Sunday, October 31, 2010


Asi es la vida...
Жизнь походит на это...
La vita è come quella...
Leben ist das ähnlich...
Grin and Bear It--- Alleluia...

This week I reread Omar Khayyam’s The Rubaiyat, and it was a very good revisitation of a collection of poems I have loved for a long time. The Rubaiyat is a work actually co-authored by two people, and I especially like collaborative efforts. In this case the two poets lived eight centuries apart, one in a place that is now Iran and the other in Victorian England. Edward FitzGerald not only translated Khayaam’s poetry into English; he added to it. Rubaiyaa is the Farsi plural for rubai. Rubai is the Farsi word for Quatrain, a four line verse. FitzGerald set the poems in English, iambic pentameter, usually with an AABA rhyme scheme.

O.K., O.K., I almost forgot what I was about when I slipped into my English teacher automatic cruise control. What about the Chutes and Ladders direction this writing was supposed to take? Carpe Diem is the theme of the poems, and we can be quite sure both Khayyam and FitzGerald believed it is important to take whatever we can manage to get out of life, to “seize the day.”

What most people remember from the poem is the following quatrain:

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread--and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness--
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

But the quatrains which caught my imagination when I was young and intrigues me still are the lines which use the game analogy for life...

We are no other than a moving row
Of Magic Shadow-shapes that come and go
Round with the Sun-illumined Lantern held
In Midnight by the Master of the Show;

But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays
Upon this Chequer-board of Nights and Days;
Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

The Ball no question makes of Ayes and Noes,
But Here or There as strikes the Player goes;
And He that toss'd you down into the Field,
He knows about it all--He knows--HE knows!
And then:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

And that inverted Bowl they call the Sky,
Whereunder crawling coop'd we live and die,
Lift not your hands to It for help--for It
As impotently moves as you or I.
I wonder what Omar Khayyam and Edward FitzGerald would written if they had known about bicycles... and photography.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Look at it there in the distance
all clean and glistening, the city
nestled by its peaceful harbor
underneath an encouraging sky...

Ten thousand people are there
who’ll have no supper or shelter
or any hope tonight or tomorrow
that one day things will be better.

Friday, October 29, 2010

O.K., O.K., I know I’m running the risk of overdoing the bird-of-paradise thing... but I’m hooked. These things are everywhere. I’m not going to try to convince you that I saw one flying; but I thought if I just got down and shot it from below against blue sky and clouds, you’d understand why I’m in love with these things. After all, the humming birds like them, and that’s good enough for me.

Oh! Oh! Oh! Did I mention that the seeds pods look like nests and the seeds themselves look for all the world like eggs. See what I mean?
This might be a good BLOG for seeing the images larger. Click.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

On the way back home from an early morning trip to the airport, I took the photograph at the Harbor on Harbor Drive by the Coast Guard Station.

Poets do it all the time...
Try to say with words what...

the way something looks in early morning...
but the feel of it, the smell of it, the very air...
the wafting smell of whatever it is makes it...
isn’t there...
when read back...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Most living things in San Diego seem to get confused during this in-between-time when summer is worn out and winter isn't going to happen soon, if at all; so some trees and shrubs that bloom in South America's summer, which is just coming on, think they are supposed to bloom here... and the Century Plant, the agave which blooms and then dies, seems to be finished. But we don't give up on it. It isn't really finished. By March and April little pups will start to grow out of this enigmatic mess.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Click on an image to see it larger.The earth is being eaten alive. In San Diego’s Mission Valley a great scar has been carved into the hillside by monster machines. I got the photograph of the little resting grasshopper, not more than an inch-and-a-half long, before I drove past the line of resting cement trucks. Somehow the images seem related.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Modern Enigma: The glass building in Mission Valley.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Enigma Variations, Opus 04 the bark project develops, my friends are on the look-out for unusual trees; or, shall I say, trees that bark. I suppose I had never noticed that there are no two trees exactly alike. The way I see it, there seem not to be two things of any kind in the world that are exactly alike. It certainly is true of people. I haven't Photoshopped the colors and patterns in this melaluka. The other photographs today are from this same tree. Wherever I pointed my camera, I got a different image.

Saturday, October 23, 2010
A passing shower over Claremont late this morning turned the marketplace parking lot into a mirror that brought the sky and clouds right down to earth. Imagine what it must be like to live in a place where there is no rain at Huacachina in Peru which gets absolutely zero rainfall... the only moisture the small town gets it from dew and very occasionally fog. There are people there who have never in their lives experienced rain. I was out biking this morning when occasional light rainshowers swept over Mission Valley. It was heaven come down to earth.Enigma Variations, Opus 03

Friday, October 22, 2010

NO ENIGMA here... I wandered around the Presidio Museum this afternoon and decided on the fungi for my photo du jour. I can't resist making the building black and white... seems appropriate.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This afternoon after a couple of hours of good, soaking rain, I headed over to Balboa Park to visit the three rainbow eucalyptus trees that I know there. A RAINY DAY IN SAN DIEGO PRESENTS RARE OPPORTUNITIES FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS... and as with most rare opportunities, there are a few challenges. Holding an umbrella in with one hand and my camera with the other, I waded through puddles and wet grass to get the pictures I wanted. Rain saturates colors to an extent that they seem almost unreal in photographs. The “bark” photographs today are definitely keepers. They stir something inside me the way Elsworth Kelly or Morris Louis paintings do. It’s supposed to rain again tomorrow, so I’ll go out again to get photographs of some unusual trees with uncommon green bark. They should be spectacular in the rain.

If you live in San Diego and want to see the rainbow eucalyptus trees, give me a call and I'll tell you where to find them.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Casting around in my fat file of unpublished poems for something I could post in my journal with photographs of a favorite plant, I found this one written a few months ago. It would be too great a stretch to try to say the photographs have anything at all to do with the poem...


On the plane from Washington to San Diego
The flight attendant pushes her drink cart,
the way her grandmother might have followed a plow
in late spring in an Arkansas bottomland by the river,
wishing she could be somewhere else, anywhere else.
Maybe she’s disappointed she didn’t take advice
from her mother and become a school teacher and
marry the preacher who offered not once but twice
to take her across the threshold to married bliss.

Maybe she is hung over from a night of partying
with yesterday’s cockpit crew and the smiling guy
who said he missed his flight home and had to be
an extra day in Washington, so why not, why not.
Hers is not exactly a Mona Lisa smile, when it comes,
but a stoic curling ever so slightly of her upper lip
on the right side, a kind of balance to the silver wings
pinned on her deep blue uniform above the left breast.

She spends her life going but never getting anywhere
near where she thought she wanted to be when he
said after choir practice one night with no one near
that he could take her to a new level of spirituality.
Promises made in church sometimes turn out to be
not quite reliable but something meant to seem
like the check’s in the mail or the money’s in the bank
when actually the deposit is of a kind that evaporates.
Life is a trip, her mother may have said “journey,” so
why not keep a gig where they pay you for doing what
all those other people in the cheap seats pay to play.