Friday, July 26, 2013

Disorderly Memories

I've been cleaning up for about six weeks. Actually have been going through most every box of things I own and finding all kinds of gems.

I received the card above from a photographer today. It was perfect. I'm intrigued how these little memories I'm finding jog my thick skull (see picture below) and are so meaningful ... at least to me.
Then my good friend FD sent me this picture today (above) of the two of us in our Hawaiian garb in St. Louis 30+ years ago. My skull looks thick. I'm on the right (in more ways than one). My daughter did the painting on the left (she's on the left). She was disappointed that I didn't know where that painting was. I guess there are still the art boxes to go through to find that treasure.

We went to visit FD and J in Maine about 20 years ago. Linda did tea on the rocks (not like Scotch on the rocks). Here's evidence:
I think my high school's 50th reunion last month has made me very nostalgic. I felt then, and as I go through my boxes, now, that I'm walking on the clouds in heaven, revisiting people and times from many years ago. It is quite a treat. (Click on pictures to make them larger.)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How are you too?

Photo by Francois Deschamps
She asked me (again) this morning. I responded, “Have you read my blog post” and she said “Yes.”

I understood the “how are” much better than the “you,” which at that moment totally mystified me. I wondered where was the “you” to evaluate its happiness? Was this going to be an inside job, with “you” evaluating “you”?

I knew that I had a body, but at that moment, especially as this was my Pilates (yes, I did her photos) session, my body felt like a machine, breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth and pointing my feet and keeping my knees two fists apart and not bending my legs. So it wasn't “you” doing all that but rather my body. If there were a “you,” where was it? Could I have left my "you" at home? Or worst yet, could “you” have been lost in a fantasy, constructed by my mind? And if so, how did it know when to join my body and when to strike out on its own?

To relieve the difficulty of this question, and to allow my Pilates session to be beneficial, I asked her, “Well, how are you?” She answered in such a way that I had little clue how she really was, so I added, “On a scale of one to ten?” And, expecting a number and the end to this ridiculous dialogue, she replied, “Better than last week.”

Then I went to see my chiropractor who straightens me out with his magic touch. No sooner had I passed through the door of his office, he asked, "How is the world treating you?" I was unprepared for this. Discovering that the world was actually engaged in a practice of treating me was quite an unwelcome revelation. I explained to him that his question was a dualism, separating me from the rest of the world. He agreed and started telling me about a movie called the Secret, about some holy grail. I then remembered that I tried to read the book, maybe at Costco, and if I were Holden Caulfield, I'd say that I wanted to barf, but since I'm not, I starting thinking about the other patients who were waiting to see him, and that pretty much ended our conversation.

Later in the day, I opened the door for a woman coming into the Austin Zen Center. She quietly asked me how I was. “Fine,” I said. And then, as I took off my shoes, I realized I hadn't asked her. “How rude,” I thought. So I asked her and was glad that she was fine too.

Photo by Francois Deschamps

Monday, July 15, 2013

What's in a Name?

I found this among my father's papers. His name was Ed (Edmond) too.

Here's a photo of Ed Dibble. I doubt it is the same one in the limerick. My dad was a fan of Edward Lear.
On safari a man
     named Ed Dibble
Had the bad judgment
     to quibble
With a cannibal chief
His survival was brief
Poor Ed ended up
     as a nibble.

Walls and More Walls ... trying to explain why I don't want to be in a tribe.

Me: I'm bothered continually in the Torah class how Jews see themselves as members of the Jewish tribe as opposed to the human tribe.

He: I know a lot of Jews ... being one myself ... I've never yet met one that considers themselves separate from the human tribe ... in fact one of the central teachings, Tikkun Olam, is about how we all have a responsibility to repair a broken world and make it a better place for everyone. I've never heard any Jew saying those of other faiths would go to Hell, or were any less loved by God ... something I do hear quite often from our non-Jewish friends. Also, notice most Jews wear their mezuzahs inside their shirts, not feeling it necessary to broadcast to the world their faith ... it's a personal thing ... I've always wondered why others feel it necessary to display theirs ... often very garishly ... seems to be a “I'm holier than thou” kind of thing.

She: What does this have to do with Jewish people? Most jews that I know (and that includes family and friends) embrace cultural understanding and mutual respect for ideas that they might not share. They see themselves as very much a part of the human tribe, extending energy and other personal resources trying to better the human condition without regard to race and/or different religions.

Me: I really like what he and she said. I agree with every word, and still stick by what I said. Here are some words by a rabbi about interfaith marriage: In the talk, he uses the phrase, "we Jewish people." For me (a Jew by most definitions), that phrase separates us from others. It would be as if I said, "we people with a white gold wedding ring." Immediately I see set up two groups where one has excluded the other. It is great that the white golds do such good in the world. But I think that (also) that do gooders can be seen as demeaning. If I knocked on your door and said, "let me care for you" then I've identified you as one who is both separate from me, and one needing to be cared for. (I hypocritically took the Buddhist vow to save all beings from suffering. I suspect that has the same shortcomings of being both a separator and a demeanor.

Judaism, like all religions, separates some from the many. I don't think that how some take care of the many alleviates that separation. In the talk cited above, Rabbi Freeman says, “Any person who wishes to join the Jewish people and their holy mission is welcome, regardless of race, color, sex or family background. We only ask that they commit to keeping the rules G-d gave us ..."

My friend H sends me, almost daily, articles about the separation in the Middle East between the Jew and the non-Jew. I feel like saying “Duh, if you separate yourself from others then you shouldn't complain that you are seen as separate.” The photographer Edward Steichen was so brilliant when he coined the term, the Family of Man. He did that partially in response to his mom who scolded him when, as a kid, he yelled out an anti-Semitic remark. He worked tirelessly for the benefit of all beings, not as a member of one religion, but as a bonafide human being.

William Blake: I must create a system or be enslaved by another mans; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

Me: I imagine that each of us resides in a circle in a vend diagram. We have constructed that circle, be it artist, female, or Jew. My Zen teacher reminded me the other day (as I talked to him about my dislike of separating one from another) that the separation is only occurring in the mind. I feel sometimes that we have the walls around ourselves that the ancient cities had/have in Europe. We understand why they needed their walls. But do we need them as well?

Dad: “Please, when I die, don't have a service in any church or temple. I don't want to favor one faith over another.” “Would you like to see a priest or a rabbi?” they asked him on his death bed, “no,” he answered, “a philosopher.”

Note one: I learned in Torah class last week that it is not okay to be satisfied as long as their is some injustice or unmet need in the world. I liked that. Seems that as the little girl is throwing back the sand dollars into the ocean, one by one, satisfaction would only cause her to hesitate and a few (more) sand dollars would dry up from the sun.

Note two: I'm attempting to see if I can not join anything in an effort not to separate myself from others. Of course, that may be counterproductive and the ultimate separation.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

How are you?

How are you?
She asked.

I was startled. I'd been
thinking of more stuff
than one should,
but not that.

Should I let the other
stuff go and dig deep
into the recesses of
my mind,
ascertaining how I am,
or simply say,
just fine, 
and you?

I told her I made an
art piece about that
once. I went to a
Jewish deli with my
aunt and her friends
and someone asked
someone how are
you and I expected
a fine and you? and
instead got a G_d
awful litany of ills,
the like of which
I had not heard of,
that is, not in or from
one person.

Now when I hear those
friendly empathetic sympathetic
words, the litany returns and I
just want to hide my head,
returning to peaceful
mindless discriminating

How am I?

I'm just fine,
and you?

Note one: When my wife left today, I was going through the garbage container outdoors, looking desperately for my favorite scissors that I had last night ... and that I've had for over 20 years. I had thrown in a tub of queso that wouldn't go down the sink—it was so thick and nasty. It was all over my hands. She asked how I was and I said "Terrible. I lost my scissors." 

They are my muse. I even went to order a new pair ... and then looked once more where they were supposed to be ... and they were there. Yea!!!!!

Note two: "Whenever someone asked a certain Zen master how he was, he would always answer 'I'm okay.' Finally one of his students said, 'Roshi, how can you always be okay? Don't you ever have a bad day?' The Zen Master answered, 'Sure I do. On bad days, I'm okay. On good days, I'm okay.'"

Note three: Here's the piece I did in 1984. The text says, "How are you? Well, about 6 months ago I fell down and was unconscious for three wks. and then my brain started bleeding and they started to feed me interveniously[sic] and they had to do 9 brain scans and I don't look so bad now, do I?" The innocent "How are you?" (Click on image to enlarge.)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Photography Don'ts

When I first started teaching photography (1969) we used the Focal Encyclopedia for Photography as a text. There weren't any textbooks. Then Charles Swedlund wrote one, followed by Henry Horenstein's books for which I wrote accompanying workbooks (see:

The rule for the students was not to have a built-in meter, a telephoto, nor a zoom lens. How 44 years has corrupted me! Now my favorite camera (other than a $10,000 Leica that I don't have) is my iphone. Here's a picture of my grandson with his new camera, taken by my son with his iPhone.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Certainty and Uncertainty

Downstairs they are discussing the “certainty of uncertainty,” or is it the “uncertainty of certainty”? I am not sure. It seems a bit of contradiction to be certain of anything, even uncertainty ... so I'll vote for the uncertainty of certainty, while, at the same time, envying people who have certainty.

My long-time friend Greg has had a few conversations with the almighty. There is no doubt in his mind. He is beyond the point of belief. He has experienced him directly. I hear a lot about Moses’ conversations with God in my Torah study class and I wonder if others in the class think that Moses is a liar, crazed, or being fooled by a guy behind the bushes? Or, is he actually hearing his voice? Or is it a combination of those four theories, or perhaps even a fifth or sixth or seventh?

I'm not certain of much of anything. And that's ok with me. It seems that to be certain you not only need a bulletproof proof, but you also need faith that you are right. Einstein was asked, “Suppose an experiment disproved your theory. Would you change your mind?” “No,” he said, “the experiment would be wrong.”

I can imagine a proof that would be pretty convincing. I drop a coin 1000 times and it hits the ground each time. That indicates it probably will hit the ground the next time I drop it (that is, unless gravity reverses its course, or a thief reached her hand out). But am I certain? No.

I've been fooled many times, as have most of us. As a kid I did magic tricks. I learned from the tricks that what you see might not be the whole story.

I can hear Uncle Ed asking if any of this makes a difference. Would certainty give one a better life? Or would uncertainty? If I were certain that a certain path would take me where I'd like to go I could probably walk more confidently. But if I ended up at a dump rather than a BBQ restaurant, I would be devastated. On the other hand, if I were uncertain of the path, I would worry so much that I might not hear the birds sing.

I think it does make a difference which way you say it, but you can't choose one over another just for convenience or happiness. A more practical approach might be to realize that certainty is a continuum and that in any situation we have some degree of certainty ... and, fortunately, some degree of uncertainty.

I Like You

This is the same place where, in the men's john, it is writ, "I love you is back." It warmed my heart to know that not only is love back, but liking is as well.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cousin CC Gets A Sore Toe (A Story For Peter Kriss)

(Note: this is a guest post by my dad (Edmond Mosley) who passed to another place nine years ago.)

When Peter's great uncle Edmond lived in Long Beach, New York, in the early days, he loved to eat sandwiches. It didn't matter what was inside the sandwich as long as there was bread on the outside. A good excuse to get to eat a lot of sandwiches was to have a picnic.

The best place to have a picnic if you lived in Long Beach was over the bay to a little Island called “Bird Island” which was a bird preserve. Long Beach is on the Atlantic Ocean. On the west side of Long Beach there is a small bay. If you go about a half mile across the bay you get to Bird Island.

When I told my friend Seymour and his brother Martin (who loved sandwiches even more than I do if that is possible) about my plan for a picnic on Bird Island, Martin jumped with joy. Seymour, who was very philosophical because he had just finished reading all the works of the ancient philosphers including two or three of the modern ones, only snickered but agree to come. We planned to make forty Lwo sandwiches (twenty for me,.twenty for Martin and two for Seymour. We tried to be nice to Seymour and hoped that he would eat only one sandwich so that Martin and I could split the other ones.

One thing you can sure about cousin CC. If there is food around be is sure to appear. On the very day of the picnic, which was on a Saturday, CC appeared. He lived in Boston, quite a distance from Long Beach but somehow he got wind about what was going on. He asked to come with us and promised that he would not be hungry and ask for any of the sandwiches, “Well,” he said, “perhaps only three or five.” It was just like CC to skip "four"since he was not very good in arithmetic.

We liked cousin CC and did not begrudge him the food but we knew that every time he was around something strange would happen. It was to be no different this time. Anyway, we decided to keep a careful eye on him to see that we did not get into trouble.

Now to get to Bird Island we needed to rent a rowboat. When we got to a pier across from the Island, there were several rowboats for rent. We picked the largest and sturdiest looking boat. When we all got into the boat, cousin CC was the happiest. “See,” he said, “I have been with you guys for an hour and nothing bad has happened!” Martin said he would row and picked up the oars. CC said wait a minute. He told us about how when he lived in Cairo which is on the Nile river he was acclaimed as the best oarsman on the Nile and begged us to let him row. When Cousin CC pleads for something he rolls his eyes in such a way that it is difficult to refuse him. The right eye rolls clockwise and the left eye rolls counterclockwise. If you refuse him, he reverses the rolls until you give in.

We let him take the oars. If he was the best oarsman on the Nile, the others must have been a great disaster. The more CC rowed, the furthur from the Island we seemed to be. “Row harder!” we told him, which was a mistake. He rowed so hard that one oar slipped into the water. The current took it away from the boat. Cousin CC did not seem worried—in fact he began to smile. Whenever CC smiles there is more trouble.

Before we could tell Cousin CC how angry we were for his losing the oar, he told us that on the Nile he would never use two oars but he would row with one while standing in the rear of the boat. Before we could stop him, he slipped to the rear of the boat, stepping on our sandwiches, and began to paddle. His paddling was even worse than his rowing. All we did was to go around in a circle and as he changed his footing he smashed more and more our sandwiches. Not only that, but with every stroke he splashed water in the boat. Soon, our feet were soacked in water, let alone the smashed sandwiches.

Seymour began frantically to search his brain trying to recollect if there was anything that the philosophers have said that would rescue the situation. When we complained to Cousin CC about all the water he was splashing into the boat, he said not to worry. He walked to the bow of the boat and bent down. We thought he was searching for a pail. Strangely, Cousin CC had bent down , taken a small drill from his trousers and drilled a small hole in the bottom of the boat. “See,” he said, “now all the water will run out—just like in the bathtub!”

Cousin CC could not be more wrong. Tbe ocean water gushed through the hole. Our poor sandwiches were swept out to sea. Suddenly, Seymour remebered that Plato, a philosopher he admired, had sald something about the big toe having some useful purpose, or was it Darwln? Without wasting time to determine who said what, he ordered Cousin CC to take off his shoe and stick his toe into the hole. CC did as he was told, feeling proud that he was being noticed. It was a tight fit for the toe but CC squeezed it in.

The trick worked. The water stopped coming in. Martin grabbed the oar and paddled us back to the pier. Seymour, Martin and I scrambled out of the boat and called for CC. CC could not move—his big toe was firmly stuck in hole. His eyes began to do their roll. Try as we might, we could not pull the toe out. Cousin CC suggested that we burn the boat and then he could pull his toe out. This was a dumb idea, even for Cousin CC.

This time the solution came from Martin who was more practical than Seymour and myself even though Martin had built a boat in his garage that turned out to be to wide to be pulled out. He said that we should carry the boat with CC stuck in to the hospital and have a doctor operate on the boat. It was a bright idea, at least CC said it was. We turned the boat upside down and carried the boat on our shoulders. Cousin CC was dangling upside down, his big toe firmly in the hole.

We had to walk through the town to get to the hospital. No one we met acted surprised at seeing a boat being carried with a person hanging upside down because in those early days people were very polite and did not stare or laugh at uncommon sights. Things are different these days because of television. People laugh at everything now to become part of canned laughter.

When we got to the hospital Cousin CC asked for the most skilled surgeon on the staff. It was Dr. Sawbones. Dr. Sawbones took the boat with CC attached to the operating room. A series of x-rays indicated that Cousin CC's foot was stuck in a hole at the boat's bottom. Dr. Sawbones asked for two skilled assistants and for the hospital carpenter. We went to the viewing gallery. The operation took three hours and forty minutes. We could not really see what was going on but we did hear a lot of sawing and hammering. Cousin CC was given an anesthetic not because he needed one, according to Dr. Sawbuck, but because he started to criticise the way the operation was being done. Anyway, Cousin CC came out fine except for a little swelling in the toe. He said he had a great tlme at the picnic.

Note: This story is partly true. There is a cousin CC and Seymour and martin were my friends in long beach. There is also a bird island reserve which scouts were allowed to visit. The loss of sandwiches really happened when my Uncle Ted invited thirty people including myself on a fishing trip and forgot to bring the food. Cousin CC lived in cairo before coming to America at the age of eight.

CC is the guy in the middle of the women, with his thumb up. Click on picture to enlarge it.
Kim's note: Here's Seymour (, CC (, some mention of the Freedgood brothers (here) and Edmond (

Anatomy Lesson and Love