Etchings in the Sand…

Thoughts and Photos from the Desert…

Monthly Archives: June 2007

A View From the Table…

One of the subtle joys of our life is looking out the window of our breakfast nook and enjoying the wildlife that lives in our little share of desert suburbia.

We have many species of birds who make their way through the desert during their migrations. But there are a few favorites that stay with us all year long. First of all is the Cactus Wren, state bird of Arizona and the best of all birds as far as we’re concerned. Ours is a loner who covers the entire yard in a very short time, then concentrates on the nice area under the grapefruit tree. He regularly sneaks into our screened in porch and when we leave our back door open a bit for the dogs, he comes right into the house and procedes to explore every nook and cranny. When he finishes you don’t have to show him the way out. He remembers and heads back out in his own good time.

We have Hummingbirds, Gambel’s Quail, Doves of several kinds, Finches, Hawks, Owls, Cardinals – of course there are rabbits and lizards as well.

Even occasional coyotes. Maybe once in two or three years – a Roadrunner!

We don’t feed or water them but planted good stuff when we moved in twenty years ago.

The most interesting thing to me is how they all get along – (predators excepted). It isn’t unusual to see a rabbit and two or three varieties of birds under a dwarf citrus tree together, completely ignoring one another. None seems determined to be alpha bird or alpha rabbit. They just live and let live. “A haven of blessing. A place of peace,” to quote from the marriage vows.

There is some uninhibited and unremarkable sexual activity. Then, little flocks of babies do come and go. A corpse shows up now and then. All of life, right there.

There’s a little peaceful world right outside our window. Great way to start and end the days. Just watch and smile.

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Donating Body…

It’s not easy deciding how to dispose of our bodies when we die  – and not altogether fair to leave that touchy decision to the kids.

We opted long ago for cremation.

Then we decided to donate any organs that might be of value to medical research.

At this point we are about to go all the way and donate our bodies to medical science.

They take the bodies, remove whatever parts medical schools and labs might want, cremate the remaining parts and return the ashes to the families.

There is no charge, so thousands of dollars are kept in the family. The funeral home is cut completely out of the process. The body is treated with respect. And, best of all, it does some good, long after we can’t.

We smile at the thought. It’s a good thing to do.

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Effusively or insincerely emotional; “a bathetic novel;” “maudlin expressions of sympathy;” “mushy effusiveness;” “a schmaltzy song;” “sentimental soap operas;” “slushy poetry.

Thinking today of that quality in literature, art, religion, patriotism, conversation – whatever – that most strongly and consistently turns me off. Right -the sentimental. The bathetic.

Lord, deliver us from that in all its forms.



Quite the contrary
to what I’d thought, passing clouds
are sometimes simply
the moon’s entertainment,
its lovely decoration.

from The Poetry of Zen
translated by Sam Hamill

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Wandering in an Indifferent Universe…

A man asked his wise old uncle: “Could it not be simply that we are alone and aimless, doomed to wander in an indifferent universe, with no hope of salvation, nor any prospect except misery, death and the empty reality of eternal nothing?”

The uncle replies: “And you wonder why you’re not invited to more parties.”

Woody Allen in Getting Even

(As quoted by Adam Cohen in today’s New York Times)

And, while I’m at the computer, There’s Always Something… resumes today!…


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Changes Coming…

“There’s Always Something…”, my weblog that has been on sabbatical for about a month will be started up again within the next week. There will be some tighter focusing and other changes in my writing schedule, which was the main reason for the sabbatical in the first place.

First of all, my photoblog, “more than we thought…” will continue as it is now. As I write, it is number five in terms of hits on the Pixieblog system. It is consistently in the top ten, which is a huge surprise for me. Shooting and editing photographs goes back to the ’60s for me and the emergence of digital photography and new editing software has made it into a passion. Passion is to be treasured in retirement.

This blog, “East of Eden…” will revert to its original style, the contemplative – emphasis on the smell of the lamp, the poetic, the theological, and the artistic. I will use some personal photos also. Hopefully, along the way, we can raise some uncomfortable questions. The big change will be in not trying to publish it on a daily basis. It will appear when I feel that I have something to say. So, it could be daily – or weekly. Should be a pretty good barometer for the condition of my soul!

As for “There’s Always Something…”, it will continue in the personal journal style. It might be whimsical or serious, angry or weird. Maybe a rant or so, a concern deeply felt, or something just stupid. You know, stream of consciousness. It too will give up on being a daily writing in hopes of maintaining quality and not getting stressed over having to do it!

All this in the near future and I will announce it here and there. Any comments will be much appreciated and responded to. We’re in the final formative phase, so they will be especially valuable.

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