Friday, August 31, 2012


My standard fall-back, or one of them - the reflecting pool on campus.  This image is peculiarly frustrating.  One of the wonderful things about the pool is the perfect, orderly symmetry that it throws up at one - very comforting, in the first week of a semester.  Only - these portable toilets (tomorrow's football game, against Hawaii??) aren't quite on message.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

a new fountain

They did a huge amount of digging up of campus this summer - and what seems to have emerged in one prominent spot is a huge fountain, where a relatively modest one stood before.  It's not entirely comprehensible to me why someone, somewhere, decided that the grandeur of the original water feature was somehow not quite grand enough.


or rather, up stairs.  Believe me, I didn't climb all seven flights up the car park from the bottom - it was still 91 degrees when I left campus, after all - but I rather feel as though I did ...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

another long day

I have a sad sinking feeling that I used to enjoy the start of the academic year, but the excitement seems to have evaporated this time round - I think because there's so much admin that there's precious little time to think, let alone think about teaching.  And somehow, tomorrow, I have to teach an intro-to-being-a-TA course at which, yes, we'll discuss how to start off the semester, and how to run a discussion session, and so on.  With enthusiasm!  With excitement!   Today, however (and enjoyable though the graduate class I taught indeed was), once again I was very glad to climb the steps back home.

a long day

I think that one always underestimates how long and exhausting the first day of the semester is ... and that's before one moves to the additional refinements, like a trip to the dentist's, and, yet again, a sick cat (dear LucyFur, this time, with dental/oral issues of her own).  We await test results - but a hefty shot of antibiotics has, at least, brought back both her appetite and her desire to growl at kittens.  So coming home to the evening sun hitting the plants on the terrace is a wonderfully calming thing ...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

rural Los Angeles

We'll see if we can live up to our vow this year: to do/visit at least one new thing or place in Los Angeles each week.  I felt very strongly last year that although it was great fun living here, in a very broad sense, that because Alice already knew LA well, I missed the whole experience of going out and exploring.  Of course that's not exactly true - I went to and discovered all kinds of new things, and some days would, say, deliberately take an unknown street when driving to work.

But today, it was the turn of the Hollywood Reservoir, complete with views of the Hollywood Sign, delectable houses, including Castillo del Lago, which I checked out when I was home, and indeed, it was lived in (and from an architectural history point of view, apparently wrecked) by Madonna, until 2009.  And views of pine trees and water.  And deer.  And, really, very few people, given that it's a weekend and this is a huge metropolitan area ... though the fact that dogs aren't allowed might have something to do with that, too.  It was build by William Mulholland in 1924, and features in Chinatown.  Unfortunately, one can't get all the way round (landslides following heavy rains in 2005), but it was a good enough walk (and, after Switzerland, mercifully not downhill).  And yes, the water is a strange greeny-blue in places.  Perhaps one should boil it ...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

chile roasting

There are all kinds of good reasons to be delighted to have Devin Griffiths as my new colleague - but let's foreground the fact that he and Meg understand the importance of early fall chile roasting.  Roasting, and then peeling, and de-seeding, and wrapping in a plastic bag.  Or, better still, wrapping in a tortilla, with some queso fresco, and guacamole ... This was, indeed, a superb pre-semester party, on a rooftop in downtown LA (oddly enough, we ignored the suggestion that we bring swimsuits, since I don't think that we possess any, but there was a pool on hand, too) - in other words, a perfect melding of New Mexico and SoCal.

Friday, August 24, 2012

back to school

Even if we didn't start teaching today, it was the date for the annual Art History Department back-to-school breakfast, in the brand new Faculty Club - 2012 masquerading as 1899 masquerading as - oh, say1620s Bologna.  Inside it's very impressive as a dining room; less impressive to find that the room - "room" - that we were in was no room at all, since it was portioned off only by heavy grey velvet curtains. 

More startling still is the new edict against bike riding in the middle of campus (a campus so heavily excavated that I gather that we're now known as the University of Summer Construction).  I'll believe that when I walk across campus without risking life and limb.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Walter Gomez, making himself completely at home.  It's impossible to take a picture of Moth being still - if ever a kitten had ADD, she's the one (although it was Walter who, earlier this evening, brought a plant crashing down off a plant stand).  Slowly, laboriously, we are kitten-proofing every corner of the house, just as we did back in Santa Fe - there appears to be no limit to the places that kittens can get.  But they rode quietly and uncomplainingly all the way from Santa Fe back to Los Angeles in a carrier on the seat beside me - oblivious, too, to the CATS AGAINST ROMNEY sticker on the back of the car.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Traveling with cats ...

... last leg of this summer's travels - at the wonderful La Posada, in Winslow. And the Kittens did wonderfully well on their first road trip. But Bitzi ... she just went straight back to her customary hiding place under the bed head, and, well, you can see her apprehensive glare ...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

the end of the summer

Yes, it really is the end ... here's the last margarita at Harry's Roadhouse until ... well, until the next time.  Tomorrow, hitting the road back to LA (the first Long Road Trip for the kittens!).  

It's such a relief to be back on a computer, and not my iPad (though tomorrow night it'll be back to the latter, for one more on-the-road post) - and hence to pictures that are the size I want them to be, rather than strange squashed objects (half a cow?) that you have to click on to see properly.  And I dream of taking up sustained thinking as a practice again ...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Today's view

There was a lot of this kind of view today ... we left Zurich this morning, where it's now 7 am, and we're in an LAX hotel watching the Rachel Maddow show and drinking G&Ts - one last hop back to Santa Fe early tomorrow ...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Now and then

I wanted to do some rephotography - go back to wherever it was in Zurich that this picture was taken in 1973 when I was young and sweet (ish) and thin, but I couldn't find the right spot ( which I actually think was much much much further down, towards the lake).

And here are some boots not made for walking, alas - abandoned in Neuchatel. Indeed, they hurt my toes horribly. They are too small - still harping on the subject of Age, I think my feet have grown (or, more likely, my arches have sunk).

On that gloomy note, it's back to the US tomorrow.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Before, after, and some good bits too

This morning, our hotel room safe (containing A's computer, my iPad, passports, etc) wouldn't open. OK, the code worked, the light went green - and then there was no motor, no click, no nothing. Hotel man with code couldn't budge it. Not could maintenance man with mallet, chisel, etc. No one answered the phone at the company with a spare key (or whatever). So eventually, dim maintenance man comes back, with oxyacetylene powered metal saw, etc. I go down to the front desk to complain that there are sparks shooting all over the room. Maid covers our things with sheets. Etc. eventually, yes, the door is open - miraculously, no damage done, apparently - though the room smells horrible and there are tiny metal filings everywhere.

But it looked beautiful when we got up this morning, and the Ile St Pierre, where we had a conference wine reception where Rousseau stayed, was pretty stunning, too.

Beware of hotel safes.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Transatlantic Indian

Here's someone smoking a peace pipe on the streets of Neuchatel: a personally apposite piece of street art. N'chatel (apologies for the lack of circumflex - I'll be very glad to get back to a computer) is a very pretty small town (half the size of Santa Fe, about), with a really old center (complete with a ridiculous knight who seems to have lost his codpiece), and a busy little lake port, with the clearest of water - from our hotel window, we could see the fish jumping up tonight to bite those mosquitoes.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Ah, conference outings ... this evening, to a very boring small house once lived in by Rousseau, which presumably looked much more attractive two hundred years ago, and then off to the Creux du Van - a huge limestone col, or cwm, or corrie (I'm going back to my O level geography) - where we all traipsed up a field full of beautiful cows (and cowpats) and then ate far, far too much fondue and drank white wine in what was either a real or faux cowshed. Being an academic is sometimes a very crazy game.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Another view ...

It's another view from a hotel room! This time, it's Lake Neuchatel, in Switzerland, courtesy of the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism - and very beautiful it is, too. Only - one can't open the window to enjoy the Fresh Lake Air. See that sign? That means that Fresh Lake Mosquitoes might fly in.

In the pretty harbor - some huts, that look like fishermens' huts - at least, I strongly suspect, here, that they aren't bathing cabins.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hiking downhill

One thing I've learned through posting using my iPad - one can't guarantee what order the pictures post in. So I wanted to open with the train tracks mirror, as a metaphor for looking into things closely before undertaking them. How can I complain about the views? How could I have anything to say against the vista from our lunchtime balcony?

But those trains are there for a reason. To transport people. So before deciding that one will hike down from Wengen to Lauterbrunnen, and then, and especially, from Murren to Lauterbrunnen (having caught a cable at and a little train in between), it's very wise to
a) have been going to the gym for six weeks, paying particular attention to the backwards function on the stairmaster
b) to be wearing hiking boots that do not prove to be a size too small
c) have left one's large (heavy) Nikon in the hotel
d) there's probably a d, but I'm too exhausted to remember it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Many beauties of the Alps, and

Today was dominated by the sound of helicopters - primarily helicopters engaged in construction work, lifting large chunks of new ski lifts into position onto their concrete slabs. There were a handful, too, taking super-rich tourists on heli-tours over the glaciers on the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau (the grubby one shown here is on the flank of the Eiger). I know that they always look less than sparkling in summer, and have streams melting away from under them, but at the same time I kept thinking about Ruskin's love for the Alps and his stressed fears that they were suffering under the effects of the c19th version of global warming - industry in the valleys.

But I exaggerate somewhat - not entirely - about the helicopters, because it was quite wonderful hiking all the way down from Kleine Scheidegg. And there, in the village itself, in the early morning faint sun, under the Swiss flags and bunting, gleaming faintly, is, indeed, a volleyball net. Beach volleyball (up a mountain), but still ... a reminder of how we've done our best to watch all the US women's volleyball Olympic matches in a variety of languages on this trip, only to feel total dismay at the Defeat by Brazil.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


This is the view from our room's balcony in Wengen. Stock tourist picture, maybe ... but it demonstrates quite wonderfully that every last little tricky bit of rail changing on the way here was completely worth it ...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

More tourism ...

... our breakfast buffet, in the hotel, under the huge chandelier, was spectacular ...
... Schloss Heilbrunn is a very pretty yellow/ochre color, and contains a lot of very crazy baroque fountains that pop up and squirt you when you don't expect it and don't want it. This may reveal a great deal about the Austrian sense of humor
... Salzburg is very pretty and today, very very grey ...
... The zebras in the excellent zoo are, however, quite definitely very black and white...

Friday, August 10, 2012


... and some sybaritism. Not so much the statuary legs, though as with anywhere that's full of baroque, you can never quite tell what they might be about to get up to - as with the cake. That cake was a kind of chocolate and vanilla mousse, with a praline egg (even though it's mid-August, not Easter). Salzburg is full of tourists, and hence a very different place from when I was last here on a freezing cold January 2nd in 1978 or 9 - which seems a scary long time ago. The city is much prettier, though, when one can see that it's surrounded by hills rather than thick grey snowy clouds ...

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Of course we went to Freud's house, and walked through his rooms - his waiting room restored so that it is pretty much as it was (and it must have been very gloomy waiting for Herr Doctor, too), and the room in which he saw his patients, and his study - which are pretty much given over to displays of replica photos and documents, but still managed to convey the impression of more gloom - and of Dr F being a very strange man (so much decorative clutter! - I mean, collections of significant artifacts ...). I don't know whether this swirling female figure on the door onto the garden was thee in his time, but it certainly fits the city's whole sense of quirky excess - whether in statues (outside the Unterer Belvedere) or in church facades ( here, reflected, Karlschirche - and a very strange and incongruously juxtaposed Henry Moore sculpture).

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I've wanted to see the Lippizaner stallions at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna ever since I knew that they existed - which would have been some fifty years ago, when our family friends Gwen and Claude gave me a (French) picture book about the stud. We're not here at a time that coincides with any of the formal performances, but we went to the Morning Exercises this morning, and then on a tour of the stables this afternoon -here's the tack room - nb the little horses' heads, and also the creamy white saddles, made of buckskin - made to measure when the horses are fully trained, around ten years old. They are shorter than I'd realized - around fifteen hands - and totally full of intelligence and muscle and compressed energy. Women riders have been admitted since 2008 - it's such a good job this wasn't the case back in the 1960s, since the ideal height is 170cm, and I only ever made 156 ... that could have broken my eleven year old heart.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Viennese coffee

There are many good things about being a tourist here. Let's start with the coffee (as with the cups growing up the wall); move on to the juxtaposition of old and new architecture and design (this is Rachel Whiteread's Shoah memorial - all books with their spines turned inwards), and then the fact that it's a city with - well, a still-living enthusiasm for disco ...