Friday, December 27, 2013

Trains, Cars, and Kneesocks

So many happy scenes from Christmas, but I'll choose this one to share today. Trains and cars were the big hit this year -- and a lovely wood kitchen set with pots and pans and food in bright colors. My second Christmas waking up with this lovely grand son of mine -- priceless. Best. Gift. Ever. I played with my cell phone application called "ColorBurst" and that's how I made this photo. I forgot my serious camera (damn!) in my rush to get on the road, so the cell phone had to do. And then this morning my daughter sent me this shot, which caused me to screech with laughter.

Now I want my own Superman knee socks!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Spirit?

This clip just says it all for me. Each new year brings a whole new level of disgusting to what we call Christmas. These scenes of greed and coveting material goods literally turn my stomach. Happy Fucking Christmas, y'all. Now, on the brighter side, I love this time of year when we make time for family, good food, and fellowship. I love the lights, and yes, even the carols. I'll be waking up Christmas morning with my grandson and family, and that is the most perfect gift of all. May you have a lovely holiday, free from frenzy and stress, and full of love and light!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Kin and Kith


Family Court

One would be in less danger
From the wiles of a stranger
If one's own kin and kith
Were more fun to be with.

Monday, December 16, 2013


 Arms raised in the desert,
Succulent saguaro standing alone,
Purple martin, ground squirrel
And dry scrub, your only companions.

It must be your meaty center
Pulsing with green living juice
That draws me on my hands
And knees, longing for your lusciousness.

Why else would I touch your spines?
Brush my cheek against your trunk,
Red rivulets running down my face
While I plead for you to yield?

Solitary cactus,
Indifferent to my thirst and blood,
Incapable of knowing anything
About this woman and her body.

How you bleed me, 
Your barbs lodged deep inside
-- The spines will not come out
Despite my tender (sometimes frantic) ministrations.

I have barred my door
To keep me from my nocturnal journeys,
But I am tenacious and sickly thrilled
By your ancient silence,

Your flowers that bloom in the night.
You may stand a hundred years,
Or I might come wild eyed with my machete
To finish the story, unleashing my inner Kali.

Let the sun bleach our bones on the barren terrain.

 by Tara Crowley
inspired by, what else? Tortured Love.

Friday, December 13, 2013


TGIF, all you working stiffs!  All you rush hour warriors, you 9 to 5ers, you multi-taskers, you jamming to get home to cook dinner before you and your kids die of hunger.  I know you do it.  You know I know you do it.  I used to do it.

Fridays tend to be my busy days -- tasks to take care of so I free up my weekends for farmer's markets, friends who work M-F, breakfast with the Gang of Queers.

This Friday I am particularly grateful for the people in my life.  A friend from junior high school contacted me out of the blue!  Soon, we shall connect on the telephone.  This is someone I have looked for over the years but never found.  (My gawd, she has no internet trail to follow....)  She will be re-connecting me with the other part of our old school pack, whom I have also wondered about (where is she? what's she doing?)  My friend, L., reminded me that I used to sing the song "500 Miles" and she said I sang it better than Joan Baez.  She can't believe I didn't make it big in the music biz.  That is so nice to hear.  I haven't thought of that song in a very long time.  Now I'm humming it all morning long.

Have a lovely weekend, y'all.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bygone Days

This is a photo from, oh, maybe 9 years ago.  My daughter, her boyfriend (now her husband) and their friends getting ready to go to the high school's winter formal.  We were at my house, with our nice big tree all glammed up for the season.  Don't 'the kids' look lovely?  Makes me kind of weepy....where has the time gone?

My tree this year (and for the past 3) is about 20 inches tall and cost ten whole dollars at CVS.  My times have changed.  Sometimes I miss being part of a family -- the kids coming and going, the dogs running around with the cats, my wife and I sprawled on the sofa watching television.  I wonder if I'll ever have some of that again.  Certainly I'm fine without the kids part, but some grand kids running around wouldn't be half bad.  Someone to curl up next to each night wouldn't be half bad, either.

The holidays bring out a certain sadness about my single status, until I remember the struggle it was to get my spouse(s) to enter into the spirit of the season.  Seems like I was always draggin' 'em, kicking and screaming, to show some Christmas cheer.  Although there were some really fun Christmas mornings, like the one where my then wife gave my daughter a box filled with one dollar bills.  She, of course, threw them into the air.  Or the time my daughter gave her step-mom a case of beer for a present.  Fitting.

This year, my parents' neighborhood has gone all out with the lights and decorations.  I'll try and get a photo to post.  Sacramento boasts some gorgeous Christmas light displays, with neighborhoods competing with one another.  Many neighborhoods coordinate their lights and it creates quite the festive mood.  Perfect for night strolling, except tonight is going to be too cold to actually go out.  Last night it was 28F (-2.22C).  It's been even lower than that over the past week.  But at least we're not an hour up into the mountains, where snow is abundant and temps are in single digits.  Where some people's furnaces are not working.

I was walking the dog (twice today), donned in my thermal underwear, jeans, turtleneck sweater, winter coat, knit hat, gloves and warm boots.  I was still freezing my ass off.  Welcome to December.

Friday, December 6, 2013


A friend of mine just started a new job, after being unemployed for nine months.  She's on cloud 9, and states that she is grateful for the routine again.  Her dogs, and her golf clubs, are feeling lonesome, but she is juiced up and ready for the challenge of her new adventure.  I am happy for her, but a little sad because I know she is going to be consumed by her work (very high level, very professional) and I am not going to get to see her as often.  Sigh.  The lament of the retired.

As an old hand at retirement, I know that I have to keep a routine.  I just operate better that way.  It's not a strict regiment but a structure nonetheless.  One of the things that is keeping me busy and stimulated is my photography class -- I am really visually and mentally juiced up once again and I think it shows in my work.  On the advice of my teacher, I purchased a new camera, which has really stepped up my game tremendously.  The images are so clear and sharp.  It's a small class, just 15 of us, and it's been quite the education, even for this old hand at photography.  We'll be publishing a book of our best work in the spring.  When it's on-line, I'll provide a link.

Happy Friday to you all, and here's hoping you are doing something that gets your blood pumping!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

RIP Mr. Mandela

There is such sweet humanity in this face.  His countenance reminds me of the Dali Lama.  His story is one of the greatest I've heard in my lifetime.  And now he has slipped the bonds of earth and we are left bereft.  I am stunned that he lived to be 95 years old -- after all he risked and all he had been through.  If I believed in super-natural forces, I'd say he had a guardian angel.  There will be many many tributes to this man in the coming days.  Bring it on.  The world needs to mourn and celebrate this great life.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dynamic Tension

There is a billboard campaign going on in Sacramento which is giving my dad fits.  He fails to see why it is necessary to announce one's atheism.  He's what I call a 'cultural christian.'  Raised Catholic, sent to a Quaker boarding school, pretty much a non-church goer his whole life.  My folks raised us without any religious instruction, but encouraged us to go to various houses of worship with our friends and let us decide for ourselves what we believed.

Now, he's having fits because he fails to see why people need to 'announce' their atheism.  He thinks it is an insult to believers.  What he fails to realize is, in this Christian nation, it's insult to all atheists to have religious beliefs put in their faces all day, every day.  It is assumed, by believers, that to be a non-believer means one is damned to hell, and that atheist cannot possibly be good, moral people.  Christian's can say that everyone in this country is free to believe or not, but do they really believe that?  Don't they really think that rest of us are going to hell because we haven't been saved by Jesus Christ?  And, on the other side of the coin, don't we atheists/agnostics/whatever believe that Christians/Muslims/Jews are just kidding themselves?  Must be nice to have a "God" to cling to, but really, 'they' have got to be just a little silly believing fervently in a fantasy.

Jesus is a Johnny-Come-Lately to the religious scene.  Christians are a teeny tiny minority in the world.  So why is there such a presumption of rightness about it all? There is a lot of tension between believers and non-believers, but in this country we are supposed to be free to worship or not.   Freethinkers, that what we are bequeathed with. We look at religious "nuts" the world over and shake our heads at their craziness.  But we cannot see our own.

Officially, we agree to disagree.  Unofficially, non-Christians are seen as 'less than.'  That's why this billboard campaign is so necessary.  Hopefully it will prompt thoughtful discussion.  When an avowed atheist is elected as President, then we will have made some progress.  Do you think a atheist could possibly be the leader of our country in this day and age?  Pray on it.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


Eight years ago this month I began blogging on Out of the Lotus.  It's the longest running 'journal' I've ever created.  I can go back and see what my kids were doing those many years ago, what the wife and I were doing, what my garden was doing in the springtime, and - oh yes - my various medical mishaps.

I've had but a few loyal readers over the years, and sometimes I wish more people left comments and/or read the blog.  But what the hell.  I'm doing for myself.  It's turned out to be quite the chronicle of the years.

This December brings my usual disgust with material consumption, but don't get me wrong, I do love some of the Christmas traditions.  I set up my tiny tree in my tiny apartment last night and had a ball.  I'll be waking up on Christmas morning with my grandson for the second year, and that is the biggest gift of all.

What a difference a year makes.  Last year at this time I was in a hellish state.  This year, life is pretty damned good and, more importantly, I really know that.  I worked diligently to get myself back on track, and the work has paid off.  I've had an enormous amount of help and support along the way.  I also had the good luck to have excellent health insurance, a true blessing that should be the norm in this country, but sadly is not.  (Don't get me started.)

I always remember that for some, the holidays are a horrid affair.  I keep them in mind, and do what I can to alleviate their troubles.  It's a terrible time of year to feel alone -- everyone around you seems to be oh, so jolly

My goals for December are avoid live t.v. as much as possible so as to miss the commercial madness of the season; eat well and get my exercise and fresh air; reach out to my friends and family; and read some good books.  Justice Mayor's book is first on my list.  Oh, yes, and to catch up on some paperwork and filing.  Oh, and take a lot of photos and enjoy the last month of my fantastically interesting photo class.  I've already signed up for next semester's photo offering.

Keeping it simple.  Feeling grateful.  Hoping the same for you, dear reader.

Yellow Cottage, Part 2

I have a dear friend who I met in my Creative Writing class my freshman year in college.  I sent the poem to her for her comments and edits ...