Saturday, December 31, 2016

the end of 2016 (and a Prowler)

It's my traditional, end-of-the-year, sunset picture.  I thought there wasn't going to be a sunset, and indeed there was barely one - but the sky was suitably dramatic to bid farewell to 2016 - not a year, I suspect, that anyone will miss all that much (unless they're a Trump supporter or a Brexit fan).  In purely personal terms, it's been good to me, and I'm most grateful for this - but politically, and in a number of other ways, it sucked.  So this dark, gathering storm cloud didn't look like a tranquil omen - and nor did the confident coyote (and its mate) just outside our back wall.  

But - here's to 2017!  HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone!

Friday, December 30, 2016

two versions of dawn

A chilly morning, with frost on the ground, on the top of our wall, on the dead flowers on the stalks of Russian sage.  Yes, we're up early; yes, we have books to get off to their respective publishers ...

Thursday, December 29, 2016

strange wildlife

I must have driven down Agua Fria and past this menagerie before ... but today I really noticed them.  They're by the sculptor Fredrick Prescott, and, kinetic, move in the wind (not that there was a great deal of that, today).  And to think ... if one of our toilets hadn't decided to stop functioning properly today, and I hadn't gone to Dahl's to buy a new one (and I totally recommend Dahl's - like a fixtures and fittings fetishist's store - I could have furnished a hundred bathrooms) ... I migt not have ended up wandering around here ... (and, incidentally, who knew that 8 years is considered a good life span for a toilet these days??  Huh?? I thought that they went on for ever.  And this one must have been a glorious ten years old, too ...)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

not quite Christmas lighting

... because I suspect this lighting set up - in Santa Fe's African/Caribbean cafe, Jambo - is here most of the time.  There. tonight, for dinner with friends -great elephant; great decor; great lentil stew.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

on our way back!

DFW airport - changing planes at sunset.  That was a long long long long day ... in Albuquerque, now - driving the last leg up to Santa Fe in the morning ...

Monday, December 26, 2016

Boxing day walk

And what does one do on Boxing Day in Wimbledon? (other than eat cold turkey with one's parents, that is).  Why, do as the rest of Wimbledon does - go for a walk on the Common (site, for me, of so many walks, so many rides over the years).  We took a path less traveled (one with a golf course on its left - once upon a time, I was riding a grey pony up it when he was hit by a low-flying golf ball - he then moved at some speed ...).  Beautiful clear sky and afternoon golden sun - I hope it's not another forty-odd years before I walk here again - preferably in weather that doesn't make Alice think that it's always cold in England (at least it hardly rained, this time ...).

Sunday, December 25, 2016

christmas spirit

We've had this old Victorian pub gin barrel in our family for a long time - the late 50s, I think.  Alas, it doesn't hold anything. but Alice and I snuck a bottle of artisanal, tasty Cotswold gin into my parents' fridge, where it presence has been very useful.  Today ... some annual portraits:

my mother, with Simba;

my father, apparently thinking - oh, another sweater?? - whilst my mother puzzles over whatever I could possibly have given her;

my father, unwrapping my annual calendar (of my photos) - about which he was, I must say, remarkably appreciative;

and Alice, meditating on The English Christmas Cracker, and all that comes with it.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Mandarin Duck

No, not anything to do with the luggage company, but a live feathered one, on the pond that one can just glimpse from the hotel window, and where I used to go to feed bread to them when I was tiny ... no fancy types then, though - just plain mallards.

Friday, December 23, 2016

past self

Really, the very best kind of Christmas present is when one of one's cousins sends one images of one's past self, or selves - aged, here, between 10 and 14, I'd say (the bottom one is me, aged 10, with Joker (a surly pony, if ever I met one) and Newboy; top right, with Kim  and top left, with Fenn - one of my all-time favorites, and Hector.  That all seems a very long time ago as did the 1960s exhibition at the V&A that we went to today: strangely curated, since there was no real narrative, other than chronology, and very, very little by way of cause and effect.  I can't imagine what anyone who hadn't lived through the 60s would have made of it.  Then there was the other peculiar sense that half ot it could have been curated out of things stored in our garage - old album covers; ephemera like propaganda at the time of the SchoolKids Oz trial; Aubrey Beardsley posters.  It brought home, if nothing else, the materiality of the 60s: whether the tangibility of badly-made clothes, of shop iconography; of news clippings; of concert publicity, or of consumerism and purchasing power.  Of course, if would have been great if it had connected the two, but it didn't.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

a new sunset, and some strange bits of London (including Damien Hirst, and Trump Street)

The view from our hotel  room in Wimbledon - looking over the park where I took my first steps, and directly onto a path which was once covered in gravel - some of which is still embedded in my left knee, about six decades on.

Here's something that I definitely don't want for Christmas - a statue of St Bartholomew, by Damien Hirst, in the church of St Bartholomew;

and here's something ... well, know, he hasn't yet bought and renamed London - this has been Trump Street since at least the 1740s, and seems to be where trumpets were made - very suitably, though, it's pretty much opposite the weight of the world.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

staying in smithfield (self-portrait with shower)

We are treating ourselves to a night in central London before heading to Wimbledon ... and totally, utterly recommend The Rookery hotel, which is just behind Smithfield Market (whoever knew that this would become a trendy area ... I walked round these parts, during my first employed year as an academic, taking pictures of places that figured in Gissing novels, and back then, some of them hadn't changed much ...).  The hotel even has a cat ... and our room has the most spectacular copper shower/bath backing (plus great antique furniture, paintings, and a general air of being laid back and special).  By the time we were settled and rested, it was, being the shortest day, getting dark ... but we walked round the area, full of little corners and alleys and old pubs;

this is right by St Bartholomew's church, where, to my shock, I've never been - founded as St B's priory in 1123!! (and the image below a testimony to the new iPhone's ability to take photos - with no flash - in the near dark);

and then there's Smithfield market itself - London's main meat market - which will probably be wildly full of Christmas turkeys in the morning.  And which seems to be painted in suffragette colors, strangely ...

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

off at dawn ...

... and now in DFW ... hard to leave this beauty (and the cats) behind ... London, here we come!

Monday, December 19, 2016


By way of a FB holiday greeting, let me share some peace and tranquillity with you, courtesy of Santa Fe Acupuncture College.  We can all do with it.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

frozen things

First, our (diminutive) icicles aren't hanging straight.  Second - the grass at the side of the house is frozen into ice-covered clumps, like dangerously jagged paperweights.  Self-evidently, it's cold.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

photographing snow

This morning's couple of inches had started to melt, a little, by the time that the sun came out ... by that time, thankfully, I'd managed to sort out the problems that I'd been having with camera focusing, and was keen to be out there.  It was very apposite - I'm trying to write a conference proposal that has to do, in a loose and vague way, with C19th attempts to keep snow cold enough to draw it, or photograph it, or just generally see what it looks like, flake by hexagonal flake.

Friday, December 16, 2016

december dawn

The decidedly blurred contours of this photo can be attributed to my rushing out this morning, before it disappeared, in my bare feet.  You'll understand that I didn't want to spend too long standing there - even if it wasn't as cold this morning as it's going to be in the next few days.  I kept thinking about Lorraine Daston's recent article on cloud physiognomy in Representations (summer 2016), in which she talks about the history and difficulties attendant on taxonomising clouds - always changing, yet with generic similarities - cumulus, cirrus, and so on.  In other words, they're much like mutable human faces - alike, but never the same, and never in repose.  Today the clouds have been endlessly moving their shapes and colors as a storm comes in over the mountains - though I think we'll miss the brunt of it.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

decorating a tree

I love the whole procedure of selecting and decorating a Christmas tree.  The local fire station here in Eldorado gets proceeds from the ones sold locally: I went and picked out a little one two days ago, and decorated it today.  Only ... cats and trees don't really go together in our house, so it stands on the patio table, underneath the portales to keep it dry, and also so it offers (an unintended use, but a regular one) a haven to finches and other small birds at night.  By now, many of the ornaments are gnarled and cracked from frost.  Obviously, I don't put glass ones outside, and there are lots of little Mexican tin pieces, but where there's glazed paint, the signs of the passing years are starting to show.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

another laid back cat

Today's laid-back cat picture comes to you courtesy of LucyFur, indisputably relaxed (although not, ahem, as svelte as she should be).

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Moth in a basket

We're not alone in being glad to be back in New Mexico (even if we are knee-deep in the panic of book revisions and picture permission hunting down - for us both to be handing in manuscripts at the same time is either very fortuitous, or absolutely appalling timing).  Moth and LucyFur (the Bad Hombre, Walter Gomez, is still in LA) love being in a house with underfloor heating, and with winter sun coming through the windows.  Their indolence offsets our industry ...

Monday, December 12, 2016

back in NM!

Undoubtedly wintry - the view from our back door this evening.  Not, in fact, terrifically cold, but an archetypal December sky; a full-ish (and halo-ed) moon rising, and peace, perfect peace.

the start of the holidays ... (for December 11th - no working wi-fi last night)

Driving out to New Mexico in the middle of December is a set of visual rituals: leaving LA's sunshine and palm trees (actually, it was drizzling, and the city/landscape was mist-covered) and slightly incongruous over-the-top swathes of holiday lights; seeing the landscape get more and more wintery; the first sight of snow (on north facing woody roadsides just before Flagstaff, usually); Flagstaff mountain itself, snow-topped like a Japanese print; and then La Posada, in Winslow, with its trees strung with lights, and its Christmas decorations (including the model train set at the entrance to the dining room - totally appropriate in an old railway hotel).  It's usually much colder than tonight - the cats start sparking when you stroke them (this must be the effects of that allegedly non-existent global warming), but not having to worry about ice and snow on the road, this time, was a great relief.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

hipster breakfast

Usually the lines at Sqirl are intimidating/unencouragingly long, but on a misty December morning, we made sure that we were the first people in line when it opened ... You're witnessing (in the distance) their brioche toast with ricotta and strawberry jam, and in the foreground, chickpea stew with a couple of poached eggs and some shredded kale.  It wouldn't be hipsterville without shredded kale, would it?  OK, it may be chard, but the principle is more or less the same.  Despite the prose of the website ("Sqirl is of the moment yet anchored by something deeper"), the food really is very good indeed (and yes, we carried some baked goods home - it's been a long day of packing and readying ourselves for the next few weeks).

Friday, December 9, 2016

Fall isn't over yet

- or rather, the seasons in Southern California are perfectly formed, at least in places, but not quite when one would find them in the rest of the country ... This is the view from the top of Parking Structure D at USC today: even if it looks like early October, it signifies, here, that it really is time to disappear at the end of the extended semester.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

coming up roses

Walking across campus - from office to library and back again - the roses around the central fountain were truly - aggressively - violently - red, like a European Communist Party poster from the late 70s ... The downside of the brief trip back east was the theft - and yes, I'm sure it was a theft, generous-spirited though I am - of my iPhone from our hotel room.  The upside of this, however, is a brand new iPhone, and the opportunity to try out its photographic capacities ... the 7 is a notably different technological beast, in this respect, from the 6.  More to follow, doubtless ...

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

shady bottles

Evidently, it's possible for a restaurant (Momed, in Atwater Village) to prop up a screen against a bar counter so that the bottles behind it look like some strange cityscape of office blocks and factory chimneys.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


There are many good things to be said about the Kimpton Monaco in Philadelphia, including our corner suite with a view of the Liberty Bell at a shockingly reasonable price (I think that's what happens if you travel during the first week of December).  But I'd like to single out the crazy lighting in the atrium by the elevator on the second and for all I know, other floors.  Here's a coffee pot; it was hanging side by side with flying, glowing teapots ...

Monday, December 5, 2016

the beauty of empty rooms

... to the house of dear friends in South Jersey today, visiting, and leaving them with a fluffy ginger cat (DandyLion/Bitzi - relocated ...).  This is not Dandy's new abode - she's in the adjacent studio/cottage - this is the main farmhouse, which looks very much like an AndrewWyeth painting.  Indeed, it looked even more like a Wyeth painting this afternoon, in the rays of waning afternoon light - the photographic image, try as I might, seems far too sharp.  However, early December New Jersey light can be quite magical.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

hotel carpet

For a couple of non-work-related reasons, Alice and I have come East for two nights.  It's always good to stay in a hotel where the carpet manages to live up to one's wildest dreams of crazed-but-tasteful interior decoration.

the shadow of late fall

This afternoon's walk: there should surely be some kind of symbolic message to be extracted from the out of focus lone bougainvillea flower behind the spiky - and very much in focus - forbidding railings.  The whole image seems to be leering at one, too: albeit partly an imaging accident, it's surprisingly disquieting.

Friday, December 2, 2016

photographing the wind

The wind was strong today - the Santa Ana winds always get (metaphorically) under the tails of cats and humans and drive everyone marginally crazy - like the melemi, like the fohn, like the sirocco.  Think "the wind was in from Africa, and last night I couldn't sleep," which always played on a loop in my head in my now long-ago mid September vacations in Greece, the windows open and rattling, the waves crashing outside.  Here, though, and unlike these other winds, the Santa Anas, today, were cold, blowing straight down from Alaska.  I went outside intending to take a photo of the wind chimes blowing noisily sideways, but was distracted by a self-destructing gate, that had already knocked over the flower-pot designed to keep it in place ...

Thursday, December 1, 2016

going, going ...

Going, going ... this is like an auctioneer's nightmare; stuck in the groove, never letting the gavel drop on the desk, never reaching Gone (stenciled on the side of an empty store in Silver Lake ...).