Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bird of the Day: Laughing Gull

Laughing Gull

After 5 years of walking on the beach almost daily, I've never seen this bird until today.

Laugh and the world laughs with you. Unless you're this bird who was flying solo as far as I could tell.

Whimbrels on Hollywood Beach

 I love their even spacing.

A real photographer could do so much better, but I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tuesday Morning Beach Report: First Day of Summer

The crowds arrive! I've always wondered about these meetings of gulls. Dozens more arrived as if there was an appointed time and place for a big meeting.
Where are all the humans?

Looking towards Ventura, not a soul on the beach.

Looking toward the harbor, a lone beach walker.

Then just as I was leaving, this happened. A crowd of middle schoolers, struggling to set up beach umbrellas in the stiff wind. Flying projectile alert on Hollywood Beach today. Don't get stabbed by a beach umbrella.
Oh, and god bless the chaperones.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday, June 12, 2017

Where the Muse Can Find Me

Since May 7th, I have written every single day (except one) for a minimum of two hours. The first night was in a weird motel room in Needles, CA where I used the same table and chair to later barricade my door. It's been easier since then.

It turns out that what my favorite mentors told me years ago is true (at least for me right now.) If you park your ass in a chair and get ready to write, the muse will know where to find you.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Saturday Beach Report


Dark sky, blue sky
parade of sailboats

Terns crying overhead
a flock of whimbrels at water's edge
a lone sea lion swimming close to shore

Beachgoers of all varieties
swimmers, fisherman, castle builders, loungers in beach chairs staring out to the horizon,
a man on horseback looking like a vacation ad in a magazine

And a message found on the sand.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Beach Report: June Gloom

June Gloom Explainer

I lived in L.A. beginning in 1975. Culver City, Wilshire District, Silver Lake, Los Feliz. Then the San Gabriel Valley--Sierra Madre and South Pasadena.

I had no idea about any of this. I had no idea about a lot of things.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The March for Truth, Los Angeles

 It doesn't get better that this. Behind the plaza where we were waiting to begin the march was a giant excavator digging up shovel after shovel of dirt. No, this was not the movie called March for Truth; this was the March for Truth.

Some of my favorite signs

Afterwards I went to see the play Archduke, a fictionalized exploration of the backstory in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. While I did not find the play emotionally involving, I did find the questions it posed food for thought. Are terrorists/assassins all just crazy psychos? Are they fervently devoted to their mission or manipulated by a mentor? What part does prejudice, politics, and hopelessness play in their radicalization? In a totalitarian regime these are not idle discussion points over dinner.

My favorite chant in every march I've attended has been this call and response:
Tell me what democracy looks like.
This is what democracy looks like.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Welcome to Margaritaville

Holiday weekend population at my place is 3. Apparently other households are having guests over too. Yesterday at the beach, I must have seen a dozen people. And with fallout from the demoic acid continuing, there were a dozen dead birds, two dead sea lions, and one sea lion cordoned off waiting for rescue.

It's still paradise.
But for the dead, not so much.

And we have bars in paradise. I love bars.

I especially love bars with music. The night before last we went to see one of my favorite musicians at a beach neighborhood bar so tiny it appears to have been built in someone's garage. A guy we  dubbed "the tornado" blew in about half-way through our evening. He entered as if he was wearing those shoes with retractable wheels you see adolescents gliding around in. He danced his way to the dance floor after a quick word with the bartender. The next thing you know, everyone in the bar had a fresh drink. The Tornado danced. The Tornado knuckle-bumped quite a few of us. And then he blew out again.

This morning he was at the farmer's market looking fresh as a daisy.

So I'm back, enjoying life in Margaritaville.
But not that long ago I was here:

Always aware of the canyons in my heart.
How are you?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

State of the State of Margaritaville

Evening walk last week.

I'm alive and I live in paradise.

For more than a year I've been wrestling.
Swollen joints.(They went away; yesterday the swollen knees and ankles came back) A hoarse voice.
Musing over  Dan's central tenet. You're doing the best that you can. Really, you did the best that you could at the time. Really really, you did the best that you could at the time with what you knew at the time.

I am alive and I live in paradise.

My voice is unreliable. Is that the same as an unreliable narrator?

Why am I not working on a writing project right now?

Some days I can barely make myself understood. In places that I go regularly, people know to lean closer. Other days I clear my throat a million times. The phlegm lady.

Yes, I've been to doctors.
Hooray, I'll be on Medicare in November.

The lungs are the seat of grief, the acupuncturist says. Okay.

The Integrated Medicine doc says no dairy and gluten. Sometimes I cheat on the dairy.

What do you do with grief when you're grieving over a dead person while taking care of a dying person?
Wow, wasn't that like, a long time ago?

I am alive and I live in paradise.

Paradise itself is struggling.

Starting in the lower right foreground, notice the white bumps, and follow them into the distance. These are the breasts of western grebes, poisoned by domoic acid. The Pacific loons, cormorants, and pelicans are darker and cannot be distinguished in the photograph.

The beach, early morning, after the winds have subsided.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Beach Report: The Week after Easter

During this week after which many just celebrated the rolling back of the stone from the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth, it seems that it should be easy to believe in miracles. But in this paradise, the beach is a morgue without hope of resurrection. Scores of dead birds lie in the sand, the impeccably white breasts of western grebes turned skyward, the dark shapes of cormorants that you hope are just piles of kelp. A pelican lies on his back, pedaling, pedaling and then falls still. Domoic acid poisoning is what neighborhood chitchat and a search of the web tells me. Demonic, spellcheck wants to write. That seems about right to me.

Domoic acid, or red algae, is a naturally occurring toxin, the articles tell you. A few months ago a friend who grew up here, surfing and fishing and boating told me that was an oversimplification. Man, no doubt, has his hand in this somewhere.

The sea lions will probably be next. 


Today, Anacapa in the distance.

Today, a bit later. The islands have disappeared.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Bird of the Day: Dark-eyed Junco

The houses are very close together here in beige-world and are separated by block walls. I hung a big mirror outside my dining room to mitigate that walled-in feeling. The bird, one I've never seen or heard before here, really likes swinging on a trailing tendril of the ivy geraniums. He likes to admire himself in the mirror too.

Take a close look at the photo. There's a shadow bird in the background--not a reflection of the junco, but a stained glass window ornament of a hummingbird, hung in my neighbors kitchen window. I'd never noticed it before since I try to avoid looking into my neighbor's windows.

I heard the junco before I saw him. What I heard is the third line of the SONG under the "songs and arm call" button.

Friday, April 14, 2017

"Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive." Hafiz

 One of my yoga teachers ended a recent class with the quote above. My list is long, and by no means fully described by the photos below. A decade ago things did not feel so joyful in my personal life.

Pure white doves in flight

A beach full of birds and treasures
The roses in my own front yard
Trying to grow a lemon tree
Looking at art
This is from the exhibit, Rotari's Muses, at the Norton Simon

A visit from faraway friends

A sweet dessert from a beloved friend