Wednesday, December 31, 2008

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 31I WAS ALL SET IN MY MIND ABOUT TODAY'S PHOTOGRAPH. For the last day of the year I wanted something stunning, but nothing in what I saw until early evening was anything more than a pretty, postcard photograph. An iconic picture of the Coast with fog creeping in didn't make the cut. It was O.K., but it didn't represent the year in any way. Late in the afternoon Margaret and I went to the new Asian market, Thuan Phat; and when we came out of the store, the sun had set already and I saw the Linda Vista Library sitting quietly over at the far end of the parking lot. I took a couple of shots and drove away thinking about how much I depend on books, how much my life is enriched by the resources that can be found in this library. The final months of this tired old year have depressed and frightened many of my friends. The brightest hope in the year came in November with the election of Barack Obama, but his election didn't allay my apprehension. Greed and mismanagement have left the American economy in shambles. Old wars rage. In spite of everything that is wrong, I am now once again in a YES frame of mind. I don't know why the image of the library changed my mood, but it did; and I like the optimism that it has spread through my mind. Our nation has resources that will get us through this difficult period. I believe 2009 will be better.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

For some reason I can't readily explain, I have begun to notice trees... and to be fascinated by them. I probably took more photographs of trees in 2008 than I had ever done before. Today I bicycled back from El Cajon to San Diego by following the trail by the San Diego River that runs through Mission Gorge. The trees seems to me to be not only alive, but expressive of their aliveness. There was no wind, not even a gentle breeze, but the trees seemed to move. Perhaps you can see in the photographs what I mean.THE TREE which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity, and by these I shall not regulate my proportions; and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination Nature is Imagination itself. As a man is, so he sees.

--William Blake

Monday, December 29, 2008

There are times when a mystery is welcome,
and there are times when it’s not wanted at all...
I’m not talking about the theater kind of mystery
or the mystery that keeps me coming back to a book
but the one that comes roaring or creeping
into dreams at night, welcome or not to provoke
and scare the living daylights out of cold sober
watchers, and for somebody a little drunk...
you don’t even want to go there. I watched
in broad daylight something that I understood
to be understood by everyone who saw it,
but I aimed my camera and snapped a couple
because I knew a picture would be mysterious
even when in real life and in real time no mystery
existed, but I liked the idea of it so much that
I let it play with my mind, with my blurred reality,
and I remembered that Einstein said emphatically
that imagination is better than knowledge so...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 28TREES CONDUCT THE EYE from the ground up to the heavens, link the detailed temporariness of life with the bulging blue abstraction overhead. . . . They alone unite the earth and the sky - - - the known, invadable world with everything that is beyond our grasp and our power.

DIANE ACKERMAN, from A Natural History of the Senses...And I noticed that the humble pineapple in our fruit basket, which can never explode into the sky the way the palm tree does, has its own spectacular statement of being.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saturday, December 27The Hotel del Coronado never looks better than it does in the Christmas season. It is unique among hotels in the San Diego area; and of the luxury hotels, it is the one that welcomes sightseeing visitors. A Victorian beach hotel, it is one of the oldest and largest all-wooden buildings in California. It is probably best known around the world as the setting for the movie “Some Like It Hot.” Even when it's almost hot, with temperatures in the mid-60s, there's ice skating between the hotel and the beach. After all, this is California... Or is it Dubai?

Friday, December 26, 2008

December 26th was a most amazing day... but in a way it was a typical San Diego County day... from snowy Palomar Mountain to the bright warm trees along the river in Palo Valley to the old Mission San Luis Rey...


Thursday, December 25, 2008


CHRISTMAS DINNER AT THE MILES HOUSE was a celebration of friendship. I wish there could have been a loaves and fishes miracle that suddenly transported enough of our turkey and Nancy's gravy and our ham and green bean casserole and David’s fantastic bread pudding from our table to everybody in the world who is hungry today. And I wish the world could have heard Justus’ playing. And I wish all the people of the world could be at peace with each other as we were at peace around our table. It was an amazing day in many ways. Clouds rolled over Mission Valley bringing mist and rain in waves alternating with periods of sunshine.
One of the very best parts of the day was a time in between rain showers when I went out to Ocean Beach and got a few photographs that will help me remember the day. I have become partial to pigeons... and to their cousins the sea gulls. These two were kind enough to stop long enough for me to get close enough to see the color of their eyes and to take their pictures.
Later during another break in the storm I drove out to Cabrillo Point with Justus and Cas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

POTPOURRI: My picture for the day is this Mission Valley commercial building not far from my home. If you read my journal entry today, you'll see how I got from the reflection of clouds in a glass building to Hamlet's instructions to the Players to the photos of Michael and Dael."Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this
special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature:
for any thing so o'erdone is from the purpose of playing, whose
end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold as 'twere the
mirror up to nature: to show virtue her feature, scorn her own
image, and the very age and body of the time his form and
pressure."-- Hamlet to the Players, Act 3, Scene 2

a day makes...
a year makes...
ten thousand miles makes...

and the subsequent search for the self that was left behind...

One of the great joys of being young, which I can almost remember, is the freedom to become temporarily someone else, something else. Speaking of JOY, I am discovering the joy of SKYPING. Yesterday our family in San Diego skyped with our family in Amstelveen. A couple of weeks ago I wouldn’t have know what “Skyping” means. Without cost, the house at 7084 Camino Degrazia in San Diego and the house on Oude Karselaan in Amstelveen were connected... sight and sound. Wow! Enough of that... Back to the joy of reinventing onself:

Michael and Jeremy are visiting their Dutch cousins: Dael, Brynn, and Lee. Michael has been transformed... reinvented... temporarily. Think KISS! Of course, the unusual image that came onto my screen at the very same nanosecond that it was picked up in Holland at Oude Karselaan doesn’t change anything about a grandson who is and will always be one of the best, most honorable persons I know. I know it to be true because I know him. I am very glad he has the self confidence to let an image of himself become temporarily a parody. GO, MICHAEL... AND JEREMY... AND DAEL! Have fun! Be safe!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Like his father, Angelo doesn't miss a thing. Rose is beautiful like her mother. The little restaurant, El Camino, on Juniper Street near 30th Street is a good family restaurant. Here you can get the best tacos in town on Tuesday nights for half price... and if you're lucky, you can run into good friends.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Although it was there in plain sight for all of my life, I saw last week for the first time something that I had missed, something important. I remain startled and fascinated by an observation and insight that others obviously have seen all along. I saw the word “atonement” as if I were seeing it for the first time. I came across the following paragraph as I was reading the fifteenth chapter of Bishop John Spong’s book, “Jesus for the Non-Religious”:

“Human beings all live with an experience of separateness, aloneness and alienation born, I believe, in the trauma of self-consciousness. It is manifested as the anxiety of meaninglessness that accompanies the external human drive to discover and appropriate ultimate meaning for human life in its transitory existence. It feeds our sense of guilt and fear. It constitutes a major piece of what it means to be fully human. No one escapes this reality, and every religious system has some way of addressing it.”

Of course, those ideas aren’t new. The essential alienation and aloneness of us all has been the subject of art through the ages. I like what Spong has to say, but he says it no better than Shakespeare or Faulkner. The revelation for me came a few paragraphs later when he breaks the word “atonement” in ways that I had never seen or thought of it. Instead of a-tone-ment, Spong talks about at-one-ment. He goes on to explain the idea of atonement as it developed in the Christian church by discussing the ancient Jewish story of the Passover and the observance of Yom Kippur. His discussion deals mainly with what he considers the need of every human being to be connected to a god source and to other humans. I don't agree or disagree with him in the matter. What startled me and still fascinates me is the new meaning of atonement that I will now always carry around in my head. Heretofore my thinking about “atonement” has been centered around the church’s requirement that I believe and accept that all humans are born with original sin and that we are “lost,” that we have been turned out from a state of perfection because of sin and that we live perpetually “east of Eden” and will remain “lost” unless we allow the church to guide us back to Eden, to the Paradise that was lost. Atonement, “at-one-ment,” for me now will be about personal wholeness, about keeping the pieces of myself together, about integration, about countering the societal influences that tend to move me toward disintegration. It’s not about my connection with God or even with other people. It’s about, as they say on the street, keeping my own shit together.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 21: The Winter Solstice.Ficus

Anchored securely against earthquake
and wind and whatever else may take
affront and exception to their strength,
our ficus trees growing along the road
rise out of the earth with determination.

Complaining neighbors say aggressive
roots damage the street and sidewalk
and mar the beauty of perfectly mowed
great green stretches of lawn designed
to reassure us that earth belongs to us.

I like everything about the strong trees
that reach up defiantly toward the sky.