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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sunday Sermon

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

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

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

Go in peace, please. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 9, 2017

Those We Love

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

 I hear it again, "Cheap!" I stop.

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

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


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

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

"Does every human like eggplant?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Then I ventured away from curriculum..."

"What's that?"

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 29, 2017

Then X 3

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

Then, Then It Will Be Autumn

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Two Songs On The Trainride To Peace

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

Elly Stone sings "Marieke"

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Where The Treefrogs Are

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geo.: Surely, not that cold.

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

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

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

Geo.: A most sensible solution.

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

Geo.: Are there no exceptions?

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

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

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

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


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Enchanted Objects

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

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

Read more here:

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

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

Johnnie Fedora and Alice Bluebonnet. (Michael Feinstein)

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

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