“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


Spring is coming & she is a belly-dancer

Spring has one toe inside the door.

And she is belly dancing.

Moving this way & that way.
Seducing us with these flashes of pink,
beckoning us closer.

Remember these?
They are showing themselves now,
just a bit, just a bit.
Soon the entire tree will be dancing,
tossing little pink moments of joy to the ground.
But right now it is all a-giggle,
sweet young budlets flashing their eyes at passersby,
hands covering their laughing mouths,
all swaying in perfect rhythm
left, right, left, right,
flirting with us, teasing,
the late winter wind their music.

Leave the door ajar.
Spring is coming.
any moment, any moment, any moment


Preserving magic

Something else that sits on my desk.

The corner of a creamy blank Polaroid - I had to work hard to keep it unexposed and shoot out of the camera; an SX-70, I think, or maybe the 600 that came later. I just remember there was something I had to do to keep it from turning black, or maybe I'm wrong, maybe it was easy. It's been a million years ago & truthfully all I recall is that I had to something to keep it this way. To preserve that lovely piece of blankness. The phrase is cut from a magazine, and together they anchor a calendar page that says Dare to be naive. I forget the author - Buckminster Fuller, I think - but I love the advice, so I keep it right there where I can see it all the time. Coming from the kitchen, right there in full view, sitting at the computer, right there in full view - anywhere you move around in my teeny little house, pretty much right there in full view. Dare to be naive. Hard to do, really, in this age of being oh-so-cool. Nobody wants to be naive - I'm in the school photography business, I can swear to this. Kids hit a certain age, boys especially, and suddenly smiles are just not the thing - heads have to be cocked to the side, chins thrust a bit forward, eyes attempting to be hard. Attempting, but not really succeeding, so in a hurry to be rid of childish things, things they'll later wish they'd preserved.

Such an introspective mood I'm in these last few days. It's the winter, I think, that makes me so - later, I'll blame it on the heat of summer, but right now, I'm blaming the cool air & the gray skies, the need for shoes & socks when I'd rather be barefoot. But you can't force seasons, or people, or even events - they have their own time, and their own pace, and, really, they have their own loveliness, their own magic, their own beauty. I have a leftover image from this past summer - a blue flower from Mary's yard - I was going to post it, a bit of brightness for this melancholy week, but it was too much. Too garish, too bold. We have to ease into those colors, and remember that this is the time of almost-there, almost-gone. We have to preserve these moments, this time, and not hurry. If I look back at this week, I see all the heartbreak - the days seem to be tinted with heartbreak - but there are moments to be preserved. The pink tulips for Mary's birthday, wrapped in soft lavender ribbon; white camellia bushes that look like snow; Maggie on a bench, chasing her tail around & around & around, the first time in months she's felt that playful; the sound of sleet hitting the windows, but only for a few moments; black gloves trimmed in lime green feathers, tickling my arms; Katie not wanting to open the birthday present I gave her because she loved the wrapping so much - she saved it for days. These are the images I will remember later. I will remember hugging Mary yesterday, I will remember that she managed a goodbye as I was almost out the door, I will remember the owl returned, I will remember smiling as I passed by Katie's staircase & flipped on her blue lights, thinking I needed to send her this video.

I never did - it was cold & I hurried in & I forgot.
For shame.
. . . your clock is tickin' on the wrong time . . .


An owl and some birthdays

Fat little owl.
Not afraid of the barking dog at the foot of his tree,
this little owl just blinked at me,
winked at me,
saying what a silly noisy fool this dog is.

Something a little cheerier against the white sky, and thank you to Robert for news of the owl's appearance. Mary's birthday is today - 95 years she has watched come & go, and she said she didn't want to see this one come, but here it is, and she is here to welcome it. And we have an owl. Robert says that in many cultures owls are a harbinger of death, but as I've mentioned before, I've begun to think of them as guardians, as messengers, and I will continue to do so. Perhaps this one is here to accompany her when the time comes.

He's a brave little owl - I'd trust him to take me anywhere.

But until then, well, until then. It is also Christy's birthday today, Christy whom I first met online, a message board we both visited - later we met in person, hugs all around. Friday was the lovely, lovely Katie's birthday. Without both of these women, this blog would not exist. Both have been there when I was scared, anxious, not believing in myself. Both have been nothing but supportive true friends, telling me the truth, telling me to just do it, telling me I could do it, both are proud of me when I break through barriers & fences of my own making. Mary, too, was always incredibly supportive, always insistent that I could do this. Three women, ages varying from 30-something to 90-something, three true friends. Three true friends, one soon to go.

But no real ending.
Not really gone.
Every time I see an owl, I will be reminded.


Almost-here, Almost-gone

The whole world seems to be made of colors
that are almost-here, almost-gone.

The sky I thought was white, white, white, is tinged with a damp gray, the streets & trees are foggy. Nothing quite real, nothing quite solid, everything with one foot here, one foot there. The trees loom like bones over the neighborhood, the birds calling to each other, unseen, their voices mixed with the mist, unreal, unreal, perhaps not birds at all. My mind is everywhere - I awoke at 5, and moved to the couch, raising the blinds so I could see Mary's house bathed in darkness, the sky at that time a dull almost-red. An email from Christy felt like warm arms surrounding me with understanding, and I fell asleep, waking later to this almost-whiteness. Late, as usual - it is always later than I think it is - no time even for my morning shower - face scrubbed, shoes on, I am out the door, forgetting a check which must be deposited. Unlocking the door to find that & some cash, throwing bananas & potato rolls into a bag, grabbing a coke, I am back out the door. I cannot remember that I have to push the button on my keychain to unlock the doors to the Jeep - it confuses me. I am thinking of To Kill a Mockingbird - there's a bit where Scout is remembering when Mrs. Radley died, or she's hearing the story from Jem; she remembers how quiet they had to be, how the neighborhood waited in quietness. I think of that in flitting thoughts, not really seeing the entire passage, not really remembering it, but feeling it, watching the quietness of our block, the gray mist, the white skies. A text message from Katie tells me of her dream last night: " . . . a hawk was dying slowly and Charlie (the cat) wrapped himself around the hawk & was holding it." This after a visit to Mary last night, almost-asleep, almost-awake, almost-here, but mostly-gone, looking quite birdlike tucked up in her nest/bed. And so we wait, we continue on, we move from home to work to the grocery store, we remember to pay bills, we try to eat, we lead our normal lives, but with a white sky in the background - waiting for a phone call, waiting, waiting, waiting for a breath that will not come again, and we are teary-eyed on & off; we have been here before with others, we are not unschooled in this art of saying goodbye. And goodbye we have said, it is okay, we have said, let me hold your hand, we have said.

The world today is full of colors that are almost-here, almost-gone.
It is cold.
and mary wants a new orleans funeral ceremony through the streets


Sticks & Stones & Yellow Shoes

I posted this fluttering golden dream last night.
I removed it this morning.
It had the wrong story,
the words too right-there-against-my-heart,
too scary, too afraid to trust being out there.


My mother once had a cat
who trusted her so much
that he would jump from the roof
into her open arms.

I have decided to sew a hidden pocket for my wings. A pocket called trust & inside I will place a pair of old yellow shoes. With this pocket, and with those shoes, I will begin to weave a spell to bring trust back into my life. It has been easing back - a bit here, an inch there, but it needs, I think, a bit of magic to call it forth entirely. But this spell - what will I use to build this spell? - to sew this pocket? - to push away the scared memories, the feelings of betrayal, the hurt, hurt heart? The perfect words must be used, the perfect objects used, to begin the unfurling, and I am new at this spell-conjuring business.

The first ingredient? That word, I think. My verb for this year of moving forward. Unfurl. Into the pot to weave this spell goes unfurl, and I can see the very word itself unfurl as it is tossed from my hand - letters of soft white silk flying through the winter air, first the L, followed by R, dropping softly into this oh-so-magical container. First in. And then? Oh, I think an image of the ever, ever wonderful Michael, with those eyes that change color from blue to green & back to blue again, eyes that have always believed in me - yes, that image flies into the pot next, and it uses a plane to do so - that old plane he used to own, the one with no brakes, because how perfect! That feeling of no brakes & his laughter about it, his no-fear about it. Second in. And then third? One of Emma's curls, I think, because she is, herself, built of fearlessness, and not yet learned in the art of distrusting. And fourth, oh, that yes-yes-YES feeling I had when I first spied Somerset Life - the issue containing a few of my words - in the store, magazines neatly stacked, and inside each of them, a small part of me. Yes, that feeling is 4th. Perhaps I'll stir the pot a bit, let some fearlessness break loose from Emma, from Michael, let it unfurl a bit, wrap around that feeling - yes, I'll let it simmer. And then? Oh, things I love, things that bring me joy - sunlight on a lake, the tippy-toe walks of raccoons by my front door, the dusty smell of Maggie's fur after she's spent a summer's day outside. And I'll add a memory - from the days I lived in the country, the days when Maggie first came to live with me - a thunderstorm in the middle of the night, fierce with lightning, watching the white horse in the pasture behind my house, running & running & running in the rain, a white blur in the darkness, the lightning flashes painting his image white against the night's blackness. He was free & wild & a part of that storm, exuberant, joyous! So, yes, into the pot that memory goes, that unfettered freedom - the horse's white mane tangling with the silken letters of unfurl. Unfurl. Next, I think - no, I know - must be the story. The story of yellow shoes & betrayal, of pretense - a silly story really - a 7th-grade not-pretty-new-girl story. A small story that lasts only a few seconds. Can I tell this story that lies so close to my heart and let it go? I must - it is this spell's catalyst - without it the spell has no magic.

They were awful shoes really, but I loved them, I really did - they were so bright, so fun; I can admit this today for the very first time; the spell is uncorked & beginning to breathe. I can see now - only at this very moment, from this distance of years - that I needed some color in my life, in my soul, some color to help the loneliness of a new place, a new state, a new life. And those girls - who pretended to like them, who asked where I'd found them - OH! That feeling of being liked, of being approved of, of fitting in - I still remember that momentary soaring of my heart, still remember that turning around to answer them, seeing their faces & knowing without a doubt, instantly, their pretense, their laughter at my yellow shoes, at me, at my family's lack of money. And OH! That feeling, that coldness, those tears I couldn't shed, that turning away from them, that betrayal. It has stayed & stayed & stayed.

So I will keep the shoes in my hidden pocket, but I will throw the story into the pot. When it lands against all the fearlessness & love already simmering, I will hear it begin to sizzle.

Last I will throw a confetti of colored paper - blue, aqua, turquoise, silver, white - and on each strip of paper will be written someone's name - here is Christy, and Robin, and the lovely, lovely Katie, and Robert & the 2 Paulas & Jaime & Jenny & Bridgette & JY, and I cannot list you all because I would be here all night; I will toss that confetti of support & belief & honesty - the last perfect ingredient - and the story will have no chance. It will lose its power - a small, pathetic puff of smoke up into the cold air. Gone. It will become just another memory.

Just another story.
. . . but words will never hurt me


Talismans & inspiration & baby blue shoes

The lovely, lovely Katie keeps telling me I have to be who I am.

I bought this pair of baby shoes for my cousin's daughter, way back 3 or 4 years ago when she was expecting Miss Kaylee. She never got them because I couldn't bear to part with them - their pale, pale, pale blueness made sure of that. They hang in my "studio" space, in my own version of where women create. Inspiration. I pay attention to these shoes every day, truly, truly, even the days I do nothing.

Inspiration is a funny thing - a color here, a shape there, a sound in the background, or more likely for me, silence in the background. I am becoming more comfortable writing here in this little area, on this little laptop with the keyboard that has arrow keys where I expect the backspace & delete keys to be, and while answering emails just a bit ago, I found myself pausing to play with the words in a word-bowl sitting next to me, and suddenly found I had composed a page for my constantly ongoing, perhaps never-ending collage book.

The table at which I'm sitting is a table I bought the weekend after my father died - that means I've had it 12 years this month. I'd gone antiquing & remember how the music in one of the stores almost reduced me to tears, but the shopping for antiques comforted me. I brought the table home, stripped it & painted it white; the painting was soothing - it always is for me. But now the table is - yes - a pale baby blue. On it sits a celadon bowl, in which there is another bowl, an older, heavy, creamy white bowl. In that bowl sits a piece of pottery I bought for 25 cents years ago at a flea market - a dull creamy taupe color, an awkwardly egg shaped bowl. the top lopped off to be used as a lid, a broken-beaked bird sitting atop it all. The bottom bears the maker's name - Petra, thank you, wherever you are - and inside are white berries & the feet I accidentally broke off a white Buddha. The white bowl is also home to a white abalone heart, 2 arrowheads, a silver flip-flop charm, and 3 necklaces with broken clasps - all silver & beads; my favorite made of porcupine quills, which the ever-wonderful Michael bought, thinking perhaps he'd give it to his granddaughter for Christmas, but when I saw it, I took it. I'm quite sorry, Sarah, but I had to have it, and you were really too young at the time to appreciate how very wonderful it really is.

Next to the celadon bowl is a tiny lidded bowl from somewhere in Central America - Lulu gave it to me after she'd returned from one of her annual treks. It's handpainted - dark blues, butter yellow, olive green, a pale melon color I can't name. It holds an abalone moon & a tiny, tiny bean from India - I've had it since I was teenager - which has been hollowed into a container; it has an ivory lid & contains 3 unbelievably teeny, teeny handcarved ivory elephants. Perhaps not really ivory, but that's what the package (long since lost) said. I am quite amazed I still have this little thing, and am always surprised when I open the bowl & find it again.

Katie is right - I have to just be who I am, and write what I write, and paint what I paint, whether it fits into any particular niche or not - yes, I worry about that. All these little things around me say the same thing, all gathered & given over the years, all sitting together quite beautifully. They are inspiration, talismans.

Oddly, so many are broken.
Paula S. will appreciate that.


Of starflowers & vacationing muses

My muse has skedaddled.

Muses not having to pay for gas or airline tickets or even having to worry about packing, makes it so easy for them to just whmmppfff - be gone one morning when you awaken, and it doesn't really seem fair, but sometimes I think they just want to see what we'll do without them. My muse being a bird, I pay quite a bit of attention to any flutter of wings outside - which meant that I saw a robin this weekend, perched on a bare limb in the catawba tree, and my heart gave a little happy leap, even though spring isn't here, because robins are such a good omen, and later I saw several robins together, discussing where they'd been the last few weeks, and questioning each other as to whether this was a good place to stay for the next little bit - apparently deciding no, they'd find somewhere an oonch warmer, for I've not seen them since. I've looked for birds hiding in unlikely places (as muses are so prone to do), but alas, mine seems to have really left me to my own devices, and is no doubt on a beach somewhere, soaking up some sun, and pondering whether she should return or not, and perhaps deciding she, too, will wait until it's warmer, wondering if I will do anything without her by my side.

It is hard. I feel no great inspiration, but maybe in the muses's absence, one is just supposed to keep taking steps, just keep typing or painting or taking pictures, and not expect anything great, just keep doing. Henry Miller once said that not everything he wrote was a masterpiece, that the grocery list was just a grocery list. So off into Mary's garden I went, camera in hand, nothing beckoning me - in fact, the whole place seemed quite depressing; where the cannas were is now just a spot of brown leftovers, the wisteria just bare vines, hydrangea bushes empty & brown, brown, brown. It is definitely winter, and despite the green grass & sweet olive tree & blooming camellias . . . wait, there is green grass, there is the sweet olive tree, there are blooming camellia trees, pink & white, and full of bees - sometimes 3 or 4 to a blossom. There are a few paperwhites, and more to come. They will be followed by daffodils - I can see them pushing their way through the leaves. And the leftovers from this past summer and fall aren't without some charm - the little star flowers above, for instance, reminded me of a pair of earrings my mother had when I was a little girl.

So lesson learned, little muse.
You can come back now.
the startling reality of things is my discovery every single day ~ F Pessoa


I Choose a Verb

I am trying too hard.

Remember when it used to be this much fun?
When it didn't really even have to look like anything,
not really - you knew what it was and that was all that mattered.

It is the wintertime maybe, the colder air outside that tightens me up, keeps my arms folded across my chest, my shoulders close to my ears, my hands closed in fists. It is the new computer, maybe - the one at the house, the one that was supposed to make things easier, I was sure it would, and perhaps in time it will, but now it sits and stares at me. Write something, it seems to say, but it is just more unfinished business on the table, next to the unfinished collage & unfinished paintings - I type & type & type & type & type & it is just wrong, it doesn't work, and then I come here, back to my office, back to this clutter of unfinished business (not art), of photo orders to be processed, the answering machine showing 4 new messages to be listened to, a calendar with post-it notes laughingly stuck next to this month's quote: "The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak", a calendar with red-inked school photo deadlines, and blue-inked personal reminders - 4 birthdays in the last 8 days - and I am fine. Lily sleeps on the chair behind me, the heater keeps my toes warm, and I know this keyboard, it is like an extension of my fingertips, the curviness feels just right. I begin to loosen up.

Unfurl: To open out from, to release from a furled state.

I choose this verb for the new year. Or perhaps it chooses me, who can say? A couple of years ago I came into work to find lime green curly ribbon everywhere. Lily had found it where I'd carelessly left it - but curly lime green ribbon just calls for carelessness, does it not? Ribbon wound through my office door into Michael's office next door, back into the front room, into the hall, through Lily's cat tunnel & back again, around chair legs, back into offices, around potted plants, down the hall again. It was joy spelled out in ribbon. It was unfurled.

Furl: To wrap or roll close to or around something. I have been there for years. I have been dancing as if the whole world is watching, which means I haven't really been dancing at all. No longer. I choose unfurling. I choose that lime green ribbon, perhaps baby blue, maybe white or silver. I want to run with it and let it stream behind me, I want it to be caught on moments & places & people & I want to just keep going, but I will be back because the ribbon tethers me.

Which is just fine - tethered by joy is not a bad way to go.
it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter


Reading tea leaves, roses, carnations, the future

Do we really want to know?

It so seems we do - we have astrological charts plotted, we throw the Tarot, we read tea leaves. At the beginning of each year, we wonder what it holds - we decide to influence its unwinding with resolutions we seldom keep.

Three steps out my front door is a bridge overlooking a creek. A perfect place for tossing carnations, tulips, roses - when their days of glory are behind them, I stand on the bridge & drop them in. They land in the most beautiful patterns - I always stand for a moment or two & admire the still life below me, and pretend they hold the secrets to the future. That little carnation in the top right corner - apart from the others - surely, I think, that means something, represents something important. And the bottom left corner - that blossom heading straight into the others, confrontational, stubborn, refusing to budge. Who or what is that talking about?

Like snowflakes & fingerprints, no two landings are alike. They vary according to the wind, the water's depth, my reach on that day, perhaps the phase of the moon. Perhaps they land differently according to color - perhaps red weighs less than white, which would explain why pink camellias land farther down the creek than white ones. I can't help but think there's a message for me there.

So, I think, a project for the new year. This reading of the flowers. A book, a painting, a collage? All three? I'm unsure, but it begins here, with these New Year's carnations - a photograph of each tossed bouquet, the recording of following events & emotions; just a word or two, nothing detailed, but my own form of divination, of forecasting.

But as I said, it begins here.
We will see where it goes.
white carnations, one white camellia - energy comes in, good luck, rewards




This plant dropped all its leaves this year. It drops some every year, but this year, all of them. It surprised me, and worried me a bit - it's shared a house with me for so many years, a piece of sculpture on the bench in the bedroom, a window to call its own, a wonderful curvy bit of greenery. But all the leaves fell to the floor, reminding me of a dream I had last year - I may have mentioned it - a dream of falling leaves, a dream from which I awoke to find leaves scattered all over the bedroom floor, and though I thought there was still life - still life, indeed - I wasn't sure. I've checked every so often to make sure there was still a bit of green at all the tips, tried to give it its own space, its own time. The pecan tree in the front yard didn't have many pecans this year, and I thought maybe the two events/situations were related, and I tried to just stay out of it. Just water and sunlight.

This morning - babies. All over. I cannot express how much lighter my spirit felt - truly. As if shackles had been thrown off, as if spring is almost here, despite the cold, cold wind outside. And oddly enough - or perhaps not - last night, I actually threw off a few artistic shackles, and worked on my collage/book. I had energy to do so for the first time in weeks. I glued papers without worry, I painted unhesitatingly, I sacrificed a ginkgo leaf to its pages. It was late, I worked to the sound of mindless television, and I slept well. And then this morning, these plant babies. I thought new beginnings. But no, that's wrong, I told myself, all beginnings are new, this is a continuance, a re-emergence. I thought of cocoons - beginning or continuance? I thought of seeds & acorns - both new, yet both just a continuing on of the old. I thought of seasons, the turning of the earth, every sunrise new, yet not, every sunset unique, but not. New moon just the same moon re-emerging.

I feel connected today - I feel an unfurling begin, but I will not hurry it, I will give it its own space, its own time. Sunshine & water.

Paper & paint.
& hope & prayer & agony & patience & fear & love


The language of dreams

I'm up before the sun today,
the year's fullest moon
still hanging behind clouds in the sky.
To my left as I walk out the door.

Awake at 4:00 - wide awake,
a dream pushing me in front this computer,
telling me to speak its language,
to write of the things I saw there.
But all I remember is vignettes,
and colors, an out of focus feel.
I remember bowls of words,
remember thinking I must organize my words,
get them into the correct white bowls -
nouns here, verbs there,
phrases in the biggest bowl.
The air was the air of Provence - this I knew,
although I've never been there.
Those French trees,
whatever they are,
cypressses I think -
I only see them in French paintings & movies -
they were there,
and there was water - a lake, I think,
not the ocean, but it was blue,
a soft, soft, summery, dusty blue,
hovering in the background of the dream.

A shame to awaken so suddenly.


Entering the Weekend

I leave the week with something pretty.

A gift - a Christmas ball with a tail almost that of a pig,
and a bag with a different gift tucked inside.
Stripes of sunlight & shadow,
a blue chair.
In the background, music by Mink de Ville,
and in my hand a cup of ice,
baby-blue spoon sticking straight up;
I pour a little Coca-Cola at a time & eat it in bites.
The weekend beckons -
crooks her finger at me & bides me to enter.
I choose which door?
Oh, the blue one of course.
Of course.
my baby's got . . . the cadillac walk


I Spy a Story

A neighbor's back window, 2nd floor.

Something about this cup just speaks to me. The glow around it from sunshine on the glass. I thought I was taking a picture of the lamp but I was wrong & I knew it the moment I put the viewfinder up to my eye - it was the cup. There's a conversation going on here - a story you can make up. One cup, 2 people. Window sill. Sunshine. Very introspective. Where is the other cup, I wonder? Is it in her hand, his hand? Are they talking? Is he moving about, gesturing with his free hand? Because I think the cup above is hers, I think she was sitting next to the window, having coffee, watching the birds, enjoying the morning's warmth - I think he interrupted her few moments of silence; where's my tie? Have you seen this in the paper? But I don't think the interruption was minded, I think she knew where the tie was, I think she wanted to see what he found so interesting in the paper. It doesn't feel lonely to me when I see this one cup. It feels happy to sit here on this windowsill for a bit, enjoying this almost-springtime sunshine. I can visualize an empty chair awaiting her return - a chair pulled away from the table, pulled up next to the window. This part of the house is high - eye-level with birds' nests & squirrels jumping from limb to limb. The camellias have budded and there is one dark pink blossom visible from her seat. I see her there, before that interruption, elbow on the sill, one hand around the warm cup, leaning forward into the sunshine. I see that she's dressed for the day, up before him; I see her eyes closed for a moment as she feels the warmth on her arms. I can feel her joy at that moment. Perhaps the interruption was a kiss - perhaps they are standing in the kitchen at this very moment, a goodbye kiss for the day, see you in a bit, I'll call. I think so. It's what I feel.

But perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps the phone rang - a wrong number. Perhaps he's already gone for the day, and she's annoyed at the wrong number; perhaps she was expecting a different call, something important enough to draw her away from this little meditation. Or maybe she welcomed the interruption from her thoughts - maybe she was glad the phone rang, maybe she shook her head to clear her thoughts, maybe she was nice to the person on the other end. Perhaps if I'd stood there for another moment, she would've returned to her seat, she would've spied me spying, and laughed & invited me up for a chat. Perhaps she wants a little company.

I don't think so.
A silence already filled with noises . . . a winter morning. ~ John Ashbery


Unexpected gifts

This star glows every night.

See it there? On the table? It was enclosed in a Christmas card I received several years ago from my sister-in-law's mother. With instructions about how to make it glow. I sat it on this table next to my bed, where it would receive plenty of light from the window, or the lamp, or even from the candle sitting next to it - in that little milky white box. I cannot tell you how happy this star made me, and makes me still. It was one of the best gifts I've ever received, and it wasn't even intended to be a gift - those are the best kinds, don't you think? Those surprises? Kind of like the limb you see reflected in the mirror - it looks like the light in the hallway is attached to the end, but it's not, they're in 2 separate rooms, but they lined up perfectly when I was taking the photograph. It made me smile. The limb itself is one of those surprise gifts. It was blown out of a tree in the yard during a storm, and it has this perfect curve that I just fell in love with, so I brought it inside. What I didn't know at the time was that birds would love that curve also - they can see it through the usually open bathroom window, back beyond that hallway light, and in they come to sit a spell. I've walked into the bedroom more than once to find a bird perched on that limb.

So surprises. Unexpected gifts. Somerset Life is one. It is out, and I am in it. Robin is in it. Maddie is there, as are Sandra Evertson & Susanna, and tons of other talented women. I feel quite humble about it, quite shy about it, as Robin once said to me. Back in the fall, Jenny Doh - editor extraordinaire & lover of fabulous shoes - contacted me & asked me about myself, about what I do, about how I do it. And so I answered, and was surprised to discover the evolution of this little blog. I was surprised to discover it is the storytelling I have come to love the most. In the past, when I would hit creative dry spells, periods when I wasn't painting or building collages or drawing or anything, I would complain to Michael that the problem was that I had nothing to say. Nothing! That I was all about just the aesthetics. I didn't care about what anything meant. Which would make us laugh, but I thought I was being truthful with myself, I thought I meant it. Even now I think I did. And yet, here I sit, saying nothing day after day, and actually receiving recognition for it. I keep expecting an email or a phone call from Jenny, telling me she's made a mistake, what could she possibly have been thinking?

But it doesn't come,
and the magazine is out,
and I sit nestled in the pages with women I so admire.
A gift with a capital G.
Thank you all.
each day comes with its own gifts - untie the ribbons. ~ author unknown


If pigs had wings . . .

I watched art being made today.

Of course, this little piggy wasn't thrilled about about being the subject of said art, but he hung in there like a real trooper, squealing & growling (and I must admit, if you've never heard a small piglet growl, it's pretty wonderful & I recommend you run right out & find one of your own & just listen) & he was eventually done with having his close-up taken, Mr. DeMille, thank you, and got to nestle back against his captor. Who caught him with her bare hands out in the woods a few days ago, his mama & siblings & all the other members of his herd? - tribe? - having left him to fend for himself, once they recognized there were human beings headed their direction. This little piggy slept through all the commotion until it was too late, and then it was too late, and he was scooped up & brought home - right across the street from me, next door to Mary, where, whether he would admit it or not, he had it pretty good. A bath every day, lots of food, someone to pet him, dogs who actually thought he was pretty cool & loved having him around. But today was release day - back into his woods he must go, mama pig hopefully having calmed down enough to've come looking for him. But first - studio pictures. Part of Robert's ongoing animal series/wildlife series/reptile series. Real stuff. You know, film. 4x5 camera, the whole shebang. I was invited to watch, so grabbed my camera & took pictures of the portrait-making process.

I love this look he's giving Robert.
If he'd had wings, he'd've been long gone.
rub the sides of their noses & they fall sound asleep


2009 begins - good omens, birds & flowers

The Christmas tree has been replaced.

January always makes me happy. Lighter. The Christmas tree is taken away and in its place is light. Texas January light. It doesn't hurt that today is in the 70s & sunshine is everywhere & that the mirror that was blocked by the tree is open to that light. It doesn't hurt that in the tree's place is a small fat vase full of fun little white carnations & another vase with teenier carnations & this little white camellia from Mary's yard. Dezha brought it to me the afternoon of New Year's Eve.

2009 began with my bird muse.

It flew in through the open bathroom window, zipped through the bedroom, and flew smack into the closed glass front door, turned around and then flew wham into the closed kitchen window, landing senseless and stunned - that's how I knew it was my muse - on the window sill. I picked up the poor little thing, took it outside, and gathering itself together, it shook a few feathers, then swooped low over the yard & disappeared into the magnolia tree next door. What a wonderful omen for the new year, I thought. Then back into the house where I noticed my muse had left its mark on my just-out-of-the-dryer white sofa slipcover. Yes, you know what I mean. You do. But I remembered that scene in Under the Tuscan Sun - remember? - where the bird poops on Diane Lane's head & that's a good sign & that's how she's able to buy Bramasole? So I take it as a good sign.

Sunshine, birds, white flowers, warmth, art.
So far, so good.
tonight's travel movies: a good year & under the tuscan sun. yes.