Set in Sans Forgetica, a font designed to help you remember. It helps keep the brain awake while you read or study. I doubt seriously that this is going anywhere, but it’s an interesting idea that I first read about in the Guardian. What did I say?

A row of these plants surround the building where I go for dialysis appointments. I added a picture of a similar plant in a post on Endless Repetition, and one, perhaps, of this same plant in Where's Waldo? It’s almost inconceivable how many leaves one plant produces. But today something caught my attention. They are blooming, but blooming in a soft, subtle way that calls very little attention to them. I’ve written several times about the enormous wastefulness of flowers, how some hedges go from green to white and then through a lengthy period of shedding and decay. Of course, if that’s what it takes to reproduce, and humans go through very wasteful periods to accomplish almost as much, then so be it. But I have long felt that plants, and by extension humans, could be more subtle about what they do. They could create beautiful flowers and stunning leaves, but mostly leaves. In this case they do exactly that. Leaves by the million in various shades, outlined in white. And every so often, minuscule flowers. It's an interesting time, and as I draw this series to a close, their timing seems perfect. This, I think, is what I meant.

Not quite flowering, not quite gone to seed. Where most of us find ourselves.

The modern world presents an array of sights that tend not to be seen. One plan, architectural or otherwise, overlaps with another. Something indistinct is reflected in a window. Fake wood, fake marble contrasting with concrete, aluminum and glass. And something that looks like metal trim, or is it yellowish wood or bright plastic. But it isn’t the materials so much as their shape and color. The designs made by things seem almost independent of their elements. Nothing in this picture grew or seethed in the earth. But together, the lines and shapes seem to say something, and to say what they say with clarity. The problem, of course, is knowing what they say. Is it possible they say something different to everyone who notices?

After a five year lapse in posting, I wrote something about Thanksgiving. I thought Thanksgiving dinner would be at St. Timothy’s Catholic Church just up the hill, and found myself writing about catholics and protestants and Martin Luther. It took me a while to remember which buttons to push and how to adjust the spacing, but I persisted. A few days later I was told the dinner had nothing to do with St. Timothy’s. It was going to be held at the Community Center across the street and was sponsored by a collection of people who do Monday night dinners at the Vets Hall. That forced me to write a retraction of sorts and to offer a photograph of a tiny portion of the pumpkin pie display. The next day I posted a picture of a California poppy — they were bursting out all over at the time. I added a few words, and was off and running.

In the year that followed I posted three hundred ninety times. Thirty-six posts were without photographs, but others had two or more. The bulk of them were taken on my daily walk, and as a result, there was occasional repetition. But the same plant was capable of eliciting many posts. I allowed myself to be surprised, both by the photographs I took and the words I attached to them. Almost nothing was premeditated.

I developed what appeared to be a small but dependable readership, though it’s hard to tell. I’m reasonably certain that most of those showing up as readers found my blog using Google Search. When readership swings from several hundred to two or three the next day, it seems clear that what they were searching for was not what they found. The three hundred ninety posts generated three comments and one email, only one of which had anything to do with the contents of a post, leading me to believe that almost no one, in fact, read what I wrote. To be perfectly clear, I was not expecting a barrage of correspondence. What I wrote was never in the hopes that someone would answer.

But a year is enough. I have other things to do. Thanksgiving will be my last post for the foreseeable future. I've written posts up to and including that day. If you land here and find something you like, I suppose that’s good. Enjoy. Otherwise, as they say every Sunday at St. Timothy's, with or without Thanksgiving, pax vobiscum.

I suspect, or perhaps only hope the day will come when we stop stringing wires in front of otherwise beautiful sunsets. Most of us don’t see power lines, telephone or television cables strung between us and the sights we might otherwise enjoy. We see through them. Or think we do. Perhaps because enjoyment has become such a small part of the life we expect. Cables and wires become the unseen background of existence. What merely is. Or might be, if we noticed. The encroachment of industrial riffraff. But imagine, if you can, a planning authority refusing to allow a project because it would lessen the beauty of a hillside, or the sight of a red and yellow sunset over an orange ocean.

I’ve taken many pictures of this hedge hanging down from a front yard fence. But this one is special. It shows a very satisfied looking bug crawling slowly from the depths of a splendid flower. He seems almost drunken by the beauty of it. A year ago this hedge was unavoidable. Flowers were everywhere. I walked past at a snail’s pace to absorb as many of them as possible. And day after day, as more and more of them bloomed, I realized I could not exhaust them. And that flowering surge has returned. But a year has passed and everything is somehow different. A year has passed and everything is almost the same. As if time moves but stays the same.

On the verge of invisible. Something — a rat I’m guessing, though I haven’t seen any in this area — crushed into the pavement. Something we truly hope is not in our ending. At foot level. Ignored. So near. And yet so strangely far.

The world is full of sights that go unnoticed. A piece of driveway, though perhaps too abstract for the common viewer, demands attention. Such sights are absolutely everywhere, and they come to us absolutely free. The lesson, of course, is to learn how to see what is almost invisible, and then to remember.

Crossing the parking area this afternoon I discovered a remarkable object. A monster not sure what color it’s supposed to be. Almost five inches long and seemingly afraid of its own shadow. Of course the shadow may be more frightening than the bug itself. Cami had one on her porch that had time to turn brown. It looked like it grew where it was instead of flying there. It was perfectly still and hoped to go unnoticed. Of course, a great deal of the bug world goes unnoticed, until it reaches four or five inches in length, at which point we find ourselves preferring, despite curiosity, to be somewhere else.

A struggling patch of ornamental strawberry strewn with white petals near the main door of St. Timothy’s. It seemed to say a great deal when I took this picture. But the more I think about it the less I come up with.

I took yesterday’s picture about a week ago, but discovered this plant yesterday just off the beaten path. It’s showing an enormous burst of growth. I talked about blood red razors yesterday. I never tested them exactly, I was judging them mainly by their appearance. But this plant had an unfortunate leaf sunk in the middle that I thought might ruin the picture. As I reached in very carefully to remove it, I caught one of the razors on the back side of my hand. When I flinched I caught several more on the other side, and as I pulled the leaf carefully out I caught one final razor on my little finger. It seemed like such a simple procedure. I actually dripped blood on the pavement as I left. So I am not supposing. I will stick with appearances in the future.

I never tire of looking down the throat of these monsters, though I do so at a respectful distance. The presence of spider webs tells us these are semi-motionless beings. And yet, at any moment they could snap. The colors and shapes are enticing, but the blood red of razors on the edge of soft green unfolding leaves is a clear warning. Don’t relax. Don’t look away.

I watch the ground a great deal when I walk, and I walk almost every day. Although sometimes I’m forced to wait for a delivery, and when it comes, it’s too late, too cold, too dark to walk. But if I walk out and get delayed, then I walk back no matter what because there’s no other way home. On rare occasions I reconisider and change back into t-shirt and pajama bottoms and pretend I had a nice, long and relaxing walk. Watching the ground so I don't trip has provided an infinite number of sights, not all of them especially interesting. Mediocrity for example. But there were others. New Year brought destruction, but also insight. Future Behemoths, Clutching and Reaching, and Nooks and Crannies all found something interesting in forlorn sections of the ground. Plants Are Plants found something nice to say about an aging water meter. Moss looked at the ground and found hope. Wonder was the first accidental picture of the ground. At least I think it was. It concluded: “Sometimes it’s the things we didn’t plan and can’t quite explain that stop us in our tracks and make us wonder.” STOP gave credit to the setting sun for making the ground more noticeable. And More Wonder continued accidental photography. Where Does Anything Grow?, Where Do Poppies Grow? and The Fourth of July all looked squarely at the ground. Leaves on Pavement followed the pattern of Absolute Favorite and made way yesterday for a delightful Pavement and Shadow. But there must have been others. Today's photo was not an accident, though it looks a great deal like other accidents. I saw the twig and a corner of the road in the upper right and seemed to recall a number of abstract or semiabstract pictures of the ground. Making a big deal out of it goes against its nature, but at least it calls attention to something infinitely repeated, though mostly invisible. Many of these have been pictures without soundtracks, not that sound has ever been mentioned, to be seen in silence. At least that's how I see them. To be seen without these words, in fact, which is how pictures should be seen. Silently. Leaving the soundtracks for other things, or leaving them altogether. Pictures are to be seen, and seeing is shapes, and texture, and color, but not sound. Talking comes later. I see you gesticulating, but I can't seem to hear you. What are you… saying?

It’s hard to see pavement when everything is blooming. But when the blooms weaken and fall, shadows and pavement become something new and exciting. The key as it turns out is to walk late in the day. But walking home into the setting sun, squinting at the ground to avoid falling, the ground rushes by at a different speed than yards and gardens. I stepped over this picture and turned around. One tiny bloom on a patch of pavement. It only existed because the sun was almost gone. One tiny bloom on a patch of pavement. Such an exciting discovery.

Something exciting. This is a phasmid, a stick bug as it is more commonly known. This one is blending, or almost blending, with a step on the porch. A deliveryman stopped and said, “There’s something really weird here.” He’d never seen anything like it, a phrase I’ve used many times this year. It looked almost like an insect. Of course, I can’t remember the last time I saw one either, but that’s sort of the point. They look like sticks and sticks are just sticks. So when I say I haven’t seen one, it’s also possible that I’ve seen lots of them, but I just didn’t notice. I think we’ve all wanted to be sticks now and then. We’ve wanted to avoid someone and pretended for a split second to be a stick until the jig was up and reality returned. According to Wikipedia it might have camouflaged itself by mimicking the color of the concrete and, of course, it’s twice as big because of the shadow. If you read the article, the chances are that by the time you see one yourself, and not just a photograph of one, you will have completely forgotten everything you read. When the deliveryman said it looked like a stick and I said, “It’s a stick bug,” he looked at me like I was making it up. Do I really seem capable of that?

The things I see on my way home from Monday night dinner. Sometimes I walk home painfully full, and because of that I believe I see things differently. I’ve passed these succulents almost every Monday for the past year, but never once noticed them, except as something green near the entrance to a building. They obviously didn’t grow overnight. They say not to shop when you’re hungry, because you tend to buy all sorts of things you don’t really need. But no one says to take out the camera because your stomach feels stretched. It’s interesting how the mind works and how interconnected all the parts are. How much else would I notice if I ate more before walking rather than afterwards?

From a distance these are just colorful splotches on a bush. But the closer one gets, the more amazing they become. They grow into something like colorful salt crystals before bursting open. Until then, they are mostly uninteresting leaves on small clumps of bushes. I would love to know their name, unless the name was too complicated to remember. They should have signs that say Please Stand Close, because the truly amazing parts are almost completely invisible. Until one bends over for a better look, or pushes the camera close, the mixture of qualities are completely unnoticed. Most things, I suspect, are like that, though often a certain blurriness reduces the defects and improves the appearance. I see red, yellow and orange flowers and buds, but I also see numerous defects in the leaves. They disappear with distance, so distance becomes a two edged sword, providing softness on the one hand, but reducing content on the other. In a miniature garden, these would be wonderful.

A similar sign over the doorway says Serving the Central Coast since 1984. Or at least that’s what I thought it said. I took a step closer yesterday and discovered that it actually says Surfing the Central Coast since 1984. It’s rare that one finds a business that displays actual humor. There’s a hot rodded truck out front with a rounded version of the logo on the door. The surfboards, I’m guessing, are in the back room with the electrical supplies. Had there been more rain this year there would be less dirt on the windowsill, but at least there are drops of clear water in the fountain. Thank you for the uplifting, hypnotic stream of droplets that tingle my ears as I pass.

Flowers are few this time of year, but leaves are plentiful. These are waxy leaves that grab the light and shine it back in unexpected ways. Without the leaves there would be no flowers. And without the flowers eventually there would be no leaves. If there were only one plant, we would see the growth and reproduction cycle more clearly. But there exists an almost infinite variety of plants, each with its own schedule, each with its own devices. It’s hard to focus on leaves when flowers compete with flowers. And hard not to see leaves when all the flowers are gone.

This is a picture of a long in the tooth four-o-clock near the library. Frequently, and for reasons hard to explain, pictures of flowers turn out to be emotional experiences. This, however, was a learning experience. The picture itself is of little value. There are lots of four-o-clocks on my daily walk. I don’t pay much attention to them. They’re an interesting plant, but also something of a mess. In the patio there was a large one that edged out the dying sweet peas. My neighbor let it grow until he planted cherry tomatoes, which would fill the gap until it was time for sweet peas again. They have what I call blooming buds, where the flowers radiate in a circular pattern, but not all at once. I suspect this has something to do with the name. What I noticed for the first time when I took this picture was that the flowers actually open. You’ll notice that many of them are slender projections with a bulge on the end. That’s all I’ve ever seen. Where poppies open in the bright sun and close at night, four-o-clocks appear to do the opposite. I took this picture after sunset. Because it’s a digital camera, it simply adjusted for the lack of light, making everything look like the middle of the day. The learning experience was the opened flowers. It’s the first time I’ve seen one that wasn’t a slender tube. There isn’t much flower watching to do after the sun goes down. Perhaps I should pay closer attention.

Not just succulents are busy this time of year. Spider webs aren’t only to catch prey, they are also, now and then, part of an elaborate mating ritual. Without knowing for sure, I think that’s what’s happening here. How it works I haven’t quite figured out. Everything about spiders is somewhat creepy, but spider webs are easier to deal with than spiders themselves. Even pretend spiders bother me. One can imagine flies that like hanging out, flies that return to a spot on your sleeve and then seem to relax. But but do spiders hang out? Do spiders do anything at all besides spider webs that interest us? I think there’s a reason most people are bothered by spiders. But a mating ritual seems inherently interesting. We relate to mating rituals. So we know that something interesting is taking place, even if we don’t know how it works exactly. We say, “Ah,” and then quickly find something else to think about.

For the past ten years, possibly longer — I can’t recall exactly — I’ve been ready for Halloween, sometimes with carved pumpkins, always with candy, and not one single person, one child, one unworldly spook has knocked at the door. I’ve lived in places where the houses were too far apart, where children were too scarce, and perhaps all the spooks were too content. So, every year at about this time, I’ve had a bit more candy than I should. My theory has always been, if you’re not prepared, you’ll fail. But failure has only convinced me through the years that the fewer the participants, the more candy there is to savor.

I just turned out the lights. It's almost 10:00. The market has been pushing Halloween candy and costumes and treats for the past six or seven weeks. An island in the rear of the store is loaded with Thanksgiving things, bottles of vanilla, stuffing and the like, and it’s been there long enough to need dusting. No one came tonight, which means tomorrow, in addition to half price candy sales, Christmas begins. Christmas, the happiest most meaningless two months of the year.

In 2009, a year that seems almost yesterday, I wrote something about Amie’s mother on Halloween and her “irksome inability to distinguish left from right.” The post was illustrated with Amie’s picture of her mother as the Wicked Witch of the West. It was all in good fun, of course. I post this picture today in recognition of Linda Barnett's death this past year. She was both irksome and interesting, strange but also loving. I think Amie’s photograph captures all those things. In Amie’s words:
Linda Rae Cadwell Barnett
March 20, 1942 – December 28, 2017
Loving Mother and Housekeeper
I’ll watch for her on her broom tonight. Peace be with you.


I passed this flower (or these flowers) on the way to dinner at the Vets Hall yesterday. It’s hard to tell if it or they belong to the hedge or to a plant growing through the hedge. It’s a peculiar bloom that I will now call a cluster flower. Daisies send out a stem with a single flower, and we all recognize daisies. This also sends out a stem, but with a cluster of competing flowers. They seem to go this way and that, forming a red blob here and there along the bush. The individual flowers seem interesting, but the cluster seems confused, overlapping, wasteful. Still, it captures the attention. It makes one wonder, but what one wonders seems almost as peculiar. With so few flowers this time of year, it seems like these should be spread out a bit, a tiny one here and there, instead of this. But this is their answer to that.

Hedges seem to have things under control this time of year. There are more surprises in hedges than in carefully constructed gardens. Here are two surprising blooms, or are they rather a hundred small blooms in two distinct packages? Little things that burst forth when everything else, or almost everything has died away and gone back to dirt. Here very quietly life continues, and with such shapes and coloration that one almost suspects it is springtime rather than mid-fall. Is this what happens when winter is a season that happens somewhere else? Things die back, but others bloom, and somehow the end never comes. The earth is not covered with ice and snow. Fog lingers until early afternoon, and then the sun comes out and sweaters come off in sudden warmth. Tiny blooms on hedges. Life upon life upon life.

This photograph is two weeks old. In the time it took me to think of what to say about it, the flower and the plant supporting it began to shrivel. This enormous flower lasted only a few days, unless the time just seemed to fly. The garden went from filled with happiness to almost dead and gone in a time that was disturbingly short. Without this photograph the memory would be suspect. I would wonder, was it as big as this or was it was really there? Memory sometimes embellishes. And sometimes it just forgets. Things that last all season are hard to forget. But things that bloom and die come to be doubted, like glossy pictures in magazines. Pretty, but unbelievable. In another week there will be no trace of this flower, and in a year, when my neighbor comes home with plugs from the nursery, such flowers will seem almost impossible.

In September I posted H Is for Hollyhock to celebrate the first hollyhock to bloom in the garden. It was a new plant for me, though I’d seen pictures of them and the name was familiar. But it was entirely my neighbor’s idea. In the month since that time we’ve had numerous hollyhocks sprout, climb to unreasonable heights and then die back. They seem very temporary. Beautiful, but somehow fragile. This is the first of the second wave. We have them in three different colors, each more beautiful than the next. But we are forced to enjoy them quickly, if that’s possible. In a month they’ll be gone. They will stun and then disappear. It goes against my nature to plant things so temporary. Of course, I didn’t plant them, so I don’t share the fault and can’t take the credit. I can only look at them as I pass by, gaze at them and hope they will be there tomorrow. They remind me that I myself am temporary.

This time of year there is still much to see, but far less to be inspired by. Hidden structures become visible. Without them life would not be the same. I think of the twine that supported a wall of sweet peas in the garden, but now catches the wind, sags and looks abandoned and forlorn. But without the twine there would be no future wall of sweet peas. We see dirt and rocks where before we saw layers of green and areas strewn with flowers. Things that buoyed the emotions and stimulated the imagination. While here we have only pipes and valves among concrete, dead leaves and dirt. This is what we are left with.

I’ve photographed a number of double blooms this year. For example, Four Different Directions, A Bug’s World, Five or Six Flower Names, And the Memory. One flower is interesting, but two flowers tell a story that I haven’t quite figured out. Of course there are thousands of such blooms. Here is an ordinary hedge with two extraordinary flowers — lavender with orange centers. The hedge itself is of no interest. If we could only hear what they have to say. Are they competing or are they working together? Are they happier this way, or do they feel constrained? If I had even the slightest idea what the answer is I might not be so drawn to them.

My neighbor tells me these are geraniums. We have six or seven pots of them suddenly in bloom. They don’t look at all like geraniums to me, but I’ve learned just how little I know about flowers. I know the flowers I know, but there are millions I don’t know, and a long list that I know incorrectly. But they certainly are gorgeous, whatever they are. They bloom with intensity, and their color warms my heart every time I go in or out the door. But they seem very temporary to me, late bloomers that are far too delicate to last long. So, will they surprise us next year when they bloom again, or are there things in store for us that we can’t quite imagine?

over a wall, through the church grounds and down to the ocean. Sunset under the clouds on my way home. A world seemingly upside down, where night is day, and day seems almost night. Somewhere over the ocean the sky is clear, but I walked home in darkness.