All aboard. People I very much appreciate:

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Spirit of the Wavin' Man

For me, it began in 1958. We were moving out of the farming settlement on Garcia Bend, headed east past Florin. There was an old men's home, weathered red brick, with a weathered old man on a bench out front. His name was Pete, and he directed traffic at the 4-way stop. When he wasn't directing traffic, he just waved at everybody.

35 years later, I passed the same intersection. The old men's home was long since razed for other development, but there was a younger, muscular man in spandex who jogged along my predawn route to work. He would stop jogging frequently to dance on the sidewalk and wave to morning traffic as part of his routine.

In the early '90s, there was again an old man who sat in morning light upon his own lawn and waved to all the cars passing Carlson Drive. I had not encountered this spirit again until this afternoon. Driving home from the pharmacy with my prescription --and a bottle of Cabernet (I cannot imagine why my health insurance does not cover Cabernet, as I could save 50% or more with a simple copay)-- I found myself stopped at a red light along with 12 other lanes at a 4-way intersection. Usually, I can see when one or another lane goes green and reckon my own signal but they were all stopped. That meant somebody needed to walk across the road. It was this guy:

He had such a happy smile, and I was in no hurry. He waved to each car, made gentle eye-contact to each driver, I just started to feel better and better. Then I waved back and thought "Wavin' Man, is it you?" I didn't have a camera --probably wouldn't be appropriate anyway-- but I doodled him soon as I got home. Wavin' Man is a spirit that guides, has guided, good souls all my life. How does it assume possession? How does it sustain itself in these contentious times? How does it seem to appear when most needed?
It is an enigma. Amid the myriad distractions of modern times, it appears, it appears.

I could do worse than end up a Wavin' Man.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Quite a Three-pipe Problem

When faced with a problem and a paucity of evidence or clues, Sherlock Holmes would compose himself in thought and ask not to be interrupted.  In Conan Doyle's story, The Red-headed League, the excellent Sidney Paget portrayed him thus:

In my previous post, I described a puzzle confined to my own computer which required considerable ratiocination. Things returned to normal, mainly, until Wednesday --I got a header message where my GFC gadget should be:
I checked my repairs, discards and uninstallments of the 22nd and found all ok then  went to Google Forum and found others reporting the same "502 Error" from all parts of the world. Had I broken the Internet (on a Sunday)?Here is a short excerpt from the forum:
Oct 25
Add a reply
I have problem with Followers gadget. I have this gadget at my website more than two years. Everything was perfect. But at now it is show me Error 502 since morning.  Many peoples have this error, please solve it :) How can I fix it?

I said:

Problem is back! Are we having some further difficulties?

Ivana Mihalić said:

Still not working... Does anybody even care? I knew I should've chose Wordpress over this.

; I took this snippet from my own email, to which I had the discussion transferred mid-week. In that version, the word "Collapsed" meant something else besides syncope --at least in my case. Still, it might be prudent to find a trusted observer and, after typing a complaint to Google, asking if you are or are not conscious. Norma was often undecided --but mostly said I was (one or the other, I forget). Here is the whole forum text thus far, clickable.

So, I have emerged from my own nicotinic meditations --curled up in my chair in the pumphouse (Norma is not so tolerant as Watson) with several observations from the Doyle canon which approximate my own:
               "These are in deep waters...deep and rather dirty."
               "There is nothing more deceptive than the obvious fact."
               "The only important thing that has happened in the past 
                   three days is nothing has happened."

The conclusion is inescapable. This is the work of the Napoleon of Crime: Moriarty has returned!  

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sunday Sermon

As your substitute pastor this evening, I must apologize  for not showing up earlier but I was busy, busy and frustrated with my computer. Then I got mad --anybody'd get mad. Here's what happened:
I took pencil outdoors and doodled a bird  perched on our west fence, then  brought my notebook indoors and tried to photo it with this laptop's webcam. Never had any trouble doing that before. Did this time. I got a message from the screen saying another system was interfering with my efforts. I pondered and surveyed, then noticed a symbol in the lower-screen task bar that wasn't here before my last Windows update. It was a weird little "eye"-thing that was labeled "YouCam". I clicked on it and it wanted money in exchange for a lot of special effects that I was uncertain about. So I tried to tell it "No" but it ignored me and wanted money. No figure was mentioned, but I had a divine hunch it would be substantial. I wanted to slap the offender, but then recalled the words of Saint Mark.

Whatever you click on a suspicious site --even if it was installed by Windows, Frontier or Hewlett Packard-- will get you deeper into its nefarious negotiations, and greater resistance will just mess you up more. Saint Mark --not the Biblical one but the American one, Mark Twain, said "Never slap a man who is chewing tobacco." So I got devious.

I got into my files and found the offender, an apparently empty folder marked YouCam, and deleted it. Then I went to my task bar and deleted it from that too. No violence, no anger, just the reestablishment of a Geodoodled bird on this post. I forget what I was going to have the bird say, but he did dictate a bit about religion that might apply to this sermon: "Remember, human, if you don't believe in God, He's also demonstrated severe reservations about you."

Go in peace, please. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

New Blooms, The Poet's Wife, Vortex and I Believe We Have a Dance

Let's begin with a chrysanthemum, planted in the dooryard by Norma, describing a gentle vortical articulation of autumn. Seasonal colors and light 

are predicted in its bloom. And another, a rose, a new addition she selected recently while out with Christina, who I met 50 years ago and agreed to accept as my sister by mutual adoption. Norma chose her rose:
Neither horticultural effect fully prepared me for what happened next. I looked down at the gravel walkway and was immediately dizzied:
"Good heavens!" I exclaimed, "This defies the law of nature!"

A calm female voice replied, "Why do you think that?

I stammered, "I...I was a child. I sneaked and  sampled wine from barrels in my grandparents' walkout basement and saw something like this on the ground."

"Aw mal Nino, all law, even the the law of nature, is hard as diamond until something strikes a stress-point and it goes to pieces."

"But to what purpose?" I asked, and heard tinkling laughter, the tintinnabulation of tiny bells.

"I am Earth, Geo., I am Gaia, an expression of the universe. I can only display beauty in tolerable amounts."

"Please, Gaia, please tell me more," I said. To which she answered: 
   "Oh, I'm done talking about it. Let's Dance! 
     Just dance."

Monday, October 9, 2017

Those We Love

I love birds, and those we love we want loved always. We look into the morning sky and marvel at sunrise. The sun rises over all life. We are Earthlings; we share a star --a Star!  I hear the first bird of the day as I pass the ivy trellis. It says, "Cheap!"

 I hear it again, "Cheap!" I stop.

"Hey," I say. "Who you callin' cheap?"

"You, human. You've got money --I heard you discussing "dollars" with your wife. Dollars is money, right?"


"Well, us birds have seen you spraying dishsoap on eggplants. According to my instincts, dishsoap is harmful to hornworms, mites, aphids, cutworms, lacebugs and flea beetles. Those are among our favorite foods. We wonder what's so special about eggplant that you'd spend dollars to run these delicacies  off the property?"

"Well, Norma likes eggplant and the bugs take over if we don't spray soap."

"Does every human like eggplant?"

"Dear bird, admittedly many don't --I don't, but she does. You see, most grown people don't mind eggplant but it nearly always makes children cry."
"What about you, human?"

"I eat it to be polite but then repair to another room to sob softly in private."

"Ok, here's my deal:  You just spray water on the eggplant and we birds will handle the pests. You take dollars to the market and buy eggplants for Norma. Win-win?"

"Brilliant solution, bird! How'd you come up with it?"

"We think simply and fundamentally, educated by instinct, form, appetite and our parents' example. How did you learn things?"

"Well, I went to school until I was upwards of 20 years old."

"Then what?" Asked bird as he hopped down to hunt bugs.

"Then I ventured away from curriculum..."

"What's that?"

"It's what they teach us humans in school about our place in the world."

"Sounds intriguing. How did you feel when you got out?"

"Bird, oh bird, to my horror I found out I was an idiot!"

"Join the club, human, but remember to go easy on the bugs."

Friday, September 29, 2017

Then X 3

This is both a partial repost and reiteration of an autumn post from two years ago (clickable here) which I trotted out because tomorrow is Sunday, the last day of September and the eve of my favorite month, October.  Two of my sons were born in September, so this is a favorite month too --but it's hot (they grew up and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where it's cool). I have combined these sentiments in this post, as well as added photos and a song (yes, I got the Ian And Sylvia album the month it came out). After all, or before all, the past belongs to those hindsightful enough to prepare for it. Let us proceed:

Then, Then It Will Be Autumn

To the California gardener, autumn means topiary lasts longer because shrubs begin to behave. To the retired gardener, it means excellent Cabernet from Lodi --25 miles from here-- to be opened in the afternoon as October fills the kitchen window. The photo below shows a specimen doing just that. It is a bit blurry because he doesn't have his glasses on. 

Our specimen will take his glass of wine and repair to the back porch.

And there, he will listen to one of his favorite songs, to a couple who sang to a world.  They compose a voice of autumn from the heart.
And yes, mais oui, in the back porch he will doodle...
Ian and Sylvia, "Mister Spoons"
....doodle the waking of the dinosaurs, which always happens in the fall.

Then, then it will be autumn! And it doesn't matter how many years have gone by, how many decades they've lived in their cities and made good lives, when my evolved progenies visit there is news, lovely silence and reverie --the memories all come back.
Then, then, then it is autumn.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Two Songs On The Trainride To Peace

When I first heard Elly Stone sing Jacques Brel's "Marieke" so long ago, I knew I'd encountered an enigma. I was quite young and could only make out bits of Dutch, French and English but later, after I saw this clip from "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris",[ I realized she had adapted the song to lament the loss of her childhood self, or a child, or a generation --in Flanders Fields?-- I don't know but would appreciate ideas from readers].

Elly Stone sings "Marieke"

Song 2 is one that still chokes me up a little. I was watching tv in 1969 because one of my favorite humorists, Moms Mabley, was a guest on the Griffin show. I had never heard her sing, maybe because her voice was calculated for comedy, but I heard her that night and never forgot --never will forget. I met Martin Luther King Jr. a few months before his death. Attended a welcome rally for Bobby Kennedy a month before his death. I listened to this Dick Holler song, which I'd heard on A.M. radio sung by the excellent Dion DiMucci, but it never hit home so hard until I saw this:

Moms Mabley, "Abraham, Martin, John and Bobby"

I can't add anything to these performances, only that they helped deliver us from chaos. Peace is an individual adjustment. You have to do it by yourself. Then you have to be stronger than those who prejudge others, who settle hurt upon them. Peace comes from saying, "Well, the world's gone a bit funny on me --maybe I should inquire politely what the problem is, and see what can solve it. Blasting away in all directions at populations who are nobody's enemy is certainly not the solution.  PEACE.

Addendum: Mainly in response to Louise's very interesting comments on this post, and hopefully for the encouragement of all who read it, who may think of it while browsing a book store or perusing the internet, I asked Norma to Normaphoto a corner of our kitchen shelves --mostly reference works kept at my right hand here in the heart of the house:

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Where The Treefrogs Are

I started out looking for treefrogs. Found E(a)rnest Squirrel first:

Geo.: 'Morning E(a)rnest. What's up?

Ern.: Well, you're taking notes and...hey, is that all I get, 3 letters in my name?

Geo.: Same as I get. Why are you chewing bark?

Ern.: No toothbrush. What's your real question?

Geo.: Where are all the treefrogs? They're not out this morning.
Ern.: Oooyour'e right! My guess is the little bald boogers felt the wind keenly last night. Try checking the backyard bench, the one with the tarp over its cushions.
I followed his instructions, went out back and withdrew the tarp.
Geo.: Darwin? Darwin Doorbooger? Are you in there? What are you doing?

Dar.: I'm on the left, Geo., with somebody's butt on my head.

Geo.: 'S'ok, happens to all of us sometimes. Are you guys all right?

Dar.: I think so. After 5 months of hot nights, we thought summer was permanent, then it suddenly got cold!

Geo.: Surely, not that cold.

Dar.: Geo., we have brains the size of nonpareils --those little sugar-specks moms used to sprinkle on party cupcakes. We teeter on the very edge of reason and all it takes is a slight breeze to knock us into chaos.

Geo.: My species has big brains, Darwin, but we suffer the same problem. Weather change makes humans bananas.

Dar.: Well, we treefrogs haven't the intelligence to go mad, or minds to be out of, so we get under covers and huddle up.

Geo.: A most sensible solution.

Dar.: Sense, we have in combination, piles in fact --as evidenced by your investigation...
...we also wipe our muddy hands on your outdoor upholstery. Please replace the tarp and give our regards to E(a)rnest.
Geo.: G'night Ernest, and best wishes from the clutch of treefrogs --right where you told me they'd be.
"Good night, Geo. You know, treefrogs are full of ideas despite their paucity of brains --and when ideas become ideologies, they are not so easily contained. Be cautious, old friend.

Geo.: Are there no exceptions?

Ern: Oh, certainly. Go back and take note of the treefrog who has Buddha's ear:
Geo.: Understood.

Ern.: Good, and I hope you did not tell them what "nonpareil" means.

Geo.: It is French for peerless, isn't it?

Ern.: Indeed, but don't tell them. A few scraps thrown to any species --even humans-- makes a cosmic joke of them. Work from nature, the language of  the universe.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Enchanted Objects

Let's begin this post with a public service announcement. It's early evening, August 31st, and the pumphouse thermometer looks like this:

The city suggests:
▪ Check on your elderly neighbors.
▪ Never leave children or pets in cars.
▪ Drink plenty of water and avoid very cold drinks.
▪ Take cool showers to lower your body temperature.
▪ Limit your exposure to the sun – stay indoors where it is air-conditioned or go a public place that is air conditioned.
Because of  heat warnings, the city is extending hours at the Downtown Library from Thursday through Monday to serve as a cooling center. The Downtown Library will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. those days. Other cooling centers can be found by calling 211, a health and human service referral hotline. 

Read more here:

What with wildfires in Butte County and Nevada City, it doesn't look like the valley smoke, inversion layer and intense heat will abate anytime soon. California is burning down spectacularly this year.  Norma even stretched a crew-sock around our back doorknob because it's so hot to touch. My intention is to stay indoors and come up with a cool topic. Enchanted objects are cool, so is the voice of Edith Piaf. This is one of my favorite childhood --and adulthood-- animations

If you wish to see the whole cartoon and lyric sung by the incomparable Piaf (and yes it is she, not the Andrews Sisters --who also did a fine job), I recommend the video below. If you are enchanted enough to see the abbreviated toon and hear it in English, sung by the excellent Michael Feinstein, please click on the link below the clip.

Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet. (Michael Feinstein)

My own contribution to this theme is to recommend heat-sufferers find enchanted objects in their own homes. I did, right here in the kitchen. Next two Normaphotos are of a curvaceous coffee grinder who lived in my Grampa's general store from the 1890s 'til 1914. and an Art Deco ice shaver from the '20s. They now occupy the top of the refrigerator and Coffee is on a pedestal I built for her because she's hot stuff. Ice shaver does pretty much the same job on ice, which is cool. They are enchanted objects of similar mechanism and are now holding hands:
This makes Ice Shaver very happy, so he flips his lid in joy. Unfortunately he has a very crazy smile...
but then, when we are in love, who doesn't?

***To those valued email subscribers, here is the link to the longer Piaf version, which somehow got attributed to the Andrews Sisters and subtitled in Spanish.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Darwin Doorbooger Solves An Enigma

In keeping with the previous post's investigation of  lexiconography (which happily drew good comments from good minds), I have decided to reference Helsingør and Word List #8 ,  posted June, 2011 (which didn't get any comments at all) --specifically to investigate question #3:"Has Mercator projection ever been tested on humans?"

Mercator projection is the flat, 1-dimensional, map of the world that rolled down by a shade-pull from a long horizontal cylinder over classroom blackboards when we were schoolkids.However, it distorted the planet to where  North and South Poles were broader than any continents that were  not made out of ice. So I went outdoors (I usually do) and called out, "Darwin? Darwin Doorbooger!" You wouldn't know about my seminars with Darwin Doorbooger without clicking on this blue sentence and reading the entries there below this one. Let us proceed.

Darwin: I'm over here on a geranium leaf.
Geo.: Good heavens, old friend! Are you all right? You look pale.

Darwin: I'm ok. It's just something that happens to older treefrogs.

Geo.: Ah, like my hair going white.

Darwin: What's hair?

Geo.: Nothing important. I came with a question about how the world is mapped.

Darwin: The world, as I see it, extends some few yards around this geranium --maybe 100 feet in circumference, tops.

Geo.: What if I told you it is around 25000 miles in circumference?

Darwin: Now you're just being silly, Geo.

Geo..:  But it's been measured and ascertained as a globe. We have representations in our classrooms, halls of learning --not to mention the hall off my back porch. Look into my mind:
Darwin: What the heck is THAT?

Geo.: It's a simple sinusoidal representation of the planet, showing a more accurate surface of a globe.

Darwin: Geo., your kind thinks in three or four dimensions while we think in zero dimensions, and I'm sure  that map presents human population densities quite well but poses problems and anomalies to shipping lanes and international borders. What if somebody made even more gores, cuts and lobes?

Geo.: They have, Darwin, they have.

Darwin: Well,  that would disrupt borders, divide countries and bisect private properties! You humans need to stop this catastrophic cartology at once! It may approach  accuracy but sends the wrong message.

Geo.: Then upon whom was the Mercator Projection originally tested, if not humans?

Darwin: Treefrogs, of course.  

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Back To Word List #5

I have lately been accused of using sesquipedalian verbiage in my posts --not by everybody, but by one guy and that's enough. Sesquipedalian just means "lots of syllables", big. In 1966, one of my favorite pastimes was driving over to Willie's house and discussing words. That year, one of the favorite semantic tongue-twisters in general was Antidisestablishmentarianism.  As ususal, Will leaned back smiling in his well-cushioned bamboo chair and asked me what I thought of it. I said I thought it was a 12-jointed godless reptile of a word and had no idea what it meant. He proceeded to parse it out for me. Turned out it started in England had to do with something very important, separation of church and state --and had a fundamental impact worldwide. I think disestablishment won here. Who knows? Will phoned me two days ago from Sonoma and invited me to his 80th, so I'll ask him again.  But to dispel the erroneous notion that my vocabulary tends toward the sesqu... the big, here is a repost of one of a series of Word Lists that introduced my blog so long ago:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Word List #5

[For this installment of Word List, I selected as illustration a map painted by son David, depicting the character of his town, San Francisco.]

This week, a friend in Sonoma wrote to inform me the Forbes Company had named his town one of the ten prettiest in the nation. As a parent, I disagree in principle with Forbes naming his town prettiest. It can only create resentment in other towns and cause them to grow up wrong. Nor does it help to divert admiration from Sonoma and say,"Oh, and here comes our dear little Bakersfield --she's at that oily, awkward stage, but such a nice personality." Also, showing off Sonoma while Cotati suffers a weight problem and her brother, Auburn, peevishly collects guns in the hills will just make her smug and give up on academics.

Unlike the example set by Sonoma's uncommunicative cousin, Richmond, not all mystics smell funny. That is a myth promulgated by his bookish, picayunish brothers, Berkeley and Davis, neither of whom gets out much. In truth, mystics seek the extraordinary experience of all-inclusive reality and bathe often as anybody else.

As a belief or practice, mysticism forms around an enraptured, ineffable state --an ecstatic identification of the self in relation to all things, all events. This sense of totality is expressed by such phrases as,"All is one" and "One is all." You may recognize this as the motto of Alexandre Dumas's THE THREE MUSKETEERS --"tous pour un, un pour tous!"-- a novel demonstrating the need for mystics to be really good swordfighters.

Of course, pretty is as pretty does, which is generally pleasant and I have exaggerated its schismatic potential. But what more effectively causes regional schism is political misbehavior seeking divisions along religio-ethnic lines, and among those who confuse race with phenotype --a problem that cannot be exaggerated. Where that happens I, like Richmond, go mystic: There is only one surviving human race, and it is all of us.  I usually hightail it before answering Jeremiads start their signatory rumbles --except this time. And maybe I smell a little funny too.

  1. I find the work of both father and son enlightening, provocative and delightful, showing once again that a thousand words (more or less) can be as much fun as one picture.
  2. Thanks Will. I'm planning to get a new car and will visit your pretty town again. Even I need to feel pretty sometimes.
    I include Willie's comment to the original text of my blog-glossary because its relevance is undiminished by the years. 

    And to the other guy --who attacked my word usage-- and his toady who attacked my service to this country: people have big chunks of time they don't talk about. So don't prejudge (conclude ahead of facts). You might be ignorantly insulting someone whose patriotism is unimpeachable (can't be rescinded), and may have outranked you. Another good word: PEACE.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Backporch Epiphany

I was meditating in the backporch at a table I built 40 years ago of California pine and Mexican tile when I heard a persistent ringing --not my tinnitus but a lower frequency, somewhat flat. I woke and saw this blue owly thing between the Christmas mug and Las Vegas shot glass.

"Good Lord!" I said, "What're you?"

Owl:  I am an angel.

Geo.: But...but angels are suppose to be..."

Owl:  I know, robed and winged humanoids,  untrained social workers condemned to prop up yesterday's ideologies. We're owls now.

Geo.: Why were people not informed?

Owl: People are as they are, Geo., and it would be an impertinence to expect them to change.

Geo.: Can we not change for the better, Owl?

Owl: Sure, you'd be surprised at what conscience can do. And if that fails, self-delusion and positive thinking can work wonders.

Geo.: I prefer conscience.

Owl: An excellent first step, but victory is only relevant to the strength of the opposition.

Geo.: Flapdoodle!

Owl: An excellent second step! But say it softly. Our influence is finally inversely proportional to the noise we make.

Geo.: I  feel sleepy, Owl.  Is there any thing else?

Owl: Oh yes, much more --much more you must learn-- but in the meantime, be moderate in your behavior and habits, especially where spirits are concerned. There is danger at every turn.

Geo.: Like a bullet with my name on it?

Owl:  Heaven forbid! More likely a shot glass.
 I closed my eyes for what seemed like only a moment, and when I looked again, the shade was up and little blue owl was gone.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Human Race and Horseblankets

I have been mainly away from the computer for some days, possibly a week or more, because I experienced something that had never happened to me before.  I got into a debate. This how the pumphouse thermometer  looked here:
It looked like that again today but we just had a power failure up and down our road. It lasted 45 minutes and our utility district website said this: 
Updated at 9:41 PM August 3rd: Outages
                                                      Affected Communities
                                                          3759 Customers
 It was really dark all of a sudden! Norma called out from another room, "Geo.?!"

I answered, "WHO?

"Geo.!" She repeated.

"I don't know, Norma. It's really dark in the kitchen and I can't see who I am!"

"What happened to the lights?"

"Don't know that either. I'll go check."

I went outside and it was dark, hot and quiet. Yes, I checked the breaker-box even though I knew it was a general blackout. I reported a breeze outside, so we sat on a bench and talked. I like her. She asked me what I had started writing and I told her it was about an unfortunate disagreement with another blogger. She inquired further --as she always does-- and I said something about a dispute over a horse blanket. By and by the electrics were restored and I returned to whatever it was.

So I returned to this post. Various Latin phrases unpiled in my mind: homo quisquilrian -mankind the litterer; homo factorum claustris --mankind the cage-builder; homo sapiens --mankind the wise.  These are various names that collected in the dark, but they have in common a single idea. There is only the all-encompassing human race. I told my pen-pal so, and was rewarded with the accusation that I was a traitor to the white race. I replied, there is no white race. We are all of the human race and the variations are only phenotypes --surface differences among ethnicities-- and I am not worried about what color humans will be in the future.

He is very worried about what color they will be and accused me of "white genocide"--my family is mixed.  I gradually withdrew from his blog over a period of a week, thinking the temperature in the the Mohave, where he is, rises beyond the capacity of my pumphouse thermometer --in fact would bend the needle right off-- and somehow addled his thinking. It is more comforting to believe that than believe --despite the fact he is younger than I-- that, unlike other fossils, he is petrifying from the inside out.

I don't even have a horse.

Saturday, July 22, 2017


I had not seen my little furry friend for quite some time and was glad to run across him in the woody end of our yard.

"Hello!" I said, "What have you been up to?"

"Hello yourself! I have been getting my education but am making poor progress."

"But you're such a bright, chipper thing. Surely you're not in earnest!"

"Careful how you spell that, human."

"Of course, Ernest. What seems to be the problem?"

"It's this heat, Geo., this "summer" thing. It gets to my brain and I can't remember where I buried my nuts."

"Understandable, Ernest, hot weather affects us all. It sends my blood circulation to all sorts of irrelevant places." 

"Yes, but you're over 100 times my age. I'm a young adult squirrel and you're a bag of mad old bones."

"Now, now, settle down. You've left the wisdom of your elders out of your calculations."

"I'm trying to remember where I buried my nuts, Geo. What does your vast experience have to offer?"

"Beyond a particularly disgusting old sea shanty, nothing. However, age brings contemplation of enigmas --important and difficult questions like..."

"Like what, Geo.? What's going through your heat-and-age-addled mind now?"

"Well, Ernest, I was just wondering how spiritual life might change if all the different religions of the world succeeded in converting each other at once." 


"Ernest? Ernest, where are you skulking off to?"

"Geo., I believe I just recalled where my nuts are."

Well! Everybody's got to believe something but I suspect he's just avoiding me until autumn.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Would You Like 8 Billion Visits To Your Blog Every Day?

Neither would I, but it seems our numbers are declining. It's been about a year, in fact, since I learned the world's human population reached (only?) 7 billion so admittedly some exaggeration is involved here. However, we must consider the future of mass communications, its laggardness, its abbreviation into 140 characters and, most horrific, its obsolescence.  In our hearts, we bloggers know we are writing a chronicle of our time in disappearing ink.  All insurrectionists need do is find out where the internet is plugged in and disconnect it --unfortunately severing their own influence too.

So what? Is our influence as parents and elders in any way impeded? I think not. We will still be here, from one generation  or another. Our message is simple: As Anna Lappe wrote, "Every time you spend money, you cast a vote for what kind of world you want."  You can buy cheaply at the expense of outsourcing American jobs,  union-busting or shop wisely and keep hardship away. It is a time of reflection.

If we assume to see ourselves in the mirror, and believe we are really there, we must also assume the mirror is really there. I look into it and try to imagine my eyes shining with good mental hygiene --and say, " Stop making faces, you're too old to start turning any of life's great corners." But I ignore myself and reply, "Time is not a physical constant and can only be measured by the individual, so there." 

To which, my reflection sticks its tongue out. This makes me think the world's gone a bit funny on me, and I withdraw. I look at other mirrors --the president on tv. Alas, the camera does not love him. I saw him smile once, like a crack in perdition --smelled sulfur and withdrew. So here I am, at laptop, encouraging everyone to remain on Blogger and other media receptive to complete thoughts. Even though, despite a possible contradiction in terms, as a boy of 67, my old age is in its infancy. Everyone, keep writing!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Rocket Racer, A Toybox Adventure

Rocket Racer was speeding through outer space. He was on a mission.  

I was retrieving illegal bottle-rocket (also known as roofburners) remains from my property. They were on my house, barn, pumphouse --all over my property.  We hicks are sensitive to such things because we are surrounded by hundreds of acres of dry fields and stand guard at our farmgates until 2 or 3 a.m July 5th.  But across the road, 900 acres were sold 15 years ago to developers --who still flap overhead on their leathery wings in the depths of night. Who moved in there? A lot of nice people, definitely, but also a lot of incautious 20-somethings in shorts and t-shirts --to show off their beer-guts-- whose July 4th directive seems to consist of validating the Red States' opinion that California is populated by idiots.

Norma Normaphotoed me this afternoon after I raked the final spent roofburner off the pumphouse. Note temperature (100F) on door sill thermometer . 
At that moment, Rocket Racer landed in my left hand. Little pilot popped the hatch and asked if we could talk. I said "Sure" and brought him indoors to the kitchen sideboard.
"My name is 6." He said,  " I have been entrusted with a message from the planet Kaboom."

Geo.: I'm familiar with Kaboom.

(But it occurs to me that some readers are not, without having read 2 previous essays clickable here, anywhere among these blue words )

6: My message is, the people of Planet Kaboom --on behalf of all sentient explosionoids and gunpowder-based life-forms-- wish emphatically that you not blame them for recent explosions in the state of California or any other regions of the continent that are composed mainly of kindling. 

Geo.: Oh, there's no danger of misunderstanding, 6 . The detonations in question are only eruptions of those who feel passion for God and Country and can express themselves in no other way. Incidentally, is 6 your real name?

6: Let's not bring up old issues.  As to identity, you're welcome to click here and learn about #6  but that's another issue. As to Country, it will proceed if informed by reason and discussion. As to God,  it's not a question of humans believing in Him or not, but the severe reservations He's demonstrated about humans.

Geo.: I think it's time I took you outside and let you return to your interplanetry duties.

6: Please, you seem to have changed into your pajamas --that's a universal sign that a guest should say goodnight.

Geo.: Goodnight, 6, and give my best to the Kaboomians --shall we step outside?

6: Yes, let's.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Homo Religiosus Revisited

As your substitute pastor, I know this congregation did not expect to see me here again this Sunday --neither did I-- but your regular pastor has not yet returned. I will give further details at the close of my sermon, a sermon I had to come up with on short notice --reworked from 8 years ago.
                                            [Doodle added 1/2 hour ago] 

Homoreligiosus = Mankind the religious[from 50 year-old lecture notes]

The tendency to be religious is fundamentally panpsychic, a personification of the universe. I can't dismiss the idea that the universe itself is intelligent. It exists in time between parenthetical boundaries of being and nothingness, concept-totality and concept-zero, which also frame the human mind.

We receive the emergent reward, Life, but find it unsafe and we'd very much like to speak to someone about it. Between the maths of all and nothing we are left two conclusions, both unsatisfactory: life, as a product, is defective and, because it malfunctions at some very crucial moments, gives us the jumps.

Church offers, among other psychological and social comforts --such as venue for a generation of women who liked to sing in crazy vibrato voices-- a complaints window. One takes questions there. The window is round and located on the bottom.

If we turn a church over, answers float up to the glass --"yes", "no",  "ask again later"-- seemingly at random. This suggests the sphere of living worship and the ink-filled 8-Ball are novelties of similar construction. We are left to search beyond. When the starting point of one's search includes the whole universe, beyond is a tough proposition.  A study of languages  is helpful.

Beyond, unlike universal personification, is a concept imagined outside parenthesis. Parenthesis a word given by Greeks to the Romans, who in turn bequeathed it to us along with two related expressions: homosapiens* and ora pro nobis**. This keeps my theory of human religion in a flexible state. As today it is bendier than yesterday so shall it be more bendy tomorrow --and, if not intellectually safe, at least no less safe. In fact, you are welcome to try this at home with your complimentary 8-balls (which you will receive upon signature of the document at the exit).

Your regular pastor, Reverend Blackstool, will return as soon as you all sign a promissory  agreement to stop teasing him about his name. Go in peace.

*man the wise
**pray for us

Friday, June 30, 2017

Half a Century

This corner may not mean a whole lot to people now, but in the summer of 1967 --50 years ago-- it was a symbol, a rallying point. I was worried. Everybody was worried.  Some excellent worried people got together and planned something where the district around this street sign gives onto Golden Gate Park. John McClaren, the gardener who built the park, meant it as a place of peace where people could go and enjoy the forest he'd dreamed and created on the dunes. 

                                                     ( Photo above has been released into the public domain by its author, Waterthedog                                                                                                                                                            at English Wikipedia. This applies worldwide.)

They inspired a remarkably capable tenor to record this song:
{Scott Mckenzie, "San Francisco"}

Wheew! Half a century. I wrote a poem on a piece of binder paper, under a tree at Sacramento Community College. A girl walked over and read it. She asked if she could have it. Like now, nothing I wrote was sacred to me so I tore it from my notebook and put it in her hand. Some months later, a thin volume of poems was handed to me by someone else. Here:
I take great pleasure in rewriting the 1st stanza:
The wall on Front Street is too high and thick,
Too grand to be explained, too brief to be noticed.
The newsboy flashes on and off, fading away 
Until he throws a paper --then peddling meekly,
Goes to bicycle off the edge of the world. 

I didn't do the artwork but have this evening narrowed it down to Adele Davalos, Rick Almeida, and Chuck Moore.  I saw Chuck at a hotel restaurant 30 years ago --he was working in Hollywood-- but I forgot to ask him. I do recall the closing lines of a poem by a roommate 50 years ago:

"Haight is love
 Love is Haight
 Love is Hate
 Haight is hate." --S. Waymire

He is now a Zen teacher in Oregon.

I will close  with a lovely song by Mary Hopkins --throughout which one feels an homage to Bertolt Brecht, Elizabeth Hauptmann and especially, Kurt Weill:Mary Hopkin, "Those were The Days"

I know I usually telegraph enigmas with humor in this blog, but today I felt a need to address a  serious subject. 50 years ago, I felt peace was imperative. I still do. Yet I see it slipping away. I know that, according to scripture, it takes several generations to get rid of a bad idea, but thought we'd be further along after a half century.  This dismays me, but even worse, it embarrasses me. I have measureless faith and trust in the current peace movement, in this vibrant new generation of activists, but we must never forget our early reflections on the subject. We must support their efforts and give peace a chance.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Return to Love

A (clickable) repost from
Sunday, May 19, 2013:

A Brief Sermon On Love

It is Sunday and I have begun with a doodle, a local monocular  tradition. When our valley is in a state of barometric flux, some of us wake up and celebrate with migraines. It is best to keep one eye closed --the hurty one-- which induces clumsiness. Not clumsy to the degree recorded by Ecclesiastes [(10:18), "He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it."] but still pretty clumsy, so movement is kept to a minimum and no pit-digging for sure.

I only ventured out to the pumphouse for a headache pill and came right back. Forgot and carried the pumphouse padlock in with me. There it is up there, and a doodle I drew of it. I drew a human between them and that's when it became a sermon, a sermon about love. We'll start in the past, back when I had two eyes open and radios contained little orchestras.

The little orchestras played  love songs mostly. I thought I was in love once or twice but my hat had only caught fire --as often happens. Then one has a chance encounter. One sits at a table somewhere opposite a stranger, and since decorum dictated --at the time-- strangers remain even stranger, a strange thing happens. First, one's past and present tenses are confounded.  Then one notices the other's eyes and decides there is something really quite elegant about them. Then one falls in love.

Oh my. It's what, 1968? The thoughts: "Why now?  At a time when our best and most progressive leaders are shot dead at their podiums, when theocon regressionists and international belligerents consider God their quaint subordinate, when I could be drafted or jailed, when there is so much to do, why now? Why not ten years from now, five even? Why now?"

Let us turn to Acts 9:5-6 - " is hard for thee to kick against the pricks."  Because there are a lot of them out there, and one only has two feet,  we must rely upon the transcendent power of love. Love doesn't care what's going on. It hits when it hits, incapable of putting itself off no matter how inconvenient it is. It, I mean Norma, finds one doodling the pumphouse lock and asks, "How's your barometer-head?" And, miraculously, my eyes are opened.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Estivation is the summer equivalent of hibernation, a period of torpor during hot weather practiced by animals that have any sense at all. When you wake on a summer morning and your eyes look like this,

                                                   it's time to estivate. Ok, my illustration is really a photo of the moon I took through a telescope and framed in a big knothole --but it's close. How close?

That question brings us to the next photo, the pumphouse thermometer out back. This is how it's looked for a week:
The moon keeps about 240,000 miles from our planet, and has done so for 4 billion years. The sun, however, is not satisfied with that and varies its distance. I'm too hot to pore through my astronomy book for exact data, but I guess I know a thing or two about thermometers. The good ones are graduated in both Fahrenheit and Celsius so we can calculate our solar remove.

Here's how: 1st, divide the Fahrenheit scale by the Celsius scale; 2nd, label the quotient in miles. That's it. Pumphouse thermometer reads about 112F and 45C. Therefore the sun is only about two and a half miles away right now.

You don't want the sun too close. Life there is hard. There's a kind of fish --made of titanium and asbestos-- that glows red and transparent in the sun's  heat and swims over oceans of fire, but less adaptable creatures must content themselves with family generations that only span 1 billionth of a second.

If there are any errors in my calculations, I shall correct them in autumn --hopefully before winter hibernation.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Happy Feathers Day!

Let's begin with reference to a recent post (from  the 8th, I think) about a mysterious couple of newcomers who spoke like little sleigh-bells. You are invited to click here and see how they were identified in the comments section.  Now we know enough to go on with. Here's the nest on the 11th:
And again on the 15th:
Mrs. Otherspecimen, our longtime friend, had earlier cautioned us these might be Cowbirds, but upon seeing this photo, opined it was a little old man with huge sunglasses --a notion we considered seriously because Norma is married to one.
This theory was lent some credence because the little subject seemed clumsy and disorganized. Then, that afternoon...
...there was another one, which brings us to yesterday...
...and today:
All their eggs have hatched. Here are  their full-fledged parents:
I don't know Towhees well enough to determine which is male or female, but they both tend the nest equally and I will use that precedent of parental parity to wish everyone a
Happy Feathers Day!