Saturday, May 29, 2010


“May I help you, miss? You look puzzled.”

“Mmmm… thank you, I’m just looking for my father. We came in together a moment ago, but he seems to have wandered off.”

We had just disembarked the Super Chief out of LA. We decided to stop in Winslow and stay the night. I was to check us in and then meet in the dining room.

The war was finally over. I had traveled from Chicago to LA to meet him on his return from the Pacific. He had been quiet for most of these first 10 hours together, asking occasionally about the old neighborhood, never speaking of the horrors of his experience.

As my eyes darted about the room suddenly there arose from the corner a rousing rendition of “You Are My Sunshine”. There stands my father, along with a dozen or so uniformed soldiers at the piano. Seated at the piano, and in full uniform is none other than Gene Autry. It is good to see dad in better spirits. My “sunshine” was finally home.

Yes,it is Saturday Centus time once again...a wonderful opportunity to explore our hidden literary talents. I would like to thank Jenny Matlock for facilitating this wonderful exercise in exploratory writing. Please visit and read all the wonderfully creative posts at

I also would like to apologize to our 'teacher' for running over the 100 word limit. I fashioned this story in my mind and could not be moved from the scant details provided herein. Perhaps the balance from my oh so short post of last week with this week's will garner some reprieve from Ms Matlock.

This short story serves as a remembrance of all soldiers...those fallen and those safely returned. Peace and blessings to each of you...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Serrations in Sepia the hurricane and the dance
in the liberty of the trance
in this serration
and that imagination
all mean less than the remembrance of fire.

-from I Will Find You by Remi Raji
Finely Serrated Leaves
and Doubly Serrated Leaves
and Broadly Serrated Leaves
With a Long-Legged Fly
Broadly Serrated Virginia Creeper

From their edges, there stream into the
smooth channel sharp blue serrations
or ripples of various lengths...

- Journal entry by Henry David Thoreau, July 24, 1853
while at Fair Haven near Walden Pond
Seen now through rain
the mountains fade,
the city fades
the serrations
of the skyline
dissolve like ink
on gray paper.

- from Mountains in the Rain
by Richard Risenberg

the salty sailor, the deck he swabbed,
until at last he had finished the job,
he went for a moonlit swim toward the sandy beach,
he swam stroke o'r stroke but the beach he would not reach,
for along came a large, rather ravenous shark,
whose habits brought it to the shallows well after dark,
with swift -toothed serration and no hesitation,
the shark gave the sailor complete evisceration,
leaving him only with a brief warm sensation.
End of story. No more narration.

- from The Playground of my Dreams
by jeff campbell

(blurred image of shark tooth for a sense of movement)
Peace and blessings and a hearty
"thank you" for your visit to my Alphabe-Thursday post.
I encourage you to check out the many fine posts for this weekly meme at

Sunday, May 23, 2010

"R" is for Ridiculously Sublime

Playground of My Dreams

Jenny MatlockI am participating in the ongoing meme, Saturday Centus, brought to you by Jenny at It is a creative writing meme in which we are given a writing prompt. Using this prompt we then explore our own creative abilities in 100 words or less. I encourage you to try this and see if you might have a little Faulkner in you...The first paragraph below is the prompt, the second paragraph is mine...Peace, and may your pens flow...

I look back over my shoulder, squinting into the late afternoon sun, gawking with stunned alarm at the broad rolling muddy waters of the Mississippi.

What am I afraid of? That this dark and murky river holds secrets of my past...secrets that 'til now have only been revealed in the playground of my dreams.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"R" is for Reuben

It Is Alphabe-Thursday time once again. Our Rumbustious teacher, Miss Jenny, has given us our assignment. We are to explore the letter "R" and find something that expresses our innermost "R"ness. I am certain that our Raucous class will answer to this Righteous quest with everything from the Rare, to the Recondite, to the utterly Ridiculous.

My "R" post is easy for me. He is not rare(except in my heart), nor is he recondite. He is on occasion a bit ridiculous. He is Reuben, my wonderful little, black Miniature Schnauzer.

Reuben will turn five this November, and has been in our family since he was about 10 weeks old. MrsC gave Reuben to me for my birthday, February 2006. She always says..."Reuben is the best present I ever gave you...", although I might argue that her love would be first on my list...Reuben next, of course.

How did I come to name him Reuben? I sought to reflect his German ancestry with his name. I have to admit to a bit of a struggle to find a German boy's name that rolled off the tongue. "Reuben" seemed to have a certain feel and sound that fit this little guy. I find him a perfect subject for my photographic endeavors, and quite photogenic, although often not terribly cooperative. I hope you enjoy these pictures, and I encourage you to visit with our other students and their often Rapacious witticisms. Go to to peruse their work, and perhaps you too will want to join the class. Better late than never.

Peace and blessings...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Q is for Quaere Into Patriotism

First, I want to apologize to our teacher, Jenny, for 'cheating', by using a "Q" word to segue to a "P" post that I posted following last Alphabe-Thursday. I would like to also apologize to our "Empty Nester" Kathy and Julie who have visited this post...thank you for your thoughtful comments. I promise to have something new for next week's post. This post today may be the most important one I have proffered to date. It is not specifically done to educate or provide pretty photographs. It is designed to introduce a question or issue, to Quaere you about Patriotism.

Patriotism is "love and devotion to one's country" as defined by the 3rd Edition of the American Heritage Dictionary. As we have unfortunately learned over time, politicians and pundits alike choose to use this term to draw distinction between their brand of Patriotism and the juxtaposed traitorousness. One person's Patriot is another's traitor, and vice versa. This rhetorical convenience belies the Greek origins of patrios and pater, meaning 'of one's father' and 'father', respectively, and is a grave departure from 'love and devotion of one's country'.

So, we are left with our perception of some interpretation by the particular speaker, often not coming to our own particular, thoughtful interpretation. This is not unusual in the mix of politics, media and language. Nonetheless it is nothing short of dangerous given the volatile world in which we live...that certain individuals would misuse a word, particularly vague by definition. This word Patriotism becomes a stick of dynamic, supercharged, rhetorical dynamite. Wars and conflicts have been started and fought, and many millions of lives lost over this and less.

Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.
Adlai Stevenson

A man's country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle; and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.
George William Curtis

Patriotism is an ephemeral motive that scarcely ever outlasts the particular threat to society that aroused it.
Denis Diderot

The included photograph was taken on Memorial Day from the summit of the Chattanooga National Cemetery during my annual pilgrimage with my friend Kevin. This historic cemetery, Tennessee's largest, was established following the Civil War Battle of Missionary Ridge by Union General George Thomas. It is home to over 37,000 soldiers whose wars span the history of this country, from the American Revolution to the current Iraqi and Afghani conflicts. There are a substantial number of unmarked gravestones of unknown Civil War soldiers, both Union and Confederate. It is home even to a number of German POWs. As a HS teenager we would routinely escape the rigors of growing up and drive the meandering roads that lead to this flag-poled summit, smoking our cigarettes and cannabis, contemplating the universe and other philosophical pursuits. It was this particular location where my friend, Jack, and I decided to join the military...he the Army and I the Coast Guard. Needless to say this cemetery, at least on the surface, is a quiet place. Nonetheless, the numerous, perfect rows of markers, occasionally broken by monuments, speak so loudly about the horrors of war.
I will most likely be standing atop this flagged summit once again this upcoming Memorial Day. I am drawn to this place on Memorial day for the conversations with veterans and the contemplation of life's complexities. As usual I expect to be filled with a deep sadness over the enormous loss of precious life...lives of women, men and children, military and civilian...folks just like you and me with families and dreams who, more often than not, find themselves caught up in whirlwinds of violence perpetrated by the powerful and wealthy elite. This next visit I will think about a "new patriotism". It is a patriotism ripe with the deep courage of conviction to create peace, and the ever present need to speak to truth, to not take any life lightly, to create social and political structures that first and foremost acknowledge our inherent need for each love immensely as if it matters, and as if there is no tomorrow. War is hell...Love can and is the only thing that will conquer war.

Peace and blessings

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Paedotrophy: The Art of Rearing Children

On this Mother's Day I find myself thinking, as I often do, about my mother. Her name was Irma Lee Carson Campbell. She passed away from cancer in 1985, a day before my birthday. I often wonder what type of relationship we could have had over these years since she left. I imagine that it would have been a good one. Often parent child relationships become somewhat strained and stressful during the formative years, but if you are fortunate enough, you can have a new found friend as you get older.

As for mother's and the art of rearing does seem to be truly an art, much to the dismay of writers and readers alike who proliferate the notion that you can raise a child successfully by reading a book. In my mother's and my case it was books by the venerable Dr. Spock. I remember often hearing my mom suggest that Dr. Spock was someone to which she should have never paid any attention. He apparently suggested a way too permissive an upbringing. I got news for ya did not pay enough attention to him.

All in all, I guess I would not change a thing. Bouncing between the art and Dr. Spock's prescription, with a healthy dose of frustration, I think that you, Irma Lee, and I came through it all in fine fashion. You left me with your taste for antiques, collecting, flowers, birds, reading and that often needed quiet space. I live now as a testament to your aura, your wherewithal, and I do so proudly.

We had our times
Both good and bad
But now I find myself
Just mostly sad
Thinking about how
It could have been
Knowing somehow
We can't start again
And on that note
I can safely say
Happy Mother's Day to you
In every way...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Phobias: The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself

The idea, when I started this blog last July, was to blog routinely. I truly desired to share ideas and my photography, not knowing exactly with whom I would be sharing. Needless to say, my posting frequency has been irregular...that is until Alphabe-Thursday happened for me. It has provided the necessary platform for me, and the fear of a bad grade has kept me on task. Each week I find myself with many desirable options for the appropriate letter. So much so that I am now going to try and post a daily inter-blog that will cover some of those themes that did not make the cut for Alphabe-Thursday (Please know Jenny that I do not expect extra credit). So, the answer to the question of what to post on a more routine basis has been answered.

This first day after Alphabe-"P" I am going to speak a bit about something close to my being...Phobias. Just a seemingly short ten years ago this Spring my physical, mental and emotional well-being began to unravel. There became increasingly more bad days than good, never being able to predict what each new day would bring. I sought help from my internist and a series of of psychologists and counselors...all in an attempt to find out just what was wrong with me. Feeling poorly and not knowing exactly why, led to a cultivation and ebb and flow in and out of a variety of phobic conditions...mostly in, not out. Over these ten years I learned that I have CFIDS (known as Chronic Fatigue), mild Fibromyalgia, Celiac, and a condition that makes me overtly sensitive to things I put in my body from foods to drugs. All of those issues made perhaps more complicated by heart bypass surgery in 2005. The phobias I developed seemed quite normal for what would be expected given this lapse in general well-being. Prior to the Spring of 2000, I had lived a very active life. My work at a world class aquarium involved rigorous collecting, scuba diving, 8-10 hours a day of demanding physical and mental stress. I met all of life's challenges well. That all changed, seemingly overnight. lists over 500 different phobias. Statistics would indicate that many of you that might be reading this blog have one or more of these phobias. I deal with those that involve leaving my house, being in crowded, enclosed spaces, traveling, and social phobias...all to a point where FDRs quote takes on real meaning for me.

I would urge any of you who have a phobia to seek help. Explore the whats and whys of your dilemma. Phobias can be cured. People can learn again to lead a more normal, free from fear life. If this speaks to you, I pray that you find that path which leads to a new, fearless life.

Peace and blessings

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

P is for Picidae

It is Alphabe-Thursday time again. Our assignment for our wonderful teacher, Jenny Matlock, is the letter "P". As I Perused the veritable cornucopia of "P" Possibilities, I quickly realized that there is quite a broad spectrum of enticing, religion, medicine, sexuality...with no shortage of unique words. I have chosen Picidae, the scientific family of woodPeckers and, as you can imagine, I just happen to have some photographs that I took recently.

There are some 200 species of woodPeckers found worldwide, except Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, extreme polar regions, and oceanic islands. The greatest diversity of woodpeckers is found in the tropics. Most members of this family possess strong bills for drilling in tree trunks and long, sticky tongues for food extraction. The have 4-toed, zygodactyl feet. The 1st and 4th toes face forward, the 2nd and 3rd backward, allowing them greater grasping power of tree trunks and limbs. They walk vertically up tree trunks. They have short legs and stiffened tails which further enhance their mobility, and their breeding and signaling behaviors. Members of this family found in East Tennessee and the southeastern U.S. are the red-headed, pileated, common or "yellow-shafted" flicker, red-bellied, downy, and hairy woodpeckers.

I was thrilled recently to wake one morning and find 8 or so common flickers in my front yard. These flickers are primarily ground feeders. I was able to capture two females in an apparent territorial dispute. They faced off, with head and neck raised, and then one would lower its head and raise and shake its tail feathers. It was a remarkable moment for this amateur birder.

The other two pictures are of 19th century, hand-colored engravings. The 3-engraving picture is of 1st Ed. Audubons. The 4-engraving photo shows non-native, tropical species.

They are a favorite family of birds to me. I hope you enjoy...

Peace and blessings...