Tuesday, September 30, 2014


WHETHER TO LIVE LIFE OR WRITE ABOUT LIFE---THAT IS THE QUESTION. Living is much easier----but writing about it keeps me conscious of its mystery and interested in its meaning---if there be any.  Also it connects me with you.  So here's a brief sample of my days.  I left you in Eugene, Oregon--got hot---went back to the coast.
Had a visitor.  Of course you recognize Glenn Morissette---one of the great bloggers in America--builder of the fabulous Vanagan home and saxaphonist extraordinaire--fresh from a tour of Australia with the Glen Miller band---Mr Simplify himself.  Read his blog here

He's a fun guy---and we play games.  This morning we take up position just outside the casino and engage folks on their way out --- guessing from their expression and demeanor whether they won or lost ---then asking to confirm.  They happily told us.

 I watch him prepare breakfast in his tiny but terrific kitchen. Note the latest high-tech stove and below it his high-tech refrigerator/freezer.  And how modest but functional is that table?  He built the entire interior himself.

One day, I have two additional guest---new friends --William and Mike an engineer and a builder/designer team.  
Two remarkable people who have mastered the art of good living.  Here's the interior of their travel home---that tv is 75 in. 

This was a day and night I spent in the town of Walport--- found a scenic spot near that famous bridge in the background. 
This was a day my friend Steve took me on a farm tour.  How odd to find a small orchestra entertaining the visitors.

Spent a day in Newport harbor---enjoying the boats, the sea smells and most amusing--- those seals.  They make a lot of racket as they squabble for position.
And Oh yes--back to the farm tour---this farm invited folks to grab an instrument and play.  Steve is an experienced drummer.  I managed to keep time with a tambourine.
Another day---this old friend dropped by---recognize him from lots of previous entries?  Its Bagpipe Bob---famous in mobile circles---for his music of course.  Properly motivated he will get into costume and make a hell of a show.  Here's what he looks like  : 
Wanna hear him ?
Someone actually bought me flowers---the first in my life.  I begin to understand why it thrills the ladies.  

Another day in a medium sized town, I saw this path and knew there was a story out there.

And there was!  A vagrant camp of several tents and 2 dogs.  I introduced myself and asked for an interview.  They were very gracious---learned how they make a living.

Meet John and his little dog.  Can you see the love?  Both ways? I remembered Thoreau's words in the conclusion of Walden; "You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse."  (and love--even in a vagrant camp) 
One day in Cottage grove I fell in step with this friendly fellow and had a beer with him.  He is a retired physics teacher with lots of connections around town.  Introduced me to some.

It's famous for its covered wooden bridges--this one right in town-- adjacent the Applegate Trail.

He introduced me to these two ladies and one of them gave me a brief ukulele lesson. 

Stayed that night in Wal-Mart parking lot.  Across the way, this fellow was playing and singing for his supper.  

Next day I went around town appreciating the great murals.
I moved on to Sutherlin, Oregon---spending 2 days in this old K-mart parking lot. (watched college football) 

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  You are probably enlightened if you really know the difference between a thought and an experience.  To begin learning (I'm told) just take a breath and notice the slight cooling at the base of the nose.  That's an experience.
I really don't know if I am squandering my life doing what I do.  Oh well!!

PREVIEW OF COMING ATTRACTION:  Remember the time I framed a question so carefully that it could OUT evil? Just by asking it?   the face of evil  Well, I have found and photographed a situation that when you see it and learn the facts, you can know instantly where you belong on the political spectrum; from extreme left to extreme right. (right after I catch up with myself blogging)

Monday, September 15, 2014



They take democracy seriously.  Make voting easy and accessible.  Boxes like this all around town. 

Beautiful Bicycle trails go everywhere--reaching all the way to the next city.

Everybody seemingly has one--These are parked outside their terrific Library--which is worth a separate post on its own.

They have built 4 of these magnificent pedestrian and bicyclist bridges across the Willamette river running through the town.

Here's another---this one popular for late evening music and dancing

They do big-picture planning --bike trails and public parks on both sides of the river.

The Willamette river---much revered--protected--utilized and enjoyed.  The green valley it services was the shangri-la that drew the Oregon trail pioneers here. 

And along its course hundreds of ponds are preserved as wetlands for wildlife.

Vast tracks of open green space for the public (and wildlife) to enjoy.

Gardens galore along the public trails.

And gardens where you can grow your own vegetables.  

Recycling is almost a religion here.  They have engineered a system that works--by pricing returns at 5 cents each---enough to make it worth someones time.

And guess what---They have outlawed plastic grocery bags.  They will sell you one of these blue reusable ones.

By now you will not be surprised to learn that their city buses are green hybrids.

And here's a neat touch: A mini solar system done in proper proportion---to the scale of 1 to 1 billion.
As you walk along the path you get a sense of our place in the solar system. (earth is the size of a pea)

Ah but friends, I've barely scratched the surface of this city's enlightened practices: 
They have a great school---OREGON UNIVERSITY---(with the second ranked football team)

And let me emphasize: NO SALES TAX!!!

SATURDAY MARKET---Whole city blocks of downtown Eugene is made freely available every Saturday to all who would come and sell their stuff and express themselves---from vegetables to baked goods, clothing and even religious ideas---an exciting melange of personalities and products not to be missed.

Friendly youngsters will pump your gas for you all over the state.

City buses will carry your bike for you.

They have created SANCTUARIES for the homeless.  Sanctuaries that respect the dignity and real needs of people:  Food, clothing, shelter, medical attention, haircuts, showers, lockable storage units, day rooms for relaxation, personal counseling.

Finally, this wonderful city (and state) will humanely LET YOU DIE without needless suffering when your time comes. ( Assisted suicide for the terminally ill)  

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  Eugene Oregon hints at the benefits of a "WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER" philosophy.  This is, politically,  a very blue city--it votes democratic.  I challenge my Republican friends to name a "RED" city in this nation anywhere near as wonderful as Eugene.  The underlying philosophy of  "IT'S EVERY PERSON FOR THEMSELVES" can never result in anything but class warfare, luxury behind gated communities and abject poverty on the outside.  A bumper sticker says it succinctly:

I asked around for the secret of Eugene's success---one of the more interesting responses was that Eugene is where the Hippies went to live out their lives---and these fine things I've noted are simply the out picturing of their influence.

Thursday, September 04, 2014


I hold this myth in my head because it  helps propel me into deeper and richer experience----keeps me mindful of the briefness of my being---emboldens me to seize the day.
"Let us then be up and doing
With a heart for any fate;
still achieving, still pursuing;
Learn to labor and to wait."
(Longfellow: A Psalm of Life)

A recognizable sphinx at the sand castle festival.

An ....Ugly face!

One day I visited an old fort and engaged the host--
Learned of his hobby--told him mine--suggested we perform for each other.

He agreed--we exchanged 3 songs for 3 poems.  By the time we finished, we had an audience.

Went to an Indian Pow Wow.  This one a series of dance contest for money.

Went to a unique boat show in Toledo, Or. ---featuring CARDBOARD and wooden boats.  The town lets you settle in along this river.  

There, dear readers is a rare sight---a functioning cardboard boat.

Here is the idea man and director of the festival--with his personal cardboard boat----chose not to float it.  He explained the rules:  One month ago, the local paper mill gave out lots of cardboard to anyone wishing to build a boat for the big race. Wood  is not permitted---only glue, paint and duct tape.

Here's a sample of what the contestants came up with. These are after-the-race shots of course.

Some survived splendidly,

others, not so splendidly.
Some were a hilarious disaster---the paddler had to swim for his life.

I think this was the winner---the situation was confusing.

Aaah but there was more to this festival.  for $425 you would be furnished with everything you needed to build your own kayak--including instructions.  You were given the weekend to finish your project.  Amazingly, most got their boat built.

And as you can see, they were exquisite, serviceable kayaks.

Engaged this pretty lady.  Meet Patti---and guess what---she's an inventor!  Posing here she wears her patented invention around her neck:  A "wine bra".  It's the answer to that troubling problem of where to put your wine glass as you move about in a social situation.  Read about it here .

Someone called my name---always a pleasant surprise. Fellow travelers I met in Quartzsite, Az at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous.

At the local rail museum I quizzed this expert on an obscure puzzlement of mine: How did the railroad builders finally solve the problem of eliminating the  noisy clack, clack, clack as trains passed over the once-considered-necessary expansion joints? Not only noisy, he said, but wearing on the wheels.  So RIBBON RAIL ---with no gaps is now standard.  But "How do they allow for expansion on hot days", I asked.  He smiled and punched up the answer: 

THEY WELD THE JOINTS WHEN THE RAILS ARE HOT--- making them hot with a temporary fire.   mystery solved!

Another guy answered questions about life in a caboose. Lets me hold the job for a jiffy.

Here's a shocker for you---on at least 3 occasions human beings were sent by mail.

The highlight of the day was engaging this brilliant guy---Steve---an attorney from Portland.  We are both Unitarians with much to share.  On another day he took me on a farm tour near Yachats, Or.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I believe that life is a zone of mystery because we do not know, ultimately, where we come from---why---if any reason-- we are here ---and what-- if anything--becomes of us.  So we speculate---and make up stories (myths) that ease our anxiety a bit and help us generate some temporary meaning for ourselves.  Most of the world's worst problems are caused by believers who take their myths too seriously. Everyone on the planet who does not know that they do not know is a part of the problem.  Everyone who embraces the mystery joyfully, is part of the solution.