Tuesday, June 30, 2015


OK - we might be rather behind hand in our timing (blame geographical distance) - but we had a terrific belated celebration of Barry Qualls's birthday tonight, and a very timely celebration of his arrival in Santa Fe for the summer ...

Monday, June 29, 2015

an itching palm

I'm never too sure whether or not superstitions travel well from one country to another - even transatlantically.  My right palm itched this morning.  I was always told - my mother was a great source of superstition - that this meant that I'd soon be getting some money - provided that I rubbed it on wood.  Which I dutifully did (I'm hopeful for a long-overdue honorarium, for a start).  Then I checked it on line, and found that here, although an itching right palm means Money, if you rub it, then you're rubbing the money away.  On the other hand, an itching left palm (much easier to photograph, if you're right handed, of course) apparently means that you're going to lose money (so I didn't post a picture of that.  Anyway, it wasn't itching.  By the same token, finding a tiny tiny red spider - a money spider - on you meant that money would turn up soon; and you could encourage money to come your way if you turned over a silver coin in your pocket if there was a new moon - so long as you didn't see it first through glass.  Does that translate to the US, or not?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

mulberry season

If we had a mulberry tree (and indeed, Alice grew up with one, although apparently squirrels and birds ate the berries, rather than humans) - if we had a mulberry tree, I'd doubtless have cooked with them before, rather than thinking of them as either a delightfully archaic foodstuff, or else producing berries that stain everything in sight.  But yesterday, at the Farmers' Market, at one of the smallest stalls, an elderly lady was selling a couple of punnets of back-yard mulberries.  So here's the result - a completely delicious mulberry crumble - the first time, I think, that I've ever put them to practical use.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

local devils

This pair of devils are cheerfully attached to a telegraph pole fairly close to the Santa Fe Farmers' Market.  There are no obvious referents for them - are they escapees from the SF Teen Arts Center, just up the street?  One doubts that they've come from SITE Santa Fe, or the Lew Allen Gallery, or anywhere else upmarket around the railyard - on the other hand, they have a kind of permanency that goes beyond wheatpaste.

Friday, June 26, 2015

two tomatoes

very handsome heirloom tomatoes.  I wish I could claim that we grew them, but we didn't.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

dubious house repairs

Ah, the wonders of the telephoto lens (succeeding our spying through binoculars).  We strongly suspect that the house next door will soon be on the market: a couple of workmen (operating out of a converted ambulance) have been - well, not re-stuccoing it, but painting over the very patchy stucco this week.  And this afternoon, the oddest bit of repair: they pulled out some vigas above the front door - or the stumps of vigas, or mock vigas (who knows how deep they went, once?) - leaving what was clearly some very rotten wood inside the holes.  And then they filled these in with plaster, and have, by now, painted over them.  We have turned into the worst kind of home repair voyeurs, because there's something quite compelling about scarily bad workmanship.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

wild thyme

... on the verge in front of our house, and, indeed, all over Eldorado.  Because of all the rain (relatively speaking ...) it's early this year.  I picked just a couple of stems and have them in a glass in my study - together with some Mexican Hats and something - er - blue.  My knowledge of NM wild flowers is always pretty good by the end of the summer, and fades again by the next year - but at the moment, everything's blooming so well that I should get out there and practice...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Moth in motion

It's very good to be back home with Alice and the kitties.  Here's Mothy, coming to see what I'm up to when I'm making the coffee in the early morning ...

Monday, June 22, 2015

harry's and the food network

A new piece of wall art on the otherwise pristine front yard wall outside Harry's Roadhouse this evening: a Food Network stencil.  So a quick piece of Googling reveals that Harry's was featured on the FN for its breakfasts.  This is more than understandable ... Here's the link, and it gives one, too, a recipe for blue corn waffles, which I've never had, but which I'm sure are completely delicious.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

solstice roses

On the shortest night of the year, I didn't sleep much, since I had to get up at the crack of dawn to catch a plane or two back to New Mexico.  But, in dawn's grey early light, the roses in my parents' garden were looking quite spectacular.   It's never easy to leave; it seems a long way away ...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

when worlds collide ...

Here's Agnes Martin, standing on a New Mexican mesa, on a banner fronting St Paul's cathedral - the show itself is in Tate Modern behind, and is magnificent.  I didn't know the very early biomorphic stuff (glad she gave that up); the selection of everything else was extensive and beautifully and simply hung, in a way that completely emphasized the quiet of her work.  The twelve Islands from the Whitney - white on white, hung (as everything was) on white - looked particularly strong (though why was there no seat in this room?  all I wanted to do was sit, and gaze).

Speaking of grids, I'd never previously noticed that the surface of the Millennium Bridge has all kinds of tiny designs inserted into it ...

And also super-worthy of note on the Thames by Blackfriars Station is the Dazzle Ship - designed by Tobias Rehberger, painted in Vorticist style, in the way that Norman Wilkinson figured out, and Edward Wadsworth supervised, during WW1 - not so much camouflage, but designed to confuse anyone looking (well worth while clicking on this image, and seeing it close up ...).

Friday, June 19, 2015

crossroads of curiosity

This installation is going up outside the British Library - David Normal's "Crossroads of Curiosity," which was originally displayed at the 2014 Burning Man festival, to illustrate the festival's theme of Caravansary.  It make use of graphics from the BL - truth be told, I found it a bit clich├ęd and dull, as fantasy themed collages can so often be.  But it's not fully open and visible yet. so I may be premature on this.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

cheese, London

Who knew?  Outside Kings Cross there was a food market this evening - cheeses, and cakes, and variegated pastries and pasties and other goodies.  Unfortunately I had a suitcase in tow, and was gingerly carrying a bag and backpack as well (wet plate collodion glass; camera, etc.)  And it was heavy.  And I was hot (the temperature no longer belonged to chilly Lincoln) - so I didn't buy anything.  But what an opportunity - what a great situation - and there are plans afoot, I gather, to open more open air food markets all over London.  So even if farmers' markets in the sense of fresh produce are not all over the place, LA style, these are a wonderful innovation (I've been to the one by the Southbank complex before - but that's not as regularly handy as this ...).

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

swans at night

There's a reason why I don't post until last thing in the day - my photo-of-the-day may not arrive until late in the evening.  Here are some Lincoln swans, serenely floating under the bridge that I photographed a couple of days ago - I met them on my way back from an excellent dinner with Dan Novak and Daphne Cain.   I'd thought that I was going to write about our conference group picture (when was a conference picture last taken by wet plate collodion? - can't wait to see what it looks like ...) with Michael Schaaf behind the camera - but ultimately, he was Upstaged By Swans.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lincoln cathedral by day and night

A brief but energetic outing this afternoon to see Lincoln Cathedral (the conference had a little cathedral sized gap in it), which involved walking up a very steep hill called, imaginatively, Steep Hill.  It is huge, and beautiful, whichever way one looks - up,

or semi-up;

or straight ahead;

or if one walks up the Steep Hill again for the conference dinner, and sees it all lit up.

A wonderful and quite unexpected bonus were the two William Morris windows, rescued from a Lincoln church that was demolished in 1971 - one presented pre-conservation, and the other in its restored state.

Monday, June 15, 2015

wet plate collodion

Today, in Lincoln, a wet plat collodion workshop before the "Rethinking Early Photography" conference that kicks off formally tomorrow morning.  Here's Tanya Sheehan, showing that yes, even in 2015, it's still a good idea to use a head rest when one's having an 8 second exposure (the purist in me was, of course, wondering why we were using studio lights rather than flash, or rather than sunlight, outdoors.  OK, the greyness of Lincoln probably answers that last point).

And here we are, working out how to focus Tanya, upside down.

And here I am, in a rinsing bath.  I realize that wet plate is the most unforgiving medium possible: this image presents me (I may have the courage to show it when its varnish has dried) with every last wrinkle and whisker.  I also can't wait to do some more ...

Oh, and back to digital.  We were promised cygnets.  Here are cygnets.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

black and white in black and white

Lincoln, England - when I finally got here, after an interminable journey that had me wishing for gloves and a woolly hat and a winter coat, not to mention trains that didn't run to a Sunday timetable, and taxis at the station - Lincoln seems like a pretty and in parts ancient city, which I've never visited before, and now am here for a conference that slides in just as celebrations of the Magna Carta slides out.  This is a very, very old bridge (I cropped out Ye Olde Markse and Spenserse on the right) that is clearly one of the Standard Tourist Views - but very pretty all the same.

For one brief moment, as we neared Lincoln on the train, all the grey clouds lifted and one could think that England in summer might be quite palatable - this looks ready for captioning for a transportation ad, of course - "it's quicker by train."  Which, believe me, it almost certainly isn't.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The colour of London [Pantone 429C]

You disagree?  This was taken with the camera pointing straight upwards outside the British Library this morning.  Pantone 429C, indeed - although on this screen, it looks a little darker than that.  It had better cheer up during the week - my parents' garden is magnificently full of roses, but they just sit there sulking in the grey.

By coincidence, I was in the BL to look at, among other things, a book called The Colour of London that has illustrations by a Japanese artist, Yoshio Markino, about whom I'll be talking, fairly briefly, in one of the keynotes that I'm giving this summer (at the "London in Love" conference - I'll be talking about the very concept of "Loving London," and how this concept has a very clearly defined history.  So I wanted to look at Markino's printed work - he's still very interesting, and passionate about fog and women (not necessarily in that order), but after twenty or so of his images - maybe after ten - one starts to feel that what initially looked hazy and initiative in fact becomes his somewhat conservative formula for London, women, and the polluted air.

Friday, June 12, 2015

more strange things on walls

Let's be clear about one thing: my parents' Wimbledon cul de sac is not somewhere where you're likely to see an art installation; nor is it a hip neighborhood (perish the thought) where something might get wheatpasted.   But somehow these three circles (made, I think, of thick paper) have, mysteriously, become affixed - about ten feet off the ground, which suggests something very deliberate - on the long brick wall of the riding stables at the top of the street. I have absolutely no answer to this, I'm happy to say.  It suggests unprecedented (unprecedented since c. the mid 70s, at least) creativity in the 'hood...

troll under the bridge (for June 11th)

The area around New Brunswick station has long been an excellent site for stray pieces of graphic art posted onto lampposts and bridge struts - small scale, rather than large wheat paste postings - which delivers an imperative to go around looking at surfaces very, very carefully.  Usually at the railway bridge (usually?  I've not been for maybe two years, and this was a flying PhD-defense visit) I'm looking upwards, at the spectacular rust and stains and creepers, but this was distractingly eye-catching and very sinister.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

tears to my eyes

... genuinely so.  I hadn't previously known about American Airlines' scheme whereby they run a certain number of flights to DC each spring/fall, so that WWII vets can visit the memorial there.  When I first saw these guys - and one woman - I couldn't work out which war they had served in - they were clearly rather old for Vietnam - I wondered about Korea; went and looked, and it was WWII.  Terrible photo, I know - I didn't want to be too intrusive - but it was very moving to think that these people shared something with my own parents.  For all I know, they were kept safe by my mother, working in the Liver Building in Liverpool on whatever there was to be seen on the radar information coming in from the Atlantic.

This is Albuquerque Airport - lots of local top military brass, and firetrucks were lining up on the tarmac to give them a watery salute as they taxied off: at the other end, there would have been a military band.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

planted out

quietly planted out - a rare moment of sun today illuminating geraniums and catmint.  I never feel as though I'm fully here for the summer (and yes, indeed, I'm leaving at the crack of dawn for points east) until the planters outside are stuffed with summer flowers.

Monday, June 8, 2015

dances with cats

We start every morning like this, waltzing round the house with Moth and Walter Gomez (and the other two, if they're around).  Well, o.k., not really.  Moth wriggles too much.  And I want to make it clear - Walter isn't really that monstrous a size (he weighs in around 12 pounds, which isn't bad for a 3 year old boy kitty).  But something about the angle ... and then again, there is a lot of grey fluff.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


After breakfast this morning, Moth was staring out of the backdoor as though she couldn't believe her eyes - uncertain as to whether this was some kind of new kitty toy, something to eat, or a predator. It's a small bull snake, and would have been very unlikely to have caused much damage, even if there hadn't been a glass panel between her and it.  The snake - Imogen, we believe - was having a leisurely peramble licking up ants (fine by us) - I'm just hoping that she heads off for her usual dinner, goes back down a hole, and gets rid of some gophers for us.  (and don't worry - the cats are indoor cats, apart from the occasional couple of minutes under the strictest supervision).

Saturday, June 6, 2015

eating local

Today's breakfast, at the Santa Fe Farmers' Market: a kimchi pancake.  You're right - kimchi is not a native New Mexican foodstuff (although this is locally sourced and fermented), and then turned into a very delectable pancake stuffed with local goat's cheese and greens and fried garlic scapes, which are in season and I keep chopping up into salads.  Indeed, it was a very pancaky day, with a masala dosa at the new South Indian restaurant, Paper Dosa, at the other end of the day.  Much though I like green chile with everything, it was most excellent to have some different spices.

Friday, June 5, 2015

inside the cactus

The cacti are blooming on the land in front of our house.  They're a pretty primrose color, but obviously are a whole lot more spiky.  If you look very closely, you'll see hidden among the pistils some very busy bees - but these are nothing to the ones that are humming up our locust tree in the back yard, and making it sound, during dinner, as though we're eating with a generator at full blast by our side.  No shortage of bees here, in other words, I'm delighted to say.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

very angry crow

We have had a very angry crow in our back yard this week.  Very angry - or so he sounds - and very, very vocal.  What's been amazing is quite how varied his conversational repertoire is - now just caw caw, caw cark cark cark cark cark, but a whole range of sounds that including yapping, gargling, and a very disconcerting sound like a tight cork being pulled from a bottle.  It's unclear whether everyone within range is being warned away from a nest, or whether he intends this stream of abuse as a form of rough courtship.  Alternatively, maybe he's just rehearsing for a crow vocalist competition.  Bird people - do you have any insight?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

tea bag

It's back to having an eye for the ordinary.  Here's a tea bag resting in a little Japanese dish on the side of the sink.  We realized last Saturday - when eating at Izanami - that these small saucers are for placing underneath saki beakers so that one can fill the beaker to the brim and let it overflow in plenitude.  Who knew? - I always thought that these were for small but necessary functions, like resting tea bags.

I've had a special place in my heart for teabags since the day, back in Oxford, that my calico cat Saffo once proudly brought a damp, used one back through the cat flap.  She'd been out hunting, and this was her trophy.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Che cap

The souvenir possibilities in Cuba are very slender, apart from rum (heavy, and tricky to negotiate with flights), cigars (we don't smoke them, and don't, I think, know anyone who does), and coffee.  Three bags of beans, indeed, did weigh down my luggage.  But over and beyond that (although I bought a couple of prints from the print studio), there's not much to choose from ... that being said, Alice is completely delighted with her Che cap ...

Monday, June 1, 2015

lamp base, repurposed

All that repurposing in Cuban art ... here's some repurposing of my own.  We took in a couple of desk lamps to be repaired in our local hardware store (a really excellent community addition, here in Eldorado, full of useful things - mouse and gopher traps seemed to be occupying pride of place).   Only one could be rescued (lamp, that is, not pesky rodent).  But I looked at the big, heavy base of the other one, and thought ... if one cut off the electric cord, it would serve well as a weight to keep the cloth in place on the outside table. And if one had a little test-tube like container, one could put a flower in it.  And we had saved just such containers from something or the other - maybe an orchid purchase?  In any case, it's a success ...