Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse (escaping north, part four)





A few more from the late winter trip my girlfriend and I took. A blustery point with outrageously wild surf. Something to daydream back on now, when most state parks in my area aren't even currently an option to visit.

I have some more photos from a different camera from this trip, my compact digital camera. I haven't shared them yet, so I might this week, for some fresh landscapes for our indoorsy eyes - yea or nay?

For more from this trip:
Part one here
Part two here 
Part three here

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Flower chandelier






There is the most radiant blossoming tree near here. I took some pictures on film too, the next day. (Who knows when getting film developed will be practical again.) Do any of you know what type of tree it is?

I had a dream about a month ago that I discovered a tree with all different colors of blossoms on it, and in the dream I told my girlfriend, "It should be called a bouquet tree." This one grows in such a way that it kind of actually looks like bouquets growing on a tree - branches sprinkled with these absolutely stunning thick clusters of flowers. A sidewalk chandelier of flowers. An umbrella of bouquets. Something.

I listened to the full Norman Fucking Rockwell! album for the first time last week, and I am still kind of entranced and - trite though the word may be - actually inspired.

Also, I seem to have regained my attention span for reading, and I may be finally starting to enjoy all the cooking that lockdown involves.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

On letters and becoming a writer

"The mindset of the writer I can trace back to the mindset of wanting to control the narrative of my life, which never otherwise felt like something I could control. The fears I had, the things I wanted but couldn't get, I discovered and expressed through writing letters to pen pals. In those days you bought a teen magazine, and it had a list of addresses for young people living all around the world. At one point there were whole magazines devoted to pen pal addresses....There was no security about it - you just wrote to them, and they wrote back. It was like discovering something impossibly brilliant and wonderful, something delightful that was available at no cost - always available. I still have at least one pen pal from those days of my preteen years that I am in touch with.
"But what fascinated me was that...your role was to explain your world to the person you were sending the letter to at a time when they did not have access to other parts of the world. There was no internet. I was living in Jamaica. If something happened for news to go around the world, it would have to be monumental; it wouldn't be about everyday life. If you went to an encyclopedia, it would be twenty years out of date. So, in a sense, I became not just an authority on my life, but an authority on the culture of the country in which I lived - its landscape, climate, day-to-day rhythms, and even its language. If I had a pen pal, they'd be the authority on their space. We'd be the conduit for knowing our worlds. I got a thrill both from receiving those letters and for the thought that what I was saying was being consumed and was shaping their understanding of the world I knew intimately.

"...What I was doing was telling my life from my perspective, my point of view, which, as it happened, was my point of power. I was acutely aware that if something happened to me, if I got beat up in a fight, that my telling could be my revenge, that I could control that narrative. Even if the fact was that I lost that fight, in the retelling of it and the choice of what I could tell, I was very aware of constructing and controlling the narrative, and that I was, whether through the use of humor or exclusion or of irony, the hero in the telling. You can imagine that, if you're doing this regularly, to multiple people, that as incidents happen to you, you're thinking, "I can't wait to write about this." And the difference between a letter and a journal is that there is an audience, and someone is going to write back and say, 'I didn't understand this,' or, 'This made me laugh,' and I think that's the moment when the sensation of writing and the command, the control, the shaping, the texturing of writing began appealing to me, and drew me in.
"And if I were to be honest, and here I am being very honest, that impulse has not changed - it has merely grown. What I mean to say is that the closest thing that I can think of to a prototype for my fascination with being a writer was in my experience as a writer of letters to pen pals in my teen years. Any genuine study of writers of the past, and especially of the 19th and 20th century, will make this point clear. Most writers practiced their craft in letters. At the very least, their first experience of 'publication' would have been in letters. It is a shaping thing."

- Kwame Dawes
in interview in Rattle #65
As someone who also spent some of my formative years writing to friends I'd never met, I loved his explanation of what that process can bring, and it resonated profoundly.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Gratitudes & things that are making me happy


• Hearing the neighborhood peacock's evening cries

Having a neighborhood peacock

• And most of all, finally FINDING the neighborhood peacock

• Tiger Balm and CBD salve for a sore muscle

• Flowers blooming and coming up everywhere

• Doing Hebrew worksheets first thing after cereal on a Saturday morning, while others are still asleep and the apartment is quiet. I love language worksheets.

• Reorganizing my closet for greater accessibility/efficiency (I am boring)

Orphan Black

• Long late evenings now

• Reading from a big photo-heavy book about the oceans to wake up in the morning

• Being able to run a little faster now

• Experiencing prolonged lucidity while dreaming for the first time

• Starting to re-make some workday routines for my working-from-home purposes

•  Hearing cat people using their cat voices in other languages

Thursday, April 16, 2020



These days when I take a morning break, I often stroll with my book to a house nearby where two beautiful red hens wander the front garden. Little dinosaurs, as my girlfriend calls them.

One day I rounded the corner to see a dad and toddler were already there paying the chickens a call. I walked around the block again to wait my turn and thought to myself that this lockdown has made me a bit like a child - so pleased with the simplest interactions, the simplest novelties. You too?

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Books read in March 2020

1. No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference, by Greta Thunberg
I feel a bit on fire whenever I am exposed to her thoughts on climate breakdown. She has a powerful clarity. This book is a small collection of speeches from a period of about two years which frequently repeat themselves when you're reading them all in sequence, but that didn't bug me. I really recommend her words, in whatever form (written or recordings).

2. Gravity Is The Thing, by Jaclyn Moriarty
Having just finished rereading a young adult novel of hers, I was delighted to discover and fall into Jaclyn Moriarty's first adult novel. It is so quirky-funny, and sometimes achingly poignant, and has that way some of her books have of wrapping up all of these odd disparate details into one big "ahh, I see" ending. I loved the narrator quite a bit.

3. If I Had a Hammer: Women's Work in Poetry, Fiction, and Photographs, edited by Sandra Martz
The old feminist anthologies are often more digestible than I think, this one included. (This one is from 1990.) Thoughtful but relatively light reading. Of particular interest to me was reading about various pink-collar jobs which no longer exist (e.g. entering bank deposits manually all day long) now that we all have 21st-century computers and the accompanying automations.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Point & shoot photo album: March

UntitledBeautiful radicchio lettuces coming back.

Pink jasmine, a dearest fragrance.

Lovely neighborhood lemons (? I think).

Hyacinth. Another beautiful scent.


Tulips coming up!

Camellia strewing her blossoms.

Peppermint camellia.

Angel's trumpet.

More beloved jasmine.


A fire in the neighborhood.

The house was not lost.

Baby figs.

Rosemary flowering.

Spring shadows.

Long spring light.

A gift of chocolates that my girlfriend made.

Purple Brussels sprouts.

Vegan pasta alfredo with purple Brussels sprouts.

A prism rainbow above my desk.

The view from my bedroom floor.

Wisteria, which always makes me think of my mom (who loves it) and the jewel fruits in Aladdin's cave (not in the movie, but in the story).

White flowers on rosemary, which I had not seen before.

More roses, this kind the climbing kind.

Sitting on my back steps on the first day of working from home, eating cheesy pita bread thinking, "So it's going to be like this."

Essence of spring evening.

Shelter-in-place days.

Sweet milky decaf black tea and gratitude for my house plants when my bedroom is suddenly where I spend most of the twenty-four hours in my day.

I miss this bakery, but I appreciated their sign-off.

Freesias! Another unforgettable fragrance. A flower that always blooms in time for my birthday.

Bedroom and office in one.

More rainbows from the prism, if you can spot it.

Walking, for relief.

Metal flowers.

A note from a toddler, courtesy of his parent. "To the 2 cats that live in the front windows. My name is Oscar. I am almost 2 years old. I live around the corner and ride my bike by your window every day. I like to see you (the cats) sitting in the window. What are your names? - Oscar"

And the cats' replies, courtesy of their people. I was charmed by this entire interaction.

Muggins (mug cakes) are proliferating in my shelter-in-place life, thanks to a fellow Aries friend who announced a Zoom and mug cakes party for her birthday.

Rain returned in the month of March, after a worryingly dry February. I lavished much attention on the flowers on my neighborhood - not gardening, but walking by, photographing, touching, smelling. Shelter in place took effect. I spent a week and a half at home, seeing my girlfriend only on distant (six feet apart) walks, before decamping to her apartment with a bag full of clothes and my work computer setup. That's where I am now. Finding routine in washing dishes, running, keeping in touch with friends via letter and text. Working (thankfully), remotely. Spending so much time sitting in weird positions in bed that I get corresponding weird muscle aches/sorenesses in my thighs and hips. Watching TV shows and doing so much damn cooking.

How about you?

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Recipe: Sun River Banana Bread [updated]


Reposting with updates, because we are all making banana bread, apparently.

I declared this my favorite banana bread recipe nearly a decade ago. It makes for smooth dense bread, with just the right amount of sweetness and a beautiful crust. No oily feeling or over-crumbliness.

I am vegan now, but I still use the same recipe - just substituting vegan yogurt and butter and egg replacer throughout.


2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened*
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs or vegan equivalent (I like Ener-G egg replacer best)
2 overripe bananas (you will need 2/3 C mashed)
1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt**


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mash your bananas in a small bowl with a fork. In a separate large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs (one at a time) or egg replacer. Blend in banana pulp. Add baking powder, soda, and salt and stir. Alternate adding the flour and yogurt. Pour into a well-greased and floured loaf pan. Bake on the center rack for about one hour (or if you choose to do muffins, about 20 minutes). Remove from pan and cool on rack.

Makes one loaf.


*If you don't have pre-softened butter, don't despair and don't microwave your chosen shortening into a sad puddle. Stay calm and do as this blogger says. Works like a charm.

**If you don't have yogurt, do this: pour 3/4 t white vinegar or lemon juice into a 1/4 C measure, then fill it the rest of the way with milk and let it stand 5-10 minutes before using, until slightly thickened and curdled.

Adapted from the Sunset Cook Book of Favorite Recipes (1973).