Spinning yarns (and twine) in old San Diego.

Yarns dyed many different colors out on display in San Diego's Old Town.
Yarns dyed many different colors out on display in San Diego’s Old Town.

One more quick post from today’s stroll through Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. After going on the free walking tour, which I do every few years to jiggle my memory, I observed that a couple of unique exhibits were out on public display. One concerned yarn, the other twine. A “string” of coincidence too good not to blog about!

During the tour, our knowledgeable guide explained how red dye in the olden days was derived from a particular insect–the cochineal. The cochineal is a beetle that can be found on prickly pears, a cactus which grows abundantly in arid San Diego. While we watched, the guide plucked one from a prickly pear next to the Casa de Estudillo, then crushed it. His fingers turned bright purple from the beetle juice! (He explained the British Red Coats dyed their uniforms with cochineal, but Purple Coats didn’t sound quite so fierce.)

Tour guide about ready to make some red dye.
Tour guide ready to produce some reddish dye.

After the tour ended, two volunteers inside the Casa de Estudillo were demonstrating how yarn used to be made. To dye the fibers, both cochineal and indigo dye were commonly used. A spinning wheel served to demonstrate the hard work required to live comfortably before our more modern conveniences.

La Casa de Estudillo, an elegant house built in the early 1800s by a wealthy Californio who owned several large ranchos in Southern California.
La Casa de Estudillo, an elegant adobe house built in 1827 by a wealthy Californio family that owned several large ranchos in Southern California.
Volunteers in costume told me a little about San Diego's complex, fascinating history.
Volunteers in costume with baskets of color.  They told me some yarns concerning San Diego’s complex, fascinating history.
State Park volunteers describe life in early San Diego, when spinning wheels were common household objects.
State Park volunteers describe life in early San Diego, when spinning wheels were common household objects.

Out in one corner of Old Town’s big central plaza, some friendly Mormons were demonstrating the making of twine. Like the native prickly pear, yucca plants have always been plentiful in San Diego’s desert-like environment. The tough fibers in the leaves, once extracted, are dried and then twisted using a simple mechanism to create primitive but very practical twine or rope.

Making twine used to involve twisting dried fibers from native yucca plants.
Making twine involved twisting fibers found in native yucca plants.
Mormon guy smiles as he exhibits rope-making in Old Town. The Mormon Battalion was one of many diverse participants in San Diego's early history.
Mormon guy smiles as he exhibits rope-making in Old Town. The Mormon Battalion was one of many diverse participants in San Diego’s early history.

Someday I’ll probably blog about the amazing, hour-long Old Town walking tour. I need some more photos and many more notes before I undertake that, however!

Meet Don and Dulce, Old Town’s donkeys.

I took another walk today…

Walking through Old Town San Diego State Historic Park we see a sign near Seeley Stable Museum. Let's go see the donkeys!
Walking through Old Town San Diego State Historic Park we see a sign beside Seeley Stable Museum. Let’s go see the donkeys!
Is this one of the donkeys. Nope. Visitors and kids from local schools can sit on this wooden critter, because touching the live donkeys is not allowed.
Is this one of the donkeys? Nope. Visitors and kids from local schools can ride this docile wooden critter, because touching the live donkeys is not allowed.
Look! We found some horned cattle corralled in a corner! Nope. Wrong again.
Look! We found some horned cattle corralled in a corner! Nope. Wrong again.
California State Park rangers ahead! I think something cool is up this way!
California State Park Rangers ahead! I think something cool is up this way!
It's 30 year old donkey Don. This guy can be grumpy, I'm told. I saw some evidence of that!
It’s 30 year old donkey Don. This guy can be grumpy, I’m told. I saw some evidence of that!
Over here we meet 28 year old Dulce, which in Spanish means sweet, or candy. She (I think it's a she--I didn't ask) is the friendlier donkey.
Over here we meet 28 year old Dulce, which in Spanish means sweet, or candy. She (I think it’s a she–I didn’t ask) is the friendlier donkey.
But the rangers here seem the friendliest of all!
But the rangers here seem the friendliest of all!

Visiting school kids, with the help of Don and Dulce, can learn what life was like (particularly for a donkey) in the very early days of San Diego.

Four things I learned during my brief visit:

Donkeys were a preferred draft and pack animal because of their spine, which pound for pound is much stronger than a horse. A donkey can pull half its weight.

Donkeys are closely related to the zebra.

Don and Dulce are rescue animals.

Old Town has fun surprises around every corner!

Perfection contained in a long, leisurely walk.

Walking on the beach north of the Imperial Beach pier.
Walking on the beach north of the Imperial Beach pier.

Nothing feels more perfect than a long walk. A long, easy walk to anywhere.

No matter which path feet follow, which direction your head turns, to walk is to feel refreshingly alive.

With every step, the world’s infinite complexity is revealed page by page. When eyes are open and the mind is keen, the strides are through endless wonder.

That first step. That deep, expansive breath of new air. The stretching out of limbs. A touch of warmth or chill on your face. Eyes lifted to the horizon, expectant.

Joy mounting with every stride as senses register a million familiar proofs of the world’s essential beauty.

The smells from near and far.  Mown grass, the salty ocean, rain wet asphalt, piney hills, a jasmine bush on a corner, sun-baked dirt, perfume from a cafe.

Kaleidoscope visions through which you simply, happily flow. The infinite detail of reflected light, dazzling your eyes. Patterns of leaves. Patterns of shadow. Patterns of neighbors and bustle and streets. The patterns of humanity.

And every gradation of daylight. Every blue and every green that nature supplies. A complete riot of color on painted things. Rainbows on buildings, signs, cars, jackets, socks. The whole spectrum of color, if only you see it. A trillion, trillion buzzing atoms encompass you, if only you see them. The awesome visual geometry of angles, form and depth. It’s all before and around you.

The smallest object encountered during a thoughtful walk is a self-contained universe. Even a lone bit of windblown trash is beautiful, in perhaps a thousand different ways. With a microscope you couldn’t unravel its potent mysteries. Who made it? How was it made? Where did it come from, and where’s it headed? For a moment the walker shares the world closely with surprising and mysterious companions: a bird, a grasshopper, a motorist, another walker. We all travel alone but together, encountering our own unique wonders, creating through sheer muscle and chance our historic voyages of discovery.

I want to go exploring today. I suppose I’ll just start out my door.

Got to put on my shoes… Bye!

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Balloons, wings, stars and the wisdom of Seuss.

Panda with star on belly is lifted by colorful balloons, and floats away into the blue sky.
Panda with star on belly is lifted by colorful balloons, and floats away into the blue sky.

No matter how different people might appear, we all live among the same bright stars.

Perhaps that’s a bit of wisdom inferred from a book by one of my favorite authors, Dr. Seuss.

That also seems to be the elevating message of this cool street art in Bankers Hill.

While words and art might eventually fade (as these photos prove), the stars buried within us do not.

These three transformer boxes in Bankers Hill are painted with unbounded imagination.
These three transformer boxes in Bankers Hill are painted with unbounded imagination.
Jazzy guy plays keyboard in a boat that soars above the surf and a star-bellied bird.
Jazzy guy plays keyboard in a boat that soars above the surf and a star-bellied bird.
Flowers in hair, on shoulders. A golden star joins the sun and sunflower in symbolic street art.
Flowers in hair, on shoulders. A golden star on a dress joins the sun and sunflower in symbolic street art.
Part of faded Dr. Seuss verse. That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether they had one, or not, upon thars.
Part of slowly fading Dr. Seuss verse: “That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether they had one, or not, upon thars.”
Winged angel dog in heaven plays a drum.
Winged angel dog in heaven plays a drum.
Silly green-headed alien frolics on red planet.
Happy, unique green alien frolics on red planet.
Musician in cool sunglasses plays guitar where he stands in the cosmos.
Musician plays his guitar where he stands in the cosmos.
A zany peek over Mars, under stars.
A zany peek over Mars, under stars.

A flavor of Olive in the San Diego cocktail.

A tiny barn in a fun garden between the sidewalk and a local acupuncture and wellness center.
A tiny barn in a narrow garden, located between the sidewalk and a local acupuncture and wellness center.

I recently walked through Bankers Hill, a historic neighborhood just north of downtown San Diego. During my small adventure I got a few interesting photos on and around Olive Street. Like the sights in any city, they form a mixture. Here’s a flavor of Olive in the San Diego cocktail!

Flower at the HERBIN Community Garden Project, among plots where many herbs are grown.
Flower at the HERBIN Community Garden Project, among plots where many herbs are grown.
Ms. Pacman, Space Invaders and other video game legends hang out on a porch railing.
Ms. Pacman, Space Invaders and other video game legends hang out on a porch railing.
The Amy Strong House, built in 1906 by an enterprising San Diego dressmaker, or couturier.
The Amy Strong House, built in 1906 on Olive Street by an enterprising San Diego dressmaker, or couturier.
Amy Strong lived here until 1912. The house is in the early 20th century Craftsman architectural style.
Amy Strong lived here until 1912. The house is in the early 20th century Craftsman architectural style.
A few unusual features foretold the highly eccentric Amy Strong Castle at Mt. Woodson, which she built years later.
A few unusual features anticipated the highly eccentric Amy Strong Castle at Mt. Woodson, which she built years later.
Future site of Olive Street Park. This small plot of land for years has been the object of contention, as some might have seen on KUSI News' Turko Report.
Future site of Olive Street Park. This small plot of land for years has been the object of contention, as you might have seen on KUSI News’ Turko Files.
Large medical office building on Fifth Avenue just north of Olive being demolished. I saw a doctor here many years ago!
Huge medical office building between Fifth and Sixth Avenue just north of Olive being demolished.
Cool art on wall of residential building at corner of Fourth and Olive.
Cool art hangs on residential building at corner of Fourth and Olive.

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It’s always sunny in Hillcrest!

I believe in rollerblading! More fun utility box art in a San Diego neighborhood.
I believe in rollerblading. More fun utility box art in a San Diego neighborhood.

At the corner of Fifth and Spruce is a convenience store. Stop here on a sunny day and you can do more than grab a bag of chips. You can enjoy two colorful examples of street art!

It's always sunny in Hillcrest! (Follow the arrow. This is in Bankers Hill.)
It’s always sunny in Hillcrest!

To be exact, this is Bankers Hill. Hillcrest begins at Upas Street, a couple blocks to the north. I suppose that’s why someone drew an arrow.

Harsh angular shadow eclipses pastoral mural painted on a parking lot wall.
Dark shadow can’t harm this joyful street mural painted on a parking lot wall.
Magical fairy, flowers and tree behind dumpster. A touch of charming creativity in the city.
Magical fairy, flowers and tree behind dumpster. A touch of charming creativity in the city.

Daughters of American Revolution in Balboa Park.

Table includes an Exposition Cook Book, letters, activity books, and other DAR documents.
Table includes an Exposition Cook Book, letters, activity books, and other DAR documents.

When I was in middle school, I won a medal from the Daughters of the American Revolution for an essay I wrote about Francis Scott Key. I’d forgotten all about it until yesterday.

After checking out the English Village Fete at the International Cottages, I moseyed across Pan American Road to see if anything was going on in the Balboa Park Club building (which used to be the New Mexico state building during the 1915 Panama-California Exposition).

In the big Balboa Park Club Ballroom, San Diegans young and old were having a blast dancing. In the smaller Santa Fe Room, as a part of Balboa Park’s centennial events, a few smiling people were showcasing elaborate historical displays.

I was welcomed enthusiastically. The Daughters of the American Revolution San Diego Chapter was holding this event to commemorate our country’s founding and the long, interesting history of the DAR.

Fascinating material covered two rows of tables.  Many displays concerned tracing one’s ancestry and how to search historical archives. To be a member of the lineage-based organization your family tree must include a participant in the American Revolution.

The Daughters of the American Revolution has placed various historical plaques throughout San Diego over the years. I’ve documented two plaques on my blog. One is on the outside of the Santa Fe Depot. The other is in the plaza in front of Balboa Park’s Museum of Man.

The Balboa Park Club building designed to appear like an adobe in America's Southwest.
The Balboa Park Club building was designed to appear like an adobe in America’s Southwest.
Numerous Daughters of the American Revolution artifacts exhibited in Balboa Park.
Daughters of the American Revolution memorabilia exhibited in Balboa Park.
A Daughters of the American Revolution magazine from 1916.
A Daughters of the American Revolution magazine from 1916.
Interesting display shows first 12 Regents of San Diego DAR.
Interesting graphic shows first 12 Regents of San Diego DAR.
Arrival in San Diego of President General of the National Society was big news in 1915.
Arrival in San Diego of President General of the National Society was big news in 1915.
A cool exhibit by an African American lady shows her rich family history.
A cool exhibit by an African American lady shows her rich family history.
Pins and medals of all sorts. Some contain the names of patriotic relations.
Pins and medals of all sorts. Some contain the names of patriotic relations.
One exhibit encourages and assists Hispanic Americans searching for their ancestors.
One poster encourages and assists Hispanic Americans searching for their ancestors.
Some beautiful quilts were out for visitors to admire.
Some beautiful quilts were out for visitors to admire.
One example of china with a 1915 San Diego Chapter emblem were on display.
Example of china produced by the San Diego Chapter in 1915.