77 years ago a foreign nation dropped bombs and strafed our Continue reading

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

Klimt Impression

These are not by Klimt, they are just an impression of Klimt. Gustav would get the humor.

This next one is about 80% done.

Posted in Commentary | 1 Comment

What do you know?

What do you know, and when did you know it?

This was the major question during the Watergate investigation. The question was asked of President Richard Nixon. If he didn’t know anything about the Watergate conspiracy until much later, then he was just like us! If he knew something before everyone else, then he was culpable, and probably guilty.

We never quite got to the answer of what he knew or when he knew it. Possibly it was erased during the famous 18 minute gap on the White House audio tapes, even now this same question is asked of powerful people in times of crisis.

Often I hear of a defending response…What is “knowing”? “I can’t be guilty if I’m not sure if I know anything!” It is a viable response, sorta.

“Knowing” something seems at first glance to be in the realm of certainty. Once known, always known. The trouble is, that science has told us that things once known, can be known differently with further study.

What about the structure that is built on basic knowledge? If basic knowledge changes, then the entire structure shifts. Very disconcerting!

It is a real possibility that future statements of “knowing” should be modified with, “on the basis of the current information, I believe this about that! In my humble opinion.”

This seems way to “politically correct” and squishy. Why can’t we just state the obvious and be done with it. Rocks are not alive, they don’t think, and they certainly don’t speak.

I’m not certain that all geologists would agree completely. More knowledge chips away at basic certainties.

On a personal level I try to operate in both worlds. I generally agree with the basic truths, but I also entertain radically different realities. It is a practice partly of humility and also a potential hedge for new change.

I’m trying to envision the possibility of “knowing for certain”. We can put the words together, but does that mean it actually exists. We can say that this morning we saw “clouds made of rock”. Descriptive, words that are correct, but a concept that is impossible.

Unless you happen to live next to an active volcano, where pumice is being ejected into the atmosphere. Pumice is lava that is filled with air pockets. While they are not lighter than air, they are so light that they can form “clouds” that travel for miles before falling to earth.

Rock clouds do exist! Does this mean that every bizarre statement can be proven to be real? That’s a lot of phrases to think about.

I believe that it is useful to know that certainty is often subjective. That tears at the foundation of the word, and shakes the standard of “knowing”.

The end result is that existence is much more miraculous and surprising. That’s a good thing!

Posted in Commentary | 2 Comments

Sower, Reapers, Mother

I’m calling these done. When I start contemplating using a two haired brush, something is wrong. Better to go free and easy.

Posted in Commentary | 1 Comment

More Tribute

I am back to slinging paint. I still don’t know what I’m doing, but that has never stopped me before, so why should this be different?

It’s true that I had a burst of painting the week before surgery, but I haven’t done anything since. That’s almost three months of inactivity. Kinda long! I don’t remember making the decision, it was just one moment I had a brush in my hand. It is still strange for me, coming from 35 years of digital work. Make a mistake? Hit undo. Make a mistake in paint? Make it work!

So, I suppose I’m not done with the tribute paintings to Vincent. I’ve got at least seven sketched out, one is mostly finished and three are with significant paint. I’m pretty happy with the one result, and there is potential for at least three more.

So, how is it going in painting in my style? I don’t know what that is. I’m mostly focused on not messing up the sketch when I put paint down. I’m happy with my sketches, I’m learning to be happy with the painting part. The problem is that my sketches don’t reflect any particular style, so how can’t the painting? I think often of my friend Bob, who just threw paint on the canvas, like he was cleaning his room. I want that freedom and confidence.

Which brings me to a thought. What would it look like if true encouragement was active in your life? Would you do more, or would you take a break and bask in the emotion?

I’m certain that lack of encouragement is the root of many evils. I can’t imagine a depressed person filled with encouragement. I can’t imagine an angry person, a bitter person, or a sarcastic person who has been richly encouraged.

If you had the cure for cancer, would you apply it to friends and strangers? The answer seems so obvious, but people suffer every day from the lack of encouragement, and each of us can find some good to download, while we are able.

Yet, so much is unsaid… which creates so much that is undone.

Posted in Commentary | 1 Comment

Dancing Alone

Particles react to being watched. If no one is looking they go one way, if someone is watching they go in an entirely different way.

The observer effect is sometimes explained by Schrödinger’s cat: a cat, a flask of poison, and a radioactive source are placed in a sealed box. If an internal monitor (e.g. Geiger counter) detects radioactivity (i.e. a single atom decaying), the flask is shattered, releasing the poison, which kills the cat.

The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when one looks in the box, one sees the cat either alive or dead not both alive and dead. This poses the question of when exactly quantum superposition ends and reality collapses into one possibility or the other.

All this because someone figured out that particles behaved differently when scientists attempted to measure their activity.

This would be like a bathroom scale intentional adding a few pounds while pondering it in the morning. I can attest to this. Or several inches added to your height, just because you are measuring.

The ramifications to this are astounding and should add to the wonder of the world. Several questions arise. What constitutes “observing”.? Schrödinger’s cat is in a box, an object that is inert, the cat may be both alive or dead. If the box is opened when no one is in the room the situation remains the same. Opened or not doesn’t matter. If someone is there watching the situation collapses because of the observation.

What if the box is opened in the presence of a cadaver, whose sightless eyes are pointed in the car’s direction? Do the particles intuit active intelligence and the potentials that may be discerned? This must mean that particles have decision making thoughts. Scary!

This leads to other ideas…Do I act the fool in the presence of others, or do I dance as if no one is watching?

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

Off the Grid

I willingly took part in “risky behavior”. Well, that might be a little strong. I took a path that was “risky”, but I did nothing to change it. In the first few minutes I thought, “I’m an independent guy, I can do this! In fact, I can make this a statement of freedom. I’m not a drone of the hive.” This worked for about five minutes, then doubt crept in. The “what if’s” began to overwhelmed me.

When I was younger I sometimes disappeared for three months at a time. I was living at home with my parents, going to college for most of the year, hiking around the Rockies during the summer. The “risky behavior” was how I got to the Rockies. Hitchhiking was never safe, but it seemed safe at the time. Everything worked, except that one year my Mother had heard a report about a “cannibalistic hitchhiker” that was caught with three fingers in his back pocket.

She was fairly certain that I was not the cannibal, but the fingers in the back pocket were definitely mine. She suffered for a long time. Risky behavior has its downsize. It was weeks before I made a call home to check in. Of course, until then I lived the life of a free, independent spirit, willing to walk the “risky behavior” path because I could. I was independent of the demands of others. I was carving my own future.

Forty-five years later I had briefly attempted to recreate that freedom. I had unintentionally left my cellphone behind. Because I was on a mission to pick someone up at the train station I realized that I couldn’t turn around without being very late. I rationalized that it was okay, that I wasn’t a worker drone, I had lived a very productive “cellphone free” existence for years. I had hiked the Rockies for months with a cannibal nearby.

This statement of freedom lasted less than a minute, approximately two blocks of residential homes. What if the train derailed or just broke down? What if the rest of my family knew something but couldn’t tell me? What if I suddenly had a heart attack? Nope, I didn’t go there, I had already had a heart attack.

How could I possibly pick someone up at the train station if all I had was the expectation that trains run regularly? I must have faith! That’s the real difference of the last few years. We no longer trust, not because the system has failed us. We no longer trust because we have to ability to verify. This is a scary thought.

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

Relaxing in the New Age

Sitting in front of the fireplace, reading a few pages, and checking the internet.

Apparently the air quality index says that unhealthy air starts at about 60-70. At 3:50 pm it was 350.

I have been known to prep for a lot of things. This, I did not plan for. The fire up northeast is about 160 miles away. It’s horrible, the worst in our history. But the impact here in the Bay Area is a little like the frog in boiling water.

Is it too late to jump?

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

My Friend…

I had heard that the best writers did their best work in coffee houses, in hip neighborhoods of New York, or Paris. It was 1966, I was not in Paris, nor was I in New York. This might have been the reason that my writing was filled with angst. Also, I was sixteen, and could not drive to San Francisco, where there were coffee houses.

I did the best I could. Within walking distance there was a shopping center, and on the out lying edge there was a pizza parlor that sold coffee. On most Friday and Saturday nights I made my way to this family casual restaurant, I bought a single cup of dark black coffee, which I nursed for a least three hours, while I scribbled in wire bound notebooks with a leaky Bic pen.

I rarely bought a pizza. Correction, I never bought a pizza. I had no money. There were times when I ordered a medium dough, no sauce, no cheese, no toppings. It was just a large cracker, with free catsup.

Months had gone by and I observed, quietly. Too shy to engage with the returning locals that I had come to recognize. I sat huddled in my pea coat, black turtleneck, stolen Levi’s, and Thom McCann sandals (with socks).

I had noticed a young man, possibly near my age, who came in periodically, he scanned the room, and then left. I guess he was looking for somebody. I noticed him because he was well dressed, suit and tie, and an English bowler on his head. Brave soul!

A few weeks later I noticed that he came in and did his usual scan. I got distracted by a thought that I needed to write down. When I looked up, the young man with a bowler, and an umbrella, was standing in front of me. He politely asked if he could sit down. I nodded in astonishment, surprised that I was visible.

He asked if I knew whether there was something going on at the college. The college was only two blocks away. Little did I know that I would end up working there for forty years, at this point I had been on the campus twice, walking through it to visit a friend on the other side.

“No, I don’t know of anything going on. Do you mean like a dance or concert?”

“Well, yes. Or perhaps a lecture?”

A lecture! Well, that was a thought. Why didn’t I think of that? Why I’m I sitting in a pizza parlor looking for cosmic answers? He looked at my inky hands and spiral notebook, and asked if I was a writer. How perceptive? And well dressed.

He was obviously a college student, and he thought that I must have been a college student as well. We had just never met in the Student Union.

It didn’t take long before I confessed that I was a bored high school student, trying to get out of the house. He laughed and said that he too, was a junior in my class. It was a big class, 900+ strong. We hadn’t shared a class or a lunch period. And he never brought his bowler to school.

This was my start with my friend Michael. Michael died this morning.

53 years of friendship. Unfortunately we grew apart over the last twenty years. We had different interests, and lived at some distance. For years he ran a custom hot dog stand, I would go to check in with him, and get a dog. We talked about getting together. We never did. But I loved him still.

I have so many great memories of him. Once, he showed up at my house, dressed in slacks and dress shoes. I introduced him to my athletic neighbor friend, and the conversation moved to sports. I was not contributing, but suddenly Michael suggested that he was pretty good at the 50 yard dash. My jock friend doubted this. Michael was well built, not a wire thin dasher. To settle things, he took off his jacket and toed the line with my friend in the middle of my street. Dress shoes and all.

I gave the signal and off they went. Within three paces Michael was a full body length ahead. At the end has was several yards ahead. Michael was wicked fast in dress shoes. I can still hear his leather steps on the asphalt.

Not every weekend, but several times a month Michael would join me for a cup of coffee. Sometimes he would borrow his sister’s car, and we would drive the neighborhood. Once we stopped at a church on the hillside. Michael had a key, and he ushered me in to the sanctuary without comment. I sat in the pew while he went to the podium on the altar.

He then opened the Bible at a random verse and began reading in a deep sonorous voice. I was mesmerized, it was nearly midnight and I was being churched.

Our vehicle excursions continued for years. Later, in college, his girlfriend was still in high school, and she had a car, and her father paid for her gas. Michael drove her to school, and then kept the car in order to pick her up after. He also arranged to pick me up for lunch at least once a week.

The thing was, we didn’t just go to a local restaurant. We drove at least an hour away to eat at the Nut Tree. We went so often that the waitresses knew our order. I don’t know what the father thought about the gas mileage. We didn’t ask.

I got married, Michael got married, we drifted apart. Michael got divorced with a child, I got divorced with a child. I named my son after Michael. We still drifted further apart.

I had introduced my oldest friend to Michael, and we three got along well. Some years passed, and my friend rented an apartment in Michael’s mother’s backyard. Eventually my friend married Michael’s sister. It was a fantastic occurrence, totally surprising.

And yet Michael and I still drifted apart, even as our connections grew more complex. It still didn’t lessen my deep appreciation for who he was way back then. I loved him then, and love him now. I will always carry my memories, the best of times. Michael, you will always be my friend.

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

Tic Tac Toe

X’s and O’s

I used to have very cool racing slicks on my front tires. They were custom tires made for trikes, and I liked them very much. I was sad to see the threads in the center of the tire, because it meant that they were worn out. And the company no longer made those tires.

I’m not saying that I’m banned from bicycle shops, but I would say that I had to develop a relationship with my local shop. Being a trike owner puts me in a different category. They do not sell or service trikes, so I’m never going to upgrade. But I can buy accessories!

I went to my local shop and asked about my tire replacement problems. They had a solution. My front tires were the same size as a kid’s first mountain bike. So I could use tires from an eight year old’s bike. Hmm, fine. Tread is tread, I purchased two and put them on, they worked great.

One slight hiccup. The tread pattern was X’s and O’s in a tic tac toe pattern. The shop owner said it was easier for the kids to know that the tires were wearing out. If they couldn’t see tic tac toe, then the tire was gone. Plus it made a cool track in the dirt, endless tic tac toe marks.

Okay, it didn’t matter much to me, I couldn’t have my custom racing slicks, so I settled for tic tac toe. The tires performed well, I ran them for over a year and then I noticed I couldn’t see tic tac toe anymore, so I went back to the bike shop for another pair of the same tires and I put them on.

I’m now resting at a water stop and I’m looking at the current tic tac toe pattern and I notice that there isn’t much wear. I haven’t ridden nearly as much this year. The tires look almost new. This is where my thoughts went a little off track.

I had already worn a set of tic tac toe tires completely bald. There was no tic tac toe visible. I’m on the trail most every day, I haven’t seen any X’s and O’s laying beside the trail. Where did they go?

It was a fair question, when a tire wears down, where does the rubber go. There should be mounds of black rubber like sand every quarter of a mile. There is a lot of bikes on the trial, there should be rubber residue.

And of course, what about cars, and the freeway? Much more rubber, the mounds should be higher and more frequent. It’s true that I have seen chunks of retreads from truck tires laying on the freeway, but not the usual wear and tear of tires. Where does the rubber go?

Google to the rescue again. It turns out that a lot of the rubber is so fine that it is airborne, so we might actually have some in our lungs. Of course there are so many other breathable pollutants, that we don’t really notice the rubber. If the rubber particles are not fine enough to be airborne, they lay on the road, only washed off during the rainy season, and they end up in our rivers, lakes, and oceans.

So now I know where the rubber goes. It isn’t worn away, it isn’t rubbed off into a vacuum. Nothing can be destroyed, it is only changed. We are in a closed system. All atoms are already here, nothing new is created, nothing old is destroyed. Everything is in the process of being rearranged. Physics was explained while pondering tic tac toe.

Posted in Commentary | 1 Comment

Hand or Heart?

I’m back on the trail. The weather is good, I’m coasting downhill at at a 3% slope. Life couldn’t be better, except that I have questions.

I have random questions, like… is it proper for a veteran to hand salute the flag, or use the hand over the heart method. This could have been a very random question, popping in from left field, but not so. A few weeks ago I was preparing to pass an older gentleman walking on the trail. It happened to be exactly where a flagpole had been erected in the backyard of a house next to the trail. The flag was several feet above the rear fence, so everyone on the trail always had a good look.

As I was about to pass, this gentleman performed a very snappy hand salute. I had passed that flag well over a hundred times and I never thought to do a hand salute. I was convicted, and I slowed to thank the man, and tell him that I would salute in the future.

The trouble was that I had some sort of protocol memorized that only active military can use the hand salute. The gentleman was wrong, and he should have placed his hand over his heart. Should I correct him the next time I see him? Who am I? The flag police?

I’m on the trail and the flag is coming up on my right side. What to do? Should I ignore it. Confusion reigned, so I did the most obvious thing I could do. I googled the exact question, “Is it proper for a veteran to hand salute the flag? The answer was immediate… when I became I civilian in 1973 I lost the right to use the hand salute. I should salute the flag by placing my hand over my heart!

However, in Oct, 2008 the federal law was changed that allows veterans and active duty military in civilian clothes to use the hand salute, if desired. The gentleman was not wrong!

So now my head is on the swivel, how many other flags do I pass on my daily ride. You can’t salute what you do not notice. How much is too much?

For now it is just the one flag, peeking over the backyard fence. I’m usually going at a pretty good clip, so it only takes a second, but it feels just right.

Posted in Commentary | 3 Comments

Bob, the leaf

I’ve written about leaves before. There is much to be learned from taking the time to watch leaves. They spend their lives reacting to something unseen, yet powerful.

People revisit ideas and concepts in blogs when they have discovered something new, or perhaps they simply didn’t cover the concept quite completely.

I’m not sure I can ever do that. On my ride this morning I was convicted that I needed to write more. It’s possible that I could write about leaves every day for years.

I want to introduce you to Bob, the leaf. He began, like all of his siblings, as a shoot on this sturdy tree. Unlike the many evergreens all around, this tree was deciduous, meaning leaf bearing and eventually leaf losing. The tree was made to go into a sort of hibernation for the winter, so to save the energy necessary to maintain the foliage, the tree simply lets them go.

Bob, the shoot, doesn’t understand this yet. He is busy drawing nutrition from mother tree. Within a few weeks the shoot has grown, extended, and unfurled.

Bob, the leaf, sudden realized that his true purpose is to give back to his mother. In deep gratitude Bob gathers sunlight to react to his chemistry, and life energy is passed back to mother tree. It is the least he could do.

The process is so automatic that Bob doesn’t have to give it much thought. He can spend his days watching clouds, feeling the sun warm his surface, and growing stronger each day.

Bob begins to notice that strength is important. He has learned that there is an unseen force that sometimes shakes him, and spins him around. He has even seen a few of his siblings get separated from mother tree, they fly off never to be seen again. Bob wonders about mother tree being deprived of their life work.

The storms of spring subside and the leaves are stronger because of this. Now the great times began, the long days of warm sun, the gentle breeze that allows leaves to dance still attached. It seems as if this could go on forever. Bob is very happy, he feels content, he has meaning and purpose. This could go on forever, but it doesn’t.

Bob is vaguely aware that the temperature is changing. Mother tree seems to be cutting back on the life energy that is symbiotic. She doesn’t want his energy, and she stops sending energy to Bob.

This is a stressful time for Bob. He has never been down this road. He feels brittle, and dried up. His color has changed from lush green to a light tan. And he recognizes that it won’t stop there. His siblings all around him are changing as well some have gone to a deep red, and a few others have taken on a deep brown.

Bob can see that change is afoot. He has spent his life with a great vantage point. He can see far, and that tells him that other mother trees are going through the same process. Except for the evergreens

Eventually Bob begins to re-evaluate his purpose. Mother tree has shut down and doesn’t seem to even communicate with him anymore. He is left with his siblings stranded in the world. Each day the sun drys him further and his color changes. One day he notices that his connection to mother tree is weaker, not as strong as it was during the storms of spring

Bob didn’t know about the storms of fall or winter. He hadn’t lived that long, and none of his siblings knew this either. But Bob was observant so he could project that things were going to change.

Bob was midway up mother tree, high enough to have a good view but still protected from that unseen force they called “the wind”. Over time Bob and his siblings began to see “the wind” as the enemy. Everything would be fine if he was just left alone. Suddenly, at anytime of the day or night, this force would build in puffs and gusts. He first noticed that some of his siblings were lost each time. It wasn’t like the spring, these were mature leaves, leaves that have their lives in service. And now they were abandoned and left to this unseen force. It was the worst kind of nightmare. Suddenly snatched from there familiar place and taken far away. No one ever came back.

The weeks flew by, Bob could tell that his connection was weaker each day. He also noticed that he was completely brittle by now. Instead a a soft subtle surface that flexed with the wind, now he was stiff. The wind hit him and he no longer flexed. The wind spun him and twisted him to the left then quickly to the right. It seemed that the purpose was now to dislodge him from mother tree.

Bob has to study this very carefully. No matter what the past was, no matter what his purpose, it was obvious that this was different. Bob looked around to his siblings.

He found that the unseen force would separate his kin from mother tree but that they didn’t just disappear. For months they had learned to dance while still connected to mother tree. The unseen force took them left, right, up and down. But they always stayed connected.

Now the force broke them free, and they sailed away. But not without their skill of the dance they had learned. It’s true, they were falling to earth where their future was unknown… but briefly they were still leaves, showing their skills learned in dance. Only this time they were truly free to scribe they own path, truly free and un constrained.

The unseen force was no longer the enemy, it was the energy behind their freedom of flight. Bob, the leaf suddenly realized this one day, and began to accept his future. And he even planned some of his freedom movements. Bob knew that somehow time was extended the moment that he broke free from mother tree.

It wasn’t going to be a few short minutes of dancing and sailing, it was going to be a lifetime. Indeed, the very moment that Bob was separated from mother tree, he was forever known as Robert the dancer.

The unseen force known as “the wind” is also known as the “Ruach HaKodesh”.

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment


Dank, dark, something unknown moving over there, a fellow prisoner or just vermin? We don’t think much about dungeons today.

We have trivialized it in video and board games, but it once was a very real place. Of course most of us would never be in a dungeon. Not because we are guiltless, mostly because we aren’t rich enough to be kept alive.

Dungeons were often used as holding places while ransoms were worked out. I suppose there could always be some transients that stayed a few hours before the hangman arrived. Generally, dungeons were simply bleak, uncomfortably, and lonely.

Interesting that the general view of a dungeon is the basement of a castle, yet historically some of the most famous dungeons were castle towers. I am more the castle basement type. I’ve built several thousand dungeons and I never built a tower. Too much of a temptation to enjoy the view.

No, when I create the dungeon, it is a dark place, damp, the smell of rotting earth. A place of hopelessness, and punishment. It doesn’t matter that I’m the builder, I forgot to bring the key. I’m locked in without a timeframe. It could be minutes, it could be hours, it may even be days…

So how do I get free? When you build the mental dungeon it exists as long as the thoughts are fresh, the thoughts that created it. Sometimes it is a change of place, sometimes it’s a kind face. One thing I know, a dungeon is a lonely place, and being alone only extends the stay.

Rarely, but sometimes logic dissolves the walls, brings in the light. I say rarely because building the dungeon is intentional to keep reason out.

So are we doomed to be captured forever? Time heals all wounds is true so, time is an ally. It creates a distance that changes perspective. But it is not a vaccine.

I would wish for a “dungeon vaccine”, something that I could take to inoculate my future dungeon building activities. Or at the very least, let me build towers with a view.

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

The Simple Things

Today I feel joy. Joy is within me, it is oozing from my fingertips, it is dripping from my beard… I am full up and overloaded.

Six weeks ago I had two feet of poly tubing in my chest, my sternum had been sawn in half, then wired back together, and my heart had been stopped, sewn on, and then started again.

One day later I was struggling down the hospital hall, gown flapping behind, dragging vials, bottles, and monitors on wheels. All that just seems like yesterday. Not particularly joyous at the moment.

But I should have been thankful for the joy that was coming. I had a loving wife, children, family and friends surrounding me. I had the promise of a future. It just seemed so far away.

Well, the future is here. There is still a long road ahead. I can’t sit in the front seat of a car, I can’t drive, and I probably can’t take a flight anywhere. A couple more weeks.

But I can ride my trike now! Wow, what a great feeling. Simple things like pedaling down the trail, grabbing a dark coffee at Starbucks… Is there anything better than being normal?

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

Who is the Oldest?- Pando

I’m revisiting a subject that I wrote about a few months ago.

The Google Search term is “longest living organisms”. I’m not sure why I find this so interesting. Part of it stems from the remarkable possibility that there may be “immortal” organisms. This has massive theological ramifications, perhaps even an exception to basics laws of physics.

The Wikipedia article from the Google research is very interesting. The new piece of information for me is the grove of Aspens in south central Utah, near Fish Lake. It is a clonal organism, meaning that there is one central root system, providing stems, or shoots, that are exactly the same genetically. We are used to seeing this in BlackBerry bushes, or various ivy bushes. In trees we tend to known about trees reproducing individually from fertilized seeds.

The grove of Aspens in Utah appear to be individual trees, but they are not. They are all connected by a massive root system, covering about 106 acres, and weighing 6,600 tons. Clearly much heavier than a family of Blue Whales. The next surprising new piece of information is that it is estimated to be 100,000 years old, its a male, with the name of Pando! What?

So my updated list of the oldest known organisms is

1. 100,000- Pando, a male clonal Aspen grove, Utah

2. 10,000 to 80,000- Posidonia Oceania, a clonal sea grass in the Mediterranean Sea. (Some say it may be 200,000 years old)

3. 43,000- Lornatia tasmanic in Tasmania, a clonal shrub with no fruits or seeds, and has over 600 genetically exact individual plants.

4. 13,000- The Jurupa Oak Colony in Riverside County, California. A clonal grove of oak that only grows after a wildfire, the burned branches sprout new stems.

5. 13,000- a box huckleberry bush in Pennsylvania.

6. 13,000- Eucalptus recurve clones in Australia.

7. 11,700- Larrea tridentata, is a creosote bush named King Clone in the Mojave Desert, California

8. 9,500- Old Tjikko, a clonal Norway spruce in Sweden

9. 2,400 – 8,500 Humongous Fungus,a single specimen of clonal honey mushroom (Armillaria ostoyae)found in Oregon, covering 3.4 square miles.

10. 5,068- A Great Basin Bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) is the oldest non-clonal tree. Secret location in California/Nevada/Utah.

One unique addition is a Judean Date Palm Tree, that came from a preserved 2,000 year old seed. The tree is in Israel and is now producing pollen.

And finally, during the 1990s, Raul Cano, a microbiologist at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, revived yeast trapped in amber for 25 million years. Cano went on to found a brewery and crafted an “amber ale” with a 45-million-year-old variant of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. His work inspired the movie Jurassic Park.

I don’t know where the immortal creatures fit. If the mortality rate of a species does not increase after maturity, the species does not age and is said to be biologically immortal. Many examples exist of plants and animals for which the mortality rate actually decreases with age, for all or part of the lifecycle.

If the mortality rate remains constant, the rate determines the mean lifespan. The lifespan can be long or short, though the species technically “does not age”.

• Hydra species were observed for four years without any increase in mortality rate.

Other species have been observed to regress to a larval state and regrow into adults multiple times.

• The hydrozoan species Turritopsis dohrnii (formerly Turritopsis nutricula) is capable of cycling from a mature adult stage to an immature polyp stage and back again. This means no natural limit to its lifespan is known. However, no single specimen has been observed for any extended period, and estimating the age of a specimen is not possible by any known means.

• At least one hydrozoan (Laodicea undulata and one scyphozoan (Aurelia sp.1) can also revert from medusa stage into polyp stage.

• The larvae of skin beetles undergo a degree of “reversed development” when starved, and later grow back to the previously attained level of maturity. The cycle can be repeated many times.

The idea of doing a Benjamin Button, going back to baby, was a movie idea. I didn’t know it really existed.

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment



Posted in Podcasts | Leave a comment

30 Songs of Leonard

Leonard Cohen was primarily known as a singer/song writer. What is not generally known is that he turned to music rather late in 1967, at the age of 33. Before that he was a writer and a poet. The following lyrics are songs that are true poetry and I encourage you to read them in that way. My suggestion is to scroll through the list and pick two or three, without thinking about the melody.

1. “Suzanne”

Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river

You can hear the boats go by

You can spend the night beside her

And you know that she’s half crazy

But that’s why you want to be there

And she feeds you tea and oranges

That come all the way from China

And just when you mean to tell her

That you have no love to give her

Then she gets you on her wavelength

And she lets the river answer

That you’ve always been her lover

And you want to travel with her

And you want to travel blind

And you know that she will trust you

For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind.

And Jesus was a sailor

When he walked upon the water

And he spent a long time watching

From his lonely wooden tower

And when he knew for certain

Only drowning men could see him

He said “All men will be sailors then

Until the sea shall free them”

But he himself was broken

Long before the sky would open

Forsaken, almost human

He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone

And you want to travel with him

And you want to travel blind

And you think maybe you’ll trust him

For he’s touched your perfect body with his mind.

Now Suzanne takes your hand

And she leads you to the river

She is wearing rags and feathers

From Salvation Army counters

And the sun pours down like honey

On our lady of the harbour

And she shows you where to look

Among the garbage and the flowers

There are heroes in the seaweed

There are children in the morning

They are leaning out for love

And they will lean that way forever

While Suzanne holds the mirror

And you want to travel with her

And you want to travel blind

And you know that you can trust her

For she’s touched your perfect body with her mind.

2. “Master Song”

I believe that you heard your master sing

when I was sick in bed.

I suppose that he told you everything

that I keep locked away in my head.

Your master took you travelling,

well at least that’s what you said.

And now do you come back to bring

your prisoner wine and bread?

You met him at some temple, where

they take your clothes at the door.

He was just a numberless man in a chair

who’d just come back from the war.

And you wrap up his tired face in your hair

and he hands you the apple core.

Then he touches your lips now so suddenly bare

of all the kisses we put on some time before.

And he gave you a German Shepherd to walk

with a collar of leather and nails,

and he never once made you explain or talk

about all of the little details,

such as who had a word and who had a rock,

and who had you through the mails.

Now your love is a secret all over the block,

and it never stops not even when your master fails.

And he took you up in his aeroplane,

which he flew without any hands,

and you cruised above the ribbons of rain

that drove the crowd from the stands.

Then he killed the lights in a lonely Lane

and, an ape with angel glands,

erased the final wisps of pain

with the music of rubber bands.

And now I hear your master sing,

you kneel for him to come.

His body is a golden string

that your body is hanging from.

His body is a golden string,

my body has grown numb.

Oh now you hear your master sing,

your shirt is all undone.

And will you kneel beside this bed

that we polished so long ago,

before your master chose instead

to make my bed of snow?

Your eyes are wild and your knuckles are red

and you’re speaking far too low.

No I can’t make out what your master said

before he made you go.

Then I think you’re playing far too rough

for a lady who’s been to the moon;

I’ve lain by this window long enough

to get used to an empty room.

And your love is some dust in an old man’s cough

who is tapping his foot to a tune,

and your thighs are a ruin, you want too much,

let’s say you came back some time too soon.

I loved your master perfectly

I taught him all that he knew.

He was starving in some deep mystery

like a man who is sure what is true.

And I sent you to him with my guarantee

I could teach him something new,

and I taught him how you would long for me

no matter what he said no matter what you’d do.

I believe that you heard your master sing

while I was sick in bed,

I’m sure that he told you everything

I must keep locked away in my head.

Your master took you travelling,

well at least that’s what you said,

And now do you come back to bring

your prisoner wine and bread?

3. “Winter Lady”

Trav’ling lady, stay awhile

until the night is over.

I’m just a station on your way,

I know I’m not your lover.

Well I lived with a child of snow

when I was a soldier,

and I fought every man for her

until the nights grew colder.

She used to wear her hair like you

except when she was sleeping,

and then she’d weave it on a loom

of smoke and gold and breathing.

And why are you so quiet now

standing there in the doorway?

You chose your journey long before

you came upon this highway.

Trav’ling lady stay awhile

until the night is over.

I’m just a station on your way,

I know I’m not your lover.

4. “Stranger Song”

It’s true that all the men you knew were dealers

who said they were through with dealing

Every time you gave them shelter

I know that kind of man

It’s hard to hold the hand of anyone

who is reaching for the sky just to surrender,

who is reaching for the sky just to surrender.

And then sweeping up the jokers that he left behind

you find he did not leave you very much

not even laughter

Like any dealer he was watching for the card

that is so high and wild

he’ll never need to deal another

He was just some Joseph looking for a manger

He was just some Joseph looking for a manger

And then leaning on your window sill

he’ll say one day you caused his will

to weaken with your love and warmth and shelter

And then taking from his wallet

an old schedule of trains, he’ll say

I told you when I came I was a stranger

I told you when I came I was a stranger.

But now another stranger seems

to want you to ignore his dreams

as though they were the burden of some other

O you’ve seen that man before

his golden arm dispatching cards

but now it’s rusted from the elbows to the finger

And he wants to trade the game he plays for shelter

Yes he wants to trade the game he knows for shelter.

Ah you hate to see another tired man

lay down his hand

like he was giving up the holy game of poker

And while he talks his dreams to sleep

you notice there’s a highway

that is curling up like smoke above his shoulder.

It is curling just like smoke above his shoulder.

You tell him to come in sit down

but something makes you turn around

The door is open you can’t close your shelter

You try the handle of the road

It opens do not be afraid

It’s you my love, you who are the stranger

It’s you my love, you who are the stranger.

Well, I’ve been waiting, I was sure

we’d meet between the trains we’re waiting for

I think it’s time to board another

Please understand, I never had a secret chart

to get me to the heart of this

or any other matter

When he talks like this

you don’t know what he’s after

When he speaks like this,

you don’t know what he’s after.

Let’s meet tomorrow if you choose

upon the shore, beneath the bridge

that they are building on some endless river

Then he leaves the platform

for the sleeping car that’s warm

You realize, he’s only advertising one more shelter

And it comes to you, he never was a stranger

And you say ok the bridge or someplace later.

And then sweeping up the jokers that he left behind …

And leaning on your window sill …

I told you when I came I was a stranger.

5. “Sisters Of Mercy”

Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone.

They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can’t go on.

And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me this song.

Oh I hope you run into them, you who’ve been travelling so long.

Yes you who must leave everything that you cannot control.

It begins with your family, but soon it comes around to your soul.

Well I’ve been where you’re hanging, I think I can see how you’re pinned:

When you’re not feeling holy, your loneliness says that you’ve sinned.

Well they lay down beside me, I made my confession to them.

They touched both my eyes and I touched the dew on their hem.

If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn

they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem.

When I left they were sleeping, I hope you run into them soon.

Don’t turn on the lights, you can read their address by the moon.

And you won’t make me jealous if I hear that they sweetened your night:

We weren’t lovers like that and besides it would still be all right,

We weren’t lovers like that and besides it would still be all right.

6. “So Long Marianne”

Come over to the window, my little darling,

I’d like to try to read your palm.

I used to think I was some kind of Gypsy boy

before I let you take me home.

Now so long, Marianne, it’s time that we began

to laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again.

Well you know that I love to live with you,

but you make me forget so very much.

I forget to pray for the angels

and then the angels forget to pray for us.

Now so long, Marianne, it’s time that we began …

We met when we were almost young

deep in the green lilac park.

You held on to me like I was a crucifix,

as we went kneeling through the dark.

Oh so long, Marianne, it’s time that we began …

Your letters they all say that you’re beside me now.

Then why do I feel alone?

I’m standing on a ledge and your fine spider web

is fastening my ankle to a stone.

Now so long, Marianne, it’s time that we began …

For now I need your hidden love.

I’m cold as a new razor blade.

You left when I told you I was curious,

I never said that I was brave.

Oh so long, Marianne, it’s time that we began …

Oh, you are really such a pretty one.

I see you’ve gone and changed your name again.

And just when I climbed this whole mountainside,

to wash my eyelids in the rain!

Oh so long, Marianne, it’s time that we began …

7. “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye”

I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm,

your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm,

yes, many loved before us, I know that we are not new,

in city and in forest they smiled like me and you,

but now it’s come to distances and both of us must try,

your eyes are soft with sorrow,

Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye.

I’m not looking for another as I wander in my time,

walk me to the corner, our steps will always rhyme

you know my love goes with you as your love stays with me,

it’s just the way it changes, like the shoreline and the sea,

but let’s not talk of love or chains and things we can’t untie,

your eyes are soft with sorrow,

Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye.

I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm,

your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm,

yes many loved before us, I know that we are not new,

in city and in forest they smiled like me and you,

but let’s not talk of love or chains and things we can’t untie,

your eyes are soft with sorrow,

Hey, that’s no way to say goodbye.

8. “Stories Of The Street”

The stories of the street are mine,the Spanish voices laugh.

The Cadillacs go creeping now through the night and the poison gas,

and I lean from my window sill in this old hotel I chose,

yes one hand on my suicide, one hand on the rose.

I know you’ve heard it’s over now and war must surely come,

the cities they are broke in half and the middle men are gone.

But let me ask you one more time, O children of the dusk,

All these hunters who are shrieking now oh do they speak for us?

And where do all these highways go, now that we are free?

Why are the armies marching still that were coming home to me?

O lady with your legs so fine O stranger at your wheel,

You are locked into your suffering and your pleasures are the seal.

The age of lust is giving birth, and both the parents ask

the nurse to tell them fairy tales on both sides of the glass.

And now the infant with his cord is hauled in like a kite,

and one eye filled with blueprints, one eye filled with night.

O come with me my little one, we will find that farm

and grow us grass and apples there and keep all the animals warm.

And if by chance I wake at night and I ask you who I am,

O take me to the slaughterhouse, I will wait there with the lamb.

With one hand on the hexagram and one hand on the girl

I balance on a wishing well that all men call the world.

We are so small between the stars, so large against the sky,

and lost among the subway crowds I try to catch your eye.

9. “One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong”

I lit a thin green candle, to make you jealous of me.

But the room just filled up with mosquitos,

they heard that my body was free.

Then I took the dust of a long sleepless night

and I put it in your little shoe.

And then I confess that I tortured the dress

that you wore for the world to look through.

I showed my heart to the doctor: he said I just have to quit.

Then he wrote himself a prescription,

and your name was mentioned in it!

Then he locked himself in a library shelf

with the details of our honeymoon,

and I hear from the nurse that he’s gotten much worse

and his practice is all in a ruin.

I heard of a saint who had loved you,

so I studied all night in his school.

He taught that the duty of lovers

is to tarnish the golden rule.

And just when I was sure that his teachings were pure

he drowned himself in the pool.

His body is gone but back here on the lawn

his spirit continues to drool.

An Eskimo showed me a movie

he’d recently taken of you:

the poor man could hardly stop shivering,

his lips and his fingers were blue.

I suppose that he froze when the wind took your clothes

and I guess he just never got warm.

But you stand there so nice, in your blizzard of ice,

oh please let me come into the storm.

10. “Story Of Isaac”

The door it opened slowly,

my father he came in,

I was nine years old.

And he stood so tall above me,

his blue eyes they were shining

and his voice was very cold.

He said, “I’ve had a vision

and you know I’m strong and holy,

I must do what I’ve been told.”

So he started up the mountain,

I was running, he was walking,

and his axe was made of gold.

Well, the trees they got much smaller,

the lake a lady’s mirror,

we stopped to drink some wine.

Then he threw the bottle over.

Broke a minute later

and he put his hand on mine.

Thought I saw an eagle

but it might have been a vulture,

I never could decide.

Then my father built an altar,

he looked once behind his shoulder,

he knew I would not hide.

You who build these altars now

to sacrifice these children,

you must not do it anymore.

A scheme is not a vision

and you never have been tempted

by a demon or a god.

You who stand above them now,

your hatchets blunt and bloody,

you were not there before,

when I lay upon a mountain

and my father’s hand was trembling

with the beauty of the word.

And if you call me brother now,

forgive me if I inquire,

“Just according to whose plan?”

When it all comes down to dust

I will kill you if I must,

I will help you if I can.

When it all comes down to dust

I will help you if I must,

I will kill you if I can.

And mercy on our uniform,

man of peace or man of war,

the peacock spreads his fan.

11. “The Partisan”

When they poured across the border

I was cautioned to surrender,

this I could not do;

I took my gun and vanished.

I have changed my name so often,

I’ve lost my wife and children

but I have many friends,

and some of them are with me.

An old woman gave us shelter,

kept us hidden in the garret,

then the soldiers came;

she died without a whisper.

There were three of us this morning

I’m the only one this evening

but I must go on;

the frontiers are my prison.

Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing,

through the graves the wind is blowing,

freedom soon will come;

then we’ll come from the shadows.

Les Allemands étaient chez moi (The Germans were at my home)

ils m’ont dit “Résigne-toi” (They said, “Surrender,”)

mais je n’ai pas pu (this I could not do)

j’ai repris mon arme (I took my weapon again)

J’ai changé cent fois de nom (I have changed names a hundred times)

j’ai perdu femme et enfants (I have lost wife and children)

mais j’ai tant d’amis (But I have so many friends)

j’ai la France entière (I have all of France)

Un vieil homme dans un grenier (An old man, in an attic)

pour la nuit nous a cachés (Hid us for the night)

les Allemands l’ont pris (The Germans captured him)

il est mort sans surprise (He died without surprise)

Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing,

through the graves the wind is blowing,

freedom soon will come;

then we’ll come from the shadows.

12. “The Old Revolution”

I finally broke into the prison,

I found my place in the chain.

Even damnation is poisoned with rainbows,

all the brave young men

they’re waiting now to see a signal

which some killer will be lighting for pay.

Into this furnace I ask you now to venture,

you whom I cannot betray.

I fought in the old revolution

on the side of the ghost and the King.

Of course I was very young

and I thought that we were winning;

I can’t pretend I still feel very much like singing

as they carry the bodies away.

Into this furnace I ask you now to venture…

Lately you’ve started to stutter

as though you had nothing to say.

To all of my architects let me be traitor.

Now let me say I myself gave the order

to sleep and to search and to destroy.

Into this furnace I ask you now to venture…

Yes, you who are broken by power,

you who are absent all day,

you who are kings for the sake of your children’s story,

the hand of your beggar is burdened down with money,

the hand of your lover is clay.

Into this furnace I ask you now to venture…

13. “You Know Who I Am”

I cannot follow you, my love,

you cannot follow me.

I am the distance you put between

all of the moments that we will be.

You know who I am,

you’ve stared at the sun,

well I am the one who loves

changing from nothing to one.

Sometimes I need you naked,

sometimes I need you wild,

I need you to carry my children in

and I need you to kill a child.

You know who I am…

If you should ever track me down

I will surrender there

and I will leave with you one broken man

whom I will teach you to repair.

You know who I am…

I cannot follow you, my love,

you cannot follow me.

I am the distance you put between

all of the moments that we will be.

You know who I am…

14. “Famous Blue Raincoat”

It’s four in the morning, the end of December

I’m writing you now just to see if you’re better

New York is cold, but I like where I’m living

There’s music on Clinton Street all through the evening.

I hear that you’re building your little house deep in the desert

You’re living for nothing now, I hope you’re keeping some kind of record.

Yes, and Jane came by with a lock of your hair

She said that you gave it to her

That night that you planned to go clear

Did you ever go clear?

Ah, the last time we saw you you looked so much older

Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder

You’d been to the station to meet every train

And you came home without Lili Marlene

And you treated my woman to a flake of your life

And when she came back she was nobody’s wife.

Well I see you there with the rose in your teeth

One more thin gypsy thief

Well I see Jane’s awake —

She sends her regards.

And what can I tell you my brother, my killer

What can I possibly say?

I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you

I’m glad you stood in my way.

If you ever come by here, for Jane or for me

Your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free.

Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes

I thought it was there for good so I never tried.

And Jane came by with a lock of your hair

She said that you gave it to her

That night that you planned to go clear —

Sincerely, L. Cohen

15. “Joan Of Arc”

Now the flames they followed Joan of Arc

as she came riding through the dark;

no moon to keep her armour bright,

no man to get her through this very smoky night.

She said, “I’m tired of the war,

I want the kind of work I had before,

a wedding dress or something white

to wear upon my swollen appetite.”

Well, I’m glad to hear you talk this way,

you know I’ve watched you riding every day

and something in me yearns to win

such a cold and lonesome heroine.

“And who are you?” she sternly spoke

to the one beneath the smoke.

“Why, I’m fire,” he replied,

“And I love your solitude, I love your pride.”

“Then fire, make your body cold,

I’m going to give you mine to hold,”

saying this she climbed inside

to be his one, to be his only bride.

And deep into his fiery heart

he took the dust of Joan of Arc,

and high above the wedding guests

he hung the ashes of her wedding dress.

It was deep into his fiery heart

he took the dust of Joan of Arc,

and then she clearly understood

if he was fire, oh then she must be wood.

I saw her wince, I saw her cry,

I saw the glory in her eye.

Myself I long for love and light,

but must it come so cruel, and oh so bright?

16. “Is This What You Wanted”

You were the promise at dawn,

I was the morning after.

You were Jesus Christ my Lord,

I was the money lender.

You were the sensitive woman,

I was the very reverend Freud.

You were the manual orgasm,

I was the dirty little boy.

And is this what you wanted

to live in a house that is haunted

by the ghost of you and me?

Is this what you wanted …

You were Marlon Brando,

I was Steve McQueen.

You were K.Y. Jelly,

I was Vaseline.

You were the father of modern medicine,

I was Mr. Clean.

You where the whore and the beast of Babylon,

I was Rin Tin Tin.

And is this what you wanted …

And is this what you wanted …

You got old and wrinkled,

I stayed seventeen.

You lusted after so many,

I lay here with one.

You defied your solitude,

I came through alone.

You said you could never love me,

I undid your gown.

And is this what you wanted …

And is this what you wanted …

I mean is this what you wanted …

That’s right, is this what you wanted …

17. “Lover Lover Lover”

I asked my father,

I said, “Father change my name.”

The one I’m using now it’s covered up

with fear and filth and cowardice and shame.

Yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me,

yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me.

He said, “I locked you in this body,

I meant it as a kind of trial.

You can use it for a weapon,

or to make some woman smile.”

Yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me

yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me.

“Then let me start again,” I cried,

“please let me start again,

I want a face that’s fair this time,

I want a spirit that is calm.”

Yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me

yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me.

“I never never turned aside,” he said,

“I never walked away.

It was you who built the temple,

it was you who covered up my face.”

Yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me

yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me.

And may the spirit of this song,

may it rise up pure and free.

May it be a shield for you,

a shield against the enemy.

Yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me

yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me.

Yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me

yes and lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover, lover come back to me.

18. “There Is A War”

There is a war between the rich and poor,

a war between the man and the woman.

There is a war between the ones who say there is a war

and the ones who say there isn’t.

Why don’t you come on back to the war, that’s right, get in it,

why don’t you come on back to the war, it’s just beginning.

Well I live here with a woman and a child,

the situation makes me kind of nervous.

Yes, I rise up from her arms, she says “I guess you call this love”;

I call it service.

Why don’t you come on back to the war, don’t be a tourist,

why don’t you come on back to the war, before it hurts us,

why don’t you come on back to the war, let’s all get nervous.

You cannot stand what I’ve become,

you much prefer the gentleman I was before.

I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control,

I didn’t even know there was a war.

Why don’t you come on back to the war, don’t be embarrassed,

why don’t you come on back to the war, you can still get married.

There is a war between the rich and poor,

a war between the man and the woman.

There is a war between the left and right,

a war between the black and white,

a war between the odd and the even.

Why don’t you come on back to the war, pick up your tiny burden,

why don’t you come on back to the war, let’s all get even,

why don’t you come on back to the war, can’t you hear me speaking?

19. “Who By Fire”

And who by fire, who by water,

who in the sunshine, who in the night time,

who by high ordeal, who by common trial,

who in your merry merry month of may,

who by very slow decay,

and who shall I say is calling?

And who in her lonely slip, who by barbiturate,

who in these realms of love, who by something blunt,

and who by avalanche, who by powder,

who for his greed, who for his hunger,

and who shall I say is calling?

And who by brave assent, who by accident,

who in solitude, who in this mirror,

who by his lady’s command, who by his own hand,

who in mortal chains, who in power,

and who shall I say is calling?

20. “The Gypsy’s Wife”

And where, where, where is my Gypsy wife tonight

I’ve heard all the wild reports, they can’t be right

But whose head is this she’s dancing with on the threshing floor

whose darkness deepens in her arms a little more

And where, where is my Gypsy wife tonight?

Where, where is my Gypsy wife tonight?

Ah the silver knives are flashing in the tired old cafe

A ghost climbs on the table in a bridal negligee

She says, “My body is the light, my body is the way”

I raise my arm against it all and I catch the bride’s bouquet

And where, where is my Gypsy wife tonight?…

Too early for the rainbow, too early for the dove

These are the final days, this is the darkness, this is the flood

And there is no man or woman who can’t be touched

But you who come between them will be judged

And where, where is my Gypsy wife tonight?

21. “Dance Me To The End Of Love”

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin

Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in

Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the end of love

Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone

Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon

Show me slowly what I only know the limits of

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on

Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long

We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born

Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn

Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin

Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in

Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the end of love

22. “Hallelujah”

(“Various Positions” Version)

Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord

That David played, and it pleased the Lord

But you don’t really care for music, do you?

It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth

The minor fall, the major lift

The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof

You saw her bathing on the roof

Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you

She tied you to a kitchen chair

She broke your throne, and she cut your hair

And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain

I don’t even know the name

But if I did—well, really—what’s it to you?

There’s a blaze of light in every word

It doesn’t matter which you heard

The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn’t much

I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch

I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you

And even though it all went wrong

I’ll stand before the Lord of Song

With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah


23. “If It Be Your Will”

If it be your will

That I speak no more

And my voice be still

As it was before

I will speak no more

I shall abide until

I am spoken for

If it be your will

If it be your will

That a voice be true

From this broken hill

I will sing to you

From this broken hill

All your praises they shall ring

If it be your will

To let me sing

From this broken hill

All your praises they shall ring

If it be your will

To let me sing

If it be your will

If there is a choice

Let the rivers fill

Let the hills rejoice

Let your mercy spill

On all these burning hearts in hell

If it be your will

To make us well

And draw us near

And bind us tight

All your children here

In their rags of light

In our rags of light

All dressed to kill

And end this night

If it be your will

If it be your will.

24. “Everybody Knows”

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded

Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed

Everybody knows that the war is over

Everybody knows the good guys lost

Everybody knows the fight was fixed

The poor stay poor, the rich get rich

That’s how it goes

Everybody knows

Everybody knows that the boat is leaking

Everybody knows that the captain lied

Everybody got this broken feeling

Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody talking to their pockets

Everybody wants a box of chocolates

And a long stem rose

Everybody knows

Everybody knows that you love me baby

Everybody knows that you really do

Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful

Ah give or take a night or two

Everybody knows you’ve been discreet

But there were so many people you just had to meet

Without your clothes

And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows

That’s how it goes

Everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows

That’s how it goes

Everybody knows

And everybody knows that it’s now or never

Everybody knows that it’s me or you

And everybody knows that you live forever

Ah when you’ve done a line or two

Everybody knows the deal is rotten

Old Black Joe’s still pickin’ cotton

For your ribbons and bows

And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the Plague is coming

Everybody knows that it’s moving fast

Everybody knows that the naked man and woman

Are just a shining artifact of the past

Everybody knows the scene is dead

But there’s gonna be a meter on your bed

That will disclose

What everybody knows

And everybody knows that you’re in trouble

Everybody knows what you’ve been through

From the bloody cross on top of Calvary

To the beach of Malibu

Everybody knows it’s coming apart

Take one last look at this Sacred Heart

Before it blows

And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows

That’s how it goes

Everybody knows

Oh everybody knows, everybody knows

That’s how it goes

Everybody knows

Everybody knows

25. “Take This Waltz”

Now in Vienna there’s ten pretty women

There’s a shoulder where Death comes to cry

There’s a lobby with nine hundred windows

There’s a tree where the doves go to die

There’s a piece that was torn from the morning

And it hangs in the Gallery of Frost

Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay

Take this waltz, take this waltz

Take this waltz with the clamp on its jaws

Oh I want you, I want you, I want you

On a chair with a dead magazine

In the cave at the tip of the lily

In some hallways where love’s never been

On a bed where the moon has been sweating

In a cry filled with footsteps and sand

Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay

Take this waltz, take this waltz

Take its broken waist in your hand

This waltz, this waltz, this waltz, this waltz

With its very own breath of brandy and Death

Dragging its tail in the sea

There’s a concert hall in Vienna

Where your mouth had a thousand reviews

There’s a bar where the boys have stopped talking

They’ve been sentenced to death by the blues

Ah, but who is it climbs to your picture

With a garland of freshly cut tears?

Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay

Take this waltz, take this waltz

Take this waltz it’s been dying for years

There’s an attic where children are playing

Where I’ve got to lie down with you soon

In a dream of Hungarian lanterns

In the mist of some sweet afternoon

And I’ll see what you’ve chained to your sorrow

All your sheep and your lilies of snow

Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay

Take this waltz, take this waltz

With its “I’ll never forget you, you know!”

This waltz, this waltz, this waltz, this waltz …

And I’ll dance with you in Vienna

I’ll be wearing a river’s disguise

The hyacinth wild on my shoulder,

My mouth on the dew of your thighs

And I’ll bury my soul in a scrapbook,

With the photographs there, and the moss

And I’ll yield to the flood of your beauty

My cheap violin and my cross

And you’ll carry me down on your dancing

To the pools that you lift on your wrist

Oh my love, Oh my love

Take this waltz, take this waltz

It’s yours now. It’s all that there is

26. “Waiting For The Miracle”

Baby, I’ve been waiting,

I’ve been waiting night and day.

I didn’t see the time,

I waited half my life away.

There were lots of invitations

and I know you sent me some,

but I was waiting

for the miracle, for the miracle to come.

I know you really loved me.

but, you see, my hands were tied.

I know it must have hurt you,

it must have hurt your pride

to have to stand beneath my window

with your bugle and your drum,

and me I’m up there waiting

for the miracle, for the miracle to come.

Ah I don’t believe you’d like it,

You wouldn’t like it here.

There ain’t no entertainment

and the judgements are severe.

The Maestro says it’s Mozart

but it sounds like bubble gum

when you’re waiting

for the miracle, for the miracle to come.

Waiting for the miracle

There’s nothing left to do.

I haven’t been this happy

since the end of World War II.

Nothing left to do

when you know that you’ve been taken.

Nothing left to do

when you’re begging for a crumb

Nothing left to do

when you’ve got to go on waiting

waiting for the miracle to come.

I dreamed about you, baby.

It was just the other night.

Most of you was naked

Ah but some of you was light.

The sands of time were falling

from your fingers and your thumb,

and you were waiting

for the miracle, for the miracle to come

Ah baby, let’s get married,

we’ve been alone too long.

Let’s be alone together.

Let’s see if we’re that strong.

Yeah let’s do something crazy,

something absolutely wrong

while we’re waiting

for the miracle, for the miracle to come.

Nothing left to do …

When you’ve fallen on the highway

and you’re lying in the rain,

and they ask you how you’re doing

of course you’ll say you can’t complain —

If you’re squeezed for information,

that’s when you’ve got to play it dumb:

You just say you’re out there waiting

for the miracle, for the miracle to come.

27. “Anthem”

The birds they sang

at the break of day

Start again

I heard them say

Don’t dwell on what

has passed away

or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will

be fought again

The holy dove

She will be caught again

bought and sold

and bought again

the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.

We asked for signs

the signs were sent:

the birth betrayed

the marriage spent

Yeah the widowhood

of every government —

signs for all to see.

I can’t run no more

with that lawless crowd

while the killers in high places

say their prayers out loud.

But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up

a thundercloud

and they’re going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring …

You can add up the parts

but you won’t have the sum

You can strike up the march,

there is no drum

Every heart, every heart

to love will come

but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.

That’s how the light gets in.

That’s how the light gets in.

28. “Democracy”

It’s coming through a hole in the air,

from those nights in Tiananmen Square.

It’s coming from the feel

that this ain’t exactly real,

or it’s real, but it ain’t exactly there.

From the wars against disorder,

from the sirens night and day,

from the fires of the homeless,

from the ashes of the gay:

Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It’s coming through a crack in the wall;

on a visionary flood of alcohol;

from the staggering account

of the Sermon on the Mount

which I don’t pretend to understand at all.

It’s coming from the silence

on the dock of the bay,

from the brave, the bold, the battered

heart of Chevrolet:

Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It’s coming from the sorrow in the street,

the holy places where the races meet;

from the homicidal bitchin’

that goes down in every kitchen

to determine who will serve and who will eat.

From the wells of disappointment

where the women kneel to pray

for the grace of God in the desert here

and the desert far away:

Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on

O mighty Ship of State!

To the Shores of Need

Past the Reefs of Greed

Through the Squalls of Hate

Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.

It’s coming to America first,

the cradle of the best and of the worst.

It’s here they got the range

and the machinery for change

and it’s here they got the spiritual thirst.

It’s here the family’s broken

and it’s here the lonely say

that the heart has got to open

in a fundamental way:

Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

It’s coming from the women and the men.

O baby, we’ll be making love again.

We’ll be going down so deep

the river’s going to weep,

and the mountain’s going to shout Amen!

It’s coming like the tidal flood

beneath the lunar sway,

imperial, mysterious,

in amorous array:

Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Sail on, sail on …

I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean

I love the country but I can’t stand the scene.

And I’m neither left or right

I’m just staying home tonight,

getting lost in that hopeless little screen.

But I’m stubborn as those garbage bags

that Time cannot decay,

I’m junk but I’m still holding up

this little wild bouquet:

Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

29. “A Thousand Kisses Deep”

The ponies run, the girls are young,

The odds are there to beat.

You win a while, and then it’s done –

Your little winning streak.

And summoned now to deal

With your invincible defeat,

You live your life as if it’s real,

A Thousand Kisses Deep.

I’m turning tricks, I’m getting fixed,

I’m back on Boogie Street.

You lose your grip, and then you slip

Into the Masterpiece.

And maybe I had miles to drive,

And promises to keep:

You ditch it all to stay alive,

A Thousand Kisses Deep.

And sometimes when the night is slow,

The wretched and the meek,

We gather up our hearts and go,

A Thousand Kisses Deep.

Confined to sex, we pressed against

The limits of the sea:

I saw there were no oceans left

For scavengers like me.

I made it to the forward deck.

I blessed our remnant fleet –

And then consented to be wrecked,

A Thousand Kisses Deep.

I’m turning tricks, I’m getting fixed,

I’m back on Boogie Street.

I guess they won’t exchange the gifts

That you were meant to keep.

And quiet is the thought of you,

The file on you complete,

Except what we forgot to do,

A Thousand Kisses Deep.

And sometimes when the night is slow,

The wretched and the meek,

We gather up our hearts and go,

A Thousand Kisses Deep.

The ponies run, the girls are young,

The odds are there to beat

30. “It Seemed The Better Way”

It seemed the better way

When first I heard him speak

Now it’s much too late

To turn the other cheek

Sounded like the truth

Seemed the better way

Sounded like the truth

But it’s not the truth today

I wonder what it was

I wonder what it meant

First he touched on love

Then he touched on death

Sounded like the truth

Seemed the better way

Sounded like the truth

But it’s not the truth today

I better hold my tongue

I better take my place

Lift this glass of blood

Try to say the grace

Seemed the better way

When first I heard him speak

But now it’s much too late

To turn the other cheek

Sounded like the truth

Seemed the better way

Sounded like the truth

But it’s not the truth today

I better hold my tongue

I better take my place

Lift this glass of blood

Try to say the grace

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

I’m Listening

I find that I’m listening more. People assume that I’m retired so they often ask what did I do? More than likely I tell them that I professed. It is easier to generalize instead of picking one aspect of my college life. Ha, even when I was the college’s graphic designer or senior electronic technician, I was talking a great deal.

So now, on the other side of Wednesday, after staring into the abyss, I’m finding that I’m listening more. I should have done this earlier.

Today I visited the college. While waiting at a convenient bench to catch my breath, two students came to sit near me, close enough for me to hear the entire conversation. I was intrigued.

The first words spoken by the older student was, “This is a speech class that focuses on critical thinking, so it doesn’t have the space to get into specific speech topics brought up by the class.”

He was sympathizing with the student, providing a critical analysis of the situation. I was very intrigued because my wife probably wrote the textbook that the class was using.

The student was older, probably in his sixties, and he had lived in Washington DC for a few years. He quickly gave his take on the current political scene, and he used good critical thinking skills until the end.

“They are supposed to be elected to serve the people’s need. And we know that is not true.”

Truth? Ha, the old Greek question, “What is truth?” The potential of dropping into a mental coma is great when pondering truth, beauty, quality, etc. so, what is truth?

I first went to some obvious examples, particularly in math. Two plus two equals four. Seems to be true. True is an absolute, what is true is always true. However, forty years of graphic design and visual thinking, tells me that sometimes two plus two is twenty-two. Oh oh.

How about “the sun is shining because it is noon with no clouds.” Well, it takes eight minutes for the light to reach Earth. It was truth, but at this minute?

Truth is a slippery concept. Every time I hear someone tell me that they know the truth I am very interested.

At the end of the conversation the student said, “This White Supremacy is a thing.” I knew what he meant of course, he was using a convenient label to connect to a common understanding with the other student. It was not meant for me, I was eavesdropping. But it was not a great example of critical thinking.

I’m white, but not supreme. The good thing with labels is that it gets to the point quickly. The bad thing with labels is that it gets to the point too quickly.

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

Watch Me Sleep

I’ve arranged to participate in a sleep study. This is not for research on sleep, but a scientific analysis of my particular sleep patterns. Apparently I snore, and have apnea.

It is the nature of the affliction that I do not know if I snore. I am simply told by everyone within fifty feet that I create a horribly loud racket. If this was true I believe I would wake myself up. I am a light sleeper. I have my doubts.

The more serious issue is that I apparently forget to breathe for several seconds every now and then. Naturally if you wake up gasping for breathe, that tends to disturb restful sleep. And I’ve been told there are several types of sleep. Restful is the one more important.

I’m not sure that I know when I’m in restful sleep. What I would like is longer “adventure dreams”. I dream in full color and often it is very exciting with lots of action. Not sure that this is actually restful. Restorative sleep may be just a complete shutdown, possibly dreaming of sleeping while sleeping. Ouroborus!

I haven’t really thought it through, but apparently the study entails going somewhere and spending the night while someone watches me. And it’s paid for by insurance!

It sounds a little suspicious. Of course I am hooked up to an EKG, blood pressure, oxygen monitors, and several other machines. This might be a cover to excuse a scam- Watch people sleeping!

Sounds like a job for retired people.

In the end I will get a grade in several areas. If my numbers are too high they will give me a CPAP or BPAP machine and I will spend the rest of my life of sleep wearing a mask. Hmm.

I have been adjusting by sleeping on my side. I believe this works in most circumstances, but not while recovering from open heart surgery. For the last month I’ve been sleeping in a reclining chair. Comfortable but not sustainable.

I don’t know, getting hooked up with tubes and sounding like Darth Vader… is that sustainable?

To misquote Richard Brautigan, “to maintain life, I do so many things that are really not me…”

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

Eating the Elephant

Recently, a long time friend experienced a loss of a life partner. Right away the grieving process kicks in, the endless thoughts of what was said, what was unsaid. In this case it wasn’t death, it was much more complicated. It was the legal system and addiction.

For some this adds several factors. How did it get this bad? What could have been done? What about the personal choices that were made?

The reality is that grieving is grieving. It is an emotional disconnect that places you in a different circumstance. Death by disease, old age, accident… different causes but the same emotional stress. We may find some comfort in parts of the cause, as an example, “Well, he was quite old, and lived a long time.” This is a common narrative but really it is bandaid. Grieving someone is real and it doesn’t matter if they were ancient, or long suffering.

The same can be said for people that leave you because of argument, legal issues, moving away, or slothful friend maintenance. Reasons for the grieving are separate from the need to grieve and it would be a mistake to rely on the “reasons” to fix a broken heart.

Often, friends and acquaintances will suggest distractions to help in the immediate circumstance. In many ways this is a good step. Grief can build up by dwelling on the reality. Going over and over any guilt, real or imagined, can cascade into a torrent of emotion. Not necessarily a good or healthy thing.

But throwing yourself into a new hobby of activity is really just stuffing the emotion into convenient mental boxes. It’s a little like too many t-shirts in a bureau drawer. It looks neat and tidy, but it is actually useless and no longer functions as it should. And if you actually try to open it, the drawer contents will explode across the room.

Have I ever used this technique? Of course, I am human. But I also realize that I need a drawer that doesn’t explode, a drawer that still functions as a drawer, something I can easily search through, something that is useful.

It should always be an emergency fix, stuffing things away when you have visitors. Re-adjusting things later for the long haul.

What do I suggest for grieving? Hmm, it’s a little like eating an elephant or a Buick. Take it one bite at a time. You must address it, but you can’t let it break it free like a rollercoaster after the climb up. Unless you like to live emotionally dangerous.

How long does it take to eat an elephant? It depends on your size of bite. If you nibble it will take years, if you stuff your cheeks you may choke. Again, other people’s advice will rarely be better than your own.

Having a clear assessment of the character and reality of the relationship is probably the best place to start. Sometimes individuals fill a role that is expected by tradition, but is far from the reality. Pondering the nature can go both ways. You may find that there was less than expected. You may find that there was way more. Being honest about the reality will give you the best shot of coping with the grief.

Oh yeah, crying is good. Sobbing uncontrollably is less good.

The next best thing is communicating your grief with safe people. Remember that you are vulnerable. Throwing your emotions out to the general public may get you some pity, but pity doesn’t fix the hurt. What if you don’t have safe people? See a professional therapist! This is extremely important.

On a personal note, faith and scripture is my go-to solution. This is true because I have developed a “relationship” long before the actual need. This is not something to take up in a crisis generally speaking, although God is miraculous.

After grieving is addressed, then the causes, reasons, and guilt can be looked at. You may be convicted, you may assess blame. Both of these are to be consumed in the same manner. One bite at a time!

I pray for my friend, and anyone in grief. It is the other side of joy, and not fun to visit. Please don’t stay there!

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

The Big Questions

I think it worthwhile to review the “big questions” in life periodically. Partly because time moves on, and wisdom may drop from an apple tree. Mostly though, it’s good to check on the “big questions” right after a significant moment in life, perhaps even a challenge to life.

I have no reason to think that a brush with death would impart answers to life. In fact, I think it is mostly ironic that we remain clueless in the face of certainty. Still, maybe there is a small thing, maybe a slight gap. Something that Leonard Cohen sings about, “a crack, where the light gets in…”

The quick answer is that I haven’t been given the meaning of life, or even the purpose of my life. The Big Questions remain for some future time. But cracks have illuminated some things.

The first thing I think of is the love/care expressed. It is almost hard to receive. So many people have sent heart felt emotions, concerning my badly acting heart. There is a mystery there.

We interact at a given level that is direct/honest, but at some distance. Relationships are seen more healthy if somewhat cool. Otherwise, we seem “too involved”, needy, or downright cloying. And yet, this often isn’t honest. Certain people mean more in your life than you admit or talk openly about. It only comes forth when you are about to lose it.

I have redoubled my efforts to express my care, for those who I care about.

It’s funny, because it works both ways. Facing the abyss is often scary, but you can walk away with a new appreciation of loved ones, family and friends. Not because of what they have done for you, but because of who they are!

So, am I saying that a health crisis gives new vision? New vision is often the same objects, but seen from a different perspective.

This is an important distinction, because a different perspective can be easily lost. In a practical sense a new perspective can be gained by moving two steps to the left. You may gain some important insights, but if you step two steps back to the right they are no longer visible.

It is no wonder that the most common command in Scripture is “Remember!”.

It is just past Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of a new year, with a new heart, new perspectives, it is always the “right” time to start. You may never have the chance again.

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

Driven by Fear

We are often driven by fear. We are taught that fear determines flight instead of fight. I think I still fear the fight.

In the course of a lifetime some fears are consistent and ever present. At the same time, old fears may fade away like last summer’s tan. Oh yes, and then there is the category of new fears! What to do with them?

What I have found lately is that the new fears are all about my current health situation. That’s understandable, considering some of the more helpless aspects of the circumstances. I can’t lift more than five pounds per hand. That includes pushing. This means that catching myself in the act of falling has become a major fear. Do I use my arms to break the fall (and rip my stitches so that my heart falls out), or do I just relax, fall and just break?

I don’t ponder this often, only when I stand up, move, or sit down. I had one slow moment standing near the washing machine searching for clothes. It turns out that a pile of laundry is soft and moveable, it does not provide a solid mountain to lay a hand on to rest or stabilize.

Perhaps I will fall, perhaps I won’t. I can’t know how bad it is until it happens.

So far I have identified three basic fears that are directly related to my heart surgery.

1. the fear of coughing. Wow, this was a big one. It was complicated with the necessity of coughing out the intubation tube within hours of the surgery. What? Can’t you pull it while I’m still under? You have got to be kidding me? Hands are on the tubing and pulling. My gag reflex kicks in and I cough. Yikes!

That was bad, really bad. I do not want to cough. I can feel something in my lungs, but it is going to stay there and become pneumonia.

2. The fear of throwing up. I have never been a fan of throwing up. Perhaps I’ve never been drunk often enough, or eaten in sketchy places. I just don’t have a long history of experience. The stomach is pretty far from the heart and lungs, but they’re neighbors! It’s all that involuntary action that is disturbing. I don’t want to do this right now, but my body overrules my control. I have a lot of empathy for women in pregnancy. Not today! Right!

3. the fear of sneezing. Okay, this is more specific to me. Most people are a one sneeze creature in my experience. My wife is a two sneezer. I rarely offer a blessing on the first sneeze. I wait for the second. And I’m very surprised when there is a third. I am not in that category. I go on a jag. I sneeze thirty or forty times. People have left the room by being embarrassed in offering a blessing. So what would that do for my sutures?

The trifecta of fears. I have faced two of them so far. Both are uncomfortable, but survivable, the involuntary action is scary, but it does end pretty quickly. The sneezing is still out there unexperienced. Maybe my body can stop it, maybe it isn’t as bad as I think. I wait in some fear!

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

Tribute Wall

I’ve thrown paint at six canvases. I am really happy with about three. I could throw more paint and maybe get more happier! Or, it could be mud. I’m still happy!

For now I’m done. I don’t think I will be feeling like painting next week. In fact, this spurt may be it for awhile. I tend to go in bursts, flat out for awhile and then I’m on to other things. I’m okay with the almost finished pieces, some are more almost than others. I’ve got a lot to learn and recovery is a good place to start.

So the tribute wall is done for now. Thank you Vincent, for reaching out to touch me just a little. I tried to put just a little of you in each Canvas. More importantly is that I thought about you a great deal. Haha, I see you, and it matters to me!

Tomorrow I get a remodeled heart. A little scary, and a lot hopeful. More energy and better stamina. Maybe not so good for the first couple of days.

Anyway, not so much painting for awhile, not so much blogging either. I will be back shortly with new inspirations!

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

In Progress…

I’ve got ten canvases, eight with some paint, maybe two that are completed. All in all, not bad output for the week!

Of course, it could take a month to finish. I am so over my head that I can’t put a timetable on it. Maybe throw some paint on the last two canvases. Haha, first thing, learn to paint!

Heading to Friday’s operation, probably I will get one more day to tackle some color, then an entire week of recuperation and maybe done study. If I’m trapped in a hospital bed, perhaps I’ll study. It could happen!

Worst student in the planet!

Posted in Commentary | 1 Comment

Tribute Landscape #2 Final

Is anything final? Well, final for now! I got hypnotize laying in all those strokes. Too many, surely paintings aren’t the composite addition of tedious strokes? Don’t they just pop out after awhile? I’ve been digital too long, there must be some sort of action to program.

Now to move on to more terrifying subjects, self-portraits, portraits of family members. Paintings that are unforgiving. “That doesn’t look like them”. Landscapes are cool, drop your brush? Well that becomes a Bush! Portraits? “Who is that? Is this some sort of age progression?”

No, is it just creative incompetence! It’s a new category under the general Impressionist label. It only has one resident so far, so I can claim to be the originator.

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

Tribute Landscape #2

Got the midtones down. When dry I will hit the highlights & shadows. Starting to figure this out just a little. Well, landscapes at least. Portraits, gahhh!

Posted in Commentary | 1 Comment

Tribute Portrait

Hmm, okay, it’s not quite right. A little haunting, a little young. What’s the chances that painting will correct things? Gahaha! None whatsoever!! Hahaha, I haven’t the slightest idea of what I’m doing!!! It’s terrifying, and wonderful!!

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

The Week

It’s a quiet morning. Saturday in California, and no fire nearby, and the sky is clear. Labor Day, and I haven’t labored in at least five years, and possibly forty years before that.

When was the last time I worked? By this, I mean hard labor for no reason other than the pay at the end of the week. It certainly has been a long time!

So Labor Day for most of my life has only been a sign post. The end of summer, school starts, football season begins, women can’t wear white… what! Where did that come from?

This is pretty much the year with no summer for me. Life has been so complicated and busy that I didn’t have time for summer. I never really thought about the partnership aspect. Dates on a calendar, even seasons, require the agreement of the people! Huh! That’s a weird sort of power. Of course it goes on for everybody else. It would be horrible if my missing summer impacted everybody in Florida for example. Ha, truly a self-centered concept.

So this week I spend painting, writing, pondering, and generally acting feckless. I’m retired, I can do that! Sorry I missed you Summer, see you next year!

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

Save the Date

Sept 7

A new lease on life! Well, okay, maybe it’s just a remodel. My heart has been abused, but I get to replumb at least one artery that has been plugged for years. I thought I was just getting old and tired. I am, but in addition my heart was not getting enough oxygen. The stent fixed the heart attack, this bypass fixes being out of wind so easily. At least that is what they tell me.

Friday morning they crack my chest like a lobster and start swapping things around. I get a week in the hospital, a chest pillow so that I hug to remind myself not to use my arms for a week. I go home recuperating for a couple weeks, do some cardio rehab, and by Thanksgiving I’m back to hiking! Hah! At least that’s the plan!

Posted in Commentary | 2 Comments

Common Phrases

Heavy Rain (around the World)

English- cats and dogs

Iceland- fire and brimstone

Greece- chair legs

Columbia- husbands

Catalonia- barrels and casks

Ireland- cobblers knives

Brazil- lizards and snakes

Czech Republic- wheelbarrows

Norway- witches

Denmark- shoemaker’s apprentices

Slovakia- tractors

France- ropes

Wales- knives and forks

Poland- frogs

Germany- puppies

I find this list terrifying to the extreme. I have lived my life with the fear of dogs and cats raining down from the skies, no doubt swept up by tornadoes in the Midwest. But “husbands” (and not wives), “shoemaker’s apprentices” ( and not shoemakers), Greek chairlegs?

It’s all too much, I have too many fears already, I can’t live in another country. The worst is raining French ropes. Ropes?.

(With thanks to James Chapman,

Posted in Commentary | 1 Comment


I’ve had a couple of recent conversations that have transcended the average level of communication. Not that I am above average. I have to try very hard to attain anything close to being average. By the very nature of “conversational” one tends to shy away from anything risky. All of us can worry whether what is being said, is what is being heard.

I once knew a person who was certain that everything said was actually a code, that meant something else entirely. Well, sometimes it was close to the real meaning, but lots of times it was even the opposite of what was actually felt. Wait, I think that person was me! No wonder I’ve been so confused.

My point is that too often we do not recognize the friend, the relative, the co-worker- and the value that they have brought to the relationship. Too much is left to the broad category, “it goes without saying”. I am actively on a campaign to eliminate that phrase in my life. It will be said!

Say it, risk it. We don’t need empty flattery, it can be nice on the surface, but we know it’s empty, and more importantly, we know it is untrue. Truth and honesty are best friends and will not be separated.

How much better is it to affirm the truth? Encourage one another by expressing the honest impact of knowing one another! It could change the world!

Okay, okay. Depending upon the day, I’m not ready for everybody to go all touchy feely. I sometimes revel in my solitude. I am a rock, I am an island. It’s a balance. But being a balance requires that periodically both sides are attended.

Not everyone that you communicate with gets the status of “special”. If everything had the same status, nothing would stand out. No contrast, no shape and no edges. My suggestion is simply to share the truth, and let people know their value to you. One of the most powerful things you can say to another is “I see you!” I would suggest that this be modified with an ending, “And it matters to me!”

It can be said that I’m on “the other side of Wednesday”, which causes more thoughtful thoughts. This could be true, but it also doesn’t mean that I’m delusional. It is a good thing to be thankful, an even better thing to be encouraging. Thanks and encouragement are sadly missing in this world. Be the change!

Posted in Commentary | 1 Comment

Second Tribute

90% done on this landscape, lots of brush and palette knife. Learned a lot.

Posted in Commentary | 2 Comments

First Tribute, part 2

Closer and closer. Surprising the amount of work goes into background. It’s a big space, and there are hundreds of tones. Still avoiding the flesh tones. Coward!

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

On Paint

Today I will buy acrylics and attempt a tribute painting. A tribute painting is similar to a tribute band. They play music in the style of their favorite group, listening very hard in order to play their songs with accuracy.

Watching the movie “Loving Vincent” has caused me to go “medieval” and find canvas and paint instead of the usual digital media that I have used the last twenty-five years. Whoa, wait! Good grief, it’s been thirty-three years. Umm, is this doable?

I haven’t decided on a particular Van Gogh. I’m torn between one of the cypress trees, and the portrait of Armand Roulin. Different stokes emphasized. Right now I’m still breaking things apart. What color fields were laid down first? What were the edges like? Where was the light coming from? What would the “topographical map” look like?

I remember working on another “tribute work” when I was in Korea during the winter of 1973. I had a lump of plasticine that had carved into dozens of heads. Each one unique and challenging with various expressions. Each one lived for about a week before being mushed into a ball, ready for another head to come. Sometimes I would carefully shave them of all facial and scalp hair.

Once I removed the skin to reveal the facial muscles, and then I went down to the bone, leaving a plasticine skull. I had a lot of time on my hands. I also created a huge amount of sculpture but only one lump of plasticine to show for it. I still have that mis-shapened lump in my garage, embedded with decades of garage dirt.

One day I found a pretty complete kit of oil pastel sticks. Someone had returned back to the states, and left the somewhat messy oil sticks behind. I thought that I might try to copy something I liked.

I picked “Starry Night” by Van Gogh. I had a pretty decent sized print that I studied with a magnifying glass. I was determined to do my best to create the feel of the painting. It was two different types of media, but I could give a good color treatment, and some of the strokes came across pretty well. The real neat thing was that I began to “know” the painting. It was a very cold winter on the DMZ, but I was warmed by the “old light” of Vincent’s swirling skies.

I finished the work but didn’t bring it home. When I left I was hoping that it was a permanent going, but I couldn’t take the chance by packing up my personal things. I left everything in my part of the quonset hut, as if I would be back in two weeks. “Starry Night” was tacked up, on the curving wall, above my bunk. Defining space and star dust in a flat rectangle, but still gently curving as physics would demand. .

Okay, that was forty-five years ago. It’s about time for another tribute piece. I did do another digital tribute work of Michelangelo’s Adam touching God’s finger. Wow, did I learn about that painting. I never knew that God was bringing the gift of Eve wrapped up in his billowing cloak, tucked in with a few cherubs. Everyone is focused on the two fingers almost touching, missing the action under the cloak.

I thinking about getting some big tubes of yellow, so maybe my choice is made.


Posted in Commentary | 1 Comment

On Marriage

Today, friends become one.

Not only is this miraculous,

But I’m honored to witness it.

Being witness to a miracle has its ramifications.

You must tell about it,

“Two have become One!”

You must support it,

“ I, and my house, are forever there for you!”

You must take it into your heart,

“Search me now, search me in the future, my heart is yours!”

Miracles are joyous, and miracles bring a response!

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

The Selfish Self

I’m thinking about words. I’m thinking specifically of my ability to string words together to form a sort of communication. If I wanted to express and transmit an idea or thought, I need to find the right words, the words that can be understood at the other end. If I don’t consider the recipient, then my intention may be valid, but the success is questionable.

I have often recalled a story about Leonard Cohen while he was composing a song. The melody was complete, the lyrics were nearly done, it would seem like the song could be in the next album. It did not happen, Leonard was unhappy with one word, he was one word shy of completing the song. It remained uncompleted for 18 months.

At some point one could wonder if the right word existed in common language. Perhaps something not in English? And then, of course, because it was part of a lyric, the number of syllables in the word were an issue. And perhaps the perfect word can only be assessed by the artist.

I don’t write songs, but sometimes I put words together without regard to the audience. I am at times a selfish purveyor of words.

There is a “common fact” that the Eskimos have a 147 words for snow. It’s not a fact. It was only said that there were “many more” words for snow. And then somehow the amount was 50 words, which was then changed to over 100 words. Actually, in the Sami language of the Laplanders there are over 300 different words for states of snow.

And yet we try to live with “love” and a few adjectives.

And then it comes down to this- how is it that poets, songwriters, authors… how is it that they succeed? Not only do they succeed, but they soar!!

“I heard of a man

Who says words so beautifully

That if he only speaks their name

Women give themselves to him.

If I am dumb beside your body

While silence blossoms like tumors on our lips

It’s because I hear a man climb stairs

And clear his throat outside our door.”

Leonard Cohen spoke this between sets at a concert I went to. I was floored and wondered “What song is this?” It wasn’t a song, it was a short poem he had written fifty years earlier. I found it published in his first book.

“Blago bung, blago bung

Basso fataka”

From Hugo Ball and Karawane

I am reduced to quoting bits and pieces, the scraps of what I remember, from works that express the meaning where I have no words of my own. A serial quoter coming from the paucity of connection. (Okay, well, those three words were pretty good.)

Maybe the answer is in my motive. I reference back to the phrase, “I am a selfish purveyor of words” I spew for my own amusement”, I create only for my own pleasure. But I secretly wish that others would peak through the curtain.

Time to end this thread.

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

Van Gogh

I’ve just seen something so amazing that I hardly have words to describe how I feel.

I don’t know what was the first painting of Vincent’s that I saw. I suspect it was one of his portraits. Perhaps the blueish one with the piercing eyes. His eyes were always piercing… whatever painting drew me in, it wasn’t long before I was on a mission to see everything. I didn’t know that there was nearly 800 painted within eight years.

So many favorites, so many meaningful works, filled with greatness, strokes of joy and loss. I couldn’t get enough. I could hardly find a way to talk about how a felt, viewing his work, understanding his life. Then Don McLean wrote his song “Vincent”. He understood, he caught the essence and found the lost words to express what I felt. How did he do that?

I had honored Kirk Douglas for his work in the movie about Vincent, but it was still not what the song did for me. I was happy that another medium had captured something of how I felt about the power of Vincent Van Gogh.

And tonight I saw “Loving Vincent”, and I am in shock. Please, if you have ever found that Vincent struck a chord in your life. Please see this movie to experience an orchestral event. It is moving, it is beautiful, it is inspiring… the work jumps off the screen and embeds itself into your soul. I feel much the same way as when I first heard the song “Vincent”, and here is this animated movie, with a version of the song at the end. It is perfect! Please see it soon.

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment


Okay, I’m having that illusion while sitting in a parked car, you know the one, where you are certain that something is moving, but you are not sure who. I have checked the parked car across the street at least ten times, and I have marked their hubcaps on my window frame as a reference. The invisible driver has somehow gotten the car back to the original position, from where I thought he moved. I don’t know how he does it. Very fast reflexes.

I know there is movement. It is a scientific fact that even if we think we are perfectly still, we are moving at approximately 43,000 miles per hour towards Vega. That’s me, and you, the Earth, the Moon, and the entire solar system. Of course everything is moving as well. Even Vega isn’t stationary.

Come to think of it, probably for half the year we are going a little faster. We are orbiting the Sun at 66,000 thousand miles an hour, so we could at the most, add them together to get almost 100,000 miles per hour towards Vegas (unless we are orbiting sideways). And then half the year we are actually in retrograde and heading away from Vega at 23,000 miles per hour (unless we are orbiting sideways).

I also forgot that we are spinning on our own axis at 1,000 miles per hour. I suppose that is petty compared to the cosmic movements. Still, 1,000 miles per hour should requires a windscreen.

I have read that we are also rotating around the center of our Milky Way galaxy at approximately 483,000 miles per hour, and I don’t know if we are sideways or not, but the possibility is that for at least some time we are traveling at almost 600, 000 miles per hour.

And if everything lines up just right, at some point in the galactic future, we can add that speed to the speed that we are making from the center of the universe, (the Big Bang) so it just possible that you, and I, and that parked car across the street are moving at 1.9 million miles per hour.

This totally makes sense. I knew that invisible driver moved fast, I just didn’t know how fast.

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

First Trike Ride

First ride after heart attack. Wow, it’s hot out here. I’m in my granny gear of all grannies. I can’t be any slower, but I’m still moving forward, heart rate hovering at 95. So I’m good.

I’m only a block from home but it might take two hours. Hahaha! Hey, uphill is still uphill and I’m not using the motor. Can’t, the battery died. Hahaha!

And I had a flat tire while resting. BwaHaHa!

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment

Morris Graves

I have come to Morris Graves too late.

It should have been sooner,

I could have learned so much,

If I had only listened to Ferlinghetti in 1965.

Posted in Commentary | Leave a comment