Tuesday, December 31, 2019

waving goodbye to 2019

A grey-shrouded and unspectacular sunset to mark the end of the year - the end of the decade - which then produced a deep orange afterglow, and a wind.   Those flying balls at the end of the prayer flags are actually solar powered lights that climb up the tree as seasonal decorations, but they look as if they're trying to anchor everything.  Let's see what 2020 will bring ... 

Monday, December 30, 2019

coyote mailbox

Another example in the occasional series: The Mailboxes of Eldorado.  This one is beautifully executed by the same person who did the bobcat decoration that I posted in the summer: these coyotes have wonderful expression: knowing and wily and coy, all at once.  The right hand guy is not only looking right at one, but the combination of paint and dry sedgey grass and some old snow under the box make the fur and tails blend into the surroundings, just as the real coyotes out there can be very hard to spot until they move (or howl).

Sunday, December 29, 2019

today's sunset

A very chill day, with an hour or so of unpredictable snow this morning that blew away in various directions.  It was also the most spectacular sunset yet of our time here - after it dipped below the hills, orange stretched out far and wide in both directions.  Obviously I didn't look straight at it as it was going down - but this image itself is almost too bright to look at comfortably.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

wild and windy

The weather forecast kept changing its mind; the big blue patches on the radar kept changing direction: there was snow in the air; snow on the mountains; snow, it would seem, over Santa Fe - but out here in Eldorado, just a bitter chill wind and racing clouds.  So it's back to the allure of the prayer flags ... and a bell made of bird seed bobbing to and fro, and the sky.  In the final two images - no, I didn't look directly at the sun ... just took a lot of photos by pointing the camera in generally the appropriate direction - a kind of feral focusing that I love experimenting with - as here, sometimes with some good results ...

Friday, December 27, 2019

holiday decorations

... on the fireplace.  The Amaryllis lilies - with the bulbs cased in wax - are from Trader Joe's, and are a horticultural miracle that I don't quite understand - there must be enough moisture inside the bulb to allow them to grow and bloom (and I had some last year, too - and took off the wax after they'd flowered, and have replanted the bulbs again this year - they're shooting green, but unenthusiastically).  The Dancing Cats with their Christmas puddings - a whole long string of them - came from the V & A sometime in the early nineties: I love hanging them up every year, even if they are getting a little battered and creased around some of their paws and tails.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

bird watching

LucyFur is happily sitting at the top of the kitty-palace tower in my study, making soft chitty-chitty-chutter sounds at the unsuspecting finches and towhees.  Moth - probably more interested in the bluebirds who are pecking around looking for little insects.  They love it here: so many windows so close to the ground, and to the great outdoors, and bird feeders, and a heated bird bath, to attract the feathery objects of fantasy.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas 2019

I give you one cactus in the icy snow, and our neighbors' peacock themed decorations (I must head out and take a picture of these lit up at night ...)... by the time of our second walk this afternoon, much had melted.  And yes, with turkey to come, we needed two walks ...

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

snow; prayer flags

At about the time that we thought we'd head into town this evening - maybe the farolitos walk on Canyon Road; certainly out to dinner - the snow began to fall, and since we're twelve miles out of town, wisdom prevailed.  With the temperature hovering around freezing, it's slick road time.  There may be a bit more snow by dawn: I'm certainly not complaining if it's a white Christmas ...

Monday, December 23, 2019

winter dawn

Sometimes - not always, but by all means sometimes - we are very glad when the cats wake us up early, and today was one of those days - a deep bruised red dawn.

Sunday, December 22, 2019


However much one might impress upon Moth that she is not a piece of holly, a set of strung-together wool baubles, a mistletoe sprig - she nevertheless has taken up her position on the top of a tall bookcase, where we might have thought have putting a rather more seasonal decoration.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

juniper berries

The juniper trees are covered in berries all over Eldorado: starting to shrivel, a little, but still offering lots of sustenance for birds of all kinds.  I'm very partial to juniper berries - not just for flavoring gin (although that's a noble use), but in cooking: watch out for them if I serve any sort of stew.

Friday, December 20, 2019

no more "s"s?

I really want to feel supportive of our local school, which - by the usual test score metrics, and so on - has a pretty good reputation - or so I thought.  But.  What amazes me about this is not so much the error - any one can make one, especially when composing in an unfamiliar format, standing up, possibly in a hurry - is the fact that no one has seen it - no student, no staff, no parent - and effected a revision.  But maybe I'm missing the obvious: maybe there were only two esses in the box of letters?

Thursday, December 19, 2019

prayer flags, winter version

The prayer flags that we hung in the summer as a deterrent to birds flying into our windows - they're doing well.  They've bleached somewhat in the sun, as one would expect, but despite Eldorado's strong winds, they are still fluttering, and were looking particularly fetching against a dark sky this morning.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

a dry gourd

There's something resembling an astronomical model here: it's a dry gourd by the side of the road, here in NM.  I feel I should be gathering a basketful of them, and painting them, and hanging them as Christmas tree ornaments.  That's the kind of fantasy indulged in, but un-acted-upon, by someone who's spent another day chewed up by departmental business.  At least there was time for a walk ...

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

jail to the chief

The main local (if you call 70 miles away local) impeachment rally was being held down in Albuquerque this evening, at UNM - but here on a bitterly cold corner in Santa Fe there was a significant, and rapidly growing cluster of people at lunchtime.  I wasn't in a position to be able to show more of them, though, and I especially regretted not getting a picture of the man with the "Jail To the Chief" sign, even if I totally applauded his sentiments ...

Monday, December 16, 2019

winter sunset

From our front door, and then from just up the road: it doesn't get much better than this ...  and it's very very quiet (and very cold).  This doesn't stop departmental business arriving in my in-box like snowdrifts, but it does manage to put it into perspective, very well.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

on our way to New Mexico!

Despite bags/computers full of grading; admin; intractable questions relating to the latter; books we'd like to read but may not have time to get round to; books that may or may not find their way onto next semester's syllabi, and various other things (amaryllis lily bulbs that are well towards flowering; a bag of interestingly lumpy Christmas presents from my father; warm coats), we and the cats are very much looking forward to the quiet of New Mexico.  We're overnighting, as ever, at La Posada, in Winslow, which is full of its usual Christmas lights and decorations ... if I sound formulaic, it's because last year this winter trip didn't happen, because of Alice's radiation (she had just one day off for Christmas), so I'm thankful beyond all measure that we're making the trip this time!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

buddha and berries

If we didn't already have our holiday card ... This was the best thing at Sunset Nurseries today, where we went with a very specific set of queries [our hill has been mangled this week by the city digging up a sewer pipe and "busting" it and laying a new one - not our sewer, but a main city one that runs through our property].  So the hill needs stabilizing, and they are prepared to lay jute, and plant - well, grass seed.  This doesn't seem very ecologically responsible to us, so we've been investigating alternatives that might work to bind the soil in place, like various native sedges.  But the man serving us not only was unhelpful (apart from trying to sell us a few pots of coarse grass that would cover about a 50th of the area), but started into a rant against The City, The Government - as in the sense of the Deep State.  So we walked away from his nasty right wing mean and ill-tempered views, and we won't be back.  That Buddha may be weeping tears at the company it keeps.

Friday, December 13, 2019

this year, last year

Last year, my holiday/Christmas card was of a bobbly felt wreath on a bright green door in Cambridge - which made for a good, cheerful design - a great deal more cheerful than I was actually feeling at the time.  I liked the wreath so much that I hunted one down for us this year: I have to admit, though, that it doesn't look quite so effective against the wood ...

fight on! (election edition)

This photo was taken twenty minutes before we repaired to my office, and heard (with a gentle sound of our jaws dropping) the results of the Exit Poll for the UK elections.  As I type this I'm listening to the Today Programme, hearing about the collapse of the Red Wall in the northeast (and elsewhere).  Thank goodness for a visit, today, of a very dear friend from England, so we could listen to the results together, and, more than that, trade points of reference from Elections We Remembered over the last 60 years ... there's nothing like knowing the names of constituencies; at knowing what it signifies that the Beast of Bolsover lost the seat he's held for 49 years; at hearing the familiar formulation of the Returning Officer reading out the results in each constituency.  The USC motto of Fight On! sounds a little hollow, right now ... (but what else can one do?).

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

festive donuts

I want you to know that not only did I not eat one of these - I wasn't remotely tempted by them.  That may not be strictly true - when a colleague sustained herself with one, I realized that not only was I in the company of strange decorative reindeer, but that they were stuffed with cream paste.  I may have missed out on something there.  Thanks once again to our extraordinary office staff, these appeared at the final Works in Progress seminar of the semester: since one of the papers was all about containers and frames, stuffed donuts sitting in a box seems like a pretty good starting point for further elaboration.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

seasonal confusion

walking towards another Holiday Party - this time the Dornsife Holiday Party - I really don't think that the overwhelming impression should be of autumn leaves: this seems about two months out of sync.  Yes, I know: Los Angeles.  It was an extraordinary, magical golden evening (the sky, not the party)

Monday, December 9, 2019

the Art History Holiday Party, 2019 edition

Doesn't every department rent the Grammy Museum for their holiday party?  If not, why not?  So many toys to play with!  (I wish I had a photo of me on the "silent" drum kit).  Somehow (perhaps because there was a lot of space) these pictures don't make it look as much fun as it was - but it was a terrific venue, courtesy of our office staff, who cooked up the idea.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Los Feliz sunset

After a wet and stormy day, we were in exactly the right place at the right time this evening for this stunning golden sunset.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

another dry cleaners

It could be that I feel another photo-series coming on ... This was passed by chance, on, I think, Wilton - and I didn't quite get all of that hinge-shaped sign (when did those angular signs start to become a Thing on shops?  And there must be a technical term for them, surely?  I think of them as being very American).  But the idiosyncrasy of dry cleaners is quite marked, and I've already scoped out an excursion ...

Friday, December 6, 2019

if only ...

... I could have spent today like this.  Unfortunately, there was rather a lot else that needed to be done, but at least I had calming company ...

Thursday, December 5, 2019

the 'hood

At least, in the Silver Lake /Los Feliz borderlands, irony is alive and well and driving around in a flashy red car.  At least - one hopes that it's ironic ...

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

evening light - with palm trees

Extraordinary light driving home this evening, with storm clouds still blowing through, and the evening sun hitting the palm trees ...

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

dry cleaners

I don't think that this counts as Christmas decorations - I rather think this shirt and pair of flares are up there all the time.  This isn't my dry cleaners - it's across the road from them - but it's next to the Silver Lake Trader Joe's, and I was on a buying ingredients-for-museli mission.  Nor, for that matter, was it that dark at 2.30 in the afternoon - but I wasn't going back in the dusk, so punched up the contrast in PhotoShop.  You get the gist of it.

Monday, December 2, 2019

let it snow, etc

I have to confess to a deep dislike of Christmas Songs - even when they are beautifully arranged and executed, as was the case at the USC President's Holiday Party this evening (which, I'll say in passing, was a wonderfully unpretentious affair, after the Nikias Era).  "Let it Snow," and "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" make the hairs on my spine crinkle with embarrassment, for reasons that I tried to work out this evening.  To me, they seem very American, and hence Foreign - unlike traditional Christmas carols (which I love - so this isn't some kind of seasonal allergy) - so they reinforce a sense that I'm 6,000 miles from music that I traditionally associate with this time of year.  I also deeply suspect that I imbibed my mother's prejudices, although I can't remember, if I ever knew, what they were based on.  Almost certainly what she called The Americanization of Christmas played a role ...

Sunday, December 1, 2019

the weather has cleared ...

... at least for a couple of days.  This is the view that I woke up to ... actually it's not quite the view.  The view had LucyFur sitting in front of it, but she regarded the slightest sign of movement - like me reaching for my cell phone - as incontrovertible evidence that I was about to get up and feed her.  So imagine a tabby sitting in front of this ...

Saturday, November 30, 2019

silver lake yarn bombing

A walk around the reservoir this morning - with the mountains (not visible here) beautifully snowcapped in the background: stopped in my tracks by this creative piece of yarn bombing, looking like a large wayang puppet, yet woolly.

Friday, November 29, 2019

post rain

It doesn't matter whether one looks up or down: it's unspeakably beautiful post rain.  The top view is from our back garden, but the views of snow on the mountains have been spectacular from our living room, too.  And the glass table top is always a picturesque treat.  We had the strangest thing happen when we were taking (more) photos of the mountains outside our house this afternoon: a guy stopped his car (which, weirdly, had Pennsylvania plates) and said: "That's my house."  "No," said I, in my very best English accent - the wither-an-ant-at-ten-paces-straight-out-of-The-Crown version - "it's not."  "Yes it is," says he - slightly menacingly.  So we decide the best thing to do is to laugh, as though it's all a big joke, and he drives off - but it was very weird.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

wet lemon, wet tree

... to continue yesterday's theme: a different lemon tree (this one looks as though it might be a Meyer lemon), but no less wet; and another damp, dripping piece of foliage.  This was pretty much the one moment of the day when we managed to escape for a walk, albeit dressed up in raincoats and hiking boots that last saw duty in the Lake District.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

lemons in the rain

It has been wonderful to see it raining today - a slow, soaking rain (who knows what Biblical apocalypse will fall from the skies tomorrow - it's threatening an inch).  It cleared enough this afternoon for us to go for a walk: there's not much that doesn't look damply special when there are raindrops clinging to it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

15 years!

Fifteen years ago - or, more precisely, fifteen years and three days - we first set eyes on each other ... so tonight was by way of an anniversary dinner at Cliff's Edge, where we've been for important dates and occasions ever since early in 2005.  Remarkably, though it's had some gastronomically rocky patches, it's still a magical place, and the food is back on form.  And it's been a wonderful decade and a half!