April, 2007 Archive

Fortieth Wedding Anniversary Celebration

Sunday, April 29th, 2007



Excerpt from “Mein Freund ist Mein,”
from Bach’s Cantata #140

Anniversary Pictures from 2007

Wedding pictures from 1967

S: Thank you all, friends and family, for joining us to honor our 40th wedding anniversary. The song you’ve just heard, a duet from Bach’s Cantata 140 based on the Biblical Song of Songs, was our wedding music. We want to take this moment to celebrate our blessings, especially our two children and four grandchildren. After 40 years of marriage, we want to celebrate that we are still in good health and still love each other.

J: We met just before the summer of love in 1966 and were married April 2, 1967 in our backyard in East Palo Alto . Rock and roll, tie dye and the war in Vietnam were raging. Those were the days of the generation gap. Both poor students, we had very little to spend on the wedding. It cost under $250, including the dress. Our parents arrived in Palo Alto to meet each other, and to meet the person their child was about to marry, for the first time, the day before the wedding.

S: We met several times with the minister, our friend Stuart McLean, to explore on the deepest inner level why we were founding a family with the world falling apart around us, to consider Christian and Jewish wedding ceremonies and, finally, to craft our own. We would like to share a few excerpts from that ceremony with you now:

S: We are assembled here in the presence of witnesses to join this man and this woman in marriage; to rejoice with them in the unity they have found; and to recognize that the vows between them made are a social as well as a private act. ¦

J: The act of marriage represents a change in relationship to the social order. It is the presentation of a new social unit to society and the founding of a family. As you who are gathered here symbolize this public world, Steven and Janet ask for and need your acceptance.

S: Nevertheless, while recognizing that community is the womb of life, and while affirming the importance of the social order, they are profoundly disturbed by the sickness of our society. In their higher commitment to our common humanity, they find that they must rebel against its dehumanization. Here they also, ask for your acceptance. Their commitment to one another is not just a private act, but a commitment to the concerns of all persons everywhere. Together they hope to give each other the comfort and courage both to affirm the social order and to change it…

J: The vision of our common humanity meets our past and embraces this present event of marriage. It is a public event, but more profoundly an act of two who hae decided in faith to become one. It is an act involving suffering as well as delight”conflict as well as love”despair as well as hope. Its form reveals the essence of true covenant. Within it two become one, but because of it, Steven’s and Janet’s unique individuality may grow.

S: Marriage is a moment of decision which is not just a moment in time, bujt one which transcends time, a moment in which Steven and Jan will always live. Its decision is a leap of faith. Its love takes the threat out of dying and growing old. Its promise changes the conditions of the future.

J: In the decision to live with and for one another, Steven and Janet have created a new relationship which involves all life. We all rejoice with you. ¦.

Wine ceremony”raise cups”these are words from our ceremony

S&J: This cup of wine is symbolic of the cup of life. As we share the one cup of wine, we undertake to share all that the future may bring. All the sweetness life’s cup may hold for you should be the sweeter because we drink it together. Whatever drops of bitterness it may contain should be less bitter because we share them.

S: And now in gratitude to all of you who’ve joined us today, some who were there with us 40 years ago, some who have traveled from as far away as Canada, we offer this toast. “May the close, loving bonds of each of us–to partners, family, friends, community and the earth itself–be strengthened and renewed today and every day.


Some anniversary poems:




April Sunrise

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

When I opened the curtain at 5:45 there was already a blue-gray glow in the western sky. We’re a third of the way to the solstice. I wont wake up in the dark anymore till August.

I sit in the green plastic Adirondack chair with the big camera beside me waiting for the sunrise over Cuesta Ridge. I’ve come back to it after noticing that the older plant photos on my screensaver have much more depth and brilliance than the ones I’ve taken recently with the point-and-shoot, even though it has higher resolution. It’s the lens stupid.

My perch is a new seat in the garden, three quarters of the way up the bank above the grape arbor at a switchback in the south trail. I decided to carve it out of the adobe clay on Saturday while sprucing up the yard to prepare for our big party this weekend.

Two rock doves clean up spilled seeds under the bird feeder, a hummingbird visits the hummingbird sage, a bee sips at the holly-leaf cherry flowers.

Week 4 of classes, Spring mind bursting with things to say and write and plan and execute.

I’ll be returning to this spot nestled between a Channel Island Ironwood and a Sugarbush.

A temperate dawn soothed by a wisp of breeze, disturbed by the barking dog next door and the hubbub of traffic.

Now the sun paints the east face of Caballo Peak, and now touches the grapevine and the belly of the goldfinch in the pine branch overhead. Now it casts shadows on the path. Now it’s 7:00 o’clock and time to get to work.

But first just a few more pictures.

Two Boys at Spooner’s Cove

Monday, April 16th, 2007

Ian’s last day of Spring Break from Junior Kindergarten was the end of a taxing two weeks for me. April 1 was Flora!, the Sierra Club Fundraiser I’d been planning and worrying about since January. The day after, I returned to teaching after a nine-months’ recess. The day after that I launched a challenging new course on Argumentation about Sustainability focussing on Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth. Last weekend was the Focus the Nation organizing conference in Las Vegas and the day after a press to write up my report on it followed by nine more hours of lecturing on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The tough slog of grading the first set of English papers was on my schedule Friday. But the sky was bright blue and the hills were still green. Besides, I had required my Ecolit class to listen the poets’ invitation to “Rise Up and Come Away,” so I too was obliged to obey.

We drove along Foothill Blvd. through the threatened ranchland between Bishops Peak and San Luis Mountain thick with cows and calves trimming the pastures into glittering lawn. The open, black-soiled fields along Los Osos Valley Road seemed hungry for seed or ready to sprout. I asked Ian to repeat the name of the road. At first he struggled and then it rolled off his tongue. The mountains on both sides–Morros and Irish Hills–make this a Valley where the dirt rolls down and turns to soil that grows the crops, I explained. He recognized the rows of Snow Peas with their white polka dots that will turn into the sweet morsels we pick from the planter beside our deck. Los Osos means the bears in Spanish I told him, the name of the town at the end of the road. Watch for bears on either side. By the time we reached the turnoff to Montana De Oro, he’d counted 14–on signs, a mural, woodcarvings and the cast bronze sculpture by the bridge.

“Gwampa, wet’s wace to the mountain,” he called back to me from the beach. “I cant run with this backpack,” I answered. I boosted him on to the ledge sloping up the outcrop, where he passed the time making sand waterfalls, while I struggled to find handholds in the strata to pull myself over the first hump.

After several clumsy efforts I realized I wouldnt make it, and he’d have to come down. I wondered if the cause was the soft rock’s weathering since I’d been here last, or other sorts of weathering closer to home.

But there was no shortage of alternatives, and I remembered that last year several Cal Poly students had been swept into the water from this promontory by rogue waves, one to his death.

We noticed an alluring cave carved in the vegetation-covered cliff bordering the north side of the beach. Ian said, “that’s a dinosaur cave.” The creek that flowed to the sea at the foot of the cliff was low enough to hop with dry shoes. Ian led the way up another sloping ledge into what turned out to be a tunnel rather than a cave, with a perfectly formed arched opening to the sky. We passed through slowly and came around the back to perch on a ledge that looked straight down into the surf, which pounded with a force that carved these rocks like cheese. I kept a tight grip on the rolled-up waistband of his sweatshirt. In the wind-pruned scrub above the cove behind the tunnel, a flourescent red-throated finch burbled above the waters’ roar.

On the way back through the tunnel, we found another tunnel at the base of its lower, landward, wall, this one squat and deep. Through it one could see foamy water flowing in and out of the shadowed cove below the finch’s perch. One could easily slide down there, but with no way of return.

Back outside, we saw a possible route upward: vertical footholds in the rock leading to an oval opening in the brush that looked like the start of a trail into the dunes. This might be the dinosaur’s exit. Ian led the ascent and I followed him through the green tube.

It daylighted at a wooden railing marking a sand trail bordered by blooming bush poppies and silver lupine. A fork of the trail covered with delicate lizard tracks led toward the water and traversed the dune.

Up steep switchbacks and down muddy seeps, we made our way to tidepools and blowholes. Across the expanse of Spooner’s Cove, we saw groups of walkers on the popular cliff trail, but here there was no one.

I looked at my watch: 11:30. I had an appointment at the Social Security Office to apply for Medicare. Ian was getting hungry. Off the rocks and up the sand we rambled. On the warm trail that circled back to Reddy in the parking lot, over and over we sang “Dinah wontcha blow.”

Easter in Las Vegas

Monday, April 9th, 2007


A Personal Report on the Focus the Nation Organizing Conference April 6-8 2007


I took the bait for Focus the Nation while attending the first national conference of AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in October 2006. That conference attracted 800 faculty and administration activists and featured a panoply of environmentalist superstars. In welcoming remarks, the President of Arizona State University declared that ASU henceforth would stand for Arizona Sustainable University and announced the formation of a Sustainability Institute endowed with a five million dollar grant from the Wrigley family.

The conference’s show of strength raised the confidence of every beleaguered soul who attended, but the only action item I came away with was to set up a chapter of Focus the Nation at my home campus. Dreamed up by Eban Goodstein, an economics professor at Lewis and Clark College, Focus the Nation’s objective suited the immense scope of the climate crisis, yet was defined, immediate and feasible: a nationwide teach-in on Global Warming solutions at a thousand colleges and universities on January 31 2008, just before the primary elections.

Professor of Business, Kate Lancaster, with whom I had worked on several campus sustainability projects, agreed. We tried to recruit Tylor Middlestadt, Cal Poly’s legendary student leader, but he would be graduating before the event, so he put us in touch with two fellow engineering students, Chad Worth and Matt Hutton, who joined our core organizing committee. We met regularly during Fall and Winter quarters, discovered lots of support for the idea on campus, expanded the committee to include three more faculty members, and set to work getting endorsements from the Associated Students, the Faculty Senate and the University Administration. After Eban scheduled an organizing conference for the national group in Las Vegas over Easter weekend and we found a one hundred dollar round trip flight from San Luis Obispo, we all decided to go, whether or not we got funding.

In the sleepy Santa Maria airport, we boarded a huge Alliant Airline jet for the one-hour flight. It was packed with a jolly crowd”multigenerational families, golfers, gang bangers, farmworkers, a bachelorette party”all eager to spend their wealth in America’s fastest growing city. (more…)