Sunday, September 30, 2018

Sheroes and Villains

     No one needs another voice in the fractious chorus but I'm chiming in as a man with daughters, granddaughter and grand son. It has been better than this and we owe it to you make it so again.

 for those too young to understand 
     History will tell you that in the last few days of September 2018 there were moments that held hope we can again be decent and civil. There was Jeff Flake and Chris Coons reaching across ideological and partisan divides to find middle ground and a decent fix, even if only temporary. Their maturity was a stark contrast to a couple of other men. We'll deal with them later, but first a moment for courageous women.
     The real heroes, "sheroes" were the women who confronted Flake in the elevator and demanded that he look at them. Maria Gallagher and Ana Maria Archila, victims of sexual assault, in that moment represented generations of victims of abuse, misogyny, rape, discrimination and the inattention of a paternalistic ruling class.That ugly history fuels the present #metoo #timesup  mindset and puts a heavy thumb on the balance of justice in the context of this particular confirmation hearing.
     I'm one of those who believed Professor Ford. In years of journalism I spoke with many victims. No one would put themselves through what she's been through in the last weeks, certainly not for political ends. It is sick and wrong to even suggest that. She too was courageous.
     Some of the men however looked anything but courageous. There was that memorable hissy fit melt down that looked and sounded like a film portrayal of a tormented and insufferable little southern belle- though the actor is a 63 year old South Carolinian priss. 
     There's been a lot of science trotted out in the last week to explain how a drunk aggressor might not remember an assault. We can only hope that is why and how Brett Kavanaugh denies the accusation. To be clear he has lied. Either he lied back in his youth about his infamous drinking and blacking out, or he is lying about it now. There are simply too many things he said about his own behavior then, and too many who knew him as a drunken youth.
     What was sad and will be the image of his tail spin to notoriety or the haunting image of his unfitness to sit on the court, was the bellicose tantrum of a Judge who blew his judicial cool. There was also the revelation of his partisan heart, hearkening back to when he was part of the Starr investigation that spent millions in an unsuccessful pursuit of the Clintons, who he mentioned in his melt down. If he gets on the Court that meltdown clip will haunt his every decision. How can even his supporters trust him to be impartial, balanced and reasoned after witnessing that? In truth maybe they don't care.
      The Republicans don't seem to care their president is accused of 19 sexual assaults and is a self admitted sexual predator. A lot of us think that is relevant now, especially now.
       So my dear grand children, as Poppy writes this you are too young to absorb it. But as you read this in your time you will at least have a skirmish report that some of us, in fact the majority of Americans, found this perversion of government and behavior wrong. I only hope by the time you read this, we will have corrected the damage. We may not.
        You may find yourselves living in a culture ruled over by a Party that lays down with evil and celebrates venality and permits blatant lying, believes in misogyny, worships the rich and wealthy and doesn't mind destroying our trust in our federal government, cared not about your health care or shrinking economic power. And don't forget, all of this was  led by a traitor to the US.
       You should know there was a time when Republicans had values. But in 2018 they sold their soul to an evil and malignant narcissist and stooge. Maybe by the time you read this, history will reveal that the disease was scourged out of the body politic. But there was a time when there was a epidemic in stupidity, blind loyalty, zealous partisanship.
       A time when a woman said a man did something awful to her, but those people who were in league with the stooge didn't even want to hear about it, and then called it a lynching. A lynching is not when an assaulted woman tells her story. Even their use of that word underscores how insensitive and hateful they are. 
       But dear kids, remember the courage of Professor Ford, and every victim who spoke up, and those who fought to change old attitudes, right old wrongs, and take the law to sexual criminals, even men in power. 

and now for something nice

Among Lana's succulent gardens are lithops, living rocks.
it's bloom time

   See you down the trail

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

SHE SAYS-HE SAYS and A Few Diversions

   In this post, we'll open and close here-something good, something very good and nice. We need diversions, don't we?
  The other stories in the Kavanaugh confirmation coming up, but first a good bye------
one tough old bird

     Our little village tucked between the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Pacific lost a big force this weekend, Reggie Perkins at 92. Some of us lost a buddy.
    Here's an sketch of how tough Reg was. A few years ago he had a heart attack on Christmas Eve. He was back on the tennis court New Year's Day.  
     A WWII vet, he had been a battalion chief on the LA Fire Department. He helped build the Cambria Fire Department and served on the community governing board, the CCSD.
      He and his late wife founded a volunteer group that assists people in need or needing medical equipment, or trips to the doctor. They started the annual Easter Egg hunt. He was active in the American Legion and had been a long time treasure of the Odd Fellows benevolence lodge.
     On the tennis court Reg, who played up to only a few months ago despite knees that hurt him every minute, had one of the toughest drop shots in tennis. He chuckled many times as I ran like a banshee to get to the ball, only to watch his patented spin make me look like a fool. I was not alone.
     Reg was one of the founders of the "prayer meeting" that I was invited into about 12 years ago. A group of old boys meeting on someone's porch or deck at precisely 4:00 to have coffee and a cigar, if you were so inclined. Way back the group met on Wednesdays and Sundays. In the last few years the gatherings were on Sunday and wine had been added as well. As a new retiree in the village the tips, insights and history I heard from Reg, John Angel and the late Phil Allen, plus the jokes, made a newbie feel right at home. 
      Reg listened more than he talked, but when he said something, it stuck. These were truly old boys still full of life. 
     It was only a couple of weeks ago Reg was on my deck reminding me I needed to add cushions to my hard wood furniture. We all thought Reg would go on forever. He filled his 92 years and left us all with a target to shoot for. He will be missed.

     What you see in the frame above is the largest lemon I've seen. It was grown locally.  How big is it?

an appropriate pause
     In a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, the new accusations have to be taken seriously enough to be investigated and either tossed aside or validated. 
      What's the rush? Mitch McConnell considered a year a valid wait. The Kentucky wheeler dealer denied America's first African American President a chance to get even a hearing on his nominee. So, what's the rush now? Does someone sense American voters are fed up with Republican rule and acquiescence to the malignant narcissist and Russian stooge?
      More important than Republicans protecting their advantage is the fact the American public deserves resolution as do Judge Kavanaugh and Professor Ford. And the same goes for the more recent accusers and the Judge. 
       But there is an ugly strain in all of this. Some, on both sides of the political aisle, wonder if accusations this old have any bearing on the decision. The default position for many is, what really matters is if the judge is telling the truth. Well of course that matters. 
      But I am one who thinks the behavior all those years ago matter as well, though it is complicated. It is possible that people can change. I think it is entirely possible that youthful and foolish behavior can be left behind. And we know  drinking can contribute to poor judgement and horrendous behavior--but....wrong is wrong, and violence is violence. Also, a patriarchal mind set is wrong and too often has been enabling. 
       The idea that "boys will be boys" is wrong headed and dangerous. That attitude permeates American culture and it was certainly in play at the time that Judge Kavanaugh was a beer drinking, hell raising, privileged preppie and Yalie. It was wrong and if we are ever to get fair and healthy in relationships between men and women we need to recognize it. It shouldn't have been condoned then. It cannot be condoned now. Should it bar him from the court? If it was something he did repeatedly, but now lies about, then yes.
       If Kavanaugh did not in fact act like a boorish, privileged drunk punk then it goes beyond what and how he described himself at the time. Still I'm sure boys who behaved badly have grown to be responsible adults and that may in fact be the case for the judge, unless he is lying now, embarrassed about his previous alleged behavior or too drunk to remember.
       He is where few people go, nominated to the Supreme Court and we have a right to know. Our right to know supersedes his privacy, her privacy, since she had made the accusation and certainly supersedes any thing Mitch McConnell wants.
      The last thing on this is fairness-fairness in this case and the historic issue of fairness in how women have been second class, abused and treated. I read this contemporary culture as being invested by women and men who say
time's up. We want to play by new rules.  We want to play by fair rules.
      I think there is enough accrued injustice and resultant anger that the old white men on the Judiciary Committee better realize what year it is and what fair now means. If Republicans behave as they did in 1991, they belong on the ash bin.

and now to the diversions

there are some things you just can't explain

no matter where you look


at this age, and in this time, diversions are healthy


      See you down the trail.   

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Protecting Your Assets and It Is a Shame

June Lake, California
In the high Sierra

upon reflection-there will be no winners
thoughts on the professor and the judge later

    It's September "protection time." Pinot are some of the last grapes to be harvested as the precious fruit draws a little more California sun. While the winemaker will wait, the grapes are just fine for the birds, deer, or bear right now.
      This vintage of Stolo Creekside Pinot grows less than 3 miles from the Pacific. The cool climate, foggy nights and early mornings and the later day sun has primed the crop and it needs protection and maybe a serenade. The music is just across Santa Rosa Creek road.      
    Yes, there is romance to wine country. Vistas, parties, beauty all around, but there's also hard work. Those protective nets didn't put themselves on so snuggly. Tackling acres of vines gives home garden and yard projects a different slant eh? 

no decency
no winners
    When and if the judge and the professor trade memories of a distant event there will be no winners, only victims.
     Few, very few people know the truth of what happened in a bedroom at a house party all those years ago. The story is out there now, so it must be dealt with.
     But it's a shame our culture has come to examine the history before a US Senate Committee. A shame that a nomination to the Supreme Court travels this kind of path.
      It is a shame for the families of the judge and the professor.
     If the assault occurred it is a shame Professor Ford has to recall it and before the world. If the assault did not occur it is a character assassination.
     If Judge Kavanaugh was a sexual aggressor all those years ago it is a shame he does not acknowledge it. If it is true it is a shame that he has lied.
     It's a shame that all those years ago sexual aggression, especially fueled by alcohol even happened and even more of a shame that in much of US culture it was "understood" and tacitly accepted. It is a shame that much of our culture has been patriarchal and unfair and unjust. 
     It is a shame that pain such as this had to be the change agent in our relationships.
     It is a shame that this time of change has so hyper charged the relationship and conversations between men and women.
     It is a shame that our due process has been hobbled. It's a shame that to question a woman who makes an allegation risks bringing scorn or political peril.
     It is a shame that our political system has become the public square for a culture that seems to lack decency.
     It is a shame Mitch McConnell blocked a sitting President from appointing a Judge. It is a shame the vile tone he brought into the Senate deliberative process. 
      It is a shame this nomination has now become about something more than a court appointment. It is a shame that a percentage of citizens already have their minds settled on what happened and who tells the truth. It is a shame that a sexual predator has the authority to appoint a Justice.
      It is a shame what has become of us. It is a shame what we have done the ideal of this democratic republic.
      No winners. No human winners. Perhaps the system wins if there is an agreement, a settlement on what  is true. And if this nation abides that. If. If that is possible. 
       It is a shame we don't know if we can resolve this with decency. It is a shame decency is no longer a public standard.

       See you down the trail.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Which Turn on the U.S. Political Road?

an old and less traveled road
between Templeton and Cambria

recovery or precipice
     Wise analysts remind us we should never say never in politics. What is true today can change in a flash, or a tweet.
      During decades of reporting, I considered politics the greatest American spectator sport. It is not so great anymore, but we are all governed by the tawdry game. The great parties are in tatters, unsure of their future. Citizens demand a better system. The nation is divided, depressed, angry and must make hard choices. 
      Politics has become a profession, attended to by an industry of consultants and specialists; opposition researchers, analysts, pollsters, communication directors, fund raisers, etc. and it all comes down to money. Consequently the government we have given ourselves has been commercialized. Follow the money. It is all about money. H.L. Mencken was right "In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advanced auction of stolen goods."  The complete quote will follow below in this post.
      Regardless, we must live with and endure the consequence of the government and those we elect to govern and those who feed, fuel and whisper in their ears.

into the woods we go
     Despite the invocation of the seasonal cliche' this election is the most important ever, the November mid-terms will have significant impact on where we head. It is the starter's gun for the 2020 Presidential election and the life altering fall out that follows. The mid-terms also have a more immediate importance to this presidency, the investigations, and the discord in America.

the big circus
     What does it mean to be a Republican? What does it mean to be a Democrat? I've posted previously on the irrelevance of such, though those who self identify, and those of us who live under their rule will pay attention as both parties try to find either their soul and/or a standard bearer. Who will be their Presidential candidate?
     Before we look at the possible choices and scenarios-

the democrats right turn
and its consequence

    Here are some unknowables, but worthy of pondering. What if Al Gore or Gary Hart had won the Democrat nomination in 1988 instead of Michael Dukakis? More importantly, what if Jerry Brown or Paul Tsongas would have won the 1992 nomination instead of Bill Clinton? 
    Gore and Hart had Washington experience and were wiser in the wonky ways of budgets, defense programs, technology and yes social entitlements. But, the big chip is the 92 nomination of Slick Willie over more liberal candidates of Brown and Tsongas.
     Clinton and his DLC, Democratic Leadership Council, were all about moving the Democrats toward the right and steering away from the leftward lean of the 60's, 70's and 80's. 
    John Kerry might have been able to move the party back to the left. The death of Ted Kennedy also created a lack of a leftward steering wind in the party. But Clinton's tenure and later Hillary's influence pushed the Democrat party right and into the laps of big money, big business and resulted in NAFTA, repeal of Glass-Steagall, and tried to rewrite Democrat ethos. 
    It also allowed Republicans to abandon their once centrist views and to pander to the right wing, one issue zealots and their kook fringe. As we know they fed that cousin they kept under the basement stairs until it got strong enough to eat and dismember the traditional Republican party. Remember the slew of old line Republicans who retired or who got caught up being "primaried" by the Tea Party/Liberty Caucus?
     People who consider Barack Obama a liberal are caught in this kind of psychological optical illusion. It was created by the Democrats move to the right and the Republican move to the extreme right, populated by self-centered philosophy, that in turns makes Obama look liberal by comparison. That or people simply don't know what they are talking about, and are disconnected from history and knowledge. Bernie Sanders may be liberal, Barack Obama was not. Clinton was a major enabler of big money influence in and on government. Clinton took the Democrat party to bed with forces liberal Democrats and old Democrats warred with.
     Since Clinton the U.S. "center" has moved right and we even have populations that cheer and celebrate bully authoritarianism. 

the hard scrabble trail ahead
     Both parties now face a challenge and who they select, and how they do it will have influence on the nation as well as the parties, long beyond the 2020 Presidential race.
the democrats
      The Democrats are at odds, more so than usual. Modern Democrats have frequently resembled a knife fight or rumble but now they have deeper issues. It is my take they must also resolve generational leadership issues as well as determine what they believe. Is lashing together coalitions to take precedence over advocating social agendas, defense policies and etc? 
       Soon we will begin to see the Democrat talent show as we watch a leader emerge. Who will the Democrats turn to? At this writing the list of potential contenders is long.
--Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu
--Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown
--New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
--Conn. Senator Chris Murphy
--Former NY Mayor Bloomberg
--Former Atty. General Eric Holder
--Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe
--Former Mass. Governor Deval Patrick
--New York Senator Kirsten Gillenbrand
--New Jersey Senator Cory Booker
--California Senator Kamala Harris
--Mass. Senator Elizabeth Warren
--Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders
--Former Vice President Joe Biden

And there are others who have been getting attention.

--Montana Governor Steve Bullock
--Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro
--Col Governor John Hickenlooper
--LA Mayor Eric Garcetti
--Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley
--Washington Governor Jay Inslee
--Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz

   The debates, forums, town halls and speeches will provide a context for the nation to watch a tone, policy and approach begin to emerge. That will help to shape and form what this new iteration of the party may become. 
   I suspect one of the toughest matters for Democrats is how to absorb, accommodate or perhaps dismiss the kind of insurgency we see in candidates who identify with Democratic Socialism, non traditional or radical approaches.
   I anticipate more of that in the years ahead. By nature of this force, Democrats may steer again toward liberal thinking. 

the republicans
     The Republican party is in tatters. The speaker of the House resigns from government because he cannot discipline the party and especially the disruptive liberty caucus. The Senate is playing footsie with the occupant of the White House as crazy and malicious as he is. They are in the sway of a Shakespearian tragedy. They have sacrificed their decades of value on foreign policy to lay down with a Russian stooge.
      Think how the world would be so much different and the enmity in the US so much less if John Kasich, or Marco Rubio or even Ted Cruz had won the nomination. Speculate even if one of them had defeated their reviled Lady Hillary.
A much different reality emerges.
       The nation watches to see if the vestige of traditional Republican values will find a standard bearer to rise up and fight what even his staff refers to as the vile and mad idiot.
       Republicans could begin the road to redemption if someone challenges Trump. Possibilities?
--Ohio Governor and former Congressman Kasich
--Arizona Senator Jeff Flake
--Texas Senator Ted Cruz 
--Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse

    Our culture has a tendency to mythologize. People often look a little better when time works as a lapidary. Politics has always been rough, but we seem stuck in a phase where a sense of vision is lacking, where principle is discarded for expediency and where money rules. Perhaps these internal fights in the two major parties will lead to something better.
We can hope.

     "The state-or, to make matters more concrete, the government-consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to seek out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get, and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time it is made good by looting 'A' to satisfy 'B'. In other words, government is a broker in pillage and every election is a sort of advanced auction on stolen goods." H.L. Mencken

   See you down the trail.



Thursday, September 6, 2018

An Amazing Story

   It was one of those direct to the heart moments. Standing before the group, explaining his goals for "Everesting Hearst," the young man said his goal in life is to contribute $50 thousand  to charity before he passes. 
    I was moved. Live your life in journalism and you hear a lot but I never heard someone measure their life by setting a goal to give to charity.
   To date he's donated $19 thousand. He's stuck on it hard and working on meeting the $50 k life's goal.
    Here are some extenuating factors. He makes a spartan living as a kayak outfitter at San Simeon beach. He's been a camp director, competitive runner and mountain biker, and never earned much. He says he's not interested in earning a lot of money, only enough to feed himself and his dogs and hit his charitable goal. He is Cubby Cashen, beloved by those who meet him.
     The evening he spoke to the Cambria Dinner Fellowship was the first time in a couple of years he had eaten with other people. He lives a somewhat ascetic life, devoted to nature and charity. In the last year he's adopted a diet of either a small pizza or pint of ice-cream for dinner. Energy bar or cereal at breakfast and sandwich at lunch. No alcohol, no drugs, no frills, just he and his beloved Chiweenies, in a small room.
     He is well known to animal lovers, domesticated or wild.
He's been involved in rescues, some harrowing, of deer, otters, elephant seals and birds that either fall off cliffs, get into deep surf, get injured, caught in netting or other travails.
   Pictured above are the companions he adopted, one of whom is blind, both of whom ride with him on road trips.
   He's in the habit of showing up at his outfitting post, and if no one is waiting for a rental or instruction, he takes to the sea to inspect the shore line, cove and surrounding bluffs to check on nature. He's the first to know when whales are in the cove feeding with their young. He knows when the sharks are around, or when the bait balls of anchovy roll in, or when the shearwaters are in transit and etc. And he loves it. He also has an abiding love for his mother who passed away.
     Every August 8th, his mother's birthday, Cubby donates whatever he earns to a charity, usually one involving animals.
     That is why he has begun training to ride his bike on Thanksgiving up and down the road to Hearst Castle until he reaches, in aggregate, the altitude of Mount Everest, 29,029 feet. "Everesting Hearst." 
      As he's worked out the logistics he figures he will spend 15 hours riding. Thanksgiving, because Hearst Castle is closed to tourists and he'll have the winding 5 mile climb to himself. He's got his hydration and food timetable established and continues to work on GPS certification gear. He plans to start early so he will have only some 3 hours of climbing in the dark.
      "The dark is when your mind starts working on you," he says.
     The beneficiary is the Short n Sweet Rescue Alliance on Jack Creek Road in the Templeton California area. Cubby says they have dogs, rabbits, horses and even donkeys in their care. If you are interested in helping this dynamic young man you can link here to his page
      You don't run into many folks like Cubby. He's got a personality full of sunshine. He is the first I've met who measures his life by being able to reach a charitable giving level. Amazing!

thinks he's a baby
     Our irrepressible Hemingway took quick advantage of a visiting baby carriage--and got a quick nap

the end of summer feast
   Our gourmet pal MM laid out what she calls the end of summer meal with some of her favorite recipes. Including her world class Fougasse.
    Great companion to the medly of perfectly roasted veggies, chicken breast and peach with pesto that is off the charts!
    There was a course of cheese, and chocolate dipped figs that didn't make it to the camera, because Mr. Camera was too busy indulging.

      See you down the trail.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Local Irregularities

The Eyes of Zuckerberg
927 Entry by Lana Cochrun

     Hold on!  Labor Day Weekend in Cambria means the muses rule.
     This year is a perfect storm of creativity. 
     ---The annual 927 non-traditional art show in this art colony tucked between the Santa Lucia Mountains and the Pacific.
     ---The Follies-a long tradition in the best spirit of gridiron style humor.
     ---The Pindedorado Weekend party including the 70th rendition of the "hometown parade."

the "927"
    Way back when this colony of artists began the non traditional show, there was but one telephone prefix-927. That's the back story.  Now we use the 805 area code plus one of three prefixes to make local calls. Oh the travails of progress eh?! But the 927 continues and my favorite artist, my bride Lana won in the Topical Composition category.
She's taken home Best of Show and First place but the judging this year was of a different format.  Enjoy the work.
 Nasty Women
Holly McCain

 Truth or Consequences
Judith Skarvedt

 In Which God Figures Out What To Do With Old Golf Balls
Art Van Rhyn

 The Angel of Mercy
Art Van Rhyn

 The Eyes of Zuckerberg
Lana Cochrun

 Pollack's Chair
Kathy Rippe

 To and Fro Picasso
Judy Schuester

 Cambria Retiree
Tish Rogers

 Parchment Photo
Douglas Greenfield
this was accompanied by a book of skilled and wonderful images

 We Can Do It
Tom Gould

 Puppet Masters
Tish Rogers

 Political Dialogue
Ruth Armstrong

 Think Outside the Box
Jim Rogers

 U.S. Foreign Policy for Babies
Carolyn Pye

 Stepping Out
Kathryn Rippe

 Dr. Schultzie and the Anatomy Class
Jeanette Wolff

 Art Sherwyn
Born into Poverty
 Lining Up For Lunch
Art Sherwin

 Tears for Liberty
Lana Cochrun

 Neon Spring on Bitterwater Road
Randall Lyon

Mice Fur
Kathryn Rippe


     Randy Schwalbe penned a terrific tale of good vs. evil about a plan to build freeways between the east and west villages in Cambria. Great parody tunes and a superb effort by the homegrown cast.

the pinedorado parade
the 70th 
This is a homegrown event and as always it starts with the calliope.
Despite any or everything else, we can still enjoy Americana.

 They went by too fast! That arm belongs to the Parade Grand Marshall, intrepid reporter and all around great person, Kathe Tanner. No enemy of the people here.

 this guy is my nominee for unsung hero

 a surprise fly over-=-they went that-a-way

 and they came back and went that-a-way

 In Cambria you can talk to the parade. He said this old ag cart is 65 years old and was found in a barn on Santa Rosa Creek Road.

   See you down the trail.