Sunday, November 29, 2009
Here is a sentiment I believe we can all get behind during this beautiful holiday season and behind. I will continue to blog photos of fun and peace as they demand to be posted.
Now that Thanksgiving is past, the Christmas Season has officially begun. Here is a vintage shot of Evonne showing off her front yard in celebration of Christmas in San Diego, California.
Friday, November 27, 2009
I’m a tree-hugger.
I make no bones about it.
Call me a tree-hugger and I’ll thank you for the compliment.
I once hugged a tree in California that was alive during the time of Christ. I couldn’t resist. I had to get next to such ancient life. To walk among that grove of redwoods was to walk in the hush of a cathedral, only one more ancient, more holy, than any church. One still alive with flowing juices. One busy sucking moisture from the ground and giving it back to the sky. One busy drawing energy down from the sun and giving it to the earth. I couldn’t help looking up in the presence of such trees.
Naturally, I had to take their measure. Even with the help of my wife, Jeanne, and my sister, Kathleen, we couldn’t reach all the way around those trees, but it was awesome—in the original sense of that devalued word—to try.
Tennessee isn’t California, but we too have trees that are worthy of hugging. If you’ve ever hiked to Ramsey Cascades in the Smoky Mountains, you’ve walked between a matched set of world-class tulip poplars, ancient and gigantic. Usually, when I make that hike I stop and take the measure of those two trees, arms stretched wide.
You too have hugged trees, admit it or not. When you were a child, you hugged lots of trees if you were a climber, like me, or if you used trees as home base during hide-and-seek. Carrying a load of firewood is a way of tree hugging, if done with a certain attitude. And when cutting down the Christmas tree, an annual tradition in our family, here where scrub cedars sprout like whiskers, I’ve on occasion taken hold of trees in ways that could be described as hugging.
On the other hand, I’ve been known to wrap both arms around a scruffy old oak and utter thanks and blessings for what it’s meant to the scenery and the air and the critters of this garden-spot of the universe. It’s a way of giving thanks, and as Garrison Keillor said Saturday on "A Prairie Home Companion," giving thanks is the key to happiness.
Amen, Brother. It may be impossible to say anything truer than that about happiness, so let’s say it again.
Giving thanks is the key to happiness.
It’s a way of affirming life, of choosing hope over despair, faith over cynicism, if you’ll pardon a detour. I promise to bring this round again, so bear with me.
Abe Lincoln, a man who sometimes suffered what we’d call clinical depression--a man who suffered cataclysms and personal tragedies and incredible stress, said, "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
It’s true. To assess life by starting with your misfortunes is a sucker’s game. There’s no end to the misery you can catalogue. The first great principle of Buddhism is that "All is Suffering." While recognizing there’s some truth there, I don’t embrace that philosophy. I know it must seem true to some, but I’ve been blessed in so many ways, it would be chintzy and dishonest to pretend otherwise. For the privilege of being alive, I start each day with an attitude of gratitude. How lucky am I?
I would say, let me count the ways, but it would be impossible. Life is such a crapshoot, it’s like winning 50 million lotteries in a row to have existence at all. That’s how much luck is required. It took all the crazy detours of history to bring my parents together. If a million different ancestors over thousands or millions of years hadn’t done exactly as they did most every day of their lives—and partook of the blessings and curses of life in just the right order, down to feeling romantic or lusty in the right moments, I wouldn’t be here now. If a billion bits of space debris hadn’t interacted in just the right ways to send a giant meteor crashing into the earth about 65 million years ago, eradicating the dinosaurs—making way for us mammals--none of us would be here. If the Big Bang ("Let there be light") had occurred with just a fraction of one percent more velocity, the planets and stars could not have formed. A fraction of a percent less velocity, and the whole universe would have collapsed back on itself. If seawater were a little saltier, if the earth weren’t tilted on its axis just so, if the sun were a few miles farther off or closer in. If gravity were a few degrees stronger, we wouldn’t exist. All of these so-called coincidences don’t scratch the surface of things that had to go just right to make our lives possible. We are incredibly blessed to be alive and riding this silken beast called breathing—inhale, exhale--from the moment of birth until the instant of death.
And those trees, exhaling oxygen and inhaling the poisonous carbon dioxide from our own breath, exist in a relationship to us that is at once symbolic of the fragile web of life and a crucial part of it. That fantastic web of life is a feature of this awesome universe we must love and adore. It is reason enough to thank God in this season of thanks. And reason enough to hug a tree.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Wishing all my blogster peeps a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday. Please don't forget to express your gratitude for all the good things in your life. As my friend, the writer Don Williams, says, "Giving thanks is the key to happiness." I have certainly found this to be true in my own life. Gobble-gobble!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
You and I hand-in-hand near Hervey Bay Marina
aluminum masts jangling in the sweet salt air
when this guy closes in - stocky
chows on Aussies like Vegemite on toast.
That grey shadow moves like a battering ram to
shake loose a limb
to chum. In sea water blood seems black.
"Oz" is one big spot of land circled by Great
and they linger at Hervey. Vic pulls up
his T-shirt to show the mark of a shark whose jaw
caught the waist
"That son-of-a-bitch got away with the taste of my blood in him.
But I've killed plenty since to make up for it."
Vic's going hunting at dusk
I imagine leaning off the bow of his trawler
like the one Robert Shaw manned in Jaws.
I think of the 20-foot White in formaldehyde
at the shark museum.
Vic points at a fourteen-foot skiff.
Your eyes catch mine.
Monday, November 23, 2009
My niece, Erin, knows how to enjoy balloons
Some things do not change. And shouldn't.
I am sure you have heard the latest buzz in health care that you do not need a mammogram so soon/often. Well I am here to enlighten everyone. I was diagnosed at 40 years old and two months with breast cancer. I have NO family history (I am it) and I do not possess the gene(s) for the disease. I breast-fed all three of my kids for a minimum of 9 months (Mattie). My cancer was detected by a routing mammogram that my gyn guy said I should have since I was “40”. His wife had breast cancer at 41 and 45. She is still alive 20 years later to enjoy her family. One of the many doctors I met with told me that “by the time you detect it yourself it is often stage 2+”. It is staged 1-4. Stage 4 being time to make arrangements for your loved ones. Mine was stage 1 with no lymph node involvement. The higher the stage numbers the lower the odds of recovery and or reoccurrence. It is like VegasJ. That being said it is coming up on 5 years in February. I am, knock on wood, totally fine and fulfilling my “bucket list” in 4 weeks as I make my annual trek to Durango, Colorado. The very place I went after diagnoses and treatment with Cathy Patrick and our boys in the summer of 2005.
That was an amazing trip on all levels as I challenged my greatest fear……water, and went in a raft down the Animas River after having a mastectomy and chemotherapy (still was bald) and I rowed the raft! What a sensational feeling that was. Getting the air knocked out of me by waves and water while trying not to pee my pants from sheer joy and terror. On that note…..whether you have to pay for it, lie for it (make up a family story) or demand it……GET A MAMOGRAM EVERY YEAR. It could save your life…..it saved mine and I am so glad I did it. Find a facility that now does digital mammography. Any questions are always welcomed. Enjoy your life!!
Take care my friend.
~ Namaste ~ Amy
Saturday, November 21, 2009
dinosaurs in a lizard time.
Our poems are beast kids
enclosed in shell.
Pterodactyls, bust through,
take to the sky, primitive silhouettes.
Wings eclipse the moon's big belly,
as egg shards glitter in afterglow.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Sometimes you'll find art in the most unexpected places. This one I found at a construction site in City Heights, San Diego, California. I wonder what becomes of this art once the construction has been completed. Is it just destroyed? Or is there a museum housing construction-site murals?
A mural painted on a corrugated garage door, downtown San Diego. One of my favorite things to do is just stroll the streets of my city, find scenes like this, and snap away with my camera.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
For a short time I lived aboard a sailboat, although not one as large as this. And it was moored in a marina for most of the time.
with you in a 45-foot sloop.
It's 21 days before we sight other
humans on a ship that passes at dusk.
Four hours on watch and four hours off,
you and I share the helm but not the berth.
When you sleep I count the floating containers
shrugged off and left to bob like geometric icebergs,
a Pacific conundrum.
Hit one and we're finished.
My eyes are filled with horizon
and the ghosts of those phantom
crates as you rock in the arms of your mother
when a light
surfaces, advancing upon us.
Panicked, I rouse you, certain it is
some locomotive cruiser, bound to chop
our hull clean through, its light too bright to see us.
you join me
at the helm, gaze
toward our fate silently
and surely underway. You
grin like a cult leader.
Not to worry,
it seems we have
set a bearing toward Jupiter.
to the star-lit folds
of your berth as I alone
await the brazen approach
of the planet and all its moons.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
“As a kid I had a dream—I wanted to own my own bicycle. When I got the bike I must have been the happiest boy in Liverpool, maybe in the world. I lived for that bike. Most of the kids left their bikes in the backyard at night. Not me. I insisted on taking mine indoors and the first night I even kept it by my bed. Funny, although it was important to me then, I can’t remember what finally happened to it.”
“Great things are done when men and mountains meet. This is not done by jostling in the street.”
“The spirit of mountain biking is cool. I hope racing never dominates it.”
“You’re moving through a wonderful natural environment and working on balance, timing, depth perception, judgment…It forms kind of a ballet.”
“From the age of four, when I got my first bike, riding was the main focus for me. Almost every day I was on the thing, and I just loved riding. It becomes a part of your body, and all the movements just become one hundred percent natural. When you get to that point on a mountain bike, then you’re a good rider.”
“The thing about picking a good line is that you’re already feeling great about just being on a bike, just rolling along, and then something starts to feel special, something you can’t put your fingers on, but your just realize that you’re not overbraking, not oversteering, that the tires are carving like skates, that you come out of corners with momentum, and that it almost feels like that trail is controlling the bike and you’re just along for the ride. I haven’t a clue how to achieve it, but I know that I live for that: the perfect line.”
“You know right away in mountain biking if you’re on or not.”
“Riding in snow is like learning to ski. There’s a definite learning curve, and an appreciation of freaked-out recoveries that comes with time. Sooner or later, you’ll gain a whole new admiration for funky moves.’
“Snow riding is a little crazy and, thus, good for the spirit. Your tires produce a musical crunch and artistic tread patterns. Anyone who says that mountain bikes are always occupied with speed and precision doesn’t have a clue.”
“Riding trails with your dog restores a bond lost in some evolutionary belch. You travel at the same speed, over the same terrain, neither of you slowing to compensate for the other. You’re equal playmates with mud in your teeth.”
“Mountain biking helps people become environmentalists. A mountain bike is a vehicle to appreciate the backcountry.”
- Ned Overend
“To be a cyclist is to be a student of pain. Sure the sport is fun with its seamless pacelines and secret singletrack, its post-ride pig-outs and soft muscles grown wonderfully hard. But at cycling’s core lies pain, hard and bitter as the pit inside a juicy peach. It doesn’t matter if you’re sprinting for an Olympic gold medal, a town sign, a trailhead, or the rest stop with the homemade brownies. If you never confront pain, you’re missing the essence of the sport.”
“We all possess a predilection for lostness, some of us more than others. But lostness, like all talents, must be nurtured, developed and practiced in order to enjoy its benefits. Many of my friends know where they have been, where they are and where they are headed. How sad.”
*Quotes provided by "The Quotable Cyclist" - Great moments of Bicycling Wisdom, Inspiration, and Humor - by Bill Strickland*
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
to all queries,
to his den
and the television
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
One of my photos was used in this story along with a couple of quotes.
Homeless women veterans need your help
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I now have a "series" of cool contemporary Klezmer pieces, so this is the second one that I wanted to share with you. Klezmer seems perfect to enjoy during the onset of the holiday season. I also found some funny little archival clips that seemed to work well in three of the pieces because Klezmer celebrates laughter. This one features Clarinetist, Leo Chelyapov along with some comedy clips from the late 1800's and early 1900's. Unfortunately, these tunes are unnamed, as they are mostly improvisational so it is difficult to differentiate between them. Part of the beauty of music videos is that you can listen to them while you work.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Leo Chelyapov won first place in the Shostakovich Competition in Moscow at the age of twelve. He has also appeared on several TV shows, including Beverly Hills 90210 and Late Night with David Letterman.
Gary Gould has lectured at universities and colleges for more than 10 years and has led a clinic, "Gary Gould and Friends: A Klezmer Experience," introducing local music pros to the art of klezmer for the Orange County Musicians Union Bash.
Robert Zelickman is a lecturer of music at University of California San Diego, where he has taught since 1983. He conducts the UCSD Wind Ensemble and lectures on the symphony and Jewish music. He is a member of Orchestra Nova San Diego and has performed with the San Diego Symphony and the San Diego Opera.
I had my palm-sized video camera with me and captured a few tunes; thus I decided to edit another little "Pocket Production." Consider this a quick sketch, in comparison to a full-on professional video production in which the lighting, sound quality, picture resolution, etc. would be far superior. Imagine it shot with two or three cameras, with zooms and close ups, tilts and pans. This is merely the documentary of a stellar evening, a memory that would otherwise have faded into oblivion. I also included some great photographs going back 100 years, some of them taken in Jerusalem and the Middle East where Klezmer music originated.
In the opening scene he is waiting for a seasoned piano teacher to magically transform him into the brilliant pianist his wife was. When it's plain that she cannot do this he tells her as she's leaving that he's decided against further lessons. She turns to ask him thoughtfully, "Mr. Vale, how many teachers have you had before me?"
"Four," he replies.
Complications arise one day when Tarek is arrested in the subway and taken away for deportation, and Walter realizes that both Tarek and Zainab are "illegals." Tarek's incarceration coincides with the arrival of his mother, Mouna (Hiam Abbass) from Michigan with whom Walter begins a gentle and bittersweet love affair.
This film has its lovely and surprising moments. I enjoyed a guffaw when I saw Walter's piano being carried out of his house and sold to the ecstatic piano teacher. But more than that, there is the lifting of the black veil from Walter's grieving spirit to reveal a joy in music and in unexpected friendships.
If you like thoughtful and provocative movies with excellent acting, and music, then I believe you'll enjoy this one very much. In 2008 Richard Jenkins was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in this film.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
You have not heard much of a peep out of me for the last week and that is because a second retinal detachment occurred in my left eye just as the first one appeared to be completely healed. Grrrrr! I have since learned that this is not such an uncommon occurrence. It could actually happen again, and again..... I am hoping that it won't. It's not the most fun thing that a person could do. Still, it doesn't prevent you from having fun anyway. I didn't have to play pirate with an eye patch on Halloween Eve at my husband, Mark's costume-birthday party (amazingly enough, as the surgery took place earlier that day). Instead, I was Cher. I think Mark was a much more convincing Sonny, though.