Camellia in January, 2015
My favorite dead flower.
There can scarcely be a brighter eulogy than Heinrich’s funeral oration for his young cousin Anna, who passed away long before her time. When the carpenter is rubbing down her newly finished coffin with pumice, Heinrich recalls, it becomes “as white as snow, and only the very faintest reddish touch of the fir shone through, giving the tint of apple blossom. It looked far more beautiful and dignified than if it had been painted, gilded, or even brass-bound. At the head, the carpenter had according to custom constructed an opening with a sliding cover through which the face could be seen until the coffin was lowered into the grave; now there still had to be set in a pane of glass which had been forgotten, and I rowed home to get one. I knew that on top of a cupboard there lay a small old picture frame from which the picture had long since disappeared. I took the glass that had been forgotten, placed it carefully in the boat, and rowed back. The carpenter was roaming about a little in the woods looking for hazelnuts; meanwhile, I tested the pane of glass, and when I found that it fitted the opening, I dipped it in the clear stream, for it was covered with dust, and clouded, and with care I succeeded in washing it without breaking it on the stones. Then I lifted it and let the clear water run off it, and when I held up the shining glass high against the sun and looked through it, I saw three boy-angels making music; the middle one was holding a sheet of music and singing, the other two were playing old-fashioned violins, and they were all looking upward in joy and devotion; but the vision was so thinly and delicately transparent that I did not know whether it was hovering in the rays of the sun, in the glass, or merely in my imagination. When I moved the glass, the angels instantly vanished, until suddenly, turning the glass another way, I saw them again. Since then I have been told that copperplate engravings or drawings which have lain undisturbed for a great many years behind glass communicate themselves to the glass during these years, in the dark nights, and leave behind upon it something like a reflected image.”
"I will cast this shadow into the air, where it may never be seen, or where it may be seen at a great distance, and only by one person, someone I will never know. The point is to cast the shadow out into the air."
Excerpt from How I Get to Write by Roxana Robinson
"People lie when you ask them what they eat when they are alone. A salad, they tell you. But when you persist, they confess to peanut butter and bacon sandwiches deep fried and eaten with hot sauce, or spaghetti with butter and grape jam."
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was younger
"But we continued to talk, concluding that if wilderness was a state of mind--a perceived rather than actual condition of the environment--why not write a history of the wilderness idea?"
-Roderick Nash thinking back to the autumn of 1960 in his Preface to the Third Edition
I lost all track of time before these images, fell deep into their world, as if all the time between them and me had somehow vanished, so that when the guard came up to me to say the museum was closing, I forgot how to speak and simply looked at him. When I eventually walked down the stairs and out of the museum, it was with the feeling of someone who had returned to the earth from a great distance.Love that.
"as if a novel or poem is something to be studied and understood rather than experienced."I'm with Williams on this one.
"Yes," she thought, through the haze of jet lag," there should be no limits placed on the value of a very fine cheese."I decided I wanted to read more. Done. What stayed?
"The mountains looked as real as a photograph."This sentence is a door into so many conversations. The way one perceives photography is endlessly fascinating to me.
Gerarad Maines lived across the hall from a woman named Benna, who four minutes into any conversation always managed to say the word penis.Although I found this beginning sentence fairly entertaining, I decided to end my day with Sam Shepard.
"In Italian we would say "ha un suo perché" (it is a slang that we use when something unusual has its own reason to be)."
From my mother I inherited my looks and a tendency to migraine. From my father I inherited an optimism which did not leave me until recently. page 5
So that she would not have to stop for food she kept a hard-boiled egg on the passenger seat of the Corvette. She could shell and eat a hard-boiled egg at seventy miles an hour (crack it on the steering wheel, never mind salt, salt bloats, no matter what happened she remembered her body) and she drank Coca-Cola in Union 76 stations, Standard stations, Flying A's. pages 17-18
The reception room was full of glossy plants in chinoiserie pots and Maria had an abrupt conviction that the plants were consuming the oxygen she needed to breathe. page 22
Just as I had expected my new lawn-mower was wet all over: I dried it carefully and oiled the blades before I did anything else. Then I boiled myself two eggs and made a cup of tea for lunch. I had much to think about.
-Graham Greene, Travels with My Aunt
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
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. (*May 2014 update... We visited the berry farm again. I was so excited and the shortcake was the worst. Very sad. Hopefully it will return to delicious the next time we pass by.)
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.
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
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.
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