Monday, October 31, 2005


Halloween or "All Hallowed Eve" can be traced back to Samhain, the ancient Celtic harvest festival honoring the Lord of the Dead. Observed on Nov. 1 in the British Isles and parts of France, Samhain also marked the beginning of the Celtic New Year. Because it was a time of transition between the old and the new, the Celts believed that the souls of those who had died during the previous year gathered to travel together to the land of the dead. It was also a time when those who had died in years past returned to visit their homes. November 1st was considered the end of the summer period, the date on which the herds were returned from the pasture and land tenures were renewed. People lit bonfires to scare away evil spirits and "sacrificed" fruits and vegetables, hoping to appease the spirits of the deceased. Sometimes people disguised themselves in masks and costumes so that the visiting spirits would not recognize them. Charms, spells, and the predictions of the future were all part of the eve of Samhain. In the old Celtic calendar, that last evening of October was "old-year's-night," the night of al witches. (this day

This is the first time I have hear or read of this history of the favorite holiday of children. It is interesting to see what has become of it and how it has changed over the years. (and how similar it is to Hispanic traditions mentioned in the previous post) We had fun visiting Soren at his Pre-School today and taking some cute pictures of him and his class all dressed up. He was a "jack-o-lantern" and very busy and into all his activities. He didn't want us to say goodbye. He loves to swing high, so we pushed him in turn. The foot print "ghost" above may be his. Lots of artwork happens at this wonderful school connected to the Colleges. Lots of one on one help and learning how to play together, take turns, follow the routine and the rules ie. feet on the floor, and clean up before going outside.

Clark is doing a "demonstration" there tomorrow on how to "fire" clay in a kiln. I thought I might visit and take some pictures since I have to go in for my monthly haircut anyway. I may read to the kids too. Today I did my weekly hour at Sundance kindergarten and helped Hector and Evan with their reading and printing. I showed them how to draw "car-words" that have "engine/motors" that sound out the medial vowel or dipthong of the word with pre and post consonant blendings. I then taught the class, on the rug, "The Ghost of Tom" song and talked about El Dia De Los Muertos. There are several Hispanics in this class.

We then went to Disneyland again by ourselves. We enjoyed the redecorated Haunted Mansion with the "Night Before Halloween" theme. We also went to "Infinity and Beyond" with blaster guns...I got to "Pilot" something. It was fun. We had a delicious and cozy lunch at the Storyteller Restaurant at the Grand Californian next to a real fireplace. It was cool in the restaurant but around 90 degrees outside. We left early to beat the traffic and it only took 2 hours and 24 mins. to get home. My chauffeur was very tired. Bob

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Dia De Los Muertos

I believe this is the day after tomorrow, Halloween...or "All Hallowed Eve" It is called that traditionally because November 1st is "All Saints' Day"or "Dia de los Muertos" (Day of the Dead) This is a big one in our Hispanic Cultures...actually here and now, and our neighbors to the south. I especially remember it because it is Brett's birthday and his was an especially hard one. It almost made a "saint" out of his mother. He was way early and almost didn't make it. What a journey he is having! We love him.

I've worked with Hispanic students for many years and now, almost a majority of my R.E. clients are Spanish speaking. I enjoy using my limited vocabulary with them and it helps them understand that I'm trying to be understood as their agent and sales counselor. They get a kick out of my feeble attempts ie. like yesterday, I had to step out of the office and I said, "Yo volvere." They laughed and said, "OK, Arnold" (I'll be back!)

Several years back now, I saw a children's play enacted in Santa Fe, NM. when visiting my sister. It's title: "Dia de los Muertos" It was facinating and I got to talk to the school teachers who had written and produced it. I asked them to send me a copy of the script and the song lyrics etc. They agreed for a fee. I went back and got my new, Spanish-speaking principal. Ley Yeager, to come up with the money. I planned to do a major production of it the next school year. I studied it and had glorious plans. Vista School had the kids who would really appreciate it's topic and theme. That summer, one of my "team teachers", Pat Coffman, suddenly died from brain cancer. We, as a staff, were in shock. I just couldn't do the production. I never went back to it.

What I liked about it and the whole concept was the idea of a "Day to honor our dead ancestors" and remember their best qualities. Remembering their essence and the fact that without them, we wouldn't be who we are, or even be here, is very powerful. This culture is not the only one who honors their elders and ancestors. There is much we can still learn from them, their memories, their values and "their mistakes". Our society is missing out on this wonderfully integrating influence. It gives us an extented identity and someone or thing to "live up to"...granted not all our ancestors are that noble either.

Betty was just cropping and enlarging a picture of her maternal grandfather from a group picture of his family. It is all specked, and sepia with age. When she finished enlarging it for her scrapbook project, she was amazed how much like Clark he appeared. Just loose the mustache and he would be an "older" Clark. He had a medium family, size-wise, for those days, only 5 kids. He was quite handsome. No wonder,...Clark. Pity those of my ancestors who inherit my visage...I wonder how much of our experiences in life shape and contour our faces? They say it takes fewer muscles to smile and laugh than it does to frown and look serious. ;-) Bob!

"Sold!" Rotarians

Sold! This word has become a favorite of mine along with "Closed", "Recorded" "Confirmed"...They mean money in the Real Estate business.

The other night Betty and I had the priveledge of attending the Fifth Annual Banning Rotary Auction at the Oak Valley P.G.A. Clubhouse in Beaumont. You can see the headline there. It was more than "pretty good". It was alot of fun. I think that is one of the first "auctions" I've been to where it was all done aloud...really aloud! Of course it was for their current charity, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Banning. I was asked to go and represent my employer, Pardee Homes, a big contributor to the event. My boss knew I didn't want to spend the day on a boat in the harbor with the rest of the corporate employees, especially on a Friday. I had gone to the street opening of "Oak Valley Parkway" the previous day representing the company. That street now connects northern Banning/Beaumont's east/west corredor to the I-10. All the homes we've been selling up there now have another access route.

We arrived at the auction around 6P.M. and signed in with Wendell. We remembered each other from my Sun Lakes sales days. He is a 90+ year old founder. I sold him his second home on the executive golf course...nice guy and a Rotarian. The table he sent us to was way in the back, near the exit and it was full. We went back and got better seats near the action. We met Barbara Hanna again. She, evidently, is the president of Rotary for Banning and a City Councilperson. She also lives at Sun Lakes. At our table we met the owner of the two Dominoes Pizza Franchises in the area and a Computer Sales and Service Co. called Personal Computers. I think the other couple were realtors. They were all very talkative and friendly, especially after several beers. After a few announcements, the auction got underway with a "real" auctioneer. Barbara announced all the corporate contributors to applause. I acknowledged Pardee's $2000. She also mentioned that the Rotary Club was looking for a "developer" or "builder" in the area to donate 10 acres to the Boys/Girls Club for the buildings/facilities they were planning with the auction profits. I will pass that bit of information on to my boss.

The food was a bit slow in coming, especially the wine. If they had started that flowing earlier, the bids would probably have also "flow" earlier. However, people got into it as the salads came. They were supposed to have a "live" band and they were setting up in the next room, but it was just to loud and distracting with all the "calling" and bidding. There were 56 lots to be sold with their suggested "values" all the way from $40. to $5000. Many of the local businesses and members had gotten quite creative with their offerings. ie. lots of gift baskets, gourmet meals, art works(?) etc. The two largest offerings were a real live gelding paint horse (6 years old) and a cruise anywhere in the world for 7 days with Holland America Lines. The horse didn't get full value, but the cruise did. We bid on just one item, Lunch for two at Cedar Creek in Palm Springs. We've eaten there several times...very nice. It started at $40. my bid, but soon was out of reach for me. We resisted the urge to bid just to build the prices up, as some were doing. We bought some 50/50 raffle tickets but didn't win there either. Oh well.

The auctioneer didn't use a gavel but he had several spotters to help him with his "patter" He had quite the gift of gab, as they say, and a very deep, booming voice. I think this is part of what made it fun...the sense of the dramatic. It was an interesting evening all in all. Bob

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"Our Own River"

"Shall we gather at the river?" The poles are waiting. There's a chair for rest and retirement. Shall we watch "life" go by like a river? Shall we begin to realize that "the river" flows and constantly changes and is never the same for anyone at anytime? Shall we come to realize that it is like "time" and existence, "timeless"? We each have our own perspective and view of "that river" and it is not like anyone else's. Our very act of observing it, let alone stepping into it, changes it. This is a metaphor that is used by the ancient Indian (Hindu) poet Tagore. It is also referred to in a series of books by Stephen Hawking, "A Briefer History of Time." His first publication, "A Brief..." was so difficult to understand by the average lay-astronomer that he wrote this sequel. What he gets into is our origins and our very existence in this Universe.

It is not a coincidence that the naming of the cards in poker after "the flop" are "the turn" and "the river". It has alot to do with our perception of "our fate" and how it can "turn" just by chance and then we have to deal with it at "the river".

There's a church that I pass on the way to my doctor's in Redlands called "The River". I don't know what denomination it is, but I can bet, it has something to do with age old symbolic act of "change" and "dealing with it". It is a symbol of renewal and the washing away of the old. In that recent movie, "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" there's a hauntingly nostalgic song "Down to the River to Pray" If you saw it, you remember that one of the brothers gets caught up in one of those local ceremonies and gets "Saved". I can remember the baptismal in my old Eagle Rock Covenant Church up on the second floor just behind the choir loft. This is where I was baptized as a teen. It was very meaningful to me then. At the time, I didn't fully realize all the symbolism I would discover later on in my life and even now.

The picture is from "The Jungle Cruise" at Disneyland...Soren's favorite ride. I shot it over the shoulder of father and son who were immensely enjoying their current "ride" on that river with all it's "fake perils". It is muddy, self-contained and goes around in a shallow circle...much like our own rivers at times. I'm sure their perception of that river ride is much different than mine or anyone else's. I see myself and my young sons on that same kind of "river". How we viewed our "rivers" then have certainly changed over the years. Can't go back...can't step into that same river...can't and really don't want to anymore. I have my own "river" to sit by, observe, and even fish. Trolling is all the fun now. Bob

Sunday, October 23, 2005

"Deus Te Amat"

I think this is Latin. I think it means; "God Loves You" I heard it this morning on the radio when I was going to the gym to swim. It was the sign-off by the host of "Coast to Coast". I think it is one of those overnight talk shows with a UFO/esoteric theme. They had just interviewed an author of a book about Monsters and the "Evil" that exists in this world. I suppose there are quite a few "insomniacs" who listen regularly and get "into" that stuff.

After swimming, on my way back home, I catch the next show on KFI. "The Jesus Christ Show" This is a guy, who's been on for years I guess, who wants you to call in with your "theological and life situation" questions and call him "Jesus" ie. he speaks for "God's Son", quoting the Bible. His number is 1800-520-1KFI. You should hear some of the questions "He" attempts to answer. Some people are able to "suspend" or "extend" their belief and actually converse with "Him". "Now in your book..."

I recently had occasion to visit a "downtown" restaurant (near downtown Banning). It is on Ramsey, the main drag, about two blocks from the area designated for redevelopment "The Arts District". This area, besides having a restaurant or two, has many "storefront" churches that are barely hanging on. They provide services both spiritual and physical to the "resident" homeless in the area. I was sitting in a booth at the restaurant (IHOP) next to one of these "less fortunate" of God's Children. I almost couldn't eat my belgian waffle because of the smell. I think the restaurant was allowing them to come in, use the restrooms, "wash-up" and then order what they could for themselves and their pockets. One time I was in there and a lady was almost making a "scene" because she was insisting they got "her original order" slightly wrong and she wanted another. The problem was that she had secretly "stowed" most of the "wrong meal" and didn't have much to give back. This can become, and probably is, a problem for businesses in this downtown area. Who knows, some may be "starving artists" fitting right in.

I have no doubt that "God does love these folks too" and therefore, we should too. Here is the challenge. Many of them are "in a world of their own" and really don't want our "love"...and they are not "pan-handling" either. This guy in the restaurant was carrying on quite a conversation with himself or "someone" all the time he was drinking his coffee. If we represent God or have God within us, how are we to be feeling about them and their plight? What can we really do for them that they aren't already getting from the "local" churches and welfare agencies? Are they being "suspended" and kept in this "homeless" state by our systems and institutions? If God really love them, why are they allowed to live like this? Is it because of the "evil" in the world? Are they "evil"? I think I'll call "Jesus" some morning and ask "Him". Bob

Friday, October 21, 2005

Banning Arts Colony?

Why not? Betty and I went to the first Arts District Community Forum last night. It was held at the First Baptist Church in downtown Banning. It was well attended. They had to keep adding chairs. All the City Officials were there ie. City Manager, Planner, Councilpersons. The Press was there too ie. Record Gazette and Enterprise. There were local Artists practicing in the designated area. "Ironhand" the famous muralist was there with his companion. Our town has many of his wonderful murals. There were poets, and writers from the local Writer's Chapter. There was a lady who works with children in the area and at the local schools.

We were there just to get information and see what is being planned. Betty has been taking Oil Painting Lessons from David Farrington, a local Artist who teaches in one of the area's reclaimed buildings. She likes the way he teaches. We found out that they were also wanting our "input" as locals interested in promoting the Arts. Heck, we've been doing that most of our adult lives with our sons. We really didn't have much to "input" at this time since we aren't business owners in the area and don't want to start one or support one financially. In a few years, we might be interested in supporting it in other ways. ie. attendance, participation, teaching etc.

We noticed that the Planner, Oscar Orci, got a cell phone call and had to leave before the "input" started. I would think that he would be very supportive of such an effort to "revitalize" the downtown area. There has been some positive signs in the last three years since we have been here. They had pictures of the "vacant" buildings in the area in 2002 and those same "occupied" buildings today.

Betty suggested that they plant larger trees. I'd add walkways, planters, and a "no car zone" at the center of the rather gigantic area. It is proposed to go from 4th to Alessandro and from close to the freeway to two or three blocks north. I'd say, start smaller, at the center and build out as funds etc. become available. I'd also call it a "Colony" of Artists. That sounds warmer and more involving. They talked about "incubator" buildings as a smaller, less threatening way for some artists and art related businesses to get started. Seventy percent of small business that start that way are successful. They cited smaller communities (unknowns) who have done just that. Encenitas, near San Diego, was a better known one.

It seems to me that "The Arts" has always had to rely on this kind of support and exploitation. All the early artists had their "patrons", usually richer business men or popes, who paid the bills and demanded what they wanted "artwise". Look at poor Michaelangelo and his pope. This is probably the hardest thing for an "arteest" to do. ie. "knuckle under to the Man"...with the bucks. If somehow they can keep their "self-respect" and individuality and still satisfy the local business men and those who want to make some money off of them, like their agents do, then they can succeed with some dignity and pride in themselves. So, somehow, this area "the Colony" has to be perceived by the local business men and investors as a "good risk" for their money and then "success will breed success" I'm for it, but all my "millions" are tied up in CD's, stocks and mutual funds. Bob

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Crafton Hills College

This is our local Junior College. It is nestled in the rolling hills above Yucaipa. It has been there for awhile. You can just make out the main buildings from the I-10 freeway. It is smaller, as colleges go in this area. It is not so "metro" or modern like some of the other campuses I have seen. ie. San Jacinto which is just over the hill near Hemet. I had occasion to pay it a visit recently.

It has some fond memories for me. It was probably 10 or 15 years ago and I was taking courses out of U.C. Riverside for a "Supplementary Credential" in Math and Science. In the course of two years, going partime twice a week, at night, I was promised I could "beef up" my General Elementary Life Credential with a few extra courses in the "college prep" Math and Science that were needed badly in our districts. I was grooving on it. I love to learn and I love a challenge. The Math classes were extremely hard and we had to have a "tutor" to help us with some of the algebra and calculus. The Science, for me, was easier. I especially got into the Earth Sciences, Astronomy and Physics. We had good teachers.
I'll never forget Dr. Pam Klute and her exciting way of teaching Math. She had us tied together and showed us how to get loose using "topology" or was it "topography"? They had a school garden and I also did field work at our own Santa Ana Botanic Gardens in Claremont at the time.

One of the best classes that I really looked forward to, especially the field trips, was Geology. It was contracted out to Crafton Hills College and their famous Geology Prof...can't think of his name right now. We learned more in that class than all the rest. We learned, first hand, about the geological history of where I live now...the Pass area east of Yucaipa. He had literally "tons" of specimens and samples for us to experiment with. It was also a small class with lots of personal attention. If ever I would want to go back to college, just for fun mind you, this is what I would want.

I'd probably take classes in Writing and English. I'd like to improve in this area and eventually write something that could be published or sold. Blogging is fun, journaling is something I've done for years off and on. I'm just wondering if I could hack it again. I'd also love to take music theory and learn more about this love in my life. I could take the classes for credit or just audit for fun. This, of course, would mean that I had much more free time than I do now. Who knows, this may be where my life will take me next... after I sell all the real estate in Beaumont and Banning. Bob ;-)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Ides of October

The most famous "Ides" was the "Ides of March". This was made famous by the Shakespearean Play, "Julius Caesar" when the "soothsayer warned Julius, "Beware the Ides of March!" In those days, I guess, they believed in omens and such things. I guess this was just after Julius invented and installed the new calendar. So, the 15th of March was his last day on earth, or so the legend goes.

Nowadays we speak of other ominous days. ie. "9/11" for example, "D-Day" from WWII. etc. Yesterday, in the College Football Sports World, one of the major perenial powers, Notre Dame, had one of those days. Yes, the 15th of October's big game at South Bend, Ind. will go down in the history of the two arch rival schools (USC vs. Notre Dame) as one of the best/worst games in their joint history. Sounds profound doesn't it.

On this day in history, my email service says, 1582, The gregorian calendar was adopted by Italy, Spain, Portugal and France. This is the shocking part; Pope Gregory proclaimed that the next day after Oct. 5th would be Oct. 15th. Good luck if you were born on any of those days in between. This was his way of adjusting the calendar that Julius had set in motion and was getting ahead of the lunar months and the solar year as it went along. Seasons were way out of whack. Talk about your "Ides of October"!

Also on this day, in 1938, a year before my birth, the Graf Zeppelin was launched across the Atlantic. It could cross the ocean in 3 days instead of the 7 or 8 that it was taking by ship. It set a record for those days. It was the predecessor of the infamous "Hindenburg"...that blew up.

So, no wonder my alma mater kept their winning streak alive...barely. On this 15th evening of October, S.C. was down by three points with about a minute to play. It was 4th down and 17 yds. to go and about 75 yds. away from the Notre Dame goal. They have been going on 4th down, not punting. Leinert went to the line and took charge. He call an "audible" changing the planned play which would've failed with the blitz coming. He called his roommate, Jarrett's, number, a receiver to go long. He had just been hit in the side of the head was only seeing out of one eye. He threw the pass perfectly along the sidelines, threading the needle, as it were. Jarrett then ran for about 60 yards. and it was 1st and goal. After a couple of failed attempts, Leinert tried to run around the left side, his best, and was diving for the endzone when the ball was knocked out of his hands and out of bounds. This is supposed to stop the clock. The fighting irish fans thought the game was over and came rushing onto the field. The officials said no and finally got them off the field. The Trojans were one yard away from pay dirt and winning the game by 4 pts. Time outs were used up. Matt, the Heisman Trophy Winner from last year, then proved why he is still the leader of the team and not one to settle for a tie (a field goal=3pts.) He kept on fighting and would not give up. The coach, Pete Carroll, signaled to spike the ball and stop the clock at 6 seconds left. (this was a ploy to trick the other team we later learned) Leinert asked his teammate Reggie Bush what he should do? He said, "Go for it!" "Do what you do best! or think best." The irish were ready for a quarterback sneak and were bunching up in the center. Matt got the ball, dove, was rebuffed and spun to his left and dove again head first into the end zone. He had a push from Bush (which technically is illegal). It was hysterically shocking and unbelieveable. There was too much celebrating so the Trojans got a penalty after the score and had to try and kick an extra point 5 yds. further back. They missed or it was blocked. Only a three point lead. They then had to kick it off to the irish who were hell-bent on running it back or getting close enough in the 3 seconds remaining to tie it or beat them. It was a squib kick and they finally caught it fairly close. As each ball-carrier was tackled they would pitch it back to a teammate to carry on. It didn't work and the Trojans won! The crowd was not happy there in South Bend. (Mudville) The special "green" uniforms had failed them. The spirit of "Fight On!" continued. S.C. has a record-breaking winning streak and the game will go down in the books as one of the best between these two old rivals. That's what it is all about in College building character, drive and determination. Bob

Friday, October 14, 2005


This is my word for the day and maybe longer. It is new to me. It's a noun; \SY-nih-kyur; SIN-ih-\, It is an office or position that requires or involves little or no responsibility, work or active service. It is from the Medieval Latin sine cura, "without care (of souls)"

Maybe it is cyclical or maybe just my time of life, but I seem to be longing for just that ie. less responsibility. Am I wrong? Am I derrelict in my duty? I've always thought of myself as someone "who really cares". Come on, I was a teacher. That was my job. Who else would? I met many a parent who didn't seem to care. It is probably what has made me a good R.E. Agent. I show I care about the client, the buyer and their transaction, their home. This has normally not been too hard. Lately it has become more of a challenge. I have noticed a slight change in the "financial/buying/sellling" climate. "Fear" of rising interest rates, changes in the ratio of supply to demand for new housing. Corporate fear that "quotas" are not going to be met for this fiscal year. Increased "pressure" from the top down to sell and close homes with "extremely happy" customers who will recommend you and your company. But hasn't this alway been what "sales" is about?

I'm beginning to believe that "Murphy's Type Law" saying: "No good deed goes unpunished." Just when you think you are helping someone, they'll turn around and try to get you in trouble. It becomes a "thankless job" most of the time. But then my wife says, "Chill, that's just "corporate life" "survival of those who have fits"... Yes, I'm still learning and hopefully the "learning curve" is working for me. I'm trying to care and be responsible even when those all around "think otherwise". My wife thinks I'm paranoid. Maybe I am. I never used to be. Bob

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Happy Huntington!

These are the used membership sticky badges we get when we visit the Huntington Library and Gardens. We did yesterday. I was so mad at myself because we went off in such a hurry, I forgot our new camera. They won't let you take pictures in the galleries but they will around the grounds and I bet they would've at the newest addition that we went to see: The Rose Hills Conservatory for the Botanic Sciences. It was "plantastic"! We had been watching this "glass house" being built. It looks like an old English "hot house". It is massive and has 3 parts, a main and two side wings all connected. It is probably 2 to 3 stories high in the center/main part. The glass is not "see through" but lets in light. It has permanent demonstrations of the "rain forests" around the world. One whole wing is labeled "cloud forest", another is "plant lab" with on-going experiments in botany. It is for kids, especially the grown-up me. We spent hours there checking out all of the fascinating displays and live/growing orchids, bromeliads, carnivorous plants and the microscopes to show their cellular structures. There were volunteer aides to help and explain all the displays. Most everything was labeled with the proper scientific names and popular names. Of course, after awhile, in that "steamy climate" you thought you were really in the rain forest.

Then, leading directly out from this glass building, is the Children's Garden, now fully grown and developed. It has the theme of "Earth, Wind, Fire and Water" for it's displays...all at the smaller child's level physically and intellectually. They plants trained on a mountain/volcano shaped arbor that has steam coming out of it to show "fire". There is particular care about the exploration of "textures", leaf shapes, etc. very interactive. Of course, again we were looking at it through our grandchildren's eyes with comments, "Wouldn't Soren or Stone or Layla love this."

When I was teaching I would take classes annually, sometimes twice a year to the Huntington. They surely didn't have anything like this back then. We went to the desert garden or the Japanese Garden or one of the Art Galleries or the Library itself, but never anything this interactive. No wonder they got such large grants and foundations for these latest displays. They do fill a need that is really not met in our schools or in the "field trips" we used to take.

When we go to the Huntington we try to have "High Tea" in the Garden Tea Room. Usually it takes reservations. This time we had none and it was later. We got right in. We love their 10 different kinds of "finger sandwiches", scones, and desserts. We almost feel like we are at the very "proper high tea" that we had at "Fortnam and Mason" in London. There they looked askance at us for wearing our tennis shoes. We had been walking and shopping. No dress requirements at the Huntington''s Tea Room.

We then have to see the "rose garden" and all the new blooms and hybrid varieties. They are not at their peak anymore this season. This time we "discussed" the remotest of possibilities. Would a person be able to secretively strew "the final ashes" of a loved one in and around these roses to "help them bloom"? Maybe bring them, stashed in a "camera case". It would seem so much better for our "remains" than "moldering" in a coffin somewhere or being "blown to the winds" at sea or from a mountain top. We both thought it would be "pretty cool" and something to "think about" for our "final instructions". We haven't really given it much thought otherwise. Just a "crazy idea" that may have been subconsciously "implanted" as we walked around the new Conservatory named "Rose Hills", a well-known cemetery in the area. Then we really would be "happy (at the) Huntington"! H.H. R.I.P. Bob ;-)

An Unfinished Life

How is one supposed to know when a life is finished? Is that even a desirable goal? How about "an incomplete life"? Can you ever have a sense of completion? Then there's another way to look at "unfinished" as in: not smooth, refined or polished. There might still be quite a market for "unfinished" furniture or "unfinished wood" trim etc. Can you go for both? Are both worthy goals?

We just saw a movie that is currently out in wide release. It must not be too popular because it was in the smallest theater at the multiplex. "An Unfinished Life" was quite absorbing. First of all it has some stellar "stars" ie. Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Lopez. They are all very believeable in their roles. The child, a girl of eleven, is too. It takes place in the mid-west mainly in Wyoming. Beautiful country! Bear Country! Yes, "Bart, the bear" is really one of the stars also. He is massive and very realistic in his role...type cast. He is really the "metaphor" for the "untamed" and "unfinished" life of the grandfather, his sidekick, and their relations. Here again, I don't want to ruin it for anyone; so I won't tell the story here.

The question it brings up for me is: How would one deal with living longer than one's child? It seems to me to be one of the hardest and most tragic trials one could have happen to them. How would one go on, even caring about their own life when their child, their only child, was taken in an accident? I suppose there are other ways that your child can be "taken away" from you too. ie. drugs, mental illness, distance (physical and emotional), depression, misunderstanding. Loss can be felt in any number of ways and have the same result.

It makes your life feel "unfinished". Not because your only purpose in life is to have and raise children. It isn't. It just points up to the reality that for many, life is lived "through" their children almost as a "substitute". It becomes an excuse for not really dealing with their own problems, pains and concerns. They refuse to let their "kids" grow up and become "full adults" and then relate to them that way. Adults have a much more reciprocal relationship usually, especially adult friends. This could be a goal for parents...eventually let go enough to relate to their progeny as equal adults. It isn't really "tough love" but it sometimes seems like it. When you observe your own making the same "mistakes" you have made, it is especially difficult to keep "out of it". And yet, that is what must be done. My parents, to some degree, did that to me. My dad would've been the best at it except that he "checked out" rather early (59). He had no "agendas" for his son and daughter that I ever knew of. He calmly, and quietly tempered our relationships with "acts of love". He was so handy. He'd come out and fix things, and he helped me pour the slab of the back patio. It must've been 3 ft. thick in spots. Solid! Just like him. Yes, I missed him and I didn't really realize what a great dad he was until he was gone and I couldn't tell him. To me, his life was "unfinished" but his memories aren't. Maybe that's how we finish lives in every sense of the word. Bless him and his memory. bob

Monday, October 10, 2005

What's the timbre of your cant?

This is a significant question for me. I realize now it always has been. I just didn't have presence of mind to make the connections. I've known that I was a very "aural" person. I use my sense of hearing and audio clues and the background sound is very important to me. I not only remember names (maybe not so much lately) but the sound they make and how they are said. Tone of voice, speaking or singing moves me. I'm really into "mood" music in movies etc. I can listen to someone's voice, intonations, and "timbre" and immediately tell how they are feeling and what the "want". I thought everyone could to a certain degree. It is a "given" in choral music and singing with others. You have to listen and "blend" in to your vocal part and balance with the other parts or else you "stick out" and sound strident...a big no no. You sing with your ears.

Timbre (tam' ber, tim) can be pronounced two different ways with the short a or short i in the first syllable and the schwa sound in the second. It is the quality of sound that distinguishes it from others of the same pitch or volume.

Cant \KANT\, is a noun:
1. The idioms and peculiarities fo speech in any sect, class, or occupation; jargon
2. The use of pious words without sincerity.
3. Empty, solemn speech, implying what is not felt; insincere talk; hypocrisy.
4. A whining manner of speaking, especially of beggars.
It is ultimately derived from Latin cantus, "singing, chanting".

Of course, you can't really hear your own voice as others hear it. I have a technique from singing rehearsals where you put one hand cupped over one ear when you sing. You can then "kind of" hear yourself and how it sounds with other voices. It may also work for talking. I've been told many times that I was "using my teacher's voice" and I know what they really meant was that I was a bit too bossy. It comes through with the "timbre". I can still slip into that mode without even knowing it I guess...especially when I am explaining something to a "buyer" or "customer" about their future home. Sometimes it is by design.

On the phone, at the office, I purposefully try to sound "up" "enthusiastic" and "younger" with my voice "timbre" "It's a beautiful day at Carina! This is Bob, how can I help you?" It ellicits lots of different responses. I try not to have it sound like a "cant"..."recording"...insincere etc.
It may come off that way to some. I recently listened to our new "temp" hostess greet and deal with the hordes of prospective buyers that come through our office on the weekends. She was very "warm" caring and inviting in her voice; and it sounded sincere at first. There's a tendancy to talk too much and not ask questions and listen to their responses to find out what they need and why they are really looking at models of new homes now. I then am tempted to step in and convey our interest in them and their needs, primarily through my voice "timbre" first and my questions.

I can immediately tell where I stand with my wife and her voice "timbre" as we continue to live together now for more than 43 years. Tone of voice, or lack of it, is the first clue that "I'm on her fine! list again. It doesn't take much. I have to be so careful. So it isn't the words, it's the tone of voice and the "timbre" or quality of caring conveyed in that voice...sometimes it is lack of volume too. I suppose my voice changes then her. We rarely, if ever raise our voices at each other. This may be one of the secrets to our marriage ie. a real sensitivity to each other's feelings and a deep wish not to hurt them.

What is interesting to me is that the root of the word "cant" from the Latin/Spanish (Canto= I sing) is neutral or very positive...whereas the definitions above are more negative (4 out of 5). And yet, in the synagogs, the "Canter" is one of the main "ministers" who sings the "word" all in a positive way. The one "Bar Mitzvah" I went to, a former student, his part was sung. It may help the memorization or pronunciation. It is very sincere but in a "sing-songy" way.

I think speed of delivery has something to do with it to. There is definitely a different "timber" and "cant" to those who "speed talk" in a very unrhythmic way. They are really hard to understand on the phone, no non-verbal clues. I currently know one of those kind of talkers and, believe me, they are a challenge. "Say again...?" I can't hear you. meaning...your "vibrations are not in-sync with my perceived vibrations" Then more of an effort has to be made by the receiver than the sender.

Then there is the challenge of listening/speaking to someone who has a hearing or speech disability. You can visibly see both trying harder to make that connection. Your "timbre" has alot to do with what you hear yourself saying as well as your mood and your apparatus to make and receive the required sounds.

Good, good, good vibrations...are so important. Bob

Friday, October 07, 2005

Goal: "Onus Free"

Is this too much to ask or expect? To be "burden" or "blame" free. To have no real "obligations"or disagreeable necessities. "The onus is not on me anymore." Can one live this life with this goal?

I would say that it may be a goal, but not a "realistic goal" and probably not achieveable; at least not within this "mortal coil". I think that most of us are raised with a certain "burden of proof" and I know I was parented with a full measure of "guilt" feeling engendered and expected. It was just part of my "up-bringing". Our church and religious beliefs laid it on thick. There was always the "ride in the car back from almost any function" "Bobby, you did or did not do this." Later on, if something went wrong, on my own, I would wonder if it was "my fault" or "was God punishing me"? I was determined not to do that to my kids, but I suppose I did to a certain extent. There are probably still some expectations upon me as a parent and between me and my sons that could and do produce "guilt", stigma or blame. Some may be connected to my ideal of a "family obligation". They are now all grown men and in some cases parents. They have their own "onuses" to impute or not.

Can a child be raised or allowed to grow up without "onus" even in its mildest form of "obligation"? What happens to that child without any constraints of guilt or blame? Do they become a responsible, self-supporting, "self-actualized" adult? Can they then strive to become "onus free" or (from the Latin) "exonerare" exonerated from or relieved from that "moral sense" or burden or obligation? Or is it too late and too imbedded in their psychi? This may be the grand "experiment" of parenting and "letting go"...which is what "parenting" really is...letting go...gradually...starting at the womb. Most dads eventually have to let go of their daughters to "another man" as they marry. Mom's have an even harder challenge of letting go of their children as they grow away and become different people. This is extremely difficult especially to make it "onun free" obligation... Extented "family" can make it easier or it can make it harder. Love someone? Set them free. Let them go. I'm still working on this. Bob

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Is it possible that in less than a week I have experienced what I might called the two extremes or opposites? The "zenith" was my recent experience with the L.A.M.C. at their concert "Soar" that I described in the previous blog. It caused extreme and heightened "joy". Today, I thought I might've experienced the "nadir" in a number of ways.

Nadir \NAY-dir; nay-DIR\, noun
1. [Astronomy]. The point of the celestial sphere directly opposite the zenith and directly below the observer.
2. The lowest point; the time of greatest depression or adversity.
Nadir is derived from Arabic nazir, "opposite."

First thing in the A.M., after breakfast and the 3 newspapers I get, is to check my email. This morning I had a very "official" looking email from The subject line was "Amazon Payments Billing Issue - and my email address. It didn't call me by name but used my email address and said, "Greetings from Amazon Payments" (I should've suspected something right there) It proceeded with, "Your bank has contacted us regarding some attempts of (sic) charges from your credit card via the Amazon system." It goes on to ask me to click on a link that looks like a "very official" page to "verify" and "confirm" my identity with "Amazon". It then asks me to type in my credit card #, my password and my pin number. Hold it, right there! No one has ever asked for my "pin number" on my debit card or any card. I emailed my son and he got on the phone and walked me through what to do P.D.Q.!
I replied to the source of the email, thinking it was Amazon and got a very mechanical, automatic computer response. I told them I would be cancelling my acct. immediately. I did just that. I went in and changed my password, my email and deleted all their records of my credit card #'s. I will keep my old email address just for "spam" and junk mail at my son's suggestion. Then I went to the bank and they took a copy of the email letter for their "fraud" department. I had them check my account for any recent payments or withdrawals. None were found...but then I got to thinking that the credit card #'s and accts. were on other accounts and not with this bank. Panic! A really great depression took hold of me the rest of the day. It tainted my attitude at work and, although I was "civil" and handled my responsibilities, I was feeling like a "great weight" was hanging over my head. I was actually thinking of the "R" word...(retirement). It is scary to even imagine that an "identity theft" might be in process and you might be the victim. I'm already "paranoid" as it is. I hope it can all be resolved in my favor and there is no "intrusion".

"Don't Get Too Comfortable" is a current bestseller by David Rakoff. I have been listening to the "audio book" as I drive. He has very unique observations mainly about his New York City life etc. His last section is on "Alcor" the "Cryogenics" Foundation. He took a tour and it was fascinating. I'm not going to describe all the technical details he did. (read the book) What was "depressing" and "lowest" to me; another "nadir" for the day, was the concept of "freezing" ones body or just the head for some possible future "scientific breakthrough". It is "nano" pseudo-science at this point because there are so many impossible obstacles to overcome. Even if it ever was possible, as Ted Williams has bet with just his head(brain) being frozen, whose body would you use? A clone of your previous one? Who would you know? What would be the point? Part of the joy of living and the benefits of age is "wisdom" and experiences and memories. This, for me, would be the absolute "nadir" of life and its purpose. When I've lived and loved and laughed, I will know when it is over and I will be content to move on to whatever is next or to nothing or dust. It would be worse than death for me to try to "reanimate" and try to relate to a "brave new world" or probably a "less than brave, rerun world". Enough is enough! I'm not too keen on "reincarnation" either. It would probably be better than "reanimation" though.

There was a "favorite" TV special of mine on one of those "science fiction" shows, maybe "Twilight Zone" where the hero was a man who just hadn't died. It shows him as a civil war soldier/officer and how he didn't die with his buddies and then generation after generation and new wife after new set of friends tried to "go on" and muddle through. At the end of the show, he was trying to die, commit suicide because he was just morbidly bored with his "eternal life". Then, of course, there is my favorite Bill Murray movie, "Ground Hog Day". He had to keep "waking up and living the same day" over and over until he "got it right". I'm leaning more toward this approach and life philosophy. I'm still here to learn. bob!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


This is the architectural zenith of the Walt Disney Concert Hall at the L. A. Music Center. It is a magnificently shiny, silver structure whose sole purpose is to house the "zenith" of Musical Performing Arts in Los Angeles. The third season premiere concert by the L. A. Master Chorale was a "glorious" event held this last Sunday evening, Oct. 3rd. It was appropriately entitled" "Soar". It certainly was all of what that word connotes and this magnificent edifice symbolizes.

I was able to arrive early and take pictures of the outside of the building before dark. I tried, later, to take some photos of the interior. I was immediately told to stop. No photography allowed, even before the concert. The concert auditorium captures that same "soaring" feeling with its upward sloping, design; almost a "craftsman" look with very angular, smooth, crafted wooden surfaces. Of course the center piece is the massively, slightly curving "pile of gigantic pick-up-sticks" that house the organ pipes. The console, for this concert, was "down-center stage" and yet not used except as an accompaniment. We were assured that later concerts would feature its magnificents and the superb artistry of the resident organist, Christoph Bull. The ceiling of the concert hall is like rounded, draped, wooden curtains with small holes for lights. There are several balconies toward the back and sides and, uniquely, two balconies behind the stage. The total shape is like a "tear-drop" and with all the hard, wood surfaces, there is not a bad seat acoustically. "The hall is unforgiving that way." to quote the Chorale's Conductor, Grant Gershon. He and two of his invited "voices" held forth and the regular pre-show "lecture". Victoria Looseleaf, the Chorale's historian and writer of the "program notes" was the M.C. and on her left was the "voice" of the L.A. Master Chorale on "K-Mozart" 105.1fm. I didn't get her name. She also sings alto in the Chorale. Grant had many selections both live and recorded of the night's concert selections and wonderfully illustrated the theme: "Soaring of Choral Music through the Ages". What a love of this music he conveys. He pointed out the "soaring phrases". I happened to sit next to a lady from Seattle who had flown down just for this performance. She sings in the Seattle Master Chorale.

I really enjoyed my new season ticket seat. It is way down front, third row on the left side(stage right) Lots of leg room and an excellent view of the choir and the conductor's facial expressions. I asked for more leg room and they, graciously accommodated me. I found out that my valet parking ticket was only good for one concert. Can you imagine $20. to park your car? I won't do that again. I had time to eat at their little cafeteria. Had some delicious butternut squash soup. Didn't have time to tour the "Phil Shop" for souvenirs. The conductor uses his voice on the tuning pitches with "Lu, lu, lu" triads. Sounds like an orchestra tuning up. He also introduces the "cautions to the audience" (no recording devices etc.) that way. It get everyone's attention.

Almost every selection the Chorale sang was for multiple choirs. I think the minimum was two and the maximum was 8! Yes, on the "Spem in alium" by Thomas Tallis, there were 8 separate choirs and 40 parts! (5 each) There were about 15 to 20 members in each. (I counted over 110) They were placed all around the hall. Six were in balconies (3 on each side) Two up on the stage. So you had "surround sound" stereo. After a while they all blended together and sounded like a "round". In the first number, "Plaudite omnis terra" by Giovanni Gabrieli there were 5 choirs in these locations. It was "glorious" with all the harmonics and sonority permeating my very being. I was "in heaven" or what I think heaven will be like. There was alot of shifting around between numbers for new configurations. Grant would then "vamp" or segue into the next selection. I particularly liked that he stopped, after starting the last selection and asked the "house lights technician" to turn up the house lights so the audience could read the English translation of the last selection, the longest and most poignantly moving piece, "Figure Humaine" by Francis Poulenc. It was in French based on the poems of Paul Eluard written during the Nazi Occupation of France. The ending chord was full and almost a shock! "Liberte!" I was sitting, probably 10 to 15 feet from the one soprano who was allowed to hit the highest note. I knew it was her, back row, stage right, because she had lowered her held music. This, alone, was worth the whole concert to me. It, and the whole concert, received at least 4 curtain calls and standing ovations. Of course, my favorites musically were the two Schumann pieces with poetry by Ruckert and Goethe. "An Die Sterne" and "Talismane" I used to love to sing German. It remined me somewhat of Shumann's Leider(sp?) his songs. So warm and rich in tone...soothing.

I was so "jazzed" and excited after this concert that I "soared" all 70 miles home and didn't fear falling asleep once at the wheel. I can hardly wait for the next concert "Transform"! Bob

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Crashing Boor?

This spelling of the word, Boor isn't seen too much anymore. I think of boar, the wild pig or male pig. I think of bore, what beetle do to trees (drilling). I'm sure it is not surprising that I have familiarity with all three, especially the first.

When I was a much younger dad, I had the privilege of joining and participating in our local chapter of the "Indian Guides" in Claremont with my boys. It was an alternative to "Scouting" and the early groups that were led and dominated by "stay-at-home" moms. (cubs) It was strictly "fathers and sons" It was based on "so-called" tribe concepts ie. crafts, outings, campfire circles, "talking stick"(not peace-pipes) now not "P.C." We had a lot of fun with most of the families from the local college community. One of our first challenges was to think up a family name/logo that sounded "Indian" or was an admirable animal group ie. "a spirit guide". After a "careful" minute's consideration, we chose the admirable "boar family". They have great appeal for young males. They are wild, crashing, sloppy and have little regard for "manners". Thus the appeal to my boys. I must confess, I may have had an ulterior motive ie. the double meaning of "crashing boar"(boor) Which might have had something to say about many of our up-coming sessions, I thought. Turns out, I was wrong. It was never that boring or booring. We met monthly at one of the families homes and had some challenging outings and crafts. We even walked in the town's 4th of July Parade in all our regalia. We were associated with the Indian Guides for about nine years in all, I think. We had several "family names" and lots of fun. It was too bad the organization didn't have a "sequel" or graduate group like the scouts do. In those early days, I was teaching at the same school that the boys were going to so we had lots of "involvements" with each other. I didn't feel the need for the further involvement of "scouting" at the time. Who knows, it might've been something we would've enjoyed and benefitted from. Hindsight.

My years of involvement in "Choral Music" ie. singing bass, baritone and finally tenor in several groups and chorales, might, by some, be considered to be a "boor". At least, that's the feeling and message I usually got. It is a hobby that is mostly enjoyed by an elite group of those who can read and reproduce "music" with the "first instrument" the human voice. It requires "an ear" to hear when notes and tunes are "on pitch", in rhythm, and in the phrase and style meant by the composer. This is a "dying performing art" now days for the most part. Fewer and fewer supporter, let alone fans, can be counted each year. The reason(s) are probably (mainly) because most of the music, still performed, is "archaic" and not really speaking to the masses. They are sung in Latin or German or some other language and there is little attempt to translate to any meaningfulness of our current lives. I always just loved the challenge of "being able to do it" correctly, blending with the group/section, no solos. It was my form of "worship" and memory of my mom. I also enjoyed years of involvement in Barbarshop Harmony singing. It has also become boring to me. The last groups I've sung with are fine gents and talented, but the topics of conversation otherwise, are depressing to me. ie. latest ailments, who has died recently. Gigs were getting to be "funerals". The contests I used to go to and participate in no longer movtivate me. I still enjoy listening to "good choral music" and I know how hard it is to reproduce the authentic sounds the conductors want. I will maintain my season tickets to Mountainside Master Chorale and L.A.M.C. Their performances are thrilling to me...and me alone.

Boring or not boring curbs is also something that I have dealt with. When I first started selling homes in Sun Lakes, Banning, it was the practice/custom to bore a large pipe-sized hole on either side of the curbs in front of the house. These were connected to pipes that went all the way to the backyards for proper drainage under the front landscaping which was included. I, immediately upon moving in, connected my down-spouts to those pipes so the the whole property drained to the street. They have not clogged once in the more than five years I've lived here. I think it was an extra expense well worth it. Now, the homes I sell do not have bored or cored curb holes. They do run plastic pipe under the driveways before they pour them for the sprinklers. So much for my "boring life" to the present. Bob