Tuesday, August 31, 2010

manipulating the brain

I have a lot of sympathy for this brain: my own is being pulled and tugged into shape right now, since I'm facing the first class of the semester tomorrow. This is a course on "Memory" (phew: pause whilst a very strong sample of eau-de-skunk is released under my window), something that I really love teaching - and that, I confess, is intended to get me writing/finishing a chapter of "Flash!" during the next couple of months, too - the chapter on "photographic memory," which after taking a quick tour through late C19th examples of flashes of memory - some of them involving actual flashlight exposures and cameras - settles down into flash memory cards and flashbulb memories. And these last things are fascinating - real examples of how we think that we can remember something in startling detail, and then we find that we're actually wrong - all the time we remember something that we think was co-terminous with hearing of JFK's assassination, or 9/11, but actually we can falsify this memory quite significantly, and then embed it in our practice of recollection through always, indeed, remembering what's false. I don't imagine that we'll do a whole lot about the functioning of the brain, and the developing studies of how it actually makes and preserves memories (I'm quite happy to veer off there, but ostensibly it's a literature course) - but I'm always fascinated by its physiological workings.

This particular brain? One of the rather weird models outside the UMDNJ / Robert Wood Johnson hospital in downtown New Brunswick - from the car, as I was stuck in an interminable hot traffic jam there.

Monday, August 30, 2010


It's wonderful to be able to post a picture of a happy, successful, just-defended graduate students - former grad student, I should say. Many, many congratulations to Paul. I took him out for a celebratory dinner to The Frog and the Peach, in New Brunswick, who did themselves proud with a dessert plate saying "congratulations," in chocolate fondant, round the rim, and a candle. That might look like a large heirloom tomato with goats cheese, but actually, it's half a baked peach, with some frosted lavender (frosted lavender!!).

But what to sing? Plenty of other tables were bursting into "happy birthday," for the most understandable of reasons, I imagine. None of us felt like "On the banks of the Old Raritan," even if we knew the words (I'm sure that Barry, who was there as well, must do ...). Walking back to the car, I managed a stanza of that vilest of songs, Cliff Richards's "Congratulations" (anyone else remember that terrible, terrible rain-soaked Wimbledon, when CR stood up and conducted damp spectators in the stands in a sing-along of this? Or its endless rendition outside Clarence House, for the Queen Mother's 100th birthday? I had to double check that she did indeed live until 100 - that seemed like a folk memory). It's not a song that I ever ought to be allowed to sing in public, however quietly, and in a deserted street (I blame the rather good chablis). But at the same time, it seems as though there ought to be an appropriate, celebratory, socially acceptable song for such splendid occasions as this.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

coming home

This is an atypically chill image: I'm not sure how to register heat and humidity and loud crickets. But we are very grateful for our air conditioned new loft - and we were delighted and touched that our contractor had been round, and had left us some flowers and ornamental grasses from his garden. These are now on the mantelpiece (out of the way of LucyFur's flower arrangement destructive impulses), by the sheep that we must have left in the alcove above the fireplace. It's very peculiar returning after three months - rather like coming to a rental property, where one thinks one should be able to find things but can't, quite - and yet it's great to re-encounter all one's familiar objects - even if (like the sheep) their whereabouts is quite unpredictable.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

waiting in the car

One thing is for sure - that however much we might enjoy our cats' company (at either end, and in hotel rooms along the way), they are inhibitors of exploration. So it was that I got to stay in the car whilst Alice went and raided Columbus's farmers' market this morning (so alas, no chance to go and hunt down Jeni's icecreams - not least because the end of this street was blocked off for a charity run, and we didn't know how we would make our way onto the nearest interstate). I was sorry not to see the market (A came back bearing wonderful cheese and bread and tomatoes, and we later picnicked - a few feet from the car, to keep the a/c running ... on the banks of the Alleghany) - but watched the run participants, and the guy slumped on a bench, instead. The plastic lizard? He is a souvenir of the photo course I took earlier in the summer - Christopher, our instructor, gave them out to us all, to sit on our dashboards, so that all former students of his, up and down the country, form a lizard-recognizing community wherever we might run into one another. Only I haven't seen any fellow reptilians, as yet ...

Friday, August 27, 2010


This is not a great aesthetic work, but it is a picture of great typicality: arriving at a hotel (in this case, the Residence Inn at Columbus OH, again - but this time without a cataclysmic rainstorm. Still as easy to smuggle cats in via the side door, though ... ). First thing to be checked out: under the bed. This is LucyFur, moving at great speed.

So ... this is really the last time that we'll drive across country with a car full of cats in an eastward direction? Next summer, driving back - do we choose the same tried and tested, dull route? Or do we experiment with something new? (there's a limit to the amount of experimentation that one can do with a back seat full of cat carriers: today it was limited to using our iphones to track down a Panera in Terre Haute). This time is the most curious experience: I'm used to The Drive Eastward being a time of anticipation, and mentally getting my head in order before the start of the semester: yes, to be sure, I'm looking forward to my u/grad class a good deal (on "Memory"), but the rest of the year is going to feel so very different that I'm not sure how my head will get round all of it (and I'm tempted to join Lucy, scurrying under the bed).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

night life in st louis

Half way - at the Omni Majestic, St Louis - an aberrantly cat-friendly hotel where the desk staff want to meet each cat individually, by name. Ever since we stopped here on the way out, I'd had my beady gastronomic eye on what looked like a very promising Peruvian restaurant - occasionally running my imagination through its menu (since Peruvian cooking relies so much on ceviche, potatoes and cheese, I'm very partial to it); considering it as The Last Treat of the Summer. Downtown St Louis is not the kind of place that suggests advance booking to one. But ALAS! It is Restaurant Week. Everywhere was packed - no chance of a Peruvian table - we had to go back to the same very, very bad Thai place we'd eaten in before, redeemed only by lychee martinis. And downtown - as above - is the same strange sad place at night (apart from a few blocks of restaurants) - full of magnificent architecture, much of which is longing to be turned into loft apartments - and almost empty. Just north of here - we made a small inadvertent detour coming in - are blocks and blocks of deserted, half burned, half torn down late C19th houses, telling the story of urban decline in a most dismal fashion. And these buildings, above, are to rent - the one on the right bearing the engraved lettering of a former private gas company - but their current prospects would seem bleak. All the same, those restaurant eaters must have come from somewhere ...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

leaving NM

and therefore taking a sad farewell of all the things that make the house home: the pots on the mantelpiece - the one on the right a souvenir of North Carolina, and that on the left bought at a local arts and crafts market - and the big tin horse, whose shadow suddenly and briefly appeared on the wall thanks to a sudden shaft of sunlight at just the right angle. Now we're in Oklahoma City, in the easy-to-smuggle-in-cats Sheraton - drove here with the headache from hell, so I'm hoping for a more coherent head tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

harvest moon

This seems a fitting end-of-the-summer in Santa Fe picture - nothing as cliched as a sunset (I was, of course, taking cliched pictures of The Last Sunset of Summer when I turned my back on the west, and found this rising behind the pinon bushes). Better, I think, to have an image of something rising rather than falling with which to go forward.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I have hoped and tried for years to take a good picture of a lightning flash, and this is as good as I'll get this summer, I think ... Yes, I know I could (and have in the past) set up a camera on a tripod, and sit there, remote shutter release in hand - but as with looking through the viewfinder itself, the problem is one's response time - in the instant that it takes to think Yes! A lightning flash! I must press ... it's gone. And at least, looking through the viewfinder, one can move the camera around to promising bits of the sky. In fact, I managed four separate lightning flashes this evening, but all the others are just little ones, shooting out from under low clouds. This does show pretty well what William Jennings, of Philadelphia, demonstrated in the 1880s - that lightning may wriggle down the sky, but it doesn't dart from side to side in anything like the regular zig-zags of traditional depiction.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

end of the summer (i)

This morning's walk was a walk of dead things - nothing sad or sinister, but the mowers had been out slicing through weeds and foliage at the side of the roadways in Eldorado, lopping the odd tree branch here, beheading wild gourds there. Indeed, I thought that I'd be posting a picture of a half-pulverized gourd, but after yesterday's binge of spot-on photo taking in Indian Market, my gourd was out of focus, and hence itself a symptom of late-August tiredness. So this butterfly will have to stand in (and belongs, I note, in this summer's sequence of Yellow pictures).

From trying to pretend that there's lots of summer left I've moved precipitously to packing books into bags, wondering what I dare leave here, since transporting a whole lot of volumes back to NJ only to have them shipped westwards again at some future to-be-determined date seems a crazed exercise. And of course, since it's the end of August, all those tenure and promotion letters have started to wear a menacing expression (though I am a third of the way through ...). I've always loved the start of the autumn term / fall semester, since it's always seemed full of the promise of new starts and resolutions, but this one has a curiously unpredictable aspect to it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

come buy, come buy

Today was Indian Market, which meant that our alarm clocks were set very early indeed, in order to be down on the Plaza before seven, which is when sales start. Not that we were buying in a Serious Way - though we did purchase a few pieces of jewelry and a dark brown wool Navajo sheep ornament. But it is quite wonderful to see the whole range of Indian art, from traditional Acoma pottery - above - to much more modern pieces, like this.

The truly serious, determined, dedicated shoppers are here at dawn, too. One can tell them by their turquoise, their concha belts, their embroidery, and their Texas car number plates.

Much though I like looking at the works themselves, it's always the people who fascinate me the most, whether it's the families of exhibitors

or exhibitors themselves

or other family members who are behind the stalls and helping to show off the wares

or, of course, those who are determinedly on the prowl

or are beckoning to their friends to come and see something quite spectacular

or who are my own dear friends - a big hello to Laura Jagles, from Tesuque Pueblo. In other words, it was impossible to choose a Photo of the Day - so, for once, a photo-essay.

Friday, August 20, 2010

another Thing

Without doubt, this has been the summer of strangely organic sculptures. This one is in La Tienda, in Eldorado, and the Friday farmers' market is in the background. The market is much better than last year, and has been getting stronger all summer, too - I bought some excellent heirloom tomatoes today, and some expensive, but extremely fresh-from-the-ground fingerling potatoes. There are home made bird houses and honey, art work of mixed quality and sugar rub remedies and soaps, and a stall selling really great Indian street food - dosas and paratha and chicken tandoori (the family who run it are from Bombay).

But La Tienda itself is a precarious enterprise. It's a collection of shops and businesses that are community-run - a good gym, a consignment furniture store, a really excellent second hand book store that operates in aid of an NPO called Learning Mind, which runs educational projects for disadvantaged children and young adults in India, El Salvador, Morocco and Santa Fe. I dropped some books off there today, and promised that there would be more to come - "if we're still here," said the woman in charge, gloomily. "It's been very slow." Yesterday we tried out La Plancha, which promises El Salvadorean and New Mexican food - in the same premises as the ill-fated Brumby's - a great idea, but I doubt that we'll be going back: some things (El Salvadorean tamales, which could have been very tasty chunks of potato and cheese wrapped in banana leaves, for example) just turn dull and lumpy when withered in the microwave. I want so desperately for this enterprise to succeed: they put on live music (there was traditional Northern New Mexico music being played by a fiddler and a guitarist today at the market), and they have banished all chains - like the Subway and the Blockbuster that were there before. But it's not quite the most propitious climate for the local. It ought to be - but I heard the muttered protests around me at the cost of the wonderfully fresh vegetables.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

santa fe coffee

To be honest, we don't go out to coffee shops all that often in Santa Fe (something that I regret as soon as I get to one). We usually brew ourselves French presses full of French Roast from Ohori's at home (and we love Ohori's coffee so much that we mail-order it to New Jersey ... ). If I'm out on my own, I'll tend to go to the Tea House on Canyon Road - not because I like, or even drink, tea (something that frequently puzzles people who hold stereotypes of British behavior - I singularly fail to match up in that respect) - but they do excellent coffee, including some wicked blends with chile in them. And I love the setting. But we also tend to end up every now and then at Downtown Subscription - where we were this morning - where the coffee (Allegro) is strong and good, even if the pastries are unappetizingly wrapped in cling film and seldom if ever tempting, and make one whimper to be back at Intelligentsia in Silver Lake.

But the barista service at DS is always weirdly sulky, even if their coffee is good, and their yard impeccable, full of flourishing Russian sage and fruit trees. We needed strong coffee, having just met with a couple of LA/Santa Fe based architects, who very tactfully told us that our plans for converting the LA sauna into my Site of Inspiration - aka a study - was an impossible dream, a nightmare of probable code violations. So it's back - well, back to a drawing board will be a little tough, since when one draws a ground plan of the house, there's unfortunately no spare ground.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

air conditioning. And hot cats.

We are all too hot around here. Even though the temperature has dropped maybe fifteen degrees or so since the height of the summer, it's still hard to concentrate in the heat. Lucy - with no actual lizards to her credit today, though some near misses - is out for the count on top of a book case in my study.

DandyLion - an extraordinarily rare sighting on this blog, so admire that tail while you have a chance - is wedged underneath it.

But next summer? Will we have a/c here? I've held out for years, assuming some kind of Purist Role ("oh, all we need out here are the windows open, and the ceiling fans on, and we're fine"). And admittedly it's better in the living room, now that the portale shelters us from the worst of the sun there. But I can't concentrate in the heat (or that's my excuse) - and as I was writing a plump check today for my share of a/c being put into the Los Angeles house, I felt my purist willpower withering away, electrical consumption notwithstanding.

Emmett - this hot grey rug under my desk - would probably approve of it most of all.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


This is a mullein plant at the end of our driveway, looking pretty good in the early morning when I went to pick up the paper, shining slightly with drops from an overnight rainstorm. One can do all kinds of things with mullein leaves (though I think quite what depends on what variety) - brew them up and use them as a remedy for asthma, or sore throats, or ear infections. Some Indians make a paralytic fish poison from the seeds, but the medicinal properties play more into my fantasies of being a curandera when I retire - among other things - specializing in medicines and potions made from native plants. I've long, long been fascinated (let's go back at least to when I was eight or nine, but didn't have a whole lot to play with other than mint and rosemary in the garden) with herbs and what one can do with them - I used, then, to want to make a facsimile medieval herb garden, with the herbies all laid out in mandala shapes or mazes (this is still there as a fantasy ... next summer, maybe I'll get going with all the requisite bits of string). And maybe a couple of these tall mulleins should stand at the center of the maze?

picnic spot

Driving Alice back from Albuquerque airport early this afternoon, this seemed as good a place as any to stop and consume our picnic lunch. I would have taken a picture of the sandwich itself - Santa Fe BLT, from Comida Buena, inside the terminal - which was meant to be on green chile bread - but in fact was on some rather mundane brown slices, and hence not worthy of record. The landscape sees more muted here than it felt, too. All of this signals unrepresentability pretty well, because by far the most spectacular visual material today was the Santa Fe opera production of The Magic Flute (never having seen it before, I had no idea that it is such a silly opera, masonic undertext notwithstanding) - and of course cameras are fiercely banned in the auditorium.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

under the empty nest

I think I can promise that this will be positively the last post about bluebirds this summer. But I took the empty nest out of the birdhouse today, turned it over, and was very struck by how beautifully carefully it's woven - a circular design in a square box, with each of the pieces of dried grass carefully wrapped round and round in a dense coil. There were a couple of young bluebirds around at various times today, checking out the house for future habitation - and one very young looking one, sitting on a branch, experimentally opening and closing his beak a couple of times, before having a drink at the bird bath, and flying off. Thank goodness - I couldn't cope with any more surrogate parent anxiety.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


It was most excellent to see my old friend Maria today for breakfast at Real Food Nation (pretty well patched together again after the car that was drunkenly driven right into it last weekend), and most excellent to be given a pot of basil by her, a good deal of which found its way into my dinner. I interleaved it with sliced heirloom tomatoes, added just a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and a sprinkle of pink Bolivian salt, and a pinch of lime-infused sugar. Sugar is always good with tomatoes, in extreme moderation - since they are, after all, technically a fruit - but these additions are adding a touch of pretentiousness, to be sure. On the other hand, the relatively recent opening of The Spice Station in Silverlake (and now in Santa Monica) make it ridiculously easy and tempting to buy such treats - and I see that one can now buy their wares via Etsy, too ...

Friday, August 13, 2010

reclaiming the back yard

I have been so deeply involved with the fate of the baby bluebirds - both batches. But I am delighted to be back in my own back yard. No sign of the Little Face who had been peering out of the hole before we left (and who may have exited a little prematurely, to judge by the report of the cat sitter on Thursday). No ominous stray feathers. And no tragedy inside the bluebird's house - just another tidy, perfectly empty nest. I do wish that I'd seen the grand exit, the first trying out of their wings, the dipping flight away from the nesting box.

But it is wonderful to be out there, tearing out tumbleweed, peering for Perseids, letting Lucy have an unsuccessful stab at hunting lizards (she, Emmett and Lola are allowed out under the very strictest supervision, since we now have a wall), and admiring the hollyhocks against the sunset.

visiting the family

Meet Sophie. Mother of LucyFur and DandyLion, and another Formerly Feral Cat - so in need of rescue that when she was trapped - not too long after Dandy was born - she was so covered with eczema that she had to be shaved. Now that she's an Indoor Cat, she never looks at outside except through a window. This is the cat whom Alice and I once - before Lucy was rescued - saw stalk in the direction a couple of coyotes had gone in, leading them away from her new kittens. She is a brave and beautiful feline. And one great treat when staying in LA is to visit the Family Cat - Sophie, and Lucy's full brother Buster, and Dandy's full brother Charley (we're not sure whether they have identical paternity or not). One less great treat is my tendency to lose things - I ought to have my possessions tied to me with string, like the White Knight - for I totally lost my downloading widget for flash cards - or this would have gone up last night ...

Thursday, August 12, 2010


It was so good to be back, even if briefly, at Hoover Street this morning, talking to a man about air conditioning, and measuring up the corner where it might be possible to replace the (unused) sauna with a Space of Inspiration, or at least something that will be a hybrid between a writing house and a girl hut. I think, with luck, one might be able to squeeze out a 9' by 12' extra room, albeit one with some slightly inventively shaped corners. This is the moment at which I develop all kind of optimistic and fanciful ideas about how it will be totally tidy, totally organized, totally productive of ideas.

And it will look out, on one side, onto the wonderful terrace, with its statues and cypress trees, and ochre wall, on which the current tenants have lodged this strange star shaped object, which looks very much like a version of the purple Spore that was outside the Pioneers Museum in Colorado Springs a couple of weeks ago - some kind of metallic mutant.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Having failed to find a working internet connection last night, despite prowling the hotel's beautiful halls with my computer, I had to post yesterday's piece today - and this is, in effect, Part II: dawn's early light (imagine a gentle rumbling and clanking of trains in the background, on the LA - Chicago line) - with a tin light ornament on the wall, and - even though it was Arizona - a New Mexican carved sun on the back of the settle. The drive onwards into California was as beautiful as ever - unbelievable folds upon folds of purple and fawn haze covered mountains.

returning (August 9th)

Ah, the deep pleasures of return … About fourteen months ago, we were driving from Los Angeles to Santa Fe – with the four cats – for what we thought would be the final time. One of our big pleasures has always been breaking the journey at La Posada, in Winslow – an old Harvey House hotel, where the trains still stop (one passenger train, in each direction, each day, but plenty of freight trains – so good, this evening, to have a driver hoot at us and wave, as we were drinking two cosmos (they make curiously good ones here) and sitting in Adirondack-style rocking chairs watching the trains roll by. But last May or June, we thought this was the last time … and since the place is unique, and full of crazy but wonderful art work, and has fantastic food – much of it local and organic – this was the source of much lamenting. And we love the drive, too – all that sky, and the model dinosaurs silhouetted against the skyline as one heads towards Holbrook, and all the rest of the Route 66 weirdness that runs alongside I-40.

But. Even though we don’t have the cats with us – I’m only absent until Friday – here we are, making our first return drive … this feels very good. Even if – above the sound of the running water in the fountain in the sunken garden outside – there’s the sound of a very, very amateur pianist picking out the chords of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” …

And then there’s the problem of the fact that it seems to be impossible to get on line here. But I’ll forgive that, and post in LA, if I have to … [ which I did ...]

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Curiously, the NYT usually arrives wrapped in bright yellow here, even though in New Jersey and Los Angeles it invariably turns up shrouded in blue. I have plans - not this coming academic year, but the one after - to teach some kind of undergraduate course on Color, and sometime soon - the fall? - I shall experiment with taking a color a week as the basis for images/writing here. I'll just note, in passing, therefore, the coincidence of bright yellow two days running. I don't even much like yellow.

This is, of course, deliberately, another example of the daily aspect of the everyday (what can be more daily than a daily newspaper?) defamiliarized, or at least beautified, by drops of dew.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


This has turned out as the oddest of images: it looks like a suspended piece of Victorian taxidermy - a rat wearing a yellow waistcoat, say. Actually, it's some butter ... which I'd just started to mutilate in order to feed tiny, tiny pieces to three of the four cats, who jump on the table in the morning requesting it (which is why old newspapers in our house often carry small, hard to identify greasy smears).

This is a daily ritual - the beurring of cats. This takes me back, at last, to the topic of the everyday (for I do have to write an article on "The Novel and the Everyday" by the end of this month, and despite much musing and some note taking on the topic over the year, my brain has been on a kind of shut-down for a while when it comes to my own thinking. But no longer!). And this image manages to bring two aspects of the everyday very happily together: everyday in the sense of the repetitive, the ordinary, the humdrum - feeding the cats their little tiny bits of butter is as much a part of (comforting, not deadening) daily routine as drinking strong mugs of Ohori's coffee. Yet this picture also makes something very everyday (a rather messy packet of butter, a counter-top, the bottom of a flower jug) strange. I came across for the first time, today, Georg Simmel's words in his "Sociological Aesthetics" (1896):
Even the lowest, intrinsically ugly phenomenon can be dissolved into contexts of color and
form, feeling and experience which provides it with significance. To involve ourselves
deeply and lovingly with the even most common product, which would be banal and
repulsive in its isolated appearance, enables us to conceive of it, too, as a ray and
image of the final unity of all things from which beauty and meaning flow.
I'm not sure about that final Bradleyan piece of philosophy, but the opening sentences are like an aesthetic manifesto for the importance of the everyday. Simmel doesn't take into account, however, the inadvertent appearance of a hanging rodent.

Just in case you're worrying about the bluebirds, they are still in their house, still chirping. But I was at my desk this afternoon and a huge flurry of brown and cream feathers came past, and I had to go out and shout and wave at a huge hawk who was sitting in the tree, staring straight at their little wooden home just a few feet away.

Friday, August 6, 2010

back yard

Believe me, I think I've hit the Dog Days of Summer when I end up posting a picture of the back yard. But then, so much of the summer is being ruled by the back yard, or, to be more exact, by the baby bluebirds in that bluebird house. How old are they now? Ten, eleven, twelve days? Four days until they might fly? Or six, or eight? Four more days in which we can't let out the cats (under supervision, of course), can't clear the monstrous growth of tumbleweed, have to eat our meals out front, tiptoe gently to the composter outside the back wall ( a practice so mocked, of course, in The Kids Are All Right that one knows that the revolving drum is on a par with the heirloom tomatoes that we've tried to grow (and two, even, were harvested ... that is, two three-quarter tomatoes were harvested, the remainder having been eaten by a random critter). And we'll probably be in LA, and hence, for the second time this summer, miss the actual launch day. Nonetheless, until we leave for points west, our only excursions out back are to shoo off sparrows - though not, of course, the two handsome quail who are patrolling down the wall. And it's all very anxiety-making.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

shedding skin

As well as The Summer of the Baby Bluebirds, it's been The Summer of the Mutilated Lizard. I came back from my alt pro photo course one day to find Alice understandably extremely upset: she'd managed inadvertently to shut the rear end of a lizard in a window she was closing (as the cleaner-up of this tragedy, I can vouch for the unpleasant bloody mess left by a squashed tail). But said Lizard did scuttle off, and ever since then we've been looking, hopefully, for lizards with exceptionally short tails, or regrown bits of stumpy cartilage. And there's been certainly one good candidate, with no new tail markings on his stump.

Then today, this monster appeared. From a distance, it looked like a horrifically mutilated lizard (not least because when first spotted, it was munching on a red and white butterfly). But closer inspection - and, in particular, taking this photo, and blowing up the image - I advise clicking on it and looking at the detail - shows that what's going on is a change of skin. S/he's shedding that dry, papery outer carapace, and underneath is a sleek new shiny set of scales. Here, it looks very much as though the Lizard has attempted dressing in drag for the day, and has completely failed to carry it off.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

pink rain

It's hard not to spend one's time looking at the sky here - partly for practical reasons (will it rain?) but largely because of its sheer beauty. This evening we were eating dinner out front (the nesting bluebirds still mean that effectively we're banished from the back yard: the chicks are now, I reckon, about nine or ten days old: their beaks are just starting to appear at the hole. But oh - the stress of worrying about attacks from house sparrows, and dashing out when one sees one of the murderous little brutes around. I realize that English readers may think that I am being cruel here, but these are Non Native Birds and have a peculiar, obsessive, and predatory loathing of bluebirds). Our dinner spot allowed us a perfect view of a perfect sunset (as below - courtesy of the wonderful panorama view in Photoshop, which matches everything up and blends it without one doing anything other than drag a few images into a box and click on a button). And then David, our neighbor, appeared, and asked if we knew that there was Pink Rain behind our house. And so there was.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Emperor

This picture is, surely, one of a set of four: Lucy's paws were dangling and on show earlier in the summer, and here is Emmett carefully posing on his cushion. He is an entitled cat, and this was wholly obvious when Nancy, next week's cat-sitter, came round for meet-and-greet. DandyLion had to be dragged out from under the bed for ten seconds before she fled under a further piece of furniture, to cower with Lucy and Lola. The girls, in other words, are an embarrassment. But Ah! said Nancy, on meeting Emmett: "The Emperor!" Too true.

Monday, August 2, 2010


And for tonight's Eldorado sunset picture, two baroque horses plunging across the sky, pulling the chariot of the sun god. There's not really a great deal more to be said about this - apart from the fact that such beauty makes one horribly aware that August is fully upon us, and that means that our time here is most definitely limited.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


A week away, during which time it rained and rained here: our tumbleweed is chin high (and we can't even go out and whack it in the back yard, because the second batch of bluebirds has hatched. After this family has been reared, that bluebird house is moving round the front - we've hardly been able to use the back yard all summer). And the sunflowers have sprouted and flowered all over Eldorado (and the Mexican Hats, and wild thyme, and mulleins, and wild gourds).

I wish I'd discovered yesterday that I'd taken this photo - below - (from the car, in Southern Colorado), because I vastly prefer it to the one that I did put up - even though I probably wouldn't have had much to say about it - I particularly like the speed-blurred fence posts.