Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Sequoia National Park

      Being in the presence of an ancient can do a lot to widen your view. Beholding a 2-3 thousand year old tree puts a perspective on human endeavors and foibles.
 Audubon Society Sweet Springs Nature Preserve Los Osos Ca.
    Even a less august eucalyptus grove displays endurance,  the contortions, changes and adjustments demanded of life. 
     Are humans any less subject?
 Sweet Springs Preserve
    And we are grateful for green spaces, preserves, national and state parks where that which is older is paid respect. And where we can rest, focus and gain clarity.

    Do you think we'd see a different behavior if House and Senate members did a nature centered retreat-a kind of outward bound recess? I like to think that a thread of decency would appear even in the contemptible Mitch McConnell.
    He's even more of a "gloomy Gus" these days, a weakened and failed leader who has presided over a colossal failure and collapse of majority politics. 

    It is good for all of us the mean spirited and punitive Republican Health Care plan seems to be dying. Surprising that a party that controls everything-White House, Senate, House and that has been shrilly condemning the Affordable Health Care Act for 6 years, can't govern, can't legislate and has no vision for America and can't do what they said they would do "on day 1." It is a disastrous administration and nations see us as weaker and unreliable.

    So maybe a couple of weeks of hiking and camping in Yosemite, or the Bridger Teton Wilderness or in Denali could do our Senators and Representatives a world of good, and us too.
    I wish we could get our bloated, sexual predator and lying tweeter in chief into the wilds. Oh boy, could you imagine? But that would probably result in a blown body part and would sadly end the camp out.

    Being in nature however clarifies an undeniable truth. Behind our politics, regardless of stripe or affiliation is an assumption about the power of human life and its durability. We move through our days owning an attitude of perpetuity. It ain't so!
    We are merely passing through. The best we can hope for is 7-9 decades. We are all amazed at how quickly it passes. 
    So why do we behave the way we do? We damage, scar, despoil, deplete our planet. And we brutalize, terrorize, destroy and kill, including each other. And for what ends?

     The health care plan is a case in point. Since all of us, even the most healthy, have limited days how can we be punitive or restrictive? 
      Providing health care to everyone is right. Arguing "there have always been the poor," or the fact that some can't afford coverage is "just the price of modern life" or "the way it is," is wrong.  Politics that enshrine those attitudes are mean and venal.
     Health care should not be a political doctrine, it is a matter of health, and if it is not a right, then it is our responsibility to each other. There is also the deep and complicated topic of the role of "profit" in the practice of health and healing. 
     I am one of those who believe our higher aspirations and greater good is to be just and merciful. Any thing else is delusional bull shit, the sort of which that leads humanity to our inhumane treatment of each other and our only planet.

     See you down the trail. 


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Did the Hunt Find a Witch? and Dramas in Twilight

     A few moments of gloaming evoked a sort of pensive tranquility. In looking at these frames I thought of impressionism as the quality of light and color seemed in motion, changing rapidly.
      Speaking of which, do you think we are entering the twilight of the trump regime?  Thoughts on colluding and conspiracy follow this visual therapy.  

 the light of the foreground trailing off into the distance-with the hot spot of a moon rise
the lace and feather like quality of forest against a painted sky 
very soft shadows decorate a mission, white and calm
the moon and the tapering shapes have an almost Flemish oil feel
the battle of portraits

   Reading artist/writer Stephen Hayes recent Chubby Chatterbox blog post about the fate of a portrait of Winston Churchill reminded me of an amusing juxtaposition in the halls of the State Capitol in Sacramento.


     The Reagan portrait, like those of the other Governors is traditional and stately. Governor Jerry Brown's is modern and creative but apparently controversial at the time it was hung in 1984. 
     Brown, who served his first two terms from 1975-1983 reportedly said the painting looked "unfinished" and that it reflected his "unfinished work" as Governor.
     Artist Don Bachardy said Brown was a tough subject, uneasy at being painted, not content to sit as the artist worked. 
     Unkind things were written and said of Bachardy's work in the early '80's. Frankly I think it has become a classic in it's own right. Modern, perhaps even a little pop, out of the mainstream which very much bespeaks the remarkable political career and service of Jerry Brown.  
     Does a repeat Governor get a second portrait opportunity? Brown looks different than he did in the 1980's, don't we all?

the conviction of colluding "junior"
    Shall we dispatch with the judicial process now that televisions comics and pundits have convicted Donald Trump Jr. of collusion and conspiracy. Man have they ever! Almost expect to seem him marched to the guillotine as the old man celebrates the French Revolution and the storming of the Bastille, the beginning of what became the "reign of terror " that included cutting off the heads of the likes of the "one percenters." The trump clan more than likely would have felt the "the national razor." But we get ahead of ourselves.
     Has the so called fake news and "witch hunt" found a witch? The news is no longer fake.  From the beginning I was not sure there would be provable "collusion" with the Russian attack. The Don Jr. e-mails may change that . There in fact may be a "there" there in the probe of the Russian meddling in our election. 
     We trust the Mueller team will plumb how deep and how extensive was the Russian attack. 
     Juniors acknowledgment and "love" of the information being supplied by Russian sources, likely Russian agents, raised an historic question--
what did the president know and when did he know it?
    Doesn't it strain credibility to think that when his son and his son in law, plus others, knew about the Russian attack and met with (colluded?) foreign nationals to screw with the American election, he-king trump of the tower, didn't know about it? One of the meetings happened in his gold and glass tribute to poor taste. 
      We remember the function in this is to let investigators, prosecutors and the judicial system "prove" or not, and render a decision. What you and I think, and what the TV says doesn't really matter, except to us. However when the word treason is being used, it seems appropriate. 
a republican response would be nice, 
about now!
      Republican Joe Scarborough said it well. It is disgusting how republicans are selling out the party's core values. He asks what many Americans have-why haven't party leaders spoken out against trump's racist remarks, boorish behavior, his turning the white house into an extension of his family business? I wonder why they haven't demanded a cogent and consistent foreign policy? Why haven't they filled critical positions in the government? Scarborough asks "what are they willing to do, how far are they willing to go" in backing trump for their own means?
the big question
      Why would the party, known for its strong national security, defense support and hawkish policies, not be "ballistic," at least "operational," in response to the Russian attack? Imagine what President Eisenhower, Reagan, HW Bush and even W would say and do?
      At best Republicans have been tepid in their response! 
Now the president's son and his trusted ace advisor/son-in- law are caught with their hands in living Matryoshka dolls, why isn't there a loud condemnation? Or at least an admonishment that to cooperate with a foreign national to undermine our government is treason?
      Instead Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are trying to revive a dead skunk so they can give the trumps and the other richest of the rich a tax break while breaking our already fragile health care network and jeopardizing the well being of millions of not so rich citizens. 
      For the sake of the party and its self respect, and for the sake of the future, those Republicans with a sense of honor and patriotism need to drive a wedge between the trump regime and the party. Time to say enough is enough. If not then the Republican party will be owned by trump. He is probably already gold gilding the elephant and replacing GOP and Republican with another trump sign.  
      If we are lucky we'll see some of the trumps wearing orange jump suits and doing a perp walk. 

       See you down the trail.


Monday, July 10, 2017


      North of Cambria, early July
    The president's foreign trip underscores a universal acknowledgment, the leader of the US is no longer the most powerful nor is he the "leader of the free world" as we used to say.
    International leaders are joined in chorus by analysts and writers from the right and left-America's role has been diminished by Trump. They agree Vladimir Putin has more moxie, finesse and muscle than the American president. Other leaders are assuming the moral and ethical leadership role, previously played by the American President.
     If Trump has a cogent policy, it has not been articulated. What the world hears is "America first," warnings about enemies, the freakish, petulant, embarrassing behavior and a serious lack of grasp. At least he can read a teleprompter. 
      We take a deeper dive, later.

not speaking?
    I can't help but chuckle at this. The body language and pose is hilarious. 
    In fact Lana and our pal Grif are looking for other friends, but the symmetry of the snap is amusing.
    A delightful reality that struck us some 10 years ago on our migration to Cambria is it's similarity to a big Arts School. 
    Cambria loves music. It's an art colony and home to musicians, writers, guild and craft artists from Hollywood and television, bohemians of several generations, free thinkers and free spirits. Of course there are others too, master gardeners, dog lovers, cat lovers, nature lovers, hikers, surfers and people of every conceivable political stripe and attitude. We have our one percenters too, but not nearly in the concentration you find further north, or south. There is a large cross ideological percentage who love music and hanging out.
    We've watched this joyful past-time and we followed its change of venues. The Painted Sky recording story in its evolving locales. The departed Wise Owl was a guaranteed good evening. Now popular singer/songwriter Jill Knight has organized for a new venue-Centrally Grown, formerly the Hamlet. 
     In the scene above Jill is joined by the accomplished Eric Williams and Billy Foppiano. 
    She will perform and so will others from the deep bench of Central California talent. The constant party has a new location and we boomers remain in our suspended state of a big high school crowd waiting for the next party.
   A wood fired pizza, glass of wine or beer, great music, friends and a lovely California evening has to be high on the list of "as good as it gets."

and there is much to recover from
   I've been reading the conversation among Republican, Libertarian and Conservative friends who have tolerated my pragmatism and political agnosticism for years. They are not trump supporters. They certainly are not liberals, Democrats, or anything other than what we consider traditional moderate to right center Republicans. 
   I agree with their notion the trump vote commission is wrong. It is federal overreach, dangerous, sinister and anti American.
    It is a nefarious attempt to gather and collect data the Federal government has no need of, nor right to expect. To turn it over would pose the risk of likely abuse and manipulation by the trumpist/extreme right wing cabal or others. There could be no guarantee the data would be safe, anywhere. We can't forget this administration had to be shoved into acknowledging the Russian cyber attack on America.
    (Getting to the bottom of that attack and determining if there was participation on the part of US citizens is a national priority.) 
    The states that have flashed the bird at the trump election commission requests are to be applauded. 
     Another nagging thought. Mike Pence is quietly working to build his donor base. While his boss is watching a big screen television and tweeting, the VP has been hustling money and preparing for a post trump world. This very guy whose Indiana Republican party was ready to depose because of his nefarious right wing schemes and embarrassments to the state, would have access to, if not control of, the private voter data the trump commission has been asking for. That should also give you the willies.
     See you down the trail.

Friday, July 7, 2017


     Beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder, it is also where you find it. And it depends on mindset.
     Super gardener Lana sees this year's abundant thistle crop as evil run amok, nature's symbolic response to the election perhaps. Everything nasty about thistles is true, but they can possess a photographic beauty.

     Still they are nasty self propagators and they have flourished in this first post drought year. They are hard to cut and clear. There is a lesson in that for you of political persuasion. More about that later.

     Frequent readers may recall an earlier post on the early roll out success of Calder The Musical. Full disclosure here-a co-writer and producer is a friend and associate of decades, Tom Alvarez.
     The CD is now in release as Tom and his partner Dustin Klein take the show to the next level. And that's the point of this review-get to CD Baby where you can sample and buy your own copy.
     There is an infectious joy and energy in the music of Calder the Musical from the rousing opening Ton of A Man to the closing Dance With Me, which makes you want to do just that.
     There is a message here in this tribute of "art to life."  Alvarez and Klein bring life to this art of theater with the universal advice of following dreams. This is an inspiration to follow your path and it is told in song in a way that is a joyful coaching for the young and a reminder for those of us who are not, to reclaim our passion.
     Tom has been a barrier breaking producer and talent and an impresario of creativity for as long as I have known him. I take a great joy in imagining how he and Dustin conceived and gave birth to this fresh and exciting new production.
     It is hard to pick a favorite song from this show. That's For Sure is catchy. A Prize in the Sky is simply beautiful and in league with some of theaters all time best. Were It Not For Me will also work it's way into your heart and mind. 
      It is an energetic soundtrack with range and diversity and will have you swaying or wanting to dance through out. It has the kind of music that will leave you humming or singing.
       Alvarez and Klein make musical magic and give us an innovative take on life, art and a famous name. I didn't want the CD to be over. Calder the Musical leaves you wanting more. 
     I wish Tom and Dustin all the best as they work to share Calder the Musical on more stages.

     The women's division of the Cambria pie eating contest
packed in the crowd and gave us a chance to forget about the American divide.
     Everyone, even those who identify as conservative and/or republican seems embarrassed by the president's behavior this past week. His personal attack on a media personality and that childish tweet of him attacking CNN were new lows in the American presidency. His numbers continue to dive.
     Like those nasty thistles and their pernicious impact, uprooting the trump impact on the US and its values will take work, by true republicans and democrats as well as traditional conservatives and liberals. The president is none of the above. Time for the round up and weed begone.

    See you down the trail.


Monday, July 3, 2017


A glimpse of California summer. Mellow afternoon in San Luis Obispo.

founding father trouble maker
    Thomas Paine would have been the leading blogger or social media star of his era-the American Revolution.
     His pamphlets fueled the rebellion. Common Sense was read by most of the Revolution's leaders. As we celebrate Independence Day this year, it seems more than appropriate to let the radical speak for himself to 2017 America.


     It did not end well for Paine who continued to speak his mind, regardless of who it might offend. He quarreled with George Washington, irritated Christians, and was jailed in France, where he observed their revolution. Future American President James Monroe pulled strings to get his freedom.     
    He wrote Age of Reason, The American Crisis, and The Rights of Man and was perhaps the most influential writer of the American Revolution. 
     One could argue a foundational piece of the great divide between liberals and conservatives goes to Paine's criticism of Edward Burke, a founder of conservatism.  
     Paine is a god-father to liberals, libertarians, left-liberals, feminists, democratic socialists, social democrats, progressives and free thinkers.
     He was one of the first to advocate for emancipation of slaves. He may have been the first to advocate for old age pensions and guaranteed minimum income. 
      Paine said he believed in "one God" but not in religious doctrines or churches. 
       He had the ability to infuriate. But he continued to expound. There are reports only 6 people attended his funeral.
      But had it not been for the instigation of Thomas Paine, our Independence Day might be a moot point.  No less than John Adams said "Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain."

       Independence Day 2017....hmmmm!

American Hero
     Conductor/educator Michelle Brosseau-Tacchia is one of those Americans who have kept America great-for years.
     She is the leader of Symphonie Jeunesse from San Bernadino. You can link here.
         Students who do not otherwise have the resources may learn to advance their musical skills under Brosseau-Tacchia. Instruments, lessons, rehearsal and even touring expenses are the result of a charitable spirit and effort led by Michelle. Lives of young women and men are enhanced and changed. 
      The frame above is from their most recent Central California tour. We have been fortunate to hear Symphonie Jeunesse several times. They are wonderful and leave audiences always shaking their heads that what they heard was performed by students. They are indeed extraordinary thanks to the extraordinary devotion of a dedicated educator. An American hero.

      See you down the trail.

Thursday, June 29, 2017


A palm stands as a proud sentinel and sign of hospitality on Mill Street in San Luis Obispo

it happens
    If ever there is a moment when the cosmos gives permission to curse, this would have been it. In fact it was unavoidable.
     As most things do, it began innocently though through a bit of a fog. A head cold had clouded my disposition making the morning kitchen routine less spriteful and a wee bit more of an effort.
    Now was the payoff moment. Coffee had been brewed,  poured into my mug and lightened. The soft boiled eggs placed in their holder, turkey burger warmed and a ginger snap had been laid out to accompany the after breakfast coffee. Perfection, life is good, the cold will pass and a new day offers hope!
     Since I had used the last two eggs in the egg keeper  I reloaded it from the flat, had placed the remaining eggs into a carton and placed them at the back of the refrigerator. Breakfast was there, beckoning as I opened the refrigerator door. WHAM! An alternative fact gob smacked my morning. 
     The egg keeper jumped or maybe slipped from my hands, there were no witnesses-and rained a dozen eggs on the top of the freezer compartment, on the front of the refrigerator, on the floor, under refrigerator, under the counters, on cabinet doors and maybe even on the cats on the front deck and the neighbors down the road.
      Permission to swear # 1. And maybe # 2.
      There is that awkward moment, now what?! Since we were not in residence at Downton Abbey, there was no staff to ring for. Lana was at a garden club meeting and the cats have never learned their chores. OK! Think it through. Got to stop the hemmorage of egg before it lakes into the rest of the house or into the garage. A dozen eggs make a lake.
      I grab a couple of paper towels and start damming and scooping and damning too. I reach for more and as fate would rub my nose in it, the cylinder is empty.  Permission to swear # 3. Alright-stay cool as breakfast begins to move in that direction too- go to the garage to get a new ring of towels and the old dust pan onto which we'll reservoir the eggs. It'll be all right. 
      As I'm stepping out of the kitchen I have the distinct misfortune of putting my left birkenstock smack dab, crunchingly, into one of the bastard chickens in an eggy state of degradation! Permission # 4-7.
     Now I'm challenged with the physics of getting egg matter out of the grooves and tread of my left Birky-a suede number and only a couple of months old. Naturally in my dunce like state I had tracked the treaded scramble out into the garage. Permission # 8. 
     I spend a few minutes wiping and cleaning the Birky-chasing one little piece of shell that claimed territory like a Cliven Bundy. But I got it, with delight. Maybe even a fist pump. There were no witnesses. 
     I'm back in the kitchen, souping up egg into the dustpan and then into the compost bucket when the phone rings. It's my contractor friend Rick, the phone announces, so I drop the goopy tools and take the call and on the way discover even more territory the splattering claimed. 
    OK-cut to the chase. As I'm pushing my fingers under the front of the fridge with a clorox wipe, I somehow snap off a little grill like device at the bottom of the fridge and discover a colony of dust bunnies that are now swimming in egg. No curse at this turn of events, no indeed. The tide is turning. Had I not scratched my left hand and disengaged this grill I had never seen and didn't even know existed, heaven only knows what kind of culture may have grown in this land of crumbs and dust bunnies. Ah yes, progress.
    Finally the four eggs that I "rescued"-they could survive their wounds-were boiling in a fascinating white froth with alien like appendages dancing in the water and I was sitting to blissfully partake of cold coffee and soft boiled eggs that somehow graduated to the next level and chilled in the process. But the compost bucket was full, a new paper towel roll was in place, the kitchen floor had a nice clean clorox sheen and scent and that nether region below the fridge knows there's a new sheriff in town! And he'll be driving into the market to buy more eggs. 

a random moment of friendship
Another joyful evening at Wild Ginger, Mainstreet, Cambria

where's mommy's eye?

 a poke in the nation's eye
     Scuttlebutt has it the republicans may try to save their health care bill by opening it up to democrat input. We'll see. 
      Presently the GOP plan is like a pig with lipstick. They can call it a better care reconciliation act, but the facts prove it is better for only the wealthiest of Americans.  The public sees through it. Only 17% of Americans approve-that is staggeringly low, even for this administration. Their own government agency reports 22 million will loose coverage, it will cost everyone more and will cover less. It is a lose, lose, lose proposition and frankly I'm stunned any Republican would want their name associated with it.  While the GOP plan is in trouble, the Obama plan, the Affordable Health Care is now enjoying it's highest popularity rating yet. 
      If the republicans want to give the wealthiest Americans another tax cut, they should propose that and not mix it with health care, or should I say, hide it behind supposed health care. (Do the wealthy really need more tax breaks? Do voters think so?)
     Only in a dystopian world would this sort of legislation get the backing of a major party. Can you imagine being a republican standing for election and supporting this lunacy. But then who thought the republicans would support trump?
      Unfit, unqualified, unbelievable!
      See you down the trail.

Monday, June 26, 2017


 A California Central Coast bouquet for all who survive 
hooligans, delinquents and stupid kid tricks.

because they blew up
      It was a tough summer for my mom, suffering through a troubled pregnancy. Dad was on the road most of the time and my brother John and I were jerks. It was nothing mean, we were just boys. I was almost 6 and though 22 months younger than me, John was my size and soon would be bigger. (From birth John was a brawler and big. He went on to lead the county in tackles and was a helluva football player).
      Later mom would say we spent most of the summer in a rumble, from the front yard to the back yard, through the house and leaving a trail of aftermath everywhere. Despite the lectures about me being the big brother, and my protests "look at him, he's as big as me" I was under the gun to keep our behavior in check and I wasn't doing a very good job of it.
      It was 1951 and one of our modest treats was a bottle of Coca-cola. The real thing, before cans and flavored coke. We'd buy a carton of those little 6 1/2 ounce glass bottles. John and I would split one, always eyeing, carefully, that each fruit juice glass was poured evenly, exactly even, accounting for the foam too.
      A side trip for a moment. Like most kids we collected pop bottles for the redemption pennies from the grocery store. In that line of work a kid will discover a lot of things, especially sorting through trash and burn piles in the alleys of our side of town. We saw breasts for the first time in a partially burned copy of Confidential. I think it was Kim Novak, but honestly, who didn't matter. We also learned that some of the neighbors apparently didn't know the good deal on pop bottles because we found some that were broken and that led to a discovery that eventually led to big problem.
      The alleys were cinder, as in burned coal. Behind some places there was a little gravel and a few folks had poured a cement burn ring, on which sat their incinerator or burn barrels. (Remember this is 1951 and the EPA were only letters in the alphabet that crowned the backboards in our class rooms.) John discovered the best thing to do with broken pop bottles was to break them a little more. It was a youthful sense of justice. You cheat me out of a few pennies by breaking the pop bottle, I'm going to finish the job for you on a cement burn ring.  Wow, could those bottles really explode.
      Fast forward to a rainy summer day when mom, who is basically bed ridden tells us to play in the basement. Oh boy did we! The specifics are lost in the haze of history, but somehow we learned that those empty Coca-cola bottles exploded wonderfully when dropped from the top of the basement steps. They made a great exploding sound and the glass cascaded like something from the movies. Well,... If an empty bottle was so spectacular, just imagine what a full bottle would do. We had no imagination, but did have a few full bottles. Man! Seeing a full bottle of Coke explode in foam and spray and flying glass is a sight of a lifetime.
       More fast forward, through details---why would we willingly waste good Coke, the painful process of cleaning up shards of sticky glass that littered our basement, the waste of money for a family on a tight budget, mom's further distress--cut to--my understanding why corporal punishment in that summer of 1951 was the right thing.

     further exploits of man child
    That California bouquet above? That is also for all American citizens. The delinquents in this administration continue to set new lows. 
     The "games" of the press briefing is simply childish and has no positive upside-none. It is punitive and juvenile. Ditto and double jinks on the president's tweet storm about the Obama administration going easy on the Russians over the attack on the presidential election. At least trump has finally acknowledged it. As a friend said it is the normal trump hypocrisy of criticizing Obama for a problem that he-trump-never admitted existed.
      I thought the Obama response was too reserved, but I also understood there's a lot more to such complicated diplomacy than meets the eye. We find out now Mitch McConnell was creeping around the wood pile threatening to accuse Obama of using the CIA to help Clinton. McConnell is one twisted and evil, racist. He is a political "intellectual-pedophile" and arrogant little donnie trump's small brain and outsize ego is McConnell's boy toy.

helping out
      Our Cambria Church and Dinner Fellowship completed a project that will help, but it also stimulated thought.
      We assembled emergency personal care kits that will be used by disaster victims or refugees in the US and around the planet.
      Hand towels, wash clothes, bandaids, soap, tooth brushes, combs, nail files, etc. The next time you reach for the soap, or go to brush your teeth, think about  how convenient it is- how accessible is water, shelter, something as simple as towel. We take a lot for granted. As wars create more refugees, as nature ravages, as the climate continues to change more fellow citizens of this planet are facing breaks in that kind of gentle and comfortable routine. 

     because they blew up
an epilogue
      By the way, brother John and I continued to gather pop bottles from the alley ways and continued to learn about life.
      There was one house that had the good sense to stash their magazines for a couple of days before filling their incinerator and lighting it up. That is how Tom and John learned about Stag Magazine, True Detective art work and Jayne Mansfield!

     See you down the trail.