Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A walk on the cusp of spring

I’m looking forward to my first spring walk in the woods this week. I usually start my post winter walks in early March. Believe it or not, the place is alive. At first glance, you wouldn’t know it. You have to peek, probe and be still to see that life abounds beneath and within the ground and even at the edge of branches and twigs.

There is something spiritual about the spring season. It’s a celebrating renewal and rebirth for many religions and disciplines, and it's a regenerating time for all of nature. Here are my notes from a past wooded spring walk.

"As I walked in a small meadow some of the old leaves from last fall are still embedded in the tan and matted grasses; the leaves are now a deep brown and black in color. They are withered, wet and drained of their nutrients to nurture renewed growth and new life despite the freezing winter winds.

The Lichen on the rocks and trees seems a bit greener in its grayish demeanor. I know that Lichen florets grow more slowly than Pluto orbits the sun, but this day, only to my observation, there seemed a burst of colored growth in their crocheted stillness.

All along the path were fallen limbs and branches pruned by winter's cutting winds and the gusting breezes of spring. I stopped to push and drag them aside so the way would be clear for others who follow.

At a pond, I looked for signs of small fish, turtles, tadpoles, and water bugs, but I could only see an occasional gas bubble from the decaying leaves underneath the surface. It’s too early yet since the ice just left the pond last week and each morning, when it’s cold enough, there is a thin sheet of ice on the surface until the sun hits it a few hours later. Only then do the wild ducks descend for a mating dance and ritual.

Besides the trickling stream that fills the pond most of the year, there is a side spring that drains its underground flow into the pond. But there in the middle of the crystal spring was the brightest green of growth I’ve seen so far this early season; a patch of Watercress about the size of a large throw rug.

It got its early start from the warmer spring waters surging from deep underground.

In many ways, we are like the watercress plant. We are warmed by deep spiritual waters from an inner Source, and we grow despite the outward climate. Amazing."

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Press Boycott

President Trump is wrong to ban The New York Times, CNN, LA Times, Politico and other major news media organizations from government news briefings. Attacking the press is a dictatorial practice long used in banana republics. Urging the FBI to say the story of Russian contacts with Trump staffers is untrue, is wrong. Finding the leakers within an organization is one of the first things a dictator does. Control information and you control the nation.

It matters not if you are a republican, democrat or independent, a free press is essential to a democratic society. The presses responsibility is to ask the hard questions, to probe for the truth, to report wrongs and especially to speak reason to power. All democratic republics will self-corrupt into an Autocracy or Fascism if unquestioned in their actions.

All Americans, pro-Trump or op-Trump should demand equal access to daily briefings and adherence to first amendment guarantees.  Free reporting benefits all sides in the long run. When President Trump attacks those organizations who report information he doesn’t like, he diminishes democracy and the Presidency. Every President has adversarial encounters with the press even Jefferson. Power likes secrets. The Press serves the governed, not the governors.

Unless the press stands together and objects to arbitrary news organizations exclusions, we will no longer have a free press in America.

If one is barred, then let all boycott.

Friday, February 24, 2017


Back in the middle 1930's, Beryle Shinn, a San Francisco store clerk was picnicking on the beach north of the Golden Gate Bridge. He found a corroded brass plate measuring five by seven inches. There was some old writing scratched on it.

Shinn sent the piece of brass to Dr. Herbert Bolton at the University of California. He carefully cleaned it and read it. It was dated June 17, 1579. In old Elizabethan English it read it part:"...in the name of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of England and her successors forever I take possession of this kingdom now named by me and to be known unto all men as Nova Albion."  It was signed Francis Drake. So where is Nova Albion or New Albion?

Historical accounts of Drakes travels put him in what is now California in 1579. Drake reported he landed near "white banks and cliffs." There were no landmarks like that near where the brass plate was found.

Scientific and scholarly analysis eventually authenticated the plate as real, accept, where were the "white banks and cliffs."

Enter William Caldeira. He convinced authorities he was telling the truth. He said he found the plate four years earlier at Laguna Beach, thought it was Chinese writing, kept it for a while and eventually cleaning out his car, threw it away near where Beryle Shinn found it.

Laguna Beach where Caldeira allegedly found the brass plate has white banks and cliffs.

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Spirituality is an experience of depth in life.

Being spiritual is acknowledging a conscious, loving presence as part of our being and knowing it is in harmonic resonance with all things.

Religions and their dogma, on the other hand, are the process, the belief systems, by which they choose to express their spirituality.

In my view, religions have forgotten their specific, but ultimately collective spirituality, and what they think they do remember it, they confuse with dogma.

Do we need to fix it? No! It will balance in the illusion of time.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Media

So the media is the enemy of the American people! Let’s clear up just what and who is the media.

Most people think of "media" as radio, television, and print.
It is that and much more.  It is billboards and flashing signs. It’s the Internet and blogging, twitter and emails. It is video recorders, copy machines, faxes, photographs, newspapers, magazines, letters, and telexes.

The media is cell phones.  It is music, movies, dance, poetry, and art.  It is shared dreams, signal drums and graffiti, books and even T-shirts.  Just look at the variety of messages put on T-shirts today.   Media is any form of communication. That’s one big enemy.

Michael Real, in his book Super Media, suggests the term "media,” "refers to the technological extensions of the human sensory apparatus. The bowed heads of teenagers and adults today constantly working their cellphones amplifies the definition.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tree Truth

I often drive to a lot of places in the New York City area, but lately I chose to go by rail. It is an expansive experience.

The environment is a predominant observation on my rail sojourns. The window is my seatmate. I see trees in winter storage or fully leafed and growing in the most inhospitable places between track and fence, between rail and stone, between cement and junk. Amazing.

These trees set an example of service to all humans. They stand not in a place to display their leafy or naked glory. They are tucked behind buildings and sheds and few people ever see them even though they may look at them.

In their growth and growing place they are deformed by the proximity to man’s fences, walls, and concrete surfaces, yet they stand to serve in the simplicity of a symbiotic relationship. Our CO2 for their O2.

What a gift of life.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Force of Courtesy

Part of being courteous is the ability to be aware of the needs and concerns of others and to respond to them with selfless grace. It is an attribute of character. It is also a weakening personal craft in today's culture of instant gratification, in the self-fulfillment of the "me" generation.

When you see it in abundance, courtesy is worthy of comment.

Some years ago I flew with a Navy medical contingent to Croatia in the former Yugoslavia. The flight was on a crowded, C-141 transport plane. Depending on where you sat on the uncomfortable webbed bench seats, it was either surprisingly hot or irritatingly cold. Any cramped movement was measured in continuous "excuse me" rather than distance.

Not once, during the 16-hour ordeal did I see one act of intolerance toward another. No disapproving sighs, no grunts of disgust. What I saw from these Navy men and women from Fleet Hospital Six in San Diego were continuous acts of courtesy.

A pillow given up for another person's comfort.
Offers to share personal snacks.
A blanket gently laid atop a dozing colleague.
A hand extended to steady the stepping over huddled and sleeping bodies.

I thought at that time "courtesy" was another name for Navy. I appreciated the lesson and have never forgotten it.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Sailing in the Mind

My memory from a time in the past.

At first, it was the sound. Creaks and cracks and moaning groans of teak wood joints in the planking of the deck as the internal timbers torqued from the blowing stress of the wind in the sails. Wood on wood, a sound all sailors know.

Straining lines answered back to the groans with the sound of a wet knot pulled tight.

I knew we were underway, but now it was confirmed by the splashing spray and snapping sails. Soon would come commands from the Captain to trim the mizzen sheet before he shouts, “ready to come about.”

The Schooner Appledore, an 86 foot wooden Windjammer, glided or’ and through the wave swells and white caps in the confluence of the Gulf and Atlantic waters. The spray was salty, but warm since the air was cold. The sun lowered closer to its green splash of light in the distant sea; its celestial candle dimmed for the coming dusk then darkened for hours till dawn.

I am not a sailor, but I love to sail. My poet's mind translates the wind to grace as I let it carry me to the lost horizons of time and the wonderment of what was and what's there.

The salted spray with its mist and aroma ignited my spirit in a liquid flame of awe, and I felt my other lives in places on and near the sea.

The mighty clapping flaps of canvas sails slapped me back to the NOW and to the gusty folds of waning winds that heeled the boat to an awkward tilt. I stand with my back braced to the main mast and knees bent ready for instantaneous adjustments in balance. Shanty words come from somewhere in my mind.

“Hi-Lo High, sailors cry when God’s on the water.”

The sea has always been measured by the sadness of time and tide and in the tears of separation. The family here, future there. The vast waves of hopes and wishes in between. Adventure? Yes! Fearful too, especially for those who love the result, but know not the process, the danger.

I am far more appreciative now of the early explorers who mastered the seas and set humankind on the path of expansion. I  am far more contemplative now for age is my sea and time is my tide.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Twin Grand-Daughters 21st birthday

Today is a milestone in my family life.

My twin grand-daughters turn twenty-one and officially become responsible adults when visiting bars and restaurants. It’s not that they were not before this birthday number, it’s that now they are official.

I remember when my son called to say that they had been born and how excited I was for this new of life and a continuation of a family tree. The tree didn’t matter much, but the evolving lives of these two souls did matter. I have watched them mature over the years from infants to toddlers, to pre-teens and then teens. Always I marveled at their developing personalities and expanding intellects.

Happy birthday M and A. May all of your wishes and hopes be enough for the grace of your Holy spirits to be filled with love and personal creations of mind and body.

I love you!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

McGee, my spiritual advisor

I’ve mentioned in these posts before that McGee, my Shih-Tzu and Yorkie mix canine companion is my spiritual advisor.

I’ve had an inquiry as to how a dog can be a spiritual advisor.

In our daily lives, we look for examples of unconditional love, of non-judgmental observations of our actions, of counsel on how to do it better. McGee, a nine-year-old ten-pound bundle offers me, unconditional love. She never judges my choices, and her loving eyes always suggest that if I’d thought it out, there might have been another and better way for me to react.

It seems to me that if I had been talking to a deeply spiritual being, one with intellectual consciousness and unconditional loving then I would get the same feeling that I do with McGee only with the verbal counsel that love is the only thing we are and that there is no judgement in that other place, only responsibility for our actions and thoughts.

To me, it is no wonder that dogs and cats and other domestic pets are placed in the category called “animal.”

The Latin root for animal is anima. It means “breath” or “Spirit.” The adjective that comes from anima is “animalis, ” and it means “having breath or soul.”

That works for me in having McGee, as my spiritual advisor.

Here she is as recently painted by my artist friend Ed Berkise.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Breath of Nature

It going to be windy here today.

“It depends upon the wind” an expression used by a good friend of mine.

It’s an atavistic expression. I imagine sailors of old and even ones of today know their navigation depends upon the wind.

We know that animals depend on the wind for both safety and prey.

As a pilot I understand the importance and safety of landing into the wind.

The wind is a dichotomous gift to humankind. It can be our ally or our enemy. It can cool. It can warm. It can soothe and it can harm. It can smooth the seas or rile the waves. It is invisible, yet its presence is felt in soft touches as well as in a raging force.

To see the wind with our eyes another element must be employed. Rain gives it expression. Leaves give it direction. Dust and dirt give it shape and it can be the harbinger of hot or cold weather.

We preoccupied human souls in the narrow focus of our daily lives give wind very little thought or thanks. We do, however, give it names: Mariah, Santa Anna, Chinook, Zephyr, Hurricane, Tornado and so on.

We also acknowledge the wind in slogans: “let me see which way the wind blows,” “May the wind be at your back,” “It’s an ill wind that blows no good.”

From the sea and sailing come great truthful sayings: "wind before rain, topsails remain, rain before wind, top sails take in."

Joining the native peoples of the earth, I believe that nature is an echo of our selves. The wind is emblematic of our spirits. Both wind and spirit are invisible, yet both are destined and determined in their direct flow to the Source of calm.
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