Saturday, May 26, 2018

Bea, Duchess of San Mateo County

In a nod to Meghan's California roots, her Coat of Arms includes our state flower: the golden poppy.  

I have to say, I dig this nod to the West Coast. Looking at her Coat of Arms, I began thinking of what my Coat of Arms might look like were I to magically have one. Mine wouldn't just have an element of our shared homestate, but would be entirely made up of elements representing my No. California coastal upbringing. 

My Coat of Arms would also include the California poppy alongside a smattering of ice-plant sprigs. Standing on the greenery would be two red-tailed hawks flanking the crest. Maybe one could have a gopher in its talon? I'd replace the quills with three crustaceans, crabs to be precise. Crowning the top of the crest would be a light blanketing of fog. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

AIDS Memorial Grove

West End entrance leading to the Fern Grotto

This scenic patch of greenery within Golden Gate Park is like a mini-oasis. Save for the odd cell phone talker, ball/frisbee player or picnic-goer, the AIDS Memorial Grove is usually fairly peaceful. Unfortunately, the habits of Memorial visitors seem to be changing over time. As the lawn at the Conservatory of Flowers has now become a mini Dolores Park West (read: Party Spot Central), so, too, has this place become a bit of a fiesta zone at the weekend.

Abide by the rules, folks. 

Flowers left for a loved one. 

At the east end, there's a really cool bit of cement with names etched into it that I mistakenly thought were the names of those who we have lost (like the Memorial Quilt), but it's actually a composition of names of donors to the grove spiralling out from a central point like the rings of a tree. -slightly less moving as a result. However, there are occasional individual memorials to those who have died set up on the donor name site & they are moving. -a floral bouquet, an old photograph, eulogies left on sheets of paper and secured by rock.  

Beyond the glade are paths, dirt & stepped alike, leading up through the trees at the west end toward a main road. Benches abound within the grove, so there's really a lot of opportunity to sit and reflect during one's visit. 

My favorite Uncle died of AIDS/HIV related issues back when the epidemic was just coming into to full swing in the mid-80s. It was awful to watch him deteriorate. We really had no idea what was happening to him. His death marked the second time I had seen my father cry. The first was when he and my mother divorced. I'm grateful that this grove exists and that I'm able to visit it as often as I wish

Parting shot.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Conservatory Sunday: what your nose 'knows'

At my volunteer gig this past Sunday I was treated to the sight of lillies in the pond, sniffed a few more orchids with varying scents & discovered a succulent in the shape of a sea star. 

The sea star plant, or Stapelia gigantea, hails from So. Africa & smells of carrion. I imagine flies act as pollinators for this intriguing plant. 

The lillies are in bloom at the conservatory. They look so perfectly formed and their pads seem to be almost fashioned out of wax. 


This delicate-looking orchid with ribbon-like petals is just about the size of a thumb-nail and gives off a pungent, almost urine-like scent. Interestingly, my collegue could detect no scent at all. We each stuck our noses in all three of the orchids on the plant. I had a nose-crinkling experience and she had none. She mentioned there being a genetic component to my being able to experience the scent as odorous and then said something about boar pheromones. I didn't quite get the boar bit, but I do know that some humans are able to detect the smell of asparagus in urine after its been ingested and some humans cannot. I can and I presume this boar pheromone detection stuff works like that. Anyone else here able to smell the asparagus-tinged urine? 

Interesting side note: I invited a handful of the conservatory guests to take a whiff of the orchid that smells of sweet peach. Many could smell nothing at all. These were people who professed to have a 'good nose'. Genetic variability is a wondrous thing. 

Rancho Arroyo

Our junior high school, Rancho Arroyo, had a sort of selection of stapled together hand-outs that acted as our school newsletter. Horoscopes, included in the hand-outs, were doled out yearly. Yesterday, I was looking through old papers and found one such newsletter with horoscope. My star sign is Cancer. The attendant notation is mine. I hadn't seen this jr high gem in decades, and burst out laughing when I did. I was either 11 or 12 when I wrote the above notation. I was a salty kid living in a tough neighborhood during this time. -out of the pens of babes...

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Art Yard

I popped over to a friend's place to see how her back garden has been taking shape. She's been out there for the past few months trimming back bushes, pruning & watering roses, and creating art on wood panels and fencing in the form of stencils & whimsical, wee bird houses. She calls her project the Art Yard. It's pretty great. In addition to flowers, she's planted lettuce and herb varieties. They are flourishing. Her garden boasts two rather tall avocado trees, one male & one female. The female is bearing fruit like mad. I brought over some succulent cuttings to contribute to her burgeoning collection and she sent me off with about ten small avos. What a treat!  (I just now realise that I took no photos of the Art Yard. Super bummer.)

After leaving my friend's place, I decided to take a circuitous route back the train station and spied a  group of women selling their plant wares for dirt--pun intended--cheap. Unlike the commercial nurseries that sell 1 inch tall succulents for three bucks a pop, the Berkeley Garden Club sells lovely & robust planted cuttings many inches high for one, two & three bucks each, depending upon, I guess, plant type. I purchased two beauties at the sale today & the pocketbook was no worse for the wear.

The succulent there just behind the glass bauble resembling a head of garlic is one of the one-bucker finds from the Berkeley Garden Club plant sale. I think it's a jade plant, but I am not sure as it was one of the few plants not staked. Whatever it is, it's a welcomed addition to the fold!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Putting off studying

Today, I took a walk through the district where my dad grew up which is incidentally a stone's throw from where I now live. Sometime in the 70s, this area fell into disrepair, and, until about 15 years ago, was a bit seedy and not really a walking destination. It is now, in the main, a fine area. The above shot shows one of the many lovely corner homes whose sides stretch down a good portion of the length of the road. You could probably tell that I was more taken with the flowers than the house. Usually, these corner spots are awash in windows and boast a wee front garden. The above house was pretty typical save for the lovely purple flower bushes planted. I have rarely seen such flowers planted though they do look like they could be native.

'Little Boxes on the hillside' 

Nevermind the Golden Gate Bridge or Transamerica Building, the homes dotting the Daly City eastern-facing hillside are iconic and always make me think of the song made famous by Pete Seeger, 'Little Boxes'. The song was indeed inspired by the post WWII housing tracts built in Daly City, not specifically these homes, but rather the Doegler homes built in the district of Westlake just west of these 'ticky-tacky' homes.

Transamerica Building, or what I referred to as the 'upside-down ice-cream cone' when I was wee. 

Maybe I should study for my Japanese final now. I don't wanna.

Sunday, May 6, 2018


-waiting for the bus in downtown SF yesterday. The picture makes it sort of seem that downtown is fairly quiet, but it is anything but.

Today, I took this shot of a groovy flowering tree by the supermarket I frequent. I saw the fly & wondered if the blossom would smell of dung. It did not. Maybe the fly is just taking a load off?!
-still probably a pollinator, I'd wager.