Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Calm: The Omelette and the Frog

Despite the noises of a house being torn down this morning in the hills behind, all calm is possible.  I'll lose myself in writing and in books.  

I am reminded somehow of the simple omelette eaten by the wistful visitor to Paris in The Ambassadors by Henry James—the possibility of being transported quite elsewhere by a small detail, a quiet line, the sound of water and the frog in Basho's famous haiku.

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Bench

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


It is the time of year when things linger . . .
among them,
. the lingering fragrance of bergamot in the Earl Grey tin;
. the lingering burn of green chili on the skin of my hands, after (lingeringly) seeding and peeling the half bushel I had roasted on Sunday—another of the best smells in the world.

It's time to slow down, to appreciate every last drop of things.  I've pulled out my worn old t-shirt from the Thoreau Sauntering Society, pronouncing "It's a great art to saunter."  Lingering and sauntering are much the same, the art of painstaking, of woolgathering too, of noting what is here, today, the last day of summer, and might not be here tomorrow or the day after, so should be paid close attention to.  (Don't end sentences with prepositions,  unless you want to.  As my dear father used to say, quoting I don't know who, "What did you bring the books I didn't want to be read to out of up for?"  Words, too, are fun to linger in, saunter among.)

"To make longer," the German word for linger meant.  And also "to long."  I love that, longing to make longer—that's what autumn's all about.

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Thendara Sky

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Friday, September 18, 2015

Places I Would Rather Be

Much rather in a lovely garden of sublime colors and misty grasses than fighting with the unemployment Web site . . .

image:  Garden (from Garden Design by Carolyn Mullet)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

People I Have Been Before

I've been coming back on people I have been before, and things I've loved and somehow lost sight of—surprised and pleased to find them there, still waiting for me, after all these years.
·      the ocean, walking there, watching seabirds, eating grilled fish on a terrace
·      the baby pigs at Rancho San Antonio, the hidden grotto on the river in the trees
·      croquet
·      little sailboats thrilled with wind
·      library books
·      drawing with fine-tipped pens
·      turtles
·      chalcedony and malechite and quartz crystals
·      Inspector Clouseau
·      tiny overripe raspberries
·      Jackson Browne
·      coffee with milk
·      Nabokov
·      wasabi, wabi sabi, zabaglione
·      wordplay
·      Marguerite Duras
·      barbecued oysters
·      Sempe
·      The Owl and the Pussycat

image:  Christie B. Cochrell, Window in Lucca

Friday, September 4, 2015

Boyd Cochrell

Happy birthday to my favorite father, who would have been 95 years old today (and likely hating every moment), and would certainly not have approved my buying those purple petunias I've set next to the St. Francis bird bath against the back fence.  When he died, my mother bought purple pillows, in defiance, to assert her own preferences.  And I, defiantly, came to love cello and violin music, despite his scathing ridicule.

Much of that was put on—he was one of the most tolerant of men, and loved life and his family and friends.  Some of his favorite things:
The New Yorker
Tanqueray martinis
The Mikado
Paris and Rouen
double crostics
huckleberry pie
dark chocolate
Beethoven's Emperor Concerto
Dick Francis mysteries
Norwegian lefse with green chili instead of 
       white flour tortillas
New York
Strauss operas
sourdough pancakes
Yachats, Oregon
John Lee Hooker's I Ain't Got Nobody
huckleberry pie again

image:  Boyd Cochrell

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Poets at Their Windows


The birds are in their trees,
the toast is in the toaster,
and the poets are at their windows.

They are at their windows
in every section of the tangerine of earth-
the Chinese poets looking up at the moon,
the American poets gazing out
at the pink and blue ribbons of sunrise.

The clerks are at their desks,
the miners are down in their mines,
and the poets are looking out their windows
maybe with a cigarette, a cup of tea,
and maybe a flannel shirt or bathrobe is involved.

The proofreaders are playing the ping-pong
game of proofreading,
glancing back and forth from page to page,
the chefs are dicing celery and potatoes,
and the poets are at their windows
because it is their job for which
they are paid nothing every Friday afternoon.

Which window it hardly seems to matter
though many have a favorite,
for there is always something to see-
a bird grasping a thin branch,
the headlight of a taxi rounding a corner,
those two boys in wool caps angling across the street.

The fishermen bob in their boats,
the linemen climb their round poles,
the barbers wait by their mirrors and chairs,
and the poets continue to stare
at the cracked birdbath or a limb knocked down by the wind.

By now, it should go without saying
that what the oven is to the baker
and the berry-stained blouse to the dry cleaner,
so the window is to the poet.

Just think-
before the invention of the window,
the poets would have had to put on a jacket
and a winter hat to go outside
or remain indoors with only a wall to stare at.

And when I say a wall,
I do not mean a wall with striped wallpaper
and a sketch of a cow in a frame.

I mean a cold wall of fieldstones,
the wall of the medieval sonnet,
the original woman's heart of stone,
the stone caught in the throat of her poet-lover.

—Billy Collins

(I, too, am at my window—out which, these days, there is a borrowed apricot orchard.)

image:  Albert Marquet - Fenetre ouverte sur la baie.  Seven Arts Friends