volume 19 of in america: 2009-2010 october-february  work & days: a lifetime journal project  
















Part 1 absorbed in making a desert garden, get a DSL connection and discover opera on Youtube. Part 2, finally break up with Tom though I don't quite know it yet, gorging on music, weekend in the Cowboy Cabin at Julian. Part 3 Christmas and New Year happy and sad. Part 4 the Haitian earthquake, intent designing Mind and land on my big monitor. Part 5 housetruck dreaming, winter residency.

Notes: fasting, Lowry The landscaping ideas of jays, desert wildflowers, tinnitus, Lester Rowntree Hardy Californians, kinds of oaks, The return of the native, hypertension, Googlewave, Jenny Uglow The lunar men, Tim Stephens, Wood How fiction works, mineralogy, Estes Warming the stone child: myths and stories about abandonment and the unmothered child, Dopo l'oscuro nembo, retirement finances, Ram Das, the seek system, housetruck systems, Joyce The dead on tape, Charles Sorrell Rocks and minerals.

Mentioned: Tom Fendler, Dave Leonard, Emily Wyman, Mafalda Reis, Andrew Bones, Larry Stein, Kat Harrison, Dr Isil Buluk of Bashkent University.

RCP in Lemon Grove and Chula Vista, Evergreen Nurseries, Green Thumb Nurseries, Buena Creek Nurseries, Canyon Pottery, Kniffing's Nurseries, Alpine, Japatul Road to Pine Creek, Governor Drive, Miramar Wholesale Nursery, Grand Ave, Little Italy, Architectural Salvage, Ramona, Black Canyon Road, 3663 Georgia, Macy's, Pacific Beach, Cowboy Cabin at Julian, Pacific Surf Inn at Leucadia, Solana Beach station, Walter Anderson's Nursery, the esplanade in Balboa Park, O'Hare.

CBC podcast, Te Kanewa singing the Marchellin, Flemming singing Im Abendrot, Bach cantatas, Karina Gauvin singing Lascia qu'io piango, Alexandre Weimann, Gauvin and Prina Si il cor ti perde in Tolomeo, Wikipedia, Youtube, Blue Canadian Rockies, Grey's anatomy, Private Practice, Lucia Popp singing Beim Schlafengehen, Deh Vieni, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Thirty something, Rosemary Levenson, Little men, Sibley guide to trees, the Independent of London, the Wave demonstration, Blake Lively, KCRW streamed, Karajan Tristan, Terry Wey singing Schubert's Ständchen with the Vienna Boys Choir, Hughes Shakespeare and the goddess of complete being, * Laudate Dominum, Streisand Dank' sei dir Herr, Hélène Grimaux Schumann sonata for piano and violin op 105, Dr Marquez, Melanie Klein, Maria Joao Pires Mozart sonatas, Garanca/Netrebko Ah perdona il primo affeto on Deutsche Grammaphone, Handel *, Garanca Dopo l'oscuro nembo, Stacey D'Erasmo The sky below, André Aciman Call me by your name, Cohen Love calls you by your name, Fire from heaven, The Persian boy, Knopfler and Clapton Sultan of swing on Youtube, Haitian earthquake on CBC, Cranford on PBS, the Polymecca site, Moonstruck, Garanca interviews in German, League of legends, InDesign, Avatar, Bartoli Ridente la calma, Nadine Gordimer.

 11 October

Am in a joyful tizzy about the garden. Have understood that I should contour - higher on the sides and the stepping stones like a watercourse -


Canyon Pottery, bought 3 big pots for the patio and the water jar, then Kniffing's for a rose. Then we were in Alpine and went on along the Japatul Road to Pine Creek. The buckwheat was rust-red everywhere and on the slopes next to it that silver thing. As we walked noticing the shrub oaks looking robustly green with small acorns. Tom had had a fit when I didn't want the radio. Hammered me up I-8. I did what I do, stayed calm, didn't back down and took a hit nonetheless, so that when we were stopped looking at the Thomas Guide my head was paralyzed, I couldn't figure it out. Then he was remorseful and wanting it all better but it wasn't all better yet. At the farthest end of our walk I needed him to shut up. He went up the road so I could sit alone. There were the rock slopes and thick chaparral gorges. Light and shade, a crow high overhead, two small birds zipping below. Oh miles of silence. I was looking at the ordered heaps of dull dark greens and russets, a swath of pale yucca posts in the distance, feeling what one would feel for god, relief, relaxation-into that's love for something large, wide horizontal reach. Then Tom comes up the road and wants to leave.


Tom can't afford a haircut, he's missing two bottom teeth, his skin is looking rough because he hasn't been eating well, he has a carbohydrate pooch from bread and no protein. He had to ask me for lunch yesterday, and then he was short $5 for his utilities bill and asked me for that. He reads junk all day instead of doing something to get money, is passive and blocked about looking after himself. At the nursery yesterday I didn't want to be seen with him. Even in the best of the chaparral he was needing to hear his loud voice inventing inanities. I have not much to say about any of that, stay out of it mostly, go on doing what I do.


After meeting Art and the project supervisor this morning I flew up 5 to 52, then Genesee and at the far east end of Governor Drive Miramar Wholesale Nursery on 30 acres. There I drove up and down gritty lanes looking at trees. Tied a blue ribbon on a 24" multitrunk palo verde, a slender shining thing with a few yellow flowers on long green whips. Planning other nice things - a scrub oak, a toyon.


Have ordered trees for tomorrow, the palo verde and strawberry tree, hopefully the rhus for Monday. Is it the right gravel. Is two inches enough. Is it the right pot for the fountain.


It was hot today. The palo verde arrived, graceful, green and gold, glinting, with many slender arms. The strawberry tree too. Two small strong men were digging, smashing lumps, raking. The soil level is where it should be. The wall is the right height. I laid out a hose to show the path and one of the men sprinkled a line with cement powder and then brought the path level down, and mounded the sides.

I was waiting for the pots - am writing any way it comes, tired, dehydrated - took two aspirin and am drinking tea - am not a writer just now - the pots arrived, large, dark blue to turquoise - the men had had to haul the boxed tree up the steps when it arrived and now we took the box apart on my tarp and carved off the sides of the root ball until we could get it in the narrower neck. There were three small burly men and me all thinking well and not in each other's way, carrying gravel from a bucket in the driveway in the garbage can lid, opening potting soil bags, knocking the mandarin and the pomegranate out of their pots, siting the pots, choosing their forward face and the forward face of the tree. The pots are beautiful shapes and colors and look superb with the pomegranate and the orange.

I stood a rake on end to show where the second tree will go and they dug a hole there while I got the vines into the ground by their posts. The palo verde has its hole too. The we carried - they carried - the little pots into the back and they cleaned up impeccably, folded my tarp, put rubbish on the back of their truck, hosed the steps and the driveway, and drove away. I still had to take the wagon back to the nursery, along with the empty pots. Was muddy, pant legs soaked from the knees down, stiff and thirsy, hungry, overjoyed.


I wake thinking about the garden. My lovely brain though slowly failing eagerly thinks ahead to what will need to happen next week. The fountain. The reservoir is too big isn't it.

Saturday morning. It was a white, damp night and now faint sun diffused in mist at eight o'clock.


Monday. Badgering men all day. We need to go deeper to try to get drainage. The path needs to be lower. The lumps need to be taken away, not smashed to incorporate them into the ground. They aren't using perforated drain pipes, only those standing caps, so I'm going to have to lower the path so it can be drainage too. - They're poorly supervised, I have to hover. There'll be a lot more hovering this week, and 7 packets and 3 theses.


By tonight the trees were in the ground, the path was profiled correctly, the reservoir was in the ground, the fountain in place though not connected, irrigation and drains in place, rubbish removed. At noon the rhus lancea stirred its leaves in sunlight though its legs are in the shade.

I am listening to Bach cantatas on DSL.

It was a long work day, I was dragging by the end, but was throwing myself all over the site all day, stumbling but not falling and not minding how I looked, only liking to do what I was doing. Saying, A little less here, We could do more here. Wearing an ugly hat and old clothes, feeling the freedom of effective self.

Fighting with Lise for an hour about Emilee's wonderful thesis.


Am in that moment of betrayal and disappointment where I want to punish someone by shutting myself down in relation to them.


This morning we sat in the sun together and Tom read from his notes for Casual labor. At first I didn't listen but then I settled and closed my eyes. Among his lists of show-off cultural claims sometimes a lovely paragraph of narrative in his beautiful voice. His face with a sad real look that touched me, yesterday he was sad about his teeth, the lower bridge not being what he'd hoped. This morning that real person sounding like a writer. I could see that his hundreds of folders of notes will not ever all be written up but that they and even the heaps of cultural names are life review. I admired his mental energy, the strength of his head at 63. Not exact but abundant. I was proud of him in my dubious way, wondering how he's so generative when I am down to these dull mangy statements of banal fact.


I have an acid edge about the battle with Lise. I'm up against her blank wall, feel the sore heart of other abandonments.


One afternoon last week I had my computer plugged in in Scott's back patio, was writing on a yellow tablecloth in filtered sun; red leaves of the Boston ivy on the lattice in front of me, a monarch cruising the passiflora, and constant birdsong in the trellise above. Around the corner white angels' trumpets hanging enormous over a shaded path. My beautiful making, which I do not own.


What is at stake with Lise, that makes it so bitter and fraught - I work with the best of the young women to strengthen their wild edge - Susan's slash writing, Emilee's racing fire - and she says in her stony way, I don't get it, and then Susan wastes her thesis on slabs of dull feminist rhetoric. She conventionalizes Jaes' natural prose. The agony of the embodiment colloquium, having my creation turned to her social uses.


Art springing out of the gravel truck that has pulled up with just the right number of good deep slabs of bluestone he picked out of a pallet. At the end of the day Mario had placed the curved path, each stone a colored surface floated on gravel, everything smooth, and it's a working drain too, a watercourse. I went at midday and turned on the sprinklers, first one side and then the other. The new gravel was already flecked with palo verde flowers, specks of bright yellow, and bits of dried leaf. I stood against the wall, on the hill, looking across the swale, and felt myself sink into garden heaven.


I've got fond of running around during the day, went to check the carpenters this morning, drove around Little Italy looking for Architectural Salvage, where I chose solid brass handles and a lock mechanism for the gate.

When I was planting I noticed I had been speaking aloud to the plants, had forgotten the Mexican men were there.

9 November

What happened yesterday - a moment blew up - we were driving to PB to Denny's, Sunday morning after we'd read the Times in his kitchen - he saw the shape of my hand in the centre console and said I was stressed - I hadn't realized it but yes I was buying him breakfast again, his not having money must stress me - I sagged into it a bit, yes, it does stress me and it has been almost a year - and then something I don't remember, then a silence in which I was thinking maybe we shouldn't see each other until he has money - then more I've forgotten - then he says he's thinking maybe we shouldn't see each other until he has an income - and I'm shot into pain - and then he's on the hunt - and now I'm hurt not stressed.

I mean to make myself feel better and change the subject, say its' something that a physiotherapist in Italy can have inklings about mind being body and go online and find my site and feel confirmed - he launches into something about Teillard de Chardin and I protest that I did it, it's something I did, I was wanting to feel better. He says coldly that he pumps me all the time and carries on about Teillard, I go silent. Now he's saying, You know what, let's just turn around and go home, which puts me into abandonment fear - I suppose it is - a grey panic in the solar, that I contain blindly. Writing this I'm noticing how it gets chaotic, I lose my bearings, I'm tossing in distress and not seeing myself or him.

Even now, writing it, my solar is frightened. I had a bad night. Couldn't fall asleep, the hot water bottle leaked, big wet patch I had to work around, the room was cold. A feeble droopy feeling. Uncertainty, when we separate he's where he is but I'm cut loose, I don't know where to live, I don't have a place, which really I don't anyway.

And then always remembering that it's going to get worse ahead, I will get sicker and uglier and even lonelier, and poorer again, and I will never be young again or have that sort of rapid hopeful opening-out.

When I say that I think, alright, marshall yourself, what do I have, what can I make of it.

20 Cowboy Cabin, Julian

Wanting to live like this much more. Hoping I'll never need to be attached again.

When I was lying on the hillside with my eyes closed I thought of cutting the cord to Tom. Feeling for it. Said, surprised, It's not there. Big sigh.

Was thinking that if I lived quietly alone like this I could feel into how conscious self can be related to larger self, find how that relation should be, not directive, not abdicated - how? I could do what I was trying to do then but with better understanding.


William Heise County Park . As I was assembling the fire a rustle and then a file of turkeys, visible individuals, larger and smaller, milder and more excitable.


Sunday morning. The tent is packed, everything but the dirty dishes.

As it was growing light I saw a glass marble. I was dopey and didn't pay attention. Then I saw two glass marbles. I got it - it was telling me to look. I was still dopey and didn't sit up but from my pillow a bit later I saw first sun in the oak framed by my big south tent window. It was lighting just one tuft on the far side of the canopy. And then I watched as more tufts, different depths into the cloud, lit up pink. It was like seeing an image come up in the tray, a swift bloom.

Later two herds of turkeys. I hear them coming. Deliberate slow steps cracking in oak leaves. Nineteen or twenty in the first group. Passing on either side of the tent. Blue faces. The exaggerated back and forward jerk of their small heads. Feather coats very detailed in shades of brown with irridescence.

[buckwheat roadside]


I've hid out today, I'm sick, reading in the dark cabin. An hour outside, under the bare oak above the cabin hearing how many surfaces are feeling the wind. I'd been morose. A few dry rags yellow on the scoured branches, beyond them blue, lightened me.

A live oak through a kitchen window. It must the the most beautiful of tree forms by the thickness of bough together with the smallness of leaf.

The cabin creaks and I can hear the fire.


Last week in an alphabetical list of Canadian artists I saw this and it gave me pleasure:

Epp, Ellie b. 1945
Epp, Paul b. 1949

4 December

Shirley/Tia writes

I don't really know you Ellie but I have a feeling about you - I think maybe you came so far, an Epp from [La Glace] (and me a Lunden from Valhalla) and exceeded what you even dreamed was possible in those days and now you can't settle for mediocrity, you want an exceptional life and you don't feel exceptional right now. Maybe you're settling for less than you think you're worth, and that makes it impossible for the heart to be inflamed and the soul enchanted -

These evenings about 4 I take the bike out and want to work - something joyful these days alone.


Beautiful Blake Lively - I watch a bad soap to see her legs.


Last night I kept rewatching Terry Wey singing Schubert's Ständchen with the Vienna boys. His phlegmatic fish face, eyes sliding sideways away from the camera, thirteen years old, singing what must be the cleanest version ever of an orgiastic song about sex. Boys' faces behind him, the full German Kinderchor sound backing his lift through Schubert's thrilling key changes.

Softly, softly we insist
At the beloved's bedroom door
But now rising,
Swelling, swelling, lifting


Now am into the desperate dreary years 1981-1983. There was a writing burst though. I keep being surprised to see there were sweet times with Jam. It seems I have come down on one edge of an ambivalence that I was enduring whole. I'm feeling, now, I've decided Jam was a sadistic tyrant - and she was, I see her stonewalling, sneering, patronizing. And then I'm surprised to see her crying. We both cry a lot. I see that but my feeling doesn't change, I stay disgusted, sickened - I feel that under all she was bent on defeating me. When I say that I feel a sensation in the forehead, determined subtle malice, her mentat lovelessness. It wasn't personal, she was defeating herself in me, and when I put it that way I don't blame, it's back to me, why was I enduring it so long.

- For a good reason, I knew I wd never have conversation like that again. I didn't know there would be other things worth more. For instance: the moments writing Being about, coming through with the book, in bed with Rob, writing about Tom. - Interesting to see it was that, with Tom. Making the garden. Playing with Susan momentarily. When I take this kind of survey I see that other things, years of them, have been connective tissue, the years of the journal project have been.

As for whatever I have next, it will mean I don't have what I've had before - any of those.


The black cashmere sweater I bought for Tom before we quit - it's mine now and it inspired me to 1. put on the blue glass earrings and 2. to buy the sequined dark blue scarf. I had on the Levis that are tight since I've been eating Gold Bites, and my reflection in windows along 5th looked straight-backed and quite willful and fine. I felt strong and was wanting to be a splendid old beauty, whatever it takes. It seemed possible.


But what to do with loneliness that doesn't end - all day I go back to the mail - I begin to send messages to people who don't want to hear from me - I talk to cashiers longer than I should - I spend hours in Youtube looking for something that moves, just music isn't enough - I click through my bookmark bar to see whether Grey's or Gossip have new episodes up, where I can see beautiful people move and speak.


At Scott's this morning weeding bits of grass and clover. There were a lot of Calif poppies up and I saw one lupine. A couple of what look like borage. The plants except for the couple trampled when the tenants moved look radiant. The acacia artemesioides is blooming in its corner and had a bee. The blue salvia in its honour spot under the palo verde is - what is the word - expansive, it looks confident, resplendent.


Sent Susan the Youtube of Grimaud rehearsing at midnight her time because it's her birthday, thought she'd see it the way she saw herself on video, a body thinking. She replied so politely water jumped into my eye, it was as if the one I knew had killed herself.


Pacific Surf Inn watching TV - Is it the same room, maybe. I'm not nostalgic. I'm not nostalgic! I was on the street - somewhere - and I thought I could change what Facebook says to 'single.'


I am liking my room, where at this moment, sunlight is lying white on the white sheet and the north wall, and across the furze of the green blanket. There is an orchid with it three flowering arms. Mozart sonatas quietly, finches at the glass, the pepper tree laced with passiflora vines tossing under the window. Driven cloud masses from the west. I am in bed reading about the enterprise of canal-makers and industrial inventors.


Wood 2008 How fiction works Farrer, Straus and Giroux

I think that novels tend to fail not when the characters are not vivid and deep enough, but when the novel in question has failed to teach us how to adapt to its conventions, has failed to manage a specific hunger for its own characters, its own reality level.

- Why did I want to copy that - something I felt, that it doesn't say - felt vaguely - a little transparent shape in the air - something about coherence in the novel because in the reader - there I stopped and thought about what that would mean - I often refuse a phrase - stop and ask for a better one made somewhere else in my head - coherence would have to come from that somewhere else.

Now: stop and ask why this is so uncomfortable. What mind has Wood made in me. Self-conscious, technical, self-doubting. - It's not coherence, it's state - whether the novel is made from a good state, makes a good state. Strong thoughts. Woods isn't giving strong thoughts. I'm not agreeing with his premises. He rightly sneers at a bad paragraph of late Updike, but then he gives as an example of "exaggeration of the noticing eye" this sentence about rain on a window:

Its panes were strewn with drops that as if by amoebic decision would abruptly merge and break and jerkily run downward, and the window screen, like a sampler half-stitched, or a crossword puzzle invisibly solved, was inlaid erratically with minute, translucent tesserae of rain. Of the farm 1961

If Woods doesn't like that sentence, he is not the visual sort of person I am. It declares another sort of sensorium, and sensorium is what I like or dislike in a writer. What I love about the rain sentence is that it names something I've seen, and I've liked the mood that seeing happens in. I like being brought there again.


These mornings I've been hearing what I knew was Mozart and suspected was the Garanca/Netrebko duet that Deutsche Grammaphone has taken down - Ah perdona il primo affeto. So I look it up in other versions and here's Garanca in trousers running her hand over Barbara Bonney's boob. Tears in my eyes!


Hello Wednesday. Yesterday went shopping and listened to opera all day - watched opera all day - loving to see bodies sing - Garanca's grace of lightness - I can't stand either to see or hear the old warhorses, Sutherland, Callas, etc - these modern bodies are more natural in emotion, they glide into it, don't push themselves into it.


New Years Eve. Tia's email asking where I was New Year's Eve 2000 - which sent me to GW19-1, where a paragraph about being with Tom in his room made me laugh, and having seen us together in love and faith makes my heart sore. Don't go there. A decade ago, a decade!

So I'm grieving now - what - I haven't been lonely and is that what this is - more like sad for failure in the chance there was - we had true something - I won't say love - we had true hunger for each other - and we didn't follow through - he was lazy, which means he didn'thave enough faith or hope, he took shortcuts, sacrificed us to make things easy. I was guarded almost always, I expected to be betrayed and reserved what I felt could help me when that happened, a list of everything that makes him unworthy of me, plans for when I'm somewhere else. I fought and at some moment I stopped fighting, I decided I was alone. It wasn't something he did, the good moments in GW were when I balanced in ambivalence. I miss the strength I could have when I both loved him and couldn't trust him.

There's been so much grieving already, wasn't it enough?

Why not?   child balancing in isolation and withdrawal
The balance I've been feeling is pathological   no
I'm afraid it will make me weaken  
Will it   no
We'll stay separated until he has a job    
And then I'll tell him it's permanent    
And let him go with love    
And years from now I'll be able to read GW with relief not anguish    
Are you sure    

6 January

Gosh - I read Stacey D'Erasmo yesterday and today André Aciman, and now googling Aciman I find a NYT review of Aciman by D'Erasmo. She was a good choice to review him. She understood that he didn't use his book to punish dumb-struck love. Is his book better? He uses one device to glamorize his tale and she another, and in that neither are anywhere as good as [Cynthia] Shearer who holds to the naked real. His device is glamour of place and privilege, Mediterranean Italy and high culture, hers goes magic realism in Mexico, but both aren't unreadable, I wasn't ashamed of reading them. Both had artistic gay men as their desirable narrator. Hers was more psychological, his was what she said it was, "Elio and Oliver might give each other up, but the book that conjures them doesn't give up either one. In fact, it brings them back together, reunites them, for a glorious endless summer."

They both have good titles, which are alike: The sky above and Call me by your name. Aren't they stylistically alike, I think alike enough almost to have been written by the same person. He's 1951, she 1961. Both mention Ovid, hers begins with a child hearing The metamorphoses and his has a lover who is a philosophy professor writing on Heraclitus, as well as being Mediterranean in its lights and sounds, and having a homoeroticism between man and youth based on true regard. Both have a little girl who is wise and dies. She writes about a collagist box-maker and her book is a collection of the things he is said to collect. He writes about a writer and a musician working next to each other through the mornings, and is there more music in his book? Yes bodies are more in motion, bicycling, swimming, throwing themselves on beds. Elio's in love physically, as a body with a body in the body of the world. D'Erasmo's young man is never in love except with a remembered house and then later a house meant to recreate it. He loves quite universally but he doesn't fall into exultant miserable desire. He has women friends. I think the scene I like best is the one where he has a bath with his woman friend upstairs in her cold little house. What scene do I like best in Aciman - there wasn't a scene, though I saw it all clearly. There it's more the two men's bodies, young bodies, anywhere.

Both have strong place. In her I don't like the magic spangles but I do like the portrait of the person who does, I guess. What don't I like about him, as it got going it was accurate but the first couple of pages felt like a pulp romance. I liked the Italian in his, plum cake, enriched batter. - But compare his family by the seaside with To the lighthouse and it's a Ralph Lauren ad - Woolf was aching with deep mortality, her mother's consciousness at the center of it like a well. Her death and the house's.


Happy to be into designing Mind and land. Sketched cover, TOC, photoframe page.
It's half past midnight and I'm just going to bed because this week my days don't run out - I sit down to work when I wake, light the big monitor - today reviewed text formatting and then cleaned up jpgs - bike in the hour before dark and then Starbucks with the paper - then work more - then news on CBC and weather on local - then Cranford on PBS - v hot shower, yoga, hot water bottle in the foot of the bed. - What is it about this work that makes me able to go all day.


My room these days. The venetians are down at night, the white candle lit. There's black glass at the west window. Lamps in three corners, the monitor alight on the glass surface of the black desk, silver machines, thick dark green blanket and dark red cushion on the couch. Two 3' stalks of yellow orchids rising from my glossy dark London pot. All against white walls. InDesign books and journals open, a look of sophisticated intimate night work.


When I woke at night there was that hollow-hearted loneliness. I don't find anything else to say about it.


He stretched himself cautiously along under the sheets

One by one they were all becoming shades.

His soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. He was conscious but could not apprehend their wayward and flickering existence. His own identity was fading out ... The time had come for him to set out on his own journey westward.

When I ached at night and thought I wouldn't sleep I put on the last CD of the Joyce collection from the library. I drifted off somewhere in the middle of it but woke again for the last few paragraphs of The dead.

This morning I'm wanting to give them to Tom, listen to them with him, because he will never have had them if I don't.

Silver morning through the dewy windows.

The long orchid stalks are swaying in slight rising heat from the candle stub, or just the currents in the room.

- There a pure white blimp floating across the pane, its scumble of dark hum following.

There one of my doves pale brown and grey and cream with black spots on its back, a mourning dove whose wings whistle when it flies, lit on the parapet.

2nd February

Lying in the dark stressed in thoughts about the life of art, its homelessness, its anxiety, the cost of being what I had to be when I was trying for it, the core value of what is sometimes found, which I feel is the only thing I am worth, or anyone.

And then the number of projects I have afloat around the brutal simplicity of the way I live, the way I can lose my sense of the whole when I'm grabbed by a creating enthusiasm like last week's for the housetruck. I need that energy and there's so much dogged finishing-up.


The number I'm pulling out of the air is $30,000. I've half designed it already. It would be perfectly outfitted to my taste, well finished, high end, sycamore cabinets with strong tiny latches, stainless steel window frames, a $2000 stove, stainless steel custom railings, open space above waist level, dense dedicated storage below, venetian blinds allowing slats of light onto a green velvet sofa - or teal - black and white triangular tiles at the water end, an 8' wide 3' deep black work table with a glass surface, moonlight through clerestory windows, moderne fixtures, solar on the roof, at least four deep cycle batteries, a diesel cab that finds it a light haul uphill.


This semester inverval got happier and stronger as it went. I love to feel my firm smooth waist. I love my look in UGGs and jeans and good shirts and colored sweaters and earrings. I've had music in my head most days, Ridente la calma the last two. I've learned InDesign, I've got Dames rocket ready for the last effort. There has been weather. Doves have stayed where they are pecking under the air conditioner pipe when I open the door, small birds have splashed in seed on my roof yard.

- It's 6:30, planes are taking off toward the east, I have the Vivaldi playlist on. There's one a minute. Richard has been inventing a pleasure garden next door, passiflora has crawled all through the pepper tree and is ornamenting it with red. The vine on my BC Ferries stair is blooming thick, recovered after it looked to be dying back. The mesquite downstairs is blooming after the rain. My yellow orchid is a lovely thing. I've given myself orchids and candles for the dark of the year. When I get back there will be the spring smell. Street pears are white in Balboa Park. Most afternoons I've simply got on the bike and blasted through my circuit, not minded that it's routine.

Was thinking of Jean, her way of being an old woman in her house. The mirror hung behind a kitchen cupboard door where she wouldn't have to see it unless she needed it. Her wet-combed cowlick, her worn good teaspoons, her thick-painted sage-green living room floor, her measuring interest that made strangers like her, her several colors of hyssop along the path, her studies of grasses and reeds, her swims in the lake, yoga into her eighties, her crushes on young men, her house dresses all made from the same pattern, her gracious hosting. - That far away time in my house in Vancouver, when she was alive and I had wonderful hair.

I say that in exile, looking out at palms in grey sky, the sycamore with a few dead leaves, street swishing, the SLOW sign blinking on 4th, quiet of Saturday early, Richard's what is it called, vane, mushroom shaped and rusted, turning rapidly on his roof.


In the Laundromat the tall shy man I used to see in the Maryland. "How's Tom?" "I don't know." "You guys break up?" "Yes."

Then the afternoon packing and going through tax receipts, tired today, melancholy of leaving, then my mother phoning when I had receipts spread over the floor, wants to tell me something even after I've said I'm going. The phone rang, I hoped for something wonderful and it was an old being with an insecure grasp of common facts. Did she mean daisies when she said lilies of the valley?

Vermont 11

Chicago airport - taxiing slowly through snow falling in the aqueous golden light under vapor lamps, a lot of long dark bodies standing or gliding ponderously as whales.

In the two hours to Burlington Norbert the Austrian from Montreal bringing out gemstones to show me, a slightly porky man, I assumed gay, coming from a gem fair in Tucson, wearing jade and sapphire on chains under his shirt, carrying little things in a case in his backpack, quartz, amethyst, ruby. I was enchanted as he by the star dioride, a smooth little oval, tea-colored, very fine-grained, with a cross of white light hovering and sliding in or on or above it, a magical thing, and the concave-cut topaz, colorless, cut so it showed through to a nest of needle-narrow refractive rays.


The room was cooking today in a way it hasn't with this group. I'd done the exercise that takes them to their home works space and then into some adjacent place where something happens. The three women and Andy had lain down on the floor for it and were still sprawled in that cosier way, and that had helped but not enough. What lit the air was when Todd had been talking about his vision and said the old woman stirring the fire was his femininity. I said "What is masculinity?" and that took us into animation about gender difference. I wdn't let them name character contrasts as gender and suddenly saw I shd ask them what their own particular conflict is - that that is the only way to name it right.

Todd's vision: a hobbit-sized door out of his living room into a dark tunnel that when it grew lighter he could see was a large high room completely lined with books. There were some old men, scholars who'd meet and talk quietly about their work. He had his own workspace in this room. A grey-haired woman was stirring and tending a large fire lighting the room. He saw the paper before I mentioned it. It read, You know who you are. When he emerged back into his own house he said, No I don't. He didn't want to leave that room.

The house of scholarship. Is the fire his relation with the mother. Not his femininity but his relation with it.In the two sides vision one side, the R, had said Light the fire, and the other side, L, had said tend it. The fire is early love.


Saturday morning 6:30 in the alum suite, creakings upstairs, blue light at the window, arrived at the end of the arc.

I wasn't expecting a Friday morning group but hadn't said there wouldn't be one, so came to my office with journal, cards and cup of tea expecting to sit by myself but ready in case. At the office door a saw a couple of them already there, somehow dropped the box of cards, said Oh shit aloud. Left the cards where they'd fallen to put down the tea. Todd went out to gather them up. We squatted together in the doorway turning my dirty cards together. - I'm writing this part because of a dim sense that in relation to Todd significance extends further than usually.

So they he asked if I were intending to read the cards for them and I said I could if they liked. We were sitting together on the carpet close enough to see the images on the little cards. Afterward I took them through the pack and showed them the philosophy of the cards as I understand them, the balance figure above heads, the rainbow arc of hemisphere integration, the hands in Temperance pouring from one to the other, the Work, coming through, exclusion, delay/slow growth, shattering of the structure, the sun of liberation, early love. It was for Todd, who was interested and nodding, and who I'm feeling as wanting to read daily situations on the other side as significant constellations.

Kat Harrison. I'd seen her in the cafeteria, tall thin-faced blond woman with pale smooth long hair. A few days in she came over and said we'd had a conversation last res about plants and would I like to talk again. Another morning at breakfast she came to the coffee counter and said she was sitting over there and would I like to join her. What came of that mostly was that she said she was giving a presentation next afternoon. I came in for its last half after Wild research and found her at the podium quietly authoritative and moment by moment fresh in her language, a fresh real mind. Her photos were beautiful, she spoke personally and professionally in the mix I know, and I was pleased pretty much every minute.

We sat together at supper and talked about where she comes from - small town on Catalina Island - and damaging our kids. Afterwards I googled her and found her speaking on Youtube about the correct way to use salvia divinorum. Found who her famous ex was, her kids' names. She came to Speaking bodies III and I was nervous at first, surprised to be. Next morning at breakfast sitting across from each other again talking about acid, which she says she takes once a year and her son makes. I said, I want you for us and she flushed enough so I noticed. I couldn't see any end to what I wanted to ask her about.


C25 at O'Hare late yesterday, in the end seat of a long row, reading Esquire. The woman who'd sat down next to me was reading a paperback with Nadine Gordimer on the cover and a title in a language I didn't know. I said, You're reading a good book. She said to me after a while, Do you remember my name? I said ... long pause ... Usil, remembering it's i pronounced u. A pretty woman, quirked corners of her mouth, small bones, feminine, black eyes, dyed red-blond hair. Married, professor, head of department, small summer house on the coast. I was outclassed, I knew, though not necessarily of less value, pushing to hear the story.