Happy Birthday Dick Proenneke

Tomorrow is the 98th birthday of Dick Proenneke.  Who doesn’t love a recluse?  Especially one that is not writing a manifesto and sending letter bombs, but is simply building a log cabin in the Alaska wilderness and talking to himself.  A lot.  I will watch this series on PBS whenever it is on, it is my “Law and Order,” so to speak.  The take away from Dick’s story is that he did all this after he retired, so it is never too late to follow your dreams.

Born: May 4, 1916 Primrose, Harrison Township, Lee County, Iowa
Died: April 20, 2003 (aged 86) Hemet, Riverside County, California, USA
Residence: Twin Lakes, Alaska
Occupation: naturalist, carpenter, mechanic
Awards: 1999 National Outdoor Book Award

Richard Louis “Dick” Proenneke (born May 4, 1916 – April 20, 2003) was an American naturalist, who lived alone in the high mountains of Alaska at a place called Twin Lakes. Living in a log cabin he constructed by hand, Proenneke made valuable recordings of both meteorological and natural data.

On May 21, 1968, Proenneke arrived at his new place of retirement at Twin Lakes. Before arriving at the lakes, he made arrangements to use a cabin on the upper lake of Twin Lakes owned by a retired Navy captain, Spike Carrithers, and his wife Hope from Kodiak, (in whose care he had left his camper). This cabin was well situated on the lake and close to the site which Proenneke chose for the construction of his own cabin. Proenneke’s bush pilot friend, Babe Alsworth, returned occasionally to bring food and orders that Proenneke placed through him to Sears.

Proenneke remained at Twin Lakes for the next 16 months, when he left to go home for a time to visit relatives and secure more supplies. He returned to the lakes in the following spring and remained there for most of the next 30 years, going to the lower 48 only occasionally to be with his family. He made a film record of his solitary life, which was later recut and made into a documentary, entitled Alone in the Wilderness. It has aired on PBS numerous times. In 2011, a sequel was produced after it was revealed Proenneke had shot enough footage for at least two more programs. Alone in the Wilderness: Part 2 premiered for the first time on December 2, 2011. A premiere date for Part 3 has yet to be announced.

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Happy Birthday Diego Rivera

Yesterday was the 127th birthday of the artist Diego Rivera.  His full name is a sentence.  I first experienced Diego Rivera at Interlochen Center for the Arts when I stumbled across a book of his work in the library.  I used to go to the library a lot in the summertime, it was cool and quiet and a nice place to read for a couple hours.  My aunt was the librarian, so that was nice.  I remember looking at the photographs of his murals and reading the dimensions and being absolutely amazed.  I remember loving the complexity in his artistry of simple subjects.  It is like he took his time to honor every detail of the task of bundling this basket of produce, it just was so wonderful to understand that art was partially bringing light to and celebrating the every day existence of everyone.  It became much more accessible and personal.

NAME: Diego Rivera
BIRTH DATE: December 08, 1886
DEATH DATE: November 24, 1957
EDUCATION: San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts
PLACE OF BIRTH: Guanajuato, Mexico
PLACE OF DEATH: Mexico City, Mexico

Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez (December 8, 1886 – November 24, 1957) better known simply as Diego Rivera was a prominent Mexican painter born in Guanajuato, Guanajuato, an active communist, and husband of Frida Kahlo (1929–1939 and 1940–1954). His large wall works in fresco helped establish the Mexican Mural Movement in Mexican art. Between 1922 and 1953, Rivera painted murals among others in Mexico City, Chapingo, Cuernavaca, San Francisco, Detroit, and New York City.[1] In 1931, a retrospective exhibition of his works was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Rivera was an atheist. His mural Dreams of a Sunday in the Alameda depicted Ignacio Ramírez holding a sign which read, “God does not exist”. This work caused a furor, but Rivera refused to remove the inscription. The painting was not shown for 9 years – until Rivera agreed to remove the inscription. He stated: “To affirm ‘God does not exist’, I do not have to hide behind Don Ignacio Ramírez; I am an atheist and I consider religions to be a form of collective neurosis.”

Travel Day – Homebound

This is entirely written and posted from my phone. That explains the sloppy composition. Sorry.


Most of today will be spent on cars, planes, possibly a train.

I have all my stuff packed. I may take one more swim after breakfast.

The only souvenir I got was this tan and this haircut. The haircut, by the way, was executed through translator and pantomime. What’s the worst that could have happened, really?

After spending over a week at a resort mostly populated by retirees, I have witnessed UP CLOSE how a persons DNA can betray them if given enough time and ammunition. The Krystal Hotel is where angry, dissatisfied, and vastly out of shape mid-westerners go to complain about how graphic the warning photos on the side of Mexican cigarettes are and to tan their sour prune faces.  We met no one here and spoke to no one that did not work for the hotel.  It was a clique that we were not invited to join.  So I guess another souvenir is a cautionary warning to take care of myself. Food. Exercise. Mental stimulation. Passion. Life. Life. Life.

I can’t make my hobbies complaining about how much better everything used to be and comparing knee surgeries. I must stay engaged (if only by sideline witnessing) in youth culture. Even if I don’t understand it, it’s exciting to see it.

We probably won’t be back to PVR for 20+ years when we are the right age, I’m sure it will be different. I hear the hotel Boca Chica in Acapulco is the place. [I am not sure about the masked bandits and kidnapping, but random people get shot in parking lots in my neighborhood for no reason at home.]  Danger and randomness is everywhere.  I’ll let you know…

Fall Back Tonight

Unless you happen to glance at the clock on your oven first before any other clock, you may just feel a bit more rested tomorrow morning.  Daylight Saving Time is pretty much non-news now, with phones and computers automatically correcting the time.  Unless that is, you utilized the extra “fall-back” hour for and extra couple rounds before last call tonight, and if you do, well played, well played, indeed.

Brief History:

Benjamin Franklin has been credited with the idea of Daylight Saving Time, but Britain and Germany began using the concept in World War I to conserve energy, the Washington Post observes. The U.S. used Daylight Saving Time for a brief time during the war, but it didn’t become widely accepted in the States until after the second World War.

In 1966, the Uniform Time Act outlined that clocks should be set forward on the last Sunday in April and set back the last Sunday in October.

That law was amended in 1986 to start daylight saving time on the first Sunday in April, though the new system wasn’t implemented until 1987. The end date was not changed, however, and remained the last Sunday in October until 2006

Today, Daylight Saving Time begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. The time change will precede the first day of spring and the vernal equinox, which is set to take place at 1:14 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, March 20.

Not a fan of Daylight Saving Time? Don’t worry: You can resume your normal schedule on Nov. 4.

James Michener – Style Icon

Every once in a while, I wonder if anyone is reading a Michener novel.  I mean, someone must, right?  His books are of such sweeping epic length, I worry that there is no one left with that sort of attention span.  Maybe the next poolside vacation, I will buy a Michener and read it?

NAME: James Michener
BIRTH DATE: c. February 03, 1907
DEATH DATE: October 16, 1997
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York City, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Austin, Texas

BEST KNOWN FOR: James Michener was an American novelist and story-story writer who penned Tales of the South Pacific, which one a Pulitzer Prize in 1947.

James Albert Michener (February 3, 1907 – October 16, 1997) was an American author of more than 40 titles, the majority of which were sweeping sagas, covering the lives of many generations in particular geographic locales and incorporating historical facts into the stories. Michener was known for the meticulous research behind his work.

Michener’s major books include Tales of the South Pacific (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948), Hawaii, The Drifters, Centennial, The Source, The Fires of Spring, Chesapeake, Caribbean, Caravans, Alaska, Texas, and Poland. His nonfiction works include the 1968 Iberia about his travels in Spain and Portugal, his 1992 memoir The World Is My Home, and Sports in America. Return to Paradise combines fictional short stories with Michener’s factual descriptions of the Pacific areas where they take place.

Michener gave away a great deal of the money he earned. Over the years, Mari Yoriko Sabusawa Michener played a major role in directing donations by her husband, totaling more than $100 million. Among the beneficiaries were the University of Texas, the Iowa Writers Workshop and Swarthmore College (stated by a New York Times’ notice about her death).

In 1989, Michener donated the royalty earnings from the Canadian edition of his novel Journey, published in Canada by McClelland & Stewart, to create the Journey Prize, an annual Canadian literary prize worth $10,000 (Cdn) that is awarded for the year’s best short story published by an emerging Canadian writer.

Lonesome George, famed Galapagos tortoise, dies

I met Lonesome George about ten years ago when I was on the Galapagos Islands.  He was inside the Charles Darwin Research Center on Santa Cruz Island.  It is sad to think that he was the last of his kind and now he is gone.

QUITO, Ecuador— The giant tortoise Lonesome George, whose failed efforts to produce offspring made him a symbol of disappearing species, was found dead on Sunday, officials at the Galapagos National Park announced.

Lonesome George was believed to be the last living member of the Pinta island subspecies and had become an ambassador of sorts for the islands off Ecuador‘s coast whose unique flora and fauna helped inspire Charles Darwin’s ideas on evolution.

The tortoise’s age was not known but scientists believed he was about 100, not especially old for giant tortoises, who can live well over a century. Scientists had expected him to live another few decades at least.

Various mates had been provided for Lonesome George after he was found in 1972 in what proved unsuccessful attempts to keep his subspecies alive.

He lived at a tortoise breeding center on the archipelago’s island of Santa Cruz. He was found Sunday morning in his pen by his longtime keeper, Fausto Llerena, the park said in a statement.

The park said the cause of his death would be investigated.

The Galapagos’ giant tortoise population was decimated after the arrival of humans but a recovery program run by the park and the Charles Darwin Foundation has increased the overall population from 3,000 in 1974 to 20,000 today.

via Lonesome George, famed Galapagos tortoise, dies – latimes.com.

Bluefin Tuna: New Endangered Animal for 2012

All any of us should ever want or hope for from our lives is to leave the world better than how we found it.  That should be everyone’s ultimate goal.  Protecting creatures that cannot protect themselves is part of making a better world.

With its meat used in the preparation of sushi, the fishing industry continues to harvest 60,000 tons each year.

Overfishing continues despite repeated warnings of the current precipitous decline. In 2007, researchers from the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)—the regulators of Atlantic bluefin fishing—recommended a global quota of 15,000 tonnes to maintain current stocks or 10,000 tonnes to allow the fisheries recovery. ICCAT then chose a quota of 36,000 tonnes, however surveys indicated that up to 60,000 tonnes was actually being taken (1/3 of the total remaining stocks) and the limit was reduced to 22,500 tonnes. Their scientists now say that 7500 tonnes is the sustainable limit. In November, 2009 ICCAT set the 2010 quota at 13,500 tonnes and said that if stocks were not rebuilt by 2022 it would consider closing some areas.

In 2010, Greenpeace International added the northern bluefin tuna to its seafood red list.

On March 18, 2010 the United Nations rejected a U.S.-backed effort to impose a total ban on Atlantic Bluefin tuna fishing and trading. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) vote was 68 to 20 with 30 European abstentions. The leading opponent, Japan, claimed that ICCAT was the proper regulatory body.

In 2011, the USA‘s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) decided not to list the Atlantic bluefin tuna as an endangered species. It is still considered a “species of concern,” but NOAA officials claimed that the more stringent international fishing rules created in November 2010 would be enough for the Atlantic bluefin tuna to recover. NOAA agreed to reconsider the species endangered status in 2013.

The easiest way to help is to not support any sushi restaurant that sells Atlantic Blue Fin and tell them why.

Jean Seberg – Style Icon

Jean Dorothy Seberg[1] (November 13, 1938 – August 30, 1979) was an American actress. She starred in 37 films in Hollywood and in France, including Breathless (1960), the musical Paint Your Wagon (1969) and the disaster film Airport (1970).

One month before her 18th birthday, this blonde actress landed the title role in Otto Preminger‘s Saint Joan (1957) after a much-publicized contest involving some 18,000 hopefuls. The failure of that film and the only moderate success of her next, Bonjour tristesse (1958), combined to stall Seberg’s career, until her role in Jean-Luc Godard‘s landmark feature, Breathless (1960), brought her renewed international attention. Seberg gave a memorable performance as a schizophrenic in the title role of Robert Rossen‘s Lilith (1964), costarring Warren Beatty. Her two most famous films in America were back to back. The first was the western-musical Paint Your Wagon (1969). The second was Airport (1970), which became the trend setter for “disaster films” of the 1970s.

During this time Seberg became involved in anti-war politics and was the target of an undercover campaign by the FBI to discredit her because of her association with several members of the Black Panther party. Bad press and several personal problems nearly ruined her career, and she only acted in foreign films from then on. She was found dead under mysterious circumstances in a Paris suburb on August 30, 1979. She was 40 years old.

Seberg was survived by both of her parents, two younger siblings, three ex-husbands, and a 16-year old son named Diego. In 1970 she gave birth to a daughter named Nina, who was the product of an extramarital affair she had with a college student named Carlos Navarra; Nina died two days after her birth as a result of Jean overdosing on sleeping pills during her pregnancy.

Shirley MacLaine on ‘Bernie,’ ‘Downton Abbey,’ and Her Lifetime Achievements

Shirley MacLaine on ‘Bernie,’ ‘Downton Abbey,’ and Her Lifetime Achievments – The Daily Beast.

At 78, MacLaine costars in the new movie ‘Bernie’ and will have an upcoming turn on ‘Downton Abbey.’ Lorenza Muñoz talked to her about her work ethic and why America is a disaster.

by Lorenza Muñoz

Shirley MacLaine had a few facts to go on when she accepted the part of Marjorie Nugent in Richard Linklater’s latest film, Bernie: It is based on a true story. Nugent was mean and nasty. She was a widow hated by most of the town of Carthage, Texas. She was rich and stingy.  She was murdered by her friend, the town mortician named Bernie Tiede.

Everything else was up to MacLaine to figure out. At first she said she hoped Linklater would give her more clues. But he was “ambiguous.”

“The first meeting was strange because he didn’t answer any of my questions,” said the 78-year-old Oscar winning actress. “I said, ‘Do you want me to look like her? What is the wardrobe like? Do I speak in that accent?’ I had to find my own way about everything. All of us were operating on our own.”

Linklater says he offered some advice and had many conversations with her. But knew he could give someone like MacLaine a lot of freedom. Besides, MacLaine was in communication with both main characters, Tiede from prison and Nugent from the great beyond.

“I am always trying to involve the actor in the creation of the character but everyone is different at how they arrive at that,” said Linklater, noting that MacLaine was the first person he thought of for the role in 1998 when he first read the story in Texas Monthly magazine. But she was too young at the time. “The key to Shirley is that she likes playing that side where people think she is a crazy old bitch. But then during the honeymoon period in the story, Shirley still has that twinkle in her eye and she is still very sexy.”

MacLaine also realized that uncertainty was a major theme in the dark comedy. Telling too much or delving too deep, would turn it into a drama.

“I realized he was making a picture about ambiguity,” she said. “Is Bernie guilty? Is he a murderer? Is he adorable? The whole secret of the comedy is not to go too far. If you go too far you don’t have ‘Springtime for Hitler.’ ”

As she speaks, her light blue eyes shoot out intelligence. Her finely penciled lips are a coppery brown, playing off her salmon-colored suit and her reddish hair. Her jewelry sparkles with diamonds and tanzanite, the color of the vision chakra, part red, part blue. When frustrated by a question, her lips purse, her eyes narrow in a flash of Aurora Greenway, her character for which she won her first and only Oscar in Terms of Endearment.

MacLaine, avid spiritualist and searcher, is comfortable with the unanswerable.

“I think you can have a work ethic about doing nothing,” she said.

One question she has been asking herself lately is why she and so many millions are fanatically gripped by the Masterpiece drama, Downton Abbey, in which she was recently cast. The publicity generated by her hiring prompted the producers of Downton to call her agent, ICM’s Jack Gilardi, to thank him.

“She is so professional and very creative,” said Gilardi, who has represented her for 20 years. “She has a great gift understanding people. She knows how to make you tingle.”

She had never seen the series—but after watching the first two seasons, she was hooked. Now, she is muzzled by creator Julian Fellowes’s edict that no one from the cast can talk about Season 3: MacLaine, who will play Martha Levinson, Lady Cora Crawley’s mother, could not offer much insight.

“Why is this a hit? I haven’t come up with the answer,” she said. “I think Maggie Smith is one answer. I liked Upstairs Downstairs, but not like this. It is really worth an examination.”

She is fond of pondering, and began asking deep questions like “What is this all about?’ ‘What is God?’ ‘Are we alone?’ ” at the age of 10.

Her father, an intellectual with a background in psychology and philosophy, engaged her questions by asking more questions, such as, if there is a God, then we must ask what it means.

And so she is perplexed by folks, like the people of Carthage, Texas, who don’t ask questions and are certain of the unknowable. The residents of the town would not believe that their beloved Bernie confessed to shooting Marge Nugent in the back four times in 1996 and then stuck her in a refrigerated cooler face down below the chicken pot pies.

“The townspeople of East Texas are like the Greek chorus in the movie,” said MacLaine. “The most interesting thing is that they refused to believe the truth. It is, I think, a sociologically important statement on East Texas. It is kind of like another country.”

For MacLaine, there is no border dividing show business and life. In life, we are our own costume designer, our own actor, distributor, producer, director, and writer, she says. During her current one-woman show, she compiles clips from her acting, dancing, and singing life together with her thoughts on meditation, reincarnation, UFOs, and chakras. At the end of the show there is a question-and-answer session and rarely do people ask about Hollywood.

“The questions are never about showbiz. They are about my books,” she said. “They get the compilation that life is show business. They understand that we are just actors strutting up on the stage, as the great man said.”

Perhaps because of her belief in life as show business, her holistic approach about her mind, body, and soul has spared her the fate of many of her contemporaries. She has avoided the pitfalls of fame, money, prescription pills, or drugs or alcohol that brought down many actresses of her generation. Since she believes in the laws of cause and effect, there are no accidents. She has outlived nearly all of her contemporaries.

In June, the American Film Institute will present her with a lifetime achievement award. It is an understatement to say she has achieved much. She has made more than 50 feature films, hung out with Frank, Dino, and Sammy; worked with directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Hal Ashby, and James L. Brooks; costarred with luminaries like Jack Lemmon, Jack Nicholson, and Peter Sellers; received six Oscar nominations, with one win in 1983 for Terms of Endearment, and seven Golden Globes, including the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. She’s written several bestselling books, including her spicy tell all, I’m All Over That—and Other Confessions, last year. It will be challenging to fit her ceremony into two hours, said Bob Gazzale, chief executive of AFI.

“Perhaps more than any other recipient, with Shirley I would underline the word life,” he said. “It’s so much more than just movies. It’s been an epic journey and she has invited all of us to come along for the ride.”

Part of her journey at one time included politics. She was eager and fresh faced in 1972 when she traversed the country pumping up enthusiasm for George McGovern, along with her brother, Warren Beatty. Since then she has only backed one candidate, Ohio’s Dennis Kucinich. She is disillusioned by politics and dismisses the system as so corrupt it cannot be saved. She views America’s materialistic ways as a disaster, in the literal sense of Greek etymology: dis—meaning torn away from, and aster, the stars. Or, the separation from the spiritual.

Although she is highly disciplined, she says she is trying to stop being so goal oriented. It was a lesson she learned when she made her pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, the route through Spain said to be taken by St. James in the ninth century. Instead of taking in the stars at night and relaxing through the voyage, she rushed through it to reach the end by a deadline.

“One reason I live in New Mexico is that there is no goal-oriented work ethic. I think you can have a work ethic about doing nothing,” she said. “In Santiago de Compostela, I learned we only need a pair of shoes, water, and a good hat. That is all you need in life.”

Walter V McDonald – Damn Fine Run.


I am sorry to learn of your dad’s passing. Even though I had never met him, I have so many great stories about him from you. I think that is probably the best legacy a person could leave, to have people remember them fondly and tell stories about them and have people they never met mourn their loss.

You were so lucky to know him for so much of your life and to have so many great memories of him and your mother. Such larger than life characters remind us to value our time here and with each other. And hopefully, with a little luck and a lot of bravery, we can create stories that will be told by future generations. To become family lore. To be toasted when two or more people that knew us gather.

Please let us know if there is anything the Anderson side can do for you, Brian, or Amy. You all mean the world to us.

Feel free to visit his online memorial and sign the guestbook here:  Obituary For: Walter V McDonald | Norvel Owens Mortuary.

Walter V McDonald 
(November 5, 1920 – April 16, 2012) 

Walter Vincent McDonald, of Flagstaff, AZ passed away on April 16th, 2012. He was a beloved father, grandfather, great grandfather, and friend to many. Walt was born on November 5th, 1920 in Lowellville, OH and was raised during the depression era. He was a standout athlete at Struthers High School (where he is a member of the hall of fame) balancing academics, sports, and working at the local steel mill. Walt then attended Tulane University on athletics scholarship for both football and basketball. While maintaining grades that kept him on the Dean’s List, Walt excelled in football where he was named to the All Southeastern Conference for two years, Honorable Mention College All-American, and played in the Blue/Grey college football all-star game. By the end of his career at Tulane he held the record for most receptions in a game and a season, which stood for 10 years. It was at Tulane University where he met Marjorie Siler, from Cottonwood, AZ, and they married on November 2nd, 1943.

After graduation Walt was drafted by the Washington Redskins, but chose to volunteer for the Navy where he served in the Pacific Theatre of WWII as a Lt JG and Commander of a PT boat. While serving he was missing in action in New Guinea. After the war Walt relocated to Flagstaff, AZ to be with his wife Marjorie. He then returned to his career in professional football joining the AAFC/NFL playing for the Miami Seahawks, Brooklyn Dodgers, and the Chicago Hornets where he was one of the last players to go both ways as a blocking back and linebacker. Highlights of his career included playing in the first televised professional football game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees, as well as being 2nd overall in Brooklyn Dodgers franchise history for interceptions. After the 1949 season Walt was offered a large contract with the Redskins but decided to retire from football and returned to Flagstaff. Walt continued to receive an NFL pension check until his death.

Walt made his mark in Flagstaff being the first professional football player and a successful businessman. His business endeavors included developing, owning and operating Starlite Lanes bowling alley, as well as owning Club 66, the Pine Hotel, and the Museum Club. Walt was inducted into the Arizona Bowling Hall of Fame and later into the Flagstaff Sports Hall of Fame. He enjoyed spending time with friends and family boating at Lake Powell, fishing, and taking trips with his wife in their motor home.

Walt was preceded in death by his loving wife Marjorie McDonald and son-in-law Aldo Anderson. He is survived by his five children: Susie Anderson Sedona, Choo Choo Walter McDonald Jr Flagstaff, Debbie Mews (Randy) Flagstaff, Dennis McDonald (Susie) Camp Verde, and Randy McDonald (Dana) Tucson, 16 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren. Services will be held at Nativity Catholic Church on Thursday, April 19th at 10 A.M. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hozhoni Foundation, Inc. 2133 N. Walgreen St. Flagstaff, AZ 86004 or Flagstaff Sports Foundation, 114 N. San Francisco St. Suite 17, Flagstaff, AZ 86001. With special thanks and gratitude to the staff and caregivers at The Peaks Senior Living, Heritage Assisted Living, and Hospice Compassus.