All over town we have given the birds a place to spend the night. What did they do before? Trees were sparse. Did they nestle in bushes? Certainly not in palm trees, which came later. Or did they have nervous times in rolling fields that were open to all. I suppose it’s possible they weren’t actually here, but I doubt that. Birds are everywhere. They flit about though we don't really know what they do all day, until we see them gathered on a wire, content and ready for the night. Sleep we understand. There is so much that goes on without our realizing it. In fact, what do we do all day? And wouldn’t we be better off gathering up for the night to be warm and cozy with our brothers and our sisters and our friends, maybe not on a wire, but wouldn’t we?

This is a plant with a simple declarative message: Go Away. Its razor sharp edges — I’m assuming they’re razor sharp — have the same function as cactus needles. I was tempted to call this a cactus at first, but my brief research suggests it is merely an aggressive succulent, in the sense that the best offense is a good defense. I took this picture from several feet away and cropped it to avoid the chance of losing my balance and reaching out to save myself. If I were a plant, I think I would concentrate on growing away from it. But it's magnificent. It’s three or four feet wide. It’s rugged and determined, and looks like it might eat passersby for a snack. I tend to walk on the far side of the sidewalk as I pass, and glance at it with due respect.

I watched the movie Memento twice during its first release at the Palm Theater in San Luis Obispo. That was eighteen years ago. It was a fascinating movie with a very challenging plot. Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan went on to create a list of important films, among them a few of my favorites. Memento appeared, or perhaps I just noticed it, on the 99¢ list at Apple iTunes, which gives me the opportunity to comment on a mistake in the movie that no one I knew when the film was out considered important. It wasn’t really a tiny mistake, it’s just that there was so much else in the film to concentrate on, and also because almost no one I knew at the time actually saw it, they just heard about it.

A story is told in the film about someone with no short term memory. That, of course, is the main character’s problem. The story has him giving shots of insulin to his wife who doesn’t really believe he can’t remember. She tells him every few minutes that she needs her insulin. He stops watching television and gives her a shot. A few minutes later she tells him the same thing and, of course, he does the same thing again. He does this over and over until she dies. There’s a lesson to be learned here, but I won’t go into that. The question is: Whose story is it?

I remember a program on 50s television that discussed film directors. It showed a scene from a foreign movie, if I remember correctly, where the action ends with a shot from the fire place. In a dramatic scene one sees over the flames and catches the action of the main character. The commentary stopped at this point and asked the question: Who was in the fireplace? Whose point of view was represented looking over the flames? Of course no one was in the fire place and it made no sense to film from that angle except to include fire in the frame. I have no idea what program that was, or what movie, but the analysis has stuck with me for at least sixty years.

So, whose story was the death by insulin? The dead wife had no story. She did something unexpectedly and died. The man with no short-term memory also had no story because he had no memory. So, neither the wife nor the husband could tell the story and, therefore, there was none.

I have wondered for a very long time if the Nolans placed this error in the movie for some esoteric reason or if, because so much else was happening, they simply didn’t realize it was wrong. My theory is that the story overwhelmed them and they missed it. But it’s an old opinion about a movie that grows older by the day. A good movie that will certainly be worth 99¢ for a very long time to come.

On the 18th of January I posted a picture of the first Sweet Pea bloom of the season. Six months and a few days later there are sweet peas almost everywhere. My next-door neighbor has been picking them and taking bouquets to the elderly neighbor upstairs. She has a small apartment and a single bouquet fills it with perfume. We think of them as Juanita Sweet Peas. Those in the picture are from across the patio growing up the staircase. The plant that gave us the first bloom of the season is now almost spent, but otherwise, everywhere the summer sun hits is a huge splash of sweet smelling color. They’re a messy plant. They grow how and where they want. But that’s part of their beauty. A seeming chaos that produces gems.

“Flying pigs” apparently has a long and international history. When pigs fly is a way of saying something is impossible. Wikipedia tells us it’s an adynaton — you can look that up if you like — used mostly for “humorous effect” and “to scoff at over-ambition.” It’s a bit like “when hell freezes over” or the French expression, which I actually knew, “quand les poules auront des dents” (when hens have teeth). The Flying Pig Marathon is the event of the year in Cincinnati. This past May was its twenty-first running. I imagine it's only a bit less interesting than the clothing optional San Franisco Bay to Breakers run. You can buy a Flying Pig with Flapping Wings from Amazon for only $13.95 with free shipping on orders over $25, or a Flying Pig Copper Cookie Cutter — I'd be willing to bake cookies if I had one — for only $14.79. I’m telling you all this because I don’t think I’ve ever given flying pigs a second thought. Not until Cami told me she’s giving her flying pig a new necklace for summer, and I thought to myself, what the hell is a flying pig?

Cami was responsible for the spring and Christmas gates in Even Though It's Cold and Raining and To You & Yours. She found her flying pig at a junk store, what should probably be called a collectables store, while walking the dogs. It became a fixture on Terry and Cami's front porch, and to celebrate the first day of summer, which is today, she has given it a new and flamboyant necklace. I’m assuming, therefore, that the pig is feminine, though in this day and age that could go either way.

What does it all mean? Well, I suppose it means that Cami has a strange sense of humor mixed with a desire to make sure people know what day it is. That’s the best I can come up with without — God forbid — sounding overly-ambitious.

This picture was taken from the fourth floor window of the West Los Angeles Veterans Hospital. It was taken years ago when I was hospitalized for a week to find out what was wrong with me. The visit was inconclusive and was repeated a few weeks later with almost the same results. Being in the hospital doesn’t cure anything and it only sometimes helps to determine what’s wrong with you. In hind sight it should have been obvious, but I was always one step ahead of the prevailing analysis. Nonetheless, the stay was interesting, if nothing else. At some point I walked over to the window and through a thick screen took this picture. I don’t think I gave it another thought.

Today I received something from Google that included this photograph. They were asking me to try their new photo ap. It looked very familiar. The pointy thing toward the left of center is the tower of the Mormon Los Angeles California Temple. I remember when they were building it. Apparently it was nearing sunset. The sky had changed color. The foreground was drifting into darkness. And, as I said, I never gave it another thought. But the photograph existed in Google space, and a computer found it and thought… Of course computers don’t think. The computer thought this might be a good example to capture my attention. And it did, but not for the photo ap. It brought back memories of floating above the earth in silence with the light seeping slowly away and with no connection to the things I recognized. It was a moment both beautiful and empty, forgotten but now remembered. So before it fades into memories no longer used, I decided to share it with you. Nothing is ever lost.

Like minuscule butterflies on the tips of an uninteresting hedge. Random, but eager and round and ready.

This picture seems to include a rather large, very long legged bug. I’ve had this picture for a while. I took it outside my surgeon's office on the way to the bus. I used it as an excuse to stop walking for a while. Taking flower pictures has provided many breaks, and given me time to recover. I stored it in a file on the desktop and looked at it every so often wondering what to say. After a while I noticed something that looked a lot like a bug. After many viewings it seemed to have all the parts of a bug, leading to the inevitable conclusion. If bugs disguise themselves to protect them from predators, and humans are terrible anti-bug predators — swatting flies and stepping on ants — then this bug was unusually successful. The flower looks like a pinwheel, which caught my eye, but the bug looks like a diminutive Godzilla, something that a tiny human would be rightly terrified of. But it took weeks for me to feel this terror, because it managed to hide itself in plain view.

I said recently in A Glimpse of White that tiny should be a category of flowers. If that’s true, then sunflowers, which to my knowledge are the largest, should have the complementary category. This particular sunflower isn’t especially large, but it dwarfs everything close to it. It’s hard to miss, but it’s also hard to think of as a flower. It seems like it must be more than that. In reality, there are a number of exotic flowers that are larger than sunflowers, but you won’t find them even on an extended walk. They are also heliotropic, which means they follow the sun.

Years ago I walked the dog one Saturday morning at CalPoly. My girlfriend was taking a life drawing class, which gave us about two hours to explore the agricultural parts of the campus. Our dog at the time was the most gentle creature in the world. We took time to look around. We stopped to enjoy the air. At one point we took a loop around a large corral with sheep in it. Every so often I glance at the sheep. They were dead center in the corral, a tight ball, and the sheep in front had their ears out to the sides. They were all perfectly still, which seemed odd to me.

And every time I glanced at them they were the same. The ball of sheep rotated very slowly to keep an eye on us. Or, as I finally figured out, to keep an eye on the dog who, if I let him, would have rubbed up against the sheep and tried to talk with them. But to the sheep, he was a predator. It was only after we got far away and I turned to get one last look that they began to thin out and graze again.

Sheep, I concluded, must be canineotropic. You can tell where the dog is by the position of their ears and the closeness of the pack. If they were larger and less gentle, they might be humanotropic, which would make walking around sheep corrals somewhat dicey.

Some of what’s left at the old Yoga Center. It had a garden that was so lush you could easily spend an hour looking at it, or ten minutes seven days a week. Now it’s slim pickings. Set, I suspect, for plowing under. Like cute little kids who grow up to be ordinary adults, they should stay cute forever.

Tiny should be a separate category for flowers. You’ll notice how large the dead leaves are. These little specs of white are a wonderful surprise amid green and gray competing plants whose leaves are even smaller. So much of what we see depends on size. If it’s large enough, we tend to see it. If it’s small enough, we tend to miss it. I caught a glimpse of white as I passed, and stopped. What a beautiful collection of color and activity.

This seems like the same flower to me in two different gardens.

But not much information about what it’s growing from. One is just a bit more open than the other. Both are solitary, which may offer a clue, unless there is only one flower because they are both just starting out. Even huge flowering hedges start somewhere. On the other hand, sometimes that’s all there is: a tiny growth, a flower and then seed. About flowers one can know both too much and not enough. The more we know the more we enjoy, or the more we know the less amazed we are. Not knowing forms an odd, but wonderful balance.

This is a sort of red lettuce gone to seed. Though my neighbor assures me it's not red lettuce, it's chard. The bloom is far more interesting, though less edible, than the plant. Here a late ray of sunshine has caught the bloom, but left the plant in shadow. My knowledge of leafy vegetables has more to do with salad dressing than with growth cycles. So, perhaps I find this more interesting than I should. But tell me it’s not fascinating to realize that future salads are contained in these yellow seed filled lumps at the end of long stems. We don’t see things growing at the grocery store, just like we don’t see cows grazing at the butcher shop. Our view of the world has been streamlined or reduced. I asked my younger son when he was three or four how you get milk. He said, “First you get a plastic bottle…”

I promised to write something about the women — yes, they are all women — at the peritoneal dialysis center. I came home with the names and correct spellings yesterday after my first monthly nurse’s visit. They have all been unduly cheerful and extremely helpful and encouraging. I’m not sure I deserve them, so I should say thank you before the time becomes too distant and the opportunity is lost. First is the head nurse, or the supervising nurse Shelly who drove to the hemodialysis center time after time to change my dressings before she could teach me to do that myself. She had a don’t worry, I’ll teach you attitude right from the start. So I never once worried. It could have been daunting. Then I’ve had a string of nurses: Regina, Carol, Natalie, and Sahah, who has many years experience but is currently training to move into peritoneal dialysis care. She’ll be wonderful at it. Jessica is a tech. Chelsea is the dietician. Debra the social worker. And last, but certainly not least, is Lizz. It seems completely inadequate to call her the receptionist. She’s the go to person for everyone, staff and patients alike. She knows people, and knows people who know people, and gets things done with absolute ease. Each of these people has helped me. Each of them has smiled and said hello. Each of them has smiled goodbye. I take a deep breath before going in, because I know that on the other side of that door is a world I don’t normally inhabit. A world of caring and thoughtfulness where I feel I have found the lost members of my family. I can’t thank them enough.

For earlier posts see Three and a Half Months and Personal Update.

This is an unusual picture. It reminds me of how things look through Han Solo’s window when he jumps into hyperspace. No, I haven't seen Solo yet. It’s a mysterious plant growing in a planter at the side entrance of Albertsons, near the 99¢ Store, a direction I seldom walk. It was photographed at night with the help of a distant parking lot light. I am always amazed that digital cameras operate on much lower light levels than film cameras. And my digital camera isn’t even that. It’s just a tiny piece of iPhone that automatically transfers the photos I take to my desktop iMac. No hanging strips of film to dry in the darkroom. No waiting and waiting for all the stages of production. Just click — it’s an artificial click to make me feel like I just took a picture — and then sit down later with a cup of coffee and edit. What a strange, but strangely fulfilling world we live in.

The day before yesterday I talked about the flower committee in Controlled Chaos, a fictitious group responsible for designing flowers. I said that the yellow flower featured in that post must have been designed right before their coffee break, and suggested that the hibiscus was designed immediately after. With that in mind, I got to thinking that this beautiful flower with nine petals and nine perfectly placed alternating stamens, and a magnificent centerpiece, could only have been designed after a break consisting of something far more powerful than coffee. I can almost hear one of the committee members saying, “Dude, let’s like make a huge cone-like thing using hundreds of these, and….” And the motion carried. Its degree of complexity far exceeds anything necessary. But there it is. They did what they could, and then some.

This is what the rains did. Two months ago there was nothing here but occasional small blooms on sad looking plants. Now there are bouquets of violent color filling whole front yards. I suppose if it were a different color it wouldn’t be half so dramatic, but this is so intense that it stops the feet and demands to be stared at. If these are a variety of geranium, which I believe they are, then they have taken a gray day with rays of occasional sunshine, and made the world spectacular with unexpected beauty. How could one ask for more?

This isn’t terribly large. At first I saw a spec of yellow next to the mail box. It seemed like a mistake. Like something had been there and was damaged. Even now I’m not sure what it represents exactly. It seems to be one flower with parts going in all directions. There are several more flowers on the same bush, each of them as chaotic as this one. I’m inclined to believe this is it. This is what it’s supposed to be. Though in all honesty it looks like a nuclear accident. Everything seems wrong except the beautiful yellow and the purposeful looking stamens. I have the impression that this was the last flower designed by the flower committee before coffee break. When they got back to work they felt better, more awake and designed the very first hibiscus.

I don’t remember taking this picture. I think I was just checking to make sure the camera was on and accidentally pushed the button, or touched the screen where the representation of a button was. Anyway, when I went through the photos for the past few days I caught this mysterious shadow on the ground. Actually, it’s no mystery, it’s just my own shadow as I hide the screen from direct sunlight. But it seems mysterious, at least unexpected. And the composition is interesting. The walkway bending to the right, I understand, but what is the thing that looks like glass to the right? And what, I wonder, was I about to photograph? This is the type of semiabstract that could possibly make a beautiful painting. The things unexplained would not cause the same consternation. They would simply be design elements, with subtle daubs of color. The shadow, of course, would have to be changed. Perhaps made thinner, or perhaps converted into more shadowy leaves. It’s not always purposeful things that gain our attention. Sometimes it’s the things we didn’t plan and can’t quite explain that stop us in our tracks and make us wonder.

I wrote about nasturtiums a while ago in Nasturtium Flower saying that they could “reach New York by the simple but determined process of duplication,” suggesting that the flowers were entirely unnecessary. Here is a photograph of a nasturtium about one block up the hill in the vacant lot next to the city building that I wrote about only a few days ago in Guerilla Gardeners. It is madly flowering and about to consume an innocent succulent. It is a beautiful plant that would like nothing more than to leave nothing in its wake except endless nasturtiums. Probably an ocean breeze carried a seed one block east. It seems almost aware of the opportunity it has just inherited to dominate yet another garden. If it weren’t so beautiful…

This tiny flower is smaller than my little fingernail. I had to lean in so far that the camera had trouble focusing. They are like tiny accents on a growing bush, and either they just bloomed or else I missed them entirely. The bush is about half a block beyond Taco de Mexico on the same side of the street. I usually don’t walk that way, preferring the fountain at Lost Coast Electrical. From there I don’t think these flowers are even visible. I suppose I should force myself to walk different routes and pay closer attention, though it seems like every flower is already yelling at me as I pass.

Here’s something I’ve never seen before. The succulents look very familiar, but the bloom seems completely unique. Is it only because it’s sideways? I don’t think so, but maybe. It was riveting when I saw it. Of course I’ve been doing this for less than a year, so I expect many more surprises. If I walked faster I wouldn't see as much, but if I walked any slower I wouldn’t get where I'm going. It’s an odd balance that seems to work. It gives me time to see and think and be surprised.

There must be an Adobe color theme for this photograph. White, green, red, peach, light purple with gray undertones. Sometimes the color schemes are so perfect, so unexpected that we feel we could never have come up with them on our own. We could take swatches from this photograph, but could we have come up with the colors before the swatches, or would they have been totally different? I had the same feeling about a plant I posted as Telling Detail that was not dissimilar to this one. This color scheme, however, is much more relaxing, maybe because instead of the library it’s growing at what's left of the Yoga Center. I found it easy to walk past, but now that I know it’s there, I find myself walking directly to it and stopping. What will it do next I wonder?

The past three and a half months turned my life more or less upside down. First I was admitted to the hospital where the diagnosis was kidney failure. Then I had two operations to install a carotid artery catheter for hemodialysis, and another in my lower abdomen for eventual peritoneal dialysis. Until last week I went three times a week for hemodialysis — a trip downtown and back plus three to three and a half hours of dialysis — and then two visits per week for peritoneal dialysis training. Four nights ago I dialyzed myself at home, the result being that my public hours are very much what they used to be. I also feel much better than I did. Tonight I attended the Monday night dinner, a charitable event for the homeless or the needy. The majority of my friends fall into one or the other category. They are not the sort I can count on for much, but friendship, no matter how it is packaged, is a good and worthwhile thing. For the record, they had spaghetti with salad and garlic bread. Added to that was coffee and a sliver of apple pie. I was in hog heaven, because my two favorite meals, at least public meals, are spaghetti and meatloaf. I told someone tonight that if they ever have both on the same night, I’ll know that I died and went to heaven. Anyway, I caught up with a number of friends, went home full, and have forty-five minutes left before quietly hooking myself up to the cycler, reading a bit and then falling asleep. Life is good again.

This bloom with its insects I saw from almost half a block away. Of course I did not see the insects. It’s in a vacant block across from the library parking lot and next to the city building. It was planted, I think, by the Guerrilla Gardeners, a group that beautifies vacant spaces. It’s possible, even likely, that it belongs to the city so they have room to expand when the time comes. Shortly after I moved here a group of homeless people set up a BBQ in the back corner. Then some chairs. Then a tent. Then it was beer and BBQ time with boisterous conversation. Until the police stepped in. Having a group camped out next to the entrance to the city building wasn’t the image they were seeking to present. So now there is nothing but plants and dirt, and tonight this one bright yellow flower. In the grand scheme of things, perhaps beauty wins out, though I never expected it to.

These are jasmine. What sort of jasmine I have no idea. Wikipedia reports about 200 species. What I do know for sure is that I smelled them at least thirty yards before I found them. They were on the side and toward the back of a local city building. Again, according to Wikipedia, “Jasmines are widely cultivated for the characteristic fragrance of their flowers.” Anyone who has ever smelled jasmine knows the smell of jasmine. It’s not something one easily forgets.

My father hated jasmine. In all his landscape designs he only used it once. He had a client with a large expensive house under construction who gave him a free hand to do anything he wanted, except that he had a list of flowering plants that he wanted outside certain windows and as the centerpiece of a number of patios. Night blooming jasmine he specified for the master bedroom patio. My father tried to talk him out of it, but he was set on the idea. The job ended with all the right flowers in all the right places, and not one single flower in the entire front yard. My father disliked flowers in general, something that always troubled me.

It’s hard to see things clearly when you’re too close to them. It occurred to me not long ago that he disliked flowers not because they weren’t beautiful, but because he disliked anything that took away from him at the center. He wanted people to see his landscaping job, not posies, as he called them. The more they saw posies, the less they saw him. I really believe that was the reason. He was almost dangerously egotistical, and had absolutely no insight into self.

The worst thing of all were those damned night blooming jasmines. Who the hell would want night blooming jasmine outside his bedroom?

There is, of course, nothing that equals the aroma of night blooming jasmine. But once again I refer back to Wikipedia. Jasmine is related to the olive. Night blooming jasmine is related to the potato. In fact, it’s only called jasmine because it smells like jasmine. Not because it actually is. If I could package the scent of these tiny flowers and post it on the internet, perhaps someone could tell me what sort of jasmine it is, or if in fact it is jasmine at all. What I can tell you without reservation, however, is that it smells delicious.

Every so often it’s not a flower I see, but a veritable profusion of flowers. If there were one daisy-like flower on a long stem, it would be fascinating, and I have photographed and posted a number of them. But when there is no beginning and no end, the mind responds quite differently. Or maybe it doesn’t respond. Maybe it’s just too much to take in. This is a detail of a yellow bush which is green just underneath and has what seems to be just another profusion of buds ready to bloom. I stare at it and feel dumbfounded.

This is a purplish, greenish bush with a profusion of flowers that seem to grow until the petals fall off and are then replaced with fresh petals. It seems in no hurry to complete its work. I find these absolutely irresistible. There’s a whole row of these bushes in the front yard of a house on a side street here in town. I thought for sure I would miss the bus looking so long at flowers.

And this profusion of miniscule flowers, no bigger than a lady bug (can you see it?) make the bush more lavender than green. If you step back to show the bush, you can’t see the flowers. If you look at the flowers, the bush is gone. The lady bug must feel that it died and went to heaven.

Every uninteresting bush in this town blooms sooner or later, if you have the patience to wait. Sometimes it’s one magnificent bloom and sometimes an almost infinite number of smaller blooms. I keep my eye on all of them.

This is a flower on a hedge about twenty feet long on the side of the road leading to the hospital. I pass this hedge at least four times a week on my way to and from home dialysis training. It has more magnificent flowers and more flowers on the way than anyone could reasonably count. On my way there and back I have passed hundreds of people, but I have never once noticed anyone stopping to admire the flowers. The hedge is simply on the way to and from their various destinations. In fact, I worry at times that when I stop to take pictures of such things, someone will think I’m up to something. It’s just a hedge, if they even think of it as being a hedge. Why would anyone stop and stare? On the other hand, why would anyone not stop to admire such a profusion of magnificent flowers? How many should it take to capture one’s attention? Or why would only one not be reason enough to stop and look?

I am writing this with 2,000 ml of dialyzate in my stomach area that passed through a tube, surgically implanted in my lower abdomen. The peritoneum is a membrane that sort of holds the organs in place. It is also a semipermeable membrane, which means that waste products and some other things like protean can pass through capillaries into the dialyzate and then be drained out. I will start draining in a few minutes and then repeat the process four more times while I sleep. It allows me to go on living despite very poorly functioning kidneys. I have a small machine in the bedroom with just enough tubing to reach the bathroom, the computer, my reading chair, and the bed. It means that I’m sort of trapped, but it also means I am significantly free. I’ve been traveling to San Luis Obispo five times a week for hemodialysis, which is blood cleaning through a tube in my carotid artery, and peritoneal dialysis training. The past two visits I passed all the tests, and today my home was inspected, allowing me at last to start home dialysis.

How did all this information get tucked away at the end of an ordinary stem? One lonely bloom, or group of blooms, on the way to the hospital. If I watched my phone and my watch along the way, as most of those I pass, instead of the things on the way, I might have missed this. Orange (or peach?) and red with stripes and all sorts of things well beyond my imagination. Flowers are so complicated that I think we only pretend to understand them. They become… I think… just flowers.

I wrote yesterday's post some time ago and filed it away in To Be Posted. It seems like at one point I saw everything for the first time, before things ceased to exist or before they became so plentiful that they almost ceased to exist. This flower turned out to be almost as common as poppies. Difficult to see because they are everywhere. Striking blooms by the thousands from ordinary succulents. When the flowers are gone, the plants become almost nothing. So I thought I should squeeze this post in. There was precisely one flower in the beginning. I found another near my bedroom window. Now there are fields of them. And it's hard to remember how spectacular the first one was. Like a first kiss, a first love, a first taking of breath. We look around and they are everywhere, but the first was the first and continues to be the first as long as we remember.

This is a new flower for me. I haven’t seen one on my normal walk, but this was one block over so I could stop at the Post Office and then continue uphill. One of my homeless friends told me there was a book sale at the Achievement House Store. Achievement House is an organization that helps people with special needs. I don’t go there very often because it’s mostly a junk store, what I call a junk store anyway, with books and clothes and lots of junk. I try very hard to avoid accumulating junk. But books…

The sale was 4 for $1.00. My friend had already laid some things in a special pile for me to find. One of them was a treasure. It was an Astronomy textbook from 1964, the year I took Astronomy with very limited comprehension as a Freshman in college. It has none of the color or colorized Hubble photographs that are so distracting. It has line drawings, black and white photographs and text. What I could barely understand 54 years ago, now seems obvious. I suppose I’ve gone on learning what baffled me, or else I just inadvertently absorbed it. No one in my family knew anything about what I studied, though they were highly educated. So I couldn’t come home and talk Astronomy at the dinner table, or almost anything else having to do with college. I was expected to do well and not to bother them with it. So I now have a place on my reading table for my latest treasure.

It was interesting that the sale was 4 for $1.00. I only wanted the one book, and I had a bus to catch, so it should have been $1.00 with three more books if I wanted them. But the man at the counter, who was probably working near his limits, called out to me and made me walk back to the counter. He handed me thee quarters because I only wanted the one book. I looked at him for a second and then decided to say, “Thank you.”

Now I’ll have to go back more often. On the bright side, there are wonderful flowers only a block off my normal walk. This one, I hope, is just the beginning.

This flower, or should I say these flowers — I’m baffled by what I see — seem to be going in four different directions. Are they simply competing for space, or is this their design? If it’s one flower from a single stem, how marvelously complex. If it’s meant to confuse, I’m confused. If it’s meant to surprise, I’m surprised. The longer I look, the less I understand. How amazingly beautiful.

It would be nice if I could just blow the flags out perfectly. The wind came and went and the light was beginning to fail. Close enough. An American flag for Memorial Day, and though you can’t make out what it is, a red Marine Corps flag to give it context. This is the same house that provided Christmas and Springtime front gates, and will soon provide Summertime. It is also the house over which I took In the Sky Without Me, a stupendous cloud floating by itself in the sky as I walked home. At least I found it stupendous. They are wonderful people who have been here less than a year, but are putting their minds to figuring out the weather, which is unique, and the community itself. They have two dogs and take them on long exploratry walks. A few weeks ago I was eating a tostada at Taco de Mexico, something I don’t usually do. I was feeling very quiet and anonimous. Suddenly someone pounded on the window. The customers looked and then looked away. I knew exactly who it was even with the sun directly in my eyes — the only two people I know who would pound on a window to say hello. This is, after all, their community now. Happy Memorial Day.

I’ve gone through the blog a few times and have detect a trend which is accidental, I think. The trend is beautiful weeks of bright, happy flowers and less beautiful weeks. Positive and not so positive weeks. I post the pictures more or less in the order they are produced, but leave spaces to fill in with other, newer posts. So, chronological order is hit or miss. But life isn’t all happy, beautiful. Sometimes it requires squinting to see the truth. And sometimes the truth isn’t beautiful, just true. And every so often, a bunch of those get packed together, and it seems I’ve grown negative.

I’ve skipped taking pictures of damaged poppies. They don’t last forever, and sometimes the wind blows their petals off. Sometimes they grow out onto sidewalks and get crushed. And sometimes they get old and die. I suppose I don’t find that very interesting. But in-between budding and these extremes, and especially at this time of year, poppies are everywhere. They tell the same story over and over again, at least stories of the same sort.

Here the story seems to be weeds with an orange accent, or weeds taking over.

And here the story would seem to be “Goodnight sweet prince,” or princess. Sleep tight. I wonder if that expression comes from flowers closed up tight for the night?

Last week I wrote something about a plant So ugly that… I felt obligated to check in with it each time I passed. Last night something seemed wrong. There was more of it, and it certainly did not grow over night.

Then I remembered a conversation about another healthier plant in the back yard, one I hadn’t seen, that was going great guns. But when I got home I remembered their plans to build a second story on the small house. It’s a cute house, but with a wife and baby, both of them equally cute, it had grown small.

So then it came to me. They are moving things out front to save them from future workmen. The back yard will have people trudging around and things piled high. The front yard will be a don’t touch area. So there it is. Two versions of the same ugly plant in a single harmonious planting. It makes me feel warm inside to see how much some people care.

A forced visit to the laundromat convinced me that there must be a better solution to clothing and cleanliness than washing machines and quarter fed driers. Having your mother or a girlfriend do the laundry works for me, though I have neither. But it's a problem I don’t feel obliged to solve when I have clean laundry in the drawer. When I'm elbow deep in a solution of detergent and bleach to move things around and even out a load, however, I think of the vast amounts of chemicalized water and all the energy, both human and electrical, involved in cleanliness. Tolstoy had an aunt, if I remember correctly, who never bathed. She abstained on religious grounds, though I never quite understood what that meant. The Hawaiians, who swam in the ocean both for sport and cleanliness, treated clothing more as decoration than concealment. Something we might consider. They pounded a soft paperlike cloth from bark — there was no woven cloth — and treated the finished product with reverence. They did not wash or dry clean what they wore. They returned what was no longer serviceable to the earth which had provided it, and made do with leaves and flowers in between. It’s a lovely picture, and except for the pounding it seems like an easy solution. Of course, it might depend on where you find yourself. What, for example, would you do on cold nights in front of the computer? For the record, it’s pleasant outside tonight. I’m wearing an old t-shirt and boxer shorts as I type this, which seems like the perfect outfit under the circumstances, except that I’m running low on boxer shorts.