Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The end and the beginning

Dear Y'all,

Twenty-twenty will be The Year of Just Desserts.  Make quickly your goodbyes to The Year of the Sudden Surge of Confidence.   

I like to get my silly resolutions done in the first week of the new year, so they won't get in the way of having fun for the rest of the year.  As a guiding principle, I will be using Take Risks.  For the resolutions I will use two well worn and faithful ones: wear hats and read more books.  (Note the crucial lack of specificity and quantity in these two resolutions- meaning, I can wear a hat while reading a book on January first, and I will have completely fulfilled my contract with the New Year!)

How about you?  Are you caught in the last minute rush without an appropriate resolution?  Here are a few you can use in a pinch, all of which can be accomplished early on the first day, let alone by the end of January.  I have organized them according to personality.  Just find yourself on the column on the left, and resolve to the action on the right.  No guesswork, no hand wringing, just solid resolutions that will get you where you want to go in this new year of Globalness, Robot Overlords, and Lightning Fast Communication.

Penitents:                                            Play and listen to all of The Wall.  Every note.  It will do
                                                            you good.

Practical Cats:                                    Clean out the drawer you keep your scissors in.

Ritual Lovers:                                    Wash just one window.

Sporty Folks:                                      Do five sit ups. (Yup, for the whole year, not every day!                                                            What you are going for here is actually fulfilling                                                             our promises to ourselves, not another ride on the wheel of
                                                           impotent wishing and planning.  

Over Achievers:                                Clear out an old sweater; one of the ones with holes. You
                                                           can get a reprieve on next year's resolutions if you make
                                                           something out of the old sweater:  a tea cozy, a pillow cover,
                                                           a door mat for the cat door.

Sentimentalists:                                 Write a nice note to someone from the old days.

Okay, well, that's all until next year, then.

Saturday, December 28, 2019


Dear Mind Over Matter,

Don't you just love it when you get somewhere you didn't even know you were going?  Like when I find myself staring at the wall in my usual way, and noticing how supremely happy I am. 

This sensation occurs when I am not directly the focus of a conversation, but listening to others, or with others, but not really doing anything.  Just setting, I guess. 

Either I have changed my notion of what it feels like to be happy, or, somehow, the state has become more accessible to me.   What I especially love about this sensation, is that it comes out of nowhere. 

I suspect my previous construct of happiness required a large effort of planning and imagining being happy, waiting for the Big Day of the upcoming Happy Event, and then sort of wondering if this was all there was.

What I am talking about here, is different than that- I don't think it can be hunted, or seeded that way.  You can't stock it like a pond, with happiness fish to catch later.  I think you have to do something else to get this feeling- wander into a detached assessment, or a back burner meditative state.  You can't look directly at it; it will scare off.

Georgia O'keeffe said that happiness was silly, because it was so fleeting, so maybe this thing I am referring to isn't even properly happiness- it might be called frisson.  Or being.  Or self awareness.

It hardly matters, really, because rhetorical pondering of happiness might be just as silly as pursuing it; what you can do, without fear of silliness, is watch Georgia O'Keeffe in this little film, and hear it from her, and decide what you think about it.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Near the plaza.














Friday, December 13, 2019


Dear December,

Another song for you, because you're my babe, because you're my love.  You have the universe reclining in your hair, and I will call you Jaguar.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Black Birthday Cake

Dear Baking,

For Emily Dickenson's birthday today, bake this cake:


a fruitcake.

If you don't want to mix 22 eggs (and why not?  Will you go to your grave a 'small batch only' kind of baker??!) then you can read this poem by Ms. Dickinson instead:
       How happy is the little stone
       That rambles in the road alone,
       And doesn't care about careers,
       And exigencies never fears:
       Whose coat of elemental brown
       A passing universe put on;
       And independent as the sun,
       Associates or glows alone,
       Fulfilling absolute decree
       In casual simplicity.

In choosing this particular poem, I read a great many from my big Collected volume of Dickinson, and every first line is stellar, and some of the second lines are too.  I loved the first lines clipped from their remainders, and strung together randomly.  I like them this way so much I typed them up on thin, translucent paper, and then sewed them onto vaporous dollops of ink

I love very much the idea of Emily Dickinson; so much that I visited her house, the place she spent her 'recluse' days.  It was a fine pilgrimage.  I object somewhat to the word recluse which is always associated with her- It smacks of a belittling tendency towards female poets of any age. 

Still, I love the idea of her holing up and writing from her windowsill, and I will revere that notion of her for a while longer.  I expect Emily Dickinson's lack of interest in certain things would come under this writer's definition of resistance (explicated in this excellent article) which she calls 'just not.'

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The greening has begun.

Dear December,

It's you and me baby, that makes the world go around.  Here is your song for today.  It's Al Green, on account of the fact that now the ground, after just a few lovely, soggy days, has gone All Green.  So the Fall, which is still floating and swirling gorgeous yellow and russet leaves, is on the way out, and the few minutes of the actual winter look of the place, the silver, faded shafts, and dark, leafless branches, has gone already.  It's a narrow season, the one I speak of, and delicately liminal.

PS  A few more versions of the same song, because it is a fine song.  EttaUB40, Marcia Griffiths. Griffiths.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Fresh Pavement Society

Dear Skating Members,

It's high time for another roller post.  This summer I bought some used rink rental skates from a place in Texas, and the episodic skating society, Planet Claire, is going pretty well.  We have 7 pairs of skates to loan out to anyone with socks that arrives at the meetings.  Eventually, I hope to grow the seven pairs into a horse trailer filled with rental skates, which will prowl the sidewalks of summertime beach towns.  There will be pink.  You won't miss it.  After the trailer, the ultimate goal: a rink of my own.  Which will feature more pink, and a record player, among other things.

In the meantime, I have been dreaming of a second skating group:  the Fresh Pavement Society!

We would need to be fast, and nimble in our communications.  A member would note the location and co-ordinates of the new pavement, and skaters would meet, or not meet, as long as the pavement was fresh.  I think it could function easily world wide.

Another skater and I have proven the concept in a parking lot and on a 1/4 mile section of new asphalt road.  The new macadam is flat and rubble free!  I have my eye on some other new parking lots too- once the cars get all over them and the dreary chain stores open up, there will be less opportunity to skate.  That's why we need this fast communication and a large network of skaters reporting on new pavement in their area. 

Here is a little film of a thing called the Barrel Roll.  Let's meet at some fresh pavement and do it together soon!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Christmas Cookies

Dear Holidays,

Well, it's time.  Or maybe it isn't, because I stopped making glorious boxes of holiday cookies some years ago.  I stopped because people seemed a bit poisoned by my cookies, all full of gluten, sugar, fat, salt, and love.  I didn't want to give people something they thought was killing them, or making them ill.

In the last ten years, we have been given cookies just once, so I know I am not the only one who has given up on giving cookies. 

So what am I giving you this year?  A kale smoothie, of course!  Nah, just kidding.  I am giving you this gorgeously filmed video of a woman making very, very beautiful cookies, which I secretly hope will give you a pang, a little teeny tiny sense of regret at what your stringent health consciousness has wrought.  Go ahead and watch it twice; there aren't any calories or sodium at all!

Monday, December 2, 2019

two babies

Dear Baby,

My dj played this lovely version of Don't Worry Baby the other day-  There isn't much I like better than a honey and cigarettes voice like Ronnie Spector.

For to honor the two baby songs here, I describe a kind of a cocktail:  Let us call it the Don't Worry Baby.  Mostly because there is SO dang much to worry about, and so very little to do about it.  Everything will be all right; in the not great, but not actual mortal despair, sense of the word.

whiskey- a dark, caramelly one
ice- big ice is nice
fancy cherries in syrup
soda- cheap is fine, so is luxury soda, like Topo Chico

You will need two glasses to enjoy this drink, and a spoon.  Put a few cherries in the bottom of glass, with a dollop of syrup.  The numerologically correct number of cherries would be four in this case.  Put in your ice, stir it up some, add the whiskey, as much as you like.  Stir it or not.  Pour the soda into a second glass.  Add it as you go.  Here's how you drink it for a kind of medium amount of worry:  take a sip of it without any soda, then pour in a few ounces of soda.  Drink that about half down, and then add some more soda.

Here's how you'd drink it in a lot of worry: skip the soda until you pour the second drink, then tip in some soda.

Here's another baby to enjoy.