Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thursday Poem

For Anne Gregory
William Butler Yeats
‘Never shall a young man,
Thrown into despair
By those great honey-coloured
Ramparts at your ear,
Love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair.’
‘But I can get a hair-dye
And set such colour there,
Brown, or black, or carrot,
That young men in despair
May love me for myself alone
And not my yellow hair.’
‘I heard an old religious man
But yesternight declare
That he had found a text to prove
That only God, my dear,
Could love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair.’

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lotus flower

Nelumbo nucifera, known by a number of names including Indian Lotus, Sacred Lotus, Bean of India, or simply Lotus, is a plant in the monotypic family Nelumbonaceae. The Linnaean binomial Nelumbo nucifera (Gaertn.) is the currently recognized name for this species, which has been classified under the former names, Nelumbium speciosum (Willd.) and Nymphaea nelumbo, among others. Names other than Nelumbo nucifera (Gaertn.) are obsolete synonyms and should not be used in current works. This plant is an aquatic perennial. Under favorable circumstances its seeds may remain viable for many years, with the oldest recorded lotus germination being from that of seeds 1,300 years old recovered from a dry lakebed in northeastern China.[1]

From ancient times the lotus has been a divine symbol in Asian traditions representing the virtues of sexual purity and non-attachment.
Hindus revere it with the divinities Vishnu and Lakshmi often portrayed on a pink lotus in iconography. In the representation of Vishnu as Padmanabha (Lotus navel), a lotus issues from his navel with Brahma on it. Goddess Sarasvati is portrayed on a white-colored lotus.
Often used as an example of divine beauty, Vishnu is often described as the 'Lotus-Eyed One'. Its unfolding petals suggest the expansion of the soul. The growth of its pure beauty from the mud of its origin holds a benign spiritual promise. In Hindu iconography, other deities, like Ganga and Ganesha are often depicted with lotus flowers as their seats.
The lotus plant is cited extensively within Puranic and Vedic literature, for example:
One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus is untouched by water.
Bhagavad Gita 5.10:
I love the lotus because while growing from mud, it is unstained.
Chinese: 予独爱莲之出淤泥而不染。[6
excerpts from Wikipedia
(photo taken at J Winery)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pairings of wine and food

Pairings  on who could soar higher in the swing. It’s not a competition but children want to swing high and higher.
There is pairing of food and wine. Cook the food and select the wine. Or select the wine and prepare the food. There are certain ideas that are suggested. A good pairing enhances the taste of the wine and the taste of the food. The way the food is prepared, what ingredients, condiments are added make a lot of difference.
Last Saturday Cheri and I and two of our friends visited the Bubble Room of J Winery in Healdsburg, just north of San Francisco: Small portions of gourmet food were paired with the selected wine varietals. It was a wonderful culinary and wine experience. Our menu last Saturday:

2010 J Vineyards "STRATA" Chardonnay, 
Russian River Valley
Chilled Zucchini Soup, White Truffle Oil, Croutons
2011 J Vineyards Viognier, 
Hoot Owl Vineyard, Alexander Valley
Pan Seared Day Boat Scallop, 
English Pea Purée, Salsa Verde 

2009 J Vineyards "Barrel 16" Pinot Noir, 
Russian River Valley
Pork Milanese, Roasted Asparagus, 
Royal Trumpet Mushrooms, Dijon Sauce
2009 J Vineyards Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Slow Roasted Spring Lamb Medallion, 
Yukon Gold Potato Fondant, Green Garlic Soubise,   
Dried Bing Cherry Compote 

J Brut Rosé, Russian River Valley
Rhubarb Pavlova, Rosé-Raspberry Gélee, Almond Crumb
2003 J Vintage Brut, Late Disgorged, Russian River Valley
Ricciarelli, Croccante, Amaretti, Strawberry Marscapone 

Certainly, another way and more extensive will be a winemaker dinner-full course starting from arrival, to appetizers, main courses to dessert.Each step with selected wines. One will need a designated driver. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

On Memorial Day

The Gettysburg Address by President Abraham Lincoln still applied as a memorial to the men and women here and abroad, living and dead, on Memorial Day or whenever a memorial for veterans is erected anywhere, that we should never forget what they did”...with  their “full measure of devotion” to preserve and promote freedom here and abroad.
The Gettysburg Address
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

There are no photos(2)

What do you in the face of a certain doom? Or how does one proceed in a lost cause? This is the question asked by the father of Irina,in a letter he sent Aleksandr, the Russian world chess champion, in the book -Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer Dubois. Irina’s father has Huntington’s Disease. After her father died Irina found out about the letter which didn’t get an answer.She went to Russia to find Aleksandr. She has the gene for Huntington Disease and was interested for the answer. She went to Russia to find out.
There are moments when you reach midlife when certain questions come. Should you find some time to see some of the 80 treasures made by man elucidated by Dan Cruickshank that stand for human ingenuity and magnificent achievements like Macchu Picchu, Ankor Wat, Mesa Verde, Taj Mahal?
Should you learn Italian and enjoy some time in Tuscany? Drive along the Amalfi Coast, visit Venice? Or read some of the 100 great books? 
Should you do something inspiring? Something noble?
How does one proceed in a lost cause? 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

What do we do with our shoes?

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. ( ) Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

When we are outdoors we wear shoes although recently there is a movement on barefoot walking and jogging. Enthusiasts think it’s more natural and healthy for the feet.
In some places we take off our shoes:  before entering a Japanese house, the Blue Mosque or before entering a Jump House.
Other places, like the Sultan’s summer palace in Istanbul, Beylerbeyi Sarayi, now a museum, we have to cover our shoes.
 Walking among the ruins we keep on our shoes. (photo: taken in Ephesus)
At other times we seek someone to keep them shiny and new. (photo: from one of the streets in Istanbul)

Erratum:Yesterday  our 5 year 0ld grandson finished pre-school and not as I mistakenly wrote kindergarten in my blog yesterday. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Kindergarten's "Finale"

school's motto

                                                                     inside the egg

Today our 5-year old grandson finished kindergarten.The students presented in school a program, “Finale.”  It was a narration of their beginning  from an egg to the present when they are now free to fly away, though not completely. To fly away and go to the big school. The dances and songs reflected their growth and their relationship with each other and to the earth. After they received their certificate they released several doves.
                                                                             the doves

In the afternoon our grandson celebrated his 5th birthday with his friends and classmates from kindergarten in the town’s park.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A hole in the head

I don’t know if it’s the deluge of allergens or the wine for dinner but I feel like I have a hole in the head. A car can pass through it like through the Chandelier tree in Legget, CA. I can not think of anything to write. An empty head. Like Irina in Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer Dubois, "entirely out of ideas."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The color is red

She spreads her arms
measures the age of the redwood,
She doesn’t think
of lightning strikes, heavy downpour 
of rain and snow on its branches, ample 
shade, abundant ferns and creatures
She is absorbed by immensity, 
of the giant silent timber. 
But the tree breaks, heavy  and falls,
life from its highest point
The bark coarse and rough and red
She shakes her head and runs
to her mother seated on the picnic table
asking where the cherries are
red and plentiful.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Farmers Market

I woke up not so early this morning but early enough to visit the Farmers Market held at the parking lot of the former Copia, next to the Oxbow Public Market on First Street in Napa. Not all the vendors are farmers but all are producers of things edible, ornamental and personal.
I loitered for a bit then proceeded to the Model Bakery booth and bought a round seeded wheat bread and a bear claw. My wife, Cheri, loves the bear claw. 
White and purple flowers with quinoa like shapes and a very mild fragrance attracted my attention and brought me to the booth of Devoto Gardens from Sebastopol, a very nice town, northwest of Napa, known for its apples. Jolie, the farm florist, of the Devoto Gardens (  greeted me with a very pleasant welcome and explained to me the different flowers. She is “the flower child of the family” and started the “farm to table flowers’ which I learned from her website (

Her booth abound with colors from sweet peas, redanthe, statice, sunflowers, and lettuce. I forgot to ask Jolie’s permission to publish her photo. Maybe next time.
It was a sunny day and I walked to the river and talked to the friendly fisherman who laments the non-biting fish.Later on I helped in the Study Center for K-12  in the library.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Leave it to beavers

The beavers have sharp and powerful teeth. They cut down trees to make their dams in rivers and streams. They are the world’s second largest rodent. The beavers are from the genus Castor and the North American beavers are from Castor canadensis (Wikipedia).

There is a stream behind the condo in Incline Village, Lake Tahoe where some beavers live. They converted part of the stream into a pond by building a dam downstream.

One night, about a year ago, I startled  one beaver swimming in the stream. It dived very quickly into the water and disappeared. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

If there are no photos

You can draw a concept
A swirl of ideas, a sandstorm
you forget to cover your face
with a scarf.

Or climb a mango tree
your fingers crawl
between the thick leaves
reaching, searching.

It can be immaculate
Sap drips from the maple tree
A pebble, a rock, breaks from the mountain
A cat plays with a ball of yarn.

You can shape yourself
a triangle, camel, crescent,
a child’s yoga pose
or simple lotus.

The muse may come and go
breathe in, breathe out
The muse comes and disappears
breathe in, breathe out.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Know thyself

“There is only one big hill that we must we climb in a lifetime. We are born at the bottom of it, and we die however far toward its summit we have climbed by the end of our days. This hill has been known among all peoples since the dawn of man in “Know Thyself”.”
from: Almost Home, A Life-Style
by Maggie and David Cavagnaro

 Our best friends gave us this wonderful book, Almost Home, a Life-Style, a gift, on our 7th year wedding anniversary many years ago. 

(The 2 photos were taken when Cheri and I visited the Denver Botanical Gardens 2years ago.)
To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Walking the dogs

I met many breeds  of dogs on my walk today. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera with me.
The husband of the one of the 2 ladies with a pair of cavalier King Charles spanielsI  I met walking yesterday had the pair of the dogs this afternoon. The spaniels were meant to be English lap dogs and cuddly the husband told me. 
One older gentleman was walking with his airedale terrier. I asked him and he told me what breed. 
And then a lady told me her dog was not a chihuahua but dachshund. Sometimes it’s called hot dog  she said because of its length and shape.
The last one dog I met today I always mistook for a Siberian husky and the gentleman politely corrected me for the past couple of times I met them before.  "It's an akita," I said. He was happy that I remembered and smiled. The photo below is a photo of an akita which I took at Doran Beach last Sunday.

I don’t know anything about dogs. Actually I grew up afraid of dogs. I like the cavalier King Charles spaniel.
I took the walk this afternoon after the match between the highest (Hikaru Nakamura) and the second highest rated U.S. chess player (Gata Kamsky) finished a very complicated endgame won by Nakamura who is now ahead by half a point over Kamsky with one game to play of the round robin chess championship. Kamsky is the defending champion. 
And chess comes before the dog.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How to spend a day

The sun burst from behind the clouds and my sweatshirt became unnecessary during my walk to the river this morning.The father told me his ten year son was still learning how to cast. He had one fish that got away this morning and now was waiting for a big bite. An old fisherman, who looked like an Oxford professor smoking a pipe, was more circumspect said, "just passing  a good time.”

We went to the tire shop where Michelin tires were on sale for the tire change of our car. 

Cheri and I left our car in the garage and we walked to the elementary school, about a mile away, where our first grade grandson and the his class have a musical presentation. The first graders sang, danced and told a simple story on how to find happiness. What’s the key to happiness? The students were dressed like different animals. The lion asked the question, “why am I not happy?” The elephants, leopards, monkeys, laughing hyenas, and other animals gave him different answers. What’s fun? What’s happiness? In the end they found the answer:  friendship and friends. The children were fabulous. Our grandson was dressed  as a leopard and carrying a leopard stuffed animal.
After the presentation we went grocery shopping with our daughter and with her first grader and  6th grader who goes to the same school and allowed to leave her PE class and to attend her brother’s and  first graders’s musical extravaganza.

Then back to the car shop to wait for our car. Cheri and I brought our books. She reads Never Say Die by Susan Jacoby, the book for discussion, for her annual reunion with her 5 college friends next month in Sedona, AZ.I brought along Charles Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle.
We returned home 2 1/2 hours ago.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Chess and cheese

Half of the day today I reviewed my 8 chess match games trying to find the best moves to send  to my opponents.  The other half  I watched the U.S. Chess Championship live in the Internet. I read only a part of Middlemarch and the Cat’s Eye.
Later in the afternoon Cheri and I attended an informal cheese making and more of a social function in the house of Anila, one of our club members, who is a former chef, formerly owned an Indian restaurant and who makes her own cheese at home. One other club member, Mike, who is a chemical engineer, taught the class. He demonstrated how to make chevre and burrata cheese. He emphasized the detailed measurements of the ingredients and temperature. Mike explained the science and art of cheese making.
Anila showed how to make paneer cheese. After it was finished, she sautéed it with cumin seeds, turmeric, fresh garlic, green pepper and green onion and almost looked like scrambled eggs. We ate it with the pita bread and the French bread.
Before the cheese making Anila prepared Indian tapas of 2 types of chicken kebabs with 2 different types of sauces, home made paneer cheese made earlier in the day, pita bread and French bread, olives. Another member brought prosciutto. We had pinot noir from Napa Valley and Oregon and one pinot home made by our chemical engineer.

Chess and cheese making in one day. An extraordinary day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Creativity and Grit

I was listening to Jonah Lehrer, author of  "Imagine: How Creativity Works" at NPR  KQED Radio City Arts and  Lectures on the way home from my club meeting this evening. He talked about creativity. During certain moments of the day one’s creativity is at its highest or lowest. He talked about what spurs and sustains creativity, when does it happen.  The other part of Lehrer’s talk was the value of grit.  Lehrer mentioned the Grit Test developed at Penn by Dr. Angela Duckworth, a University of Pennsylvania psychology researcher. 
I found one article titled Grit: The Top predictor of Success  by Josh Linkner with excerpts below..
Grit: The Top Predictor Of Success
by Josh Linkner| 12-12-2011
“How ironic that a back-to-basics approach carries the day: It turns out that good old-fashioned grit is the number one indicator of high performance.
Research defining grit as perseverance and passion for long-term goals found that as a trait, grit had better predictability for success than IQ. The experts break it down and list these attributes as the building blocks of grit:
  • A clear goal
  • Determination despite others' doubts
  • Self-confidence about figuring it out
  • Humility about knowing it doesn't come easy
  • Persistence despite fear
  • Patience to handle the small obstacles that obscure the path
  • A code of ethics to live by
  • Flexibility in the face of roadblocks
  • A capacity for human connection and collaboration
  • A recognition that accepting help does not equate to weakness
  • A focus and appreciation of each step in the journey
  • An appreciation of other people's grit
  • A loyalty that never sacrifices connections along the way
  • An inner strength to help propel you to your goal
More important than a go-get-'em-tiger pep talk, you can actually build, screen for, and measure grit. The Grit Test, developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, is a simple questionnaire that helps you determine your Grit Score. It's worth four minutes to find out how much mojo you and your team have so you can get about building more of it.”

 I just finished reading BaBel No More, a search for the world’s polyglot, extreme polyglots, by Michael Erard.  He wrote: “I went looking for living hyperpolyglots to interview. My research took me first into the library, then to Europe. In Bologna, Italy, I was the first person in decades to look at the archives of Cardinal Joseph Mezzofanti, a 19th-century linguistic wonder.” 
He was seeking the “secret” of how the polyglots learned so many languages. There was no secret. Part of their success is plain hard work even doing and enjoying the banality of copying, reading, memorizing, talking.  
(all the photos were taken last Sunday at Doran Beach)