Last Day of July

It’s not that summer is over. It’s just…that it’s over. Well, sort of. I agree with Lileks. He’s always said that after fourth of July, it’s all down hill.

So, last day of July-August upon us and I’m getting ready to be….sort of….busy again. I’ve been fairly busy. It was a two article day yesterday–for the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Meanwhile, had to do some correspondence, etc.–so it was a big day. And, of course, I wrote the cantankerous complaint below.

So, today-dog is laying with head in my lap (seriously, I’m typing with my left arm draped over his neck), Shannon just woke up on a cool summer’s morning and I’m preparing for a Tuesday of more articles, interviews, etc. while also thinking about digging in and learning the curriculum for English 4, which I am again teaching this year after about a 12 year hiatus.

Sigh. A couple of more last grasps at summer will happen in August–but they’re fleeting, feeling almost like they’re over before they begin. It occurs to me that one has to appreciate the moment and as you get older, that’s harder to do. You’re too busy thinking about what is going to happen. Oy.

I’m off to the day, gentles. I bid you peace and wish you a great last day of July.


Cantankerous Complaint-Olympic edition

For the record, I thought the opening ceremonies for the Olympics were as assenein a thing as could be conceived. A celebration of the British national health service….seriously? That’s what they thought of? It was so stupid and so incredibly awkward that I felt bad for the organizers, until I realized that probably a vast majority of the world thought it brilliant. Rest assured–from my lofty perch–it wasn’t. It was absurd.

Add to that the criminal, downright sinful, exclusion of mention of the 11 Israeli athletes killed 40 years ago in Munich by terrorists, and you have a true bigoted Eurofest, celebrating all that is wrong with the world, and ignoring those who gave their lives to try to make the world a better place. Bravo, London! Your hubris is your undoing. How very sad for you.

Bob Costas made a strong mention of the sad anniversary and at least we have that. But folks, I simply fail to see how this whole thing gets ignored–unless your anti-semitic. Oh…wait.

The Olympic games are supposed to be a uniting force, not a divisive one. And yes, the athletes deserve their moment. But I would be much more impressed if every gold medal winner who competed in a sport that one of the 11 Israelis competed in–made a clear statement when interviewed. How about something like this: “I’m so grateful to have competed in the Olympic Games. I’d like to dedicate my win to the memory of (insert Israeli athlete’s name here), who was deprived of the ability to compete 40 years ago when he or she was murdered. Never again!” I would have so much more respect for an athlete who did that.

Oh…and then there’s this one. Yes, we’re supposed to believe that Mitt Romney put his foot in his mouth when he said what the Brits have been saying all along. But since the media are finding a way to help their man, President Obama, get out of his spurious socialist diatribe, they dutifully report a diplomatic flap–except it wasn’t.

Don’t believe me? Here’s what the Brits said about their own security before Mr. Romney mentioned it: From the Portland Press Herald, Here’s a good one–a gatecrasher at India’s Olympic team. And Piers Morgan,¬† a Brit–and no real supporter of Romney’s, agrees with him: The security has been lax. Sorry–truth will out.

So-there you go. It’s a mess–and the world pretends it’s not. Just like we’re pretending that California isn’t going bankrupt (even though San Bernardino, Orange County, Mammoth Lakes, Stockton–and other CA cities–are). We’re in this place where the bad things that are happening–are no longer politically correct.

The Olympics is no longer a respite from the maddening world of politics and diplomacy–it’s another tool in pursuit of disastrous ends.



Man, has it been a week? Really? Well–what can I say. Busy. OK–not busy enough.

Sore? Yes. Shoulder, neck–maybe some healing. Better tonight and today–noticed some lessened strain. We’ll see.

Cool Pacific summer night. Breezes, wispy fog floating by–patio with a glass of wine after a light dinner.

Parenting this week. 101. Kid rides horses. Horseback riding costs 40 bucks a week. Kid is not progressing. Kid is actually not doing as well as she was earlier in her three-year riding career. Had to tell kid that she needs to improve, or we have to stop. Kid protests. Kid hasn’t made a commitment and that’s the bottom line. It’s about that, we say. Finally we get that across.

She has lessons next week–she’s paying for half of them out of her own money. If there’s no progress–it’s time to do something else. She claims she “loves” it. But-love includes commitment. And she hasn’t committed. And it’s time to learn that lesson.

So that’s what has been happening this week.


New writing gigs this week–Real Estate Digest, BackStage–totally different, but fun. It’s all news in one way or another and I seem to be able to drift toward that. I like it a great deal. I’ve wondered for a few years which direction I’d head as a writer. All of us, at one point or another, dream of being Fitzgerald, without the punishing alcohol problem–or Poe without the…..well….the punishing alcohol problem or Yeats but without… get it (sense a trend here?). But we aren’t all that. We are who we are. We have to commit to that.

Walked Simon today in the cool. Supposed to warm next week. Fine. It is summer after all. Brother Jerry and his family will be here on Thursday and spend the weekend next week. Looking forward to having them all here–sister-in-law, April, nephews Eric and Gabriel, niece Rachel. Dad and Joanne coming–Brother Doug is close by now with his wife Katy–so–a family reunion of sorts. We have done this a couple of times now since 2010. Should be fun.

Preparing for July’s end–and with it another summer going by. Time to start thinking about school again–for my 22nd year. August has two fun weekends plan–Carpinteria, San Francisco–some visits with friends. Then–home for the fall and nose to the grindstone. I can feel it.

It’s the height of summer. And it’s time to think about getting serious again–all at the same time.



Weekend Update

Continuing to mend neck and shoulders–hopefully it will do so without serious medical intervention. Frustrating to have the ache and pain after five years. I injured it five years ago and it has, at times, acted up on me–but always goes away. Still waiting for this one to go away now, too.

Saturday morning after a harsh and sad Friday. The events in Colorado leave me with no response but the appropriate one as offered by David Gelernter.

Silence and prayer for all of those affected.

Tonight, Sue and I are attending a foodie celebration and wine dinner with a new acquaintance of mine, Sarene Wallace. Sarene writes about the culinary arts in various places, most prominently at 805 Living Magazine.

Should be fun, though I confess I’m a little intimidated. I’m less of a foodie than I used to be and I don’t always feel at home with the haute cuisine. I still appreciate good and quality ingredients and we do our level best to include those–Sue is making chicken kabobs with harissa spice and red pepper sauce on flatbread for an appetizer–but we’ve also found simplicity is our best friend–a good taco, fresh fish, etc.

It was a busy week full of assignments and next week promises much of the same, which is a good and happy thing. I’ll be writing for Back Stage Magazine this week after being contacted by them on an article up my alley–an NEA grant for local theaters is in the offing and I get to report on it. Should be a lot of fun…

That means that the weekend will be a bit of downtime and though it may not be much needed–it is much appreciated.




Kids and Horses

I’m seriously looking back at blog posts a year or two ago and realizing how easy posting came. It’s not coming so easy these days and I don’t know why. Maybe because I’m writing a lot for different publications-and so I feel like I’m getting my writing jones in. Maybe because now with my neck acting up, I don’t feel like tapping away here–hoping that changes soon. I’m just not sure…

Whatever the case, I’m just spending my days working a bit and slothing a bit. A movie here, a beer there with friends, time with Sue and with Shannon and walks with Simon. It’s a fine time to enjoy all of that.

Warm weather–almost hot. But this is Ventura County and if it gets warm–the breeze starts to blow in the afternoon and you’re never really all that warm. Shannon has been riding horses and is finally progressing a bit. She’s listening to her trainer and she’s loving it. It makes me so happy to see her enjoying it so much. It’s these little things–that aren’t so little.

Let’s link, shall we? Here’s a piece on horses as therapy for kids, a thing I’m learning about first hand. Here’s one on the unique breed of Camarillo White Horse, bred by the founder of our fair city, Adolfo Camarillo.

Horses-not wine–on the brain tonight. It’s what happens when you have kids, I suppose. Onward.



Mark My Words

This moment will, thank God almighty, haunt the President. He is insufferably arrogant and in a way that makes him look clownish and buffoonish. “You didn’t build that…” will be his albatross–and it’s about time. Defeat this piker–get him off the world stage and save our floundering, sinking country.

John Podhoretz is right. There’s simply no way to explain away this man’s belief that individuals don’t matter. He’s an idiot. He shouldn’t be President and wouldn’t have but for John McCain’s colossal incompetence.

Sorry to get so political. This is getting old–and summer’s not even over yet.

Tapping Away

Up to no good, mostly–but working as much as I ever have. All of a sudden, picking up stories and deadlines. Good stuff.

Neck and back continue their slow pace of healing. Pisses me off, frankly. Five years ago I injured my neck. Avoided surgery and did P.T. and it helped. So, I’ve been doing exercises again, but I’m telling you–it’s painful and I want it to go away. Now would be good.

Santa Barbara today with the family to visit the butterflies and the dinosaurs. A lot of fun-though the planetarium was a bit slow for the kids. Interesting stuff in there–but the docent didn’t make it too kid friendly and that’s a shame.

Quiet night of pasta for dinner and enjoying the cool breeze this evening. Missing Aunt Virginia back in Maryland and my cousins with whom we spent early June. It was a great vacation and vacation is good.

OK-Simon is sleeping next to me, Sue and Shannon are watching Soul Surfer and I’m tapping away. Good night.




Tweeking Aright

OK, I admit it. The shoulder and neck are doing their summer thing–going out–and leaving me a bit sore at the end of each day. Having¬† a tough time sitting still to read and write, but I’ll give it a shot this evening.

Good news–at least for me. For some time, the belts on my friendly little Scion xB were chirping. My good friend Roger, a fine mechanic, helped me replace them a while ago and he did a fine job. However, I discovered the chirp, thought it was something else, went through consternation of all different kinds. For no reason, of course–it’s just that when I’d start the car up, or turn the air-conditioner on or step on the gas….”chirp.” Or…”chirp, chirp…..chirp chirp…” Sometimes so loud that it was distracting. For a guy who doesn’t know cars that well–it was a pain. I couldn’t just write it off: “Oh, that’s just the fly wheel. Nothing serious.”

While back in Maryland this summer, I connected with my cousin’s son, Brandon. He is a Toyota mechanic of the finest kind and since Scion is a Toyota product, I told him about it. He said, “well, that car has a bolt that needs to be tightened when you change the belts and it’s hard to get to. Unless you get it on the lift, you’ll have trouble doing that. Have your mechanic just check it. I’m sure that’s it.”

So, on my quest today for an oil change and tire rotation at Barry’s, my trusty neighborhood mechanic (well–as trusty as such mechanics get), I told Troy (not Barry) that my pal and I had changed belts, I noticed it was loose, etc. and explained about the bolt. Troy said he knew about the bolt and he’d check it. Sure enough–the thing was loose–he had the mechanic tighten it, et voi la! No more chirp. I drove home giddy with the clean and smooth sound of the 1NZ-FE engine and it’s 108 horsepower chug along (yes, I laugh at that too. Gutless wonder–but great mileage).

It’s amazing what something so….well…nuanced will do for you. I have the courage of a lion, now–whether I choose to sell it–or drive it up to Oregon. I don’t know which.

I’m in my “I’d like to buy an Alpaca farm” mood, which I’ll grant you is an odd mood to even discuss let alone be in. But such is the view of the world one holds when one has gone from, “all is lost–even my crummy little 108 hp car sounds like a bird” to “life is great. The car runs beautifully, rotated tires and new oil–and no chirps. Just a Toyota engine. Life is good.

So, on to a few deadlines and stories–got some biz to attend to, not the least of which is to enjoy myself a bit more–slow down, enjoy the summer, write some stories, get a few more writing gigs and sit on the patio–my office, as Sue calls it–a bit more.

Goodnight, gentles-


A New Wind

The deadlines started coming hot and heavy and I was busy these past couple of days. Nice to have a recuperative weekend now. Last night up to the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company’s production of Much Ado About Nothing with our great friends, the Streeters. Good show, good time and my friends, the Browns’ were sponsoring the evening with their Cantara Wines. Avail yourself if you have not–these are seriously good wines grown in Lodi–and made right here in Ventura County. It’s one of the few local wines I’ve come to really admire.

Planning a couple of trips north this summer and see when I can get off the ground and get there-Santa Barbara County, Monterey County, San Francisco and Mendocino are on the agenda as I do some more exploring of CA wines. It’s a real blessing to me to be able to live here where I do and work the way I work.

A few more wine posts coming up—got a few new things to explore and talk about–short for now.




Independence Day, 2012

I’ve been reading the blog of a year ago and find that I was in the same position then that I am now: Too much writing and this year, sleeping inconveniently in a Mt. Pinos camp has ruffled my neck and I’m sore. It should heal on its own–this happens nearly every summer, I’ve found since I injured it five years ago. I am in hopes that it heals on its own–and doesn’t force me toward drastic measures. Time will tell.

We celebrated our anniversary a week late by taking a trip to Santa Barbara. Brother Doug used his formidable hotel points and gave us a night at the Double-Tree Fess Parker resort. We had dinner out and we enjoyed each others company, walked on the beach and enjoyed the sunshine. Perfect. 18 years of marriage behind us and hopefully, prayerfully, many more ahead.

I’ve been writing a bit for the newspapers all the while scheming and planning. The economy’s slow movements have hindered our ability to do much and our house remains upside down and we’re unsure of what will happen next. Word on the street is that the Camarillo house inventory is very low–a few short sales and foreclosures pretty much make up the lot and there are very few regular sales out there. This means that prices may level off soon and, perhaps, will go up. If that happens, we might be able to refinance and move forward.

It is Independence Day 2012. After our trip to Philadelphia, Washington and Baltimore, this year’s celebration means a bit more to me and I think to all four of us. We got to see–for me, again–where it all happened. Where the Declaration was signed and where our country began. It was the best vacation ever–though, last year’s was quite as good. I am humbled at the thought of having spend the first weeks of summer with my family on the east coast. It gave me no end of pleasure to see my aunt and to enjoy the sights under great weather–which changed after we left–and with such epic days.

Happy Fourth to you all–may we celebrate and remember what Independence is, what it means and how we got it. Always.