Monday, January 29, 2007

Spiritual Circle Cinema

We just became members of Spiritual Circle Cimena. This means that we get a feature film and three shorts delivered to us for keeps each month. Last month the big prize was the Secret. This month we received ananimated short called The Danish Poet which we both loved.

All of the films are uplifting in nature. It is impossible not to feel better after watching them than before. A couple of them have been a little cheesy, but hey, doesn't everyone need a little velveeta once in a while?

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Sometimes I just can't figure out where all my time goes. I often get up in the morning thinking that I only have one or two things that I need to get done. I think that I will have a lot of time to meditate and study or read. Then all at once, the day is almost gone and all I have done is run an errand or two, done a load of laundry, and taken Lani for her walk. I honestly don't know what has happened with the rest of the day. I start out to dust the house, which I have to do every other day just to survive here, and the next thing I know, I've picked up here and there and somehow, two hours have passed. A small errand seems to take that long as well. My days just disappear. I realize that I am getting things done. It just seems as though I don't get the things that I really value done. As I type this, it occurs to me that the solution is to place more value on the things that I do each day. After all, they are what makes up my life right now.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Dog Ate What?

This is one of the funniest things I have ever read.

Celebrating Al

I promised to write about Al Grierson, so here goes. Before proceeding, I want to make it clear to everyone who reads this that every word of this is being written with love.

Al was one of the most interesting persons that I have ever met. I am still learning from him after all these years. Every time I think of him, I am reminded of something valuable to me. He remains an outstanding example of how much a person can change if he really wants to do so. At different times in his incarnation as Al, he was a railroad worker in his native Canada, a newspaper editor, a Buddhist monk, a raging drunk and the "Poet Laureate of Luckenbach”. He was always a peace activist and labor supporter.

I met Al at the Kerrville Folk Festival in 1995. He was at the worst part of his raging drunk phase. Luckily, it was almost the end of that phase as well. His behavior was so poor that he did not come around me for several years after he sobered up. I did not get to know the sober Al until I moved to Austin in 1998. He still did not approach me. I had to speak to him first. He had his young daughters visiting him that summer. Watching him interact with them was thing that drew me to begin a conversation with him. He was a wonderful father when he got to spend time with them.

Al was one of a number of friends who knew Stephen and knew me separately before we met. I remember talking with Al at ARTZ Rib House one night after my 18 day first date with Stephen. Al said, ”I would never have thought of the two of you together, but when I saw you, it looked so perfect.” Almost eight years later we are stilll proving him right. We went on to have a deep discussion about James Hillman’s The Soul’s Code.

Stephen and I were living in Hollywood, Florida when we started seeing entries about Al’s truck being found without him in a low water crossing near Luckenbach, Texas on a list to which we subscribed. It did not take long to figure out what had happened. Coming home from a gig at a local school, Al had tried to cross the low water crossing, which had water in it at the time. The truck stalled. Al stepped out and rode the flood into his next adventure. His guitar was found still in its case inside the truck dry and unharmed.

Not wanting to mourn by ourselves, we went around the corner to our friend Chris Chandler’s apartment. After breaking the news to Chris, we sat in his living room reminiscing and telling each other stories about Al for several hours. I remember Chris sitting on the floor. Every now and then, he would jump to his feet, spin around in a circle and say “Al Grierson” a time or two then sit back down.

Although, I miss Al, I am certain that he chose how and when to leave. He was only 52 years old but I had thought he was at least 10 years older. He was beginning to have health problems that would most likely have increased and had no insurance to get them addressed. His ride on that rushing wall of water added to the legend that he was becoming.

Al was a songwriter in the tradition of Woody Guthrie and Utah Phillips .He wrote story ballads that contained chapters rather than verses. They went on and on but you were never quite ready for them to be over. His song Resurrection was recorded by Ray Wylie Hubbard on two albums. You can still get his music and can listen to it at AOL Music. Quite a few songs have been written about Al. My favorites are Al’s Ashes and Me by Chuck Brodsky and In the Texas Sky by Jack Williams. It seems that Al’s sister took some of his ashes to the Folk Alliance in Vancouver. Chuck and Jack got to thinking about traveling with the ashes and these songs happened.

Here is an excerpt from on of Al's songs. Enjoy.

"May you set your shoes to dancing

in the hour of your death

and meet it with the courage it deserves.

May your shadow pass in pirouettes

of such amazing grace

that the tears of those who mourn you

disappear without a trace

In a smoke that shapes their sorrow

to the fading of your feet

In a ring around the rainbow

where the circle is complete."

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Have you ever wondered what you can possibly do on an individual level to make a positive impact on global problems? I have. In fact, I think about it a lot. What can I, one person, do that will really make life better for people in other parts of the world? It seems that there are so many problems on so many levels that it is hard to figure out what to do about any of them. It is so overwhelming that most of the time, we don't do anything at all. One of the complex issues that we hear about a lot is illegal immigration. The solution, as far as I can tell, is to help people thrive where they are. If people have everything they need at home, there will be no need for them to immigrate to other countries, legally or otherwise. I was blog jumping just now. I went to one blog then started reading the blogs the first blogger listed. After jumping from blog to blog for a half hour or so, I found the Pondering Pig. One of the sites listed on this blog was KIVA. KIVA offers a way for anyone who has an extra $25.00 to make a positive impact on the lives of people in developing countries who are trying to make a living where they are by building their own businesses.

I had $100 my dad had given to me for Christmas. It had been in my wallet since Thanksgiving. I wanted to spend it on something special, something that I would feel good about owning for a long time. When I found KIVA, I knew that it was the place for the money to go. For my $100, I was able to loan money to 3 women from Mexico and Central America. One is selling tamales to support her children since her husband lost his job and headed to the US to look for work. She needs equipment and supplies. Another sells cakes to support her self and her children since losing her husband. She also needs equipment and supplies. The other has a grocery store, which she needs to expand so that she and her husband can support themselves.

As a small business operator myself, I certainly realize just how much a little cash at the right time can mean. I invite you to go to

So that you can share in this opportunity. 95% of the loans are repayed. It is recommended that you divide the money you want to loan between several business owners so that if for some reason one of them cannot repay the loan, you have not lost all of your investment.

Feast or Famine

The old saying if you don’t like Texas weather, just wait an hour and it will change, has proven to be more than true this week. Thursday’s temperature was almost 80 degrees while Friday’s high was only around 60 degrees. We are now awaiting an ice storm after receiving 5 and a half inches of rain on Friday and almost another inch today (Sunday). At least this time, I haven’t heard about anyone driving into a flooded low water crossing and drowning. A friend of mine did that a few years ago near Luchenbach. I still get angry at him when I think about it. He knew better, or at least I thought he did. I know that he has saved several other people from similar fates since then. I know of a few people who, upon approaching a low water crossing with water flowing over the road, have had thoughts of trying to cross it. That is when the ghost of Al Grierson has made an appearance between them and the water. Al is one of the most interesting people I have ever known and deserves his own post. I’ll get around to sometime.

Ordinarily, we would all be complaining about this much rain but we are coming off of the worst drought that this area has seen in decades. We have had very little rain in the past 2 years and our lake levels are lower than they have been in more that 20 years. The summer of 2006 was the hottest on record with more than a months worth of 100 plus degree days at one stretch. Yes, we welcome the rain but we aren’t too happy about the freezing weather. Our usual lack of ice is what keeps most of us here through the atrocious summers that can start in April and last through October.

The most entertaining thing about the situation is the antics of the local weather reporters. They get very excited and give us all kinds of advice about stocking up on supplies and staying inside unless you really have to go out. Duh!! My plan is to stay on the couch with a book or a good movie.

Stay warm. Stay dry.

Friday, January 5, 2007

All the voices

Chuck Pyle calls them his posse. Jim Patton claims to have at least 27 voices in his head. We all have them. The problem is, which one to listen to at any given time. If they wouldn’t all talk at once, life would be so much easier.

You know what I mean. There is the voice that says,” That cookie sure would taste good.” And the voice that says, “Hey, I thought we were trying to lose a few pounds” followed by “it’s just one cookie.”

Then there are those voices that offer advice and we just don’t listen. They say, ”This is not a good idea” but we have already told someone we would do something and don’t know how to get out of it. Sure enough, it turns out to be something we feel that we would have been better off not doing. Of course, if we don’t do it, the guilt voice chimes in loud and clear.

There are times when I am better at selecting which voice to heed and which ones to tell to shut up than at other times. I ask which one best serves my greatest good at this moment. That one usually gets louder if I get very quiet. Then I listen carefully to whatever it has to say. It hasn’t been wrong yet.

A request for healing

I have struggled with whether or not to write about this. It is such a downer.

Yesterday I was just going about my business....a little shopping, a little cooking, thinking about my business and how to make it better. The kind of things that we all do day in and day out. The weather here was perfect. Lani and I had a good walk even though we had to stay on the paved trails due to the mud left by the rain the day before. I was happy about the rain since our area is still under drought conditions. I figured up my gross income for the past year and it was more than I thought it had been. All together, I was having a great day.

Then I checked my email.

I have a huge chosen family. These are people to whom I feel very close. They are scattered over the world. One of my brothers lives in the northwest. At the time I received the email, he was flying to a city in the south. His birth (as opposed to chosen) brother and family had been the victims of a home invasion. The wife had been shot and killed. The husband heard her screaming at the shooter to please not hurt the baby. The baby was in bed with the husband. He rolled over onto the baby and was shot in the head and in the hand. He is expected to recover, physically.

These people have been constantly in my prayers since I heard about the event. I ask anyone who reads this to send them your prayers as well. As hard as it is, I am also praying for whoever did this. I cannot nor do I want to imagine the kind of pain a soul has to been in to do something like this. I ask the Universe for healing for everyone involved. That includes me.....and you.