Saturday, December 23, 2017


photo by Kristin
   Children are at the center of this season, the holy infant at its nexus and millions of dear ones in families. But there are places where the festive lights are dim or gone.
Photo by Meredith Kohut for the New York Times
      Children in Venezuela are dying because they can not get infant formula or food. In the scene above a mother mourns her three month old, who died for lack of food in a modern nation.
       Many of us will spend these days feasting, celebrating, enjoying home and family. Not everyone is so fortunate. I hope you will take a couple of minutes during the holidays to watch these very short videos. They will move and they will inspire you.
       This first short is heart warming. I call it Newborns in a Basket
       There is a beauty in the faces of children, a true gift this season. Listen to Liam Neesom as you watch. 

        Storms and fire have devastated the lives of US children this year. War and displacement is at historic levels and the greatest victims are the children. The baby who's birth Christians celebrate would later as a rabbi say one of the greatest offenses possible is to harm a child. Ignoring children in need does great harm.  The singer Pink takes up their case-What about Us?

       Children are indeed the center of this time, but that rabbi also reminded us about the downtrodden and heavy burdened.
Photo by Jae C. Hong, AP

          Share your joy. Even a word or a smile can be a gift.

          What about them? What about them all? Charles Dickens said it well when he had Tiny Tim close the Christmas Carol, "God bless us, everyone!"

          See you down the trail.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


  For the last few years thousands have flocked to Cambria's Christmas Market, a venture of a local hotel and garden center.
   Cambrians are of two minds, at least, about the display and the traffic and commotion. It is said two million lights are used. Count them if you'd like.

     The little ones and more than a few adults seem mesmerized by the displays. 

    I like the Surfin' Santa, complete with Hawaiian motif in the jacket. 
   Something for all, including a tribute to Aliens, here for the holidays. 

   A variation on a roasted artichoke. 
  This vendor was selling high flying spin activated and lit helicopters that continued to arc high above the millions of lights below.  

   The scene below is set off to the side, canted in such a way as to require a special effort to see it and read the warning sign.
     Krampus is the anti Santa Claus. Half goat-half demon, his thing is to punish or carry off bad children. The origin is unclear but it is a figure of the season in some northern and eastern European nations. Glad we skipped that in our childhood.
    This Christmas 2017 this creature could find plenty to carry off at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington D.C. and at the opposite end on Capitol Hill.  
     On further reflection, I think the beast has already been there, and probably had a large had in the writing of the new tax fraud bill.

      See you down the trail.


Thursday, December 14, 2017


    It is one of those coincidences or ironies of life. This replica knock off of David by Michelangelo has been recently "liberated." 
   It stands in the court yard of Cambria's renown Pewter Plough Playhouse, home to the Harmony Cafe. When Chef Giovanni began serving patrons alfresco, David's midsection was wrapped in the Ivy. We were never sure why such a travesty was permitted. Was there a morality vigilante operating as a gardener-or non-gardener?
   It seems unlikely that most men would feel threatened by a
comparison to that portion of the anatomy that was concealed.  However I will go on record and acknowledge envy of those six pack abs-but they were not covered.
   As mysteriously as the modesty ivy appeared, it has been pruned and David stands before the world as Michelangelo intended. And all of this as the #metoo revelations have begun shaking bad men from high places.

     There is of course still one prominent and powerful accused serial predator and accoster who has been untouched, so far. 
    trump has been rebuffed by voters even in his base states, reproached by powerful men and women and accused, again, by many victims but thus far there has been no serious action to investigate the claims or hold him accountable. 
     It seems there will be a breaking point for the serial liar and bragger. His approval rating is as low as any American President. Even some who had begrudgingly supported him are starting to shed the slime pit and reach for traditional American political ground.  
    The image above is for those of you who feel the need for a shower whenever you think of the president.
    The trouble is, he's leaving a legacy.
      This time of year one can't help but think about children and in turn, the life we are presenting to them.  
       I was particularly touched the other evening as a long time dear friend, a tough and realistic professional women who raised a son and step-daughter and is not an overly sentimental person, teared up as she spoke of the president and his behavior as being seen and read by millions of boys and girls of impressionable age. Ponder that for moment, if you have not already.
       He mocks, brags, derides, lies, is proud of not reading, practices no physical fitness and is a pig. Until he does us a favor and departs or is thrown out of office we must explain and account the likes of him. 
       When our granddaughter is around and when nature has it's way, I refer to that as trumping her diaper. Her mother and grandmother don't approve and don't want me to "confuse" her, but I know in a couple of years she will know exactly what "poppy" meant.
        I especially worry about boys and teen males who have enough trouble finding good mentors and role models. When the president behaves as he does, he is poisoning the future.
       The revelations and fall of men who behaved as creeps is a good thing for society.  It would be an even more effective antidote if the predator in chief were held accountable.
        Something now to bookend this post. They are not the current royalty of Beyonce and Jay Z, nor even Harry and Meghan, but when the King of England, Edward fell in love with Wallis Simpson it was not only a scandal, but created a constitutional crisis. Of course he abdicated and the dashing couple were known as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
       The abdication was in 1936, before I was born, but the Duke and Duchess were big conversation in my childhood in the early 50's.  My grandmother and her sisters where English and emigrated as young women. I spent a lot of time with them-my widowed Nannie and her sisters and their husbands including 2 Scots and a Scots-Irish Uncle, plus the Welsh widower of one of the sisters. They shared a three story home, a warren of apt's and rooms and it was very much like a UK boarding house-all related. 
      When I was dressed, they made sure I was "turned out" like a gentleman-the Duke of Windsor being the role model. But they were divided about the abdication and about Wallis Simpson.
     I contrast those sometime spirited discussions-Maggie Smith style-about propriety with what kids today are seeing and hearing. I can't help but think we are spiraling down.
      Maybe this Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa the jolly elf  will bring us civility, decency and class. We've already got a chunk of coal in the White House, well maybe it's not coal yet but the White House has been trumped. 

    See you down the trail

Sunday, December 10, 2017


    An eerie twilight and hushed nature shrouds the California central coast. A red-pink sun burns behind brown and gray clouds as the charred remains from Southern California drift northward in expanding smoke, arial evidence of the devastating fires.
      Birds have grown silent and the abundant wild life, turkey, deer and squirrels have disappeared as the plume drifts northward over the Santa Lucia range.
    Air quality alerts have been posted. People are urged to stay inside.  
    A somewhat clouded morning was absorbed by the smoke. This patch of blue disappeared in moments. 
      The usually lustrous light has fallen to a mournful shade. The clear day become brown and umber.
  The pernicious Santa Ana winds whip the several fires, burning and destroying areas of an American paradise.
    An LA Times headline notes  "AS CALIFORNIA BURNS

     The gloom also extends to our hearts. This is a state
sending thoughts and prayers to fire fighters, fellow citizens, friends and loved ones.

     See you down the trail.