Thursday, November 6, 2014

Pelican Holiday

An amazing high tide at 8 am today of 6.7 feet above usual sea level.

Brown pelicans have had the Venice breakwater all to themselves for hours, as a series of islands.  I've never seen pelicans sitting on these rocks before.  

Note: A new documentary opening today about the hardships faced by pelicans from human changes to their habitats: Pelican Dreams by Judy Irving.

The sea is flat as a bowl of jelly because the Santa Ana winds are blowing from land toward the ocean.  No ocean-to-land breezes to start any waves.  


Sand and sky, flat sea and footprints.

Palos Verdes Peninsula just a shadow, Los Angeles just a dream.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Mouth of the Fish

I discovered a star tonight: Fomalhaut... aka Fum al Hut (Arabic for "mouth of the fish").

I was at Point Dume, a volcanic intrusion, on Zuma Beach in Malibu about 6:30 pm.

Sitting at the base of the huge precipice of rock, I noticed a bright star in the thin gap between the cliff and a 30-foot boulder broken off the cliff.  

I watched the star slowly slip to my right behind the boulder as Earth turned and wondered whether it was a star or a planet.  

Later I stood up and walked to where I could see the whole southern sky.  This star was very bright--1.2 magnitude, as I later learned, and it was the only one in that part of the sky.  

With the light pollution from Los Angeles, I couldn't really see Scorpio or Sagitarrius or the Milky Way.

I saw one reddish star and thought it was Antares in Scorpio but later learned it was Mars.  Scorpio had already slipped beneath the western horizon of the sea.

I could see Cygnus the swan and Aquila, the eagle, but east of them only this one unknown star.

Once I looked at the star map at home, I learned that Fomalhaut "lies in quite a barren region of the southern sky and because of this has become known as "The Solitary One" (The Nature Company Guides: Advanced Skywatching, p.269).

It's in Pisces Austrinus, which is down in the southern sky below Aquarius.  

What a lovely time, nestled in a lap of volcanic rock, watching the stars and the waves, safe in the shadow of the mighty intrusion.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


ocean sucks
the thin orange slice
of moon 
into its salty mouth

--Moonset, August 28, 2014
     Santa Monica beach

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tribute to Nick Fagnano

We don't often get lightning and thunder in Los Angeles.

When we hear a boom, we think earthquake or explosion or plane crash.

On Sunday I was sitting in my back yard with a friend and heard a bit of rumbling.  We wondered what it was, and then saw a dark storm cell approaching from the south.  "Oh, it must have been thunder," we said.

A few minutes later there was a huge resounding boom.  

I live a mile from the beach, and it turned out that this lightning strike had hit the water and a light pole on Venice Pier.  It had killed one person in the water and stopped the heart of a surfer.

People pulled the surfer in, who turned out to be an off-duty lifeguard, and revived him.  It took an hour of searching before the other person was found floating in the surf.  

The one who died was Nick Fagnano, 20 years old.  He had gone to 8 am Mass with his parents that morning and kept a Bible at his bedside.  He had played baseball at Notre Dame High School and was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

A climatologist from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory said that in Florida, there's a 1 in 600,000 chance of being hit by lightning on the beach, but in California it's 1 in 7.5 million.  

On Sunday that one was Nick Fagnano.

Random--but one always tends to ask, "Why him?"  Or "Why me?"

It's interesting that the hit took out one of the only people on the beach who had been at church that morning and kept a Bible by his bed.  He might have been the only one on the beach who attended a weekly Bible study with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. 

I don't like to think of God as orchestrating tragedies, but unlike other people, this kid was ready to meet his maker.

Jesus said that God knows when a sparrow falls to the ground (Matt. 10:29).  Thus God watched and embraced Nick as lightning struck the water around him. 

Psalm 139 says, "You know when I sit down and when I rise up.  You discern my thoughts from far away." 

Did the Creator of the universe redirect the bolt to avoid others who need more time to start talking to God?  

Or did the Creator (unheard) cry out, "No, Nick, don't go into the water to rinse off that sand!  Hey, everybody, get out of the water!"

We don't know--but we do know that being a follower of Jesus doesn't guarantee that bad things won't happen to you.

It just means putting your life in God's hands and trusting that all will be well.... even if the worst happens.

Los Angeles Times story about Nick:

Story about the injured off-duty lifeguard:

Story in today's paper:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Walking on the beach with my brother Bill... beautiful April day.
In town from rainy Steillacoom WA

Serious fishing going on...

Sea anemone are seeking dinner too.