April 13th, 2017

Aloha kakahiaka !! (“Good Morning” to you all in Hawaiian.)

I do most of my painting these days in my backyard with the dogs. We have build a little peaceful space out there with tall light green Bamboo guarding the perimeter, the wisteria covered arbor providing shade for Chewy’s afternoon nap with the waterfall and Koi pond to keep him company and where I have set up my easel under an umbrella. I think it makes me paint better to be out there. Unless my painting is really focusing my attention, I am liable to just sit back and enjoy my ice tea for an hour or so before I realize the tea is long gone and the waterfall has hypnotized me again.
I am not sure if anyone knows how I go about doing these UJT Updates. I usually start building the next weeks UJT on Friday after class or sometimes when I get up on Saturday morning. It takes a bit of doing this broadcast into space of mine. I write these observations and updates all during the week. I may add the vocabulary quiz words I have collected from my reading and other sources over a three week interval to the list or upload the new one to the site as called for on any given week. I add any new quotes, recipes or sing along lyrics as they come to me during the week. I usually capture and upload the music towards the end of the week for some reason. I publish the site, create the email and add the links by Thursday morning so anything that happens might no This thing has grown organically over time hopefully into something interesting for you folks. I enjoy doing it all and I think it helps me pay attention to the important things in my life. Some how explaining things in the cosmic bread crumb I leave to you, the important people in my space, helps me understand more. Maybe some paleontologist robot in the future will find these droppings and use it to explain our backwards superstitions to the current humanity of their time. One don’t ever know do one…

Syria is a mess, made messier by all of the agendas being played out at the expense of 900,000 Syrian lives over the past seven years. Iran, Russia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and of course, the US, all have “national interests” to protect as Asada continues to tighten his grip on what remains of the Syrian people. Turkey and Lebanon have taken on over 300,000 Syrian refugees, so they also have a stake in this terrible game. Layered through out the morass of factions, religious sects, civil war players is ISIS. ISIS is opportunistically being leveraged by both the government of Syria and all the other players as justification for the ongoing horrors the people of Syria are being forced to endure. There are no easy answers for anyone here. There is a long history of regional desperation, death and political/religious unrest that perpetuates the tar baby effect of the Syrian conflict. None of that will change no matter who “wins”. I heard a Syrian woman on KPBS suggest that the only way out of this mess is for all of the external participants withhold any action from Syria. Simply remove the eternally supplied props and she believes the war will end shortly thereafter and recovery can begin. I think she may be right and perhaps more importantly, it is the only solution that is not perverted towards any other agenda. The key will be in the hands of the Syrian people. Oh and even when I agree with the current administration’s unilateral action in Syria this week, I must point out that Trump still managed to lie about it.

This week I learned some stuff:

• I learned a new perspective on how our country got so divided. We have all heard the pundit pontifications on how the Democrats became so elitist as to not have heard what rural “red” America was saying. Lots of these radio talk show geniuses, mostly on the right but sometimes the left, keep saying the Democrats have lost touch with rural America. The new perspective I heard this week offers a reason this divide has occurred. Though very well written the observations in this FB article was very hard to read and accept though I can find no fault with the logic and conclusions. However, unlike other problem definition clarifications I have received in my life, it is hard to see any near term remedy for this situation. This is when you really have to dig deep to keep hopeful.

Website Update
• Week 2 for the new Vocabulary Quiz
• This week I also added the lyrics for “Fire Lake ” by Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band for your sing-a-long pleasure.
• Added a link to some pictures of some of the truly AMAZING Bonsai trees that we own (as US Citizens) and that are cared for in the US National Arboretum in Washington, DC.

Writing and Painting Update:
• I was a busy FOG artist and writer this week – I worked on 2 paintings started last week. I am not sure if they are done yet or not, I have to let ‘em percolate a bit then check. I painted a new Yupo painting of an old favorite subject – a single candlestick in an old time brash holder. I am pretty sure I screwed up the perspective on the handle so I will be wiping and repainting that at least. I wrote a new poem inspired by all the time I have been spending in my backyard. I also took and old story, I wrote a couple of Christmases ago to my Workshop group for critique.

• I am beginning to research reverse mortgages. I have heard the ads and read some of the horror stories about widows loosing their homes. But as interest rates begin to rise again, I want to make sure this isn’t something I might find advantageous after interest rate increases make it less so. Its pretty interesting if complicated. It seems its almost impossible to learn about without signing up for all the SPAM you never wanted but I am being careful.
• If you find yourself in Washington DC at some point, I highly recommend that you carve out a couple of hours to visit these magnificent trees. The National Arboretum is a Eden-like place that is almost completely surrounded by some of DC’s most economically challenged areas. In addition, to enjoying beautiful trees and grounds, I am sure the contrast with its neighborhood will not be lost on you as well.

Music Update:
This week we lost J. Geils to old age. He was a regular guy from Grotton, Connecticut who became a big rockstar and then went back to being a regular guy who restores old cars from Grotton. This week’s UJT Radio selections for you are:
• The J. Geils Band — Freeze-Frame – Kind of the theme song for the 1980s, I think.
• Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band – Fire Lake — I think every one has a Fire Lake in their past. Thinking of mine still makes me smile.
• Eagles – I Can’t Tell You Why – Timothy Schmidt sings the lead on this one and I loved his clear high voice way back to Poco.
• Jackson Brown – For A Dancer – This one came up on my Pandora list this week. I remember the last time I heard it was Venice singing it in concert. A great tune.
• Lionel Richie – Running With the Night – This is one of my favorite playlist songs for walking. It has just that right cadence for me.
• Jack Johnson – Wasting Time – Such a cool song. This guy had me from the first song I heard driving on the interstate outside of Seattle.
• Joe Cocker – Feeling Alright – One of my favorite Dave Mason songs covered by one of my favorite blues players.
• Zucchero – Everybody Has to Learn Sometime – I found out about this guy a few weeks ago and still cannot get enough.

That’s it… Do the best you can; Laugh every chance you get; And always remember … The best is yet to come! 

As always, thank you for being my friend! 

Under the Jacaranda Tree URL: http://www.jfmccann.com