A couple of evenings ago, Carol and I happened to be walking along the platform of the San Mateo Caltrain station on our way home. A woman sat on one of the benches, talking on her cell phone while waiting for a train.
“Tell her that you’re not going to have to talk with the D.A.,” she said in a clear, penetrating voice.
On the next bench over, another woman huddled into her jacket.
“No, tell her that the D.A. isn’t going to press charges,” she said, louder this time. “Just tell her that, OK?”
We walked by. In a low voice, I said, “That’s not the kind of conversation I’d want to have in public.” Carol chuckled.
I had to talk with someone in New England, who happened to mention all the snow on the ground there. I told them that here in the Bay area, we’ve been having warm days, with temperatures in the 60s. I did not tell them that as I was driving to work yesterday, I noticed that new green leaves are appearing on some of the deciduous trees; that for the last few days the evening air has been filled with the scent of flowers; that on Sunday I stood and watched a gorgeous male Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) in fresh bright plumage feeding at the hummingbird feeder hanging near my office.
The Tibetan Buddhist monks spent their final morning at the Palo Alto church. In addition to completing the sand mandala, they chanted for ten minutes in each worship service. As beautiful as the sand mandala was, I enjoyed the chanting the most: something about the low notes they managed to produce with their throat-singing, or more properly overtone singing, really got to me.
And of course they destroyed the sand mandala in a closing ceremony. They chanted for a good twenty minutes, and then one of them walked around the table and then drew his hand radially out from the center across the design in each quadrant and then again between each of those places. Then another monk came and swept the sand into the center; he used an ordinary four inch paint brush, which I thought was a nice touch; the best religious ceremonies mix the sublime with the ordinary.
The closing ceremony, just before the monks destroyed the mandala.
After the ceremony was over, I was talking with someone who said that twenty minutes of their chanting was plenty for her; but I said I disagreed, and could easily have listened for another hour.
Carol and I walked about eight miles this evening in San Mateo and Burlingame. We both stopped to look at these two vignettes; Carol took the photos with her cell phone.
Outside a Chinese restaurant, Howard Ave., Burlingame
Pair of shoes outside Masjid Ul Haqq, San Mateo
Every Monday night, I sing with a group of people over in Berkeley. We always take a break halfway through the evening, and tonight two of the singers told us how they got held up at gunpoint in front of their house, at 5 in the afternoon, in a good neighborhood in Oakland. They were unharmed, but both of them were quite shaken by the experience. They said that the police told them that the continuing recession has made crime worse.