Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Her Special Thumb....What Direction is This?

junction of forces
 Leffingwell Landing North, Cambria
8:30 am

     That's where we are, at a junction of forces. There is a lot at play. 
       An atmospheric front moves through the scene above and it changes things; how people feel, the light diffusion, humidity, wind and more. The Pacific is a grand energy and power of its own. It tunes the temperature, winds, and carries storms and is the world to marine life. The land stands by uplifts and movement and rises from the beach to the mountains and rock, pastures, wild life, forests and climates.
        This nation, at this time, is in a similar frame and depth of complexity-a junction of political forces and history.

what direction is this?

        Founder Benjamin Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. 
     He was asked after the Constitutional Convention what sort of government had the delegates created.
      "A Republic, if you can keep it."
       Franklin said when you bring an assembly of people for the benefit of their joint wisdom, you also assemble all of their "prejudices, passions, errors of opinion, local interest and their selfish views."

     History is stitching into the weave that binds this democratic republic. We are at a rare place and power now collides.
     The Legislative and the Executive branches have launched legal/constitutional disputes. The Parties are wrestling for their own souls and they are at a bitter war with each other. Citizen dialogue is dysfunctional and mean. Legal scholars debate who has power and who can do what to whom. Some of the corporate media are hysterical and act as cheerleaders. Social media is manipulation, assault, and role playing. Federal agencies are under a dismantlement or allowed to atrophy and crumble. The US is under cyber and thought attack.
      The Mueller Report did not end the loudest drama. For better or worse, it is a beginning of a new round of contest, vibrating through our Republic, if we can keep it.

her special thumb
     I'm fortunate to love an artist, who is also a gardener.  Lana's mother could grow anything and was forever puttering in ornamental beds and vegetable gardens. Daughter is like Mother. She continues to transform our place on the ridge to a sanctuary for mind and soul. Peace grows here.

into lana's garden
      Here's our annual visit to Lana's spring Garden.
      I hope you can take a few moments with these images to savor and enjoy the detail of how she composes with color, light, shape and texture.   

   It was a hope-to have bearing citrus trees, at our home. The ability to pick fruit on the back hill is a kick for a midwestern kid. 

    Lana is amazed at the robust growth of the artichoke plants. I relish consumption. 

    For someone who grumbles and grouses about weeds, she certainly has a winsome way with photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom Plantae. She is a plantae painter.

     See you down the trail. 



Friday, March 22, 2019

A Kid Like Ja-A Man Like Mueller-Stars in the Rites of Spring

   It's the spring of 2019 when our fancy turns to Big Dances and Big Probes and media palaver--but there are clouds on the horizon
and there are secrets! Will America be allowed to peer into the secret web of intrigue and investigation
  and learn what the Mueller probe learned? Will the grand galloomps of the administration and the republicans of the Senate
(A facsimile of the DOJ gallops and the McConnell Senate Republicans)
   allow their paymasters and employers (that would be US citizens) to learn what Mueller has learned? Well that brings us to the RIGHTS OF SPRING.
   The old birds are clattering...
   and chattering and the bets are on.
    A safe prediction from your old blogger-it's going to be another fight, another circus, another chapter of America in decline, America yelling, America divided. 
    Democrats will ask for full disclosure, Republicans will resist. The President will blather and tweet and lie. The House will continue their investigations, Federal prosecutors will continue their prosecutions and investigations. There will be legal challenges and court filings and hearings and this thing could go on for, dare I say it-years!
    We have primal forces at work
   sea against rock, wind against sea, power versus power,
   infinite force against eternal existence. 
       Unlike nature, these human struggles devolve to aberrant behavior; deceptions, tricks, deceits, fraud, larceny, and abuse of power. 
      Greed, avarice, and venality have never been far from "individual 1." Diligence, devotion, public service, sacrifice and intelligence have never been far from Mr Mueller. 
      The substance of the two-year investigation will come out. This is the US, with whistleblowers, leakers, people of conscience, investigative reporters, packs of competitive journalists and a citizenry for whom all of this was done.
    Who are you betting on? Which team do you find yourself rooting for?
     Presently I'm rooting for my bracket picks and celebrating another Cinderella story. This is the time of year the of NCAA championships where there is always a peoples favorite, a human interest story, the little Davids taking on the Giant Goliaths, the valiant struggle of appealing characters striving against great odds. Stars emerge and shine. We find new heroes. We cheer and we cry with the heartbroken warriors who leave the court denied a dream. This too is the Right Rite of Spring. 
     I thank Mr Mueller for the decorum, diligence, dignity and scrutiny he brought to that other arena. Smart people will continue his work. But right now I'm on my feet, cheering and fist pumping for a kid named Ja. And for all the kids who play their hearts out. It's good there are still champions, good to be reminded we play the game by the rules, good to know that in the end when history posts the scores, cheaters loose, and liars get busted. And it is reassuring to see people being good sports both in loosing and in victory.

    See you down the trail.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Passings and Legacy

Moonstone Beach, Cambria CA
    It happened this week, the passing of two men who made big differences. In the way of things, there is a confluence in my life. 
 I knew them and I was inspired by them. I still am.
Photo by Charles Bennett, Associated Press
      Birch Bayh was the quintessential Indiana public servant and one of the most historic and arguably effective members in the history of the US Senate. He passed at 91 and leaves a legacy that has led some to refer to him as a "modern founding father."
     Bayh was the author of two constitutional amendments and creator of Title IX. He also authored what could have been a third constitutional amendment, the ERA. These are accomplishment of historic proportion, shaping the constitution, the spine of this democratic republic.
    The 25th Amendment deals with Presidential disability and succession. The 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18. Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational program or activity that is federally funded. It was nation changing. 
    Bayh was an architect of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, 1965 Voting Rights Act and the Juvenile Justice Act that required separation of juveniles from adults in prison. He was co-author of the Bayh-Dole Act that allowed small businesses and universities to own inventions that were developed using federal funds. It helped lead to the technological explosion that has fueled our modern life and led to new business horizons in communications, and technology.
    Bayh led the Senate opposition to Supreme Court nominees Clement Haynsworth and George Carswell. He was a contender in the 1976 Democratic Presidential nomination. Birch Bayh was a three term Senator and father of Evan Bayh, Governor of Indiana and a two term senator.
    I covered and got to know both men. They were different personalities. Evan ran one of his father's election campaigns. Birch Bayh may have been one of the best "retail," one-on-one politicians ever. Before social media, candidates spent more time talking to individual voters in person. Birch would light up a room and if possible spend time with everyone, sitting with them, putting his arm around them, leaning in listening, shaking hands and having true conversations. It was a marvel to see. 
    He was a veteran, a Purdue graduate where he was President of the Class, played baseball and was a champion boxer. He was elected to state government in his 20's and had a stellar career and impact before being one of the youngest men elected to the Senate.
     After the Civil Rights act was passed, he and his friend Senator Edward Kennedy were on a flight between Washington and Massachusetts when their light plane went down. Bayh extricated his wife Marvella and then freed a trapped Edward Kennedy, who suffered a broken back. Others on board were killed.
      It was a privilege to know and a joy to joke around and talk with this plain spoken, down home leader. When I think of America being "great," I think of Birch Bayh and his indelible influence on this nation. He is one of the giants in the human rights movement.
    Friend, colleague and inspiration, Bob Foster, on the right in the photo above, lost his long hard fight with Leukemia this week.
   Frequent readers will recall Bob's contributions to this blog
beginning in August of 2011 as he chronicled his harrowing wait and experience with a bone marrow transplant.
   In the picture above, Bob and I were a morning team on the radio, seen here doing a remote broadcast.  Bob had a wonderful career in radio and his great love was live sporting events. For a number of years he was a premier play by play man in Hydroplane racing and other sports.  
    Bob had a good run in the advertising world, but after complications of his disease was sidelined for a while, only to come back to his first love, radio sports.
     He was on the air and running a sports talk station in Iowa at the time of his passing. In the last couple of years he had battled pneumonia and this week that is what took his life. It is the same disease that claimed Birch Bayh.
    In September of 2014 Bob was having a triumphant moment and sent this post.

Photo Courtesy of Iowa State/Bob Foster
Never did I imagine that I would again be testing the wireless broadcast system on the sidelines at Jack Trice Stadium before a Big 12 game.  Resuming duties as a game site producer on a Big 12 Football radio broadcast seemed no longer possible.  Saturday afternoon was very emotional.  I wept several times and knelt in sprayer of thanksgiving before the game began.  Now, I am better prepared mentally and emotionally to approach with intensity the game broadcast at Texas on 10/18.  It is all because of Jesus I am alive.
Bob Foster.

      Bob was a man with a strong faith and as you may recall from his earlier posts, even when near death and an uncertain future, he said he was blessed to be able to lift the spirits of others who were facing challenges.
    His wife Diane told me when he took his last breath he had a smile of relief. His timing was always perfect.
     Life always moves forward. New generations go to meet their future. There are, however, those who precede them who make their path a little easier.
      Birch Bayh and Bob Foster leave wonderful and positive legacies. They loved and cared about others. 

      See you down the trail.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Peace in the Mountains

    The frame above is the perspective of a portion of the Santa Lucia Mountain range as seen from our back hill. The Santa Lucias are a mostly uninhabited coastal range that runs for 105 miles, starting south of here in San Luis Obispo County extending north into Monterey County. The Santa Lucias are the eastern boundary of Big Sur.
   Thor Liland Larsen captured this image in August 2009.
The Santa Lucia Mountains are granitic and essentially the same composition of the Sierra Nevada range.
  The highest peak in our area is Rocky Butte at 3,432. Here's a peak through trees. We have a clear view from the front of the house, but I wanted to maintain the same camera angle for a tour of our local peaks.
  Above and below are frames of Red Mountain at 2,047 feet.
Red was once mined for Cinnabar, a Mercury ore.

      The photo above, by Chris Ralph, shows the sometimes crystal like composition of Cinnabar. There are times when the light on Red Mountain allows it to reveal its name.
     Cinnabar was taken from long narrow tunnel mines. A product of volcanic activity, it is a source of Mercury. When crushed and roasted in furnaces it produces quick silver. 
     Chinese, some of whom worked on building railroads, were especially good at mining Cinnabar from Red Mountain.
  Above is the 2,849 foot Vulture Mountain.  The valleys and slopes of the Santa Lucia range are perfect thermal glide zones for Vultures, Hawks, Eagles and other birds.
   The frame above is, to my best guess and attempt to read the topo maps and data files, Triple Slough at about 2,500. The three crowns or summits are obvious.
   The Salinan and Chumash people inhabited or hunted and gathered in the Santa Lucia Mountains. 
    The first European to document the range was Spanish explorer Juan Cabrillo in 1542.  
  Arguably the most famous, certainly the most expensive, building in the Santa Lucia Range is the Hearst Castle, just a few miles north of our ridge. This excellent photo by Mike Peel shows the William Randolph Hearst "hill top cabin" on Cuesta Ridge. 

   The Santa Lucia's meeting the Pacific creates the always stunning Big Sur coast line.  
     The range elevation runs from about 1,500 and increases  as it extends up into Monterey County. 
   This is the 5,857 Junipero Serra Peak as documented in 2015 by Thomson200.
      Lana says one of the joys of this area is seeing cattle free range grazing on some of the gentle slopes of the Santa Lucias.
     This is looking south and east into what is called the Green Valley. I have yet to learn the names of these peaks which spine our distant horizon.
     We frequently drive over the rolling range when enroute to Paso Robles. It is a scenic drive, though we've made the trip in thick fog or driving rain as the highway crests the top of the range. Inclement weather is more robust on the summit road.
     The highway is at about 1,700 feet at its highest elevation and it offers magnificent and expansive views of the Pacific.
     In the distance you can see the iconic Morro Rock.
    Technically it is not in the Santa Lucia Range as it stands alone in the Pacific, though it is also a product of volcanic and plate tectonic dynamics. It is part of the so called "7 Sisters," peaks that were created by uplift.
      Morro Rock is ringed by the Santa Lucia range.

     Another of the 7 Sisters is Hollister Peak, a massive and textured beauty that also solos against the range.

   As you have guessed, I spend a lot of time enjoying the beauty of our central coast mountain views. I want to share a kind of anomaly.
   At certain times of the year one of our distant neighbors lights up. I apologize for the poor frame quality, but I'm on an extended zoom. As the sun drops behind me, it casts itself over the grazing slopes to our east and a ranch house sparkles.
    This is called a Mediterranean climate so the scenes below are rare, but snow can fall on the Santa Lucias.

   When snow gets down to the 2,500 to 3,000 foot elevation, it is cold by central coast standards. 
    Both rugged and gentle with undulating and rolling slopes, high cliffs, sandy beaches and ragged walls at the ocean, wide valleys and thick forests and all with limited human encroachment and a rich wild life population. It is a good balance and a beautiful range.
        The Santa Lucia range memorializes Lucia of Syracuse, a 4th Century Christian martyr.  
       As the insanity of the world can often be vexing,
 looking to the mountains is a help. They've been here a long time and they will remain, despite human shenanigans. 

    See you down the trail.