every Fortress must have a Journal . . .

Click on any image or slideshow to view full-sized images.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

More December: Cabin Fever

Gabriel camping out in front of the stove.Johan and Daniel have been roughhousing since they were 6 and 5 respectively. Now they are 21 and 20, both Army Rangers, and both nationally ranked MMA shootfighters. I figured the couch was doomed. This is called "small joint lock", by the way.
I made this sandwich. Daniel ate it.
Maritha with her birthday presents.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Images from the End of December

Daniel on leave.

The Fortress at Dusk

Maritha puts out julkärve.

Sunlight on the back porch.

Johan, Daniel and Micke

Johan, Daniel and Micke

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Monday, December 12, 2005

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Images of the Day

New cobblestones in the Fortress.
A storefront church opens on Kärlekstingen.
C-130 and Rangers.

Vanäs Fyr at 1.30 PM.
Reporter on the job at Mölltorps Hembyggsförenings Julmarknad.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A Letter to Maureen Dowd

Ms. Dowd -

First rate column, again.

The neo-liberal adventure in Iraq (there's nothing conservative about it) is destroying lives, homes, money, democracy, respect for the truth and the good name of the United States. It's a hideous monster brought into the world by ignorance and deceit and it's wrecking much that is precious.

What to do?

First, get ahold of people who know something about the Middle East. That will be a huge first step because right now they aren't anywhere to be seen in the corridors of power.

Second, get real - not make-believe - help from Moslem allies to stabilize Iraq or get out.

The current "coalition of the willing" doesn't have a 1 in a 100 chance of turning Iraq around. They are despised by all sides in the conflict - including their Iraqi "allies" - and don't have the on the ground intelligence to do a tenth of what they have to do.

Why is this happening? Simple: The United States has throughout its history had fantastic, God-given luck with leadership in times of crisis. That luck ran out on September 11th, 2001.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Way down in Nubiya

Myself and Muhammad al-Nubiye at tea in Aswan, January 2005.

Good thing they stuffed that crocodile.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

A Death in Mazar-i-Sharif

The flag is flying at half-mast over the Fortress today because one of our ISAF guys has been killed in Afghanistan. Another is grievously hurt and may not survive. This the result of a roadside bombing in Mazar-i-Sharif.

Leaving aside the awful and futile political circumstances of this loss I will mention that we spent a tense and unhappy hour last night between learning what had happened and finding out that a good friend of the family was not among the victims. We have reason to believe that he was in the convoy which was bombed, however. The tension here turned to relief and then to sorrow as the details of the incident began to filter through.

This young soldier grew up with my boys and did his Ranger training with my 22 year old. My youngest - 20 - is now doing the same officer training program. These kids grew up together and I've fed the lot of them I don't know how many times. So that makes this incident special for me - the anonymity of Marines killed in Anbar Province has been traded for a detailed and personal connection.

And it's bad enough. And one reflects over the unimaginable distress being caused elsewhere, right now. Other problems are trivial by comparison.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Taken one hour ago . . .

San Blas, 1975

I'm holding a Spanish dictionary. Note camera at lower edge of image.

Photo courtesy of Robin and Picasa2.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

October 2, 2001

Published here for the first time . . .

On the Road between LA and San Diego, Fall 1973

Robin has been sending me pictures of myself from this period, so here I am returning the favor.

This photo is a fine image of the period - it's full of clues and details to the observant eyeball. There's a Swedish word for it: tidstypiskt - "representitive of its context in time".

And, of course, Robin is stunning.

Bookmark found in a translation of Hesiod

I've pixelated this lady's middle initial and last name out of respect for las almas de los fieles difuntos. Those of you who can read what it says can click on the image for a closer look.

I can't remember specifically, but I was surely there at the funeral and helped with the arrangements in different ways. I was working at the Mortuary at the time.

My income from the University of Arizona covered the rent. That was all. If I wanted to eat, too, I had to have a second job. I should recount some Mortuary stories here sometime.

Reading the text makes me think of religious practice as a rehearsal for showing reverence to people who own lots of land. Marx was wrong about almost everything. Nobody can be wrong all the time.

Friday, November 11, 2005

On the Corner

Met on the corner of Alstigen and Kungsgatan at 11.00 this morning.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Haveli Doorway - Maduwan - January 2004

 Posted by Picasa

March 1982

Bombycilla garrulus

They were in the garden this morning - a whole flock. Fifty, maybe sixty birds grabbing every berry they could find.

Waxwings. Fantastic creatures. Unafraid. Elegant. Every time I see them I think "abundance".

As I watched them through my office window it occurred to me how much the flock itself is like one, single organism.

The flocks have shown up here at about this time for several years now. They come down out of the far North, following the over-ripe fruit and the late berries South before it all freezes solid and falls to the ground. They've been a bit slow in coming this year because it's been so incredibly mild. We've had only two early morning frosts and the temperature - even at night - has been stuck around 10° C for weeks.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

1972 - A Conversation with Jerry Garcia

I met Garcia in San Francisco in June of 1972 and had the great good fortune to have a relaxed one-on-one conversation with him. Here's how it happened:

I was the house guest of a family who lived in a huge place in Tiburon. The father in the household was the chief of surgery at a big Bay Area hospital. I had met his daughter at U.C. Santa Barbara and had been invited up for a few days.

There was a very friendly atmosphere, but a dark cloud was hanging over the household. Lisa's older sister had been arrested two months before for marijuana possession. She was released on bail after a few hours and then proceeded to disappear two days before her court appearance. The police had gotten a bench warrant issued for her arrest in spite of the lawyer's best efforts. Her parents had no idea where she was, but Lisa did.

Lisa simply assured her parents that her sister was "OK" and that she would convey their desperate plea that she turn herself in, first to the lawyer and then to the police. The father was sick with worry. He took me, a complete stranger, aside and asked me to do anything I could to get the older sister to co-operate. I promised him that I would do so as soon as I had the opportunity. I told him I would do my best to convince her that her options were very limited and shrinking fast.

We found Lisa's older sister in an attic room in the Mission District. It was hotter than hell in there and the fan in the ceiling did very little to cool the place down. Lisa conveyed her message and I did what I could - which wasn't a whole lot, to emphasize and encourage common sense. As we were leaving Lisa's sister asked: "Do you two want to see the Stones at Winterland tomorrow night? I've got two tickets and I don't think I'm going to be using them." The answer was yes.

That same night we were walking aimlessly around North Beach in the rain. I recall the reflections of the neon signs and the street lights in the puddles. It was pretty late and we were talking about getting back to Tiburon.

We came to a corner with a little bar. There was a band playing inside. The entrance door was closed and there was a bouncer leaning up against the wall looking bored.

We stopped and listened for a moment. The music was a San Francisco blues - gleaming, high and slow. I heard about four notes of the guitar and said to Lisa: "That's Garcia."

"No way. He's not going to be playing a dump like this!"

"I'm telling you it's him. Excuse me . . . Is that Jerry Garcia playing in there?"


"Can we get in?"

"Sure. They're almost done for the night, though. Give me two bucks and you can go in."

Best "ticket purchase" I ever made.

We walked into a perfectly ordinary bar with a few tables and a one foot high stage. There were two old guys drinking at the bar and maybe three people, tops, at the tables.

We sat down at a table right in front of the "stage" and watched and listened. Garcia, a bassist, a drummer, and a guy with a saxophone who was just standing there listening.

It was a strange, strange feeling. He was playing splendidly. Gorgeous, drawn out phrases that trailed off into one another like fog banks. But still the blues, rooted in the earth, dug down into everyday life. I was accustomed to seeing him play in front of packed, crazed mobs of people yelling their fool heads off. This was different, to put it mildly. We were transfixed. He just played, staring into the frets of his guitar.

And suddenly they were finished: "'Night all!"

The other three guys just walked off, out through a back door behind the stage. Garcia stayed behind alone. He was fooling around with his amp, poking at buttons and twisting the little dials. A thought crossed my mind: "Bay Area musician, just like many others."

I stood up and walked onto the stage. It had a crummy red wall-to-wall carpet and hundreds of cigarette burns.

"Mr. Garcia?"

He turned around and looked up, neutral.

I extended my hand.

"I'm a great admirer of your music and of the Dead."

He smiled and shook my hand.

"Mind if I ask a question?", I said.

The smile disappeared instantly. "Depends on what the question is."

"What was it like playing with Bo Diddley at the Fillmore East in April?"

The smile came right back.

"It was great. We had so much fun and learned a lot of stuff from him."

"Yeah, I can imagine. It was really a treat to hear. What a great combination! Best back-up band Bo ever had."

And we talked for about ten minutes about old Bo, and the blues and (briefly) about the Dead. He seemed happy to talk, relaxed and unhurried. The place was now empty except for Garcia, Lisa, the bartender and me. And the bartender was giving us "I want to close" looks.

"Thanks for the talk, Mr. Garcia. The Dead are a big part of my experience. I think about the music all the time. Please keep it up."

"Sure man. I'll do what I can."

We shook hands again and I walked off the stage, towards Lisa who was sitting in amazement.

And I remember something else in that one tiny moment, the second or two after I stepped down off of the one foot high stage: Garcia said, to my back:

"Thanks, man."

We walked out into the rain.

"What did he say??"

"Gee. I'm trying to remember everything."

I never saw Garcia again.

Monday, October 31, 2005


This perspective disappeared between 1986 and 2005.

Now it is back.

A Dream Neighborhood

I dreamt early this morning that I was walking through a rain shower. Walking through the village I have lived in for the last 25 years.

Suddenly the street became unfamiliar, wooded and with buildings set back from the road that I had never seen before. I noticed that my feet were soaked but I just kept walking, I didn't care.

I came upon a big, three story brick building. It seemed to cover the whole block. The brickwork, the masonry, was very odd. The bricks were laid in distinct patterns that I seemed to remember, but could not place in my memory.

The two upper floors were apartments of some kind. I could see drapes in the windows. The entire bottom floor was a open room with concrete pillars and floor. This floor was open to the street through wide entrances like garage doors.

I walked in. It was a market. There were vegetables and fruits on the shelves. There was a smell of earth.

I thought "Excellent. This is far in the future. At least one hundred years. I'm fortunate to be seeing this."