March

March

Before it goes out like a lamb, it’s time to talk about the month of March.  Looking back in history we’ll remember this month, in 2020, as the time when the Coronavirus grew exponentially in the U.S.A.  Not that we weren’t forewarned, by the explosion taking place in Europe, preceded by China, and Iran, etc., etc.. in previous weeks. Covid-19’s here to stay for a long time; forty five days until we see a peak, eighteen months before life goes back to normal, if it ever does.  In the long haul a positive outcome to this situation can be found within ourselves; find ways to beat it psychologically, remain optimistic, and use it to be more creative and productive in our personal lives.  Take up painting, the piano, reading novels, writing as much as we can.  How can we reach out, and help others, and bring them into our lives?  What special talents do we have that we can share?  There are certainly people living in a more precarious habitat, in which I’m living.  Selfishly I hope I don’t catch the virus, or be a carrier and less selfishly, pass it on to someone else.  So, where do we go from here? The answer seems to be nowhere, nothing versus something, and now being never.  What is true is we are all vulnerable.  No-one is exempt.

Back to March.  What do we know about this third month of the calendar year, which during Roman Times was the first, and not the third of the year?  A month named after the god of war, called Mars. Special days in particular yearn to be celebrated.  Such as St. Patrick’s day, on the 17th, especially by the Irish, but even if you haven’t an ounce of Irish in your blood, you’re always welcome to partake in Irish generosity.

On the 15th of March, back in Roman Times, an old woman warned Julius Caesar, “Beware the Ides of March.”  Against his wife’s best wishes Caesar ignored the oracle and ventured out into the Roman forum only to be assassinated, and find moments before he fell to his death that his best friend had betrayed him; thus the famous quote “Et tu Brutus?”  The circumstance is a reminder to follow the wisdom of Shakespeare spoken in one of his plays “Love all, trust a few, and do wrong to no-one.”  And, in the wake of the Corona19, to listen to the oracle; Stay home, protect yourselves, and others.

Since I am a curious person, who seeks novelty in all things possible to brush away the the sins of idleness, and boredom, I have a trivia fact for March.  Does anyone know what September, October, November and December stand for?  I found this out the other day through a post by the Farmer’s Almanac.  The meaning of the prefixes of these months in latin follow suit with March being the first month of the year, for Sept means seven, Octo, eight, Nove, nine, and Dece, ten.  So whatever happened to January and February?  There is an answer, but at this moment, I can only say; “I do not know it.”  Just like there are answers surrounding the mysteries of the Coronavirus, but for now uncertainty reigns, and only time will tell.

The Same Way

The Same Way

People don’t  always see things in the same light.  Reactions will differ, from something to nothing at all.  Even in seeing a blade of grass. The same blade of grass in a sea of millions of other blades, an observer might ask: why are you looking at that blade of grass? -singular, like yourself. – And if you choose to answer them they still may not understand.  You simply have to move on.

En la Florida

En la Florida

En un barrio de Santiago, Chile, que conozco bien, la madrugada amanece un poco antes de levantar el sol.  El nogal enfrente, muriendo de la sequedad de esta zona es símbolo del cambio de clima y de la escasez de agua.  Todos los árboles del jardín están perdiendo hojas y fruta.  Pero a pesar de lo negativo que ocurre, en esta foto, una belleza y soledad tremendas se capturan en el cielo colorado, salpicado de nubes grises, y la silueta de las montañas en el fondo, llama la atención a uno de lo bueno que significa sentir el latido del corazón.

 

Talca, Chile

Talca, Chile

Been going to Chile, for a long time.  Believe it or not, I hold a sort of love hate relationship with this country.  A place I hold near and dear, for many reasons, but truthfully I remain affected by the injustices I’ve seen, the stratification of society, and the patience of the ‘have nots.’  Having the advantage of growing up in a wealthy country  vastly opens my eyes to the inconveniences one encounters.  It may consist of the simple matter of the quality of the tooth paste or the dish soap, which just doesn’t seem to lather up.  It may be the broken down condition of appliances, and just plain lower quality and inefficiency, the absence of, for which we take for granted in the U.S.  But to make up for these annoying and frustrating details, there is something in the everyday, working class people, and the value they have for life that makes all the rest unimportant.  I hope these few pictures here will convey the layers of dissent, sadness, solitude, love, and giving that I encountered by simply walking down the streets of a town like Talca.

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Young people walking side by side, hand in hand. Affection is openly expressed in public. Young lovers, kissing and embracing is not uncommon, or mother’s, daughters and friends walking and holding hands may be seen. Personally, I don’t enjoy seeing lovers expressing their physical relationship in public, and I know some Chileans feel the same way, but there is more tolerance for such open behavior, for sure.

 

Sweeper
Intrigued by the print on the street sweeper’s shirt, which read ‘Free Mind’ I asked this woman for a picture. She kindly obliged. But, I first asked her “Sabe Ud. qué significa ‘free mind?” and she shook her head “No.”  When I told her ‘Mente libre’ she liked it, and smiled. I was so impressed with the dignity with which she performed her work, for the good of the community.  I’m sure she doesn’t get paid much.
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Mente Libre
Interior of a building shelled by the earthquake of 2010. Nine years later many buildings like this can be found around the city, though many have been dismantled, and replaced with newer real estate. There is a certain beauty of these places, usually of adobe, that remains. I hate to see them go.
“Reparadora de Calzado” means “Shoemaker.” Original handwriting often adorns the front of businesses.
Fuerza
“Fuerza” meaning ‘strength’ is a large reminder to the people of Chile who are now engaged in polemics and demonstrations against the present government of Presidente Piñera. A plebiscite is in the making for April to revise the constitution. People are crying for more social justice and reforms in education and health, among other things. Most people I’ve spoken to are not hopeful the government will successfully effect changes for the average citizen.
This facade of a former home, shows its elegance with arches and spiraling pilasters.
Orange and yellow houses on 7 Oriente A.
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Casa Azul
Cuidado
“Cuidado” You will notice the broken sidewalk. One must be careful when walking along. A side street in Talca leading into a small plaza. Houses are quaint.
Cómo comunicarse mejor? How to communicate better.  The telephone company.
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“Oficio” “Occupation” You see many older people, especially men keeping themselves busy with unheard of occupations. He may be happy with what he’s doing. We often judge based on our own standards. I hope his children or grandchildren have more opportunities. Chile in the last quarter of a century has been lauded as a forerunner in advancements and economic progress, in comparison to their Latin American neighbors.  Obviously you can’t compare Chile to a country like Nicaragua, the second or third poorest in the Western Hemisphere.  However, we must ask; what portion of the Chilean population has economic progress benefitted? How many people are still left behind? Poor health and education are residues of an oppressive dictatorship, and the society of the establishment, who want to keep themselves in power, and hang on to the land and wealth they have. It’s easy for a person coming from a highly developed country to criticize, when we really have so many handouts, and benefits.  But even the U.S. with all its wealth should improve health and education standards, for pockets of our country.  The recent upsurge of white nationalism in the U.S. and a sense of entitlement is taking place. But then, who cares about a “thinking society” if one is comfortable, scraping by in existence?  It is proven by political scientists that a “non-caring, or non-thinking” society ends up in a dictatorship.  Add systematic racism and elitism to the mix, and you have volatile situation.
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“Juggler” Young people will show their talents on the sidewalks, or at an intersection of a street. When traffic stops they perform, and seconds before the light is to turn green, go to the windows of the cars to collect change. Drivers are pretty generous. It always means having change available and being ready to react.
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View of the Alameda de Bernardo O’Higgins, the George Washington of Chile. A creole with a hispanic mother and Irish father, some view him as a tyrant who obliterated the indigenous population of Mapuches. The Mapuches were extremely fierce and hard to conquer. Resentment still exists today.
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Trabajador. Worker at his iPhone.  Incentive?
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“I am Sauce”. “Soy”, in Spanish means “I am.” When I took this picture my mind was in Spanish mode, thus the translation for the title. Basically, it’s a repurposed container for Soy Sauce collecting water.
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Window remnants of an adobe structure.
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Remains of an adobe house from 2010 earthquake.
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View of how a window was put together on an adobe house. The earthquake virtually obliterated all adobe structures in the city. So sad to see these artistic works of architecture come down.
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“Limpiando” Cleaning the boulevard.
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“Árboles”
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“La Salle” Elite private school in Talca.  Virtually every building in Talca was plastered with graffiti by protesters, except this one.  Puzzling.
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“Un negocio? Quién sabe” A business? Who knows?
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Afternoon sun casting light on Avenida Oriente 1.
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“El corazón de la ciudad” La Plaza de Armas. Heart of the city.
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Cyclist on Plaza de Armas.
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La Plaza de Armas
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The recent graffiti is telling. “No God, no Boss, no Man.” A huge statement in protest of a traditionally patriarchal society.
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“Vale morir de pie que vivir arrodillada.” “It’s better to die on your feet than to live, kneeling down.” Huge statement about pride and revolution. Standing up for what you believe in.

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“Ley Salud Mental Ahora” It’s hard to tell what will come from the demonstrations which started in October. A vote on the Constitution is coming up in April, but people fear it will mean nothing. Some want things to stay as they are, and don’t care.  The question is how far will the protesters carry this. The everyday Chilean basically wants peace. This is what happened when the military junta took over in 1973, ruling for 13 years.  In 1989 when a new Constitution was written and governing was handed over to civilians. But during the dictatorship there was a big price to pay. Many people exiled, and mass murders of dissenters. Many felt it easier to just have a dictatorship than to take matters in their own hands.  To dissent was to risk your life. (See the movie “Missing” with Jack Lemmon) Back to the sign in the photo – health is a huge issue. A friend of mine in Chile explained that mental illness is not recognized as a legitimate sickness, unless you have money and are able to get services in a private clinic. She spoke from personal experience.  She had an emotional breakdown and had to go to a clinic.  She was made to feel grateful for this service, only available to her because her husband’s family was able to provide it for her.   The lower classes are not so fortunate and are left without services, often made to feel guilty for their condition. This overflows into Education. Few public schools are adequate, but many people can’t afford to go to a private school.
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“Quiénes son los terroristas?” “Who are the terrorists?”
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The circle with the four corners is a native Mapuche symbol.
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“Left hanging.”
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Interior murals
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Memoria del terremoto de 2010. Memory of the 2010 earthquake.

Anew

Anew

September is gone. October, begun. The first day of each month is like beginning anew. Turning a new leaf, strumming a new song. I read a poem, by a poet named Wordsworth, today. Quite outdated, but not really. The lines in one of his poems rang a bell, for me. He wrote,

Up the brook
I roamed in the confusion of my heart,
Alive to all things and forgetting all.
… I gazed and gazed, and to myself
I said, ‘Our thoughts at least are ours.

Wordsworth, from “Poems on the Naming of Places”

‘The confusion of my heart, alive to all, forgetting all. “Our thoughts at least are ours”,’ describe the freedom I feel outdoors, and it dawned on me, why it is that I love rivers, streams, lakes, and the sound of water, so.  In places like these, I meditate, without even knowing, and feel at peace. Out there, I am not alone.

B&W – Recent Photography

B&W – Recent Photography

Facade of an old shed, difficult found on the curve in the road.  Worn and weathered, it stood out on this foggy day, in February, 2019.Old Red Barn, New England.  March 2019Old Red Barn. New England in March 2019._DSC0126A triangle shape, in the tree.  Geometric shapes intermingle with the snow covered hemlock.  March snow.  Or maybe it was February.DSC_6481A tangled mess of prickly brambles, on the roadside.  These overgrowths are usually a dark purple color, and make me think of the arteries inside the body.  They are ominous, and not to be approached with your hands, or any other part of your body.

Autumn Leaves 2018, in Sunlight.Autumn leaves dappled in warm afternoon sunlight.  Fall, 2018.

Run!

Run!

Run, whenever, and as fast as you can.

We’re all in a hurry, and want to get things done.  Completing tasks that lead to an accomplishment, is a challenge in itself.  So many parts go into a final project.  One detail of that project might be a source of inspiration.  We may be able to envision the final product, but getting there is key.  This young man, climbing the hill of the ‘Philosopher’s Way’ will be enlightened when he reaches the top, as his lungs fill with air, and the crisp autumn surroundings envelop his form.  He comes from the Ancient People, like all of us.  If we’d only come to realize…