How to help keep the San Diego River healthy.

Bright yellow California sunflowers. San Diego has more botanical diversity than any other county in the continental United States.
Bright yellow California sunflowers. San Diego has more botanical diversity than any other county in the continental United States.

The San Diego River has always been a source of life. Ancient people flourished on its banks. It’s where European civilization began in California. That civilization today has grown to include freeways, shopping malls, industrial parks and immense residential complexes. Like a gleaming thread of silver, the river flows through it all, eternally, west to the Pacific Ocean.

The health of this once-pristine river, crowded in many areas by human development, is threatened in challenging ways. Pollutants found in storm runoff, windblown litter, piles of garbage and human waste from homeless encampments, encroachment by non-native vegetation… These problems and others require the thoughtful involvement of the local community. Volunteers monitor the river; some help to pick up trash or report graffiti. Active, concerned residents attend special meetings to discuss improvements or make critical decisions.

Would you like to become involved? Click here, or check out my two photos of posters that include contact information.

Our careful stewardship of the San Diego River will ensure the survival of an important riparian ecosystem, and will allow future generations to walk down trails of spirit-nourishing beauty.

Gazing west along the San Diego River from Qualcomm Way.
Gazing west along the San Diego River from Qualcomm Way.
Bicycle and pedestrian paths follow the San Diego River through Mission Valley.
Bicycle and pedestrian paths follow the San Diego River through Mission Valley.
Litter carelessly dropped by a mile marker for The San Diego River Trail. It was picked up.
Litter carelessly dropped near a mile marker for The San Diego River Trail. It was picked up.
The community is working to restore and enhance this area while making an inviting living science center in the heart of our urban riparian environment.
The community is working to restore and enhance this area while making an inviting living science center in the heart of our urban riparian environment.  (Click image to enlarge.)
Make a difference with a fun group of people. Join the River Assessment Team! Help support a clean river and get some exercise!
Make a difference with a fun group of people. Join the River Assessment Team! Help support a clean river and get some exercise! (Click image to enlarge.)
A red San Diego Trolley passes over the life-filled river as it approaches the Rio Vista station.
A red San Diego Trolley passes over the life-filled river as it approaches the Rio Vista station.
A gathering of American coots (or mud hens) where the San Diego River passes beneath Camino del Este.
A gathering of American coots (or mud hens) where the San Diego River passes beneath Camino del Este.
Dark clouds and barren Fremont Cottonwoods minutes before a winter storm brings brief torrential rain.
Dark clouds and barren Fremont Cottonwoods minutes before a winter storm brings brief torrential rain.
Beautiful flowers can be seen at almost any time of year during a nature walk along The San Diego River Trail.
Beautiful flowers can be seen at almost any time of year during a nature walk along The San Diego River Trail.
A couple of bees collect pollen in the morning.
A couple of busy bees collect pollen in the morning.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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San Diego residents learn a cool craft in a park!

Neighbors gather in San Diego's East Village to learn how to make cool mosaic planters!
Neighbors gather in San Diego’s East Village to learn how to make cool mosaic planters!

This morning, residents of San Diego gathered at Fault Line Park in East Village to learn how to make mosaic planters! The neighborhood event was put together by the Downtown San Diego Partnership and Home Depot.

To make your own cool mosaic planter, you need a clay pot, ceramic tile adhesive, and broken bits of tile, colored glass or mirror. Apply a generous coat of adhesive to the outside of the pot, then press in the colorful, shiny mosaic bits! I was told it takes a good 24 hours for the white adhesive to thoroughly dry and harden.

What a fun DIY gift idea! Or a cool craft project for a downtown apartment or condo!

I think I heard that events like this will be happening at different parks around downtown San Diego every first Saturday of the month!

An event held Saturday morning at Fault Line Park taught participants how to produce an easy, artistic craft.
An event held Saturday morning at Fault Line Park taught participants how to produce an easy, artistic craft.
Home Depot sponsored the Do-it-Yourself Workshop. Everyone learned how to piece together beautiful mosaics!
Home Depot sponsored the Do-it-Yourself Workshop. Everyone learned how to piece together beautiful mosaics!
A layer of ceramic tile adhesive is applied to the exterior of clay pots.
A layer of ceramic tile adhesive is applied to the exterior of clay pots.
Lots of broken bits of tile are spread out on the table like jigsaw puzzle pieces!
Lots of broken bits of tile are spread out on the table like jigsaw puzzle pieces!
Art is easy! You just gotta do it!
Art is easy! You just gotta do it!

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A beautiful hour at the San Diego Symphony!

This friendly music instructor would teach lots of kids how to play the piano at Hands On Community Day at the San Diego Symphony!
This friendly music instructor would teach lots of kids how to play the piano at Hands On Community Day at the San Diego Symphony!

Today I enjoyed a beautiful hour at the San Diego Symphony. I arrived at noon to listen to a free public concert, which was just the first part of the five hour Hands On Community Day event. Later on, after I left for my walk, there were additional performances, and kids were taught how to play the piano by world-class musicians!

The San Diego Symphony is celebrating the piano during an ongoing Upright and Grand festival, which continues through February 8. If you haven’t been to a concert at Copley Symphony Hall, I assure you it’s a magical, wonderful experience!

Please enjoy a few photos and read the captions for explanations…

The San Diego Symphony's Upright and Grand festival is a month-long event that celebrates the piano.
The San Diego Symphony’s Upright and Grand festival is a month-long event that celebrates the piano.
Fantastic mural in lobby of Symphony Towers depicts an orchestra, including a pianist.
Fantastic mural in lobby of Symphony Towers depicts an orchestra, including a pianist.
Some bicyclists stopped by to play the public upright piano in the lobby of Symphony Towers near the box office.
Some bicyclists stopped by to play the public upright piano in the lobby of Symphony Towers near the box office.
A vintage photo in the lobby shows the Fox Theatre, built in 1929, now Copley Symphony Hall. A modern skyscraper called Symphony Towers was built over and around the old theatre in 1989.
A vintage photo in the lobby shows the Fox Theatre, built in 1929, now Copley Symphony Hall. A modern skyscraper called Symphony Towers was built over and around the old theatre in 1989.
Inside the elegant, historic Copley Symphony Hall. I arrived early to the Hands On Community Day, so there are few people in this photo.
Inside the elegant, historic Copley Symphony Hall. I arrived early to the Hands On Community Day, so there are few people in this photo.
One table had samples of a piano key's inner workings. Later on I saw lots of families and kids examining these with interest.
One table had samples of a piano key’s inner workings. Later on I saw lots of families and kids examining these with interest.
A representative for the San Diego International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs had a table outside the concert hall.
A representative for the San Diego International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs had a table outside the concert hall.
Six grand pianos were set up on the stage. I enjoyed the first hour of the event, which featured The Carnival of the Animals by composer Camille Saint-Saens, with poems by Ogen Nash.
Six grand pianos were set up on the stage. I enjoyed the first hour of the event, which featured The Carnival of the Animals by composer Camille Saint-Saens, with poems by Ogden Nash.
Looking up inside the concert hall. A friendly usher told me there's a winding staircase in the huge chandelier! Girls used to toss rose petals onto the audience, once upon a time long ago.
Looking up inside the concert hall. A friendly usher told me there’s a winding staircase in the huge chandelier! Girls used to toss rose petals onto the audience, once upon a time long ago.
People are arriving for the big San Diego Symphony free event, part of their Upright and Grand festival!
People are arriving for the big San Diego Symphony free event, part of their Upright and Grand festival!
After the first hour's concert is over, the audience applauds narrator Dave Scott and amazing pianists Jessie Chang and Bryan Verhoye!
After the first hour’s concert is over, the audience applauds narrator Dave Scott and amazing pianists Jessie Chang and Bryan Verhoye!

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Read the joyful history of Christmas in San Diego!

Bill "Santa" Swank has written a really great book about the history of Christmas in San Diego!
Bill “Santa” Swank has written a really great book about the history of Christmas in San Diego!

I was privileged today to meet Bill Swank. Perhaps you’ve met him, too. Since 2002, Bill has been the volunteer Santa Claus at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during Balboa Park’s popular December Nights. He’s a friendly good guy who effortlessly spreads cheerfulness and joy.

Bill Swank is probably best known for being a leading expert on baseball and the San Diego Padres. He’s written numerous books about baseball history. His knowledge is so deep, the San Diego Historical Society has called him our city’s top baseball historian.

His most recent book, published earlier this year, is titled Christmas in San Diego. If you love both Christmas and San Diego, I know you’ll treasure this book. It’s loaded with history, local traditions and hundreds of fun, very unique photos. (Five photos from Cool San Diego Sights are in the book! How cool is that?)

Bill “Santa” Swank believes the true meaning of Christmas is found in the Golden Rule. His excellent book also proves another important truth: that human hearts are warmed when we are generous and kind. In the book you’ll see community-spirited Santas through the decades bringing joy to many generations, lifting the spirits of all.

From Christmas Eve way back in 1775, to the present day, Christmas in San Diego covers over two hundred years of local history. You’ll find out how both famous and ordinary San Diegans have celebrated the holiday season, and learn a good deal about many historical places and events. Personally, I love the parts concerning unselfish Santa Claus volunteers who’ve participated in a surprising range of charitable activities. Touching young and old alike, with a twinkle-eyed smile and merry Ho, Ho, Ho!

I was privileged to shake the hand of Santa Claus today. Read Christmas in San Diego, and you will be able to peer into Santa’s heart.

Cool sights in San Diego’s historic Chinatown.

An amazing statue of China's unifying First Emperor stands at the front entrance of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Extension of the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum.
A statue of China’s unifying First Emperor. It stands at the front entrance of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Extension of the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum.

From time to time I walk through San Diego’s historic Chinatown, which is located in what is officially called the Asian Pacific Thematic Historic District. The area is bounded by Market Street, 2nd Avenue, 6th Avenue and J Street. You’ll find it downtown right next to the Gaslamp Quarter.

Over the years, I’ve learned a bit about San Diego’s early history during these walks. And I’ve accumulated a few photographs. Here are some cool sights that you might enjoy. I’ve provided interesting information in the captions.

The San Diego Chinese Historical Museum in the Asian Pacific Thematic Historic District. The Chinese Mission Building, built in 1927, was moved in 1996 to its present location at 404 3rd Avenue.
The San Diego Chinese Historical Museum in the Asian Pacific Thematic Historic District. The Chinese Mission Building, built in 1927, was moved in 1995 to its present location at 404 3rd Avenue.
The California Mission Revival-style Chinese Mission Building, dated 1927, was designed by Louis Gill, nephew and protege of renowned architect Irving Gill.
The California Mission Revival-style Chinese Mission Building, dated 1927, was designed by Louis Gill, nephew and protege of renowned architect Irving Gill.
Banners along side of downtown's San Diego Chinese Historical Museum.
Banners along side of downtown’s San Diego Chinese Historical Museum.
Looking through the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Gate on Third Avenue. Behind the museum is a small Asian garden.
Looking through the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Gate on Third Avenue. Behind the museum is a small Asian garden.
Ornate front of the San Diego Chinese Center, a community resource located in the Asian Pacific Thematic Historic District, San Diego's historic Chinatown.
Ornate front of the San Diego Chinese Center, a community resource located in the Asian Pacific Thematic Historic District.
A century ago, Quin Produce was located here on Third Avenue. Ah Quin ran a family produce business and was once considered the unofficial mayor of Chinatown.
A century ago, Quin Produce was located here on Third Avenue. Ah Quin ran a family produce business and was once considered the unofficial mayor of Chinatown.
The Chuang Archive and Learning Center of the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum.
The Chuang Archive and Learning Center of the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum.
Display in window explains Feathered Beings Iconography. Feathered beings were frequently seen motifs in artifacts of the Han Dynasty.
Display in window explains Feathered Beings Iconography. Feathered beings were frequently seen motifs in artifacts of the Han Dynasty.
Three bay windows at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Extension display historical photographs and common artifacts from San Diego's old Chinatown.
Three bay windows at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Extension display historical photographs and common artifacts from San Diego’s old Chinatown.
Photographs in this outdoor exhibit show various aspects of Chinese culture.
Photographs in this outdoor exhibit show various aspects of Chinese culture.
A view of San Diego's Third Avenue a hundred years ago, and the family of influential businessman and civic leader Ah Quin.
A view of San Diego’s Third Avenue a hundred years ago, and the family of influential businessman and civic leader Ah Quin.
Items from daily life in old Chinatown include kerosene heater, iron, scale and soup spoon.
Items from daily life in old Chinatown include kerosene heater, iron, and a grocery scale.
Scale manufactured by National Store Specialty Company, circa early 1900s.
Scale manufactured by National Store Specialty Company, circa early 1900s.
Display includes various articles used for food preparation and cooking in San Diego's old Chinatown.
Display includes various articles used for food preparation and cooking in San Diego’s old Chinatown.
Beautiful, artistic and historically interesting objects from daily life long ago in Chinatown.
Beautiful, artistic and historically interesting objects from daily life long ago in Chinatown.
A walk through San Diego's Asian Pacific Thematic Historic District provides many cool sights.
A walk through San Diego’s Asian Pacific Thematic Historic District provides many cool sights!

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Please join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously!

Bloggers Lifting Others Generously - 500 x 500

I’d like to propose a new informal organization. Anyone can join. It exists in our spirit. It’s called B.L.O.G., which stands for Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

We bloggers have amazing power. Our presence on the internet is enormous. We have significant and increasing influence in the world. Together we can make a huge positive difference.

So why not flex our muscles and use that growing influence to do good?

My proposal:

To be a self-appointed member of B.L.O.G., one must make a conscious effort to help nonprofits, charities and unselfish individuals who tirelessly work to improve our world.

Bloggers Lifting Others Generously will help these deserving folks by providing them with publicity.

From time to time–when opportunities arise–members of B.L.O.G. will publish posts about charitable efforts.¬† One might write a post to help publicize an organization’s food drive, or a community’s environmental cleanup, or neighborhood students trying to raise money, or a walk to find a cure…

Every member of B.L.O.G. will use the power of their passionate words to support those who work to improve our world.

Here are some examples.

Will you join me? I even made a big blue B.L.O.G. graphic as you can see at the top of this post! Make your own or use mine if you’d like! It’s all about a spirit of giving and doing things that are meaningful. Isn’t generosity what’s ultimately important in life, anyway?

Let’s make this world (and the internet) a better place!

Alive in memory: one Dia de los Muertos altar.

A traditional Dia de los Muertos altar in Sherman Heights summons ancestors and close loved ones who have passed from this world.
A traditional Dia de los Muertos altar in Sherman Heights summons ancestors and loved ones who have passed from this world.

I went for a long walk this morning. My feet carried me through Sherman Heights, a neighborhood directly east of downtown San Diego. I was hoping to see some of the community Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) altars. These outdoor altars, distributed about a few residential streets, were the focus of yesterday’s popular Sherman Heights Muertos Festival, which I missed.

Heading down 24th Street, I spotted one elaborate altar near the sidewalk and was struck by the rich, heartfelt symbolism.

Loved ones who’ve “passed to the other side” are remembered with reverence on Dia de los Muertos, and their spirits are enticed back among the living. Traditional items featured in the altars can include sugar skulls, samples of the deceased person’s favorite food, pan de muertos (bread with a small human figurine baked inside), seeds, flowers, portraits of the dead, candles, alcohol (to toast the arrival of spirits), and papel picado (decorative¬†perforated paper which represents the fragile nature of life).

I don’t know whose spirits are being summoned by this particular altar. I can tell that precious memories are being kept alive among the living, and that those memories contain whole lifetimes of love.

Powerful symbols of life, love, hope and renewal on display in this colorful outdoor altar.
Powerful symbols of life, love, hope and renewal on display in this colorful outdoor altar.
In Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is a joyous celebration of the dead. It is an important day in culturally rich San Diego.
In Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is a joyous celebration of the dead. It is a beloved time in culturally rich San Diego.
A beautiful outdoor Dia de los Muertos altar in Sherman Heights. An ordinary family cherishes extraordinary memories.
A beautiful outdoor Dia de los Muertos altar in Sherman Heights. An ordinary family cherishes extraordinary memories.

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