Sunday, June 30, 2019

a hot cat

Ninety degrees outside, today - I know that's not hot by current European standards - but LucyFur (draped over the top of a bookcase) found it quite hot enough.  It's that just-pre-monsoon season here in New Mexico, when the clouds well up; when the sky turns dark indigo; when you think it's raining somewhere - but that's always somewhere else - and when you, and the earth, will be very grateful for the downpour when it comes.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

flowers at the market

We managed to get to the Farmers' Market at a good early hour this morning - before the majority of tourists; before it was full at all; whilst there was still plenty of - well, what did we go for, early?  Mixed lettuces; mixed spicy greens; broccolini; English peas; wonderful new potatoes, which we ate with some green chile and basil pesto from Chimayo; daisies; the first apricots ... we didn't buy cherries, because last week's cherries were a little disappointing.  And we didn't buy sunflowers - but noted, all the same, that they're starting to come into season ... 

Friday, June 28, 2019

a new place for dinner

Admittedly, I could have shown you the actual dining space, as opposed to The View From ... We were very happy to go and try out Arable this evening, about five minutes drive from our house (so about twenty minutes from Santa Fe - that's quite a difference).  Just what one wants - simple but tasty home-style cooking with organic produce, and no pretension.  That's hardly a restaurant review that will make my foodie name - but to be able to eat outdoors, in the slow evening light of late June; to hear ourselves talk - that was good, and we'll be back.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

a stray and empty train

The carriages of a Santa Fe Southern Railway train makes a perfect backdrop for some of our Eldorado wildflowers, which are looking particularly spectacular after a fairly wet spring.  But wait a moment - what's the train doing there?  The SFSR went bankrupt a while back; there's only been a very occasional train coming up and down that line since 2013, and pretty much none for the last two years.  But when I woke up this morning, there was one sitting on the track that we can see from the house.

So we went to take a look.  No personnel.  One engine; three carriages; one observation open-platform truck.  The carriages look tired and dusty, and as though they might have a bowl or two of old washing up in them.  No clues whatsoever about its presence.  And it hasn't budged all day.  One can't just leave a train there, like an abandoned car, can one?

Wednesday, June 26, 2019


Cherries: definitely a taste of summer.  Those yellow ones in the center came from the Farmers' Market on Saturday - and were depressingly without taste.  The red ones - ok, from Whole Foods today, and extremely juicy and flavorsome ... we ate a good number of them as we watched the Democratic debate this evening.  For my money (in alphabetical order): Booker, Castro, Warren.  And Bill de Blasio is a loudmouth.  And Beto was disappointing, and kept falling back - a bit like Obama on state-of-the-union nights - on anecdotes.  And Klobuchar - well, I liked her directness, but I can't ever get that salad story out of my mind.  10 down; 10 to go.  Will we eat all the rest of the cherries tomorrow?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

hollyhock by night

Thank you for indulging me for one more hollyhock.  Tomorrow I promise to start using my eyes again with a little more scope and imagination ...

Monday, June 24, 2019

workmen in the house

At least we now have windows that open and shut, all the way round the house.  Well, maybe not the kitchen, which seems to have rotted rather too comprehensively - but everything else has been replaced or mended, and that's a huge relief.  One bathroom window, in particular, has been barely functioning for years. 

But these repairs were done by (pleasant, competent) workmen - and LucyFur and Moth HATE workpeople in the house.  Lucy could be found in a closet squeezed into one shelf of my shoerack, and Moth behind my clothes.  With luck, they'll appreciate the free flow of air tonight; almost certainly, they won't make the logical leap back to the earlier presence of workmen.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

hollyhocks, encore

I'm sure that I'll get bored with posting images of hollyhocks soon, but tonight is not that night.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

more hollyhocks

Our hollyhocks are out!  In all honesty, I think there are going to be a number of hollyhock photos coming up: I find them quite compelling (and bought another clump of them in the farmers' market this morning).  For anyone interested, here's a compelling piece about Hollyhock Wars in Victorian England - - with a good deal about hollyhock diseases and hollyhock breeding.  They're not native to the US at all - so despite their prevalence in Santa Fe, I suppose I should have a qualm of conscience about adoring a non-native species so much ... Originally, they hail from China.  Migrant plant, biological invader, manifestation of (horti)cultural diversity?

Friday, June 21, 2019


LucyFur is a cat of enormous dignity, self-possession, and assured decorum.  She would hate it if she understood that some of her chosen spots (this time, on top of a bookcase) make her look just a little ridiculous.

Thursday, June 20, 2019


On Johnson Street, a nearly life-size horse statue (much better than that Travel(l)er horror on campus, and without, so far as I know, dubious ideological assoications).  From one angle, he looks like an equine equivalent of a Nyad, the grain of the wood, and even a sense of sap, reflected in the sculpture's materiality.  From behind ... well, let's just say that they are currently digging up the road.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

summer grasses

It's been a wet spring here in New Mexico - relatively speaking - and things are looking unusually green for this time of year, with plentiful wild flowers.  And, for that matter, plentiful tumbleweed: I spent a chunk of the afternoon removing tumbleweed and all kind of plants from our shockingly neglected driveway, and pouring vinegar (my panacea against almost all evils) on the stumps.  I'm sure, too, that all these grasses are increasing the pollen count to higher levels than is normal for June: my eyes itch and I periodically sneeze.  On the other hand, for the last eighteen years of living in the US, my allergies have never been as severe as they were (and still can be) in the UK - so I'm able to credit these grasses with feathery beauty.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

a new dance step? (and Valerie Plame)

Has Alice taken up mimicking Michael Jackson dance moves in public?  No, she's taking a photo of a flier on the door of Harry's Roadhouse, in Santa Fe, for a meet-and-greet and fundraiser for Valerie Plame next Monday, at 4 p.m.  (we'll be there).  Plame's running for the nomination for Congress for NM's 3rd district: there are six other probable candidates so far, so let me know if we're backing absolutely the undesirable horse ... she's Anglo; she's only lived in the district for 10 years; she doesn't speak Spanish.  On the other hand, she certainly knows how Washington works ... 

Monday, June 17, 2019

an excellent hollyhock

Hollyhocks are certainly in contention when it comes to being my favorite flower.  This one was in the covetable gardens of La Posada this morning: now in Santa Fe, I'm pleased to announce that our very own hollyhocks look as though they'll be in bloom in about two weeks time.  Since I planted a fair number of seeds, I can't anticipate what color they'll be ...

Sunday, June 16, 2019

"Alice's Place"

Not a good photograph - I was taking things out of the car at the time - at La Posada, Winslow, our sort-of half way stop between LA and Santa Fe - and couldn't leave it - or rather, couldn't leave the cats ... not even enough to dig out a better lens.  But it's hard to resist somewhere called "Alice's Place," even if ir probably sells a strange mix of semi-antiques and general bric à brac and crocheted doilies.  Do places still sell crocheted doilies?  This place probably would if it could.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

blue clematis

Somehow, I hadn't taken on board the fact that clematis come in blue.  I don't know what I thought this was, other than maybe some kind of passiflora.  However, not only did a friend commend its beauty as a clematis, but I realised that the label on the pot proclaimed its identity, too ...

Friday, June 14, 2019

"An Unappreciative Audience"

So this has arrived, from England, and is now on the dining room wall.  We've all met this guy, haven't we ....?  So convinced of his genius; a kind of literary mansplainer.  And - though this hasn't come out very well in this particular shot - the most wonderful detail of all is the dog at his feet. chewing up the sheets of the precious manuscript.

Sold as "anon, c. 1860" by Abbott & Holder (my go-to source of wonderful Victorian art for, hmmm, forty years - indeed, I know my parents took me to their previous gallery more like fifty years ago ...), and coming, they said, from a private sale, I have, of course, tracked it down as well as I can.  Assuming the title remained the same, John Knighton Thomson (1820-1888) exhibited “An Unappreciative Audience” at the Society of British Artists summer exhibition in 1879.  London-based Thomson, judging by the titles of works he exhibited at the RA, BI and elsewhere (and according to Wood) was very much in the tradition of Frith and Elmore, moving between genre paintings and historical subjects.  I haven’t tracked down any reviews of this SBA show, as yet, that do anything more than mentioning Thomson’s work as worthy of note - but it's great to have identified it as far as possible.  It's also interesting to have a contemporary-life painting of humans (as opposed to animals, or a historical or literary subject, or a cartoon) that's unmistakably comical.  

Thursday, June 13, 2019

a bathroom surprise

No, this isn't some strange, yet inventive location for some welcome back balloons!  These are in fact Alice's - she was given them this last weekend at a little party that friends held for her All Clear (and which, alas, I was unable to attend, since I was at the equivalent time talking about Dickens and pavement art in Nagano.  Talking about C19th chalking on pavements/sidewalks is a weird thing to do, it turns out, in a country where I saw maybe six pieces of street art, and three small graffiti tags, over the course of three weeks - though that's another story).

But the balloon gift ended up in the bathroom that's adjacent to my study, because they frightened Moth - and they can be safely shut away there.  Obviously they can't be put outside, in case they get into the eco system (mylar balloons are way up there with plastic straws and the lime).  They are festive, although I'd hardly been expecting to encounter them when I opened the bathroom door ...

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

a very, very, very long Wednesday!

With a 16 hour time difference between the West Coast and Japan, I'm now dealing with the . mind-boggling conundrum of arriving home before I left, on the same Wednesday (I know, I know - it was a reverse scenario traveling out).  So it's been a very long day ...  "This" morning I went to Ueno Park, which has three lakes, one full of water lilies - some still with rain nestling in their centers.

There are also pedal boats, which seem to need keeping in order,

shrines (I didn't make it to the most famous one - too anxious about getting back to the hotel to catch the airport bus in a timely fashion),

and the zoo.  Again, I didn't visit - but the nearby shops are keen to exploit their famed pandas.

And then a long journey (actually, not that long - with the wind behind us, it was only nine and a half hours).  Moth says I can't possibly go away again.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Japan day 20 - last full day!

One final, full, wonderful day.  The rain had cleared this morning - this was part of the view from my room - and this meant that walking became a pleasure again ...

In the morning off to the Hara Museum of Art, in a leafy suburb, with some interesting architecture -

though the museum itself is apparently about to close.  No photos inside, alas - but there was an amazing show: the Dreaming of Earth Project, launched in 2014 by the Korean artist Jae-eun Choi, and with works by Eliasson, among others - all of it focused around the ecology of the DMZ, and the potential for art to flourish in this space that would respect the land, and act to celebrate human and environmental interaction.  It's a deliberately utopian, hypothetical project, and the more effective because of its premises of a hypothetical future.

Then back into town, to Shinjuku/Harajuku - much trendier and cosmopolitan than anything else I've seen in Japan, and certainly the only place where there's any street art (in a limited, and cautious way).

... and some other surprises, besides.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Japan day 19 - heavy rains and lots of cats

It was a very, very, very wet day in Tokyo.  And my only raincoat is a mac with RAINING CATS AND DOGS printed all over it ... a woman in our seminar asked me "so ... are you an animal lover?"  What does one do on a very very wet day, especially a museum-closed Monday? - and knowing one can't be soaking wet when conducting a seminar?

Tokyo in the rain can look like Salford on a bad day.

So ... sushi for lunch, 

and then a cat cafe,

where we made a lot of new friends,

including a Munchkin cat.

We were so pleased that they all seemed very happy and well cared for - this little Abyssinian is having his claws trimmed.