Monday, December 31, 2012

the end of 2012

Here's the ritualistic post: the end of the year sunset.  Four years, now - or rather, four years tomorrow - of a daily image and sentence or paragraph or two.  There are days when I'm completely exhausted; when I should be doing other things; where the act of finding something to photograph just seems like one task too many; when I clearly have Nothing To Say (or, much more frequently, when what I do have to say is not suitable for mass consumption - this is not a blog about the trials of chairing a department).  One more year?  Can I do one more year?  There are always those evenings in which I swear blind that I will never, ever, carry this on after this year ... but then I look back over past entries, and I'm immensely grateful not just for their journal-esque quality, but also for the sheer fact of a daily task, or practice, that takes me beyond my immediate preoccupations.

So - thank you 2012: it was a good year.  A sad farewell to Emmett and Lola, but a rapturous welcome to Moth and Walter Gomez.  Lots of travel.  And now - the possibility, even the likelihood, of a new house within the next few weeks ...

Happy New Year, everyone!!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

oven cleaning

Another piece of found metallic sculpture.  OK, it's the inside of our oven, now beautifully cleaned.  Honesty compels me to admit I had nothing to do with cleaning it (although my propensity for roasting chickens from the farmers' market probably had a great deal to do with its engrained and greasy state).  I am clearly the kind of maddening girl friend who hangs around with a camera at the ready waiting to record abstract shiny surfaces when they have been meticulously prepared, but I'll take this opportunity to reiterate my gratitude.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

railyard art

On the way from the carpark to the farmers' market - the exposed innards of this electricity box are decidedly sculptural.  There's a Virgin of Guadalupe on the old container behind, and then, round the corner, Site Santa Fe and so on, but for today, I'll happily take this piece of found art.

Friday, December 28, 2012


After a week in England and a very long day on planes, my body clock is spectacularly misaligned.  The good part of this is that I was up and alert at dawn (indeed, well before), and so able to witness the stunning light (and cold).  The less good part is the inability to concentrate on anything.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

a welcome sight

It's the Albuquerque Airport!  Or, as they persist in calling it, the Albuquerque International Airport, although I'm not sure where it offers international flights to - Mexico, maybe?  After a long, long day, it seems a long, long distance from a very wet Heathrow.  And we're now delighted to be back in Eldorado, and are very close to being asleep.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


This picture is a puzzle - not in terms of its identity (it's the railway bridge between Wetheral and Corby, in Cumbria, painted by my father in 1957), but in terms of its weird perspective - it's hard to work out what the stable viewpoint must have been.  Or maybe the scale is strange.  I don't think of my father as ever having been less than mathematically exact and perfect about things like perspective (he did, after all, design the house I'm sitting in right now, and the walls seem to have gone up in the correct proportion and the roof fits quite well.  This bridge may not be Rain Steam and Speed, but it has its great points - the signals; the delicacy of the white iron railings.  But something about it just doesn't work.  Curiously, I think it must have been rehabilitated from up in the loft or from under the stairs very recently - I've not seen it for decades - and although I thought I remembered it perfectly well, I don't recollect it in its flawed state (indeed, I remember the painting as having been done from a quite different, much lower angle - which probably means that I was remembering the bridge itself).  Visual memory, in other words, is once again proven to be highly fallible.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas portraits

Both of these images - especially the one of my father, above - seem ready for a caption contest.  And both of them seem to capture so many different emotions going on, simultaneously, under the surface, that all things considered, captions might, in the end, be ill-advised ...

Monday, December 24, 2012


I've been going to Fielders on Wimbledon Hill as long as I can remember.  I thought that I'd better check this, and found that the shop was, indeed, founded in 1928, so I'm safe in that assertion ... it was set up by the sons of the guy who was a pioneering Wimbledon photographer, for their wives.  When it started - and when I first remember it - it was a bookstore.  I used to go to the children's paperback section at the back to spend Christmas book tokens and the like on Armada paperbacks like Jill Enjoys Her Ponies and Show Jumping Secret, and the store also sold stationery, so I'm sure that it fed my early stationery fetishist tendencies.  And it sold things like Osmeroid fountain pens with Italic Fine Oblique nibs that were indispensable to me.  Sometime in the 1980s, I think, it gave up on books and went over entirely to art and crafts supplies - as indicated by the current festive decorations - masks strung around, and a wild white paper dress being worn by, a huge wooden artist's model doll, then threaded with tiny fairy lights.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


A Flint family party in Godalming, Surrey, minus my parents, who didn't feel quite well enough to be there (understandable, I guess, since it was an exhausting, if wonderful, crew, and both my parents currently tire easily).  Here's my aunt Nancy, and my - what are they, exactly?  Second cousins? Hannah and Alex, my cousin Jon's children.  It was, in the very best sense of the word, a very English party (imagine! Alice had her first ever sausage roll! and there were mince pies, and a Yule log).  And here were we, the semi-exotic semi-Californian branch, which all had the effect of making me feel culturally very - well, dissipated.  Or maybe disseminated.  I have a feeling that I invited all kinds of different people to stay in what I hope will be our new house - the good thing being that it'll be a house large enough for us to be happy when they actually show up ...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

remember what happened to the dinosaur

It was pouring wet in Oxford today, or this image wouldn't be so deeply murky.  It must be forty years to the month that I first made the acquaintance of the Keble Dinosaur (s/he has been repainted many times since then, and grown a couple of siblings - notably a blue one to the right that's labeled "I did, and look what happened to me."  I read it first (and, I'm sure, correctly) as a warning to Oxford's establishment about what happens if one doesn't embrace, or believe in, change, or if one simply can't adapt.  Now, it seems like a warning against Going Back in any way except on the briefest of visits to see dear friends (or, presumably, on some occasion, to do some kind of academic business) - it does, indeed, feel very good to have Moved On.

Friday, December 21, 2012

anyone for tennis?

One couldn't have posed this if one tried - unless the crows around here are trained for the movies - but here's the evidence: even the crows on Wimbledon common play with tennis balls ...

Thursday, December 20, 2012


This has been a very good decision - made on December 27th last year - to come and spend four of the seven nights that we're in London not actually at my parents, but at a hotel ten minutes or so walk away.  Cannizaro House backs onto the private park where, I believe, I took my first steps (and where, years ago, Alice ate her first English cream tea).  When I was much younger, it had a sullen air about it - it was a nursing home, and then became offices for Wimbledon Borough Council.  The gardens (especially the big bird cage, full of budgies and canaries) were much fun.  But I never thought in a million years that I would be staying here - let alone finding that the luxury service includes a rather pleasing little carafe of port.


Through the cracked window of the rental car shuttle bus at Albuquerque airport.  Let's just say that holiday travel, a sudden snowstorm bearing down on Santa Fe (making the drive from town to La Bajada quite treacherous) and buying/selling houses don't add up to an entirely stress-free existence.  Oh yes, and grading those graduate papers ...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

repairing shoes

I love our shoe repair store in Santa Fe: it seems as though it's straight out of the 1950s.  The fact that it says on the door that it's been operated by the Ortega family since 1975 is neither here nor there: City Boot and Shoe Repair takes me straight back to stores that existed even further than this, in its placard advertising, its smells.  I save my shoes with holes in the soles and scuffed heels and all other malformations to bring here - and they manage to convey that the more worn and horrible they look, the more I must in fact love them since I've brought them in ...

Monday, December 17, 2012

painting walls

Somewhere to the side of Walgreens and behind Ohori's, someone has tried to decide what color they might want their wall, and they appear to have given up.  We, on the other hand, are fervently hoping that we won't have to paint any walls at all.  Somehow, that letter to the sellers of the house we want to buy seems to have worked (our promise of mortgage money may have had something to do with it, too), and if all goes well, we'll have a new house in a month or a little more.  Can this be possible?  We are still crossing all our toes and fingers and shaking ourselves, but the realtors' site does, indeed, say "In Escrow."  Oh yes, and we have 5 current offers on 962, and two more possibles ... so we hope that by Thursday morning, we'll be able to make someone as happy as us ...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

le cochon est content

We're very happy indeed to have Cafe Fina up the road in Eldorado - even if I'm far too wired about house buying and selling to have been able to do anything other than gnaw absent-mindedly on a few chipotle shrimp.  When you place your order, they give you a little card in a holder to stick on your table as you wait (and gaze outside at the snowy landscape).  

I will be very glad when all this real estate frenzy dies down.  Apparently there were over 100 people at our Open House today - we already have four offers in - and - a new phenomena to me - love letters.  Love letters to us and the house, that is - from potential buyers imploring us to take their offer.  Indeed (because we're in a bidding war on another property), we even wrote one ourselves, today.  I guess it's impossible to be original in this genre, but ever since we sent it off, I keep thinking of more original openings and narratives.  No way can we trump, I fear, the pull-on-the-heart-strings language of "wanting to bring up our family in your lovely home" that we're convinced will make other buyers irresistible.  "Ever since we walked through the front door, we were planning where we would put the kitty litter box" just isn't, somehow, a phrase that seemed sensible to use.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Happy by choice

This seems to be a pretty good maxim to live by ... pasted to a pole by Trader Joe's in Silver Lake, where I was visiting in order to get yet another armful of flowers destined for house-selling (much though I loved Roberts' in Highland Park, TJs is very significantly cheaper).  Ah, the stress of it all ...

Friday, December 14, 2012

holiday lights

Taking a job candidate out to dinner - how could one not want to be in a city which winds holiday lights up the trunks of palm trees and all other kinds of arboreal growth.  Admittedly it was puring with rain, but, relatively speaking, it's warm rain ...

Thursday, December 13, 2012


... as in: run ragged.  It was a long day.  And then one looks at the cord that hangs down from one's walk-in closet light, and thinks: maybe we should have fixed that, before putting the house on the market.  A house which has had its first (and very reasonable) offer made on it - which is very well and good (ah, how unlike Highland Park ...) - but now what?  Do we hope for a few more, in competition? Do we accept immediately?  Where do we live?? (etc).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

season's greetings

Yes, this is a huge, university-specific gingerbread house.  How can I respond to working in this country - or perhaps, and more specifically, in Los Angeles - with anything other than ethnographic incredulity? O.K., yes, of course, I could produce all sorts of other analyses, but that would not be in keeping with the festive spirit that sent me trotting along to the Holiday Party to see Alice receive one of the General Education teaching awards (a certificate! In a frame! with a check!).  And then we went out to dinner to celebrate, to the kind of place where one can confidently say to one's waitperson  ... "You know ... I'd like a vodka based cocktail ... something citrusy ... and peppery" ... and get something back involving not just vodka, but grapefruit and honey and serrano chile - which went extremely well with LA's obligatory kale salad ...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

staging the back

Actually, it looked even better by the time the first punters rolled up on the dot of 11, since I'd swapped round the rather puny plant on the left with a large bushy fern.  The Conversation Pit has never looked so good.  I just hope that the raccoons don't have a beery party in it tonight.  I was deeply dismayed when I went out on the deck this morning and it was covered in large muddy raccoon paw prints.  Of course, I hoped against hope that someone would roll up with $50,000 over the asking price in faintly used bank notes.  Instead of which (according to the realtors), they thought the house was dark; that their cars wouldn't fit in the garage; that there wasn't a patch of grass outside for their cats to enjoy.  Well, yes, I guess ... But what cat wouldn't love these seats?

Monday, December 10, 2012

December morning

New Mexico was almost unbearably beautiful this morning (this light was my compensation for getting up early to roll the trash can down the driveway at a very early hour).  Los Angeles seems, by comparison, not exactly tranquil ... and we've learned a lesson: never clear out of town and assume that the contractors will actually do all the things on the list that they've been contracted to do before the Realtors' Open House tomorrow ... arggghhhhh.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

ready for Christmas?

The answer to that question is an extremely emphatic No.  Not by any calculation.  But we do have a very New Mexican wreath hanging from our front door ...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

iron horse

OK, so Siri Hollander's wonderful horse - on show outside Mark White Contemporary, in the Railyard in Santa Fe - isn't made of iron, but steel.  But the idea of iron seems appropriate for the railroad setting, even though the idea of the Railrunner (our local train to Albuquerque, that goes at odd times, and even odder times since Susana Martinez has been governor) is a long way from an old-style steam engine.  There are, indeed, a small herd of these sculptures plunging around the gallery's forecourt.

Friday, December 7, 2012

state line

It's always so very good to cross over the borderline from Arizona to New Mexico!  Even if I have to turn round again almost straight away, it's such a quiet haven after the past week of House Readying.  The kittens have been sniffing around, realizing that this is where they spent some Formative Months ...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

coming soon

OK, anyone - want to buy it?  

There are times that I think that over the last few years, this blog has been about nothing but real estate.  This morning took for ever and ever and ever to tidy, and hide things, and de-clutter, and minimize - and eventually get into the car, with the cats, and leave it to be photographed by the realtors themselves ...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


is a fine occupation for a cat.  The human, academic variety - let's just say that at this stage of the semester, it takes up a lot of time ...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Here they are, all lined up - flowers ready for vases ready for the realtor to come and take pictures ... but at present perching, slightly nervously, on the top of the washer and drier.  It would be very good to be able to find a house that didn't have an outside laundry ...

Monday, December 3, 2012

uncertain mugs

It's too late in the semester (we won't even mention having a houseful of painters and patchers and all the effort involved in trying to put a house on the market, which is crazed timing on our part) to be putting together next semester's syllabus, but that's precisely what I have to be doing right now.  It'll be another incarnation of my Writing and Photography course, and once again I find myself drawn to images that are on the edge of abstraction; that suggest but refuse to be precise and clear and - well, photograph-like.  They'll find their place, together with some writings about obscurity and the indefinite ...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

behind glass

Behind glass, dimly.  This is a kind of foliage panel/decoration in the small but perfectly formed yard at Jin's Patisserie, on Abbot Kinney, in Venice CA - a Japanese-ish tea room and tiny restaurant (actually, the woman who runs it is from Singapore).  Alice comes and buys tea here whenever we're in the area; I ogle the macaroons.  Today - I actually bought four: tiny, delicate little macaroons, the diameter of a half-crown piece (yes, I know they stopped being legal tender in 1970.  But.  Still).  What prompted this?  The shock of discovering that they're moving - but they know not where ...  Who knows if I'll ever get another chance ... We shared two at dinner: one expresso flavored; the other, quite amazingly, jasmine.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

anxiety levels

are mounting in this household ... There has been much sorting, and chucking out, and De-cluttering today (of course, the house is going to be so beautiful when we've finished that we'll want to stay here. But no.  There's always the dodgy neighborhood.  I went out to the car today, and my suspicions about the pigeon feeding-activities of our two decidedly strange neighbors were confirmed when I heard a woman visiting the two guys, chatting away, say "Tan sabroso como pollo?" in a tone of understandable incredulity).  Alice left (I know not why) a suitcase open downstairs - guaranteed to provoke feline concern.  Someone (doubtless Moth) left a small, half disemboweled toy mouse in it - hard to tell if she's doing her own packing, or thoughtfully giving us something to take.  LucyFur, meanwhile, just stares into its suitcasely depths, thinking morose thoughts.  It's impossible, of course, to explain to them exactly what's going on ... 

Things I'll be Glad Not to See Again Part I

The O'Keefe and Merritt Stove.  Why, you might, ask, would we want to sell this delightful, bijou, one of a kind Silver Lake Gem?  Let's start with the size of the kitchen - the dimensions might be generous in a cramped New York apartment, although that's debatable, but that doesn't mean that it's really big enough for two people cooking at once.  Nor, although I'll admit it has a certain retro chic, would want want to cook anything elaborate on this uncertain, and perpetually hot piece of kitchen hardware.  No - this is, most certainly, not an item to be regretted ...