Portrait Practice #1

20180413 Erin B

Time to try and sketch some people.  Of course, this is not at all as intentionally goofy as her original photo, but it does capture a bit of her good-natured humor — something I wish there was a hella lot more of here in oh-so-serious San Francisco.



Nor Cal Getaway

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It’s good to get away, to drive a couple hours north, to rent a room with a big ranch yard, a big orchard sky, a big yellow moon rising over hilltops, barbed-wire fencing glinting by the road.

A rooster cocks at dawn, calling out to crickets and frogs, the ground all green this early spring with March rains behind us.

I think of other artists, slipping away at dawn to the fields, setting up easels, writing their visions with color and line.

I join them now, clumsy with supplies, learning to keep the sun off my neck, to pencil-sketch quickly, to gently dab a sepia line, to stick with dry watercolor sticks, the texture and touch of the sketchbook pages.

Dry pigments without any water perfectly quench the still thirsty earth.


(In)tolerant San Francisco


Here on the left coast of America, where the over-educated fancy themselves as open minded and tolerant, close-minded intolerance is constantly on display — as with this example of political street art and its sidewalk passerby graffiti.

Righteous haters love it here where they can cozy up with other haters and project their mutual hypocrisy.  I gotta admit, though, some of their comments are pretty funny.

To fully appreciate the disdain on parade, right click on the image to open a larger version in a new tab.


Love & Zen in America

Zen Odyssey

Based, in part, on 27 hours of taped interviews conducted by poet Gary Snyder in 1966, authors  Janica Anderson and Steven Schwartz reveal the monastic love story at the heart of Zen Odyssey: The Story of Sokei-an, Ruth Fuller Sasaki, and the Birth of Zen in America.

In the early 20th century, Japanese orphan Sokei-an Sasaki travels across America and settles into Greenwich Village where he meets his match in Ruth Fuller, a wealthy white Chicago heiress with years of experience in Japanese temples.

Together, though both married to others, their yin-yang attraction re-shaped Sokei-an’s Buddhist Society of America into the First Zen Institute of America, bringing the slow narrow path of Rinzai Zen to the monkey-mind lives of Americans.

To follow their historic romance for yourself, click here.


Oprah, Empress of Everything

Empress Oprah of Everything

Oprah Winfrey’s yin-yang natal chart reveals a surprising inner-glimpse of the media queen’s artful ambiance.

On one hand, her Jupiter in Gemini keeps her talking talking talking while her Aquarian Sun, Mercury and Venus keep her heart and mind on humanity, on the betterment of ordinary lives.

On the other hand, beneath that light and airy altruism, a heavy dark Scorpio cloud schemes for power and control — masking emotions, manipulating others, all for the betterment of O.

May all the mice in her merry empire beware her shiny slice of — whack!    


Legacy of Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu Waterfall Scene

According to legend, Lao Tzu, an elderly 5th-century-BC archivist, tired of the Zhou dynasty’s increasing corruption and left the empire to live a more honorable, hermetic life in the far-west mountains.

Whether this tale is true — and whether it’s true that Lao Tzu, at the behest of the last mountain sentry, gave the guard his Tao te Ching, his poetic collection of ancient Chinese wisdom — is of no importance.

No matter the myth of the Tao‘s inception — though the more charming the myth the better — what matters is the Tao itself.

And if, despite any evidence, generations have believed this tale, we might as well follow the Tao and be like water, going with the flow, waving farewell to old Lao Tzu as he wanders off toward sunset.


Hearts for MLK

MLK Wedding Hearts

With his mighty Mars in outspoken Gemini and his vocal Mercury in humanitarian Aquarius, it’s no wonder Martin Luther King changed the world with words alone.

Stepping off the airy public stage, his Capricorn Sun found earthy private pleasure with his wife Coretta’s Taurus Sun.

Both shared a Moon in Pisces, making them two sensitive souls — to each other and all the world around them.

At home, Martin’s Gemini Mars found flirtatious fun with Coretta’s Venus in Gemini.  And her Cancer Mars provided a warm emotional family for his delicate Venus in Pisces.

Their downfall, sadly, was a shared Saturn in playful Sagittarius  — leaving them to rely too much on luck, too much on a circle of too-trusted dreams.