Sunday, September 23, 2012

ascending to symbiotic relationships

word girl came to a party i hosted last night.  ages 7-70 gathered outside under white lights to celebrate the autumnal solstice and all things french.  when i asked her the word of the day, she very quickly said, "ascend" complete with definition.  but when i really just about fell off the deck was when she was talking about animals and said, "yes, these particular creatures--in their natural habitat--have a symbiotic relationship".  you guessed it, complete with definition. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

hamaca and irreducible happiness

while reading marjorie kinnan rawlings' novel "cross creek" (originally published in 1942) i learned that our word for hammock comes from the spanish word "hamaca" which means "a highly arable type of soil".  (remind me to look into how this word for dirt became known for nap inducing netting hanging from trees) she expounds that she wanted to name her book "Hamaca" to indicate the triumphs and defeats that different kinds of men have encountered in that hammock country, but it was believed the name would be so strange that no one would buy the book.  she also likes to think of the spaniards blazing their trails through the florida hammocks, writing, "...the hammocks were the same then as now, and will be the same forever if men can be induced to leave them alone.  hammock soil is dark and rich, made up of centuries of accumulation of humus from the dropping of leaves.  the hammock is marked by its type of trees...and shares with marsh and swamp the great mystery of florida."  she also takes two full pages to describe her favorite magnolia tree, introducing it with the following paragraph, "i do not know the irreducible minimum of happiness for any other spirit than my own.  it is impossible to be certain even of mine.  yet i believe that i know my tangible desideratum.  it is a tree-top against a patch of sky.  if i should lie crippled or long ill, or should have the quite conceivable misfortune to be clapped in jail, i could survive, i think, given this one token of the physical world.  i know that i loved on one such in my first days at the creek."  rawlings is also the author of the pulitzer prize-winning modern classic "the yearling".

Monday, September 10, 2012

singing in the trees

olive trees, baguettes and cigales.  today, as i ate the end of a baguette with ginger chocolate at work, i pondered the simplicity of daily markets and the beauty of nature...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

promises of reading

i had perhaps my easiest art teaching day in history today.  by way of schedule changes and beginning of the year introductions, my job today was to read to two groups of kindergarteners and one sixth grade class.  i read "the dot" by peter reynolds because whether you're 5 or 95, the message is powerful.  and i realized how much energy i had and that not all read-a-louds are created equal.  how many times, if we're tired, can we just go through the pages, reading the words.  you can read or you can READ. but today i felt alive, still full of emotional energy, adding dramatic pauses of my own and lively question and answer sessions along the way.  the sun's still out, days are warm, flu season hasn't hit yet and they're all on their best behavior, i get that.  but what i'm hoping will last is the concept behind what we read.  throughout the year when they're tempted to compare their work with someone else's, i can say "remember the dot", referring back to the common art language we established this week.  this reminds me of when i was little and i'd ask my dad to tell me a story about when he was little.  most nights he would read to me and then we'd do the "adventures of doug as a young boy" too, which meant in essence that i got two stories.  i think he was onto my scheme, but if he was he didn't mind.  even if he was tired from work, i could never tell.  and even if i'd heard the same story 20 times, i loved it just the same.  with all this reading and story telling going on, you might really enjoy "the reading promise" by alice ozma.  written when she is in college, it is a reflection on the promise she and her dad, a school librarian, made to read to each other every night.  what started as a 100 day goal when alice was in 3rd grade turned into much, much more than that; taking on several dimensions as family life grew and evolved.  happy reading!

how blue was my water... green was my valley.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


far and away is is home when you live where i do.

Monday, September 3, 2012

pull up a chair

a chair's a chair, right?  for some reason the chairs in france feel more exotic to me even though many are identical to their counterparts all over the world.  right now i have this thing for tolix chairs--they are so hip!  someday i'll own some.  right now i'm content to try to sit in them at as many businesses and shops as i can...

small town

i live in a small town.  (a small town that is soon to become nationally known, i'm confident, owing to its burgeoning pinot industry and forthcoming road bypass.)  but right now it's still on the scale that i can go into the local art gallery and happen to meet the artist who is there in jeans and chat with her and the owner about local restaurants, kayaking and wine. i can be waiting to get a haircut and connect with a former student from the university. before i continue, i should say i'm an INFJ on the meyer's briggs scale, and i have two social speeds:  on and off.  i've always loved people and i'm enjoying my summer self that is all rested and starts tomorrow which also begins a 9-month marathon for my face muscles and vocal chords.  at any rate, i am a person who loves to be alone, prefers deeper one-on-one connections, and small groups or parties if i'm rested.  when i've had enough time at home, it's fun to go out into a bigger city (thank you portland) and be alone in the midst of fun crowds and activities where i can people watch.  (author's note:  small towns have their drawbacks; for example murphy's law states that when you only have ten minutes and you have to duck into the store for milk that you will run into someone who wants to talk for an hour.  sometimes i wear a baseball hat if i'm in a hurry!)  anyway, when i'm not with my friend who likes food as much as i do, i like to dine alone...i can savor the food that way or just read.  i've always thought it was funny how we are so independent in our culture that we never share tables with people we don't know...well, this week i was at my outdoor table alone when the lunch crowd started picking up and a couple asked if they could share my table.  sure, i was almost done and would be leaving soon.  we got to talking, however, and ended up visiting for over an hour, the husband basically telling me his spiritual history and how he related that to the yoga profession and the wife telling me about her work in healthcare.  before we even properly introduced ourselves we were trading book and author names.  we may never meet each other again, but when they left (on matching motorcycles i noted) i hoped i had encouraged them.  thank you, small town.  you're not the only kind of community, but i appreciate you just the same.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

happy feet

on the first of every month i treat myself to a perusal of sara midda's sketch book from the south of france.  she has captured provence month by month...espadrilles were mentioned in her "september".  these are mine, purchased in july and worn with joy ever since!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

provence, je t'aime

i'm missing provence today.  this sketch is of the hotel window at "the mistral" in st. remy.  oleander blossoms pool-side and the sound of cigales in the plane trees...wistful sigh.  i made my own french day of sorts today, starting by reading gordon bitney's "provence, je t'aime" from cover to cover...morning coffee at a sunny sidewalk table, food cart lunch involving truffle oil and sharing lingering table conversation with strangers, art galleries, small town connections, reading in the "town square" by the "fountain" best i could, afternoon "glace", and trip to the salon topped off by a dinner of chilled fennel soup, wild greens, and gruyere cheese and carmelized onion tart savored with a glass of '09 white wine from france.  double wistful sigh.  it's true, provence, je t'aime...

dear august

dear august, for which of your finer points shall i praise you?  for...your nectar-like scent of blackberry that only comes at this time of year...the swelling gardens and vineyards...being the sister that introduces june and july to their cousin september?  i owe you an apology, it's true.  because you haven't always been my favorite.  not that i'm the ungrateful sort, but it's just been hard in the past for me to leave behind the entire month of july untainted by work as it is and filled with 77 degree days of bliss.  you're more extreme, i guess, but granted that makes for interesting weather and more icecream.  so i suppose in a way it takes more grace to be you and i respect that.  you're famous, after all,  for lyrics like "hot august nights" and i appreciate the work you do to round out summer.  you are responsible for sending europe south in droves to the mediterranean every year.  you have a keen relationship with water; even though the river banks shrink, we teem there together there under your mediation.  it's not your fault that daily doubles and back to school nights happen during the time you are trying to perfect the solstice or give us meteor showers and blue moons and connected tides.  so i started thinking differently about you.  thanks for the 31 days of fun.  your friend, lanette