Rising in Beauty

Rising in Beauty
Sky over North Park

Just Learning

Just Learning
Kitchen Studio

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wedding Photos

What fun! I'm ordering photos from Philip and Lael's July wedding from Shutterfly.

It was a wonderful three days of celebration.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


We voters judged him by the content of his character, not by the color of his skin.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to me!

How fortunate I have been in the joys, relationships and careers I have experienced. My down moods seem absurd, except, of course, when I'm in them.

I expect improved health and new interests.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tide Pool

I used to enjoy visiting the tide pool on the ocean side of Point Loma, near the end of the landmark peninsula. I waded in the shallow cove, took lots of photos, looked out to sea. The incoming tide splashed dramatically against the rocks, sending up geysers of whitewater and bubbles. The outgoing tide uncovered mossy rocks, and once in a while a small abalone. Kids found great adventure negotiating the rocks, windmilling their arms for balance. In the shallow puddles on shore, there was the occasional tiny crab scuttling, or a small starfish. Sea slugs are big and purple and kind of disturbing, the way they blob and slide along.

People aren't supposed to take anything away from the tide pool, but they've been doing so for many years. It's sad that there are so few life forms, compared to the tide pools film shown in Cabrillo National Park. There are some anemones, seaweeds, lichens, and lots of limpets. Limpets cling to the rock so hard that it is scarred all over with round pits. It makes an interesting texture.

A ranger explained one day that when abalone thrive, the otter population explodes. The otters eat the abalone. When there are no longer enough abalone to feed all the otters, the otter population shrinks. Then the abalone increase, until the cycle starts again. Harvesting abalone is forbidden now along the US coast. It used to be a good cash crop. I had some years ago and liked it very much. It's still legal in Mexico, but the shells I've seen are a lot smaller than the old shells I've seen used to burn sage in Lakota ceremonies.

The sea is still there. We no longer think of it as inexhaustible. But it sure is big. And the salt wind is refreshing.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cut Cards

Strange Campaign Choice

Sarah Palin seems a strange choice as a running mate for McCain. I think it was David Brooks on the Lehrer report who said McCain wanted Joe Lieberman or a governor whose name I forget. Supposedly McCain was told (by his party?) that he couldn't have a running mate who wasn't strongly against reproductive choice. Palin fits that bill. But surely there aren't that many voters whose religious/ethical opinion on that subject completely overrides common sense. A Veep can become a President. What about ability in Congressional politics, which has to involve compromise and mediation? What about a sense of the big picture, nationally and globally? What about careful decision-making process? Palin's performance has shown she has often been so sure she was right that she didn't need to gather information and support, relying instead on her gut instincts. She's flamboyant and interesting. In a televised interview with Charlie Gibson, she also showed a disconcertingly smug affect, impervious to ideas and needs that didn't fit the campaign agenda. She's in way over her head. She appears to be having a wonderful time with all the attention. I guess she could be a figurehead, managed by party bigwigs and civil servants. Or so they may think. She looks pretty unmanageable to me.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Last night at the Denver stadium, Barak Obama convinced me that he can be a gifted and inspiring leader. He's grown into the stature that has been hoped for him.

Can he do what he says he will if he is President? Who knows? No past president has achieved much more than progress on goals for US society and economy. No one person can or administration can. All too many have brought regression instead.

The video about his life showed that he really does know our people and has been at work in grassroots, bottom-up democracy for many years.

Go get that Goliath, David.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"How To" Article Can Help Prevent Alcohol Problems

This morning I was awakened by a phone call of congratulations on my letter to the editor, which I had not realized was published yesterday in the San Diego Union Tribune. The caller was an enthusiastic parent and activist who supports a ban on booze on Ocean Beach. Several beach communities in the area have already taken this step, which makes it much more pleasant and safe to enjoy the beautiful beaches nearby.

I had responded to yesterday's Union Tribune Health feature called "Sober Assessment," which gave succinct practical information on how much alcohol various drinks contain. It gave good guidelines on how to tell if one is too much affected by alcohol to drive with good judgment, and reported on heading off alcohol problems before they become severe.

Color photos of various drinks showed how much volume it takes to get one ounce or "one shot," a basic measure of alcohol. An ounce of whiskey, 6 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of beer contain the same amount of alcohol. Many people who drink a six-pack of beer in a couple of hours are amazed that they have had the equivalent of six shots of hard liquor.

Another part of the article asked doctors to query their patients routinely about how many days recently they have had at least one drink. That simple question can lead to taking alcohol use seriously as part of health care. Many medications become harmful or deadly when they combine with alcohol.

It made me very uneasy to read that drinks served in bars are usually stronger than people realize. An ounce and a half of, say, gin, in a fruity mixed drink, or a beer glass that holds 16 ounces or more, starts impairing a person faster than the person expects. Relaxing and socializing shouldn't make a person sick.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Olympics Awe

Teenage girls hurl themselves through punishing gymnastics routines, to win by a few tenths of a point. They're all so good, and they represent only a tiny percentage of thousands of young girls all over the world who train, and dream, for years. Like the girls who train in ballet, some will make a life career, most will not. Maybe everything later will seem second best; or, maybe, they will transfer the courage, discipline, and drive to new goals.

What a feast of excellence we are witnessing through the televised Olympics. Swimmers, divers, discus throwers, the Jamaican sweep in Track and Field, team sports, solo sports - it's overwhelming how much achievement we are witnessing, and how much it takes to organize and support sports. It's encouraging.

I certainly would rather experience nationalism and conflict through sports than through war.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sheep Cheese, Goat Cheese

On a visit to one of my sisters, I learned that the whole family had switched to goat's milk, goat cheese and sheep cheese. Maybe the time they spend in France helps with the cultural change. Their sheep cheese was delicious on pasta and chicken.

This experience inspired me to do something I'd considered, but never got around to. I found a quart of goat's milk at Trader Joe's cost only a dollar more than a quart of a good brand of cow's milk at my local supermarket. Today I found my local supermarket did carry both goat cheese and sheep cheese. I plan to use them in salads and over pasta. The goat's milk has a slightly odd taste drunk plain. A bit of decaf coffee powder, or a spoon of chocolate, may hide the taste, which is not noticeable at all mixed with cereal or used for cooking.

Goat and sheep dairy products are much easier to digest than cow's milk, and also are supposed to be free of pesticide residue, antibiotics and growth hormones.

Maybe this will promote health.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What a Wonderful World

Yes! My son found Louis Armstrong's rendition of Art Garfunkel's, "What a Wonderful World," for my dance with him at the reception after his marriage to the very finest girl in all the world, rockin' diva Lael.

Friday, July 11, 2008


I'm going to wear a single gardenia at my son's wedding. The gardenia was my mother's favorite flower.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mary Wigman

Brainy Quote has one quote from Mary Wigman:

"Strong and convincing art has never arisen from theories."

Wigman (1883-1973)had an enormous impact on the development of modern dance. She was the teacher of my teacher, Liljan Espenak, in Berlin between world wars.

The quote gives an idea of the direction of her impact: dancing from the heart, improvising, finding forms. This goes beyond the rigorous athletic training of a dancer, who must develop physical strength and balance, stamina and endurance, and a willingness to take on new gestures and dynamics, new vocabulary. It has more to do with choreography, with discovery of character and psychodynamics, as well as finding expressive movement specific to the dancer's body type.

Wigman contributed to the intellectual ferment of the period, interacting with anthropologists, psychiatrists and artists. They all attempted to understand human nature, human development, societal formation, religious impulse.

Espenak was a dancer and choreographer who became an Adlerian psychotherapist. She adapted her training to help people express themselves and heal themselves, by the truths emerging from their dance, not from theory.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

It Had an Edge

There was feeling - this form wanted to come into being. I have not the skill. The arc insists. It exists. It wants body.

It had an edge, a silver edge along a bronze arc.
It may have been the silver sky and silver sea at Ocean Beach,
Or some abstract of the orbs that rivet my attention,
Planets, moons, that orange gray-scale wheel.

The dream state diffused from a hard-edged image that yet had softness,
the arcs rounded as if one side of pipes
or parabolic curves

The sky was transparent
blackness arced beneath the arcs
Art deco or 30's machine deco repetition,
Too perfectly curved, made with crayons and calipers -

What stylus drew, what black lead pencil stub
could be so huge -
The lever that could move a world?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fill Up

I filled my eyes today
With purple jacaranda and red bougainvillea
Against blue skies and white clouds,
Distant sage serration of hills,
Prams and running children and strolling parents,
Grandmas and baroque buildings
And the arching Moreton Fig Tree.

The colors soaked down
And satisfied my soul.

We reach for the sun from deep waters,
The fig tree and I.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Step Out

Art and Words by Deb Koffman, www.brushdance.com inspirational images.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Use the Good Dishes

Life is short; use the good dishes.

Wear your best clothes. Ditch what isn't comfortable and flattering.

Do the smile test. If it makes you smile, keep it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Eucalyptic Euthanasia

This week the one hundred foot eucalyptus tree near the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park had to be taken down. Acording to the Union Tribune, an arborist had declared the eucalyptus tree to be a threat to the theatre building. It's always sad when something that is flourishing has to be uprooted. I doubt very much that the tree was worried about crashing into the roof, so I guess it's not euthanasia, which is supposed to be a merciful killing to cut suffering short. Is it eucalyptophobia? Maybe preventive strike?

In an earlier post, "Sunshine in the Park," I narrated the tale of the Henry Moore sculpture which was partly upended when a eucalyptus fell on it. All over San Diego and Southern California, large eucalypti and palm trees are being felled. That's because they are old enough to be in danger of falling onto houses, cars, people, unicycles. Enough damage has already occurred to win the battle between the arboreal control party vs. the arboreal rights party.

Tree nurseries can supply 20 foot palm trees that settle right in to newer developments and shopping districts, looking elegant and tropical. I haven't heard that eucalypti are being planted. They do make fragrant garden chips, cover and mulch. Well, maybe not mulch; I think they poison other plants.

I wonder if eucalypti and platypi emerged from the same era? Australian flora and fauna are said to have developed separately after Pangaea broke apart.

For now, eucalypti adorn Southern California in abundance, with their slender trunks and high crowns.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


When in doubt, DANCE!


Recent visitors to my blog who posted include ray of cork, a singer/songwriter who plays guitar; Jules, an Australian who teaches English in Papua, New Guinea, and is part of a great photo blog team; Jon King, whose thoughtful essays on life and design are a constant delight; a fellow in Brasil promoting GPS; Paul Bernard, who posts new writing every day; LOL, who posts photo essays and happy stories.

It is nice to travel the world this way.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bait and Switch

RedAl has a good review of Barbara Ehrenreich's "Bait and Switch," which documents the experiences of far too many educated, competent, skilled people who are ready to work - and can't find work. I read the book recently, and couldn't improve on this succinct review.

I recommend Ehrenreich's own blogs which are often funny and always provocative.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Quest for Fire

"Quest For Fire," a movie which came out in the 1980's, may be the best dramatized documentary in film history, although it was released as a regular fiction movie.

I've watched many depictions of how prehistoric man, hominid and ape may have moved, socialized, fought, used tools. I've watched many nature shows that captured behavior the casual observer would never have seen, and listened to Jane Goodall and others describe family life of gorillas, bonobos, chimps and orangs. I've also viewed apes living in fairly comfortable environments at the Columbus, Ohio zoo and the San Diego zoo. That includes their sexual behavior, at times.

Some of the behavior of the fictional tribe members matched ape behaviors uncannily. Meticulous, sustained thought and work went into maintaining the illusion throughout the story, so that we seemed to be present at transitions and breakthroughs as new realizations dawned on early humankind.

The chief advisor on body language was Desmond Morris. While his conclusions in "The Naked Ape," are not now honored, he and the other zoologists and anthropologists were honest and tireless observers and gave a lot to the fascination of the story.


Last night I watched "Quest For Fire," on HULU. I had not seen it when it came out. Bad reviews of "10,000 B.C.," referred to "Quest For Fire," as a much better movie set in prehistory. So when I saw it on the alphabetical movie list on the new site, HULU, I wanted to see it.

HULU is free to the watcher, supported by advertising. A friend said people would never watch full length movies online because the picture is too small. On my PC, the picture was clear in the smaller size, still occasionally jerky, and my sound is very basic. Since I have always had smaller screen TV's and never went for SurroundSound, it wasn't that hard to adjust. I miss late night "B" movies that have all gone to dedicated movie channels. HULU gives me back that option, with the addition of choice. The other night I watched the 1 hour 37 minute pilot of "Hill Street Blues," and I intend to watch the episodes in sequence during the summer. I rewatched all the episodes of "Life," while NBC offered them. The video quality was much poorer, but I already liked the show so much that I didn't mind. I did have to stop and rest my eyes.

The site opened March 12th. I wish it long life.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring Has Sprung

"'Tis spring, 'tis spring,
Da boid is on da wing.
Absoid, absoid,
Da wing is on da boid.'"
Ogden Nash

Apologies to any members of my family, who have heard this silly ditty too often.

To me, it's the unexpected lyricism of the New York taxi driver, craning his/her neck to look at a blue sky far above the traffic jam. Unexpected only because of stereotypes about cynical attitudes and hardened sensibilities, and about certain accents' incompatibility with a love of language and literature.

Very soon, thousands and thousands of trees will leaf out and bloom on the streets and in the parks of the city. Migrating birds will rest in Jamaica Bay. Robins will puff their foolish chests and sing for mates.

May we humans care for our environment so that the miracle can continue.

(One of the loveliest robin flying photos on Flickr.com is called Leap of Faith, by moriarti-Ryan.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wheels When You Want Them

Join Zipcar and get $25 in free driving!

I enjoyed my first trip in a rented Zipcar today, a Nissan Bresla. The surf was rolling in and crashing at Ocean Beach. Under dramatic clouds, I breathed deep, fresh air from salt water. I checked out the farmers' market held every Wednesday. This is a good way to have access to personal driving without maintaining a car.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Go to TED and watch the video of the Pilobolous Dance Company. "A union of dance and biology," begins to describe their work, which uses the natural mechanics of the human body to the flowing, balancing extreme.

You may have seen a Ford car ad in which dancers form the outline of a car, and then the car materializes. That was Pilobolus .

Beautiful. Fearless. Exploratory.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Inspiration: Soul Shine, TED

Earl Thomas and his acoustic band performed "Soul Shine," on Tom Fudge's radio show today. This is a great singer and band. "Soul Shine," was credited to Gov't Mule, and is the title of the group's latest of 11 CD's. Thomas sings it blues style. The voice is warm, laid back, funky, clear and then smoky, with perfect phrasing. He's Northern Californian by way of Guam, Tennessee and San Diego, with roots in the American South.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design: Ideas Worth Spreading. Charlie Rose interviewed Chris Anderson, who communicated joy and a dedication to following through on great ideas. JUST GO LOOK AT THE SITE.

Divinity is within you.

Death and the Mind


“You work, you slave, you worry so,
But you can’t take it with you
When you go, go, go,

So keep repeating, ‘It’s the berries,’
(Something, something, must fall)
Life is just a bowl of cherries,
So live and laugh at it all!”

Sung, probably, by Rosemary Clooney, this was a popular tune in my youth.

It came to mind because I was thinking, “You can’t take your mind with you when you go.”

A friend was troubled by the attitude some people were taking towards their mother: that their mother should go ahead and die. They were saying she’d be happier, reunited in heaven with their father. My friend was grieved. She was not at all sure that that was what happened after death.

I believe people need to find some comfort, some order, some compensation when facing the death of someone in the family, or their own deaths, for that matter. Religions often offer some reassurance of continuity of personality, and of reward or punishment for the way one has lived ethically.

As a pastor and chaplain, I have been present at the moment of death just a few times. I experienced passage to… something. Eternal life might be experienced in what we time-bound ones would call half a second. People who have been revived after dying often report experiences. They report them in words and images that are the mind’s interpretation of what they experienced. The Revelation of John does not say that heaven has gold streets and jeweled thrones. It says it has something “like” gold, “like” jewels. Glory, exaltation, and communication with the divine had to be communicated to us earthlings in words and images that John’s mind could provide.

PBS showed a program recently on people trying to understand how the mind arises from the physical matter and electrical energy in the brain. (They are nowhere near an explanation.) Intrepid, curious scientist researchers showed MRIs of excitation of various brain areas when exposed to various stimuli. (Excitation shows up as red.) They showed the deflection of activity in persons who do not have a corpus callosum to send impulses between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. They even showed an MRI of a Buddhist monk meditating. All the red, excited areas gradually faded, till only a blue area at the center of the top of the brain could be seen.

That night I read the part of Sarah Gilbert’s book, “Eat, Pray, Live,” that describes her experiences with yogic meditation. It also relays some of the teachings from gurus. Freed, at least for the moment, from her endless thinking and worrying, she “saw” a cool, blue circle of light that was her essence, her heart. This blue light is the part of us that “knows everything and has always known everything.” It is totally love. This is how we are divine, and how the divine is within us.

So: When we let ourselves free from the concerns and responsibilities of this life, we leave the body, brain, and the mind based on it, behind. It seems to follow, that when we leave the body behind permanently, we are love. As love we have a kind of consciousness that is not based on the brain.

Sarah describes a process of forgiveness and reconciliation, in which, while meditating, she sees her blue light and someone else’s circling each other, loving and knowing each other. As a result, Sarah lets go of resentment and hurt which was impairing her life.

So: Yes, my friend’s friend will be reunited with her husband. They will be love. They will BE love.

My image of my mother (who died in 1986) enjoying a favorite place in the company of a very dear friend is true. It is not literal, it is true.

These thoughts make me happy. However, I share the built-in desire of the living to continue to live, and I do not want other people deciding when it is time for me to move on.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Blogs and Sites

Blogs and sites I've enjoyed recently:

Barbara Ehrenreich's blog posts on the economy, with sideswipes at cultural phenomena, provoke lots of comments, some rants. She points out that economists have taken to calling the world of low wages and high cereal prices "the real economy." She wants to know what they are talking about before when they just use the term "the economy."

Kevin Kelly gives us eight "generative values," for which we can earn money even when the content is free. His meta-value: Trust.

Indeterminacy's latest invitation to write a one-minute story based on a photo he puts up, really brought out LoL's offbeat creativity. LoL's sites, HappyLoLDay and Things Look Like Things, make eye-opening use of photos as stories, often without text.

The Little House fascinated me. The smallest house in Toronto is for sale and has its own website. It's seven feet wide, yet has a washer/dryer. There are front and back yards.

I read Jon King frequently. Today I scrolled back through older posts for several I remembered. "Yikes, I'm It," October 26, 2007 caught my eye. "I'm It," could mean "I'm responsible for the work," it could be egotistical, it could just be "this is who I am."

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sunshine in the Park

Yesterday I was up at 8:30 AM, and I knew I was going to be able to walk. I took a bus to Balboa Park and walked between the Zoo and the Prado, then past the lily pond (Do Not Feed the Fish or Birds!). I enjoyed quiche and baby spring greens in the chilly atrium restaurant that is part of the sculpture garden. A bronze sculpture puzzled me. It was flattish, a rough square on end with ugly extensions. Once I read its little sign, I could kind of make out "Two Seated People." There's a new (to me) Nogare, resembling a seven foot polished black granite chisel head, very stern and deceptively simple in line. The tall black wood construction by Nevelson is gone. I walked around the grassy outdoor area, sat on a bench in the sun near Henry Moore's "Reclining Figure: Arch Leg." I couple came by. The young woman related the tale of the sculpture in much the way I have to others. (A eucalyptus fell over, its roots shifted the ground and broke the base of the sculpture. Several tons of bronze Arch Leg fell over.) That's how it was the first time I saw it..I think. When I first came to San Diego, I was profoundly moved and relieved to find that sculpture garden. I used to visit the sculpture garden at MOMA frequently. Apparently I need Rodin and Maillol and Calder and Renoir and Rembrandt to feel I'm home. (The Timken has a wonderful Rembrandt of St. Bartolomeo.) I also need Matisse and Cezanne and Van Gogh.

The Moore stayed broken for years. Eventually they built a cyclone fence around it to keep people from climbing on it and risking getting hurt if the ground shifted further. It must have cost a gazillion dollars to shift the sculpture back in place, after stabilizing the ground underneath. (You can see it on Flickr.com, arrow9studio, or the San Diego Museum of Art site.)

The young lady telling about it had the same attitude I did, ownership about this piece of local history. I suppose thousands of people feel similar investment in the Case of the Fallen Moore and its eventual restoration. No fence around it now.

The sun felt good, benign. I felt quiet, even though we could hear shouting and cheering and drumming from a big rally for Ron Paul in the amphitheater. As I limped up the Prado towards the fountain and the bus stop, I saw an amazing number of costumed entertainers, musicians, mimes, and fortune tellers. As usual, there were lots of small children running around the fountain, which was turned up to an exuberant imitation of the geyser, Old Faithful.

My muscles hurt, but I was and am very grateful that I could take that walk in the sun.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Boy, did I get tired. Probably it's just the up and down cycles I've been through for a long time. It's oddly reassuring to see that in black and white on the calendar chart and graph provided by the 10,000 Step program. My goal is the same: raise the lowest days over the long term, not when my bones seem lined with lead. That just makes things worse. No, gentle reader, I'm not talking about depression, but about energy-sapping illness.

There's a wedding coming up several months from now. I want to be able to enjoy it. I will enjoy it!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Fresh Start

My fresh start for 2008 includes the 10K-step program, with a pedometer to count all the steps I take in a day, and a daily email reminder and encouragement.

I'm already encouragd. I plan to raise my minimum activity level on days when I feel very tired.