The first evening of Autumn: beautiful twilight but I missed seeing the satellite flash across the southern sky. This view is Northwest, toward Malibu and the Pacific Ocean.

Surprised By Evening

There is unknown dust that is near us,
Waves breaking on shores just over the hill,
Trees full of birds that we have never seen,
Nets drawn down with dark fish.

The evening arrives; we look up and it is there,
It has come through the nets of the stars,
Through the tissues of the grasses,
Walking quietly over the asylums of the waters.

The day shall never end we think;
We have hair that seems born for the daylight;
But, at last, the quiet waters of the night will rise,
And our skin shall see far off, as it does under water.

Robert Bly

A couple of weeks ago I went with a friend to The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in Pasadena. It’s a private nonprofit collections-based research and educational institution established in 1919 by Henry E. Huntington. He was a railroad magnate and among his many holdings and operations were the famous “Red Car” trolleys here in Los Angeles.

Since our interest that day was on the Botanical Gardens, we just breezed through the library at the end. The collection is rather eclectic. Apparently, it’s the only library in the world with the first two quartos of Hamlet. They also have the Ellesmere manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a Gutenberg Bible on vellum, the manuscript of Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, the first seven drafts of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, and the double-elephant folio edition of Audubon’s Birds of America. And then to show that they’re not snobbish when it comes to literature, there’s a collection of manuscripts and first editions of works by Charles Bukowski.

We didn’t see any of that stuff. We did check out Gainsborough’s Blue Boy, though. When Huntington purchased it for $700,00 in 1921, it became the second most expensive painting in the world. Number One was da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Neither are even in the Top Ten Today.

But we went The Huntington to stroll through the gardens and they’ve got more than a dozen of them, including the Desert Garden, with more cacti than you can shake a stick at; the Japanese Garden, with a Zen rock garden and a bevy of bonsai trees; a beautiful Rose Garden; and the Liu Fang Yuan or “Garden of Flowering Fragrance.”

It was a typical June Gloom day with grey skies overhead, but that didn’t stop me from taking beaucoup photos. Today, I’ll just share three. You can see the rest at my photo site here. The text is from “A Chinese Garden of Serenity” translated by Chao Tze-chiang.

In every human heart, there is a Symphony of Nature . . .

Natural scenery – such as the azure mists on the hills, the ripples on the water, the shadow of a cloud on a pond . . . all of which are existent and yet non-existent, half-real and half-unreal – is the most agreeable to the human heart and most inspiring to the human soul. Such vistas are the wonder of wonders in the universe.

When the wind blows through the scattered bamboos, they do not hold its sound after it has gone . . . So the mind of the superior man begins to work only when an events occurs; and it becomes a void again when the matter ends.

A drop of water has the tastes of the water of the seven seas; there is no need to experience all the ways of worldly life. The reflections of the moon on one thousand rivers are from the same moon: the mind must be full of light.

Severe weather is still pounding the Midwest. The videos of these tornadoes are awe-inspiring, just as the scenes of the devastation they leave behind are heartbreaking.

Here in Southern California we’ve had unseasonably cool temperatures and unusual wet weather, but the last few days that’s changed and it’s beginning to feel more like spring. And since it’s May, that means it’s Jacaranda time.

I don’t believe the Jacaranda mimosifolia or Blue jacaranda we have here are native. From what I understand they originated in South America and were transplanted. Jacarandas are a bit like cherry blossoms in that they drop from the trees almost as soon as they bloom.  The Jacarandas tend to drop slower, though, and some blossoms stick for up to two months, while cherry blossoms are normally gone within two weeks.

To me, both  represent the transient nature of life.

Here are some photos I took yesterday of the big jacaranda tree down the street from me. You can click on them for a larger view. And I have more photos of the jacarandas, from a previous year, here.

It is precisely
because all is transient
that even mute trees
put forth blossoms in the springtime
and in autumn shed brown leaves.

Otomo no Yakamochi (718?-785)

One cannot rely
on things to stay as they are –
for on the morrow
this day we call today
will be called yesterday.

Monk Saigyo (1118-1190)

While I gazed out,
barely conscious that I too
was growing old,
how many times have blossoms
scattered on the spring wind?

Fujiwara no Teika (1162-1241)

Well one may wish –
but will those who have parted
return once again?

Late into the evening,
mountains where blossoms fall.

Bishop Shinkei (1406-1475)

We’ve had five days of continuous rain here in Southern California. During this period if it quit raining it was only for five or ten minutes at a time. I can’t remember when it has rained this persistently for so long. Maybe a decade ago.

You’ve probably heard the old saying: It never rains in Southern California. It’s not true, of course. But it almost is. Often we can go from April to October with nary a drop. Personally, I get tired of sun all the time. I relish a cloudy day and if it rains too, wow, what a treat.

Fortunately for me, the rain hasn’t caused a big problem. Except that I couldn’t (and didn’t) want to go out in it because I am still recovering from cataract surgery and not supposed to get water in my eye. But it has wreaked havoc and caused suffering for many in the area.

Today a whopper of a storm swooped in. Torrential downpours, thunder and lighting – the whole bit. And then, in the late afternoon . . . the sun finally made an appearance, and for once I was rather glad to see it. But there was still some rain falling and whaddya know . . . a double rainbow.

Here’s one of the pictures I took:

You can see the others here.

I am writing this just before I turn in for the night and looking forward to waking up tomorrow in a Jerry Brown California. I’ve been following this guy since I read his Playboy interview back in 1976, and as previously mentioned, I worked on his 1992 presidential campaign. Obviously, I am very pleased at tonight’s outcome in that race.

So now that California at least is safe for democracy, we can turn to some other things.

I spent part of this past weekend on the lawn in front of our building. Some plants have flourished around the base of the big palm tree out there and it was attracting lots of hummingbirds. I wanted to get some close-ups so I waded right into their midst, and they zipped all around me like crazy while I tried to be fast enough to snap shots. I might have looked a little odd to someone passing by but I was too busy looking this way and then that way to notice.

It wasn’t easy to capture them. These birds are . . . well, flighty might be a good word to use. Part of my problem was the camera. A couple of years ago I received my first digital camera as a birthday present from my dad and although I enjoy the fact that I can shoot some photos, hook the camera up to my laptop, and be able to view them in just a matter of minutes (not to mention the quality), I am still having a difficult time getting the hang of how to use the camera. When outside, the viewer is often hard to see because of the light. Trying to shoot these hummingbirds who tend to blend in with the foliage was daunting because you can’t just put the camera up to your eye and zero in on your subject like you can with a traditional camera.

Anyway, I did manage to get a few good shots. Here’s one of them:

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. There are a few others and you can see them  here.

I passed through Union Station the other day on my way to the doctor and snapped these pics of the aquarium. Click on the images to view them full size.

This one reminds me of my 8th grade math teacher:

Blue, on the other hand, is beautiful:

A natural montage:

In case anyone’s interested, I uploaded a new photograph to my About page. It’s me and my roommate. I’m the cute one.

In other news: What a difference a week makes. Last Monday it was 113 degrees, the hottest afternoon on record. and this Monday, only 66, the coolest afternoon on record (for these dates). And rain to boot. We haven’t had rain since April.

Thursday some monsoonal weather came up from the south and muscled in on the high that had squatting here for four or five days. Friday, I watched the sunset and got a couple of nice pics. Click on the photos to see them full size.

Downtown LA:

Hollywood Sign:

Below, virtually the same vantage points but taken yesterday. Personally, I think we have too much sun in California. It gets old. To me, this gray is simply beautiful.


Hollywood sign:

Who Loves The Sun?
Not Everyone.