Sunday, August 24, 2014

Places to Maybe Go

In weeding out old files, I’ve come across “Places To Maybe Go.”  Possibilities that are seeming more and more unlikely, since the file was started, include
  • Explore Canyon de Chelly
  • San Damiano Retreat
  • Art in Provence
  • Humanities Abroad
  • Basque Tours
  • Horseback Riding, Jack London State Park
  • Ristorante Piemonte, Aosta
  • Undiscovered Italy from Cottages to Castles
  • Sacramento River Cruise
  • Stone cottage on France’s Lot River

So, sighing, I have a Dark & Stormy, and continue to weed.

image:  Stone Cottage, France

Saturday, August 23, 2014

And Counting

I'm counting blessings this evening, and realized I never counted all those things I brought back with me from my trip to Santa Fe—

  • mole verde spice
  • Cantanzaro herbs
  • Vadouvan curry
  • Pakistan rosebuds & petals
  • teas, including Maple Walnut, Earl Grey Provence, Russian Earl Grey, and Strawberry Pepper
  • Rose Almond chocolate with chili and vanilla
  • a sage smudge
  • saints—Cecilia and Rafael
  • a tangled string of birds (orange silk)
  • beads
  • balm
  • bright napkins for the bistro table
  • tiny baskets
  • hearts
  • a bell
  • home-cooked green chili

Blessings indeed.

image:  Malachite Bead Necklace, Catarina Carvalho

Friday, August 22, 2014

From the Inside Out

I took a noontime workshop this week on “Beautiful Living from the Inside Out,” which explored how the space around us reflects the space within us.  There’s a close connection, naturally, and an obvious opportunity to change (or enhance) one by means of the other.

Not coincidentally, I’ve been struggling for the past couple of weeks to clear the inner space at home, to figure out how to consolidate and make coherent the confusion of my writing—old and new, fiction, poetry, scrawled scraps, ideas, letters, notebooks (some with just a page or two filled), false starts, unsuccessful endings, quotes I’ve borrowed.

Artistic file folders, with peacocks or Victorian patterns?  Bright colored plastic envelopes?  White cubes, or wooden?  More magazine files?  Banker’s boxes?  Another three or four of the wooden literature organizers that I’ve got my father’s writing in?

Much easier, somehow, to organize that.  And to make beautiful the space outdoors, and in my office, than in the rooms I live in.  Why is that, I wonder?  What is it that defies me?  What in my inner being causes this outer chaos?

I need to regain my inner calm, the beauty that is there when I am still and happy in myself.  Maybe I need to get at that from outside in.  Perhaps I need only to keep cleaning the house, the vase.  I am in need of cleaning, as in this favorite poem from Jane Hirschfield—

The Cloudy Vase
Past time, I threw the flowers out,
washed out the cloudy vase.
How easily the old clearness
leapt, like a practiced tiger, back inside it.

What I need (now, in any case) isn’t the beauty of the old flowers, the worn-out things, but the taut forward/inward-looking beauty of the tiger.

These images all speak to me of the emerging state I'm in, a kind of slow erasure, a blurring of intention and being.

images:  She Who Is
Panthera Tigris, Indischer Maler um 165
Georges Seurat - Seated Woman with a Parasol

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A String of Colored Beads

“And her voice is a string of colored beads,
Or steps leading into the sea.”
(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Renascence and Other Poems)

image:  Imperfectly Perfect


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mine, In a Way

“The sunflower is mine, in a way.”

(Vincent van Gogh)

Perhaps van Gogh has most famously made the sunflower his own, but it seems that that’s the inclination of us all, artists and children and yearning adults alike.  We want to share in that glad-heartedness, to bask in the sunflowershine.  To have the flower light our paths, our days, our hearts.

Further stories tell of the bright flower’s appeal, always peculiarly personal—
“The new country lay open before me: there were no fences in those days, and I could choose my own way over the grass uplands, trusting the pony to get me home again. Sometimes I followed the sunflower-bordered roads. Fuchs told me that the sunflowers were introduced into that country by the Mormons; that at the time of the persecution when they left Missouri and struck out into the wilderness to find a place where they could worship God in their own way, the members of the first exploring party, crossing the plains to Utah, scattered sunflower seeds as they went. The next summer, when the long trains of wagons came through with all the women and children, they had a sunflower trail to follow. I believe that botanists do not confirm Jake's story but, insist that the sunflower was native to those plains. Nevertheless, that legend has stuck in my mind, and sunflower-bordered roads always seem to me the roads to freedom.”

(Willa Cather, My Antonia)

“I need sunflowers! I walk many miles, trying to find some. If they're fresh, I kiss their honey faces. If they're dried, I put them on my windowsill, where they continue glowing.

I saw a gigantic sunflower in a garden in Tempelhof. I can't risk stealing it, so I ask the owner to sell it to me. He lets me have it for free.

I carry it by its light-green six-foot stem from Tempelhof to Brandenburgische Strasse. Its black, sticky face is framed by radiant yellow petals, while I wear jeans as blue as cornflowers and a T-shirt as red as poppy. I got both items from someone who has a friend in America. Since it's summer, I go barefoot.

It's Sunday, and the streets are full of strollers. I try to escape people by using side streets, for no matter where I go they all laugh at me and my sunflower.”

(Klaus Kinski, Kinski Uncut)

image:  Vincent van Gogh, Sunflowers

Monday, August 11, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Calm: It Is Enough

“She had known happiness, exquisite happiness, intense happiness, and it silvered the rough waves a little more brightly, as daylight faded, and the blue went out of the sea and it rolled in waves of pure lemon which curved and swelled and broke upon the beach and the ecstasy burst in her eyes and waves of pure delight raced over the floor of her mind and she felt, It is enough! It is enough!”
(Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse)

image:  Henri Lebasque, Girls on the Terrace at Sainte Maxime, Seven Arts Friends

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Writing with Light

Happy belated birthday, Writing with Light!

Here is how it all began, five years ago, August 2, 2009 . . .

image:  Yehuda Edri

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Settling Back In

Having been away, I’m settling back in with favorite pursuits—
  • trying to root some sage
  • making grapefruit green tea
  • sweeping up fallen purple blossoms
  • washing pillowcases
  • roasting peppers (marinated in Tunisian olive oil)
  • admiring the clematis and cosmos
  • welcoming my new vintage bronze Ashanti antelope
  • going out to buy croissants and a new birdbath
  • wanting to make

           Corsican Cheesecake with Orange Marmalade
        . Pastis with Armagnac and Apples
        . Slow-baked Radicchio
        . Pan-grilled Asparagus with Pancetta
        . Bulgar Pilaf with Lamb, Walnuts, and Pistachios
        . Fresh tuna with Green Olives, Capers, Celery, and Mint

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Ashanti Antelope