The colorful Catrinas of Old Town San Diego!

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is coming up on Sunday. This popular Mexican holiday is a special time to remember and pray for loved ones who’ve passed on from this world.

Día de los Muertos has many rich traditions that have evolved over time, and one is the Catrina. Elegantly dressed skeletons with sugar skulls symbolize death. In Mexico, Day of the Dead is a time for the celebration of past lives, not mourning.

This year, celebrations of Día de los Muertos will be limited because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In Old Town San Diego State Historic Park the annual procession and festival have been cancelled.

But I did notice during a walk through Old Town late this afternoon that many very colorful Catrinas are on display in the large outdoor courtyard of Fiesta de Reyes!

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

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Six names on six benches.

Around noon today I sat down, opened a book.

I’d taken a walk around Cardiff-by-the-Sea and had found a perfect shady bench in Glen Park.

Below in the distance people were darting about the basketball court shooting hoops. One person missed, madly whirled, lunged forward, fell back, reached, barely intercepted, passed, darted, jumped impossibly high, caught, shot again, swished, shouted happily.

Upon finishing a chapter, I got up and gathered my stuff. The bench I’d been sitting on had a plaque. “Gotta go, gotta ride.”

It felt like the perfect small poem.

I found six names on six empty benches.

Every word shined.

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

Victor Ochoa’s Tree of Life in San Ysidro!

Victor Ochoa is a world-famous muralist, activist and pioneer of the Chicano art movement whose work can be found throughout San Diego, particularly in Chicano Park. You can learn more about him here.

Should you stroll through San Ysidro Park, between West and East Park Avenue, just north of the San Ysidro Civic Center, you’ll probably see what appears to be a raised square platform in the middle of the grass. As you move closer this colorful public art, titled Arbol de la Vida (Tree of Life), comes into focus. It’s a tile mosaic planter and bench that surrounds a tree!

I can find almost nothing about this public art when I search the internet. Written on the tiles is the following:

Arbol de la Vida by Victor Ochoa, 1995. Commissioned for the community of San Ysidro and the citizens of San Diego through the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture. Tree of Life.

It appears the overall design was created by Victor Ochoa and the tiles were painted by local children.

Do you know more about his wonderful public artwork? If you do, leave a comment!

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

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Life returns to Balboa Park one strange summer.

It’s late summer. It has been a very strange year.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted almost every aspect of our lives. But even though we still wear face masks and keep our social distance, there’s a sense in Balboa Park that a more normal life is slowly returning.

Earlier in the spring and summer the park was eerily quiet. But in the past week I’ve noticed growing numbers of visitors. There seems to be a desire to recover a small part of a disrupted summer.

Some of the museums have reopened. Vendors and street performers along El Prado are back. Picnics on the grass have become numerous. People are once again posing for pictures by the lily pond.

The sunshine and beautiful flowers never went away.

I took these photographs during walks through Balboa Park yesterday and on Labor Day.

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

Record your COVID-19 story for the History Center.

Street art spotted during a walk along North Park Way. This masked face looks a bit like a cosmic ice cream cone.

I was looking at the website of the San Diego History Center yesterday when I noticed a cool project they’ve undertaken.

The History Center is looking for San Diego residents to document their personal stories regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

The recorded experiences–in writing, video or audio–will be preserved by the San Diego History Center and become part of their permanent collection. Years from now, when people want to understand what this unusual moment in history was like, they’ll be able to refer back to your own unique story.

Questions you might answer include “How has COVID-19 changed your daily life?” and “How is your neighborhood/social circle responding to the crisis?” and “Has COVID-19 changed your perspective about living in San Diego?”

If this project piques your interest and you have something to say, go to the History Happening Now! website and Share Your Story by clicking here!

A lesson I have learned from blogging.

Never stop flying.
Never stop flying.

This coming Sunday, Cool San Diego Sights turns seven years old.

Seven years doing this? Unbelievable.

Starting a blog and watching it grow very, very slowly over many years has taught me an important lesson about life. Patience and perseverance might be the two most important keys to success.

While having fun and doing things that I love–walking and writing–I have spent literally thousands of hours working on Cool San Diego Sights. A good chunk of my life has been spent taking and selecting photos, cropping and adjusting them, doing research, being a detective, plotting out future blogs, making corrections, being obsessive/compulsive, providing updates, pulling out my hair (what’s left of it), periodically wondering if I should quit this sometimes tedious exercise…

And now, to my complete surprise, I find myself getting traffic from Google News, News Break, Chrome’s suggested articles, and a remarkable variety of major websites.

As a result of Cool San Diego Sights’ growing success, one of my other websites, Short Stories by Richard, is being visited by students from classrooms around the world. Most are reading my little story One Thousand Likes, which I’m told might be used in an upcoming twelfth grade textbook produced by one of the world’s most prestigious publishers.

Pinch me.

Is this real?

To think this thing started on a whim. I’ve always walked. I had an unused little camera. I created a simple, easy WordPress blog. I figured I’d post a photo and a few words once in a while.

So if you’re a blogger or writer out there in a ridiculously enormous world that contains billions of web pages, and you’ve begun to wonder if it’s really worth the effort–keep at it! Don’t give up! Do your best! Stay passionate! Write well, be truthful, be original, be creative, be smart, be curious, understand and appeal to your readers’ humanity, and remember to always maintain your sense of humor!

And never lose hope! Because you never know!

Standing woman sculpture at UC San Diego.

There’s an unusual sculpture at UC San Diego rising high in the air between the Medical Teaching Facility and the Basic Sciences Building. I say it’s unusual because it doesn’t feature a “usual” depiction of the human form and I’m not sure how it affects me.

The piece’s title is Standing, and its creator is artist Kiki Smith. The public art was added to UCSD’s Stuart Collection in 1998.

Gazing up at the small, vulnerable figure you’ll notice what appear to be nails sticking out from her upper body. It looks like an example of a surgical procedure in a medical textbook. It makes her look like a passive, punctured thing, not a vibrant human. The form appears tired, aged, fragile, resigned to her inescapable condition. It strikes me the sculpture depicts a confrontation with our human mortality. She stands atop a severed tree trunk. Her face seems to ask: Why me? When the fountain feature is on (it wasn’t when I walked by), water drips from her hands. I almost wonder if the dripping water makes one think of draining blood.

Yet, to me, the sculpture isn’t really that morbid. It’s simply seems a clear-eyed observation of the material human condition.

An interpretation from the website that describes the piece emphasizes certain dualities: “Cast from a live model, the female figure atop Standing calls forth thoughts of human strength and frailty, and both the power and the limits of medicine. Serene and ageless, she stands in a Madonna-like pose that is both vulnerable and generous. Ribbons of water – the source of life – flow from her hands into the rock-lined pond below, with a soothing, mellifluous sound.”

Perhaps my own interpretation is too bleak. It’s hard to see past those nails. They remind me of an earthworm dissection I performed using a square of cardboard and pins in high school. Perhaps if clear bright water was flowing from her hands my feelings would change.

If there is strength and generosity in this sculpture, it comes from within the form, from a place unseen–an organ those sharp painful nails cannot reach. And the water’s sound must be the gentle sound of present living. A sonorous whisper from a human standing.

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

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A tale of two San Diegos.

Many of these photos aren’t cool. But they represent reality.

There is a tale of two San Diegos that can be read every day.

One San Diego is optimistic. The other is bleak.

We are all participants in this tale of two San Diegos.

The story is complex and heart-breaking, and has uncounted pages.

There are many ways to help San Diego’s homeless. If that’s something you’d like to do, click here.

Every day in San Diego is a new adventure.

When I walk around San Diego, I find interesting sights no matter where I turn. Every day is a new adventure.

A lot like life!

After work today I wandered around downtown and did my best to capture a few good photographs.

Some of these photos are a little mysterious.

But what is an adventure without mystery?

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

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Last year, at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park’s annual Fourth of July celebration, diverse people from our community joined together on stage to read parts of the Declaration of Independence.

People from all walks of life, converging from different places, each with their own unique struggles, ambitions and experiences, remembered some of the enduring principles that underlie a free society.

During the event, anyone in the crowd was invited to come up onto the stage to read, and many did.

Of all the photos I took at the event, the above photograph to me is the most powerful.

Even with all of our human differences–the millions of unique personal beliefs and desires that frequently conflict–there are high ideals that are cherished by one and all.

We all want to live. We all want to be free. We all seek happiness.

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.