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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Holidays and Death

Shortly before Christmas I met for drinks three guys who I had once worked with.  Although I hadn't seen most of them in at least five years, we easily re-established our rapport, and laughter and banter flowed as readily as the beer we drank. 

A somber note arose as the recent death of another co-worker was discussed.  None of us knew his age, but we estimated it as late 50's or early 60's.  As the conversation continued, the others mentioned their ages which ranged from the late 40's to the mid 50's, and as they did I realized that I hadn't known their exact ages until then although I could have guessed each one fairly accurately.  Other names were mentioned of co-workers who had died because even in death they were part of the same bond. One of the guys also mentioned that he had recently lost his mother.

As we parted everyone said they had a good time, and it was suggested that we get together more often.  As I drove home, however, I reflected back and thought there was a certain sadness in the gathering.  This could be a misinterpretation, I realized, because unlike myself the others were still working and were busy, successful people who may have just been understandably tired or weighed down by their responsibilities at work and home.

The event has caused me to muse about the end of year holiday period and death, and it seems like an obvious time for people to think about mortality even though it is out of sorts with the jovial seasonal expectations.  After my brother died one mid-December, someone mentioned that a death so close to Christmas was especially difficult, but it was hard for me to think another time of year would have softened the blow.   For me, anniversaries of deaths are not necessarily significant because grief can hit anytime, sometimes long afterwards.  Yet I do think there's something about the end of year that causes many of us to remember those no longer with us.   After all, the traditional New Years song, "Auld Lang Syne", suggests recalling past times with old acquaintances, and these could be both living and dead.

That evening I reread the James Joyce story "The Dead" from The Dubliners, and I decided Joyce had reason to set the story at Christmastime:

"There are always in gatherings such as this sadder thoughts that will recur to our minds: thoughts of the past, of youth, of changes, of absent faces that we miss here to-night. Our path through life is strewn with many such sad memories: and were we to brood upon them always we could not find the heart to go on bravely with our work among the living. We have all of us living duties and living affections which claim, and rightly claim, our strenuous endeavours."

However, just a few hours after the main character speaks these words, he discovers that a song has rekindled a memory of a lost love for his wife which she cannot escape brooding upon.  As he gazes out the hotel window at the falling snow, he ponders not just the death many years before of this young man but of all of the dead both before and after.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Only the Dead Know Brooklyn

"...Duh poor guy! Say, I’ve got to laugh, at dat, when I t’ink about him! Maybe he’s found out by now dat he’ll neveh live long enough to know duh whole of Brooklyn. It’d take a guy a lifetime to know Brooklyn t’roo an’ t’roo. An’ even den, yuh wouldn’t know it all."

This weekend we made our third trip to Brooklyn in the past two years. I don't hear that accent anymore that Thomas Wolfe caught in his short story written in the 1930's that is quoted above.

My daughter Rebecca met us at Pennsylvania Station in the snow, and we walked along the Highline on the Westside of Manhattan to Chelsea to visit her husband Sean at work before having lunch in the West Village. Then the three of us took the subway to Brooklyn where my daughter and SIL live in the Crown Heights neighborhood. We stopped so that Pam and I could check into our hotel in downtown Brooklyn. The first two visits we stayed with them, but that apartment becomes a bit crowded with four adults and two cats.  It was nice and cozy, though, for hanging out Saturday afternoon watching the snow and waiting for my SIL to get off work to go out to dinner.

Below is Rebecca, Sean, and Pam in front of the Brooklyn Art Museum where we went on Sunday after brunch:
The facial features on the people in the museum exhibit are actually digital projections, so they blink and change expressions, and some of them speak.  A video would have captured this.
   Then Pam and I got on the subway back to Manhattan. At home I studied on-line maps to get a sense of the new places we saw which are just a small chunk of the big area that is Brooklyn.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The woods are a winter wonderland

Alliterative title although not completely original.



Friday, December 6, 2013

Between Poetry and Science

When outdoors I'm not inclined to quantify.  I often say about catching fish that I lose count after three, and although said jokingly it's generally true and comes from this disinclination.  Since most of my fishing is catch and release, counting and measuring fish to comply with laws is generally not an issue.  When I plan to retain my catch it's usually on someone else's boat on the Bay, and because captains are conscientious about fishing regulations they keep track of size and number of fish without depending on the anglers.

In the business world where I worked for about 40 years, I quantified in order to make and justify decisions.  Time, money, output and other variables were tracked and analyzed constantly.  Doing so was an ingrained habit for me at work, but outdoors I behave differently. If I were a scientist systematically expanding our knowledge of nature, I wouldn't have this freedom.  A book I recently read, Why Birds Sing by David Rothenberg, contains a passage which describes this difference:

"The response of nineteenth-century naturalists to bird song falls somewhere in the valley between science and poetry.  A  naturalist spends long hours paying complete attention to nature, not to conduct experiments or derive a satisfaction in certainty, but for the sheer pleasure of awareness.  To look, listen, and learn, and to come home with that kind of knowledge that is closer to acquaintance, to gain a familiarity with the world of birds, to share in their experience, not necessarily to explain it."

Between a scientist and a poet seems like a comfortable place whether the focus is birds or fish or anything else in nature.  One accumulates data to test a hypothesis, and the other obtains inspiration for his art.  Those of us in the middle are free to experience the Now.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Martin Scorsese's first movie

We stayed up late watching this last night, and it was worth going well past our normal bedtime.  I hadn't heard of it, so what I know I've learned since we saw it.

The movie began as a college project, and Scorsese continued adding and editing over about three years before it was released in 1967.  Featuring student actors, it stars Harvey Keitel who is the only one recognizable to me.  The story centers around a young Italian-American man and his friends in New York City.  The setting, the style, and many of the themes reminded me of Scorsese's Mean Streets which was the director's first movie to be widely released, but unlike the later movie, Who's that Knocking at my Door? was shot in black and white. The movie changed in content and title over the years of production but has been in its present form for some time.

As in his other movies, Scorsese selects the accompanying music carefully.  The title song is one of a number of doo-wop numbers he uses that I don't remember although many of the other songs are well-known such as "The End" by The Doors and "Shotgun" by Junior Walker.  This one I hadn't heard for 50 years, I bet, but I recognized it instantly from its opening notes:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Beat Goes On

Rhythms surround us and are within us.  Near the ocean I become very conscious of the rhythms of the tides going in and out.  On those visits I often say that I want to get in tune with those rhythms, probably from some vague sense that if the gravitational pull of the moon and sun has such dramatic effect on the ocean, then it probably can also affect my body which is mostly water.  That thinking can lead to pondering about the rhythms of the rotations of the moon around the earth and the earth around the sun, one forming our month and the other our year.  It all marks time.

Our internal rhythm comes from our hearts beating approximately 60 times a minute.  Humans can maintain rhythms somewhat faster and somewhat slower than that pulse, but if we try to keep up a beat much faster or slower it breaks down. Whales, many times larger than a human, can maintain a rhythm as slow as every two minutes as they sing while the sounds of small insects like crickets and cicadas display very speedy, complex rhythms. And there is another, much slower rhythm associated with some cicadas in North America: the 17 year cycle of their emergence from the longest gestation period of any animal.

Author David Rothenberg has written a trilogy of books concerning animal noises which he considers from a musical stand point.  His book on insects, Bug Music, How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise, I read and reread because of its emphasis on rhythm.  He believes early man learned rhythm by listening to the insects of the forest sing at night.  You could consider this is as the origin of music if you view music as essentially rhythm, as did the poet Ezra Pound who Rothenberg quotes:  "Music is pure rhythm, pure rhythm and nothing else, for the variations in pitches is the variation of rhythms of the individual notes, and harmony is nothing but the blending of these individual rhythms."  Rothenberg comments, "This far-reaching poet got the insight that frequency is also rhythm, the point at which a vibration eases from steady tone to rapid beat is a key moment in the perception of the highest value of sound."

What is merely insect noise to many people is music to Rothenberg, "Bug music is the most ancient and the most primal music, the emergence of great rhythmic complexity from the minds of creatures who have no conception whatsoever what they are in the midst of.  Dance, song, evolution, transformation-really, do you need to know any of it to grasp the power of the beat?  Of course not."

The power of the beat.  Reading Rothenberg's book drove me to pull from my book shelf Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart's Drumming at the Edge of Magic, a Journey into the Spirit of Percussion.  His experiences of falling into a groove with his fellow musicians from the power of the beat, he came to understand as an example of entrainment, the inevitability of similar rhythms in close proximity to  synchronize.  The Law of Entrainment was first recognized in 1665 by the Dutch scientist Christian Huygens who noticed when two clocks were place next to each other they would soon begin ticking in perfect synchrony.  Both Hart and Rothenberg believe that entrainment has wide implications, that humans entrain with each other and the surrounding rhythms of the natural world.

I've come to believe that this is a way to look at our lives, that we are a part of these various pulses and vibrations.  Somehow, I feel like this awareness of the importance of rhythms brings us into closer harmony with our  bodies and our surroundings, closer to the universal beat.  And the beat goes on.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Two parks in Autumn

There was construction in much of Brookside Gardens today, but the other sections of the park looked just fine.

I think I photographed the same scenes in MLK park a previous autumn.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Moo Cup 2013

Missed the fishing this year but not the food and drink afterwards.  For the third consecutive year, Tom, second from the right, caught the biggest fish thus retaining the coveted trophy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Back to the beach

Spent the weekend with friends Margaret and George.  Not much activity this time of year in downtown Bethany Beach even on a Saturday night.


In the rain we drove down to Bishopsville, Maryland, near Ocean City for an excellent dinner.  Sunday was a beautiful day to walk on the beach.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fishing with Capt. Dave on Saturday

It was my fourth trip down to Dave's house on the Rivah and, as usual, I had a good time. He was serving as mate on Capt. Billy's "Liquid Assets" so there were seven of us fishing, and for six hours I don't think there was a time when someone didn't have a fish on his line. They were mostly blues but there were rockfish too. Although there were small craft warnings for the Chesapeake that day, the boat weathered the conditions well.

Three of the other anglers I hadn't fished with before, but like Dave's other friends they were easy to get along with. Two of them were UVA sports fans, and since Maryland and Virginia were playing that day there was the usual good natured trash-talking aimed at me. I listened to the end of the game on the radio while driving home.

Sunday I smoked the bluefish:

Friday, October 4, 2013

Back to Upper Monocacy

Had a good day on my second trip to the stretch of river east of Thurmont.  Caught some small bass and large fallfish (one of them was probably the largest I've ever caught) and many bream.  Hooked a very large smallmouth bass who threw the hook on his third jump.  I frequently laugh aloud when a fish jumps, and I did so each time for this one.  He was only about eight feet away when he got free, so it was almost as if I landed him.  Used a B&B fly for all these.  Switched to a bullet-head darter and hooked another smallie who jumped once and then got off.  Put on a bead head marabou streamer and got more bream and fallfish.

Unseasonably warm.  Water levels 1.71 at Bridgeport and 1.26 at Frederick.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

My stage debut

I'm taking a course in the English department which is described as rehearsed table reads of British plays.  After the rehearsals, the plays are publically performed on stage pretty much like a standard play except the actors can read from their scripts.  They aren't expected to memorize their lines, and sets and props are minimal.

I've never acted in my life, but I took on a role in a 2007 play by Nicholas Wright titled The Reporter which we put on yesterday.  Mine wasn't a starring role, but it was significant- I played the reporter's boss, a BCC executive.  The action is in the 1960's, and since men's clothing doesn't change very much my costume was business wear from my closet.

Pam was in the audience and said she enjoyed it.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Early Autumn in the Park

We get regular visits from Green Herons.  The days remaining for the water lilies are few.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Last Potomac smallmouth trip of season (?)

Probably.  Air and water temperatures were still acceptable when I went to the Mouth of the Monocacy on Friday but won't continue to be for much longer.  Grasses still there.  Fishing was subpar with no bass and mostly smallish bream.  Water levels 1.51 at Point of Rocks and 2.8 at Little Falls.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Good weekend for Maryland sports. Bad one for DC.

Watched University of Maryland Football team beat West Virginia yesterday in the rain at the Ravens' stadium in Baltimore.  First time at the M & T Bank stadium and was impressed.  Ravens won today while the Redskins lost, and I'm more of a Ravens fan.  Big Nats fan and they lost.  Their hopes of making the play-offs are becoming dimmer.  Orioles also lost but I have less emotional ties to them, so it doesn't diminish much the state's sports weekend for me.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I'm out of practice at trout fishing

I was surrounded by rising fish today on the Gunpowder River, but I didn't succeed in catching any.  Tried a lot of flies:  dry caddis flies and emergers, mayflies, midges, etc.  Haven't done any stream fishing for trout in over a year, so I should take my lack of success as incentive to go more often.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

At the Park again

Saw another egret, or the same one returned.

Here he's in stalking mode:

Couldn't resist another wildflower shot:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fishing Update

Have been out three times in the past two weeks.  Once in the canoe at Triadephia where I caught a number of small bream.  Then last Saturday to the same spot on the Potomac I fished recently with Lou.  I had similar results too:  two smallmouth hooked and one landed as well as a bluegill.  Finally, I got out today to the Patuxent below Brighton Dam where a small fallfish saving me from being skunked.  I did take picture there though.

All these were very quick trips, just a couple of hours each.  I also got Pam out in the canoe on the lake last week.

Park Update

Saw an egret at the pond a week ago, but he was gone the next day when I had a camera with me.  I also failed to get a shot of a green heron who was visiting a number of days running.

Did manage, however, another wildflower photo:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Late summer in the Park

During my daily walks, I often promise myself I should return with a camera.

One subject is this tree stump.  Some passers-by might wonder why the tree was apparently cut off at a point higher than a man's head.  It wasn't.  The tree fell during a storm last year, and the park personnel cut it up.  Then they wisely decided to push the stump back where it was originally which looks better than another uprooted tree, in my opinion.
This field of wildflowers always catches my eye:
I took the shot above yesterday and this one today:
Just as I was leaving, these mallards walked by.  Although the males lack the really bright colors this time  of year, they're still pretty handsome:

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Summer reading

In addition to The Brothers Karamazov, I read three other novels this summer.  Although the authors are not likely to ever to placed alongside Dostoyevsky, they are generally respected despite working in lighter genres.

John Le Carre's Smiley's People was an excellent novel to read at the beach because there was sufficient time to read it in large chunks.  In smaller portions, such as in bed at night, the details would have been difficult to retain from one reading to the next.  Wars often produce writers who come to be associated with that conflict, and Le Carre might be remembered as the novelist of the Cold War.

Earlier this summer I read Carl Hiaasen's Bad Monkey.  Like his other novels I've read, it's a comically grotesque crime story with environmental themes.  Hiaasen is a native Floridian who's an avid outdoorsman, and underneath his humor is anger over the damage greed and corruption have done to his state.

I'm currently about to finish James Lee Burke's Light of the World.  Like Hiaasen, Burke's love of the outdoors shows in his writing.  Unlike Hiaasen's, However, there is very little humor in Burke's writing which generally feature acts of extreme violence.  This novel is set in Montana where I believe the author currently lives, but many of his books take place in his native Louisiana.  Both locations are accurately and vividly captured in his descriptive prose.  The plot of this one proceeds and climaxes like an action movie, but the observations about people as well as nature elevate it above similar stories.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fished today on the Potomac near DC

After scouting this location which was new to me, I had lunch while waiting for Lou and also took a picture of the C & O Canal.   We each caught a few smallmouth bass on crystal buggers and had a good time.  Water level was 3.02 at Little Falls. 

Three nights in Bethany Beach

Returned yesterday.

Pam reading on the balcony of the soon-to-be-closed Bethany Arms Hotel: 


Late afternoon view from that balcony:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Among Upper Potomac Islands

The big ones like Nolands are somewhat permanent while the tiny ones come and go.  The above photo is facing upriver, and I believe Nolands is on the right.

Fishing today was typical:  two smallmouth and many bream in three hours, all on the surface.  I spent too much time futilely using a weedless wooly bugger I tied yesterday when the fish clearly were only interested in feeding on top.  As on the last trip, a slider type fly was very effective.  Saw a bald eagle.  River lever was 1.98 at Point of Rocks and 3.00 at Little Falls.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

County Fair

For the second consecutive year I assisted at the Izaak Walton League booth today.

I took a little time to walk around to take in the scene.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Yesterday in the backyard...


Some of the liriope are blooming:

Butterflies seem abundant this year.  I'm seeing lots of other photos of them by friends, so maybe it's not just our yard.

The butterfly is a swallowtail, and the plant is a ligularia. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

They were hitting surface flies today

on the upper Potomac at Nolands Ferry.  Three smallmouths but the major action was from big bluegills who wanted bass sized surface flies.  Great fun.  Water levels were 1.78 at Point of Rocks and 3.00 at Little Falls.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The view from the canoe...

...on Triadelphia Lake this afternoon.  Drifted and caught bream on a yellow head-head marabou streamer fly.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

On the Upper Potomac finally

With a clean bill of health, yesterday I made my first trip this season to kayak, wade, and fish my favorite waters.  Water levels have been high this summer, but I looked back through my fishing records and determined that this area of the river would be ok for wading.

Weather was beautiful, and the fishing was fair:  two smallies and about a half dozen bream, all caught on a B & B fly.  One of the smallmouths was quite small, and even the larger was far from a trophy but fought well and jumped.

Below is the much photographed aqueduct at the Mouth of the Monocacy.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A few words on health

Last week my knee had tentatively been diagnosed as having a torn meniscus, but I learned today that the M.R.I. showed no tear.  There had been about three days of pain that caused me to make the doctor's appointment, and I treated the discomfort with Ibuprofen.  The pain then lessened and I no longer had to use a cane to walk. 

For those few days I wasn't pleasant to be around which seems to be typical on my part when I'm having health problems.  I don't like not being able to do the things I like.  I'm in good health but I should work on preparing to accept the physical limitations that generally come with aging.  I'm not certain on how to be more positive about this aspect of old age.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail

Although this poster describes it as a sound movie, the version we saw tonight at the AFI was actually silent.  A musical accompaniment was provided by a live chamber orchestra which added to the uniqueness of the screening.  The Silver Theater in Silver Spring was built in 1938, so it's unlikely this version was ever shown there before.  Still, watching gave me the definite sense that I was seeing a classic silent movie in an environment much like movie-goers experienced it when it was released in 1929.

Friday, July 19, 2013

An Over-due Tribute to Back-up Singers

Saw the documentary "20 Feet from Stardom" last weekend, and it was the best movie I've seen in years.  Audience members emerge from the theater with smiles on their faces because the film lifts your spirits and makes the world look a little brighter.  It made me think how much influence the back-up singers, usually African-American women, have had on music I've listened to all my life.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Remembering back

In the 1950's the first neighborhood I grew up in was populated by young families most of whom moved to the DC suburbs from small towns in rural areas.  They retained many of the habits from their backgrounds including relying on Sears and Montgomery Wards catalogs for many purchases.

Browsing through these catalogs was a wonder for a small boy.  I remember microscopes, telescopes, musical instruments, fishing rods, guns, and various toys.  Ladies' underwear was of interest but not to extent it would be when I was older.  However of all items, I was positively obsessed with the baseball gloves offered for sale.  I can still picture the two page spread of the various models each bearing the autograph of a major league player.

A baseball glove may not have been the first item purchased for me, but it was far and away the most important in my world.  I was no doubt given certain parameters concerning price, and I would have devoted hours in making my final selection.  Soon after my mother called in the order, I questioned her and realized to my horror that she purchased a glove intended for left-handers.  She made the mistake because the description stated it was to be worn on the right hand which she concluded would be correct for a right-hander like me.  I had to explain to her that since I threw with my right hand the proper glove would be on my left hand.  She answered that she always thought you catch with both hands and performed her version of the motion which was, of course, beside the point and probably angered me because my emotions would have been on edge enough as it was.  A nightmarish vision was coming into my boy-brain of having to take off the glove to throw the ball after each catch.

Naturally, the correction was made, and I eventually received the correct glove, but the delay must have been excruciating at age 8 or 9.  I think a number of mothers must have made the same error because the next year the wording in the catalog was expanded to specifically describe that a certain glove was for right-handers to wear on the left hand.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Concert at the Franciscan Monastery

Last night we attended a concert performance by a children's choir from Lucerne, Switzerland.  The program included works by Brahms and Bach as well as what sounded like an African-American spiritual which was not on the printed program and a Swiss folk song which was the only secular piece.  The sound was beautiful.

I blogged about going to the monastery on July 2, 2011, and beginning shortly after that first visit Pam has been volunteering at the office once a week.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Weekly walk to a farmer's market

A problem of where we live in the suburbs is that walking to stores is not very practical.  There are shopping areas a of couple miles from the house, but the walk is largely unpleasant along well traveled,  pedestrian unfriendly roads which would be especially troublesome carrying grocery bags on the return trip.

However, this summer a Saturday farmer's market has established itself in the parking lot of a middle school about a mile away, and I'm making a weekly morning walk there.  The trip is almost entirely along our street, and on my first trip I realized that I may have walked this route only once before in the 27 years we've lived here.  It's a pleasant neighborhood, and I've found that I enjoy looking at the homes and yards.

There are only about a half dozen vendors at this market, but the meats and produce I've bought have been good.  I walk home through the park rather than back through the residential neighborhood for a change of scenery.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Quantum physics

Last semester I took a class in this subject that was offered within the philosophy department.  It was entitled "Spooky Action at a Distance," which comes from a quote by  Albert Einstein who wasn't completely comfortable with quantum physics but could not deny its validity. 

This summer I'm doing some additional reading on the subject, and maybe I'll sometime be able to articulate a coherent thought about it.

Meanwhile, I ran across this video that incorporates some of the concepts.  Not a bad song either.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Fishing in a summer drizzle... pleasant enough.  Since I was just at the pond I could have walked home had the drizzle become a downpour or an electrical storm.

Fishing's been a little tough at the pond which is why I sought out alternatives last week.  I did mange one bluegill today, and I had to work for it.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fishing a couple of small lakes from shore

Wednesday I fished the lake in the parkland along the Patuxent River I first visited and described on January 18th of this year.


To me, it's just as pretty in the summer as the winter.

Then on Friday I hit the "lake" at the Izaak Walton League where I caught a nice bass as well as multiple bream which I also got on the other trip.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Three's a crowd...

Some time ago I read an article in an outdoor magazine where the writer reminisced about his boyhood and when his father decided that he was old enough to go hunting without an adult.  His father gave him permission to have a friend along on these hunts, but absolutely forbade him to go with two boys.  That father apparently felt that a third party significantly changed the dynamics and that three boys were much more likely to indulge in bad behavior than two.

I've often thought about that story and have always felt that the father displayed wisdom in setting down that rule.  I'll leave it to the behavior scientists to analyze, but the point seems to me to be true about humans in general and not just young men. 

It came to mind Monday when I was canoeing in the reservoir.  I was drifting along casting to the shoreline for bream and thinking how quiet and restful the moment was when the peace was suddenly disturbed by the presence of three male teenagers moving through the woods.  They were loud and profane and I instantly became alert to a possible threat, but they either didn't notice or ignored me.  Most likely they were harmless and no worse than I was at their age.  I don't know if they were there to fish or for an illegal swim, but I soon paddled across the lake to get away from their noise.

As I resumed fishing I had the intuitive thought that two of them would have been much more than one third quieter, that the addition of boy number three increased the sound exponentially.  Obviously, I don't know this for a fact but I believe it based on my memories of my own boyhood as well as the article read long ago.

After catching a few fish I hurried off the water when I heard thunder rumblings getting closer.  The chatter of the three boys was still carrying across the water, seemingly louder than the thunder.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bride and Groom

Daughter Rebecca and Sean with Stephen Koch who performed the ceremony on Sunday, June 16, 2013.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 16, 2013

Rhythms of June: 

A poem for my daughter's wedding by Doug Jones

 As the solstice draws ever near
Completing a cycle of the year,
The sun ascends into the sky.
Long, hot summer days stand by.

What treasures do we see in June?
Crape myrtles and magnolias bloom.
Mayflies emerge from clear, cool, streams.
Fireflies dance through warm evenings.
Nature's gifts:  earth, air, and water,
And the month of June gave us our daughter.

June rhythms
Rhythms of June

June vacations at the beach-
Little girl's hand stretching to reach
Her mother's, placed there to reassure
Fears of crashing waves.  She's made secure.

June rhythms
Rhythms of June

They've marked the tempo of her existence
Mattering not how far the distance,
Through summer camps, proms, and graduations
Her life in tune with the vibrations.

June cell phone call from Manhattan's streets,
Woman's voice  says, "I should be at the beach."
June rhythms guiding her body.

So it is fitting that this June day
We gather here to observe this phase,
The union with a fine, young man.
They've shown already that they can
Create a world of their own
Stronger than one built alone,
A  shelter from the harsh outside
Where gentleness and support abide.
A world I felt first on a cold, wet, night
In a cozy apartment in Crown Heights.

June warmth
June rhythms
June love


Monday, June 10, 2013

Bruce Springsteen

Although his name sounds Jewish, it's actually Dutch.  His ancestors immigrated here over 300 years ago, but the family incorporated Irish and Italian members along the way.  In other words, he's very American, and I've been a fan of his high energy rock and roll for 40 years.

I recently finished reading what has been described as his definitive biography, Bruce by Peter Carlin, and enjoyed it very much.  One major benefit of reading it is that I'm listening again to his music which I hadn't been doing lately because as Springsteen fans go my fanaticism is mild.  For example, I don't often listen to the channel on satellite radio which plays his music and nothing else, and I don't believe I've ever visited any of the internet sites that feature All Things Bruce.  But I invariably come back to his music, and I'm never disappointed when I do because it always lifts my spirits with its passion.

Early in his career there was a famous quote by a rock critic who later became Springsteen's manager and after seeing a live performance stated that he had seen rock and roll's future and its name was Bruce Springsteen.  A less famous but I believe more fitting quote from someone else said that Springsteen was less rock and roll's future than he was the culmination of everything in the music that happened up to that point.  That quote doesn't appear in the book and I've forgotten who said it, but it was meant as praise for the unique way Bruce incorporated country, soul, Top 40, and more into his recordings and live performances.

I'm not certain how many Springsteen concerts I've attended, maybe as many as 10 or 12 going back to 1974, and each time I find myself swallowed by the combined energy of the performers on stage and the crowd in a way I wouldn't allow myself to be at, say a political or religious event.  I don't know if rock and roll has supplanted politics and religion for people like me, but the feeling sure feels right.  Hey, that sounds like a Springsteen lyric.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Little Paint Branch

On Tuesday I explored this stream near where I grew up in College Park.  I didn't spend much time there as a kid because it was on the other side of U.S. 1, but I do remember a friend taking me to a swimming hole a little ways downstream.  The unauthorized swimming trip got me in trouble with my parents.  That was almost 60 years ago.

Although I had read an fairly recent report by someone who had some success fishing this stream, I only saw and caught a few small minnows.

Human activity and the usual abuses are evident.  The majority of the trash trapped by this downed tree seemed to be plastic water bottles.  A  few years ago I promised myself to never buy those things.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

On the Bay with friends

Spent a very pleasant Wednesday fishing the islands of the Eastern Shore.  Although our expressions in this photo look a little grim, we had a fun trip.  That's Colonel Ski with me on the stern of the boat.

Lou fly casting from the bow.  We caught a lot of fish with spinning rods,but neither Lou nor I were successful with the long rod.

Capt. Pete works hard to put his clients on fish and wanted us to get more speckled trout than the couple we landed.  None of us were disappointed, however, because we had plenty of action from the plentiful rockfish, plus a croaker, a spot, and a red drum.  To the captain's right is Chumbucket, the Internet legend.