Saturday, December 22, 2012

'Twas the Saturday Before Christmas

Panettone, 2012

Thick slices toasted, with butter.  Music.  Books.  Rain.

If I Had A Boat  -Lyle Lovett

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

all you want it to be

Lucky, 2012

I'm not sure why, but it just started feeling like Christmas today.  There is enough chill in the air for knit hats and scarves, and the sky is bright blue.

I'm taken back to my time in the Midwest, where I spent my best childhood winters.  Especially the first snow of the season.  Waking up to a neighborhood blanketed in white, all sounds hushed.  Oh, I miss it.

But even without snow, I feel lucky.  I have those memories, today, and tomorrow.  This isn't the case for everyone. 

I hope this season is all you want it to be. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A December List

Satsuma, 2011

little postcards: a december list  (yes, it's a link.  click on it.)

Inspiration for reflection. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

What She Wears

What She Eats, 2012

When I returned home last week I took a quick look at what I'd missed on Twitter and was stopped by this tweet.

I've accidentally come into town dressed as a 45yo and I'm getting "madam"-ed left right and centre.    

I thought of replying to ask what she had worn.  My birthday this month had just let me into this year of my life and I wondered if there were certain garments I should be wearing.  Then I recalled a rule my friends and I had when we were in our mid-twenties. 

Once you see a fashion reach the 35 year old moms, cease wearing it immediately.  It's over.   

Oh my.  I've exceeded this grim and tragic age by ten years now.  I felt a little jab in my heart.  Time does pass quickly.

I momentarily longed for those mid-twenties, and my invincibility,  but quickly remembered I was even more fragile and susceptible to such little jabs in the heart back then.  Wisdom is strength.

I looked down at my jeans and my fresh-from-the-wash unironed oxford, and then into the mirror at my subtly glossed lips and my ponytail.  No need for guidance.  I like what I wear.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

In a Glass Jar

 Pina, 2012

I will drape these thin lenses over my eyes for a month, and then they will go.  Does a part of what I've seen leave with them?  The clean slate for new impressions does excite, but the loss is something I haven't thought of before.  I'm considering saving each lens, from here on out,  preserving them in a glass jar.  I might need to retrieve a memory, the visual aspects.  Words don't always suffice. 

Monday, November 26, 2012


Much has transpired since my last entry.  A quiet week--little technology, not even a camera.  A birthday.  Thanksgiving has come and gone.

Sometimes having so much at my fingertips tricks me into believing the world is small.  Stepping away reminds me of its vastness, its range of fears and possibilities.

I believe that's it, for now.  Am I done?  Yes.  And I still have half a latte.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Off to Recharge

November, 2011

See you soon.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Then I'll Get to This Corner

Hotel Huntington, 2012

There are days like today when I'll walk along the streets of my neighborhood and see items such as a perfectly intact rattan basket in a trash bin and I'll think why not Goodwill?  And I'll see a piece of luggage in a recycle bin and gasp seriously!  Then I will think of the clinking of bottles I hear moving down the trash chute in my building, the bottles that could easily be deposited into the recycle bin right here beside our building.  This will lead me to the junk mail dropped into the waste bin in our building entryway.  Come on people!  And I'll start to wonder about this place I call home.  I'll forget all I love about it.

Then I'll get to this corner and I'll remember.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Private Lives

Photograph by Christopher Parsons, 2011

"Crossing to Safety is a love story, not in the sense of titillating dialogue and actions, but in the sense that it explores private lives.  No outsider ever knows the interior landscape of a marriage.  It is one of the great secrets kept between couples."

-From the Introduction by Terry Tempest Williams to Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Miss you, CJP.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Weekend

Ice Cream Parlor Chair, 2012

Dad bought me this chair, the other one too, but not the shadow.

Today is Sunday.  It's still morning, but almost not.  I comb tangles from my wet hair while listening to the radio.  Garrison Keillor sings about farmers.  I glimpse a bright blue sky through the slats in the blinds.  The forecast for today is sunny with a high of 75 degrees. 

Yesterday the cafe played good music while I waited, so I stayed a while.  There was a show of sorts, at the park near the library.  I was the only person there, something unheard of in most of the San Francisco parks I know, particularly this park, especially on a Saturday, late morning.  Helicopter insects hovered in the sunshine between two evergreen trees.  A tiny yellow-bellied bird flitted around making the sweetest sounds.  Then I spotted a perfect spider's web complete with a petite hairy brown spider at its center.  Just before I departed I watched a hummingbird poke his needle nose into slim red trumpet-like flowers, one after another, patiently visiting each one. 

There is good in this world. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Personal Coasters

October, 2012

I decided to open up the shop again. 

Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hmmm...

pretty cotton, 2012

I'm not sure what it is yet.  The pattern tells me it is a dishcloth, but it's just too pretty.  Washcloth?  I thought it might be a trivet, but Merriam-Webster says trivets have legs or feet and are typically made of metal.  A place to rest a hot pot?  A place mat?  Oh, I know.  How about a doily?  But what does one do with a doily?  And must they be circular?

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

xx,
Denise

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Good Day

Contentment, 2012

Knitting with Mom.
Anchovies on pizza.
Prosecco with Dad.

Friday, October 19, 2012

I wanted to know.

Belmont, 2012

The pale yellow leaves of October were everywhere but there.  I drank cappuccino while perched on a stool in a cafe just off Clark on Belmont.  My old neighborhood.  Angry youth howled from the corner speaker above my head.  I looked through the white coffee cup, doughnut, and small red dollar sign into my past.  Mom always wondered how it would feel to travel home without telling anyone.  I did too.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fun

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What They See From Their Windows

"Naked Lady" flowers, 2012

Have I told you about Windows On The World?  It is a wonderful series.  Writers from around the world share what they see from their windows and Matteo Pericoli draws those windows.  

Take a look.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Clarity

September Sky, 2012

My camera has served me as a tool for escape and container for memory.  Photography has never been a comfortable medium for articulating my thoughts.  I no longer mind.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

All You Really Need

Writing, 2012

Learn to write anywhere, at any time, in any conditions,
With anything, starting from nowhere.
All you really need is your head, the one indispensable
requirement.

-excerpt from Verlyn Klinkenborg's Several short sentences about writing

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sweet Like a Crow

Pink Beach, 2012

I am reading Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family.  This is my second time.  He's an author I like to revisit. 

I don't know if I can even begin to describe this book to you.  And this is one of the many things I like about it.

An excerpt from pages 76 and 77:

SWEET LIKE A CROW

for Hetti Corea, 8 years old

The Sinhalese are beyond a doubt one of the least musical
people in the world.  It would be quite impossible to have
less sense of pitch, line, or rhythm"

PAUL BOWLES

Your voice sounds like a scorpian being pushed
through a glass tube
like someone has just trod on a peacock
like wind howling in a coconut
like a rusty bible, like someone pulling barbed wire
across a stone courtyard, like a pig drowning,
a vattacka being fried
a bone shaking hands
a frog singing at Carnegie Hall.
Like a crow swimming in milk,
like a nose being hit by a mango
like the crowd at the Royal-Thomian match,
a womb full of twins, a pariah dog
with a magpie in its mouth
like the midnight jet from Casablanca
like Air Pakistan curry,
a typewriter on fire, like a spirit in the gas
which cooks your dinner,
like a hundred pappadans being crunched, like someone
uselessly trying to light 3 Roses matches in a dark room,
the clicking sound of a reef when you put your head into the sea,
a dolphin reciting epic poetry to a sleepy audience,
the sound of a fan when someone throws brinjals at it,
like pineapples being sliced in the Pettah market
like betel juice hitting a butterfly in mid-air
like a whole village running naked onto the street
and tearing their sarongs, like an angry family
pushing a jeep out of the mud, like dirt of a needle,
like 8 sharks being carried on the back of a bicycle
like 3 old ladies locked in a lavatory
like the sound I heard when having an afternoon sleep
and someone walked through my room in ankle bracelets.

Friday, September 21, 2012

My Kind of Friday

Lost in Thought, 2012

I was just carded while buying a 6-pack of IPA in a mini-mart.  (grin...)

Enjoy your weekend.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Life

Noticing, 2012


What makes a life? Experiences. All of them. Miniscule and grand. Good and bad. We are their sum. Walking up the hill with heavy bags full of groceries. Feeling thankful you are able. The McIntosh tasting like lemons after the Gravensteins. Looking up from a book at dusk and noticing everything in the room is glowing pale pink. Responding to this headache. Not letting it win. Writing. Editing. Reading. Making. Anger in response to what wasn't, or what was. Denial. Acceptance. The three nasty little poems you wrote the morning the world felt less than welcoming. Quick rough little drafts. Deciding to show only one, and then taking it down, and putting it back up again, and taking it down once more. Fearing what it might say about you. Listening. Deciding to bring the one back to life, and allow the other two to join it. Memories. The box stitch in blue.

Three Quick and Nasty Little Poems

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Three Quick and Nasty Little Poems


BULL'S-EYE

I'm not ready yet,
And the moment
I am,
I won't want it.

The pleasure hides
In the anxiety.  While I
Imagine
Their teeth
Sinking into me.

It's doubtful
I'll be spared.  Very.
Not with this bull's-eye on my forehead,
The mark I painted.


BURN

Books by covers,
Poems by length, and
People by height.

None of it was fair,
So I kept it secret.

I deleted my adjectives, but
Not without fear.

Nothing is really over now.
Only words on paper burn.


SURVIVAL

Two of three vases
Held stems without heads.

Dirty dry water lines
Admitted neglect.

The third displayed three full blooms.
No one asked questions.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Home

Summer's End, 2012

The buildings are so close together, and there are too many cars, but I like the sidewalks and foghorns.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Goodbye, little cottage.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fruits of a Very Small Field


 lettuce and dill, 2012

I was talking with my father yesterday about meditation.  It's been very hot where he lives, so he's been spending his time indoors reading about such things, meditating, and making plans to take his new sailboat out when the weather cools.  He's a man of many interests.

I told him I had difficulty with what I believed to be meditation--clearing one's mind.  He said the mind mustn't be clear, thoughts are to be accepted and then let go.  No need for harsh scrutiny of self.  He also told me that his view of meditation was based on focus.

He shared a memory with me of being a young man, with a brown paper sack of ripe peaches, visiting the beach in summer.  He described the details of the warm sand, the preference of sitting in the sand versus upon a towel, his delight in biting into the sweet juicy peaches, and the sound and view of the vast body of water before him.  He remembered it all, vividly.  

This is my meditation he told me.  I've always meditated.

I said Oh, so it's more like being completely present.  I do that.  Maybe I inherited the trait from you.  I guess I meditate too.

I don't know if Dad's version of meditation matches what others believe, but I like it.

Today I went out to our garden to quickly harvest some lettuces.  As it turned out, there was nothing quick about my visit.  I got lost.  No, I didn't forget how to find our garden, I got lost in the garden.  Maybe the best way to put it is I sort of spaced out, but not in a dangerous way.  It's what happens in gardens.  If you garden, perhaps you know it too.

Sadly, two more of my cucumber vines had been gnawed at the base of the stem by an anonymous critter and therefore put out of commission.  Earlier the same thing had happened to another cucumber plant, and several of my green bean plants.  So unfortunate, but we move on, right?

Anyway, I spent a long time untangling my gnawed cucumber vines from my healthy vines, picking the young almost ripe cucumbers on those vines, visiting the compost pile, discovering some beautifully ripe cucumbers, a yellow crookneck squash that seemed to have doubled in size overnight, basil, dill, chives, a few green beans, and harvesting a bountiful supply of gorgeous leaves from two types of lettuce plants.

I arrived back in the cottage much later than anticipated, a bit disheveled, yet happy and feeling completely accomplished.  Chris looked at me, amused.  I'd gone into some sort of auto-pilot mode out there.  I didn't really think about what I was doing, I just did.  It's like falling into a dream state and then waking up and thinking how much time has passed? Who filled this bowl with produce?

It wasn't really what Dad described, but there was a similarity.  It was the opposite of noticing every detail and much more about working though details on pure instinct.  Maybe dealing with these edible plants is something passed down from ancestors of long ago, those who depended on these behaviors for survival.  I'm not sure.

I clearly wasn't in survival mode, but while I was out there my mind was clear, very clear.  Not one thought from any other part of my life entered that garden, and that clearing took no conscious effort.  Maybe this is my meditation.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Few Words About Small Artichokes

waiting, 2012

We saw a basket of small artichokes while visiting our favorite farm stand yesterday.  The stand is the type with produce picked right behind it, a scale, notepad, dirty pen, and wooden money box.  I love this place.

I'm a little intimidated by artichokes, but with Chris's encouragement decided to take six home.  They were each about the size of a humble cupcake.  And very pretty, green tinged with purple.  I'm not sure of the variety, but I do recall reading no chokes! on the sign.  This seemed a good thing.

Here's what I learned.

Trimming them was somewhat meditative, like shelling peas or snipping the stem ends off green beans.  I used this guide and let this recipe serve as inspiration.

I skipped the lemon, garlic, red pepper, and parsley.  Not because these ingredients wouldn't have been terrific, I just didn't have them on hand.  I did quarter the trimmed artichokes and I did saute them in olive oil and sprinkle them with sea salt and coarse ground pepper while waiting to see them just begin to brown.

But before any of this I remembered I had some leftover anchovy breadcrumbs from a recent dinner.  Rachel changed my life with these.  I'm sure I've mentioned them before.  Thank you, Rachel.

So, just as my artichokes began to brown I sprinkled a generous portion of anchovy breadcrumbs into the pan and tossed the artichokes around to coat them and heat everything through.  I tipped it all onto a dish and we shared it as a first course.  Fabulous experiment results! 

We should have purchased twice as many.

Oh, and guess what else happened yesterday.  We saw our first badger.  Pretty amazing.  They are bold and handsome little creatures.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Stealing a Poem

Yellow Brick Road, 2012

Before returning a library book, I sat on the corner of 4th and Shoreline, across from the little yellow house and the brick oven bakery, on a bench in front of the pharmacy, beside a box of hula hoops and a telephone booth, and slid my dark glasses over my ears before resting them on the bridge of my nose, and stole the poem on page 287, copying the title in capital letters and the rest in mixed case, into my notebook, with a pencil I did not love.

Monday, August 13, 2012

LaLaLa

A little fun for Monday morning. Perfect for dancing while making breakfast.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hello.

tea, 2012

How are you?  Good, I hope.

Reading anything interesting and/or entertaining?  I just finished Jack Gilbert's Collected Poems and liked it very much.  I extended my borrowing time on Grace Paley's Fidelity so I could continue slowly.  As I near the end of The Man Within My Head I realize I preferred the beginning third over the rest and have seen my interest wane since that early section.  I've just opened The Stranger and have high hopes.

How about food?  Any especially delicious meals, snacks, or beverages you've enjoyed lately?  We've really been loving simple salads made with our homegrown lettuces, cucumbers, and herbs.  There is a deli nearby that makes great salsa.  We eat the salsa with tortilla chips.  Garden of Eatin' makes some delicious blue corn chips.  Sun tea has been our favorite beverage over the past couple of weeks.  I like watching it brew.  Luisa's most recent post has put me in the mood for meatballs and I know I'll be making some, her way, within the week.

Movies?  Alamar was excellent.  I'm still thinking about Blanquita.  You'll meet her when you watch the film.  I don't know how we took so long to find it.  Highly recommended.

Okay, that's it for now.  Take care.  Enjoy the rest of your week. 

xx,
Denise

Collected Poems by Jack Gilbert
Fidelity by Grace Paley
Blue Corn Tortilla Chips by Garden of Eatin'
Luisa's Meatballs
Alamar

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Good Stuff

Husband, 2012

We only have this one life, so why not fill it with as much good stuff as we can find.

Thinking about this beach, where we ate lunch yesterday.  It felt like we were in Portofino.

Listening to Jesse DeNatale and thinking back to the best book event I've ever attended.

Reading poems by Jennifer Grotz.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ugh

Crab, 2012

Does it sometimes seem everything over here is lovely and loving and delicious?  Not always.

I'm in a terrible mood today.

Perhaps it began with reading this article over breakfast.  No, it was probably waking up with a headache.  Could it have been our argument over lunch?  Maybe it was listening to Bayonne this afternoon.  Work is not coming as easily today as it did yesterday, today is more like wading through quicksand.  I'm not saying the article or short story were uninteresting or poorly written, they're just both quite depressing.  As for the headache, argument, and the quicksand--I don't know.  Also, I'm kind of sick of having to get around mostly by car.  Yes, the landscape is stunning, but I like running my errands on foot.

I must admit, complaining publicly like this is sort of making me feel better.  I hope it doesn't become an addiction.

Thank you for your patience.

Update: 7:02 PM 
That rant was a little ridiculous.  Sorry.  The light is nice right now and I'm feeling better.

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Place Today

Monday Morning, 2012

I was watching a documentary about our national parks yesterday evening and there was something said about natural wide open spaces being where we find our true selves, or something along those lines.  I adore these natural spaces, but fail to believe that we cannot tap into our true selves in other ways as well.  We are resourceful beings.

Standing on the sand and seeing the Mediterranean Sea for the first time can be a spiritual experience, and hiking through a forest of enormous redwoods can feel transcendent, but the view from a 50th floor window above Manhattan, with the quiet city below, does have its merits, as does being up just a few floors in a Paris apartment and looking out over a stretch of beautiful rooftops.  Sometimes just lying down in the grass (or on the hood of your car) and gazing up at the sky is enough.

We all need a special place to go when we seek answers.  A place where we can breathe slow and deep, and clear our heads. 

I've had so many of these places.  They exist in all the landscapes I've lived and many I've only visited.

I don't know if I crave vastness more than other people, but I do believe crave is the best way to describe it.  Feeling confined or stifled, without a doubt, brings out the worst in me.

When the landscape is unavailable I can sometimes create the state of mind without the place.  It's tricky, but possible.

However I arrive, it is where I find my best thoughts, or at least the seeds that allow them to grow later.  This was my place today.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Us

Catalina Island, 20?? (a while ago)

Who are these people?  Oh, it's us.  A long time ago.  We've changed in some ways, but the best parts have remained intact.

He asked me to marry him, on this day, ten years ago.  We were on Angel Island with a wet picnic blanket, sandwiches from Molinari's, and a half bottle of Chianti.  I said yes. 

Best decision I ever made.

loves

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Discovering Grace Paley

notes, 2012

I'm nearing the end of a hefty project phase, so of course I've put the gratifying completion on hold and invested hours of this day in discovering the work of Grace Paley. I've looked at photographs, read poems, interviews, book reviews, and various biographical pieces. Her short stories will be next.

I've touched on this author's work several times, added her books of poems and stories to my to-read list, and then finally checked out her book Fidelity from the library.

I liked Proverbs, the very first poem in the book, immediately, and a specific line and a half has stuck with me.

a person should be in love most of
the time

Yes, if possible. Definitely. And the stanza preceding my favorite line and a half, to me implying what it is to love another, made me grin.

a person should be understood    though
he has brought both of his brows together
in anger and also suddenly begun to laugh

I found her poem The Poet's Occasional Alternative online. It begins as follows.

I was going to write a poem
I made a pie instead it took
about the same amount of time
of course the pie was a final
draft a poem would have had some
distance to go days and weeks and
much crumpled paper

And then a visit to the Paris Review.

INTERVIEWER

How do stories begin for you?

PALEY

A lot of them begin with a sentence—they all begin with language. It sounds dopey to say that, but it’s true. Very often one sentence is absolutely resonant. A story can begin with someone speaking. “I was popular in certain circles,” for example; an aunt of mine said that, and it hung around in my head for a long time. Eventually I wrote a story, “Goodbye and Good Luck,” that began with that line, though it had nothing to do with my aunt.

Yes yes.  This reminds me of those circles Rachael mentioned in response to my last post.  She was smart to make note of them.  My unfolding was briskly followed by my circles.  They were not about to be cast aside.  And this suits me just fine.  I need them.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

And Then There Was Space

Summer, 2012
My mind has completely unfolded.  I had to move it from the large living room floor out into an open field.  It required the space, like a giant map.  Now every wrinkle, each tight crease, rests flat. 

Reading it is so strange, these individual thoughts free and existing in their own areas.  I'd become accustomed to the folds, trying to read through several layers of thin paper.  Ignoring the lakes and sand dunes from an earlier route, following the wandering blue line, hoping to find my YOU ARE HERE. 

Now it is all so clear, but what they don't tell you is there is always an adjustment period, even when moving into clarity.  I'd thought additional space yielded simplicity, and perhaps in some ways it does, but it is not what you'd imagine.  The openness, the space for all of it to be accessible at once.  The clean idea of it is different than the reality. 

Fighting through information is where my evolution has taken me.  I'm cut out for it.  Elbowing through the crowds to find what I need.  I was used to the clutter, all of it tightly packed.  I could carry it with me. 

Now I need a small airplane, to take me up.  Down here I'm too close to it all to get a good look. 

But I don't see a plane in my future.  I'll have to change, explore one area at a time.  Forget the rest of the map, for a while.  It's not going anywhere.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

There's this thing I do...

June 24, 2012
Hello.

There's a little something I do that makes me happy.  I thought I'd share it with you today.  It seems a Saturday sort of thing to do.

I started a private blog about a year ago.  I don't think anyone knows about it, well, anyone besides my husband.  It is used for only one thing.  Whenever I think of it I write a post listing a few items I am thankful for.  I don't insist on a daily post.  There isn't any pressure.

When I remember to post, I simply jot down the first few good things in my life that come to mind.  Those things needn't be special to anyone but me.  It's a great way to pause and appreciate the life I have and it is wonderful to look back at the string of thankful posts, especially on those not-so-fun days.

For instance:

Sunday

Homemade kimchi fried rice.
Little vases bursting with fresh herbs.
The Three Cornered World.

If you do anything similar, or start anything similar, tell me about it.

Enjoy today.

Best,
Denise

Sunday, June 24, 2012

daydreaming

Sunday--June 24, 2012

I love findings entries such as the following in my journal.  A prototypical scenario one might find if they burrowed their way into one of my fantasies, or peeked in my journal.

Monday--March 8, 2010

Today I looked in three cookbooks before finding Amanda Hesser's recipe in The Cook and the Gardener, pages 372-373.  I'd forgotten how much I adored this book.  She used crushed coriander seeds in her recipe, something I'd never done.  Also, I just love the way Amanda Hesser writes about food.  She has a way of combining smug with charming.  Oh how I'd like to sit in her kitchen and share a bottle of wine and some casual conversation with her.  I imagine her husband has scooped up their kids and gone to visit some relative.  It's just us girls, in jeans and t-shirts.  There are glasses of wine, olives, and toasted nuts.  No cooking, just talking.  We get a bit tipsy, laugh like hyenas, and I take a cab back to my hotel.  I fall asleep watching an ancient episode of That Girl that has somehow shown up on cable.

...

A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.

Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

#413

 cotton, 2012

After adding book number 413 (yes, 413...) to my to-read list, the last activity in a short satisfying string, I feel completely settled.  I need nothing else.

The feeling reminds me of my junior year as an undergraduate. My roommate and I, as pedestrians, had been struck by a car and received modest settlements.  I call them modest now, but at the time they seemed very large, large enough for my roommate to purchase a used car.  I however had no interest in a used (or new) car.  The only things I wanted at the time were some fresh white t-shirts, a Walkman, and a good bicycle.

Today my lunch hour has consisted of what seems to me a similar simplicity.  I've eaten two slices of sesame wheat bread with a smashed avocado and a single ak-mak cracker topped with my new favorite cheese, knit a few rows with a soft cotton yarn, and listened to an author interview streamed from the local radio station's archives. 

The author mentioned a book of poetry that had been meaningful to her during difficult times in her life.  This book of poetry, The Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich, is my #413.

New Favorite Cheese
Author Interview
#413

Monday, June 18, 2012

Overheard

6:10 PM

In the library today...
LIBRARIAN

How old are you?

TINY BLONDE CHILD

3.  I'll be 4.

LIBRARIAN

When are you going to be 4?

TINY BLONDE CHILD

On my next birthday.

Today

7:08 AM
Drinking a tall glass of water while looking out at this day.  Grape-Nuts are next.  Then writing.

How about you?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sometimes I Like Shade

Anna and Marilynne, 2012

I've switched to tea, but decided to drive into town this morning for a cappuccino.  Whenever I ease into a comfortable rhythm I feel the necessity to break out, but that is a topic for another day.  Right now I'd like to discuss a few other things.

First, the morning pace here.  It is special, and somehow even more enticing in town than out.  It sweeps you away, but in a way opposite to what one might imagine when thinking of being swept away.  It does so with its slowness rather than its speed.

Today this pace reminds me of a bit of Thoreau Anna Quindlen referenced in her latest book.

It is a great art to saunter. 
                Henry David Thoreau

Indeed it is.  I'm going to try and hold on to these words.

I'm also swept away by the mood created by the author I am reading.  It filters the way I see all that is around me, even when I am not reading.

I've just finished Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson and am beginning Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, a title for some reason I cannot stop transposing, by Anna Quindlen.  I don't often read memoirs, but found this one displayed on the front table in the library and decided to do something different.

Beginning Anna Quindlen's memoir is like lounging on a sofa with a good girlfriend, chatting, and sharing a bottle of wine.  Finishing Housekeeping, even though it was my second reading, was like being lost in a haunting dreamscape, one that demanded empathy for situations far from my own reality, and prompted me to see similarities between the characters and myself where at first it seemed there were none.

When I read Anna Quindlen's introductory words after being immersed in Marilynne Robinson's world, the shift is so abrupt it is almost disorienting, but I don't mind change that creates such feelings of twist and turn in life.  They deliver me from the dull and unimaginative.

I'm enjoying my time with Anna while feeling somewhat nostalgic for Marilynne's darker landscape and characters.  I do believe I might be more of a haunting dreamscape type of reader, but who wants to do the same thing all of the time?  I can't even eat the same breakfast for more than a couple of days in a row.

Then there is the matter of my mother’s abandonment of me.  Again, this is the common experience.  They walk ahead of us, and walk too fast, and forget us, they are so lost in thoughts of their own, and soon or late they disappear.  The only mystery is that we expect it to be otherwise.
Marilynne Robinson
It’s odd when I think of the arc of my life, from child to young woman to aging adult. First I was who I was. Then I didn’t know who I was. Then I invented someone, and became her. Then I began to like what I’d invented. And finally I was what I was again. 
Anna Quindlen

Friday, June 8, 2012

sprouts

spicy, 2012
Weee!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Surroundings

Throne, 2012
Things are different here, very different from the city.  I once lived just a few miles from this cottage, but I've learned that you cannot go back.  Each experience is different, its own, and I like it this way.

Everything seems more peaceful this time, inside and out.  I'm not sure if it is the place, or me. 

The natural landscape to residential buildings ratio is the reverse of what I am used to seeing.  As I sit here, in the tiny loft style bedroom, I look out the window at rolling straw colored hills and dark green trees swaying in the breeze.  The sky is pure blue today, not a cloud in sight.  A horse strolls past every so often and the birds sing with gusto.

When we lounge in the living room I often sit in the chair above, Chris calls it my throne.  He stretches out on the sofa.

There are bees and hummingbirds darting about our little yard.  We even managed to grill over charcoal in a sturdy Weber grill.  This is not something we do often.  We opened a nice bottle of wine.  Chris prepped vegetables.  I was the Grill Master.  And eventually, we ate outside.

One morning we took a nice drive to the coast, ate huevos rancheros, and then perched upon some rocks to look out at the ocean.  It was so soothing we almost fell asleep.

Visiting our favorite trail, we spotted a large orange and black snake, a small brown and yellow snake, and a little burrow filled with the sweetest baby mice.  Hopefully the snakes will not meet the mice, but I know these things do happen.  

The weekends are busier with tourists, but the weekdays are slow and easy.  There is no line for coffee or the post office, the bread is fabulous, and I've discovered a cafe with a very nice BLT.

Today we ate breakfast on a chilly front porch and listened to the neighboring chickens start their day.

Working in the same space is new for us.  We are finding our rhythms and feeling lucky to have planted ourselves in these inspiring surroundings.  Where you are does make a difference.

I'm considering a Sky Scarf

All of our seeds are in the ground, a few starts too.  Now we wait.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tomorrow I meet my garden.

She's Back (tomorrow), 2008
I've planted some seeds with my father, but I have not had my very own space for about 4 years.  Tomorrow I meet my garden, a little patch of borrowed soil we will call our own for 90 days.

We'll be starting later than the photo above.  My knit hat will be replaced by a wide brim model, made of straw.

I had a grand plan, but I'm going to scrap the whole thing.  I want to see this space, meet the birds, and sink my hands into the soil before deciding what should live in it.

+++  update  +++
3:02 PM  I've just arrived home with 9 seed packets.  What is wrong with me?  The moment I make a grand pronouncement I up and do the opposite.  I'm not even sure I'll have enough space for these choices.  What about my respect for the birds and the space and the nature of the soil?  My commitment to meeting them first?  Sheesh.  I will now say hello with small pouches of seed for growing Progress #9 shelling peas,  Contender bush beans, Early Yellow Crookneck summer squash, spicy micro greens, Italian Red of Florence scallion/bunching onions, French Breakfast radishes, Cherry Belle radishes, Japanese Mini Sweet ninjin/carrots, and a mesclun lettuce blend.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Yes.

City Flowers, 2012

Let me underscore the obvious here: Reading fiction is important. It is a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which in turn makes us more empathetic beings. Following complex story lines stretches our brains beyond the 140 characters of sound-bite thinking, and staying within the world of a novel gives us the ability to be quiet and alone, two skills that are disappearing faster than the polar icecaps. 

-Ann Patchett
More here.

Friday, May 25, 2012

This Morning

May 25, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

Before Noon

Breton's Nadja, 2012


I have an array of books piled upon my bedside table.  This is not new.  Some I've started, and some I have not.  Yet when I leave the doctor's office I find myself moving toward City Lights Books.

It was only a routine physical.  My reflexes flex, my lungs are clear, no moles to keep an eye on.  I am fine, but there are choices to be made about my future.  They don't just tell you what to do anymore, you are expected to participate, ponder various studies, make decisions.  It's strange how knowing more can make you feel less safe.

So I go to City Lights, unsure if I enter to find the comfort to think, or to escape life for a while.  I find Nadja by Andre Breton, a Surrealist romance.  Nadja reminds me of Dulcinea, and I've always been intrigued by Dulcinea. 

I chat with the tall slim bookish man at the counter.  He is grey, emanates just a hint of literary smugness, and is handsome in his own interesting way.  His smile is warm and kind and his black frame eyeglasses confirm his intelligence.  He notices my uncommon middle initial on my credit card and inquires.  I appreciate his odd attention to detail and it helps me forget all I wish not to think about.

Vesuvio is just next door, and it is peaceful, cool, and dark.  Although it is only 11:00 AM I decide to order a pint and sit upstairs beside quiet window light, with a new book I do not need.  But the book does bring me solace, its bright orange and yellow cover.  I pause and admire it, and the wonderfully painted little round table it rests upon, and I sip my pint and watch the silent bustle on the street below.

Nadja
Dulcinea