With Apologies to Georgia O’Keefe

I love to shoot close-ups of flowers – to look right into their centers a la     Georgia O Keefe.

A macro of a cymbidium

A Cymbidium – one of the easier orchids to grow.

 

These are baby-blue eyes – Nemophila menziesii, a cutie with its silvery anthers and delicate petals – the bifurcated stigma  (center) look like Martian eyes to me.

 

 

Calochortus venustus is a wild mariposa lily.

 

C.leichtinii-xcrp pse7-15 024Calochortus leichtlinii or white mariposa lily.  This is a good one to identify the flower parts : the center column is called the style and is topped by the a 3-part stigma ( the unseen ovary is at the bottom of the style), which in these lilies is surrounded by six white anthers – those are the male parts.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Note the same characteristics: three petals, 3-part stigma  and six anthers. You guessed it: another mariposa lily – Calochortus luteus.

 

Calochortus tolmeii

One more wild lily is C. tolmeii – pussy ears. This is one of my favorite little (no more than ¾ inch across) wildflowers with its blue anthers and fuzzy petals  – it’s nickname is pussy ears.

And I’ll close with a close-up of a Christmas cactus flower.

I’ll save some more for another time…..

Advertisements

Patriotism and Democracy

 

Patriotism isn’t waving the flag and standing for the national anthem – that’s all show. Real patriotism supports our democracy, whether that means giving your time and energy to improve your community and country or paying your taxes to support our infrastructure and institutions. Lobbying for lower taxes, seeking tax loopholes and hiding money abroad undermines the democratic system.

The United States was founded on respect for the justice system and balance of powers – executive, judicial and legislative – and a free press.  Thomas Jefferson once said, if he had to choose between government a free press, he would choose the latter!

We should not court foreign dictators and excuse tyranny,  because we believe in equal rights (including political rights) equal opportunities and tolerance of differences.  As the US flag waves this week, I leave you with the words of  Walt Whitman and a song from Pete Seeger expressing the ideals on which this country was built.

Did you, too, O friend, suppose democracy was only for elections, for politics, and for a party name? I say democracy is only of use there that it may pass on and come to its flower and fruit in manners, in the highest forms of interaction between people, and their beliefs – in religion, literature, colleges and schools- democracy in all public and private life.               Walt Whitman

I got a song to sing, all over this land.
It’s the hammer of Justice,
It’s the bell of Freedom,
It’s the song about Love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.                                      
Pete Seeger

How To Survive Being Stalked By Fictional Characters #MondayBlogs #Writing #WritersLife

When I finished A Place in the World, I found myself wondering what had happened to Alicia and Jorge and wishing them well. I had to remind myself they are figments of my imagination.

BlondeWriteMore

Have you ever finished a story, thanked your cast of fictional characters for their work, wished them well for their future projects, walked away from the story…only to find one or a few characters refuse to leave you alone for WEEKS / MONTHS / YEARS afterwards?

Have you ever had a new character appear in your mind and whilst you spend quality time trying to figure out what the hell to do with them, they set up camp inside your head, watch your every move like a hawk, whisper stuff to you whilst you are busy doing non-writing things and basically stalk you?

View original post 664 more words

A Few Wildflowers

Here are a few photos of spring from parks in Marin County, California.

Delphinium – or larkspur (note the “spur” at the top).

 

Gilia capitata from Azalea Hill.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Several views of Calochortus umbellatus – a small lily also known as the Oakland star tulip.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fritillaria sp. – or Mission bells from Mt. Tamalpais

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A few more lovelies

 

I came upon a small hill that was like a wild garden, covered with several species. Shown here are annual lupin on the left,  owl’s clover (out of focus) behind and the ubiquitous California poppy on the right.

A WILDFLOWER TRAIL ALONG THE YUBA RIVER

My husband and I drove up to California’s “Gold Country” last week, specifically to hike a trail along Buttermilk Bend on the South Yuba River.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The dog  scared us by running downslope to swim.  I had visions of throwing myself into the raging water to save him, but he was smart enough to find a pool and avoid the rapids.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The wildflowers were fantastic – both in the abundance of display and diversity of species.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For over a mile you could hardly take a step without discovering something.

Even the pipevine swallowtail butterflies were having a field day – they were everywhere.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

The Classroom of Diversity: Expat File #19

My expat guest this week is Tanya Crossman an Australian who lives in Beijing, China. Tanya has written an interesting book about the impact, positive and negative, on children growing up overseas. Here she tells us a bit about her experiences as an expat.

wombat

8 year-old Tanya holding a baby wombat in Australia.

I spent most of my childhood as a local in Australia, and most of my adulthood as an expatriate in China (with time in the US and Cambodia along the way). I recently spent three years in Australia, riding the insane wave that is repatriation after 11 years away. Then I married an American TCK* and moved back to Beijing.                                                                   (TCK = Third Culture Kid, a term applied to children raised outside their passport countries. First Culture refers to countries in which a child has legal standing (passport country); Second Culture refers to any culture the child meaningfully interacts with through residence or heritage; the Third Culture refers to their shared childhood experiences of growing up in between countries and cultures.)

Now I’m experiencing life as a strange mixture of foreign and familiar, while rediscovering what I love about this city.   Somewhere in the middle, I began mentoring teenage and young adult TCKs. Ten years later I wrote a book explaining the impact of an international childhood, and how TCKs feel about their lives. My main focus now is equipping carers of TCKs (parents and teachers, in particular) to better support the young people they work with.

That is the short explanation of my expatriate experience. The long story is, well, much longer. Today I’m meditating on my first year in China, and how that set me up for all that was to come. Living overseas during my twenties had a huge impact on my life’s direction – sending me places I could never have imagined.

At the Great Wall of China

This happened in large part because of the incredible diversity of people I met and befriended. I had a reasonably multi-cultural group of friends growing up in Australia, and I spent two years attending high school in the US. Yet I had never spent time with such varied groups of people – people from different countries, cultures, languages, current socio-economic positions and backgrounds, and separate assumptions about the world.

Living in Beijing I met people from literally all over the world. Even my Chinese friends came from all over the country. My friends included exchange students, post-grads, teachers, business people, musicians, diplomats, doctors, asylum seekers, pastors, and more. They came from a vast range of social and educational backgrounds and incomes. Some were barely scraping by, others had money to burn.

large group

A diverse group of friends, from six continents: Australia, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Guyana, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Nigeria, Portugal, Romania, Sierra Leone, Singapore, UK, and USA.

 

Sometimes I was the odd one out – the only one of a different nationality, the only one who didn’t speak the main language around the table, the only one without disposable income, the only one with any income, the one with either the most liberal or the most conservative views. Other times I was in the majority – whether of ethnicity, language, values, or income. The extraordinary diversity among the people I met and shared life with affected me in many ways. The ethnic nuances and contrasts challenged my ideas about the world – what is right, desirable, and permissible.

Diversity of Beauty
Diversity changed my understanding of beauty – and my self-perception. It became very clear to me that beauty standards are utterly arbitrary – there is no one way to be beautiful. It seems like a simple thing, but I had never seen it so clearly demonstrated in practice.

In Beijing I had girlfriends from literally six continents with all different skin colours, hair colours, body shapes, and attitudes. They also grew up absorbing beauty standards very dissimilar to my own. It was literally impossible for us all to be ‘right’ about what was truly beautiful. Hearing those unconsciously accepted ‘truths’ from their lips made me more conscious of the ‘truths’ I had learned to speak over myself. Not only that, but I looked at these women who I knew were truly beautiful and realized that there was no common pool of features they all had – beauty had to be something less concrete than that. Beauty had to be something far less exclusive than any of us inherently believed when we looked in the mirror.

Diversity of Values
Diversity challenged my values. It led me to consciously examine beliefs I’d taken for granted. I suspect this happens to many people in their twenties anyway – when you move outside your family, your local circles, you are bound to run into people with at least slightly different values. In Beijing, the divergence was amazing.

FB_IMG_1521601241915

At the ancient Temple of Heaven in Beijing

 Around almost every table were people with vastly different views and values on just about everything. I saw people discuss (and argue) their differences of opinion in disparate ways. Most importantly, I saw my own values critiqued. I began to see how my actions might appear from the outside. I began to recognize blind spots in Australian culture, and flaws in my personal approach to life.

There were also friends who lived out virtues I theoretically appreciated, but hadn’t seen so well practiced before. People who were relentlessly joyful, kind, or gracious. People who skillfully balanced both ambition and generosity, both achievement and humility. Watching and listening and considering differences in the way people chose to act and interact with each other was a valuable education.

Diversity of Lifestyles

I came to Beijing with a one year study program, fully intending that a year later I would return to Australia and find a graduate position in some sort of multinational company. My view of what was possible was quite narrow. Diversity changed my ideas about what I could do with my life – and how I could live it.

Surrounded by people who had chosen very different paths, I realized other directions were possible. They might not have seemed possible in Australia – perhaps they really would not have been possible to me there – but living somewhere else, other options seemed open to me.

I didn’t work out immediately what I wanted to do, but I found in myself a longing to see what else was out there. That feeling was enough to prompt me to extend my stay in Beijing and see what would happen.

     The rest, as they say, is history.

Tanya’s book is called “Misunderstood: The Impact of Growing Up Overseas in the 21st Century.”   It explores the impact international life has on the children  – while they live overseas, when they return, and as they mature into adults. This “Third Culture” is described through the personal stories of hundreds of individuals.  It is sold both as paperback and ebook by most online booksellers. (Misunderstood can be found on Amazon; see her website for other venues.) Tanya can often be found online, usually on facebookinstagram, or  twitter and occasionally at her website.

Many thanks to Tanya for sharing her adventures and insights. Don’t be shy – share your own in the comments below!

 

Spanish Refugees from Franco’s War (excerpts from Christian Zozaya’s draft memoir, Culture Shock)

This is the last segment I have of Christian Zozaya’s memoir stretching from the Spanish civil War through WWII and his childhood (and adulthood) in South America.  Here is a brief recap for those of you joining us late: Born in Madrid, six-year-old Christian was evacuated to Barcelona with his family because of Franco’s War. As German troops marched into Austria, Mussolini increased bombing of the Spanish coast and Barcelona became as dangerous as Madrid, thus it was decided to send little Christian to boarding school in England. He was thrust alone into another culture and had to quickly learn English to communicate. The situation in Spain became so dire that his entire family had to escape over the Pyrenees and into France with only the clothes on their backs and whatever they could carry. His parents became separated and more hardships ensued, but strangers helped them and friends loaned them money so they could reunite with Christian now age 8. This is where we left off in his story.

I had not spoken Spanish since the previous September except for the brief visit by my parents in October and I had forgotten how to speak the language. Fortunately I could still understand Spanish, but my answers at first were limited to Si and No.

 Eventually all my family managed to cross the puddle…my grandparents and my uncle and aunt boarded a ship and went to Mexico. Dad chose to go to Colombia (where) two of his former students, Colombians, procured a contract for him with the Ministerio de Trabajo, Higiene y Previsión Social.

margaret johnson_04

(wikipedia.org)

We boarded the ship on May 11th and departed for Colombia. Molly gave me a book  “Great Sea Stories of All Nations”  that I still have it in my library. The M/S Margaret Johnson was a mixed cargo and passenger ship with capacity for sixty passengers and “all modern conveniences” such as electric fans and running water in the cabins. All the passengers were Spanish Republican refugees.

We made land on May 28th at a town called Puerto Colombia… the main port for Colombia since 1893. We stayed in Puerto Colombia a few days until the next riverboat was due to depart (from) Barranquilla on the shore of the Magdalena River. A railway ran between Puerto Colombia and Barranquilla  and we

www.tramz (1)

(www.tramz)

went to Barranquilla the day before the boat was to leave. We boarded the S.S. Pichincha, a stern wheeler with four decks. The main deck was reserved for the cargo; the second deck held the third class cabins, the second class cabins were on the third deck and the first class cabins were on the fourth (upper) deck. The pilot house stood in front of the first class cabins and there was a small cannon mounted on its roof.

The cargo on this trip was about twenty head of cattle so when Father bought the tickets he asked for the first class deck. The man who was selling the tickets asked him if he wanted a cabin. It seems that if you bought the ticket for just the deck that’s where you slept. Father bought the tickets for the cabin as well.

Example of a sternwheeler (notice rear of riverboat). Photo wikipedia.

Example of a sternwheeler (notice rear of riverboat). Photo wikipedia.

The trip up the Magdalena River to Puerto Salgar took eight days. The new experience started when we went down to the dining room for lunch. Hanging large on the back wall of the room was a sign.

SE RUEGA A NUESTRA DISTINGUIDA CLIENTELA

NO DISPARAR ARMAS DE FUEGO

EN EL COMEDOR

 In other words if you are going to shoot somebody please don’t spoil our dinner, do it outside on deck.

The diet was unusual for our European tastes. The first course of the meal was not a bowl of soup but a glass of pawpaw juice and then followed a soup like we had never had before. It was known as “mazamorra” and it had ingredients such as yucca and corn that had never formed part of our diets. After a more or less normal main course we had guava preserve for dessert.

During the afternoon the ship’s “orchestra” assembled on the deck in order to entertain us. This ensemble consisted of people who couldn’t afford the fare to so they agreed to pay by playing in the “orchestra” for as long as they were aboard. The group consisted of five people and they only had two songs in common; one was the “Guabina Chiquinquireña” – I forget what the other one was. They all wanted to go to Bogotá which meant that we listened alternately to the two songs for every afternoon of the eight days that the trip took.

We had to retire to our cabin when the sun set because the people who had paid to be on the first class deck, but had not paid for a cabin pulled out canvas cots, opened them, took off their clothes, put on their pajamas and went to sleep.

wikipedia.org

Rio Magdalena ending in Barranquilla

On the eighth day we arrived in Puerto Salgar and it was time to leave the ship and board a train. When somebody asked what the fare was the station master lined us all up pointed to each Spanish refugees with his forefinger as he counted us and pondered for a while. He hemmed and hawed and came up with a figure; the group tried to pay it proportionately to the size of each contingent. The train chugged up the slopes of the Cordillera Oriental until we reached Bogotá.

The President of Colombia was Eduardo Santos (1938 – 1942). He had been instrumental in allowing Spanish Republican refugees into the country against the opposition of several members of his Cabinet. Colombia received us with mixed feelings. The political world was divided into, the Liberals and the Conservatives. The Liberals liked us because to a greater or lesser degree we were from the political left, but disliked us because we came from Spain, the colonizing power. The conservatives disliked us because to a greater or lesser degree we were from the political left but liked us because we came from Spain. There was also the fear that the Spaniards would take jobs away from the Colombians.

My parents did not want me to forget the English that I had learned during my stay in England so they enrolled me in the Anglo-American School (attended by expats from all over Europe). Being taught in two languages was good for me. Leaving a class in say geography that was taught in English and ten minutes later receiving a class in Spanish forced me to switch not only languages but my whole train of thought …

On September 1st (1939) World War II began. It had been well rehearsed by Germany and Italy in my home country. (Meanwhile) Dad was working on the malaria campaign which meant that he had to travel through the lowlands of the country: Los Llanos, through which the best means of transportation was often by boat. Not a steamboat such as the Pichincha, but a dugout canoe fitted with an outboard motor.

DrZozaya on his way to work circa 1940.

Dr. .Carlos Zozaya on his way to work circa 1940. (Zozaya Collection)

 

To get where the boat was he had to fly by commercial airliner and very often all three of us went to see him off at the airport.

 

Mother and I see Dad off at Techo airport.

Mother and I see Dad off at Techo airport. (Zozaya collection)

Sometimes Dad had to go to very remote places where there were no commercial flights close to where he wanted to go. One of these was Leticia, a town situated where the borders of Colombia, Brazil and Peru meet. The area of course is called Las Tres Fronteras. The southern tip of Colombia is the only place where it reaches the Amazon River and Leticia is one of two major ports on the Amazon, the other being Manaos in Brazil.

The Colombian army had a base there and the place was reachable only by float plane. The planes approached the town by following the river, flying just over the tops of the trees. When they reached the clearing they dived down and straightened out just in time for the floats to touch the water. The city has an international airport now and there are three Colombian airlines as well as several international ones that reach the city but at the time that was all the transport available.

During one of Dad’s trips a soldier had an attack of appendicitis. There was no hospital but an army doctor decided to operate. The operating room was a mud brick shack with a dirt floor, open windows, and the operating table was a door resting on two wooden boxes with a mattress on top.

The spaces outside the windows were full of curious people looking in while the doctor operated and his assistant stood by with a tray full of instruments covered by a cloth with which he would occasionally shoo away the flies. The soldier did survive.

One of his trips to Leticia Dad was told that he could not return on the plane because one of the pontoons was leaking. Sure enough when the plane took off he saw that water was coming out of one. What annoyed him was that he was the only person who was asked to leave the plane. When he asked when the next plane was due he was told that he would have to wait for a week. Dad didn’t complain but he sent President Santos a telegram. The next day a tandem cockpit biplane arrived in Leticia. The weather was dreadful (but) Dad climbed in the plane and flew back to Bogotá.

www.skyfighters.be

This is what the biplane may have looked like. (www.skyfighters.be)

On another trip he met an itinerant salesman… another Spaniard who was selling hand-powered sewing machines to the women in the bush. How he carried the machines I do not know but he walked through the forest plying his trade. He told Dad that once he walked into a huge clearing and found a city in the middle of the jungle. The place had public transport and an opera house. The man had stumbled into Manaos.

This is the tale of Christian Zozaya’s disrupted early childhood as an expat. The Zozaya family later moved to Venezuela where Christian will eventually meet his wife and both become professors. But before that he will return to Europe and travel the continent. Thank you to Christian for letting us share these excerpts of your unusual life.

This memoir is so interesting we can only hope he decides to publish it so we may read it in its entirety.  (I am re-posting this  blog which was popular a few years ago – with minor edits.)  It seems to echo the experiences of refugees today.