Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Painting I Like

Mirroring the human life cycle, my day started all fresh and full of promise and had pretty much fallen apart by the end.  I'm hoping to salvage a little light by posting a painting I like.  August 30, 2014, Grant Park in Pasadena, looking across Cordova at some mid-century apartment buildings not quite obscuring the mountain view.

It's late, but I need to stay up and constantly monitor what will probably be the last load of laundry I can eek out of my failed washing machine.  I need a new washer.  I'm overwhelmed by the selection.  There must be  hundreds of different washers on the market.  Probably any of them would be fine.  They all seem too expensive and too complex.  Seriously, I don't think my clothes and linens could possibly detect more than three different temperatures or spin speeds.  Just more little sensors that will undoubtedly fail long before the motor wants to quit.  My dying washer only lasted ten years.  The repairman and sales people tell me that's not bad.  It seems to me that things like washing machines used to last much longer.  Or is it just that ten years used to seem long?   You, lovely people, can help me.  If you or anybody you know has purchased a washer lately and feels okay about it, please let me know what washer it is.

I don't keep a journal, and I don't see a counselor.  I don't talk to my friends enough.  So sometimes I want to vent here in blog world.  I think that's all right as long as I don't get too personal.  I kind of want to rant about my health and my job and my love life.  But I think the washing machine is a better idea.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Eat Prey Love

I haven't posted nature photos for a good long while.  After I figured out the macro setting on the point & shoot and established a totally organic garden and suburban ecosystem, I joyfully documented the bugs in my yard.  But after a while, the images didn't seem like anything new.  I think because I am a human it is difficult for me to perceive the differences that distinguish one individual paper wasp (for instance) from another.

But things happen in the world of bugs.  The whole circle of life unfolds every season among the flowers.  Sometimes I see it.  Warning:  if you are disturbed by the gritty reality of nature, you might not care for these pictures.  

mating mantids; the female has eaten the head of the male

preying mantis eating a monarch butterfly

green lynx spider guarding egg sac soon after laying eggs  

newly hatched green lynx spiders

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Island in the Street

Chelton Way is a South Pasadena landmark.  It is a quiet residential street.  It used to be, in my time, distinguished by a giant oak tree growing in the middle of it.  But despite very heroic efforts to save the tree in the first place when the road was built around it, the oak tree eventually died.  Or probably just came close enough to dying to pose a big danger.  There's a large planted area in the middle of Chelton Way that is shown in the foreground of this painting.  I can't remember if this is where the oak tree was; I think the oak tree was a bit further north where the big Chelon Way sign is.  Anyway, there are more nice trees growing in the middle of Chelton Way.   This was painted in early June, when it was overcast in the morning, and the promise of summer still stretched ahead.

Friday, October 3, 2014


Another September is gone. My personal ups and downs in September were pretty nearly as varied as our weather.  I spent a week in Yosemite National Park, which I love.  In a whole other life, I bought my first pack of cigarettes at Yosemite.  I don't smoke now.

If you've poked around here at all, you know how much I love nature - all the sky, trees, stars, mountains, birds, meadows, beasts and tiny insects.  I also love forest rangers, and especially the ranger naturalists.  I think I should have been one.  One of the joys of visiting a National Park or State Park for me is going to ranger programs, you know like campfires with talks about bears, moonlit nature walks, stuff like that.

There's a pretty broad selection of programs at Yosemite, even late in the season.  I was a little disconcerted to attend an evening naturalist lecture by an employee of the corporation that runs the concessions at Yosemite now.  She was clearly no ranger.  And she even got in a little dig at the inefficiency of government agencies.   But on the opposite end of the spectrum, I got to take a geology-themed walk with National Park Service Ranger Shelton Johnson.  Johnson was the featured ranger in the Ken Burns documentary about the national parks, and he won the 2009 Freeman Tilton Award for interpretation by a National Park Service employee.  

Ranger Johnson spoke of the geological forces that formed Yosemite, and he spoke of how long it takes geological things to transpire, how old the stones are, and what's in the dirt.  He indicated that to the granite cliffs at Yosemite the 2000 year old giant sequoias are infants.  In the blink of an eye, or a single frame, our human lives come and go.  At the same time I was on the walk with Ranger Johnson, the wind picked up in the meadows in Yosemite's high country, and a small fire exploded into a big fire.  Over the crest of Half Dome we could see the giant plume of white billowing smoke turning to brown and glowing below.

The ranger talked about how fires are just part of the natural cycle.  Most Septembers bring fires to Yosemite, and the seeds of the giant sequoia never germinate until they are exposed to the heat of a forest fire. The ranger talked about transformation - how everything is becoming something else.  The granite mountains become the soil; the acorns become trees or food.  We become earth and star stuff.

  I hate change.  I hate getting old - the relative unattractiveness of  older flesh, and the fact that my legs don't move as well as they used to, and the difference in the way people perceive me.  I hate that things aren't the way they used to be.  I hate that people and animals die and that places close and get remodeled, and that everything from children's birthdays to weddings is grossly overdone.  I hate that people have given up up on comfortable clothing and natural appearances, that teenage girls wear make up and heels and push-up bras and that men remove their chest hair. I hate how polarized and uncivil politics has become.

Although I hate change, I'm thinking that I can embrace transformation.  I'm not deteriorating; I'm just becoming something else.  The world isn't going to hell in a hand basket; it's being born anew.