Thursday, December 30, 2010


Each day is a gift and gratitude. I am just a grain of sand in this vast universe rich in splendor.
We can be noble in the midst of struggles and pain. Endurance can make us strong.
We all possess the gift of imagination which can make our lives soar to the heavens. We are free to wander, wonder and contemplate.
Time is a matter of proportion and balance.

There are nights, dawn and wide landscapes. There are no reasons for boredom and despair.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Charlie Brown

I remember I always love Peanuts-Charlie Brown. I was a college student about 50 years ago when I first read Peanuts and Charlie Brown. Simple and original.It is one of the secrets of happiness-to develop simplicity and be original.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Family values

Today after mass,our daughter and her family came to our house and my wife prepares the breakfast. We do this almost every Sunday. Today we spent the whole day together. My daughter cut my hair after breakfast. This is my minimalist contribution. My daughter is not even a barber. Later in the evening we invited a friend of ours to go with us to have dinner at a favorite Mexican restaurant.

Our son and his family go to Sunday mass in the afternoon and come to our house and have dinner with us which my wife prepares or I prepare.

Time is divided to different activities. Family activities has the heaviest value.

Friday, December 17, 2010

In times of need

Some people are more fortunate than others. For the last 5 days we spent our time in the Santa's Helpers.There was tremendous generosity in donations of materials and time to help the less privileged people in our community. Certainly every day they need help but especially during the Christmas season to celebrate Christmas just like everybody else.

Any help we can extend to the less fortunate people is significant.We can extend our hands to them as a family.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Psalm 8

'When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained.

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son
of man, that thou visitest him?

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,
and thou hast crowned him with glory and honour..."

What have I done in my life that I deserve this honor? What should I do in return?
That I have to meditate on.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Spiritual Exercises

Yesterday I got the book-Thirty Days by Paul Mariani, a poet and essayist, and not a monk. It is a memoir of a 30-day Jesuit directed silent retreat using the Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola as a guide. I thought that before Christmas it might a good spiritual reading and learn something about myself. Christmas celebration has plenty of noise on trivial self-giving.

I will update my progress and post some insights that I can discern.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Never too late

Today, Cheri and I attended a reception of one our friends who has an exhibits of his paintings in the city library. Greg retired 5 years ago and decided to to attended art classes in painting. He started with acrylics and settled down on water soluble oil paintings.

He has not had any previous art training before.It took him about 6 months, he said, before he had an idea of what he was doing.He paints beautiful landscapes with a delicate touch.The strokes look clean and there are no hesitations. He paints daily and about 3-4 hours a day and mostly indoors.

He is a good example of learning a new skill at a later age in life. Human brain is pliable and accepts changes late in life.

One doesn't have to wait for someone to tell him or her that he/she should start going. Socrates tries to learn how to play the flute on the eve of his death.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Our grandchildren love to play with the Russian nesting doll,matryoshka. They seem to be fascinated by the almost endless dolls inside the dolls.They take them out then put them back again.

Fascination in the simplest of things, a gift I have to acquire again.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Taking time

When I took art appreciation class in the community college I wrote my final essay on Mondrian. Studying his progression as an artist I appreciated painting just with primary colors or geometric patterns of different colors.

I was particularly impressed when I saw cubism by Picasso and Braque. Cutting a form to pieces and putting the parts together again is very clever, an imaginative leap.

The art classes opened my eyes to a different way of looking at objects, to take time to look and be aware of my surroundings.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Random Thoughts

He or she starts training when very young. The sommelier tastes everything even if it means a frozen tongue. It's no wonder she/he knows the terroir.

Minimalism is the buzz word these days. I don't exactly practice it although I have my daughter cut my hair. She is not even a barber.

Be kind. Even the angels are not perfect.

Be creative. I think of the sheep grazing under the solar panels in our local community college.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rain storm

It's a rain storm with wind, lightning and thunder, and of course, rain. It's not surprising. It's November,in Northern California, means rain, not snow.

I'm finishing Rebecca Newberger Goldstein's book-36 Arguments for the Existence of God. It is about academics, ambition, love, and Hasidim sect of Judaism.The prose is flowing and original. The arguments are subtle and convincing.

I don't have any new photo of a rain storm but sheep grazing under the solar panels. Why use a an electric mower when one so natural is available. It's no surprise and doesn't yearn for an explanation.It complements and adds a continuity to the solar panel.

An enjoyable book and rain are such old companions like an atheist and a believer in deity having coffee together.

I'm listening to Lara Fabian's radio through Pandora.

The surprise is I'm blogging after I finished reading Goldstein's book.

Some canyons are so deep and dizzying. The geological history is effort worth studying. Some reading can consume some mental energy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


It is November air-cool and comfortable.The noise on the bridge was so loud I felt like I was walking in a tunnel.
Along the river I met the students from the college who were taking a class on walking. "We walk twice a week,"one of the students told me.
I met people who were walking with dogs, a man limping on his right leg and with a jubilant voice when he greeted me "good morning."
I saw model planes flying above me.
When I passed by the pond I got interested in an egret.I took several pictures and made an album which I titled-study in white.
Before I returned home I passed by the college library, read a book and rested. I was lightly perspiring.
I removed my sweat shirt, returned home passing over the bridge again. The noise had not changed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


The cycle of seasons, the feel in the air,dawn and snow, sounds and worries of every day are ever present and then disappear.
To realize that everything changes is one of the secrets of wisdom. It's the acceptance that nothing is permanent. Buddhist teaches this reality. Christian scriptures express the same theme.

Learning that nothing stays the same is not easy to accept. The denial of change is one source of suffering the sages say.
It's November. The leaves fall and gather. Soon they will be covered with snow or just decay.

The songs of autumn are snowflakes. The thought lingers. Memory brings a smile or tears.But we wait for dawn,for an enlightenment.

I will take a step and continue my walk. Someone is walking towards me.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Tricks or treat-is how life is.There are obstacles one has to overcome and reward comes. One can not go through life without suffering. In the midst of suffering comes grace.
Halloween reminds us that life is a mixture of experiences. One has to navigate with an open and clear mind.
The costumes we wear is a dream , our fantasy. We can lighten up and intersperse mirth with seriousness.
If the angels can smile we should be allowed too.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The morning moon

When I opened the door this morning to pick up the newspaper I noticed the diminishing moon was very bright.
It inspired me to start the 3-page morning pages exercise in the The Artist's Way.I did write 3 pages of rambling prose which included the foreign language film The Weeping Camel.It's a movie about separation and reconciliation between a mother camel and her calf and a portrait of a nomadic family's daily life with its simplicity and contentment.

I have been reading lately about living minimally.When I retired 5 years ago we downsized from a 4-bedroom house to a small condo-900 square feet. Gradually I became adjusted the small space and library. I enjoyed walking to the library and borrowing books. I still buy new books now and then. Used bookstores have always been my favorite haunt.Whenever I am in a new town, I look for the used bookstores.

Inspiration can come spontaneously or it can be nudged.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


There are a lot of daily distractions. You have to navigate around these distractions-phone calls, emails, iPod.They don't have equal importance. You have to concentrate on the ones you want to accomplish that day.

You have the oars. Don't worry but pay attention to the rapids. You can enjoy the natural surroundings in spite of the dangers.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


"Our ability to focus will allow us to create in ways that perhaps we haven’t in years. It’ll allow us to slow down and find peace of mind. It’ll allow us to simplify and focus on less — on the essential things, the things that matter most.
And in doing so, we’ll learn to focus on smaller things. This will transform our relationship with the world. It’s not that “less is more”, but “less is better”. Focusing on smaller things will make us more effective. It’ll allow us to do less, and in doing so, have more free time for what’s important to us. " excerpt from Focus by Leo Babauta

I'll "learn to focus on smaller things".

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

the world is mine

I'm in my own world when I'm playing chess or listening to music.
Children are absorbed by their own world when they are playing or reading.
All of us have our world we inhabit. There is a flow or unfettered imagination. It is a state of bliss.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Waiting in silence. Sometimes the deepest insight comes from waiting, from listening. I try to understand how to listen from the deepest part of my heart.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Where does inspiration comes from?

To tackle a problem one has to face it. The sages say-if you are afraid of something you have to confront that fear.
Demons don't go away; they only increase in numbers.

To face the fear of writing one has to write. Swaying on a hammock will not bring inspiration. Edward de Bono in his book, Think, addresses creativity. Creativity does not come unless you act on it. One might have to wait too long if one waits for inspiration.

I take a lot of photos when my wife and I travel. To learn photography I have to read and learn from the professionals. And I have to take a lot of photos.

If I want to improve my writing I have to write. Studying is not enough.No roads come easy to reach a destination.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Life's Mystery

I finished reading "Language God Talks" by Herman Wouk. His writing is lucid and concise. I like the subtle discussion he had written with Richard Feynman in the way he explains the importance of God in his or one's life, the wonder of a child about the universe and enchantment of poetry, nature and art.

I particularly treasure the quotation from Ecclesiastes:"He has made all things beautiful in their time, and has put eternity in men's hearts, except that no man will find out the work of the Lord from beginning to end."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Teachings of the Dads

I just finished the book, The Council of Dads, by Bruce Feiler. Bruce was diagnosed with cancer of the bone and underwent months of chemotherapy and later surgery and months of chemotherapy again. He and his wife are raising toddlers twin daughters. The book is full insights and lessons on love,friendship and family.

Bruce Feiler has written Walking the Bible which I read a few ago and enjoyed.This book is different.

In one of the passages; "So when you look out at this landscape, what do you see?"
"What I see is a constant unfolding visual poem," he said."This stream, the clouds, the sunset last night. And when you grow up learning to see like that, you never stop."

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Sometimes I have to dance a few steps when I am walking. It's one way to eliminate monotony. There are many choices in life and many things at every moment. There is no need to stay in one place. My body and mind can travel at any time to any place.

Which wine wine opener do you need?

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Cheri & I just returned from driving more than 4000 miles through Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico , Arizona and California.
The weather was comfortable and the scenery was splendid.
The varied landscape with magnificent colors and beauty revealed the art and science of nature. Nature invites us to open our eyes and look at our surroundings.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I finished the book, "The Wishing Year", by Noelle Oxenhandler. There are a lot of insights in human capacity for joy, endurance and optimism. A fresh outlook,some faith and honest effort will realize your wish.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Art Walk

10 sculptures from 10 different artists were installed in Downtown Napa to add beauty in the midst of commerce. Art refreshes insight and enlivens the soul.
This sculptures is titled The Throne.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

the hidden face

There is a mystery in looking at someone whose the face is hidden. What's in her mind? What's she thinking about?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sacred Places

I saw the cathedral of Notre Dame in Montreal and Quebec City. I was awed by the gold-lined altars.They were all beautiful and look like a sacred offerings.Both have stained glass windows.

Outside the spires and towers are inspiring. I have to read again the monograph of Henry Adams aboutMont Saint Michel and Chartres.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Lack of Focus

I'm walking more than 1 hour almost everyday. But I'm not writing everyday. Self-discipline is only half-way.
During one of my walks in the park I met a couple who had been paintings small scenes in water colors. It made me interested. There is a course titled Expressive Art in the Fall which I may try. There is my problem-my focus is easily diverted because I want to start something new.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


"In Sabbath time we remember to celebrate what is beautiful and sacred; we light candles, sing songs, tell stories, eat, nap, and make love...Sabbath is a way of being in time where we remember who we are, remember what we know, and taste the gifts of spirit and eternity...

...As darkness falls, as the light of the world fades and disappears, we light the inner lights, the light of home and refuge. Our steps take us home, and light draws us in.

Remember the Sabbath."- Wayne Muller

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Joy of Learning

Seeing the beautiful roses in our very small backyard envigorates my morning.
Took the photo, read the local paper while eating breakfast. Very un-zen like, multitasking. Focus on each activity.

I was thinking last night that I should concentrate on learning something. Anything? Well, like how to read a book like a professor. There is a book of the same title.

The sun is on the zenith for me. It will start descending sometime if not already. I don't have to wait until the world starts to dim.

I'm hinting at the joy of learning. John W. Gradner calls it-"perpetual self-discovery."

I'm starting now.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Simple discipline

The hardest thing to do for me is follow a schedule. I'm easily sidetracked.Lately I'm coming back to several minimalists and reading their blogs. Some suggest a one bowl type of eating or trying a Cistercian diet.
I need a simple discipline to keepme on course.

I'll try again.

I finished one chore today that I have to do before next week.
I can plan other tasks now.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


A beautiful Thursday afternoon-sunny and the air so clear. The roses, green heron, and lotus flowers in bloom.
We had wine tasting. Later went to Cafe Gratitude for a big cup of ginger tea.

Friday, May 28, 2010


To protect some photos from loss I was putting them in external hard drive. Some of them were on CD's already but I also copied them to the portable external hard drive.

I found some pleasure in seeing those photos again, those experiences that happened 5 years ago.I looked at the photos of Amalfi Coast. Our visit to Hotel St.Pietro, having lunch on its restaurant overlooking the Bay of Naples.
Wonderful memories.

Friday, May 21, 2010


I promised myself after I finished reading The Bread of Angels by Stephanie Saldana and Walking the Bible by Bruce Feilre that I will consciously to write a journal several days a week if not daily.

Beavers are nocturnal animals that like to build dams. They have sharp teeth and can cut trees.

I was inspired by the beavers on how hard they work. Why do they build dams?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

With all its thorns the flower attracts my attention. There are simple things as simple as a thistle that can make one happy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


All the reasons to be happy and lively. The bees love the cherry blossoms. I should to.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Learning Zen Habits

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle
Zen Habits is about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness… Leo Babauta

I happened to read these lines from Leo Babauta's blog. I thought I should consider it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Holy Week

It has been awhile since I wrote. Lent is a time for reflection. The holy week is a time for renewal.
Tomorrow is Good Friday, a day of repentance.
Easter Sunday- beginning of a new life, more loving, forgiving and full of gratitude.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Is it a Simile?


A caravan,
ants heavy with crumbs,
descends a leg
of the picnic table
as I tear
another piece of baguette
chew a tiny bit
to tiny bits
breaking polysaccharides
to simpler fragments
stirring taste buds
hint of sweetness

like I imagine
a student enters a forest
of mathematical matrices
meanders around numbers,
symbols and finds
gate of understanding,
the palace of Heisenberg’s
uncertainty principle,

A cow is a river.
You can not cross it twice
wrote Heraclitus.
A mother and child,
dispossessed or with provisions,
should not be afraid.
Come, cup your hands
have a drink
it may make all the difference.

Friday, March 5, 2010


Passing by a window on my daily walk
I hear singing, a quilter
Putting together patches of fabric
For soldiers returning from war.

I did not learn everything in kindergarten.
As I grow older, certain things
Are easier to forget, some things
Stay longer like stains of cabernet
On a wedding dress.

When your tongue hesitates
When grammar gets confused
Don’t despair, memory forgives
In ways you can not divine.

Engage your mind in play,
Imagine branches of creation
A persistent pilgrim finds,
How astonishingly beautiful,
Dawn, at the summit of Mt. Fuji.

In time, the words will come back
To the threshold of the newlyweds
And contemplate the quantum
Equation of bliss.

Singing, a quilter
stitches fabrics, like songs
word by word by word
retelling gathered tribal
stories told long ago.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Birthday

I celebrated my 70th birthday 2 days ago hiking a hilly park for more than 2 hours with my whole family.


Memory of affection, encounters
Of wonders and gratitude
My grandfather, by primitive route,
They returned

We searched our way in knots
And riddles, chased each other,
Laughing, in widening circles, never
Tiring of play or exhaustion.

My grandfather would take me
To the river, fly-cast my mind inside
A fish, pointed shadows and ripples,
Where to wade and wait.

The allure was not the catch
But how to still the heart
When the line trembled
When the river was silent.

We would wait for the tide
To come to our feet, walking
The text of my future,
Written and erased.

Between roars of the surf
He challenged my thinking,
On the least visited,
What I cared for.

“Blindness is not a sorrow and desire”.
A fisherman once taught a path
through the wilderness
Only a heart could see.

the salmon
in still waters
my grandfather

Monday, March 1, 2010


I went to view the orchids during the Orchid Carnival at Fort Mason in San Francisco last Saurday. The orchids were simply exquisite.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Long Road

I read my poem in my class today-"The Long Road".

After heavy days on the long road
I arrived at the intended destination
Passing through familiar towns
The doldrums of life’s daily chores.

Did waiting mean being left behind?
To rise early or late
A basis of contention
What were they,
Moving or still,
Shrouded by fog?

I became aware-
How the sun shaped
Shadows of towering mountains,
The sweeping farm lands
Where sheep quietly grazed,
The weight of falling snow.

I experienced unexpected loneliness
During the winding climb before the summit
That overlooked the sea,
The calm I felt when I descended
Towards the infinite coastline
In the fading light.

I had shared wreckage.
I picked up and put together
Pieces of pains and responsibilities,
Short and long musical phrases,
Postcard glimpses of greatness,
Spaces for dreams and regrets.

Should I have digressed?
Strolled in an old village
Like a local philosopher,
Or attended a class in origami?

It was a journey to the interior.
A sorting out, of orchards
Of fruits, of apples and pears,
Our reconcilable differences.