June 25th, 2006

Book Cover

Good Morning!!

My friend Vicki says that Mandu died like a Master, just as he lived like one, and I realize that is absolutely true.   I had the honor of living with my Master, with my Teacher.  I didn't need to go out and search.  He was here with me all the time.  No wonder I feel such an attraction to Home.  I checked out the array on his grave this morning.  All is happily intact.  I can see everything from my deck which I had arranged to notice that area, because I kept bringing that area of the yard more and more into my consciousness, as it is my mother's space.  The Cecil Brunner Rose frames his space.  I feel him here and also, expanded.  He is resurrecting.  He plays, with us. 

I feel peaceful this morning.  I am picking roses and trimming flowers in the fog.  We will meet with Jan's parents in three hours.  This is a huge step for them.  I understand that culturally this is very difficult for them, and that they love Jan so much that they are meeting with us.  I am grateful for this opportunity to soothe thousands of years of pain, and to perhaps open new doors to understanding that we all are here as one, just different petals of different flowers.  There is a place for the daisy, the violet, and the rose. 

That the polar bear and the brown bear have mated and reproduced shows that climatic changes bring new changes, and the climate is changing politically as well as environmentally.  Steve and I were talking this morning about the politics of this country.  For whatever reason, our politicians seem determined to bankrupt the United States.  It may be intentional or perhaps it is ignorance, greed, and neglect.  I feel sad that such a great country has become a debtor nation.  China is taking over, and it seems we have no interest in stopping or competing with that.   Again, I have some sadness about the changes.  I see the petals of the rose separating and falling to land.   It is odd to live through such a dramatic change, and yet, many other peoples have done so.  It seems to be the way.  As much as I would like to see our politicians wake up, it seems they will not.   Al Gore has made a documentary, one the New Yorker says may be the most important documentary any of us will ever see.  Now, we need one about what is happening politically and financially in the U.S.  The glaciers are melting in all sorts of ways.  

Robinson Jeffers owned the whole point in Carmel.  His son and his son's wife did not work.  Gradually, parcels of the land were sold off so they could live, until there was one little piece.  That piece was saved by the work of others,  and the Tor Foundation keeps it going.  His home is surrounded by giant houses.  Our guide said he hasn't even seen anyone in them.  They are second homes, or perhaps, third.  This kind of disparity in our country which will only increase with the latest legislation around the passing of estates is a shame.  We have become stagnant in a negative way, the circulation of wealth and energy.

The computer industry was booming.  Bush came in, and announced it couldn't last, and what do you know,  people responded to his words and it began to slow.  He didn't want people rising to new economic levels through their own initia and intelligence.  Instead, let's reward those who inherit wealth.  We see where that has brought us.  The current president of the US is a product of inherited wealth.   We see the damage done, and we will continue to see it.  It seems this tide is not to turn.  The politicians have no spines.  The invertebrates have returned. 

Ah, breathe.  It is a beautiful day, and I hear the sound of the motorcycles heading out for their Sunday morning ride.   And there, too, is change.  They had gone to Point Reyes Station for breakfast for years, but the ownership changed, and they weren't as welcomed as before, so now, they eat in other places.  

My niece is learning Chinese.  I only know these words, "Wo Ai Ni."   Perhaps they are enough!! 

And now I consider my words, how nationalistic they sound.  I have been proud to be a citizen of the United States.  I will probably always carry that pride, that awareness that, as an American, after the tsunami, that my body would be returned and handled differently than that of another.  I have lived unconsciously superior.  I am grateful for a chance to balance the disparity.  I accept that my end of the teeter-totter is going down, as another end rises.  I think this merging of east and west, Jan and Jeff, is wonderful.   Somehow, I just saw them both as Americans, but her family has forced me to look a little differently and perhaps, of course, this is a good thing.  I am grateful to experience as much as I can, while I am here.   Thank you for listening as I sort myself out in preparation for this day.  Again, I have this sense of the spiritual.  I will dress carefully, and prepare for a meeting of great importance to my son and our lineage, and the lineage of another.  This is a matter of great importance.   May we all meet well.   
Book Cover

The Little Master!

It has occurred to me that Mandu changed form so that he could be with us in this meeting today.  

I feel his presence, orchestrating compassion, understanding and peace.  I am grateful he will be there, an expanding wand helping us all meet and understand even more clearly the beauty of this union, the return of the continents that once were joined.  How amazing is that!!
Book Cover

and there is good news -

Maybe I was too negative on the ability of this country to "come back" from the rapidly increasing debt.  After all, Clinton took care of it, and then, the Evil Dunce arrived.  We can take this country back to prosperity, and get ourselves out of debt.  People do it all the time.

Look at this from the SF Chronicle today on what San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom is up to.   Hooray!!

    "Newsom hopes to ride the energy wave of the future by sinking turbines under the Golden Gate Bridge and current-catching generators off Ocean Beach. The idea: Produce electricity for the city to sell or use, or both.

    "They're just huge -- they've never been done in America,'' Newsom said of the generators that can convert water power to juice.

    Newsom appeared at The Chronicle's editorial board last week to discuss his health access plan, but he also took time to preview two ideas in the works for tapping ocean power:

    One would plunk turbine generators into the stiff currents beneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

    The other would put a generating plant off Ocean Beach to convert the energy of the Pacific's rolling waves into electricity.

    "These are real, not just fantasy," Newsom said.

    The ocean energy idea -- which already is taking hold in other parts of the world -- got its first strong push three years ago locally when Newsom's archnemesis, then-Board of Supervisors president and Green Party member Matt Gonzalez, won approval of a resolution calling for a tidal-energy power project.

    After a couple years of serious study, the nonprofit Electric Power Research Institute concluded:

    One: That San Francisco could tap enough wave power at Ocean Beach to keep the entire city lit -- depending, of course, on how large a wave plant it chose to build.

    And two: That the tides at the Golden Gate make that spot the best in the entire lower 48 states to produce tidal power, though the potential for installing turbine generators under the bridge is a bit limited by space.

    Tidal power, however, is a less expensive energy alternative than wave power. So now comes a second study to address the environmental impact of submerging turbines about 190 feet beneath the Golden Gate -- deep enough, we're told, to avoid any ships running in and out of the bay.

    Johanna Partin, the renewable energy program manager for the city's Department of Electricity, says planners have already considered potential threats to fish a    nd other sea life, as well as the possibility of a harmful buildup of silt.

    They've concluded that there's little chance of harm -- but to be safe, they are recommending that only a "conservative" 15 percent of the area beneath the Golden Gate Bridge be tapped.

    "This is not like putting in a nuclear power plant," Partin said. "If there is a problem, you can pull it out of the water -- end of story."

    There is still the question of who should own the power and who will pay the $5 million to $7 million it will cost for this little experiment under the Golden Gate.

    It could be the city, it could be Pacific Gas and Electric Co., or it could be a little-known Florida firm, operating as Golden Gate Energy, that has already landed a federal license to bring the ocean technology to the bay."

          Now, there is a Slurpee of Joy for the Day!!

Book Cover

Book Lust!!

I can relate to this.   : )

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop

By Lewis Buzbee


Just as John Masefield's classic poem "Sea Fever" captures the ocean's age-old call, Lewis Buzbee defines the equally seductive attraction of the bookstore. Whether a sea of books or a large body of water, the siren call that each exerts is undeniable.

In a series of captivating essays, Buzbee, who lives with his family in San Francisco, shares not only his passion for books but also his insight into the bookseller's trade that came from more than 17 years working in a number of Bay Area bookstores.

Buzbee's passion for reading began in his teens in San Jose after he discovered John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath." In the 1970s, the 15-year-old began hanging out at B. Dalton, explored the maze of cavernous used-book stores near the state college and then discovered Upstart Crow in the Pruneyard just a short bike ride from his home.

Thoroughly hooked on books, the young bibliophile badgered the owners of Upstart Crow for nearly two years of before he became a member of the staff. He writes, "I felt as if I had found the proper city in which to dwell." Buzbee was entranced by the "seductive glimpses" of the lives that dwelled between the covers of the books he was now shelving and selling. More to the point, he recognized that the store's customers and the other clerks were like-minded souls who wandered the streets of this magical city.

In the years that followed, Buzbee worked in other bookstores, such as Printers Inc. in Palo Alto, and spent seven years as a publisher's sales rep. Using his retail experience as a point of departure, the former bookseller provides a serendipitous historical account of the business from the ancients to today. Rather than reverting to a staid textbook approach to the subject, Buzbee focuses on eclectic bits and pieces that have caught his fancy. Fortunately, these informative tidbits are as interesting to the reader as they obviously are to the author.

For example, in the seventh century, Caliph Omar, convinced that the only book the world needed was the Koran, ordered the contents of the library at Alexandria destroyed. It took six months to destroy the library's entire collection of papyrus scrolls, which were burned to heat the bathhouses of the city.

Other surprising facts include the statistic that American publishers alone print 400 new titles every single day, that no royalties are paid authors on remainders (books that don't sell), and in 2004 only 47 hardcover novels sold more than 300,000 copies.

Waxing almost poetic when it comes to sharing memories of book browsing, Buzbee recalls wonderful days spent visiting Bay Area independent bookstores such as City Lights, Cody's, Kinokuniya Books, Black Oak Books, the Booksmith and Hucklebee's.

Moving further afield, there is a lengthy section on Shakespeare and Co. in Paris. Buzbee admits he once had a friend plant a copy of his first novel ("Fliegelman's Desire") on the famed bookshop's shelves. Larry McMurtry's Booked Up, Portland's Powell's Books, the Tattered Cover in Denver and the Grolier Poetry Book Shop just off Harvard Square in Cambridge also merit a passing mention.

Those who share Buzbee's "book lust" will remember these and other perhaps long-gone shops that had the power to entice one in for an afternoon of book grazing and perhaps a cup or two of coffee or tea. The author's ability to capture the sensual aspects of this romance with books is another major plus. The reader easily recognizes a kindred spirit who is able to express the sensations that accompany making a purchase.

As Buzbee describes it, the process begins when the colorful, elegant cover typography of a book assails the eye. Reaching for it, you weigh the fit in your folded palm. Next you carefully crack it open and thumb the thick and creamy pages as you give the contents a cursory inspection. Upon the completion of this tactile encounter, the volume is either returned to its resting place or is tucked under your arm.

Acting as our guide through the "city of books" he discovered in his youth, Buzbee tells us there's no hurry or rush. "[Y]ou could spend all day here," he writes. "Like any great city, there's a mood for everyone, and like any great city, there's a surprise at every turn."

Although he is no longer engaged in the business, as an incurable reader Buzbee admits that when he comes upon a bookstore he still can't resist the temptation to veer in the door for a quick visit. A bookstore is for hanging out. It's a place to connect with others in solitude. It's the marketplace where ideas are traded and public discourse is shaped. Within the walls of the store there's something for every taste and age group.

As the cover art of "The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop" -- showing a stack of books as lighthouse -- suggests, the bookstore is a beacon that beckons us to enter and spend a little time in delicious discovery. In describing its draw, Buzbee writes, "The bookstore is still the place where we may engage in the free and unrestricted congress of ideas." On a more mundane level, this is also where those afflicted with book lust connect with the gorgeous objects of their desire.

Robert Walch is a writer in Monterey.