Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Observations from the Road Trip NM to TX from 10/3

I made it in once piece! Thank you new, old car for behaving. I am up on the third floor of a vanilla cookie-cutter condo complex where I will be living for the next few months at least. I would rather be grounded in an adobe in Santa Fe, but this is a great location so near Barton Springs and away from campus. I will have an entirely different and freeing experience of Austin living here with a car for the first time. 

The trip back: I stopped at White Sands first, walking across a bone white beach in the middle of a dessert. Shadows, footprints, heat, prominent. 

A few hours later and south, I drove through Lincoln National Forest. Tall pine trees, high elevation, cool air and a ski resort! I could have been back in the enchanted circle around Taos even though Texas is very close.  

I reached Carlsbad and my first couchsurfing destination at 7:30pm. I immediately knew this is a strange town and a weird house. Too many pets, not so well cared for, and my allergies acted up which they never do with animals. The highlight of that stay: watching a Ken Burns special on PBS about national Parks, which focused a lot that night on Acadia National Park and my childhood home. Anyway, my host lady had a good heart so I  knew I was safe, but I was out of there before the sun rose the next morning. Took back roads to get to Sitting Bull Falls just as the sun woke up. Water oasis and waterfalls in the middle of rocky dryness. A tarantula marched across the middle of the road. Jack rabbits, cows chewing cud, ravens, lizards. Every other turn presented wildlife. 

Carlsbad caverns by 10am. I loved wandering through the cool, damp, darkness. Stillness. For 2.5 hours. On the surface again, an insect buzzed past. The ranger told me the bug was a spider hawk. "They sting and paralyze tarantulas then flip them over on their stomach and lay their eggs in the new host nest," she explained. Mother nature. What a way to go.

Then straight on to Marfa. A touch of sadness leaving New Mexico and the changing seasons. Now I see "Don't mess with Texas" don't litter signs and "Adopt a highway signs" too frequently for comfort. West Texas beckons. Golden flat land stretching out to meet purple mountains. At one point I am encircled on every side by a mountain range. In Mafra, I met Daeryl, my second couchsurfer of the trip. I realized immediately we have a lot in common; her path is one I feel drawn to. She is a graphic and book designer and also a healer.

She showed me the local view of the town and she seems to know each person. I love the aspect of saying hi to everyone! First stop: a wine tasting at the new alternative market, The Get Go. Then on to Jett's for dinner where Daeryl introduced me to a wealthy Marfa benefactor, Mr. Crowley, who spends a lot of his money improving Marfa for the public. For example, he built a shade structure for the farmer's market and he turned an old building into a theater - he pays the expenses so bands like Bon Iver can play for only $2!

After Jett's, we migrated to Maya's. I wish I'd waited to have dinner there and I'll definitely have to come back! I tried their divine lemon-pistachio cake with prickly pear ice cream. Yum! The bar tender, a 24 year old Marfa native, chatted with Daeryl and I for a while. Last stop, the last place open, Padre's, where we ran into some of the same folks who had been at the other places. Called it a night and walked home to Daeryl's adorable home. You would never guess, from looking at the cracked, brown exterior, that a space of such peace exists within. White walls and floor, art, tomatoes drying on the table. I asked Daeryl more about her life. As it turns out, she recently wrote a book called "Opening the Window to the Soul" which she designed and self-published and sells on her talking tours around the country. In fact, she will be speaking for free in Austin the end of October and that is just too much of a call to ignore. 

Up before dawn again so I could make it through Big Bend and back to Austin in one day. Arrived at Big Bend at 9am and hiked through the painted gap trail. A colorful black and yellow grass hopper and a few campers, some pink desert flowers, a hare. Giant yucca making the times feel prehistoric. After all this, I still found myself in Fredricksburg at 5 and picniced near enchanted rock because I had to see it since I was near. No time to unwind much until now: I spent the day following Big Bend at ACL, experiencing only one day of the music festival this year. I am glad about that. Its pouring rain today, I have no plans until an after show at 11pm, can do as I please, and no one knows where I am.

Monday, October 5, 2009

From The 29th of September, hiking with aspens

Went for a gorgeous hike with Kelly today through the changing aspen and here and there patches of snow. Absolutely stunning peace and majesty. Unusual 70 degrees up in those mountains and an unbelievable number of people out enjoying their sunday. Good to see. On the drive home, I think the topic of mean and angry people came up somehow. Kelly said she likes being her. "You're stuck with you all the time," she said. Its true. And if you really think about that, why would you possibly put up with being a mean and angry you when you don't have to? I am so grateful I am me. And I got to be with me on 7 miles or so of Pecos Wilderness trail with someone who likes being her too.

I keep experiencing deja-vu today. Its happened four times. I think that happens when transitions are taking place. Kinda strange. Is mercury still in retrograde? Does that make any difference? I swear, this month, I've been loosing things and forgetting things and leaving room for distraction. I also had a very weird, real dream last night that I am remembering right now. I don't remember it all, only splices. On a boat with a young girl who is making people disappear, but not in a malicious way. And one guy on the boat is someone I knew from my volunteer experience in England two years ago. She makes this guy disappear and he ends up simultaneously in two new places: in one instance, he is a performer in a strange play and in another, he is a carnivorous dinosaur in a landscape that looks like New Mexico, the meadow where I went hiking today - before I even saw it. And the dinosaur is laying eggs. Maybe all this is just the cause of karaoke, movie size boxes of reces pieces, hula hoops, and cat-faced spiders too close to bedtime the night before? In any event, its fun to record. 

Also, this morning, I saw my first black widow. Nicole pointed her out to me. She was crawling along the siding of our house. Her sticky web spans the crevice between flower pot and ground. There are spiders everywhere this time of year. Great, I've probably set myself up for some new and crazy dream tonight!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

AIGA New Mexico Design Lecture with Maggie Macnab, Joel Nakamura and John Langdon

The Santa Fe Complex
Santa Fe, New Mexico
September 19, 9:00 am to 12:30 pm

"Join Maggie Macnab, Joel Nakamura and John Langdon for a half-day seminar that explores the fasinating relevance of symbols in visual communications. This experiential presentaition will educate attendees on symbolic influence in lettering, illustration and identity design — from three creative angles."


Maggie Macnab — author of Decoding Design
Specializes in symbolism and in logo design that is both universal and particular to the client. 

"Trust that which gives you meaning and accept it as your guide." 
— Carl Jung

Design: Taking something that does not yet exist and putting it into the practical world.

Five shapes drawn on paper: square, circle, spiral, triangle, cross

Which do you like most? The spiral
Least? The square
Neutral? the triangle

We sense connections between space and time through pattern, allowing us to grasp who and where we are.


- Branching: the pattern of trees, rivers, lightening, circulatory and neural system
A lot of branching patterns have a concentric circle built in.
ex. Trees also have tree rings

You start with the thing that is most common - it doesn't matter if it is trite or contrived.

- Meanders: the pattern of water, brain corral, brain, rolling and turning motion, maximum capacity in tight space
German designer: Homann - color management

- Symmetrically stacked and Breaking patterns: seen in spheres, cells, molecules, flies eye, honey comb. Its the shape of ultra-efficiency. Breaks in sidewalks occurring at 120ยบ . Buckminister Fuller's geodesic dome

Patterns transcend scale. So that's why logos based on patterns work so well at various sizes.

A lot of financial institutions that want to say high efficiency use direct corners and points of intersection.

- Weaving and Helices Patterns: seen in galaxies - nebula, water spouts, tornadoes, its the basis of fabrics, opposite cultures working together

- Spirals: seen in seed heads, shells, ferns, tendrils, and galaxies

The symbols of Numbers:

1. The circle is the shape for one. 
used cross-culturally to represent God

2. Duality and Division
the cross shape
Du + al = two + all
"Dividing is only half the story"
The Vestica Pisces
Jesus Fish shape, also a female shape
"One form informs the next step"
2 concentric circles/ripples in water
Mid-evil age was the Piscean era - pisces symbol

Symbols are self-evident. They are around us all the time.
In western culture, things are viewed very linearly, heaven or hell, black or white, consequentially, such as The mastercard symbol

Eastern symbol for duality is very different. The Yin Yang symbol.

Always design logos in black and white first. Maggie designed the gorgeous two arabian horse head yin/yang logo.

3. The step from two dimensions to 3 dimensions
The triangle shape
The top of the triangle is our interaction with what we don't know, God, inspired thought-process sits on top
3 is the # of turning under again for the process to start anew.
ex. recycled logo - it may have been a very intuitive design
Trial means Try-all
symbol for women, birth
The three stripes on the Obama logo - again may have been a very intuitive design

4. adding the 4th point adds depth
the square
structured space
city grids, strategy games like chess and checkers
the idea/theory of money having value - its shape ads structure and the perception of value

5. Quintessence
5 fingers and toes
quality and quantity in the # 5
the pentagon, 5-pointed star
5 is inherent in the spiral shape
5 petaled flowers create food that is edible for humans, while 6 or 9 petaled plants are poison or medicine - poison and medicine are synonymous
the golden proposition, Fibinacci Theory - nature's favorite mathematical sequence
the golden rectangle
Love, the Heart shape, is based roughly on the spiral

Design for integrity. You have that power as a designer.

Now look back at the shapes you chose in the beginning. 
Favorite: Spiral
Least Favorite: Square
Neutral: triangle

The least favorite shape is something you are avoiding. The most favorite shape is something you are most in balance and most comfortable with in your life. The neutral shape is a balance point between the two for you. Try to work on the parts in your life that have to do with your least favorite shape and see if you can get that more in balance.

Symbolism and meaning behind the shapes you chose:

The Spiral:
Growth and Evolution

The Circle: 
Wholeness, unity and community

The Line:
The connector of two points and the divider of two points. 2 opposites overlapping. Relationship

The Triangle: 
What we aspire to
The point above us

The Square: 
Stability and structure

Joel Nakamura

It was an interactive excersize. We drew index cards with words on them and then we had to draw the words on post-it notes in black permanant marker and stick them on the front wall. The words got harder and harder to draw.

My words:
Can of Spam
Juniper Bush
"Monkey See, Monkey Do"
"Viral Marketing" which we had to do as a group
"Your future is full of success" we all had to open a fortune cookie and create a logo for a future business based on what we drew.

It was fun!

John Langdon

I missed part of his lecture because I went to the ATM to with-draw money to buy Maggie's Book, Decoding Design, and get it signed.

His talk and his work focuses on Ambiagrams

"Sometimes its not just about yin and yang, but also about the line that separates and connects the two"

Bell curves, sand bars, and tidal pools, wave length, slinky - helix form of spiral

The word OM spelled from a coil presented head on for the O and sideways for the M. Amazing! I recall my yoga mat on the scanner daily practice.

Ambiagram definition: 
ambi - either/or + gram - something written graphically
A word that can be read from more than one point of view

He showed an awesome example of an abmbiagram made from the word Appophenia which means the perception of meeting where it doesn't actually exist

- can be rotational
- or mirror image

Caligraphy is a very spontaneous process. Mentioned the name Tom Bandwell to look up. John can't do caligraphy because he is left handed. He talks about his background. He got a BA in English, knew he always wanted to be an artist, but never got the support growing up. Got a job at a type setting factory out of college, and has taught typography classes for 21 years.

This was an incredible lecture and I love my new book!

From September 15th 2009

I came across Ailine Smithson's photography website the other day in some of my research. In her artist statement, she says things I very much relate to:

"I take photographs to allow myself and the viewer to look for or create moments that are at once familiar, yet unexpected. The odd juxtapositions that we find in life, are worth exploring, whether it is with humor, compassion, or by simply taking the time to see them. I have been greatly influenced by the Japanese concept of celebrating a singular object. I tend to isolate subject matter and look for complexity in simple images, providing an opportunity for telling a story in which all is not what it appears to be. The poignancy of childhood, aging, relationships, family, and moments of introspection or contemplation continue to draw my interest. I want to create pictures that evoke a universal memory."

From September 12th 2009

From the "Power of Intention" by Wayne Dyer

"Connectors are aware of the need to avoid low energy. They'll quietly retreat from loud, bellicose, opinionated people" (247)

I allowed myself to feel bad because of Jonathan's low energy last night. I could not retreat from his increased bellicosity because I felt somewhat responsible for his well-being, for walking him home without incident because he is my house mate. I had invited him out with my friends in gratitude for his assistance in helping me look at a prospective car. He was so incredibly grateful to go and said it is so good for him to spend time with me because I am so peaceful and calm. Yet for me, In his change from sobriety to altered, aggressive state, I didn't know how to take a step back and gain perspective on the situation. To not take it personally, and to feel good regardless. Normally, I would leave the situation. Well, now my intention is to attract peace into my life and that, as sad as it is, I would never take him with me to any public place where alcohol exists. 

From September 8th 2009

Tonight; special. I met Erin and Kristin at Alfanoose - Mediteranean food and hookah bar on 2nd street in Santa Fe. Now two good and separate friends have finally met. Alfanoose owner, Sami, is out of this world. He came to the U.S. 15 years ago from Palestine. Politics fascinate him and he can talk to you for hours about philosophy. His cafe menu states restaurant closure at 10pm, but that is a rare occurrence. Sami will keep the place running until 3:30am if customers stay that long. My swedish couchsurfing friend Otto, who has since returned to his country I'm sad to say, introduced me to this hole in the wall slice of international eclecticism, in early August. Now I love introducing new people. 

Tonight is Erin's first time. I explain, sometimes the place is filled with people, and other times it is taken up by only the friends  you bring and Sami. 

When we first arrive at 7:30pm, no one is home, although the door is wide open. We grab menus and sit outside so my other friend Kristin will spot us when she comes. A few seconds later, Sami pulls up. "Hello, we just got here," I say. " I know, I just left" How great is that? To leave your restaurant wide open to run a quick errand?

Later, we are seated inside on patio furniture. Parakeets in cages in the front room. There are only 4 of us in the cafe at this early hour and it feels like a friendly hearth. Middle eastern music on the stereo, warm red walls, and Sami singing along as he takes our order. Sami says, as he has before, that life is for enjoying. His mission with this cafe is to help others have fun. 

Erin craves some shwarma. No words, how good. And Kristin gets the special: an okra broth with tender lamb served with basmati rice with herbs. Sami arrives later with aromatic black tea. "See how skinny I am? This is because I go back and forth like this." Then he comes back with falafel samples fresh from the oven because he wants us to try. And baklavah. And then turkish coffee. He and his Egyptian friend, Alladin sit down to join us after we finish the food. "Mahaba" he teaches us hello. "Shukran" he teaches us thank you. "Habibi" he teaches us my love. and "Masaba" he teaches us good bye.

The only other time I'd met Aladdin was the first time I came, with Otto. Aladdin introduced himself to the table with a giant, sweet watermelon! I'm telling you, this place is special. This time, Aladdin brings another plate of baklavah and hookah. Then Sami gets up and pulls over the keyboard/synthesizer that greets you when you walk in the door. "Play" he tells Aladdin. 

After an impressive round of middle eastern tunes, Aladdin tells stories. One day, in the beginning of his life in America, a man at a restaurant asked him if his name was Mohammed because there are so many mohammeds in Egypt. The next day, Aladdin was leafing through the phone book and saw an enormous number of Williams. The next time he saw the same man at the restaurant and the man jokingly asked him if his name was Mohammed, Aladdin replied "no, William, my name is not Mohammed." 

Another time, Aladdin met a woman who told him she needed a date for that night. Aladdin said, sure, he would find her a date. He came back with a variety box of 20 dates. The woman tried to explain this is not what she had asked for. The woman said, "If we took this box of dates and ate them together at the concert tonight, that would be a date." Aladdin was confused. So the woman took out a dictionary and showed him the work rendevous. Because Aladdin also understands French, he finally put two and two together. And then they went to the concert ~

At one point, when Aladdin is in the restroom and Sami is helping another customer, Erin and I are overtaken with fits of giggles. I can not look at her with out cracking up. It started when I said, "How do you say thank you again? Shrew von?" I made up a word that resembled Shukran. Really this is life. I am so grateful Alfanoose exists and I can remember these times when I am taking myself too seriously.

The stories continue. Tea is drunk, food is finished and cleared. We talk about religion, the conflicts in the middle east. Sami says, "Religion is not for me. I talk politics. I was brought up Muslim, but I can't do it. I can't fast because I smoke.  Many people go to church, go to mosque, go to synagogs and when they are not there, they treat people poorly. What is that? We only have one life!" "So you do not believe in past lives?" I inquire, thinking of the recent meeting with a psychic who told me about my many past lives. "I am open to the idea, but really I do not need to know. It could be, but we are hear right now. We are here to do good, to be happy, to give," Sami responds. "To be creative," I add. "Exactly." 

Then Sami asks me, "What do you think about past lives?"
"I believe in them. I mean, I don't think we ever die. We are energy and we change forms. If our physical body ends, maybe we are soul energy until we feel like experiencing physical being again. I am open to anything though." 
"It makes sense," Sami says.

Aladdin tells us, that, contrary to popular opinion, there are actually many places in the middle east, such as Televive, where Palestinians and Jews get along fine. 
Sami says I should read the book, Lemon Tree. Erin and I tell them about the book "Three Cups of Tea" and that the author, Greg Mortenson, will be speaking in Santa Fe in December. 

When we are ready to pay, Kristin and I give cash to Erin and Erin tries to hand Sami her credit card. We were never given a bill, but it is 10:30 now and we need to leave. Sami simply dismisses the credit card and takes only the $20 bill from Erin's other hand and leaves for the register. This often happens here. Money is not a priority for Sami. We leave the remaining cash on the table. 

"How much longer are you here?" Sami asks me as we are putting on our coats to go. "The end of September," "We will miss you.""But I'm coming back next year." "She's coming back next year" my friend Kristin affirms. We stand up to leave and exchange hugs. "Mahaba. Shukran." I say. Thank you. Good bye. Aladdin goes and sits on the hood of the car, pretending to keep us from driving away.

September 7th 2009

Natalie Goldman asks, "What do you connect with?" (109)

I connect with New Mexico. The sun heats me along with the land. The frequent thunderstorms charge me up. I am touched by Spanish spoken in restaurants and horny toads on hiking trails, to other people who are connected. Connections with people who live in connection, laughter and purpose.

"After you have filled a whole notebook in writing practice, read the whole notebook as if it weren't yours. 'What did this person have to say?'" (163)

"That's the great value of art - making the ordinary extraordinary. We awaken ourselves to the life we are living." (164) 

Wow, that relates to what I have discovered as the direction in my work!

"Note where you could have pushed further and out of laziness or avoidance, didn't. See revision as revisioning again." (163) 

"The biggest struggle was not with the actual writing, but working out the fear of success, the fear of failure, and finally burning through to pure activity." (169)

From September 7th 2009

Sometimes I don't want to write about the depths for fear someone will read it. Is it good to write about the negatives to get it out? Or is that feeding the fire and giving attention and energy to negativity? My new room mate of two weeks, Jonathon (who my other house mates found when I was in California) is an alchoholic. So is his brother who comes over sometimes. We didn't know until after Jonathon moved in. And it is so sad because he and his brother are totally different, good people when they are sober. Last evening, they asked me to stay out and talk to them on the patio. For a while, until the substances kicked in, we had interesting, positive conversation. Then it flipped to aggressivness, negativity, insecurity, fear! Not listening half the time. Part of me wanted to stay and try and maintain a positive vibe. To help them recognize how much potential and talant they have waiting to come out. I wanted to show them that someone compassionately cares about them without judgement. But it is not healthy for me to be around them. They can only help themselves if they want to. I align myself with people who are positive thinking, actively involved in self-growth and consiousness. When you drink like that, you drown you out. You are so out of touch with you. 

"So even if life is not always clear, it is good to express yourself in clear, affirmative statements. This is how I think and feel." (82)

Because Jonathan asked the next morning why I went to bed early, I say assertively, kindly, yet sternly my feelings on his behavior. He is very grateful for the honesty. But he just doesn't seem to have the strength to change his ways yet. Or he doesn't want to bad enough. Confrontation is my lesson of the summer. I have always avoided and felt very inadequate at confrontation. No one like it. But I dislike suppressing things even more.

"We have a responsibility to treat ourselves kindly, then we will treat the world in the same way." (76)

From September 6th 2009

More quotes and thoughts generated from "Writing Down the Bones"

"If you are not afraid of the voices inside you,  you will not fear the critics outside you." (17)

I think its also: if I follow, accept, trust and listen to the deeper voice inside, not the many chattering ones, that I can feel confident that I'm doing the best I can and then there is no base to fear the critics outside or the critics inside. 

Setting up criteria for design projects is like writing a prompt. I respond to the prompt. I always have it to refer back to - is my work relating back to that prompt?

In "Writing Down the Bones," Natalie Goldman gives an exercise to try. She says to pick or make up a line of words. It can be the first thing that comes to mind. Now, respond to it, write about it. Okay, so I tried it. My line:

"Only certain people are invited" 

That is what popped into my mind. Then I responded. Where would that line take me?

Time, space, and money limit the invitation of more. How many people can one person know well and give quality, quantity attention too? There is a tipping point for the amount of people one can genuinely give oneself to. What is the tipping point for planet earth? For Planet Us? Earth can take so much stress! But it is an entity of energy like our bodies, and like them, it will change states, wear out, renew. Huh. You can start anywhere and end up somewhere entirely unexpected. My original line came because I am having bosses and co-workers over for brunch tomorrow and, while I would like to invite some other friends, I can't handle too large of a group at my house.

"There is no permanent truth you can corner in a poem that will satisfy you forever. Don't identify too strongly with your work. It is not you." (33)

Every minute I am changing. I am not the same person anymore who created the Atacama piece in Fall 2007 or the same person that created the Scan book last April. 

I love this: "If you think big enough to let people eat cars, you will be able to see that ants are elephants and men are women." (35)

From September 5th 2009

New Zealand will be an excellent time to write and focus on a project. To have a daily practice and a focus througout my trip. Like youth. Last time I was in NZ, I really noticed ageism there - how much more attention people pay to age than even here, how growing old is just not treasured. Especially for women. Early 30's and you're not wanting to say your age there! Last time I went to NZ, I was 22. Now I am 26. Maybe for the trip, my daily observation can be focused on that topic. I will notice it more if that's what I'm paying attention for - I can write about it every day and create related images. 

The topic of age and innocence has been popping up a lot in life the past few weeks for me. I have had several people tell me this summer that I have a light of youth in my eyes, that I look younger than I am. Faez told me last night even, "Its true, you still have that innocence." And my house mate, Jonathan said the other day, "I hope you don't mind my saying, but its hard for me to believe you of all people ever spent a night in jail. You seem so innocent and pure." I can't see it of course. Does it always have to disapear? My friend, Erin, is writing an essay for a contest; the prompt is: "At what point in your life do you feel you became an adult?"

Does loss of innocence happen the more you deal with harsh reality?  Take my friends Ted and Wendy. I want to be like them when I am 60 - so incredibly full of life and out enjoying it.

Referring back to the essay question, Erin asked me what my point would be. I said, probably my experience volunteering for 6 months at a camphill in England when I was 23. Why? I had to draw on and cultivate an inner hardness that felt foreign to me to get through in tact emotionally. I experienced for the first time the need to deaden some of my emotions and responses and feelings. And it took a few months after I left to go back to the way I was before. I remember asking my house parent once if he was happy. He nearly scoffed at me -and explained that he doesn't feel anymore. He doesn't feel sadness and he doesn't feel happiness. Was he just saying that? How awful not to know that that is not a normal way to live or a healthy way. But so much of society is sick emotionally. How else do you deal with pain except to cut out your feelings? However, that youthful sparkle never dies in anyone. It may get burried, but you can always dig it back out. 

"We must continue to ope in the face of tremendous opposition. No one is encouraging us to open and still we must peel away the layers of the heart."
- Trungpa Rinpoche, Tibbetan Buddhist master

"We must continue to trust in our own voice and process. Ultimately if the process is good, the end will be good." (Goldman, 12)

Accept the mood, the state. 
Know it will pass. 
It always does. 
There is peace in knowing this. 
But I don't always remember that
when in the throws of it.

When happy, be there totally! Even though instability in moods may happen one hour later. Listen. Why did that shift in mood come? Was it because you were not listening? You were online looking for a car instead of making butternut squash soup. You were worrying about how you are going to afford a car and travel instead of reading and writing. 

From September 4th 2009

Transition is coming. I'm wrapping things up here and finishing my pouring in so I can pour out.

More quotes from "Walking on Alligators"

"We live to be startled, to have our eyes opened in an unexpected way. Books do this for us, are reread, discussed, and eventually taught. What surprises can you bring to your readers?" (64)

"What we can do is set limits, and respect them without agonizing over them. Sketch out the bounderies to your research. What will constitute a responsible review of the material available? How much time do you have? How far can you reasonably expect to get done?" (75)

"Fear of Failure is much worse than Failure itself" (86)

I love this: "We tend to know where our gifts are trying to take us, but where are your limitations trying to take you? Which misfortune in your life - physical, relational, work-related - is trying to enrich your writing?"(123)

"...your writing creates an observer, the reader. It gives that reader a chance to see things through your eyes." (129)

"Little minds are interested in teh extraordinary; great minds in the common place."
-Elbert Hubbard

"I will be comfortable with groping in the dark. Others have come before me. I will accept that this is the way discovery works." (175).

All of this can be applied to any sort of creative work. Its interesting to read design from a writer's creativity perspective. And I love to write. 

September 1st 2009

I came back to Santa Fe at mid night last night, and the whole flight home, I felt excitement to come back! So strange to feel such a longing and love for New Mexico. Fittingly, we touched down amid a thunder and lightening storm. I desperately desire a better camera with quality video capacity!

I didn't write about the experience seeing my co-worker Kelly's psychic friend, Susan, the week before my California trip. She knew I was going on that! Anyway I have the conversation all on tape, so I don't need to replay the fotellings here.

From August 31st 2009

Wow! I just tripped across the southwest with a magnificent 84 year old lady, Patty, mother of Wendy and mother in law of Ted. From Santa Fe, New Mexico to Sonoma and San Francisco, California. We talked life, loss, travels. Made it to Flagstaff the first night. 2nd day: Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. Zion, to me, excuded far more magic and beauty than the Grand Canyon because I felt part of it. I was right in it. Right inside the tunnels going through the mountains. 

Also, I got separated from Patty at the grand Canyon for two hours! I didn't listen to my instinct to get her cell phone # prior to getting out of the car with instructions to meet her at the parking lot at the end of the road. I got to the end of the path to see multiple parking lots. A ranger took me back to the initial parking lot, but not before I had to wait half an hour for him to arrive and another half hour to check the other mulitple parking lots. The great thing about Patty is she is not a worrier and she does not get all bent out of shape. It was an accidental misunderstanding. Things are good now. Lets go on! But she did not look behind her when backing out, so she hit the ranger's car! Luckily, it did little damage, but my goodness! Fortunately, no other mishaps happened on the trip.

We arrived in Las Vegas at 8pm. Had thai food there of all things, and drove on to a tiny place called Beaty. Arriving at mid-night to the only hotel with rooms available. 

Drove through the rest of Nevada, past Mona Lake, heard of some hot springs and drove down a dirt road to see them. Too many people there, on their way to Burning Man. Moved on. Reached lake Tahoe by 1pm. Drove around the perimieter, along the awesome ridgeline of a mountain! Stopped by a Tahoe lake-fronth house where Patty's friends house sits - a brief interlude into the lap of luxury.

And then took 80 4.5 hours west to Sonoma. Stopped at a city called Auburn shortly before Sacramento for food at a great Ikeda Market. Yummy grated cabbage/broccoli/red pepper/feta/olive salad. Mixed berry pie.

We got into sonoma before sunset, so I saw the beautiful spanish style mission, plaza, homes and captured some gorgeous sunset shots. 

Now I'm at the Patty's Westerbeke Ranch, in that state of disbelief that this is where I am coupled with the certainty that this is exactly where I'm meant to be! Almost an out of body, totally clear/vacant-mind experience. The crickets are very loud. The air, fresh and 

From August 13 2009

Today is Alanna's birthday. She came back to Santa Fe to celebrate. We had a wonderful time meeting her relatives who are visiting for the first time from Germany. Her great uncle reminded me uncannily of my grand-father, who is half german/half english/scottish. And he kept looking at me like he wanted to say something. There was some connection like I'd known him before. 

From 8/8/09

And I am reading another great book called the four agreements. My co-worker, kelly, told me about it and I found it in the Santa Fe public library along with the two books on writing. This book by Don Miguel Ruiz is incredibly helpful! Selected quotes:

"The best way to keep yourself from making assumptions is to ask questions. Make sure the communication is clear. If you don't understand, ask....Also, find your voice to ask for what you want. You always have the right to ask and everybody has the right to ask you." (71).

From 8/4/09

I am reading two outstanding books on creativity. "Walking on Alligators" by Susan Shaugnessy and "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldman.

Some selected quotes:

"A certain freshness is always sought after in writing, but the most important stories are universal in nature. The truths the heart responds to are not new. But their situations can be new. Sensitivity to the times you live in can give you a spiritual spin on an old theme." (Shaughnessy, 14)

"Take what is useful [from criticism] and forgive the rest." (Shaughnessy,16).

"What feels wrong to you right now? In your life? In your work? The false note in your work may lie inches away from the true note you want to strike." (Shaughnessy, 47)

"Don't be surprised if before the breakthrough, you are cross and distracted. That seems to be a fore-runner of strong writing." (Shaughnessy, 58)

"Something has to be poured in if something is to be poured out." (Shaughnessy, 60)

From 8/3/09

A recorded conversation through Skype with my friend Diana in Seattle:

"Hey! Its only 9:43pm here. But Kinda tired, work tomorrow, probably go to sleep within the hour. How are you?"

No reply. Ofline.

As I should be.

Now I too am. 

I just thought that was kind of funny.

From 7/20/09

I am listening. My daily practice is just an act of listening. Seeing the leaf with dewdrops against the grain of deck board and snapping a photograph. Its being open to what is already there. 

From 7/18/09 Trip to Maine

Sitting in Boston Logan Public Transportation area now waiting for my Concord Trailways bus to Portland. There, I will reconnect with a kindergarten friend, then travel further to my family. 

I can smell the ocean!!! I saw it on the runway. Sailboats. White colonial houses. Definitely houses, not homes like Santa Fe adobe. 

I sat next to a flight attendant on my 2nd flight. At the end she said, "You slept the whole way!"
I know, I'm tired from this last week of intense play. There is so much to participate in I don't want to miss it.

Since my flight arrived early, I could make it all the way to Bangor, but I think I'm happy to stay in Portland tonight and travel those extra 4 hours tomorrow. 

The air feels so fresh, more humid and cool. 10 more minutes of waiting.

From 7/17

One of the most unexpectedly nice nights happened last night when my swedish, couch surfing friend, Otto came over and we slept under the stars and saw 10 shooting stars! Amazing how cool it gets at night in NM in July and how beneficial body warmth is. I'm fairly tired today though. The hyena sounding coyotes didn't keep quiet last night and Riley dog didn't miss a chance to bark at them. Now I'm in Albuquerque waiting on the front steps for a friend to get home.

Where is my poetry state of mind? 
There go the ants around my feet.
They were there this morning at 850 C Chamisa too.
Its fun to watch them going busily back and forth
With an intensity of seemingly aimless direction.

Back to last night. We took the couch cushions outside.
And the white down comforter.
And the soft, auburn agora blanket. 
Spread them out. 
And we told stories. What to tell about?
Talk about a time when you came close to death?
A time you fell in love while traveling?
The most memorable person you met on a trip?
And then we wound up on the topic of friends.
How sometimes the friendship stays,
and sometimes it fades afterwards.
How sometimes you feel that chemistry
and sometimes you don't.
How sometimes someone else loves you
And you don't love them back.
Or the other way around.
Before saying good night, he offered,
And remember, if you get cold, you can hug me.
Woke up in the middle of the night to being held
Coyotes yipping eerily, in the arroyo just to our right.
That surprise when someone touches you in the dark,
And you feel it an instant before you feel it.
Such a deep beauty in touch - platonic or romantic and
Sometimes, we don't enjoy it enough in this world.
This is the story from last night. 

Its good to have this time to write. Make the time for creativity and it will come. Create the space for peace and it will arrive. Be open for abundance, believe you are worthy, and it will appear. 

Drove so speedy down highway 25. To Arrive. Only to wait. Now I have this unexpected time to sit on the porch and write until my friend comes home to unlock the door.

From 7/4/09

Matt Costa on Pandora radio right now. Sun shining through my window. A cup of hot ginger tea and David Sedaris "When you are Engulfed by Flames" by my side. Happy Freedom Day. And I'm house sitting free to do as I please. Can I believe this is where I'm staying? It seems to come in waves, the eb and flow of abundance. I love the community of friends here. Sometimes I can be so reckless and risky. Sometimes I can go so fast. Its good to just be quiet and write in this big, beautiful home.

I am floating.
This music is carrying me
To the faraway nearby
Lying on a pillow on the floor
Of someone else's living room
On the Fourth of July
Someone else's stereo 
Feeding my Macbook Pro.
No signal states the T.V. Screen.
No signal is my signal is it?
Piano notes, wish I could play.
Not right now, but someday.

good morning

from 7/3/09
Look at the blue sky. So beautiful. A few little birds are hopping around the garden hose.


I think partly why last summer was sooo rich and full was because I did not check my email and internet very often. I did not have it reliably at my house then. Now I do. I am going to make an effort never to have it be the first thing I habitually do in the morning. It burns a lot of minutes before I know it - and its not healthy when it becomes like that. I think meditation will be a better way to start the day.

house sitting

From 6/28
How am I here in this beautiful space? Quiet, except for trees rustling outside. In a huge room full of philosophical books, elegant furniture. I am sitting on a high southwestern bed commanded by a red/black/grey Pendleton wool blanket and 8 pillows. Fine art photography. A bathroom with new mexican style tile sink and walls. A basket of soaps from hotels around the planet. Warm, chestnut-toned vigas creaking with every sweep of wind. How am I here? I am unbelievably grateful to be here. It hardly seems real. Why the slight sadness? Is it because of the awareness of how ephemeral and fleeting this time is? Enjoy being here. There is nothing but the present moment. I'm excited to house sit for Ted and Wendy next week, a house to myself another time. I'm excited for my dad to visit. I am saying yes to life.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Tonight, I went to a potluck/gathering/party. I was talking to a Peruvian woman, whose child played limbo with other children in the living room. She asked me, "How old are you?" For kicks, I asked, "How old do you think I am?" She replied, "mid-twenties, 24 or 25." "Close, I'm 26." 

"I can tell you are young. You still have a light in your eyes."

"I do? You mean it will go away? Does it always go away?"

"Yes, it goes away."

"But, you still have a light in your eyes." I said.

"No, no. I only have it sometimes when I'm with the kids. You have that light still, where every thing is new." She replied.

"You're right about that, there is so much that is new to me." I know that light that's she's talking about. I know I've lost it sometimes in my life. I also know that light doesn't go away just because you reach a certain age. I know ancient people who still have it. It doesn't have to go away. Its a mindset thing and a life style thing. It made me very happy to know that someone commented on the light in my eyes. 


Later, at the same party, I was talking to my new swedish friend, Otto, whom I met through couchsurfing. We were talking about how we like to be around people, but we also need space to recharge. And we were talking about what kind of people we did and didn't like to be around. I said, "At least there are some guys here this time for you to talk to." The previous times we'd met, he had hung out with me and my friends, who happened to be all girls those times.

"No, its okay really. I'm used to being in groups with women. If there's at least one woman in a group of men, they'll be okay. Otherwise they don't show their emotions. And I do. They want to appear tough. I don't."

"Is it the same way in the U.S. as Sweden do you think? So far?" (He's only been in the states 3 weeks). I wanted to know his opinion.

"Yes, so far, I think yes."

"Well, that's great you already figured that out and that you are so comfortable with yourself." To myself, I was thinking, he is so unself-conscious. It is my goal to be more like that. Then I added, "I think men can become less tough, maybe as they become older. I mean, my dad is not like that."

"Yes," Otto agreed. "As we become more comfortable with ourselves."

Wise child.

What is something nearly everyone has tried, but hardly anyone know what it tastes like?

David Sedaris spoke for an hour at Collected Works, a book store in down town Santa Fe, on Thursday, free. I listened. I think everyone felt highly entertained. He is fantastically funny. And thought-provoking. Ordinary and mundane to extra-ordinary. There you go.

The theme of this book tour, he said, is breast milk. He's been collecting and retelling the stories people come up and share with him. It occurred to me (when he first embarked on this subject) that breast milk is a substance that nearly everyone has tried, but hardly anyone knows how it tastes. Strange huh? 

As he kept telling stories, I realized more people than I thought did know what it tastes like, including David Sedaris himself who obliged a fan when she brought him a glass.

What surprised me more than trying breast milk, was the audience's reaction to the stories of women putting it in their coffee or the their pancakes. Upon hearing about trying breast milk, so much of the audience portrayed looks of disgust, wrinkled noses, murmurs of Ew and shaking of heads. I didn't expect this in Santa Fe. 

How is it that we drink cow milk and dairy queen soft serve (and corn syrup) and we think breast milk is gross? When our children drink it and we drank it? Its not any more natural to drink cow or goat milk. We are the only species that drink milk as adults - besides pigs who will consume nearly anything. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I don't have internet anymore at my house. Apparently it takes a week for them to come out and fix it. At a coffee shop now. Its too bad because so many wonderful things have happened this week. 

In brief: I saw an amazing amazing community arts performance at the downtown Lensic Theater, free, put on by the non-profit organization Little Globe. I had never heard of them, but I'm so glad I know who they are now. People were crying at the show. I almost did and I never cry at movies, saying bye, etc. Touching, real, aliveness. Look them up!

The wonderful people I rented from last summer threw a birthday party for their daughter Ariel, 25 who was visiting from San Fran. So many people, all generations. New friends made. I even met someone who is a freelance writer for Edible Santa Fe.  Awesome time. My friend Andres, played Bosa Nova Music under the full moon. It was a terrific potluck too. And though the air was cold that night, nothing happened to me even when my hands got cold. Is it really gone?

I love love love my job and the people. I appreciated very much showing them my projects today. 

Discovered a yummy frozen yogurt place with pomegranate flavor sweetened only with agave. 

And noticed in the Reporter today that The Handsome Furs are playing a block from my house on Sat. night!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thursday 6/4

Thursday: The day I started my new job! I love it and the people - its going to be good! We have yoga balls to sit on if we want. They add a happy air to the office. I suggested getting yoga mats instead of small rugs for the balls to sit on (because they get really dirty rolling on the floor) and they liked that idea. During lunch break, I went for a walk with one of the co-workers to the plaza. She always saves time for walking during lunch break too. And it so beautiful out today, so I'm glad we did. I noticed all the cotton fluff on the side of one acacia, looking like snow. Its the small things :) 

Wednesday 6/3

wednesday: another 7 mile hike this morning! With my new friend Julia, who I met through another new friend last week. We get along so well and I'm sad she's leaving in July. Julia's also from Chicago. There are a lot of people from there here! The trail hugged a stream up a gradual incline. The hike is aptly named, Ghost Town, for the rusted out old cars and timber ruins from a hotel and road that existed here in the early/mid 1900s. Its just outstanding to sit at the end of the trail in a green meadow! on these old timbers nibbling wild rubbarb and watching teency chipmunks at the bases of towering pines and rocky cliffs. Its one of the best ways to start a day I think.

Tuesday 6/2

tuesday: A new room and a new house mate happened that day. I met my third room mate finally, very cool, only to find out she's leaving and had just posted her room on craigslist. Within 5 hours a new house mate visits and decides the place is for her. She just drove here from Chicago. Meanwhile, I get to move rooms and save money! and officially unpack, settle in. A painting, another art piece, ottoman, a lamp, table, chair, vases, mini-tin camping teacups donated by my friends fill the space well. Found a gold/tea kettle china blue silky blanket from India? with elephants! Rummaged through the garage full of interesting things including a jeep that no one's driving, and found exactly what I was looking for, an extension cord and a space heater. And luckily in my closet, I unfolded a queen size comforter, sheets and a special foam pillow for the huge bed that comes in my new room. All, of this stuff and rummaging was okayed by the way by my house mate. 

Its just amazing how much surplus some people have! I noticed it with this place I'm living now and then again when I helped my landlords from last summer move homes on Sunday. I don't ever want that much stuff! But its wonderful to find it when you need it and then leave it behind for someone else! My boss even told me that she has two spare bianchi bikes and I'm welcome to borrow one for the summer! A similar bike situation happened last summer where someone gave me a bike, except that time, it came with the condition that I pass it on to someone else when I left, which I did.

monday 6/1

Monday: I went to Albuquerque for the first time (other than airport, out skirts) - never really cared to go. I didn't feel any connection to the city, but I didn't see much of it. I did enjoy some of the unexpected quirky aspects - like streets named after various categories like metals, minerals, trees, etc. I like the southwest style street signs and the teal lamposts too. This venture into ABQ was for a concert, Animal Collective. And to meet a new girl in Santa Fe, Dory, who contacted me through couchsurfing.com, looking for friends her own age to go to the concert with. Its always interesting to meet people face to face when you've only had internet/phone contact with them prior. Are you going to get along? Are they going to be like how you thought? Does their appearance match their voice? And what about that thing that people come into your lives because you draw them to you and vice versa. 

Oh, I have to add: At the concert, I ran into the girl from the tea house and her boy friend who is brothers with a girl I went to school with at College of the Atlantic. 

Sunday, May 31, 2009


I'm paying attention and noticing signs and out of place situations more frequently again. Senses are merely stimulated, not over-stimulated. The nest on chile peppers begged for a photo. Luckily for the birds to be, my friends aren't packing this wreath as they move houses. The license caught my eye on a walk later in the afternoon and then 5 minutes later my friend and I noticed the "Missed Connection" sign in the field. How great!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Glorietta Trail

Hiked 7 miles today! Smelled and looked a lot like Maine. There were cicadas or something in the trees the whole way. When you paused, you could hear them sounding like rain or rythmic hands clapping. The new green ends on the pine trees felt soft like kush balls! They would make a comfy bed. So many nice places to camp! I saw several strange emerging plants and mushrooms, pictures to come. Happy I was healthy enough to go and I think the altitude and air helped kick the congestion. New friends met: there was Erin again from Alaska, her friend Julia from Chicago who's been here 9 months and recently lost her job, a couple: Brad, from New Zealand and Jessica from Lubbock, TX who have been here a few years and are moving to Austin in two weeks for new jobs. 

Friday, May 29, 2009


Every time I walk by this train, I want to take a picture. Finally remembered my camera this time. Energy is coming back today finally too. The homeopathic doctor helped - at least two more visits and sulfur pellets until the next check-up. ? . Grateful for some help. 

Last night: No Doubt with the Sounds and Paramore. No idea who Paramore was, but all the high school and junior high girls surrounding us certainly did. I'm still not a fan. The Sounds are from Sweden and they put on an energetic opening act. I was especially impressed by the videos and stage set up for No Doubt. Zooming in on an island on the planet like Google Earth. The island turns out to be the band members heads tilted up skyward. Highway night shots plitting apart and merging together. Ariel view of Drum sticks moving accordingly with no hands or persons attached.

Very good to have breakfast with Ramona and Andy this morning, my internship bosses from last summer. I am so lucky to know them :) 

I've been resting for the past 3 days so this eventful day was in order. Still have energy now so that's good. After doctor's appt. met my friend Sara from last summer for a sneak peak at an installation show by Sara's friend, Beth Rekow. Beth explained the intention of her work to us so articulately and passionately. I love her clear comfy lounge bench made of plastic bags. I'll go to the opening in a few weeks and get a better picture of that. After meeting several people in the gallery, I remarked to Sara how I always feel like Santa Fe is such an easy place to make connections and know people because of its size and transient nature maybe - people just tend to be friendly and interested in sharing their story and hearing yours. The gallery conversation for instance. And random people say hi on the streets. For example, one old man yesterday was in his back yard pruning a tree and he made sure to shout out "Good Morning" when I walked past the front of his house.

Oh, then to the Tea House on Canyon Road - first time. The girl at the counter said, "Hey, do you go to College of the Atlantic?" noticing my messenger bag with COA logo. As it turns out, she is dating the brother (who attended St Johns in Santa Fe) of a girl I went to school with at COA. And she met another COA student I had several classes with on a foreign exchange trip she went on during her years at Vasser. She's from VT and so is her boyfriend and they've been in Santa Fe for a few years. Small world and those connections again. 

I should mention, I went to the No Doubt show with a few people including my friend Andres, also a fellow COA graduate. I had one class with him at COA, but didn't know him that well until last summer when we realized via facebook that we were both in New Mexico. I'd forgotten he was born in Santa Fe, then went to United World College in Vancouver before attending College of the Atlantic. (College of the Atlantic only has 3oo students too) 

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Introduction to Edible Communities Inc. Santa Fe, NM

.7 of a mile walk away from my house lies my new work space. I met three of my co-workers briefly this morning for a quick tour, even though I don't start work until next thursday. The tech guy is not coming until next wednesday to fix up my computer station. In the mean time, I was given a stack of Edible publications from across the country, some business cards, and a feeling of ease that this is where I'm meant to be working for the summer. The three women I met are wonderful people. Even though there is bound to be some tedious photo cataloging and not so creative stuff, there is room for lots of discovery and getting to know extremely interesting people. The more I peruse the magazines, the more I'm excited to be part of this organization.  

In the Portland issue for example, there is an article by Wendell Berry excerpted from his book "What are people for" That essay, written nearly 20 years ago, discusses the growing trend of people as consumer rather than  participant with food and how we can become active participants again. That essay could have been written this week - things haven't changed much. I'm happy that one of my housemates gardens and we have a garden in the back yard, and a compost, and recycling containers and one of my farmer friends here has already offered me as many tomato plants as I would like. It will be good to get back into cooking and planting things as a leisurely and enjoyable past time rather than a rushed grab something quick during twenty min. lunch break type thing. Today I mixed quinoa in with butter nut squash soup and that was yummy. 

Sometimes I don't even think I have anything to write about, its just a matter of getting something out of my head and into sentences, and then realizing that, hmmm, I guess there are some observations I can talk about. 

The weather was strange today too: warm and sunny on my walk to the introduction, and now mitten and hat time. My housemates are off for a walk, but I'm staying inside. Doctor appt. friday hopefully shed some light.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Found a new trail behind my house. Followed a worn path through a near dry acacia to a bike trail, which led me to Bacca St. a windy street of funky homes and artist shops. And then Bacca connected me to Hickox where one of my favorite restaurant's is located. Its called Tune Up now, but it used to be owned by different owners and at that time it was called "Dave's not Here." The new Tune Up restaurant features a tribute burger called "Dave's Was Here." I love not only the food at this restaurant, but the atmosphere and the cool colored shade mechanisms which create a canopy in front of the adobe building. Chris Taylor first told me to try the green chile at "Dave's not here" before I even came here. 

Found a new friend today too. Actually she responded to my housing wanted ad on craigslist way back in April right after I had already found a place to live, but we decided to meet up anyway for tea once I arrived. So that's what we did today, at a coffee place I hadn't tried before, called Java Joe's. Erin, my new friend came from Alaska for a two-year job placement a year ago. She's the first person from Alaska I've met here. We both agreed that this place kind of finds you.

Nicole's boyfriend left a random movie called "Cane Toads of Australia" from the early 90s maybe? on the coffee table. So Nicole and I just finished watching that finding. Guess the strange film comes from a great video library with an excellent documentary section that also happens to feed treats to customer's dogs. So I learned about the invasive species of Cane Toad brought to Australia in the 30's to combat the pesky sugar cane grubs that were driving the sugar cane croppers crazy. As it turned out, the toads ate everything except the grubs! And they have since spread like a plague because they have no natural enemies. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

fish in plastic bags

My house mate bought a coy fish for the small backyard pond. It was swimming around in its clear plastic bag so I had a good look at silver and orange scales. Whenever I see fish in plastic bags I can't help remembering that sad scene in Miranda July's "You, me, and Everyone We Know" film where someone leaves a newly bought goldfish on the roof of their car by accident and drives away. 

Mainly I just explored the vicinity of the house, figuring out where things are kept, taking in laundry when the afternoon thunder arrived, and watching disc I of Sigur Ros's stunning 2006 Icelandic tour documentary. I loved the shot of the boy riding his bike in the Ocean, of Icelandic ponies herded over rough terrain, of water seeming to go up instead of down the falls. The owner of the house who now lives in Virginia, bought himself a huge flatscreen t.v. for his birthday and left it here. Its a treat to watch such cinematography on. I haven't lived in a house with a T.V. for four years. Luckily my house mates use use the t.v. mainly for movies. Still getting over a cold, and, I guess, adjusting to altitude. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

nettles and ribbon candy

Last night was in the 40s and I wondered what would happen with my new allergy to cold. My legs felt tingly once when I woke up because they were cold, but no hives. Walking to Trader Joe's this morning my neck and fingers started to feel itchy because of the cool wind. I ducked in a store for a bit to warm up and was fine the rest of the walk. Discovered a natural pharmacy near trader Joe's, so I'm trying a new natural antihistamine from them. "You can return any product to our store if it doesn't work for you" the kind women helping me said. Tastes like nettles and you have to hold the losange under your tongue, but seems to be working. 

My housemate from last year, Wendy, 58, picked me up this afternoon. Introductions to her two friends, Kaki and Lori followed as we waited in the opening day line for the brand new New Mexico History Museum. Too crowded to really take in. An overall impression of artifacts, glossy graphics, costumes and tiny-waisted dresses. I enjoyed most an art installation on a foyer wall. A series of colored squares, reminiscent of ribbon candy, hung on this wall. They were delicately carved along one edge so as to cast shadows of human faces in profile upon the wall. Each square cast its own unique portraiture. Nothing else in the museum seemed presented in a new way except for this random display.

The sun was out when we got out. Wandered in some crazy expensive boutiques Wendy thought we should see. Watched flamingo dancers on the plaza for a little while, then I walked home in the hot sun. Did I mention, it hailed mid-morning and its raining again now at 10pm? 

Last year, the first time I ever saw NM, I remember thinking like somehow I'd always been here. Now that I'm back, I'm strangely feeling like I never left. This is the land of enchantment and entrapment.

I'm so happy to be back!

Hello! I haven't been here for a while, but it is my intention to write daily now that I am in Santa Fe again too. Arrived 4:15 Saturday 5/23. The plane was 15 min. early. The bathroom near baggage claim was closed. I asked the women at the desk if there was another one on this floor. I didn't want to go back up the escalator with my bags. "Yes, down that end. Its a really beautiful one too, I'm headed that way myself." A fancy New Mexican style bathroom and it was empty, unlike the long lines at the bathrooms in my Dallas layover. Out of the bathroom, both suitcases ready to claim, outside to the shuttle. So it was one of those breath-taking late afternoons with purple clouds flanking deeper hued mountains and sun shining through, leaves and pavement sparkly from rain. 

The taxi driver stopped at a stop light. To the right, a man, stopped on his bike, waved. "Hey Patrick!" The biker shouted at the driver. They exchanged news until the light turned green. "He's a cook at Tomosita's" The driver explained, "Known him for a long time. Good guy." We pulled up at my new house a few minutes later. A man and women were in the street about to get into a car. They hesitated, watching us. I had a feeling it might be my new house mate. (I found the place on craigslist sight unseen of course). I smiled and the woman came over and introduced herself as Nicole, my new house mate. "We were just about to leave for dinner, but I thought you'd be coming in about now." So it was perfect timing. 

First impressions: a quiet, good dog who looks like a red fox, a spacious back yard with garden and hammock, a lot of art and pottery in the house. Nicole is an artist. A number of pilates, yoga videos near the big screen T.V. The other house mate I have yet to meet is a yoga instructor.  Plants, light, clean, big kitchen! Compost, recycling, a juicer, communal spices and tea, glass sauce pans, wooden bowls, chopsticks and silverware, . My room to be is still occupied so I'm staying in the guest bedroom for now. Ahhhh. This is good.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Culture and Creativity; Field Trip to Houston

Went to Project Rowhouse and the Menil Collection Saturday. First time to Houston. Pleasantly surprised - that's one good thing about low expectations. It was an excellent field trip. So nice to meet some of the art history students and studio art majors. I had only even SEEN two of them before this trip. The art history student organization organized the trip superbly. I hope there are more collaborations in the future between DEPARTMENTS. 

One of the art history students told me about her exciting research/thesis on Piet Mondrian - she is focusing on the philosophical/theosophical/spiritual aspect of his life. I told her about my visit to The Phillip Collection last October in D.C. Just when I walked in, one of the curators started a talk about one of Piet Mondrian's paintings. I appreciated his work so much more after hearing about his outlook on life. 

Our 1st stop in Houston: Project Rowhouses. I went to the Rick Lowe Lecture when he spoke in Austin last year. Excited to see community in person. We were sitting, waiting, when a larger African American man wandered over. He gave the best, most exhuberant tour guide introduction ever and proceed to be the best tour guide. He referred to himself in the first person several times...this is Benjamin...He carried a burning insence stick throughout the two hour tour and he sometimes played the trumpet, around the top of which he'd attached a pocket watch.

My favorite transformed rowhouse: an artist wall papered a room with light pink dyed pages of a book/letters, handwritten in chronological order of their page #s. The room felt papered with rose petals. I wouldn't mind a room like this. The artist had covered the adjacent room in textured, terra-cotta adobe. Shatters of mirror in circle clusters throughout. Wouldn't mind a room like this either. 

Chevron volunteers outside the row houses planting shrubbery. Unexpectedly kind of them.

Next stop: The Menil Collection. People have been telling me to go here for a while. I LOVE the surrealism quarter! Recognized  most of the artists from my last 1.5 years of design immersion. Many influenced design or were influenced by design: Joseph Cornell, Max Ernst, Pablo Picasso, Matisse, Man Ray, Piet Mondrian, Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters. I think one of my favorite pieces was Man Ray's "Needle and Thread" I think it was called, an ink line drawing with a vertical line in the landscape, a wavy silhouette around the line - reminded me of a women. As you come closer, you see the vertical line is actually a needle and the wavy line is thread. Stepping back again, you just see beautiful abstracted shapes, negative/positive space, black and white.

Next stop: The Rothko Chapel. I walked in when two performers were singing and playing stringed instruments. Serene, peaceful. Meditational. I just sat for a while with others and listened. Closed eyes. It was kind of funny when a belligerent old man in a black rain coat shuffled in noisily disgruntled that someone had to point out to him where the paintings were. Black and lavender velvety canvases, more like stage backdrops. I suppose its the beautiful, calm way they work with the space that matters. 

Next stop: Dinner at the Black Labrador, an English style pub. I went with 3 of the art history students and their husbands/boyfriends and a couple from Houston who met us there - friends with one of the art history students. One member of the couple is a graphic designer and it was great talking to her. She just got a new job after being laid off for 7 months! She said she wished she had done more internships and stayed in school longer. Then there was a computer science major turned art history grad from El Salvador. Three people from California. One from Miami of Cuban descent. A very interesting group. Yay! Such a good day absorbing culture and creativity. I really enjoyed the parts of Houston I went to - I never wanted to go before because of the things I heard, but actually now I want to go back and see the other hidden treasures there. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

must be a good book or required reading with a upcoming deadline

I went for a walk in Pease Park around 6ish last night. There was a tall, athletic man carrying a book and reading as he walked. He seemed very serene, pausing every now and then to look around him and then dropping his eyes back to the pages. He did not seem like someone who would be reading a thick novel as he walked in a dog park. He was not even dressed for walking in a park period. He wore a white undershirt, black slacks, shiny black shoes and a black leather brief case slung over one shoulder. I bet the briefcase contained his suitjacket and button up shirt. 

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Sunday Night to Remember (I hope)

About a third of my mom's side of the family is in town this week: my mom from Maine for 3 days with me and 5 days with Memere, my aunt, uncle, and 8 year old cousin from Washington state, my uncle from Oklahoma City just for this past weekend, and of course my aunt who lives here in Austin. It is not so often that so many of us are together. Very special! 

I will remember this evening better than I did the time my grandparents and aunt visited us in Maine when I was 10! My aunt brought a video of that visit, recorded in 1993 by Pepere two years before his stroke. The footage spanned the vacation. I was 10 (but I look 7), my brother was 8 and a 1/2, and my sister was 4. 

Filming begins with us at Beech Hill Pond, a 5 minute car ride from our Maine house. This is still one of my favorite spots anywhere: a lake really - not a pond, with  sandy bottom and 5 sandy beeches, vacation cottages, pine and fur trees encircling its rim. In August, the water refreshes comfortably, not so cold as tourists think. 

Odd! I have a general lump sum memory of goodness about this vacation, but nothing specific. The recognition of this visit in time doesn't even come back when I watch the video. Same with the next scene, back at our house, on the back deck. I am holding a kitten, the floppy type I could do anything to. Lucerne Inn, Acadia National Park, Bubble Rock, and some seal-watching footage follow. So, so beautiful, Maine. How can I not remember this when I was 10!

Ahh, the next scene looks familiar, finally. My mom and aunt are taking a riding lesson at the stable we all used to go to weekly during summers. Next up, my brother, a friend, and I are having a lesson. Yes, I remember this part! I know the horses names, Chico, the spotted POA pony I'm riding, Vicky and Rocky. I loved those times!

And I do recognize the voices. Pepere is the narator and I know the voice from stories he and Memere would read aloud, tape and send to us. And the voice in turn brings back clear snapshots of the time my brother and I visited Memere and Pepere in Wimberley when I was 12. By that age my memory was fine.

I can't watch the rest of the video right then. Laurie and I have to return to Austin.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Observation from Today

Visible from my bathroom window, there is a dove nest in the tree. She's always out there nesting every time I have to pee.

Monday, March 30, 2009

People and Places

Last night, I went to a birthday party for an 89 year-old, known to relatives and others alike as grand-ma Fanny. She is a poised and elegant elder. She refused to tear the paper opening her presents, accustomed as she was to saving it. Grand-ma Fanny is one of the women my housemate used to care for and she lives with her grand-daughter, Keisha, who has become a friend of mine. The party brought together a lovely range of generations and races. Grandma Fanny is an African-american from Tennessee and so is Keisha. Keisha's husband, Allejandro, and his friends are from Mexico and they were out BBQing and speaking spanish in the back yard most of the time. Then there was Grand-ma Fanny's 80ish actor friend from L.A. I don't think anyone was from Texas. The conversation turned several times to how long it can take to take root in Austin. Keisha's lived here for ten years, but she didn't start feeling as if it was home until the 5th, she said, because of work-related travel. A gay, African-American fashion designer from Missouri, said even though its taken him a while, he keeps returning to Austin after attempts to live in L.A. and NYC. Liz, a blond, blue-eyed interior decorator from Savannah has only been here one year, said its also taking her a while to get settled. Its funny how some places feel home right away, just like certain people feel friend right away and you just know. 

Earlier in the day yesterday, I was eating gelatos with a friend at central market listening to the live music and thinking, I really like Austin right now! In the sun, on a sunday, people seemed relaxed, enjoying the springtime. Even though, really, you bring your sense of feeling at home in a place with you wherever you go since its inside you, I think maybe more than anything besides that factor, its the people that give me the feeling of being at home in a place. Mindset and people.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

More to add

On Saturday, I saw more Texas Bienniel-related work at the Women and Their Work Gallery. Really, some very interesting pieces. I especially loved a painting that is half realistic: life-size dachshund and two life-size rats; and half abstract: textured, colored paint-brush strokes interwoven among realistic animals, smooth abstract color shapes reminiscent of Georgia O'Keefe mountains, or maybe fabric folds in the back ground.  Another piece drew my attention too, actually two pieces together. The first: a child's drawing of a creature part elephant, part warthog, part bear, etc on 8.5 X 11 paper. Next to it, maybe 4 X 5 feet, was the adult artist's version: beautiful graphite lines, sketchy, the images of animal heads (warthog, eagle, bear, mountain lion etc.) connected/overlapping/forming a circle. The two pieces done about 20 years apart by the same person.

As I wandered around the gallery, I overheard a conversation between one of the gallery assistants and an elderly lady visitor who was telling some of her life story to the assistant. Catching phrases like: "I love this piece...Jungian quality...I used to be involved in the Jung Center in Houston...I'm sorry I couldn't come to this opening, but I'm recovering from a broken hip..." I should have asked her if she knows my grandmother, who was also involved in the Jungian Center in Houston. I bet they do know each other. Funny, on my last visit, Memere and I were talking about Jung and Memere let me read one of his books because he talks about time in New Mexico, which is of interest to the paper on New Mexico/Santa Fe religion I'm currently writing for my Geography class.

 As I thought of this connection, another gallery assistant started talking to me, asking which pieces I liked. Turns out, she went to the Jill Pangello event on Friday too. She said she was laughing the whole time and she thought people were being quieter than usual...maybe because of the cold. So that was funny running into two new people and seeing common thread between lives.

Texas Biennial Performance

On Friday evening, I enjoyed a multi-media performance by Jill Pangello and company. When I read in my email about the event, I noticed the connection to Mike Albo and I knew I should try to go. My professor, Peter Hall, recently recommended I look into Mike Albo's work, which I subsequently checked out on YouTube. Albo is a comedian who kind of strings random, ordinary fragments of thoughts together in hilarious, nonsensical ways, creating new meaning. This way of taking ordinary pieces of information out of context to form new meaning is a reoccurrence in some of my design work too. 

Anyway I'd never heard of either Mike Albo or Jill Pangello until this month and the performance at Fiesta Gardens was hilarious. Mike Albo wrote two of the scripts for Pangello's acts. Even though the night was unexpectedly chilly and every seat was taken, it was good to smile and be around amused people for an hour. Oh, earlier that day too, Jacqueline told me she'd seen Pangallo at AMOA before and she is great, and she was. My favorite acts of Pangello's "Let Me Entertain You" set were:

1) One about facebook where she played a person trying to write her "25 Random things about Me" (that exercise that ran around facebook a month or so ago)
2) One about a cat which you just have to watch for yourself
3) The voicemail episode (written by Mike Albo) where a woman leaves this poor man a voice mail message that is a rambling, unedited streaming of her thoughts (as they can pop up as you're trying to go to sleep or something) from one to the next, silly, unimportant, self-absorbed.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tom's Rugs

Seeing this rug in one of my grand-mother's spare bedrooms brought me to another time and place for a few moments. The rug itself comes from Maine, from the rural town named Mariaville where I grew up, from the house at the top of the hill (my parent's house is at the bottom of that hill) that once belonged to Tom and Velma. Our elderly neighbor Tom used to make these rugs before his death about 7 years ago? Was it really that long ago or not, I can't remember! I still visit his wife, Velma, now in her 90's, whenever I'm home. Velma's sweetness always seemed countered by the grumpy hermitness of Tom as I recall from my childhood years. Now, looking at this rug again as I upload my photos, I am struck by how special it was that Tom was making these beautiful, time-consuming rugs through the Maine winters. Yet I only remember seeing him out tilling his garden or chopping and stacking firewood, or cleaning out his shed. But he had this hidden, artistic talent and daily practice too that you wouldn't know. Was he making the rugs just to sell - as he sold to my parents and countless others? Who taught him? What made him start and when did he begin? Did he ever teach anyone else? Did he follow a pattern? 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Must have something to do with something

4 beautiful cardinals on my walk and the usual group of deer by my grand mother's fountain.

A pair of peacock earrings on my spanish teacher's table.

French fries in Suzanne's car on the ride over.

A banana with thick, black zebra stripe down the side. Of all the bananas I've ever eaten, I've never seen one with those markings. Funny to think of bananas growing spots as they get older, changing markings like deer or leopards, or people.

This day has been a random jumble of sights and things and pieces of information, just like any day I suppose, but guess I'm more attentive to it.

I went for that walk this morning with the cardinals and deer, consciously being aware of stilling my mind. My mind's been pretty quiet the remainder of the day, just extra sensitive to stimuli. I'm very ready to de-stimulate. 

Vetiver on the radio. I like this song. I've heard it before. Who is it?

Fragments. Sleep. Early.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


A family of cactus grow in my grand-mother's front garden. She told me Pepere planted them, so they must be at least 15 years old, but they don't look it. The tallest no higher than half a foot. From some angles, they look like marching people. Small, purplish baby cacti shoot off from the tops. Looking closer, neat rows of prickles parade up and down. What a mathematical plant. And Memere says they bloom beautifully for one day only of the year.

style on a dog

I saw the cutest dog/haircut at a dog-park the other day. As you can see above! She knows she is special too. Such a friendly little dog. He came over to say hi immediately when he saw us paying attention. The owners, sitting a ways away, enjoyed the compliments too. The shaved part was not so soft as I expected, but the mohawk business? Like down or dandelion fluff. 

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Turtle Catch and Release

Courtney found a turtle, then she gave it to a child to let go. Just a tiny turtle from the big water. She was looking for tadpoles I suspect, when she spotted the turtle instead and waded back across the stream with the critter cupped in the hands, exclaiming, "Look, look what I found!" We couldn't see until she came closer, then we were smiling too. The father and son nearby watched curiously. Courtney took the turtle to the little boy, let him hold it, asked him, "Where do you think we should let it go?" The turtle's head moved side to side just like those tiny painted wooden turtles they sell sometimes. "How about over there?" Courtney suggested. The boy carefully waded there and placed the turtle where it came from and watched it swim away.

Friday, March 20, 2009

grapefruit tree flowers

I smell the flowers of the grapefruit tree every time I walk on 17th and Pearl. Sometimes I walk that way just so I can smell them. I know its a grapefruit tree because in the fall, I collected grapefruits from the branches, and wrote about that time in this blog. Otherwise I would not know what kind of tree I am smelling, only that its white flowers are my new favorite flowers. The blossoms don't last long, a day, maybe three in a vase on the table. Amazing how such tiny flowers scent a whole room and cause me to stop and breath in deeply. Just when I was saying I am so tired of city sound and city smell.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Saw the Movie "Objectified" by Gary Hustwit (director of "Helvetica") at its SWSW premier on Tuesday with Jacqueline. I give her total credit for telling me it was playing. We arrived early, unsure if they would let us in since we didn't have badges. If there was enough space left after they let in all the pass holders they would open it up to non-pass holders at $10/each. By the time the show was ready to begin, there were four very long lines! But they ended up letting in 100 non-badge holders and we slipped in to good seats at the front. The movie is outstanding. I found it especially fascinating as it relates to my interest in objects and the stories they tell and people and places they connect to. I wish I'd brought a notebook with me because now I can't remember all the great quotes. But I remember one thing I particularly like that a guy from Apple said when interviewed: "When something is designed well, it feels as if its meant to be that way. Why would it be any other way? as opposed to What if it was this way instead? It was nice that the film brought the conversation full circle from the objects and the diverse designers interviewed, back to issues of sustainability - where all these objects go (very quickly) after consumption, and, also, how everyone is a creative.

Wooden Birds

I saw a band in the back of Urban Outfitters yesterday. For one of the three free day parties of SXSW. I really like the band playing, Wooden Birds, from Austin. It was nice to be close to the stage without being crowded, actually half the crowd was sitting down mellow. The one girl in the band, dressed in black, played a black and white guitar. I found myself paying most attention to the percussion player with his various shakers and tambourine. Behind the band on the stage wall/structure, someone pasted numerous copies of the show poster and associated "Urban Renewal" sidewalk sale poster. All the posters were either crumpled or stapled sideways/horizontal overlapping one another becoming a solid mass line of paper, text and color.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


Noticing the greening of the trees,
replacing the grey moss above.
Everyone seems extra happy today 
or maybe its just me, but people
are saying hi more than usual.