46485595_10217054924301781_19985973181939712_nShe was

Not only gleaming with light

But seemed composed of it


When she spoke

Or danced

Or sat in stillness

We all were privileged

To watch and listen and wrap

Ourselves in that radiance

And Rachel

If you must depart

As it seems you must

Thank you for leaving behind

A thimbleful

Or handful even

Of that light you carry

To eternity.





Let me first explain where we are. That’s Susanne in a cotton field some years past. Visiting dear friends/relatives on their 40 acre estate–Ferncroft, it’s called– in North Carolina. Nearest town–Fairmont. Nearest town of any size–Lumberton,IMG_035821, 000 souls strong. Built around the Lumber River in the Lumber River Valley. It’s in Robeson County, demographically home to a variety of southerners, but including significantly, the Lumbee Indian tribe. The Lumbees are little known and of vague origin. The most intriguing theory I’ve heard is that they are connected somehow with the lost colony of Roanoke Island, a 16th century English settlement which just plain disappeared not long after it began. Are the Lumbees a white-native american hybrid of some sort descended from the lost colony? No one knows, so I prefer to believe it.

This area has suffered mightily from hurricanes over the last few years, the latest of which were Matthew (2016), followed closely by Florence (2018). Many people lost everything twice in two years. Good thing climate change isn’t real, or it might have been worse. ( Insert a weak “ho-ho” here.)

I’m sitting in a dark wood-and-leather chair at a fine small table in one of the most exquisite kitchens you’ll ever meet. Nila and husband Lionel are always on the hunt for the latest and greatest. Newest example, a smart refrigerator that shows you on its door what’s inside and where before you even touch it. It sits beside a cast iron stove whose operation I don’t fully understand except that its ovens are at a constant temperature and can handle more simultaneous projects than you could possibly imagine. Oh, and they just added a second dishwasher. No more dishes sitting out waiting for the last load to finish. And so on.

I look out through French doors and plate glass windows into an enclosed Lanai, perfect for all kinds of festivities, of which they host many. Beyond the lanai is a spacious veranda, also perfect for such festivities. Beyond that is a well-planted garden bordered by an elaborate pergola under which sit a rich collection of patio furniture and plants.

Above me sit a number of rooms–bedroom and non–connected by a fine staircase.

IMG_4797The journey from here to there is chock full of terrific and surprising art, much of it fashioned by Nila herself. Not that she made the peacock, of course, but she brought it home and placed it just so.

IMG_4790And looking beyond the Manor on the side opposite where I am perched is this grand reflecting pool, complete with–of course–swans–in this shot resting from their morning paddle.

IMG_4288There are are many more marvels, too numerous and widespread to show here. The home grown truffles, the exhibition gate house, the iron sculptured lions standing a roaring guard at the front gate, the fountain of Erasmus B. Dragon, who breathes fire at intruders, the miniature horses no bigger than a giant schnauzer, and so much more. It’s been just a couple of years since we were here last, but we’re told there are a number of additions ready and waiting for us to encounter on our next tour, coming up. In the meantime, we leave you with this haunting memento of Susanne and hostess Nila from a Halloween past. ha-ha-ha-etc.



Welcome to the kingdom of America

With today’s confirmation of Kavanaugh, we enter a new and dangerous era, the end of which I, at my age, will undoubtedly not survive to witness. I doubt we will see the overt reversal of Roe V. Wade. Instead, we will more likely see a process similar to post-civil war Jim Crow whereby states will restrict abortion to such an extent as to make the “right” meaningless. It will be simpler that way than going to all the trouble of overturning the whole thing. Already, states such as Texas and Mississippi have shown the way by devising arcane rules and regulations that make it practically impossible, especially for women of color or limited means, to reach providers. They must travel great distances, endure endless waiting periods, and pass unmedical “tests” in order to exercise their constitutional rights.

Similar harassments await voters, who thanks to the gutting of the voting rights act, now must meet draconian regulations simply to cast ballots. Polling places great distances apart and/or with such limited facilities that they can’t accommodate everyone who wants to exercise the most fundamental right of a democracy.

In the past, as legislatures and local officials and an imperial-minded chief executive seek to restrict those of unpopular (to them) opinions, the courts have been the last bastion of succor. No more.

The redistribution of our political and civil rights life will increasingly go the way of the redistribution of the country’s wealth. And we all know how that’s worked out.




My history with this little mountain jewel is pretty fascinating–at least to me, and this is my blog, so read on.

Medicine Lake One: Sometime in the late 40’s we lived in Mount Shasta and went camping often. One such trip was to Medicine lake. My dad hand-pumped an old navy surplus life raft and turned my sister and me loose on the water. He undoubtedly retired for a libation after that chore, but we kids didn’t know or care. We just splashed and paddled our delighted way to summer fun. As it happens on this earth, high-altitude splashing a paddling comes with a price, and we paid it in terms of a yummy sunburn.

Medicine Lake Two (Maybe 35 years later): “Hey, Susanne, says here there’s an outfit sponsoring cross-country ski trips to Medicine Lake. Ten miles in and out. I’d Like to see how it looks in the winter. You up for it?” She was. We drove to Mount Shasta (maybe 5 hours), jumped in a couple of vans, headed for the trailhead. Brilliant weather. Small group. Very promising. Here’s a list of things that arose thereafter.

  1. Mother and daughter (adults) team had rented equipment which they wore for the first time that day.
  2. Our cabin was piled high above the rooftop with snow. Picturesque, but not so appealing when you have to tunnel down into it.
  3. The outhouse was maybe 10 yards or so from the cabin, so to seek relief, one was required to tunnel out of the cabin, cross a few yards of frozen ground, then tunnel down into the facility. Process was repeated on the way out
  4. Before long, the blisters acquired by the mother-daughter new equipment team began to tell. They couldn’t join in the sightseeing excursions and were generally pretty miserable. In turn they infected the mood of the rest of the party. It was decided that everyone would be happier if the two ladies were snowmobiled out.
  5. Their exit did not proceed without incident. The vehicle ran out of gas short of the road, and one of the guides had to ski to the trailhead for more. But they finally made it.

Medicine Lake three: This time was different. 5 people, 5 dogs (an occasional 6th when Copper came to visit.) in one house. Our puppy (5 mos.) had another (7 mos.) to play with, and they chased and chewed and tug-of-warred till they wore us out. It was ideal weather in a perfect environment.

But, finally getting back to the title of this piece–there’s an annual auction on Labor Day to raise money for the resident group’s anti-fracking fund (The fracking would be to get at water in the aquifer.) I was asked to contribute some books for the auction. Glad, of course, to do so. Then came the most flabbergasting thing: The two sets of two books sold for a total of $290.

Keeerap and hooray for labor day. Thinking about how to arrange more auctions.




103808270This is going to sound like a cry from Jurassic Park, but here goes anyhow. Among the gripes I have about SoCal is the insistence on tacking a “the” to names of freeways. “The” 10, “The” 101, “The” 410 and on and on. The practice has crept its way north, too. I’m sure we will all be speaking the dialect soon. What’s my problem? Does anyone live on “the” Maple Street? Is the main boulevard in San Francisco “The” Market Street? Is the main West Coast N-S freeway “the” I-5? (Maybe it is or will be by the time I post this. What about the old days of 101, 280, 880 and so on? Are they lost and gone forever? Yes indeed. And so long, it’s been good to know ya.