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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
                 Monday, July 28 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmasterStop and smell the roses

For son Mike's 29th birthday on Saturday he wanted to take a leaf from my birthday two months ago. and make a day out with the whole Saturday brunch bunch (he and girlfriend Tracy, bro. Kevin and his finance Maya, and Dad, your's truly) in the City by the Bay, San Francisco. Our challenge as we sped up the World's Most Beautiful Freeway (I-280) from San Jose to the City was to find enough new things to do there to make this trip equally enjoyable as the previous one. Several things worked against that from the start, however: though the temperatures were in the 90s in San Jose, San Francisco was shrouded in fog and cool enough to require wraps (which we did think to take along, remembering Mark Twin's deathless quip that the coldest winter he ever spent in his life was a summer in San Francisco). That and the fact that my birthday trip was unplanned and spontaneous, and filled with pleasant surprises, whereas Mike's had been planned a week ahead. Spontanaety and San Francisco seem to go together like California and weird ideas and behavior. Also, unlike our earlier trip on which we had both brunch and dinner in the City, this time we had brunch in San Jose before starting off, thus eliminating one of the possibilities for trying out a new dining venue.

Not quite sure where to begin, we found our way to Golden Gate Park, San Francisco's answer to New York's Central Park, the Boston Commons, London's Hyde Park, or Pittsburgh's Schenley Park. It's a world-class oasis of green spanning a sizeable swath across the city's middle, featuring a variety of lakes, waterfalls, meadows, and jungle-like trails, for starters. We were "kind of" looking for the buffalo meadow, which presents a live tableau of a small herd of bison grazing in one of the park's meadows. Though San Francisco's zoo in an adjunct of Golden Gate Park at its western extremity (across from the ocean beach) and which requires admission fees and the typical zoo experience, the buffalo meadow is just an open field (fenced, of course, but open in that you can park freely next to the fence which doesn't interrupt the view, and enjoy or photograph the bison as long as you like).

But first we found ourselves at the park's rose garden. You've probably visited a rose garden and perhaps they're all much alike. This one as well as the one in San Jose features scores of varieties of roses, from purple, white, and yellow to multi-colored to, well, red and rose colored. We also found that there were almost as many scents of roses as there were colors. I've known most of my life that there's a distinct difference between the scent of wild roses and the garden-variety domestics, but I don't think I've ever smelt so many roses as on this tour of the Golden Gate rose garden. We all got into it and it must have provided quite a sight to most of the other visitors, of whom there were many.

We saw a large building project across the road from the rose garden and found our way on foot to check it out. It turned out to be the new edifice for the de Young Museum, San Francisco's premiere fine art museum. But adjacent to it were a plaza where a free professional musical concert was in progress, and the Japanese Tea Garden. We were inclined to go there for tea, but it was charging $3 or more per person for admission, until 5 p.m., after which admission was free. That being only a half hour away and the concert being worth checking out, we chose to wait. The singer was an Asian whom none of us knew, but obviously has a following as indicated by the crowd for his performance, and the video crews recording it. It was worthwhile, even though the only song we recognized was "You Were Always On My Mind," which he did eerily like the one made by Willie Nelson about 20 years ago.

Bronze Buddha statue in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park Japanese Friendship Garden

Tea in the Japanese Friendship Garden seemed just right in the cool afternoon, and the garden itself is a work of art combining ancient horticulture, architecture, and artifacts intended to immerse visitors into the spirit of the Far East. In fact, the large Zen Buddhist temple in the garden's highest elevation, alongside a huge statue of Buddha complete with a halo and an offering of fresh flowers, led me to speculate on the possible ramifications of a project offering to send American "friendship gardens" around the world to give people there a taste of Baptist or Methodist "culture" (those being the largest mostly indigenous-to-America varieties of one of the world's great religions, up there with Buddhism). I realize of course that there is no "culture" or artistry representing Baptist or Methodist varieties of religion to rival the Buddhist attainments in all the arts cited above as coming together in this garden. And really, I don't object to the gardens, which are probably features of many American cities. I do resent our own courts outlawing representations of the Ten Commandments in court house gardens, and requiring the dismantling of public crosses on many parks across America. They consistently rule, in effect, that every culture of the world matters or has legitimacy, except that of the great majority of Americans. But that's another topic.

And appropriately, we ended Michael's birthday in the City, after finally finding the bison meadow and taking pictures, across town in San Francisco's Japantown, where we had a late evening dinner of Japanese cuisine, which is the favorite of at least the majority of us, and possibly all in the group. We did come by a "lucky find," a hitherto unknown restaurant with excellent food, which was as pleasingly presented as the overall gestalt of the tea garden earlier in Golden Gate Park. (And yes, our combination Japanese dinners included sushi.)

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Aphorisms

21. If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done. >
22. When you don't know what to do, walk fast and look worried.
23. Following the rules will not get the job done.
24. When confronted by a difficult problem, you can solve it more easily by reducing it to the question, "How would the Lone Ranger handle this?"

— Sent by Mary Ann Losiewcz

Thought for today

Anger, more than the other passions, is likely to trouble and upset the soul. But even anger sometimes renders the soul great benefits. When, in fact, we use it calmly against error or stupidity, to denounce and save, we obtain for the soul additional gentleness, since we are furthering the purposes of justice and divine goodness. And also when we rouse ourselves strongly against evil we often make more masculine what is feminine in the soul.... Therefore, one who makes temperate use of anger out of zeal for truth will no doubt be found better, in the time of judgement, than one who out of inertia was never stirred to anger.

— Diadochus of Photike

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