Something is rotten in the state of… the Starfish Cactus

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” Officer Marcellus says to sentry Horatio as Hamlet determinedly seeks to follow his father’s ghost and hear his words.  [The Tragedy of Hamlet – Prince of Denmark (1.4.90)… also see this scene in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s award-winning movie production of Hamlet (2009)* and read the entire play]

Back at home there was a whiff of something rotten as I smelled the strange looking flower that Larry was pointing to in a hanging planter by the redwood deck stairs to our garden.

This is the flower of the Orbea variegata plant, with various English common names such as the Starfish Cactus, Toad Cactus, and Starfish Flower.  It is native to the coastal belt of the Western Cape of South Africa. (See Western Cape – South Africa*)

It is also known as the Carrion Plant because of the carrion-like (decaying flesh) smell of the flowers that attracts flies and other insects for pollination.

Even the nearby pufferfish* seem to be wary and spooked by the smell.

I prefer the allusion to the name Starfish because it reminds me of the Starfish Story.*

One morning a man was walking along a beach and saw a boy picking up starfish and throwing them into the ocean.  The man inquired what he was doing.  The boy said, “The sun is rising and the tide is going out.  If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

The man laughed and said, “But there’s too many starfish on this beach.  You can’t possibly make a difference.”  The boy politely listened to his words and bent down and picked up another starfish and threw it into the ocean.

Turning back to the man, the boy said, “I made a difference to that one.”

And together we can make a difference to so many more.

Encore: El niño y las estrellas de mar*

La historia de la estrella de mar*

Natalia Lafourcade – Soleda y El Mar (En Manos de Los Macorines) [La Fiesta Parte II]*

Los Ángeles Azules – Nunca Es Suficiente ft. Natalia Lafourcade*

Natalia Lafourcade: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

 

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Posted in Flowers, Gardens, Larry, Politics | 3 Comments

Finding beauty in a dark world with a Golden Torch

Sometimes our country and the world seem to be sinking into a dark place where evil and hatred are triumphing over goodness and love, resulting in a pervading sense of hopelessness and depression.

But sometimes all it takes for us is to walk out into our garden as the sun rises to feel our spirits soar as we see flower blooms reaching up to the sun.  This morning I photographed our pitahaya flower joyously receiving the first rays of the sun.

See many more photos of our pitahaya in my post, “A pitahaya summer interlude.”

Also see “Actividades en el cultivo de pitahaya“* and “Propiedades y curativas y medicinales de la pitahaya fruta de dragón.”*

One week ago we were treated to following throughout the day a double bloom of our Golden Torch cactus, Echinopsis spachiana, native to South America, especially Argentina where grows up to a height of 7 feet.

We noticed the beginning of the double bloom early in the morning.

The blooms are lovely and exquisite and have an inner beauty waiting to be born.

(Click on the images to see them enlarged)

The pistil (female part) reaches up searching for the first rays of the sun, while surrounded by stamens that dance in the breeze.

The sun begins to break through the high clouds and a bee is attracted.

The flower basks in the glory of the sun as it is pollinated with the help of the bee.

It is now at its gloriously, exquisite peak.

But the pistil begins to weaken and lower as it feebly tries to follow the sun.

By the following morning, the bloom had passed even as the pistil persevered.

And I remembered a quote from Professor Dumbledore, heard in the movie Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.“*

Encore: See Night-blooming cactus time-lapse: Echinopsis spachiana* by Laura McC

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Posted in Flowers, Politics | 3 Comments

Families belong together 2

Instead of going to the beach or having a summer picnic on the last Saturday of June, we joined people in San Diego (that was part of Mexico from 1821 to 1848, and Spain before that, and Kumeyaay – Native American before that!) and folks across the nation to show our support to families and everyone to live free in the pursuit of happiness in a democratic country that espouses rights, liberty, opportunity and equality. See the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights that the United States voted in favor of in 1948). Pictured below is Eleanor Roosevelt with the Spanish language version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (Franklin D Roosevelt Library website)

So we gathered our signs that Larry had made and waited for the trolley at the Grantville Station.

We arrived at the San Diego County Administration Center, which has stood on the San Diego bay since 1938, welcoming residents and visitors alike, symbolizing the highest aspirations and ideals of public service with the motto “The Noblest Motive Is The Public Good.”

We then took our voices and signs to the streets and to vacationers from around the world!

On past the Star of India that was built in 1863 at Ramsey in the Isle of Man as Euterpe, a full-rigged iron windjammer ship. After a career sailing from Great Britain to India and New Zealand, she became a salmon hauler on the Alaska to California route.

And then we returned home for a chicken lunch and to rejoin family member Tasha, who was excited to see us and knows that families belong together!

And who helps to promote the rallies!

Moana – I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors)*

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i – We Know The Way (from “Moana”)*

Local news story and video: “For the second weekend, Trump’s immigration policies at center of San Diego’s protests.” (The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Platt Perform At March For Our Lives (“Found Tonight”)*

*This is a YouTube video.

Posted in Larry, Politics, San Diego, Tourist destinations

Families belong together

5000+ people took part yesterday (June 23) in downtown San Diego’s rally and march with the theme Families Belong Together,* which kicked off a week of protests that will culminate in nationwide protests on Saturday, June 30th, in support of the basic human right of children and parents to be together (See New York Times article, “Taking Migrant Children From Parents Is Illegal, U.N. Tells U.S.“).

Larry has been busy making pennants, flags and posters for this and future events (Click on the images to see them enlarged).

Our adventure began with taking the trolley and continued with becoming immersed in a very moving and powerful rally and march.

(See Aztec Cleansing ritual*)

See and hear the sights and sounds of this rally and march as recorded by the KUSI News video, “Thousands participate in Families Belong Together protest in downtown San Diego.”

Additional local news coverage:

CBS News 8, “Downtown march to ICE office.”

10 News, “Thousands of demonstrators rally against President Trump’s immigration policies.”

And this was just a warm-up for participating in the nationwide Families Belong Together event to be held locally at the Waterfront Park (San Diego County Administration Center) next Saturday, June 30th!

Encore: Danza Azteca* and Aztec Performance – Idle No More – Sacramento*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Posted in Larry, Politics, San Diego | 2 Comments

They’re working me to life!

When I arrive, the surgery waiting room already has a sprinkling of families and friends anxiously waiting to visit their loved ones who have been escorted by nurses to the Pre-Op room beginning at 6 am.  By 7 am, I am busy escorting family members through double doors that seem to magically open with a wave of my badge and through another set of doors that open with the wave of my hand as we arrive in a very busy Pre-Op room filled with scurrying, smiling nurses getting patients ready for surgery.  Upon arrival at our destination, the visitor and patient quickly recognize each other, smile and thank me.  Positive, joyful energy abounds, and I am energized!

I continue to escort families and friends to their loved ones in Pre-Op, PACU I (Recovery Room) and PACU II (Post-op) throughout the day.  One morning I was escorting a woman to PACU I and on the way she said with a smile, “Wow, they’re working you to death!”

I didn’t skip a beat as we walked and I said with a smile, “No, they’re working me to life,” and I quickly told her that I loved this “work” that keeps my mind alert, my body exercised, and my spirit soaring!  On a typical day, my Apple Watch Activity App* logs in over 10,597 steps (4.74 miles) and I think this is a great way to keep my 71 year old body and brain in shape!

Early on, I discovered my “work” is actually a gift to myself!  See and hear George Halvorson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente from 2002 to 2013, list the many health benefits of walking in the YouTube video, “The Gift of Walking,”* including reducing the risk of diabetes, strokes, heart disease, and hypertension.  Additionally, George points out that walking increases the body’s ability to resist cancer, increases brain health, has a positive impact on depression, and can help combat breast and prostate cancer.

George recommends 30 minutes of walking, 5 days a week, which can be dispersed to fit into your daily routine.  Others, such as Anthony Carboni, recommend 10,000 steps per day, as seen in his video, “Why You Need To Walk 10,000 Steps A Day.”

Larry and I take our corgi Tasha on walks each week, often in San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park,* where we often promote our current concerns.

Tasha also loves to attend the monthly San Diego Corgi Meetup events!

In more ways than one, we are marching for our lives and health!

And of course, each day Tasha explores our backyard where the Rat tail cactus is blooming for the first time!

And our Japanese stone lantern supports a vessel symbolically holding the magical elixir of life, which in our case reminds us of the value and benefits of walking… Joy!

Tasha the Corgi says thanks for viewing and hopes everyone keeps walking & smiling!

Additional resources:

Mindful Walking – with Thich Nhat Hanh in Barcelona, 2014*

Tasha Tudor’s Garden* (Tasha Tudor wrote and illustrated Corgiville Fair)

VlogAfterCollege – Ryen and his corgi Gatsby

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Posted in Corgi, Flowers, Gardens, Health, Larry, Meditations, Mindfulness | 2 Comments

Ode to joy in thriving, driving and dying

The joy of seeing the sun rise as I arrive for my volunteer work at San Diego Medical Center reminds me of the wonderful sunrises we experienced while camping with our Airstream travel trailer for the past 10 years in the Anza-Borrego Desert.

The cool morning air is crisp and refreshing, and a thriving dawn chorus of birds is heard as hospital workers scurry along curving sidewalks lit up with miniature, multicolored LED lights as they make their way to their work stations.  I’ve already put on my royal blue Nike Air Zoom Pegasus running shoes for a day of escorting family members and friends to see their loved ones in pre-op, recovery, and post-op rooms.

My recent change from working as a docent in a well-known San Diego historic house museum to working in San Diego’s newest state-of-the-art hospital has infused me with a new sense of thriving.  As noted in Kaiser Permanente’s A History of Total Health, “In 2004 Kaiser Permanente launched its Thrive advertising campaign, which spotlighted the health plan’s continuing emphasis on healthy living to help patients stay well,” as illustrated in their commercial Power to Change*

And this spirit carried over to my adding customized license plate holders for our new RAV4 Hybrid.

This hybrid compact crossover SUV is relatively healthier for the environment and us.  It is easier to get in and out, carries lots of cargo, including our corgi Tasha, and makes it easier to manage and unload cargo from the rear.  I am seen below transferring koi food from a 50-lb. bag to empty Costco pretzel containers. Working smarter, not harder… and wearing my Ridin’ with Biden hat (See Joe Biden Speaks With Meghan McCain About Cancer*).

Speaking about thriving, flowering cacti are next to 11 thriving koi in our 20′ backyard pond…

(Click on images to enlarge them.)

Along with many other joyful blooms such as Dendrobium orchids  (below).

Purple Trumpet Vine (below)

Red Trumpet Vine (below)

Epidendrum (below)

And last week, the exquisite Epidendrum hookeri, showed its first bloom since our neighbor Kelly gave us a cutting a couple of years ago (below).

The life of this Epidendrum flower was brief.  It opened during the evening and night before and quickly died by mid-morning as the sun bore down.

Another drama played out last week half way around the world as Australia’s oldest working scientist, David Goodall, 104, botanist and ecologist, flew from Australia to Basel, Switzerland to die on his own terms.  According to the May 10, 2018 New York Times article, Mr. Goodall said, “I no longer want to continue life, and I am happy to have a chance tomorrow to end it.”  The article states that David was not terminally ill, but he had experienced significant deterioration in his quality of life, and went to “Switzerland, the only country that offers assisted-dying services to foreigners if the person assisting does not benefit from the person’s death.”  The article also says that David chose the final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Sympathy as his last song and he died the moment “Ode to Joy“* concluded!

Encore: Stephen Hawking Sings Monty Python… Galaxy Song*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Additional resources:

A Life & Death Conversation with Dr. Bob Uslander“, Otto Radio

Why David Goodall, 104, Renowned Australian Scientist, Wants to to Die,” Yonette Joseph, New York Times, May 3, 2018.

David Goodall, 104, Scientist Who Fought to Die on His Terms, Ends His Life,” Yonette Joseph and Iliana Magra, New York Times, May 10, 2018.

One Last Drink: San Diegans who end their lives,” San Diego Reader, April 26, 2018.

Compassion & Choices

Hemlock Society of San Diego

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Douglas Abrams

The Dalai Lama: “The Book of Joy”* (CBS Sunday Morning)

Posted in Deserts, Flowers, Gardens, RAV4 Hybrid, San Diego, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

RAVing about thriving

A glorious sun rose above the early morning mist as I arrived for yet another happy day of working as a volunteer in Kaiser Permanente’s state-of-the-art San Diego Medical Center,* which is celebrating its first birthday this month on April 25th.  Happy Birthday SDMC! And Happy Birthday Baby Kingston, the first baby born at SDMC on April 25, 2017 at 4:08 p.m., a glorious son of two thriving Kaiser Permanente RNs!

As I looked to the east, I could see  Kaiser Permanente Viewridge Medical Offices below and hear the morning chorus of birds. (Click on images to see them enlarged.)

According to Kaiser Permanente’s press release, “Designed for cleaner, greener energy, the new hospital uses cutting-edge technologies to produce its own electricity, heat and cooling, create less greenhouse gases and save water. These innovations have earned the San Diego Medical Center certification as a LEED Platinum health care facility.”  “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is one of the most popular green building certification programs used worldwide. Developed by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) it includes a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes, and neighborhoods that aims to help building owners and operators be environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently” (credit: Wikipedia).  “Platinum” is LEED’s highest certification level and SDMC is only the fourth healthcare facility in the world to achieve this status level.  See LEED: Better buildings are our legacy.*

My concern for the environment goes back to my obtaining a B.S. degree in Landscape Architecture from Rutgers* in 1969.  My concern for healthcare began as a Hospital Corpsman in the Navy through to my retirement as an RN from the VA San Diego Healthcare System in 2003.  These are just a few of the many reasons why I am so proud and excited to join Kaiser Permanente’s healthcare team as a Guest Services Volunteer!

Some call it “volunteeritis,” but I call it infectious enthusiasm and a great way of keeping my mind alert and my body exercised and thriving!  “Thrive” has been Kaiser Permanente’s ad campaign tagline since 2004 and focuses on their dedication to preventive medicine and the goal of keeping its members healthy and thriving!

Last month we celebrated my 71st birthday (I’m another who’s just getting started) by buying our much anticipated 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited and selling the F-250, which closes the chapter of our 10 year adventures with our Airstream trailer, and opens a new era of more comfortable, efficient, and enjoyable driving, while enjoying San Diego’s wonderful places.

The RAV4 (“Recreational Activity Vehicle, 4-wheel drive”) is the first compact crossover SUV and debuted in North America in 1995.  In 1936 Toyota (at that time called “Toyoda” from the family name of the company’s founder, Kiichiro Toyoda), built its first passenger car, Toyoda Model AA Sedan (See Jay Leno drive a replica)*.  Today, Toyota is thriving (See “How Big is Toyota? They’ve Owned 27% of Tesla Motors!“*).  Gas prices at the moment seem reasonable, but with the instability of world politics, economics, and oil production, we think the Toyota Hybrid System* is a better bet, especially since this will probably be our last car.

We preferred the SofTex* (synthetic leather) interior* and I wanted the warm tan color, “Cinnamon,” instead of the typical black (which could feel hot in the sun), but this color was hard to find at dealers and online, so I ordered one to be made for us, which was done in Aichi, Japan, (Toyota Headquarters)* last February (see Toyota’s Factory in Aichi),* and delivered in March.  Relax for a moment and a take a tour of Aichi as seen in “Welcome to Aichi“* and see “Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology.”*

Toyota Safety Sense* state-of-the-art technologies, such as Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beam, and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, along with Blind Spot Monitoring and Parking Assist, help to protect us and enables us to drive safely with peace of mind and thrive.

See 2018 RAV4 Limited Hybrid Test Drive* and the fun”Toyota RAV4 Second Production series” music video.*  We are still driving our 2001 Toyota Camry Solara, but our RAV4 is more comfortable, has greater accessibility and can carry more cargo safely and easily.

Oops, my Apple Watch Activity app* just reminded me that I’ve been sitting too long and it’s time to get up and stand for at least one minute.  At the beginning of my workday, it reminds me to “Make it happen today” and keeps track of the number of my steps, which is often 9,383 or 4.24 miles in just the first half of my day at Kaiser Permanente SDMC!*

After eating a delicious lunch from SDMC’s Cafe Fresh salad bar, I took a walk on Thrive Walk, composed of walking paths featuring drought tolerant plants, tables and benches.

The Kaiser Permanente Thrive video, “Introducing the Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center,”* says, “Environment plays a large part in the healing process…  Patients, families, and visitors can find respite on 2 miles of walking paths, healing gardens, and in other quiet areas of repose.”

Eventually, I returned to SDMC’s Hospital Parking Structure that provides 2,367 parking spaces on seven levels.  See 1,500 solar panels on the 7th level, which provides a portion of the hospital’s energy needs, in this Kaiser Permanente Thrive video!*

I got into our RAV4, sipped on cool water and turned on some cool, thriving music…

such as Despacito (Luis Fonsi) from my iPhone Music Library or other cool hits from one of my favorite FM stations, such as ¡Diego 99.3 Más éxitos que nadie!*

Life is good… and I’m thriving… and I believe “The Best is Yet to Come“* (Tony Bennett and Chayanne from Viva Duets)!*

Additional inspirations:

Arianna Huffington talks about her book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.”*

Thriving After 60 – Day Event – Kaiser Permanente*

Free To Thrive – Visualization Meditation*

*This is a link to a YouTube video.

Posted in Flowers, Gardens, Health, Meditations, Mindfulness, RAV4 Hybrid, San Diego, Zen | 3 Comments