Friday, May 30, 2014


“The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.” ~ 

May Sarton

Here's Luz, paying attention to the garden sculpture at the Bum's Paradise. 

Off to St. Helena today, Napa wine country, for a little R&R with my sweetie and dear friends.  Life is Good.

Pay attention, darlings, and have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday Musings on Memorial Day

Remembering all those who died and suffered in War.  And are doing so now.  I will abstain from all the 'holiday sales' -- what an obscenity.  That's America for you.  Well, that's one side of America.  The sleazy thoughtless gluttonous side.

I was watching The Normal Heart last night, and in a eulogy for yet another dead friend, our hero says, "In closing, let me just say I am mad.  Yes, I am very mad."  That's how I feel about the crazed senselessness of war.

I want to be respectful and honor the service of men and women who died in U.S. wars.  I do.  But I do not want to celebrate war.  I do not want to add to the chest beating, "USA! USA!"

I loathe the 'holiday' atmosphere, the sales, the parties.  Can't we mark it simply, in honor of those lost?  Solemnly? Do the right thing?  Be the kind of people who are worthy of such a sacrifice by so many others of us?


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Season of the Choke

I happen to love artichokes.  Hot or cold, with mayo or cooked in water with olive oil and
herbs.  My folks recently were in Castroville (supposed Artichoke Capitol of the world) and brought home many chokes for us.  I grew up on the Monterey Peninsula, driving by choke fields in Carmel and Castroville, Watsonville and Salinas.

It was the Spanish settlers who brought the artichoke to California. Some artichoke plants were in the gardens of European immigrants.  California's first artichoke fields grew south of San Francisco near the town of Half Moon Bay in the early 1920s.  In 1922 Andrew Molera planted the first artichoke shoots in Castroville. Angelo Del Chiaro, Egidio Maracci, Daneil Pieri, and Amerigo subsequently leased 150 acres of land and grew artichokes.  There's a state beach in Big Sur named after Mr. Molera.

In 1923 there were nine artichoke growers. Within four years there were over 50 growers and 12,000 acres of artichokes growing in Castroville, and in the Monterey Bay area. Whatever you do, know that you do NOT have to get all fancy schmancy like Jacques here

I gasp in horror as he cuts away some of the best parts! The stems are great! They are like the heart.  Cook the chokes simply by placing them in a large pot of water and boiling for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on size.  I like them cold for lunch.  I eat the stems as well.  If you don't like stems, don't cook 'em.  Send them over to me.

Here is a beautiful choke in my neighborhood, that has been allowed to flower.

Isn't in gorgeous?  Contrary to popular belief, they are not difficult to cook and eat.  Been doing it my entire life.  They are a delicacy that goes well with just about any other good food.  I also make a mean artichoke spread for crackers, with the hearts, mayo, garlic and Parmesan baked until bubbly and brown.

Speaking of delicacies, I recently had the most heavenly clams in the shell in a crazy good broth, with crunchy garlic bread for dipping, along with a cucumber martini.  Okay, Okay, yes, I AM a martini purist.  Perhaps this drink should be called a vodka cucumber chilly breeze or something. It was so good that I purchased cucumber infused vodka and other makings the very next day.  Forget about the recipes that call for mint, or squeezing cucumber into a juice.  Just get yourself some flavored vodka (mine was Skinny Girl because that was the only brand flavored with cucumber), a lime and some Cointreau.  Shake shake shake that icy drink and enjoy.  But be careful, it doesn't taste like the highly alcoholic drink that it is.  It is light and refreshing.

Ah, the tastes of summer to come....

Friday, May 16, 2014


Happy Friday, peeps.  If all goes well, I'll be giving blood today.  Last week my hemoglobin was too low and so I was advised to take iron for a week and return.

It's been a good week -- albeit terribly hot outside.  But as I watch wildfires rage in Southern California, I count my lucky stars.  I used to live in San Diego.  I remember those Santa Ana winds that drove fires like a little red Corvette.  My grandmother lived in Rancho Bernardo the last years of her life.  RB is currently on fire.  Seriously.

Speaking of my grandmother, Nadine Alice Tilley Robinson, I dug up an old family photo for FB Throwback Thursday.  Here it is:

If I've got this right, my great grandmother is on the right, and her sister Ada Lou Goodale Bigelow is on the left.  This was probably made around 1900.  My grandmother was born in 1912.  Folks on FB really liked the photo, and I love to tell the story of my independent and talented great great aunt.  Family lore has it that she was, at the tender age of 17, working as an assistant to photographer Roland Reed, who asked her father permission to take her along on a trip to photograph Blackfoot Indians.  Their association was a long one, and he eventually sold his studio in Coronado to her after 1915.

Have a great weekend!

P.S. My hemoglobin count was actually DOWN by two points.  Now I have to wait 12 weeks and test again.  Somebody infuse me with some iron, please.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Here's Anne Lamott's FB post today.  She is so breathtakingly spot on.  This is why I take photos of myself brushing my teeth and half awake.  I. Don't. Give. A. Fuck.  It's my life -- you don't like it?  Move on with your own bad self. 

There's a whole chapter on perfectionism in Bird by Bird, because it is the great enemy of the writer, and of life, our sweet messy beautiful screwed up human lives. It is the voice of the oppressor. It will keep you very scared and restless your entire life if you do not awaken, and fight back, and if you're an artist, it will destroy you.
My pastor said last Sunday that if you don't change directions, you are going to end up where you are headed. Is that okay with you, to end up still desperately trying to achieve more, and to get the world to validate your parking ticket, and to get your possibly dead parents to see how amazing you always were?
This is not going to happen. They are either so dead, like mine are, or they are insatiable, or so relieved that you did not end up divorced--or if you did, then heavily into drugs, like the Woodson girl, or more out of shape than you are, like Esther's son. It's hopeless, and this is the good news.
Putting those tiny pesky parental voices aside, what about, oh, say, the entire rest of the world?
Do you mind even a little that you are still addicted to people-pleasing, and are still putting everyone else's needs and laundry and career ahead of your creative, spiritual life? Giving all your life force away, to "help" and impress. Well, your help is not helpful, and falls short.
Look, I struggle with this. I hate to be criticized. I am just the tiniest bit more sensitive than the average bear. And yet, I'm a writer, so I periodically put my work out there, and sometimes like all writers, I get terrible reviews, so personal in nature that they leave me panting. Even with a Facebook post, like the last one, do you have any idea what it's like to get 500-plus negative attacks, on my character, from truly bizarre strangers.
Really, it's not ideal.
Yet, I get to tell my truth. I get to seek meaning and realization. I get to live fully, wildly, imperfectly. That's why I'm alive. And all I actually have to offer as a writer, is my version of life. Every single thing that has happened to me is mine. As I've said a hundred times, if people wanted me to write more warmly about them, they should have behaved better
Is it okay with you that you blow off your writing, or whatever your creative/spiritual calling, because your priority is to go to the gym or do yoga five days a week? Would you give us one of those days back, to play or study poetry? To have an awakening? Have you asked yourself lately, "How alive am I willing to be?" It's all going very quickly. It's mid-May, for God's sake. Who knew. I thought it was late February.
It's time to get serious about joy and fulfillment, work on our books, songs, dances, gardens. But perfectionism is always lurking nearby, like the demonic prowling lion in the Old Testament, waiting to pounce. It will convince you that your work-in-progress is not great, and that you may never get published. (Wait, forget the prowling satanic lion--your parents, living or dead, almost just as loudly either way, and your aunt Beth, and your passive-aggressive friends, whom we all think you should ditch, are going to ask, "Oh, you're writing again? That's nice. Do you have an agent?")
Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you're 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn't go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It's going to break your heart. Don't let this happen. Repent just means to change direction--and NOT to be said by someone who is waggling their forefinger at you. Repentance is a blessing. Pick a new direction, one you wouldn't mind ending up at, and aim for that. Shoot the moon.
Here's how to break through the perfectionism: make a LOT of mistakes. Fall on your butt more often. Waste more paper, printing out your shitty first drafts, and maybe send a check to the Sierra Club. Celebrate messes--these are where the goods are. Put something on the calendar that you know you'll be terrible at, like dance lessons, or a meditation retreat, or boot camp. Find a writing partner, who will help you with your work, by reading it for you, and telling you the truth about it, with respect, to help you make it better and better; for whom you will do the same thing. Find someone who wants to steal his or her life back, too. Now; today. One wild and crazy thing: wears shorts out in public if it is hot, even if your legs are milky white or heavy. Go to a poetry slam. Go to open mike,and read the story you wrote about the hilariously god-awful family reunion, with a trusted friend, even though it could be better, and would hurt Uncle Ed's feelings if he read it, which he isn't going to.
Change his name and hair color--he won't even recognize himself.
At work, you begin to fulfill your artistic destiny. Wow! A reviewer may hate your style, or newspapers may neglect you, or 500 people may tell you that you are bitter, delusional and boring.
Let me ask you this: in the big juicy Zorba scheme of things, who fucking cares?

Friday, May 9, 2014


Happy Friday blogger babies!  It's been a good week for me.  Hows about youse?

I managed to take very good care of my mother while dad was away for the week.  The house is still standing, albeit with a little smoke and water damage, and mother's health didn't deteriorate too too much whilst in my care.  That's good, right?

I went to donate whole blood today only to find my iron levels not up to par for donating, so one week of iron supplements and I can try again.  They are so nice at Blood Source.  They gave me credit for donating (good for redeeming gifts) and invited me to partake of the snack and beverage bar (which I declined).  The place was packed with Friday morning givers, and I didn't want to filch any of their treats that they would surely need after the letting.

Mother's Day is this Sunday, and we all choose to celebrate differently or not at all.  I'm from the Anne Lamott school of thought regarding mother's day.  I'm going to spend my Sunday morning at the antique fair taking photos of weirdly juxtaposed items displayed for sale.  Then off to lunch at some restaurant where the MD crowd is unlikely to go.  Thai? Ethiopian?

My daughter graduates from her Masters in Education program next month.  She's passing all her exams, and is writing her thesis now.  She will be eligible to teach starting in the fall.  The job search is on.  I'm so happy for her -- this is a life long dream come true.

Hey - you know what would be a great Mother's Day gift for all those parents in Nigeria?  Find their daughters and return them home.  Then deal with the offenders swiftly and brutally.  Yeah.  Yeah, I said that.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Tempting Fate - And Winning

This project, the Babas of Chernobyl was recently brought to my attention. Women in their 70s and 80s who have been living in the hot zone of the nuclear disaster for 25 years, defying authorities and choosing to return to their homes and risk their health and lives. Not as crazy as it sounds. We all take risks. Just two nights ago, 2 cars parked right outside my folks' house were broken into. They live in a 'transitional' neighborhood, on the cusp of wealth and poverty. There is a fair number of bad guys, tweakers and thieves in these parts. But the neighborhood is on the uptick with new homes, markets, and suburbanites moving back into the city in their retirement so they may walk to just about anywhere and end their isolation. These women of Chernobyl are a hearty sort, and determined to live out their lives their way. They seem to be having a good go of it, and apparently their survival rates are better than the displaced refugees of their towns. So, here's to a bit (a bit!) of daring; grabbing life by the horns, and doing it 'my way.'

Friday, May 2, 2014


Another poem to celebrate this Friday. Have a good weekend and read some poetry, why doncha?

Grass Valley

There is a place
just off the highway
where dragonflies drop their eggs
into the pond, and hummingbirds
swarm the feeders that have, so far,
delivered 66 pounds of sugar to their frenzied tongues.
A family of quail venture out
to a patch of ground forsaken by squirrels,
and a hawk screams overhead.
Blue jays leap from hanging feeders and send them swinging,
while dove feathers, bone and sinew lie in nearby grass.
Shade of pine, cypress and madrone
promise the day will cool when evening comes
and stars light the night.
I will rest my head upon unfamiliar pillows
and dream of who knows what....

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Happy May Day

I remember May Day as a child.  In school we would make baskets with flowers in them to deliver to our mothers' doorstep, ring the bell and hide.  They'd feign surprise and be 'delighted' by our antics.  We thought we were so clever.

Here's what's happening in Ukraine this May Day.  Read it and weep.

Have you ever danced around the May Pole?  No doubt I did as a small child, but the only one I remember was, as a teenager, celebrating at Theresa's house on Partington Ridge in Big Sur.  We erected a pole and danced around it.  Can you guess we were kinda hippie-ish?  I think we roasted a goat as well.  Drugs and time have done their damage to my memory.....

May Day has its origins in the pre-Christian celebration of spring, Beltane.  But leave to Americans, yes, particularly Chicagoans to adopt their own special interpretation.  In an effort to advocate for the 8 hour work day, a flyer was printed (1886) that said:

  • Workingmen to Arms!
  • War to the Palace, Peace to the Cottage, and Death to LUXURIOUS IDLENESS.
  • The wage system is the only cause of the World's misery. It is supported by the rich classes, and to destroy it, they must be either made to work or DIE.
  • One pound of DYNAMITE is better than a bushel of BALLOTS!
  • MAKE YOUR DEMAND FOR EIGHT HOURS with weapons in your hands to meet the capitalistic bloodhounds, police, and militia in proper manner.

Reminds me of the Occupy Movement.  We see how far that got us, right?  The line that gets me here is, "one pound of DYNAMITE...."  How very very little things change.

How do you mark May Day? 

Yellow Cottage, Part 2

I have a dear friend who I met in my Creative Writing class my freshman year in college.  I sent the poem to her for her comments and edits ...