Friday, October 30, 2009
Good Morning Friends,
A couple of days ago I landed a couple of tickets to go see Roger McGuinn from a generous couple on Craigslist who could not make the show. Last night Weng and I drove to Hillsboro Oregon to check out his show. Many of you may remember the band from the 60's/70's named the Byrds. At their peak they were number one on the charts and had an enormous following. I was one of their fans and to this day a lot of their music remains new and timeless. (see today's ThinkMusic). McGuinn's musical pals included the Beatles, Dylan, Rolling Stones, Pete Seeger and countless more.
But American musical tastes changed and the Byrds disbanded as the storm of Disco swept the radiowaves. Fame is an elusive master who must be fed constantly with artistic souls or the 'Long Night' of forgetfulness will surely freeze your moment in time. I confess that, having worked in the music business, my expectations for the performance were low. My feelings are mixed as I write this morning. The show was short, an hour with a small encore. Roger McGuinn took us on a little tour of the world as it was once. Easy conversation about those days took up almost half of the evening, and, I must say it was enjoyable. Looking at the house of 100 or so people though I could not help but feel melancholy - my peers nearly filled the room with grey hair and low spark, all hoping to catch a moment of their youth. Noticeably lacking was chronologically young people. Weng was probably the youngest woman there and she knew little of the music. So, how was it? McGuinn displayed bursts of technical brilliance but it was somehow mechanical and shopworn to me. The high moment of the evening came with a fine rendition of Cab Calloways 1929 'St. James Infirmary Blues'.
People left the hall without a ruckus and any trace of their youthful Hippieness was nowhere to be seen. On the drive home Weng and I talked little and decided that we would spend our next precious night out going to a rock and roll dance club. Before bed I confess to googling Roger McGuinn. Turns out that he played a high school gym last week in Washington State and his show, down to the entertaining banter, was exactly the same. Any magic of the evening simply faded away.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Yikes!! Me and loads of other Bloggers have been having trouble with our sites! So far no fix from Google but am confident they will repair things soon. 'Till then please scroll down the large empty space at the bottom of my posting to see my other features and advertisers.
Good Morning Friends,
Well, there I was, goofing off in the innocent tranquil days of Life At The Hotel Delfin. Doing absolutely nothing except eating, drinking and thinking. Meals were cooked with care and delicious and spicy. Fish, eggs and tortillas. Coffee, fresh orange juice and gallons of Pacifico beer. And curious local people. Being the only tourist at the time in the hotel I became an attraction. Torrents of children in clean ragged clothing. Laughing shy young girls wanting to know if I was married. Old men wanting to know how many children I had and where were they? I don't remember even one person asking me for a handout. After a couple days of this bliss I was ready to venture forth to Aticama. So close yet I had not managed to break the spell of 'Manana' long enough to get there. Every day I saw it's lovely hills beckoning me from my room across Matanchen Bay. Every day another pleasant distraction. Finally, my resolve was firm and I found myself on the road, waiting for the local bus headed north. Like most things at the time, it was always late. No book to read. No fingernail clippers to pass the time. Suddenly Michelle was there behind me in an old, really old, beater Datsun with some locals. I was lured into the back seat with kisses and promises of a great day at a local jungle waterfalls! How could I resist?
El Cora waterfalls is actually a string of waterfalls coursing through a deep green jungle canyon in the mountains emptying into the southern part of the bay. As the crow flies it is not far. As the beater Datsun rolls it is a bumpy, dusty chaotic adventure winding through 4 or 5 little villages - the road getting worse and worse. Potholes the size of garbage cans. Ruts that guided your car without steering it. Jungle and children everywhere. Real burros loaded with jungle fruit led by real old men. Hard working men. No signs but no need as we had a guide. Finally we reached the end of the road and an hour walk followed. Down, Down, Down we trekked like a cast in a cheap Jules Vern movie. The Cora Indians had made the area a sacred place eons ago and it was easy to see why. Pristine. The sound of the waterfall came before the sight of the waterfall. Then, there it was. Amazing. Hundreds of feet tall. Clear water. Cold and clear.
I don't swim. Never have. Ridicule was heaped upon me for the millionth time by my group while I watched them dive in. I did not mind. There was something still eating away in the back of my mind, elusive like details in a good dream. This place was a comfort and I heard music in my mind. Hours passed and I did not talk much. Soon other people arrived with loud laughter and tons of food and children. We were invited to eat with them. Corn on the cob. Beans and tortillas and warm Pacifico beer that tasted cold to me. They were from Aticama and had lots to say about the village. Then, it was time to leave, not a good place to be after dark as the path up was very steep and a misstep could be bad. By the time we got to Santa Cruz and the camp I was tired so I took Michelle's advice and spent the night in her loving arms. I remembered I had left my hotel room door wide open but I was not worried. Aticama would wait for me. She was, after all, Mexican and rich in patience.
ps. the photos above are courtesy of Jim Vitale, a friend who owns an oceanside retreat in Miramar. Here is a link to his site and I encourage you to check it out.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Good Morning Readers,
There is a new rocket out there in Florida that NASA is gonna lift off today, if all goes well. It is amazing to think what we have done as a race of dreamers and doers. Here is a link to an animation of the construction of the Space Station over the last 10 years. It shows what we can do if we work together with all members of the world.
Tomorrow I will post the next installment of The Road To Aticama, and, speaking of Aticama, you will notice that I have added a blastoff countdown gadget in the left hand column.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The cheezy woman in the photo on the left is my wife, Weng. The photo below is some garden harvest. It is about to be consumed by our little family! At present I am almost as tired as I can be and still be setting up. Ever work so much that your hands ache? It only makes the soup of the day taste more delicious! It is nice to be home. Warm, snarfluing Princess noises, Tommy reading out loud sounds, the torrent of mental energy from Francis as he translates English phrase's into Spanish for a friend and the comforting sounds of Weng cooking......
If I was wearing silk underwear I'd believe I was in heaven!!
Monday, October 26, 2009
Good Morning Friends,
You will notice a new feature on my blog located on the top left hand column. It is a link to my son Francis's daily blog. He will be 13 next week and is in the 7th grade. For sometime now he has been posting a blog with his thoughts and a fictional story or two. As his father I am proud and find his writing to be entertaining and informative regarding the world as seen through his eyes. I encourage you to read it from time to time and post encouraging comments!
Thank You & Salud
Good Morning Friends,
Weng, my sweet wife, has twice as many readers as I do. She says that is because most people like to read personal blogs to take their minds off of the day to day grind and that political discussions and opinions to often remind us of what we must do to fulfill our responsibilities as citizens. She is probably right because often I am political. So, it is a fine line I draw when I venture forth in this arena - how to express an opinion without being divisive and yet still be entertaining?
As a parent of young children I must consider their future as well as day to day needs. This includes helping to shape the world they will inherit someday. Once, a long time ago, a friend named Elizabeth told me that:
"Words are the most powerful thing we have as humans. With just words alone you can make a person cry tears of happiness or sadness. Make them angry or spur them to action. Make them think."
I believe that and so, at the risk of losing some precious readers, I feel compelled, again, to mention the ongoing debate over Health Care in this country. Only this time I will ask you all to act on the issue and it is easy. No matter how you feel about it, most agree that something must be done. Simply read the letter I received today and call you local representative and tell them what you want! That's it. Make a difference for us all.
Salud (which is Spanish for 'good health')
On the topic of a National 'Single Payer' Health Program
Here’s what Lucio said to Isabella in Act I Scene 4 of Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure”:
Our doubts are traitors
And make us lose the good we oft might winBy fearing to attempt.
Earlier today I listened to a 17-minute recording of Representative Anthony Weiner talking by phone on 10/22/09 to – and responding to questions from – more than a hundred single-payer activists. If you are interested, please listen, take notes, think about what’s happening, and move the work forward in collaboration with others in your own actual or virtual groups. http://blog.pdamerica.
Call and make a difference!!
Senator Jeff Merkley.......... Phone: 503-326-3386........... Fax: 503-326-2900
Senator Ron Wyden........... Phone: 503-326-7525........... Fax: 202-228-2717
Rep. David Wu................... Phone: 503-326-2901........... Fax: 503-326-5066
Rep. Earl Blumenauer......... Phone: 503-231-2300........... Fax: 503-235-4005
Rep. Kurt Schrader…………Phone: 503-557-
President Obama….See http://www.
Thank you to Speaker Nancy Pelosi: http://www.1payer.net/
IN ADDITION, I encourage you to use the free fax (and phone) information posted at http://www.1payer.net/ , to use the other tools posted there, and to subscribe to the free HealthJustice e-mail newsletter.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Good Morning Readers,
This is a photo of my last time aboard my 1964 Honda Black Bomber. A bittersweet moment and the final chapter in my Vintage Motorbike Era. I have been riding now for 44 years and it has been a freedom that only a classic motorbike rider can understand. Just you and hundreds of pounds of machine. Raw with no windscreen, no turnsignals, no 'tuned suspension' - a master to beast relationship, one false move, one loss of attention and you are down. The passion of road vibration coursing through your body, tears in your eyes from the wind whipping your face, roar of rumbling exhaust in your ears.
20 years ago I was a King Of The Road. I had a collection of 10 or so vintage motorbikes. Norton, Matchless, MotoGuzzi, Triumph and the little Japanese oddball - The Honda Black Bomber. 5 years later I met Weng, my Mail Order Bride. Getting married to a woman from the other side of the world is no small feat, let me tell you! I costs a lot of money!! Adios steel steeds. I sold all save the 'Guzzi and the little Honda.
How the MotoGuzzi left is another interesting story, which leaves us with the Black Bomber. To tell the truth I did not feel as though I was doing her any justice by letting the years roll by unattended in the shed, getting rusty and waiting for fuel and the chance to be back on the road. So I listed her for sale and got dozens of replies for the most sought after machine that Honda has ever built. I selected a local enthusiast who paid my price and said goodbye. The money goes into the family fund.
You have met Weng and my little family now through her blogs. Did I do the right thing? Would I do it over again?
You bet your ride I would.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Yikes! I have been faked out!! Turns out that the music machine I wrote about below is a fake.... here is what I found out:
Comments: False. The video is amazing, no question, but the "fantastic machine" depicted therein wasn't built out of farm equipment parts at the University of Iowa. It's an example, rather, of the incredible 3D computer animation created by Wayne Lytle and his team at Animusic in Austin, Texas. No such machine exists in the real world.
Nor, for the record, is there is no "Robert M. Trammell Music Conservatory," a "Sharon Wick School of Engineering," nor a "Matthew Gerhard Alumni Hall" at the University of Iowa. The caption accompanying the video in emails circulating since November 2006 is entirely fictitious, authored by an anonymous prankster.
You can view a clip from the original video, entitled "Pipe Dream," in its proper context here.
and I was excited enough to write this:
I just recieved a most amazing bit of musical increadablness from a friend - do yourself a favor and check out this most amazing musical instrument!!
here are the details:
Turn your sound on for this. Read this first, then watch.
This is almost unbelievable. See how all of the balls wind up in catcher cones.
This incredible machine was built as a collaborative effort between the Robert M. Trammell Music Conservatory and the Sharon Wick School of Engineering at the University of Iowa .. Amazingly, 97% of the machines components came from John Deere Industries and Irrigation Equipment of Bancroft , Iowa ....Yes, farm equipment!
It took the team a combined 13,029 hours of set-up, alignment, calibration, and tuning before filming this video but as you can see it was WELL worth the effort.
It is now on display in the Matthew Gerhard Alumni Hall at the University and is already slated to be donated to the Smithsonian.
Good Morning Friends,
As many of you know from reading my blog and Weng's blog, we have been doing a major cleanup around the old homestead for the last several weeks. We are almost finished! We are packrats. There, I said it. When you have an acre or more of land, and a lot of time, you can fill it up with stuff. We did. We filled it up with big stuff. Big Stuff like School Buses and Trucks and all sorts of Cars and Motorhomes. Then we filled those things up with stuff. Stuff like building materials and things that you use everyday in everyday life - which brings us to the core of the Stuff situation - where on earth does all of this Stuff come from?
Well, mostly it was someone else's Stuff at one time. So, how did we get it? Mostly from garage sales, that's how. You see over the last 15 years or so our neighborhood has transformed from a sleepy rural, hilly backwater of Portland to an astounding maze of huge McMansions. (see above neighbor's photo) When I moved here 33 years ago there were about 30 tiny little cabins situated on the Bonny Slope. Mostly run down 'starter homes' built during the depression, anywhere between 350 square foot to 700 square foot. Quaint, wood heated and picturesque. Then came the computer revolution. Ever hear of a little company named Intel? The Hillsboro area, not far from here became a giant research facility for Intel and other related companies. That meant that the 'Brains Of The Silicone Forest' had to live somewhere and Bonny Slope/Cedar Mills, with its rugged natural beauty, abundance of water, terrific environmental laws, and stunning hillside views became the location of choice. There are now thousands and thousands of Big Houses here and we are one of only a tiny handful of original places left.
All of this development has brought a lot of changes to the area. Some I consider good, others, not so good. The pace of the area is now as fast as the pace of the computer industry. Fast. The old beater cars on the gravel roads have been replaced with expensive fast Suv's and BMW on re=worked paved roads. Our road is now a speedway and looks like a commercial for German cars. Most of the cars have only one person in them. Big eye popping grocery stores sell every kind of food you can imagine while 'Mom & Pop' markets are a thing of the past. Home values are, well, stratospheric and more are still being built, in spite of the economic crash. There are a lot of new schools in the area and they are Fantastic!! First rate public schools, well thought out and staffed with first rate teachers. I cannot sing their praises enough!
So, back to the Stuff. Well, toss into this mix the dreaded monster of evolving consumerism and what do you get? The answer is that one of each of these houses three car garages is full of Stuff. Last years Stuff. Growing kids Stuff. Hardly used Stuff. Summers here are filled with Garage Sales. Big Houses Stuff selling for pennies on the dollar to make room for next years Stuff. There are two types of people buying this Stuff - Big House Neighbors and Mexicans. We fall into the second category even though we are technically neighbors. It is like having Rich People GoodWill Stores on every block. So, we buy what we need, sometimes what we don't need just because it was a good deal, and we buy things to take with us to Mexico. The last part is really where the Stuff Overload Factor comes in. We load the old Motorhome up to the brim with things for Aticama and sometimes we buy more than we have room for so we put all of That Stuff into Other Big Stuff.
The other part of our Stuff is Building Materials. Being a builder I am constantly running across really good materials that are headed for the dump and that is a crime really. I do what I can by salvaging as much as possible but it takes space. You get the picture.
Which brings us to last week. 17 years ago a good friend left his 30ft. converted 1956 GMC school bus at our place and it sunk into the ground. He never came back for it and it died of neglect. It was full of Stuff. Now that Stuff is gone and so is the bus. Our old Toyota Wagon served us well for many years before someone crashed into us. We kept if for parts for our daily commuter Toyota Wagon. I pulled the motor and good parts. Now it is gone. Tony The Scrapper took them away. We sold our Trooper. We filled a giant dumpster with Stuff and building materials - everything we could not give away on Craigslist. It went away. Our circular driveway reappeared!
Which brings us to today. Today, early, my pals at West Coast Sand & Gravel are delivering 15 cubic yards of driveway gravel and Augustin and I will spread it. This is necessary every 5 years or so because the earth here is about 20 feet deep before you hit rock and the gravel just goes away! After the gravel is laid Tony The Scrapper will come and haul off my 1959 GMC Dump Truck. It served us well years ago but now it's time has come to serve someone else. Then, a motorcycle enthusiast is coming to buy my 1964 Honda Black Bomber. I really hate to see her go but she is worth more to us in dollars and I am sure that a first rate restoration is in her future. Then we will move 'La Bonita' (our 1968 Travco) into the Aticama Blastoff Staging Area near the garage! Weng will take photos which we will post later for all to see.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Hello Again Friends,
I have added a new feature to my blog - 'Quote Of The Day'. You will find it at the very top of my blog page. Our son Francis was born on the Mexican Day Of The Dead and I am working on a special blog for the occasion. Stay tuned because November 2 will be a big one!!
Good Morning Again Friends,
Most mornings I get up early enough to read a bit of news on the internet before I begin my day. Occasionally something will come up that makes me think about the world we live in and the freedoms we enjoy and today was such a day. The photograph here is of a 29 year old single father living someplace in Virginia named Eric. He was arrested yesterday for brewing coffee in his own kitchen alone in the dark 5:30 am early morning. Well, it turns out that he had just got out of bed and was naked. Ok, the guy is not a criminal or sex pervert or even a reality show host. He is an employed diver and devoted father living in a nice clean house. Turns out that some people were taking a shortcut through his yard on the way to a path that leads somewhere when one of the people, a 7 year old boy, spotted him and told his mom. I guess she had to take a look to see if the boy was correct and apparently he was so shortly afterward the cops arrived and hand cuffed Eric. Now he is facing a possible year in jail and a $2,000.00 fine. Wonder who will take care of his daughter while he is in jail and I wonder if the money will be spent paying the police who arrested him? In defending their actions the investigators said that 'he wanted to be seen naked'?
Really? Who did he want to be seen by? People trespassing on his lawn at 5:30 am? Also, in these tight economic times (or any times for that matter) is it the best use of our valuable police time and energy doing stuff like this?
The point is this, should we all live in fear, in our own homes, of stepping out of the shower naked or getting up to take a leak in the middle of the night or even making coffee just because we are without clothes? Might as well buy stock in a hand cuff manufacturing company cause business is gonna be brisk if the cops and personal freedom control freaks get their way on this one.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Hello Again Readers,
The other day I tried to change the look of my blog, to put 3 postings at a time on and to make my AdSence Blog Advertising Boxs a little bigger and easier to see when........Blamo!! bx. something or other error.... I was on it in a flash but, to my continuing dismay, I am not the only one with the same problem!! Also, there is a lot of nothing at the bottom of my postings before you hit the something of my family and archives so be sure to scroll all the way down till you see the Rooster Alarm Clock. Loads of bloggers out there are having the same problem but Google has not yet come up with the fix!! Well, I am patient and I am sure that they will work it out but until then we will just to have to put up with a less than perfect way to check out the electronic marketplace.
Good Evening Friends,
Today, 10/21/2009, has been a challenging day! My new wench lasted less than an hour. Uggh! We are on a Aticama Liftoff Schedule and each day means a lot. Broken tools, well, are to be expected, and it seems like they never ever break when it is convenient. Thinking back to that afternoon in Los Cocos at the Delphin relaxes me of the bumps of today.
So, there I was. Impulsively I had rented this tiny room above the restaurant/kitchen for a week. I was feeling odd and a bit more colorful but it would take 4 months and and 3,000 more miles of Mexican pavement to figure it all out. I just knew that I was in the right place at the right time but all of the cast was not yet present. What I did know was that it was really great living above the kitchen!! Most of the time the smell rising was, well, entrancing. Smoke from coconut husks mixing with cooking onions and peppers wafting through the afternoon light filled windows. Dancing smoke in layers throughout the room. Below were sounds of drinking nearly all day long. Bravado occasionally. Mostly laughing and poking fun among friends.
For 7 nights I slept there alone. The crew came over every couple of days to check on me but they were occupied with their own exploring of the surrounding pueblos to the south. I tried to write but could not. I left my guitar at the camp and didn't bother to get it. I just watched and listened and smelled and felt the area into me, like a dry rag hitting a pail of hot water. Birds and children were everywhere, all the time. No disposable diapers back then for the birds to eat. No one eating birds. Pregnant women came and went daily to the kitchen dragging children dressed in used and very clean clothing. Everyone's clothing smelled of bleach. Terrific hand soap made locally with giant shreds of pumice and lye and fat cleaned everything. Conversations were local and about family - yours and theirs. The grapevine was strong and influential. The peoples antenna's were sharp and instantly recognized any trace of B.S., so, if you had a story it had better be true or amazing to believe!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
We all have a melody that moves a part of us, our hearts, our minds, our tears, our movement through life. I have been touched by a lot of music in my life. One such song for me is 'Romeo & Juliet' by Mark Knophler.
I stuck it in ThinkMusic for your enjoyment.
Salud and Good Night
Monday, October 19, 2009
If you look at my blog's main photo, on the right where the big mountain in the far distance hits the blue water curve of the bay you will find Santa Cruz. The gleaming light colored tower on the cliffside in the foreground is our place in Aticama. Not so far apart, right? You would think so but sometime distance has very little to do with how far apart things are. This applies to geography, people, musical notes - even ideas.
Even today, if you look in the right place you can find 'Old Mexico'. In such a place time often slows down almost to the hover of a bright red humming bird taking a long sip above a blossom's honey pot. Back at the camp along the point 'Manana' was surely setting in big time. We decided to mount a mid day beach exploratory mission at low tide. Heading north we walked over some spectacular beaches and low cliffsides, stopping for a rest at a little waterfalls flowing out of the jungle directly into the ocean. So cool. Surreal. Further on we heard sounds of construction from a clearing just inland a stones throw. People were busy building a small house near another small house. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this was the handy work of a young married couple - a tall German looking sandy haired man from Austria and his strikingly beautiful and tall Mexican Wife. Things were unfolding along my personal Fate's trail before me. These people would become of part of my journey through the years to this very day, but at that time our interest was diverted by a most unusual hotel looming before us.
The Hotel Delphin. Big Chunk Of Concrete Jutting Out Into The Ocean. Odd Angles. This was ground zero of The Gringo Trail in Los Cocos Beach. The ghosts of Bogart and Burton were drinking whiskey on the second floor watching us approach through the underbrush along the ocean. The cliffsides here were short and sandy, no more that 6 0r 8 feet above sea level. Laughter and Mexican Juke Box music was inviting as the big restaurant shade in the heat of the afternoon. More badly painted shiny wooden table and chairs. I noticed that most of the legs had been repaired. We sat down and an ancient woman with a giant 2 or 3 teeth left smile glided to our table. The view as fantastic. She introduced herself as the owner and we ordered Pacifico Beers and fish tacos. The beer was as cold as any cold beer was ever cold in all of history.......
We were floored with the expansive view. This old edifice of constantly falling apart and being rebuilt sublimity looked Mediterranean, looked airlifted from Rio. It stuck out like a concrete thumb into the ocean. We asked about it and the story reads quite like that famous NorthWest Book - 'Sometimes A Great Notion'. No one remembers exactly when the Hotel was built but at that time Los Cocos extended out into the ocean perhaps 100 more feet than that first day we sat there. The ocean is fearsome in the winter and literally tears the shore line to bits, loosing a few feet every year. So, after the grounds in front of the Hotel disappeared leaving only the rocky foundation, the owners began pouring concrete. Lots of it. Year after year. Sometimes the same area, others at the far end until finally it became a well defined peninsula.
Rooms in front above the restaurant were 10.00 us dollars a week during the slow season, which was most of the year. Hippies, poor locals and travelers rented the cheap rooms along the sides.
One room was open in front. I took it for a week.
Good Morning Friends,
Bob Brown is a visionary. I don't think he set out to be one, I think he was just in the right place with the right attitude at the right time. Think, with your mind's eye, about a tall, good looking southern California Beach Boys surfer kinda guy with a giant smile and box square face. I was walking by a little restaurant on the little town square there in Santa Cruz. It was mid afternoon and we had been camped for 4 or 5 days and I still hadn't gotten around to visiting Aticama. Bob, who looked like a character from Jungle Book, shirtless with torn grubby cut off jeans, gave me a shout, inviting me over for a sit down. The table and chairs were made of crude wood with loads of old flaking paint, shiny from use, cleaning and reuse. Bob was eating fish tacos and he offered me one. Spicy. Big chunks of green pepper mixed with Marlin. Pacifico beer soo cold it froze my throat going down. Bob was pumping me for information about the states. I told him it was old news but he didn't care. News here was hard to come by - the nearest place to buy a paper was 40 minutes away in San Blas and that paper might be a week old. No radio. He wanted to know all about me, why I was here, what did I think of Reagan, would I stay long, did I like the jungle, did I know how to fix his VW Van and were the girls I was traveling with attached? I did not know it at the time but these were not just idle questions. What were my plans?
Well, I told him that we were planning to spend 'who knows how long touring Mexico'. He smiled telling me that his past was similar. That he found Matanchen Bay while chasing the perfect wave. Then he told me that he could have spent his whole life just chasing this dream but he fell in love and that became the 'terra buena' for his roots. He told me then and there that I was a lucky man and, in fact, I did feel lucky. It got tropical dark fast that day and I excused myself to rejoin my pals. Standing up he invited me to visit his home the next day. I said "sure, where do you live?"
"Next to the campground at the point, in the Filipino style house, I can see your van through the palm trees" he said and I was off.
ps. while I did not take the above photo, it is a photo of the beach between Sta. Cruz and Miramar. I did take photos during my first visit there, (remember film?), and it is possible that I have them somewhere...... Bob Browns place is in the near left hand corner.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Good Morning Readers,
Success. Failure. Yesterday I got loads of work mostly finished.Today will see another big push. Building, auto wrenching, dismantling, moving and tired feet are on today's agenda. And for this I need Tools. The most important tools are, of course, My Hands.
All of the rest of the tools use hands to make them do anything. So, lets do the list:
Mr. DeWalt electric screw gun. The Drill- if you want to get an all around drilling job done then this is the machine.
Ryboi portable 18v. screw gun. Not to expensive but great value around the house.
Porter - Cable Sawzall. Nice. Brutal. Need to cut something? Hold on!
Porter - Cable Mag Left Hand Circular. 7.5" of exact, lightweight controlled fury.
Porter - Cable Sawboss. 5" blade for tight spots.
Electric Impact Wrench. Harbor Freight tools. Inexpensive but strong and reliable. Loads and loads of sockets.
Man 'O Man, this could take a while!! I have compressors and table saws and routers and mason tools and concrete mixers and pressure washers and chainsaws and hammers and electric hammers and hammer tackers and extension cords and plumbing tools and electrical tools and knives and all sorts of lights and trailers and wheelbarrows and more I'm forgetting and,of course my old Mazda Pick Up Truck. Getting lots done with this shop of tools.
No wonder my hands hurt at the end of the day!
Friday, October 16, 2009
Good Evening Readers,
I have been working like a crazy man to clean, sort, give away or toss over 30 years of STUFF away!! Building a builder I salvage a lot of materials. I really hate to see it go to the dump. Large objects left by pals 20 years ago like 1956 School Buses and Dump Trucks and things. Today a nice thing left - our old Trooper. She was a diamond in the ruf. She brought in a months house payment for us and made a poor family of 5 a steady beast of transportation. I was so busy that I forgot to take a photo of the old girl.
Then I pulled (well mostly, it got way to dark to finish the last little bit) the motor and transmission out of our first little tercel wagon. Someone crashed into the back years ago and now its time to salvage what is good and then off to the scrapper. Weng has the same car so this will keep it going for many years to come at little or no cost.
Well, one of the big things of stuff that we have is a big tank full of 600 gallons of really good heating fuel. On and off for some time I have been checking the net for a good oil cabin heater. Hard to find! Last night I found her on craigslist - a beautiful brown boxy hot tamale, fresh from a 69 year run warming the buns of nudists in a cabin from a little 40's resort in Oregon's Coast Range. Her name is Spark DeLux and, like the Mexicans of Matanchen Bay long ago, she also has a face full of chrome teeth. This is exciting economical news for us also - by using the salvaged heating oil and Spark we stand to save hundreds of dollars in utility costs - money that will propel us south over the upcoming holidays.
Well, I'm off to bed. Tomorrow friends are coming by to help with the final cleanup push.
ps.. actual photos of Spark DeLux. Muy Callente!!
WELL, I guess the title says it all! My sweet daughter has become a complain monster this morning and my blog time has been smashed up with just too much noise..... yuk, I am complaining also so I will just go outside and work and change my attitude. When I return later little sour puss will get to read my blog!!
ps. on a lighter note, I will be hooking up the old scanner later today if all goes well so I can start posting photos!!
Salud For Now
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Hello Again Readers,
I love to read. I have dyslexia and did not read until I was in the 4th grade. But once I learned how...... well, I have been all over the universe thanks to books. From Jack Kerowac to Lincoln I have read lots. One of my favorite writers was Hunter S. Thompson. He could really write about strange reality, about the edge. He could also write about the essence of the moment with words of gold. Here is one of my favorite works of his, from 'Fear & Loathing In Los Vegas...' (courtesy of wikipedia)
“ Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era — the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run . . . but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant. . . .
History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time — and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.
My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe forty nights — or very early mornings — when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L. L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder's jacket . . . booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turn-off to take when I got to the other end (always stalling at the toll-gate, too twisted to find neutral while I fumbled for change) . . . but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was: No doubt at all about that. . . .
There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .
And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.
Salud and Good Night
Yesterday Francis received his first report card for this year. All very fine! With the low score of 96.4% he continues to leave my, rather mundane, middle school record (of 40 years ago) in the dust. He must have got is ability from my mother who was one of those brain-e-ack type of humans who could just figure it out effortlessly. My mother's name was Mary and she was born in 1929 in Cambridge Ohio. I am sad that I really don't know much about her, she died when she was only 48 years old. The county auditor of the township I grew up in she worked all the time, leaving the children's upbringing largely to Josephine Ross who I mentioned in one of my earlier posts. Because I did not know my father either very well I grew up determined that, if I ever had children, I would wait until I could devote as much time and energy to them as I could. I have been somewhat successful in that effort.
I remember clearly my last conversation with my Mother. It was in the early spring. She was living divorced and alone, bitter at a world that was passing her by. I had stopped by at a telephone booth in a little town in Oregon called Lake Oswego. The sun was setting and the wind was blowing hard. The edge in her voice said more than her words. Why did I move to the West Coast? Why did I leave her when she needed me? I could hear her drinking on the other end. The comfort of the bottle making her speech slurred. She began crying and so did I, ending our call with a joint "I love you". The last words I would ever hear from her. She died soon after from an overdose of sleeping pills and booze all alone. Her hair was red and her eyes were china blue. She walked tall, straight like a dancer and kept her true thoughts and emotions to herself. In the sunlight I can see red tints in my kids Asian black hair. She would be proud of them.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Good Morning Readers,
It warms me up on this clammy and rainy Oregon morning to recall those early moments of discovery in Matanchen Bay. While camped at the point in Santa Cruz I had loads of time to daydream, gazing across the water at Aticama. We had immobilized Jezebel and we found that getting around was a well, 'Manana' experience. Every day we would walk a little farther into town, see a little more and become more enchanted with the easy ways of the locals. What a great place! A comfortable routine soon emerged - wake up, have coffee at the 'Cono' restaurant, walk the beach, make a little breakfast (a local bread maker would come by every morning with bakery goods, carried in a big basket on his head), read, play morning guitar, walk to an even smaller village nearby named Miramar to get the catch of the day, take a little siesta early afternoon after buying street tacos for lunch, get up and wander the streets of the pueblo and meet people. Most all had big inviting smiles filled with chrome capped teeth. Seems that it was the way to go back then. People were fit and trim from the hard, day to day rewarding sunup to sunset work.
Electricity has only recently come to the area. The nearest telephone was 40 minutes drive away in San Blas. No televisions. Only a few refrigerators, ice was delivered everywhere daily. There was only one truck in the entire village!! It was a really, really, really, rusted out old Dodge with tissue paper thick tires. The owner was a popular guy by virtue of this rolling iron beast. A lovely and surrealistic inviting mist of dried coconut husk hung over the streets at night, a time old way of keeping the jungle insects more to the jungle.
Three or four days into our stay I had occasion to run across the man who had first greeted us when we arrived. Turned out he was a gringo surfer from California who found the place in the late '60, fell in love with the area and a local woman, married into it all and had children. His name is Robert Brown and he would become an enduring friend and source of inspiration to this very day.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Weng, the family and I are now entering the Mexican Blastoff Mode. This year's economy and my health has made this a challenge for sure! Perhaps some of you, my readers, have wondered how it is that we can pull off such a trip in light of this financial quagmire. well, it requires Life Finesse. At this moment we are cold stone broke with zero saved up for the trip.
Here is how it will all work!
First and Foremost the biggest reason we can do this is because our home here in Portland is nearly paid off. I bought it 28 years ago so the monthly payments are low. We rent to a friend while we are gone and that covers most of the basic costs.
Second. On the way south we stop and visit
friends in Phoenix. One owns a few apartments and there is always some repair work to be done. This money goes into the gas tank.
Third. When we arrive in Aticama where the house is paid off and costs only $17.00 dollars u.s. for annual federal taxs. The place is off the grid so no utility costs except a little fuel for the generator when doing laundry or running tools. There we live the the locals, bartering yard sale items we bring down for fresh food and fish. Our budget there for our family of 5 with dog is about $50.00 usdollars a week. Our children have a Mexican Family Trust that holds a couple of small fruit plantations, and, while there is no profit yet, there is a lot of fruit!!
We make our own bread and this year hope to construct a new outside solar fired oven. When its time to go north again we generally sell off all of the kitchen stuff and other things that we use day to day but dont need on the non-stop trip home. This money goes in the gas tank.
Finally, I am pretty good, this year an exception, at saving one for four - for every $4 I bring home I save $1 for Mexico. That will get us and 'La Bonita' there and back again and cover costs. This year we will be taking 'The Space Pod' - an old Toyota Sightseeing Mobile Bubble from Hawaii that I converted into a swift sailing mini land yacht. Great mileage and quicker. This is good as we are shortening our time south this year for several reasons, one of which is the new demands of our son Francis who was just selected to represent his 7th grade in the upcoming yearbook! Fantastic and it means a lot at his age. His birthday is soon so look for a big special blog about him.
Its late so I am off to bed.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I was across Matanchen Bay from Aticama in the village of Santa Cruz. A beautiful little village perched on a small hillock mostly above the ocean with, at that time, perhaps 800 people. The beach is rocky with no sand to speak of and was noted only for its seasonal surfing that attracted mostly hippy surfers. The point was directly across from where we were parked and several of those hippy surfers had taken residence, putting together a little unimproved campground for travelers along the Gringo Trail. This seemed like a good place to start so I wandered over there to see what was up. A skinny white guy about 9 feet tall with a long rough beard greeted me with a pleasant hello. We talked a while and he said that he had landed here years before and saw no reason to leave. Before long the day was in full swing and children popped out of everywhere at once it seemed. Several looked just like him - whiter and with reddish hair. I don't remember what the camping rates were but we struck up a deal for a week and soon I had Jezabel parked comfortably under a slanted palm tree near the waters blue, blue edge, her crimson red paint contrasting with the green of the jungle. In those days life was more simple and, looking back at it, our setup must have seemed really primitive - the microbus became a two story tropical hut with a bamboo platform I had constructed on top, bug netting creating roof and walls of an airy bedroom. Downstairs inside was the den and storage area opening outside to a great living room we constructed in no time consisting of log chairs, campfire pit and crude sofa. Enclosed with old ropes and planks to 'mark our turf' and decorated with sea shells, pages torn from magazines pasted to odd vertical surfaces, colorful clothing hung here and there. Before long the campground owner (I forget his name) arrived with some woven grass mats for flooring, wheelbarrow of dried coconut husks, a toilet seat nailed to a funky box, a shovel and a 55 gallon well rusted barrel. We all took turns digging a hole in a soft sandy area about 15 feet or so from our space until it was deep enough to sink the barrel into the ground and plopped the toilet box on top. Next he returned with a small well used tank sitting on top of 4 posts and sat it over the new crapper. It had a hose dangling down that had a small valve on it for our shower and flusher. I switched on a cassett tape of some favorite Mozart. We made our first coconut fire while the water tank filled and the smell and the surreal vision of our new dwelling became part of my history. In no time at all we were set up with all the basic comforts known to man!
Looking around that morning we saw a world in motion and it looked to me like an impressionistic painting come to life. We were the only people camped there and it stayed that way for our whole month long stay.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Good Evening Friends,
This morning I posted my thoughts about Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. I was not surprised to receive a comment from Reader Don. Now, I don't know the man personally but I do appreciate him taking the time to read what I have to say. I also respect his views. I know that a lot of you who follow Tioga George's forum are familiar with Don's, well, outspoken opinions and often take exception to what he has to say. So do I. But I can also say that he is not a quitter, vile or disrespectful in general. He is also hardheaded, Proudly Conservative, unabashedly critical and defensive almost to the point of being annoying. I would guess that He is doggedly loyal to his friends and generous to his own charities. He challenges beliefs that do not neatly mesh with his own, yet this in itself can be a positive thing because many of his views are held by many others in this country and Progressive Liberals like me must accept and make room at the table for those who do not espouse hate and fearmongering. We all get our 'facts' from a variety of sources in this life - from those who hold chairs at universities to those who warm bar stools, from the printed word to Talking TV Heads on all sides of the political spectrum to informed (and uninformed) social gatherings where issues of the day are discussed. Don reminds me of my neighbor Jerry. We talk over the fence from time to time. We totally disagree on many political matters but totally agree on fundamental things like personal freedom and the threat of Big Brother. Jerry carries a shotgun around on his riding mower and is hell on gophers but sets food out for the wild deer even though they anger him when they eat his garden.
Today Don, in his own way, had kind remarks for President Obama, and while mixed with comments that I don't agree with, I do salute him for understanding that we all must unite to make America the force that will lead us out of the mess that the world is currently in.
In other words I'd have a cold brew and a spirited disagreement with him in a Mexican cantina on most any hot afternoon.
Good Morning Friends,
Ever notice that as one gets older it gets harder to get out of the nice warm bed without 8 hours of sleep? This is true for me! I was planning on continuing my Aticama story today but I feel compelled to write a little about the surprise that greeted the world yesterday - the President of the United States of America won the Nobel Peace Prize! The Number One Most Prestigious Award In The World. How could such a thing have happened to one so young with so little time in his position? The liberal and conservative forces of the world, no, the entire population was taken off guard and it seems that everyone has an opinion. Well, I am no different. I believe the answer lies in one word -
Obama was elected President by a resounding majority of Americans because we all know that the world is in really, really big trouble.
I don't have to list the reasons, we all know what they are. We all know that things cannot continue the way they have. WE must change our ways. It is time for the USA to step up, show real and true leadership, make real and true changes and to do so we must HELP the person we elected to make those changes. For the sake of our children. For the future of mankind. It is fine to disagree with how to do it but we must take action NOW. Do the right thing readers, call your elected Representative and tell them to swallow hard, put the people before the lobbyists, and join in Obama's effort. Stop being lazy and complacent. Remember that we are in this global mess for one reason - greed. The old standby excuse that "we didn't know" just doesn't play anymore. This is an enlightened age and we have only ourselves to blame. When you look in the mirror tell yourself the truth. Read the papers. Dare yourself to count the homeless sleeping on the street if you live in a city. Ask yourself why we spend billions of dollars every year on the national overweight problem.
Do something about it. It is just plain wrong to sit back and say "well I don't agree with Obamas position on this or that, or he is only half white so I will let things go to hell cause its not the way I feel about it." It is time to grow up people. Start working together. Talk about it with your neighbors, at the gas station, at the grocery store, on the street. Dont stand by and let this great oppertunity pass us by.
Finally, finishing these remarks, remember this - He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and no one, repeat, no one has ever had a harder job in the entire history of the world. I urge you to support him with your actions, your time and your comments. Please do this for the sake of us all.
He has asked for your input and help so put him to task and take 10 minutes from your favorite non productive pastime and write to him at:
He may well deserve the Nobel Peace Prize but it is up to us all to make him earn it.
Yikes! Late for work but worth it. Tomorrow I will post part 8 of my Aticama story!
Friday, October 9, 2009
My life was heaven.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I hope that you have been enjoying my Aticama Tale, I am having fun telling you about it and will post more about it again tomorrow (it may take a year to tell the whole tale!). I must, however, turn my thoughts today to the issue of our time here in the USA. If politics annoy you then I would suggest you listen to some of my tunes in ThinkMusic.
At the risk of losing readership I bring up the topic of Health Care in America. This issue is being decided as I write by our 'representatives' in Washington DC. While money has never been my driving force I do confess to the belief in good wages for hard work. We do, however, live in a society where greed has gotten the better part of our economy. The results are most apparent in the horror that has become our health care system. It is insane. It is not fair that 95% of our citizens are being crushed under an unnecessary financial burden and stand to lose their very homes if they become ill or cannot make an insurance payment. We have the very best science, staff, and facilities in the world yet we have the worst overall 'common man' coverage of any industrialized country in the world.
I have heard and studied the arguments on both sides and I am fully convinced that it is just plain wrong to put profit between you and your doctor. Wrong. The fearmongers and greedheads that drive the corporate profit margin on your health hire the very best advertisers in the world to convince you that white is black and that zebras have spots. I was lucky enough to attend public hearings last week here in Portand before the city council supporting the concept of 'Single Payer' health insurance. Moving, eloquent testimony that proved, without doubt, the need for reform. In a strong resolution the council unanimously voted to send a resolution to the Federal Congress to adopt this reform.
I applaud them and stand by them. Again, I welcome your comments and encourage all of you to open your minds to what is going on around us in our country regarding this most important issue for our common future.
Salud (good health)
ps, I have not yet seen Michael Moore's new film on corporate america but plan to soon. A documentary on the things that affect us all.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I don't know if there is any sight more captivating than that of the first beams of light from the east streaming over the Nayar Mountains illuminating the waves of water and morning air over Matanchen Bay. In the tropics the day begins like the hand of Jupiter flipping on the bathroom light - right now, strong and with a force like fingers of brightness, ready or not, leaving you wondering where did the evening go. That's how it was for me that first morning waking up on the beach in Santa Cruz. A little disoriented I walked to the oceans edge barefoot and refreshed. Looking across the water I saw a river of golden light break over Mt. Tepitatica and pull the darkness away from a gentle spur of hilltops in the near distance like a child pulling the blankets off her bed first thing in the morning. The jungle blue green of night became the emerald green of the ocean cliff sides of a tiny pueblo. My soul's sermon. My landing pad, my home base, my toil, my hopes and dreams, tears, heartbreak and future children's laughter revealed naked there before me. I remember lifting my open hand flat, palms up and framing this living photo upon my mind for posterity.
A fisherman nearby pulling in his nets, the smell of the morning catch. I asked "what is the name of the village?" "Aticama", he said.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Back on the trail......... It was a perfect sunset on the western beach. The beer was cold and there was an old restaurant a stone's throw away so we walked over and had a bit to eat. The roof was made of Palapa (thatch) and the fading daylight made colors that cement themselves into your mind for all time. The sounds of the birds and insects and ocean waves and children laughing and animals surrounded us in a fashion that I had never known. The camping gear came out and we made a small campfire right there on the beach. No 'No Fires/Camping' signs. No hassles. No worries. That night the stars were as big and bright and clear as the lights of Broadway, only more real. We all talked about the trip and everyone was excited about this place and what wonders lie beyond. Not me, I decided right then and there that I really did not need or even want to go any farther. I reached over for my flashlight only to find it was being carried away by a giant blue crab in it's solo giant pincer. Who needs mechanical light when the stars lead the way?
The world is full of beautiful, wonderful and fascinating places - many just as nice and inviting I am sure, but you only have one life and I knew that I didn't want to spend it looking for something that was there, under my feet.