Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hodgepodge 291/365 - Avocados

I heard today that the International Space Station is about to get a resupply, including 20 pounds of fresh food. A special treat that is being tucked in this time is some fresh avocados.

That reminded me of my trip to the USSR back in the early 90s. We entered and exited the country via Helsinki, where I happened to have a friend from boarding school days in Germany, Raili: she went on to become a principal soprano with the Finnish national opera. We arranged to meet up on my return, and she welcomed me with a bottle of wine and, even better, fresh avocados! It was such a treat to savor that yummy food after a few weeks of Soviet food. (Though granted, we also did quite a bit of camping in Russia, where we foraged for mushrooms and berries and caught fish, so it wasn't all dismal.)

The avocado, or Persea americana, is in the laurel family and is thought to have originated in southern Mexico about 12,000 years ago. The name avocado comes from the Nahuatl word āhuacatl (also meaning "testicle"), which became aguacate in Spanish. Avocado is the state fruit of California, where 90 percent of the domestic crop is grown on some 59,000 acres of land, much of it in San Diego County. We also import from Mexico, Chile, and Peru. The fruit is rich in B vitamins and vitamin K, as well as C, E, and potassium.

Those astronauts are going to be happy campers.



Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Hodgepodge 290/365 - Poetry (Khadijah Queen)

Like several others I've featured here, Khadijah was a fellow student at Antioch University, in the Creative Nonfiction thread with me. I vividly remember her pieces about being a sailor—young, female, black—on the U.S.S. Cole (before it was bombed by Al-Qaeda), about her grandmother. Her prose was enriched by the fact that she is also a poet.

For a few years, we took part in a little writing group together with a couple of other Antioch friends. We called ourselves the Red Threads. Reading her work was always challenging—in a good way. She pushes boundaries, finds edges then transcends them.

Since I met her she has published several books of poetry, a play, and most recently a work of what I would call prose poetry, I'm So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On, which was a finalist for the 2015 National Poetry Series prize. Here are a few from that book (which you can read more about in this review).

The same year I found out who Audie Murphy was I got stretch marks I was 12 & living in a battered women’s shelter in Long Beach with my mother & sister & I filled out too fast from eating too much junk food & noticed the light striations after my first shower there I put on sandals & a loose pale blue summer dress that tied at the shoulders & saw the woman in the bunk across the room organizing pictures in a raggedy green photo album she lay there propped up on a thin elbow & I asked who is that & she didn’t reply just turned to a page that had his name & stared at Audie Murphy so hard her inch-thick glasses fogged up & I think it bothered her son who was my age & very smart but he didn’t complain he took really good care of her she would kiss the pictures & say in a clear voice I might be tall & you might be short Audie Murphy but you’d better tell those Western girls you’re all mine

I don’t remember how old I was when I saw Lou Rawls but we were on Wilshire somewhere with my mom & he drove a Rolls the color of rich cream every finger had gold & diamonds on it & the woman passenger wore a white fur coat & her bouffant stretched high enough to almost brush the inside roof of the car she also had on a lot of jewelry but not as much as Lou & we knew who he was because he had just performed on Solid Gold or Soul Train & I am pretty sure it was nighttime in the spring because I remember his lights were on & my legs were cold so I must have had on a dress or shorts my mom said for us to wave so we waved & he smiled & tapped the horn & glided on down the street in sparse traffic

A guy I met on Tinder took me to see Lionel Richie at Red Rocks Amphitheater I had on 3-inch gold heels stupidly because you have to climb approximately 8,901 steps which slope at a 45 degree angle but redeemed myself by keeping a pair of flats in the car also gold luckily matching my black slacks & ecru shell & light sweater I was glad I brought the sweater even though it was June since when the sun went down it still wasn’t warm enough & my date also let me wear his jacket & wrapped an arm around my shoulders & we had just met but it wasn’t weird at all just a moment that made me love dating in my late 30s & our whole row sang along to all the songs & on that outdoor screen Lionel Richie looked like he hadn’t aged a day since 1988


Monday, August 14, 2017

Hodgepodge 289/365 - Naked Ladies

Today's Facebook reminder of how long I've been sinking time into "social media" was a photo from three years ago, of a "naked lady," a.k.a. Amaryllis belladonna.


Here are some fun facts: this flower, variously known as Jersey lily, belladonna lily, March lily, and naked lady, is native to Cape Province in South Africa but is widely cultivated as an ornamental and has naturalized all over the world, especially in places characterized by a Mediterranean climate (cool rainy winter, hot dry summer). In Portugal one name is meninas para escola (girls going to school), referring to the flowers blooming when the girls in their pink uniforms are starting the new school year. Here in central California it blooms reliably for a few short weeks in August, on utterly naked stems (hence their more bawdy name). After the blossom, the narrow strap-shaped leaves appear.

It is one of only two species in the genus Amaryllis (the other being the rare paradisicola, known from a population of only about a thousand individuals in Richtersveld National Park, South Africa). What we commonly refer to as "amaryllis"—the kind you can buy in grow-from-a-bulb kits—is also in the family Amaryllidaceae (along with daffodils, agapanthus, and onions and chives), but in the genus Hippeastrum. The name Amaryllis comes from a shepherdess in Virgil's pastoral Eclogues, from the Greek ἀμαρύσσω (amarysso), meaning "to sparkle." Belladonna, of course, means beautiful woman.

Here are a few more photos I've take in Augusts past. Click on them to view large on black.








Sunday, August 13, 2017

Hodgepodge 288/365 - Poetry (Issa)

Kobayashi Issa (1763–1828) was a Japanese poet and lay Buddhist priest of the Jōdo Shinshū sect known for his haiku poems and journals. He is better known as simply Issa, a pen name meaning Cup-of-Tea.

The man pulling radishes

  The man pulling radishes
pointed my way
  with a radish.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Hodgepodge 287/365 - Book List for My WWII Project

I have a long reading list, research for my "novel" that treats, in part, the Japanese American internment during World War II. I think it's time to fit it into my schedule . . . Most of these are books that I actually own, and some of them I've actually read. But there are a lot to go, even just for skimming/note-taking purposes. Must get cracking!

Fiction

Isabel Allende, The Japanese Lover
Jerome Charyn, American Scrapbook
Toshio Mori, Yokohama, California
Nina Rovoyr, Southland
Herman Wouk, War and Remembrance

Nonfiction

Ansel Adams, Photographs of Manzanar
Robert Asahina, Just Americans: How Japanese Americans Won a War at Home and Abroad—The Story of the 100th Battalion/442d Regimental Combat Team in World War II
Ansel Adams, Manzanar memorial
Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese Americans, Manzanar Relocation Center, Inyo County, California—Based on the Book Published by U.S. Camera in 1944 with Photographs and Text by Ansel Adams
Brian Komei Dempster, ed., From Our Side of the Fence: Growing Up in America’s Concentration Camps
Brian Komei Dempster, ed., Making Home from War: Stories of Japanese American Exile and Resettlement
Allen H. Eaton, Beauty behind Barbed Wire
Paul Fussell, Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War
Linda Gordon and Gary Y. Okihiro, eds., Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment
Kimi Kodani Hill, Topaz Moon: Chiura Obata’s Art of the Internment
Delphine Hirasuna, The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942–1946
Lawson Fusao Inada, ed., Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience
Karen L. Ishizuka, Lost and Found: Reclaiming the Japanese American Incarceration
Heather C. Lindquist, ed., Children of Manzanar
Eric L. Muller, ed., Colors of Confinement: Rare Kodachrome Photographs of Japanese American Incarceration in World War II
Alice Yang Murray, ed., What Did the Internment of Japanese Americans Mean?
Joanne Oppenheim, Dear Miss Breed: The Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration during World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference
Richard Reeves, Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II
Gerald Robinson, Elusive Truth: Four Photographers at Manzanar—Ansel Adams, Clem Albers, Dorothea Lange, Toyo Miyatake
Jan Jarboe Russell, The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp during World War II
Todd Stewart, Placing Memory: A Photographic Exploration of Japanese American Internment
Surviving Minidoka: The Legacy of WWII Japanese American Incarceration (a project of Boise State University, College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs, in partnership with College of Southern Idaho)
Barbara Takei and Judy Tachibana, Tule Lake Revisited: A Brief History and Guide to the Tule Lake Concentration Camp Site
Ruth Wallach et al., Los Angeles in World War II (Arcadia Publishing Images of America series)
Jane Wehrey, Manzanar (Arcadia Publishing Images of America series)

Memoir, Oral History, and Biography

Diana Meyers Bahr, The Unquiet Nisei: An Oral History of the Life of Sue Kunitomi Embrey
Mary Matsuda Gruenewald, Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese American Internment Camps
Jean Houston, Farewell to Manzanar
Miné Okubo, Citizen 13660
Pauline E. Parker, Women of the Homefront: World War II Recollections of 55 Americans
Michael Elsohn Ross, Nature Art with Chiura Obata
George Takei, To the Stars: The Autobiography of George Takei
Paul Howard Takemoto, Nisei Memories: My Parents Talk about the War Years
John Tateishi, ed., And Justice for All: An Oral History of the Japanese American Detention Camps
Voices Long Silent: An Oral Inquiry into the Japanese American Evacuation (The Japanese American Project of the Oral History Program at California State University, Fullerton)

Videos

Toyo’s Camera

Websites

Densho Encyclopedia, encyclopedia.densho.org

Friday, August 11, 2017

Hodgepodge 286/365 - Gaman / 我慢

Gaman is a Japanese term of Zen Buddhist origin meaning "enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity." Variously translated as patience, tolerance, perseverance, or self-denial, it means to do one's best under difficult circumstances and to maintain self-control and discipline. Displaying gaman is considered a virtue, a sign of maturity and strength.

The term is, not surprisingly, often attributed to those Japanese Americans who were imprisoned during World War II. In 2010–11, the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., part of the Smithsonian, mounted a show called "The Art of Gaman," featuring arts and crafts created in the camps, out of whatever was available. These pieces are remarkable for their ingenuity and beauty. Here are a few links (here and here and here) that give more description, more images, and more of a story of the internment itself. There is also a book that accompanied the show, and in this video the curator, Delphine Hirasuna, describes how she hunted the pieces down over a decade.

Here are just a few examples:

Scissors hammered from melted scrap metal by
Akira Oye in Rohwer, Arkansas

Unknown artist, bas-relief carving  and painting
of Heart Mountain, Wyoming

Kinoe Adachi made this samurai out of shells she collected
while at Topaz, Utah

Carved birds based on National Geographic
photos and Audubon bird identification
cards; the legs were often made of wire

A puzzle made by Kametaro Matsumoto in Minedoka, Idaho:
the objective is to free the young woman from the
surveillance of her family and surround her by the four young men

Stone teapot carved by Homei Iseyama in Topaz, Utah

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hodgepodge 285/365 - Ikigai / 生き甲斐

I have been desultorily "working" on a "novel," or perhaps a series of linked short stories, that concerns, in part, the Japanese American internment camps. I am trying to get more focused, without a lot of success, but it occurs to me that I can use this blog to archive facts and concepts, beliefs and histories, that might contribute to the overall project.

A term that I ran across today, probably on Facebook (while avoiding my project: damn FB), seems pertinent. It is ikigai, meaning "a reason for being" (literally, iki means life, alive—more in the terms of everyday lived life than of a lifetime—and kai means a result, worth, benefit, or use). It is similar to the French phrase raison d'être. Here is a diagram of the concept, though it need not be as utterly symmetrical as depicted here (i.e., what you're paid for doing might have nothing to do with your sense of ikigai).


According to Japanese cultural beliefs, every person has an ikigai. Finding it, however, requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Yet such a search is considered important, in that discovering one's ikigai is precisely what brings satisfaction and meaning to life. It may lie in work, avocations, or raising children, or in something more akin to a calling. It is associated with actions we want to take, spontaneously and naturally, not that we must.

In Okinawa, ikigai is one's reason to get out of bed—or more generally, to enjoy life. National Geographic fellow and author Dan Buettner held forth on, among other things that contribute to long life, the Okinawan take on ikigai in a TED Talk in 2009. It's worth watching (and not just for the ikigai). Going fishing a few times a week may be the most important thing in life—for some Okinawans, anyway. Probably a few Montanan fly fishermen too. Buettner calls ikigai "purpose in action."

The "girl band" KBG84, average age 83, on the island of
Kohama in Okinawa. Ninety-two-year-old member
Tomi Menaka (on right) considers singing and dancing
in the group her ikigai.
Here is an article published just a few days ago by the BBC on ikigai, if you're interested in reading a little more about it.

Perhaps I should consider my own ikigai more carefully. That might help me get going with this "novel"—or whatever it is. And I certainly will be considering the role that ikigai might have played in the lives of the internees, who were so unjustly ripped from their homes and livelihoods. Talk about needing a reason to get up in the morning.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Hodgepodge 284/365 - Poetry (Wendell Berry)

I posted another poem of Wendell Berry's a few months back, but I ran across this one today and was so struck by the lines "There are no unsacred places; / there are only sacred places / and desecrated places" and "make a poem that does not disturb / the silence from which it came"—especially on this day after North Korea rattled its saber, and Trump bombasted back (or vice versa: I've lost track of who started what in that little bully match) and this day, the 72nd anniversary of the second atomic bomb, which flattened Nagasaki—that I felt moved to post this quiet, solid, loving, patient ("for patience joins time / to eternity") poem.

How to Be a Poet

Wendell Berry

(to remind myself)

i

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.

ii

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

iii

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Hodgepodge 283/365 - Book Report (Breathing Water)

Timothy Hallinan, Breathing Water: A Poke Rafferty Thriller (2009) (8/8/17)

The third in the Poke Rafferty series, this book deals with the complicated politics of Thailand, where wealthy elites come head to head with social climbers, and shady pasts color all. It also takes on child trafficking and the extreme poverty that forces many young people to live on the streets of Bangkok.

The interweaving plots of the book and complex array of characters got a little confusing at times, but overshadowing the "thriller" narrative are the continuing stories of the American travel writer Poke and his Isaan-Thai wife, Rose, and their adopted daughter —a former street child herself—Miaow; Poke's best friend, the police officer Arthit; and Boo, who watches out for his fellow street urchins. We meet the young woman Da, also from the agricultural northeast of the country, who takes to begging with the help—which includes a baby, since women with babies get more money—of a wealthy businessman. And there's Pan, likewise from Isaan, though he has become one of the richest men in Thailand. As well as various henchmen and men of influence who emerge periodically from the shadows.

The story gets going with Poke and Arthit at a poker game that includes a drunken Pan. There, Poke plays a final winning hand and earns the right to pen Pan's life story—a bet that, when Poke suggests it, he is sure Pan, notoriously resistant to any sort of biography, will refuse. Pan doesn't. When Pan asks why Poke wants to write such a book, Poke replies: "Something Balzac said. I just want to know whether it's true
. . . that behind every great fortune lies a great crime."

Little does he suspect. Uncovering Pan's story turns out to be much more fraught than Poke ever imagined. And so the fun—and tension—begins.

Hallinan is a very good writer, with some great turn of phrase, description, or observation on virtually every page. In the following passage, for example, Poke has just been threatened by glimpses of the floor plan to his apartment, his bank account and cell phone numbers written on a pad, in the hands of a man he does not trust: "displays of naked power . . . the kind of power most farang [foreigners] never experience."
Rafferty knows Thailand well enough to be aware that people above a certain social and political level are virtually unaccount-able, shielded from the consequences of their actions by layers of subordinates and networks of reciprocal favors and graft that corrupt both the police and the courts. These are the people, the "big people," whom Rose despises, the people who attend dress balls with blood on their hands. There are not many of them, relatively speaking, but they have immense mass and they exert a kind of gravity that bends tens of thousands of lives into the orbit of their will.
  Most farang pass through the gravitational Gordian knot of Bangkok unscathed, like long-haul comets for whom our solar system is just something else to shoulder their way past. Farang have no formal status here. They come and go. They dimple the surface of the city's space-time like water-striding insects, staying a few months at a stretch and then flitting elsewhere. They don't have enough mass to draw the gaze of the individuals around whom the orbits wheel.
  But Rafferty is being gazed at. And he knows all the way to the pit of his stomach that it's the worst thing that can happen to him. If they decide it is in their best interest, they can blow through him and his cobbled-together family like a cannonball through a handkerchief.
  If he goes in one direction, Rose and Miaow are in danger. If he goes in the other direction, Rose and Miaow are in danger. And "in danger" is a euphemism.
There's also quite a bit of humor. Here's a conversation at a fund-raiser hosted by Pan:
"Since someone has to have some manners," Rafferty says, "this is my wife, Rose. Rose, this is—"
  "I know who he is," Rose says. "It's an honor to meet you."
  Pan says, "And you're the . . ." He pauses, screws up his eyes, and says in English, ". . . whipped cream on the evening. You're so beautiful it's almost wasteful." He glowers at [his media manager] Dr. Ravi. "Why didn't you think of this?"
  "I hadn't seen her."
  "No, of course not." Pan looks at Rose again and actually rubs his hands together. "I've made a life out of excess," he says. "Improving the lily—"
  Dr. Ravi says, "Gilding the lily."
  "Actually," Rafferty says, "it's 'painting.' Painting the—"
  "Oh, fuck the lily," says Pan. He leans in toward Rose as though to whisper in her ear. "I have an idea for you, something that will ruin the evening for most of my guests. We know they think of Isaan as mud. Let's remind them that mud is where the lotus grows."
He then proceeds to adorn her with a priceless yellow-diamond necklace and parade her among the assembled guests. The Isaan princess. Or, rather, lotus.

All in all, this was a very satisfying romp through the streets and sois of Bangkok, and a little deeper into the hearts and minds of Poke and his family and friends. I am already looking forward to the fourth installment.



Monday, August 7, 2017

Hodgepodge 282/365 - Periodic Tables

I stumbled on this fabulous periodic table today, composed of 119 haiku. The first few:

Hydrogen - H1
Your single proton
fundamental, essential.
Water. Life. Star fuel.

Helium - He2
Begin universe.
Wait three minutes to enter.
Stay cool. Don't react.

Lithium - Li3
Lighter than water,
empower my phone, my car.
Banish depression.

Or there's Yttrium - Y39
That is not a name.
That is a spelling error.
Or a Scrabble bluff.

You can contribute to the project on Twitter: #ChemHaiku. It's a great, creative, and fun undertaking!

But this got me thinking about some other periodic tables I've seen. So I've just gone and hunted down a few, both informative and fun—or downright silly. The titles provide links to greater explanations, where available.

The Periodic Table's Endangered Elements


Periodic Table Clock (video)


Thomas Gray's "Most Beautiful Periodic Table" (interactive)


Discoverers of the Elements by Nation


The Periodic Table of Sweeteners (interactive)


Periodic Table of Beer Styles (interactive)


 Periodic Table of Dessert


 Periodic Table of Typefaces


There are more "periodic tables": of Harry Potter, of cannabis, of rock bands, of horror movies, of social media, of tables, of sex, of giant robots and pretty big robots, of stuff stoners like. You get the idea. The sky's the limit.

But to close on a more serious note, here is Oliver Sacks's essay "My Periodic Table" from July 24, 2015, just a little over a month before he died. I will always miss Mr. Sacks. He was a bright light in this world, full of wisdom, humor, and love. I am happy that this hunt for periodic tables caused me to come across this essay again.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Hodgepodge 281/365 - American Monsoon

We've been having strange weather lately: hot (well, for here, anyway—high 70s) and very muggy. Humidity isn't unusual here; after all, we live on the coast, and summertime upwelling creates cool, moist air as a rule. But mugginess—hot and humid—is unusual. As is rain in summer, but yesterday morning on my way to the Fiesta I even had to turn my windshield wipers on. Sadly, there was no accompanying thunder. I love thunderstorms, which are a rare but wonderful treat hereabouts.

Turns out we've been enjoying the edge effects of the North American/Southwest/Mexican/New Mexican/ Arizona monsoon, a regular occurrence every July and August and into September, a period of pronounced increase in thunderstorms and rainfall in the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico. It is responsible for fully half the rainfall in these areas. According to Wikipedia, "During the monsoon, thunderstorms are fueled by daytime heating and build up during the late afternoon–early evening. Typically, these storms dissipate by late night, and the next day starts out fair, with the cycle repeating daily." This must be a blessed relief from the otherwise high temperatures of summertime in this region.

Rather than try to summarize the causes and effects, I'll just copy from Wikipedia wholesale, because I find this most interesting. (Yes, I did supply the link above, but it's easier if it's right here, right?)
The North American Monsoon is not as strong or persistent as its Indian counterpart, mainly because the Mexican Plateau is not as high or as large as the Tibetan Plateau in Asia. However, the North American Monsoon shares most of the basic characteristics of its Indian counterpart. There is a shift in wind patterns in summer which occurs as Mexico and the southwest U.S. warm under intense solar heating. As this happens, the flow reverses. The prevailing winds start to flow from moist ocean areas into dry land areas.
The North American monsoon is associated with an area of high pressure called the subtropical ridge that moves northward during the summer months and a thermal low (a trough of low pressure which develops from intense surface heating) over the Mexican Plateau and the Desert Southwest of the United States. The monsoon begins in late May to early June in southern Mexico and quickly spreads along the western slopes of the Sierra Madre Occidental, reaching Arizona and New Mexico in early July. The monsoon extends into the southwest United States as it matures in mid-July, when an area of high pressure, called the monsoon or subtropical ridge, develops in the upper atmosphere over the Four Corners region, creating wind flow aloft from the East or South-East.

Pulses of low level moisture are transported primarily from the Gulf of California and eastern Pacific. The Gulf of California, a narrow body of water surrounded by mountains, is particularly important for low-level moisture transport into Arizona and Sonora. Upper level moisture is also transported into the region, mainly from the Gulf of Mexico by easterly winds aloft. Once the forests of the Sierra Madre Occidental green up from the initial monsoon rains, evaporation and plant transpiration can add additional moisture to the atmosphere which will then flow into Arizona. Finally, if the southern Plains of the U.S. are unusually wet and green during the early summer months, that area can also serve as a moisture source.

As precipitable water values rise in early summer, brief but often torrential thunderstorms can occur, especially over mountainous terrain. This activity is occasionally enhanced by the passage of tropical waves and the entrainment of the remnants of tropical cyclones.

Monsoons play a vital role in managing wildfire threat by providing moisture at higher elevations and feeding desert streams. Heavy monsoon rain can lead to excess winter plant growth, in turn a summer wildfire risk. A lack of monsoon rain can hamper summer seeding, reducing excess winter plant growth but worsening drought.

Flash flooding is a serious danger during the monsoon. Dry washes can become raging rivers in an instant, even when no storms are visible as a storm can cause a flash flood tens of miles away; it is therefore wise to avoid camping in a dry wash during the monsoon. Lightning strikes are also a significant danger. Because it is dangerous to be caught in the open when these storms suddenly appear, many golf courses in Arizona have thunderstorm warning systems.
It seems this year the monsoon is centered a bit more westerly than usual, which creates a greater effect out here on the margin of the continent (though it's more complicated than that, of course).

One of my favorite books from last year's reading binge was Craig Childs's The Desert Cries: A Season of Flash Floods in a Dry Land. That was the monsoon calling. It is beautiful and refreshing, as well as destructive and deadly. "I sometimes think that, in the perfect Eden, there are no floods," writes Childs. "In Utopia, a person never dies fighting beneath muddy waves. Then I am glad to not live in such barren places as these. Floods belong to a fertile and dynamic land. We cannot control elements of danger, magnificence, and prowess in the world. To wish them away or to tear them into survivable pieces is to wish for a less genuine Earth."

P.S. I had no clue what to write about today, so I resorted to a website of 365 writing prompts. The first one was "1. Outside the Window: What’s the weather outside your window doing right now? If that’s not inspiring, what’s the weather like somewhere you wish you could be?" I might be using that website more often: it's useful!


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Hodgepodge 280/365 - Carmel Valley Fiesta

Pretty much every year the Carmel Valley Kiwanis Club puts on a weekend-long Fiesta in the Community Park: food stands, craft booths, games for the kids, live music, each day kicking off with a pancake breakfast. The Friday night, there's a dinner and dance for the grown-ups; the following Saturday there's a 10K run in hilly Garland Park. It's quite the event.

Every year, too, our Search & Rescue volunteers set up a zip line as a little fund-raiser for ourselves. One of our number climbs very high into a pine tree to attach the high-line ropes, while several others assemble a tripod down below and far away to which the ropes attach. Then a carriage—a big honkin' pulley—is placed on the ropes, to which our young riders and the guiding line are attached. Once the rider is secure, a team of runners pulls the guiding line, and the zip-liner ascends on high, honks a wheezy horn, and then we drop the rope, and zzzzzziiiiiip! Down they come! With one of the line tenders serving as a brake.

It's pretty fun, for pretty much everyone.

This morning I helped dress the kids in harnesses, either full-body for the smaller ones, or waist-plus-chest harness for the bigger ones, and helmets. Or, rather, mostly I helped them undress (I'm not patient enough to get all the tabs pulled snug enough: undressing is easier). In the afternoon, I joined the runners, a good sweaty workout.

The joy in the kids' faces was a treat. Even some adults got in the action (which meant more runners were needed). And at the very end, the grandfather of the very last kid in line helped us pull. He was a breath of fresh air. (Grandfathers come younger and younger all the time!)

Here's some photos, all but the last from a few years ago—but the idea's the same, year after enjoyable year. (Oh, and we made almost $750, at $5 a pop. Not bad!)

Steve perfecting the top rigging
One of our deputies cheering his boy on
The boy in question: he had a great time flying!
Alain (right) was there today, attaching the kids to the carriage
The girls' outfits are great: today's standout outfit
featured pink cowboy boots and a matching top
Todd, no longer on the team alas (he was a
valuable member), testing the ride: note the carriage
Today: Thomas, one of us runners, waiting for the "go" signal
Oh, and wait: here are a couple more that Alain took today: looking from the tripod end-point up to the pine tree starting point; and the view from aloft (Alain was our tester today).



And finally: the rigger's view, courtesy of Eric Fitzgerald—