Thursday, July 31, 2014


       First Amendment rights are being challenged by an information gathering surveillance function of the NSA.
       The First Amendment protects and therefore guarantees freedom of religion, speech, press and the right to assemble to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

 Curios are rare objects of value.  Knickknacks are odd, small and supposedly worthless household items. 

   Hanging out with Elliot Gould who was passing through on a promotional tour.  Yep that's a chef's jacket I'm wearing. WNAP FM, where I was a newscaster, would frequently choose a location, set up a tent and cook breakfast for anyone who stopped by. We frequently created massive traffic jams.  On this day the crowds were even larger.

   See you down the trail.

Monday, July 28, 2014


    We were cozy, mesmerized by flames in the open fire place on the bluff above a surging Pacific. A marine bank fog thickened and was irresistible to Tashi and Anzi. The border collie and shepherd belonged to the two couples, friends, with whom we shared the California coastal charm. The duo were getting on well, plenty of leg room along the bluff and the swirling gray air seemed a mysterious veil they needed to pierce.
    Tashi had come to rest next to his "papa and mama" Mike and Jacque. Anzi had been relaxing with Bob and Jan when he decided it was time for an amble.  A few minutes later Jan excitedly alerts us that Anzi seems to be menaced by a much smaller dog.  Little dog syndrome I think as I peer into the soupy field behind the bluff. I'm struck by how it appears the little dog is up in the air. Is he jumping or has Anzi tossed him? A second later I notice that little dog has a tale up behind him, straight as a ruler and seems to be doing a little dance.  Anzi lunges forward and then retreats, as though repelled.
    "Oh no!" Jan yells. "Anzi's getting sprayed by a skunk!"
    The profile in the fog was unmistakable.  That erect tail, and speedy skip followed by the first scent working against the ocean breeze confirmed the worst suspicion.  Jan was off in a flash, leashed Anzi, brought him across the field where it was apparent who got the best of whom in the encounter.  Poor Anzi was rubbing his face and nose in the dirt and on the grass, trying to rub and shake off what had been a direct hit. His playmate Tashi seemed to evince a canine OMG! I don't think I've seen a dog's eyes quite so expressive. 
      In moments, Bob, Jan and Anzi were off for a bath and treatment as the unmistakable scent began to waft across the heath. And so a drama of nature brought down the curtain on the evening.
      Anzi recovered with a good bath. He and Bob and Jan are back in Agoura Hills. If the look in Tashi's eyes that evening is any indication, she is likely stay closely along side Mike and Jacque when the next stroll on a foggy evening rolls around.
       I'm glad it all ended well, though I had never seen a skunk in action before. I think I'm with Tashi on the need for caution.
      Here's an obscure bit of trivia for people of a certain age.  Do you remember The Greening of America by Charles Reich?
       I read it first in the New Yorker as a major essay. Later it was to become a New York Times best seller.  A tribute to the 1960's "counter culture" Reich proposed that American history was a pattern of consciousness changes and that consciousness level III, the anti establishment anti greed, anti discrimination, pro free thought, do your own thing, adherence to love and good vibes would be enough to change history. In retrospect it was a kind of paean to an idealism and sense of hope.  At the time it felt great. I wonder how many of you may remember that time, that premise and if you have theories about what has happened since?
      So in the meantime I raise a glass to what I hope will be the Greening of California, by other means-namely rain.

      And, still we hope.

      See you down the trail.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


     Vacation season brings to mind summer romances and one in particular, the year of my first "make out session."
      Susan Hall was her name, a bright smiling faced blond from Pontiac Michigan. She was angular and her body was beginning to suggest her coming womanhood. I was changing as well, getting a little taller while hormones were switching on. 
      We were typical 12-13 year olds. Susan was ahead of me in romantic maturity. Until that summer I was content to spend 18 hours a day playing ball, but when I saw her on the sun kissed  beach of Lake Michigan, my brain and body gave me signals I did not understand.  Suddenly romping in the surf with my brother didn't seem to be as much fun as getting to know that pretty girl who continued to smile at me.
       I had to overcome a shyness, which she was anything but. It was a great match. The year before I would have been bored silly just to sit and talk, or walk the beach, or into the village for ice cream or sodas. I couldn't quite grasp what it was that I was feeling. After a couple of days we were walking hand in hand, laughing and I found myself making more conversation than I ever did with my buddies back home.
       She suggested we take in a movie.  I remember my mom's wide eyed and mouth agape reaction when I told her of our plans. Dad was all for it.  He even gave me an extra buck so I could buy her ticket and a snack.
      My younger brother John, who seemed to have been born older and more advanced than me, spent the afternoon of the big date telling me how to proceed.  First you had to put your arm around her shoulder, or hold her hand and as soon as the lights in the theatre dropped, you make your move. I had kissed a girl before, furtive gestures  in playing spin the bottle.  Frankly those games were always a bit embarrassing for me, up until this summer I guess.
       I met Susan outside her cabin and she was radiant. Her blond hair shinning in the evening sun, her smile big and cheerful and she smelled so good. Until that moment perfume was the often obnoxious aroma of aunts, or older women. This scent however was something different.
      We held hands and seemed to walk so our arms and hips were in constant contact.  We settled for a place in the back of the theatre and in what was the boldest and most brazen move in my life, I slipped my arm around her shoulder. She responded by putting her head on my shoulder. Her blond hair, so soft on my face, had a wonderful aroma and there was that other intoxicating scent around her chin line. 
      Cupid was on steroids that evening and our young teen hormones on full alert.  We could not get enough face to face time, cheeks against cheeks and lips exploring lips. There were moments when I feared I would suffocate, but I was bound not to stop. Eventually her tongue opened an expedition to my mouth.  My brother had told me about this. Until a few hours before I had no idea such a thing existed, but now I was fully on board with the concept and a willing experimenter.
     I have no idea of the film that was playing that evening-none. I was disappointed though when credits rolled and the house lights came on. We walked home, arm in arm, her head on my shoulder. We stopped a few times and leaned against a darkened building and continued our kiss fest.
All too quickly we were back at the beach and nearing her cabin. She stopped, reached into her purse, handed me an envelope and told me not to open it until I got home. A final kiss, more quick than the others, she smiled and went up the sandy walk to her cabin.  I just drifted home.
    Years later I would come to understand  how I felt in that moment to be a kind of intoxication.  My body seemed to be agitating for something I was not sure of. It was a great feeling, driven by a desire simply to be with her.  Mom and Dad were sitting in the cabin playing cards.  Brother John was the first to speak-"Did ya make out?" 
     "That's enough of that!" Dad said turning to me as I stood in the door. He gave me a wink. I'm sure it was all over my face, along with her lipstick and perfume.  
     These were new feelings for this kid. Kind of like butterflies and an unquenchable longing. I was woozy. Then I opened the note. Her picture was the first thing I saw, with her name and address written on the back. Inside was a folded note. They were leaving in the morning. She said she had fun.
      In that moment I was sure I would save all of my feelings for her. I would find some way to get to Pontiac Michigan.  
    We spent a few more days at the shore and I felt a kind of emptiness. John peppered me with questions, which I never answered to his satisfaction because I didn't want to say anything to violate that special experience.  Back home I drifted back to endless games of basketball, but when school began I had a new interest in my female class mates. Thanks to Susan, my male ego had been exercised and I thought  of myself as "experienced."  At 13 that is a big deal.  Thanks Susan. You gave me a first and an initiation into romance. I have always wondered what life provided you.  
    Do you remember your first, or a summer romance?

   Do you know what creates these patches of calm and different texture on the Pacific?
   My hunch is that it's a kelp bed, not yet to the surface, as these are.
  This was one of my mom's favorite photos.  1954. Tom is the toothless older brother. John is the firecracker in the middle and the baby is little Jimmy.

   See you down the trail.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


The easily offended should not enter
    For such a small village, Cambria is many things; charming, curious and an art colony. 927, named for the local phone prefix, the annual "non traditional" art show is a  conspiracy of all of the above.
 Pleased to see a couple of Lana's pieces in the 927 Hall of Fame, including her best of show Well Traveled Woman sculpture.
 My choice for best title of the year is the frame below-
   Musician and mac guru Rick Auricchio's Beta Dead Than Red
  927 Founder, painter sculptor and newspaper cartoonist 
Art Van Rhyn drew on the drought as his continuing character Mrs. Fosdick Tends Her Roses.
 Lana won the Cambria Center for the Arts Theater Award
for her paper mache' Buddy Can You Spare a Drop?
   Themes other than California's water woes were evident

 Carol Flash calls the above watercolor Hi Moon
   Portrait of a Selfie was a crowd favorite.
   Cambria's artisans also produced enduring beauties-
   Fox Garney entered these lovely pieces with the unique 
titles Let's Get A Handle on the Water Situation and its companion porcelain You've Got Balls to Say That. 
 Weaver Michele Pike titled this Disregard for History-it is woven from an old cassette tape.
 Annie Lawrence's Good Egg.

    J'nett Wolff's Water Witch, with running water was potable, as she said.
      Beverly Whitaker's Old News is that indeed, rolled newspapers.
     Richard Morriss is a sculptor who can re-purpose objects.
   Painter Pat Wilmott's All Those In Favor-The Eyes Have It had a lot of eyes on it.
As did Tish Rogers' departure for Wonderland.

    This is but a small sampling of the kind of non traditional art, Cambria's serious artists, hobbyists and playful residents turn out for the annual 927 which provokes a lot of smiles.  
     And as this is Cambria, curious, charming, eclectic and all, there was controversy over The Best of Show selection. Some were offended, others thought it humorous while still in very poor taste.
      The piece called PETA Pussy was done by Carol Meuneir and Mena Granatino. It is a mummified cat, dressed up. We were told it was found beneath their porch.  What do you think?
   No contest here.  Lana's most recent baking effort.
   And the poached pear from Maestro Giovanni at Harmony Cafe.

   Bon Apetit' and see you down the trail.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


   While there is no shortage of terror, horrible events and violence in the world, the kidnapping of those 250 Nigerian school girls by the Islamic extremists Boko Haram has been especially troubling.
     You have empathy for families, but what can we do?
It's a challenge to all nations and to our own sense of justice.  
      People of faith are called to love, even enemies, but that flies in the face of what seems a natural response to such wanton aggression and violence. Defining and then doing the right thing is another rocky step on the sometime treacherous journey of being a human.
     As my old radio colleague Lou Palmer might say,
"While of predators, consider this…."

   Local authorities report 3 cougar sightings on the north coast of San Luis Obispo County, including on our ridge. The locations above are close; wide open spaces that surround Cambria and its thickets, canyons, forests and wooded hills.    This is prime territory for cougars, made inviting by the abundance of deer, wild turkey, fox, coyote, coons, ground critters and pets. People report family cats being taken by the mountain lions.
    We face western grazing slopes where new calves are attractive to the predators, as are the many fawns. It is  chilling that two of the sightings have been in neighborhoods considerably more populated than ours. 
Authorities tell parents to make sure young children are not left alone outside, especially at twilight.

    We've been advised on ways to respond, should we encounter a cougar. The advice is similar to what we've been told when hiking in Alaska where the issue is grizzly bear.  
   Speaking of Alaska, this archive shot is near the summit of Mt Redoubt a 10,197 foot active stratovolcano in the Aleutian range in 2001.
    Working on a documentary for Discovery we chartered a chopper to fly around the mountain with a USGS scientist who was measuring the relationship between earthquakes, magma flow and eruptions. As director I assigned myself to be second camera.
     No eruptions this day though Redoubt frequently spits or blows. It shuts Anchorage airport and coats the region in ash and spew.
     It was "a good day in the office." You can never do enough location shooting.
Photo Courtesy of

      See you down the trail.

Monday, July 14, 2014


   Oh how the queen of revenge would spin if she knew how so many of us choose to celebrate Bastille Day.
    The celebrants above, Larry, Mary Margret, Tom and Lana, cases in point, have reveled in the delights of France and by some force of nature have been drawn to the American Provence'. But there are limits and so in form from which Madame DeFarge and the Jacques' would recoil as decadent, we civilized the process.  After all who wants to toast the Great Terror which followed the storming of the Bastille?  If you are lost I refer you to either Dicken's Tale of Two Cities, or a precursory read of the French Revolution.  
     Being an artful and adventurous crowd we worked our way into the Paso Robles appellation to take up residence at an Olive Farm with true French management.  Loyal they are to their history, Bastille Day was celebrated with a light feast beneath the spreading Oleander blooms and gracious shade of Olive and Mulberry trees. Wine? Yes. And a never ending supply of Pommes Frites, done in olive oil of course.
      Sun kissed, blessed by breeze, beauty and American oenology, Bastille day was recorded as probably Thomas Jefferson would have appreciated.
     And just to show good form, the merry party meandered to a nearby vintner of Cal-Italia wines.  Salute! A votre sante! Cheers.
       After such international merriment a bit of the breeze along the Cambria coast was a sweet tonic. 
       Liberte', √©galit√©, fraternit√©!  Noble still, though easier in notion than nation. 
       To history, then….
      See you down the trail.