Sunday, September 21, 2008


In San Diego the day lilies go on blooming long after the autumnal equinox occurs, which this year happens at 3:40 tomorrow afternoon; so technically today has been the last summer day north of the equator. The word "equinox" derives from the Latin words for equal and night (aequus and nox). Tomorrow at the equator night and day will be of approximately equal length, and from then until the winter solstice occurs just past noon (12:02) on December 21, the days will grow shorter. Day lilies and people in San Diego don't notice much of a difference.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

You'll probably guess why this sculpture on El Cajon Boulevard got my attention. It's on the south side of the boulevard not far from the big BOULEVARD sign. It's near Eclipse Chocolat, another good reason to be in that neighborhood.

The red wall behind it detracts from the piece itself, so I got rid of the color altogether.

Beginning Monday I'll be parking my bicycle for a few weeks; and although I'll be taking lots of photographs every day, I may not have time to find an Internet connection. By the middle of next week I should be able to send photographs from Budapest; after that, I'm not confident e-mail will be possible until I get to Amsterdam in the middle of October.

Friday, September 19, 2008


The Museum will soon be wrapped in scaffolding while the building gets a new roof. Perched on a hill above the intersection of Interstate Highways 5 and 8, the landmark building designed by William Templeton Johnson is a San Diego icon. Johnson designed several of San Diego’s significant buildings; most notable is the San Diego Museum of Art, which is just about finished with a renovation of the building’s stunning facade. Johnson and his wife were instrumental in the founding of Francis Parker school. He designed the Lower School campus.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


In the middle of a bicycle ride this morning I came upon a scattering of morning glories along a hedge row and chain-link fence beside the trolley tracks in Mission Valley. Morning glories are not easy to photograph. Managing light is usually the greatest challenge. What we see when we look at morning glories is not exactly what is there. In these photographs the seductive blue overpowers our eyes and brains, so we ignore the “shine” that strong sunlight paints over the brilliant, deeply saturated colors. The camera isn’t so easy to fool. Ambient, reflected light on the surface of things like shiny leaves and flowers can mute the colors in a photograph. I took these pictures in the early morning. By mid-afternoon the morning glories would be all shine. A polarizing filter would help.

As I was editing the images I couldn’t resist thinking that if I were to be given the job of creating a new religion, I’d definitely work morning glories into it. Coupling morning glories and religion together in my thinking doesn’t have anything to do with my adolescent memories of kids saying they had tried to get high on morning glory seeds. I was much too chicken to try it and don’t recommend it for anybody else. I checked a couple of on-line sources and learned that morning glory seeds contain lysergic acid amide, not to be confused with LSD or lysergic acid diethylamid (but the connection is obvious). I have read that Indians have supposedly identified morning glory seeds as a way to trip out, but that’s also not my reason for working them into a hypothetical religion.

It’s that powerful vortex at the very center of each morning glory blossom. Most religions attempt to ease the fear of dying. I think it might be helpful to imagine that dying is like allowing oneself to move gently toward the mysterious center of a morning glory blossom. When my time comes, I hope I have presence of mind enough to remember this morning’s little reverie and these images.

These two quotes are from an article by David D. Kirkpatrick published on September 16, New York Times.

The choice of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as Mr. McCain’s running mate had clinched it for him, Mr. MacDonald said. “She is anti-abortion, anti-gay-marriage, anti-Big Oil, a lifetime member of the N.R.A., she hunts, she fishes — she is the perfect woman!”

One parishioner ruled out voting for Mr. Obama explicitly because he is black. “Are they going to make it the Black House?” Ray McCormick asked, to embarrassed hushing from a half dozen others gathered around the rectory kitchen. (Five of the six, all lifelong Democrats who supported Mrs. Clinton in the primary, said they now lean toward Mr. McCain.)

For several weeks I watched as a pair of doves took turns sitting on pearly white eggs in a clumsily built nest in a hanging plant only a about a foot from the window where I spent part of each day at my computer. I can't tell which is the male and which is female. They look exactly alike. I read that the species is "generally" monogamous. These two seem devoted to each other and to their shared task. The eggs hatched a couple of weeks ago, and the two chicks (I learned that they are called squabs) are HUNGRY all the time. I also read that doves eat mostly seeds and that the young are fed crop milk. A parent bird comes back to the nest, and the one that has been sitting with the little guys flies away. Both birds seem to be able to produce the crop milk because the squabs make a fuss until the parent opens his/her mouth to let them put their beaks in to get the food. It's quite a sight. I got this picture just as they finished eating.

The birds watch Margaret and me as we come and go by their nest, which is about seven feet off the ground. They seem unafraid. We are taking care not to alarm them. We don't want the young birds to try to leave the nest too soon. I think we're going to have a continuing show at this hanging planter nest. I read that it isn't unusual for doves to raise as many as six broods every year.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Monday, September 15, 2008


Pastor Jim Garlow of Skyline Church arrogantly and freely expresses his belief that he knows what God thinks and how God feels about all sorts of human conditions. Rather than focus on the arrogance and ultimate absurdity of his presumption that God is on his side in a political struggle, I feel compelled to point out that founders of the American nation wrote into the Constitution clear cautions about making laws on the basis of religious beliefs. His assertion that the word “marriage” must be reserved exclusively for civil unions of one man with one woman because “the Bible tells him so” is no reason for intelligent, reasonable people to abandon the letter of the law and the spirit of the Constitution. The California Supreme Court has ruled that denial of the civil partnership called marriage to any group or class of people is a clear violation of the California State Constitution. It is against the law to deny gay citizens the right to marry. Pastor Garlow’s answer is to change the Constitution.

I wonder what God has told him to do about the 500 million people in Asia, Africa, and Latin America who are living in what the World Bank has called “absolute poverty.” What has God said to him about the 15 million children who die of hunger in the world every year? In “God’s world” one in twelve people worldwide is malnourished, including around 160 million children under the age of 5. Pastor Garlow is reported to have told his followers that God’s heart is broken over same-gender marriage. Does he think people won’t notice that his emphasis is misplaced and inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus? Do the Manchesters, Hoens, and others who gave big money to get Proposition 8 on the ballot not see how much more good their money could do in the world if they put it into projects to address poverty?

Equal rights for all citizens has been established as the rule of law in our state. As responsible, law-abiding citizens let’s agree in California to respect the State Constitution and to respect the rights of all citizens of our great state by voting NO on Proposition 8.

This little guy on my hand flew smack into a window and knocked himself out for a couple of minutes. I thought he had bought the farm and was about to give him a decent burial when I saw a little wing flutter. Eventually he sat up on my hand, looked around, and tried his wings, which didn't give him lift-off. When I tried to put him on a twig, he fluttered and insisted on staying on my hand. At this point I thought we might be developing a permanent partnership but reconsidered as I took into account the great difference in our sizes. I decided to be satisfied with a short-term relationship and settled myself on a bench. He sat patiently while I got my camera out and stretched my arm as far as I could reach. I managed to get him in focus, and I took this one picture... then he flew away. I sat for a few minutes and thought about how blessed I am.

I confess that when I got up and walked away, I was tempted to look back over my shoulder to see if he was following me.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


This deciduous tree with giant blossoms is native to Africa. It's also called the nandi flame tree. I took this picture in very late afternoon with sunlight streaming directly onto the side of the cluster of flowers. Each flower is four to six inches long and three inches across. The cluster of blossoms is often a foot across. The blossoms are so brilliant and profuse that the trees growing along coastal Africa served as navigational points in the time of sailing ships.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I've been seeing these complex flowers all over San Diego. This must be the time of year for them. I read that there are 500 species of flowering plants in the family Passifloraceae to which this particular flower belongs. I have seen them in all sizes, textures, and colors. The one makes me think it should have a name, like Audry in "The Little Shop of Horrors."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This stretch of the San Diego River in early morning is very unlike the same river at the Old Mission Dam only half a dozen miles upstream.   A series of low dams in Mission Valley create the impression of a wide, broad river flowing into the sea. Our broad, still river gives us a false sense that we live in a world that has plenty of water. 

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Old Mission Dam in Mission Gorge was begun around 1803,
and probably wasn't finished until around 1815. I bicycled back from Santee through the gorge today, and when I got to the ruins of the old dam, I sat and ate my lunch... and I let my imagination run away... hundreds of Indians from villages and from the San Diego Mission were there... working hard... speakingSpanish and Kumeyaay and a
mixture of the two... Beautiful.

Monday, September 08, 2008


Let us go in together,

And still your fingers on your lips, I pray.

The time is out of joint—
Hamlet Act 1, scene 5

One of the lingering accusations leveled against Barack Obama is that he is “elitist.” Some of us are old enough to remember when it wasn’t uncommon to hear white folks describing a black person who had become successful and prosperous as “uppity.” I’m guessing the people who say the black democratic party candidate is “elitist” are trying hard to convince undecided voters that they shouldn’t vote for an “uppity” black person. Republicans should be embarrassed by this kind of not-so-subtle pandering.

On the other side, Democrats have been busy suggesting John McCain’s choice of running mate is a direct play for the “redneck” vote. I don’t like the term “redneck.” It is derogatory and offensive. It ranks right down there with all those other words that are used to negatively stereotype people. I’m guessing it was first used to describe folks who make a living bending their backs and necks working out in the sun. Using “redneck” to categorize country folk, working people, and citizens who have not had the advantage of higher education as people who can be easily fooled is also pejorative and pandering. Let’s not do it. We're better than that.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


The dew-drop carries in its eye
Mountain and forest, sea and sky,
With every change of weather;
Contrariwise, a diamond splits
The prospect into idle bits
That none can piece together.

---Robert Graves

Saturday, September 06, 2008

IT DOESN’T TAKE MUCH... know what’s wrong with this ticket.

I am not a foreign policy expert, but I have traveled enough in the world to understand why a vice president of the United States in 2009 should not be someone who got her first passport in 2007.

I am not a medical statistician, but I am a seventy-three-year-old man in excellent general health who has had a melanoma cancer removed from his head, a man who is keenly aware of the odds that a seventy-three-year-old president with a history of deadly melanoma cancer and other skin cancers might not live through two or even one four-year term of office.

I am not a political scientist, but I grew up in a small town in the largest state in America, and I know that being mayor of a small town of 7000 souls or being governor of a state with just over half a million citizens doesn’t prepare an individual to be president of the United States.

I am not a social scientist; but after a career as administrator in schools serving America’s most affluent citizens and a few years as a teacher in San Diego’s poorest neighborhood, I have learned that “no child left behind” in Southeast San Diego and “no child left behind” in La Jolla are not the same problem. Nothing in the resumes or the rhetoric of some of the people standing for the highest offices in the land shows any experience or any understanding of the effects of stultifying poverty on America’s poorest citizens.

I am not a lawyer, but I understand enough about constitutional law to know that the current administration’s policies have misused and eroded freedoms that Americans should no longer take for granted if the next team in the White House is merely an extension of the present one.

I am not an economist, but I know enough about balancing an institution’s budget and about keeping spending and income in balance to be very afraid of four more years of the George Bush approach to economics.

I am not a theologian, but I know enough about the world’s religions to be afraid of a person in power who believes the Iraq War (or any war) is part of God’s plan for the world and that God is obviously on “our” side, and will always be if we just pray hard enough. It scares the @##% out of me to consider even the slightest possibility that we might get a president or a vice president who believes God will help secure a pipeline project for Alaska if Christians pray hard enough.

I am not a humorist, so I can’t get positively excited about the possibility of having a president and a vice president whose major impact on American culture is that they are foolish and silly enough to provide daily fodder for cartoon artists and late night television comedians.

The poetry of the earth is never dead. - John Keats

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Spalding House at Point Loma Nazarine University.
The house was build in 1901 by Albert Spalding,
the sporting goods magnate. It is now known as
Mieras Hall, the office of the president of the university.
The Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society, founded
by Katherine Augusta Westcott (Madam) Tingley, was housed
here. Madam Tingley hoped the society would establish a core
set of beliefs based on the Universal Brotherhood of humanity
without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color..."
Hope springs eternal...

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Alas, Poor Country! This flag, left unattended much too long on a fence next to Morley Field, expresses my sense of longing for better times for America.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


I was alone, except for a half dozen other crows, in the park with this bird this morning; and he seemed to me to be up to something sinister. The other crows kept their distance from him and from me. Of course, I don't know if it's a male, but the female pronoun seems inappropriate. He was big, and he seemed fearless. I got the picture with my little point-and-shoot Olympus, so you can see how close I got to him.

I didn't notice until I got the image on the screen of my computer that he seems ragged, very much like some of the homeless people I usually see in the part of the park where I had stopped today to take a picture of a eucalyptus tree. I don't know if all crows' eyes are like the one on this bird. He must have seen me with that eye. If it had been bad he would have kept turning to look at me with the other eye. On the other hand, maybe he wasn't interested in seeing me at all.

Monday, September 01, 2008


Once again I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. This fantastic dragon fly flew into the Davids' house on Montclair Street. It was beating itself up trying to get out a window that couldn't be opened. I managed to catch it and take outside without doing further damage to it. The brilliant red color is the actual color of the insect. I didn't alter it at all.

After I put it on the banana leaf in the back yard, it took a couple of minutes to get its bearing before it flew away over the backyard trees. I would have been very disappointed if it had flown away before I got the picture.