Saturday, August 31, 2013

Watermelon and feta salad with some slivers of onion and Balsamic dressing... for supper... Delicious.

Looking through a box of stuff in the garage today, I came across a composition book with my name on it... in big block letters that I recognize as my printing...  The date under my name is March, 1985.  

What in the world was I thinking... and why?  Thumbing through the first three pages, I found that I had written in cursive, not block printing, phrases... just phrases... not complete thoughts.  Was I holding the notebook in a meeting... perhaps a very boring meeting?  I can’t remember any of it, but what I wrote makes me think I should try to reconnect with that day:
Let’s face it.  There are black holes and negative space.

Aristotle was curious.
Alexander was curious because Aristotle was.

I’ve always liked trees... always.

If we can’t be sure there are four leaf clovers and cherry blossoms out there, I’m not going.

I like the color orange.
Why orange?
What advantage?
What can I say!
I like orange.

Friday, August 30, 2013

I started the day with a bike ride to the museum... 
then at noon to North Park for lunch with Larry at the Carnitas Shack...
then back to the museum... 
and eventually a realization that
it’s the last weekend in August and Labor Day Weekend
and time for the annual 1812 Tchaikovsky Spectacular
at the Summer Pops festival on the bay.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Back in the Old Groove... sort of.

Ahh...  The sweetness of it... a classroom full of kids and a master teacher.  At the Museum of Photograph Arts Stephen is teaching the kids how to make a three-second animated film.  After a full day as his assistant, I went with Margaret and friends to an Italian restaurant to celebrate Jerry's birthday. Life is Good!
Margaret and Estelle
Jerry, on the left, is the birthday boy.  In this group we don't talk numbers on birthdays.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Picture to go with my journal writing today comes from 2006... 
the marriage of my niece Jaclyn to Chris.
I dedicate the BLOG today to their beautiful son Joaquin
and to all children everywhere.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Riff... from Prose to Poetry 

In 1963 I was a teacher of English at Yuba City High School in Northern California.  It was late August and I was working on lesson plans for my senior English classes which would begin in early September.  I was trying to figure a way to get my students to know the difference between prose and poetry, a difference that wasn’t just a matter of arranging words into iambic pentameter phrases.  I had decided to use an example from James Agee (Knoxville: Summer of 1915) in which he begins with a statement that quickly becomes so emotionally loaded that prose can’t carry the meaning adequately, so the author gradually breaks into pure poetry.  To this day it’s one of my favorite pieces of writing. (If you’re interested, check the full text of the poem at the end of this BLOG post and you’ll see what I mean.  Read it out loud.)  

I remember that while I was working on the lesson, I was listening to a rebroadcast from Washington of a speech that had been delivered earlier in the day from in front of the Lincoln Memorial. I heard what soon became the famous “Dream speech” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  In the middle of Dr. King’s prepared speech, Mahalia Jackson, the great Gospel singer shouted out to him from behind the speakers’ stand: “Tell ‘em about the Dream, Martin, tell ‘em about the Dream.”  Earlier in the program Jackson had sung the spiritual lament, “I Been rebuked and I Been Scorned.” Dr. King left off reading from his printed speech and began a riff... his extraordinary improvisation on a dream theme he had used on other occasions.  It became the most nationally and internationally recognizable part of his speech.  His voice rose emotionally, and he switched from prose to poetry, from descriptions of familiar statements of social injustice to a shining vision of hope for America, for what America could become.  

“I have a dream,” stretching the word into deliciousness... “my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.  I have a dream today!” 

From then on, I used Dr. King’s speech and James Agee’s poem to show the difference between prose and poetry.

Knoxville: Summer of 1915
A Prose Poem by James Agee
It has become the time of evening
when people sit on their porches
rocking gently and talking gently
and watching the street
and the standing up
into their sphere of possession of the trees,
of birds' hung havens, hangers.
People go by; things go by.
A horse, drawing a buggy, breaking his hollow iron music on the asphalt;
a loud auto; a quiet auto;
people in pairs, not in a hurry,
scuffling, switching their weight of aestival body, talking casually,
the taste hovering over them of vanilla, strawberry, pasteboard and starched milk,
the image upon them of lovers and horsemen, squared with clowns in hueless amber.
A streetcar raising its iron moan:
stopping, belling and starting; stertorous; rousing and raising again its iron increasing moan
and swimming its gold windows and straw seats on past and past and past,
the bleak spark crackling and cursing above it like a small malignant spirit set to dog its tracks;
the iron whine rises on rising speed;
still risen, faints; halts; the faint stinging bell;
rises again, still fainter, fainter, lifting, lifts, faints forgone: forgotten.
Now is the night one blue dew.
Now is the night one blue dew,
my father has drained,
now he has coiled the hose.
Low on the length of lawns,
a frailing of fire who breathes ...
Parents on porches: rock and rock.
From damp strings morning glories hang their ancient faces.
The dry and exalted noise of the locusts from all the air at once enchants my eardrums.
On the rough wet grass of the backyard my father and mother have spread quilts.
We all lie there, my mother, my father, my uncle, my aunt, and I too am lying there ...
They are not talking much, and the talk is quiet,
of nothing in particular, of nothing at all in particular, of nothing at all.
The stars are wide and alive, they seem each like a smile of great sweetness, and they seem very near.
All my people are larger bodies than mine, ...
with voices gentle and meaningless like the voice of sleeping birds.
One is an artist, he is living at home.
One is a musician, she is living at home.
One is my mother who is good to me.
One is my father who is good to me.
By some chance, here they are, all on this earth;
and who shall ever tell the sorrow of being on this earth,
lying, on quilts, on the grass, in a summer evening, among the sounds of the night.
May God bless my people, my uncle, my aunt, my mother, my good father,
oh, remember them kindly in their time of trouble;
and in the hour of their taking away.
After a little I am taken in and put to bed.
Sleep, soft smiling, draws me unto her:
and those receive me, who quietly treat me,
as one familiar and well-beloved in that home:
but will not, no ,will not, not now, not ever;
but will not ever tell me who I am. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

When I was “taking” the pictures for today, I began to wonder why a daylily is called day lily, and obviously I haven’t been paying attention and haven’t been guessing what the name implies.  I found out from somebody who knows flowers that typically a daylily blossom lasts no more than 24 hours after it achieves full bloom.  It begins to wilt after one night of robust life. We don’t notice how short-lived it is because the one that was full and vibrant yesterday has already shriveled after just one night and one day of often astonishing beauty.  Today’s beauty is typically replaced on the same scape (stalk) by another beautiful flower.   It’s a metaphor that shouldn’t be ignored.

Monday, August 26, 2013

After supper... with Patrick and Elaine, we talked about photography because Patrick and Michael visited the very house near Tournus, France, where Joseph Nicephore Niepce in 1826 made a photographic image that is the earliest surviving camera photograph in existence today.  It's a view from the window at Le Gras (Saint-Loup-de-Varennes).  I told them I learned last week that Debora Klochko, Executive Director of the Museum of Photograph Arts in San Diego, travels (now on a ship going around the Black that lies between Europe and Asia.) with only her iPhone for photographs.  Deborah knows more about photography than just about anybody else I know.

Some of you who regularly see this BLOG know that occasionally I use my cell phone for my daily picture fix.  Today was like that.  I thought about Niepce and Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre working together to make the pictures that we know today as the earliest photographic images ever made... and pointed my phone at Margaret, then Elaine, then Patrick... I think both Niepce and Daguerre would be delighted by Twenty-First Century photography, but neither of them would be surprised.

Another Frenchman whom I respect and revere, Roland Uberschlag, has published Velo Plaisir, Velo Sufferance, a book of writings and photographs about his travels around the world on a bicycle.  I had the pleasure  (and sufferance) of riding with him from Vancouver, B.C. to San Diego a few years ago.  I received today the copy of his book.  His personal inscription ends with the phrase, Without a touch of dreams; without a touch of madness... Nothing Happens."  Perfect.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

SCHOOL IS STARTING... again... And I'm not in the game anymore... but my friends are; so I can feel sure the kids are still in good hands... in good classrooms.  Yes.

Paco is sure of it.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

This is Mateo.  His fathers are Manuel and Michael.  Michael, Manuel and Mateo...  Wonderful!  The sound of those three names linked together is like a musical phrase.  They belong together, and why not?  Mateo literally means “gift of God,” and this Mateo is clearly a gift... and he is gifted with two of the best possible parents. 

Here is Mateo with his Dad Manuel.  Coming soon to this BLOG 
... a picture of Mateo with both his dads.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Friday Bike Ride

As usual in the last few weeks of summer, a row of thunder clouds rose today above the mountains separating coastal San Diego from the great desert that stretches from the eastern part of the county all the way to Texas.  Rain almost never comes in August. We’re accustomed here to summer drought, but a litany of warnings that our planet is in the process of warming has me feeling uneasy about dryer than usual conditions.  Four of the photographs are related to that uneasiness.  A vivacious, perky weather woman on television delighted in telling us that perhaps, only perhaps, a tropical system moving up the Baja California peninsula might bring rain soon... “significant rain,” she said.   I’ll believe it when I see it and feel it. 

I know a beautiful little zinnia that could benefit from a good rain shower.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


I found a list of suggestions on a bulletin board at the World Beat Center where I went early this evening to hear Geshe Thupten Phelgye and Bob Isaacson discuss “Compassion for All Beings.”  When I walked into the center, I was greeted and given coffee by a young man whose name is Love... no joke.  From Philadelphia, he has been in San Diego for just one month.  He likes work. He is glad to have a job at the World Beat Center. 

Turn off your TV
Leave your House
Know your neighbors
Look up when you are walking
Greet people
Sit on your stoop
Plant flowers
Use your library
Play together
Buy from local merchants
Share what you have
Help a lost dog
Take children to the park
Garden together
Support neighborhood schools
Fix it even if you didn’t break it
Have pot lucks
Honor elders
Pick up litter
Read stories aloud
Dance in the street
Talk to the mail carrier
Listen to the birds
Put up a swing
Help carry something heavy
Barter for your goods
Start a tradition
Ask a question
Hire young people for odd jobs
Organize a block party
Bake extra and share
Ask for help when you need it
Open your shades
Sing together
Share your skills
Take back the night
Turn up the music
Listen before you react in anger
Mediate a conflict
Seek to understand
Learn from new and uncomfortable angles
Know that no one is silent though many are not heard
Work to change this

Listening to Geshe (Dr.) Thupten Phelgye, a Tibetan monk, I was reminded that as long as we are alive on this earth there are no insignificant days. As a child Geshan led his family across the Himalayan Mountains to escape the invading Chinese army.  He talked about his life in the Tibetan community in exile and about his experience now as a teacher in American colleges and universities.  He will be teaching this year at Western Washington College.

The earlier parts of this day weren't bad either:  bike ride with a stop on my way home from my Volunteer job at the Museum of Photographic Arts to get a picture of a strange flower, some water lilies at the reflecting pool, and a cactus.  When I got home there was a good visit with neighbors that included tea and Irene's rhubarb pie.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Is this a wonderful country, or what!  I participated today in welcoming and congratulating new naturalized citizens... guiding them to a tables to register to vote. See the joy and appreciation for citizenship in the faces of these folks... one from Russia, several from Mexico, a bunch from Iraq, some from Africa.