Wednesday, April 23, 2014

While in Real Life

Rose in Mailbox, 2014
Human communication, it sometimes seems to me, involves an exaggerated amount of time. How briefly and to the point people always seem to speak on the stage or on the screen, while in real life we stumble from phrase to phrase with endless repetition.

Graham Greene, Travels with My Aunt

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lounge

View from Lounge, 2014

I have decided to refer to my writing room/office as my lounge. It somehow removes pressure. The difference between saying I'm going into the office and I'm going to the lounge is immense.

You see, I sometimes need to play psychological games with myself to make things happen. It is what it is. It's like my dad says, is it really a placebo if it works?

Lounge. It's a good word. Say it. Did your mouth form a sly little Rat Pack smile? You know it did.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Afterward

Post, 2014

Sometimes you have to lose a day to move forward.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

QOTD

Thursday Afternoon, 2014

"The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere."
-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Memory

Friday, 2014

A blank slate mind on a ferry ride.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Social

Lemon, 2014 

It could have been better, but isn't that always the case? I just wanted something out there. A small piece of myself.

Why? Am I afraid of being forgotten? Maybe.

It was simple. Simple things speak to me. Simple isn't the problem.

Unrefined is the problem. But crude can work, on occasion. Usually not.

And I'll do it again. I know I'll do it again, and again, and again.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

About the Oranges

Grace, 2014

I've been picking up and putting down Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch for quite some time now. Although I once started and stopped Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, I decide to give his Big Sur book a look. I like the title and think I might enjoy reading about Big Sur in the 1940s.

Perhaps strangely, what I find most appealing is his epilogue. I read it word-for-word. No skimming. In short, it is about distractions and how dealing with them can become a way of life.

While living in Big Sur, Henry Miller has no email, blog, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, but he receives letters, newspapers, books, magazines, and pamphlets by mail, three days per week. And although Big Sur is very remote at the time, he has visitors--many.

So it seems there is always something to distract, no matter place or time. He does not need the internet to get lost in consumption, know he should get to work, and look up to find the moon rising.

Despite his entertainment of distraction, the ideas continue to arrive. He jots down words or phrases to jog his memory later, but returning to those notes is always a challenge.

He plans to work at night, but then decides rising early is a better idea. When he rises early, going for a walk seems more productive. Walks always produce new ideas. After walking he looks at the beautiful day and thinks it is too beautiful a day to write something that will only leave him open to unwanted criticism. He paints instead. And what about meals and time with family. He enjoys his family. Then the mail arrives.

He considers chucking it all.  

Just live. But what does that mean, to just live?

There is the pile of letters and all of the people who require his help. And the books he has not read and the places he has not yet visited. And then he hears the horn. Mail day, again.

He admits a large part of his problem is in his fondness for the act of writing letters. He thinks back to the many letters he's written, before finding himself in this predicament, selfishly awaiting a response. How wonderful it would have been, had I known it then, to write and say: "Don't bother to make an answer. I simply wanted you to know how indebted I feel to you for being alive and spreading creation."

Eventually he decides to devote himself to his works of creation. From now on I intend to devote the best hours of the day, the best part of myself, to the best that is in me. And to enjoy a few hours of leisure, to loaf in peace. No letters. He will no longer sacrifice his work, leisure, family, and friends. Yet it is clear his devotion is not complete, he is still open to a better solution being proposed. If, however, you can propose a better solution, I shall not spurn it.

He ends his epilogue in an apparent state of acceptance--walking, thinking, dreaming of the future, and enjoying the beauty of Big Sur, the place he calls home.

After writing down these notes to share with you later, knowing I have a tower of books at home, and a variety of other things requiring my attention, I decide purchasing Grace Paley's Fidelity is vitally important. Simply reading a library copy in 2012 is not enough. It is a book I need to own, now.

I'm not sure how Grace Paley popped into my mind, but I toss my pencil and notes into my tote bag and march straight to the bookstore, up the stairs to the poetry room, find the only copy of Fidelity on the shelf, and buy it.

A wave of tiredness washes over me. All of my weekend work has left me depleted. I think a walk will wake me up. So I walk. I decide to make a quick call to my father and see how he's doing. One hour and twenty minutes into my "quick" call, lost in my father's world, his phone battery dies. I start to think about dinner, tax documents, several words I want to look up in the dictionary, email, and all else waiting for me.

I sit on the sofa and write down these additional notes. I realize I am still wearing my jacket and take it off. The best hours of my day are gone.

Is this living? I think so. For now.

I look at the bold new tulips on my table, the fading ranunculus in my bay window, and smile at the good light bouncing off the windows across the street and landing in my apartment.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Closed

Sunday, 2014

I like the hope of closed flower buds.

Monday, February 24, 2014

JOMO (Joy of Missing Out)

Abbotts Deer, 2014

Abbotts Dunes, 2014

Olema Cow, 2014

Retreat Reading, 2014
Thanks, Chris.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

City Lights

Book, 2014

Hypnotized by shelves of possibility, one forgets to eat lunch.

Book above found while lost in City Lights.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Hello Instagram


So, I am now on (or is it in?) Instagram. It's pretty fun. Better late than never.

See you there.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How to Solve Your Problem

Red on a Grey Day, 2014

Watch the old Chinese man in pajamas and slippers slowly pace the sidewalk in front of his apartment building. Think of the problem he is working on today.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Answers


Rusty had a few questions for me. Here are my answers.

What is your favourite journey?
Coming home, from anywhere. I love my little corner of the world.

What was your best read of the last year?
Fair Play by Tove Jansson. More on that here. Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle was a close second.

If the sun is shining, where do you go?
Toward the ocean, or any nearby body of water. But that's always my answer. I gravitate toward water in rain, sleet, snow, and sunshine.

Where’s next on your ‘must visit’ list?
I'm really not sure. We've pondered so many options lately: Norway, Alaska, Greece, Brittany. I'm open to suggestions. One thing I know for sure, I'll be returning to the berry farm above in 2014 with my husband and eating strawberry shortcake.

What are your words to live by?
Is this really what you want to do?
Tell me a joke.
What did the grape say when the elephant stepped on it?
It gave a little wine.

If you find this concept entertaining and want to answer these questions yourself, I'd love to read the results. Link to your answers in my comments section. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sometimes We Surprise Ourselves

Black Book, Yellow Flower, Gray Day, 2014

I was first drawn to Asunder by Shari's photograph of its cover, then by its author's Ph.D. in nineteenth-century French poetry and magic shows from Oxford, but now (p.16) I am most captivated by the characters and the writing.

He still occasionally dreamt of finding someone but over time had started to feel like the last remaining individual of a species, he said, a highly evolved bird with a highly evolved cry, his song unheard since he never shared it with anyone, and he'd started to wonder whether perhaps the right female for him had become extinct, preceding him by days, decades or centuries; anything was possible, a tragic error in chronology or biodiversity.
Chloe Aridjis, Asunder

Shari has introduced me to many books. One interesting tidbit I learned during her book series was that someone had begun reading novels on her iPhone. I found this so intriguing. I've experimented with reading a book on an iPad but didn't love it. I still read my novels in regular old physical form, but I believe I am becoming part of a smaller and smaller minority, and I'm okay with this shift. I used to believe I'd never use a digital camera and now I take all of my photographs with a phone. Never say never.

It is the reading that I find most important, the stories, not simply the physical book. I do own an iPhone now and use it more and more, and I certainly do a lot of reading on my laptop, just not novels, yet. I adore traditional books and find it difficult to imagine a world without bookstores and libraries filled with such books, but who knows how I'll be reading my novels next year. Our world changes. Sometimes we surprise ourselves. How do you read your novels?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pretend You Love It

Owl Towel, 2013

I stumbled upon a list yesterday, 10 Simple Things to Make You Happier at Home. It was one of those moments when I couldn't stop opening new tabs. Anyway... Read the list if you like, but the main takeaway is the bit about doing dishes at the end of 5. If you can't get out of it, get into it:

Crank your favorite album at an unusually loud volume, do a couple fist-pumps while shouting "Can I get a hell yeah for the dishes? Hell! Yeah!" and pretend you love it.

Ridiculous enough to be worth a try, no? Fist-pumps and pretending. And buying an owl towel.

Monday, February 3, 2014

What Are You Doing?

When I'm Alone, 2014

What are you doing?

I was taking a picture of a tangerine.

What will you do with a picture of a tangerine?

I'm not sure, maybe post it on my blog, or look back at it later to remember the light.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

For Thought

 The Edge, 2014

To start the day:
Omega Point: PW Talks with Paul Harding 

Reading to accompany coffee:
Raymond Carver's Ultramarine

Before bed reading:
Edward Behr's 50 Foods

Also:
The Monarch Butterfly

Monday, January 27, 2014

Do this for yourself.

Cara Cara, 2014

Squeeze some citrus. If not today, tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wednesday

Collection, 2014

Rustle in a redwood.
Vegetables waiting on a porch.
A still hummingbird.
Lipstick on teeth.
Cold air.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Now that's a sentence.

Enon, 2014

I'd think about being crouched in the field, dilated, tacky with cool, mineral damp, inhaling the fumes of the grass and soil and hearing the wind move up behind the hill and come over it and swirl through the pine trees and stick to the pitch leaking down their trunks and push across the field in waves through the long grass, all beneath the stars and the pink moon, the flower moon, the strawberry, buck, and the hunter's moon, and the clouds lit up in silhouettes, their outlines turning and cresting and collapsing so intricately that I could never recall their true extravagances days later when I lay sleepless in my bed.

Paul Harding, Enon

Wow.

I loved Tinkers and I'm loving Enon. Thanks for doing what you do, Paul Harding.

Midnight in the Ferry Building

Kelly's Lemons, 2014

Walking through the ferry building with Midnight beans was like carrying fresh flowers. Three impassioned conversations in five minutes.

Midnight Black Beans

Monday, January 13, 2014

Oh,

Market Flowers, 2014

Oh, the joy of returning to good health. I've been down for two days. Today I believe I am on the other side. I am thankful for the cute guy who lives with me. He buys flowers and fruit and vegetables at the market, and makes sure there is pale bland food for me. Hopefully, I'll be returning to spice and color in the near future. Oh, to be out of bed. Oh, to make my own breakfast. Oh, to feel well enough to appreciate flowers and sunshine.

More flowers at Jane's.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Book Talk

Winter, 2013

Come and visit me at The Art of Seeing Things today. Shari Altman has put together a book series and I am her seventh guest. While you are there you can peruse six other diverse book posts and wander around Shari's beautiful photographs.

Enjoy.

Monday, January 6, 2014

What Follows the Holiday Season

Land and Sky, December 31, 2013

A tall and teetering stack of books on my bedside table
Winter Citrus
Writing
Thoughts to think
Sky to walk beneath
Laundry

And on we go...

Friday, December 20, 2013

I'm feeling pretty lucky.

Park Bench and Library Book, 2013
My Favorite Tree, 2013
Quiet Room and Dirty Windows, 2013

Thank you for visiting me here during 2013.

I hope you are spending this holiday season eating many cookies, listening to good music, and spending time with those you love.

Cheers!

xx,
Denise

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Square

Magnet, 2013

“ according to a Wall Street Journal article of a few years ago, some 59 percent of Americans don't own a single book. Not a cookbook or even the Bible. ”

- Maureen Corrigan, Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books

Okay, there is no way this is true. Right? Right. No. No way.

I've been following The Millions: A Year in Reading and enjoying learning about so many books I might not have otherwise found, but no description has enticed me as much as Sonya Chung's. Now I must read The Square by Marguerite Duras as quickly as I can get my hot little hands on a copy.

Enjoy your Sunday. I hope it involves reading a few pages of a good book.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Well...

Winter Light, 2013

We're back together. I'm referring to my relationship with cappuccino, I never really parted with those little carrot muffins.

I was fine, addiction apparently kicked, so I decided I could have a cup every now and then. I tried it and my heart raced too quickly. I didn't like it, yet I tried again, hoping for the old feeling of contentment.

Well, it eventually returned. I'm pretty much back to my every-morning cappuccino. I find it especially pleasant during these cold short days, and it certainly helps me feel less like a bear longing to hibernate.

So...  How are you spending your cold short days? Tell me something inspiring. Or are you somewhere warm? If it is warm, tell me about your tomatoes.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

More, please.

Lemons and Mail, 2013

Handwriting
Mail sent with stamps
Movies seen in theaters
Telephone calls
Poetry
Books made from paper
Hats knit by hand
Dinner at home

a book
a movie
a meal

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Excerpt in Which I Relate to a Ground Squirrel

Petals and Thorns, 2013
"One morning I looked out the window and saw a ground squirrel draped in a coat of cotton. She was picking the cottonseeds off her arm and eating them. Suddenly a weasel emerged and began wildly chasing the ground squirrel around the yard. Just as the weasel was about to grab the ground squirrel's neck, ensuring a quick death, the squirrel made an abrupt turn, faced the weasel, and screamed. The startled weasel jumped in the air and fell onto its back as the ground squirrel ran away."

Excerpt from When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Quiet Time

Sunshine, 2013

It always seems I need more than others. So here I am, enjoying the beautiful sunlight sneaking through the blinds and listening to a live version of Rain King.

Wishing you much of whatever you desire this weekend.

xx

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Stovetop Granola

Autumn, 2013

This is so easy and delicious. Experiment with different seeds and nuts. I've used walnuts and pistachios. Adjust salt, pepper, and sugar to your liking. I really like this less-sweet ratio and always include good black pepper. Black pepper in granola is a revelation.

Stovetop Granola
2 very generous servings 
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
½ cup chopped almonds
1 cup rolled oats
¼ teaspoon fleur de sel
⅛ tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Heat oil in small sauté pan over medium heat, add seeds, chopped nuts, and oats. Stir gently to coat with oil. Add salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Stir gently until oats begin to turn light brown. Remove from heat.

Serve warm over Greek yogurt and top with thinly sliced Fuyu persimmon and pomegranate arils.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

White Lies

What Was She Thinking, 2013

She called me on the 17th and wished me a happy birthday, even though my birthday was on the 20th. She’d done this for years. I never mentioned the discrepancy. I didn’t want to make her feel awkward. Luckily, I hadn’t met her too early in my life.

Something in me changed between ages thirty and forty. Before the change I would have laughed comfortably at her mistake and corrected her. My response would have been without malice and I wouldn’t have thought much about the consequences, but somewhere in my thirty-forty decade I began thinking more seriously about my words and how they made other people feel. I didn’t transform into an angel, but I did pull back a little bit. I told a few more white lies.

Why not, I thought. Confirming everyone had the proper data began to feel unnecessary. I replaced it with the satisfaction of knowing I would not be the killjoy needlessly interfering with anyone’s happiness.

But I still carry a nasty sort of anxiety each time I walked along Columbus Avenue. I have not come to terms with the clearly able-bodied tourists who amble along so slowly in front of me. I do not consider myself an especially fast walker, which makes each slow person in front of me that much more intolerable. They simply live at a different pace, a pace I do not understand. I assume this anxiety will eventually dissolve and be replaced with something even better than white lies, but I'm not sure I want it to go.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Even

Guest Room, 2013

Okay, I'm ready to feel even now. But is there such a thing?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Be Where You Are

From Here, 2013

Warmth. The sunny barstools. The plant. It has been years, but it doesn't feel so. This space is familiar. Comfortable. I return to an earlier self and order a cappuccino. I wait, quietly. Sip. Open a slim book to its first page. I am immediately in her world, as if she is sitting across from me and telling her story. I ask her to pause on several occasions. I know it is just the beginning, but she pulls at me and wants me to understand her pain, to break just a little bit, and I do. 

When I leave her and step into the cold air I press my tongue against the inside of my bottom teeth, hoping it will hold back my tears. I know she isn't finished, and I do want her to continue, but I have others who need me. Later, I think. Later. Don't forget to be where you are, now, as you walk down this cold street with her voice still in your ear, and later, when you sit at another table, surrounded by new voices.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Down the Rabbit Hole

Charles, 2013

I listened to Bill Evans on Pandora while reading these pages on my laptop. About halfway through my reading I was distracted by the sunset and got up to take a photograph with my mobile phone. Now, in the dark, I type with my glowing screen in the foreground and the lights of city buildings and passing headlights shimmering on the river outside my hotel room, and I share my sunset with you, here on my blog.

Monday, November 4, 2013

22 Unicorn Street, 2013

She spoke loudly of her comfort with herself, a strong clue it did not exist. I picked up my book and returned to the quiet upstairs.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

6:38 p.m.

Looking Up, 2013

Today was all mine. I worked in the morning. I had my hair cut. I sat alone at a marble table and ate a tartine. I walked along Lovers' Lane. I worried. I felt lucky. I made lists. I felt a sudden craving for pretzels and bought some. I finished a book.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Weekend Project


Close to instant gratification.

The author of the pattern* says any super bulky yarn will do. So why not knit one for yourself or someone you like?

Thanks for the inspiration, Leslie.

*I substituted a size 15 16"circular needle for the 20" noted in the pattern. Also, I did not YO twice in my YO rows, just once, making my fit more snug than the loose fit you'll see in the pattern link.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Like an Old Boyfriend

A Different Vision, 2012

After weeks without, I drank my once familiar cappuccino. It looked beautiful and tasted delicious, but I had changed.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

By Herself

Noticing, 2013

This quiet morning has me thinking of an excerpt from Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, knitting, and a disconcerting dream I had last night. I'm sure the dream was inspired by Rebecca Lee's short story, Bobcat. I'd rather forget the dream, but the story was excellent.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday Gratitude

El Presidio Real de San Francisco, 2013

An early morning walk.
Olive toast topped with soft scrambled eggs and close to caramelized red Shishito peppers and onions.
Squinting sunflowers in a Ball jar.

If you have not tasted soft scrambled eggs, you should. 
Here's a recipe.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Being a Person

From 22C, 2013

Did you see it? I'm not a big Louis C.K. fan, but Chris told me I'd like it, so I watched. I did like it. And to my surprise, I've been thinking about it every since. Well, I haven't really been thinking about the entire video. What captured my attention was the part about being a person.

"You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That's what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there. That's being a person."

And it's not just phones. It's laptops and televisions and magazines and cameras. I hate to say it, but even books. I love reading, but just sitting there sometimes is a beautiful thing. It seems it is possible to eat lunch alone in a restaurant without a book. Who knew? Not always having my nose in something has proven to be quite pleasant.

I didn't pick up an uninteresting magazine and flip while waiting for my dental hygienist. It was a challenge. I always pick up one of those uninteresting magazines, yet once I got past my reflex, it was nice to simply look out the window and wait.

I'm not perfect, I didn't just sit there when I picked up my phone and documented myself sitting there on this flight, but I definitely did less. It was a nice quiet flight. I looked at the sky and thought of many things.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

of note

Dahlias, 2013

Do you ever miss characters after reading a book? I miss the passionate and creative Mari and Jonna, from Tove Jansson's Fair Play.

I highly recommend this entertaining book of short vignettes. If you can talk someone into reading it aloud to you, all the better.

That is all. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

We Called It Convalescing

Thirsty Basil, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013
1:15 PM

I've scheduled a massage, a same-day appointment. I've never done this. My hamstrings feel like rubber bands being pulled tight from both ends. This is also a first. Could it have anything to do with my giving up coffee? I cannot imagine what the connection would be. There was the funny jig I was doing last night to make Chris laugh. Perhaps I went a little too far. It would be odd if my hamstring situation had anything to do with the absence of coffee in my life, but it is the largest change I've made lately.

I only drank one cappuccino per day. Once in a while I'd drink a second, but it was rare. I have skipped my morning cappuccino due to travel or some other this-or-that and experienced the inevitable headache, but soon fed it with coffee of some sort and sent it on its way. I often thought about this unintended commitment. The way the coffee controlled me, to a certain extent. I didn't like it, but ignored the feeling and stuck with my morning caffeine ritual. I enjoyed it, most of the time.

Chris drank much more coffee than I did, 3-4 cups per day, and that was a decrease from his earlier habits. So on Thursday afternoon, about 3:00 PM, when he set his emptied coffee cup on the counter and said I'm done, I was shocked. Sheesh, I thought, a little quiet time in the country and the grand pronouncements begin. But then I saw it as an opportunity and said me too. Deep down I'm a joiner. I hate to miss out on a worthwhile experience.

I thought I'd skate by with a mild headache for a day and be free, but no.

My last cappuccino was sipped Thursday morning. Friday was my first day without and it went rather well. It was much easier than I'd imagined, until Saturday. Then the dark veil settled upon us. It began with general lethargy, and dull headaches that came and went. the headaches got worse and sleep worked better than acetaminophen, so we napped and read and napped and read. Motivation to do much of anything waned, so we called it convalescing and watched a movie. Atonement was our choice. The heaviness of the story matched our mood. The heaviness hung around for the rest of the day, gave me a brief break on Sunday morning, and then pressed down upon me again around 10:00 AM. Somehow Chris felt better on Sunday than I did. Go figure.

No headaches today, but I must admit to a sort of blah feeling coating my day. I woke up thinking what's the point? I really wanted my cappuccino. And that's why I didn't drink one. I don't need unnecessary dependence. Also, I believe I'm past the worst part. I heard 5 is the magic number. Make it past five days and you are golden. I want to see what's on the other side. Thoreau (8th paragraph) believes I'll be pleased. He better be right. We'll see.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

All I Want To Know


I woke up today thinking of these lines:

I get the news I need on the weather report
Oh, I can gather all the news I need on the weather report

From this song.

Some days it's all I want to know.