Thursday, March 31, 2011

Notes – Week of 4/1

A. The seasons are far enough apart that each time of year feels fresh and new. – Each season in turn feels like it is my favorite. Each day, as I walk, I discover surprises. Tree branches that were bare last time I walked this way now have great bursting buds. Poppies are blooming orange along the trail.

The wind - the water - cows on the hills

I feel sorry for people that walk around with earphones in their ears. Imagine not hearing the mocking bird, the distant scrub jay, the crunch of gravel under foot, the wind blowing in my ears… (Click here to hear a mocking bird:

Hill top near our home- the only sound here is wind in the grass, and chirping insects

Hearing a familiar sound is like finding an old friend – my friend the song sparrow, the distant train whistle, the distant bark of playful dogs, Canada geese arguing… – Subtle sounds that I have to listen for...

B. Something I learned this week from a Kindergarten teacher: "We all carry an invisible bucket that contains our feelings. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When our bucket is empty, we feel sad. A "bucket filler" is someone who says or does nice things for other people. By doing this, they are filling other people's buckets and filling their own bucket at the same time.

Whose bucket is getting filled here?

On the other hand, a "bucket dipper" says or does things to cause other people to feel bad. A "bucket dipper" empties their bucket when they say and do mean things, they feel worse too.

This is a concept taught to 4-5 year olds - seems good for the rest of us!

C. The results of the National 2010 census are in! Our city, Fremont, now officially has 38.5% white, 46.8% Asian, 14.6 % Latino, 3.3% African American, Pacific Island .7%, Native American .7%. While this is true - many are from 1st or 2nd generation families and are just as American as I am.

Judy and I are cultural chameleon… We happily slurp noodles in a Vietnamese pho shop, eat with our hands in an Ethiopian place, know how to order a meal in an Indian restaurant, and know what level of hotness to order in a Thai cafe. We know the best Russian pastries and when to go for Dim Sum.

Wall mural

We visit events on Dia del muertos, Martin Luther King day, the India festival, the Moon Cake festival, Dragon Boat races, Dia del Virgin de Guadalupe, Native American Powwows, Thai New Year, events and concerts in the Bay Area Euporean communities: German, Italian, Greek, Russian...

Tablisi Russian ( Georgian ) Bakery

Our favorite restaurant is a neighborhood Taqueria called “Los Dos Gallos” (The two roosters). Another excellent place is an Afghan restaurant “The Salang Pass” … Everett and Jones does the most amazing southern Bar B Que. The Blue Nile gives us spicy savory Ethiopian food. We love to explore the amazing variety of Asian flavors and textures found in the foods from China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Pakistan, Korea. and Indonesia...

Chinese Temple in China town - SF

This also really isn’t so strange because over the years of living here our neighbors, students, and friends have invited us and shared with us their traditions. We find richness in the human fabric of this place. The various ethnic groups of the San Francisco Bay Area pretty much live as neighbors and friends with a minimum of negative interaction.

Student invitation to participate in Dia del Muertos

By and large we go beyond "tolerance" to "acceptance" and "friendship".. It is my hope that as the world continues to shrink, as internationalism grows world wide, we can do so in this manner. Nothing is lost by being open to the customs of others...

D. As the spirit of spring returns to the land – a gardeners thoughts turn to tomatoes! For me the process begins with choosing the best location. Every home has many microclimates – I choose two small garden patches adjacent to a south-facing wall (they receive several hours of sunlight each day).

Next comes soil preparation. Dig in lots of good organic material – either compost or soil conditioner – I like for each plant to have prepared soil at least 14 inches deep and 18 inches wide. A garden fork with long tines is an ideal tool for mixing the soil. If you have heavy clay soil –adding organic material is especially important.

Ace Tomatoes

Talk to old-timer gardeners in your neighborhood to learn about the best tomato varieties for your local. Now I make a trek to my favorite nursery. My choices are “Ace” tomatoes – they are resistant to almost all common diseases, have great flavor, and produce from July until November… They are the size of tennis balls. (I prefer tomatoes that are not too large.) I also plant Early Girl tomatoes – because they are early – but they also produce well – they are also a smaller tomato… Forget the “Beefsteak” tomatoes – you get a smaller crop and frankly their flavor isn’t as good as “Ace”.

Plant the small plants deep so that you cover at least half of the stem – All of the buried parts will add to the root mass of the young plants. Plan ahead and shape a good water basin around each plant at the time of planting. Water each young plant and wait for them to grow! Through June make sure that the plants stay moist – developing tomatoes should never go dry. In July and August cut off the water – and only water once or twice when the soil is very dry during the fruit bearing season.

Starting this early the poor little plants will probabily sit shivering their little roots when the weather turns cool again - but we are having quite a spell of warm weather right now - enough to get them well established.

E. One of my favorite photographers, Henri Cartier Bresson, said this about photography- “ For me the camera is a sketchbook, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously.

A captured moment -photo by Henri Cartier Bresson

In order to give a meaning to the world, one must feel involved in what one singles out through the viewfinder. The attitude requires concentration, sensitivity, a discipline of the mind, and a sense of geometry

A captured moment ii -photo by Henri Cartier Bresson

It is through economy of means and above all by forgetting oneself that one arrives at simplicity of expression.

To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all facilities converge to capture fleeting reality. It is at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy

For me, photography is to place head, heart, eye along the same line of sight. It is a way of life. “