Tuesday, February 28, 2017

With Nancy and David and Margaret and a whole gaggle of dogs in back of the place where I live with Margaret I was all set to get a picture of Nancy and David and Margaret and the whole gaggle of dogs when the iPhone I was using for the picture went blank, stopped short, without a warning or anything that would allow me to get the picture I had in mind, and this is what showed up when I got back to our apartment and recharged the phone... It's a condition that shouldn't happen  and wouldn't happen if I had been using a standard camera instead of a phone to take a photograph.  Anyway, this picture is all I got today. It's, as far as I can tell, the road, which I can think of as the road to nowhere, when I look back at these pages years from now and wonder what in the world I could have been doing on this last day of February in 2017.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Rainy day in San Diego... Willows Building is a definite refuge from the very good rain that is falling in National City today.  I've decided that springtime is the right time to begin to consider gifts of kindness and good will to some of my neighbors in this place.  Some people here seem forlorn to the point of being almost despondent.  I am going to try very day to remind myself that I am a very fortunate person.  Both David and Nancy are immediate family with us this week.  Patrick and Elaine and their boys are just a few miles up the road from where we live.  Life is good.  I am reminded daily that my part of the world is in chaos, and there is very little I can do about it except by consciously trying to be a bearer of peace to my neighborhood and to be aware of people around me who may need help.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sometimes a mural is nothing, is a diversion at best, is a decoration for a wall.  Sometimes it is a work of art in a public place, something that takes us away to another place.  This mural, big... bold... unexpected, reminds us that something we weren't expecting seems familiar and we begin taking pieces that make a little sense and applying them to whatever else has been going on in our minds, a new reality begins to emerge out of the collection of symbols and images and suggestions. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

This picture of a large Jeremy Lanoiselee painting represents for me this day... a day when we met with like-minded friends for lunch and then celebrated with family the birthday of a very special member of the family... Gary is eighty years old today... and he isn't trying to deny the years by pretending to be younger.  This is a day when pictures are important to take and to keep. It's a day t be grateful for Bill's good health.  It's a day to celebrate friendship and family.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The day went this way... and it was good:   Gary and Maria came from Maryland Wednesday, so we went to visit them in Del Mar this afternoon... Patrick and Gary walked with us to the car and then we went to the airport to pick up daughter Nancy.  While waiting for the plane bringing Nancy, I took a couple of pictures of the city and the Bay.  Life is good.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Today I watched and listened with a sense of dread and even horror to the televised part of the American Conservative Union’s annual meeting which featured Reince Priebus, The White House Chief of Staff , and Steve Bannon, the White House Chief Strategist.  Anyone who has followed the day-to-day events of the present administration's first month in office is well aware of who Bannon and Priebus are, so I won’t comment on what they have been doing during that time.  We all know the rumors that the two men don’t like each other, that they are jealous of each other’s closeness to the President.  Today’s guest place on CPac’s annual meeting was designed to reassure Americans that the two are really good friends, the yin and yang of power in the President’s inner circle. 

I don’t need to know the details of the Bannon-Priebus friendship or of their working relationship, but I won’t rest easy knowing that Bannon said today that he sees himself as part of the team whose job it is to “deconstruct” Washington… In other words he is committed to the task of destroying the institutions that make up the government of The United States. 

We know Reince Priebus' role in the campaign that led to the election of Donald Trump.  We know that Bannon has been given a role in the White House that makes him the second most powerful man in the United States.  In an unprecedented move the President has  given Bannon a place on the National Security Council. Why do I feel less secure with Mr. Bannon in that place of power?  The most unsettling part of this scenario is what Steve Bannon acknowledges himself to be. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A valued friend whose opinions I respect more than I can say in this writing sent the response to my BLOG writing, which was inspired by another valued friend.  I took the photo of myself later in this day... and wrote back to my friend, Jerome, that I agree with and appreciate his response... Before I wrote back to him, he sent the second e-mail, so I feel compelled to include his apology... I love his characterization of what we have in America as "an admirable experiment."  That phrase says exactly what we admire in the system of government that we continue to call a "democracy." Jerome acknowledges that we keep trying, but sometime our attempts to be a democracy fail at the ballot box. This past election was one of those times.

"I disagree, my friend. You are in the thralls of a wishful illusion.

We are an admirable experiment. We are a potential republic based on democratic principles and on values of justice, fairness, equality, freedom of religion and freedom from religion, the separation of church and state, the pursuit of the common good, and the opportunity for all citizens to better themselves and achieve their potential. 

We have never been a democracy. We are father from it than ever before in our history.Two recent G.O.P. electoral triumphs of embarrassingly shallow, poorly and narrowly educated, dangerous men, the existence of the Electoral College, and the super delegate nonsense make that abundantly clear. We are a Corporatocracy quite rapidly on our way to becoming a Neo-Fascist Autocracy/ Dictatorship and all that that implies."

I was too upset about something else this morning when I wrote and sent this to you. I shouldn't have.

I should have, Jerral, said simply that I disagree with your statement "we are a democracy" and then shared with you why I disagreed. 

And I should have ended by simply saying that you are a valued friend, that I treasure our contact, and that I hope you weren't offended by my inadvertent snakiness. 

I also still hope that you will choose to post this on your Blog because I would be very interested in the reactions, if any, that you would receive. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

My friend Liz Respess wrote that George Lakoff says news media are using the wrong framing by saying “We are not the enemies.”  Rather say: “Protect the Truth.” I like “Protect the Truth.”  A free press is essential to a democracy, and we are a democracy.  These are strange times.

I went by the old place and noticed that the flowering pear trees have almost lost all their blossoms, and the green leaves of spring are coming on…  This is a remarkable place... this earth.  I feel very fortunate to have been born to it.

Monday, February 20, 2017

I’m probably violating some law by using this photograph of page 83 of the March issue of Harper’s Magazine.  Page 83 is the first page of the review of books section of the journal.  I read with genuine interest Christopher Beha’s review of Emmanuel Carrere’s The Kingdom.  Tomorrow I am going out to look for the book to read, and I am including the review here in this BLOG hoping that others will have a look at the February Harper’s (a bunch of other very good writing happens to be included in this issue), and those of you who know the story of Paul, the writer of much of the New Testament of the Christian Bible, will be as intrigued as I am by what Carrere has done… or at least by Bela's review of Carrere’s book.  I’m not going to include the additional two pages of Beha’s review because if I did I would indeed be committing an error that Harper’s and Beha would have good reason to accuse me of doing.  Get Harper’s first, then get Carrere’s book.  

Sunday, February 19, 2017

I went outside out building this afternoon and got a couple of pictures of bird of paradise flowers.  One is fresh and perky, the other is tired and worn.  There is a lot to be said for young, fresh and perky, but somehow I appreciate the old bird of paradise more.  It seems more appropriate for a retirement village in Paradise Valley.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Last night a big storm blew through our region, cleaning the air and the plants.  The wind blew hard enough to cause trouble on the crowded streets and freeways, and trees came down on buildings and automobiles all over the city; but this morning the world was peaceful.  Our view of the city gave no hint of trouble anywhere in the world.  Our view of the harbor areas was pristine.  To the north of us in the Los Angeles Area, the most monstrous storm in decades caused trouble all over the place.  The snow pack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains should ease the water crisis in all of California.

Friday, February 17, 2017

I went out with Dave today to visit with Estelle in El Cajon.  This rose is blooming in her backyard.  Living in Southern California is a blooming wonderful experience.  Winter days are in the 60s.  The El Cajon Valley from Estelle's backyard is as beautiful as any place I know.  We are waiting for a rainstorm to come into the area.  Clouds and mountains belong together.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Swiss Prix Pictet exhibition at MOPA  and the book that goes with it this year are assembled around the idea of “disorder.”  Today I went to my volunteer job at the Museum of Photographic Arts after having watched the American President dissolve into a state of disorder before a roomful of journalists, and I have gone through the few hours since then with a distinct feeling that the country which I have always considered to be well organized around a strong system of government because it is basically orderly at its core is presently in a state of acute disorder. As I watched the CNN coverage of the news conference I became afraid for my country.  I was wishing the man who carries the title of President could somehow be replaced by someone whose mind is orderly, but that isn’t going to happen.  Those of us who wish for a change aren’t going to get what they want.  Donald Trump is the President of the United States. 

So what is the appropriate, responsible way to be a good citizen of a country whose government is being managed irresponsibly?  Of course, this disordered time will pass. My country’s form of government is the best in the world. We are a democracy in the hands of an autocrat.  The autocrat cannot succeed in turning the American democracy into an autocracy, so I must be a citizen of a democracy no matter who or what the President is. My behaviors as a citizen must be those of a citizen of a democracy.  

Oh, and by the way, go to MOPA in Balboa park to see this amazing exhibition.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

We’ve just experienced one of our cultures most notable holidays, perhaps most notable for its commercial punch.  The place where I live with a bunch of other old people went wild last night: White tablecloths at dinner, a six-foot live cupid complete with wings, special entrees for dinner, chocolate cake in the shapes of hearts… and on and on and on.  Now don’t get me wrong… love should be noted and celebrated, and valentine candies and other gifts are appropriate. Love, however, is a reason to celebrate every day.  Margaret’s birthday earlier this month was an occasion for celebration.  The love extended to her by members of her family is expressed through gifts of flowers and candy and trinkets, but flowers fade and candy disappears (especially around our place).  Nancy ordered flowers and they came on her Mother’s birthday.  David and David and Elaine and Patrick and Jon and Matt and other family and friends got together to celebrate the special day. The flowers from Nancy were bright and cheery for days and days…  Today they were shriveled and faded, but their fading and shriveling haven’t diminished the love we all feel for Margaret.  She is special.  She doesn’t fade.  I can’t take a picture of the love, but it is there in full bloom eternally.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

One of my favorite houses in San Diego...  This is one of my favorite holidays.  Valentine Day can be as serious as you want it to be, or it can be funny, a good joke... whatever you want it to be.  We had dinner in the dining room here at Paradise Village today.  Everything was fantastic... as serious as any food gets, and flitting around the dining room was one of the "younger" staff persons dressed as cupid.  It was a combination serious-silly-funny event.  I was going to say something like old age is like that, but I've changed my mind...

Monday, February 13, 2017

The historic St. Matthew's Church on East 8th Street in National City has become an historic site, so it's worth a special trip to see it.  I went out this afternoon with my camera to get pictures.  The light was perfect.  The episcopal church was built on land originally set aside for a church by the Kimball brothers, but the gift of Elizur Steele made possible the first services held in the church on July 3, 1887.  Tibers for the building were brought around the Horn.  Construction for the building is of California Redwood.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Margaret and I have developed a pattern of going by Wendy's after church on Sunday.  Today I saw and wondered about two shoes that were left on a wall.  I guess I have a fascination with shoes abandoned, and these were in a place where the person who left them probably had no intention of coming back for them.  There is a story here, and I will never know what it is.  The shoes may have been left here after a new pair was purchased, maybe across at the shopping mall on the other side of the 8 Freeway... or maybe these well-worn shoes had begun to hurt the feet of the person who left them and he just said "to hell with them" and left them on the wall.  Maybe the person who left them hoped someone who needed shoes, even well-worn ones, would see them and be glad to find a pair...  The shoe laces look new, definitely newer than the basic shoes themselves... another mystery.  Ah, well.  Next week after church I'll check to see if they are still there.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Over at City Scene where I lived for a long time, I stopped by today to leave something at the old place, and I fell in love all over again with the Melaleuca Trees.  They defy me to describe them, so the only thing I can do is take pictures, and even the pictures are too complex for words.  As the trees grow, day to day and week to week, they change.  I can't think of anything that is more like life than these trees.

Friday, February 10, 2017

I know, I know... You've seen this scene many times before, but tonight was special.  The program was "The Classical Style" and the program was predictably Haydn, Prokofiev and Bartok... Ok so it should have been "The Late Classical Style with Haydn from an Earlier Time."  Anyway, it was a very good concert.  All of the music was outstanding, but my favorite was the part of the evening that came after the intermission... Bela Bartok wrote his Concerto for Orchestra in the last year of his life.  He had been ill and on the edge of death, yet he poured all his genius into the creation of this amazing work.  The conductor for the evening, Lahav Shani, is only 28 years old.  He managed to get sounds from the orchestra that I sat amazed to hear.  At the end of the program, I felt very glad that Bartok lived to create his concerto.  Prokofiev and Haydn works were outstanding also.  I remembered hearing Prokofiev's Symphony No. 1 in D Major and Haydn's Sinfonia concertante in B-flat Major,  but I hadn't ever heard the Bartok Concerto.  I was glad to have been in Symphony Hall tonight.