Dancing sails and reflected banners upon water.

Magic before your eyes. A wind-stretched red sail on sparkling San Diego Bay.
Magic before your eyes. A wind-stretched red sail on sparkling San Diego Bay.

Dancing sails and colorful banners reflected upon water are magic. Tilting, shining, billowing, flowing, taut, wind-driven, powerful, gentle, mysterious, magical.

Color painted on canvas is art. But dancing color upon water has strange profound depth. It’s the merging of wind and water; of light and substance. Swelling, vibrating. It has a heartbeat.

I heard no sound as a large sailboat approached.
I heard no sound as a large sailboat approached.
It's USA 11, the Stars and Stripes. This America’s Cup racing yacht competed in 1992. She can be chartered for sailing adventures.
It’s USA 11, the Stars and Stripes. This America’s Cup racing yacht competed in 1992. She can be chartered for sailing adventures.
The sail stretches a hundred feet into the blue sky. Dancing in sunshine, turning on the water.
The sail stretches a hundred feet into the blue sky. Dancing in sunshine, turning on the water.
Magic white sails on a blue bay. The city of San Diego is near, but far away.
Magic white sails on a blue bay. The city of San Diego is near, but far away.
Even small sails need care. They will work powerful magic, take you where you will.
Even small sails need care. They will work powerful magic, take you where you will.
Lone dark form upon gray water. A strange apparition.
Lone dark form upon gray water. A strange apparition.
Reflections of flags at stern of USS Midway dance upon still water.
Reflections of flags at stern of USS Midway dance upon still water.
Colorful banners moved by a wild wind. Like strange, silent dreams in the liquid blue.
Colorful banners moved by a wild wind. Like strange, silent dreams in the liquid blue.
Unending dreams.
Unending dreams.
Adjusting a magic sail as one boat moves forward in space.
Adjusting a magic sail as one boat moves forward in space.

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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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Natural beauty at amazing Japanese Friendship Garden.

Visitors stroll through endless natural beauty at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.
Visitors stroll through endless natural beauty at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.

Please enjoy the following photographs. They were taken today at the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego’s wonderful Balboa Park. As you can plainly see, natural beauty is abundant in this amazing garden. I hope you have a chance to visit.

Gleaming droplets of water descend from a hollow bamboo kakei into the tranquil, cleansing tsukubai basin.
Gleaming droplets of water descend from a hollow bamboo kakei into the tranquil, cleansing tsukubai basin.
Close photo of a damp, rather ordinary leaf which was lying on some grass.
Close photo of a damp, rather ordinary leaf which was lying on some grass.
Even age and imperfections in this fallen leaf are beautiful beyond description.
Even age and imperfections in this fallen leaf are beautiful beyond description.
A rocky island, seemingly, in the karesansui dry stone garden, with carefully raked gravel encouraging meditation.
A rocky island, seemingly, in the Karesansui Dry Stone Garden, with carefully raked gravel inviting meditation.
Looking upward into the sunlit leafy canopy near the koi pond.
Looking upward into the sunlit leafy canopy near the koi pond.
The day's light makes striking patterns of living green.
The day’s light makes striking patterns of living green.
The base of one carefully tended tiny tree in the bonsai garden.
The base of one carefully tended tiny tree in the bonsai garden.
Flaming red bougainvillea blooms catch the eye of a young person walking through the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego.
Bright red bougainvillea bracts catch the eye of a young person walking through the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego.
Bougainvillea flowers are beautiful sights in the bonsai garden.
Bougainvillea red is an especially beautiful sight in the bonsai garden.
A yellow day-lily which is growing near the Charles C. Dail Memorial Gate.
A yellow day-lily which is growing near the Charles C. Dail Memorial Gate.
Bamboo leaves flutter in a gentle San Diego breeze.
Bamboo leaves flutter in the gentle San Diego breeze.
This small sculpture of a child is a mystery. One of the groundskeepers told me that. It might be a young Buddha, or an infant who tragically died. No one seems to know its history.
This small sculpture is a mystery according to one of the groundskeepers. It was placed in the garden by someone unseen.  The sculpture might be a young Buddha. It might have been placed here by someone who lost a child.  No one seems to know its history.
Bright green palm fronds produce instant human delight.
Bright green palm fronds produce instant human delight.
Close-up photograph of the amazing seed pod of a sago palm.
Close-up photograph of the amazing, strange seed pod of a sago palm.
Delicate white flowers of the star jasmine seem to have descended into this world from a heavenly place.
Delicate white flowers of the star jasmine seem to have descended into this world from a heavenly place.
Close-up photo of torn wood fibers where a dead tree limb finally separated from the trunk.
Close-up photo of torn wood fibers where a dead tree limb finally separated from the trunk.
Water cascading over stone shines in the sunlight. A small happy river flows through the bottom of the spacious garden canyon.
Water cascading over stone shines in the sunlight. A small gentle river flows through the bottom of the spacious garden canyon.
Looking down through magical, glistening, jewel-like water.
Looking down through magical, jewel-like water.
Jumbled leaves have turned many colors.
Jumbled leaves have turned many colors.
Nature's fantastic patterns are evident everywhere you turn in the amazing Japanese Friendship Garden.
Nature’s fantastic patterns are evident everywhere you turn in the amazing Japanese Friendship Garden.
I believe this is a white azalea, but I'm not certain.
After being corrected by a great reader, this appears to be a gardenia.  I first thought it might be a white azalea!  That shows you how much I know!
Visitors at the Japanese Friendship Garden stand in the shade of the Inamori Pavilion looking down at a very beautiful waterfall.
Visitors at the Japanese Friendship Garden stand in the shade of the Inamori Pavilion looking down at a pleasant waterfall.
A pink saucer magnolia bloom and buds. In the background you can see the new Inamori Pavilion, which opened this year.
A pink saucer magnolia bloom and buds. In the background you can see the new Inamori Pavilion, which opened this year.
Another photographer was recording the infinite natural beauty that anyone can plainly see at the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Another photographer was recording the carefully arranged natural beauty at the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Even dry brown curled leaves can take one's breath away.
Even dry brown curled leaves can take one’s breath away.
Leaves and shadows of leaves.
Leaves and shadows of leaves.
If one small place can contain such abundant wonder, imagine what the vast universe holds.
If one small place can contain such abundant wonder, imagine what the vast universe holds.
Natural beauty at the amazing Japanese Friendship Garden
Natural beauty at the amazing Japanese Friendship Garden

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The Salvation Army celebrates service in San Diego.

The Salvation Army marching band parades around County of San Diego Waterfront Park.
The Salvation Army marching band parades around County of San Diego Waterfront Park.

Almost everyone recognizes their red shield. Most have walked past their holiday season bell ringers. Many have been helped by their programs and services. The Salvation Army, an important part of our community, is 150 years old.

The local branch of the worldwide organization celebrated that history today in the County of San Diego Waterfront Park. I walked there this morning to see what was going on.

What does the Salvation Army do? In San Diego, their Sierra Del Mar Division provides transitional living for homeless mothers and children. They help the unemployed homeless return to a normal, stable, working life. They have disaster response programs, providing emergency food and help. They provide seniors with nutritional assistance. They help people recover from drug and alcohol addiction. They operate the expansive Ray and Joan Kroc Community Corps Center, which features education, recreation and family support programs. They do a whole lot of good. While The Salvation Army is a Christian organization, everybody is welcome. None are turned away.

As I approached the park, I was surprised and pleased to see a dignified parade coming down the sidewalk…

150 years of community service is being celebrated by The Salvation Army.
150 years of community service is being celebrated by The Salvation Army.
Drums, banners, uniforms and kids stepping proudly down the San Diego sidewalk.
Drums, banners, uniforms and kids stepping proudly down the San Diego sidewalk.
The modest parade ends at the waterfront park, where music, fun and fellowship begin.
The modest parade ends in the waterfront park, where music, fun and fellowship begin.
A speech kicks off the event. The Salvation Army helps the homeless, the poor, the suffering around the world.
A speech kicks off the event. The Salvation Army helps the homeless, the poor, the suffering around the world.
Coffee is served from rear of an emergency disaster services vehicle.
Coffee is served from rear of an emergency disaster services vehicle.
This friendly lady provided some info about the popular Christian charitable organization.
This friendly lady provided some info about the popular Christian charitable organization.
A gathering in the park celebrates 150 years of doing the most good.
A gathering in the park celebrates 150 years of doing the most good.

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Old Town San Diego and Día de los Muertos.

Día de los Muertos special event at Bazaar del Mundo is filled with color.
Día de los Muertos displays at Bazaar del Mundo are filled with life and color.

Día de los Muertos, also called Day of the Dead, is a popular holiday in Mexico and in many other cultures around the world. It’s a celebration that honors the memories and spirits of loved ones who have passed away. It closely follows Halloween, a holiday that is similar but actually quite different. Día de los Muertos, rich with images of skeletons and decorated skulls, is neither scary nor morbid; it is joyous!

This weekend, Old Town hosted its annual Day of the Dead special event. Altars, costumes and other sights that are common during the holiday could be found throughout the park and surrounding area. I took lots of photos!

Día de los Muertos altar at Bazaar del Mundo in Old Town, San Diego.
Día de los Muertos altar at Bazaar del Mundo in a corner of Old Town, San Diego.
Kids decorate sugar skulls, a fun tradition of Day of the Dead.
Kids decorate sugar skulls, a fun and tasty tradition of Day of the Dead.
Ethnic and folk crafts and ornaments are abundant at Bazaar del Mundo.
Ethnic and folk crafts are abundant at Bazaar del Mundo.
Young lady has face painted to celebrate Día de los Muertos.
Young lady has face painted to celebrate Día de los Muertos.
Image of woman skeleton in old-fashioned purple hat and dress.
A traditional Catrina. A female skeleton in old-fashioned hat and dress.
Altar at Fiesta de Reyes features Virgin Mary and photos of departed loved ones.
Altar at Fiesta de Reyes features Virgin Mary and photos of departed loved ones.
Fantastic sign above pumpkin shows lively, dancing skeletons.
Fantastic sign above pumpkin shows lively, dancing skeletons.
Lady in San Diego's Old Town arranges bright frilly flowers in the sun.
Lady working in San Diego’s Old Town arranges bright frilly flowers in the sun.
Folk dancers on and off stage at Fiesta de Reyes during Día de los Muertos.
Folk dancers on and off stage at Fiesta de Reyes during Día de los Muertos.
This scarecrow and skeleton seem happy together!
This scarecrow and skeleton seem happy together on this perfect Autumn day!
Bench at Fiesta de Reyes painted with sombrero-wearing, flower-bearing skeletons.
Bench at Fiesta de Reyes painted with sombrero-wearing, flower-bearing skeletons.
Small image in crude wooden frame in a larger altar.
Small crowned image in crude wooden frame in a larger altar.
Radiant image of Virgin Mary on wood above altar candles.
Prayers are directed toward radiant image of Virgin Mary above altar candles.
Altars often contain food liked by the deceased, to entice their spirits.
Altars often contain food liked by the deceased, to entice their spirits back.
Mariachi skeletons strum guitars at entrance to Fiesta de Reyes.
Mariachi skeletons strum guitars at entrance to Fiesta de Reyes.
This big flower and heart-covered skull faces Old Town's central square.
This big flower and heart-covered calavera faces Old Town’s central square.
Larger-than-life Day of the Dead mannequin wears a beautiful red dress.
Larger-than-life Day of the Dead mannequin wears a beautiful red dress.
Dead couple sits in lobby of Old Town's historic Cosmopolitan Hotel.
Dead couple sits in lobby of Old Town’s historic Cosmopolitan Hotel.
Bartender offers drink to skeleton cowboy at the Cosmopolitan Hotel's bar!
Bartender offers drink to skeleton cowboy at the Cosmopolitan Hotel’s bar!
The bony fellow at the bar was called Calaca McAlvarez!
The bony fellow at the bar was called Calaca McAlvarez!
Stylish but dead bystander is resting near one of the many Old Town shops.
Stylish bystander is resting near one of the many Old Town shops.
Musician entertains at Old Town's Day of the Dead festivities.
Musician entertains on pipes at Old Town’s Day of the Dead festivities.
Día de los Muertos display with a strong Mexican flavor.
Día de los Muertos display with a strong Mexican flavor.
Photographs remember loved ones who have passed into the spirit world after death.
Photographs remember loved ones who have passed into the spirit world after death.
Snow White has been transformed into lavish Day of the Dead artwork.
Snow White has been transformed into lavish Day of the Dead artwork.
This guy is sitting on a wagon near popular entrance to Old Town State Historic Park.
This guy is sitting on a wagon near popular entrance to Old Town State Historic Park.
Sculptor recreates face of living tourist posing for a unique souvenir.
Sculptor recreates face of living tourist posing for a unique souvenir.
Prints on display for the big crowds attending Old Town's Day of the Dead.
Prints on display for the big crowds attending Old Town’s Day of the Dead.
This elegant couple was spotted among the many historic buildings in Old Town.
This elegant couple was spotted among the many historic buildings in Old Town.
This well-dressed family all had their faces painted to resemble skulls!
This well-dressed family all had their faces painted to resemble skulls!
Author A. B. Curtiss was signing her acclaimed books at Día de los Muertos.
Author A. B. Curtiss was signing her acclaimed books at Día de los Muertos.

Please check out her website!

Cool, astonishing sights popped up wherever I turned!
Cool, astonishing sights popped up wherever I turned!

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The dynamic, spiritual chalk art of Steve Mac.

Steve Mac, chalk portrait artist at Seaport Village.
Steve Mac, chalk portrait artist at Seaport Village.

Artists abound along the Embarcadero near Seaport Village. They’ll paint a quick portrait for a modest donation. Today during my walk, I stopped for a bit to chat with Steve Mac.

Steve uses his talent to capture the essence of his subjects. He has a philosophical outlook on life, shunning the material and the ego for the beautiful essence found everywhere around, and within us. About a year and a half ago he had a profound spiritual experience not far from where we spoke, and he woke up from a state of worry and confusion to a spirit-filled life in the now.

Here are a few of his works he had out on display:

Chalk art contains symbols of yin and yang, and the four elements.
Chalk art and symbols of yin and yang, and the four elements.
Serene face between wolves of creativity and destruction.
Serene face between wolves of creativity and destruction.
Sample of colorful double portrait rendered in chalk.
Sample of colorful double portrait rendered in chalk.
Amazing abstract chalk art captures life's essence.
Amazing abstract chalk art captures life’s essence.

I promised to link to his Facebook page.