Friday, May 29, 2015

"One of the most startling developments of the late twentieth century has been the emergence within every major religious tradition of a militant piety popularly known as 'fundamentalism.' Its manifestations are sometimes shocking. Fundamentalists have gunned down worshippers in a mosque, have killed doctors and nurses who work in abortion clinics, have shot their presidents, and have even toppled a powerful government. It is only a small minority of fundamentalists who commit such acts of terror, but even the most peaceful and law-abiding are perplexing, because they seem so adamantly opposed to many of the most positive values of modern society. Fundamentalists have no time for democracy, pluralism, religious toleration, peacekeeping, free speech, or the separation of church and state. Christian fundamentalists reject the discoveries of biology and physics about the origins of life and insist that the Book of Genesis is scientifically sound in every detail. At a time when many are throwing off the shackles of the past, Jewish fundamentalists observe their revealed Law more stringently than ever before, and Muslim women, repudiating the freedoms of Western women, shroud themselves in veils and chadors. Muslim and Jewish fundamentalists both interpret the Arab-Israeli conflict, which began as defiantly secularist, in an exclusively religious way. Fundamentalism, moreover, is not confined to the great monotheisms. There are Buddhist, Hindu, and even Confucian fundamentalisms, which also cast aside many of the painfully acquired insights of liberal culture, which fight and kill in the name of religion and strive to bring the sacred into the realm of politics and national struggle."

Karen Armstrong -- The Battle for God

Sunday, May 24, 2015

My Story - Part 4 - Grandpa


My grandfather was born in the 19th century. 1898 to be exact. Some people are born and live their entire lives in one particular historical period and other's lives straddle the end of one era and the beginning of another.  I have a theory that some people who witness great technological, social, economic, and/or political change during their lifetimes, especially when the change occurs during their formative years, have difficulties adjusting and gaining a purchase on life. (Yet some thrive under those same conditions). The year  Grandpa was born William McKinley was president and was assassinated  3 years later, the USS Maine was blown up in Havana harbor precipitating the Spanish American War.  When he was 5 years old in 1903 the Wright brothers built and flew the first airplane. He was 19 when the United States entered WWI and 43 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. I may be making excuses for my grandfather because when it came to navigating his way through life he seemed to prefer the fog of inebriation to the clarity of sobriety. He was an alcoholic.
    His people were the English and Scot-Irish who landed on eastern shores two centuries ago and gradually drifted down Appalachia and settled in the hills of Arkansas and Oklahoma where they made a living farming and share cropping until the winds of change, just as strong as the wind that blew the topsoil away, blew them to California where they became known as Okies. My grandmother said they didn't notice when the Great Depression came because they had always been poor. So my people stayed for another decade or so. Grandpa sold vegetables from a horse cart and was content if he managed to buy some flour, bacon, and coffee each day.  They lived for a time in abandoned farm houses. But, at the end of WWII  the family was drawn to California by the lure of jobs that paid steady money.

Friday, May 22, 2015

In the course of the years a close friendship will always reveal the shadow in the other as much as ourselves, to remain friends we must know the other and their difficulties and even their sins and encourage the best in them, not through critique but through addressing the better part of them, the leading creative edge of their incarnation, thus subtly discouraging what makes them smaller, less generous, less of themselves.
David Whyte

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Spring Blooms

I'm glad I snapped these photos when I did because a thunder 
storm came along and blew these Clematis flowers right offf
the vine.

We just planted this hosta.  It's called Orange Marmalade. I think
it goes well with the golden Japanese barberry next to it.

It's also a perfect complement to the Frances Williams hosta
on the right.

Gracen picked a peony.

It makes a good accessory for her
pink shirt.

Marley's Band Concert

It's a mystery to me how grandchildren grow up so fast.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Kelly on the Mountain

When Kelly told me she was going to go out on this ledge over in Arkansas
 I tried to talk her out of it. I can always photo shop her into the picture, 
but she insisted on going.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Part 3 continued - My Grandma

My grandma was an animal lover. I can't remember a time when she didn't have ducks and chickens in her back yard. She had a duck named Donald that would chase the grand kids all they way to the back door when they ventured toward the back of the lot, territory he deemed his own. She had white ducks, mallards, a mixture of the two, and the red faced Muscovies.  She had a squirrel that a family member brought to her all the way from Arkansas, an aviary containing hundreds of parakeets, a couple of large tortoises that wandered her back yard, and a crow named Jim who was granted house  privileges. Her dog was a feisty little bull dog mix that was as mean as he could be. No grand child was spared from being bitten. He and I gradually came to a truce and he would let me pet him for a few minutes before he bit me. I think he began to like me because he didn't break the skin anymore when he bit me. He loved to play fetch and would run after a ball time after time and then signal the end of the play session by biting me.  Every few years my grandma would start missing her family in Oklahoma and go back for a visit leaving Duke with me. He was a house dog which meant I had to take him for a walk every day.  Putting on his halter was very tricky but I learned to do it without being bitten. He would sleep on my bed and sometime during the night work his way under the covers and sleep at my feet.  If I moved he would bite me.

Grandma and Duke in her back yard.  Manhattan Beach 1957

When I was a kid the only black people I saw were the men who picked up the trash.  I was afraid of them. My grandma, a woman who was born in Alabama and never went to school beyond 3rd grade (she was self educated through reading) treated them as equals. She would would talk and laugh with them; they were friends. That made a big impression on me.  My parents were not overtly racist (I was never allowed to use the N word), but they believed the races should not mix or socialize. Years later my black friends and I would meet at grandma's for dinner and bible study.  Bible study?  My grandma?   Yes, she became a Christian late in life and I know it was a true conversion because she didn't cuss so much after that.

Every Friday afternoon after school my grandpa would arrive in his 1954 Ford pick up truck to pick me up so I could spend the night at grandma's house.  We would spend the evening sipping ice tea and watching TV shows like Sea Hunt, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, 77 Sunset Strip, and our favorite, The Twilight Zone. Those were good times but I was growing up.  My interests were wandering to girls and cars so one Friday afternoon when grandpa arrived I told him I didn't want to go. It seemed childish to spend the weekend with grandparents. The next time I spent the night with my grandma I had Dorothy and two little girls with me. Not long after that my family moved away from Hermosa Beach to La Puente in the San Gabriel Valley about 30 miles east of Los Angeles. I suppose because of my love of reading I have always looked at different periods of my life as chapters. This was definitely the end of a chapter as my childhood slipped away.  I had become a teenager.

Redondo Pier c. 1953

Historic Perspective:1959
  •  Alaska becomes a state
  • Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Richie Valens die in a plane crash
  • The first transcontinental commercial jet flight. $301 LA to NY
  • Fidel Castro overthrows Batista to govern Cuba

Friday, May 08, 2015

The End of an Era

We've had an old barn on our property for as long as we have owned it.  It was old when we arrived and over the years, especially since we've had no cows or horses of our own, it has fallen into disarray.  So today, with the help of our neighbor Mike, a member of the local volunteer fire dept, we burned it down.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Dorothy's Latest Cake

If you are familiar with the computer game Minecraft this cake will make sense to you.  If not you will probably think Dorothy dropped it between the oven and the kitchen table.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Heartbreak begins the moment we are asked to let go but cannot, in other words, it colors and inhabits and magnifies each and every day; heartbreak is not a visitation, but a path that human beings follow through even the most average life. Heartbreak is an indication of our sincerity: in a love relationship, in a life's work, in trying to learn a musical instrument, in the attempt to shape a better more generous self. Heartbreak is the beautifully helpless side of love and affection and is [an] essence and emblem of care... Heartbreak has its own way of inhabiting time and its own beautiful and trying patience in coming and going.
David Whyte

Dorothy's Latest Cake