Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Earthquakes and Peanuts

Yesterday, we went to the SF Academy of Sciences and learned about the geology of earthquakes complete with simulation of 2 earthquake tremors of more than 6 and 7 in the Richter scale. There was a show on ostriches and we watched 34 day-old ostriches in their activities.Wonderful shows- in the planetarium and 3-D film in the Forum theater and plenty to learn.
Today we visited Charles Schulz museum in Santa Rosa. It has some of the original drawings of Charlie Brown and company by Charles Schulz. Lots of things to enjoy and learn.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Be content

Thought for Sunday

Be content with what you have
rejoice in the ways things are
When you realize there is nothing lacking, 
the whole world belongs to you.
- Lao-Tzu

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books. 

Today we had to go very early to Oakley, near Pittsburg, CA for swimming competition of our granddaughter, 7, who competed in 6 events.She finished  first place in butterfly,and one fourth place in freestyle and fifth in backstroke. She finished the 100 meters individual medley. Lots of swimming for a 7 year old.In the afternoon we stayed in our son’s house and watched the Olympics on TV. We just got home 2 hours ago.

our granddaughter is nearest to the camera-prepares for the start of the 25 meter-backstroke

Friday, July 27, 2012

Whom can we ever turn to

“Ah, whom can we ever turn to in our need?
Not angels, not humans, and already the knowing animals are aware
that we are not really at home in our interpreted world.
Perhaps there remains for us some tree on a hillside, which every day we can take into our vision;
there remains for us yesterday's street and the loyalty of a habit so much at ease
when it stayed with us that it moved in and never left.
Oh and night: there is night, when a wind full of infinite space gnaws at our faces.
Whom would it not remain for--that longed-after, mildly disillusioning presence,
which the solitary heart so painfully meets.
Is it any less difficult for lovers?
But they keep on using each other to hide their own fate.
Don't you know yet
Fling the emptiness out of your arms into the spaces we breathe;
perhaps the birds will feel the expanded air with more passionate flying.”

from the First Elegy, Duino Elegies (translated by Stephen Mitchell)
by Rainer Maria Rilke
July 27
I’m reading- A Year with Rilke-
Daily Readings from the Best of Rainer  Maria Rilke 
by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Books you love

The Napa Valley Writers' Conference started Sunday and ends today in the Napa Valley College Upper Valley.Campus. Last night I attended the readings by Tayari Jones, fiction writer, author of Silver Sparrow and an Associate Professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University and Eavan Boland, poet, author of 10 books of poetry including Against Love Poetry and Professor of Humanities at Stanford University and directs the Creative Writing Program.

"Live for awhile in the books you love. Learn from them what is worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be returned to you a thousand times over. Whatever your life may become, these books — of this I am certain — will weave through the web of your unfolding. They will be among the strongest of all threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."-from Letter to a Young Poet-Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, July 23, 2012

Life of a Poet

Last week, I finished the Life of a Poet, Biography of Rainer Maria Rilke by Ralph Freedman. Rilke’s life story gave some insights about the meaning of Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus and about his earlier poems. The author related almost the linear poetic development of Rilke.
The poet’s life experiences and his associations with other artists-painters, sculptors,poets and philosophers- became distilled in his poems and approach to writing.
(photo:the reflections of the trees's shadow on the stream)

Edward Hirsch in his book-the demon and angel-referred to Rilke’s angel.
I can read again Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus with a new discernment.

from the Ninth Elegy (of Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke)

“But because truly being here is so much; because everything here
apparently needs us, this fleeting world, which is in some strange way
keeps calling to us.  Us, the most fleeting of all.
Once for each thing.  Just once; no more.  And we too,
just once.  And never again.  But to have been
this once, completely, even if only once:
to have been at one with the earth, seems beyond undoing.”

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weekend activities

Yesterday, on the lawn of Robert Mondavi's Winery in Napa Valley we listened to Josh Groban sang. It was in the early evening of a warm day. Before the concert we had picnic on the lawn just like the other concert attendees.We had wine, cheese, rotisserie chicken, grapes, bread and pie.

This morning we had to wake up early in order to drive to Sunnyvale by 6am to attend our gradson's baseball game. His team won their 2 games. After we returned home Cheri and I  had naps.

Tomorrow we will meet my college classmate is visiting Napa Valley with her family.

Friday, July 20, 2012

the trail

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books.
Cheri and I just returned home after 2 weeks in Incline Village, Lake Tahoe. We hiked the trail behind the condo several times. This trail is popular with the locals and visitors and for mountain bikers. The cyclists come down this trail as late as 9PM with bright lights from their helmets and the front of the bikes. 

The trail  is sandy and rocky ascends and ascends. At the top it connects to other trails.
A noisy creek runs alongside.

mere presence


"There are many songs
I heard from the birds
That I must know.

The children exult
climbing the stone's faces
joy abounds,
their mere presence."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


"Time gives you
new wishes, yet 
you crave for the youth 
within, forgetting 
your sphere sprouts 
with young life
that needs you."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Living in another country

One and a half weeks ago, Saturday, Cheri and I hiked the forest trail behind the condo in Incline Village, Lake Tahoe. Last Saturday, 11 of us (friends and family) and 2 dogs hiked the same trail.It is our favorite trail, ascending with switchbacks and connects to the Tahoe Rim Trail and other trails.

Today  Cheri and I "strolled" the trail up to the first viewpoint where we could see the lake.We met a couple with their 2 children. The parents are both physicians and well travelled. This August the whole family will live in southern Spain for a year. "A wonderful way to open new horizons for our children," the parents said.We agreed and gave them our best wishes.

Monday, July 16, 2012

My imaginary friend

My imaginary friend tells me:
"You should have a goal everyday to frame your day. Don't trick your mind by believing that playing chess interferes with your writing poetry, Chess and poetry thrive on creativity. One should complement the other.
Don't be timid. Be bold. Imagine. Enjoy the challenge."

Friday, July 13, 2012

A conflict

In the past I seldom experienced a conflict between chess and poetry or writing itself. Recently I have noticed that if I play a lot of chess my mind seemed empty afterwards for writing. After pushing the wooden pieces and thinking of hundreds of moves my mind is barren to think of words.

I have 12 games going on against chess-player friends from England, Luxembourg, Canada, France and United States.

I'm reading Life of a Poet, biography of Rainer Maria Rilke. I get only snippets of phrases not enough to compose anything.

Do the art of chess and the art of poetry have the same brain centers? Or I'm just getting old.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A poem

"Yes, everything that is truly seen must become a poem."
Rainer Maria Rilke

quoted from Life of a Poet, biography of Rainer Maria Rilke by Ralph Freedman

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A cetologist

I finished The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh published in 2005. It's a story of an American marine biologist and cetologist,who is of Bengali descent, an Indian translator and interpreter, an illeterate fisherman and the people of Sundarbans, in the Bay of Bengal. It's a story of courage and simple life. It's a love story.

One of the characters in The Hungry Tide quotes is fond of Rainer Maria Rilke and quotes his poems at the end of every chapter. I'm reading at the same time, by coincidence, Life of a Poet, of Rainer Maria Rilke.

It's the best book I have read this year in addition to Middlemarch.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A holiday

If you are learning a new language or learning a new golf swing,study and practice. The new nuance is deliberate practice.
If you reading a philosophy or a medical book, read and think.The idea is understanding.
I’m taking 3 books to Lake Tahoe in the next few days for a 2-week holiday.
Moby Dick, The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh, and Life of a Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke.
Cheri and I will hike, read, and enjoy the fresh air.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Passage from the Old Book

Yesterday was a beginning of another year. A beginning of another adventure.
the entrance and long ascending stairs

2 weeks ago in Lockport, N.Y. near Buffalo, Cheri and I toured a man-made underground cave, walking on a narrow gravel covered path guided by a meager but adequate light and flash lights and rode a boat on a shallow river but with reflected lights looks so deep.
from the stairs to this long passage that connects to the narrow graveled path along the river

My life is guided by the Old Book. One of my guiding passages start  with: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...”

Life is narrow path and leads to many other paths and surprises.