Sunday, July 26, 2015


HOW LUCKY I AM TO MEET A REAL LIVE MISSIONARY --WHO'S WILLING TO ENGAGE WITH ME---answered all my questions.  No I didn't challenge his religion as I often do with believers --I wanted to get a sense of his work and life in the Jungle.

Meet Eric an evangelical missionary to Brazil---home for a 2 weeks visit with his daughter posing beside him.  He will return to the jungle near the headwaters of The Amazon river near Columbia.  He is learning the language of a primitive tribe of about 40 individuals.  Only then will he  speak to them of religious matters, he said.  Here's a sampling of what I learned:

The natives are Animist---believing that everything contains souls---spirits.
They live immersed in fear of evil spirits--forever trying to placate them.
Everyone in the tribe is related--and everyone is keenly aware of the specific connections.
Their culture is frozen because everyone is afraid to deviate.
Anyone who becomes the least bit more successful than others is strongly censured.
To feel a firm sense of "Belonging" is seemingly vital.
Their tribe is related to hundreds more in the region who speak a closely related language.
Early missionaries paddled up the Amazon---today they fly into grassy landing strips.
Both father and daughter had read both books critical of missionary work: """THE POISIONWOOD             BIBLE" and "AT PLAY IN THE FIELDS OF THE LORD".  They were defensive---saying                 those were bad missionaries.
Technology is fast moving in and transforming their view of the world.  Cell phones are everywhere.
English is becoming a dominant language.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I come away asking myself if the natives would be better off if they became Christian. Is it really a step up from animism?  Is it worse to fear the dings inflicted by malevolent spirits or the ultimate punishment of a "loving" God: Eternal Hell.
I favor sending: SCIENCE missionaries-- to debunk superstition and arouse wonder in the natives.
                          ENGINEERING missionaries--- to inspire  a can-do spirit in the natives.
                          AGNOSTIC missionaries to acquaint the natives with the ULTIMATE MYSTERY                                                  of life---to demonstrate to them TOLERANCE FOR AMBIGUITY.
                                               (the joyous philosophy of I DON'T KNOW ISM)
                          HISTORY missionaries to unfold the story of how we got to here.
 It pleases me that some governments forbid contact with hitherto uncontacted tribes---India and Brazil have led the way.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


MOTHER'S HEADSTONE PROJECT--THE JOB IS DONE--- And as promised--- I show you the completed task.
Here's what the completed ceramic plaque looks like.  I ordered it from
Cost about $230---they were very accommodating--back and forth-- as I revised the wording.

You may remember this post back in May when I decided to let my mother speak from the grave to all who might pass in this lovely small town cemetery in Sibley, Louisiana. Weather and other factors delayed the installation till now.

My sweet sisters Darlene and Bobbie Jean paid for it and its installation and sent me these photos.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I'm pleased to make a first step in bringing back tombstones that say something----preferably what the person valued in life.  I think I will do the same for my father and my brother----Maybe I'll do it for myself.

Wanna be inspired by this idea?  Read a few of these from SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY  by Edgar Lee Masters and see what I mean.  Better yet--read them till you find your life described among these voices from the grave---I did--and it made me a bit more thoughtful about my life.
Imagine a succinct statement about the thrust of your life.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


YOU WANNA DRIFT AROUND THE COUNTRY---TURTLE-LIKE---YOUR HOME ON YOUR BACK?  I do!---(For reasons I'll explain later.)  Meanwhile---here's a faint notion of what it's like.

The plaza in Santa Fe---heart of the city---showplace for the weird and wonderful.  This guy told me he dresses this way every day.

Magician dazzles the kids

Indians sell their jewelry
Hobo's relax

People with peculiar pets

A new statue---honoring the first American Indian saint. read about her here

Can't resist showing a pict of my friend Glenn at the plaza--earning money as a busker.  He's really good--Just returned from Australia with the Glen Miller Band--Yeah they're still around with updated players--playing the old favorite tunes.  He writes a blog about his adventures. 
Check it out here

Suddenly, I got a yen to go where the swell folks hang out.  I mean the movie stars and such.  They come here.--I will try to find one for you.
It's a treat to merely walk in this store--Perhaps the finest of its kind.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

I searched the aisles for a movie star.

Maybe in the fine wine department

Or 'mongst the classy Deli.
AND THEN I FOUND HER---wearing a funny t shirt---don't know who she is--but she was obviously a star--(her "manager" wouldn't allow this shot till he fussed with her hair a bit)
Anybody recognize her?--didn't want to insult her by asking who she was.

Then we ran into an old friend--James--a real brainiac who moves the world forward with his inventions.  He builds futuristic things---made a functional house out of papercrete--built 2 electric cars--and now he's built an electric motorcycle
with these performance statistics.
He whizzes it about----very whizzy.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:   SO GO THE DAYS OF A DRIFTER--LIKE ME.  If your days were free---you would develop a style of your own---built around your unique set of fascinations.  I and all my kind are  FUTURE PEOPLE--trailblazing the lifestyle of tomorrow.  Someday--when we have outgrown the worst features of the money system---almost everyone will be free.  Careers will be short----machines will work---people will think.  Meaning will be generated in a thousand new ways. Wanna do this?  Ingenuity and frugality are the tickets to this lifestyle.

Saturday, July 04, 2015


He always loved to ride with me in the truck
We laid him to rest in this lovely setting

  stayed with him all night 
 This photo gave me a spooky surprise.  At the very spot of his grave appeared the shadow imprint of a dog in the bushes.
And before we left we found another surprise--this touching sculpture of a dog angel atop another doggie grave--only steps away.
Luke has company


Yesterday I helped a friend die
the way I'd like to go;
loving hands holding me;
pink fluid sending me to eternity in seconds.

He was my companion's dog
but I loved him as my own.
We'd traveled years together.

I've known him in the sunshine of his days,
content as only animals can be;
bouncy, playful, grateful to be alive;
giving and taking love from one and all.

Rescued deep in Mexico 13 years ago
from unhappy prospects;
taken on a lifelong adventure---RV style
'round the continent;
walking a thousand trails with his mistress;
dancing a thousand dances for his treats;
sleeping thousands of nights at her feet;
knowing no greater joy than her approval;
fetching with the gusto of a being on fire with purpose.

He bounced as he walked, tail high in a curl
communicating when need be with the clarity of spoken words:
hanging back with a reluctance that shouted
"I don't want to go!"
One day he found a dried up smelly fish
and would not give it up
she exhausted herself trying--then gave up.
Luke said: "I really really want this."

He seemingly yearned for a male in his life,
and when I was around, it was me.
He would literally knock at my door with his paw,
knowing he was welcome and treats given.

He had a bearing as regal as a king.
You would mistake him for the dogs in Egyptian art.
Sometimes, atop a boulder he posed like Rin Tin Tin.

He was cared for but not pampered; 
having a place in the scheme of things;
responsibilities and rules like the rest of us
but confident always that he was included.

He trembled uncontrollably at gunshots and fireworks
till cinched up tightly in his thunder suit.

At age 98 he was stricken with a fatal tumor;
the Vet said only days remained.
We made them days of much love.

When the pain came we let him go yesterday as I have said.
I watched his last sad steps with his mistress
and my grief came heaving out.
I hardly made so great a scene when Mother died.
Leaning on the hood of my truck I sobbed unashamed;
astonished at the depth of my sadness.
The Vet and his wife consoled with great skill.

We carried his body in my truck to a beautiful spot 
overlooking Georgia O'keeffe's  famous Ghost Ranch.
Together we dug his grave and placed him in sleeping posture facing East.
We layered his body with sweet sage 
and included an heroic Jack London dog story.

We went back today to complete our goodbye with incense
and beautiful sounds.  We tied his leash to a nearby tree.
I hope there is a doggy heaven!

ADDENDUM: Carl has pointed us to a youtube poem about dogs that will swell your heart. See it here

Saturday, June 27, 2015



But first---some background:  He lives in the Santa Fe area at the end of this dead end road

In this fine adobe house he built himself.

powered completely by this array of solar panels he installed himself.

I visit every year or so---we've been friends for 40 years.

He has many of the toys that rich people have:  A hot tub---

A Sauna he built,

a cool shaded portico

An electric car he built into an old Mazda

A woodworking shop to dream about.

grows vegetables in raised containers.
(Uses 90% less water than ground crops)

makes compost.  Two barrels needed---one is filling , the other is "cooking".

A hammock for relaxing

A full scale country kitchen.

Stairs to his private quarters

And here's the man himself in his great room.  He built all his furniture,
Installed all those giant ceiling vigas.
My friend was not always rich.  When we were in New Orleans together, he was the poorest in our circle of friends.  A modest inheritance of a few thousand was all the luck he needed.  Frugal living, good investments coupled with building and maintenance skills made him a rich man. You would not know it by his modest lifestyle---He is content with simple pleasures---reads, cultivates, builds,  philosophizes.  He took me to a meeting with his philosophy group.  I had the pleasure of engaging  a 96 year old philosopher---can you believe it---having a keen mind at that age. I asked what these guys had in common.  The answer:  They are all Unitarians.  My people.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: Now I will tell you what the rich man said that I hope will resonate around the world.  We were about to enter a theater--I was getting my money out.  He stopped me and said: Randy, "when my money has eroded down to about your level, I will let you pay your way----but until then---whatever we do together--I want to pay for."  And he did ---and he has---and I will allow it.  
I have resolved to pay his generosity forward--for often I relate with folks far poorer than I am.
And I will make that same speech to them--and pay their way.

ONE MORE THING my rich friend told me:  "I'm a loner--easily irritated by intrusions on my privacy----you are that rare guest that somehow manages not to irritate me or disrupt my lifestyle."
AAAAH  THAT MAKES ME SMILE.  How do I do it?  Glad you asked:

Monday, June 22, 2015


MY SISTER WONDERS IF I HAVE A LIFE---A MEANINGFUL LIFE.  In dark moments I have asked myself----and doubted.  Yesterday I asked a busy ant (I really did)if she had a meaningful life. She said that she never considered the question---and would I excuse her---she had much to do. And off she went to gather the bird seed I had strewn nearby.  Ants can't and people rarely do consider whether they have a meaningful life.

I've not posted lately--not sure why.  Anyway, here's what I've been doing: Here's the life I have:
Met a fascinating lady---Kat--who astonished me in a hundred ways.  Not least in her culinary arts but also in her dancing.  (beautiful--unselfconscious)  She may be the sanest person I've ever met.  She introduced me to her set of friends: "Freethinkers" they call themselves and allowed me to sit in on one of their sessions.

She is certainly an "autotelic" personality--because she generates her own meaning. Let me illustrate!

Her back yard is a fairyland.

As is her small apartment.  Not shown is her flower garden and her party/meeting area. She organizes events with hundreds of people---leads seminars all over the country. What a pleasure to get to know her.
What surprised the two of us is the extent we shared values.

One day we went to Sedona where I revisited this famous statue of Sacajewea

She has no money problems but as a hobby makes and sells jewelry

On another day I took my friend Laurie to meet my friend Pat---she played guitar for him.

And he returned the favor.  I enjoy connecting people with common interest.
One day I  explored an abandoned ranch.
Came face to face with a young coyote who stayed awhile and looked at me.
see him in the center?
OOPS--that's a fox--not a coyote--thanks Ed.
Then it got hot in Cottonwood so I went about 40 miles and 3000 ft uphill to Flagstaff.  (sooo much cooler) This view from my door shows Mt Humphrey with snow--elevation 12,600 ft---highest point in Az.
Several of my friends assembled here to enjoy the cool.

Two weeks later, some of us moved to this historic spot---Cinder Lake.  It really is a lake of volcanic cinders.
And right here is where Neil Armstrong and other astronauts practiced for their moon landing.

And then one day another old friend arrives .
Yes it's my guru friend Wayne Wirs.  
I note the latest  tweaks to his live-in van,

One of which is this easy chair replacing the passenger seat. (a table slides out for convenient dining)
He wanders the nation in splendid comfort and lives under the radar of public notice.  For practical purposes he is invisible. 
He's a slippery and unpredictable guy--so I quickly assemble some friends to  "catch the flavor" of him".  He obliges with an hour interview and previews his latest book.
check him out:  here        He stayed one night then vanished.

These folks were living in the woods nearby and I managed a short interview as they were leaving.They have 3 dogs and a lot of gear--including 8 gallons of water.  They mostly walk their bikes back and forth to Montana--about 1400 miles.  She is a Cherokee maid  and he a retired riverboat man.  They've been traveling together for 9 years.  I say that they "have a life"--and a fairly rich one at that---challenges to cope with--daily changes to experience--reasonable comforts---and most of all THEY HAVE EACH OTHER. 
Saw this odd sight in South Phoenix--knew I'd found a "meaning maker"---A man with a life.

Sure enough, he has a life---a busy one--what with collecting cans--keeping his carts functional--making camp in a nearby draw.  Was something of a philosopher:  told me he would not work for another because the arrangement is inherently exploitive. He wakes up with things to do---places to go.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I suppose one has a life if they are attempting to do a thing they want to do; go a place they want to go; be with a person they enjoy.

I have a more detailed answer in a post dated June 4, 2007: How to generate meaning