Sunday, December 29, 2013

Your Sunday Poem

This lovely poem is by Los Osos artist/poet, Sylvia Howell Kneller.  It's a perfect poem to start off the New Year.  It's also the perfect poem for every new day.

Open Hands 

Every day life offers
a gift of confetti.
As it gets released,
some of it
in the universe at large
to bless others,
while the rest
to shower us
with surprise.

But we must make the toss
to experience the magic.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Winter Blessings


Wishing you a peaceful Winter Solstice filled with joy and love.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Messenger

Calhoun's Cannons for Dec 22, 2013

The universe if full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
                                                                          Eden Phillpots

Thank God this embarrassing year is finally tumbling offstage, all ridiculous clown shoes flapping, and ooga-ooga horns blaring.  You just know the founding fathers are rolling their eyes while rolling in their graves.  Could Congress get more idiotic than it  already is?  Who elected these fools?  Wait.  Don't answer that.  Instead of shutting the government down and hurting real people and a real economy, what would have happened had all the sane Congresspersons simply turned the lights out and left the building?  Let those morons sit there in the dark?

I know.  They wouldn't have noticed.

Mercifully, time, tide, and rising suns will move this dumbshow off the stage, ready for some other piece of idiocy or sad pointless drama.  Change and flow, all change and flow that briefly illuminates the flickering, ephemeral reality of our lives.

In my house, more change.  The last of the Basenjis slipped into air to join all the other little canine spirits that haunt my garden.  After 30-something years, the absence of their fierce little energies is palpable.  But the tall dogs remain and move with languid grace among the garden-ghosts, lavenders and sage. Although their increasingly grey muzzles are a daily not-so gentle reminder of time's unstoppable flow.     

Out in the garden, The Great Grapevine has renewed itself.  Judicious but firm pruning forced its overgrown woody trunk to come back to life and sprout new vines.  By Thanksgiving, the Roger's Red grapevines were curtained with leaves that blazed with some of the purest reds I've ever seen in nature.  It's their last fiery gift to the coming winter.  As is the huge mound of massed yellow blooms of the Tagetes.  Warmed by the late afternoon sun, the tumbling cascade of flowers is alive with humming bees loading up last minute pollen for the cold, lean days ahead.  

More transformation in the garden.  I excavated the torso-sized root of a clump of Giant 4 O'Clocks, a 40-pound behemoth tuber that was finally defeated by strategy and a sharp shovel. I will miss the ghostly gleam of its array of pastel pink and white blooms that opened in the soft summer dusk, a floral offering for the night moths.  But in its place I'll plant an apple tree that's supposed to grow well in this area.  I don't know how long it will take to get apples, but with luck, I'll have soft blooms waiting for the hungry spring bees.

Throughout the land, Christmas will be a slimmer, darker affair. The Salvation Army's bell ringers have their work cut out for them.  Food banks and homeless shelters, too.  As a nation we have deliberately committed a bizarre form of suicide: Death by a thousand cuts, starting with the poor.  While a few Scrooges pile up all the gold in their storehouses, the city fills with more and more Bob Cratchits shivering with only a half-lump of coal in their grates.  No Christmas pudding for you!  We've turned ourselves into Scrooged Nation and left ourselves behind as self-mutilated road-kill, a  sprig of holly in our shabby lapels.  Where is Jacob Marley, come to clank his chains at us and open our furious, blind hearts?

Once again I climb the ladder to bring the guardian nutcrackers down from the garage rafters and blow the dust off their boxes.  Another year for them to watch over the small festivities. I place them around the house and drape a few strings of brilliantly hued LED Christmas lights and suddenly the ancient ritual of the Yule Log whispers into the room to keep the cold and darkness of winter's night at bay.

And across five million years, our own Christmas miracle arrived.  The comet Ison appeared briefly before us like a messenger across time itself.  And in a mystery, died in the blaze of our sun only to miraculously re-appear for an instant before finally disappearing into stardust.  Like us, it had also been on a long, fragile, mysterious journey.

Overhead, the winter stars gleam, transiting in their own immense time, untouched by the  minute scurryings on our own ill-used and dangerously fragile little speck of dust. I find their vast indifference a kind of cold comfort since hope for a decent future seems such a folly. Humans have no lock on survival and if we don't care enough to sustain a livable world, nature will pass her judgment on us soon enough. Either way, earth itself will abide and all will be well as Shiva dances in the spiraling, tumbling galaxies without end. 

Molly McGuire roos at me as I stand in the cold, staring at the night sky.  She wants her bedtime dog biscuit.  The Mighty Finn McCool leans his tall body against mine, ears up to catch the rustlings in the night, nose twitching. The solstice sun will be rising soon on a brand new day. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Parade Time

Los Osos held it’s 2013 Christmas parade, with an "Under Construction" theme. Herewith some of the parade participants and/or audience, though, with our parade, it’s often hard to tell one from the other, which is what makes our holiday festivities so special

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Gussied up for his first parade

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Morro Bay's finest
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Including a yellow cap

4-H "Under Construction" equestrian unit

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Complete with proper safety signage.

Mom and her horse clean-up crew

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Buffalo Pizza, anyone?
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Why walk when you can roll?

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This elf was a Christmas Parade of her own

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Morro Bay's own Captain Jack blows the Christmas Conch
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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Your Sunday Poem

And, finally, the fourth "voice" from the wonderful new book of poems by four local poets, "Where Our Palm Rest, Beverly Boyd, Carol Alma McPhee, Joann Rusch, Bonnie Young, " published by Coalesce Press and available at Coalesce Bookstore and other local bookstores.  Christmas is coming and this would make a fine gift to put under your tree to enjoy and to support our local poets and Coalesce's publishing venture.  This lovely sample is by Bonnie Young.

At Home

Dear God, meet me in the backyard.
Come quickly but do not disturb
the chickadee, so sure she sits on a branch

of my acacia tree.  Bless me, please,
with her peace and surety this day.
Perhaps if I chalk my hair yellow and black,

fluff my arms wide in adoration,
welcome jackrabbit and quail before
taking off, I'll fly home with you.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Oh, Go Stand In The Corner, Megyn. Here's your Dunce Cap.

Calhoun's Cannons for Dec 13, 2012

Does Fox Noise's Megyn Kelly ever feel even a twinge of shame or embarrassment working for Fox Noise? Like, does she ever look in the mirror and say, "I'm smart, I'm talented, I'm a serious reporter, for God's sake!  What the hell am I doing working for this cockamamie outfit?"

Same thing for Chris Wallace, scion of a famous newsman.  Does he look in the mirror and cringe?

Or does their salary soothe the "Eeeuuuu" factor of working for a silly network like Fox, a network that's become the butt of comics and an endless supply of humor for Jon Stewart? A station that needs air-quotes around it's name, Fox "News."

I mean, it's bad enough that every year the ridiculous Bill O'Reilly trots out his fake "War on Christmas" campaign, a tinsel-bedecked masturbatory fantasy he uses to excite his clueless fans with false boogeyman fears that hoards of secular atheists are heading for their living rooms to take away their Christmas trees. But now, the usually hard-news Megyn Kelly has joined in the fray with her little faux "discussion" about a Slate opinion piece by Aisha Harris. 

Poor Ms. Harris, an African American, wrote a piece for Slate magazine that dared discuss her confusion as a child seeing black Santa Claus  decorations in her house, while all her (white) friends' homes had white Santa ornaments and decor, and, of course, the larger world outside the home had white Santas all over the place.

Naturally, a small black child would ask: Which is the "real" Santa.  Ms. Harris' wise father bridged the gap by saying that Santa could appear differently to different children.  Being a smart little girl, Ms. Harris didn't quite buy that argument.  The popular culture she lived in was overwhelmingly "white," so it would be logical that a very smart little black girl might wonder where in this world did she fit in?

And so her semi-humorous piece suggesting that since our country's racial demographic is changing, perhaps it was time to change some of it's iconic images and switch a white male Santa to some kind of neutral animal, like a penguin complete with red cap and sack of presents.  After all, our "Santa" is a totally made up image so we're free to change it's image any way we want. (St. Nick, the original "Santa" was Greek and looked nothing like our "Santa, " which was the creation of the brilliant 19th century cartoonist, Thomas Nash morphed with the work of a 1940s illustrator hired by Coca Cola for it's luscious, glowing, pink-cheeked, Coke-slurping iteration.)

So, naturally, Megyn and a "panel of Faux Noisers had a "discussion" about this made-up "controversy"  that mostly consisted of Kelly trying to goose herself up to outrage level for a little Christmas masturbatory huffing that sneered at the very real issue of a minority child's sense of place in a majority society.

Oh, and Megyn also declared that Jesus was a white man which caused any number of Biblical scholars to blow eggnog through their noses. And moved this Faux Noisiness off into SurrealLand.

But all was not lost.  Sane people watching this latest piece of idiocy from a "news" station were again confirmed that their use of air-quotes when saying Fox "news" was certainly correct.  And comics were beside themselves with glee for being handed their leads for their nightly shows.  And straight, serious newscasters, you know, the real kind, who were secretly envious at Kelly's huge salary, got a hefty dose of  schadenfreude watching her struggle with what she had to know was pandering nonsense required to goose the ratings and raise her show's visibility which would allow her to parlay those ratings into a better contract come renewal time.

Still, the question remained:  Does Megyn Kelly cringe when looking in the mirror?  Or does she secretly hope that the CEOs at other news organizations will realize that she's stuck right now as Roger Ailes' blond-bimbo-news-reader du jour and will soon come to rescue her by offering a real job as a real journalist on a real news show?

Now, that would be a great Christmas story.     

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Another Coffee Christmas

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Christmas at my house usually officially starts when the L.L. Bean Holiday centerpiece from family in Maine arrives.  Followed by the Vocal Arts Christmas concert at the SLO Mission.  Now, those two events have been joined by our own Los Osos gem of a business – SLO Roasted Coffee Company.

For the second year, they hosted another Holiday Open House , coffee tasting, coffee roasting demonstration last Saturday.  The crowd was even thicker this year than last and, as word gets out and people put the event on the radar, I’m sure it’ll continue to grow. Great chance to see friends and neighbors, taste a wide variety of their coffees and schmooze.  Plus, learn something about coffee.
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But this year they’ve added a new wrinkle.  A table displaying new products made with coffee.  Like a coffee scented candle.  Or, soap, shampoo and body scrub.  Or coffee cookies.  And what’s interesting about that is they’ve paired with two other local businesses to create these new products.

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In the case of the soaps, Babylonian Soap Company in Morro Bay and for the cookies, the Brown Butter Cookie Company in Cayucos.  Very clever, one local business pairing with another local business to create more business
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They were also demonstrating some new products, including this portable coffee grinder.  Which is useful if you’re a foodie out hiking in the Himalayas looking for the Yeti and you just have to have a freshly ground cup of coffee. Or you’re just out camping and see no reason why you have to be suck with boiled coffee when you can have, instead, freshly ground beans made with one of of my new favorites – the  small, portable AeroPress, a kind of small, super-duper Espresso/French-ish one cup press that makes absolutely delicious coffee in the time it takes to boil water. The fast pressing removes all the bitterness and you’re just left with yummy. (The versitility of the AeroPress is handy.  Depending on the amount of coffee you use, you can end up with espresso, or cappuccino, or add water for an Americano, or add the full amount of water and make a regular cup of coffee.  All of them smooth as silk )

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And to display some of their new products, they’ve set up a great new mini-store inside the front door.  If you’ve got friends and family living outside the county, SLO Roasted is a great way to send them a taste of Los Osos. Toss in some Babylonian soap and some cookies from Brown Butter Cookies and you’ll have a Care package from the central coast.
SLO Roasted is at , the Babylonian Soap Co. is at and Brown Butter Cookie Company at

And to finish off starting the holiday season, coming up is our own Loving Hands At Home Los Osos Christmas Parade, Saturday, Dec 14 at 10 a.m. followed by the annual Needs & Wishes Fundraiser at the Community Center for the homeless shelter.  

Monday, December 09, 2013

Cambria Christmas Market Plus

If you’re heading up to Cambria for the wonderful lighted walk / Christmas Market at the Cambria Lodge, plan to make a stop at the Cambria Nursery (on Burton Dr.) (If you go early enough, you can park at the nursery and enter the lighted walk from across the street.)

But, do yourself a favor and take some time to check out the whole nursery.  They’ve also put on a light show and their gift stores are eye boggling.  In the realm of OMG!.  They’ve done a spectacular job creating whole rooms of Christmas decorations on steroids.  It’s quite a fairy land, and even includes a resident black cat.
Take a gander:

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Sunday, December 08, 2013

Your Sunday Book

Coalesce Book Store in Morro Bay has published a book, an amazing thing to do in this day and age, and it's a book of poetry at that.  Doubly amazing. "Where our palms rest . . ." with poems by local poets, Beverly Boyd, Carol Alma McPhee, Joann Rusch and Bonnie Young, (Coalesce Press)  is available at Coalesce or your nearest bookstore. Christmas is coming fast, and this lovely book would make a great gift for your poetry loving friends.  I've previously posted a poem from two of the poets so you can get a feel for their "voice."  Here's the third (of four), by Carol Alma McPhee and a perfect example of just why poetry matters. And a perfect reason to go buy their book.


Life becomes
a mutter of bones:

a whispering in the desert
after tendon
and muscle lose dominion:

a parable,
to recall the past,

sounding instead
the daily
benediction of the sun.

Monday, December 02, 2013

There Goes December

Instead of St. Nick, this December is beginning to feel like one big White Rabbit -- I'm late, I'm late . .
Too much to do, so little time to do it in. So, here's a small list of upcoming, current Swell Stuff.

The Cambria Christmas Market (see previous posting.)  That's not to be missed.  Also, best hustle to get tickets to the SLO Little Theatre ( for their wonderful production of, "Miracle on 34th St."  It's a great production, great cast, beautifully staged and directed, a great way to get in a holiday mood.

Ditto for the grand spectacle at the PCPA in Santa Maria for their production of "Mary Poppins."  (http://PCPA.ORG ) They've pulled out all the stops on this one.  Fabulous sets, costumes, dance numbers, and, being Mary Poppins, lots of flying overhead and acrobatic high-wire work. The high degree of professionalism at the PCPA never ceases to amaze and this production is no exception.

Both plays run until Dec. 22, so there's no time to lose.

And no time to lose since the Winter Concert by the Vocal Arts Ensemble choral group is coming up this Saturday, Dec. 7 in the SLO Mission ( ) Their Christmas Concert is always a high point of my holiday plans.

Also on Dec 7, from 12 - 4, SLO Roast Coffee is having another coffee-tasting  --sample different coffees paired with yummy, decadent desserts -- and watch a coffee roasting demonstration.  Plus a chance to buy some of their coffees which are a great addition to your Christmas list, especially for friends and family living out of state -- a little taste of our home town coffee roasters.

Also another local product to go on the list, the new "Banjo Babes 2014 Calendar and Compilation CD."  (, for all your friends who are banjo fans.  This wonderful item was cooked up by talented musician, Erin Inglish (her dad's part of Cafe Musique). (You can also contact her via FaceBook as well). And, as long as you're making out a Christmas List, add Coalesce Bookstore (Morro Bay) and their second publishing venture, a book of poetry by four local poets, "Where our palms rest . . . Beverly Boyd, Carol Alma McPhee, Joann Rusch, Bonnie Young."

And, Sunday Dec 8, from 11-4, the Central Coast Glass Cottage will be holding an open house "Art Glass 2013 Holiday Glass Showcase" at 1279 2nd St. There'll be demonstrations of glass work, and a chance to see the beautiful work being created in the lovely workspace/gallery right here in downtown Baywood.  Also, a portion of all sales will be donated to Woods Humane Society and Soles4souls ("Changing the world 1 pair of shoes at a time.") And if you get peckish, Noi's (another Baywood treasure) is right across the street.)

And finally, don't forget our own loving-hands-at-home Los Osos Christmas Parade here in Los Osos, Saturday, December 14, 10 a.m.  This is followed, at the Community Center, by the 8th Annual "Needs 'N Wishes" Holiday Fundraiser", sponsored by South Bay Seniors People Helping People -- a fundraiser for the Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter (for the homeless), Transitional Food and Shelter (for homeless after leaving the hospital) and the SLO Noor Clinic (free health clinic for uninsured folk).

The Holiday Fundraiser at 2180 Palisades Ave, Los Osos, at the Community Center, runs from 10 a.m. to 7 pm. and features food, music, raffles, and most important of all, a chance to dump all your loose change (and more) into the big 5-gallon water jugs, all monies raised going to help people less fortunate.  Which is what a good deal of the Christmas Spirit is all about.

Too little December, too many wonderful things to do.  Yes, it's White Rabbit time . . . .


Sunday, December 01, 2013

Your Sunday Trip

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Cambria’s having its Christmas Market every Wed – Sunday, from now until Dec 22, from 5 - 9 pm.   It’s held on the grounds of the Cambria Lodge at 2905 Burton Drive. There’s a $4 entrance fee, but you’re given 4 tokens which gets you $1 off for every $10 you spend in the mini-town market center they’ve created, booths manned by various Cambria merchants, plus a few food booths (Most wonderful combination: a booth selling bread pudding, hot chocolate and tamales.) There’s even a St. Nick roaming around.

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The second part of this event are the lights.  The amazing lights, which must have taken weeks to rig up.  What’s created is a fairyland that starts you off through a tunnel of lights, then along a rambling path that snakes from the lodge at the top of the hill, down, down, down to another entrance across from the Cambria Nursery.

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They’ve used the intensely color-saturated LED lights and the whole effect can be utterly disorienting.  The shooting stars (below) for example, appear through the trees and look like the lights were simply stretched from the ground to a tree. But ramble down the path to get a closer look and you suddenly see, through the darkness, that isn’t ground.  You’re standing on the edge of a yawning canyon which the lights cross to get to the tall trees on the other side.

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All the usual suspects are there as well; a lighted creche, figures from the Nutcracker, Santa’s house, even the Grinch has his own little niche.  Along the way were braziers near benches so people could sit, sip their spiced cider and listen to live music (played very softly so as to not disturb the Lodge’s guests.)

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But it’s the fairyland in the trees that’s visually enchanting.  Trees wrapped in lights so as you stroll along you think you’ve fallen into the middle of the movie, “Avatar.”

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This event is now getting so popular that it’s having the usual growing-pains problems: traffic, parking, complaining neighbors.  The event coordinators are recommending people park at the public parking lot (behind  and down the alley next to Robin’s  restaurant) and walk up Burton Drive to The Brambles, or park in the lot at The Brambles. One of several shuttle busses will pick up and drop off at that site every 10-15 minutes or so as they're running the buses in continuous loops all evening. If you’re early enough, there’s limited parking at the Cambria Nursery and from there you can walk across the street to the bottom entrance gate and walk through the lighted display, ending up at the Marketplace. Other public parking areas are being considered, but they haven't officially been announced, so you can always park on the streets in and around the town center and walk up to the Brambles. (Many of the stores are open late, so it’s a good chance to also do some Christmas shopping as well.)

This is one event the whole family can enjoy.  And at $4, an incredible bargain and a great way to start the holiday season.

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