Monday, May 29, 2017


      It's a fascinating riddle, how memories are seeded. Mike,  native citizen blood coursing through his body, is an accomplished flute player and basket weaver. Here he is a weaver of memories. This little one is mesmerized.


      All of us were captivated by the Cal Poly Lion Dance team. 

    They came to Cambria's East Village to help dedicate the Greenspace Chinese Temple, an historic site paying homage to an historic village presence. The Lion Dance Team has been part of the Cal Poly culture for 70 years. 

 the bad memory scrapbook
   The nincompoop is back from his first international tour. He's telling people it was a home run. Right! Did you see the faces of the NATO and G-7 leaders? Trump is toxic but he is due credit for telling NATO that all members of the alliance need to carry their weight, financially. He is correct and other Presidents have said likewise. The flip side of the trump role is that NATO and G-7 nations say they can no longer count on the US. More damaging is the assessment that trump's attitude has weakened the alliance. 
     My biggest bone to pick with the bone head is his refusal to support the Paris accords in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 195 nations have studied and determined the accords are necessary. The US is backing out because our still unfit, unqualified and increasingly idiot bully boy president ignores science, the pope's encyclical and most of the civilized world. In his world "climate changes is fake news." In a better world he would be tarred and feathered. 
woven from youth
       There is something especially civilized about a pause to remember, those who have served and those who have passed. My grandmother and her sisters called it "decoration day."  My parents and my brothers and I made annual trips of respect. I remember those days and visits that that now seem long ago.
 Karl and Mary Helen
dad and mom

bring on summer
 There was a time when Memorial day signaled a time to move to white dinner jackets on formal occasions. Khaki or seersucker was permitted and the pools were opened. All that was a long time ago. It is comforting to reach the Holiday that marks clicking into a summer mind set...even an endless summer.

time for our annual visit from another world

    See you down the trail.

Friday, May 26, 2017


      It seems everyone is fatigued by the crisis a moment energy that emanates from Trumps Washington. During the foreign trip a few observers noted it almost seemed normal. Almost. There were those little quirks; Melania flipping away the donald's hand, his shoving a NATO minister out of the way to mug for the camera, the Pope's message about climate change, insulting comments about Germans-but they were oh so mild compared to the norm.
      The relative normalcy of the trip gets blown away like jet blasts from Air Force One when the trump show returns to DC. 
       The Russian intrigue did not disappear. Now son in law Kushner is under investigatory focus and there remains the president's acknowledgment he tried to obstruct an investigation. It is incredible, fast, furious, unprecedented but it is destructive not only to our tradition and pending history  but also to our mental health. It is as though an amphetamine and psychotropic have been mixed and put into our food supply. We are racing full blast through a house of torture. And we remember, kids are watching. Impressions are being made. The trump legacy is already toxic.

when will it stop?

 Photo by Joe Johnston The Tribune-San Luis Obispo 
   This is the newest problem on the legendary Pacific Coast Highway and no one knows how to fix it. The Mud Creek slide has changed the Pacific coast line as mountain continues to slide into the ocean, obliterating the highway. This is less than an hour north of our home and a reason we, like many others, have been denied access to some of our favorite hiking trails and spots in the Big Sur area.  
    This week more than a million tons of mountain slid over the road. There are 4 slide areas in a quarter mile and we are told springs also feed the motion. It is perplexing. We wait for it to stop.

     Mark Wellman's photo from the Yosemite Conservancy has special appeal right now. The timeless beauty and power of the Sierra, the remarkable interaction of human and mountain, and the spirit of adventure and achievement are a tonic for those malady's and unsettling troubles of our day.
I find great peace in the Sierras, an abiding tranquility and perspective on the transitory nature of human endeavor and foibles. 
    In time trump will be gone, the body politic may scar but it will heal, that majestic Pacific Coast Highway will be re-engineered, re-imagined, and the mountains and the sea will survive long beyond our generations. The mountains will be steadfast and the pacific will continue to sing the song of this planet. Comfort in these thoughts and the boundless arc of the star nations helps me put the present human mania in focus. Indeed we are like mists in time, vapors. But we dream and hope. 

    See you down the trail.  


Tuesday, May 23, 2017


     The underground railroad is revered history in the mid-west. As school kids we learned the effort to help slaves to freedom was not without risk, or cost, but was the right thing to do. It was right to break a law. 
      The Fugitive Slave Law required free states to assist slave catchers, so those who were part of the underground railroad's network of secret routes, passages and safe houses violated a federal law. A rotten federal law passed by Congress.
       We admire the freedom riders who a century later risked life and well being to help end the vestiges of slavery. We admire those who sat in at lunch counters to protest overt segregation and racism. They too were beaten and arrested.  We admire freedom marchers who put their bodies on the line. 
       Civil disobedience, the willing violation of law to make a point about rotten laws, regulations or custom is a revered  and necessary tradition of a free people. Breaking a law, a bad law, is American.
        Blacks would still be property, denied rights or without a vote, women would be chattel and without a vote, children might still be indentured to work houses and sweat shops if Americans did not violate laws or ordinances to fix bad law. Presently millions of Americans, hundreds of churches and many cities connect with the ethic, principal and values of the Underground Railroad.
     Current immigration policy is predatory. We understand the need to locate and process violent offenders, gangsters, and those who threaten people and property. But the present enforcement push harms good people, business owners, parents, exemplary residents, some who have been good neighbors for decades.
     It is an irony to hear Trump supporters say while this is what he said he would do, they don't like that friends, employers or employees are being targeted. It is sad when American school children are terrorized by US Agents who are either threatening or are sending their fathers or mothers away. It is tragic when some are deported after making successful lives, paying taxes and  being responsible contributors. It is bad policy, bad law, too inflexible and the Sanctuary movement is thus an historic American response. 
     The Underground Railroad, the Suffragettes, the Civil Rights Movement, the Sanctuary Movement have at their nexus a spiritual and faith driven motivation. Principles of equality, fairness and compassion put into practice even against bad law. Some will argue we are a nation of law and laws are to be enforced. But thank God people of conviction and courage have broken laws and taken action to eliminate bad law. 

the eagle under attack
     With apology for the blurred images, we submit a few frames of a combat we watched from the tennis court.
            On changing service sides Mike pointed to the grazing slope below Scott Rock outside Cambria and noted what he referred to as a "golf ball like" white object.  He surmised it was a bald eagle. We watched as red tailed hawks dove at and menaced the eagle.

    Mike, Gail, Roy and I watched with amazement. Following our match play I attempted to grab a few photos. Distance plus the pace and furry of the fighting conspired against a good shot.
    One needs a good view of such intrigues.
same goes for the state department
    I don't know what it is-arrogance, stupidity, intended obfuscation or some other combination, but Secretary of State Tillerson needs his ears boxed. His actions of ignoring or isolating the US media is doing no one any good.  He pulled the stunt again on this middle east trip, giving a briefing but excluding his own nation's media. 
      Tillerson could get away with that as a private CEO, but as an employee of the American public he needs to be watched, studied, monitored and reported on. Importantly, a strong media presence has given previous Secretaries of State more than an equal voice or power in administrations. Tillerson is weakening his own heft. Someone needs to knock sense into him.

     See you down the trail.

Friday, May 19, 2017


     While many Californians remain cut off and isolated in Big Sur, CalTrans continues work on slides, drop offs and building a new bridge. 
      These are challenging times for those who live and work in the Big Sur region. Others are also suffering a withdrawal from visiting one of the planet's beauty spots. We feature a few more frames from our Big Sur file to salve our unease especially as we begin to measure a more menacing cut off-in this case from normalcy and that dateline is Washington.

after watching the blue
      The coast was not perfectly clear but less occluded than the scene from Congress.  A point of reference here-I am  fortunate that I drive the Pacific coast.
         The sun and the big blue contribute to saturated light,  long views and a framework for clarity. It is a perfect place to let the mind ponder the madness wrought by the heathen fool who rambles in the White House eating ice-cream and watching Fox News while fouling American democracy.

the "lech" enabler
         A couple of thoughts about his enablers....
His friend and a man who must share some of the blame is dead. People will speak nicely of Roger Ailes. But his legacy deserves not a shred of respect. Ailes, who was a Trump confidant and advisor was, like the president, a sexual predator. He was forced out of his castle because his sexual harassment and tawdry behavior caught up with him. We can hope the same will be true for the dirty old man who desecrates the presidency.
       But Ailes did something else evil. He almost singlehandedly created news by flavor-political flavor. Back when he worked for that other paragon of honesty, Dick Nixon, Ailes began to dream of a network where the news was spun by party line, propaganda! When he labeled Fox News-fair and balanced-he shoved journalism into a direction that is diseased. 
        Ailes was not a journalist, he was a con man, a true propagandist. He made a fortune. He had power but in the end it all crumbled. We are sorry for his family, but his true demise occurred when the Murdoch's tossed his lecherous and deceitful presence out of Fox. 
the other enablers?
      There's a little story with a huge significance. In 2016 California Congressman Kevin McCarthy, now House Majority Leader said he thought Donald Trump was on the take, being paid off by Vladimir Putin. The tape reveals that House Speaker Paul Ryan, immediately cut off the comments and told assembled Republicans those comments were "family matters" and were never to be reported. They hadn't been, until the tape surfaced. 
      Maybe McCarthy was only joking, but in the context of everything else we've learned, how do you know? What is most troubling is Ryan's order to shut up. It is symbolic of his spinelessness in dealing with the trump madness. 
      There are many Republicans who I have known personally and professionally. They are or have been office holders, high government officials, advisers and strategists at the federal, state and local level. Many of them are troubled not only by the despicable and ruinous behavior of the president, but by the lack of courage of the men and women in the House or Senate who could begin to rein in the man child who now even the most ardent of conservative and republican analysts and writers have begun to savage.
      Some of their own party and certainly many Democrats have said the spineless will pay. This is a full season of investigation now and the facts will come out.

remembering a more vibrant time

    See you down the trail.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Cheers! Why Not?

Bridge Dinner at Halter Ranch Paso Robles AVA
     Over heard eldest daughter saying to youngest "Life is for celebrating."
      I had "doctored" a Petaluma chicken that was French Roasting in the oven and the sisters were busy as co conspirators in prepping a Mother's Day dinner. What sage wisdom I thought.
      The American Republic is under attack by stupidity and blind allegiance, the North Korean tin god is playing with missiles again, someone used American spyware to hack the world, boomers of a certain age are beginning to notice the maladies of extended exposure to gravity including troubling diagnoses, insurance and Medicare and Medicaid and profit and greed and politics are rumbling and wrestling as a nightmare in daylight to say nothing of the real misery of refugees, victims of wars, victims of climate change and no one seems able to fix a damn thing. We humans can certainly make a mess of a perfectly good world and ourselves! 
      The option to celebrate then is perfect. Certainly more fun than hair shirts, self flagellation or sitting in the dark. Celebration might just remind us that life is a gift, a treasure and works best when shared. So we begin this week with a round of cheers! And where better to go than our neighborhood wine country.
the spring bridge dinner
         Dappled sun, an old California ranch, friends, and festivities

    Talk about a field kitchen!
the Halter Ranch Bridge and the table is set

less formal more intimate
 the common antidote? friends and family
Lago Giuseppe-Paso Robles AVA

    As we watch our screens and see the crazy human drama unfold, remember to hug someone once in a while, smile at as many people as you can, raise a glass with friends, recharge your spirit, freshen your outlook and when you are ready, go back to being toe to toe with that which threatens. It is good to celebrate what we live for.

     Cheers!  See you down the trail.