Thursday, June 1, 2023

Dog Park --- Day 12/156

Walk: Presidio

Distance: 4 miles

Next best thing to having a dog is living right next to a dog park and watching their romps.

Here are a few of them the other morning:

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Tribute to Color --- Day 12/155

Walk: Hood

Distance: 5.5 miles

Henri Matisse, Open Window,Collioure, 1905, o/c

One of Ciwt's paintings by one of Ciwt's favorite artists. It was painted shortly after Matisse encountered the light of the Southern France.  Up until then he had spent his life in the rather bleak light of very northern France and the still subdued light of Paris. Light like this was entirely new to him.  And it set him and his pallette free for life!  Ciwt once had a poster of this painting and couldm't find a place to put it.  Its color is so joyfully intense it's almost impossible to live with - but communicates so much of Matisse's visual awe at what he was seeing all around him.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

How to Re-Grow Your Amaryllis --- Day 12/154

Walk: Union Square

Distance: 5.5 miles

So Ciwt's gorgeous amaryllis which she'd been given as a holiday uplift finally stopped producing its blooms in January.   Unsure what to do with the flowerless leaves and bulb she stuck their basket way back in a dark closet and completely neglected it.  No water, no light, no attention except to lop off the leaves a few months later when they started flopping over the shelf's edge in a creepy way that bothered her.

Then, yesterday, Ciwt was straightening out the closet and couldn't believe her eyes when she saw this:

Impossible to believe, but the bulb had sprouted!  Not only that, when she brought it out of the dark and sent a picture to her amaryllis expert friend, her friend responded: That looks like it is going to BLOOM again! If so, I think I would give it some water.  None of mine have ever done that ...yours is a premium Amaryllis and a high achiever!

So there you have it: step by step instructions on re-growing your kaput amaryllis - if you are lucky enought to have a premium one.

Monday, May 29, 2023

All Greek to Ciwt --- Day 12/153

 Walk: Sports Basement Presidio

Distance: 4 miles

Ciwt was entirely! wrong about last night's Succession finale. And she couldn't be happier. No Chekhov, many guns left still loaded, and devastatingly perfect.  It was pre-gun, stark Greek Tragedy in which the show mastermind, Jesse Armstrong, gave new meaning to English cooking, 'a meal fit for a king,' hand holding, empty suits, hubris, defeat and victory.  

If you haven't been a Succession follower, some day you owe it to yourself to spend 40+ hours watching all 4 seasons from beginning to end.  Meanwhile Ciwt will be joining the bereft original audience who are doing just that - for the second or third time .

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Success and Sadness --- Day 12/152

 Walk: Not sure yet

Distance: ditto

So, tonight at 6:00 PDT and 9 EDT, millions and millions of Americans will be watching the old/new MAX to learn who succeeds Logan Roy.  In time zones around the world millions and millions more will also be tuned in.  And no matter who the writer-producer Jesse Armstrong appoints the winner, we will all be sad and casting around for what to do with our Sundays now.  No more Succession originals to watch; a great one like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, The Wire, Mad Men and the very few other TV shows on the genius rung will go into re-runs.

Like those shows, there is absolutely no way of outguessing the show runners, but every temptation try.  So, here goes Ciwt:  In the very first episode of Succession on June 3, 2018 we learned that Logan had given Marcia two votes on the Waystar board.  A few episodes later we learned that Marcia has a son who has been an important executive at Waystar in the Mideast for many years.  In Season 3, to atone for his sexual shenanigans Logan was forced to amend his prenup much more strongly in Marcia's favor.

Every good mystery writer knows the narrative principle that every element in a story must be necessary and irrelevant elements should be removed.  This is called "Chekhov's Gun" and comes from his famous book writing advice "If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off.  If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be handing there."  

Soooo, applying that to Succession, Marcia's two votes must 'go off' in the finale. And there have also been teaser remarks about a possible 5th season by Armstrong and some cast members.  Putting all that together, Ciwt predicts:

- Marcia will be the successor, 
- She in turn will step aside in favor of her son (who may even have been adopted by Logan in those        Season 3 negotiations).  
-The new son-CEO will in turn keep the old guard staff (Gerri, Frank and Karl) 
- AND he will fund Logan's kids, Kendall, Roman and Shiv, so they can fulfill their contract with Pierce Global Media and run it as   a triumvirate.

All of that leaves Ciwt with a bunch of her own Chekhov guns: What about  Connor,Tom, Greg, Ewan, Mattson, Shiv's marriage and baby among others?  So, already we know Ciwt's guess is lacking at best and probably completely wrong.

She couldn't be happier about that! and can't wait to be dazzled - as she has been for the past almost four seasons - by what the brilliant writer(s), director(s), crew and actors have in store for tonight's finale of Succession.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Alone in Paris --- Days 12/150 & 51

Walks: Hood

Distance: 4.5 miles, 2.5 miles

Edward Hopper (American, 1882-1967), ca 1937

So, as the grey cold summer winds continue in San Francisco, Ciwt's mind goes to the rather grey, cold artist Edward Hopper who was one of the premier recorders of American mid-century malaise.  Hopper's favorite subjects were lonely gas stations, New York diners at night, movie theaters, women alone staring out windows.  All on the American East Coast, particularly New York City which continually both fascinated and eluded him. New York had something he couldn't quite reach but continued to try.

Ciwt was surprised to learn that some of Hopper's formative artistic years were actually in Paris, a city he visited three times between 1906 and 1910. He was working at a New York ad agency and hated it so Paris was a breath of fresh air to him, and he's quoted as believing there was "never a city so beautiful nor another people with such an appreciation of the beautiful as the French."  

Hopper's times in Paris coincided with the beginnings of Matisse, Picasso's Cubism, and all the many artists who had moved to the city during that revolutionary time in art.  But already Hopper was his own man, appreciating the great innovative artists surrounding him while also evolving his own methods, style and visual vocabulary. 

Even though Impressionism was on its way out as a dominant artistic style, Hopper was clearly instructed by their preoccupation with capturing light and spontaneity as he wandered the streets, setting up his easel along the same streets, river and churches they had painted.

Edward Hopper, Notre Dame de Paris, 1907

But that isn't all Hopper's sharp eye was attuned to in that "City of Light." Already he resonated with the dark, the solitary, the remote.

Edward Hopper, Stairway at 48 rue de LilleParis, 1906

He wasn't in Paris just to imitate the work of the masters that surrounded him. Clearly he learned from what he saw: the Realist paintings of Degas and Manet, Monet and the Impressionists he met - like Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley - and even Braque and the early Cubists.  But he was already well on his way to developing his personal style and the one of the enduring themes of his work: urban solitude.

Edward Hopper, Soir Bleu, 1914

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Storied Bird --- Day 12/149

Walk: Union Square

Distance: 5.5 miles

So yesterday Ciwt referred to the Phoenix bird but then realized she wasn't entirely sure of the Phoenix's story.  If you are like her, you might be interested in how Hans Christian Andersen's tells it.

The Phoenix Bird
Hans Christian Andersen
In the Garden of Paradise, beneath the Tree of Knowledge, bloomed a rose bush. Here, in the first rose, a bird was born. His flight was like the flashing of light, his plumage was beauteous, and his song ravishing.
But when Eve plucked the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, when she and Adam were driven from Paradise, there fell from the flaming sword of the cherub a spark into the nest of the bird, which blazed up forthwith.
The bird perished in the flames; but from the red egg in the nest there fluttered aloft a new one – the one solitary Phoenix bird. The fable tells that he dwells in Arabia, and that every hundred years, he burns himself to death in his nest; but each time a new Phoenix, the only one in the world, rises up from the red egg.
The bird flutters round us, swift as light, beauteous in color, charming in song. When a mother sits by her infant’s cradle, he stands on the pillow, and, with his wings, forms a glory around the infant’s head. He flies through the chamber of content, and brings sunshine into it, and the violets on the humble table smell doubly sweet.
But the Phoenix is not the bird of Arabia alone. He wings his way in the glimmer of the Northern Lights over the plains of Lapland, and hops among the yellow flowers in the short Greenland summer. Beneath the copper mountains of Fablun, and England’s coal mines, he flies, in the shape of a dusty moth, over the hymnbook that rests on the knees of the pious miner. On a lotus leaf he floats down the sacred waters of the Ganges, and the eye of the Hindoo maid gleams bright when she beholds him.
The Phoenix bird, dost thou not know him? The Bird of Paradise, the holy swan of song! On the car of Thespis he sat in the guise of a chattering raven, and flapped his black wings, smeared with the lees of wine; over the sounding harp of Iceland swept the swan’s red beak; on Shakespeare’s shoulder he sat in the guise of Odin’s raven, and whispered in the poet’s ear “Immortality!” and at the minstrels’ feast he fluttered through the halls of the Wartburg.
The Phoenix bird, dost thou not know him? He sang to thee the Marseillaise, and thou kissedst the pen that fell from his wing; he came in the radiance of Paradise, and perchance thou didst turn away from him towards the sparrow who sat with tinsel on his wings.
The Bird of Paradise – renewed each century – born in flame, ending in flame! Thy picture, in a golden frame, hangs in the halls of the rich, but thou thyself often fliest around, lonely and disregarded, a myth – “The Phoenix of Arabia”.
In Paradise, when thou wert born in the first rose, beneath the Tree of Knowledge, thou receivedst a kiss, and thy right name was given thee – thy name, Poetry.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

City on Many Hills --- Day 12/148

Walk: Presidio

Distance: 5 miles

So in response to one of the currently omnipresent 'San Francisco Doom Spiral' articles, a friend wrote Ciwt the other morning:
Good Morning…

Yes, I did read it.  Taking into account the comments, I still think you are in a good place.  What we saw and did last September stands as a testimony for all the good things about your city.

There is so much that is dreadful that is happening everywhere…always has been. 

Ciwt responded: 

Thanks for your uplifting take on the FT article. With all its phony baloney photos that include the whole city, it was really the rock bottom of the "SF Doom Cycle" articles that are all the rage right now.
As you say, our homeless situation is mainly situated in a few areas - unfortunately one being beloved, historical and famous Union Square.
 The article writing rage will pass and all of San Francisco will rise again like the phoenix. It has many times before; that is sort of what it does. We just don't know exactly in what form at the moment.

The city is still an embarrassment of riches - inventive, vibrant, fascinating and uniquely gorgeous. And even in its current state, enterprising, educated, visionary young people are falling in love with and moving to the city in droves and older people who 'gave up' are returning. Our current 'situations' will get figured out and the arts, cutting edge discoveries in tech, bio, etc, vibrant energies in all directions will keep expanding - and the perfect light and spectacular natural beauty will continue to awe.