[code] [/code] Chez Danisse [code] [/code]

Monday, July 28, 2014

I'm Still in the Seventies

Handbound, 2014

This is the second to last printed page of Michael Whitt's book of poems, La Ventana. The copyright is 1975.

It's such a beautiful book. 

I poked around a bit and found that he began a general practice of medicine in a small town in Northern California 45 years ago and has remained a country doctor, writing poems, and watching birds.

I'm inspired.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Some Poems

Wednesday Poems, 2014

I found this slim weathered book of poems a little over a month ago. They were published in 1974. Ten poems. No page numbers. One blank page in the front, one in the back. I like that the price printed on the back is $1.50 and I was charged $10.00.

I sat down with these poems this morning and decided I would read each one before doing anything else. They were exactly what I needed.

Later, I typed the title and author's name into Google to see if I could learn more about the poems or Robert Bly's time in Point Reyes. I wondered if he ever actually lived there. The first return was Amazon. There wasn't much there. I read the one and only customer review.

She wrote:
these poems didn't work for me. I found them to be depressing and odd. Anyhow, it is a nice historical piece

What you see above is precisely what I found. She didn't capitalize the first letter of the first word of the first sentence and she did not punctuate the end of the last sentence. They didn't work for her. They were depressing and odd. She found her copy to be a nice historical piece.

I decided not to look any further. I didn't need to know more. I found peace and comfort inside this pale blue cover, on these numberless pages.

Monday, June 23, 2014

What's next?

Tennessee Beach, 2014

I'm going to let myself not know for a while.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Just in time for summer reading.


My first novel. I hope you like it.

Learn more here.

Friday, June 6, 2014

I've been thinking about Joan Didion.

Book on Table at 2:15 pm, 2014

I cannot read two Joan Didion books in a row. She's intense, often dark, and just really reaches in and grabs hold of me. I know I'll surrender and let her take me wherever she wants me to go. It's an endeavor that requires preparation.

After some random wandering in Browser Books on May 24th I bought Play It as It Lays. On May 28th Sarah brought the Literary Mothers project to my attention. This is where I found a short essay by Ashley Farmer that confirmed it was time to get started. Still, I waited. I wasn't ready. 

I woke up today, June 6th, knowing I wasn't going to finish the current book I was reading. I started Play It as It Lays with my morning cappuccino. Damn she's good.

I'm only on page 26. I skipped the introduction because it is something I decided to do a while ago, with all art and writing. If possible (sometimes you learn of a work through another person's description), I don't read or hear what anyone else thinks of whatever work I'm about to see until I form my own opinion. After I view the paintings, sculptures, photographs, or finish the book, I might look at what's been written about the work. I might not ever look. This is what works for me.

On pages 1-25 I've been introduced to Maria (Mar-eye-a) and a few other characters, but it is clear, it is Maria she really wants me to know. I'll share a bit of evidence:

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

See what I mean? Okay, I'll say no more. I'll share no more. You might want to read this novel yourself, without first knowing too much of what anyone else thinks of it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Shadows

Working, 2014

Yesterday evening someone else sat in my chair at my desk.  I sat on the other side, in a rarely used chair meant for guests. We worked, argued a little, pouted, listened to birds and wind, watched shadows dance, accomplished some important tasks, and then quietly walked amongst the eucalyptus trees in the dark.

Monday, May 19, 2014

you get what you pay for

Still Going, 2014

Really?

We paid $5 for these garlic scapes. We ate the bottoms and put these tops in a Mason jar over three weeks ago.

you get what you pay for (according to Wiktionary)

Monday, May 5, 2014

I've written a novel.

Proof Copy, 2014

After the Sour Lemon Moon will be available June 15, 2014.

McNally Jackson Books will have copies on their website and in their store on Prince Street in Manhattan.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Space Between

tiny flower, 2014

I remember her telling me I must spend time alone each year. Not an hour or a day, but a week, or even two. It was, she told me, essential to my remaining whole, and not losing myself in a relationship. A creative person must remain an individual. She said it was better for her sense of self, her relationships, and her work.

She was my tutorial instructor one semester during my MFA program. We often ended up discussing life more than work in these one-on-one courses. When making art is the subject of study, separating art and life is difficult. One becomes the other and vice versa. So she instructed me in living an artist's life, although I believe she thought any person, man or woman, artist or not, should live this way.

When she traveled, she took the long way. She avoided airplanes and liked to drive instead, feeling every curve and bump she traversed, watching the landscape change, rolling down the windows and feeling the weather shift.

She wanted to feel the space between home and where she was going. She took the distance seriously. She believed in this ritual wholeheartedly. It was how she cleared her mind and made space for the new.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Noticing

Medium, 2014

Dipping back into Greene, I've been noticing how much you can tell about a person by observing the smallest details.

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

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

Berry Farm, 2013

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. (*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.

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.