Friday, June 23, 2017

remember when?

Hope, a second time round, still lingers on a rusty mailbox in the next road.  I feel sad not just at this in and of itself, but sad about the fact that Obama may well have scuttled things by being too principled, too desirous of being Presidential and non-partisan (as well as firmly partisan in other things, like health care) to call out the Russians loudly and publicly before the last election.  When being principled lands us with the least principled "leader" imaginable, what value, though, does one place on it?  Going and seeing Beatriz at Dinner has put me in an even gloomier mood.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

a murder of ...?

Flying up the road in front of us this morning: four large crows.  At least, there were four, and there are four shadows, but I can only detect three fat shiny bodies here.

When I was very small, my mother taught me a whole lot of collective nouns - not just a gaggle of geese, or a murmuration of starlings or a parliament of rooks (apparently a parliament of owls in the US, which sounds as though someone was consonant-challenged when they heard about Chaucer's Parliament of Fowles).  I loved the sense of possessing useless, but specific arcane knowledge. That probably says something prophetic about my scholarly career ... So it came as something of a shock to read this article on the Audubon Society website, which is adamant about the preciousness and futility of using fanciful collective nouns.  Birds come in flocks, the author asserts, like sheep.  And that's that.  Anything else belongs to the realm of pub-quiz trivia.  Nonetheless, I truly like the sense of connection with generations past of country people that comes with knowing these terms.

On our way back, we came upon what I think was a murder victim (though probably not a crow victim - they are scavengers - there's been a very alert Cooper's Hawk around): a thin gleaming silver and pale green snake that must have foolishly been sunbathing in the road, and had a large hole pecked in it, with protruding entrails.  I respectfully took a couple of sticks and relocated it, despite its demise, so that it wouldn't be car-flattened.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

the money frog

This is our money frog.  It usually lives by the front door, where - with a cent in its mouth - it's meant to bring us - well, money.  Or at least good financial fortune, of some kind.  It's made its way onto a windowsill so it didn't get knocked during some furniture moving, but I think it's meant to be by the front door.  It's Serbian; a souvenir of a wonderful evening on a restaurant boat on the Bosphorus in Belgrade, with the USC women's volleyball team coaches and trainers, some 5 years ago - and ever since then, I've been thinking this was some quaint Serbian custom (we were all given one; all told to place it by the front door).  It turns out, now that I check it out, that there's nothing Serbian about it whatsoever, apart from it provenance (and the fact that there are a lot of frogs in the Bosphorus).  It's a feng shui frog, and should be used to create financial good energy - by the front door, to be sure, with its mouth pointing away from it, to bring that prosperity into the house.  But not, I learn, on the floor, since that's considered disrespectful.  So I think it's going to have to be replaced on the hallway bookcase.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

lunchtime shade

The awning is over part of the back yard at Harry's Roadhouse - a suitable place to celebrate the fact that Flash! is off to be typeset - next step, the proofs - since the establishment even makes its way into the acknowledgements.  How could it not?  It's been a sustaining force all through the writing of this book ...

Monday, June 19, 2017


Continuing yesterday's Weeds or Wildflowers? theme ... only a few moments after I took these, a woman walking her dogs stopped and said how much she HATED these seed heads, which I guess makes them weeds.  For her, anyway.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Today's been a day of labor - mostly re-arranging things (our books written, we're changing round studies in the house again, which is more hellish than it sounds - think books; think papers; think stationery; think all kinds of personal Items), and pulling weeds.  These are very thorny, spiny, vicious thistles, so I was extremely thankful for my pair of leather Royal Horticultural Society gloves from Kew.  And then, pulling tumbleweed.

And also, reading Richard Mabey's Weeds.  I never fail to enjoy Mabey's writing on things British and natural - and this is truly fascinating (and scary - did you know that a tumbleweed seed can germinate in 36 seconds?  I'm not sure that I'm glad to learn that.  But I was super-grateful (as I start to think about dandelions in a more academic light ... more will follow) for some of his generalizations about weeds; about how they disrupt categories, resist cultural classification, become domesticated into food, or children's playthings, or are regarded as - a perfect phrase - "vegetable guerrillas."

Saturday, June 17, 2017

well-traveled flowers

Our kitchen window sill in New Mexico, in the early morning sun.  With the exception of the white flower, which has journeyed all the way from pre-Amazon Whole Foods (though doubtless had a larger carbon footprint before that), the rosemary and the geraniums and the mint originated in our front yard in Los Angeles.  Clearly the habit of placing little flower vases on window sills runs in the family.