Thursday, January 25, 2007


Big hurry ~ no time to stop. Off to New York for a quickie holiday, where I hear the weather is delightful this time of year. It seems my lovely and talented sister-in-law Kim has business in the city and, perhaps unwisely, has invited me meet up with her there. When I hesitated, having begun to adapt quite nicely to my new life as a melancholic shut-in, she cheerfully reminded me that life is not a dress rehearsal, and we should seize our opportunities as they come. Point taken.

So off I go, in California-girl winter finery (short jacket and sunglasses, trendy scarf and boots that have never known so much as a drop of rain or unkind word) all designed primarily to ward off the chill of air-conditioning and frosted barware.

I will attempt to be helpful. I will succeed in enjoying myself. I will endeavor to entice her into being just a wee bit wicked. I guarantee one of us will.

Just checked. Today's temperature ~ 31 degrees. Tomorrow's ~ 17! Carpe diem, baby.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Noel Coward; more brillinat than I

Windy today
and I am less than brilliant...

So begins a poem I heard read by Garrison Keillor on the radio a bit ago, and it struck me as a pretty good summary of the way I've been feeling of late. As I was searching for a quick line or two to toss in here to explain my lingering social absence to online friends, acquaintances and total strangers who couldn't possibly care less, I thought I'd try a Google search of the only two lines I could remember.

Appropriately enough, I typed in, "I am less than brillinat," which yielded nothing but a condescending, "did you perhaps mean 'brilliant?'" by the google brain-bot and gave me a chuckle; I could practically hear it muttering a snide, "genius" under it's breath. A few clicks later I was at the Writer's Almanac from American Public Media and the original poem, "The Color of Sky" by Tony Hoagland which, though excellent, was not really saying what I wanted to.

But I also found this lovely little poem by none other than Noel Coward, whose work I have always enjoyed but would not have thought of in the context of such nostalgic sadness. Clearly an illustration of my limitations and not his.

Nothing is Lost

Deep in our sub-conscious, we are told

Lie all our memories, lie all the notes
Of all the music we have ever heard
And all the phrases those we loved have spoken,
Sorrows and losses time has since consoled,
Family jokes, out-moded anecdotes
Each sentimental souvenir and token
Everything seen, experienced, each word
Addressed to us in infancy, before
Before we could even know or understand
The implications of our wonderland.
There they all are, the legendary lies
The birthday treats, the sights, the sounds, the tears
Forgotten debris of forgotten years
Waiting to be recalled, waiting to rise
Before our world dissolves before our eyes
Waiting for some small, intimate reminder,
A word, a tune, a known familiar scent
An echo from the past when, innocent
We looked upon the present with delight
And doubted not the future would be kinder
And never knew the loneliness of night.

That was all I meant to say.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

blue ladder

The Santa Ana winds are howling through the foothills and the acrid smell of the smoke of a distant fire has infiltrated the house. My 'studio', which consists of an old wooden table and some newspapers stashed out on the patio, is a-blowin' in the wind. I'd been looking forward to painting, but c'est la vie; now it's a good excuse to cozy up in here.

Yesterday I finished a small (11 x 14) oil on canvas sketch taken from a picture snapped on a lazy afternoon at the Reel Inn in Malibu.

I felt reasonably good about it, although it is not really what I started out to do. I was trying to free up my brush and a tendency toward some sort of vague, pseudo-impressionistic style, so it's not exactly a success on that point. I'm somewhat color blind as well, and often have trouble distinguishing between various shades of blue, green and yellow, so I was playing around a little with that.

But this afternoon I started wandering through some art blogs and suddenly feel less comfortable in posting it. Feelings of inadequacy are tiresome to endure and even more tedious to read about so I will refrain, and remain positive by sharing a link I found on Danny Gregory's site to these amazing journals by Kathrin Jebsen-Marwedel. They are full of vibrant color and originality, and make me wish I hadn't just wasted half my day staring at a computer screen getting all lumpish. I have no doubt Kathrin never lets a little weather get in her way.

On the plus side, I consider myself to have fufilled my New Year's resolution to complete something from last year, and can now move forward cheerfully unencumbered by unreasonable expectation. There's still some light out there. I think I'll draw the wind.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

why I love the French

And it's not just their incredible style, their love of scarves and tiny dogs or their habit of sweetly switching to English whenever I try to converse with them in their native tongue. It's also about things like this (from the local paper):

In a parody of a national proclivity for protest, hundreds of marchers in France spent New Year's Eve demonstrating against 2007. During a lighthearted protest, participants waved banners reading: No to 2007 ! and Now is Better!!"

See, that just tickles me. Who says the French have no sense of humor? Or too much time on their hands?

And just now on NPR, commentator Terry Gross was talking to a woman about the so-called French paradox, which refers to the fact that, despite a steady diet of coq au vin, boeuf bourguignon, butter and baguettes, red wine and cigarettes (there's an Edith Piaf song in there somewhere) the French remain a relatively svelte people. It's all about balance and proportion, apparently. Quelle surprise! They eat less, take longer to do it and enjoy it more.

Of course I've known about this, this 'balance' thing, for a long time now and try to practice it but tend to forget, indulge more, moderate less and just plain get lazy. The past month it's been all butter and baguettes, followed by the occasional penitential trip to the gym for six sweaty hours of self-flagellation on the treadmill. It isn't pretty. It isn't effective. And it isn't an approach Catherine Deneuve would approve (there's a limerick in there somewhere.)

Evidemment, what I need to do is to start thinking in French. Like the French. With an accent perhaps, and an air of world-weary sophistication. God knows I can't spell in it. As long as I don't try to speak it.

I'm off. To the gym. Moderately.

Monday, January 01, 2007

happy national hangover day!

Today's festivities will include lolling around on the couch and searching for something soothingly side-splitting on You Tube. There will be unfocused noshing on butter cookies and leftover pizza, and maybe even a little ceremonial hair of the dog, should there be any left to be had, that is. One is never sure.

For those of you participating in the holiday, welcome, and my condolences. For those of you not indulging today because you didn't indulge last night, kudos to you. Here's your medal; now kindly move along. Your saintly wholesomeness holds no power here. Today is the high holy day of the dissolute and irresolute. Leave us in peace please, to observe the day in our own way. Don't you have some resolutions to go embroider on a pillow somewhere?

Actually, thanks to the magic of milk thistle and alka seltzer, I am feeling remarkably clear-eyed and well-focused. I may even go to the gym. Or I may even still be drunk. Whatever it is, I am feeling so optimistic that I believe I'll even finish a painting today. (Not Mom's portrait, of course; she whom I have tormented lo this weekend long. I just can't....seem to leave it...alone...)

No, this one is just a sketch, started a while ago but never completed. There's a resolution ~ this year I will finish everything I started last year. And the year before. And the year before that. Then I will go on eBay and sell it all at Sotheby's prices to people named kikitoon and ilvmermaids56. I shall become rich and eBay-painterly famous. And I will use my powers for good, and never evil.

Dammit. That felt like a resolution. Now I have a pillow to go embroider. Later.