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I decided to take a few pictures while on my walk this morning; a memory, in case development creeps further in and modifies the surroundings yet again. The pictures were all taken with my old-fashioned flip-phone (I don’t like to carry too much on my walks).

I usually start by walking to 108th. In the photo below, the A-frame church on 108th can be seen in the distance, in the lower center of the picture (to be precise, it’s the St. Georges Coptic Orthodox Church).

Toward_108th

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s about six blocks to Hawthorne park, and I walk on the north side of the park until I get to the first entrance. Below is a photo of some of the flowering salmon-berry bushes alongside the walkway:

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There are three duck-ponds in the park; when the flora is green and healthy, it can be difficult to see the water.

Below is a picture of the pond closest to the west end of the park (a portion of the pond is visible as a brownish patch in the lower center).

hawthorne_pond_1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The gardens at Hawthorne are pleasant to walk through on a weekend morning; quiet, peaceful.

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I don’t usually walk by Minerva, but this morning I did.

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The playground was empty, but I walked around anyway…

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Unless I’m feeling particularly lazy, I walk around the park and onto 104th; I turn east, an empty business development on my left. It is an interesting building; perfect for a tàijíquán, yoga or Buddhist base.

104th_empty_building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I exit the sidewalk on 104th as soon as possible by turning north into a cul-de-sac; near the end of this street a Hydro-path cuts through the forest to the west and houses on the east (to my left). This morning the hydro lines were humming: hnnngdznnngnnndz.

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The Hydro-path (as I call it) is a nice use of land that has no commercial value. The path was (I presume) built by B.C. Hydro: there was always a path, of sorts, through the wilderness, but the well-maintained walkway makes it a tad more inviting, especially when the wildflowers are in bloom…

wildflowers2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Hydro path crosses over a small creek, but at this time of year  the bushes and flowers obscure the waters…

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As I was about to leave the Hydro path this morning, onto the roadway at the other end, a bird flew over me and into the forest; as it passed overhead it called to me: follow me, follow. But I continued on my way.

As always, with any walk, there is a path not taken…

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I usually don’t cut through the empty lot down the block, but this morning the path was inviting (it can be a bit threatening at dawn & dusk)

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In the (very large) empty lot, there are a couple of old trees that blew over in a wind-storm several years ago, but the trees are still alive and healthy. The picture below was taken a while ago, when one of them was flowering (as you can see, part of the lot has a nice gravel trail through it, provided by the City of Surrey. At one time, a park was planned for the land, but I’m thinking the administrators might change their mind if a developer makes an offer. I hope not):

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The picture below is the final bit of the empty lot; civilization is just behind the row of trees, and I can almost see my home…

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Well, that’s about it. I missed out quite a few spots, but I might do this again in the fall (and maybe with a better camera).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I put Meddle on for a listen tonight; meddle-covera perfect album now that the world cup is in full-swing in Brazil: the 3rd track on the CD, Fearless includes a live recording of Liverpool fans singing You’ll Never Walk Alone (famously, after a loss, the fans serenaded their team with this song).

There are some other interesting tracks on the album (One of These Days, San Tropez), but the foundation of the recording is Echoes, which clocks in at over twenty-three minutes (and was the entire side two of the original album in 1971). This song never fails to put me into a lovely meditative mood.

It was their 1973 album, The Dark Side of the Moon, that first made Pink Floyd world-famous, but there is a special place in my heart for this album, the first record I ever purchased (well, I bought three albums that day, and I’d done my homework: Meddle, Led Zeppelin, and Santana: Abraxas).

 

  Echoes

Overhead the albatross hangs motionless upon the air
And deep beneath the rolling waves in labyrinths of coral caves
The echo of a distant tide
Comes willowing across the sand
And everything is green and submarine

And no one showed us to the land
And no one knows the where’s or why’s
But something stirs and something tries
And starts to climb towards the light

Strangers passing in the street
By chance two separate glances meet
And I am you and what I see is me
And do I take you by the hand
And lead you through the land
And help me understand the best I can
And no one calls us to move on
And no one forces down our eyes
No one speaks
And no one tries
No one flies around the sun

Cloudless every day you fall upon my waking eyes
Inviting and inciting me to rise
And through the window in the wall
Come streaming in on sunlight wings
A million bright ambassadors of morning

And no one sings me lullabies
And no one makes me close my eyes
So I throw the windows wide
And call to you across the sky.

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A few weeks ago, while at work, I was on my way to the lunchroom to fill my mug with water. I paused for a moment, just inside the doorway: a coworker I didn’t really care for was putting his lunch in the fridge.  I immediately adopted a judgmental attitude, but was awakened to a kinder state as his face fashioned itself into a charming smile. He reached into his lunch bag and pulled out a small thermos that was decorated with Disney princesses. He released a little laugh (a whispered bark), unscrewed the lid and smelled the contents.

Dr_Seuss_pink_ink_

Dr. Seuss: One Fish, Two Fish

I walked into the room and said, “Good morning.”

He looked at me and said, “Morning. Want some pink lemonade?”

“Sure.”

So we sat in the lunchroom, sipping the lemonade, an enchanted elixir that transformed both of us. He seemed like a different person; a smiling, charming man who regaled me with sparkling, humorous stories about his daughter. I was able to disregard the behavioral warning system in my mind that was attempting to tell me I didn’t like him and should not be lulled into a false sense of contentment while sitting with him. The pink lemonade peeled away several layers of coping behavior and we came closer to knowing each other in fifteen minutes than we had in the previous fifteen years.

I still don’t particularly like working with him: his personality grates against mine (and, no doubt, vice-versa). But I try to abstain from judgment (the association of pink lemonade helps). He is confronting the universe from a different point of view; not any better, or worse, than my perspective, it’s just that his personal history is different from mine and we have developed clashing coping techniques for the struggles of day-to-day existence.

Since then I’ve been trying to approach others with more kindness, openness, and empathy. And less prejudicial baggage. I’ve experienced various levels of success; it’s a work in progress…

My most ambitious plan is to get to work early one day and fill the water cooler with pink lemonade.

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I just finished reading The Motorcycle Diaries of Ernesto Guevara, better known as Che. It is an interesting historic glimpse into the mind of a young man who would become one of the most controversial and memorable personalities of the 20th century. Ernesto was twenty-three when he took a vacation from medical school to travel north through South America on a motorcycle with his good friend Alberto Arbenz (they eventually found it necessary to continue their journey by steamship, raft, horse, bus, and even resorted to hitchhiking on their eight-thousand kilometer trek). During their journey, Guevara witnessed the persecution of communists, the cruel treatment of lepers, the exploitation of workers, and the sad remnants of the Inca Empire.  

There is some heartfelt writing in the short memoir (some sections are reminiscent of Jack Kérouac’s On the Road), and the trip is generally accepted as the catalyst for Guevara’s turbulent life as a revolutionary. Guevara began to dream of a united Latin America, free from what he felt was repressive interference from imperialism and neocolonialism.

From Guevara’s first section in The Motorcycle Diaries (Entendamonos; so we understand each other):

 “The person who wrote these notes passed away the moment his feet touched Argentine soil again. The person who reorganizes and polishes them, me, is no longer, at least I am not the person I once was. All this wandering around “Our America with a capital A” has changed me more than I thought.”

motorcycle_diaries_cover

After reading the book, I did a quick search to fill in my knowledge of this remarkably polarizing individual:

After the events in The Motorcycle Diaries, Guevara finished medical school, but decided to travel, settling in Guatemala, which was adopting land reform under the leadership of President Jacobo Arbenz. While in Guatemala, he was given his famous nickname, Che, an Argentine term that can apparently be loosely translated as hey there. Che decided to join a brigade to fight the CIA’s overthrow of Arbenz, but the battle was over almost before it began; Che was able to escape to Mexico, where he met and became friends with Raúl and Fidel Castro. Fidel and Che quickly became close friends and brothers-in-arms. Che was eager to help Castro with his plan to depose the Cuban dictator Fulgenico Batista. At this time, Che also became close to Camilo Cienfuegos, who, along with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, was a leading figure in the Cuban Revolution.

Che was among the eighty-two men who stuffed themselves onto a twelve-passenger yacht (the Granma), which was also laden with weapons and provisions. The yacht almost didn’t make it to Cuba and, after they landed, the men were attacked by security forces: only twelve of the original eighty-two men survived the attack and escaped into the Sierra Maestra Mountains (Raúl and Fidel Castro, Che Guevara (wounded), Camilo Cienfuegos, Juan Almeida, Efigenio Amejeiras, Ciro Redondo, Julio Díaz, Calixto García, Luis Crespo, Jose Ponce and Universo Sanchez). From their base in the mountains, the revolutionaries were able to sustain a lengthy guerrilla campaign and recruit resistance fighters.

[1956 – 1957] Che was promoted to comandante and took control his soldiers’ training. Che was an organized, committed, and intelligent commander; he suffered from acute asthma, which tormented him, but he fought through it. He insisted upon obedience and maximum effort from his men; he was a harsh and demanding commander, but was respected by those under him.

Batista attempted to defeat the revolution in the summer of 1958 and deployed considerable forces into the mountains: this strategy was a monumental blunder because the rebel forces were much better acquainted with the terrain and many of Batista’s soldiers deserted and/or switched allegiance. Near the end of the year, Castro sent three columns, including one commanded by Che, into Cuban cities.

Che’s assignment was to capture Santa Clara. He had only three-hundred men, and there were two-thousand, five-hundred federal troops in the city. It seemed like a suicide mission, but the morale of the federal soldiers was low, and the majority of the city’s citizens supported the rebel forces. Che and his men arrived on December 28 and by the 1st of January the rebels had done what was necessary to gain control of the city. This effectively marked the end of Batista’s rule.

[1959 – ] The rebels travelled to Havana to set up a new government and Che, along with Raúl Castro, was given the task of gathering former Batista officials for trial and execution. Che had previously ordered the execution of many traitors, and had no qualms about making examples of those involved in the oppressive regime; Che was a sincere advocate of communism and the Revolution and the infuriated response of the international community had no effect on his decisions.

Che was given the roles of Minister of Industry and head of the Cuban Bank. He held a disdain for the inherent inequity of the division of money in the world and signed the currency with only Che, which caused much consternation within the monetary community. He developed the Cuba-Soviet Union relationship, managed Cuba’s adaption to communism, and played a major role in attempts to transport Soviet missiles to Cuba (which, in turn, resulted in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis). Over time, Che became frustrated with the policies of the Soviet Union and developed a similar disdain toward their foreign affairs as he held for the United States.

[1965] Che became restless; he didn’t have the constitution to be a government worker, no matter how elevated the post. He still felt the call for revolution and wanted to spread his message to the world. Communists generally believed that Africa was the weak-link in the western capitalist/imperialist control of world affairs, so Che disappeared from his political life and travelled to the Congo in support of the revolution headed by Laurent Désiré Kabila (after Che’s disappearance there were unsubstantiated rumors that he and Fidel had a falling-out, but this is believed to be an erroneous assumption).

Che spent nine months in the Congo, but it was a futile revolution: Kabila was an unreliable leader and the rebel forces were easily defeated. Che wanted to stay and die for the cause, but he was convinced to return to Cuba.

[1966] Che wanted to initiate a communist revolution in Argentina, but Fidel Castro, and others, convinced him that he could better succeed in Bolivia. Unfortunately, Che’s Bolivian revolution was as disastrous as his experience in the Congo. He had fifty Cuban soldiers and was counting on support from revolutionary communists in Bolivia, but the Bolivian revolutionaries were undependable, and were possibly the very people who betrayed him. The CIA had trained Bolivian soldiers; in short order, the CIA was aware of Che and was able to monitor his communications.

[1967] Che and his rag-tag revolutionaries were able to achieve a few small victories, but his compliment was soon down to twenty men and supplies were dwindling. The Bolivian forces were getting closer.

On October 7, 1967, Che’s group were taking respite in the Yuro ravine. There was a four-thousand dollar reward for ‘information leading to Che’: local farmers notified the Bolivian army and the army quickly closed in. Che was wounded in the leg and captured alive. On October 9, 1967, Che was executed by Sergeant Mario Terán of the Bolivian Army.

The world is full of love and hate for Che Guevara, a man who will not soon be forgotten. He is certainly one of the major controversial personalities of the twentieth century. In some parts of the world he is revered as a man who resisted imperialism and neocolonialism; he is seen as an idealist who shared his love for the common man and died fighting for his beliefs. In particular, he is a national hero in Cuba: his face adorns the 3-peso note and schoolchildren pledge to ‘be like Che’ as part of a daily chant. However, there are many who abhor the man’s ideology and consider him to be a murderous zealot who presided over unnecessary executions; moreover, there are those who condemn his catastrophic economic policies in Cuba and refer to him as a pointless figurehead for the unsuccessful proliferation of communism.

CheAs many others have pointed out, the quintessential, lasting image of Che is steeped in irony; the famous photograph of Che, by Alberto Korda in 1960, has helped line the pockets of capitalists selling t-shirts, baseball caps, the iconic beret, and other merchandise.

Che Guevara left his mark on our world; he became a martyr, an icon that will no doubt last for generations, but who knows what his lasting legacy will be?

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It’s not often that I can get the whole family (myself, my wife, Catherine, and my two daughters, Bailey & Brynne) out for a walk anymore, but I managed the feat last weekend, and we enjoyed a lovely stroll through and around Bear Creek Park.

It was a beauteous day: the universe opened up above us with all its potential resplendence; nevertheless, none of the images I recorded for posterity documented anything much higher than my shoelaces. Below are a couple of examples: the top image was the highest extraterrestrial vector I managed…

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dandelion_pilgrimage; dbjo_20140425

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.fairy_princess_wedding_circle_2; dbjo_20140425

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I just finished reading Haruki Murakami’s Sputnik SweetHeart (translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel). The novel is still coalescing in my mind, but I sensed a gentle thread of postmodernism; an ontological journey through an ostensibly simple story infused with an aura of loneliness and longing.

”Who can really distinguish between the sea and what’s reflected in it? Or tell the difference between the falling rain and loneliness?” [p. 134*]

Sputnik_Sweetheart_HbackcoverThe novel presents the usual Murakami protagonist; a solemn, reserved, intelligent man: in this case, a man in his mid-twenties, a primary-school teacher in Tokyo. He is referred to only as K, and he is in love with a young woman, Sumire “—Violet in Japanese—” [p. 3*]. Unfortunately for K, Sumire is captivated by an older woman, Miu.

While Sumire and Miu are vacationing on an unnamed Greek island, Sumire disappears. Miu calls for K’s help and he attempts to find Sumire, but she has apparently vanished from this reality.

Murakami fuses metaphysical events with metaphor and the reader is presented with a dream-like, alternate reality (in particular, Murakami investigates the boundary between conscious and unconscious existence). The amorphous plot, with its ambiance of loneliness and dissociation, is somehow held together by the strivings of the protagonist.

Sputnik SweetHeart is written in a simple, mater-of-fact style, but the writing has deceptive depths, and I was pulled into the lives of the characters; so real, so tangible. Ultimately, I was propelled back out of Murakami’s world, on my own trajectory; orbiting the story, searching for something ineffable.

According to the novel, Sputnik is Russian for travelling companion, and it was enjoyable to journey with Murakami for a short while…

“…we were wonderful traveling companions but in the end no more than lonely lumps of metal in their own separate orbits. From far off they look like beautiful shooting stars, but in reality they’re nothing more than prisons, where each of us is locked up alone, going nowhere. When the orbits of these satellites of ours happened to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment. In the next instant we’d be in absolute solitude.” [p. 117*]

Recommended

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* page numbers refer to the 2001 Vintage trade edition

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I was led to the images of Nordin Seruyan through hovercraftdoggy

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