Sunday, September 28, 2008

Golden chrysanthemum

Fall sun and chrysanthemum.
Our neighbor gave us this huge, lovely blossom; so large it only fits in a bowl.

A few “mum” tidbits from Wikipedia:

~ The chrysanthemum is one of the "Four Gentlemen" of China (the others being the plum blossom, the orchid, and bamboo). The chrysanthemum is said to have been favored by Tao Qian, an influential Chinese poet, and is symbolic of nobleness.

~ Chrysanthemums are the official flower of the city of Chicago.

~ The chrysanthemum is the flower of November.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The hill

Climbing the hill -- for exercise, for the view, for some fresh air, to get another perspective, to see the big picture. This hill looks pretty straight forward. But we don’t fully understand the path until we feel it under our feet. We don’t know what’s on the other side until we have gone up far enough to see a larger vision of the terrain we’ll have to cross.
Seems reflective, in some ways, of our situation right now.

It begins one step at a time. It can be done alone for a little while. But eventually, like serious hiking or rock climbing, it takes several of us working as a team to achieve what we set out to do, to keep each other’s back, to survive – to thrive.

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What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.
— RenĂ© Daumal

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A change of seasons

Saw this on the sidewalk during a walk. I wonder if someone laid it there intentionally?

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anyone lived in a pretty how town

(with up so floating many bells down)

spring summer autumn winter

he sang his didn’t he danced his did.
--e e cummings, excerpt from “anyone lived in a pretty how town”

Monday, September 22, 2008

In the morning light

Honeysuckle blossoms in the morning light.

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In the film, “Double indemnity,” Mrs. Dietrich (played by Barbara Stanwyck) is said to wear honeysuckle perfume.

Honeysuckle is also known as woodbine or eglantine.

In Japan, a honeysuckle blossom represents "devoted affection," referring to young lovers who come together through fate or destiny.

“Honeysuckle Rose” is a 1928 song written and performed by jazz pianist Fats Waller (and others), a 1980 movie, and the name of Willie Nelson’s touring bus.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Drumming a storm

The musicians we heard last night gave a great percussion workshop today. Intense, fun, lots of soul... Kevin Nathaniel Hylton is a master teacher who was able to move the group of us (about 13) from basic 4/4 time into clave rhythms, including the African 6/8. Hasan Bakr, also a great teacher, guided us on drum, helping us hear the “1” as we played.

Drumming, rhythm, is three-dimensional shape, Kevin explained. You work it, feel it, live it through your whole body so that the beat comes from within. The clave rhythms are the root; learning those lead to deeper rhythms, and when playing with others, the result is the poly-rhythm mix of beats, tones, all meshing together into an awesome wall of sound.

The room vibrated as we played clave sticks, hand drums, bells, shekere (large gourd rattle with beads or shells), woven rattles.

To close the workshop, Tomas, Hasan, and Kevin played again, improvising, jamming on a couple of numbers, then invited us to play with them on Changui en Siete, a song with a 7 beat clave rhythm, for a grand finale.

Earlier, when we came to the workshop, it was sunny with blue skies. But by the end, trees were thrashing in the wind and dark clouds roiled overhead. Sheets of fresh rain pelted the windows, streets, earth.
We drummed a storm…

Music to move your soul

This isn’t one of my photos; this is one I borrowed of the ensemble we heard tonight -- which was totally excellent! The program, “Dialogues: Music of the African and Spanish Diaspora” featured three New York City musicians: Tomas Rodriguez—Spanish and Flamenco guitar, Kevin Nathaniel Hylton -- Mbiras and percussion, and Hasan Bakr -- Latin and African percussion. They played and sang traditional music from Cuba, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Brazil, and Venezuela, as well as their own pieces.

The mix was a colorful, electric, mesmerizing dialogue between three outstanding musicians. Rodriguez’s guitar and Hylton’s mbiras fit extremely well together, complimented each other. And Bakr is an amazing percussionist. Surrounded by percussion instruments, he created the perfect sounds, mood, and rhythms for each piece. The three played off each other, came together, back and forth; weaving their strands of melody and rhythm like a brilliant tapestry.

Hopefully, these dialogues will continue…

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Info about Tomas Rodriguez:

Info about Hasan Bakr and Kevin Nathaniel Hylton:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A "geesely" gathering

When geese gather, you know fall’s around the corner…
(or -- it’s a political rally)

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Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees.
-David Letterman

If you feel the urge, don't be afraid to go on a wild goose chase. What do you think wild geese are for anyway?
-Will Rogers

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cowboy enlightenment

Saw this flag in front of a house during one of our walks and loved the cool light and shadow patterns. Perhaps this is the home of a retired rancher. Or a wanna-be-rancher.

In honor of the cowboy, both real and legendary, here are a few Cowboy proverbs (some of which are sayings by Will Rogers):

Don't squat with your spurs on.

If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.

If you’re ridin’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there with ya.

Always drink upstream from the herd.

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.

Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Another perspective

One last post about the Hyde Park Fair (And I promise -- this one has no nude mannequins). There are always booths where you can get a massage, buy herbal treatments, have your chakras cleared, have your fortune or tarot read. This booth featured info about acupuncture and body work. (The skeleton with the hat is a nice touch, don't you think? I wonder if it is also wearing SPF 30 sun block?)

Then, there was this booth.

At last, a way to get to the “sole” of my destiny…

Monday, September 15, 2008

Day at the fair

As I mentioned in my last post, the Hyde Park Fair took place this weekend, complete with booths of crafts, jewelry, blown glass, metal work, clothing, food, and more. People bring their dogs – one guy even brought a goat – and wander through the grounds, munching on “loaded fries”, gyros, ice cream bars, fried cinnamon rolls, corn dogs, kettle corn, and other culinary delights. Musicians play, people dance. Kids have their faces painted and play games for prizes in the Children’s Garden.

During the afternoon, the hand-knitted top this mannequin** was wearing slid down into her arms, provoking snickers from passers-by. One very helpful guy and his girlfriend tried to redress her -- but to no avail.

When we returned the next day, she was gone. Perhaps she escaped during the night with a mannequin from Macy’s…

**(NOTE: After I posted the original photo of the bare-chested mannequin, Blogger slapped a TOS warning on my blog, so I removed the original photo and put a Photoshopped version in its place. Hopefully that'll call off the nudity police...)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Good omens

As walked past Camel’s Back Park tonight, we saw that a small village of tents has sprung up. This weekend is the annual Hyde Park Fair, which features arts and crafts booths, live music on three stages, roaming performers, food.

Weather’s supposed to be sunny, the moon’s almost full, saw this piece of art in front of a neighbor's house; good omens for the fair.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Arrival of the kokanee

Kokanee salmon at the Nature Center.

Kokanee are “land-locked” salmon; they don’t make the trek from the ocean. Instead, they migrate through streams and lakes. Because the Nature Center is a human-made environment with no access to streams or lakes, these fish were stocked (and fishing is prohibited). The Center features viewing areas where you can watch the fish spawn, see egg masses, new hatchlings, and full grown lunkers.

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A trout that doesn't think two jumps and several runs ahead of the average fisherman is mighty apt to get fried.
~Beatrice Cook, Till Fish Do Us Part, 1949

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
~Author Unknown

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Shades of green

Within shades of green dances a tall woman wearing a gold tignon;
swirling skirt, foot stomp beat
buds erupt, shower the sun

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Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.
~ Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sunset on a Sunday

The Hyde Park Mennonite Fellowship meets here. Can’t find much info about the building, but it’s been in the neighborhood for a long time and often serves as a community meeting place.

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I like the silence of a church, before the service begins better than any preaching.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, September 05, 2008

Gathering place

A quiet spot to gather flowers, herbs, ladybugs, bees, thoughts, fragments of the past week...

Life is a child playing around your feet, a tool you hold firmly in your grip,
a bench you sit down upon in the evening, in your garden.
~ Jean Anouilh, French dramatist, 1910-1987

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Thoughts on red lilies

The scientific term for daylily, Hemerocallis, comes from two Greek words meaning "beauty" and "day," because each bloom lasts only one day. As a result, they have many buds.

According to Wikipedia, “the flowers of some species are edible and are used in Chinese cuisine. They are sold in Asian markets as gum jum, golden needles, or yellow flower vegetables. They are used in hot and sour soup, daylily soup, Buddha's delight, and moo shu pork.”

There was a silent movie in 1924 called “The Red Lily” about two young lovers "who go to Paris to try and escape their pasts, until fate separates them,” according to

What I love is the shade of red of these blossoms, and how they glow in the morning light.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Cloud reflections

Clouds can represent many things; animals, angels, faces, objects, shapes of countries. They give rain, snow, fog, reflection, create ever-changing sky art. They could be collections of millions of ideas, swirling there for one of us to grab. Gives new meaning to “reach for the sky.”

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The poetry that sustains me is when I feel that, for a minute, the clouds have parted and I've seen ecstasy or something.
~ Rita Dove

Clouds symbolize the veils that shroud God.
~ Honore De Balzac

Monday, September 01, 2008

In the morning dew

Many names for this blossom: Black-eyed Susan, Blackiehead, Brown Betty, Brown Daisy, Brown-eyed Susan, Gloriosa Daisy, Golden Jerusalem, Poorland Daisy, Yellow Daisy, Yellow Ox-eye Daisy. And the roots are used in herbal medicines.

Black-Eyed Susan is also the name of the official drink of the Preakness stakes horse race. There seem to be different recipes, but the “official” one contains Bourbon, citrus flavored vodka, sweet & sour mix, and orange juice, topped with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry. A couple of recipes actually advise having a designated driver take you home after the race-day celebrations...

And as an update on yesterday’s entry, it’s great news to hear that New Orleans didn’t get slammed as hard as they feared during Gustav’s landfall. So far, the levees are holding. Prayers to all those affected by this storm…