Friday, September 25, 2009

My new shop is open.

Handmade Dish, 2009

There is a link, right over there, yes, right there, in the right margin.

It's a very small and unobtrusive shop at this point, so go ahead and do a little window shopping, at minimum, it won't take long. Better yet, buy yourself something nice. You deserve it.

Chez Danisse Shop

But is it a poem?

The Noftsger Hill Inn, 2009

Let this keep you company during the next two Sundays.

Never Look Down

You are somewhere on the silk, between the spider and the web. Taken away, up high, on a slow moving gondola, suspended, with only a slight provocation of thought. Drifting down a cool shallow river, feet first, looking straight up at the partly cloudy sky, moss tickling the backs of your thighs. The irresistible urge to touch a cholla, just to see if it will really jump, takes you over, and you watch the tiny droplets of blood pool up on your finger. There is no pain. All else moves past you at an incomprehensible pace, the day pressed down a bit and smeared with a thumb. Just left of center a viewfinder floats and you move as close to it as you can and look inside, your right eye opened wide and your left eye squinting tightly shut. There you are, on the bus. You back up, a little light headed, and inhale a tennis ball shaped gulp of air, tiny stars appearing and disappearing in front of you. Swallow your disbelief. Continue slowly and enter through the center of the web. Don’t pause to think. Don’t look down. Never look down. Move swiftly, surely, and don’t doubt yourself. Not too fast. I’ll wait for you. We knew each other a long time ago, but not so far back. I’m afraid you don’t remember. Keep walking. Rest on the bench that is not your size, allow your feet to dangle. Look out across the large dry meadow, straw-colored because of the drought. There is just one tree, bright green leaves. How, in this drought? You are suddenly small, shrunken, the size of a bean. You are beneath the tree, on a long pier, kicking water in the tiny lake with your toes. Now you know. Don’t try to explain.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm building a book.

Dorothy Dale and Her Chums by Margaret Penrose
Copyright, 1909

I found this book at a sale that took place a few years ago at the Joslin Memorial Library in Waitsfield, Vermont. Attached was a note that read This book was just returned to us. It was purchased in 1911. This gem from 1909 was not only fun to read, it is a beautiful object.

I love books. My attraction to the written word began very early in my life. I recall my parents finding a book on cursive writing at a school book sale and bringing it home to me. I diligently sat at our kitchen table and taught myself how to write in cursive the year before the rest of the children in my grade learned the skill. I was pleased as punch. I did it all by myself, with a book as my guide. It might have been the first time I realized the power of books.

I don't know where my life would be without the stacks and stacks of wonderful and even not-so-wonderful books I've read throughout the years. So many memories, so many lessons learned, so many peaceful hours spent reading.

One of my latest projects is building a book. And yes, that includes physically building the book. In the end, I might find that locating a professional printer makes the most sense, but first I'd like to work through the steps of building at least one humble book, from beginning to end, on my own.

I'm currently in the brainstorming and research stage. I have all sorts of ideas whirling around in my head and I'll try and articulate some of them and share them with you as I move through my process.

Like the tortoise, I'll be plodding along, slowly but surely. Please be patient.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Lady from the Kitchen Shop

September 2005

So changed,
yet so familiar, so close to the same.

Her stride, a bit slower.
Her eyes, slightly glazed.

What was silk is now sagging cotton.
The glimmer has gone dim.

But I still remember,
way back when,
how she'd make him nervous,
when she winked at him.

Their space, it gave her life.
It brightened her eyes.

When they left, she just smiled,
and waved goodbye.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Tub of Mud

Just before sunrise in Calistoga, CA
September 15, 2009

From the moment we turned onto historic Lincoln Avenue (Calistoga's Main Street), I knew we were going to have a wonderful trip. Surprisingly, it turned out to be our last day, September 15, 2009, the day I woke before sunrise that was the best day of all.

Combine Lincoln Avenue's charm of yesteryear with Indian Springs and its simple white cottages, croquet, and shuffle board courts and you will soon feel transported back in time. This is precisely what happened to us.

After being lost in the past for a couple of days, we left our room and strolled along the palm tree lined drive toward the large white California mission style spa building. We scheduled mud baths and 1/2 massages and then walked across the drive to lounge in the giant geyser-fed Mineral Pool and enjoy the view of the surrounding mountains. The Mineral Pool is kept at a temperature of about 90 degrees and is one of the best parts of the resort.

The reason the place feels so nostalgic is because it's been around
close to forever and has quite a history. The original spa, mud baths, and water plunge (now the Olympic-size Mineral Pool) were built on the property in 1861. Also noteworthy, Leland Stanford purchased the resort in 1880 with the intent of locating Stanford University on the property (he obviously changed his mind).

So let's get to the good part, the tub of mud. I was originally a bit skeptical about immersing myself in mud. Chris was intrigued enough for both of us. This is often our story. I'm lucky to have him around, gently nudging me into the great unknown.

We begin our experience in the spa lobby. After a very short wait, my name is called. I wave goodbye to Chris, and I, along with another guest whose name has been called, follow a pleasant attendant back to a quiet white room. She hands us our locker keys and explains next steps while my eyes wander over to the beautiful bowl of fresh orange slices, the lemon & cucumber water, and a wooden crate filled with bright white hand towels tightly rolled and arranged perfectly. I undress and wrap myself in a green & white seersucker robe
(love the robe!) and slip into my spa sandals. I eat a juicy orange slice, rinse the sweet stickiness off of my hands, dry them on one of the neatly rolled towels, and relax for a bit on a cushioned bench. I lean back against the wall and exhale with a quiet and comfortable sigh. It is a peaceful place.

Soon a new attendant greets me and the woman from the lobby
(it seems the spa has guests travel in twos) and guides us to the mud room. The mud room is all-business. Concrete tubs filled with shiny black mud (volcanic ash mixed with mineral water), exposed pipes, industrial faucets. The room is functional and solid as a rock. We are asked to get wet beneath a shower head and are then given directions to enter our tubs by yet another attendant sit down on the edge of the tub, place your left hand... Soon I am suspended in mud. It's amazing, really. I don't sink at all. I float on top. The attendant pushes mud onto all parts of my body that weren't covered during my entry and asks if I'd like mud on my face. I say I don't know, do I want mud on my face? She says Oh, yes. It is very good for your skin. It will make you beautiful. So of course I say yes. I'm told I'll be resting in my mud for 12-15 minutes.

My body heats up and my mind drifts into a dreamlike state. I keep looking above my tub at the three dimensional representation of some sort of goddess-like figure, just a head. A woman with long flowing brown hair decorated with apples, or perhaps peaches. She looks down at me. I can not wait to ask who she is. I'm starting to feel a little lightheaded when an attendant begins stirring the mud in the tub beside my tub with a giant pitchfork
(or was I really lightheaded?). I wiggle my fingers and toes and begin looking out the open window high above me, palm fronds blowing in the breeze, trying to cool myself down. I squish the mud between my fingers and try to think of words that accurately describe the texture. Dark chocolate pot de creme mixed with finely ground almonds. It was hot... I start getting that heartbeat feeling throughout my body, you know, when it feels like your entire body is a beating heart. Luckily the attendant returns and asks if I'd like to stay for a few more minutes or get out. I look over at my Swedish traveling companion (I later learned she was Swedish) and she doesn't look like a beating heart. She looks completely content, the picture of serenity. Grudgingly I say Yes, I'm ready and the attendant carefully removes my top layer of mud and helps me out of the tub. I rest on the edge and she asks if I'm okay, several times. I say I'm okay, but I actually feel a little woozy. She sees through me and we wait a bit before she helps me rinse off beneath a cool shower.

Next, a new attendant and another white room. This room has two claw foot tubs
(white) filled to the brim with lukewarm mineral water. Each tub has a tray with a cup of drinking water & straw and an orange stick for removing any residual mud from beneath our nails. I later learned that the men had pumice stones, but no straws in their cups. I was a bit jealous about the pumice stone, but a straw is very helpful when reclining in a tub. I drink a lot of water during this stage, probably 4-5 cups of water. I keep drinking and my attendant keeps returning at the perfect moment to refill my cup. It is nice. No ladies with apples in their hair in this room, but it is peaceful and I cool down.

Once I am nice and cool it is time for a steam. I am handed a towel to sit upon and a cool washcloth for my face. I heat up again in the lavender and eucalyptus scented steam room and then it is time to cool down, again. I see a pattern emerging. I exit the steam room and am told to lift my arms. I am wrapped in a layer of cool soft flannel and taken down a hall to a small quiet room, shown where my seersucker robe is hanging in the corner, and told to lie down and rest on what is best described as a simple daybed. The attendant places a cold cucumber slice over each of my eyes and covers the cucumbers with a cool washcloth. Soft music plays, a gentle breeze blows, and I doze off.

I awaken to a kind massage therapist removing my cucumbers and telling me she'll meet me in the hall. She points to my robe (perhaps she thinks I'm so sleepy I'll wander into the hall nude). I follow her through what seems to be a maze of white and then outside to a small hut near the coveted Buddha Pond.

After a 30 minute massage I am told I can do whatever I want to do, go back inside, visit the Buddha Pond, return to the Mineral Pool. I decide on the pond and find that Chris has made the same choice. We sit side by side, drink fancy water, and watch the dragon flies dart about above the pond.

It was a complete experience. I glide through the rest of my day, but I never learn about the lady with the apples in her hair.

Thank you Christina & Charlie!

The most beautiful laundromat I've ever seen. Calistoga, CA
September 15, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

tossed salad and boiled eggs

Green Gulch Farm salad greens in my favorite wooden salad bowl

It is Sunday morning. I've woken without an alarm. I've posted my poem. I have a few eggs boiling on the stove. We will soon be eating those eggs with a green salad and slices of toast topped with homemade jam. Green Gulch Farm adds lovely little flowers to their salad greens mix, and for me, it makes all the difference. It is a good day. I'm happy. That's all...

And He Was

blue blazers
gold buttons
you did not fall in line

were the pool from which you drunk

you have
remained still
on the murky pond bottom

but have
rushed to the top
gasped for air


and on you have gone...

December 2007

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Launch into the deep,

gazing beyond
photograph by Christopher Parsons, 2000

Today I found an old file filled with various items I had saved from a basic bookmaking and letterpress course (circa 2003).

One of those items was a large sheet printed with an excerpt from a book I was reading at the time. Our group had selected the excerpt for one of our letterpress assignments.

I am as moved by these words today as I was back then, one fine day in August of 2003. I hope you can find a moment in your day to sit back and spend some time with them.

The world's spiritual geniuses seem to discover universally that the mind's muddy river, this ceaseless flow of trivia and trash, cannot be dammed, and that trying to dam it is a waste of effort that might lead to madness. Instead you must allow the muddy river to flow unheeded in the dim channels of consciousness; you raise your sights; you look along it, mildly, acknowledging its presence without interest and gazing beyond it into the realm of the real where subjects and objects act and rest purely, without utterance. "Launch into the deep," says Jacques Ellul, "and you shall see."

excerpt from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Corner

Green & Jones

There he was,
pushing the stroller
of a crying child.

He wore such hatred,
a thick knit wool hatred
that made them both
wince and itch.

It was not fleeting,
based upon struggle,
or minor feud.

It began that way,
a starched and pinched pleat
that would never soften.

Father and child,
on their march to God knows where.
I could not look away.

Friday, September 4, 2009

playing along

Playing along with Abby...

A cool clay mug

A bowl of Malt-O-Meal


Looking through Lumie again

Norah Jones + traffic

If you decide to play along, leave a link to your post in the comments section.