Monday, July 31, 2017

Side by side...Two worlds exist in my neighborhood.  The first is one of my neighbors at Paradise Village, someone who pays full fare for retirement.  The other two are among a group of refugees from Africa who are keeping a garden behind our building.  The Africans don't speak English.  Life is precarious for them.  Last month an ICE vehicle sent a couple of hours checking immigration papers. The officers took away three residents.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

I’m only kidding with the hibiscus picture.  The other “h” flowers are O.K., but this hibiscus is a wow!

…just seeing if I can get a rise out you, and I did.  The other time a week ago, I really did make the mental and typing mistake… not on purpose.  The other time I called the hibiscus a hydrangea…  What the hell!  All those “h” flowers are beautiful... and some whose name begins with other letters of the alphabet aren't bad.  The wild colors in the third picture doesn't change a hibiscus into some other family, but the editing software on my computer can change it into something that's not found in nature.  I realized as I was finishing this BLOG writing that I hadn't mentioned the familiar Bird of Paradise.  Summer isn't a prime time for this flower, but even now it isn't bad.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

 Just to prove that I know that this blossom is a hyacinth and not that other blossom that begins with "h" and is common in our area, I've begun the BLOG today with this spectacular flower that is growing in our community.

The other images are of another stone chop that I got in Singapore a long time ago.  We have two of them and we use them as bookends.  I don't know what kind of stone the carvings are. I've liked them from the day when I saw the two of them in a shop.   They are eight inches tall and three inches wide.

Friday, July 28, 2017

From where I sit typing this BLOG entry, I can see the Pacific Ocean.  I've been reading the Wilbur Morrison The Adventure Guide to Baja California, and I spent time remembering a trip Gary Gasser and I took in 1964 down the length of Baja California, and I thought how modern science has brought good stuff into our lives, but some of the adventures possible sixty years ago in the area where I now live are lost forever to adventurers.  The boats down in the National City boatyard could go wherever the waterways lead them, but most of them will go only to places that offer services like those found in this boatyard.  In 1964 the main highway down the length of Baja California wasn't built yet.  Gary and I drove down on a paved road to San Felipe on the Eastern coast of Baja where we launched out into a desert landscape over a dirt road that ran through cactus forests that nobody sees these days if they take the main highway down through Baja.  That little faint blue strip of something in the first and third photographs is the beginning of Baja California, Mexico.  I can see it from where I live. Not very far to the east of Tijuana begins a landscape like no other in the world.  There are mountains and there are deserts, and there are some of the most accommodating, wonderful people living in Baja California. The Morrison Book was published almost half a century after Gary and I drove down from California.

The chapter on "The History of Baja" begins with the following paragraph.  "The interior of Baja California is one of the least-traveled place on earth, despite its 450 years of recorded history.  It begins only a hundred miles south of the western border of the United States and Mexico.  Until the trans-peninsular highway from the Mexican-American border to Baja California's tip at Cabo San Lucas was opened in December 1, 1973, it was a largely undiscovered land of cactus-covered deserts. The sole previous highway was a meandering dirt road that only the intrepid dared, and seldom even then without special cars or trucks."

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Workers resting after applying sod with grass to the new park at Paradise Village.  The new park is beginning to look like a park.  I hope the men who have been working on developing it get a chance to bring families here to see their work.  The rolls of sod lying all in a row will be waiting for the crew tomorrow.  My guess is the sodding will be finished tomorrow and the park will be completed in the next couple of weeks. The photograph below shows the area before sodding was done.

The two paintings below are hanging in the hall outside our apartment.  This is a very good place to live.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Contrasts in places and ideas isn't a bad thing, I think.  I came across the picture Margaret snapped of me in Lisbon a few years ago, so I decided to use it today.  On the other hand, I may have snapped the lens of the camera resting on a tripod (I see in the picture that I am holding a remote device.)  However it was, the graffiti on the ancient wall is definitely not Tokyo, where I was seventeen years ago when I wrote the poem.

Tokyo, Thursday, August 10, 1990


The way the occasional renegade pine tree rises above the others,
Audacious, conspicuous, defying the impulse for order
Reassures and worries me all at once,
Knowing as I do that growing apart from the common crowd
Can make an angel or a monster of a man.  

It doesn’t happen often in a grove of timber bamboo
With graceful tops like bowed heads all hanging the same,
Respecting the physics of wind and rain and natural order
As if commanded by some ancient supernatural shogun.

The Japanese are more bamboo than pine, I think.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I was going through some old things today, a couple of Chinese dishes, and some pictures, and some poems.  They aren't connected in any way but in their being the stuff that prompts my memories... and the memories aren't really connected in any way that makes sense... but here they are connected in this BLOG post. The Chinese plates are from the time when we lived in Asia and I couldn't resist buying a plate that someone told me was three or four hundred years old... and I couldn't resist thinking of timelessness when I came across a photograph of my two children... I think the photograph is from 1965 when I was teaching at Yuba City High School... a few years before we moved to Singapore...

And I opened the book of poems and found one that I wrote in August, 1990 when I was in Tokyo visiting with my friend Takashi Hara.  I like it because it reminds me of two people I like remembering.

Tokyo, Wednesday, August 8, 1990

Mr. Hara Reminds Me of Grandma Miles

It’s not often that I have reason to think of my Grandmother,
But always on the occasions when I am with Takashi Hara
I see her all plump and smiling, standing in a doorway
Or walking in her garden with hollyhocks all around
And that wonderful smell of roses,
And it’s all because of the way he keeps a handkerchief
Clutched tightly in his left hand with a little white showing
That I remember her because she did that, too,
Like the time she took a quarter out of the handkerchief
And looked directly into my twelve-year-old eyes
And said, LutherJerral, buy yourself some socks.

I don’t know why she said socks, but she did,
And I’ll never forget her for it
Because she didn’t give the other kids a quarter,
Which may not mean anything,
But it causes me to remember her even in Tokyo
When Mr. Hara rolls that white handkerchief around in his hand,Grinning as he looks at me and hands me yet another gift…

A belt, practical like a pair of socks.

Monday, July 24, 2017

I came across a notebook today that I hadn't seen in many years. It was in a box filled with notebooks with familiar writing on them, writing that I recognized as mine.  One of the books had the title on the front... Poems... and then near the bottom was my name. 

Monday, July 2, 1990

What a mystery time is,
Gluing as it does all the pieces of our lives together…
As sure it is as death and taxes
Yet not dependable,
Betraying all of us finally
By making us wish and hope tomorrow will come
Just to disappoint us when we’re finally there.

Sometimes I see the thread of it
Unraveling faster and faster,
Taking away the fabric of my life
Until finally there will be nothing left
But books of verses and photographs
And perhaps a few students with memory
Who will say, sure, he was here…
I saw him myself.
But finally even that memory will vanish

And the earth will go on spinning
As always… as always… as always.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sometimes the path takes a turn and it's difficult to make out where it is going... It's just a new direction, and you don't know if you should go with it and make the turn... And sometimes you don't have a choice.  Life is like that.

Today is Sunday, and I sat listening in church to a sermon built around a passage of Scripture that I couldn't believe, and I tried to decide how I might believe what the sermon and the Bible lesson were suggesting... and I couldn't do it, so I am left with a problem.  Deciding what to do with the problem may take a long while.  The road ahead goes on.

There is something that isn't Biblical that I'm thinking, and it has something to do with not throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Plainness...I came across these two little flowers on a shrub that looked as if it might not last out the summer.  The leaves lacked the vitality that many growing things in San Diego County demonstrate. I looked at the blossoms closely and I looked at the larger shrub, and I saw dried, withered clumps of leaves, and the things that bothered me more than anything else about the plant were the spiders.  Spiders seemed to know the shrub was abandoned, and they seemed to know that nobody would care what happened to the flowers. I am determined to keep track of this plant.  I will walk to it several times each week, and I will remember what it must feel like to be withering while being surrounded by plants that are thriving. I probably won't take pictures of the few other flowers on the shrub.  In the city where I live, I will look for other flowers just like these to see how a very healthy shrub of the same kind as this one is developing.

I will try to be aware of the esteem we bestow on beauty, and I will try to be understanding and considerate when I come across anything that once lived and thrived but has fallen now on difficult times.

Friday, July 21, 2017

O.K., O.K., the yellow flower is a Hibiscus, definitely not a Hydrangea.

HORSES...  Some interest has been expressed by the horses I posted a couple of days ago, so I  though I should include pictures of a couple of horses that I neglected to show earlier.  The one above  from China, which I bought when we lived in Singapore, is a striking figure.  It is bigger than any of the jade horses, and it isn't an antique... but I like it.  I don't remember seeing it in a shop and I don't remember the day I bought it.  I can only think of it as it has pranced in our houses over the years.  There is a vitality about it that must have been felt by the sculptor.  I always feel it.  Buffalo Bill and even Roy Rogers would have noticed it and would have been excited by such spiritedness.

The second horse is another that I got in Singapore.  It, too, is from China.  I like it perhaps because It seems to me to represent an animal that is approachable, and anything that is approachable is to be at least appreciated.  The first horse is slightly larger than the other.  It is fifteen inches in length and thirteen inches tall.  Both are impressive enough.  They can't be ignored.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

My walk today took me over to Parkview building at Paradise Village.  I am continuing the morning Walk each day with my friend Jim Fudge, and as we were walking out of the building there, this most exotic Hydrangia blossom was waiting for us.  Jim is trying to find reasons to be glad to be living at Parkview and this flower is a perfect reason for liking the place.

After lunch I went to Balboa Park for my volunteer job.  So many people were in the park today, I had to go to the farthest lot to find a slot for my car.  Walking up to the Museum of Photographic Arts, I passed by the Japanese Tea Garden.  Wow!  We are fortunate to live in a city with such beautiful places in it.  As I looked out over the garden, a Southwest Airlines plane flew in to land at Lindberg Field.  I was reminded that the world is a small place.  I can get anywhere in the world quickly from where I live.  Later I walked slowly through the Sebastiao Salgado Photo Exhibition where I saw the South American photographer's pictures of places in Africa and South America... and the United States and Canada, and I was reminded of a saying by Salgado, "Our planet still harbors vast and remote regions where nature reigns in silent and pristine majesty."  We can get to the places where he took the photographs, but some people who go there may not see what he sees through his camera's viewfinder. Learning to see is a lifelong task.

If you live near San Diego, go to MOPA in Balboa Park to see Salgado's Photographs...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I was walking back home from a stroll in the neighborhood this morning and I saw this little iris... I think it is an iris; and I thought it was incredibly beautiful, so I decided it should be my photo for today. Nearby there was another beautiful iris, and on a stalk nearby was another beautiful iris with a withered, finished iris on another stem.  I thought how life is like this flower garden... and that's not a sad observation, but it is important to know that beauty doesn't last... But while anything is at its peak of beauty, showing itself in the world... pay attention.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

AGAPANTHUS, or Nile Lily…  I knew I could count on someone to recognize the withered flower I sent a couple of days ago… and not just some ONE, but I got more than a dozen responses, so the name we can depend on being recognized by everybody who keeps track of such things is “AGAPANTHUS.”

And today... I have something flying in my office at home.  It's a special hummingbird flown all the way to San Diego from Cancun... with a little help from Julian, Nina, Tiffany and Eric.  Perfect addition to exotic creatures in the place where I play and work. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

I came to the end of the day and realized I hadn't taken the pictures for today, so I decided quickly that five horses in our living room would be good to include in this BLOG post.  The first one is jade that was a gift of a friend in Singapore.  The second one is of some kind of metal... we got it in Malaysia, I think.  The third one is ceramic and it came from China... The first three may have come from China originally.  The fourth one is also jade.  We got it in Singapore, but I don't know if it was carved in China or in some other place.  The last one is also carved from some kind of stone, perhaps jade.  I didn't realize until I got them together for the photographs that they are really as beautiful as they are.  I'll go to bed soon, and perhaps the horses will ride around in my dreams.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Somebody will e-mail me to tell me the name of this plant.  Obviously it is at the end of its season.  When it is in full bloom in San Diego, it seems to be everywhere. I thought it was some kind of lily, but that may be wrong.  I went on-line and looked at several nursery sites, and I found a picture of the plant at Armstrong Nursery in Mission Valley... I called the nursery and stumbled through an explanation of the plant to someone named Mary.  I told her a picture of the flower in bloom could be found on her Web site, but she was unable to come up with a name.  If someone out there who gets my BLOG knows the name, please let me know.

I'm using these pictures because they remind me that beauty and youth don't last.  I'm not saddened by the realization, but I am reminded that seed pods in the pictures are evidence that the plant will bloom again next year and the plants will be wonderful.  This plant is a good metaphor for life.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Lantana...  I've wondered for a long time if Lantana is native to a South American jungle where I first recognized the beautiful little wild flower blooming on the forest floor.  I don't know the answer to the question, but I remember seeing the little flowers in the wilderness in Peru and in Brazil.  I'm guessing now, but I think Lantana is native to the Americas... perhaps it is native to tropical regions of the Americas.  The spectacular plants with flowers in all colors are probably hybrid varieties of the original plants that grow wild.    The colorful flower does well in the region of America where I live.  I'll ask around to see if I can learn where the Lantana plant originated.

I went out with my camera today to check on the progress being made toward the development of a new park in the community where I live.  The park has been in the development stage for several months.  It will undoubtedly be beautiful when it is finished. I can see progress when I pass by the edge of it.  I expect the little park to be a perfect addition to our community. When it is finished, I'll take pictures of it to include in a BLOG post.