Friday, April 18, 2014

californian poppy

One of these days, when I have nothing else more horribly pressing to do, and when we have unbounded funds at our disposal, our back yard will be transformed into an oasis for native plants, with occasional sections devoted to European roses and lavender and vegetables.  But until then, I content myself with getting terrifically excited when something unexpected appears, like this Californian poppy (I threw down a large number of seeds last year, optimistically, and a few have actually managed to flourish).  The trouble with the Yard Renovation Project is that to be done properly, it requires a good deal of rebuilding and reinforcing and removal of concrete and and and - not a happy prospect when there's only a long steep narrow flight of steps leading to it, and no access for machinery of any size.  "But what do people DO?" I asked our realtor, when we were buying the place - "I mean, if we WANTED to put in a pool" (which we don't - nasty things, in my experience, that fill up with leaves when you're not looking) - "however would we go about it?"  "Oh!" she said brightly.  "People would use a helicopter to drop everything in!"  Just like in a construction site on a Swiss mountainside.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

the ominousness of palm trees

Most of the time, I look at palm trees and equate them with the craziness of living in an urban sprawl of well-nigh reliable sunshine that makes even difficult days (think: office politics) seem cheerful once I'm driving home.  But today was grey and cloudy, and these belong in some Walter Mosley novel.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

california spring

I know that it counts as spring - know that it counts as nearly the end of the semester - when I see the jacaranda trees come into bloom.  This is the most magical color, and they're just beginning, all over Los Angeles.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Equador, equator

You'd think, wouldn't you, that I'd have made the direct link between the name of the republic of Ecuador and the fact that it's on the Equator - I mean, what did I think that it signified? - but it wasn't until I looked at the representation of the Equator on the far right hand panel that the penny dropped, as they say in England, and for all I know here, too.  This is one of my favorite murals (on S. Hoover St.) that I pass on my way back from USC: the details are very delicately painted, but I've rarely been in a position when I was both stopped in traffic and the view unimpeded.  It's very good to be back.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Sometimes one's lucky enough to take a picture that just makes one happy, and this is one of them … it's the carousel in Bryant Park, just behind New York Public Library.  it wasn't actually open when I went past - the horses and a rather morose frog were behind drapes - but I'm sure that later on today, or later on in the season, they'd have been rotating to their usual cabaret music accompaniment.  You'd think that this gorgeous, beautifully laid out urban park, continually referencing the most demure of Parisian leafy urban spaces, had been there since the late C19th - but I remember it in the late 1970s, when it was a seedy and dangerous little patch that you wouldn't want to go near (except of course I peered at it, constantly fascinated by the edginess that I found in New York, although usually remaining street smart enough to retrace my tracks if I found myself on a seedier than usual patch).  It didn't really get remade until the early 1990s, and this apparently historical remnant, Le Carrousel - it dates from the early 2000s.  Faux heritage, but it's very pretty.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

subway seats

I have seen many strange things on the NY subway in my time, but they are usually at the level of mariachi bands or bagpipers (I don't count the obviously crazy, or the obviously fancy-dressed, like the woman I saw earlier in the day, tall and beautiful, walking down a street wearing angel wings).  Never before have I seen a couple come on with chairs, and sit on them.  They didn't seem to be performance artists - at least, they weren't performing - or that was, perhaps, the performance.  Their chairs certainly seemed a little more comfortable than average subway seats.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

without a road map

From afar, this looks like a campus map, with two faint grey trackways crossing it, like prehistoric lanes just visible in a pasture - and then with little red flags stuck on top, signifying Important Places.  In fact, it's nothingness, for now, and hence a metaphor that I'm working on for free space: just one article to finish before I can turn back to my book - no more papers, reviews, stray bits of stuff (other than admin, always admin).