Wednesday, December 24, 2014


This year is not winding up as I expected. Instead of ranting and complaining, let's hear it for the little things. I noticed and appreciated these, in particular, today:

  • A tiny chihuahua in a red sweater named Lola who greets customers in her owner's shop
  • The baritone-voiced gent singing Christmas songs outside the neighborhood pizza place
  • Rootbeer and bratwurst
  • People holding doors open for each other
  • Two little boys squished into a jog stroller, sound asleep
  • Bird chirping outside my urban window

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Post-New Orleans

Humidity, heat, wind, rain, thunder and lightning.  All in 4 days. Soft gentile drawls, impeccable manners, yes, ma'am, yes, ma'am. Slow pace, what's your hurry? Swirling brown river, which way you headed? Clip-clop horses, buskers and fortune-tellers. You were all there too. Frizzy hair and summer night dresses, "might coulds" and blasts of cold air from inside a bar with an open front door.

Thank you to the sweet 86-year-old woman sitting in the shade by St. Augustine's church who blessed me for my journey home and reminded me that life can be just as happy as sitting in the shade on a sunny day.

Thank you beignets and café au laits, pecan pralines, pie, and bread pudding and seafood, so much lovely seafood and cheese grits, fried green tomatoes, and gosh I could cry just missing them.  For those I haven't listed, I miss you too.

Thank you museum docent, history and story, talking story, feathers and beads, pounds and pounds, dollars and dollars, thousands.  Pride and community, crazy talk and wild men, chiefs and queens. They don't march, they dance.

Thank you two young musicians on Royal Street, accordion and flute, beard and spiked 'hawk, playing something different than all the rest. Their dog, welcoming my pets and silly lovey talk.  The shaggy-bearded fellow with cut-off shorts and hard-soled shoes, tapping it out, banjo and harmonica. You played me out of town and I appreciate it.

Now I know what it means.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Let's rejoice

I could hear festive music as I approached the park entrance that I use to feed two stray cats every Sunday, through the maintenance yard and past the Japanese garden.  It was the familiar "Jewish wedding reception/bar mitzvah" music, "Hava Nagila." The crowd had the bride up in a chair and she was eye-shut smiling, gripping the edge of the chair that was covered by her white dress.  The crowd pressed in close to her and clapped and little kids bounced at the knees, imitating dance.  When the groom was thrust up on his chair and the bride opened her eyes and grasped his hand, I don't know what happened but my eyes watered suddenly.  We were taken, that is myself and a few other people, watching this celebration through an opening in the fence, by the pure loveliness of celebration and ritual. Two people, young and beautiful, up in the air, bouncing, smiling, alive.

I didn't bother calling the cats to their early dinner, knowing that they would be hiding from the party noise.  I left them their food and walked towards home, the same song still playing.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Writing in my blog when I have nothing in mind can be a bit dangerous.  Not in a literal sense, like texting and (fill in the blank of most activities, except sitting down).  Just dangerous in the sense that I will wander through my thoughts and drag you poor people with me.  For instance:

  • I realized that I am finally used to, and enjoy, the cool, foggy summer mornings here.  Notice that reads mornings, not all damn day.
  • I noticed a ding in the front/side bumper of my new car yesterday.  I didn't even realize that had happened. What's newsworthy about that?  I didn't cry.
  • I meant to give myself a good talking to (silently) that I wasted a perfectly good 3-day weekend.  (No, we don't get Bastille Day off; I just felt like it.)  Then I realized, I don't care that much. 
  • I sometimes experience kairosclerosis but the memory of my 3-year-old self* at the amusement park forces me out of it. My story isn't exactly the same as kairosclerosis, that's really about anticipatory anxiety, but still.  (Such a good argument to make when no one is around, "Yeah, but still.")
Perhaps tomorrow there will be more here to read.  Tonight is writing group.  Keep your expectations low though,  kids.

*You've surely heard this one, right?  I was riding a little kiddie ride at a park adjacent to the Sacramento Zoo.  Just my mom and I were there and she waved at me and smiled as I went by.  It was ride that went around and up and down a little and the "cars" were made to look like fish. A photograph of this scene exists in family albums.)  They even made a swish-swish-swish sound. After the ride, my mom asked me, "How come you weren't smiling?  Was the ride too scary?"  "No," I said.  "I was just thinking about how sad I'm going to be when we leave."  Welcome to the hard-wiring in my brain.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Who doesn't like a list, when you think about it?

A bit of silliness from last night's writing group:

Here is a list of things that, from now on, I will try very hard not to complain about:

1. Skinny-jeaned, handle bar-mustachioed, ironic T-shirt wearing hipsters
2. The elaborate, music-filled, BBQ smoke emitting picnics that appear along the lakeside every weekend.
3. My boss' obsessive-compulsive need to scour the websites I manage and then email me 5 or more times in a hour about things he does not like.
4. The next door neighbor's new love of playing loud country music and/or video games.
5. Bev, erstwhile hippie turned dumpster diver who lives in our neighborhood and tries to convince everyone she meets to write letters to the city about potholes.
6. The monstrously rude biker who plows down the back street setting off car alarms and terrorizing apartment dogs.
7. The bootcampers doing tricep dips off the curb of a major street or do crunches on the sidewalk.

Monday, July 7, 2014


n. the frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist—the same sunset, the same waterfall, the same curve of a hip, the same closeup of an eye—which can turn a unique subject into something hollow and pulpy and cheap, like a mass-produced piece of furniture you happen to have assembled yourself.

Photography for me was always a vemödalen-producing experience.  Hmm.  I'm not sure about the usefulness of the word "vemödalen," in my life at least, but I noticed it while was I perusing the site and it made me think of this photo.  iPhones are phones, text devices, calendars, and so much more but cameras you can expect to capture a deep-breath moment, a sudden stillness that makes you want to memorize it all?  Probably not.  

The image of the shade with a great expanse of nature and humanity stretching out beyond it, in the bright sun, is what stopped me.  It's cool there in the shade.  My eyes can un-squint.  It's safe, but the glare and dust is waiting for me.  The sharp descent will tease me into a quiver or a fall, but there's no other way to get home.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


Packing wood before the rain
Oak logs piled
I remember it in rows
Mossy, wet, sharp fresh cuts to the grain
Woodcut scent fills my head
Endless trips, driveway to back porch, back porch to driveway
Whistle of the bark against my winter coat
Safety cone orange and white reflector piping
Sisters holding, packing, putting down, repeat, repeat
After-school clouds, late autumn gray, build above us
Holding, packing, putting down, dripping water, drip-drop
Then she takes pity.  Finish it tomorrow, she says.
Wood stove welcoming, iron hunk, strong legs, warm as a heartbeat
Fingers defrosting, stinging cheeks softening
The stove draws us in, holds us, expelling intoxicating heat
Irresistible spittle drops, hot stove surface, watch it dance, sizzle.
No more, she said.  No hugging on the stove.  It's bad for you.
Rain outside, hissing wood on fire
Boiling soup, hot brown mugs, steamed windows.  Home.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Waiting for the Sun

It's there.  It's trying to kill us.
Trying to kill us all
A/C breakdown, 106, dry dry foothills
One massive, gaseous, life-giving, left-ending star
Baking the upholstery, cooking my thighs
After that day, Sunday, visiting day
We know he has his hot sun, his solar panels
His egg farm.  Chickens scratching, pecking
Cigarette smoke, old shoebox, old photos
Stories starring me, always the fool, all nerves and pratfalls
But I smile
He remembered, saved the memories, saved the pictures
Boy.  Such a boy at 5, at 10, at 21 a father
A boy still looks through the folds of skin, white hair, smoke
Cigarette smoke
He keeps the sun for us, keeps it busy, puts it to work
Earning its own keep
On a slant behind the hen house, next to the driveway, of his house.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

hey, old timer

One of the benefits of being born…er, a while back, is that I never had social media when I was a teenager.  I can only imagine how my obsessive little mind would have taken to the medium.  All the imagined slights against me ("Nobody 'liked' my selfie?!"), postings about parties I wasn't invited to, and most terrifyingly, boys.  What if one of 'em sent me a "poke"?  "Do I poke back?  Does he poke all the girls?"  This could evolve into a double entendre fest, so I'll stop there. 

Alternatively, I might have been too afraid of creating an online presence.  "Purposely posting pictures of myself?  For people to look at?"  But then, I would have been shunned for not having an online presence, certainly, and the pressure would have gotten to me.  Of course, I'm not looking at this like a modern-day teenager.  My imagined future teenage self probably would have created an online persona, complete with a fake name and an avatar who typed out everything in abbreviations like "c u n gym l8r."  [shudder] 

And online gaming?  Oh, forget it.  Sure, I was pretty kick-ass back in the day with Asteroids and Ms. Pacman, but World of Warcraft?  I never would have made it.