Friday, December 11, 2015

Gone Mushroom Hunting

December, 2015

I'm hanging up my Gone Mushroom Hunting sign.

I decided to do away with the Gone Fishing sign, since I no longer eat fish, but this post isn't really about my dietary choices. Let the term mushroom hunting stand as a symbol for going away/taking stock/searching/experimenting with the use of my time/working with fewer distractions. Although I wouldn't mind picking up a book and learning more about mushrooms. It might happen.

I'm not sure when I will return. I might know more about chanterelles, I might not.

May the rest of your December be merry, and may the start of your new year be filled with inspiration.

xx

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Quick Hello

Still Flowers, 2015

Hello. I hope you are well.

Have I shown you these sunflowers? Quite amazing, aren't they? They make me think of time and its passing.

Yesterday, while riding a bus, I spotted the poet Jack Hirschman on a street corner. He was scribbling notes into a tiny journal. I'm always so excited when I see him out in the world. My first thought was that I'd witnessed part of his poetry writing process, but on further reflection I realized he might have been adding to his grocery list.

I wonder how long I'll remember this scene, a poet on a street corner. How long will I hold on to these fallen sunflowers?

What are you thinking about this last day of November?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Consider the Apple

Pippin, 2015

I prefer an imperfect apple. But if to me the imperfections make it perfect, then what am I saying? Nothing. Maybe I should just eat the apple, not look at the apple, not think about the apple. Well, it's too late for all that. This is a handsome apple. How could I not notice? I pity those who cannot see it. It is simply not my nature to not consider the apple. But it's the taste that matters most. Yes, the taste. Somehow I know this one is going to taste good. Okay, I'm ready now. I'm going to eat the apple.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Collected

These Two, 2015

While dusting, the light moved onto these two. They are very small, each one close to the size of a Kalamata olive. I'm sure I kept them for the same reason I keep all such things. I want to later recall the day I found them. But the specific memories often dissolve, I only know they were collected in a moment of happiness. I stopped, lost in these thoughts, Joseph O'Neil reading Muriel Spark in the background. When my mind returned, he'd finished reading. I missed most of the story, and I won't finish dusting, but I think stopping was a better idea.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Duende (art)

Inspiration, 2015

I was waiting for a smoothie and reading an article in The Surfer's Journal (No, I'm not a surfer, but I did actually get up on a board and "surf" in Hawaii a few years back...Yes, I did.) and saw mention of a lecture Federico García Lorca, the poet, gave in Buenos Aires in 1933. Actually, I was first drawn in by this photograph and text while waiting for my smoothie, then began reading the article.

The article first quoted García Lorca as saying duende is
"...that mysterious power that everyone feels but no philosopher can explain."
I later perused Wikipedia's Duende (art) entry and found:
"El duende is the spirit of evocation. It comes from inside as a physical/emotional response to art. It is what gives you chills, makes you smile or cry as a bodily reaction to an artistic performance that is particularly expressive."
And García Lorca had written:
"The duende, then, is a power, not a work. It is a struggle, not a thought. I have heard an old maestro of the guitar say, 'The duende is not in the throat; the duende climbs up inside you, from the soles of the feet.' Meaning this: it is not a question of ability, but of true, living style, of blood, of the most ancient culture, of spontaneous creation."
Climbs up inside you, from the soles of the feet... Fantastic.

García Lorca's 1933 lecture ended with:
"The duende….Where is the duende? Through the empty archway a wind of the spirit enters, blowing insistently over the heads of the dead, in search of new landscapes and unknown accents: a wind with the odour of a child’s saliva, crushed grass, and Medusa’s veil, announcing the endless baptism of freshly created things."
Think about that for a while.

Thanks to The Surfer's Journal 24.2, the Duende (art) Wikipedia entry, and Poetry in Translation's translated text from the 1933 lecture, Theory and Play of the Duende.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

All Before 11am

Five Petals, 2015

Sunshine, a man wearing a cloud t-shirt, an abrupt discussion about celery, loud territorial crows, peppers picked for pickling, waving goodbye, a fat yellow rose that smelled so good, a quiet phoebe, bees on lavender, always bees on lavender (snipping some of those stems and wrapping them in a wet napkin), a hawk landing closer to me than any hawk has before, monarch and little white butterflies, a translucent pink rose with five petals, the few summer squash and tomatoes still hanging on to their vines—unwilling to let summer go, and the tiny wilted purple flower that hitched a ride on the toe of my shoe.

Monday, September 21, 2015

West Marin Review

p. 49, 2015

I am happy to have my short prose piece, The Rancher Whispered, in the sixth volume of West Marin Review, a literary and arts journal. Copies are now available at a variety of independent bookstores in Northern California, and online. Details here.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Carol

My Paris Bedroom, 2011

I'm pretty sure I've shown you this photo before. It is the bedroom of the Paris apartment I stayed in during the winter of 2011. Why are you seeing it again? Because I woke up this morning thinking about Carol. Carol is an American letter carrier traveling alone in Paris in the short film, 14e arrondissement, from the anthology film, Paris, je t'aime (2006). What I want you to do is click on 14e arrondissement at the bottom of this post and watch Carol. The short film is 6 minutes and 45 seconds. You will not forget Carol. One day you will wake up missing her and you will return to her in this short film about an essay with a poem buried inside. #threepoemsthursday

14e arrondissement

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Survival Cabin

Instruction, 2015

I found this book at my dad's house several years ago. I've just turned to page 301 to read about The 1980s Survival Cabin.

The author claims a survival cabin can be built for about $2000. He tells me it will be adequate in size, attractive from the outside and inside, permanent, and can be built easily by unskilled labor in about two weeks, with only hand tools.

He made these claims in 1979. I wonder what it would cost now.

I'll also need a very quiet and flat piece of land, with at least one magnificent tree.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hi.

Essential Wisdom, 2015

What are you doing?

I'm about to make dinner, but right now I'm watching old Aerosmith videos on YouTube. Crazy. Cryin'. Life just started feeling too serious and I felt like returning to something that reminded me of my more rebellious days. So here I am. It happens. We like what we like. Did you know both Stephen Dorff (from Sofia Coppola's movie, Somewhere) and Josh Holloway (Sawyer from Lost) are in the Cryin' video with Alicia Silverstone? All of them so young... Yes. It is true.

Cryin'

Monday, August 17, 2015

About the Word 'Vegan'

My New T-Shirt, 2015

Sometimes I feel like the dinosaur with the hummus.

There were some people in line in front of me at one of our neighborhood cafés this weekend, and as they neared the pastry case the man said, Oh, what do they have here? I bet everything is whole grain..., and the woman finished his sentence, or vegan! And then they both slapped their legs, leaned their heads back, and let out a, BAHAHAHAHAHA! The funny thing is this café doesn't serve one whole grain or vegan pastry. I kind of wish they did. Anyway, this reminded me of the clear stigma attached to the word vegan. Notice the knee slapping did not occur until after she said vegan.

Maybe it's less about the definition and more about the actual word. Say it out loud. Vegan. It does have a dour sound, no? There are other terms. Plant-based, whole food plant-based, or simply herbivore. I rather like herbivore, although it doesn't appear to be working for the dinosaur, and it doesn't really help when ordering a meal in a restaurant, which requires a lot of, can I order this without ______? And a lot of servers wincing behind their smiles.

I get it. For many years I proudly answered, zero dietary restrictions, whenever asked. I felt I was doing everyone a favor. I was low-maintenance. Then I slowly transitioned from a pescetarian diet, to vegetarian, to dinosaur, and life changed.

Eating at home is pretty easy, it does require thought, but mostly nutritional thought, something I should have always been considering. I've enjoyed combining new tastes, textures, colors, etc. in my own kitchen. It is being out and about in the world that is challenging. And I live in San Francisco. I know some people believe we are all free love vegans over here on the left coast, but we are not.

So I'm finding myself in situation after situation where I'm different, really different, and this is new to me. Blending in quietly didn't used to be a problem. It's a little harder now. So I decided to just go with it and do things like buy this t-shirt. I feel good. My body feels healthy. Laugh if you must, but I'm going to carry on. I hope it builds character.

Vegan

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Quiet Blogs

Quiet, 2015

Sometimes coming here, to my blog, feels like walking around my high school, as an adult, in summer.

I recently went to update the list of blogs I follow and found they were nearly all inactive. So, it seems we've come full circle. This is a quiet place again.

There is a slim possibility I'll run into a few old friends, but there won't be any crowds. It leaves me feeling somewhat melancholy, but maybe it's better this way.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Existence of Something Better and Deeper

"People who suspect the existence of something better and deeper, and desire these things, are, I believe, likely to abstain more and more from all ridiculous external show, the nearer they approach, through experience and action, to the reality of their dream; on the other hand, however, the further away from it they are, the more they cling to such flaunting display."
Excerpt from Green Henry by Gottfried Keller

Saturday, June 20, 2015

I think we'd get along swimmingly.

While Sauntering, 2015

"I listen to music. I occasionally rock it up, but mostly it’s the blues. And I read, and I might saunter somewhere, usually to get coffee. That’s everything I like. That and bookshops."

-Bill Nighy

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Handwriting

Late May, 2015

I recently bought this book, secondhand. When I opened it up for the first time last night I found this surprise, Michael Ondaatje's signature.

Michael Ondaatje held this book in his hands and signed it.

He is the only man my husband does not want me to run into when he's out of town, even though he too is married, and older than my father. I do love a good book. And have you ever seen the photograph of him in the blue sweater? #threepoemsthursday

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mavis Gallant in Madrid

Just, 2015

I just listened to Antonya Nelson reading Mavis Gallant's short story, "When We Were Nearly Young", again.


Sigh...

A perfect match.

It's just so damn good. Sometimes I crave the recording and play it just to fill me up with, I'm not sure what. Quality, I guess. Nelson's voice paired with Gallant's story as fuel, inspiration to push myself further.

Find thirty-two minutes and fifty-seven seconds, get comfortable, and click here.

Monday, May 4, 2015

What do your floral choices say about you?

Almost 7:00pm, 2015

I've had this jasmine for fourteen weeks.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Found Memories

Madalena's Bowl, 2015

This is the bowl Madalena uses when she bakes bread.

Have you heard of the film Found Memories? Watching it felt as if I'd had the luxury of staring at a painting for two hours while imagining life beyond the still image, and eventually entering the scene myself--walking through fragments of landscape, entering the worn architecture of a rural Brazilian village, and slowly meeting its faint ghostlike residents.

Monday, April 27, 2015

In the Middle of It All

Dancing Above the Garden, 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The weather in San Francisco seems to have retreated back to winter. I'm wearing a puffy jacket and sitting in an ugly little cafe with great coffee and a barista with eclectic taste in music. When I sat down it was Redbone's Come and Get Your Love, and now Blondie is purring ooo, whoa, ooo, whoa. His music makes it feel good in here.

I saw a sad mattress leaning against an apartment door on my way down the hill this morning, the same door that had a dirty old television blocking it on Saturday. This is supposed to be a fairly nice neighborhood, but it definitely has its oddities.

On a cold grey day, it feels good to escape into a place without wind, arrange coffee, notebook, and pen on a table, lean back into a chair, listen to some good music, and see where the mind drifts.

There's a pudgy guy in the cafe, sitting in a black leather chair, wearing basketball shorts and reading a tiny paperback with a raised gold title. Science fiction? Mystery? Romance? I don't care. A huge loud truck is idling just outside the door.

Now September by Earth, Wind & Fire, which always reminds me of our wedding. September is the best month in San Francisco, and a wonderful month for honeymooning. September makes it easier to ignore the truck.

I've let my cappuccino sit for too long. It's cold and flabby, but not all bad. I'm still drinking it... Everything seems okay--the grey sky, loud city, intricacies of this wallflower cafe--and I'm feeling such an affection for it all. I have some unexpected free time today and I guess I just started feeling cheesy and happy to be alive. I know, but... No one reads blog posts anymore, right? Might as well say what I please.

Earlier today, about a block before I saw the mattress, I started craving frozen fish sticks. No idea where this originated. I haven't bitten into a fish stick in decades, but I used to love them. I was obsessed with frozen entrees as a child. Our treat for staying with a babysitter was a TV dinner or pot pie. I liked frozen fried chicken too.

The closest I might have come to a fish stick in the recent past would be a Filet-O-Fish in a McDonald's, but sheesh, I don't even know the last time that happened. I did pass a McDonald's in Newport Beach a few months ago and the idea crossed my mind. Memories of childhood... But sadly, I did not follow through. I probably drank a green smoothie or ate a salad instead. What a disgrace.

I need to waltz into the Safeway frozen foods section and find the familiar box with the Gorton's fisherman on it. But does Gorton's still exist? Do they still freeze sticks of fish? I'd also need prepared mayonnaise and sweet pickle relish to make a tartar sauce like my dad used to make.

When I was an undergrad I'd buy hamburger buns and sliced American cheese and knock off the Filet-O-Fish by placing four fish sticks on a bun I'd toast with cheese and then slather with the tartar mentioned above, but it was never the same without the squishy bun McDonald's serves.

Mom loved the Filet-O-Fish too. I wonder if she ever hits the drive-thru for memory's sake.

And when I was a little girl I'd often walk to McDonald's with my grandpa. During our strolls he'd always ask, what do you feel like? I'd say, a fish filet (I never referred to the Filet-O-Fish by its proper name), and he'd say...

Wait! Now Janis Joplin's Piece of My Heart. I think I'm in love with this barista and this cold coffee, and the ugly furniture.

So anyway... As I was saying. Grandpa asks, what do you feel like? (As in, what are you going to order at McDonald's today?) I say, a fish filet. He says, you don't look like a fish filet. I laugh hysterically, every time.

It's quieter now. A white van with Del Monte Meat Co. on the side is parked outside the door of the cafe. Probably a delivery for Leopold's. The guy with the tiny paperback is gone. I don't know this song.

-------------

Did you watch the Redbone video? How the heck is the audience just sitting there? I was listening to the song and couldn't help but sit-dance on the sofa while typing. Then I had to stand up and play it again. And maybe a few more times.  

...if you want some
Take some, get it together, baby
Come and get your love

Monday, April 13, 2015

Something, Anything

Stinson, 2015

I woke very early this morning thinking about a quiet unassuming film I saw on Saturday. The main character experiences a period of absolute sadness, but it is followed by a beautiful struggle fueled by hope. I think it was about listening to oneself, and determination. It was so different than anything I've seen lately. I'm glad to know such films are being made.

Something, Anything

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Her Time


Saturday

While visiting Tree Fall today we were essentially accosted by a small, middle-aged, very enthusiastic woman, apparently a docent for this particular work of art. As we walked in the door she immediately began to joyfully push other artworks in the park on us.  

Do you have the Andy Goldsworthy brochure? You've seen Wood Line? You know about the eucalyptus overtaking the cypress? Of course, you must have the Andy Goldsworthy brochure. And you know about Spire? The For-Site Foundation video? Yes, we have seen it. I offer an inauthentic smile. Young trees will eventually obscure the sculpture. You have the Andy Goldsworthy brochure, right? Okay. Okay. Just let your eyes adjust. I love when you walk in and can't see anything at all and then your eyes adjust and it's like, wow.

But I saw Tree Fall clearly when I walked into the space. It didn't seem at all dark to me. My eyes did not need to adjust. I strain to smile again, looking up at the tree and wondering if she will leave us alone with the art, at all. Ever?

Next she pulls out a large hardcover book and begins rapidly turning pages and recounting all she believes to be highlights of the creation of Tree Fall. There were 40 volunteers! This is his daughter. They mixed clay with hair and straw. She points up. Here's a piece of straw!

Then she begins promoting the Presidio in general. There are these great talks on Thursday evenings, she gushes. There's a play they talked about recently, what was it...Ondine! My husband thinks he knows the play and asks if Ondine is a mermaid. No! Definitely not. She lives in the water, but she is -not- a mermaid. Okay. The play will take place beside the ocean, at the Sutro Baths. Outside! At night! It might be cold, but...

I decide this is her time, not mine. I look into her eyes. She's so excited. She cannot wait to see this play. I forget about Andy Goldsworthy and Tree Fall and leave with a vision of Ondine spotlit in the night fog.

Lithograph of Carlotta Grisi in the Pas de l'ombre from the original production of Ondine, ou La naïade at Her Maejesty's Theatre. London, 1843.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Thing Itself

Post, 2015

I ate breakfast alone today, without friend or family member. No radio or book, not even pen and paper. Just breakfast and me. It tasted better than usual.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Return

Space to Think, 2015

Have you ever gotten into your third or fourth reading of a poem and realized, although you liked it enough to return to it, you never really understood it, and your returns might not have been for pleasure, but for understanding? And as you continued reading and felt yourself slide into that perfectly shaped space the poet carved out of this world for you, did part of you rejoice in it being precisely what was meant to happen, while another part sunk down deep, dwelling on how close you came to missing it?

Monday, February 16, 2015

All the Way

Blood Orange Valentine, 2015

When somebody loves you
It's no good unless he loves you
All the way

Apparently, when I was two years old, I liked to sing this Frank Sinatra song in the car, especially belting out the line All the way. I'm not sure if I actually remember singing it, the three lines above do feel familiar, or if it's just the story of my singing that I recall.

I still feel the same way about that line. The All the way part of love, it is very important.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Memory Won't Save Me

Leaf, 2015

I found this leaf on page 36 of Memory Won't Save Me: a haibun by Mimi White. I don't recall placing the leaf there. The receipt was still in the back of the book. I bought it on November 5, 2013, 2:55 PM, at RiverRun Bookstore during my first and only trip to Portsmouth, NH. Rachael had written about Mimi White in September of the same year. She began with, "Mimi White's poems quiet me." Beneath the name of the store, address, and phone number on the receipt it reads, "Home of the Brave!" I really liked that little store. And now we have almost moved through January 2015. The sunlight has moved off the oranges and lemons, leaving them less enchanting than they were just moments before. Time...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Camellia

Camellia in January, 2015

My favorite dead flower.

Monday, January 19, 2015

W.G. Sebald and When Harry Met Sally

A Place in the Country, 2015

Lately, I have found myself copying passage after passage of W.G. Sebald's work into my notebooks. First, from his novel, The Rings of Saturn, and most recently from his book of essays about place, memory, and creativity, A Place in the Country. Some of the passages I've copied from A Place in the Country are Sebald's own writing and some are the words of the creative minds that helped shape his work.

He drags me down and through what sometimes seems the worst of human existence and then lifts me up into some of the most beautiful writing I've ever read, leaving me feeling as Sally felt about Harry in the end of When Harry Met Sally, during that final New Year's Eve scene. Just when Sebald carries me to the point of feeling I must put the book down for a while, if not for good, he'll throw something like this out there.

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.”

And he makes it impossible for me to put the book down and leaves me wondering if I will ever find another who sees the world quite the way he does.

In the passage above, from A Place in the Country, Sebald quotes a character Gottfried Keller created for his 1855 novel, Der grüne Heinrich.

Friday, January 9, 2015

I Might Start Drinking Instant Coffee

Or Tea, 2014

"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

I saw a notification that someone named Sarah pinned my Woolgathering by Patti Smith photograph from Instagram onto one of her Pinterest boards. I clicked on "Sarah" to open her Pinterest profile and see, Sarah who? Oh, Sarah from Edge of Evening blog. Yes, she's written many literary posts I've enjoyed. I notice her "cook" board. Tasty. I see something called Jacked-Up Banana Bread. I'm intrigued. I'm already following her "writers" board, but as happens when one gets into such a hopping mood, I begin scanning all of her past "writers" pins. I see Michael Ondaatje, Marilynne Robinson, Mavis Gallant, and all the way at the bottom I find this little treasure from The New Yorker. I read it (read, not scan), every word, and I wonder if I have read it before. I believe I have. No matter. If I have read it, fine, it was clearly time for me to read it again. And I think, all time online is not lost, there is much to glean, and I might start drinking instant coffee.