Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Long Way Down

It was a simple day today, simple and enjoyable.  I was up late last night, just idling away the hours in conversation and reading.  I spent the morning listening to music and relaxing.  Lunch was at a diner at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto.  I had driven up there with my nephew with the intention of getting a very specific sandwich they make there – a Spicy Jose (a sloppy Joe with diced peppers). Unfortunately they no longer make that sandwich. But, the Patty Melt I had as a substitute was excellent.

After lunch, we swung down to Fry’s Electronics and picked up the “Spaced” DVD collection.  If you haven’t seen Spaced, check it out.  It is a BBC Comedy staring Simon Pegg (of Shawn of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Run Fat Boy Run fame).  It is very funny.  I also picked up “Waitress” with Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion on the recommendation of one of my chat friends.

We circled home and I took a swim and then laid down and took a very deep nap (partially making up for the short sleep last night – one of the things about being a morning person is that you tend to be a morning person, regardless of the hour that you actually go to sleep).

We then headed out and met my friend P. for dinner at the Burger Pit in South San Jose.  His wife H. was going to join us, but got hung up at work.  We finalized the plans to meet up tomorrow and head up to Lake Tahoe for the weekend and then drove home.

Then…things went…in a different direction, as they often can.  We had planned to go up to Lake Tahoe early Friday and return on Sunday.  But…I had a set of other obligations arise that will take place on Friday and Saturday, so I was faced with a choice.  I could probably have done both – the Tahoe trip and the other obligations, however…

The purpose of vacation is to relax.  I definitely am deeply in relaxation mode and I don’t want to risk losing that any earlier then necessary.  Meeting both sets of obligations would have been…multi-tasking.  I want to avoid that as much as possible for the next couple of days.

So, I called P. and H. and expressed my regrets. (They are going up to Lake Tahoe for ten days.)  They understood and, if the calendar falls into place, next weekend I will multi-task and drive up there for the weekend.  I’ve been to Tahoe many times and I am sure I will be there many times in the years to come, so it is not like I am missing a once in a life time trip.

Though I turned around the idea of the trip, like a lot of things, I could tell I had made the right decision almost immediately upon making it.  Now, I can slide through the next three days and then go back to work deeply rested on Monday – without the stress of making the trip back to Tahoe and getting things squared back away to the shift into the working schedule.  I am taking the ease in approach instead of the leap back in approach, and it feels like the right decision.

Tonight, I am just sitting here, listening to the hum of the fan and watching Part 1 of “The Long Way Down”. A ten part Fox Reality Channel series about Ewan McGregor (the actor) and Charley Boorman (the son of the director John Boorman) who rode their motorcycles from Scotland through Africa to Cape Town, a 15,000 mile 85 day journey.


The series is a follow on to their earlier documentary – “The Long Way Around” – where they rode from Scotland to New York (through Europe, Russia and Mongolia and then across America).

I really enjoyed the first series and I am definitely looking forward to this one.

A Single Shaft Of Sunlight

I woke up this morning to see a single shaft of sunlight slipping through the curtains. It was about the size of a silver dollar and a bright gold spot that lanced through the muted colors of the bedroom.  I laid there for a while and watched it trace it's path across the wood of the closet door. It was a very simple thing and a nice way to wake up.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


There is something about a classic western, something about the genre.  It may be because they are tied to many good memories as a child.  Laying on the floor with my siblings and cousins, late into a summer night, watching an old black and white western. 

Today is a day of relaxation for me, so I am sitting in the comfort of the living room, watching "Stagecoach", the old John Ford western with John Wayne on TCM (Turner Classic Movies).

Stagecoach was made in 1939, which is astounding when I think about it. When I stop and consider that a movie made over 60 years ago can still resonate in me, that is a pretty amazing thing. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

One Last Thought...

"God is a comedian playing to a world that is afraid to laugh." - Voltaire Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

And Then...I Woke Up

I just had one of those evenings where, tired from the vacation, comfortable in my home, I crawled into bed, fluffed the pillow, closed my eyes...and woke up.  I was dog tired a short while ago, but it seems as if I got a sudden second wind.  I suspect that when sleep does get me, and it will get me, it will crash into me like a giant wave and knock me straight into dreamland.  But, for now, I am awake again.

My thoughts are wandering (obviously, the waking back up did not come with mental alertness).  So, I am back online, the living room is dimly lit, the windows and doors are wide open and the fans are moving the air around.  It is cooling down nicely.

I was watching the weather channel and thought of all my various friends scattered here and there who are deep in the grips of the heat.  They definitely have my sympathy and I hope they are all finding some way to keep nice and cool during this heat wave. Or, deep in the embrace of good old fashioned air conditioning!

Now Boarding...

I swear this is what I hear. "We are now boarding flight 3344 to San Jose. First Class, Platinum Club, Gold Club, Silver Club, 100,000 Mile Club, AARP Members, Parents with Children, Parents Without Children, Children With Stuff Animals, Citizens of Pangea, and all passengers not wearing pants may board." EVERYONE stands up and boards. Fifteen minutes later I hear. "Okay, Rod, you can get on now." Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

One Perfect Moment

One perfect moment stands out. It is deep in the night. I driving south along the the coast below Carlsbad. Tendrils of fog are rolling up the coastal canyons from the Pacific. The windows are rolled down the scent if manzinita and sea. On the radio Bruce Springsteen is singing "Down By The River". There is a purity in the moment that...lingers, days later. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I love the power of words. As you may have noticed reading my journal. A well turned phrase. An insight. A strange juxtaposition. Sometimes just a single word will get inside of my head and stay there...just floating...until it lands. Sometimes things that are said in chat will resonate through my days, splintering into echoes that fuel the imagination. On Saturday in chat there was a brief discussion among several parties about...slither. The word dropped into my subconscious and I carried it with me, unaware until this happened. ----

We were at Ponce's on Adam's Street, sitting at the bar, talking and laughing. A woman came in and took a seat near the door on a bench. She was of middle years, of middle height and weight, Asian or Hispanic (or both). She had brown hair pulled back in a pony tail. She had a pleasant if plain face. She was wearing a white mens style shirt, untucked and buttoned up, and blue jeans.

The only reason I noticed her was because of what she was doing - sitting quietly on the bench, not checked in with the hostess, not moving into the bar - just sitting there, checking her watch. Again. Again. Obviously waiting on some event that had a time interval. It was the repetitive watch checking that caught my eye.

The time arrived. She stood up. She loosened her hair, spilling it across her shoulders, letting it fall down her back. She unbuttoned her shirt and then tucked it into her jeans, revealing the summer undershirt she was wearing in a dark blue, shear but not revealing. She bit her lips.

The door opened and a man walked in. She smiled at him, a dazzling smile. They kissed on the cheek. He checked in with the hostess and she walked them to the table and the woman, who for fifteen minutes had sat invisible on the bench by the door turned every head, man and woman, as she...slithered...into the dining room. Not overt. Not glaring or gaudy. Just pure sensuality. Just pure slither.

My friends, who were sitting there, who had a perfect view of her on the bench, noticed her and both commented on her beauty - as if she had just walked in the door. Pure slither. It Sent via BlackBerry by AT

Spectral Snow

Each time I come to San Diego Comic Con I like to add something special to my collection. This trip my prize is a copy of "Spectral Snow: The Dark Fantasies of Jack Snow, illustrated by Eric Shanower", and in this case autographed by Eric as well. (I also have an autographed art edition of Eric Shanower's "Age of Bronze", so "Spectral Snow" is a quirky little piece that fits right in.) Sent via BlackBerry by AT

The End...

Comic Con wrapped up today. It was a great time (it always is) and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, embracing that inner kid that says "oh, how cool" all the time. On a personal level the highpoint of the entire weekend was definity Dean Koontz. That was I have read his books for years and have never been disappointed, so to actually meet the man who has brought me hundreds of thoughtful entertainment hours was I took close to a thousand exposures with the digital camera, so I am looking forward to sorting through them. Though Comic Con was the organizing principle of the vacation - there were many other moments that I will write about as I go forward. Additionally, I have a whole week off ahead of me, so hopefully more adventures and misadventures and commentaries to come. Planning to spend tomorrow in tourist like activities - Seaport Village, the Ferry, Coronado Island. No plans tonight - yet. Though, since I have gone out the last couple of nights, tonight may be an evening of relaxation - the pool, the hotel bar, maybe a movie on PPV, or just some quiet time reading. All of which are subject to change without warning! Sent via BlackBerry by AT

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Machaca con huevos and albondagas at Ponce's on Adams. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


Chuck is a great romantic-comedy-action-spy that appears on NBC. Just finished up with the panel (the producer, director, and writers). We are going to watch one more panel, for the Sci-Fi Channel show "Fringe" and then head out for some dinner. Been a great day so far. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Battlestar Galactica...

Simply one of the best shows on television on multiple levels. If you have not watched it, the first three seasons are on DVD. Buy it. Rent it. Borrow it. It was an outstanding panel with the producer, director, and six of the cast. The soundtrack to season three has a great instrumental song on it that has etched itself in my consciousness - "Storming New Caprica". The panel was hosted by the very funny (and often profane) Kevin Smith. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Doll House...

Just finished panel for Joss Whedon's new show "Doll House", with Joss, Tamaoh Pinkett and Eliza Dushko. Looks good...lots of good panels today. Next up...Battlestar! Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Spotlight On Dean Koontz

At San Diego Comic Con, just finished with the Spotlight on Dean Koontz panel. Excellent. So far, for me, the highlight of the Convention. Mr. Koontz is planning to write three more Odd Thomas novels. Next up, Josh Whedon will talk about his next series "Doll House". Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Deep In Vacation

I am deep in vacation.  I woke up this morning at 4:00 AM and was out for a morning walk, then back into the hotel.  I sat here in the room, sipping coffee, just staring out the window and watching the slow unveiling of the dawn.  I had some great laughs in chat - my favorite - "get some on ya...".  Hahahaha - it is one of those things that  I am sure I am going to be laughing about it all day.  The vacation has gone exceedingly well.  I'll write some more details when I get a chance, maybe send some stuff via the blackberry through the day.  But, I just wanted to take a few moments and update the journal - I am deep in vacation and enjoying it immensely.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The First Panel

One of the main draws to a convention like this is the pop culture aspect - specifically the draw of the movies. We started the day by going to the panel in Room H - "the big hall". Unfortunately there was a fall just before it began and we ended up standing in line, in the sun, with a few thousand other people, for about an hour. When that happens you just stand around and talk to the folks around you. We were in line with a charming lady who was a small part actress (Jennifer M.). She was nice. Immediately in front of us was a baptist church group, a nice couple (the adults) and some teen girls wanting to see the "Twilight" panel. We finally got in and saw the panels for "The Day The Earth Stood Still" (Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connolly), "Max Payne" (Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis), and "Marvel Origins: Wolverine" (Hugh Jackman in an unscheduled appearance with clips from the movie that is not due for another nine months.) Well worth the wait to see the clips of all the movies. The day continues... Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


It amazes me that even in the hurly burly of tens of thousands of people there are places of stillness. I am sitting on the back balcony of the convention center, under a blue sky, drinking black coffee, and watching ships sail under Coronado bridge. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Paused With Coffee

I am briefly paused with coffee this morning. It was a singularly beautiful dawn, gray with the fog typical of San Diego at this time of year. I went out for a morning walk, enjoying that peculiar quiet that is typical of urban mornings. Today's agenda is to head down to Comic Con shortly (I am paused waiting on my friend Tony, who is brushing his teeth, and apparently sitting in the bathroom talking on his cell phone - LOL). Then sometime in the afternoon I am planning on breaking free and getting something for lunch and maybe wander another part of San Diego for a while. No firm plan for the evening yet, but I have been enjoying the hotel bar here and the company of my fellow tourists. There are also two venues, up and down the street from the hotel, that feature live music, so I might venture to one of them later in the evening. That is still aways out...with time between here and there for a sufficient amount of mischief. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Reason...

Besides the city of San Diego and the beautiful weather and the food and drink, there was a reason I came here, now. That reason is the San Diego Comic Con. Comic as in comic books. It is considered the premiere pop culture convention, celebrating comic books, graphic art, television, movies and computer games. Imagine 100,000 plus people descending on the San Diego convention center - at once. The event is completely sold out (all four days) - a first. Tonight was preview night - we picked up our convention badges. I was joking that, basically, we stood in line for a hour in order to get our badges so we can stand in line all weekend. LOL - that is not far from the truth. Preview night ended a little while ago and we're working our way up 11th to 163 North to go back to my hotel. We should be there in...a while. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

San Diego - Wednesday Morning

Wednesday morning is bright and cool.  Had a fairly decent nights sleep - not bad for the first night in a strange place. The hotel has a basic breakfast buffet so I indulged after my morning walk. Then, I lingered in the lobby over coffee, reading the morning paper, and watched the subsequent waves of people flow through in the morning.  First came the older people, followed by the families with children, and then finally those who I am sure closed down the bars last night (I know that because I saw some of them there) - moving slow, pouring down the OJ and coffee and wearing sunglasses inside.  It made me wonder at the cumulative total vacation hours lost to hangovers.  Today we are planning on doing nothing except some wandering.  My friend Tony has an old college friend of his who lives in Winchester and we are going to try and swing out there for lunch, if we can coordinate that. For your visual pleasure, here is a picture of the pool area - empty in the early hours of the morning.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday Evening Notes

The weather is almost perfect down here.  The trip down went very smooth.  Dinner was excellent (see pictures below).  After dinner I watched the sun fall into the Pacific Ocean. Circled back to the hotel to goof around for a while.  Following this entry I am going down to the hotel bar for a nightcap.  An auspicious start for vacation.

Dinner And Dessert

Dessert was Banana Fosters.  Simply excellent.

Dinner - clockwise from top.  Crab cakes in a remoulade. New potatoes with cheddar cheese. Breaded and fried tilapia. Crab stuffed shrimp in butter.  String onions.  Overall, excellent.  The crab stuffed shrimp was very, very good.

Some Photos From Tuesday

I call this first one simply "Arrival".

This image is from a display of paintings in the arrival lounge of the San Diego Jet Center. They are part of the promotion for the San Diego Comic Con.


Eat At Joe's Crab Shack

Dinner at Joe's Crab Shack. The motto is Love, Peace & Crabs. I opted for the East Coast Platter - grilled fish, crab cakes and shrimp with new potatoes and cole slaw. I think a good theme for this vacation is going to be eccentric... Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

The Lafayette Hotel

If I were to describe the hotel in a single word it would be "funky". It has an air of faded glory that resonates with my minor motel fetish quite strongly. Am all checked in, unpacked, and will head out shortly to get something light for lunch, with a main dinner later. Or maybe the reverse, I haven't really decided yet. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

On The Ground

On the ground in San Diego, smooth flight down. I engaged in my favorite flying drink - a nice Bloody Mary. The only time I drink them is when I fly, not sure when I started that habit. But it is one I enjoy. There is a cool breeze blowing off the sea and the sun is just now burning off the clouds. vacation. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


Well, not quite yet. Sitting in the airport gate area. With fifteen to go to departure. Enjoying the feel of traveling for the first time in a long time. Looking forward to San Diego. People watching. Thousands of people traveling to thousands of places and all in all that is Moving into a vast river of humanity that is constantly flowing. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Night Before...

I am leaving for San Diego tomorrow. Bag is packed. Everything is in order for my departure. I stopped down at the local bar for a beer, walked home in the cool California night air. I'll toss the last of the incidentals into the bag tomorrow morning. I was just thinking of how many times in my life have been "the night before". I think entire lives are sometimes lived in the night before. In a state of anticipation. In the morning things will start moving. One day closes and another begins. And again. And again. And again. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

The Sea - Wallace Stevens

...She sang beyond the genius of the was her voice that made the sky acutest at its vanishing. She was the single artificer of the world in which she sang. She measured to the hour its solitude....and when she sang, the sea whatever self it had became her song for she was the maker. And we knew as we saw her striding there alone, there never was a world for her except the world she sang and singing made.

Wallace Stevens

This quote is one of the reasons I am addicted to profiles.  This came off the profile of one of the casual visitors to the chat room I call home.  I just think it is a great quote.

Day Three And Four Of Vacation

If I had to characterize both days I would characterize them as - low and slow.

Sunday I slept in, then rolled out to meet some friends at the Cup and Saucer in south San Jose. From there we went to one of the farmer's markets and the drifted down to Morgan Hill to run an errand and stop at Starbucks.  We didn't actually go down there to stop at Starbucks, but the Starbucks was right there. I had a large coffee and a slice of banana bread. I happen to love banana bread, but I have an allergy to walnuts of all things.  If I eat walnuts they burn the inside of my mouth and my tongue so I stay clear of them.  When it comes to banana bread it means I sit there and pick the walnuts out.

After we drifted back to San Jose, I stopped at John D. Morgan park and took a leisurely walk around the park, sat in the shade of tall trees and just...was.  Very nice.  I ran a couple of small errands, picking up incidental things for the trip portion of my vacation, and then circled home for a splash through the pool.  Some friends came over and we watched "Letters From Iwo Jima" on HD and then visited into the night. I stayed up late reading and got a full nights sleep.

Today, Monday, actually felt like the first day of vacation, since it was the first day when I should have been at work, but wasn't.  I slept in until about eight o'clock, very late for me, and woke up and read the morning away, alternating with watching the History Channel and chatting online. About noon, I went out and got sushi for lunch, and ran a few more errands.  Dinner tonight was a trip to Frankie, Johnnie, and Luigi's where I had the chicken parmigan and followed up with a brownie sundae.  Tonight's plan is a load of laundry and packing for the trip - neither of which is urgent, so both of which will be done at their own speed.

The flight leaves at 10:00 AM tomorrow and we should be down in San Diego by noon.  I am going down with Tony, who has been my friend for over twenty years now (through multiple divorces).  We are staying at the Hotel Lafayette, which brags a swimming pool designed by Johnny Weismuller. The organizing principle of the vacation (the excuse) is the San Diego Comic Con.  We go down a couple of days early, spend the weekend at Comic Con, and then come back a couple of days after.  I am definitely looking forward to the change of scenery and engaging in my favorite vacation time activity - lounging around a nice hotel.

I've always found it curious what various people consider to be a good vacation. To me, over the years, I have come to the conclusion that for me the best vacations are those that are truly relaxing.  I know some people feel the need for a high active vacation where they go out and do the stuff that they normally do not do in the course of the life. I think we should try to consistently and constantly do the things we enjoy through the course of our ordinary days - not save them up for vacation.  If there is something that you enjoy doing try structuring your life so that you do them - constantly.

I think it is very easy to make a vacation way too stressful - to put too much weight on the vacation. I think that it is a trap and I try to avoid it whenever I can.  That is my theory of vacation and it may not be shared, but it is what it is. I am sure my opinions will change over time - and make no mistake about it, the vacation will be very active - just not the driven sort of activity in the sense of "damn it I must enjoy this".  More in the sense of "these are the things that I enjoy doing and I am going to do them now".

I often take my laptop on vacation - and constantly am asked why. For me, computers are such a part of my life I almost can't imagine not having one handy. Whether it is for photo editing or journaling or writing or just playing.  If you enjoy it - do it.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Thoughts On Loss

Lately I have been thinking about loss. I have been thinking about the way people move in and out of our lives. So much of the impact of loss lies within us.  The depth and severity and trauma and sorrow and emptiness are all things that reside clearly and deeply within us. Because thoughts of loss have been dwelling at the fringes of my consciousness I have noticed loss in a variety of mediums.

Back in March, a casual friend of mine moved out of the Bay Area for career reasons. We’re still in contact, email, IM, and phone, so in comparison to other forms of loss about the only thing I truly lost what the immediacy of their physical presence. One of the reasons it struck me was the unexpectedness – not of their moving (they had been considering it for a long time) – but the depth with which I physically felt their loss. It seemed to me disproportional.

Now, it may be that due to the high level of work stress I was under the emotional experience of the loss amplified. I do suspect that was a good part of it – the transference of emotions from one arena to another arena.  But, for whatever reason it made me sensitive to loss.  It gave me a greater awareness of loss, both surrounding me in my personal life, and oddly enough, in the portrayal of loss in the media, specifically novels and movies.

About the time they left and I felt the loss, which manifested itself is constantly thinking about them, wondering where they were and what they were going through, I was reading the book “Killing Rommel”.  The lead character in the novel was fighting in North Africa during WWII.  The character deals with the death of friends and a nearly three year separation from their wife.

In the last couple of days I have seen several movies, all of which deal with loss as a subplot.  If you haven’t seen any of them, you might want to stop here so I don’t spoil them, but let me talk briefly about three movies I have seen in the last couple of days that deal with loss – “Hancock”, “Wanted”, and “The Dark Knight”.  All of these are clearly fiction, but fiction is a mythical mirror of the themes that run through our life.

In “Hancock” the two lead characters are immortal (superhero) lovers. However there is a catch attached to it.  When they are together – they become mortal. They become vulnerable. Their enemies can kill them.  “Hancock” proposes an interesting question about loss.  What do we do if our love for someone actually hurts that person, makes them weaker, makes them more vulnerable. Can we, or should we, trade the pain of our loss of love, for the strength of the one we love. In the climatic scene of the movie, Will Smith’s character must physically run away from his love exactly at her moment of greatest jeopardy, because by distancing the love he empowers her. Whew. That would be a tough thing to do. That would run counter to every instinct within me.

In “Wanted” the lead character has never known his father. He believes that his father abandoned him in his infancy. Ultimately, through the twists and turns of the plot, he discovers the truth about his father, and though his father is lost to him, he deals with the loss by becoming his father – almost literally, ending the movie in his fathers clothing, living in his fathers house, taking up his fathers epic hero journey.  Within the movie, as a subplot, Angelina Jolie’s character has also traumatically lost her parents and has replaced that loss with dedication to a cause (not an unusual replacement). She has transformed her capacity for love to dedication to a cause. In the climatic scenes of her character, she is confronted with the loss of the object of that dedication, discovering that it is has been corrupted and she must make a choice, to remain faithful to her love, even though her love has betrayed her and even though that faithfulness will lead to her destruction.  Her character does not hesitate and chooses to remain faithful to the ideal, even though the reality betrayed her.

In “Dark Knight” Batman and Harvey Dent both love the same woman.  She is killed by the Joker. Having never experienced it, I almost cannot imagine the trauma of losing “the love of my life”. As a result of it, the two characters make two very different decisions.  Harvey Dent is broken by it, becoming Two Face (a villain in the Batman canon). Batman, though badly battered by it, remains true to his nature, the loss strengthening him.

Though these are modern pop culture depictions of loss, all neat and tidy within the framework of movies, they are all also true depictions of loss.  Loss happens, it is part of the nature of life – we are born, we live, we die. How we react to loss is what shapes us.
When I lost my friend (as minor as that loss was) it inspired me to reach out and touch those people who matter to me and simply let them know they matter.

It is astounding, to me, the power of a note, a call, a comment – whether given or received. Just reach out and express that value.  It is how we react to loss that gives it value and meaning. There are a huge variety of ways we can react to the losses in our lives. How we react to them shapes us. For some it is an inspiration. For some it is a breaking point.  For most of us it is probably a combination of both. None of that makes the immediacy of loss, whatever it's form, any easier to deal with. 


The Stories We Tell And Are Told

It has been a nice lazy Saturday here in San Jose.  The weather is perfectly balmy outside, blue skies with a high cloud cover, temperature hovering around 75 degrees.  The morning was marked by enjoyable conversation with a variety of folks, online and off.  Breakfast was fresh oatmeal with brown sugar and biscuits and gravy.  The biscuits were excellent, fresh from the oven, cloud like carriers of a rich country gravy.

After breakfast I ran a couple of small errands and then circled home. I spent most of the afternoon alternating between playing on the computer, reading (finishing “Monster”), napping, and swimming. I am going to go out and see the newest Batman movie in about an hour with some friends. I haven’t yet decided if I am going to go out tonight or if I will just spend a relaxing evening at home, maybe watching a movie on DVD, maybe reading, maybe writing.  It is nice not to feel the pressures of time – not to have to do anything by a certain deadline, not to have the next weeks worth of work rushing in on me.

I thought I would take a little time today and write about how the process of writing works for me. I have been idly writing all day today but it has yet to take any specific shape or form.  Ideas and moving around and I have been jotting notes, but nothing definitive has arisen from those notes. As I write I will take a great many things and let them float around in my imagination until one of the rises to the top.  It may be a subject that I want to write about, or an emotion that I want to explore, or a characters whose story suddenly emerges and needs to be told.

To a degree I can prime the imagination – I can prime it with a free writing exercise, where I simply sit down and start to write and see what thread or theme starts to dominate the writing, or I can prime it by deliberately picking a subject or a phrase and playing with it.  These exercises to prime the writing core almost always result in the eventual discovery of a key. With that key I can then open the box a particular subject is stored in and pull it out.  Sometimes the box contains just the barest of a thought, an idea, a phrase or a character. That is one end of the spectrum.  At the other end of the spectrum, I open the box and something leaps out – something nearly full blown, something nearly complete, something that only requires frantic writing and then careful re-writing. It is hard to say which I enjoy more. I like the actual craft of writing, but I also like the feeling I get when something leaps out of box.

I think a lot of times the exercises I go through to start writing are more of a mental process of clearing out the obstacles, clearing out the things that clutter free expression.  There are a lot of them that get tangled up in there.  There is that powerful self censor I spoke about earlier.  There is simply the clutter of all of the dozens of things we consider and act upon in the course of a single day. There is the tendency of the imaginative portion of my brain to be either one step behind (contemplating something I have already written) or one step ahead (wanting to move past the immediacy of writing to the next story).  Sometimes I find myself starting on one writing and them immediately jumping to the next.  Something in the current writing sparks something that is more immediate.  That is a cool feeling when it happens.

As I was driving to breakfast this morning I thought about how much we, as individuals, are stories.  All of our lives, all of our experiences, they all take the form of stories that we tell.  Stories that we tell to ourselves and stories that we tell to others. Personally, I love that. I love the way our stories evolve and I am always amazed by people who can tell a good story or who can lay out a descriptive phrase in such a way that it rises to the level of prose poetry.  People tell stories so vivid and powerful that they are experienced by the listeners as they are told.

I think that is one of the reasons I enjoy the virtual online communities so much – they are a modern extension of the ancient traditions of sitting around the campfire at night and telling the stories of our tribe.  Now, our tribe is virtual and our campfire is the glow of a hundred monitors. But the stories remain the same.

One of my friends this morning did something to me that was a form of subtle torment.  She started to tell a story…and then decided not to.  I immediately urged her to continue, even begged her.  LOL – I sensed there was an amusing story underlying it that was, as she said, mostly true.  Fortunately, to my merciful senses, she finished the story. It did bring a good laugh to me as the follies of humans.  It can be a form of torture for me when someone tells me just enough of a story to interest me and then…never finishes the story.  I will often spend days wondering how the story ended.

I wonder if that is what makes us decide who is our friend and who isn’t.  The simple state of being someone whose story we are interested in, either as an observer or a participant. I often see the role of friend as being the role of a support character or part of the technical crew working for the story teller.  We may not be the central portion of the narrative.  We may not even have a vital role in the narrative.  We may simply be that silent servant that brings the cup of coffee while the story teller pauses and then we fade back into the wings, barely noticed. 

That is kind of cool.  I like that.  So we all tell our stories and we all play our small part in each others stories, even if that part is simply the audience.  It is the story itself that matters.  Perhaps those we choose to love in this life are simply those who story most interests us.  Certainly we hope that we are playing a major role in the story of our lovers and our friends.  But, we may not be.  That is okay too.


Biscuits and gravy. Biscuits fresh from the oven. Moments from the oven. Sublime. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Brigadeiros For Breakfast

Just some random thoughts on a Saturday morning, in no particular order.

-Had a great time last night, laughing and dancing with friends. Highlight of the evening, wired on Brigadeiros, N. dancing the samba down the sidewalk after the restaurant closed.

-Woke at 4:00 AM and went out and took a walk down to Starbird.  Sitting on the picnic table, watching that summer fog burn off, drinking a cup of Tully's and eating a maple bar. Simple and brilliant.

-Great, and I mean, great morning in chat - good people, good conversation, light hearts and fun times.  The thing that stuck most in my mind - it being so hot (in MA) that she looked out the window and saw the devil walking by with a crack pipe.  LOL - that will stick with me as a strange and amusing image.

-Wonderful morning call that got the day off to a great start.

-A nice lingering hot shower.  My bathroom faces east and when the timing is just right, besides the shower itself, the room is filled with this great golden light. Perfect for starting a morning.

-It dawns on me folks may not know the incredible pleasure of Brigadeiros.  Here is a link to a basic recipe. Experiment with the cocoa you use until you find the exact flavor you like. 

-When done correctly, and it is an art, a Brigadeiro explodes in your mouth with flavor.

-Now, off to get some breakfast.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Evening...

The movie was enjoyable. Spent most of the afternoon in and by the pool. Dinner at Holdens with friends. Wandered Los Gatos Creek Park for an hour or so. Now, sipping coffee at Tully's with N. and B.. Going to Senzala for dessert and dancing soon. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


Lunch at Hobee's with my dear friend L., who is always a chemically calming influence. Chorizo scramble and coffee cake. Then, to AMC Mercado to see "Wanted". Guns. Explosions. Angelina Jolie. How can it possibly be bad? Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Thursday Night I Dreamt Of An Arrow

Last night I dreamt that I had been shot with a arrow.  The arrow was embedded into my left hip bone.  It was very painful, but I was able to move.  With the help of friends I limped, and was carried, to a bed inside of a building.  A woman appeared, whom I was told was a healer.  She tested the arrow by pulling it gently.  I groaned in pain.  She then gave me a small bottle of clear liquid to drink and told me she would be back in about fifteen minutes.  I drank the bottle, about eight ounces of fluid. It tasted like water with a slightly copper flavoring.  My friends kept me company while I waited, making jokes about my having an arrow stuck in my hip.  It spite of the pain they did make me laugh.

When the healer reappeared, she was wearing an apron and had an old fashioned doctors bag, which she sat down and laid out her surgical tools. She asked if I was ready to start.  I told her I didn't think the medicine did anything because the wound still hurt like hell.  She laughed (she had a very high spirited musical laugh) and told me that the medicine did not make the injury any less painful, but rather it made me not care about the pain. I was a skeptical, but she put a hand on my shoulder and asked me to trust her.  Something in her demeanor led me to do exactly that.

She then proceeded to cut my hip open, find the arrow, used a pair of pliers to grasp it, wiggle it back and forth until it came loose, and pulled it out.  As the arrowhead came out of my hip I could hear the cracking of bone and as she pulled it free I could see small flecks of bone stuck to the tip of the barbed arrow.  She then proceeded to carefully separate the flecks of bone and set them aside.  She then cleaned the wound, used a spreader to hold it open while she glued the pieces of bone back in place and then covered it with a putty like compound, before sewing the wound shut with swift and sure stitches.

She was right - it hurt like hell - the pain surged through me - but I didn't care. I experienced every instance and moment of pain as she worked on the wound, but they just didn't matter.  She then told my friends to let me lay there for about thirty minutes and I would be good to go.  In the dream I laid there napping, and it was that nap, the nap within the dream, that I woke up from when I woke up this morning.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I Close Tonight

Midnight is nearly upon me. The windows are open and the night air is moving cool and slow through the room. I close the night with a certain restlessness. I am not sure where it is born. Perhaps it is a song waiting to be sung. Perhaps it is a tale waiting to be told. Perhaps it is a wanderlust waiting for an open road. Perhaps words waiting to be spoken. Perhaps it is a dream waiting just beyond the edge of wakefulness. Perhaps it is waking from a dream. I do not know. I am content with not knowing. I am content to wait until tomorrow. I look forward to the dreams of night. Perhaps there is a muse waiting for me there. I should like to dream of the lush muse of the ancient forest tonight. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

The End Of The Day, Vacation Begins

I set my voice-mail.  I turned on my out of office.  I logged off my work computer. I straightened up my desk and logged of.  Vacation begins.  Seventeen days without having to work.  I drove home. I ordered a pizza for dinner. I am going to slide gently into the time off.  I am sure it will take a day or two to spin down. I am looking forward to just…being.  To filling the days with reading, writing, listening to music, watching movies, reading some more, eating, drinking, socializing, thinking, and all of those things that I enjoy just for the sake of enjoying.

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
      In the place of their self content;
There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,
      In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
      Where highways never ran--
But let me live by the side of the road
      And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road
      Where the race of men go by--
There are men who are good and there are men who are bad,
      As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner's seat
      Or hurl the cynic's ban--
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
      And be a friend to man.

I see from my house by the side of the road,
      By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
      The men who are faint with the strife,
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears,
      Both parts of an infinite plan--
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
      And be a friend of man.

I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead,
      And mountains of worrisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon
      And stretches away to the night.
And still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice
      And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
      Like a man who dwells alone.

Let me live in my house by the side of the road
      It's here the race of men go by--
They are good, they are bad, they are weak
      They are strong,
      Wise, foolish--so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner's seat,
       Or hurl the cynic's ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
      And be a friend to man.

Sam Walter Foss

Almost There

I have one more day before I start on my vacation.  That day is today.  A stretch of hours and then I will move, blissfully, into those sweet and desireable days of vacation. It has been a long time since I have taken a full two weeks vacation for myself - to do the things I want to do, in the way I want to do them, in the patterns and places I enjoy.

I woke up this morning and just laid there for a while, looking out the open window at the growing light of dawn, watching the lush green tree just outside my bedroom become more and more vivid.  It has, I think, a thousand shades of green.

I have a handful of tasks ahead of me at work, some documentation to take care of, some final reports to pull, so strategic and tactical directions to write up to insure a smooth transition while I am out. 

One of the rare things about this vacation, for me, is that I am not rushing up against a project deadline.  The last two personal vacations I took both involved the necessity (or at least the perceived necessity) to do some work while on vacation.  This time however, I am going to take a deep breath, I am going to close the work computer at the end of the day, and I am going to slip into vacation without having to carry some major worry beads.

I am taking today slow and even. Like a prize fighter in the later rounds of a bout.  Don't make any mistakes, stay constant, and trust you have enough points to win.  If you're lucky, maybe your opponent will be tired and make a mistake.

This will be the first vacation I have ever taken while journaling so, oddly enough, I will be looking forward to that as part of the experience, looking forward to sharing the vacation here.  Well, time to begin the journey to the office.  Whoever you are reading this, wherever you are - wish me luck on the last day before my vacation starts!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Her Prayer

It is night. I am laying on my left side in bed. I put down the book I was reading. The only constant in the room is the hum of the fan drawing in cool air. Intermittentally the sluicing sound of tires or the soft throb of an engine rises above the fan.

I think of her. I roll onto my back. I stare at the ceiling for a while. I close my eyes for a while and just breathe in and out. It is to early to sleep. I roll out of bed and kneel near the side. I cross myself. I pray. I pray for me. I pray for her. I pray the only prayer I know. The prayer that shapes the universe. The prayer that gives me faith, hope, and peace.

Having prayed, I climb back into bed and pick up my book. There is still time to read some more before I fall asleep.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT


The Song of Twilight

A Song Of Twilight
Night's herald has slipped across the threshold
Her embrace brings a lingering coolness
That fills us with a deep and subtle unrest
We are reluctant to surrender the day
Though we secretly thrill at the rising stars
Night's herald brings with her
The bitter sweet wine of remembrance
Our lips take it in and our tongue tastes it
We swallow to quell our thirst but
Remain thirsty for other drinks
Sweeter, gentler, more fulfilling
Night's herald sings to us
That certain Song of Twilight
It fills our hearts with love
Even as it breaks them apart
In time we surrender to the certain embrace
Of Night
Within the night we lose ourselves and we dream
We dream of other worlds and other selves and Other
While the Song of Twilight becomes fainter
With each passing hour of sleep
Until at dawn, which always comes
It is but a memory.
For R., In Twilight

Dreams, Parmesan Cheese, Censorship, Menage A Trois

Sometimes when I am writing a journal entry (or for that matter a letter or an email) I will write quite a bit and then sweep back through, delete it all, and start over. I have often wondered if this is self censorship, but I don’t really think of it that way.  The process of writing allows me to order my thoughts, so often I will write the first draft of something and in writing the first draft I will have reordered my thoughts in a why I find either more meaningful or more esthetically pleasing.  This entry is a classic example of a rewrite.

I want to tell you about two dreams I had.  The first was a very ordinary dream and the second was an erotically charged dream.  The outer framework of both dreams was essentially very simple.

The Dream of Parmesan Cheese

I dreamt of a woman I know. She was teaching a class that I was auditing. I had slipped into the classroom once the class was underway.  She was in front of the class at two very large tables that were covered with cheese.  As I sat and listened the subject of the dream class, the subject that she was teaching, was parmesan cheese. She was teaching how to make parmesan cheese, how to tell the types apart, how to store and package the cheese and how to market the cheese.  The class was very detailed and she was obviously passionately engaged in her subject.  She knew cheese. I was called away from the class and had a last image of her animatedly teaching in the front of the class.

The Dream Of The Threesome

I dreamt of a woman I know.  I was at a party at her apartment, high up in an apartment building.  As the evening was winding down I was making my way to the door to leave.  There was a couple ahead of me – a stocky man and a lean blonde woman, neither of whom I knew. I lingered while they said goodnight to the hostess. The blonde told her boyfriend to go ahead and bring the car around. He left and she lingered, talking with the hostess.  The hostess acknowledged me and I stepped up to say my goodnights. She asked me if I had a moment, to which I replied yes.  She told me that her friend’s boyfriend was leaving on a trip and that the two of them were planning on having an intimate party the next night. They were wondering if I would be willing to join them. Though the conversation was innocuous the implication was not – the implicate was that the party would be very intimate and that I would join them in a threesome.  This was evident in inflection and body language. I accepted. As I left and walked down the street I passed the boyfriend, sitting in the car, waiting. I felt a flash of guilt and an inner twinge of excitement.

The Striking Thing Was

To me, the striking thing that occurred to me as I awoke for the set of dreams was the role change.  The woman in the first dream was definitely someone I have considered as a sexual partner.  The woman in the second dream was definitely someone I had not considered as a sexual partner.  Of course our desires run deep and are often hidden from ourselves, sometimes for our own good. I am sure I have lusted after both women, but one I have nurtured and the other I have suppressed, which may of course have been the purpose of the dream, since dreams are often about our subconscious desires manifesting.

I am still mulling it around in my brain of course, pondering the meaning, and it dawns on me that there may be a very simple meaning.


Since I started the online journal I have censored myself on several occasions – written entries that were never posted. I am confident that it was the right thing to do, but I have been, periodically, mulling around thoughts of censorship.  How we censor.  What we censor.  Why we censor.

A conversation with anther friend of mine the other day is what prompts me to write this portion of the entry. When we go through the act of creating, whether it is writing, photography, music, fine art, or street art we do struggle with our own inner censor. I know I certainly do.  For me it is a balancing act between wanting to be as open and honest as I can and a strong desire to neither hurt or embarrass someone else.  I’ve talked about it with a variety of people in a variety of mediums, mulling it around, trying to move it to the place where I have a comfortable sense of it.

What several of my friends have pointed out is that I have no control over how people react to what I write – nor should I be worried aboutit.  As long as I am not setting out to write something deliberately malicious, I should write as openly and fearlessly as I can. So, I will give that a try.  The one area I am going to continue to censor myself though is in the arena of names. I may use pseudonyms or initials or just a generic gender designation. In this manner, I think I can tell the tales I want to tell, speak of the things I want to speak of, and yet allow others the dignity of their anonymity.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Seeing Li Bai In A Dream - Du Fu

There are sobs when death is the cause of parting; but life has its partings again and again, drawn into that bitter southern river. You had sent me not one sign from your exile until you came to me last night in a dream, because I am always thinking of you. I wondered if it was really you, venturing so long a journey. You came to me through the green of a forest, you disappeared into a shadowy fortress, some how in the mesh of a snare you lifted your wings and vanished. I awoke and the low moon glimmer on the rafters seemed to be your face, still floating in the air. There were waters to cross, they were wild and tossing, and if you fell, there were dragons and river-monsters. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Monday Morning And Thinking Of Vacation

The weather looks nice out there today.  I just glanced at the forecast on the web and it looks like it will be a nice week as I prepare to slide into my vacation. It looks to be a pretty constant week with the daily high up around 85 and the nightly low down around 60, about typical for a California summer.  I can definitely live with that!

I dreamt last night but in the morning have no recollection of the subject or substance of the dream. Instead, I have only the memory that I dreamt. The morning is quiet and cool, with the usual birds singing somewhere outside and the assorted quiet sounds of the waking city. I like to linger on mornings like this, cup of coffee, windows wide open, looking at the soft gray and blue sky.

I am looking forward to my vacation time.  I wrap up work on Thursday, then have Friday through Monday to unwind.  Tuesday we fly down to San Diego and stay there for a full week, flying back to San Jose on Tuesday again.  Then, I have Wednesday through Sunday before I have to go back to work. 

It is the first time in a long time that I have taken a full two week vacation for myself.  Usually, I split my vacation time - using some of it (often the bulk of it) to mingle family visits and vacation, and then take a week or so for myself. I am curious as to the mood I'll be in when it finishes.  This is also the first vacation I have had, in recent memories (probably since 2005) where I have had the vacation without a major project looming in front of me, so I am sure that is going to alter the impact of the vacation.

I will be taking my laptop with me on vacation to San Deigo for a variety of reasons.  Since almost all modern hotels now have high speed internet the internet is a valuable tool when in a strange city and it is nice to be able to look things up as you plot the particulars of a certain day. Then of course, lounging, watching a movie on the hotel TV, eating room service, and playing are, to me, significant parts of a vacation. Then of course I can email, chat, journal, and post my photographs as I go along.

I've got several short stories or poems tumbling around inside of me this week, so I am hoping to get some creative writing time, but we will see how that goes.  The main focus this week, at least through Thursday, is going to be focusing on getting work related things squared away so that I can slip out with a clean conscience.

Well, the bottom of the coffee cup is approaching, so I think I will saddle up and head into the office. 

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I wake into the dream somewhere in the middle of the night. The room is layered shadows from the light that creeps around the edges of the blackout curtain. She is sitting on the foot of the bed, cross legged, facing me. She is wearing khaki cargo shorts and a white top with spaghetti straps. Her hair is caught in a single french braid that she has pulled around front and draped over her left shoulder. Her face is masked in shadows. I cannot see her eyes, of the curve of her mouth, or the small scar on her chin. She leans forward and stretches out. With the index finger of her right hand she touches my ankle. A perfect touch. The place were metal is embedded in bone. It is as if she has speared me with a shaft of ice that runs up my leg, from ankle to hip, a blue fire so intense it goes instantly numb. I do not cry out. I draw a great ragged breath of air in preparation to scream. Drawing that breath wakes me from the dream. What is the nature of a muse? Sometimes she is the most gentle lover. Sometimes she is Nightmare. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Lockeford Sausage At Rest

I call this...Lockeford Sausage At Rest.  I forgot to include it in the entry below. I still find it very weird that my friend bought a sausage...and carried it home.  LOL - that is what happens when you like a sausage I guess.  I will say, they are excellent sausages.

Los Altos Art & Wine Festival

I came into the apartment a few minutes ago, poured myself a cold coke over a tall glass of ice, closed the patio windows and turned the AC on.  I spent the better part of the day in Los Altos and Palo Alto.  According to my trusty little pedometer I walked about six miles, all in all.  I can feel the heat radiating off my skin, telling me I got a little too much sun.  I doubt I burned, but I can feel the effects of it.

The Art & Wine Festival was nice.  We got there about 11:00, just as the festival was opening up, so on our first pass, a good percentage of the vendors were not quite set up and most of the bands were just in the process of opening.  Anticipating a bit of heat the first thing I did was get a cup of fresh lemonade (I would drink three before the day was over).  It is close rivalry in my mind between which is best on a hot day - iced tea or lemonade.  Lemonade won today.

The day was not to hot and the streets of Los Altos are tree lined.  There was a bit of a breeze blowing that kept the heat at bay for most of the time we were there.

It was a leisurely and lazy day and time passed very slowly, which was a welcome relief from the hectic pace I had been setting for the last couple of months.

We stopped for lunch at a little Vietnamese/Chinese fusion place called Peony.  Appetrizers were very good.  Two of the three dishes were good.  One was...decidedly...not.  By luck of the draw that was my entree.  I had ordered the Peony Special Lemon Chicken.  Unfortunately, the special was they forgot to put it down on the first sweep, and then when they finally did get it down, they fast fried a frozen chicken breast.  One bite was enough for me to send it back. I am not particularly a fuzzy eater - but bad is bad when it comes to food.  This is a picture of one of the excellent appetizers - Vietnamese Spring Rolls in a peanut sauce. Don't consider this a negative review of Peony - the food that was good, was very good.  One dish does not a bad restaurant make.

After lunch, we wandered back into the festival.  It was starting to fill up by then.  According to their brochure they draw 120,000 people over the three days of the festival, which is pretty typical for a major festival here in CA.  There were 380 vendors.

We spent a couple of hours there, wandering the vendors, listening to music, snacking on a variety of foods and drinks.  Then, my friend Pierre did a weird thing.  Pierre likes Lockeford Sausages.

They are a vanity sausage (bet you never even heard of vanity sausages) from a small maker up in the Sierras. Despite the fact we had eaten, snacked, and sipped out way through the festival - Pierre had to have his Lockeford Sausage.  So he bought one and carried it back to the car. So he could take it home.  It was...amusing.

So, we wrapped up the Los Altos Art & Wine Festival, strange food incidents aside, and drove over the the Stanford Shopping Center to get some ice cream (the lines were too big at the festival and Hagen Daz place at Stanford is just up the street a few miles. I ordered a brownie sundae.  Only, uh, there was no brownie. Sigh, it did seem to turn into a day in which I was food denied.  So, I will have to cook something up for dinner, just to make sure I get what I want.

All in all it was a good day, spend in good company, wandering in the California sun. There were some reflective thoughts that went along with it, but I shall ponder on them write about them, perhaps a little later today.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Letter North From Ba Mountain - A Tang Poem

You ask when I shall return
I do not know
On this mountain
The night rain
Brims the autumn lake
When will we
Stand by the western window
To trim the candles
And recall this moment
A rainy night on this mountain.

-Li Shang Ying (translated by Francis Yin)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Falling Off The World

The red sunset in the earlier picture was beautiful. The moon at a little half past full had a soft orange tint. A jet, coming down into San Jose with its landing lights on looked like it had a pair of red headlights that cut through the smoke a half a mile ahead, a great orange scythe of light.

It is cool, a welcome relief from the heat. Children and parents splashed in the pool, late. The neighbors sat outside, softly playing guitar and singing Mexican folk songs about smugglers and lovers and the desert.

I turned down the lights, pulled back the cool sheets and laid down, the room lit by the single lamp. I picked up my book and settled in to read of men and monsters in Idaho. (The book is "Monster" by Frank Peretti.) A trick of the light makes the glass chess pieces on the table by the window glow golden. The black fan near the foot of the bed swivels in a relentess sweep, washing the room with currents of air. The glass of water on the desk beads up.

I wonder about the woman in red in last nights dream, who called my name in her bright and soft voice.

I think of the poet William Cullen Bryant - "Hence, these shades are still the abodes of gladness; the thick roof of green and stirring branches is alive and musical with birds, that sing and sport in wantoness of spirit;...".

So ends a day, and ending, begins that gentle journey to dawn, whose herald, I hope, will wake me with a bright and soft voice. Sent via BlackBerry by AT

Another Sunset On Fire

Tonight the sunset is on fire.  Terrible beauty.

An Unexpected Gift

I woke up this morning and after journaling the dream I had last night, I rolled out of bed and padded across the living room floor to go outside and stand on the balcony and take a look at the dawning day.  The unexpected gift of the morning was a strong and cool breeze blowing through the courtyard.  It was very quiet except for the rustle of the wind in the trees.  All of the other apartments, save one down at the far end of the courtyard, were dark and silent. Birds were just starting to sing their morning songs.

I just stood there for a while, leaning against the rail of the patio, listening, watching, and feeling the morning unfolding.  After the heat of the last couple of days it was a welcome morning, with the temperature down to a sweet 62 degrees.  It will climb back up in the eighties today, but the eighties are fine temperature wise.

So now, I am sitting here, drinking my morning coffee, with the radio turned on so it is soft and low, all the windows open, and a cool wind swirling in and dancing around my apartment.

I am trying to place the voice of the woman in the dream. In the dream it was a voice I knew, that I had that sense of knowing, but now as I move into the day, it tickles at the back of my mind.  It was a voice that was both bright and soft, with an accent, and an underlying gentleness.  Ah well, it will return to me, or I will hear someone's voice and know it again.

It is Friday, so work should be nice and quiet, perhaps even productive and then I will slip into the weekend.  The Los Altos Art & Wine Festival is this weekend, and I will be heading up there, currently planning on Sunday.  If tomorrow dawns cool again, I might try and make my much delayed trip to the coast on Saturday. I've planned to go for the last three weekends, but always found something intervening - not good, not bad, just intervening.

Meanwhile, let me savor the unexpected gift of the cool wind swirling through my little corner of the world.

A Dream On Friday

I dreamt of a woman, sprawling on a very big bed, on an angled pedestal bed, in the middle of a very big and brightly lit department store. She had alabaster skin, was wearing a bright red and flowing robe, and wore many gold chains. She was simply happy. She called my name and I knew her voice. As the dream began to fall apart, she called me back again, called me back to focus on her simple happiness, as if to reinforce her lesson. In the midst of the department store, a very common, very ordinary place, was sublime happiness. I woke into the darkness of the morning with her voice, bright and soft, echoing in my memory. Sent via BlackBerry by AT

Thursday, July 10, 2008

To One Unnamed - Li Shangyin

You said you would come, but you did not, and you left me with no other trace than the moonlight on your tower at the fifth watch bell. I cry for you forever gone, I cannot waken yet. I try to read your hurried note, I find the ink too pale. Blue burns your candle in its kingfisher-feather lantern and a sweet breath steals from your hibiscus-broidered curtain. But far beyond my reach is the Enchanted Mountain, and you are on the other side, ten thousand peaks away. - Li Shangyin, To One Unnamed Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Falling Into A Dream

I had a cool experience last night. I had woken during the middle of the night and went I closed my eyes, rather than falling asleep, I fell straight into a dream. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mornings Worth

Eventually each day draws to a close.  Sometimes they end well. Sometimes they do not. I often think that at the end of every day that ends well we should spend a moment remembering one that did not.  For every day that ends badly we should spend a little time remembering those that ended well. Perhaps if we take this approach, we will not be swayed so much by the ending of a day. They all end.  Then they begin anew and life is best lived in the beginning of each day.

Maybe that is why I like mornings so much.  It is the beginning of the day.  It is full of all the potential and possibility it can possibly contain. From the beginning of each day I can make those choices that shape the day. Sometimes, like everyone, I do not make the best choices.

 Sometimes though, I make some pretty good ones.  All in all I am sure it balances out and life is what life is.  Everything is tucked inside the life that is.  The closer we stay to that core then the closer we are to our core.

I would be very happy to live in an eternal morning.  To live inside of an eternity of the potential, of the possible, to live inside of it and never leave it. It is not possible of course.  As we go through our lives we must, of necessity I think, pass through all parts of a day.  We must begin in the morning, we must pass through the mid-day, we must move across the evening, and we must slip into the night.  Every second of every day brings us closer to the next morning though.

I am fascinated lately by time zones.  Even just the simple four time zones that cross the United States fascinate me. I glance at the clock and I automatically think of each time zone, of the people I know who live in each one. Because I am on the west coast, in the Pacific zone, I live life anywhere from an hour to three hours behind everyone. While I am basking in the golden light of dawn, others are moving steadfastly further into the day.  When evening falls and I am wandering with my beloved Twilight Gods, others are already curled in bed, perhaps even deep in the embrace of sleep.

So, for everyone who lives east of me, I appreciate the gift of morning.  Speed it on its way as it passes you. Enjoy it, savor it, linger inside of it and then send it onward. Perhaps a bit of your joy will ride with it. Perhaps I can catch a tiny portion of your sense of wonder, even if it is only a momentspause to admire the breaking of the day.

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Just Morning

I woke early this morning, about 3:30 AM Pacific Time. I had slept about six hours, maybe a little less. I don't recall anything specific that woke me up.  I just woke up, clear and alert.  I lingered in bed for a while, just laying there thinking, watching my old friends, the shadows on the bedroom ceiling.

When I was a child, we lived on Jackson Boulevard in Rapid City, SD.  My bedroom faced the street and one of my earlier memories is laying awake watching the shadows cast by the headlights of passing cars slide across the walls and ceilings.  So, laying awake watching the play of shadows on the ceiling is an old tradition of mine. I had seen a lot of things there and thought many a thought.

I rolled out of bed and opened the apartment all the way up, windows and doors, and fired up "The Big Fan" to clear out the lingering heat from yesterday.  Before I leave this morning, I will shut everything back up and pull the blinds.  That will keep the temp in the apartment at a reasonable level until the afternoon sun slides on the patio windows.

I don't really have any formed thoughts this morning. I am just sitting here, watching the sky turn gray with the light of dawn, drinking a can of diet coke, contemplating the day that is going to unfold in front of me.  So, nothing profound, nothing spectacular, nothing amazing today.  Just morning. I like the sound of that today.  Just morning.

AOL's 10 Books To Read Before You Die

This list was from AOL this morning, I just thought I would share it.  The article was titled 10 Books to Read Before You Die.

1. Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell
2. Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkein
3. Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling
4. The Stand, Stephen King
5. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown
6. To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Angels & Demons, Dan Brown
8. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
9. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
10. The Holy Bible

Well, LOL, I had to resist the temptation to list the Holy Bible's author. I think it was Dan Brown. I don't think Brown belongs in this list, at all.  Any novel by David Morrell, who writes in the same genre, is significantly better, and even Morrell doesn't belong on a list of ten books to read before you die. 

I also think you could probably die and skip Harry Potter (though, I have read them all). I have read all of the books on this list (including the Bible), and just as matter of personal taste, there is one book that stands head and shoulders above the rest in my mind, and that is To Kill A Mockingbird. I think the Stand was a particularly inspired choice, as it has long been one of my favorite Stephen King books.

I am going to start thinking about my own list of 10 Books To Read Before You Die

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

55 Bel Air Hood Ornament

I took this on Saturday in south San Jose.  It was a 1955 Chevy Bel Air, parked alongside the street.

Monday, July 7, 2008

One Less

One Less Demon

I woke up this morning
I rolled out of bed
I stumbled through the shower
As I tried to clear my head

There is something different
Something different in the day
There is one less demon
One less demon standing in my way

Somewhere in the night I lost you
Somewhere out there you slipped away
I can't say I'm gonna miss you
But I'm surprised you didn't stay

Your's was a familiar haunting
A smoky voiced whisper of a song
I'd gotten used to your ghost
You'd been with me so long

There is something different
Something different in the day
There is one less demon
One less demon standing in my way

I slip on an old pair of jeans
I button down my favorite shirt
I pour the first cup of coffee
I'm surprised it doesn't hurt

You were part of the my landscape
An emptiness with every sun
You danced in my darkness
When every day was done

There is one less demon
One less demon standing in my way
There is something different
Something different in the day

There is one less demon
One less demon standing in my way
There is one less demon
One less demon today

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Day In Three Parts

What I Did Today

Today was spent in mostly idle pursuits and incidental errands. I woke, I chatted, I walked, I drank coffee, I listened to music (it was an Elvis Costello day), I watched a DVD, I slept, I read, I played guitar. Around about 2:00 PM I ran up to San Jose International to pick up my friend Tony who was returning from Colorado, where he had been visiting his sister.  We stopped at Flames on Winchester for lunch and conversation. I had a chorizo scramble (chorizo sausage, country style potatoes, green peppers, onions, jalapeno peppers, and eggs, all served in a ceramic skillet, topped with hot sauce.  It was good.  Then, because I felt like destroying my stomach with food groups that should never associate, I had the Boston Cream Cake for desert.  Conversation was as good as the food.

Afterward, I stopped over at REI to pick up a replacement for my Swiss Army wallet, but they did not have the specific model that I was searching for, so I resolved to check another sporting goods store.  I do get attached to the tools that serve me well in this life, and this particular model of wallet has given me good, secure, and durable service for seven years, so I am trying to replace it with the exact same model.  From there, I drifted home and tossed in two loads of laundry, which are churning away right now.  The only remaining errand is a trip to get groceries and there is no pressing timetable for that.  I prefer to go grocery shopping in the off hours, later in the evening, otherwise the grocery store can be a true zoo.

What I Did Not Do Today

I spent a good part of that quiet time trying to write.  As I mentioned before, I have several things percolating inside of me, waiting to manifest themselves as either short stories or poetry or prose poetry. I tried priming the pump by writing and wrote several thousand words that I ultimately threw away, as there was no discernable narrative flow to it.  For me, writing is often a process of writing and rewriting remorselessly and repeatedly until I get it right. Until the Muse kicks in and I feel the narrative flow start to work it’s way through the words. Today, I just could not get to the point of flow.  I will try again in a while.  Perhaps this entry into my journal will serve as the starting point.

What I Thought Today

Some days have a central thought that runs through them.  Something that is predominant.  Today did not.  My thoughts mostly rambled through the day, touching on each of the things I was doing.  That was nice.  It is nice not to have something overriding the other thoughts and pulling me out of the moment.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Night July 5 2008

The night sky is not black.  It is a rich canopy of midnight blue that falls on the end of the day.  The light from the apartments is golden.  The pool is a brighter shade of blue.  It is a cool seventy degrees outside and falling.  The day was good, it ends well.  I am physically tired, my brain is in neutral.  I am not far from the sweet embrace of sleep. Today I felt very alive.  It is a good feeling.  With the passage of each day I feel the burdens of the previous time slip away.  Five days into the second half of the year and I feel good.  I feel alive.  This is the view from my balcony tonight.  I just thought that I would share it with you.


Friday, July 4, 2008

And Another Day Ends

Tamales and a Corona and the company of friends ends the day. Fireworks are crackling in the night. A police helicopter sweeps back and forth overhead. Distant sirens play their symphonies. The windows are open and the laughter and conversation of the streets rises and falls. Life is good. Goodnight. Dream well. Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

The Chronicle Of The Day

The Chronicle Of The Day

I woke, as I mentioned earlier, to the sound of a solo piano, either in real life, or from a dream.  It could have been real life, since it was the early hours of the morning and the windows to my bedroom were wide open.  I didn’t hear a song, at least not one that I recognized, but I did hear a several bars.  It also could have been from a dream.  The more I think about it though, the more I suspect it actually was piano music – perhaps a stereo or a radio alarm turned to a classical station.

I took a walk in the hour before day, as the eastern sky was turning gray, under the low foggy clouds that are typical here in the mornings. A yellow cat followed me down Will Rogers Drive, never approaching close enough to be petted, but always close enough to be right behind me.

I got back home and fired up the computer to play on line for the morning, fired up the stereo for a little music, and fired up the coffee pot for some morning solace. My brain was not really engaged for the first hour or so, LOL, but that made chat just that more amusing. It was a good morning chat, filled with people I like, so that was frosting on the morning cake.

About midway through the morning, one of the roommates mentioned sushi, so my brain fixated on salmon sashimi.  That is what prompted the posting of the picture in the previous entry.  If you have never had salmon sashimi, there are various kinds.  Some are just pure salmon. Others are marinated in a variety of mixtures.  The best is marinated in a light teriyaki and saki sauce.  If down right it is a wonderfully delicate and rich taste and it melts on the tongue like ambrosia.

The morning conversation that sparked that particular desire in me was a mixture of two desires – I imagined a chilled piece of salmon sashimi laying on a woman’s abdomen just behind the navel.  Sushi is perhaps one of the most sensual foods, IMO, in part because it is small portions and delicate flavors.  So lunch was a stop at Sushi Boat, for salmon sashimi, alas not off the abdomen of a beautiful woman, but I am sure that thought contributed to a smile as I enjoyed lunch.

From there, I caught the light rail at the Winchester station and went downtown for the San Jose Americas Festival, specifically to see San Jose Taiko play.  It was worth the trip – I love Taiko drumming – it is raw acoustic power, reaches inside of you and thrills you at the pit of the stomach, and it is also a visual spectacle.  That drumming, pure and powerful, also plays a large part in the music Bear McCreary composes for Battlestar Galactica on the Sci Fi Channel.

I wandered the festival for a while, had a pair of cold beers, and then caught the train back home in the late afternoon. I had deliberately left my camera behind today.  I love photography, it is one of my principal hobbies, but sometimes I like to just leave the camera behind. I tend to look at things with a different eye constantly casting about for that combination of light, shadow, position, and object that make for a good photograph.  Sometimes, I just like to leave the camera behind and enjoy what I am enjoying.  I may make another trip down the festival tomorrow or Sunday and take the camera.

I had considered staying downtown for the fireworks display, but getting out of downtown, even on the light rail, after the festival is always a zoo.  For the first hour or so after the festival ends there are literally tens of thousands of people swarming out.  Each train is packed standing room only and because of that, the fifteen minute right to the Winchester station can take upwards of an hour, not counting time spent waiting to get on the train.

Crowds sometimes can get to me, so I am watchful of my mood.  Getting in and out early can save me some unnecessary anxiety.  Today was good, but I could feel the edge of the crowd tickling at my subconscious, so I decided it was best to get out.  On the train home I ran into some friends of mine who live in Campbell, so after we got to the Winchester station we went to a coffee shop in downtown Campbell and caught up.

I drifted home to check on The Nephew, who is currently laid up with a bad sinus infection and the accompanying headache.  I fixed a light dinner, ramen noodles and shrimp and pepper skewers.  Then, I popped back out to stop by O’Connor Hospital and visit a friend who is in for a couple of days for surgery. She is doing well and should be out tomorrow.  She had surgery to repair a torn ACL in her shoulder.  Definitely not fun.

Then, once again, I drifted home.  I love these three day weekends – Friday always feels like a “free day” to me that I can spend relaxing and unwinding, and that allows me to enjoy Saturdays as truly relaxing days, and then have Sunday’s  as a day of rest and small errands getting ready for the week to come – grocery shopping, laundry, etc.

So, the California sun is just starting to set, the night coolness is getting ready to slide over us, and I am home.  I heard on the news that drunk driving arrests are up twenty percent this weekend, so I most likely will stay home for the evening.  My neighbor Rose is hosting a small gathering tonight, some friends, for board games and movies, so I might swing over there later in the night for the company and conversation, or I may elect to stay home, to spend the evening in the quiet comfort of my own space, reading and writing. 

I have a couple of pieces that I want to work on, so I might do that tonight.  They are the gems of stories or poetry and I have been working them around and playing with them and polishing them like small stones. Perhaps I shall polish them a little more tonight and see what comes of them.