Symbiotic Relationship

  

Symbiotic Relationship

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is known for its very special exhibits; however, one of them recently surprised me. For the first four months this year, it presented “The Sea Ranch: Architecture, Environment and Idealism.” It was surprising, since The Sea Ranch is not a place I’ve ever thought to be seen in a museum; but rather, it had to be experienced. And this is exactly what we’ve done many times, including just a few weeks ago. Just in case you missed the show at the SFMOMA, The Sea Ranch has a very interesting history.

The first people known to live in the territory where The Sea Ranch is today were the Pomo Indians, who gathered kelp and shells for food on the beaches. In the 19th century the area was mainly used for sheep farming. And then things changed in the 1960s. Architect Al Boeke envisioned the design of the community that would preserve the area’s natural beauty, which would span along 10 miles of the Sonoma County coastline. Online I learned that The Sea Ranch is noted for its distinctive architecture that blends with nature.

Currently there are about 1800 homes which serve as second homes with some 300 full-time residents. Years ago, we also owned our second home there, which was used for weekend rentals a majority of the time.

After we sold it, we started coming back, and had the opportunity to rent many different homes. Sometimes on our visits there, we would spend a few hours checking out the local open houses. This gave us an opportunity to see practically every type of the local design. From time to time we would see a home, which we envisioned living in. There was only one small problem – those were priced in the range of two million dollars. As we licked our lips, our friend and local real estate agent Cindy Kennedy, told us to stop driving ourselves crazy until we decide to move there. For us, it is not a realistic choice for our lifestyle, though many artists reside in the area.

The success of The Sea Ranch as a tourist destination is in a big part not only for the beauty of nature in the area; but also, that it borders with Gualala, an incorporated community in Mendocino County. The name of the place of today’s Gualala, which has a population of over 2000 people, comes from Pomos Indians, who had named the area Kha Wa La Lee, meaning “coming down water place”. When I mentioned to a friend that we are going to The Sea Ranch, he told me that he loves to come here to fish in the Gualala River. The trend to come to the area to hunt and fish and get away from the crowded cities started around 1861. By the end of 1800s Gualala had become a major commercial hub for the entire area with a dancing school, Brass Band and an Opera House. The economy of Gualala was supported by a lumber mill, which logged the redwood trees. But gradually it transitioned from a logging town to a tourist destination. Today Gualala has ten hotels, restaurants, two supermarkets, two gas stations, several art galleries, tourist stores and it serves the local center where visitors to The Sea Ranch and locals can fill all their living needs.

P.S. I wanted to share with you the beauty of the area in these four images. Two women with two dogs appeared in my book “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers” which you can buy on Amazon.com.

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The Numbers Game

  

The Numbers Game

On the eve of last Sunday, September 29th, the Jewish calendar showed that the world entered into year 5780, which according to Torah is the birthday of the first man Adam and his wife Eve. It is not related to the age of our universe, which is according to the information I found on Google is 13.8 billion years, and Planet Earth is about 4 billion years old. For my story, I am going to focus on the much lesser number – 5780. The event is called Rosh Hashanah, which literally translates to ’Head of the Year’. My first thought was, what size does a birthday cake have to be to fit 5,780 birthday candles on it? But I will let you figure this out by yourself. Meanwhile, I wanted to check the meaning of each of the numbers 5, 7, 8 and number 20, which is the sum of other three numbers. There are different systems that define the meaning of the numbers; among them are Numerology, Gematria (a form of Jewish numerology), Angel Numbers and some others. Numerology is any belief in the divine of mystical relationship between numbers and one or more coinciding events. Gematria is a Kabbalistic method of interpreting Hebrew Scriptures by computing the numerical value of words, based on those of their constituent letters. And Angel Numbers are sequences of numbers that carry divine guidance by referring to specific numerological meaning.

The number 5 is the number of harmony and balance. It is also the number of divine grace. Five symbolizes man, health and love. It is the number of marriage. There are five senses – sight – hearing – taste – smell – touch.

The number 7 is a highly spiritual number that is associated with intuition, mysticism, inner wisdom and deep inward knowing. In the Torah, God rested on the seventh day, creating the basis of a seven-day-week that we use to this day.

The number 8 is generally an indication of material abundance and career success. The Angel Number interpretation is that the number is a balance of both the material and spiritual aspects of our experience.

The number 20 means infinite potential when it comes to relationships. Since it is a combination of the number 2, which means being part of a group and harmonious companionship, and the number 0, which stands for potential and choice when it follows number 2, it makes the number 20 more successful at relationships.

Now you can put all of this knowledge together to interpret that the year 5780 will be a great success.

There are a number of traditions associated with Rosh Hashanah, which among different names is called Yom Hadin – “The Day of Judgement”, since ten days later it is followed by Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement”. Therefore, Jews greet each other on the Jewish New Year with, “May you be inscribed in the book of life, and sealed for a good year”.

As far as food is concerned, it is traditional to eat slices of apple dipped into honey. This goes together with the other common greeting, “Shana Tova u Metuka”, which means, “Wishing you a Good and Sweet Year.” And this is what I am wishing you. Another tradition is to ask for forgiveness from people before Yom Kippur which is going to be on next Wednesday, for the sins known and not known to us. I would like to use this opportunity to ask from you for your forgiveness.

P.S. I used my artistic ability to share these four images with you. Each has a different numbers of apples: 5, 7, 8 and 20. The most challenging part in this project was to put twenty images of apples into one frame.

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The Familiarity and the Difference

  

The Familiarity and the Difference

We’ve been visiting The Sea Ranch for over thirty-three years. It is located on Highway 1, about 110 miles North of San Francisco. However in spite of the relatively short distance, it takes about three hours to get there, due to the long windy road. Perhaps this is why during the two and a half days we stayed there, we saw very few people on the trails along the ocean, unlike our recent trip to Carmel.

Years ago, we owned a second home there, but even then the longest we could stay was ten days. We sold the house, and have returned since at least twice a year. Every time we leave, we ask ourselves the same question – “When are we coming back again?” It is impossible to describe the experience of being there, but in a few days the head clears, and I feel recharged and brimming with new creative ideas. While in The Sea Ranch, we go for walks along the ocean, and sometimes to the forest on the other side of the main road, at least twice a day. Being here with Max forces me to get up at about six, since this is the time he comes to my bedside and “tells” me that I need to take him out. To make himself clear, he scratches the door. This in turn creates a familiar routine. At home, it gives me enough time for a work out. While here, we go out for an hour-long walk surrounded by nature, before the sunrise. I brought three cameras with me, plus various lenses. Being here as a photographer offers me a lot of opportunities to capture what I encounter at various times of the day in different lighting conditions. Since I have been photographing here for many years, and have taken thousands of images, you can ask, why to do that again and again? Who needs those images? Don’t I have enough? The answer and the title of this story came during my last morning walk.

During our vacations, we want to visit new places, and have different experiences. But then we come back. Why? Doesn’t the place look the same as before? You may have heard the Chinese saying “You cannot cross the same river twice.” However, there is a continuation – “since it is not the same river, and not the same you.” While this is a true statement; nevertheless, we “cross the river” again and again. We just need to learn how to see our world and the people we encounter through a “different” lens (the new iPhone 11, has three lenses, for instance). Of course you can learn how to become a better photographer, which in the core is an art of seeing, and then you will be able to perceive the difference.

P.S. I would like to share four “similar” images to show what I mean.

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Is The Road Always Better Than The Inn?

  

Is The Road Always Better
Than The Inn?

The immortal words of the proverb come from the book “Don Quixote de la Mancha”, which was written in 1613 by the famous Spanish novelist, poet and playwright Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.

It is a story about a gentleman called Don Quixote, who “Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.” It is a story about the life journey which he undertook together with his companion Sancho Panza. Besides the saying, I used for the title, the book is filled with the wisdom, which we commonly use in English, like “By a small sample we may judge of the whole piece”, or “Can we ever have too much of a good thing?”, as well as “There is not the least thing can be said or done, but people will talk and find fault”, and “No limit but the sky”. I found these quotes on Wikiquote online, and there are many more that you can enjoy as well. If you do not have time to read the whole book (over 500 pages), you can do what I did, and borrow the audio book and listen to it in the car.

The saying has other meanings as well, which came to mind for this story.

I am writing this email on a Sunday night, while staying in The Sea Ranch. We arrived here on Friday afternoon. It took us three hours to get here because of the traffic and road construction. On the way, we stopped in Jenner to stretch our legs and to have lunch on the deck overlooking the Russian River, before it connects with the ocean. We’ve taken this journey many, many times and in spite of the familiarity and the winding road, it takes an hour to drive the last 27 miles on the winding, very picturesque road.

And though we enjoyed the road which goes through the agricultural area, this joy is nothing in comparison with the experience which we have during our stay in The Sea Ranch – the Inn (hence the question mark in the title). But this experience I will share with you next week.

P.S. These four images are from our journey, including our stop in Jenner.

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Why Crissy Field is Called Crissy

  

Why Crissy Field is Called Crissy

San Francisco is blessed to have many parks and open spaces. One of them is called Crissy Field.

If you are one of the 1.2 million people who stroll, cycle and walk dogs on the 1.5-mile promenade along the water with the view of Golden Gate Bridge every year, you know the place. I read about this in the article titled, “It’s Crissy Field’s Turn For a Green Redesign”, written by Peter Fimrite, which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on Monday, August 5, 2019. The number of people mentioned in the article surprised me, since the population of San Francisco is about 884,000. In the past, I visited Crissy Field only once or twice over many years, that is, until we got Max, and started to go there more often. It is part of Presidio National Park Service, and named in honor of Major Dana Crissy, who died trying to land on the airstrip, which was part of the Presidio airfield at the beginning of the twentieth century. The Presidio has served as a military reservation from its establishment in 1776 as Spain’s northern-most outpost of colonial power in the New World. But in 1994, it became a park and part of the Golden Gate National Reservation Area.

In 1997 the Park Service began the Crissy Field Restoration, starting with the removal of almost 90,000 tons of contaminated materials. Since then, Presidio Park continues to undergo extensive renovations with a plan to turn the 1,491-acre Presidio into a place teaming with wildlife. According to the article, “A redesign of sprawling Crissy Field will be one of the last puzzle pieces in a decades-long process by the National Park Service to turn the Presidio into a park friendly to both wildlife and humans”.

About a year ago, a friend told me that there is a group called SF Doodles, which meets once a month on Crissy Field. Max belongs to this group of dogs, which were developed by crossing different breeds with Poodles. The original purpose was to have a dog that is hypoallergenic. It started in 1989 in Australia, and now there are different hybrid breeds such as, Goldendoodles, Maltipoo, Yorkpoo, Pekapoo and others. They come in different sizes and have different traits, inherited from the original breeds. Though not all of the 1287 members of the Doodle meetup group come to monthly meetup, the crowd of people and their four-legged companions is quite lovely. You are welcome to join just for fun, if you don’t have a doodle, you can borrow one from a friend.

P.S. It seems that dogs have a good time here, running over Crissy Field, as four of these images can attest.

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