Saturday, September 1, 2007


Our summer trip was great. I seldom use the term "vacation" anymore. Too many people who know me ask, "Vacation? From what?" Air travel was uneventful. Except for having to get off a plane and into an air terminal to wait out a violent thunderstorm. But flight attendants assured us, "It is much better to be down here than up there... ."
California is still California. And Los Angeles is still La-La Land. The dry, rugged country was designed to support only a scant population, at best. But it is now covered with and weighed down by far too many people, with the count still growing by leaps and bounds. There are too many buildings and automobiles, and more than enough smog. Highway signs that read, "$1,000 Fine for Littering," seem to go unnoticed and unread. But the flowers are beautiful. And they are everywhere, helping to make up for any other shortcomings the state may have.
Evidence of great wealth is also everywhere. And signs of abject poverty are almost everywhere. Often a whole city block of beautiful new buildings is balanced by one homeless, hopeless person shuffling by with all of his or her belongings in an old, stolen shopping cart.
Parks, schoolyards and gymnasiums teem with youngsters playing soccer, baseball and basketball – sports that, on The Coast, know no season. Grandsons Justin and Jake gave us reason to see a lot of grade school and high school level basketball and baseball practices and games.
We saw a great stage play, "Ragtime." That was son-in-law Jeff's generous treat, and daughter Pam took us to the Museum of Tolerance (perhaps the kids thought this old man's social consciousness and sensitivity needed an up-grade). We also saw a Dodgers-Giants game. We didn't see many celebrities this time, but I had a nice chat with Christopher Atkins who, as a youngster, starred opposite Brooke Shields in the movie "Blue Lagoon." In addition to various chores in front of the cameras and several entrepreneurial projects, Chris finds time to help coach his son Grant's Little League baseball team.
We found a few things out there that reminded us of the Midwest and home. One set of customized California auto license plates proclaimed: GO PACRZ. Another set spelled out the feeble, almost hopeless prayer: PLZ CUBS. And we cranked up the Internet and found an issue of the Telegraph Herald that contained my column titled "Weather Vane."


The urge to roam burns deep and strong,
The need to travel, move along,
Need for variety, to change
Familiar sights for new and strange.
We turn our backs on home and nest,
Take old advice: Young man, head west!

Across the rolling prairie ground
Where wheatfields and cattle abound.
Over the Rockies' rugged rise,
We soar through wild and untamed skies.
At last, reaching the fabled Coast
Of which writers and poets boast.

Tall palm trees sway o'er golden sand,
There soft waves kiss the beaches grand.
Rich homes cling to the mountain's side
Till floods and earthquakes make them slide
Down nearer to the ocean's shore,
Thus making room for many more.

A land of leisure and the arts,
Of actors playing out their parts,
Gold, diamonds, furs, and fancy cars
Entrepreneurs and movie stars.
People, and more. People galore!
With each day bringing hundreds more.

All with big dreams, and working hard
More than a few with no green card.
And no one seems to know or care
About the homeless, always there.
Their treasures, saved since lifetime's start,
Hoarded in an old grocery cart.

Place of imperfect beauty, this,
A land where we find peace and bliss
Too often punctuated by
Gross violence and mourners' cry.
We have, with no more urge to roam,
One great option...we return home!


Thursday, August 30, 2007


I relax, calm and contented,
In my soft recliner chair.
Through my picture window I see
Nature's wonders everywhere-

Rabbits, birds, and squirrels are some
Of the moving things I see.
They, as well as most of the plants,
Seem active, compared to me.

I sit, watching hyper-looking
Leaves on tall cottonwood trees,
As they jiggle, dance, and wriggle
In the teasing summer breeze.

They won't seem nearly that jolly
When autumn demands they fall.
I'll still be here, just reclining,
While scarcely moving at all.

Monday, August 27, 2007


This article was written in September 1997. This week marks the 10th anniversary of Princess Di's death.

The late Diana, Princess of Wales, was perhaps the best thing that ever happened to Great Britain's royal family. At least in recent centuries.
At a time when the news media and public relations people could scarcely find anything of interest to write or say about the Queen or her family, along came this young, beautiful, willowy blond with the luminous, soulful eyes almost as big as saucers.
The result was somewhat like having a beautiful young bareback rider or trapeze or tight-wire artist join a faded, jaded, and aging circus. Immediately camera shutters began clicking and typewriters started clacking. And a new Cinderella story was born. Everyone sat up and took notice. Soon there was a giant, extravagant wedding that caught and held the attention of millions of people all over the world. Then, in due time, there was a new male heir to the British throne.
Diana made a few mistakes along the way. Apparently the largest being the trading of her future and her happiness (and eventually her life) for a royal title and a diamond tiara and a wedding ring. She apparently loved being called "Your Royal Highness" and all of the other perks that went with the position, but could never learn to accept and live with the miserable lack of privacy that went with it.
Although I was never really a Di fan, I can't help but feel saddened by her untimely death. Just three years ago this September a small group of us stood in the rain outside the iron gates of her Kensington Palace, and jokingly wondered whether or not the Princess would step outside and greet us, or at least wave. But then we rationalized that she was most likely too busy, what with marital problems and all. Tour guides all spoke kindly of the Princess, and often. They proudly pointed out the stores where she purchased her clothing and the shops where she bought her underwear. They informed us that when Her Royal Highness chose to go shopping, the store would be closed to the public, so that she would not be disturbed.
Despite a few critics, Di was widely admired and loved here in "The Colonies." We grew up with and still like Cinderella stories. We empathized with her in her conflict with the royal family. After all, didn't the signers of our own Declaration of Independence thumb their noses at one of the family members, King George III, and didn't our brave soldiers and minutemen put him in his place and send his troops and representatives packing?
The Princess is gone. May she enjoy her heavenly crown much more than she did her royal tiara here on earth.


You brightened our dim and dull lives
With your beauty and your charm,
Helped ease others' heavy loads with
Kind word, willing hand and arm.
If you had some faults and failings
You were much the same as I.
Many folks here sure will miss you,
Princess Di.

Your life could not have been easy,
With many an up and down,
And your blond head never seemed quite
Made to fit that jeweled crown.
As you lived a life bedeviled
By photographer and spy
We all kind of stood behind you,
Princess Di.

You gave birth to two strong young sons,
Fit heirs to the royal throne.
We're told you did a great job as
A single parent, alone.
To us, motherhood is sacred,
Much like flag and apple pie.
Most Yanks here loved and admired you,
Princess Di.

Tabloids dogged each move that you made,
Never leaving you alone.
Some saw you a shameless hussy
With a heart as cold as stone.
We were not impressed the least bit
By such furor or such fuss.
We thought of you, not as a Brit,
But more just like one of us.
Now your tragic death has left us
With tears in many an eye,
As our thoughts and prayers go with you,
Princess Di.

May the angels guide and guard you,
Princess Di.