03 July 2017


     While I waited for a bus at Stonestown late this afternoon in a light rain, a rainbow appeared against the clouds in the eastern sky. A rainbow is a rare sight in The City, a joy really, and many people remarked on it. I thought of the opening to Owen Barfield's book 'Saving the Appearances': 

      "Look at a rainbow. While it lasts, it is, or appears to be, a great arc of many colours occupying a position out there in space. It touches the horizon between that chimney and that tree; a line drawn from the sun behind you and passing through your head would pierce the centre of the circle of which it is part. And now, before it fades, recollect all you have ever been told about the rainbow and its causes, and ask yourself the question: Is it really there?" 

      The full quote is too long to include here. It begins a discussion of reality and representation and much more. Yesterday I asked a friend (a Platonist and mathematician) why the world is thought to be an imperfect copy of a Platonic Idea. How can a rainbow be imperfect? (26.III.17)

Play today

This evening (Monday), by chance or by Providence, half a block from the Conservatory, I encountered JR on his way to hear a guitar department recital. I had some dull plan for the evening which included grocery shopping. J said, "Why play tomorrow when we can play today?" I adapted to the new situation, and went to hear the music. A few composers were new to me, some music (by Charlie Chaplin and Britney Spears) was unexpected, and the final ensemble (of all ten players) was an impressive surprise. A good time was had by all. (6.III.17)

Kiss of Peace

This afternoon at the supermarket, I encountered the young cashier whom I spoke to three months ago (see November 13, 2016). He had electric blue hair then; today he sported green hair. We gave each other an urban arm wrestler handshake and a brief hug --- a secular Kiss of Peace. (19.II.17)

Haida Gwaii

     I learned a few hours ago (from television) that the Queen Charlotte Islands, off the north coast of British Columbia, are now called Haida Gwaii, 'Islands of the People'. In 1974, my father's ashes were scattered at sea off the islands. He had been a sailor on Canadian Pacific ships when he was young, and had said that the currents would carry his ashes around the Pacific and beyond.
     When I was a teenager, I went with my father to the Maritime Museum in Vancouver, to look at a large model of the ship he had sailed on, either the Empress of India or the Empress of China --- I don't remember which. He showed me the porthole on a (very) lower deck, where his berth was. He always regretted that the Great Depression permanently interrupted his training to be an officer in the Merchant Marine. But I have often thought that had he become an officer, he would have been sailing on troop ships and the like during the World War, and might have gone down on one of the many ships that were sunk. (2.II.17)

The Entertainer

At my usual cafe this afternoon, someone ventured to play the baby grand. She began with a chunk of the Moonlight Sonata, continued with other fragments of the Classical Hit Parade, and wrapped up with Scott Joplin's 'The Entertainer.'. A good time was had by all. (12.I.17)

Turn of the Screw

This afternoon I took myself to the Conservatory, for a performance of Benjamin Britten's opera 'The Turn of the Screw.' I had not seen or heard this work before. The house was full; there were few desertions at the interval. The singers and players carried it off splendidly. I was very interested to hear the 12-tone "screw" motive twist through the piece. All in all, an engaging and challenging work. (11.XII.16)

Piano pieces

     Tonight, I took myself to the Conservatory to hear Sarah Cahill (well-known local musician and radio presenter) and others perform works by Ruth Crawford, Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, Frederic Rzewski (new to me) George Lewis (also new to me) and Terry Riley.
      The least interesting piece was Cowell's, pleasant, conventional, forgettable. The Crawford Preludes were short and bracing. Lou Harrison's piece ('Varied Trio') was very Lou Harrison: interesting, engaging; instruments included tuned rice bowls, baking pans, and a gong!
The three remaining works were for piano solo, demanding but not overbearing, involving, tuneful even. The Riley rag 'Be Kind to One Another' was delightful, and, according to Sarah, is a favorite of Riley's grandchildren! And the exhortation is pertinent, at this bizarre moment in American political life.
      Sarah played an encore, a minimalist piece by the Canadian Ann Southam. It surprised me that Southam would be known here. (15.XI.16)

Blue Hair

The young cashier at the supermarket this afternoon was adorned with very electric blue hair. "Love your hair, man!" I said; "beautiful!" He looked pleased and self-conscious at the same time. "You have anything exciting planned this afternoon?" he asked. "Shopping, work," I said; "I'm rather dull!" "C'mon," he replied; "you look like a fun guy!" Indeed. (13.XI.16)


Today, I'm 70, the Biblical age, as the Psalmist says, "The days of our years are three-score and ten..." I recall Miss Marple's remark in 'A Murder Is Announced': "We are allocated three-score years and ten, and I shall soon be overdrawn!" (7.XI.16)


This afternoon at The Cove on Castro, I watched a slide show, on one of the screens, of carved pumpkins, sophisticated creations far beyond the simple versions common in my boyhood. And the costumes on display, inside the restaurant and out, added to the effect. Years ago, someone asked me to describe San Francisco in one word. "Hallowe'en!" I replied.(30.X.16)


This evening in The Castro I observed a young man, apparently anticipating Hallowe'en, dressed as a pope, complete in a white cassock and white cope, carrying a thurible and wearing a triple tiara. He liberally blessed and censed everyone who crossed his path. (22.X.16)