Sunday, July 31, 2011

peeling it off

Ah, this came off my bumper ever so easily today.   Admittedly, I put it on grudgingly in the first place, since I had to remove the Hillary sticker in order to substitute it.   In the stilly watches of last night, I found myself asking myself - what would Hillary do?   Not, I hope, what President Obama has done - cave in to Republican demands so much that he - well, he looks like a moderate Republican.   3 trn. of spending cuts?   From where?   At whose expense?   No more taxes?   Oh, bah.   The only problem with this symbolic action is that it's going to be much harder to locate my car in a parking lot from now on - but I couldn't flaunt this a moment longer.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

edible greenery

Work panic seized me - it wasn't a morning for the Farmers' Market, nor even for Spanish Market - usually my favorite Santa Fe Big Event of the year.   But what, then, to have for lunch?   The greenest thing around turned out to be a seaweed crisp, which tasted odd enough to have been very healthy indeed.

Hours later, I have made a new Airport work, and once again have proper internet access.   This was a harder task than it ought to have been.

Friday, July 29, 2011

metaphors of ending

... and sunsets are as good as any in that respect.   In fact I'd been so concentrated on other things all day that I only just realised, in the last light of day, that I hadn't yet snagged a picture today.   But also - there have been few good sunsets this summer, because of the fires.   This proves that, even if 25-30% of their cover is now charred, the outline of the Jemez is still there.

So Harry Reid's choice of near-ending metaphor is that "the last train is just about to leave the station."   How many people in the US take a "last train"?   Is this designed to strike home to the riders on NJT?  (probably there's something more meaningful nearer to the beltway).   I don't think anything in the last ten years has brought home how weirdly and absurdly different the US system of government is - compared with Britain - than this debt-ceiling debate, in which the so-called left shuffle ever closer to the right of center, and the right shuffle further and further to the right of them.   Oh, and for some reason guys - or at least one guy - is allowed to cry.   Obama's desire to compromise has been a disastrous one, to my mind - and that's despite the fact that my own administrative/chairing tendencies have always lain in that direction.   I think there is a lesson to be learned here.   Meanwhile, the figurative deployment of a setting sun may seem pretty ominous on my part - and of course my gut tells me that things will all be sorted out at the very last minute.   And by that token, I wonder whether I would have fiddled whilst Rome burned, refused to believe in the French Revolution until I saw tumbrils accompanied by compulsive knitters rolling past my window, or whatever.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Southwest boarding

Unmistakably, those metal posts belong to Southwest Airline's unique boarding system. My flight was at 10.25 this morning. Yesterday, at 10.26, I pounced at the SW check in online, determined to get in the A group. Success! And then ... the gate was changed, there were a disproportionate number of people in wheelchairs, and it turned into a jutted-jaw free for all.

And then I got home to find the Internet wasn't working, and my phonecalls to Comcast haven't yet borne fruit, so I was very glad that I'd wiled away time in line taking pictures on my iPhone ...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

kitty visual culture of los angeles i

Admittedly, some will find that (i) ominous, but this will, undoubtedly, be the first of a series ... Goodness knows what this signifies, pasted to a window close to Sunset Junction.   I was watched, as I took it, by 3 workmen who clearly recognised a crazy woman when they saw one.   It definitely has character, half way between protective and menacing; there's an LA in the middle of the cap, but I'm not sure whether that cap belongs to a sports team or a utilities company - and in any case, why?   Silver Lake, and Sunset Junction in particular, continually sprouts an eclectic assortment of enigmatic street art - little affiches, small and large stencils, posters and decals and a few more formal murals.

dream act

I'm not quite sure why there should have been a posse of grade school children outside USC today, all bearing placards reading DREAM ACT - that is, I have a general idea, in that today Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the bill that allows financial aid for college education to the children of undocumented immigrants = so long as these are private scholarship funds.   Still, it's a start ... so when invited by the sign to Honk in support, we did, and were greeted by a lot of little bodies jumping up and down and sreaming excitedly at us ...

Monday, July 25, 2011


No, I know that one shouldn't call ANY vacuum cleaner a "hoover".   Indeed, chasing around on the internet, it seems that "hoover" isn't a generic name for a vacuum cleaner in the same way that it is in England - and that useful verb, "to hoover" - as in "I'm going to hoover the floor now" isn't operative here. Damn.   I thought how good it would be to write a post about hoovering on Hoover - even though, quite obviously, we own a Dyson (seen here as its material self, on the right; as a shadow; and reflected in the mirrors on the hall landing.   The Hoover - as in "vacuum cleaner" - was named after the person to whom James Spangler - invention of the rotating brush machine that we know today - sold his invention, since he, Spangler, didn't have the money to develop it back in 1907/8.   William Henry Hoover became very rich off it, but doesn't seem to have been any relative of Herbert Hoover, President 1929-1933, after whom Hoover St. - where we live - was almost certainly named.   At least, I suppose it was - J. Edgar Hoover, of the FBI, seems a less likely source of nomenclature.   But ... if this house was built in 1925, what, if anything, was this street called then?    

Sunday, July 24, 2011

home (again)

Back safe and sound in Los Angeles, although with one more one-way drive from Santa Fe this summer ... I'd hoped that this week we'd be getting the house straight and ready for the semester's start, but no ... we have a contractor tearing up th deck, putting a door on my study (etc etc) and it all looks much more untidy than a few weeks ago, and hence deeply disheartening.   However.   It is so very good to get back to the particular golden shade of evening sun, here illuminating the Armadillo - a wonderful present from a family friend some years back.   Indeed, the 'dillo used to be in an alcove at the bottom of the stairs in her mother's house in Lewes, Sussex, and when I was - oh, forty plus years younger than I am now - I used to think that he looked just like a large woodlouse.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Silver City

I have a very soft spot for Silver City, in southwestern New Mexico, where we stopped for coffee etc today, and spent a long time wandering round the many little art galleries in town (and indeed, purchased some excellent jewelry, and a print, and a tea towel, and some other interesting things,* about which I'm sure I'll write in the next day or so).   It's also the home to Western NM State U, and has a big artists' supply shop - the only thing that disappointed was Alotta Gelato (v bad pun) that was very good seven years ago, but oddly glutinous and headache inducing this time.   There are also huge open cast mining areas on the outskirts of town - I took some photos there when I visited before, which were truly successful, and which, I think, sparked my ongoing interest in the relations between photography and art and the natural environment.   But the light was very flat today, and not reflecting off all the copper and other deposits in the ground - which, however, suited very well some of the more somber elements of Silver City's own architecture.   There's lots of unrestored and restored subdued Art Deco here, and one of the things that I love about the place is that it's impossible in some cases to tell what's near post-modern irony, and what simply is dated and/or accidental - like this store front, which in fact has the kind of clothes store that I remember from the early 60s below it.

* "some other interesting things" coming after the word "tea towel" poses the same kind of problem as this store front - is it an ironically used phrase, or not?   Not.   It is, in fact, a wonderful teatowel, but there's something even more (!) creative that I have up my sleeve for a later post.

T or C (Friday 22nd July)

There were very many good things about our stay in Truth or Consequences last night - but they didn't include internet access or iphone coverage ...  This was the view from outside our room at the Sierra Grande hotel/spa - a beautifully run place, which once upon a time was an apartment building (that is, in the early 30s) - though even then I think it had the hot springs underneath it.   Indeed, of course, the entire town was called Hot Springs - after the non-smelly sulphorous water that comes out of the ground at a warm 107 degrees, and in which we were very happy to soak - until 1950, when it agreed to change its name in return for the NBC radio show being broadcast from there (broadcast at least once, that is).   Now it's going to become more famous for being close to the Space Port - indeed, the totally wonderful Cafe Bella Luca  already has a dish named after it - the Space Portabella mushroom.   This restaurant has stunning Italian food - perfect ravioli on Friday nights made by the nonna, who's nearly 90, and a superb small wine list - very, very well worth going for this alone, quite apart from the stunning drives that you need to get there.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

cat and mouse acts

Lucy looks very pretty with a mouse in her mouth.   Last night, just as we were going to bed, I came into the living room to see LucyFur on the back of an armchair, and Bitzi on the table, staring at the ceiling.   And there, running around on the vigas - the cross-beams - was a mouse.   Oh cat delight.   Oh human horror.   We have spent weeks having Critter Control trying to control the critters in our garage, on our roof, but this little rodent was the first we'd seen in the actual house.   What to do?   Not too difficult - we left all four cats in the living room for the night.

But.   This morning - no corpse.   Not even a tail.   And then we saw that maybe a couple of them were sniffing around one little area, and there - Alice moved the boom box, and it was hiding underneath - was a slightly battered, slightly punctured, but very live mouse.   So we captured her (upturned wastepaper bin; sheet of stiff card) and put her outside the front door - took out Lucy - lifted off waste bin, and let Lucy play the huntress.   If this seems cruel - we really didn't want the mouse back again ...

But.   Lucy let it bounce away, went after it, caught it - here! - gently in her mouth, dropped it, patted it, patted it again - and off it ran under a bush.

Of course, her posture here is strongly reminiscent of the suffragette poster:

The Cat and Mouse Act was passed in 1913, and after it was introduced suffragettes who went on hunger strike in prison were no longer force-fed.  Rather, they were kept there till they became very weak - and then they were released to recover.  So the government could claim that any injury, up to and including death that resulted from the starvation was entirely the suffragette's fault - and, what's more, and released suffragette who broke the law again was put straight back in prison.   In other words, it's possible to offer up a very PC feminist reading of this brave little mouse.   I think.

And yes - if you were concerned - THE BLUEBIRDS HAVE FLOWN!   One baby bb was sitting in a tree this morning - and soon departed with her father and elder brother to explore Eldorado; the other went off with his mother around lunchtime.   Let's hope they don't meet any cats ...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Up early, to guard the bluebirds.   An exhausting day for that - this morning, there was a Sparrow in the back yard (to the fear and horror of all bluebirds, and the army of support-finches).   It was banished.   Then there were several over-ambitious flying sessions - I'm not convinced that they are both quite ready to go up on the yard wall yet.   Maybe tomorrow.   Is it possible to be a helicopter parent to a couple of baby bluebirds?
All this does is to prove to me that I would have been an extraordinarily anxious mother of a human, had I ever attempted such a thing.

I suppose I could draw some tenuous, tendentious link between these ribbons, left over from Christmas, and curled up in a bowl in the kitchen, and the Index for the Victorian volume of the Cambridge History of English Literature, which - now that I've got the hang of putting in all the references in XML, is remarkably fun (if slow) to work on.   But it would be a stretch, indeed ...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

not quite ducklings

Another day of watching carefully over our feathered youngsters, who have discovered the delights of a shallow bird bath, and who have practised taking some very short flights - two or three feet, close to the ground ... I think they are eighteen or nineteen days old now, and so should technically be leaving the nest in two or three days time: I'm hoping that it will have given them a great start in life to have been learning how to get around an enclosed yard.   This morning they were joined by a little quail chick - who at one moment got up on the windowsill, and was unbearably beautiful - no bigger than they are, but already like a miniature adult, complete with little tuft to his head.   I managed to escort him out of a gate without anyone else escaping.

I will be so glad - I hope - to see this pair fly off, given the threats posed all the time by the local hawk/owl/weasel/sparrow/ground squirrel etc etc population.   It is nervewracking.

Monday, July 18, 2011

green tea

As a distraction from baby bluebirds (keep your fingers crossed: they've made it through another day), we went to the Tea House on Canyon Road - a detour from taking A's car in to be serviced.   It's a place that I love to go to - outside shady tables, tiny pears growing on a tree, a warren of rooms inside, working wi-fi (most of the time).   The trouble is - it's a tea house, and I don't like tea.   That last statement is one that perplexes Americans, since I clearly violate a favorite cultural stereotype, but I don't.   I'll drink herbal tea happily, and under duress some kinds of black tea with lemon, but English Tea (and yes, I accept that they have many. many. many other types here) always, to me, tastes of that moment around 3 p.m. when the tea trolley used to turn up at the Graduate Studies Committee meetings back in Oxford, in Wellington Square.   These meetings were always orchestrated by the sound of skateboaders jumping and clattering off the ramps outside (externally), and by people taking High Principled Stances (inside), and 3 p.m. was a moment to get business done informally, and fight over who could get to the bourbon biscuits first (for those of you who don't know them - chocolate cookies sandwiched together with chocolate cream), rather than make do with the plainer digestives or ginger biscuits.

But today, I branched out - green chai with whitened sage and mint, which was perfectly palatable, apart from the milk (I admit that's inevitable, with chai, even if I'd opted for soy, which I like even less).   And we shared an almond and cranberry scone, which, even if I don't in theory especially like scones, was also extremely good.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


We did something illegal today - although, in self-defence, I had no idea that it was illegal until my compulsiveness led me to read even more sites about baby bluebirds than usual.   Yesterday, one of the youngsters had - well, if not exactly fledged, had emerged from the house, and was sitting - occasionally hopping - around the yard, being fed by parents - who were also feeding another bird back in the birdhouse.   Today - no sign of first baby bird.   No sign, indeed, of second baby bird, so we looked in the house - and he'd gone (two much much younger siblings had never made it).   Consternation - apparently no baby birds, and then I saw one of them sitting on a rock outside the back gate.   Left it alone, as one's meant to do.   An hour or so later - first baby bluebird reappears from somewhere, and is sitting in water dish, in yard.   Look out of bathroom window, and second bb is under a bush out front.   So I think - surely they should be together?   So I carefully carry water dish round to the front.   Pause.   Then I see both bbs are in water dish, so I carry it back again - covered with the blue wire mesh thingy designed to keep flies off food so that the stronger bird wasn't tempted to fly off.

This, of course, is Interfering With Wild Birds, and one mustn't do that if one isn't a licensed bird person.   But they are now both hopping around the back yard - surrounded by walls - and being fed by relays (two parents, one elder brother from earlier this year), and protected by a bevy of dedicated finches.   They are very tiny, and vulnerable, but are flapping and trying their little wings - I think that they are about sixteen days old, and so should, I hope, be able to fly by Tuesday or Wednesday.   But oh, the stress: I have barely been able to concentrate on anything else all day.

LucyFur, of course, has some shocking ideas of her own on the matter.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Driving back from the Challenging 1945 symposium, I stopped at Artesanos on Cerrillos Road to buy a couple of drawing pens and some paper, and found this image on a lamppost outside.   I reproduce it in respectful acknowledgement of the argument that Richard Meyer made in his excellent paper about needing to pay attention to the unnamed artists and artesans and copyists and technicians of various kinds (from, in his case, prehistoric cavepainters to those who made more or less lifesize facsimiles of them for the 1937 NY MoMa exhibition, "Prehistoric Rock Pictures of Europe and Africa."   This guy, too, is the product of - so far as I know - an anonymous artist (working on a much smaller scale ...).   What's more, the image seems to me to be of an unknown individual.   In other words, it's a perfect example of how noticing, acknowledging, thinking about visual culture is by no means about examining the work of "known," identifiable artists.

Although ... this may just be my ignorance talking.   Does anyone recognise the subject, at least?   I tried him out on Alice, and he rang no iconic bells.   Perhaps this will prove to be nothing other than an example of the way in which we can be held captive by a need for naming and for labels, which were curiously lacking on the lamppost.   Let me know if this is one of those embarrassing occasions when in fact this is an instantly identifiable head to everyone other than this household.

Friday, July 15, 2011


A day at a symposium on American Art pre and post 1945 - i.e., was or wasn't that year a dividing line - ought to have filled me with ideas - and indeed it did, particularly about how important air was to art in the second half of the C20th.   I'm not quite sure how I got to that conclusion, unless it was via images of Alexander Calder's mobiles (which brought home to me the fact that I'd never asked the question, before I learned that AC was the answer - who invented the mobile).   But maybe it's just that the air here is clear at last - though one can still see the little lines of flames, at night, of the Las Conchas fire.  

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Sometimes one's plans for the day just don't work out how one thinks that they will, so the photograph that one thinks that one's going to take doesn't happen, so one's forced back to the picture one took very hastily of the cat sitting on the vet's reception this morning ... Clarence - a kind of toffee-pointed Siamese-ish cat - has been a veterinary clinic cats for as long as we've been going there.   By now he's a very elderly gentleman, who's kept going by his intake of Calcitriol - indeed, it was his success on this that helped convince us that this was the drug to help Emmett with his kidney problems.   Of course, Clarence - so good to have a cat named after some vague bit of lesser Victorian Royal Family - doesn't here look like an advertisement for perfect help, but blame the effects of this particular iPhone app: RetroCamera mimicking very old Polaroid film.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Tsuru is the proper name for these folded origami paper cranes (fold 1,000, and you get to make a wish - or so the late C18th book about them promised).   These are hanging down the stairwell in the Southwest Acupuncture College, where I was wonderfully and I hope effectively punctured earlier today.   I'm impressed, to say the last, by a doctor who can take one look at me and home in, like a hawk, to my left knee as a site of problems - given that I have no ligaments holding the kneecap in place, and used to keep dislocating it (until I slipped on a cabbage leaf in Oxford Market in 1988, displacing it so badly that I had to rest up with the leg in plaster for a while, watching the Seoul Olympics on TV and re-reading The Mill on the Floss very very slowly).   This was the more impressive since I was in no way complaining of knee pains, but of an aching shoulder - aching ever since driving to the MLA in early January.   I might also (but wasn't) have been complaining of sleeplessness - and now can hardly keep my eyes open.   So I feel - or will feel, if I get a proper night's sleep - as though various wishes have been granted, even without folding a single crane.   

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Rather too much of this summer has been dominated, one way or another, by Alice's gallstone - or gallstones - her specialist tells her that there may be smaller little deposits rattling around inside there, besides the monster that we've named Pebble.   Pebble - to make it more familiar and less scary, I suppose; to speak of it in reassuringly diminutive terms (try calling it Boulder, and you'll get the point); to - well, I would say, anthropomorphise it, but that doesn't seem quite right.   It's an invader, a chunk of mineral, a stony deposit with its own intrinsic existence.

It is, in other words, an ideal object through which to think about some of the arguments in Jane Bennett's Vibrant Matter, in which she lucidly and provocatively blurs and complicates the distinction between humans and the world we inhabit, between the matter of the body and the matter of the natural world (a strong argument, of course, for ecological responsibility unfurls).   Nothing so strongly as a gallstone reminds us that not only are we composed in part of minerals, but that these can take on a force of their own, existing and multiplying inside the body and affecting one's digestion, one's mood, one's energy levels, one's activities.   And in reading Bennett, I turned back to John Frow's article in that Autumn 2001 edition of Critical Inquiry - the edition that did so much to make the study of Things imperative and sexy - and read its title ("A Pebble, a Camera, a Man Who Turns into a Telegraph Pole") quite differently, having already brought that "matrix of histories and geographies" that is - materially speaking - a camera into contact with this small smooth piece of stone in our back yard.   And of course, until I re-read this article, I'd completely forgotten the poem by the Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert, that's about the absolute, inaccessible otherness of a pebble, and about the futile human effort to come to terms with this otherness, and one's lack of success in possessing that which exists apart from oneself.   

     The pebble
     is a perfect creature

     equal to itself
     mindful of its limits

     filled exactly
     with a pebbly meaning

     with a scent which does not remind one of anything
     does not frighten anything away does not arouse desire

     its ardour and coldness
     are just and full of dignity

     I feel a heavy remorse
     when I hold it in my hand
     and its noble body
     is permeated by false warmth

     - Pebbles cannot be tamed
     to the end they will look at us
     with a calm and very clear eye

But what of the pebble that both is, but is not, part of one's physical being, and that resists the absorption of food (the subject of Bennett's chapter 3), and that presumably is permeated with real human warmth - warmth that belongs to itself, or to its reluctant possessor?    I suspect that this isn't my last musing on that unwanted stone.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cat. And Pig.

The cat, of course, is DandyLion (aka Bitzi, aka Fluffy, when we are really in despair), who, for a feline who is remarkably adept at refusing to share her life with us, is nonetheless very deft at getting herself photographed.   The pig is a new piggybank, from the farm shop at Los Poblanos, and is cast in resin by the New York designer Harry Allen.   He was cast from a real piglet who died (we were very earnestly, and properly, reassured of this), and part of the profits from his sale go to an animal charity.   Note the very large cork instead of a belly button, through which will pour out all the coins that we've saved.   But before I start using him, I must head off to one of those coin counting machines: I have an entire bag and bowl full of loose change from New Jersey, which - with luck - might, in fact, add up to the cost of his purchase ...

Sunday, July 10, 2011


On the surface, that's a very dull grey view from my study window- offering a dismal view of the new vista blocking building, but nonetheless with the mountains in the distance still visible.   But look more closely.   The greyness is speckled with dots - and those dots are raindrops on the outside of the window!   To be sure, we probably only had about ten minutes real rain, and maybe another twenty minutes drizzle.   But this was water, falling from the sky - the monsoon is here!   This is the first real precipitation since January. I wish I could post not a distinctly unexciting view of summer's damp dusk, but the smells - the rain on red earth, and pinon, and chamisa, and everything else that's out there; a set of smells that I associate completely with New Mexico at this time of the year, and that are true smells of the earth renewing itself.   And this makes a great change from the smoke laden air we've had for the last couple of weeks.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Indeed, there was the rabbit at the Farmers' Market again!   I didn't see her person carrying her around this time - she'd been put down on a table to graze on some carrot tops.   I have the feeling that she might be slightly embarrassed by the pale pink ribbon in her hair.   There's a large sign saying No Dogs Allowed apart from Service Animals at the entrance to the market, but this clearly doesn't exclude other wildlife - I was slightly surprised (but, since this is Santa Fe, only slightly) to see a woman with a grey parrot on her head.

There were a lot of very handsome onions in the market, and fava beans, and arugula, and I came home with plenty.   And I also caught about half the set by the Railyard Reunion Band, who offered up some superb bluegrass -

and were very much enjoyed by all ages.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Over on the other side of the fields of lavender this morning, a dun colored cow - a bit like a Jersey cow, but not - and a fiercely bleating goat were being taken for a walk - presumably to chew some of the very rich grass there.   Their keeper, admittedly, was on her cell phone, which distracted a little from the sense of rural idyll, but it's possible to believe, at Los Poblanos, in an improbably magical style of country life (a sense confounded, of course, by the drought that's everywhere around apart from the leafy Rio Grande valley, and by the continuing smell of smoke in the air).   We could have stayed for the Lavender Gathering and Distilling Class today, if we hadn't had to come back and feed the cats and get on with everyday life (scaring away squirrels, reading and writing book manuscripts, saving the shower water for our own irrigation, and so on).

But it would have been fun to have hung out with the goats for longer ...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Not very New Mexican ...

We have come away for the night - our summer vacation? - to Los Poblanos, a wonderful lavender farm just to the north of Albuquerque. But the promised Internet doesn't work, so at 10.30 I find myself unable to post a picture of lavender or a white peacock or a baby donkey or a rooster who looked like a crazed version of Lady Gaga, and instead am forced, with my iPhone, to go trawling round our accommodation. Most curiously, the bathroom is full of oriental stuff - which looks oddly good with the blue and white Mexican tiles ...

from my iPhone

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

bluebird (again)

I could fairly be accused of becoming obsessed with bluebirds, at this season of the year – not just checking whether there are squirrel marauders around, but looking to make sure that regular feedings are taking place; that little beak-fulls of white baby bluebird poop are being carried out of the house at regular intervals; that there aren’t any sparrows in the vicinity – so strange that house sparrows are apparently so rare in London now, but they are everywhere in the US, where I regard them as nasty little invaders that, yes, attack bluebirds.   So – I reckon that this current nest contains bluebirds who are five or six days old – another five or six before we hope to start seeing their little faces, another five or six after that before they fly.   If all goes well …

I don’t know if this bird, sitting on a post just down the road, is one of ours – but he’s uncommonly handsome, so surely he must be.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

the bravery of bluebirds

If only I'd pointed the camera just a little higher up ... this was, however, a quickly seized action shot, as I opened the back door for the third time to scare off a rock squirrel that was hoovering up corn under the bird feeder.   It was, admittedly, showing no interest in the bluebird house, but clearly the bluebirds recognize it as a vile predator, for as it ran off at top speed, it was escorted, as always, by two Angry Birds.   I hope I don't get a chance for a better shot: I've barricaded the gap under the gate (yes, I know squirrels can get over walls very easily, but I'm hoping this is a dim one).   What I do realise from this picture is that she probably has a family of little squirrelettes somewhere, judging by her anatomy.   I don't think that blowing up pictures necessarily reveals the details that one's pleased to see ...

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July

It's that annual holiday when I think that really, I should get round to filing my application for citizenship one of these days - and then get hung up on the logistics: which state does my driver's licence belong to? (NM) Where are my bank accounts and place of employment? (CA).   At least I'm now free of the emotional perils of becoming a citizen of New Jersey (no, I know that one doesn't embrace a state at the same time that one swears in under the stars and stripes, but all the same - one has to go through the ceremony somewhere.   And of course I fancy New Mexico).

So here's our take on the ritual meal: a buffalo burger (with oregano, cumin, and chipotle powder), corn (lime, more chipotle), potato salad (yogurt and mustard and fennel and onion dressing), guacamole, Hatch chile salsa.   And a bottle of Adelsheim Pinot Grigio.   And watching the fireworks - or not.   For there were, of course, very few to be seen - even the display at Santa Fe High School (traditionally blocked for us by a well positioned tree, in any case) looked very muted.   Instead - we looked at the flames of the Las Conchas fire, trying to work out if there was a new outbreak over a ridge, and peering through the binoculars at the conflagrations that are up above Santa Clara Pueblo.   No rain today, either.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

instead of a shredder

Last week, I was mystified by a line of little grey-white balls on my parents' terrace.   Ah, they explained, instead of using a shredder to get rid of confidential or vaguely private documents, they tear up the papers, soak them in water, tear them some more, squeeze out the water, mould into balls, and leave to dry.   They make very good cat toys, subsequently, they helpfully explained.  

Needless to say, I couldn't wait to try ... and then couldn't resist painting them.   Maybe they'll be dry by tomorrow, and I can roll them over to the felines?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

eggs. beginnings.

Yesterday morning, before I was even fully awake, I saw the sun hitting an old goose egg half shell that's been on our kitchen window for four or five years, and was seized with the inspiration, however corny, of thinking how perfect an eggshell was for symbolising a new job, a new start - with maybe the potential for a sideways comment or two about how the summer's second batch of Western Bluebirds may be on the point of hatching.   However, by the time I was fully awake, I realised that I was harboring a monstrous migraine, and spent most of the day behind darkened shades of one kind or another, emerging only to take various administration-related phone calls of the kind one really doesn't want, or bargain for, on Day One of New Job.

So - yesterday's egg, below, had to go uncommented upon, and I substituted an unearthly sunset - there was a dark orange sun briefly visible this evening, but it's hazy and cloudy and, yes, intermittently raining: the monsoon season seems, mercifully, to be stuttering into life.   And the migraine has of course meant that all those academic equivalents of New Year's Resolutions (answer all emails immediately on receipt, if possible ...) have already fallen by the wayside.   And it turns out that I come up short when I ask myself what advice I'd give myself - what I might have learned during the last ten years (at least starting a new position is a whole lot easier when one actually recognises the vocabulary of academic life, this time round.   It would be wonderful to think that I could come up with some magisterial wisdom, but frankly, if I can keep my teaching notes filed in an orderly fashion I'll be very happy.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Overwhelmed by a migraine today - so no prose: just a picture of sunset through the smoke from the Las Conchas fire - or, at least, from the southern part of it.   Apocalyptic indeed.