Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Following the stream...

We’re "streaming" out of town for a few days…

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Voyage, travel, and change of place impart vigor.

Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.
--Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A little bit of mud

This was too good to pass up. Especially in the City of Expansion, where houses are still going up, even with the slump in the market, and people are still moving here in droves.

Of course, mud has been used in construction for thousands of years in many different cultures. Many sites about mud homes are listed when you search the internet. And many creatures, like worms, frogs, crayfish, clams, snails, make their home in mud. In other uses, you can take a mud bath in a spa to look "ten years younger". Folk medicine practitioners used mud poultices to "draw out the poison" from a sting, bite, or infection.

Then there’s the "dirty" side: "slinging mud" during a political campaign, "your name is mud," the negative connotation of "taking a mud bath," and being served "a cup of mud" at a greasy-spoon diner.

But overall, it seems that mud is part of our origin, after all, doesn’t the "good book" say that God fashioned humankind out of "a little bit of mud?"

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Writing is like walking in a deserted street. Out of the dust in the street you make a mud pie.
--John LeCarre

The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.
--e e cummings

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Sun setting on another weekend. Tonight, the air is cool, refreshing as I walk. Neighborhood is quiet. People sitting on decks and patios, playing guitars on a porch. Walking their dogs. Enjoying the cool before it heats up again later this week.

With vacation time officially here, thinking about the word "travel." A few definitions I found online: To go from one place to another, as on a trip or journey. To be transmitted, as light or sound; move or pass. To advance or proceed. To go about in the company of a certain group; associate with, such as "she travels in wealthy circles."

These people in the photo are traveling to the top of the ridge with a purpose in mind; to see beauty of sun rays traveling through part of the color spectrum as the sun descends. Tomorrow many of us will proceed to work and hopefully advance with plans for the next project. Are we traveling or marking time? And the circles in which I travel? Not the wealthy ones, but definitely some interesting ones.

And through a book I traveled through Paris this weekend, and will travel next to China through another book. And soon we will take a trip to California—another land unto itself.


The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
--Marcel Proust

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.
--Lao Tzu

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Becoming tomato

Here’s a tomato, on its way to becoming something red, juicy, edible. Raising tomatoes here is hard, though. I tried for several years and only got feeble results. Part of the problem was that the little yellow flowers would break off, thus not producing any fruit (tomatoes are technically fruit, you know). I tried the spray that’s supposed to prevent this, but the flowers would sigh during the night, and end it all anyway.

And, because this climate is hot and dry, it takes some gardening skill and talent (and possibly a good greenhouse) to grow tomatoes that are juicy and flavorful, rather than tasting like Styrofoam.

Not like the Midwest, where I grew up. There, nearly every summer produced bumper crops of big, juicy fragrant tomatoes. Freshly sliced for dinner, supper, and always at any type of potluck. Reminds me of summer evenings when the sun’s going down, lightning bugs flitting about, and in late summer, the drone of cicadas. Songs of frogs echo from the pond, the 10 p.m. train rushes by, the thunder of its wheels and whistle resounding over the hills. And if the night is clear, you can see the stars and planets; the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Venus, Mars. And if it’s really clear, like after a storm has passed, and no moon, the sky is freckled with stars of all levels of radiance. And you understand why it’s called The Heavens.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If life deals you lemons, make lemonade; if it deals you tomatoes, make Bloody Marys.
--David Levinthal

God's promises are like the stars; the darker the night the brighter they shine.
--David Nicholas

Perhaps lavender...

This may be a type of lavender or a butterfly bush; I’m not sure. But I love the deep color and the way it sways in the breeze. A gentleness to it that soothes a ragged day.

A day of finishing one thing and beginning another. A day of losing something; a day of gaining something else.

At dusk, we run our fingers through the lavender at the edge of someone’s yard. We slide it through our hands to gather the scent and bring us gently into the night…

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Change of view

One day something happens that tilts your view. You thought you saw it clearly, straight on, but now it’s askew.

There is still order and continuity. But in a different form. And you have to adjust the horizontal, the vertical, the hue and see it for what it is now.

Until it changes again.


For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The key to change... is to let go of fear.
~ Rosanne Cash

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.
~ Maria Robinson

* Yesterday's photo: Cirrus clouds

Monday, June 18, 2007

Exploring a mystery

What is it?*

A painting? An apparition of nature? Digital art?

Does it make you curious? Stimulate dreams? Conjure other images? What is beyond the image borders? Is there a story?

Imagine a large painting of a picturesque summer meadow with a mountain stream running through it. If you could enter the painting, what would you do? Would you sit by the stream? Set up a tent in the meadow? Follow the stream? Hike beyond the meadow? Or??

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We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started... and know the place for the first time.
~ T. S. Eliot

How could drops of water know themselves to be a river? Yet the river flows on.
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Follow the river and you will find the sea.
~ French proverb

*The mystery of the photo will be revealed in tomorrow’s post.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Shades of love

Paris Je T’aime—A movie C and I saw today made up of 18 vignettes of different people in different sections of Paris, all dealing with various colors of love. Young love to mother love to mature love--and everything in between.

One thing I notice whenever we see a foreign film is that the actors in the roles look like real people, rather than "perfect" people (Hollywood style). Real people, as in those you’d see on the street, going to work, eating at a restaurant, stuck in traffic next to you. For example, one of the most moving pieces in this movie features an ordinary-looking middle-aged woman who is vacationing in Paris alone.

A wonderful, thoughtful way to bring the weekend to a close.

A purple story

A purple star for a sunny Saturday morning. A flower fit for a Princess, which is delivered by a handsome mercenary, spewing purple prose as he presents it to her. She falls for the prose and for the mercenary and they depart into a haze of rapacious love.

The King and Queen are none too pleased to discover this, and in a purple rage, shut the Princess in a tower and have the mercenary shipped far away to a distant land, where he eventually becomes a Hollywood agent.

The Princess escapes from the tower and stows away on a ship. She learns to sing and dance, updates her wardrobe, then takes her act to L.A. and auditions for American Idol.

But she didn’t make the cut. Dejected, she walks the city streets crying and singing Purple Rain. The mercenary-turned-agent hears her as he gets out of a taxi, recognizes her as his first true love, and signs her for a contract.

To celebrate, he takes her to his mansion in the Hollywood Hills where the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls…

…And the stars begin
To flicker in the sky
Through the mist of a memory
You wander back to me
Breathing my name with a sigh.

In the still of the night
Once again I hold you tight
Though you're gone
Your love lives on when moonlight beams
And as long as my heart will beat
Lover we'll always meet
Here in my deep purple dreams.
--De Rose & Parish

Friday, June 15, 2007

A string of beads

Heading into another weekend after another busy workweek. And even tho it’s a Friday night, I didn’t put on a dress and beads and go dancing. Instead, C made a picnic dinner, finished with ice cream sundaes. Then, instead of doing more work, we actually took time to "pleasure" read. And later walked the neighborhood, checking out the Friday-night-ers, various cats, the golden sunset on the foothills, and the first couple of stars to appear.

The book I’m reading is of a woman who takes a spontaneous weekend trip to Paris by herself—and the adventures she has while doing so. She’s the one who puts on a sexy dress, beads, and goes out to a dance club.

Meanwhile I’m traveling vicariously. And thinking about my own character, Julia, whom I’ve left in an awkward situation. I’ll be traveling with her tomorrow to see where her adventures take her…


Life is a train of moods like a string of beads; and as we pass through them they prove to be many colored lenses, which paint the world their own hue, and each shows us only what lies in its own focus.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Popping off

Leaving a trail to find the way home? Or to lead someone from outside in? Or a lure for squirrels or crows? No one knows.

Reminds me of Hansel and Gretel, another one of Grimm’s Fairytales in which there is an evil mother or stepmother AND an evil witch. Of course, a kind, but powerless father. Makes you wonder about the Grimms’ relationship to their mother and women, in general…

In the news: Astronomers now see evidence that Mars had two major oceans. In Berlin, a squirrel went on a rampage and attacked three senior citizens before being brained by a crutch (perhaps the evil stepmother had something to do with it). Kellogg’s announced they will make their food products healthier for children (Sugar Frosted Flakes, anyone?) And Thomas the Train and his friends are being recalled because some may have been decorated with lead paint.

In addition:
* The world's largest popcorn ball was unveiled in October 2006 in Lake Forest, Illinois. It weighed 3,415 pounds, measured 8 feet in diameter and had a circumference of 24.6 feet.
* The oldest ears of popcorn ever found were discovered in the Bat Cave in New Mexico in 1948 and 1950. The oldest Bat Cave ears are around 4,000 years old. (That prompts a question: Just how old is Batman, anyway?)
* is the "popcorn authority" on the internet. Along with games, projects and popcorn facts, the site includes a recipe for Popcorn Witch’s Hat and Broomsticks. (Perhaps this is what the evil witch used to build her house: Nibble, nibble, little mouse; who is nibbling at my house?).

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The laziest man I ever met put popcorn in his pancakes so they would turn over by themselves.
* W.C. Fields

Of course life is bizarre, the more bizarre it gets, the more interesting it is. The only way to approach it is to make yourself some popcorn and enjoy the show.
* David Gerrold

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Radiance of poppies

I love the way the sun glows through this poppy. The blooms are gone by now, but this image remains.

What treasures they are, these small moments of beauty! Some may call them opiates, but they’re enough to carry us through the mundane tasks and the stressful surges of daily life. And enough to bring us hope; to keep on moving on...

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But beauty itself is not given to us by anyone; it is a power we have within us from the gate, a radiance inside us.
~ Marianne Williamson

That we find a crystal or a poppy beautiful means that we are less alone, that we are more deeply inserted into existence than the course of a single life would lead us to believe.
~ John Berger

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Are these only leaves--or
stained glass?

Illumination or

How does one
conclude, without
first reaching

Monday, June 11, 2007

A closer look at rejection

Well, it’s been a Monday. A non-cooperative printer this morning. Small mountain of paperwork to dig through. Then, accidentally jammed an electric stapler and had to take a screwdriver to it to get it to work again.

And waiting for me in the mail was The Letter from the local exhibition I entered:

Dear Ms. M:

Thank you so much for entering works for consideration for The Show. Unfortunately, your work was not selected for inclusion in this year’s exhibition. But please join us for the opening reception, where the juror for this year’s show will give a brief talk about the difficulty of choosing which pieces to exhibit because of the many quality works that were submitted. A catalogue of the exhibition will also be available for a reasonable fee. We hope to see you there.


At least they replied. Many of the agents I’ve tried for my novel never reply at all: If you haven’t received a reply in four weeks you may assume we are not interested in your proposal.

Receiving a rejection letter quickly snuffs out the lingering hope you had for that particular submission, whereas to never receive a reply is a drawn-out process where the candle burns lower and lower until it finally sputters and goes out.

Ah, but rejection is a way of life for artists. We can gauge the level of rejection: Low level = a chocolate bar and a glass of wine; medium level = half a cheesecake and four martinis; high level = entire gallon of double fudge Haagen-Dazs, a bottle of tequila, and a $1,000 impulse shopping trip (online or at the mall).

In the big scheme of things, this particular rejection was at the "chocolate bar and wine" level. And I can be philosophical, and pledge to submit my work in other venues (this works best after a glass of wine).

And in the greater world, it’s been a sunny, clear June day. No severe storms were reported. Hawaiians can now order Spam and eggs for breakfast from Burger King.
And in the bloggosphere, we can put our creative work out there; we can always be an exhibitor in "the biggest show on earth."


I think all great innovations are built on rejections.
--Louise Nevelson

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Rain, all day today. So much, flowers and leaves droop from the weight.

The quiet of rain throughout the neighborhood. A sleepy world. Windows and doors open to gather the fragrance of moisture and earth.

A day for reading, writing, contemplation. Meditation on desire.

Desire: wish, want, aspiration, inclination, impulse; yearning longing, craving, hunger; eagerness, enthusiasm, determination; yen, itch; lust, passion, sensuality.

What we desperately want. Or think we want.

And find ourselves pursuing, running like mad through the rain.


Desire is the very essence of man.
--Baruch Spinoza

Friday, June 08, 2007

From an elevated point of view

Trout, what we ate for dinner last night. Grilled trout with a tarragon mushroom cream sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and crispy green beans. Along with a good merlot, and a chocolate mousse dessert in a raspberry sauce.

An over-night getaway to the mountains; scent of pine, fields of wild flowers in bloom.
An evening of jazz, literature, shops, bookstores. Lacquer chests, antique chairs from China, books and books and more until 11. Perused Divisadero, a new novel by Michael Ondaatje (which I plan to read soon).

Divisadero, from the Spanish word, divisar (to discern). Refers to "a place of high elevation from which one can view an extensive area," according to a Latin American website. "The purpose of a divisadero or viewpoint is to give the individual a broader perspective from which they are able to determine the best path."

Today we had to come down from the viewpoint. Still keeping a discerning eye out for the path...


Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Something about junipers

An eastern juniper with blue berries (seed cones), part of the cypress family.

"The Juniper-Tree" is the name of one of Grimm’s Fairytales, one I recall reading from an old Fairytale book when I was a kid. "Grimm" is the right word for many of those gruesome stories. This particular one could rival some of the Greek myths: it has an evil stepmother, cannibalism, and two murders -- a "family affair". The juniper tree is the magic element; it transforms the murdered son into a beautiful bird, who rewards his kind family members with gifts -- then takes out the evil stepmother with a millstone to the head.

Van Gogh created a number of paintings that included cypress trees when he was in France toward the end of his life. "Road with Cypress and Star" and "Starry Night" are two of my favorites. In his paintings, the cypresses are sometimes dark, brooding. Other times, like dancers; lithe, swaying in rhythm of the wind. Green-blue flames flickering in the morning sky, or lighting the stars.

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My opinion is that the best thing would be to work on until art lovers feel drawn toward it of their own accord, instead of having to praise or to explain it.
~ Vincent Van Gogh

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The luck of a lion

A lion of a day today. Windy and rainy.
Had to deal with snarling bureaucratic morons who prize "The Rules" more than common sense, and what’s best for the common welfare. So, we growled back. Became lions. Hopefully we won’t win the battle only to lose the war.

This blue lion sits in front of a basement apartment; a guardian of the doorway to the subterranean. Basement culture, where every bit of light is cherished. In the darkness now, we have windows open, can hear the neighbor’s wind chimes, like a thousand bells.

Tomorrow I’ll submit my entries for the digital art exhibit. And hopefully a blue lion will bring me luck.

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Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.
~ African proverb

Monday, June 04, 2007

Waxing and waning

Random thoughts waxing and waning on a Monday…

No, the moon’s not out tonight; that was last week, but it felt right to use it tonight even though we can’t see the moon this week.

On Friday night, I surprised a raccoon that happened to be in our front yard. He skittered up a nearby tree then took refuge on our roof. Fortunately he didn’t decide to move there permanently. There’s a few of them that lurk about at twilight in the neighborhood.

This past weekend it was as if some large weather god opened his mouth and blew nasty hot air around. It’s cooler tonight, though; something or someone else has attracted his attention…

Saw a photo of a man in a diving suit and wearing a tank on the Paris Daily Photo blog; apparently there is a diving pool set up on a temporary basis under the Eiffel Tower where Eiffel visitors can dive for free. Now, if I was going to the Eiffel Tower, would I want to tour the tower, take in the view? Or would I want to go scuba diving in a temporary pool under the tower?

Is there water on the moon? People used to think there was; that the craters were lakes. But now we know the moon is dry. But was it always that way? And was there water on Mars?

Trying to decide which photos to enter in a City art contest. I now have it narrowed down to eight. But I need five. And the deadline is coming up fast…

While walking tonight, came across a Hotpoint range sitting on the sidewalk with a sign taped to it that said: "Free." Occasionally appliances, air conditioners, sofas, boats suddenly sprout on neighborhood sidewalks. But I’ve never felt impelled to take any of them home.

A NASA probe will take photos of Venus as it passes by on its way to Mercury. We’ve gazed at it in the night sky for thousands of years, that sparkling planet, the Evening Star. What will it look like up close?

And here it is nearly midnight; the moon has traveled to the far side of the horizon and has become a bright silver disk, lighting up someone’s bedroom window…

Under the bamboo

A curious plant that proliferates by sending out runners. Persistent. One that lives for many years, but when it flowers, often dies.

A resilient plant that encompasses opposites: straight, yet flexible; tough, yet light; solid, yet porous.

In China, a symbol of longevity, and one of the four Noble Ones, along with chrysanthemum, orchid, and plum blossom. Learning how to paint bamboo leaves is one of the first lessons in Oriental brush painting.

Bamboo is used to create many things; from weaponry to musical instruments. It’s the only food source for the Great Panda.

Ancient legends say that vast bamboo forests used to stand in the southeastern U.S.
Until European settlers cut it all down.

As the wind blows through our neighborhood tonight, I imagine how it would sound through a mighty forest of swaying bamboo…

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.
--Bruce Lee

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Home fires

A walk after dark tonight. It’s 86 degrees with a hot restless wind rising off the street. Sounds of air conditioners and fans. Front doors and windows wide open. Few voices though.

The local news reported a rangeland fire burning south of Boise. So early in the summer for fires. Usually don’t hear the water transport planes droning overhead until late July and August.

While writing today, was contemplating different meanings of "home." Going home, coming home? Home is where the heart is? Feeling at home? If you had a ticket to travel "home," where would you want to be at the end of your journey?

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Home is not where you live, but where they understand you.
--Christian Morganstern

Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.
--John Ed Pearce

I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.
--Maya Angelou