Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Winding down dotted hills of champagne
and plum wine, grapes round with abundance.
Cows in patches, mooing and chewing the
grain. Rustling grasses beneath hoofs, furry
groundhogs playing hide and seek with the
clouds. Jack-O-Lanterns greet visitors,
atop the brick arch overlooking vineyards.
Aroma of oak barrels and freshly crushed grapes,
A hint of fresh grass tickling the senses, mixed with the
brink of being right on the cusp of this season and
that season. Open hearts, open mouths— a toast to you
on this—O’ Joyous Halloween.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Betsy was walking into the supply room to put postage on a letter when she saw William filing down one of his nails. He then got out a band aid box from the cabinet. She didn’t ask, but he told her he had a hangnail.

Bespeckled William snorted out a laugh and said, “I feel so feminine.”

Betsy turned back to William and said, “I usually just rip mine off.”

She’s about done at the postage machine, when William grabs her hand to inspect her fingers. She looks too.

“You have very unfeminine hands,” he says. Another one of his chortled laughs. He’s known for these laughs and it annoys some of the other office mates.

Betsy pulls her hand away. “Yes, I know. Tom boy hands.”

She’s still trying to get back to her desk when William proceeds to flap his lips. He’s know for this too. William is the sort of guy that has something to say about just about anything. Freely opinionated. And occasionally when Betsy needs a random piece of trivia, she goes to William if he’s nearby.

He says, “Ya know, they sell this stuff at the horse and feed called Hoofmakers.”

“Hoof What?”

“Hoofmakers. No really, it’s straight from my mom. All the girls there at the feed store use it. It has a bunch of vitamins and other stuff in it. It smoothes your nails and puts a protective barrier around them and helps with cracked skin. You should check it out.”

Betsy listens. On one hand in the back of her head she laughs because this is just William; and on the other hand, she’s thinking, maybe she should check it out. She’s thinking it’s  moments like these that give her day a little lift because she appreciates being able to find the comedy in what can be a humdrum office vibe. So she’ll take it.

She’s determined to get out of the supply room and back to her desk. As she edges away, she says, “Hoofmakers, huh?”

“Yeah. Check it out.”

Betsy leaves William with his nail file and band aid and says, “Maybe I will. Thanks.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Farmer’s Market Veggies

This morning my hands and fingers are frigid. I’m running late, but my writing moments usually take precedence and then I will find myself in a rushed mode, which I don’t care for. But this is part of my daily ritual, whether it stays sealed in my notebooks or appears here in the moment. There are so many journal clippings, thoughts, and more books that I want to share. They collect and then, patiently, they simmer in my notebooks, or my mental crockpot.

The weekend included a visit to the Farmer’s Market. I walked from stand to stand looking for veggies mostly. Last night I brought the veggies out, knowing I would base dinner around them. There is nothing besides being outside in nature that I enjoy more than admiring fruits and vegetables. In last night’s case, just vegetables. And when I start chopping and setting them into the pot, the colors blending together, it is a sight that I can look at over and over. Fresh veggies with their different skins and juices and fresh oozings and drips of freshness that reach up to my olfactory and put me there under the sun on the farms with the fresh soil and the good smell of earth. I am the okra, the eggplant, the zucchini—yellow and green—and I’m the garlic with it’s pungent kick that mellows as it cooks and becomes so soft, it melts in my mouth—the green bells and the red bells—all of these happy veggies, having gone through a long process, of growth and handling, to eventually reach me here in this most smallest of kitchens, that feels like the size of a hobbit’s, but it suits me well. And of course, other additions joined the veggies, but I wanted to honor them on their own, to savor their goodness for a few moments more.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Leaning trees

Leaning trees
berries hanging
Bear thy fruits
Unload yourselves
young tender shoots

Amongst mature wise bark,
lean on each other, bear
thy weight together.


I enjoy being the passenger in a car. The freeway especially allows me to enter into the moment. This small poem came to me on October 15, 2011. I was watching the road and noticing and absorbing what I saw. I wasn’t thinking. Words started forming, so I unzipped my bag and pulled out the little blue notebook the size of a credit card. It’s a Moleskin—my favorite. I also have a larger sized one in there, but the moment decides which one I will select.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween ~ Mix & Match

Halloween was one of my favorite holidays when I was growing up. I would get excited about finding a costume to wear. A few of my memorable transformations were of being a clown, a witch, and my many interpretations of a gypsy. Being a gypsy was my favorite. I would usually find something in my closet, mixing and matching clothing that I bought for the beauty, but no where appropriate for my self-conscious self to wear them.

But Halloween changed that for me, allowing me to set aside my insecurities and unleash some part of myself through costume. I would make my eyes smoky with dark eye shadow, lots of rouge on my cheeks, sparkling eye shadow, and bright lips of a sultry red. I was transformed.

Of course at some point, I stopped dressing up and admired Halloween from a distance. It didn't feel the same anymore and the neighborhoods I passed through didn't have decorations outside to enjoy—something about it felt lost. But that is no more. I’ve been seeing some great Halloween efforts this year.

 This Halloween—for me all of October is Halloween—feels different in a good way. I may not be dressing up the way I used to but I have my orange and black knee high socks ready to go. I already wore the socks once with a pair of flowing pants that came just past the knee so you could see them. That day I had my brown Portland shirt on to match my rust colored pants. I felt like a fall leaf. When I was walking, a lady was with her friend and she seemed to be deep in their conversation. She turned to me and said in the most cheerful tone, "Girlfriend, love those socks!" I smiled at her and said thanks somewhat meekly.

And just yesterday I bought a pair of black boots that come just below my knee. They have a pink zipper. Pink is not my favorite color, but I was thrilled that they were just my style: Simple and fun and there’s something about boots. I can still fit into a girls size four, so I got a deal on them at Target! I saw a pair of striped tights on the way out, so I now have magenta and black striped stockings as well.

For around our apartment, I bought a cute little stuffed bear-- he's only about three inches high--he has on a pumpkin costume. I put him on one of the bookshelves that our television sits on, so we can see him all through October.

The other way I'm celebrating this year is by revisiting Edgar Allan Poe's short stories. I am also trying to read other scary or dark tales. And this I am sharing with my significant other. The other morning with Poe on my mind, I remembered how much I love "The Tell-Tale Heart." I thought this might be a story that my significant other would enjoy so I asked him if he wouldn't mind my reading it aloud to us. I enjoy reading aloud very much. I told him it wasn't that long and I proceeded. I sensed out of the corner of my eye that he was engaged but I wasn't sure. When I reached the end of the story, I appreciated how much more of an impact it had on me reading it aloud and when my significant other said that he really enjoyed it, I was pleased.  I said that I'd love to read another Poe story aloud later that evening. Some months ago I had downloaded a free e-book of Poe's stories on my Kindle and other free and inexpensive collections. Last night I excitedly searched for a few others to add to my e-book collection. I always have fun searching the Amazon Kindle store.

I already have Flannery O'Connor's short story collection, "A Good Man is Hard to Find." I thought to myself, he might really appreciate this title story and I would enjoy reading it aloud. I began it, but O'Connor writes much longer short stories than Poe. He was curious how many more pages and as I flipped through the Kindle to see, he jokingly said "that's not short, that’s a book." I laughed. I asked if he was enjoying it. He was. We agreed to stop there and continue tomorrow. He thought we were going to read more Poe. I said that I wanted to see what he thought of this story first.

What’s funny too is before we had started reading O’Connor, I was started to get cozy while we were watching a little TV and my eyes were closing and he said I was a sleepy head and I said, no just resting my eyes and then I popped up and that’s when I said, are you ready for our short story?! He said, “I thought you’d never ask.” He was half kidding. He knows I get a little crazy about books and reading and all of it. We muted the tele and off we went to story land for a little while.

Hopefully we continue our out loud reading regime past October. There is such enjoyment, an elevated intimacy in reading aloud together, of sharing stories I love, and discovering new ones together.


The Talented Mr. Ripley is on of my favorite movies and this song popped into my radar and fits in my little box of October. Here is the clip in the Jazz club where they sing “Tu vo' fa' l'Americano.” It makes me want to jump around and sing with them!

Tu vo' fa' l'Americano

Happy Day!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Web

Zelia Morris simply did not love Dudley anymore.  He could not stop his drinking, could not hold a job for very long.  He stopped painting—his one passion had slowly slipped away.  He wasn’t the Dudley that she had married years ago.

A strong woman, some might even say that Zelia was cold; it wasn’t that she was cold.  She did love Dudley at a time.  But love changes—she would not continue being drained in this relationship.  She did not however expect that Dudley would change even further as he did; he climbed down into his dark dungeon, never to come out into the light again.

They had found Dudley Morris, bottle in hand, sprawled out on the concrete in a dark alleyway, yelling nonsense to the wind, to the shadows.  He found himself in and out of institutions, but this time he would spend the rest of his days alone, enclosed in a world on the  inside, damning himself, damning anyone he could, especially the voice in his head.

“If you come too close, I will take you and squeeze the life out of you.”  Dudley Morris walked the streets aimlessly through the suffocating fog.  Little did he know that his whole life would be different after that one winter eve.  His jacket flaps were pulled up high to cover his neck from the brisk wind that chapped his face.  He walked and walked on those lonely stone streets, wet from the hard rain that poured hours ago. 

“I will intrigue you with the pretty things that I have to offer, then I will come close as if I want to be your friend, reach out to you and quickly spin you into my web:  This intricate, detailed design—we are all part of it!.” 

Earlier in the day after a fight with his landlord, Dudley began talking, and then yelling to himself, he took a long swig from his bottle, wiped his mouth sloppily, and shoving the bottle back into his deep jacket pocket. He would run the incident through his mind over and over again.

“God damn landlord—the jackass!  Unreasonable bastard; can’t he understand that I’m barely making ends meet.  I didn’t have the god damn rent!”  Keeping his hands in his pockets, he would let the filth spew out of his mouth as though anyone cared.  He spoke to the dark and lonely street; to the scraggly cats rummaging through the putrid dumpsters.  Dudley continued his rant: “But No!  He wouldn’t hear it.”

Dudley usually kept to himself but the Landlord, Hue Bedford, picked the wrong day to push Dudley.  Dudley started pounding him.  Hue yelled, pleaded for him to stop but he couldn’t.  The spit sprayed from Dudley’s mouth as he yelled at him “You son-of-bitch!” 

After Zelia had left him, Dudley rarely left that dim, claustrophobic room; the only light filtered through the tiny round window facing the street and the candles on the nightstand.  Cobwebs hung in every corner.  Dudley would kill the spiders, fascinated at watching their bodies shrivel up in the candle flames, sometimes he would take a fuzzy body between two fingers, bring it right up to his eye, examine it with great wonder, then squish it tightly, watching the life drain out of it. 

Every time he heard a stir, he would flinch in fear.  He would look all around him as if someone was in the room with him.  Occasionally rodents would scurry across the room in search of crumbs. 

A loud thud woke Dudley; he shot right up in bed, sweat pouring down his face, dripping down his dingy, brown shirt.  He rubbed his hands on his rough sandpaper face. 

“Where am I?” Dudley mumbled to himself, looking around.  He walked past a mirror, his attention whisked away by a beautiful web that was up high in the corner of this unfamiliar room.  He walked over to the web with wide eyes; a chill went down his spine.  He jumped back, knocking over a small worn out pocket watch from a strange—unfamiliar end table—the spider seeming to watch his every move.  He watched the spiders many hairy legs moving slowly along the web, seeming to move toward Dudley.  The harder he looked back, the greater the chill became.

Pinching himself hard, Dudley was trying to make sense of this strange familiarity.  “Ouch!”  A large red mark appeared.  Dudley bent over to pick the watch up, turned it over in his hand.  It looked familiar, yet it didn’t.  He placed it back on the table.

“Mrs. Morris, I’m so glad you could make it,” the Head Psychiatrist said.

“I really don’t want any part of this anymore—he’s not part of my life—it’s done!” Zelia said, trying to stay composed, looking ahead with tired eyes. 

“How would you like to handle this; you’re his only living family.”  The nurse jotted down a few notes in her file.

“I don’t know if I can handle this anymore—can’t he stay here?.”  Zelia’s voice was shaky.  She started sifting though her purse, looking for her cigarettes.  She found the empty pack and threw them back in her purse.

“Mrs. Morris, if you leave him here, there’s a chance he will never be released.  This is becoming a common occurrence and we think it is in Dudley’s best interest that he stay, but that decision is up to you, Mrs. Morris.”  The Doctor looked sternly at Zelia.  “Are you sure about this?” After a long pause, “Yes, I’m sure.”

It pained Zelia’s conscience, but she had no choice.  She was the only one left in his life and now she too would vanish, leaving him to himself.  She knew it was the best—the only answer that made sense to her.  Dudley had become unreachable.

Dudley screamed so loud that everyone in the hospital could hear him; they heard him two floors up and two floors down—so much anger poured out.  After many more episodes, Dudley would spend much of his time in solitude, yelling, screaming himself to sleep…

“I didn’t ask for this—.”  Looking up to the high ceiling, hands secured behind his back in the white cocoon that he would never break out of.  He let out a howling scream, looking up at the ceiling again.  “You!—You, did this to me.  The people!—they stare in awe.  I spin—I spew myself out aimlessly in circles.  They look on in fascination but if only they were I, they would see how meaninglessness this existence really is. Damn You!!” 

There was not one tear in Dudley’s face.  He rested his head on his knees, unable to do anything but rock back and forth, wishing he had never left his dingy little room that cold winter eve, wandering the streets, seeking his doomed fate.  Zelia’s image quickly passed through his mind.  Dudley slowly lifted his head; out of the corner of his eye, he saw something move.  He froze at the sight of it and went into hysterics.  He saw black and red swirls, he couldn’t move, his whole being, mind and soul entered a deep abyss.

The next morning, Sunday, Dudley was gone.  The police were unable to find any clues as to the whereabouts of Dudley Morris.  On Tuesday while the cleaning person was dusting away a cobweb, she saw a large black spider.  She was about to swat it, but could swear it was smiling at her, and decided to let it live.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Joan Brown Posthumous Retrospective ~ Inspiration and Self-Reflection

I’m not any one thing: I’m not just a teacher, I’m not just a mother, I’m not just a painter, I’m all these things plus, and the more areas I can tap, the richer each one of the others will be.
— Joan Brown (1938-1990)


This past weekend included a trip to the San Jose art museum. I was browsing through the entertainment section of the local online paper and was pulled into the title, "This Kind of Bird Flies Backward." I continued reading about the artist, Joan Brown, a bay area resident and professor at the University of Berkeley, California. She died in 1990 when a falling “concrete turret” crashed down and killed her while installing her art work in a museum in India

Joan Brown's self-reflective qualities and strong spirit caught my soul’s attention. Not seeming to want to make bold verbal statements about issues, she maintained her own voice and authenticity by tackling issues of the time in her own space, but without the need to flaunt nor speak of them directly.

As I wound myself through her exhibit, reading the informational placards along the way, I found myself knowing Joan Brown, both admiring her evolution as an artist, and feeling deeply inspired. 

I haven't sketched or attempted to paint a self-portrait in at least 10 to 15 years but seeing her own self-portraits reminded me how much I enjoyed trying to render myself, even though the result was not flattering in my eyes and often very rough but nevertheless— revealing.
Joan Brown's early paintings are painted thick. I too enjoy the textures and visceralness that thick paint invites—working thick and loose, free and maybe even sloppy in a non-sloppy way. As she evolves, she loses the thickness and her paintings become large and smooth with vibrant colors.

There is much of  Joan Brown to soak up in this exhibit. One of my favorites is a huge canvas with a fish that takes up practically the whole space. We connected from that great distance, periwinkle blue, other pretty pinks and vibrant Easter type colors sent my mouth slightly agape —like seeing a long lost relation—the painting itself connected with me from a distance—and then I walked up to it—and there she was, amongst happy colors standing in the mouth of the fish—Joan smiling back at us. 


Part of what brought me to the page this morning was that I attempted to sketch a self-portrait of myself last night. I was in the store and went to the stationery section, and over to the far right crayons and sketch books beckoned me. So this photo is a self-portrait sketch. It began with me, holding the sketch pad up with one hand, pencil in the other, and my own reflection looking back. When I was done, there was a certain familiarity both in self and also in style to past attempts. I then added the puck ears which is also familiar; the moon, butterfly, and other squiggles. 


San Jose Museum of Art

This Kind of Bird Flies Backward: Paintings by Joan Brown.  Those of you who are interested in exploring her art and learning about the artist, can explore here. You won’t see all of the paintings, but you will get a glimmer.

You can learn a little bit more about the title of the exhibition at the above website. Here is Diane Di Prima’s poem, “The Window” from her collection of poetry, This Kind of Bird Flies Backward, that line also from this poem.

Article that was the reason I was fortunate to know of and see her exhibit. It goes through March 11, 2012, for any of you bay area residents that would like to visit.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rubber Stamps

Over the weekend I was in the mood to go thrift store browsing. We stopped at one that is a quaint cottage style shop. It looks like it used to be a small home. It took me a while to get past the entrance of books stacked to greet visitors. I found two. Then as I edged my way into the store I was plopped right into Halloween: Cobwebs, Halloween jars, a strangely wicked old wooden puppet on a string; purples and silver; orange glimmering. It was a visual whirlwind of razzle-dazzle all around this small cottage.

My eyes darted as though following a maze, viewing all the interesting items. Something caught my eye that was nestled among some Halloween knick-knacks. It was a bag of rubber stamps. I crouched down to take a closer look. They were wooden stamps. Childhood was nearby. I remembered how much I loved rubber stamps as a child and the different ones flooded into my memory bank—Hello Kitty, farm animals, date stamps, smiley face stamps, and other random novelty stamps I’d collected as a child.

I turned the bag over in my hand to see if I could see what was on these stamps. I recognized the company—The Oakland Stamp Company—and how my older brother had a custom stamp made for me as a gift. I loved that stamp. It had my name and address in beautiful script letters. I was too young to pay bills; as I grew old enough to have more reason to use it appropriately, I began stamping the return address on envelopes for bills and letters. So when I saw this bag of stamps, I felt that I wanted it. It was $10.  Not bad, a little more than I wanted to spend. As I turned the bag of stamps over in my hands, trying to peek inside without opening it, I saw that they told a unique story and I wanted them. Some of the stamps I could see were “beef stew,” “ground round,” a cat, “in confidence,” other creatures, and “have a nice life.”

I suppose that nostalgia go a hold of me. I  hold on not  with a tight grip, rather with a loose string connected to a past that slips by, not a straight string, but one that has offshoots that go in all directions. I want to have a little something so simple to sit there beside the other advancements that inevitably replace that which is deemed no longer relevant.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Open palms

Open palms
White wings brush against my cheek
Free at last...joined with the Kingdom of God.

Because Art is on My Mind

Photo of Rebb's Little Notebook

How is it that we can possibly remember without a word, an image—some small gesture to seal the experience into our inner selves?

I was taken aback by the variety of artistic expression that I saw in the Portland Art Museum. I saw a wide variety of different styles techniques and inspiration that the artists expressed. I saw the texture of a diamond in one of the paintings—an artist that worked in a jewelry store. I saw it. It was fascinating to recognize it and then have it confirmed in learning about the artist. There was another painting where the artist was inspired by the Portland landscape and the way he captured it from an aerial view was very appealing and I could see it that way from the airplane ride. It was unmistakably Portland.

When I saw one of Monet's Water Lilies paintings, it didn't dazzle me the way it has in books. I was disappointed in being disappointed. There were many cases where I wondered how much of a role the art frame played in the experience of the whole piece of art. Also in the back of my mind was the question of who decides—what, when, where, how does an artist receive his or her acclaim? It is truly a subjective experience and some never live to see their acceptance.

I saw many pieces that I did not connect with and naturally a part of me would want to judge and that’s alright. How do we know if we don’t somehow judge for ourselves— either with a positive or negative reaction? I also thought about how there are artists with great technical abilities and others with a keen eye for color and shape.

There is a spot for all artists, whether in museums or sealed into books—or whatever artistic form the passion manifests. Some will be able to sustain themselves monetarily on their passion and others may not see that day. I enjoy the arts very much; I enjoy the act of being touched by another and it helps to know something about the artist in order to meet them in their world—to sort of cross over into their psyche—into their inner landscape.

Some artists are more relatable as a whole, while others impact people on an individual level, and what makes that so, I wonder? The question, I suppose, is a subjective one—a wonderfully subjective question with endless answers that can be engaged at different points in life when we meet the artist and ourselves again and again.

Photo is of Rebb’s little notebook, one of a few that went with her last year for a short jaunt to Portland. She is still processing the experience and decided to share what was on her mind at that time when she visited the museum. She added a few thoughts that cropped in presently.

Have a nice weekend and may your creativity soar!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Small Remembrance for Steve Jobs

I feel sad to hear of the passing of Steve Jobs and as I continue reading more in the news from people that had the opportunity to work close with him, I feel more saddened. But as he himself was quoted as saying, “…death is the destination we all share...” I will add his memory to my memory box of October remembrances. I will celebrate quietly that I was able to open myself to the Apple phenomenon. I feel changed, more fulfilled, connected to a small part of my past.

I have not been an Apple fan from the beginning. I was slow to join, but now I know. And even if just a little bit, I feel lucky to have a little piece of Steve Jobs through my little iPod Touch. Every time I turn it on, I will know that I hold a token of his brilliance in my pouch.

I may not have known you, Steve, but I feel greatly touched by you and I wish you well on the other side; and I wish your family and loved ones peace and love.

This photo was taken at a small international festival where they had many different types of food to try. This was one of the decorations out front of the booth of the Philippines. I was immediately drawn to it, and I offer it here as a source of radiating light.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dear October,

I wrote to you this morning while I was on the brink of waking. I felt calm as I was writing to you especially after having an unsound sleep, getting over something—the food I ate? The change of weather? The usual. What I noticed—and I remember this feeling from childhood is of not being able to be still in my thoughts. I was feverish and also had chills, off and on, my head ached horribly—all I could do was sleep—and thoughts and images would not leave me be. They seemed to be going at a rate that made me feel things were moving quickly. I would try to watch them fly by and then I would also think of things that bring me calm. Trees. Breathing. Ocean. They helped, but feeling as though I was in a mad whirlwind of worry made me realize that it’s part of  you, dear, October, more than any month.

Dear October,

You bring life and death—new beginnings. You are a dark cloth with vents that allow the air and light to shine in. You are a month that contains many intersections for me—a month to remember—a month that is both heavy and light.

I look to you October with a hesitation and at the same time I look to you with all my might. I stand at your outer edges and I jump high, leap, open my arms and move forward into love.

That’s all that I can muster for now, October. I know there will be more.

Photo of Shadow for Keiko

This is Shadow and the first time I met her was during a camping trip on this past Labor Day weekend. She's my significant other's cousin's dog. This first photo is a little blurry because she moved.

 This is the cousin's girlfriend's dog. Her name is Bambi. There were other dogs on the campsite. Shadow was very protective and growled when a dog came over, so they had to keep a good eye on her. She is a sweetie though.I took her for a walk around the water and she was happy sniffing everything. You could tell she was trying to get a sense of where she was. Bambi slept a lot. I don't know much about Shadow's history.