Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday Musings (on Dr. King)


The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing "clergy and laymen concerned" committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.   -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

What will it take, I often wonder, to produce a significant and profound change in American life and policy?  When will we move from soul-sucking, life denying and murderous ideology into a more compassionate, enlightened understanding that if we lift each other up instead of crushing one another, we will all reap great rewards?  Heaven here on earth?  We don't need to make it complicated; it's as simple as truly treating each other as our kin.  Doing unto others...

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.

Lao Tzu (570-490 B.C.)

We have been struggling with this for as long as we have been on the planet.  Perhaps it is not in our nature to truly practice peace.  For many however, throughout the ages, it is a dream and a desire deep within us.

Thank you, Dr. King.  Thank you, and a thousand deep bows.

Friday, January 16, 2015


Mirroring the weather outside, my mind is in a fog. I have managed to get my quarterly taxes paid and completed all the paperwork for Cuba trip, but those two acts required a focus and steely reserve that yours truly often lacks.  I just might spend the entire week in Cuba sleeping on a beach. Who cares that we have spent a bundle to workshop with one of the world's top photographers? Priorities, darlings, priorities.

But, getting back to the beach, maybe I should spend my entire week there sitting in the single spot photographing whomever and what ever goes by. Perhaps I would get a reputation as the Americana loco who is burning her tender white skin on Havana beaches? Slathered in sunscreen and drinking tropical icy Blends while dozing in the sun, photographing while trying to keep the lens sand free and lotion free and really not worried about it at all because what the hell I'm happy in the sun away from the fog and I really don't give a damn.

See, this is the kind of fantasy that unrelenting fog provokes. Sand and tropical sun and doing absolutely nothing -- nada. Es todo muy bueno.  Donde es mi cerveza?

stock shot i found on pintrest
Hope you have a good weekend, whatever it is you are doing.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Monday Musings (about Locke, CA)

Oh little town of Locke, CA.  A rich and sordid history, the ups and downs of an isolated community.  Built by Chinese immigrants, for themselves, a safe place to live that reminded them of home in China. 
I've been to Locke before, on a photographic field trip, but felt very inhibited about taking photos.  This is a small community, part ghost  town, part arts enclave, and a stop off for the curious.  Having lived in tourist towns myself, I'm respectful of the inhabitants and try to blend in as much as possible.  A model tourist, not an ugly Amerikan.  No hiding the fact that in this small place, I am an outsider, a lookyloo.  Couldn't help but feel I was skulking about, using their everyday lives as photographic fodder.  It was my good fortune, then, to meet some residents of the town.  A real meeting, a handshake, a conversation.

One of the residents,  Jim met my husband many years ago.  He is a photographer, and has collaborated on a book about Locke.  He is one of the several artists associated with the Moon Cafe, an cooperative made up of locals.

We came to Locke that day because we were out along the delta to photograph birds.  This area is a major migratory path for Sand Hill Cranes, geese and ducks of all sorts, the ubiquitous Coot, and many other birds.  We are not adept at wildlife photography, but we gave it a good shot (no pun intended).  My husband managed to catch a Blue Heron in flight, a beautiful image that involved a large amount of luck as well as skill.

After the birds, we were hungry.  I got on the iPhone and searched restaurants in that remote area and came up with Al the Wop's in Locke, a few miles down the road.  Practically every place in that town is an oddity and Al's did not disappoint: it is old and dark, uneven floors and low ceilings, with a full fledged barroom in the front.  Locke used to have quite a few saloons, as well as whore houses and gambling joints.

I ate delicious prawns with a crisp green salad.  Basic and good.  Restored, we wandered the town, the husband wondering if he could find his old buddy Jim.  We wandered to the neighborhood behind the commercial street, came to Jim's and hollered for him.  No answer.  Only a luxurious cat sunning itself on the porch.  How glad we were, then, to run into Jim at the Moon Cafe.

He was putting in volunteer hours to keep the place open, along with building owner and fellow artist Brock Alexander.  Brock talked about his sculpture of a woman embracing the head of the cyclops.  Still in progress, it is a piece of beauty and horror.  I would love to have it in my yard, actually, but the price tag is too steep for me at this point.  Not overpriced, mind you, just not in my league.I was struck by the vitality of the Cafe, brightly colored walls, a bathroom decked out in Abraham Lincoln memorabilia, artwork on the walls by locals.

This is, I thought, an artist's paradise.  Artists don't generally make a lot of money, but we sure can have a lot of fun.  It's playtime for grown ups.  Brock Alexander owns the joint, but runs the space as a cooperative. 

Serendipitously I happen to be reading a novel called "In the Casa Azul" about Frieda Kahlo's life and her affair with Trotsky.  This cafe seems a very Kahlo kind of place.  Full of whimsy, saturated colors, and rich history. 

And, finally, here's a fruit I brought home from Brock's tree.  Pomelo, Citrus maxima, is an original citrus fruit, with the look of a big grapefruit, native to South and Southeast Asia.  It smells heavenly.

Friday, January 9, 2015


"Dedicated to all people suffering from war, who, no matter what they are like, are humans just like us. Sincerely, from Sharifah Hanna, age 14"  Out of the mouths of babes.  What must kids in France be thinking right now?  Christian kids, Muslim kids, kids who don't believe in a God who has his/her hands in everything?  How unstable is their world right now?  How unstable is ours?

my daughter, Denver Zoo

 I Wish for Peace 

When times of sorrow Come each day, 
I always feel sad And sigh away. 
Always a war needs fighting 
Always a life, suffering, 
Oh, how I wish, I wish for peace.
Though, I know, 'tis a test Laid for us by God, That the day comes Of no more burden, 
No more load. 
A time of love, 
A time of ease, 
Oh, how I wish, 
I wish for peace. 
But, what would I give 
For people to always get along, 
Instead of shouting curses 
To, maybe, sing a song? 
 I hope, I will live To see my dream come true, 
As, I hope, your dreams do too. 
Right now, I will wish, I wish for peace.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Monday Musings

With this new year comes a new health insurance plan and new doctors.  After trying Kaiser for a year, I'm going back to my group that has served me well for all of my adult life.  Kaiser's rates were half what I was paying, so I thought I'd try it.  For me, it was a most unwieldy system which didn't make it easy to access care and or prescriptions.  It took them almost a year to get my ID card corrected.  I felt stymied every time I needed to access care.

The adage "you get what you pay for" is true in this case.  Perhaps for a casual and infrequent user, this system may work.  But for someone who needs care for a chronic condition, it was a pain in the arse.  (That's another chronic condition, but I digress.)

I am also interfacing with the US Passport apparatus, and let me tell  you, that is another PIA.  What with a name change, and required legal documentation of name change, and impending deadlines for upcoming travel, I am about to pull my hair out.  (Though if I did that I would no longer look like my passport photo, and that could be a whole other wrinkle.)

I am coming to the conclusion I need a secretary, an assistant, a helper.  Someone to keep my affairs in order.  Someone to remind me that I have deadlines to be met, bills to pay, taxes to file.  As a retired person, I have lost all those administrative skills I once possessed.  Now the daily requirements are simply vexing.  Various bureaucracies I must interact with make my head explode.  The idea of retreating to a yurt in the woods (or my backyard) is becoming more and more attractive.

This is what heaven looks like to me.  

Friday, January 2, 2015


It's bitterly cold out there.  For us, any way.  32F this morning.   And with the wind, if 'feels' like 26F.  I've only felt it momentarily while letting the dogs outside.  My husband trekked the icy streets to obtain a new coffee bean grinder since ours went up in a blaze of glory two mornings ago.  Bless him.

Like me, you've probably seen your share of NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS and mostly likely, like me, sick sick sick of them.  There is one cute one, however, an oldie by Woody Guthrie.  I like (or not) that he has to resolve to "send Mary and the children money."  That, of course, makes me want to check in with Mary to see what happened. 

The highlight of the season, as I predicted, was the visit of my grand son and his parents.  He is a body in motion at all times.  His parents have discovered the necessity of television in order to bring him to a full stop.  Here he is snuggling with Lucy, which is a major milestone.  In the past, he has spent his time chasing her and she exhausts herself trying to escape his tiny hands.

Peace.  At last.

So, no resolutions, but I do have to organize myself for the coming months.  We're  traveling to Cuba and to Yosemite in the next few months.  Things to do to prepare.  #1 is get a new passport.  I'm feeling a tad overwhelmed (that happens fairly often and effortlessly) but a useful ballast is to DO things:  I took down the Christmas tree last night.  Packed up the holiday cards.  Inspected the kitchen for ants.  Good news: all gone.  (We had an amazing candied apple sent to us and we, foolishly, left it on the counter.  It was the irresistible siren song to tiny crawling creatures.)

I've also gone through FB and eliminated all the news feeds, in an effort to streamline the information that comes through.  No more "Rock the Slut Vote," "Fat-free Vegan Eating," and the endless political pages I signed up for.  I am keeping Pema Chodron, however, and Anne Lamott.  I'll leave you with a bit of friendly wisdom from Pema:

But loving-kindness ~maitri~ towards ourselves doesn't mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy, we can still be angry. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. Meditation practice isn't about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It's about befriending who we are already."

On this first Friday of the year, I wish you a peaceful weekend.  May 2015 bring good things to all of us.

You Can Go Home Again

 I took a vacation in the first week of May.  I went back to my high school and college stomping grounds, still populated by many friends of...