January 8, 2017 – SUNDAY


Raindrops on deck

Circles:  Cold and rainy, a beautiful morning to sleep in, and we did. Michael collected the papers. I look out. Raindrops rim, circle, circle upon circle on the boards of the deck.

January 9, 2017 – Monday


Mexican Pots with Water

the filling:  Rained all night with an occasional downpour. Today, rain all day, drizzle or fog or is it a low cloud passing? I’ve never understood the rain here, hardly rain at all. It seems sprayed, seems only a mist dispersed by some hidden force. Rain water fills to overflowing our fountains, our birdbath and our Mexican pottery bowls. I love the set of Mexican pots. They range in size from an inch and a half in diameter to a foot and a half. Bought at our local shop, likely purchased at an estate sale. When we unwrapped them, we found between the bowls fragments of colorful bird feathers. The set was likely purchased in Mexico, brought to California, stored unused and disposed of by some uncaring relative of a deceased elder.

January 10, 2017 – Tuesday

link by link:  Rain, but today rain unlike the usual costal rain, heavy rain. This is no mist but rain and thunder. We rarely hear thunder. I shake the leaves of the fern pine and raise the branch support higher to counter the weight of the water-laden leaves. Our front rain chain channels (directs, guides) the water from roof to ground. Water flows link by link from roof to ground. Water within the metal rings suspended briefly in air, spheres of water, pure water. Grass has returned to bright green again. It has not been this green in years. And soil dark, slick. If I walk in the yard, I must step carefully.

January 11, 2017 – Wednesday

of the sun:   Oskar, our black cat was curled up next to me when I woke. I slept late, very late and he kept me company. There was actually sun this morning. Sun after days of rain. I woke and fixed myself a cup of tea with lemon. The seeds of the half lemon seemed a star contained in segments of the yellow fruit. Yellow, bright yellow and the tart juice added to tea and honey something as soothing as today’s sunshine. Both welcome.

January 12, 2017 – Thursday


Junior year College top vs. Green ‘NOW’ top


High School sweater, College belt and New green top

The clock ticks on:   This year, already passing faster than I thought possible. I’ve hardly had a chance to catch my breath from New Year, January 1st and the clock ticks on, seemingly ever faster.

I look in the mirror. My face is no longer smooth. Wrinkles, too many, around mouth and skin sags. I have a few ‘old lady’ hairs, one of which I plucked today. My eyebrows have thinned; my eyelashes are no longer lush, long and dark. My small nose continues to grow, ever wider. Why did nature make it so?

The body has two kinds of cartilage, that which grows on and on and that which stabilizes as we enter adulthood. At birth, our bones are a large percentage cartilage and they gradually fill in with calcium deposits, become bone, strong, and breakable. But flexible cartilage remains uncalcified. There is the cartilage of our knees, elbows, backbone (the disks between the vertebra), and it stops growing. So disks between our vertebra rupture, shrink (& we with it) resulting in lost height and pinched nerves. That same kind of cartilage in our knee wears out and when the pain becomes too intense — knee surgery. BUT the cartilage in the nose, ears, chest, pelvis grows and grows. When I entered college I wore a size 2 dress and had a 22” waist. I could wear my belt as a headband. Partly my expanding waist has to do with weight gain, but it also is partially due to the fact that my rib cage is ever expanding, ever expanding because of cartilage. The body adds cartilage each year, like the rings on a tree, slightly more on either side of the sternum and that same process goes on in the pelvis. So my circumference grows in a way that had nothing to do with weight gain and everything to do with the calendar, cartilage added to cartilage. And that same kind of cartilage growth goes on at the end of my nose, so my nose grows ever larger. I wish I were one of those individuals whose nose cartilage grew slowly, but alas that is not the case. The cartilage in my ears grows slowly, but not so my nose. My ears remain diminutives but each year my nose occupies a larger percentage of my face than it did the year before. Short of plastic surgery, there is nothing I can do about it. Nature rules. The metal belt that I wore during high school and college still can fit around my head, but it is useless as a belt. I keep it of a reminder a bygone body

A year or so ago I had lens replacement surgery. I went for an eye exam and could not even see the letters on the wall. I swore there were no letters, only an oval of light. If I wanted to drive, there was no denying it. I needed new lenses and so the lenses that served me well for decades, removed – discarded. The new lens ushered in a new world, or at least a world in which object did not blend into object. — The world again in sharp focus, that focus brought with it shock. I was shocked to see my face. Before the surgery, in the mirror I could distinguish lips and eyes and nose, but my new lenses allowed me to see the wrinkles, the many and deep wrinkles surrounding my mouth. My new lenses, in a second, aged me, in my own sight, more than a decade. I was glad for good vision, but not glad for what that sight revealed about my face. Ignorance sometimes is indeed bliss.

January 13, 2016 – Friday

                  FROST:  Day of the Long Shadow & Frost on neighbor’s roofs 

day of the long shadow:  This morning cold, clear blue sky and bright sun. Frost on the grass and on neighbor’s roofs. I like to see frost and have since childhood. I used to scrape images in it with my nails or blow holes in it with warm breath. Frost had its revenge, filling my designs with itself again. Last night’s clear sky allowed heat to radiate out to space, temperatures dropped and moist air froze. As I look out the front picture window, I see frost and frost disappearing as sun warms surfaces.

The morning sun is low casting long shadows – the day of the long shadow, or at least the morning of.

Virtually every day for the last few years, I’ve taken photographs around the house and on trips. I’ve written occasional essays too. I want to continue taking daily photos, but this year I’ll post them along with an essay. The task seems daunting.

Because of the break in the storm, our roofers were able to make repairs today. Every year we have maintenance done on the roof, but, for some reason, today’s roofers, unlike those of past years, spent a good part of the day making roof repairs. The roof needs to be replaced, but the back hill’s retaining wall is bulging and huge cracks are opening up on our lower patio, so the roof must wait until we build a new retaining wall and so again next year we’ll continue with roof maintenance. A soils engineer had conducted soils tests, evaluated the hill, made calculations and made recommendations. We have are waiting for our surveyor to complete his survey so that the engineers (civil and geotechnical) may complete their calculations and complete documents for the retaining wall. I’ve drawn up a few preliminary designs, but we need to determine exactly what we will build.   I want to expand the upper seating patio, but JM thinks it perfect and does not want the area changed. I wanted angles and curves and…. We will probably go with a terrace or two and simple walls keeping the upper patio and the beautiful Oak.

January 14, 2016 – Saturday


Pillows with cat pulls


Our CATS, our beautiful cats

Of sunshine and cats:  Sunshine. We so very much need the rain, but, oh, my, what a pleasure to see blue skies and streaks of wispy clouds stretching out toward the Bay. The rains have stripped the air of pollution. I look out over the hills in one direction and the city in the other, and both seem better defined, crisper. It’s relatively warm, so we turned off the heat; the heat from our oven where scones and biscuits baked is more than enough.

Cats scattered about the house. Oskar in his ‘hot box,’ Charlie curled up on the red sofa and Halima on Michael’s lap as he writes on the computer. We adore our cats. We’ve never had an issue with cats clawing furniture before this batch, but our past cats have been indoor/outdoor cats and this trio are indoor only cats. Our wonderful color square pillows show the results of, especially, Oskar, letting us know he is in need of a meal. We scold him to no avail when he wools on the cushions or furniture, but somehow he has equated attack on the furniture as a necessary prelude to being fed. We’ve not been able to dissuade him from that, and for the first time we have ragged corners on upholstered items. Come to think of it, when we lived in Atlanta our outdoor cats, and one had been the neighborhood Tom, became indoor cats and they never developed bad habits. Oskar was a naughty kitten. We got him partially because of that. At the SPCA he pawed at the window of his cage while his litter mates slept in a huge heap. Once in the viewing room, he scampered out the door, ran under cages and had to be enticed out with a feather.   He’s been misbehaving every since, but we love him in spite of his behavior, maybe because of it. He reminds me of my younger sister Esther. She was a tease, an imp and delighted in mischief. My mother said of her that she was a child of joy. And Oskar brings us joy even as he misbehaves.

I’ve cooked and cleaned all day. We did not make it to the Farmer’s Market. The baked goods turned out tasty, but a little dry. I’m having trouble controlling the temperature of the oven. However, the Chicken Fricassee, with its cream sauce and mushrooms, is perfect. We eat it over Polenta cooked with Bay Leaf. It’s a good meal for a winter day.