Tuesday, May 23, 2017

After another day at Paradise Village, it was good to have a visit from our neighbors Bill and Ruth. I was about to say old neighbors, but I remembered that we moved from a "regular" part of San Diego where there are people of all ages living in peace with each other to this place where we now live where everybody who lives here is over the age of 55 (I don't actually know anybody who is as young as that) with at least one resident a lively 102 years old.  Now when Ruth and Margaret reach the age of 102, they won't mind being called "old" friends.  Of course, Bill and I don't mind being called "old" friends now.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

The San Diego Academy, a private school, sits next door to Paradise Village.  Today Margaret and I went for a walk around the area, and being out in the neighborhood with the school and trees and the two o'clock sun making shadows and real houses where real people live comforts me.  The children running and playing and yelling reassures me that the future will come.  I particularly like Harrison Drive, one of streets that belongs to our neighborhood.  The Hibiscus tree on that street is in full bloom.  Around on Second Street East a row of palm trees prove this is San Diego County.  We came back to the common area where the Crown Island Jazz Band was setting up for a three o'clock concert.  Wow!  Life is good.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Yesterday I wrote about the Jacaranda trees blooming in San Diego, so today after Margaret and I had been to a San Diego Symphony Orchestra concert, we walked back to the car and I noticed that Fifth
Avenue was lined with Jacaranda trees in full bloom.  I thought how great it is to live in a place where trees bloom where they can be seen by everybody.  Near where I parked the car a Hibiscus Tree was blooming.  Wow! Hibiscus Tree... Beautiful.

About the symphony:  Charles Dutoit conducted the orchestra...  Truly amazing conductor... He conducted the large orchestra the way a single musician plays an instrument.  The first piece was short but very beautiful: The Overture to Prometheus; followed by a Mozart violin concerto with a soloist; and after the intermission a piece of music that maybe is my favorite of all times: Igor Stravinsky Petrushka... complex but Dutoit had the orchestra and the audience in his hand.  Wonderful!  The last piece was a Ravel piece.  Also wonderful.  Life is good.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Jacaranda Trees are in full bloom in the San Diego area.  Every April, May and even June, these amazing, blue trees awaken all of us in the area where I live.  The encyclopedia describes the Jacaranda as native to tropical and subtropical regions of Mexico, Central America, South America, Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica and the Bahamas.  It has been planted wherever the temperature doesn’t drop below freezing, so along the southern fringes of the U.S.A. the trees are popular… and they are especially popular in the part of Southern California where freezing doesn’t happen.  Because the plants are drought tolerant, the trees can tolerate the long periods with almost no rainfall.  The trees thrive in the communities of the region where I live because landscaping in our area requires watering during the dry periods.  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Margaret and I went back to the San Diego Museum of Art today when we heard that the Richard Deacon sculptures (and other works of art) will be held over until September.  The Piece above is entitled "Like a Bird," and like birds Margaret and I will get back to the museum to see again and again these wonderful pieces of art.  Deacon is English, and this is the first exhibition of his work at a major U.S museum.  Go to Balboa Park to see this exhibition. Although Deacon is a printer and a sculptor with a variety of materials, the works in this exhibition that grab my attention are made of bent wood.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thursday again... and today was a volunteer day at MOPA.  On my way back to the car from the museum, I got these pictures. The fountain that invites but forbids playing is enchanting.  A little fountain running down like stair steps into a pool that is backed by a plain concrete wall always gets my attention.  Not far from where I parked the car the last big wind brought down a Eucalyptus Tree. It was a beauty standing tall once, now lying on the ground it still commands my attention.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

We are coming to the end of the high blooming season for bird of paradise flowers.  This plant likes cooler weather, and while we aren't having now and we won't have really hot weather, the winter coolness is slipping away.  Earlier this week the temperature was in the low 60s midday, and tomorrow and for the next several days we will have temperatures in the low 70s.  So today was a good day to slip out and take a picture (another picture) of my favorite flower and the namesake of the valley where we live.  Paradise Valley is a good name for this part of National City.

The trunk of a taller bird of paradise plant that produces a blue flower is definitely dull compared to other plants in the area.  Even Palm trees are much more attractive than this plant.  I'm not sure of the name, so I won't make an attempt to identify it.

I like to think of the predicament of the President of the United States in terms of what it seemed to be and what it eventually turned out to be.  There are still a few people who are hanging onto a hope that the colorful bird of paradise flower is a good representation of the man who lives in the White House.  If I were less political in my thinking I would feel sorry for him, and perhaps I could respond to his declaration this morning at the Coast Guard Academy commencement that he is being treated worse than any other president of U.S. history.  He hasn't read American history or he would find reasons to be glad he is not Richard Nixon or... or... or...  There have been presidents whose terms have been served through far worse times than these which we are experiencing now.

Anyway, we are now saddled with a president who is seen by most of the people I know as someone who is not normal, someone whose personal identity is more important to him than the welfare of the country he represents.  We will get through this tough time, and we must be able to talk with each other without expecting those on "the other side" to change their basic political beliefs.  Democrats and Republicans must communicate with each other, however unpleasant the idea of cooperation and compromise may seem to the partisans of both sides.  One of the best things about being Americans is that we tend to value each other as individuals first.  We think of others as Americans first, as fellow country persons, as people for whom we wish the greatest welfare regardless of their party or their religion or any of the other human "conditions" we consider in our thinking about each other.  The man who is now the president has another way of seeing himself and another way of seeing other people.  He seems unable to change.  We must keep reminding ourselves that we can get through these tough times.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tommy came for a visit this afternoon... with Son David.  Both these guys are good company.  David fixed some things while Tommy and I relaxed.  My iPhone is now talking with my Apple Watch.  When you call, I can now feel the call with my wrist.  I tried to explain the whole thing to Tommy, but he wasn't interested in anything except having his head stroked.

I tried to interest him in the drama taking place at the white House, but he definitely was not interested in hearing about the President's troubles. I tried to explain about impeachment, and that got him interested for a minute, but like some of the people who still think there is hope for the President, he definitely thinks the problems will all pass over.  I tried to explain that he is wrong, and that the man won't last in the job.  He yawned a lot, and brought his head closer for more stroking.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Today after dinner I decided to get help setting up my new iPhone with my Apple Watch... and David was the obvious person to give the help.  We started by taking a photograph... and David suggested that I could be in the picture if I took it by using my Apple Watch to connect with the iPhone.  We're still trying to set that up, but in the meantime I've got the picture I need for my BLOG.  Nancy and Son-in-Law David weren't here, so I figured David and Margaret were appropriate for the picture for today. We'll all get in the picture the next time Nancy is here. By then I should have figured out how to get the Apple Watch to communicate with the iPhone.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Bob and Judy are visiting from Anchorage... Wonderful!  Today is Mother's Day, and Margaret and Judy are Mothers, so this BLOG post is dedicated especially to them... and to all the other good mothers we know.  We went to the Davids' house for a special lunch... Earlier we finished the fruit that Nancy sent.  David Higgins started an artichoke plant from an artichoke that he brought home from the supermarket.  This blossom is blooming in their yard.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Saturday of a Confusing, Perhaps Dangerous Time in America:  It is obviously true that the American Nation has managed to get through some horrifically difficult times, but this week has seemed to be one of the most dangerous in my memory.  Of course, I've realized often that I am a confirmed, liberal thinking, Democratic; and that self-identifying as such makes me see the world in a certain way that is different from the way some of my friends and relatives see it.  This week has been one of those times when I find myself wondering, and losing patience with those who live on the other end of the political, social continuum.  I have wondered how, for example, the majority of Republican Senators and Representatives can continue to remain quiet and perhaps even stand up with a President whom I see as a person mentally unstable.  I realize that I wear blinders that keep me from seeing and feeling the craziness of some people in politically powerful places if those people, like Darrel Issa and Duncan Hunter, are known to be in the other party.  I am biased.  I forgive the craziness in people who are more like me, but can't let go of it in people who are... well radically different.

But... this situation in Washington is ridiculous.  The White House has been turned into something that seems to me to belong to one man's family, to a man who seems to me to be not normal.  After staying that the president seems abnormal, I find myself thinking that I generally like people who are different, people who are not like everybody else. I am wondering if his appearance, the ridiculous hair style, his catalogue of facial expressions are keeping me from seeing the special human being underneath all that which seems ridiculous to me. I watched him closely and listened carefully to his address to the graduating class at the Christian college in Virginia this morning, and I tried to find in what he said something meaningful and I tried to find in him something to admire, and I couldn't find anything.  His remarks seemed to be... Oh, there I go again, finding all kinds of things wrong when there must have been people all across the country thinking how lucky those people are to be there in Virginia listening to him, and how fortunate we are to have him for President.  Sometime in the past couple of weeks I saw a photograph of a "Christian" group listening to the President, and an attractive, normal looking woman was holding up a sign that declared, THANK YOU LORD JESUS FOR GIVING US SUCH A GOOD MAN FOR PRESIDENT.  What!  How could anyone think such a thing.  My impulse was to want to dissociate myself from "Christian" groups, and then I remembered and was grateful for Spong and Armstrong and other writers and thinkers whom I have read lately who are as horrified by this President as I am.

I confess that I am in this matter of citizenship a worrier.  Everything I hear about the President makes me worry for my Country. His "Make America Great Again" slogan seems to me to be a cruel joke.  Ours is a great, a fortunate country, and some of us who are citizens here have had great good fortune, so we can feel about their citizenship as I do about mine.  But I worry for those people who haven't made good choices, who have behaved carelessly in their youth and middle age or who have had extremely bad luck and are going into old age lacking the blessings I enjoy as a man with a good wife, wonderful adult children, wonderful friends and family and with plenty of everything that a human being needs. I know about children and other people in the world who are hungry and ill-housed and destitute. I want my country to be one in which help is available to all of us.  I am embarrassed when the people who live in other countries look at America and see people unable to get medical care they need, or they learn we have citizens who go to bed hungry or who don't have a home to go to at the end of a day.  I am especially embarrassed when they see photographs of the man who is the leader of my country...which happens, in spite of the craziness of our President to be the most important country in the world.

Friday, May 12, 2017

I got a call a few minutes ago from the desk downstairs, and I was told I'd better get down there quickly because there was something so tempting there for Margaret that it might disappear altogether if we left it there too long.  I hurried down, and although Mother's Day is the day after tomorrow, the gift from Nancy to Margaret was too good to survive long uneaten.  We chowed down on the arrangement of fruit.  Maybe there will be a little left for Sunday Brunch at The Davids' House on Sunday.  We are very fortunate parents.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

In San Diego, with enough rain in the season when it is supposed to come, the country is beautiful because of the flowers.  This year we had more than the usual amount of rainfall, and there was even rain when Margaret and I were away from Southern California for a couple of weeks.  The hills east of where I live seemed to belong in Ireland, but when the summer really sets in and the landscapes in the foothills to the east of here turn brown and the deserts on the other side of the mountains become blistering hot and look as if there never has been rain there, then I know the lush greenery that came with the rain has become the stuff wildfires feed on...

Flat Stanley and I went to Scripps Memorial Hospital today to pick up our friend Irene Fudge who has been there for a week recovering from a case of pneumonia.  Irene and Jim are good friends indeed.  I'm thinking it is important to tell Flat Stanley and all the third graders in the world that good friends like these were once young and to find a way to tell them without spoiling their childhood that they will grow old one day. Of course, it's important to remember that even young people can get pneumonia, but it's also important to know that older people take longer to recover even from a bad cold. People who love each other are especially careful to be sensitive to times when friends are needed to help get through a rough patch of illness.  It's important to remember too that daisies and other beautiful flowers help level out and make better a person who is struggling with an illness.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Today was a very good day.  Margaret and I came back from a couple of weeks in Florida, and my computer and phone troubles are easier to solve at home, but the thing that made this a very good day is that I found in the stack of mail that came while we were away a letter from my nephew, Jonathan Cutrone, who sent someone across the country in a letter... someone he had met in a book... someone who went with me through the day and will go with me through other days.  That someone is Flat Stanley.  The book is Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown. So here's my story with Flat Stanley.  I worked on my computer with the help of Flat Stanley... we fixed it.

After the computer was fixed, I decided to show Flat Stanley around the place where I live.  Of course, I wanted to show him my favorite view from the living room.  I took the picture of Flat Stanley at the window where I stand to look over Paradise Valley that stretches all the way out to the Pacific Ocean.  I got the feeling that Flat Stanley likes the place as much as I do, so I think he will be around to enjoy it for a long time.