Thursday, May 29, 2014


Along Santa Rosa Creek Road outside Cambria Ca.
    Birthing season has come to the ridge. Lana alerted me to a very recent arrival, just across the road.
     Mom was protective of her pride, just hours old.
     An old pine is topped to prevent tumbling into service lines or onto the road.

   Jill Knight spins the whirl with heart at the Wise Owl...

 meanwhile a deceptive quiet out front...

See you down the trail.

Monday, May 26, 2014


     Summer slips in on us, behind a time of remembering and there is a reassurance in that somehow. 
     While we are bout Memorials, paying respect and remembering, we find ourselves smack in the middle of summer diversions.  Picnics, parties, pool or lake time, firing up the grill, breaking out summer gear and wardrobe all seem to get started over this stretch when May morphs into June. As a kid we seemed to slide from what we called "Decoration Day" into full tilt summer. I wonder how many modern families visit a cemetery, or pay homage to ancestors in some formal way. For those of a certain age it was as though we transitioned by reflecting in a manner that linked finality and perpetuity with the full scale pleasure of life, captured in that special zest that is a kid's summer vacation. It was a nice rhythm.
   Chateau and hut, stone face and dangling future, the red stain on the stone floor, and the pure water in the village well-thousands of acres of land-a whole province of France-all France itself-lay under the night sky, concentrated into a faint hair-breadth line.  So does a whole world, with all its greatnesses and littlenesses, lie in a twinkling star.  And as mere human knowledge can split and analyse the manner of its composition, so, sublimer intelligences may read in the feeble shining of this earth of ours, every thought and act, every vice and virtue of every responsible creature on it."
                From A TALE OF TWO CITIES-Charles Dickens

  No, nothing wrong with your eyes or the photograph.  The 
pixalated look is a product of the the way it is, Legos.
   We harvested these images during a recent trip to the Naples Bontanical garden.  As many as 40-50 thousand pieces are used in the creations.

  See you down the trail.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


   Though he meant it differently, Thomas Wolfe's title You Cant Go Home Again has been nagging around the edge of my mind. A deeper dive into that in a moment, but I wonder if some of you don't find yourself wrestling with Boomer Blues, prompted by the signals that life moves without regard to our wish that good things not change? 
   Here's the trail of this chain of thoughts;  We're back on the West coast after a couple of magnificent weeks with eldest Kristin and her friend Richard.  Magnificent because we cherish family time and because hospitality, weather and relaxation were extraordinary.
    Reading, relaxing, napping and not always in that order.

     The tropical clime, warm trade-wind breezes, balmy evenings and lack of drought created a comfortable cocoon from which to cogitate and reflect.

    It struck me that I've adopted a Cambria drought tolerant ethic. A quick and passing tropical drenching was a magnificent symphony of senses. But I felt guilt at showering at length or watching plants being watered. 

 Naples is nothing if not elegant and caloric. This calorie issue is a fault line of concern for a boomer jock.

   A jaunt to Ft. Lauderdale between the Atlantic and the Intracoastal Waterway provoked thoughts about  extraordinary wealth and spending of some of the 1%. For a journalist of Scot's heritage, that can inspire what is a full on rumble of pondering and argument.
   But it was the return to our beloved Sanibel Island that drove me into the land of the Thomas Wolfe -You Can't Go Home Again permutation.  Sanibel has always been a special home, a place of great joy and celebration, setting of two of my novels and where we once owned a home.
     We'd visit these rare Gulf beaches, seeking refuge from winter. Our girls grew from tots to mature women, shelling with their mother, building sandcastles with their dad and preparing for dinner at our special places like Jean Paul's and The Mad Hatter. Family vacations came at the end of month long countdowns, filled with anticipation.
    Getting to the island, a rare east west barrier reef island that is mostly wildlife preserve, was always a tonic for the soul. It always meant renewal and celebration with friends.
    But this year was different. The joy and luster was missing. Certainly the serious health concerns of dearest friends, the complexities of aging and the changes wrought by time imposed themselves.
  As we strolled the expansive beach, pausing where we spent so many springs in celebration, it was not joy, but a sadness over a mysterious loss that I felt.  
    Perhaps the Pacific serenade of my Cambria has weakened the magic song of the Gulf. The sun is bright still, the colors are vivid, and it is more green than my California when our sparse rainy season ends, but it just isn't the same.
   But neither am I.  I am older, my children are women, too many friends face health issues, some are gone. The career I took respite from on the Gulf beaches, is past and now seems of much less value that I once gave it. Life's order of things has changed.
   I wondered if I was slipping into a melancholy or depression. Was I somehow cheating the zest of life? No, I argued with myself. Concern for friends, sadness at loss, the inexorable movement of time are all part of the journey. There too is the truth that we cannot go back, we  do not recapture youth. And thus, memory is a gift. That is how we visit where time does no harm. 
    Our task then is to create new memories, as vibrant as we may. In that way the good old days remain good though old and as my Island friend Dave said, "we celebrate each day."
See you down the trail.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


     A couple of historical notes are rattling up echoes that have plagued us for the last 400 to 500 years.
     There's an item that archaeologists believe they've found the wreckage of the Santa Maria, one of the famous three ships employed in Christopher Columbus' original voyage to the new world. Said ship is believed to have gone down on Christmas day in 1492 off the Island of Haiti. You may recall the ship sailed with the Nina and the Pinta on that fateful crossing.
     This is of particular interest to me because I spent time on that Island of Hispaniola as part of an archaeological expedition looking for another Columbus ship that went down 4 years later in another bay during a hurricane. One thing led to another and our explorations widened and we ended up producing two documentaries for Discovery Communications. 
     I became very familiar with the Dominican Republic, neighboring Haiti and the history of that first encounter of native Taino and the white European explorers and warriors. One of our programs had our teams spending months over a couple of years, probing and exploring the jungle forests, diving hundreds of feet into dark cave waters, and picking through ancient artifacts with experts.
    We obviously did not find the ship, but the search and the history were interesting, enough so to lead us on the trail of the story of a final bloody encounter between the two civilizations. That program on the doomed tribe and once secret sites was a fascinating though heartbreaking project. The bottom line was the good and trusting Taino people were brutalized and ultimately slaughtered by the Europeans who there primarily for wealth and greed.
     I note that today is the 407th anniversary of Englishmen stepping ashore and setting up what was to become the longest continuing European settlement in the new world-in what is now Virginia.  Jamestown is no doubt historic, but it too is fabricated from the same nexus.  European court society and business interests seeking to lay claim to native land, with little or no regard to the rights and claims of indigenous people. A variation of power makes right or the arrogance of a self righteous idea.
     Was ever such, probably. Europeans did not have sole franchise on this brand of human behavior.  But imagine how things would have been different if the Spanish had sought to understand the Taino instead of slaughtering them. Or if the marriage of John Rolfe to Pocahontas had been the norm for the relationship of the English, Spanish, Mexican and later American governments with the native people of this continent, instead of the lies, betrayals, violated treaties and such.        

     People who pay attention to world politics are chuckling over a campaign spot being used in Denmark. Unlike the dull and droning attack ads inflicted upon American voters, this creative effort is designed to prompt voter participation.  While our vote turn out continues to decline, this spot causes one to wonder.

See you down the trail.

Monday, May 12, 2014


     I'm curious why this is a summer release film, so far from the Academy Awards season, because it is award worthy in a number of ways.
     Colin Firth is brilliant as a post war Eric Lomax in the story based on Lomax's book. Jeremy Irvine is equally  brilliant as a young Lomax in a Japanese prisoner of war forced labor camp. Then too Hiroyouki Sanada and Tanroh Ishida are both excellent as the elder and younger version of the Japanese interpreter Nagase who was instrumental in the horrid torture and abuse of Lomax. Nicole Kidman's supporting performance as Firth's wife is also award worthy.
     Perhaps it is the "politically incorrect" nature of the film's background-the brutality and barbaric nature of the Japanese camp. But this true story is historic. It demonstrates the enormous endurance of the POW's and the spirit that kept them alive. More importantly it is the powerful story of learning to forgive. Firth, one of the finest actors of the age, plumbs the depth of the human soul and experience to deliver a portrayal that is deservedly something you will have trouble putting out of your mind.  Nor should you.  Irvine's ability to display strength of spirit amidst the incredible torture will also stay with you. 
    Perhaps too it is the graphic water boarding that some might find to be too politically charged.  But despite those reasons, the film is inspiring, powered by love and is indeed a timeless exposition on forgiving. Very strong all around. Director Jonathan Teplitzky is to be commended.

  Scenes from the Naples Botanical Garden.

  See you down the trail.