Sunday, February 26, 2012


(This essay is old, but I was thinking about it recently when I read Alice's post here, and then I found the pendant and used it for photo experimentation. [And I have to say, the photos are at least a whole lot better than they used to be!])

On the sofa next to me are no fewer than four journals of various sizes, all partially filled. There are also two sketch books (one large, one small), and a large pad of silky, sturdy graph paper that I like to use for taking notes and making lists and for sketching. In addition to the notebook pages that have been written or drawn on, each of these books has its own collection of scrap paper shoved into it, not quite fitting, getting worn and ripped around the edges that stick out.

I was looking for a list of words I’d written down at some point, thinking that I wanted to use them as the basis for a writing exercise. I scribbled them on one page or another, somewhere toward the back of a journal, or so I thought. But I currently have no idea where they are—I can’t find them in any of these books, and I can’t think of any other notebooks I’ve been schlepping around with me over the past year and a half. (I mean really, isn’t seven enough?) The rest of my notebook collection is neatly packed away in a box, historical documents now. But I came across my inspired word list just recently, so surely it’s in one of these living, breathing, and extremely disorganized books.

But if I can’t find the list, I have at least gotten a chance to look over a portrait of my brain as it really seems to work on a day-to-day basis, and I have to say, it’s a little distressing. For one thing, my journal writing has been less than regular of late. I know that my writing is better when I keep a more regular journal—and by “better” I mean that honest-to-God non-journal pieces of writing happen more often.

On the other hand, it seems that I never stop taking notes of one kind or another, even when the goal isn’t anything you could call “writing.” Example: My life is absolutely littered with tiny bits of paper covered in ideas about food. “Steamed carrots with vinaigrette/dill/etc.” says one. Another: “Greek style ‘yogurt’ with almonds and honey.” And then there’s simply: “coffee and chocolate frappĂ© thingy.” The same page contains notes like, “get soldering stuff working,” and the somewhat cryptic-unless-you-live-in-my-head, “etsy!”

Other pages list the measurements of various beloved children for whom I’ve made clothing or plan to do so. Lists of spices my acupuncturist wants me to incorporate into my diet. Over-ambitious to-do lists that, I note, are in most cases still not completed. Almost dictatorial lists of life goals: “Learn to play the guitar/Make more of my own clothes/write more/learn to balance creative endeavors.”

The sketch books are just as overwhelming, with drawings for pieces of jewelry or clothing I want to make, various designs I’d like to turn into texture stamps for jewelry, not to mention all the things that aren’t sketches (more lists of food, more to-do lists, and the occasional more-to-the-point notes on soldering, polishing, forming a bezel, etc.).

So these notebooks are a mess, and I’m not sure what to think about that. My lack of focused writing frustrates me, and it’s super annoying not to know where things are when you want to find them again. I like to think I’d prefer to have one journal and one sketchbook and fill all the pages before jumping to new books. I’d like to keep my writing and sketching segregated from my to-do listing and recipe imagining. Surely I’d be way more productive if I had a place for everything and if everything were in its place.

And yet, just now I found a year-old sketch I wouldn’t have said I was thinking much about—it’s for a small, roughly drawn landscape pendant, with a tree in the bottom left corner, a hill behind it, and a moon in the top right corner. I hadn’t looked at it in months. But as it turns out, I took almost that exact pendant out of my kiln just yesterday:

I can’t consciously remember the words on that lost list, but maybe someday soon I’ll write something with them anyway.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

•scared silly•

I've been floundering around, looking for send-off words for a friend who's heading into a major surgery.  Dork phrases are all that come to mind.  Atta girl!  Go get 'em!  You knock those surgeons dead!  I actually referred to my friend's spouse as support-crew team-leader, and yes, now I'd like to stick a pencil in my eye.  When there really are no appropriate words, apparently, I will still be out there, clawing and reaching for something to say.

This time, I know it's going to work out brilliantly.  The surgery has been perfected; it will be more than fine.  Easy, breezy, beautiful, down-hill skiing.  This friend is particularly good at celebrating life, and letting the small stuff slide.  Not that a giant operation is small stuff.  But she's well-equipped to handle all this, and more.  It's funny, how someone else's graceful command of a situation can prepare you.  In ways you might not even understand right away.

Knowing her has not only been a hilarious good time, it's been an education.  In mothering, in writing, in listening, in joy.  I'm grateful for her, grateful to her, and looking forward to more.  And feeling lucky.  When my gurney comes, she'll be right there in my ear, I know it.  Slinging odd metaphors and gallows humor, for sure.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

What Friday Looked Like

Yesterday, the light and the cloud cover were all over the place, even during the 15 or 20 minutes over which I took these photos. But it's amazing what can happen when you adjust your shutter speed more or less correctly, eh?

(This in no way means I knew what I was doing--it only means I'm finally brave enough to adjust the dial and see what happens. Which is no small thing, really, I suppose.)

Crow (sort of the unofficial bird of Davis, CA)

Walnut trees and sky

UC Davis research fields

UC Davis research fields

Flowering quince

The town logo

Friday, February 3, 2012

•today's awesomes•




(I mean, why cauliflower is called cauliflower:)

the path ahead.