Monday, July 29, 2013


We've had good luck with cucumbers in the garden this year. That's them in the rear, climbing up the back wall of the grow shack. They took the initiative and did it all by themselves, with no encouragement from me!

The bizarre thing is, they are supposed to be Bush Champion Cucumbers. Not that I'm complaining--they've worked out great. But it's a mystery. Right on the package it says, "small, compact bushes, ideal for small gardens...needs no trellising."

We harvest them small and they sure are good eating--juicy and sweet. Our new favorite way to eat them is Scandinavian Cucumber Salad. We've always enjoyed this salad at Scandinavian buffets--so I went online and put together a recipe that's very simple and just the way we remember it.

Scandinavian Cucumber Salad

½ cup vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon fresh dill, finely chopped

Combine all ingredients. Whisk to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add very thinly sliced cucumbers.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least three hours.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Max Randolph: Poetry and Dreamprose

Max Randolph is an old friend, a writer I've known since the 1980s when he arrived on the poetry scene in Santa Barbara, California. Recently, I've had the good fortune to reconnect with him. He's gone on to publish two books, A Horse on the Moon and Autopsy on a Ghost, both available at

The cover art for A Horse on the Moon is by the artist and writer Lee Balan, who has this to say about Randolph's work: "There is incredible beauty in Max Randolph's illuminating dreamprose...The writing often expands into lyrical poetry with shades of Lorca, hints of Ginsberg, and the spirit of Walt Whitman...The writing takes the reader into sublime realms that are transformative, where he or she can uncover what it means to be human."

Autopsy on a Ghost is described as combining "speculative metafiction with neosurrealist dreamprose...weaving memoir, madness, fantasy, absurd realities in a haunting interplay of subversion and shadowed love."

Born in Canada (and descended from Vikings!), Randolph holds dual citizenship. He lived in Southern California for 24 years before moving to Tucson, where, as he puts it, he currently "hangs his sword." He blogs at, and you can hear him reading his poem "California Desert Suite" at this link: Inlandia: A Literary Journey.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Maitreya Heart Shrine Relic Tour

This weekend we went to Riverside to see the Maitreya Heart Shrine Relic Tour. For over a decade, this tour has brought relics of the Buddha and over 40 other Buddhist masters to locations around the world. The relics were displayed around a large altar with this Buddha Bath blessing area in front; we all dipped water from the ladle and poured it over the baby Buddha.

Some of the other objects on the beautiful large altar. But, what are the relics?  I have not included photos of them on this post. Here is a description of the relics from the Maitreya Relic Tour website, where you can also see photos of them (and get a schedule of upcoming tour locations):

"The relics were found from among the cremation ashes of Buddhist masters. They resemble beautiful, pearl-like crystals. The relics embody the master’s spiritual qualities of compassion and wisdom. Visitors often report experiences of inspiration and healing when in the presence of the relics. While some are inspired to pray for world peace and to develop their inner wisdom, others are overcome by emotion as the powerful effects of the relics open their hearts to compassion and loving-kindness.

"The relics are clearly visible inside display cases that encircle a life-size, golden statue of the Maitreya Buddha. Visitors may participate in a Blessing Ceremony where the relics of the Buddha are gently placed on the crown of the visitor’s head for a personal blessing." 

I experienced all of what is described above--inspiration, healing, powerful emotions, the presence of a vast loving-kindness, and a heart opening. The sign says: "You are welcome to ring this bell as an offering of sound to delight your spiritual guide."

This is a copy of "The Sutra of Golden Light," which is described as a book that should be read by "anyone who wants peace in the world." You can download a free pdf of the book here

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Chevron Station, Needles, California

This week we drove to Prescott, Arizona along I-40--not our usual route, but one that was necessary due to the intense heat wave. We pulled off at the River Road exit in Needles for a break and landed at the Chevron station. The big surprise was all of these murals on a cement wall out back. 

A quick web search revealed that the artist is Dan Louden, and that he painted these murals in 2011. He based them on old photographs provided by the owner of the Chevron station. It turns out that Louden has painted murals all over town, most of them in color, at sites like the Really Good Jerky building, the Wagon Wheel Restaurant, and the Best Western Colorado River Inn.

There's a good article about Dan and these murals available online from the Needles Desert Star. (I tried to include the link here, but Blogger wouldn't let me--it's easy to Google the article, though.)

We were here before 10 am, and the temperature was over 100 degrees. After a few minutes of standing on the blacktop taking these pictures, I felt woozy--the heat coming off the asphalt was intense! As I was taking this shot in front of the Chevron, a guy came out, smiled and said, "Welcome to Needles!" I said, "Where it's hot, hot, hot!" He replied, "I wouldn't have it any other way." Spoken like a true desert rat!