The Huntington Library


After several trips to the gardens, about which I have already blogged, and one to the two art galleries, earlier this week I went with Faith Mowoe to The Huntington Library. The photos are somewhat self explanatory.

It is possible for scholars to see some of the many documents not on display.
The second floor is full of books and documents, but regular visitors are only allowed on the first floor.
Chaucer.
Cicero works copied in the mid 1400s see above.
Sir Isaac Newton
Newton was interested in astrology–this surprised me.
I learned that Newton was quite interested in astrology. Hence the photo previous to this one.
More on Newton’s interest in astrology.

The Gutenberg Bible.
A little known play by Shakespeare as it was published during his lifetime.
The above two photos are original copies and drafts of Joyce’s most famous work.
This book is extremely large and contains original Audubon pictures.
Octavia Butler was a California native. I am a big fan of her work and am currently in the middle of her Patternist series. Last year I taught one of her short stories about a pandemic.

The library is also full of old maps from all over the world. They compare maps to novels and how the plot of a novel is a map in words. Here is an example of a map from Don Quixote. Many modern fantasy novels have maps of the locations of places in the novel.

The Huntington Gardens–Part Two


In the last six weeks I have travelled to these gardens five times, two alone and three with house guests. Amid all the turmoil in the world today this is a place where nature continues its grand display, instilling a sense of peace and quiet.

My son headed to the Chinese and Japanese gardens.
Earlier photos were the walk to arrive here at the Japanese Gardens.

Depending on how you walk through the gardens, you walk to Japanese first, then Chinese, then back to the Japanese Gardens. This and the following few photos are the Chinese Gardens.

The Chinese Garden is filled with various sizes of limestone that looks like sculptures but is natural. The next time I go, I am going to learn what is written on many of the pieces of limestone.

In many places you can see the San Gabriel Mountains which are not far away.
The pond is filled with fish.
My son enjoying the waterfall.
I sat on a bench and stared at this for a long time, wondering how they do this without messing any of it up. There are doze
Looking back as we are on the way out.
And finally something European as we headed toward the parking area.

After five times, I have seen most of the gardens–next post will be some photos of the Australian area–and the two art galleries. Never made it to the library yet.

The Huntington–Gardens, Part One


Where have I been? Entertaining my son whom I had not seen in more than two years. One of the things he wanted to do was visit The Huntington in Pasadena after seeing some photos I took on a visit in January. Unless you get there as soon as they open and stay all day, it is impossible to see everything in one day. I have been there four times and only seen the gardens. The library and art gallery await for another time. Here are the photos from the first excursion with my son, Erik.

Erik took a lot of photos. This set is mostly in the desert garden section filled with cactus and succulents.
Yes, those are thorns sticking out of the trunk.

In many place in the gardens you can see the San Gabriel Mountains in the background.

I found the colors and texture of the trunk of this tree quite a contrast to many in the desert area. This photo and several that follow were taken in the Australian section.
Some of these trees are too huge to get all the tree in a photo.
On the way out. The rest had to wait for another day.

Ponies


Mom loved Shetland ponies.

not so much the stocky, chubby ones,

the fancy show ponies.

We had so many, I’ve lost count–

black, pinto, dappled grey with silver

mane and tail–the fanciest one.

Midget, a pinto, was the first one.

They bought her so I could learn to ride.

I was six.

At the country fair, I rode her.

She zigged; I zagged, fell off.

Utter humiliation.

On rainy days my sister and I would

put a few in the barn, dress them up,

play games with them,

living toys.

We even rode them when in high school

along the cornfields, across the terraces.

My last memory–riding, ambling along, not paying attention,

suddenly lots of noise in the cornfield,

an animal running through the cornstalks.

Pony bolted; I jumped, landed wrong,

limped for days at school, climbing

up and down the steps.

Did I ride again?

I don’t think so, not for years and

then I rode horses.

Winter Afternoon


No wind, stringy high clouds block a bit of blue.

Someone bounces a ball next door,

I hear the intermittent sound.

Suddenly several dogs bark across the golf course green,

Suddenly stop.

Across the turquoise pool water burnt orange leaves waft downward,

some land on the pale gold rocks,

some float at the pool’s terracotta edge,

others lay across the dark green rosemary bushes.

Bird song I cannot identify fills the background.

Two men, voices loud, banter –they’re neighbors, friends.

One of their small children cries, stops, cries again.

A late day golfer strides a ball, shouts.

Breeze arises, quits, more leaves fall,

the pool and birdbath water slightly ripple.

The lemons glow against the dark green leaves,

a painting emerald and bright yellow.

I sit beside the African multi-colored granite table my son made,

admire the colors:

-succulents called fire sticks match the falling leaves.

shades of orange, red, and green.

-the pots that house them match the dark blue of the pool’s old fashioned

Mexican tile.

-roses still display a few blossoms, dark red, pale pink, peach.

Tomorrow the gardener will trim them back to help them bloom lushly n spring.

-the oleander, still green, quit blooming weeks ago.

-rosemary loves this time of year, covers itself with tiny, fragrant, grey-blue flowers.

-in the distance mountains arise, a purple haze.

Now, no sounds, only silence.

I sit in the quiet beauty, write, drink green tea, feel grateful.

Winter Evening


Orange pink shadows ripple across the turquoise pool water.

Pumpkin colored and purple leaves drift across the rosemary,

land, bright little boats floating across the turquoise water.

A phoebe, dressed in his grey tuxedo coat and white tie,

flits along the red tile at water’s edge.

Green, minuscule, a hummingbird hovers among the scarlet salvia.

Fuschia, peach, deep red roses glow in the setting sun.

Suddenly, howls break the evening silence.

Coyotes, joyful, sing to each other,

preparing for the nightly hunt.

The Boy From Honduras


My current writing endeavor is part of a challenge to write 20 minutes per day six days a week. The story I am going to relate now was written as part of that project. The brief introduction here was part of something I wrote the day before I wrote about the boy.

I watched “60 Minutes” on Sunday about German Jewish Americans who volunteered to go behind enemy lines before and after the end of WWII to either spy on or interrogate Nazis, often officers of higher rank. One of them related that he never met a Nazi who had any remorse for atrocities he had committed, who thought what they had done was wrong. How horrifying, to hate anyone, any group so much over religion, ethnicity, sexual preference, status, remains to a great degree beyond my comprehension. Although I may view people like the Nazis as my moral enemies, to hate anyone so much as to torture and murder them seems incomprehensible.

These views also affect my attitude toward immigration. People rarely leave their countries because they want to, they leave because they need or have to in order to survive. Often it is a matter of life or death. Now I will tell you about the boy from Honduras.

Short, straight black hair, obsidian eyes, skin the color of café con leche, he showed up at high school one day absent any knowledge of the English language. His brother, married to a US citizen, lived across the street from the high school secretary. The assistant principal brought him to me. By Texas state law he had to spend at least one period of the day with a certified ESL teacher, me. He came often even from his other classes because everything except Spanish class was in English. Written Spanish helped him only somewhat. In Honduras poor country students only attended school for a few years. The more advanced middle and high schools were in cities and required fees paid.

The counselor claimed he had not been to school at all. I knew better; he knew things that a kid only learns if he or she has gone to school. When I did not understand his Spanish, I asked him to write it down. It took me a while to figure out some of his written Spanish. He sounded it out and so instead of writing habla (h is silent in Spanish), he would write abla. When I really could not understand, I went to the Spanish teachers from Mexico; they could not always understand him either. One, who had travelled all over Mexico, said he spoke a dialect she had never heard. Over time, I learned he had started school at six, attended for four years, then went to work on a coffee plantation. He was 15 when I met him. After I showed him a photo of me picking coffee in Costa Rica, he became very excited.

His father had been murdered; his mother feared for his life so she sent him to his brother in the US. He was cheery, always smiling, played soccer at lunch with the other students, missed home. He told me his family was working with an immigration lawyer so occasionally he traveled to Dallas to meet the lawyer. Then one day he disappeared. We never saw him again. Later one of the Spanish teachers told me he had come, smuggled in a shipping container, had survived this for days. And now he was gone.

Students asked about him; we had no answers. Some who had ranted about illegal immigrants stopped ranting. It was someone they knew, liked, who had left with no answers. He was a kind, funny kid whom everyone liked. Is he in hiding? Is he safe? Is he alive? Who knows?

Easy Vegetarian Chili Dinner


I had some Soyrizo in the refrigerator–chorizo made from soybeans–and decided to try making chili with it. I sautéed one finely chopped onion in olive oil and added the Soyrizo after removing it from the casing and breaking it up into small pieces. After the onion was translucent, I added one deseeded and chopped red bell pepper and a deseeded and chopped poblano pepper. To this mixture I added one can undrained black beans and 1 small can chopped tomatoes. I let this mixture cook on low for several hours before serving. The Soyrizo makes it a little bit spicy, but if you want more spice add berbere, chili powder, etc. to your taste. I like thick chili but if you want it more like the consistency of soup, just add some broth or water.

The salad was made with a mixture of greens, chopped red bell peppers, dried bing cherries, and sliced leeks broken up so you can see the circles. These bowls have been in my family for decades. They were the everyday dishes my mom used when I was growing up.

Note: For those out there who question, and rightfully, some of the ingredients in meat substitutes, I do get it. However, once in a while I like to jazz up the food a bit.

Christmas Thoughts


While many around the world are celebrating the birth of Jesus today, it seems worthwhile to recall some of the things he taught:

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.

I keep thinking how much better this world would be if people would follow these teachings, care for others. be kind.

Note: painting is by Israel Guajardo.