Sunday, July 28, 2019

The High Sierra and a Japanese interment camp

Many paths lead from the foot of the mountain,
But at the peak
We all gaze at the
Single bright moon.

~Ikkyu Sojun

Manzanar Japanese Interment Camp

"The first internment camp in operation was Manzanar, located in Southern California. Between 1942 and 1945 a total of 10 camps were opened, holding approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans for varying periods of time in California, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Arkansas."  ~ Encyclopedia Brittanica

"In 1942, the United States government ordered more than 110,000 men, women, and children to leave their homes and detained them in remote, military-style camps. Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of ten camps where Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens were incarcerated during World War II."  ~ National Park Service Website

“We had about one week to dispose of what we owned, except what we could pack and carry for our departure by bus…for Manzanar.”  William Hohri

I can't believe this visit was a year and a half ago. 

It was a beautiful clear December day in California's High Sierra. I went up there for my birthday with my boyfriend, Kevin. It had been almost 3 months since my big Scotland and Italy adventure, and in that time I had gone back to work, gotten back into my groove, and continued my long distance relationship with my boyfriend. He was living in Hawaii and had come out for Thanksgiving and my birthday that year.

Kevin spent many years living, raising a family, and working at Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort on the Race Department as an Alpine Ski Coach. He needed a visit with his grandkids and we wanted to ski so we decided to head north for my birthday weekend. He wanted me to see the WWII Japanese interment camp, Manzanar, that is just off Highway 395, near Lone Pine, CA. I had driven on that road so many times as a kid and I don't remember ever seeing it.

There are so many things I could say about the place but I don't know where to begin. There is this incredible natural beauty surrounding something that represents such a sad time in our history. And frankly, there seemed to be an empty melancholic energy there. It's a strange juxtaposition. 

There are so many people who experienced Mazanar first hand, during the war, who can express its history better than I. There are loads of documentaries worth watching on this subject. I'm adding a link at the bottom of this post to an article that mentions 10 of them that you can watch online for free.

A year and a half ago I was trying to imagine how they could have put innocent people, especially children, behind wire and fences. Fear makes us rationalize all sorts of things and the human race does it over and over. At its worst fear becomes hatred, violence, and racism. Are we doomed to repeat the past over and over?

"About two-thirds of all Japanese Americans interned at Manzanar were American citizens by birth. The remainder were aliens, many of whom had lived in the United States for decades, but who, by law, were denied citizenship.
The 500-acre housing section was surrounded by barbed wire and eight guard towers with searchlights and patrolled by military police. Outside the fence, military police housing, a reservoir, a sewage treatment plant, and agricultural fields occupied the remaining 5,500 acres. By September 1942 more than 10,000 Japanese Americans were crowded into 504 barracks organized into 36 blocks. 
Coming from Los Angeles and other communities in California and Washington, Manzanar’s internees were unaccustomed to the harsh desert environment. Summer temperatures soared as high as 110ºF. In winter, temperatures frequently plunged below freezing." 

... Compassion without wisdom is not understood
to be true compassion,
and wisdom without compassion is not true wisdom.
~Masao Abe

For more information about Manzanar, click the link at the bottom of this post.

We arrived in Mammoth that evening and our spirits were lifted by watching Kevin's adorable granddaughter Rylie in her ballet class and being able to breathe in the crisp clean air. There were fires raging in our home town of Ventura where we still have many friends and up in Ojai where my family lives. Many, including my parents and my sisters family, had to evacuate. Sadly, my Aunt Cheri and Uncle Larry lost their beautiful home to the fire but we are so grateful everyone was safe!

There was a cloud of smoke hanging over Los Angeles but it was nothing like the smoke in Ventura County in the path of the Thomas Fire.

Mammoth Lakes, California

You can almost breathe the clear air looking at the photos!

 Mount Morrison & Convict Lake
An unfortunate name for such a beautiful place because escaped convicts ambushed and killed General Robert Morrison and members of his posse in 1871 at this scenic location!

I hadn't been on skies in almost 20 years and it was almost like riding a bike. Except for the fact that the last time I'd skied I was going down black diamond runs and now I was on the bunny slopes! I hadn't been on the bunny slopes since I was five years old. I learned to ski early and my first run was down our driveway in Anchorage when I was three years old.

Here's a little sketch from the Main Lodge sundeck...

Mammoth Mountain

Here's a fun little video of my first time on skis in 20 years!

“If your mind is empty, 
it is always ready for anything, 
it is open to everything. 
In the beginner’s mind 
there are many possibilities, 
but in the expert’s mind there are few. ”

~Shunryo Suzuki

I was cracking up at Kevin. He was so excited that I made it down "Hanzel and Gretal" without falling. Another highlight of the weekend was a dip in the natural hot springs by the light of the silvery moon!

There are several natural hot springs in the area but sorry no nighttime hot spring shots to share! 

Kevin rented a cute place in Crowley Lake, CA. 

It was very cozy amongst the Aspens and I was very happy to have a fire to thaw out my tootsies.

You cannot separate any part from the whole:
interdependence rules the cosmic order.

~Taisen Deshimaru

Did I mention Kevin is a yogi? I think his friend's pup appreciated his downward facing dog!

When you do something, you should do it with your whole body and mind;
you should be concentrated on what you do. 
You should do it completely, 
like a good bonfire.
You should not be a smoky fire.
You should burn yourself completely. 
If you do not burn yourself completely,
A trace of yourself will be left in what you do.

~Shunryū Suzuki

I feel so lucky to live in California. 

I hadn't been up to this area in so long. I forget how completely different the landscape is and what a gorgeous drive Highway 395 is through the High Sierra. This road trip is about 5. 5 hours north of Los Angeles or a 3 hours drive south from Reno.

Leaving the High Sierra ...

“Wherever you are, you are one with the clouds 
and one with the sun and the stars you see. 
You are one with everything. 
That is more true than I can say, 
and more true than you can hear.”
~Shunryu Suzuki

For my Christmas present that year Kevin bought me a ticket to Hawaii. It might have been my biggest travel year since I was 20! He said I was his Christmas present but I think I got the better end of the deal! After spending Christmas Eve and morning with my family I jumped on a flight and headed to the North Shore of Oahu. 

I went a little nuts taking photos of Hawaii but I have to say I also managed to do a lot of watercolors and drawings. That's all coming up next!

I hope you are all having a lovely summer and finding a way to stay cool! I'm sending you all much love and prayers for nice cool breezes!

Blessings and light


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Verona ~ Loveliness in Romeo and Juliet's Hood

There is no world beyond Verona's walls.
~Romeo, William Shakespeare 

Sunset in Verona, 2018
9 x 12"
Pastel on sanded paper

Bella Verona

After Venice, we headed to the charming town of Verona. My mom and dad had been there before and had loved it. It also happened that was where my aunt and uncle were renting an apartment and after years of all of us discussing our love of Italy we were finally all going to be there together!

After so much rain on our trip, I finally got to wear my little black silk dress! 

Ready for our dinner on the hill! 

My aunt and uncle found this wonderful restaurant with a beautiful view called Re Teodorico. It's just above where the tram takes you up ton he hill above the Adige river. 

We stayed at the family run Hotel Torcolo. They were incredibly kind, welcoming, and not even a block off the main piazza with its old roman amphitheater. 

Just off the main square, to the North of the Amphitheater, is the shopping street of Via Giuseppe Mazzini. 

Museo di Castelvecchio
Built 1354-1356

    This museum was definitely worth a visit. The Castelvecchio Museum exhibits collections of Medieval, Renaissance and art works up to the 18th century. It has 29 exhibition halls. However, the way the exhibitions are presented it does not feel overwhelming.

    My favorite thing about the museum was how the individual works were mounted and displayed. I don't know if you can really see it in the photographs but it was beautifully done. 

    Below is a detail from a larger painting.

    Claudio Ridolfi (1570-1644)

    Santa Maria of Egypt 
    XV Century
    Angelo del Maccagnino?

    Polittico della Passione
    Paolo Morando called il Cavazzola
    1485c. - 1522

    Below is another detail from the massive altarpiece above.

    The museum also has some fabulous views!

    What made Verona extra special was the addition of my niece!! Elizabeth lives in Berlin and was able to join us for the weekend. And, of course, an afternoon spritz!

    And gelato!

    Casa di Giulietta

    Though the whole Romeo and Juliet balcony is a tourist trap, we had to go! There were throngs of people and crowds below taking pictures of their friends and lovers as they emerged out onto the balcony.

    There's a hall/archway when you enter the courtyard with these "love bandaids" on the walls. Apparently, people feel the need for a little love healing or maybe Bandaids are the only sticky things they have in their bags and backpacks to write on?

    The old Gothic style building from the 1300s is lovely but the hundreds (?) of tourists make it less romantic and more hilarious. The crowd was pretty jovial, and very loud as they shouted up to the various stream of Juliets who waited for their photo ops.

    We decided we'd pay only one crazy ticket price and have my niece go up to stand on the little "balconette."

    What was even more funny than the general scene was that when Elizabeth appeared she was so lovely that the crowd actually stopped, quieted, and there was an audible "Ahhh ..."  from the throng below.

    She really did look like the perfect Giulietta. 

    We took lots of photos for her now finance! 

    Hosteria il Punto Rosa

    By far our best meal out in Italy was found by my niece on her iPhone. It was just up the street from our hotel and we managed to get a reservation because of a downpour of rain. The photo below was in the little upstairs area where we had  our scrumptious dinner.

    We had the most incredible melon and prociutto that was beautifully presented spilling out of a glass container onto a large platter. The melon was mouthwatering and I'm not sure why the meat was so delicious but it was amazing. A couple of us ordered an incredible handmade pasta dish with shaved truffles. It was out of this world! I can't remember what everyone else ordered but we were all thrilled with our choices. 

    On top of that the staff was friendly, funny and fabulous. I highly recommend this place.

    The cloudy skies from the night before stuck around the next day but my niece and I managed to tour the old Roman Amphitheater, do some window shopping, dine with my parents and walk around town a bit. 

    Homemade pasta in a shop window ...

    As with many towns in Italy, some of the most beautiful artistic treasures are the churches themselves!  
    Basilica of Saint Anastasia 
    Italian Gothic 

    There were other churches and basilica's we popped into but when Elizabeth and I walked in we were struck by its incredible beauty. It is also the largest church in Verona. 

    The delicate detail of the ceiling was magnificent. It reminds me of beautiful Florentine stationery and paper that you find. It was exquisite.

    The church is "co-entitled" with St. Peter of Verona, who was martyr and co-patron of the city, but it's generally known as Sant'Anastasia.  I'm not sure which one because there are several saints with the name and at least three matyrs named Anastasia. It doesn't mention her on the official website or even clear it up on Wikipedia. Hmm. Still on a hunt for that information so I can give her props. 

    Yet another Anastasia mystery?

    We headed over the bridge and to dinner at my aunt and uncle's wonderful place they rented. We shared a delightful meal, belatedly celebrated my niece's birthday, and I prepared myself to say goodbye to Italy. (Until a couple of months ago, but that's another story!)

    You may have the universe
    if I may have Italy.
    ~Giuseppe Verdi


    Ci Vediamo ... a presto!

    Blessings and light!

    Next up ... Beautiful Hawaii!