Saturday, July 07, 2007


This morning, standing in my backyard, talking on the phone, working my program, gathering plums, I was stunned by the sudden appearance of a tiny green hummingbird hovering over the flowers in our garden. Saying it was green doesn’t do its coat of feathers justice -- a coat of many colors (as Dolly Parton would say) – nor was I stunned by its simple appearance. I’ve seen humming birds here before, they are common, but never have a seen one land. This one did, twice, on the wire surrounding a tomato plant. Somewhere, I got the idea that hummingbirds never rest, that they always remain airborne. Maybe it’s that they never stop twirling their wings? I was so surprised to see the bird sit still for a moment, I forgot to notice if its wings also stopped moving. I just don’t know.


This is a time of great emotional turmoil, highs and lows. So many people I love have been showing up that my head is spinning. At times like this, it’s best to just accept an expanded definition of family.

“We are family.”

Today, the big news was the arrival of my first grandson, James. He is so alert, so curious, and so beautiful. Today, at my house, his other grandpa met him for the very first time. We both, his paternal and maternal grandfathers, agreed he is perfect. Earlier, I gave him an egg carton to chew on (he has two front bottom teeth coming in) and he definitely enjoyed the opportunity.

Later, I took little James out in my backyard and showed him our flowers, and the fruit trees, our hammock, and a few butterflies, and he seemed to appreciate the scene. I told him about the hummingbird, but this time only a bumblebee appeared, buzzing the apples. James eyed the plums but didn’t make a move on them.

Hours later, we were headed east on I-80, as the fog blanketed San Francisco’s 49-square-miles in our rear view mirror. We were headed to summer, where temperatures reach into three digits. When we got here, the sun was going down behind the trees and the hills that envelop this place. We sat on the balcony of this ancient hotel that dates from the Gold Rush and watched the main street come alive.

My companion expects she will see ghosts in this old place; the walls have many stories to tell. So far, she only saw a small cockroach. This isn’t one of those redeveloped, fancy hotels, but a semi-rundown establishment that looks its age, which is 155 years, just three years after fortune-seekers first poured into this area.

The hotel advertises that it is the oldest continuously operating hotel in California.


After one of the driest winters in recent times, the Sierra snow pack was way too small this winter to avoid very dry conditions this summer. We’ve already had major forest fires in the state, and the water districts have instituted voluntary water reduction programs and expensive public-education campaigns.

The water in the river that runs near this town was noticeably lower than on previous visits. I only glimpsed a few small fish swimming near the spot where we cooled our feet after a brutally hot mid-day hike. The rocky riverbed didn’t provide as many attractive swimming holes as usual, but lots of people were out nonetheless.

The path from where we parked to where we sat in the water passes through a lovely wood of Ponderosa and Yellow Pine, Manzanita, Mountain Misery, Poison Oak, and Bay Trees. Lizards scamper around the boulders lining the river; various birds soar overhead.

We carried two quarts of water and a jar of peanuts. Only one quart remained after an hour-and-a-half in that 100-degree white heat.


Whenever I’m out here in the foothills, the history just draws me in. The scars to the landscape from the giant mining operations still remain, as do rusting remnants of the small-time miners along the river’s edge. Here and there are historical markers, as well as a large number of Victorian style buildings.

These days, when a new building is erected around here, they use recycled bricks for its exterior, and the design closely follows the simplicity of the functional warehouse buildings that still dot the city landscape.

This is a place where artists, writers, hippies, and tourists congregate. At night on the weekend, everyone gathers in the town’s saloons and the party begins.


Thursday, July 05, 2007


Summertime here, but not like most summers, so far. The city is bathed in heat. Our windows are always open. Of course, the fog is hanging offshore, and even partway over this peninsula, which is almost precisely seven miles square, but so far here in the Mission, we have clear blue skies and 70-80 degrees of heat.

Today, for the first time in two years, I revisited the place my daughter Sarah and my son-in-law Larry were married, down on the Bay at Fort Mason. It is one of those remarkable coincidences that both Larry, and my soon-to-be other son-in-law, Loic, first stayed at the hostel at Fort Mason when they arrived in San Francisco years ago.

Walking around Black Point Battery, the meadow behind the hostel, I remembered many details about that day that Sarah and Larry got married. Tonight, close to midnight, Sarah and her son (my grandson) James, will be arriving here.

This is the season of love in San Francisco. Those very few "warm San Francisco nights" happen now or in the fall, which is our actual summer. Sweet, sensuous nights, with music playing softly and Napa grape juice on the table, with candlelight. It's an Otis Redding kind of night.

Plus, Apple's stock rose to an all-time high of 132.75 today. It's enough for a small-time investor to feel rich! What better way to earn a thousand bucks a day, even if it is only on paper?


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Birthday America

No photograph could capture the local scene. The Mission District of San Francisco tonight has exploded with fireworks on every block. Far away from here, on the Bay, the City's official celebration is taking place. Here, the unofficial celebration sounds like a guerrilla war zone.

But this is me this afternoon and my gf's leg.

Today my special friend arrived from Tokyo. Here she is in motion.

My girlfriend and I walked throughout the neighborhood tonight. She jumped at the loudest booms, which were indeed shocking. Car alarms were triggered, cheers went up. Children laughed and ran, covering their ears after they lit bombs and rockets that lit up our sky.

Earlier, we sat under the plum tree in my backyard. My sweet friend lay in the hammock, and ducked as ripe plums dropped all around us.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

We are as one

China pressured World Bank to cover up pollution-related deaths .

If you follow this link, you'll learn that the Chinese government successfully pressured the World Bank to cut from a recent report the conclusion that pollution has caused about 750,000 premature deaths in China each year, the Financial Times has reported.

Here is the comment I posted when I read this story:

Terrific story, getting this out. The Chinese government needs to be embarrassed and the press is the only way to do that. Especially, with the Olympics looming, China wants to look good -- this is the best moment for the rest of the world to extract some commitments to a new age of environmental regulation.

This kind of emphasis on critical global reporting is what MyWire presents to readers, while other sites present celebrity news, etc. With the new awareness that we all are interconnected, and able to communicate worldwide with just a few keystrokes, the challenge facing humanity is how will we help one another do the right things to survive as a species?

A critical building block in forging a new world consciousness will be an active press, an investigative press, a fearless press. In the case of this particular story, the international press and global public opinion can jointly exert helpful pressure on a government overseeing an exploding economy that needs to be pressured for its own good, and for the good of us all.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Summer of Love '07

As I noted yesterday, my odd preoccupation with colors has rubbed off on my youngest daughter, who's come up with very interesting interpretations. Meanwhile, today is a special day, because my oldest daughter has arrived to begin the final planning for her wedding, which will be just under three weeks from now.

It's hot tonight in San Francisco, the sky is clear and the stars are bright. It is sweet having my first-born with me; tonight we improvised a dinner without a name -- onions, broccoli stems, garbanzos, hot sausage, sweet corn, a ton of spices, pasta and shredded cheese. It tasted pretty good, especially when we dipped olive bread into it.

My little kids are not here; they've flown east to stay with their grandparents for two weeks, and I miss them -- transitions are always hell for me. Before she left, Julia insisted on making a welcome sign for Laila -- it is taped to our front door now, and is the first thing Laila noticed when she arrived.

Julia wanted to experiment with green dyes and sand dollars, in the hope this helps us create the centerpieces for Laila's wedding party. She came up with a pretty cool outcome.

Then she came up with an even cooler idea -- colored ice cubes. Drop them in a clear drink, say bubbly water or vodka, and they will create a light show worthy of the acid-fueled trips so familiar to those who were tripping, circa 1969.

The boys are growing their hair long this summer. Reminds me of the original Summer of Love. I wasn't here, in the Haight, though I did move into that neighborhood six years later. But I was in Boston, New York, and Washington, where smaller, but no less intense gatherings were happening/
The romanticism of that era revisits us when we look into the innocent young faces of boys like mine, with their freckles and red hair, one straight, one curly, but both full of the promise of what love is truly about.
The romanticism of that era revisits us when we look into the innocent young faces of boys like mine, with their freckles and red hair, one straight, one curly, but both full of the promise of what love is truly about.

The large, chaotic, extended Weir clan is gathering this summer. We will have parties, and we will celebrate a marriage between one of us and special partner, of French origin. Our multicultural family will embrace this wonderful event with ~150 friends and relatives, including our youngest member, little James, who now has (count them!) two teeth!