Saturday, December 31, 2011

with hope and determination

Here is my heartfelt wish for 2012 to be a positive year. Prayers for us all.

the last bath of 2011

My new towel warmer is wonderful. Few things are as welcome as a good soak after a long day of driving, in this case, a drive from St. George, Utah to home (as in, There's No Place Like).

There probably isn't much I can add to the discussion except to say I am cautiously optimistic about 2012 even while being more than a little chagrined at how quickly 2011 flew by and how many goals I still have to reach.

I'll write more before the new year rolls around.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

christmas eve and all is quiet...

...and I'm dreaming of the Doctor Who Christmas Special, a show I hope to download and see very soon. Last year's was wonderful-- I watched it on my then-new iPad several times.

I read this year's show has a theme near to my heart: "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe".

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.


PS I miss you, Mama.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Saturday, December 3, 2011

the last paper calendar?

Every year since, oh, maybe 2004 or 5, the idea crosses my mind (as January approaches) that I might finally make the big leap and forego a paper day planner and keep all of my appointments and daily notes on some form of electronic device instead.

But every year, I end up doing the same thing: I decide there isn't an electronic setup that seems truly workable, then I hop into my car, scurry into Staples or Office Depot, and select a fresh new day planner, usually something with a black cover and gold lettering, large but not cumbersome, nice but not one of the truly costly ones, with enough room on each day's square to write several notations in my usual hasty flourish. I usually get the sort where the month can be seen all at once, a series of boxes.

Somewhere in the garage I have most of these planners going back to my days in the nail salon, back in the eighties, when I first formed the day planner habit (although those days, I chose the kind with big pages for each day so you could note hourly appointments). Except for a couple of recent years where I tried large blank desk-blotter calendars instead, almost all have been roughly the size of a standard office folder.

This year, it might just happen that I make the huge conceptual leap and do everything electronically, something I'm taking seriously only because the graphics and features of the iPad daytimer app seem to overcome my previous objections.

More musings about this heady topic soon...

Friday, November 25, 2011

giving thanks

Thanksgiving Day, 2011

We visited friends and had a really lovely and relaxing afternoon. Last Saturday's journey and encounter is still much on my mind, but I enjoyed the day of eating and gab and came home to sleep soundly.

Today I sat in the lobby of Morgan Run near the fire, the club cat Phyllis purring next to me (it was good to be in the company of a cat once again, so wonderful) and I read the spec feature film screenplay I wrote and shelved six years ago. I was astonished to see how good it is, and more than a little dismayed with myself for not gritting my teeth and taking the next steps sooner.

I'll have more to say on the subject of giving thanks when tomorrow dawns. For now, I'm about to give my brain a rest from the emotional weight of the last couple of weeks and watch an episode of "Psych".

Much to be said, but it will have to wait.

Be well, O half dozen readers and friends of this blog, this inn along the roadside for our little troupe of traveling dreamers.


Friday, November 18, 2011

the machineries of joy, part one

Yesterday and today was spent building an assemblage piece. I haven't made art in a while, and it was a satisfying experience. Tonight I'll take photos of the piece before it goes off to its new owner.

It's name (from my Necessaire de Voyage series) is--



Wednesday, November 16, 2011

social media

On nearly a daily basis, I enjoy many of the positive features of social media. I'm careful about what I share and how I interact, and things generally go well for me. I learn, I meet interesting people, and I've even made some true friends. Through it, I try to be a positive force in the world in my own small way. The online world doesn't run my life, but it does enhance it.

Now and then, however, I am given a vivid reminder that all this social mixing in the great, vast, and busy cyber-universe is not without its negative aspects, even for careful participants. Today I witnessed (as I have before and undoubtedly will again) evidence of troubled souls out there who, despite seeming to be rational and despite having a deceptive level of social skill and intelligence, can bring their sordid personal issues and instabilities right into the middle of calm, considerate waters and wreak great havoc.

It's good to be reminded of this sad fact now and then, especially in a timely enough manner before real problems have a chance to manifest.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

post three hundred

September is a memory, and I haven't posted here in weeks. Hopefully this is changing soon. I've been on something of a vacation. Sort of.

This post is number three hundred, which doesn't really mean anything but seemed a fun thing to mention.

Back to normal soon? Yes, I think so.

Monday, August 29, 2011

wake early and hear your morning voices

"If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed to trap them before they escape."

Ray Bradbury

Thursday, August 4, 2011

dream account

This is a placeholder for a dream account. A sad, strange, beautiful, disturbing, perplexing yet uncommonly revealing dream I had last night about an ailing author.

The dream has been on my mind all day. Unusual of late, I can recall the story in tremendous detail from start to finish.

Earlier in the previous day before the dream, I had picked up the cremains of my beloved cat-companion. I brought home her ashes in a little wooden box.

At least for now, I'm not ready to fully transcribe either story.

"It's getting late," he said.

* * *

Thursday, July 14, 2011

ray bradbury induction into DL&CS

ON THIS DAY, 14 July, 2011, Mr. Ray Bradbury is formally inducted into my little honorary group, the Dreamland Literary and Cinematic Society, in recognition of his many decades of unique and influential artistic contributions.

* * *

Sir, your writing helped change my life. It's as simple and marvelous as that. It seized my attention as a young person, ignited my imagination, and transported me again and again. Your work detonated in my mind, set off fireworks of love and instrospection, and inspired me to go down the path of the wordsmith, and it also set a standard of crazy brilliance I knew I could never hope to meet.

It was my honor to express to you the short version of these long-held sentiments in person at the Planetfest conference in Pasadena, California back in 1981, and I will always remember your absolute graciousness as I tried to explain in fifty words or less what you meant to me-- and still do. I read somewhere that you remember everything in your life-- everything! How marvelous! (I like to think you remember the young blonde who broke free of her introverted nature, had a kind of out-of-body experience and slipped up to you that afternoon and quietly interrupted your pre-talk thoughts while Diane Ackerman-- I thought of her as your warmup act-- was reciting her poetry).

Your books and stories are unique in this world, a voice apart. They would be more than enough to earn the heartfelt gratitude of people everywhere, but your ongoing outspoken support of manned space exploration has always been heroic and deeply appreciated. I personally understood this with deep certainty that hot July night when we walked on the moon, and I listened with tears filling my eyes while you gave us the words and perspective we needed during that miracle.

Countless people truly love your rich, poetic excesses. We also love your fist-pounding passion, your ire and indignation, your unrestrained joy. It's impossible not to love the person behind the work.

Thank you, thank you forever.

brenda cox giguere

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


We drove to the desert on Saturday and came back Monday afternoon. A much-needed change of venue.

Friday I will be learning of the results of my recent thyroid biopsy. In the meantime I am busying myself with domestic fuss and nonsense, napping, reading, napping some more, movies, reading, social networking... in short, everything and nothing, with work on my book conspicuous by its absence (unless you count scribbling down a few notes).

The house is quiet. I've spent the last couple of long afternoons out on the balcony, and the sun makes me sleepy. My tomato seeds have sprung up, but as I planted them several weeks later than optimal, it's by no means certain we'll have tomatoes this season before winter sets in. But of course, we're talking about a Southern California winter, so all may not be lost. We'll see.

The basil is looking a bit tatty. I should have harvested a whole bunch of it at once and made pesto instead of just taking a few leaves here and there for salads. But under the sun it smells wonderful when I'm sitting next to it.

Next week I have a one-day video job up in Modesto. I'll be driving, using it as the basis for a visit to the Bay Area. I haven't seen my dad or sister in a while, and am looking forward to it.

It's eleven PM, and I've just loaded Tron Legacy onto my iPad. Maybe it will inspire some beautiful dreams. Maybe tomorrow I'll ignore the remaining housework.

"Flyaway" by Desmond Bagley just arrived on my doorstep today, recommended by my father as a riveting book suitable for turning into a film.

I'm currently about to read the last chapter of "Fifth Head of Cerberus" by Gene Wolfe.

This about sums things up. Tomorrow I'll either take a long walk, or a swim.



Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Missi Nutmeg was my beloved cat companion nearly every day of my life from 1996 until 2011.

Last week I made the heart-wrenching decision to fulfill my longstanding contract with her to take care of her when things started to get bad.

Sometimes we have to do the right thing in the best interest of those creatures that depend on us, but that doesn't make it easy or less painful. When I let her go I cried more tears than I thought I had in me; it was days before I could even talk about it without falling into despair.

Truly, I was blessed to have her with me on this journey for as long as I did. She was a wonderful cat, and I loved her dearly. It was worth the effort of treating her diabetes and keeping her healthy and happy for the last three years.

No bad days. That was my promise.

And so you might understand that I'd like to simply close the subject for now. Thank you, friends.

Monday, June 27, 2011

writing to deadline: the saga continues

September is arriving too quickly, with its novel writing deadline and 40 year high school reunion.

Hence the silence here.

To be continued.

Monday, May 30, 2011

los angeles again

To continue soon.

In some ways I suppose it's a cheap, easy shot to carry on about Los Angeles, and in the end maybe even relatively pointless. After all, it's a big, sprawling city with no more than its share of big, sprawling city problems.

Still, it's hard not to make observations about the unique qualities (and in many cases, shortcomings) of this curious region.

* * *

Sunday, May 29, 2011

lessons learned in la-la land

Last night's drive home from the video shoot was supposed to take two hours. This was on paper. We were working at an industrial location well north of Los Angeles, and despite it being a Saturday, the I-405 South was its usual parking lot at the front end of the drive home.

We'd been shooting training film material for five days and nothing terrible had happened-- always cause for relief and good cheer. The previous day, Friday, my drive back to the Sportsmen's Lodge at Studio City had been blissfully quick along unclogged freeways at just half an hour. One of those inexplicable quirks.

And finally, the week was over. Two days off before the final four. I pulled away from our location at just after five, baselessly optimistic about the Saturday traffic and eager for my break at home with husband and cat.

Two more exits, then one. The sky is cloudy and rain looks imminent. Finally I limp out of my sap and grime-covered car at eight o'clock, hungry and numb. Not what I'd hoped for, but I've had worse at four hours or more.

Yes, I'm grateful for the work after a long dry spell, an attitude of gratitude. I'm paid well and lucky to have the work. This is a tough economic time and we're all doing the best we can. I repeat these mantras as necessary.

* * *

Among the many things I notice when I spend any time in the greater Los Angeles area is the way everyone stares at everyone else, either openly or covertly. You don't have to be wearing mustard on your nose or last year's sunglasses-- you'll be looked at significantly more often than usual as you go about your business. I eventually figured out they're all looking to see if you are Somebody, as in, a famous person.

* * *

Brief backstory: My first work in The Business came back in 1986 (as my longtime friends all know) when I was pulled out of my salon life into the golden opportunity of working on a low-budget feature film, a story for another day. Since then I have enjoyed many fascinating years in freelance work in (primarily) corporate film and video production as a freelance makeup artist-slash-wardrobe stylist-slash-set decorator. As the economy took its ignominious hit, naturally enough my work receded as well. This is far more of a problem for people supporting themselves, of course, and since moving from the Bay Area I've consciously been working less often anyway, preferring to divert my time to making my marriage even better, and working on personal projects.

Even so, I do like my media work. I've always enjoyed it, even when (for various reasons) it's far more gritty than glamorous. My background prior to this was in art, theater, and journalism, and I taught myself this biz by throwing myself into projects with long hours and a paranoid-level of hyper-preparation. It's been a successful run with a lot of great projects in the company of friendly and accepting people. But if you stay in anything long enough, be it Work or Life, you live to see things change.

* * *

Few things in life are as important, overall, as a sense of perspective. Was this a rough week? It was. But the true definition of a rough week lies elsewhere: a woman driving herself to and from chemotherapy alone because her indifferent family members can't "handle it"; a student working two jobs while trying to keep his grades up; the list is endless. I find it interesting to explore various aspects of my recent work week and its many personal nuances, and some of it is going to sound bitchy. But friends and readers needn't wonder: I never forget where this litany falls in the spectrum.

* * *

When I was a youngster growing up in the Bay Area east of San Francisco, I had two recurring, alternating career fantasies: working for Mattel in El Segundo designing Barbie doll clothes and accessories, and working as a designer behind the scenes at Anaheim's Disneyland.

Although neither of those specific careers remained on my adult horizon, a considerable portion of my jobs and hobbies have somehow ended up reflecting those distinctly California interests (not, it should be admitted, through any brillance of planning on my part). This profession has given me so many unique opportunities it's hard to choose examples: I've designed and built costumes both glamorous and quirky, created clown makeup that helped define the look of a feature film, created a convincing urban Chinese residence hotel within a Lafayette, California dining room. Without assistance I've somehow dressed and coiffured rooms full of actors in under thirty minutes. It's been my honor to see convention attendees gather in a buzz of appreciation around my miniature original doll couture, and watched people bidding on my fashion doll creations at charity auctions. My life, in other words, has been rich with childhood fantasies that somehow came to pass. My razzle-dazzle Hollywood interests haven't changed much, and the basic dreams remain, but I have no illusions about the geographical area known as Los Angeles.

One quickly learns what a mixed bag is the City of Angels: the stupifying video-game labyrinth of freeways, the fluctuating ominous belt of orange at the horizon. After half a day in the LA basin I always have a dry cough. A graffiti-covered sound wall outlined in weeds sits just a few yards from a gorgeous, shady street of stately cottage-style homes. Gorgeous hotels, huge television studios, leafless blocks of utilitarian businesses. More soundwalls. Gigantic coils of razor wire across the tops of freeway signs.

Nobody walks in LA, but if you do, the heat radiates from the concrete and your eyes water.

* * *

to be continued

Friday, May 20, 2011

will this be the last video project?

Each job feels like it could be the last. The twilight of a great career.

Details forthcoming.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

forgotten insights

Earlier eras of Western society had some great minds, with much of their wisdom regarding human nature now dismissed as quaint or worse, faded away and all but lost-- a casualty of our modern ways of thinking.

My example of this follows below, a quote about literature with an inherent perspective on differences between the sexes.

In many situations today, social hypersensitivity frightens away the voicing of similarly candid, unabridged observations. Or am I overstating this reluctance?

With special thanks to my brilliant Facebook friend James Gorski, here is a quote from post-Victorian author and philosopher G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) that put me onto this line of thinking.

I first noticed James' news stream post with the GKC quote because it comments on novel writing, of obvious interest to me. But beyond the topic of novel writing, the quote ended up being an intriguing catalyst for me for thoughts on that kind of human observation in general.

The quote in question:

“PEOPLE put the matter wrong when they say that the novel is a study of human nature. Human nature is a thing that even men can understand. Human nature is born of the pain of a woman; human nature plays at peep-bo when it is two and at cricket when it is twelve; human nature earns its living and desires the other sex and dies. What the novel deals with is what women have to deal with; the differentiations, the twists and turns of this eternal river.”

~GKC: The Victorian Age in Literature.’

So, were such differences between men and women, as observed by some of our great Grandparents' leading thinkers, just artifacts of their society? Do such observations have any actual validity today beyond their historical value?

More and more, I'm finding Chesterton a fascinating and worthwhile English author.

Friday, May 6, 2011

two black cranes: a strange dream in the afternoon

dream account
thursday, 5 may, 2011
afternoon nap
* * *

Dream account to follow.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

cinco de mayo

People such as myself who are not big drinkers usually glide right past de facto party days like St. Patrick's Day and Cinco de Mayo. But when one of those semi-holidays rolls around it wouldn't hurt me to at least mention it. Maybe I can seize the day and use its theme as a springboard for a special meal, or some kind of themed art project. Of course, lately it's been all about the novel writing, and I don't want to stray too far off that path, especially now that I'm finally getting so much done. So maybe I'll just mention the Fifth of May, and leave it at that. Happy Cinco de Mayo, and I'll write more soon. Cheers! /

PS Before anyone misunderstands me and thinks I don't know there are real meanings behind these celebrations, my glib comments don't refer to their serious roots-- only their casual modern identities.

Monday, May 2, 2011

for the studio

New dress form today, plus a half-size form and draping tape. Details sometime soon.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

writing the rails: using trains in a story

Over at the Amtrak Facebook news feed this morning, the Amtrak p.r. person who posts on their behalf was asking for ideas to help celebrate 40 years of Amtrak service. This was my suggestion:

Brenda Cox Giguere / Have a writing contest. Invite writers to create works of original fiction that make positive use of an Amtrak journey in the storyline. I'm going to detail this idea on my blog today.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

problem solving

For some reason, this morning I remembered when I lived in an apartment and a branch was rubbing on my (second story) window, a really loud noise at night while trying to sleep. So I went to the manager and asked about getting it trimmed. She said I would need to fill out a form to give to the head gardener, and it would be part of a gardening request queue, blah blah blah. So I rolled my eyes and walked out, saw a gardener walking by, pointed up to the branch. He shrugged and snipped it off on the spot. End of problem.

Friday, April 22, 2011

beginning a poem about my cat

Missi Nutmeg
Missi McGillicutty
Missi Q. Cat
Missi Mergatroid
Missi-missi Nut-putt
Princess Missi
Miss Precious-nose
Freckleface Strawberry

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

office supplies

Index cards, pastel assorted (2 packages)
Index cards, neon assorted (1 package)
Letter size white paper, 20 LB. 500 sheets (4)
Black gel pens, 4 in package
Mini memo pad, yellow lined, package of 3
Gold, silver finish 1" binder clips
Bag assorted rubber bands

* * *

Surely I'm not the only wordsmith among us privately obsessed with office supplies? There's something so uniquely satisfying about the procuring of these tools. It's a cozy feeling just knowing my home office is a well-feathered nest where I could survive any supply catastrophy. The only necessity I don't have in abundance is printer ink because it's so costly. But by the time I am printing up my manuscript in a few months, I expect I'll be buying a laser printer anyway.

Lately my old HP inkjet printer (old in computer dog years, at least) is showing signs of failure. Like many of us, I've been stuck with unopened packages of printer ink for a departed printer-- and we all know the ink is where the real expense is. There's nothing quite like a fifty-dollar package of ink you'll never use, staring up at you.

A quick look at printers reveals they're now being made in sleek black housing, which is appealing to me, but it's hardly a reason to abandon good old HP Officejet 6310 ahead of its time. A laser printer is the next logical purchase. But it's still a beguiling, irrational temptation to see a Canon inkjet printer that looks like a glossy black Corvette for under 100 dollars.

But for now, I'm happy: Paper, ink, printers, pens, pencils. Books, binders, boxes, staplers, paper clips. Envelopes and erasers.

More on my lifetime fondness for paper, here.

* * *

saying no to social media for a few days

Today is very warm, wonderfully so without being uncomfortable. I've made one of my famous day-camps out on the balcony and have been organizing the stacks of notes associated with my book. This project should feel overwhelming, but for some reason it doesn't.

When I make a day-camp, I surround myself with everything I might need for a long, uninterrupted stay in one place. Besides the stacks and stacks of papers with notes I've made over the last five-plus years, today I have both phones, something to drink, reading glasses (regular) as well as reading glasses (for sitting in the sun), the remote control for the awning, several pens, my microcassette recorder, my camera (just in case something remarkable happens), and my giant 2011 calendar.

It doesn't make for a very fascinating blog post, but I want to go on record that I've been reading through these notes and working out story details all day. A while ago I stopped and took a few photos of a great blue heron and a snowy egret hanging out by the creek. It's OK to take a break, right?

Finally, it's quiet out here. This morning saw (and heard) quite a bit of maintenance work going on in the form of gardeners on riding mowers and some wood chipping down the block. But it's just after 2 PM now, and all I hear are the birds.

Today I am focusing on the characters, one by one. What do they want? What is stopping them? What are their secrets? What do they bring to the book's themes? What can make them more vivid to the reader?

Maybe I'm just in a good mood, but as daunting of a task as this novel is, I suddenly am beginning to feel more positive. Maybe all the vitamins I've been taking over the last few months are finally having an effect. It's not that I don't still feel awful about how long I've spent on this multi-volume epic extravaganza (because I do), but because I recognize such agonizing is counter-productive if it goes in circles and doesn't lead to improvements.

Social media doesn't account for all of my wasted time, but it does eat up a couple of hours each day, time I could be spending on any number of book-related activities. Including writing the damn thing.

* * *

Before I go to bed tonight, I want to have a specific schedule for the book's completion.

iris fylstra wanted to write, 1946

Thursday, April 14, 2011

certain ideas about luxury

Lately I've been committed to the idea of taking more photographs. It's not as if it takes a lot of time and effort, and there's no significant cost involved other than a bit of electricity to charge my Canon's battery and upload digital files to my computer. And so, in pursuit of that committment, you often find me late at night roaming around, looking for something intriguing to capture. That's why I just posted an image (see previous blog post) of some ruby-colored glasses. Before my bedtime melatonin kicked in I fooled around and shot the glassware both with and without a flash, closer and further away, and that sort of thing. With more time and care I'm sure I could improve on that image, but the idea is to push things along quickly. From a therapeutic self-help standpoint, I want to start and finish projects.

Those glasses, along with their matching decanter, sit in the living room on a metal trunk I got at Pottery Barn. I like blending dressy with casual, and always have. The set was a gift, and while I don't actually drink out of them, as art objects they give me a feeling of luxury. They weren't always precisely to my taste, but they've grown on me.

The topic of luxury intrigues me enough that I plan on writing more about it here. But first, I'm committed to the idea of getting some pages done today. September is coming up fast, and my book isn't writing itself (no matter how many story notes I make on my tape recorder). I don't have the luxury of a hotel room and room service for the book's completion. I have to make my own time, squeeze my own orange juice.

ciao ciao,


Saturday, April 9, 2011

times touching, 7 june 2008

One of the most poignant truths I’ve discovered is that certain people, places, objects and events of our lives later take on unexpected significance. Living our lives for the most part with day-to-day myopia and concerned with immediate matters (despite a sincere yet lofty stated desire to do otherwise) our memories and eventually our future perspectives are being cumulatively shaped. That the most compelling idiosyncratic fragments don’t immediately make themselves obvious only adds to their eventual melancholic power in our psyches.

Later, having caught on to this phenomenon, we start to be alert to this, but our view to the full and future implications of the present day, with all its endless elements, is a vantage point necessarily limited.

Indeed, if it weren’t this way, we would be crippled and ineffective in our daily lives. Present Practical Self needs to bag up our unused clothing and give it to Goodwill, pay our bills and make dinner, while Future Philosopher Self, on some winter day, might yearn with unexpected acuteness for the first nylon stockings our mother bought for us one long ago Easter. The person we would later become in the fullness of time might suddenly wonder whatever happened to that quiet fellow who tried to converse with us in Journalism class, whereas at the time, caught up in our own angst and self-consciousness, we scarcely noticed.

And sometimes the most powerful things are inexplicably ordinary and seemingly random: a certain rainy day, looking out a bedroom window past the floral print arm of a chair; a doll table made from a small gift box of green and gold, with a small mirror on top; windmill cookies eaten in the back seat of a car. When did these things happen? Why do they feel significant and carry a charge of emotion? Conversely, we reach for a certain memory and have only vague notions or none: why can’t I remember my very first video job? Why didn’t I stay in touch with my dear friend in sixth grade who moved back to Georgia; what was I thinking?

Even if we try with all our focus and concentration to imagine what will be most meaningful to our future selves, and make present choices accordingly, at best we’ll come up short. Plans notwithstanding, we don’t know who we’re going to be until we’re there. Further complicating this equation, our journey is in many respects one of losses, and sometimes it is primarily the loss itself, the absence of something that eventually creates its significance.

We do our best with photo albums and scrapbooks and journals and diaries, and collecting things to replace those we gave away.

The idea always tugged at me, the whole complex notion of the passage of time and our metamorphosis, moment to moment, from one human being to another slightly different one, over and over again.

It fascinates and pains me to realize that my three year-old self is in many ways just as gone as my Grandparents are. Adding an unnecessary loss to the inevitable one, I wonder now about a gift I received that year from my mother, a bracelet with three charms on it: a cake with three candles, a numeral 3, and a little girl. If only I’d tucked it away someplace special, and kept it safe. If only.

We are helpless knowing that while we can address the future and act on its behalf, where the past is concerned we can only regard it. But because we are sentient, reflective, philosophical, and even sentimental, we can endure the pain of not being able to reach back and touch it.

We view our pasts through glass, fog, paper, tears; then we shape and reshape it in ways we could never have imagined.

And then, better at the whole endeavor but still imperfect in our efforts, we continue forward.

* * *

true confessions, part one

Make of this what you will, but this is the single sexiest song and video combination I've ever seen, period. That is to say, it specifically gets to the heart of something haunting and complex in my imagination.

By the way, I don't expect this reaction to be either universal nor comprehensible, but it is what it is-- in the strange inner place where I live, this piece is something greater than the sum of the parts.

You'll no doubt notice how non-sexual it actually is, but it's my deep belief there's an inverse relationship at work. (So wot's the big deal, eh? Some middle-aged blokes in tuxes in a posh estate having photos taken). I stand firm in my assessment.

Anyway, until I decide in the light of another day that this post reveals far too much psychological information about me, here is a really terrific new song by some fellows who've been around a while.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

thank you, francis, and happy birthday

Thinking back to when the universe split in April of 1986.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

39 steps - masterpiece classic

* * *
The most useful thing I did to prepare for watching this program (programme) was to never see the two movie versions that preceded it, nor did I read the book. This allowed the twists to work to their full extent and keep me engaged. Once again, we have a film set in my favorite (favourite) period, just before the great war in Europe. I really liked this film, and intend to chat about it here at more length.

* * *

Monday, March 28, 2011

leaf on the doorstep

Oh, all right. I admit it. I scanned this leaf instead of taking out my camera and doing it right. Be that as it may, this festive little jasmine leaf was sitting on my welcome mat when I went out for the morning paper, just begging to have his picture taken. If there's some unpleasant reason for the colored striping, such as some kind of dire plant malady, I'd actually prefer not to know.

As always, please click on photo to enlarge.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

light show

running to catch up

A black dog (recall Winston Churchill's name for his occasional depression) has been hanging around lately. And while he isn't to blame for this long blogpresence silence-- I must take responsibility for that myself; details not important-- but the pesky fellow has slowed things down for me. The dog, I mean, not Sir Winston.

It's nothing serious, but I do struggle just a little with it now and then, usually a fleeting challenge... not that anyone would be able to discern this condition very easily from the more or less positive attitude I maintain and present to the world.

Maybe instead of my more typical long rumination on a single topic, what I might do today, within one or two blog entries, is a series of quick non-sequitirs. This will fill in a few gaps.

Regarding this blog: One of the items on this year's to-do list is to link up my various archived blog posts into categories, if only for my own big-picture navigating convenience. Another stated goal was to develop some theme organization both within this blog, and across my various other (neglected) blogs. And yes, January was the new year and this is March and I'm falling behind on nearly every front, and I don't have my plan of action yet; I do know that. I keep meaning to create a blogging schedule, and stick to it. This will help a lot.

What few readers I do have are deserving of that respect, but it's also clear that without goals, structure, and urgency to my various writing projects... what, then? Let's just say there's a dramatic whooshing sound as calendar pages fly off left and right in a series of slow camera dissolves, cherry blossoms bloom and drop off, clock hands chase each other around at a dizzying speed, autumn leaves blow in and out of the frame, all of this underscored with haunting orchestral phrases... and before you know it, we're setting our clocks back an hour. Again. By the way, I can't imagine any of you guys actually enjoy reading about my private struggles with this stuff, but I'm hoping there's some psychological power in this confession. Thanks for indulging me.

Supermoon: Yes, the moon was bigger and brighter. I don't know if I would have figured this out without reading about it first, but I made note of it and went out on the balcony to view it. Alas, the cloud cover turned our celestial neighbor into a ghostly apparition. I did capture an image digitally which turned out even more ghostly because it was hand-held for several seconds.

* * *

More later. And I really will go back and fill in some blog gaps, if only for my own satisfaction.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

heavenly cheese zombies, aromatic memories

Mount Diablo Unified School District ZOMBIE RECIPE

To make 2 ½ pounds of dough: 2 cups warm water 1½ - 2 Tablespoons yeast 6 cups bread flour ¼ cup sugar 1 – 1 ½ teaspoons salt (depending on taste) ¼ cup butter Directions Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add remaining ingredients and mix with dough hook about 10 minutes until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Dough should be soft and pliable. Let dough rest a few minutes then divide into 1-pound portions. Roll the portions into logs. Cut each log into 5 equal pieces. Place your favorite filling on top of each dough slice, then pull dough up from the sides to cover filling. Pinch closed very carefully. Place zombies pinched side down on parchment paper or a greased cookie sheet pan (parchment works best). If desired, brush with egg wash. Let rise until almost doubled in size. Bake @350 degrees until brown on top, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Fillings: If traditional filling is desired [note: the only REAL ZOMBIE is a CHEESE ZOMBIE] use 1 ½ to 2 oz. of cheese per zombie. * * *

What is a zombie? Why am I posting a recipe here? The story of the wonderful Cheese Zombie is a tale of a special stuffed homemade yeast roll, the stuff of poignant memories. At our high school we had a brunch break each day, and the ZOMBIE was a favorite student treat. The aroma during the morning baking was incredible, filling the air all around the Academic Building where the snack window and bakery kitchen was located.

The crust of the ZOMBIE was sort of Dutch-crunch buttery and sort of cracked, and the inside was cheesy-melty goodness.

I did some online research, and it didn't surprise me to learn that the ZOMBIE was a school favorite for years. Former students from all over the district would go to great lengths, years after graduation, to try and secure the recipe, and to post their effusive thanks for the ZOMBIE memories.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

a box of old audio tapes, part one

As part of my ongoing efforts to completely streamline my media, my archives, my ephemera, and my life, I pulled out a zippered case filled with old microcasette tapes waiting patiently for my administrative care. I hadn't gone through them in years.

Without having to look at the labels, I immediately remembered several of them: Jeremy Butterfield speaking (in a vast echoey room, a church I believe) at a conference on consciousness held in 1996 at Jesus College in Cambridge; why I taped his talk and not any of the others is now a mystery, but it might have been because of his gorgeous, perfect British accent. I knew I'd find taped interviews with my old friends Alan Worsley and Stephen LaBerge, informal sessions which were always vaguely intended to become articles. Many of the tapes were (are) various of my dream accounts, including nights I spent at a lucid dreaming retreat, and even in the psych department sleep lab at Stanford where I was enclosed in a black-walled little chamber, my head dotted with wired electrodes.

And so I began to go through these tiny plastic casettes, rewinding, playing them, writing long overdue labels as best as I could. Many were completely unmarked, several were nearly unintelligible for various reasons. Two were tapes of people now gone: my old friend Scott Gibbs, and my paternal grandmother, Beatrice Cox.

* * *

to be continued

Monday, January 24, 2011

analog digital me

What time is it?
Picture of analog clock on home office computer screen; analog clock in powder room; antique clock on family room wall; iPad app of a ticking analog clock.

I need to write a memo:
Grab a piece of paper, or type on a virtual yellow sticky note on my computer screen. Usually the former.

Take a photograph:
Digital photography only, for the last seven years. It felt very strange to retire my film camera and gear to the attic.

Listen to music:
The iTunes account on my main computer houses nearly all of my music collection. I still have some favorites in CD form to play in my car or in my sleek little bedsite Brookstone CD stereo system, but the majority of my collection I recorded for myself, then gave the original CDs to my dad and sister. This same collection lives on my iPad Classic, which I place in a really cool speaker dock for home use. Unlike my young friends, I rarely put in headphones and listen to music while out in the world.

I do not text on my phone, period. Don't send me texts, please.

Talking in the car:
There is a new law specifically prohibiting cell phone use while driving unless you're hands free. I comply with this (even though my sense is, it's the fact that one is in Thoughtspace while speaking on a phone that makes for lack of focus, not the hands issue as such). I try not to do a lot of phone gabbing in the car, but when I do, I put my five year-old cell phone on speaker mode.

Friday, January 14, 2011

downton abbey edwardian dreams

England's majestic Highclere Castle is the location for the newest Masterpiece Classics multi-episode drama, Downton Abbey. I just watched Episode One earlier this evening, and it was instantly engrossing. I'm not a fanatic or even a regular watcher of period dramas-- even when well done they can sometimes be a bit tedious for my taste once I tire of the art direction-- but this one grabbed me right away.

The story begins in 1912. For some reason I've always been attatched specifically to those few years of the early 10s. It always seemed like such an exceptionally fascinating time, that brief period poised between the old world and modern times.

Besides being set in a beloved period for me, I soon realized this elaborate drama really has it all. If the elaborate soap opera*, great dialog, superb characterizations and solid acting isn't enough to immediately draw you in, there's the overall convincing sense of the Edwardian era including layers of nuance illuminating its extensive class and gender issues, all presented with painfully beautiful cinematography and rich production design completed by excrutiatingly beautiful costumes and museum-piece household items. As a bonus there's an endless array of glittering period-look jewelry I dream of having for myself.

As you may have noticed, I've just used up this month's allotment of adjectives and superlatives, so I'll wrap things up and say, check it out. Oh, and you'll see some familiar faces.

Here's a link to the show's page. Have fun.

* * *

*When the show began, I had a private bet with myself that we'd see a homosexual subplot tossed into the bubbling stew before too long. After all, as the catch-phrase goes, "this... is PBS".

Sunday, January 2, 2011

snow in los angeles

Above photo: no snow, not Los Angeles, not even a recent photo. But it was cold that day. /b

Apparently there is snow right now up in the Los Angeles area, especially through the grapevine on I-5, a couple of hours north of here. I wonder if it's snowing downtown, too? There's nothing quite like the surreal sight of palm fronds weighted down with snow, and the thought of Southern California youngsters hyper with delight and optimism as they try to build snowmen out of dirty sidewalk slush.

Snow would be a problem here, hard on my property's palm trees and other plants too, like the Meyer lemon tree I planted in the front yard last spring. But what an amazing sight it would be to awaken to a true winter wonderland right out of a movie or Christmas card.

As it must be for those So Cal kids, snow is exotic and a bit foreign to me. For the first fifteen years of my life I never saw or touched it for myself, never stepped into the profound cold of a snowy day. I finally felt it crunch under borrowed snow-boots one special day during high school, an exciting day trip with my classmates to snow-covered Alpine Meadows up at Tahoe.

While I was growing up in Concord, our local Mount Diablo was graced with a picturesque dusting of snow every year or two, visible from my neighborhood, and sometimes the snow line would drop down to the foothills. But snow on the streets of my home town happened rarely, maybe once in fifteen years. I'd have to check the records.

Such was the extent of my experience with snow. After that adventure with my friends (complete with heater failure in our bus during the frigid three hours homeward), several years would pass before I'd see the white stuff again.

Eventually I returned to the Tahoe area, this time for a series of ski trips with my new husband (that is to say, he skiied, and I wore ski outfits). We were married up there in March of 1980 with a handful of friends and relatives in attendance. The snow was drifted up around our cabin at Tahoe Donner to a height of nine feet, much to the delight of my father, who had never seen snow himself before that visit.

As interesting as snow is to me-- the way it muffles all sound, the way it transforms a landscape into something magical-- it doesn't occupy a special place in my psyche the way rain does. Rain is a fixed part of my personal iconography, and has an emotional component to it. But except for one set of precious memories of one particular Christmas in Maine-- stunning and unforgettable in its beauty-- snow in general is more of a curiosity.

Come December each year, I'm dreaming of a rainy Christmas. Snow, whether its on palm fronds or pine trees, isn't a part of my personally important dreams.

Even so, I hope the people up in LA are having a good time. Drive carefully, you guys.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Time to reset, begin anew where needed. One bit of cyberhousekeeping I've been putting off is a logical reorganization of my various blogs, groups, and websites...

first blog post of the new year

Tabula rasa. Just what we need.