The GGA Project -- Day #179 "Good Place to Grow Old, Young"

Somebody, man and I can't remember who!, mentioned the other day that there was one of these here in Hayward.  But I couldn't believe there was one of these here in Hayward, not least because there's no way there could be without my folks having known about it.  They're all over this sort of thing.

I learned of it (and darn it, who WAS it I was talking to?!  I hate when that happens) because we were discussing what a sad sad thing the koi pond down in San Jose is now.  It's everything you'd want in a koi pond EXCEPT THE KOI FISH!  I'm sure there's a story there, perhaps a very sad story, but I don't know yet what it is.  But this is not about the koi pond in San Jose.

This is about the fact that if you make a left onto a quiet little street off one of Hayward's main drags, make another left when that street ends, and another left at the Senior Center, you arrive where my Mama, the Monkey and I did for

Today's New Activity: Visiting Hayward's Japanese Friendship Garden, Complete with a Koi Fish Pond, Complete with Real Koi Fish

Wow.  What a peaceful and well-kept retreat.

Inspired by the beautiful photographs taken by my new friends at Outpost Sj, I decided to dust off the DSLR and take some black and white pictures.  I used to exclusively shoot in black and white when I was still using my film cameras, but I stopped when I started using a digital camera because I always felt the texture looked flat when compared to film.  I know that this is more a problem of my not knowing how to best use the camera's features than it not being possible (because I don't think that about good photographers' digital black and whites), but I was lazy about learning how.  Plus, I don't know, when Monkey was born I starting liking capturing him in color.

Sidenote: my wedding photographer told me (because I told him I wanted the grainy look of very high speed black and white film for some photos) that he always shoots in digital now, always in color, and does everything else to make a picture what he wants it to be using Photoshop after the fact.   I don't know if all professional photographers do it that way these days, but it's worth considering if you're seeking a look you haven't been able to capture so far in digital.

Anyway, I had fun today getting reacquainted with black and white.  It forces you to be much more cognizant of light and shadows and how something so obviously layered in real life can meld into one big blob of shapes in black and white photography.  Like, these trees, for example:

I still think the shapes are interesting, but the texture and layering are totally lost in black and white (I'm amazed by Ansel Adams.  I have never ever managed to take a decent picture of a tree in black and white).  And without the bright green of his shirt to grab your eye, Monkey the Explorer is lost in this picture:

But oh how nice it was to put some thought into the pictures I was taking instead of just snapping away like a tourist at Disneyland.  Digital photography has ruined me in that way.  It's so easy to take hundreds of pictures and just filter out later.  Next I'm going to revive my film camera so I can get back into the practice of really considering the possible outcomes of a photo before taking it.

But back to the garden...

There weren't many people there on a Wednesday morning, but isn't that how your want your Japanese garden to be: quiet and softly trodden upon?

There were a few little gazebo retreats to relax in, and all along the path there were memorials to take in.  Monkey loved this one.  This one he could climb on, which I didn't mind because it wasn't a memorial to the deceased but a celebration of a sister city friendship.  What a perfect place to house it!:

We spent a lot of time around the koi pond.

Dozens of those cute little turtles were kicking it on the base of this statue and the surrounding rocks, though you can't really make them out in the above picture.

Monkey loved peeking through the bridge's railings at the giant fish below.  He made wishes, throwing pennies and quarters with his Nana and me and just thoroughly enjoyed all the new scenery.  Some huge, bright orange dragon flies were zooming around too...how do they find these places?

We stopped into the senior center on the way out, where a small gift shop sells the arts and crafts made by the seniors there.  Some of the stuff was really cute, but this little purse definitely caught my eye:

Is it (for lack of a better term) Kosher to walk around with Jesus on your purse?!

The seniors we saw were pretty taken with the boy, and it made me think that every senior center should have an in-house preschool.  Children benefit so much from the love and wisdom of the elderly, and many elderly people just come to life when children are around.  That seems like the perfect marriage to me!  My Mom said she knew of one such place in Denver...I'm going to see if there are any around here.

All in all it was a wonderful morning.  It was nice to spend time with my Mama again this week, and every day off I have with my son is pure joy.  I'm also happy to have rediscovered my camera and look forward to putting the ultra-convenient mini-digital away now and then and making use of the other options.  Thanks for the inspiration, Outpost!

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