reach and grasp,
to pull out
and revive.
So it’s gone.

I wonder what color it would have been.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The pictures today have nothing to do with the writing...

I wasn’t deliberately evesdropping on a quarreling couple sitting with a child of maybe eight or nine at the coffee shop where I was waiting for friends who were frolicking in the Ocean Beach surf on this fine summer morning.  Other patrons looked as uncomfortable as I felt when the man and woman  came into the shop and continued a discussion, more of an argument, that had been going on before they stopped for coffee.  The child looked uncomfortable.  He held his father’s hand.  The woman’s voice was loud and uncompromising. She looked directly at him seeming unaware of the dozen or so coffee shop patrons. For her we didn’t exist. The man spoke softly not looking at her.  He was trying not to make eye contact with other people in the room... clearly wishing he could be somewhere else.

Later when I was hope alone at my computer, I remembered snippets of their argument, imagined the conversation I had heard was happening in their home at night instead of at the coffee shop... I made a poem.

Summer on the Other Side of Town

“A truck or a car doesn’t have a soul,”
she insists after he says the whine
of freeway traffic sounds lonesome.

It takes something away from him
that he can’t explain even to himself
when she declares flatly how wrong he is.

He decides to try to say it another way,
but she says after she hears the train whistle
sliding through the night to their bedroom,
“And that damned train is a pain in the ass.”

“Good Night,” was all he could think to say.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day 19

O.K., O.K.,  I know I'm beginning to sound like a proud papa; but how can I not be excited and proud of these little hummers.  I know also that beast of a jeep that people  call a hummer is in no way deserving of the admiration and respect that I feel for these two little creatures that are getting very, very close to the age when they will fly away.  It will happen sometime this week.  I'm guessing their first flight will happen on Tuesday, the day when I deliver my good Russian friends to the International Terminal at LAX to catch their late afternoon Aeroflot flight to Moscow. I don't  know the survival statistics, but I'm pretty sure it's a dangerous world out there for hummingbird juveniles. Our hill is home to all kinds of big birds and cats.  I'll worry.

I'll also continue to marvel at the natural phenomenon that makes possible the reality of the appearance of two tiny eggs the size of small jellybeans in an impossibly small nest outside my window... eggs kept warm by a diligent mother hummingbird that left the nest only occasionally to take nourishment for three weeks before the eggs broke open and  released decidedly unattractive blobs of genetic material that would immediately change the nature of her task. For almost three weeks now she has done nothing but fly around all day long searching for food for her chicks.

Day 2

Day 5
Day 9
Day 18

Saturday, June 21, 2014


E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, iChat, Linked-in...  a very great change from the time when my grandparents living six miles from the highway on a dirt road had a telephone on the wall that connected them with neighbors and a central operator who could connect them to family and friends far and wide.  Their telephone was a “party line” shared with several other farm families in the general area.  The signal from the magical machine that a call was for them Grandpa and Grandma was two short rings and a long one.  All other combinations were signals for other people on the party line.  It seemed like magic that Uncle Billy and Aunt Mae down the road could be reached without even ringing the operator first.  We could pick up the ear receiver, stand close to the mouthpiece, and make two long turns with the crank on the side of the phone and usually Aunt Mae would answer. If she didn’t answer we knew she was out feeding chickens or working in the garden.  In those days nobody imagined that someday we could leave a message after a usually polite electronic voice would say something like, “We can’t take your call right now, so please leave a message after the beep.”  

...So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how connecting in those days wasn’t easy… and how disconnecting these days is so difficult.  As ridiculous as it would have seemed even thirty years ago, now when I go for a bike ride I take along a cell phone. I ride out to a place at the seashore with the intention of sitting alone quietly on a little bluff overlooking the sand and surf. Margaret and just about anybody else in San Diego or anywhere else in the wide world can find me there. The phone rings and I seldom ignore it.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The little hummers have grown fast… ready to leave the nest soon.  It’s a scary but exciting world out there.  The mamma built the nest in a good, safe place. The crows can’t find the babies under the overhanging spider plants, and the cats in the neighborhood can’t reach them.  They are safe... for now.

Danya Gulentsov has been our little human hummer for a couple of very good weeks.  He will fly away back to Moscow and Smolensk next week… just about the time the hummingbirds are scheduled to try their wings.  With good parents... he is safe.

The California Brown Pelicans have been on the endangered species list since 1970…  Now they are back.  A few years ago it was a thrill to see even three of them flying above the shoreline.  Today there were eighteen flying in formation.  We have pelicans again.

How Ya Gonna Keep ‘em Down on the Farm After They’ve Seen

I don’t remember when it was that I stopped trying to make sense of Las Vegas... It was a long time ago.  It was a time before Frank Sinatra became a street and the canals of Venice were still in Italy. Harrah’s was exactly where it is today, just down the strip (perfect verb/noun with all the implications of adjective and even perhaps adverb… maybe even all eight parts of speech demonstrated in one word) from Paris and Hard Rock Cafe, etc.)… perched there on Las Vegas Boulevard it looked like a little bit of Reno that had slid south.  Our Russian friends have seen Disneyland and now Las Vegas.  I guess that just about fills in the blanks.  

This is the first time in a very long time (and without even crossing the International Date Line) that I’ve scrunched a couple of days’ blog photos into one post.

Huddled Masses longing... to cross the strip in Vegas

High Roller... Higher than The Eye in London