Thursday, June 30, 2016

As I sometimes do, yesterday after reading the verse which I included in my BLOG writing, I thumbed through the little book I kept in 1990 for poems/verses I wrote.  During that year, while I was still working, I wrote every day, not a BLOG post but at least two lines of verse.  I dated the writing.  Much of it was drivel; but when I read some of it now, I remember the moment.  I remember that red button and wonder what I did with it.

The Red Button

This morning
as I walked to my car
parked in front of the school on Randolph Street,
not expecting anything out of the ordinary, 
not expecting anything,
I found a small button on the sidewalk,
probably dropped from a child’s dress
as she walked to school.

At the time,
in that first instant
the button seemed astonishingly beautiful,
impossibly red,
like, I guess, that first moment
when you see in a store 
for the very first time
at Christmas
or at another Christmas time long ago
when I opened my front door
and there you were.  

Wednesday, November 14, 1990

I hope you have time to read the NY Times piece about our neighboring country’s work to help Syrian refugees resettle:

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I came across today something I wrote long ago.  It is dated May 17, 1990.  I was still working then, and the poem was written on the day of the eighth grade play.


Eighth graders are a breed apart,
or perhaps a better way to say it
is to declare them a separate tribe
quite different from the rest of humanity,
and as with all tribes there are customs
that are particular to that group alone.
It might be a kindness to adolescents
to give each of them a mask to wear
from the age of eleven or twelve
and allow them to wear it with impunity 
until at least the age of seventeen.
It should be a mask of their own choosing
because any chosen for them
would be rejected outright as wrong.

I like to watch them strut about upon the stage,
thinking they are cool and smooth there 
because whatever part they play
is, after all, just a part and not them at all.
They don’t know their awkwardness is obvious
until they are required to play themselves,
the part they know less about than any other.

If I ruled the earth and could require absolutely 
every teacher and parent to do as I command,
I’d say don’t ever, ever, under any circumstance
ridicule or belittle or taunt or require
an eighth grader to come out unwillingly
from behind the mask he chooses to wear.
Giver him time, give him time, give him time,
and love and understanding and love,
and then give him some more time,

if he requires it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I came home from the gym this afternoon to find that Margaret had brought into the house a carefully wrapped box with "Fragile" written on it.  She was waiting until I got home to open it.  It was from our friends John and Carol who live near the Canadian Border and also have an apartment  in our San Diego community.  We knew it was good, but had no idea what it was... until we got to a card inside that mentioned hummingbirds... so I knew.  I had written the BLOG piece already, and when you read that bit of writing below which begins with "Atatuck Airport," you will know why I needed the gift.  Wow!  That's the way life is.  Wow!

The AtatuckAirport attack has killed at least thirty people. We'll know more later this evening when the police have finished their job at the terminal.  Margaret and I watched the television report of the attack.  I had watched the Donald Trump TV speech in which he talked with assurance and authority about public safety, and I remembered having driven into the airport in Istanbul a couple of years ago, and I remember how secure the entrance to the airport seemed to be   I wondered as I watched the report of the airport attack and I remembered listening to the Candidate talk this morning, and I wondered how he gets information... about anything... and I wondered what he would say about what happened in Istanbul. He speaks like an expert, no matter what the subject.   Later I wondered how he knows what he says he knows..where he gets his information.  Obviously, he has a crew of people working for him whose job it is to get any information he wants.  When he usually describes a need for protection and a need for security, he is clearly talking about how protection and security measures make him and those who are closest to him more secure.  I admit that I finally got around to reading the June issue of The Atlantic magazine which has a picture of the candidate on the cover. .  I had put off reading the magazine for this month because if didn’t know how to be objective about the first article I would inevitably read, no matter where in the issue the piece was printed.  Of course, this morning I went right to the article, “The Mind of Donald Trump.”  The subtitle is “A psychologist’s guide to an extraordinary personality.”  I read the piece before the attack at Atatuck Airport report came on the TV and after I had heard the candidate speak. 

The analysis section of the CNN account of the Trump speech was interrupted by news from Istanbul about the suicide attack on Atatuck Airport.  As I write this BLOG post, the CNN report continues uninterrupted.  I travel out of America at least once each year, so I am interested in what is being said about any country; and then I remembered how big the world is, and how unlikely I am to be in a crowd that is targeted by people who want to make a statement to the world about how big and how bad they are.  Istanbul is a beautiful city   Of course, I will go back there without any more fear than I feel at the airport in San Diego.  The world is not a place where there are guarantees before we step into a place in it that we will be secure.  Life is insecure.  We are constantly reminded that something “bad” may happen to us at any time.  

So what kind of security or protection guarantee should get our attention.  Of course, there are places in the world where we should not go if we have choices.  Istanbul is not one of them even though it is the big city in the world where there are many Muslims.   If we are tourists we go to Istanbul because the Blue Mosque is there, and we want to see it and other places that were designed to meet the requirements of Islam.  My hope is that people who see the report I am watching will not think they are protected in some special way if they avoid places where they are not likely to find many Muslims.  My family, when my children were still very young, lived in Singapore, where Islam is one of the major religions.  Indonesia, the country with more Muslims than any other country in the world begins with islands very near Singapore.  Malaysia, where Muslims make up a majority of its people, a country that begins just across a causeway to north of the island nation of Singapore, Islam is the State Religion. Our neighbors in Singapore were Indian, Chinese, and Malaysians, and their religions represented all the major religions of the world.  They were good neighbor’s, and their religious affiliations were not a cause for any worry whatsoever.  Of course, I knew more about religious affiliations in America, and if there had been Christians in Singapore who live the way they live in America and routinely threaten people who are not like them, I would have been more worried about my neighbors than I was about my Singaporean neighbors in those days.  

Malaysians are not a threatening people.  Islam is a religion that is built on some of the same history  on which Christianity and Judaism are built.  Religious extremism, when it is a cause of fear in people, should be examined, of course.  to identify all Muslims as people to be feared makes no more sense than to identify Christians who exclude any others from civil security and protection   To know what a mistake it is to identify an ethnic group to isolate and discriminate against we have only to remember the history in our own country of that time when slavery was permitted and when we isolated native people from the “rest of us” by shipping them off to live on reservations.   To live as a discriminator, and isolator, a deliberate keeper out of the mainstream of any class or group of people, is monstrous. To campaign for office by declaring that any group of people is not welcome among us is unthinkable... is un-American.  


Monday, June 27, 2016

Hot Spell…  Everybody is talking about the heat wave that is hitting our part of Southern California… and I am remembering that summers were hot…very hot… in the part of California where I lived when I was a little boy.  Tomorrow the temperature is supposed to get almost to 90 degrees Fahrenheit  near the coast in San Diego.  90 degrees doesn’t seem to me to be so bad, but the weather people on radio and TV are declaring this a heat crisis event.  I don’t want to begin to sound like a certain presidential candidate who declares Americans are a bunch of sissies unable to bear up under slightly uncomfortable conditions, but how do I explain that temperatures that reach into the 90s are HOT even to me, the guy who insists that he grew up in the Sacramento Valley… so I turn to another issue, or dilemma, or problem, or… or… or…


What a world this is we live in
where machines and people 
talk to each other and get acquainted
more intimately than people do,
a most exquisite kind
that blends words and ideas
and the gentle pressure of fingers
which can’t be more than is involved
when lovers meet and try to reach other.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

This has been an especially good day…  The rainbow eucalyptus I didn’t get today, but I have a very good reason to be thinking of rainbow flags and trees and...; and I’m not sure this is the season when the orange will be as brilliant on the tree as it is in this photograph.  On Thursday when I am walking through the park on my way to my volunteer stint at MOPA, I’ll check to see if the rainbow eucalyptus where I got this picture last year is showing off already this year.  As I’ve pointed out on other occasions, such as this month when the eucalyptus trees behind our house are losing all their bark and are standing naked for all the world to see them before their skin turns to the tough grey that will come in the next few months, the eucalyptus keeps a schedule.  I suppose we can say that about all trees.  I love watching them to see what is happening to them at any given time.  It was interesting, for example, to see the flowering trees in San Diego getting blossoms early this past year.  It will be interesting to see if they will bloom early and more fully in this new time cycle.  

Thinking of cycles in the world, I heard in church this morning that First United Methodist Church seems to be changing its way of relating to LGBT citizens.  There was a time when a few other churches participated in the Gay Pride Parade.  This year FUMCSD will be among them.  The parade will happen on Saturday, July 16.  Margaret and I will be in Mendocino on the 16th, but we are both very glad and proud that the church is coming to the party in San Diego. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The epiphyllum is blooming on our back porch.  O.K., in San Diego they call it a patio, but where I come from it’s a back porch.  Whatever you call it, the Epiphyllum is spectacular.  It's big and red and appears on an ordinary green stick-of-a-stem that doesn't give any indication that what it is going to produce eventually is  going to be spectacular... but it definitely is.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Eucalyptus and Orchids...  Beauty is where I found it today.  The radio and TV newscasters were ranting today about a problem that is less about America (even though The Donald was inspecting one of his golf courses in Scotland, and he was available there for comments.) than it was about Europe, and about The United Kingdom specifically.  America is only one of the places in the world where ethnic and racial issues are felt so deeply that ordinary people become mired in confusion, and hatred and fear.  Rising above the storms of insecurity and uncertainty is one of the major tasks of all human beings.  Of course there are people who seem to have little uncertainty in their lives.  They seem to have enough of everything they need to get through day after day after week after week and on and on throughout their lives, yet we know that a darkness inevitably comes to everyone, the end for the individual comes; yet perhaps our major task is to learn to rise above the fear of the end of everything we have known.  Nature is our best teacher.  I like the eucalyptus lesson.  The tree starts over and over to grow a new skin.  Without fail the new skin becomes old and eventually falls away.  It is pushed off by new skin coming to protect the tree.  I like that it is happening on the eucalyptus trees growing around me in San Diego.

...And, of course, there are the orchids at our house that remind us that they only seem to be dead.  Suddenly a plant that seemed to be dead puts out the most wonderful, most alive display of life imaginable.  Life is good.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Margaret and I visited the Mengei Museum in Balboa Park to see again some of the things we like most in the Park.  I was struck by how well the term Mengei fits not just the things in museums and at home and in the world around us.  It is the appropriate word for the eucalyptus trees and and and and…

Almost a hundred years ago, the Japanese scholar Soetsu Yanagi coined the term mengei— everybody’s art— to draw attention to objects that were made by hand for daily use, according to age-old traditions of Japan, Korea and other Asian countries.  Yang was concerned that these craft traditions would disappear with the rise of industrialization in Asia.  He was making the point, too, that the value of an object has little or nothing to do with the intrinsic value of the materials used to make it, and everything to do with the respect for material used and the care that goes into its design and formation.  
                                                                           —Mengai Museum

Margaret and I visited the Mengei Museum in Balboa Park to see again some of the things we like most in the Park.  I was struck by how well the term Mengei fits not just the things in museums and at home and in the world around us.  It is the appropriate word for the eucalyptus trees and and and and…

Almost a hundred years ago, the Japanese scholar Soetsu Yanagi coined the term mengei— everybody’s art— to draw attention to objects that were made by hand for daily use, according to age-old traditions of Japan, Korea and other Asian countries.  Yang was concerned that these craft traditions would disappear with the rise of industrialization in Asia.  He was making the point, too, that the value of an object has little or nothing to do with the intrinsic value of the materials used to make it, and everything to do with the respect for material used and the care that goes into its design and formation.  
                                                                           —Mengai Museum

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

THIS IS THE SEASON OF MAGNOLIA BLOSSOMS… and the time to let them teach us about life and beauty and…and…and eventually death.  The blossom at first is pure, untouched by anything that spoils the cleanness; and then the withering and drying and disappearing begins.   It’s not that the end is ugly, it’s just different… and inevitable.  I’ve been wondering what those people who advertise big weight loss, like 50 pounds and clear, undamaged skin, unwrinkled skin… I’ve been wondering how they think of the future for themselves, and how they think of the rest of us who have already begun to show the signs of aging.  Do they think they are going to win the battle against age?   The Magnolia Tree is a good teacher.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

MICHAEL AND BROOKE California (USA) dreaming.  This the big day when Michael and Brooke are leaving for their epic trip around the U.S.A., California first.  They’ve got the right equipment.  I am reminded of a 1964 trip from Yuba City to the tip of Baja California.  I’ll go today into the garage to get slides I took on that trip.  Gary and I are old men now, but the memory is fresh and Michael’s and Brooke’s trip is a good reminder that everybody has a little madness inside…and some of it lasts even into old age.  I am eager to see the pictures that photographer Michael finds along the way.  Wow!  Life is good!

Michael's stuff... I left the scene before the actual fitting into the camper and the truck the things Michael is taking along.  I didn't ask where Brooke's "things" are riding.

Monday, June 20, 2016

A TRUSTED FRIEND asked me what I am thinking about the possibility of two women on the Democrat’s ticket for President and Vice-President of the United States.  The two women I’d support whole heartedly and be very happy when they win the election are Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren.  The Trump Presidential campaign has hit a significant wall, a wall of his own building.  Trump’s firing the campaign manager of his campaign, for whatever reasons, won’t correct his problems. .I’ve avoided getting my BLOG involved in the campaign, but I was asked… I’ve been thinking about it… and I can’t think of a single reason why two women couldn’t do the jobs which are open. especially these two women.  People who are having trouble with the idea of a woman president should just get over it.  Women in church and in politics may save us from ourselves.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

FOURTH AVENUE, a palm tree seeding, late in the day, near 6:30 pm, so the sunlight on the seed clusters and the orange dying remnants of last year are a typical San Diego image.  Life is good.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

First things first  Today’s  photo du jour is a stain on a tree… and I don’t even know what the name of the tree is.  I do know it’s in Balboa Park.  Then for the other pictures, I’m back in the park, last night.  After the opening of the Museum of Photographic Arts Exhibition, “Beauty and the Beast” and a series of photographs many of them taken many years ago and all of them taken in the dark, Margaret and I walked a long way across the park to get to the parking place we finally found when we got to the Park earlier in the evening.  I was thinking that I have not done much night photography, so I took at the darker pictures, 1-6, with the iPhone.  I’m going to remember to take more pictures at night.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Eucalyptus Tree closest to our apartment is putting on its annual show.  The very last pieces of bark to turn loose from the tree and fall into the Rosemary Shrubs in our backyard are getting ready to leave a beautiful naked tree.  Over in the nearby patio the epiphyllum is in the process of blooming.  Life is good.