Sunday, September 28, 2014


My words are fleeing me again, the dry leaves blowing from the trees.  I’ll steal or borrow, hoard the way the squirrels are, tucking away phrases and images—those windfall words—for all the rainy days ahead.

Fifth Avenue
shirred eggs
fir forest
oblesse oblige
(and tarantella)
Laurentian Abyss
Laurentian Chief Moccasins
to the manor born
(and omelettes)
lording it over
snake charmer
Charing Cross
Oak Canyon
(and serentipitous)
the cure of souls

Like buttons in a buttonbox, a little stash of words to match eventually to a garment.  To wear out to a café with a steamed window and luring lights.

image:  Buttons, Onderwijsgek

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fall, Falling, Fallen

  • Darkness falls—and then there are candles in red glass cups, fires of piñon wood, carols.
  • Cakes fall—and I remember in the lovely treehouse where I lived on Forest Avenue (the upstairs sun porch of a ramshackle Victorian) my cakes didn’t fall but were slanted—one inch deep at one end and approaching three at the other, thanks to the insouciant tilt of the kitchen.
  • Stars fall—and we make wishes on them, which sometimes come true.
  • Waterfalls—I photograph with my close-up lens, drop by drop and mosses on their brink, because I can’t take in the whole energy force at once, or do justice to it.
  • Runners fall, sometimes, tripping over their own shoelaces, or a tangled root—but before doing so, sweep up a cloud of sandpipers or gulls ahead of them on the pale early-morning beach.
  • A fall from grace—
  • Freefall—
  • Footfall—
  • Snowfall—
  • Falling on deaf ears, or on cedar.
  • The fall of Icarus or Lucifer, the Fall of the House of Usher, the fallen women—cautionary tales, that make it seem a failing to fall, which it by no means is, always.

Fall 2014—and I can’t help wondering what will befall us.

image: Efteraar (Autumn) 1909 by Jens Lund

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Midsummer and After

Making Moroccan lamb salad for a picnic before A Midsummer Night’s Dream (beyond the mid-, and waking from the dream).  Lamb in cumin, coriander; fresh-picked mint; crumbled feta (tasting of Crete); dry cured black olives; a yoghurt dressing with a smidgen of harissa.

And then recollections of other travels:  toasted almonds with herbes de Provence; a little piece of fontina d’Aosta; a half bottle of Chianti Riserva; raspberries which make me long for good Devonshire cream.

Wearing my Thoreau Sauntering Society t-shirt, which reminds me both of Walden Pond and Aunt Nola (who loves a good saunter).

Little mysteries in the patio:  leaves swept in; leaves swept off again.  The missing rock.  The first golden-crowned sparrow of the fall, coming from where?

image:  Edward Robert Hughes, Midsummer Eve

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Things that are going away: 
  • Today’s three morning glories, now at sunset
  • my sheet music for the Beethoven sonatas (only three of which I’ve ever played)
  • the last of the pale green melon
  • some shirts from 1986
  • a sage pottery dish from Father Frank Prieto, “Santa Fe salsa priest”
  • a Provence and an Umbria cookbook
  • the droopy Stanford cow (plush)
  • my just-uncovered rock with crystals and fool’s gold (stolen by squirrels?  an outlier magpie?)
  • a card with drenched yellow and blue fabrics, to carry blessings and apologies
  • summer

Am I the better for all of this clearing?  Not noticeably so… 

But coming back on things I had forgotten (in myself as well); touching base or various old touchstones. 

Amazed at how much stuff I have; how blessed I’ve been.

image:  taillights, the long way home diaries

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Places I Would Rather Be

Still sleeping, behind that closed blind, but soon to get my coffee made and fling the windows open to the sun and sea!


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Glass Pumpkins and Walking Sticks

In desperate need of enchilada sauce with lots of cumin and oregano, and pinto beans (the vitamins that keep my old New Mexican bones healthy and my spirit singing), I dash off to the store on the back road before the light goes.

I also pick up dark roast coffee; crystallized ginger and lemon scones; and a small wedge of smoked cheddar.  And on the way home I am cheered by a glass pumpkin festival, a Salieri aria, an old man with a walking stick heading along the road into the last of the day's sun (reminding me of an old friend who carved a stick of olive wood for his wife on the final trip they made to Greece, though the seas were too rough to get to Santorini), and a greyish terrier waiting with comely patience while his walker finished a phone call.

Everywhere, blessings.

image:   Glass Pumpkin, Smithsonian

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday Calm: Thread

I love to follow threads through their windings and un-, through labyrinthine passages of old Minoan stone or into messages like Charlotte wove.
I love the image of the button dependent on thread in this bit of a Jane Hirshfield poem:
Amoralist, sensualist, dependent of cotton thread,
its sleep is curled like a cat to a patch of sun,
calico and round.

Its understanding is the understanding
of honey and jasmine, of letting what happens come.
The thread is the calm being, the sensible, practical being.  It gets us wayward ones through our sensual journeys; mends us; holds us without fuss to our still, cool, cotton center.

image:  Yehuda Edri (with Ruswanti Sri)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

From Weippe

Weippe, Idaho.  September 4, 1920.

My father always made a point of being from Weippe.   “I was born in Weippe, Idaho, and consequently spent a great deal of my life trying to escape the fact.” 

Unlike the explorers Lewis and Clark, who in September 1805 found the Weippe Prairie a godsend after their starving struggle though the Bitterroot Mountains, and were welcomed by the Nez Perce to that fertile place rich with blue flowers, my father wanted nothing more than to get out, away.

And so he did—as far as Tarawa, Saipan, and Nagasaki; the bright lights of New York (I’ve just been looking through his stack of 1940s playbills and ballet & opera programs); the steaming sulphur-smelly pools of Yellowstone; and (whimsically) Santa Fe, where he was happy to settle and stay.  To Paris once—the day after I came to California for college.  To the Oregon Coast often, and then the Kona Coast, where he happily dogpaddled around and around the salt-water pool.

And that last fall, after his last birthday, around the San Juan Islands and up to a deep Canadian fjord with oysters at its lip, where I can still see him riding to shore with picnic supplies in a little Zodiac, wearing a bright orange life vest.  (Which of course in the end did no good at all.)

A couple of years before, he and my mother had taken another small inland cruise following the western journeys of Lewis and Clark.  But he never went back to Weippe even to visit, never felt it tugging him “home.”  And I came at Lewis and Clark from the opposite end—visited Monticello one September and was charmed by the maps of their expeditions that hung there; fell under the spell of Thomas Jefferson, philosopher and vegetable gardener, the president who’d studied languages and architecture and stars, who set the explorers off across the country into the unknown. 

Happy birthday to my dear father, twenty years after his own exploring ceased.  I love this picture of him in 1933, at thirteen, with his younger sister and brother.

They all look so wholly themselves already, their clothes and bearing and expressions telling without any hesitation what they would become.


. Camas flowers at Weippe Prairie, Idaho. NPS  (Camas flowers grow well there, and attracted native gatherers of the camas roots)
. Boyd Cochrell, Anita Belle Cochrell, Dean Cochrell  

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fire, Water, Light

In Santa Fe, Zozobra has just burned.  Old Man Gloom, that gawky paper effigy that figures large in the mythologies of the myth-ridden place that is my Santa Fe, and with him all the woes and cares of the year.

I should have made a bonfire of all my old papers too—the ones I've been sorting and throwing out for weeks.  Bags carried heavily to the recycling bin somehow don't have or give the same visceral satisfaction of a good, bright, cleansing fire.  The liberating lightness of old outworn words gone up in smoke and ash.

But they are gone, nevertheless, and my heart feels much the lighter for it.  Maybe best of all would be to fold each page or scrap into a little paper boat boasting spinnaker sails, and send them all off on a wayward current, a light-struck chuckling stream, carrying unplanned messages from past to future, to unsuspecting readers not looked for, who will find them downstream somewhere, tangled in a brief snag of watercress or log-jam of tiny waterbirch cones, humming from their journey, as some kind of happy chance, some kind of serendipity.

image:  Shifa Naseer, Paper Boats