Friday, May 7, 2021

lizard lamp

I woke up with sore arms this morning - and then I remembered why.  Yesterday, when we were out on our evening walk, we came upon a wrought iron standard lamp that someone had put out on the curbside - a lamp with a very fetching lizard on its upright.  It looks rather like a primitive version of a stick insect in this image - I promise you that it's more lizard-like in real life.  So we looked it up and down, and then I carried it off.  It was about a half-mile walk home: it was a little ungainly and heavy, and I kept expecting a car to draw up and someone to say - WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THE LAMP?  Because even if Thursdays are trash days, and manifestly no one wanted this perfectly good piece of illumination (as you can see - with a shade, and in perfect working order), it still seemed inconceivable that someone would just discard it ... I'm so glad that we were able to give the lizard a new home.


Thursday, May 6, 2021


I was so excited when, on one of our first, nervous, fully vaccinated outings - back in early March - we went to a nursery and bought plants, including this fiddlehead fern.  It's started to produce coil after coil of fiddleheads, like tightly furled violin heads - and it seems to be a particularly hairy fern.  I look forward to its further flourishing ...


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Benjamin on a billboard

"Q.  What is the program of the bourgeois parties? A.  A bad poem on springtime, filled to bursting with metaphors."  This isn't what I really expected to see emblazoned on a billboard, driving back from USC this afternoon.  It's Walter Benjamin, from his 1929 essay on "Surrealism: The Last Snapshot of the European Intelligentsia," a difficult essay (to put it mildly) in which he praises the surrealists for breaking down the distinction between body and image; in which he argues against words as consolation and a substitute for real, revolutionary action; in which he warns against an optimistic belief in the inevitability of progress, a teleological version of history - and much more besides.  Not, really, what one expects to see at the 7th Street/S. Rampart junction.

And beyond that, a ghost sign: under the thick whitewash is an advertisement for Furnished Apartments - at the edge of a brick terrace of what are still apartments - although almost certainly not furnished - in which lived (as I know from some previous digging around) the photographer Edward Curtis, in the 1920s, when he was struggling to make a living.  Somewhere, in this conjunction of decontextualized, unattributed quotation; quasi-obliterated advertising, and Curtis's own life at this point, there's a very different, unclichĂ©d metaphor hovering about: something to do with obscurity.


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

a rabbit

This is our neighbors' startlingly green non-Californian-native front lawn grass, and there, nibbling away, right up against our peeling yellow wall and railings, is a Rabbit.  Either that rabbit, or its brothers or sisters, have been hanging out in the street a lot this spring.  Quite apart from the danger posed by our local red tailed hawk - who prefers to sit in a tree in our back yard disembowelling mourning doves and scattering their feathers - these rabbits are surely horribly vulnerable to cars.  Yesterday I had to stop my car as I was driving off, and shoo one out of the road so that I didn't squash it myself.  I don't recollect seeing rabbits in the front like this any other year (they're always scampering around in the back, which, come to think of it, could bear some relation to the scantiness of the wildflower meadow ...).


Monday, May 3, 2021

peeling garlic

There was a lot of today, in a fragmented way.  This is doubtless metaphoric, although I haven't worked out how - but it provided an unexpected moment of beauty as I was assembling the latest load of beans for the Instant Pot (Rancho Gordo's cicerchia beans, since you asked ... with homemade chicken stock, fennel, onion, oregano and sage, and, yes, garlic).


Sunday, May 2, 2021

the disappointments of the wildflower meadow

It's been a very dry spring - so, ok, there may be nothing intrinsically disappointing about this flower, but it doesn't have very many others to keep it company.  In part, this is because the yard-mowers came at just the wrong time last year to make our back yard fit for fire-regulation inspection - right for the inspection, that is, but leaving deplorably little opportunity for self-seeding.  So last year's bumper bloom hasn't been replicated, despite my having sown a whole lot more seeds this year.  Maybe they'll germinate in some future damp spring.  Meanwhile, when we head back to New Mexico in a few more weeks, I'll try again - I have packets and packets of optimistic sunflower seeds, as well as morning glories ...


Saturday, May 1, 2021

taken a wrong turning?

I saw a number of somewhat unusual things on my way back to LA today.  There was a miniature donkey with a hat on in Kingman, who (plus its person) had stopped to talk to some people on the sidewalk outside a coffee stop.  I think it might have been on its way to a Vaccination Event in a park down the street, which had a number of village fĂȘte-like stalls as well as cars snaking round a whole lot of cones.  But there again, it might just have been out for a Saturday morning stroll.  Then there was the gas station half way down the Cajon Pass, where I stopped because the traffic was starting to back up, and I needed gas anyway: as soon as I pulled up I saw a man with a prosthetic leg walking across the forecourt.  Nothing strange in that.  But then another car pulled up - and out stepped another prosthetically-legged guy.  That seemed statistically - less likely.  And then, pulling away, the other side of the road was a bkack pick-up truck, with a man doing something to whatever was being carried in the truck bed.  He, too ...

But a Wilts-Dorset Routemaster bus, in Kingman, in a vehicle junk yard?  Why?  It's not as though it's a stylish old red London bus.  Someone went to the trouble and expense of importing this.  But Kingman?  Maybe it's destined to make trips to the Grand Canyon?  It's not as though there's a lot to tour around in Kingman, other than the Corner. 

I so love road trips.