Thursday, October 29, 2015



The proud eagles on top of one of San Francisco's older buildings relate to what I tend to think of as a time that was simpler and perhaps more patriotic. I love the grandeur that is represented in these symbols.

Here in my City, next week we will vote on which leaders will take us as a community through the next couple of years. We have a long ballot with 11 propositions to consider, several of major importance to how we will live and who we will be as a people. Friends and neighbors are actually talking about the implications in community forums and one-to-one. I believe we "talk" because we are seeing impressive results of past measures in upgrading parks, transit and support for children. Now, as a community we are focused on housing affordability and coping with the changes brought by thousands of new folks who have chosen to share this exceptional place. And, we can change.

But, just as on the national level, much of our local media is focused on sensational personal attacks, searching for scandal and thereby debasing the process. I am thankful that our place is still small enough that we can gather to talk, to act and to change. For me, that is responsible democracy--making considered choices. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015


Sometimes, my view of my perceived world is narrow. Sometimes deep. But, I know that at some points I miss the broader view. A poet friend died on Friday and I realize that our last conversations were focused on minutiae about writing poetry and poets she had known, little reminiscences of the past and about the temperature of the room. I am glad that, as her friend, we were able to focus on what she wanted to talk about and not what I expected. I will go back to her books of poetry and try to expand that conversation to a somewhat broader view….it will all be there. Our farewell talks were not what I expected nor what I think would be meaningful in completing my journey. I am certain, however, that I will cherish the memory of them....especially because we laughed.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

laboring and twists and turns

The twists and turns of the this summer have been somewhat overwhelming, but probably not as permanent as those inflicted on this street tree near my home. An enforced silence due to changing computers/operating systems. But, perhaps I will be able to join the blog world once again. Happy Labor Day to all who celebrate in whatever way. This morning, I am particularly remembering an ancient time at a Labor Day parade with my grandfather. Small towns once did that sort of thing....and my grandfather truly loved parades and celebrations. Now, and for much of my life, it is just the last big holiday of summer.

Saturday, August 1, 2015



A friend reminded me yesterday that to be creative means that you create “something”.  It isn’t enough to think about it or read about it or look at what others are creating, but you have to do it. I have somehow had a summer hiatus that is blocking that flow, both in writing and in photography. I wonder if it is related to a resistance to change?

It struck me as I looked at one of my favorite buildings this week….the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I have loved this building for its presence on the urban scene, for the glory of its collections and for the many hours I have spent wrapped in creativity within its walls. I have photographed it inside and out. In fact, a Spanish magazine selected one of my SFMOMA photos as one of the best of the year. But, now an enormous new addition is nearing completion to encompass a vast new collection of art, new galleries that will allow much more of the permanent art to be shown, plus expanded and inviting new public spaces. It seems evident to me that the building I loved is now tacked on to an urban behemoth, almost as though an afterthought.

I imagine that I will find new and wonderful things to admire and love in the new structure. However, it seems like I have watched a loved companion relegated to the past. Mario Botta’s 1995 vision of an art space in San Francisco deeply resonated with me. I am sad.

The first photo shows the Botta building as it related to the incredible 30’s Pacific Telephone building of Timothy Flueger. The second show the Botta building coming out the side of the new Snohetta building.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

able to act

In the middle of a busy crosswalk a dying pigeon was shivering. Crossing the street with me: a young couple, a mother and child, an elderly man with a cane, and a strong Hispanic man/possibly a construction worker. The light was ready to change and a string of cars would cross right where the pigeon sat. We all looked right to left, at the cars ready to move, at each other, at the changed light, at the bird. A mild sense of panic and everyone except the strong man just stared. He scooped the bird up in his rough hands and carried it to the sidewalk, carefully placing it at the base of a street tree. Only one of us able to act at that moment. A huge lesson.

The photo is of a pigeon taken some months ago near the same intersection

Saturday, June 13, 2015

street salad

The children at Buena Vista Horace Mann School in the Mission District of San Francisco have planter boxes around the entire block of the school. One side, a busy street is primarily water conserving plants and flowers. That side also has a mini-park that takes up two former street parking spaces that is a demonstration of how plants gain water, issues in water use and conservation, and what rain is all about. On the residential side, new planter boxes (about 8 boxes) have just gone in to provide free food for the taking, once the plants start producing. A great idea in helping children understand how food grows, but also providing the bounty to the neighborhood. Street salad…what a wonderful idea.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

reaching out

Today, I had to visit the local utilities office to straighten out a problem that could not be accomplished online. I was third in line. Only one window open out of 6-8 at noon time. The line behind me ended at the door. A tiny, elderly Asian woman was trying to get the clerk to help her with a problem with her bill. Her gas charges were being made through a secondary company and she had not made this change. She asked the clerk to help her cancel it. He said, over and over, you must call the 800 number on the bill and ask them to cancel it. “Can you help me, I don’t know how to do that?” “No. Can you have a family member or a friend help?” “I have only my husband and he does not speak English. I have no friends.” The clerk was adamant and told her to move aside, as there was a long line. A young man was next in line. He pointed to a nearby chair and asked the elderly lady to sit down for a minute. His task was completed quickly. He walked over to the waiting lady, took out his “smart phone”, called the 800 number and dealt with her problem in a couple of minutes. At this moment, that woman had a friend.

The photo: a little girl at the Carnaval parade on Sunday reaching out her hand to connect with a group of Peruvian dancers moving down the street.

I realized that the issue of kindness had been in my blog last summer. Several meaningful quotes that relate to the scene in the PG&E office:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

slightly out of focus

Recently I had a wonderful day with photo friends on a “shoot” at a commercial garden center in the wine country. Each area of the center was a garden commissioned for a specific purpose. Beautiful designs, some were gimmicky, others seemed to fit beautifully into the terrain. On the edge of the gardens was a large pond with a little island of water lilies blooming in the very warm afternoon. Obviously planned, but yet they seemed to break free from the human connection. I was so glad for the focus of this picture….enough out of focus to enhance their incredible beauty. Slightly out of focus is my creative mantra going into summer.

Monday, May 4, 2015

at home here

Nature, even in a big city, has so many aspects. I have often driven past this corner, but had not actually walked along this sidewalk in many years. The wonderful Victorian mansion at the corner and the two almost identical houses that were built by its owner for his two daughters in the 1880’s has always been of interest. It is lushly landscaped and I had admired that. I remembered the enormous tree, but had never realized its odd form—almost like a windmill. I assume that it is New Zealand Norfolk Island Pine, but have never noticed one quite in this form. It was a joy to sit on a busy corner and think about this ancient tree, thousands of miles from its origin and absolutely “at home”. So many of us fit that description. I do feel absolutely at home here.

Friday, April 24, 2015

it is

The calendar indicates that we are well into spring. The weather has another idea. Cold winds are blowing down from the Gulf of Alaska and there is a wintry chill in the air. I even thought about bringing out my favorite winter coat, one that got very little use in actual winter. Bundled up, I walked to the farmer’s market in my neighborhood. It is definitely spring. The burst of scent from these lovely sweet peas said it. The tiny spring onions and snap peas and baby carrots said it. So will I. It is spring. Btw, I struggle with whether or not to capitalize spring/Spring. My heart tells me yes, my early education says no. Miss Brickel from elementary school won. But, it must be Spring in my heart.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


So often the world I live in is constructed, life is lived at fast pace and the people I know are very much “scheduled” in their lives. It is a good world, good people and interesting things happen at such a pace. But, there is something almost primeval in the need to connect at a different level—one that is recurring, not constructed and exists without anything from me or another human. This explosion of beauty took me out of the urban and into the natural…and it was in a corner being reclaimed by nature.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

wind in the grass

Creative Commons License
wind in the grass

I am hungry.

I want to look.

              To look somewhere

in summer grasses


to the next ridge

to the long coast ─

                             breakers surging

              then falling back

whole again

to a place

where need

or lust

yes, hunger

demands my presence.

I will occasionally post some recent poems here. Please respect the Creative Commons attribution.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

some silliness

This afternoon there was a ruckus in my neighborhood. I encountered a “marching band” oom pah pahing and banging drums…suddenly they went around the corner to a house nearby and started playing….a bit out of tune…a rousing version of Happy Birthday to a surprised recipient. Lots of laughing, everyone getting into a festive mood. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera, as I was coming back from a board meeting. But, it reminded me of another type of frivolity last weekend at the old Mint where the historical society was holding an open house for all the neighborhood history groups. This trio was singing out across the City with a Victorian joy that was better musically, but still a lot of fun. Just a reminder to me of how serious life can seem if you don’t make time for some silliness. Loved it.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

a meander in Spring

Winter doldrums, a bout with the flu and a few busy days have dominated this month. Even the inspiration to write or photograph has been very limited and almost non-existent. Yesterday, as I strolled the neighborhood for some exercise, I stopped by a community garden a few blocks from my house to check on the season. Lots of beautiful winter kinds of food stuffs…chard and broccoli and a hint of spring in the blossom of the cherry tree at the edge of the garden. As I sort of half-heartedly meandered through the plots, an amazing little row of bright blossoms said essentially, “snap out of it”. Nice to be jolted into the reality of a glorious change of seasons.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

repetitive, but joyful

January seems to be a fresh burst of spring with the temperatures in the 60’s, the sun almost painfully bright. As I took a photo of the blooming street trees near my house it seemed strangely déjà vu. So, I went back to this week in previous years in my photos. Sure enough, year after year after year, I have photographed gloriously blooming street trees in this week of January. Well, I guess that is California in winter. Repetitive, but joyful.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

stomp, stomp

Outside the local laundromat where a young mother was doing laundry, her little boy was dancing and singing again and again: It’s a beautiful day….then stomp, stomp… It’s a beautiful day…stomp, stomp. Such joy. Probably something he is learning in his kindergarten. An hour later, I am simply consumed by the melody It’s a be-u-ti-ful day. Seven notes, then stomp, stomp. Thanks, kid.

No photo available, so I thought this photo from the Carnaval parade represented his joy.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

at the first sense

A brilliantly clear and bright morning to start the New Year. This was the coldest morning of winter for us so far. Not much compared to other parts of the world, but noticeable for the creatures and humans who are in the out of doors today. I loved the attitude of this sweet bird….its song attracted me to the bare branch where it was perched. The rose hips in the background are a fine reminder of the year past. And then, I saw the slight bulges on this enormous rose bush waiting to leaf out at the first sense of Spring. A fitting sighting for the first day of the year. Happy New Year to you and I hope that you are warm wherever you are.