Etchings in the Sand…

Thoughts and Photos from the Desert…

Monthly Archives: February 2011

Momisms – My Mother Was a Rare Character…

My two sisters and I recently put together a series of familiar sayings of my mother. Mom was a rare character. Not your typical granny. Her language was frequently earthy. And we loved her dearly. We get together and laugh until we either cry or wet our pants.

Here are a few “Momisms” as Sally put it. I’ve deleted a few and edited a few more, but you get the idea.


Sit down before you get knocked down

If you’re so goddamn smart, do it yourself.

That might be funny to you but it ain’t funny to Grandma.

There’s no fool like an old fool

Dr. Vaughan says ‘ A drunkard’s death is the most peaceful of all.’

It’s hotter than the hinges of hell.

Looks like the Tussys live here.

Your room looks like a pigsty.

Don’t blow your nose at the table

If you’re doing that for my benefit, you can stop

He drives like a bat out of hell

Your hair looks like a rat chewed on it

Don’t dress like a hussy

You don’t see your grandmother’s feet on the table

Take off that damned baseball cap in the house

Eat that pea

Ghosty ghosty

You’re a bunch of spoiled brats

There’s no room for two bitches in the same kitchen

Don’t drink out of the milk bottle, damn it

Grab it and growl

Chock ‘er, Bart. She’s headed toward the barn

Just show’s to go ya’

Bend, Hilda, and pick it up.

Do as I say do, not as I do

And then there was the one about sending little Johnny to the store to get a lb. of peas and ask how Mrs. Jones is. So he walked all the way to the store saying ‘a pound of peas and how’s Mrs Jones’ ‘a pound of peas and how’s Mrs Jones’ He gets to the store and goes up to Mr. Jones and says ‘a pound of peas and how’s Mrs. Jones’ and Mr Jones says ‘split or whole?’ and Johnny says ‘her did???’

Laughed so hard, I thought I’d die – I thought my pants would never dry

Don’t leave the milk carton on the table

The great silver bird in the sky

Shut the door! Were you brought up in a barn?

Eat what is put before you

All kids are brats, some are just worse than others.

This may partially explain why our now elder Bourland brats are what we turned out to be. A bit weird.


Guinea Fowl…

Yesterday Jo Ann had lunch with a good girl friend who had moved away. I decided to go out for some catfish at a local barbeque restaurant.

There’s a nice lake about a hundred feet away from my window seat and I was astonished to see 20 black duck-like birds with bright white bills frolicking in the water. Almost a quarter of a century in Arizona and I’d not seen any birds quite like that.

I called the manager over and asked about them. He said they were guinea fowls. “They show up every year about this time, stay about two days and disappear just as suddenly – apparently on their way to Wisconsin or Minnesota.”

They were flocked together; swimming, diving and swimming underwater, popping up, waddling up onto the grass lawn to check out possible snacks, then delightfully trooping over to the rock wall that bordered the lake and hurling themselves the 3 feet or so into the lake, enjoying themselves almost as much as I enjoyed watching them. What a treat!

Here’s a Google Image to give you a small idea…

How To Find The Right Church…

An important point, overlooked in finding the right church, is what one feels once worship is finished. Extremely important.

The right church will leave us feeling that something important has happened. The time has been well spent. We feel a bit different about life and ourselves than we did when we entered the church.

Obviously, this can take many forms.

It could be inspiration. It could be a warm glow of inner satisfaction. It could be a sense of being disturbed. It could be a feeling of penitence or sorrow. It could be a determination to make a difference in the world around us. It could be a new sense of discovery and of understanding something we have wondered about. It could be a sense of having practiced the presence of God. It could involve the kind of happiness that comes from having been in connection with good friends. It could be the stimulation of having been stretched in some good way. It could be a feeling of wonder or awe.

It could be just a strange feeling that we are a bit different than we were before – the sense of having been touched by something authentic.

I found that during my search for a good church, the right church for me, I sometimes left worship a bit less of a person than I had been before. The time had been wasted. I hadn’t been stretched or inspired. I was mildly angry or depressed.

This is God’s way of telling us to move on. Every church can be the right church for someone. Blessed is the person who finds the church that is right for him/her!

A wise preacher once counseled a group of theologues that the purpose of preaching is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted. If church can do that for us, we are well advised to cleave to that church and give ourselves over to its ministries. It is the good church.

Meet Our Eldest Son, Roger III…


Roger Bourland (b. Dec. 13, 1952, Evanston, Illinois) received his education from the University of Wisconsin/Madison (B.Mus),the New England Conservatory of Music (M.M.), and Harvard University (A.M., Ph.D.). His teachers have included Leon Kirchner, Gunther Schuller, Donald Martino, John Harbison, and Randall Thompson. He received the Koussevitzky Prize in Composition at Tanglewood, the John Knowles Paine Fellowship at Harvard, two ASCAP Grants to Young Composers, numerous Meet the Composers grants, and was a co-founder of the Boston-based consortium “Composers in Red Sneakers.” Bourland has composed over one hundred works for all media: solo, instrumental, chamber, vocal and choral music, electro-acoustic music, and music for orchestra, wind ensemble, and other large ensembles, which are published by Yelton Rhodes Music, ECS Publishing, Dorn Publications, Inc. and Associated Music Publishers, Inc. His works have been recorded on Northeastern Records, 1750 Arch, OpenLoop, Cambria, and GM Recordings.

As a film composer, he has scored “The Wolf at the Door” (1987, CBS/Fox Videocassettes), “The Trouble with Dick” (1986, Academy Video), “Night Life” (1988, RCA/Columbia Videocassettes), and James Merrill´s “Voices from Sandover” (PBS, 1990). In 1991 he scored a 13-part radio series for National Public Radio entitled “Poets in Person,” and received his second National Endowment for the Arts grant for a CD of saxophone music. From 1992 to 1994, Bourland received commissions for three full-length cantatas (“Hidden Legacies,” “Flashpoint/Stonewall,” [both with librettist John Hall], and “Letters to the Future”) from five GALA Choruses which have been performed throughout America. Two documentaries were created and televised on the impact of “Hidden Legacies” on gay men´s choruses.

In 1993, Bourland established Yelton Rhodes Music, a publishing house for choral music. In 1994, he was commissioned to compose “Ozma” in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Topeka Symphony Orchestra. Rosarium a drama for chorus” a 2 hour work for chorus, soloists, and orchestra with a libretto by William MacDuff, was premiered in 1999 at UCLA´s Royce Hall. In 2000, Bourland and MacDuff fulfilled a commission for the US Navy´s choral ensemble, The Sea Chanters entitled “Keeping the Ocean Free” in honor of their 45th anniversary which received its premiere on June 2001 in Washington D.C.. In 2001, Bourland´s “Four Painters,” scored for piano quartet, was premiered by the Los Angeles Chamber ensemble, Pacific Serenades. For the post-9/11 2001-2 concert season, Bourland and MacDuff composed “The Crocodile´s Christmas Ball and other odd tales” which was premiered by the UCLA Wind Ensemble and Chorale with the composer conducting.

For the 2004-5 concert season, Bourland had four new works premiered: “The Night Train” commissioned by the St Matthews Chamber Orchestra, Thomas Neenan, conductor, a new film entitled “Cages” directed by Graham Streeter, a new song cycle premiered by Juliana Gondek (May 2005) entitled “Four Apartsongs”, and an arrangement of Mozart´s “Trauermusik” for wind ensemble, performed by the UCLA Wind Ensemble, D. Thomas Lee, conductor. Two new choral works were premiered in 2007: Vox Femina/LA (“Alarcon Madrigals, Book 3″), and the “A More Perfect Union” premiered by the Boston Gay Men´s Chorus; and a commission for a new work for string quartet, “Four Poets” from the Ives Quartet. A new musical HOMER IN CYBERSPACE with a book and lyrics by Mel Shapiro, will be premiered by the UCLA Theater Department in May 2008.

Since 1983, Professor Bourland has taught composition, music theory, orchestration, electronic music, and other classes and seminars in the UCLA Department of Music. As an administrator at UCLA, Bourland has served as the Chair of the Committee on Committees (1997-98, and 2001 – 2003), the Chair of the Faculty Executive Committee in the Arts (5 yrs), and as the President of the UCLA Faculty Center (2004-5). Dr. Bourland was awarded the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award for 2005-6. In 2007, Bourland was appointed Chair of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, Department of Music.

Roger Bourland´s photography is available through BRiDGE Art Gallery. His popular blog,, has been among the top 50 classical blogs for several years.

I Think You Will Like This…

“Coming to Terms … and Compost”

Playing on a Thich Nhat Hahn quote on anger.)
A few years ago my best friend from grade school absolved me of all the hateful things I’d said or done to her over the years of our friendship as children. We’d recently found each other after forty-five years and on a long car trip, I confessed all the guilt I’d carried around with me since then. Point by point she replied with an alternate version, a memory lapse, or a comment; “Sisters always say stuff like that to each other!” and, “From a childhood development point of view, I think what happened was…”.  Because of this experience I can imagine pure redemption. I’m forgiven and loved, just as I was, just as I am.
My mistakes are part of me, not only because I still cringe over the ways I’ve hurt people, but because I tend to learn from my guilt. (I say I tend to learn, because I try and don’t always succeed.) So I love Thich Nhat Hanh’s metaphor of the compost bin when he writes about anger.

It only takes a couple of weeks for a flower to decompose. When a good organic gardener looks into her compost, she can see that, and she does not feel sad or disgusted. Instead, she values the rotting material and does not discriminate against it. It takes only a few months for compost to give birth to flowers. We need the insight and non-dual vision of the organic gardener with regard to our anger. We need not be afraid of it or reject it. We know that anger can be a kind of compost, and that it is within its power to give birth to something beautiful.
(Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step)

Can I really use my anger, my left-over negative energies, my faux pas, resentments, sins,  mistakes, bad judgments, mix them with the refuse of whatever kindnesses I’ve unwittingly managed to cultivate and let them rot together in the soul’s compost bin? And out of that mix, can I enrich the ground of my life’s work and relationships with wisdom?

Yes! As much as I’d love to erase my misdeeds from my own memory and everyone else’s, I’d prefer that energy to decompose, and, purified by internal heat, transform into something useful, and ultimately beautiful.

Cowboy Hotel – Sketches # 3…

This is one of my favorite photos. I shot it about a year ago and have edited it in many different ways, always with a shot of excitement.

It is located about 20 miles northwest of Phoenix on highway 60 to Wickenburg. The amazing things that must have happened in this antique hotel when Arizona pioneers went to and fro on horseback, wagons and model T Fords are almost beyond the imagination.