Friday, December 20, 2013

I'm feeling pretty lucky.

Park Bench and Library Book, 2013
My Favorite Tree, 2013
Quiet Room and Dirty Windows, 2013

Thank you for visiting me here during 2013.

I hope you are spending this holiday season eating many cookies, listening to good music, and spending time with those you love.

Cheers!

xx,
Denise

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Square

Magnet, 2013

“ according to a Wall Street Journal article of a few years ago, some 59 percent of Americans don't own a single book. Not a cookbook or even the Bible. ”

- Maureen Corrigan, Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books

Okay, there is no way this is true. Right? Right. No. No way.

I've been following The Millions: A Year in Reading and enjoying learning about so many books I might not have otherwise found, but no description has enticed me as much as Sonya Chung's. Now I must read The Square by Marguerite Duras as quickly as I can get my hot little hands on a copy.

Enjoy your Sunday. I hope it involves reading a few pages of a good book.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Well...

Winter Light, 2013

We're back together. I'm referring to my relationship with cappuccino, I never really parted with those little carrot muffins.

I was fine, addiction apparently kicked, so I decided I could have a cup every now and then. I tried it and my heart raced too quickly. I didn't like it, yet I tried again, hoping for the old feeling of contentment.

Well, it eventually returned. I'm pretty much back to my every-morning cappuccino. I find it especially pleasant during these cold short days, and it certainly helps me feel less like a bear longing to hibernate.

So...  How are you spending your cold short days? Tell me something inspiring. Or are you somewhere warm? If it is warm, tell me about your tomatoes.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

More, please.

Lemons and Mail, 2013

Handwriting
Mail sent with stamps
Movies seen in theaters
Telephone calls
Poetry
Books made from paper
Hats knit by hand
Dinner at home

a book
a movie
a meal

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Excerpt in Which I Relate to a Ground Squirrel

Petals and Thorns, 2013
"One morning I looked out the window and saw a ground squirrel draped in a coat of cotton. She was picking the cottonseeds off her arm and eating them. Suddenly a weasel emerged and began wildly chasing the ground squirrel around the yard. Just as the weasel was about to grab the ground squirrel's neck, ensuring a quick death, the squirrel made an abrupt turn, faced the weasel, and screamed. The startled weasel jumped in the air and fell onto its back as the ground squirrel ran away."

Excerpt from When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Quiet Time

Sunshine, 2013

It always seems I need more than others. So here I am, enjoying the beautiful sunlight sneaking through the blinds and listening to a live version of Rain King.

Wishing you much of whatever you desire this weekend.

xx

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Stovetop Granola

Autumn, 2013

This is so easy and delicious. Experiment with different seeds and nuts. I've used walnuts and pistachios. Adjust salt, pepper, and sugar to your liking. I really like this less-sweet ratio and always include good black pepper. Black pepper in granola is a revelation.

Stovetop Granola
2 very generous servings 
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
½ cup chopped almonds
1 cup rolled oats
¼ teaspoon fleur de sel
⅛ tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Heat oil in small sauté pan over medium heat, add seeds, chopped nuts, and oats. Stir gently to coat with oil. Add salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Stir gently until oats begin to turn light brown. Remove from heat.

Serve warm over Greek yogurt and top with thinly sliced Fuyu persimmon and pomegranate arils.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

White Lies

What Was She Thinking, 2013

She called me on the 17th and wished me a happy birthday, even though my birthday was on the 20th. She’d done this for years. I never mentioned the discrepancy. I didn’t want to make her feel awkward. Luckily, I hadn’t met her too early in my life.

Something in me changed between ages thirty and forty. Before the change I would have laughed comfortably at her mistake and corrected her. My response would have been without malice and I wouldn’t have thought much about the consequences, but somewhere in my thirty-forty decade I began thinking more seriously about my words and how they made other people feel. I didn’t transform into an angel, but I did pull back a little bit. I told a few more white lies.

Why not, I thought. Confirming everyone had the proper data began to feel unnecessary. I replaced it with the satisfaction of knowing I would not be the killjoy needlessly interfering with anyone’s happiness.

But I still carry a nasty sort of anxiety each time I walked along Columbus Avenue. I have not come to terms with the clearly able-bodied tourists who amble along so slowly in front of me. I do not consider myself an especially fast walker, which makes each slow person in front of me that much more intolerable. They simply live at a different pace, a pace I do not understand. I assume this anxiety will eventually dissolve and be replaced with something even better than white lies, but I'm not sure I want it to go.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Even

Guest Room, 2013

Okay, I'm ready to feel even now. But is there such a thing?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Be Where You Are

From Here, 2013

Warmth. The sunny barstools. The plant. It has been years, but it doesn't feel so. This space is familiar. Comfortable. I return to an earlier self and order a cappuccino. I wait, quietly. Sip. Open a slim book to its first page. I am immediately in her world, as if she is sitting across from me and telling her story. I ask her to pause on several occasions. I know it is just the beginning, but she pulls at me and wants me to understand her pain, to break just a little bit, and I do. 

When I leave her and step into the cold air I press my tongue against the inside of my bottom teeth, hoping it will hold back my tears. I know she isn't finished, and I do want her to continue, but I have others who need me. Later, I think. Later. Don't forget to be where you are, now, as you walk down this cold street with her voice still in your ear, and later, when you sit at another table, surrounded by new voices.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Down the Rabbit Hole

Charles, 2013

I listened to Bill Evans on Pandora while reading these pages on my laptop. About halfway through my reading I was distracted by the sunset and got up to take a photograph with my mobile phone. Now, in the dark, I type with my glowing screen in the foreground and the lights of city buildings and passing headlights shimmering on the river outside my hotel room, and I share my sunset with you, here on my blog.

Monday, November 4, 2013

22 Unicorn Street, 2013

She spoke loudly of her comfort with herself, a strong clue it did not exist. I picked up my book and returned to the quiet upstairs.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

6:38 p.m.

Looking Up, 2013

Today was all mine. I worked in the morning. I had my hair cut. I sat alone at a marble table and ate a tartine. I walked along Lovers' Lane. I worried. I felt lucky. I made lists. I felt a sudden craving for pretzels and bought some. I finished a book.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Weekend Project


Close to instant gratification.

The author of the pattern* says any super bulky yarn will do. So why not knit one for yourself or someone you like?

Thanks for the inspiration, Leslie.

*I substituted a size 15 16"circular needle for the 20" noted in the pattern. Also, I did not YO twice in my YO rows, just once, making my fit more snug than the loose fit you'll see in the pattern link.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Like an Old Boyfriend

A Different Vision, 2012

After weeks without, I drank my once familiar cappuccino. It looked beautiful and tasted delicious, but I had changed.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

By Herself

Noticing, 2013

This quiet morning has me thinking of an excerpt from Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, knitting, and a disconcerting dream I had last night. I'm sure the dream was inspired by Rebecca Lee's short story, Bobcat. I'd rather forget the dream, but the story was excellent.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday Gratitude

El Presidio Real de San Francisco, 2013

An early morning walk.
Olive toast topped with soft scrambled eggs and close to caramelized red Shishito peppers and onions.
Squinting sunflowers in a Ball jar.

If you have not tasted soft scrambled eggs, you should. 
Here's a recipe.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

of note

Dahlias, 2013

Do you ever miss characters after reading a book? I miss the passionate and creative Mari and Jonna, from Tove Jansson's Fair Play.

I highly recommend this entertaining book of short vignettes. If you can talk someone into reading it aloud to you, all the better.

That is all. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

We Called It Convalescing

Thirsty Basil, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013
1:15 PM

I've scheduled a massage, a same-day appointment. I've never done this. My hamstrings feel like rubber bands being pulled tight from both ends. This is also a first. Could it have anything to do with my giving up coffee? I cannot imagine what the connection would be. There was the funny jig I was doing last night to make Chris laugh. Perhaps I went a little too far. It would be odd if my hamstring situation had anything to do with the absence of coffee in my life, but it is the largest change I've made lately.

I only drank one cappuccino per day. Once in a while I'd drink a second, but it was rare. I have skipped my morning cappuccino due to travel or some other this-or-that and experienced the inevitable headache, but soon fed it with coffee of some sort and sent it on its way. I often thought about this unintended commitment. The way the coffee controlled me, to a certain extent. I didn't like it, but ignored the feeling and stuck with my morning caffeine ritual. I enjoyed it, most of the time.

Chris drank much more coffee than I did, 3-4 cups per day, and that was a decrease from his earlier habits. So on Thursday afternoon, about 3:00 PM, when he set his emptied coffee cup on the counter and said I'm done, I was shocked. Sheesh, I thought, a little quiet time in the country and the grand pronouncements begin. But then I saw it as an opportunity and said me too. Deep down I'm a joiner. I hate to miss out on a worthwhile experience.

I thought I'd skate by with a mild headache for a day and be free, but no.

My last cappuccino was sipped Thursday morning. Friday was my first day without and it went rather well. It was much easier than I'd imagined, until Saturday. Then the dark veil settled upon us. It began with general lethargy, and dull headaches that came and went. the headaches got worse and sleep worked better than acetaminophen, so we napped and read and napped and read. Motivation to do much of anything waned, so we called it convalescing and watched a movie. Atonement was our choice. The heaviness of the story matched our mood. The heaviness hung around for the rest of the day, gave me a brief break on Sunday morning, and then pressed down upon me again around 10:00 AM. Somehow Chris felt better on Sunday than I did. Go figure.

No headaches today, but I must admit to a sort of blah feeling coating my day. I woke up thinking what's the point? I really wanted my cappuccino. And that's why I didn't drink one. I don't need unnecessary dependence. Also, I believe I'm past the worst part. I heard 5 is the magic number. Make it past five days and you are golden. I want to see what's on the other side. Thoreau (8th paragraph) believes I'll be pleased. He better be right. We'll see.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

All I Want To Know


I woke up today thinking of these lines:

I get the news I need on the weather report
Oh, I can gather all the news I need on the weather report

From this song.

Some days it's all I want to know.

Monday, August 19, 2013

To Be Heard

Notebook, 2012

Inspired by Alexandria and her link to this post, I have a question for all of you out there who write.

Why writing?/Why do you write?

I was trying to think of my own answer and the first thing to come to mind was, to be heard, which is funny because no one can hear the words I type on my keyboard or write in my notebook.

What's the first thing that pops into your mind? Feel free to be brief or expansive.

Cheers,
Denise

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mermaid

 Sausalito, 2013

They all nod in recognition.
I'm baffled, yet
nod along.

I read every line and see
nothing but murk.

Keep reading. In time
it will make sense.

Quiet persistence. A few of us
still believe in it. I am
one of the few.

Once in a while
I will swim up
from the bottom, eyes
just above the surface.

Is it safe out there?

And my voice, raspy
from silence, will share with you
what I believe.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday Morning

The Geranium, 2013

Walk beneath a dull sky.
Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, pages 1-4.
A boiled egg.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Contemplating a Small Collection of Mary Ruefle's Sentences

Curved stems, wood fired pots, a pig., 2013

Two plastic champagne glasses, pink and purple larkspur, an ear. 

A lemon, a dime, a diamond ring, a parachute. 

An envelope, addressed but otherwise empty, a piece of gum in silver paper, a packet of nasturtium seeds, and a button.
  
-Sentences excerpted from the chapter MY EMILY DICKINSON in Madness, Rack, and Honey.
-The photograph title is mine.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Before It Slips Away

Cardoon, 2013

The Anniversary of Our Engagement

A sleeping coyote
Seal pups
Unbroken sand dollars
Bill Evans
Brickmaiden
Laura Chenel's Mélodie
The knit stitch
Lavender baths
Watching little birds sing with their entire bodies
The meadow, oh the meadow...
Grilled corn on the cob
Kelly's pattypan squash
Cows, horses, and little lambs with long black gloves
Feeling undaunted by Wild Flour's closed sign
A summer matinee in a near-empty movie theater
Early Gravenstein apples
Eating $1 oysters beside the bay in which they grew
Crazy delicious smoked salmon
Smelling lilacs behind the farmhouse
Tiny fish darting around in a stream
Mint chocolate chip ice cream, and a broken cone
Christopher's cardoon flower from Table Top Farm
Rye porridge with Toma and thyme
Pork belly with sweet and sour fennel and plum
Vanilla soft serve with olive oil and salt
Walking and talking, morning and night
Quiet time in the library
Finding a used book of poems in one of my favorite bookstores
Breakfast in the backyard
Spunky kittens climbing trees
Picking and eating ripe warm from the sun blackberries
Chickens pecking at corncobs
Peter Martinelli's strawberries
Perry's paella to-go
Sitting beneath a blanket, at the beach, on a cool gray day
Sweet pale orange cherry tomatoes
Slim green beans, perfectly cooked
Tiny misshapen new potatoes
Reading in the middle of the day
Sleepy afternoons, and naps
White-tailed Kites at the wetlands
Apricot and coconut cookies dipped in whole milk
Fog on the ridge

Friday, July 26, 2013

More


I want you to look in the mirror, slowly trace the tiny lines around your eyes, and love yourself more.

Monday, July 22, 2013

I Prefer

Flowers for Jane, 2013

To race breathlessly along pages, line by line
without pause.

To gasp for air at the end.

Or to slowly devour words, licking
each one from the page.
Indulgently.

The inhaling with rapid speed.
The necessity of knowing it all. Now.
I've done it.

But I prefer the licking.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

To Unplug

Quiet, 2013

To unplug. For me, it is a critical part of feeling balanced, stable, grounded. I often find what I need in this screen, but there are things I cannot find here. A single day away offers much. An extended period reminds me there are other ways to live. I'm about to feel that shift, that restless period in the space between things, and the quiet comfort that follows.

Do you ever unplug, or think about doing so?

Friday, July 5, 2013

It was about 4:00 p.m.


I approached a tattered church. The doors and windows were boarded up, discarded clothing and trash were strewn about. One sad tree stood in front. And the air smelled like strawberries. How? I stopped. There was a low breeze. Unopened mail skittered across the dirty sidewalk, past my feet. It was unmistakable. Strawberries.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

1961 vs. 2013

Yellow, 2013

"If you are wakeful some night, and don't want to take a sleeping pill but don't want to just lie there, either, try to figure this out: why do women spend time and money on their hair, face, and hands, presumably to make themselves attractive, then, as style dictates, wear unbecoming, even outlandish clothes? And when you have that settled, work on this one: why does it occur to so few women that a mode of living which doesn't push her around will reflect itself in her face and manner, and do more for her appearance than make-up and hairdo?

By the time you have those two questions solved it will be time to get up and get breakfast, then wash and iron the living room curtains."

-Ruth Stout (1961)

But we (women) are different now, right?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thank You

A Blue Corner, 2013

I noticed an older man waiting at my bus stop. He looked familiar. It was the way he stood, he had such a sweet humble way about him.

We boarded the bus and he, with his face of patience and calm, sat down for several stops. When he stood I realized what was so familiar about him. He moved like Kermit the Frog, in the best of ways. His kind, unassuming expressions, and his stance.

He had a folded green shopping bag in his jacket pocket. I assumed he was making his way to the market, sure to pass an array of people, leaving each one with the same feeling of contentment he left me.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Duck and Camouflage

Near Sunset, 2013

"Poetry, the human feeling, the 'kitten', is so crowded out of the humdrum, rushing, mechanical scramble of today that the man who would preserve them must duck and camouflage for dear life to keep himself from annihilation."

-from a letter Hart Crane wrote in 1921, quoted in Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle

In 1921 it was 'mechanical scramble', today it is being 'plugged in'. The preservation was and is worthwhile.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sick Day

Stanley with flower, 2013

It is the first day of summer, the sun is shining, and I am sick. Sigh.

Sniffling, sneezing, and slumped on the sofa. It just isn't right.

To make myself feel better I am making a list of good things in my life. Here's what I've got, so far:

1. Feeling better than I did when I first woke up.
2. Muesli with peach compote and raspberries.
3. Our new cactus, Stanley.

How about you? What's been making you happy lately?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mornings

Iris, 2013

Someone recently wrote of her practice of reading something beautiful each morning. She liked to begin her day by remembering how beautiful writing can be.

I wish I could recall who wrote this. I think of it often. If you are reading, thank you.

Today it is Brooke's piece, The Wren, that reminds me of such beauty.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Surprise Visit

June, 2013

I unplugged for a while and it has left me with so much running through my mind. I selected the above photograph this morning with hopes of writing something profound to match the mood of the image.

But as I was ordering my coffee I heard The Big Bopper singing:

Chantilly lace and a pretty face
And a pony tail hangin' down
A wiggle in the walk and a giggle in the talk
Make the world go 'round.

A presentation of a fairly condescending 1950s female stereotype. Horrible, right?

No. Not for me.

I return to my little girl self for a moment, laughing with my young dad as he walks through our old kitchen singing this song from his childhood. He ridiculously swings one hip and snaps the fingers on his giant hands at lace, his other hip and snap following strong with face. All of it accompanied by a silly grin.

I hear the joy in his voice. I don't think about the lyrics. Or do I? Hmm.

Anyway.

I haven't seen this act of Dad's in a very long time, but the picture in my mind is crystal clear. I wonder if he still swings and snaps. I bet he does, probably post shower, wrapped in a towel, while looking in his bathroom mirror. The same mischievous look on his face.

Oh well. Profound is often tiring, no?

Chantilly Lace (song)
Chantilly Lace (video)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On Salt Water and Greed

Tuesday Morning, 2013 

Chris set a brown paper package down on our bed. It was addressed to me, from Taproot.

I thought back to working on a piece that would fit this issue, their Water issue. I have such an attraction to water and it is something I've felt as far back as I can remember.

I began this piece after an exhilarating swim in rough salty water off the coast of Mexico. It was a beautiful moment--the taste of salt on my lips, the force of the current, the setting sun, the crash of waves breaking near shore, and the clean scent of ocean air.

When I saw the package an instinctual and admittedly greedy focus took over. I tore open the brown paper, quickly admired the artwork on yet another great cover, found the table of contents, and let out a little squeal as I first glimpsed my poem on page 59. They allowed such a generous amount of simple white breathing space around my words. I was not involved in the layout, but if I had been, this would have been my exact choice. I couldn't be happier to again be a part of this publication. Thank you, Taproot.

Now to peruse the rest of this thoughtful quarterly. I'm especially interested in a Prince Edward Island piece I raced past, but have not forgotten.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

When We Shook Walls and Scared Cats

Breakfast, May 23, 2013

Returning from a quiet breakfast today I put my key into the front door of our apartment building. Just as I turn the doorknob I hear a car radio behind me playing Jessie's Girl, loudly, and I think back to a summer in Junior High.

We'd moved into an apartment "in town" and my younger sister and I would blast this song, and a variety of others, when my father wasn't home. One day a little old lady, apparently our neighbor, knocked on our door and asked us to please turn down the music because we were shaking her walls and scaring her cat. We shut the door, turned down the music, and proceeded to laugh hysterically.

The car stayed parked out front for a while, Rick Springfield belting out his lyrics about Jessie, hoping to soothe his longing.

Thinking of you today, little sis.

Original Jessie's Girl video on YouTube

Monday, May 20, 2013

of note

The visions reading the word moonlit conjure.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Those People

Green Street, 2013

Do you notice those people? Do they stand out for you as they do for me? Those who quietly knock on the restaurant restroom door and pause before turning the doorknob. The drivers who slow when they see a pedestrian in the crosswalk. The people who let commuters off the bus before attempting to board. And those who are kind to flight attendants, cashiers, and janitorial staff--even when it is a one-time encounter and they have no more to gain than perhaps a relieved smile

They live intentionally. They make this world softer, more inhabitable. They allow us to let our stiff defenses rest for a moment, and this space reminds us just how good the rest feels, like sunlight on cold skin.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Sentence from a Poem

Petals, 2013

This light, young as it never will be again.

A sentence from a poem, Going Home Day, from a volume of poetry I bought this morning, Leaving Yuba City by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

As the Mind Twirls

Dust, Wood, Books, Light, 2013

Yesterday during an appointment with a hair stylist I experienced the indulgence of having my hair washed by someone other than myself and contemplated the creation of a hair shampooing robot.

Books. They've contributed to my life in so many ways. How will electronic publishing change this contribution? I've tried reading from an iPad mini. It was okay, it didn't kill me, but there was something a little sad about it. The reading felt less intimate.

Often my workouts take place in an old theatre transformed into a gym. It's a unique space, but this isn't my point. Today while on the second floor looking down at people sweating on various pieces of gym equipment I thought of body shape. Imagine all of the physical labor involved in a pre-industrial society. Body shape for many must have been determined by profession. A plowman most likely had well-developed leg muscles due to his maneuvering on foot throughout the day while a seated coachman probably had weaker leg muscles. Today most of the work we do doesn't require muscle, we have more control over our shape.

The unusual May heat here this morning reminds me of Salina.

Kathleen Jamie has me wandering around the Bergen Natural History Museum's Hvalsalen, in my mind, contemplating enormous whale skeletons.

Cut peonies fade too quickly.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Weekend Project

One of Two, 2013

Done.

Two little rustic mats (6" x 7 1/4")  for hot plates, bowls, ramekins, or even small pots.

If you'd like to make your own, it won't take much time. You might even have the materials on hand.

I used a ball of twine, two size 13/9.0mm knitting needles, and scissors.

Cast on 16 stitches and knit, purl, knit, purl each row until you reach about 7 inches (or your desired length) and cast off. Weave in ends.

That's it.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

~Denise

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Toast

New Landscape, 2013

I prepared a slice of toast that rivaled the memory I have of my mother's toast. This was something I believed out of my reach. And then today it happened.

Light brown, just to the point where the face of the bread is crisp enough to create a solid sound when tapped with a fingernail. Then a thin layer of salted butter to seep into the crispness and soften it, slightly.

A bite at this point is lovely, and a corner dipped into warm maple syrup sweetened oatmeal is heaven.

It feels funny, like this is a threshold I was not supposed to cross, and the universe will lean slightly off-kilter until I trip and fall.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Old & New

Faded, 2013

I'm considering something new, joining a book club. Have you ever belonged to a book club? Did you like it?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Springtime




Today I woke an hour and a half earlier than usual. I'm between things. Current work must rest. After the initial thud felt upon completing a project phase there is new energy. The mind is more active, more free to wander. I've busied myself in other ways, ways that occupy the body and keep the mind free.

My thoughts continue to return to the senseless pain and sadness in Boston. A reminder that things can change so quickly. We are not always in control. I look around and appreciate my now. 

We've had sun and wind here. A choppy bay. So much is in bloom. I found out I'll have a poem in Taproot this June. We have strawberries. I've finished reading one book and have selected another.

If you are in the mood for peaceful music, you might enjoy this soothing song mix. I did.

What have you been up to lately?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

of note

A small boy has climbed the tree outside my window and begun yodeling.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Same Terrain

Kitchen Light I, 2013
Kitchen Light II, 2013
Changes aren't always better, sometimes they're just different.

Change isn't always better, sometimes it's just different.

Sometimes change makes things better and sometimes it just makes things different.

Sometimes change is better and sometimes it's just different.

.............

Change is always different, sometimes it's better.